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Dec 31, 2003

I like that we're getting Glorantha & Cryptomancer at the same time, in that both are essentially informed by a particular academic discipline. I find that to be a really fun design space in RPGs, although any project like that pretty much resigns itself to a niche of a niche of a niche status in the long run.


Dec 13, 2011

Hostile V posted:

There's not a stated connection but I could believe it is. However, I would say that the biggest argument about A|State isn't connected is how different both games feel. The writing, the tone, the content, they feel like wildly different narrators and worlds and creators. Hot War does a good job of continuing Cold City but A|State feels nothing like either of them, it's fascinating. Hot War feeds you locations, A|State casually paints a picture of The City in a bit of an oh poo poo way. It took me a minute to realize that the insignia of the game is the canal map of The City. Really I'm just playing devil's advocate as I'm ifnding myself liking both (though reading A|State is a lot harder because of how it's wrapped in the way it shows the world).

Oh, I agree. My personal take is that The City got tossed through a rift during some big accident. Either an all out war or it was a test city with people in it that got yanked through. But that could just be put down to the ideas and concepts the author likes being in multiple games. Ghost Fighters are another great concept.

Jun 6, 2013

Looking at it now, it really is disgusting. The flesh is transparent. From the start, I had no idea if it would even make a clapping sound. So I diligently reproduced everything about human hands, the bones, joints, and muscles, and then made them slap each other pretty hard.

Kaza42 posted:

As someone who loves information theory, encryption, and specifically using magic FOR encryption, this game is My Jam.

What happens when you use Cryptomancy to encrypt a written message, hand it to someone who doesn't know the keyphrase, and have them transcribe it via their own encryption keyphrase that you don't know?

Cryptomancy only works one layer deep, which the writers point out is basically just a gameplay contrivance to allow players to crack enemy encryption relatively easily. I'd imagine the gibberish resists attempts to further encode or mess with it beyond simply copying it down. That said, there's nothing stopping the original message from being encoded within the clear-text.

Clear-text must be made up of real words from an actual language. How this works with dead languages or dialects is unclear (can you mix Dwarven and Old Elvish in a single message? How does the magic define "a real word"?) The easiest way to encode something before the cryptomantic magic is the ol' word swap - changing "attack" to "puppies" and "enemies" to "butts", for example, so even if decrypted the message doesn't make any sense. The message doesn't have to be meaningful beyond the rule about actual, non-gibberish words, so I'd imagine any real enemy who uses cryptomancy would also have a scheme to scramble their sentence and word structure so that's its unreadable even when decrypted. This opens the door to all kinds of old-school spy poo poo. My first thought would be to create an alternate numbering system (1 = lemon, 2 = lime, for example) and then have the message be a string of numbers, referring to pages and words in a specific book that only the intended recipient of a message would possess. I'm sure there's a ton of similar concepts.

Now, whether or not I'd use them in the game... everything is built around the idea that once you crack the crypto, you're in. Unless you have some seriously hardcore players, I'd probably not gently caress around with the messages too much. Let the players understand what they've found, but leave the possibility of mindgames open (false-flag messages, for example) as I think that kind of analysis/counter-analysis is more interesting than ALSO having to crack an analog encryption scheme.

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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

The biggest obstacle for an elf or a dwarf cryptomancer trying to hack human transmissions is that in addition to putting in the activation phrase, they have to speak aloud the two or three words written on a scrap of paper that reads "ART THOU HUMAN?" If they get it wrong, the paper changes.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso

Godlike, Chapter IV: Talents

“Talent” is the most popular term for the supernatural powers manifested by characters in the Godlike setting, at least in the English-speaking world. Other cultures use terms like Surhomme or Severch Loodi (French and Russian for “supermen”), Custodes (Italian for “guardians”), Nephilim (Jewish myth), and Gaki (Japanese for “hungry ghost”). British Talents are sometimes called “the Few” in reference to a famous Churchill speech. And of course, the Nazi Ubermenschen.

The term “Talent” derives from Wild Talents, a 1932 book by Charles Fort. The book was an exploration of the paranormal, including supposed psychic abilities. Fort theorized that all such powers may have their roots in a “wild talent” commonly possessed by all humankind. But the one who popularized the term “Talent” was a journalist, Stephen Whelan, who wrote a 1940 New York Times article about the emerging phenomenon of superhuman powers. He referenced Fort’s book, supposing that these real, undeniable powers could simply be called “Talents.” It became a household word. Scientists still prefer the term “parahuman,” and newspapers drummed up sales with headlines reading super-this or super-that, but “Talent” is the one that took off.

Unlike the heroes and villains who fought in WWII during the Golden Age of comic books, Talents don’t gain their powers from numerous sources outlined in “origin stories.” In fact, nobody knows where Talents come from--they just appear one day. Often it happens in a life-threatening situation, but mostly it just happens.

So before we talk about Talent powers and how to customize them, let’s examine the nature of Talents themselves.

I'm still waiting for that shield with a flag on it.

Talents Have No Physical Explanation. There’s no Talent gene, Talent organ, or Talent particle. During the war, scientists will conduct everything from simple tests to autopsies on Talents, to no avail. To their frustration, they can only document the limits of any individual Talent, without knowing how it works.

Talents are Powered by the Mind. One thing that’s known (if not understood) is that Talent powers are a product of the Talent’s mind, linked to the deepest levels of consciousness. Most require awareness and concentration to work. Talents are fueled by willpower, and and anything that affects morale can cause Talents to fail--injury (especially head injury), fatigue, combat stress, and all kinds of personal problems.

Talents Detect Other Talents. Built into every single Talent power is the ability to detect other Talent powers within sight range. If you see a Talent use their power, no matter how subtle the effect, both of you immediately know that the other is a Talent. (This is because you’re using your Talent to detect theirs, then they detect yours in turn.) No one can detect your Talent when you’re not using it, so having a Talent that’s always on can be a liability.

This is why even “Duds,” Talents with useless powers, are still very valuable soldiers.

Talents Resist Other Talents.When a Talent tries to use their powers to directly affect another, a “contest of wills” ensues in which one tries to overcome the other. If the defender wins, the attacker’s powers fail dramatically. Talents can gain and lose willpower through these struggles, as if a spiritual power was being transferred from loser to winner. This only happens when Talent powers are used to directly hurt or interfere with another Talent.

Talents Don’t Obey the Laws of Physics, Except When They Do. Talent powers vary widely in how they interact with the physical laws that should govern them. Most teleporters, for example, make a sound like a gunshot when they use their powers, from air rushing in to fill the vacuum they created. Those that don’t have this limitation are far more valuable as infiltrators. Super-strong Talents still need leverage to lift and carry huge objects--except for those strength seems to work by nullifying the object’s inertia. They can pick up a tank by it’s gun barrel and hold it overhead without the tank breaking under its own weight.

Talents are conceptual. In a setting where powers are supposedly grounded in science, people ask common-sense questions like “How does Superman shave if his hair is as tough as the rest of him?” America’s Indestructible Man doesn’t have to worry about this, because his powers don’t make his tissues invincible--they make him immune to harm.

The downside of such powers is that Talent powers usually require concentration to work, or at least awareness. The Indestructible Man learned that his powers don’t work when he’s completely oblivious to danger--so he could shave, or get a tetanus shot, but he could also be killed by an assassin.

Because Talents are mental, they can also work according to ideas, rather than physical laws. The Talent power itself may even perceive things that the conscious mind does not. The best example I can think of is Misfire, an Australian Talent whose powers turned enemy explosives into sand--bombs couldn’t explode, and shells and bullets couldn’t fire. His power affected everything in a 1,000 yard radius, it could tell the difference between friend and foe, and it only affected weapons.

Talents are contextual. Another downside of the subconscious nature of Talents is that they don’t grant any special perks outside of the context in which they normally work. The infamous Nazi Der Flieger was immune to any adverse effects of flying at hundreds of miles per hour at 10,000 feet, but he was just as vulnerable to cold, friction, and asphyxiation as any other man when he wasn’t flying. Herkules was another Nazi Talent whose power was an immunity to tanks. He was invulnerable to being shot or run over by a tank, but totally vulnerable to being shot with a pistol or hit by a car.

Generally speaking, Talents can rely on their powers to protect them from their own effects, but not with fringe benefits. And if your powers should suddenly fail while you’re walking through a wall or holding a tank over your head, the results could be lethal.

Rules are Made to Be Broken. That said, almost all of these rules have exceptions.

The first notable exception is tribal magic. Some indigenous cultures, like the Saan and Kachin, possess Talent powers that can be transferred from one person to another, and that incorporate diverse “spells” which can be combined to produce new effects. People from outside these cultures simply cannot adopt the mindset required to make them work.

The other exception is the so-called “mad Talents.” Now, there are plenty of Talents out there who aren’t playing with a full deck. The Indestructible Man was a violent alcoholic. Der Flieger believed he was an Aryan superman. Plenty of Talents have deep personal flaws or bizarre beliefs about the source of their powers, and many manifest their Talents in life-threatening situations. But mad Talents have suffered trauma that completely unmoored them from reality--and from the mental limits of the Talent phenomenon. Such Talents, besides typically being very powerful, are immune to having their Talents tampered with by any other Talents. They are extremely dangerous and impossible to control.

Setting Limitations on Powers

Now that that’s settled, let’s look at what powers do and don’t exist in the Godlike universe.

Precognition: Precognition exists, but it’s never perfect. Visions of the future are often hazy, or just static images, or come in dreamlike visions that must be interpreted. Visions of the future can also be just plain wrong. Thanks to the butterfly effect, visions of the future become less reliable the more you talk about them to others, so precogs are also reluctant to provide details.

Time Travel: Talents can travel into the past, but nothing they do will change the present, and no one will remember having seen them. Perhaps they create an alternate timeline, or only visit a complex illusion of the past--but they do travel somewhere.

Mind Control: Simple, absolute mind control doesn’t exist. The closest thing is having Hypercommand (a superhuman Command stat).

Telepathy: One-way telepathic messages are possible, but not any form of mind-reading.

Talent Manipulation: No Talent can permanently give, take away, or change another’s powers, nor can they absorb or imitate another’s Talent. “Zed,” a fairly common power, counteracts the effects of other Talents’ powers temporarily. (In fact, Zeds are one of the reasons that Talent-fueled plots don’t have a bigger impact on the world--Zeds are usually assigned to guard VIPs.) Some Talents can share the effects of their own powers (like teleportation or a force field) but not the Talent itself.

Talent Detection: Besides the line-of-sight detection that all Talents have, there are no broad-spectrum powers to locate other Talents.

Super-Science: Some Talents possess “Goldberg Science,” the ability to craft gadgets with wondrous powers. But these are just focuses for the Talent’s abilities, and don’t work when they’re not around. Talents with superhuman intelligence don’t create technological marvels because, long story short, they can’t be bothered. More on that later.

Buying and Using Powers

Powers are measured and used just like other things: you have a pool of dice and you roll them, looking for matches. They’re purchased with Will points, and PCs get 25 Will to spend. Leftover points add to your Base Will, which is important to Contests of Wills with other Talents.

This is a good time to bring up Hard dice and Wiggle dice again. Hard dice count as dice in your pool, but aren’t rolled; they’re automatic 10s. Wiggle dice can be set to any number after you roll the rest of your dice. Another advantage of Wiggle dice is that any time you take a penalty, Hard Dice are lost first, then normal dice, then Wiggle dice. If you have a Wiggle die in your pool, you’ll always get a set unless something reduces your pool to 1d.

Hard dice are powerful, Wiggle dice are skillful. Still, some powers (such as defensive and noncombat powers) will always favour having a big set of 10s.

There are three types of powers. You can buy regular dice, Hard dice, or Wiggle dice for any of them, noted as X/Y/Z. For example, Harm, a very useful power, costs 5/10/20, or 5 points for each regular die, 10 for each Hard die, 20 for each Wiggle die.

Hyperstats are enhancements to Stats; your points add to any roll using that stat. Having an effective stat of 6 or more also gives certain benefits unique to each stat. Some are mechanical while others are essentially narrative. All Hyperstats cost 2/5/10.

Hyperskills enhance skills in the same way. The only special benefit of Hyperskills is that with a Hyperskill pool of 7+, you don’t take a -1d penalty to multiple actions. All hyperskills cost 1/3/7.

Miracles covers everything that humans simply can’t do--flying, walking through walls, throwing thunderbolts, seeing the future, anything. Miracles have highly variable costs based on how useful they are, with guidelines for creating your own. They can also have their cost modified by Extras or Flaws that expand and limit their usefulness. A general disadvantage of Miracles is that because there’s no actual skill that corresponds to, say, summoning force-fields or causing earthquakes, you’re only rolling your Miracle pool whenever you use these powers.

Except for Power Stunts, that is. Power Stunts are skills that add to your Miracle pool when you’re using it for some specific trick you’ve learned how to do. (You can’t even buy these at character creation, only with experience points.) The advantage, of course, is that they’re as cheap to buy as skills, but they add to your power pool. The disadvantage is that Power Stunts should always be for some very focused or unusual use of the power. For example, the Dead Ringer power has a Power Stunt called Mix and Match, which allows you to use your ability to mimic other people to only mimic a specific feature, like fingerprints.

There’s some advice for the players on how to spend their points. A power like Harm or Break is attractive, but remember that you can often get more bang for your buck by buying Hyperstats and Hyperskills--they’re cheap, and you’ll get a full Stat+Skill dice pool for most of the things you do. Do you need heat vision when you can be a superhumanly good sniper? But the advantage of Miracles is that they can do things that Stats and Skills can never do, even when pushed beyond human limits. Break can tear a tank apart even faster than an anti-tank rocket. Miracles can also be versatile--a power like Telekinesis can both attack and defend as well as being useful for non-combat tasks.

I’ll go ahead and cover Hyperstats and Hyperskills in this update, and save Miracles for the next--along with the rules for using Will and improving Talent powers.


Dice you buy in a Hyperstat stack on top of your normal rating. If your effective rating is above the human maximum, you get certain benefits from that. If your power fails in a Contest of Wills with another Talent, you lose the extra dice and roll using your normal rating. (Yes, using Hypercoordination to shoot another Talent in the head initiates a Contest of Wills, the same as if you tried to use a Miracle power to make his head explode.)

It's fun to stay at the YMCA.

Hyperbody makes you stronger and tougher than normal. This doesn’t change how strong you appear to be, but it does strengthen every part of the body. Something you should note is that while Hyperbody does make you superhumanly strong and tough, even Hyperbody 10 doesn’t make you bulletproof or able to lift a tank--for that, you need to purchase Miracles like Extra Tough and Heavy Armour.

Hyperbody 6: You can lift 800-2000 lbs. You get +1 wound box to your torso and each limb. Your unarmed attacks do +2 damage. You can also strike hard materials like stone and metal without hurting yourself (even if you lack the strength to actually break them.)

Hyperbody 7: You can lift 1-2 tons. Your unarmed attacks do +1 damage, but the damage is now Killing instead of Shock. You also have a natural Penetration rating of 3. You heal an extra Shock point after each battle.

Hyperbody 8: You can lift 2-4 tons. Unarmed attacks do +2 in Killing damage. Penetration rating of 4, and you can roll to tear apart and ruin heavy armour equal to your Body stat. You can broad jump your Body in yards, or half your Body in a vertical leap. You heal 2 Shock points to each location after battle. You can scream loud enough to shatter glass within a meter.

Hyperbody 9: You can lift 4-6 tons. Unarmed attacks do +3 in Killing damage. Jumping distances are doubled from Hyperbody 8. All Shock damage heals after battle. You can exhale hard enough to inflate a truck tire, and tear sheet metal like thin cardboard.

Hyperbody 10: You can lift 6-10 tons. Unarmed attacks do +4 in Killing damage. You can broad jump Body*3 or vertical leap Body*2 in yards. You can throw objects up to 3 tons as easily if they were baseballs. You can shatter glass within sight range with a scream.

Who says the God-Stat is dead?

Hypercoordination enhances reaction time as well as muscle control throughout the body.

Hypercoordination 6
: You can swing and climb with the ease of a chimpanzee.

Hypercoordination 7
: You are an expert contortionist. More importantly, you can dodge gunfire with a Coordination+Dodge roll as if they were melee attacks.

Hypercoordination 8: You can catch slow projectiles like arrows in flight. You take no penalties for dodging multiple attacks, and even successful hand-to-hand attacks against you automatically have their Width reduced by 1. You climb so well you appear to stick to walls. You know, like a lizard.

Hypercoordination 9
: Successful HTH attacks have their Width reduced by 2. You can catch bullets in flight.

Hypercoordination 10: You have conscious control over every muscle, even in your internal organs. The width of any perceived attack is reduced by 2 (even Talent powers if they could conceivably be dodged).

I can smell every soldier who's passed through this trench. And all of their socks.

Hypersense doesn’t give you senses people don’t have. If you want natural sonar--you know, like a dolphin--you need an appropriate Miracle. But it does enhance all your ordinary senses to incredible levels.

Hypersense 6: Your senses are sharp like a dog’s; you can smell and hear other people before you see them, and see in the dark.

Hypersense 7: You are impossible to ambush most of the time; you can detect motion through sight, sound, or scent up to a quarter-mile.

Hypersense 8: You can see in the dark, identify targets by smell, taste individual chemicals in a mix, and isolate individual sounds within a cacophony of noise. You can read print by touch..

Hypersense 9: You can see in near-absolute darkness, smell people up to a mile away, and track targets by scent. You can use your hands to detect the motion of even small animals within a mile. You can fire blind at only a -1d penalty.

Hypersense 10
: No one can sneak up on you, ever, no matter what powers they possess. You see through any kind of camouflage or illusion instantly. You can fight invisible targets as no penalty--they’re not invisible to you.

Increase the Flash Gordon noise and put more science stuff around.

Hyperbrains! Oh, this one’s a doozy. A big question, I’m sure, is why people with superhuman intelligence don’t develop advanced weapons, end the war, and rule the world. Godlike has an explanation for this, though I’m sure not everyone will find it satisfying.

The first reason is that few Hyperbrains are interested in using their talents in such a way. Hyperbrains spend most of their time considering abstract, theoretical problems that are far beyond the rest of us. Imagine asking Stephen Hawking to bend his talents toward solving some practical technological problem, and how far out of your league he is when it comes to his scientific interests and knowledge. Now imagine someone who’s as far out of his league as he is out of yours. Now, if you can, imagine trying to keep up a conversation with such a person while you work with them on a project. Fortunately for them, Hyperbrains are mentally equipped to handle the tedium of communicating with the rest of us--but they lack the skill to explain what they’re thinking. (Socially, Hyperbrains only really get on with fellow Hyperbrains, where they only have to suffer the mild inconvenience of having to communicate through the fairly inefficient means of squirting air through their meat.) Fortunately for us, Hyperbrains spend most of their lives “lost in thought” in what they consider the only real world--the world of ideas--and have no interest in money or power.

Second, super-intelligence is inextricably linked to super-empathy. A Hyperbrain can easily conceive some fantastical engine of war--and will, in the same moment, conceive the people, communities, and culture that will be annihilated by it, and even the implications for world politics well into the future. What’s that, Mr. Truman? You’d like me to build a supertank? Yes, as soon as I’m done imagining the birth, life, hopes, dreams, sorrows, and agonizing death of Lotte Kessler, who will be killed by the first one we roll off the production line--no sir, I don’t know her, but it’s likely that she exists. Yes, I’ll get right on that.

As a result, most Hyperbrains working for nations at war work as number-crunchers, acting as convenient computers for calculating taxes and other logistical problems. Hitler’s pet Hyperbrain, Der Archiv, concluded early on that he should try to steer Germany towards a peaceful surrender. Stalin’s chief Hyperbrain had to be sequestered to protect him from the sanity-blasting inhumanity of the war.

Hyperbrains 6: You have a photographic memory including sound and scent.

Hyperbrains 7: You can calculate numbers with the speed of a modern computer. You have a comprehensive photographic memory of everything you’ve ever experienced.

Hyperbrains 8: You get +1 experience points each session. You can draw things you’ve seen or transcribe conversations you’ve overhead with perfect accuracy.

Hyperbrains 9: You can calculate figures as fast as a supercomputer and work on intellectual problems even while asleep.

Hyperbrains 10: +2 experience points per session. Everything you’ve ever witnessed, down to the smallest detail, is remembered with perfect accuracy.

Even Mecha-Hitler is no match for Haunted House Painting Hitler!

To the leaders of the world, Hypercommand is the scariest superpower that exists. Talents with Hypercomand are so charismatic and convincing that people under their sway exhibit signs of hypnosis--it’s the closest thing to mind control that exists. Worse, perhaps, as those persuaded by Hypercommand have to live with the fact that they were merely persuaded. Fortunately, the effects of Hypercommand fade when the Talent isn’t around to reinforce his will. Mechanically, Hypercommand doesn’t add to Base Will.

Hypercommand 6: In a friendly conversation, you can convince anyone of even the most ridiculous intellectual proposition, given enough time.

Hypercommand 7: You can convince anyone of anything in a matter of days--you could convince the most ardent Nazi to become a pacifist and a Communist.

Hypercommand 8: You can convince whole crowds of anything in a matter of hours, even if you suggest riotous violence or mass suicide.

Hypercommand 9: You can bark simple orders in a voice that compels people to obey. (This doesn’t work with actions that give them time to think about what they’re doing, so it’s actually easier to convince someone to shoot themselves than to make you dinner.) Your ability to influence crowds works within minutes.

Hypercommand 10: You can turn a crowd into your ardent followers within an hour. You can change someone’s mind, breaking even the most extreme indoctrination, with a few simple sentences.

Trenchcoat grants a +2 bonus to Hypercool.

Hypercool is among the most subtle Talents, but eerie in its effect. Hypercool Talents have supernatural calm and self-control even in the most extreme situations. Unlike Hypercommand, Hypercool does add to Base Will.

Hypercool 6: +1 Width to all your combat rolls for purposes of initiative only. You can use Cool instead of Body for Endurance rolls.

Hypercool 7: +2 Width for initiative. You never suffer penalties due to pain, distraction, or exhaustion.

Hypercool 8: +3 Width for initiative. You are totally immune to pain and torture--pain is just another stimulus.

Hypercool 9
: +4 Width for initiative. All your emotions are under your conscious control--even horrific personal tragedy can’t shake you. All feelings, physical and emotional, are just stimuli that you can consciously choose to use or not use however you wish.

Hypercool 10: You never have to make Cool+Mental Stability rolls at all. Even your automatic functions are under conscious control.


Hyperskills are fairly self-explanatory. Besides not having a penalty to multiple actions with Hyperskill 7+, they offer no special benefits. All Hyperskills are fairly cheap at 1/3/7. So if, for example, you have other powers giving you super-strength, a bit of Hyperskill in Brawl isn’t a bad idea.

Next time I’ll be covering Miracles. At this time, I’d like to throw open the gate to suggestions for what powers to give our sample PC, Paul Beckert. I already had an idea in mind, but it turns out that my idea corresponds to the most annoying power in the game. So throw anything my way and I’ll try to build it in this system.

Next time on Godlike: It’s a Miracle! One man, one goal, one mission. One heart, one soul, Just one Solution!

Jul 18, 2012


Santa’s elves finally stage their rebellion.

The gods of the Madlands are distant, alien, and rarely encountered. The monsters of the Madlands are none of those things. In general, hunters will encounter one of these things at least once a year, possibly more, which is bad because their stats are loving bonkers to a man. Monster. Monster-man. While the gods symbolize Madlander failings in a more abstract, generalized way, monsters hit much closer. I could go through the gods without delving into what they mean in Madlands culture. I can’t describe any monster with describing what happened to him or her first. Yes, “him or her”. Every Madlands monster used to be a human being.

Madlanders view monsters in terms of what they’re missing; while each creature lacks some part of a normal human’s body, they also lack a part of their basic humanity, something that holds their minds and morality together. This, by the way, is part of why few Madlanders fear a violent death: it’s one thing to pass out of the world in violence; it’s another to be bound in your body afterwards, insane and animalistic until something takes you out of the world by force. To Madlanders, society is literally built into human blood, and becoming a monster corrupts your blood and makes you incapable of social function. The book goes out of its way to say this theory is a best flawed, though, so :shrug:. Still, all monsters are anti-social in the “actively destructive to others” way.

”GURPS Fantasy II: Adventures in the Madlands” posted:

Monsters are no more capable of self-sacrifice or compassion than a chipmunk is of flying.
Oh, and by the way, the book casually drops this halfway through this section;

”GURPS Fantasy II: Adventures in the Madlands” posted:

Since anyone who dies without being given a proper funeral becomes some sort of undead menace…
What the gently caress? Did I miss this earlier? Also, anyone killed by a god is inevitably “excreted” by the deity later as a monster. Wow, goddamn, I did not know that. The Madlands loving suck.

Anyway, any victim of a god attack will turn into a monster depending on what body parts they lost; there isn’t a huge stable of them to pick from, but it’s enough to cover most possible bizarre deaths. The transformations aren’t consistent between death, naturally, so people killed one way might turn out differently. That way you can’t be prepared! The gods seem generally friendly to monsters and won’t seek them out for violence, but if they do get attacked, they’ll turn into different monsters. That way they can’t escape!

You’re advised to treat monsters less like DnD and more like horror movies. Even the shittiest monster can go toe to toe with experience warriors and their appearances are disturbing enough to force a SAN check. Build up slowly, drop hints, describe a trail of destruction, show victims; make a monster as intimidating as possible before the party encounters it. The book tells you not to pull any punches if your players charge organ-skeletons willy-nilly and to “show no mercy” (and this for characters that can die if a thrown rock happens to crit). That’s kinda bad! The book then tells you always leave a way for players to escape! That’s better! The book also tells you to make your players pay close attention to their surroundings and situation (/read your mind if your bad at describing them) in order to escape. That’s kind of neutral I guess!

Disclaimer: This review was prepared by Falconier111 in his personal capacity. The opinions of monster meanings expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Robin D. Laws, Steve Jackson, or Steve Jackson Games Incorporated.

I have the weirdest stake right now.

Bloodless are vampires in constant pain that can only be solved by human blood (not animal blood, this was before Twilight). If they spend too long without said blood they turn all gross and ghoulish and their skin dries out to the point that sometimes their noses decay and fall off (they have to bandage their face or all the blood they drink will spray out their nosehole :unsmigghh:); additionally, their intelligence will start to permanently decline until they become pseudo-zombies. To wit;

”GURPS Fantasy II: Adventures in the Madlands” posted:

The more brain-dead ones may have little to say beyond "Blood! Blood! Blood!"
Though they apparently do try to pull off the standard vampire charisma act when on the hunt (again before Twilight, so standard then), hungry bloodless are horribly violent and almost unkillable. they usually develop some freaky way of blood draining while transforming (“osmosis” through the hand, fangs, lamprey-mouthed tentacles, hollow fingernails:gonk) and ignore most attacks as they drain their victim dry. Those that survive might suffer psychological damage (something all monsters inflict): excessive and uncontrollable thirst or hunger, possibly leading them to (falsely) believe they’re becoming bloodless; nausea at the sight of certain foods and drinks, followed by anorexia or bulimia; or some form of PTSF. The only way to defeat a bloodless is to hack it to pieces; this will prevent the bloodless from fighting back, but long as the head is intact it will stay conscious and hungry until the end of time :shepface:. As focused on blood as they are, some are smart enough to learn shamanism (yay!) and practice population control to keep blood consumption in check, hunting down and killing excess bloodless and delivering their victims to their communities so they get properly buried instead of turning into competition. Speaking of which!

Three ways to become bloodless; gods, contagion, and misbehavior. As mentioned earlier, any encounter with a god that removes one’s blood (Dopod Abwep boils it away, Gakox Pezep drinks it, Bett Agwo turns it into butterflies, etc.) turns one into said monster; bloodlessness also spreads to dead victims, which is why smart bloodless return their victims to their communities. Greedy and cowardly Madlanders can also become bloodless eventually. At first they’ll get good and gluttonous, then they’ll need to eat enormous amounts just to stave off hunger. Finally, they’ll see someone shed blood, go crazy from thirst, and kill the person before fleeing into the wilderness. But, before that point, community interventions and behavior change can fully reverse the process, a theme that’ll keep coming up.

Bloodless are parasites and represent parasitic people; it’s why they evolve from the greedy instead of the outright predatory. Bloodless consume their victims like gluttons and cowards consume the village’s resources without giving back.

Let’s name the monsters, the monsters, the monsters; let’s name the monsters of the Madland sea!

Boneless are… well… they aren’t vampires slightly altered clichéd monsters bloodless, that’s for sure. I don’t know how to summarize this best, so I’m just going to quote the first paragraph in full;

”GURPS Fantasy II: Adventures in the Madlands” posted:

The boneless are great flopping sheets of skin that fly the Mad Lands' interior in search of prey. They move through the air as a manta ray swims through the ocean. Their hides match the complexion of Madlander skin. A pair of human-looking eyes is mounted front and center on its top surface. Anyone foolish enough to closely examine a boneless will discover vestigial remnants of its original human form scattered randomly about its hide - an ear, a few teeth, some hair, a nipple. Along its underside they'll find hundreds of enlarged pores about a fifth of an inch in diameter. In living specimens each pore will be sealed with a layer of yellow mucus.
Boneless are carnivorous creatures with only animal intelligence, if that. They eat anything made out of meat but they prefer humans; they kill and eat their prey by wrapping around them and emitting potent digestive acid out of those pores. Tasty! This method of eatin’ destroys bodies so thoroughly that human victims never come back as monsters. They also attack each other sometimes, trying to wrap each other in a death grip until both collapse in a pile of half-digested double-dead human. Other than their hunting method, boneless rarely have any unusual or shamanic powers. A few are granted shamanic powers as part of the godly encounter that created them (some god smashed ‘em flat), but they aren’t smart enough to use them productively; sometimes a shamanic boneless will set off random sparks or :okpos: but meaningless illusions! Naturally, victims might get phobias or nightmares related to blankets, being smothered, or acid.

Boneless are also excessive consumption, but turned outward instead of inward. A hunter kills more than he can carry, a fisher throws harpoons fish and throws them back to pass the time, a boneless that mindlessly consumes people; these are similar to a Madlander’s mind. Taking from the environment for no purpose will weaken it and, eventually, you.

Even in death I'm still ripped.

Faceless exactly resemble ordinary humans except for their face; it’s not that they lack ordinary facial features, but they have a layer of flesh completely concealing them. Unlike the last two monsters, they don’t want to harm humans; they’re lonely and they just want to be your friend :3:. Unfortunately, they are also bad friends. If you come within roughly arrowshot distance a faceless will try to grab onto you while mewling pitifully, which would be creepy enough if it didn’t bring a cloud of bad luck with it. Terrible events follow faceless as eagerly as faceless follow humans, often extreme things like lightning strikes, monster attacks, and earthquakes; they even have personal effects like worsening trauma from previous monsters, causing illnesses to recur, and opening up old wounds! This extends to efforts to harm them (the book tells the GM to apply a blanket penalty to die rolls based on the faceless’s proximity, at their discretion) and I guess to efforts to escape them too because, well…

”GURPS Fantasy II: Adventures in the Madlands” posted:

Secondly, faceless are relentless once they decide to follow someone. Even hacking them apart doesn't stop them. If a faceless' legs are chopped off, it'll pull itself forward with its arms. If its arms are removed, it'll edge along on its stomach muscles like a caterpillar. If decapitated, its head will roll towards the one it seeks. If the skull is cracked open, the exposed brain will crawl out and creep on ahead. Other severed parts may also continue the pursuit: one victim may be pursued simultaneously by a faceless' head, both arms, torso, legs and ambulatory entrails. Each part carries the same degree of bad fortune as the whole.
The book only gives vague advice on how damage to faceless works, suggesting that its hitpoints are less its meat/fighting spirit and more how many parts are still crawling around.

Faceless are solely god-generated – Dopod Abwep will burn your face off while giving you a hug , Bax Powu Kag can sad your face off apparently, Gakox Pezep, Bubzavav, and Zewa Zab might bite your head off because that counts as not having a face. Psychological damage after a faceless encounter could include paranoia based around being followed, phobias of losing facial features, or hallucinations of others’ faces melting away (possibly followed by violence towards them).

Faceless are those who rely too much on their neighbors. While bloodless-analogues intentionally exploit the efforts of others, faceless-analogues don’t want to be a bother. However, they’re so emotionally reliant on others they lack the confidence to contribute anything to the village. Whatever faceless-analogues do contribute, their efforts lack dedication and focus as they seek approval from others over actual skill.

I couldn’t find a fleshless picture so have another boneless i guess.

It’s kind of a shame fleshless don’t have a picture as they’re one of the weirdest monsters in the book. Just like their name implies, they lack skin and muscle, but everything else is still there; their eyes, internal organs, tongues (yeah, I know the tongue’s a muscle, that’s what the book says), and even nerves dangle loosely from their skeletons. Their psyches are split by two equally powerful urges; they emotionally want to be human, and they instinctively want to destroy every human they meet. If they encounter a human in the forest, the fleshless will try to convince the human they’re human while the human tries to convince this human they know they’re human until the (real) human either gets away or lets lit slip that the fleshless is actually an organ skeleton and gets ripped apart. Fleshless don’t even want to hurt other humans; but if they get pissed off enough, fleshless will berserk and kill people (though most fleshless are made by god-fuckery, fleshless can spread fleshlessness by mutilating their victims – itself a rare occurrence as, again, fleshless don’t actually want to hurt people).

To hold on to their humanity, fleshless cling to what used to define them with such intensity they become caricatures of their former selves, which doesn’t endear them to anyone; despite this, fleshless often form their own communities and try their best to live ordinary lives. Fleshless will build “wavobeks” (lean-tos), form clans, get married, play games, tell stories, and even compete to adopt any fleshless kids who stumble along (a few will actually kidnap human children and rip them apart so they turn into new fleshkids :stare:). They can’t, though. Fleshless perceive other fleshless as human enough to want to kill them and their social structures rip themselves apart in a storm of violence in a year or less. While the book definitely doesn’t state this, I’d say that the fleshless urge to kill grows stronger with their relationships; even as they form genuine connections with others, their homicidal urges increase and wear on their minds, straining the relationship until it dissolves into violence. Fleshless will never emotionally connect with anyone until the end of their bodies or the end of time :smith:.

Fleshless are loving hard to kill; the only way to hurt them is to smash their bones, an epic task since they have several times as many hitpoints as ordinary humans. Survivors might begin to doubt that they’re actually people, or think others are impostors in human skins (the Capgras Delusion, which hits a little close to home as my grandmother is going through it), or rapidly gain or lose weight (I don’t get this one).

Fleshless are those who seek to prove themselves at the expense of the community – Madlanders aren’t friendly towards those with the anti-magic barbarian equivalent of Impostor Syndrome. If a person feels they don’t belong and try to compensate by being too helpful, they do the opposite of contributing and end up hurting the village.

Dude, the feminist-government-Jews obviously used Obama’s fake birth certificate to put chemtrails in our GMOs. Just check out my blog for proof!

Fleshless qualify as one of the Madlands’ weirdest monsters, but that title probably goes to the Footless. Why are giant feet called footless? Madlander humor! Footless are an impressive eight feet tall and three feet long, and though they have an eye, mouth, and nostrils, they have no internal organs. They smell like feet if you get up close, of course. Footless are thought to be intelligent but universally insane; they behave unpredictably around humans and don’t do much when left alone. If you get close, you’ll hear them talking to themselves about random things – except everything they say is correct in some fashion, whether they’re talking about foreign culture, the gods, or even the listeners own thoughts. According to legend if you listen to them one single piece of important knowledge will be buried in their monologue, but good luck finding it!

Footless are only created by gods; Kikavo Dat likes to shape his victims into footless, though other gods might make them by eating off someone’s legs. Victims of footless find they’ll attack with a (lovely) bite or a (way more powerful) goomba stomp, or get slapped in the face by sorcery. Sorcery in the Madlands, by the way, is weird and associated with the Soulless, another monster type that gets a whole chapter dedicated to it. Look forward to insane immortals! Survivors might think they’ve been cursed with shamanic powers (footless don’t get shamanic powers), become obsessed with whatever they heard a footless babble, or smell only the pungent odor of giant magical feet for the rest of their lives :barf:.

Footless are those who become obsessed with learning. Madlander culture regards innovation with distrust as it might attract attention from the divine; innovators and inventors not only flaunt this taboo, but waste valuable resources in experiments and even establish accidental rituals that justify the taboo by bringing supernatural forces around for a look-see. Non-traditional knowledge is inherently dangerous in the Madlands, and pseudo-footless embody it.

Next time: headless ogres!

Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

BinaryDoubts posted:

Cryptomancy only works one layer deep, which the writers point out is basically just a gameplay contrivance to allow players to crack enemy encryption relatively easily. I'd imagine the gibberish resists attempts to further encode or mess with it beyond simply copying it down. That said, there's nothing stopping the original message from being encoded within the clear-text.

Clear-text must be made up of real words from an actual language. How this works with dead languages or dialects is unclear (can you mix Dwarven and Old Elvish in a single message? How does the magic define "a real word"?) The easiest way to encode something before the cryptomantic magic is the ol' word swap - changing "attack" to "puppies" and "enemies" to "butts", for example, so even if decrypted the message doesn't make any sense. The message doesn't have to be meaningful beyond the rule about actual, non-gibberish words, so I'd imagine any real enemy who uses cryptomancy would also have a scheme to scramble their sentence and word structure so that's its unreadable even when decrypted. This opens the door to all kinds of old-school spy poo poo. My first thought would be to create an alternate numbering system (1 = lemon, 2 = lime, for example) and then have the message be a string of numbers, referring to pages and words in a specific book that only the intended recipient of a message would possess. I'm sure there's a ton of similar concepts.

Now, whether or not I'd use them in the game... everything is built around the idea that once you crack the crypto, you're in. Unless you have some seriously hardcore players, I'd probably not gently caress around with the messages too much. Let the players understand what they've found, but leave the possibility of mindgames open (false-flag messages, for example) as I think that kind of analysis/counter-analysis is more interesting than ALSO having to crack an analog encryption scheme.

Yeah, I definitely see your point from a gameplay perspective. Although I think it would be neat to have an enemy midway through a campaign who relied solely on analogue encryption methods that aren't super hard to break, but everyone's trying to do Cryptomancy methods and coming up empty handed. Used once, it could be a neat switch up.

Jan 7, 2015

chiasaur11 posted:

I'm pretty sure science will show you that G Gundam has the realest robots.

I'd like to see one of your fancy "'Mechs" ride a horse back to Earth from space after killing the devil with the power of love!

Mountable QuadMechs and Love Guns are LosTech. Everyone knows that. Same with the AirMech that was controlled with J-Rock. BattleTech had it all.

Jun 6, 2013

Looking at it now, it really is disgusting. The flesh is transparent. From the start, I had no idea if it would even make a clapping sound. So I diligently reproduced everything about human hands, the bones, joints, and muscles, and then made them slap each other pretty hard.

Kaza42 posted:

Yeah, I definitely see your point from a gameplay perspective. Although I think it would be neat to have an enemy midway through a campaign who relied solely on analogue encryption methods that aren't super hard to break, but everyone's trying to do Cryptomancy methods and coming up empty handed. Used once, it could be a neat switch up.

Yeah, that would be fun! They don't mention it in the book but I wonder if "analog" encryption just isn't widely known - that is, no one bothered to figure it out since they have perfect magic crypto available at all times. Would be cool to have an enemy hiding messages in plain sight through analog encryption that no one bothers to examine because it doesn't trigger their cryptomantic senses.

BinaryDoubts fucked around with this message at 18:26 on Aug 9, 2016

Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.
Digging those Madlands monsters.

Dec 30, 2009

Halloween Jack posted:

Hypercoordination 9
: Successful HTH attacks have their Width reduced by 2. You can catch bullets in flight.
You may wish to expand that acronym, since otherwise it's caught by the filter. Alternately, you could just insert useless tags in the middle like so: HTH.

Jun 6, 2011

NGDBSS posted:

You may wish to expand that acronym, since otherwise it's caught by the filter. Alternately, you could just insert useless tags in the middle like so: HTH.

Why does the filter hit HTH?

Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.
Because a lot of people will reply flippantly to something with it as an acronym for Hope This Helps, only they don't hope it does, they're just being a huge prick.

Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion

Halloween Jack, I think the word filter caught something in Hypercoordination 9.

Dec 24, 2007

NGDBSS posted:

You may wish to expand that acronym, since otherwise it's caught by the filter. Alternately, you could just insert useless tags in the middle like so: HTH.

No dude leave it, the concept of "hand-to-hand combat" replaced with "I'm a huge prick combat" is cracking me up far more than it has any right to.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
I think I like it. Will try to work a Ted Cruz joke into the next update.

I'm A Huge Prick Combat isn't actually possible in Godlike; there was no Internet in 1945.

Jan 7, 2015

Midjack posted:

No dude leave it, the concept of "hand-to-hand combat" replaced with "I'm a huge prick combat" is cracking me up far more than it has any right to.

Huge Prick should be a D&D class. It gains the bonus feats Improved I'm A Huge Prick Combat and Greater I'm A Huge Prick Combat.

Oct 21, 2012

Part 3: Singer/Songwriter/Slut

Chapter Three starts off with a nameless crack dealer harassing a couple in a car. He is not important. Who is important is the guy he tries to talk to; who he initially thinks is an undercover cop until he recognizes him.


"Hey, hold on a second. Ain't I see you someplace?”

Emmet held the man's gaze, but said nothing.

"Holy poo poo, I know you! I seen you on TV. You that preacher dude my sister watches, the one preaches angels are coming to earth one day, gonna set things right with us sinners - the one that just announced you was running for mayor of D.C.! Holy poo poo, wait till I tell her where I saw the Reverend-future-mayor-piece-of-poo poo! Can't help but wonder what you and a sweet young thang like your girl there be doin' sittin' here this time of night, though, when you could be in a nice warm motel room smokin' some first-rate product while the young honey sucks your dick."

"Suck on this," said Emmet as he pulled aside his overcoat to show the semi-automatic Glock in his lap. The effect was instantaneous. Like fog evaporating, the dealer slide back into the night that seemed to have spawned him.

This is the Reverend Emmet Vargas. He’s a vampire hunter with the Society of Leopold. The woman with him is his daughter and the second protagonist, Becca Vargas. She is also a vampire hunter. She has mood ring eyes.


The woman, in her late twenties with eyes that vacillated between green and gray, depending on the weather and her mood, and dark red hair worn with bangs to hide the deep scar above her eyebrow

I’ve never heard of a character whose eyes change color with the weather. I guess it’s the prettier version of getting a headache right before a big thunderstorm or an earthquake.

Sometime later, after a paragraph about how Becca wants to go to bed but vampires don’t sleep, she wakes up to the sound of ambulances heading towards the fire. Emmet speculates that it’s happening near the anti-porn rally, which he discouraged his congregation from attending due to the rumors that it was going to turn violent. (He also knows that Bjorn Garinson hangs out in the area. “couldn’t happen to a nicer fiend.”) Becca points out that setting buildings on fire is the M.O. of the Society of Leopold. Her father dismisses her angrily, pointing out that they only do it when necessary and when no one will get hurt. Which she then points out is impossible. Becca vocally hopes that Tony DeAngelo, Emmet’s part-time roofer/hunter combo assistant, isn’t involved. Emmet, who takes a swig from a flask to indicate a possible drinking problem, asks if she’s seeing him.


"Am I cheating on Francine, you mean? What do you think, Dad?"

"I think you love Francine and you're loyal. You're also bisexual. Tony's an attractive man, and - well, the flesh is weak."

Thanks, Reverend Exposition.

Becca snips back at him that Tony likes to gently caress vampires while using the excuse that it helps him get dirt on them. This is apparently a risky move, since Emmet considers Tony to be a son to him. His actual son and Becca’s half-brother, David, was “lost” to drug addiction. But it’s also risky to criticize him for reasons. She asks again if Emmet and Tony had anything to do with the fire. Emmet denies it, saying that she should know what he’s capable of. Becca says that she doesn’t know what he’s capable of and that he has used fire before. Emmet reiterates that fires are appropriate when they can be contained.


”Oh bullshit, Dad, how does anyone ever know a fire can be contained? Half of Montreal burned to the ground last year because some hunters thought they could burn out a nest of them. Hundreds of innocent people died. You've killed innocent people, too. We both know it."

This is how you contain and control a fire.

Emmet flips into righteous fundie mode and says that civilian casualties are unavoidable and acceptable in such a holy and just war and that she has to understand that. But Becca hasn’t understood him lately. Not since her mom was killed. He shushes her as their actual quarry finally shows up.


Two women had rounded the corner and were approaching on the opposite side of the street. One was a blonde, elegantly thin, tottering along on four-inch spikes. Her suede coat hung open, revealing a leather skirt slit up the side and a black turtleneck under a leather bustier. Her make-up was so heavily applied that she almost appeared masked, but something about the eyes looked frightened and childlike, more like a high school girl tarted up for Halloween than an adult woman. The other face was already familiar to Becca - singing sensation Victoria Ash. The rising pop star was a good three inches taller than her girlfriend. She wore an ermine jacket over a swirling, blue velvet skirt, and her dark hair was highlighted with streaks of red so rich that it looked almost purple.

Victoria and the girl head to a nearby apartment building, arm in arm and lip locked. (For those of you following along on a map, this is happening on “the corner of U Street”.) When they get up there, Victoria and her other companion, a muscular man with dark hair, feel up the girl’s breasts by an open window. Emmet becomes uncomfortable, while Becca becomes aroused.


Becca remained silent. Despite herself, despite the fact that she had been the voyeur on many previous occasions, she wet her lips and tried to will her heart to beat less thunderously.

Emmet wants to go in guns blazing, but Becca insists that they need more proof. They argue some more.


"We've got reports."

"The reports don't mean poo poo unless we see something ourselves. Half of those Leopold freaks are so paranoid, if they'd lived in seventeenth-century Salem, they'd have burned their own mothers for witchcraft.

Emmet turned on her. "This isn't a few vicious malcontents scapegoating old women. This is real."

"So we think."

Real rage animated his slate-gray eyes. "So we know. Never forget that, Becca. So we know."

"Except all we really know, in this case, is that the redhead is a singer/songwriter/slut who swings both ways, like to dabble in art occasionally, and probably doesn't belong to any animal-rights groups."

Does she say the slashes?

Emmet continues to insist that he just knows that Victoria is a vampire because he gets feelings from God, and insists that Becca gets the same feelings too and is just not admitting it. Her mind wanders back to the fire and an incident from a few nights prior.


Like that night not long ago when he'd used her as bait at an embassy party and the target, a beautiful blond man whose face she still remembered, had fallen for it, had gotten into the car with her and gone with her to the church where...

Emmet starts to get out of the car, but Becca insists on going instead. She climbs up the fire escape with her Society training in sexy acrobatics and finds a partly open window to peek into. Inside, the muscle man, who is now a blond, has sex with the nameless girl on a sex swing made from a human pelvis under a mirrored ceiling while Victoria watches and gives them some mystery pills. The room is empty save for the swing, a lightbulb with a blue cover, and a wall covered in pictures of Victoria.

Becca unconsciously masturbates to the scene, then catches herself and feels really bad about it.


From her spy's position at the window, she suddenly felt ashamed, disgusted with herself. What kind of sickness did her father and she indulge in anyway, playing Peeping Tom in the name of Jesus? Francine was right -- she ought to leave this madness to her father and go to law school.

Considering Becca’s general reaction to everything regarding vampire hunting throughout this book, I don’t think she would make a good lawyer either.

There’s also a picture for this part.


The book’s description of her clothing doesn’t match the picture.


Becca was already shedding her coat, underneath which she wore black tights and a leotard. A black pullover concealed a semi-automatic similar to her father's.

Victoria, who temporary becomes “Veronica”, kisses the girl. Becca mistakes her lipstick for blood, but comes to her senses and begins to leave to tell her father there’s nothing wrong until she realizes that the swing is made of a pelvis. She runs back to the car just as Victoria steps out to investigate the sound of either her or a police car that rushes by. The presence of the bone swing is enough to convince the two of them that vampires are afoot and not just your garden variety sick fucks, and they rush off.


Victoria Ash stepped out onto the fire escape. Her gleaming flesh was sheened in bluish shadows. Beautiful, thought Becca. Like a moon goddess, dipped in silver, mother-of-pearl.

"You wait, I'll get the fuckers!" Emmet hissed.

Adnachiel fucked around with this message at 09:12 on Aug 10, 2016

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.
Clapping Larry

kaynorr posted:

I like that we're getting Glorantha & Cryptomancer at the same time, in that both are essentially informed by a particular academic discipline. I find that to be a really fun design space in RPGs, although any project like that pretty much resigns itself to a niche of a niche of a niche status in the long run.

I should do Blue Planet now.

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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

"A swing made out of a human pelvis".


Aug 23, 2009

Hostile V posted:

"A swing made out of a human pelvis".


I think it's supposed to be scary rather than goofy, as hard as that is to believe.

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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

Fun fact: a human pelvis can basically only seat one human (y'know, basically you from the waist up) so joke's on you, edgy DIY home improvement vampire who wanted a loveseat swing to snuggle upon their loved one while also saying "hello world, I am a loving psychopath, gently caress subtlety and gently caress the Masquerade, call the cops on my rear end if I left the curtains open again".

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011


Doresh posted:

Figured that White Wolf had a Trigger: The Warning somewhere.

What does that even mean? This is almost like that "Othering the Otherness" joke the guys from System Mastery made. It's like this was written by Peter Molyneux or something.

The Secret Sun is a popular alchemical symbol - see the Black Sun that appears in Grant Morrison and Nazi occultism, and the hidden Red Sun he talks about in The Invisibles. It may be the sun that lurks in the Hollow Earth. I recently stumbled on an occult/conspiracy blog with that name: Maybe I'll link him to the RPG.

If it was anyone but Monte Cook writing it, a trippy, surreal fantasy RPG is something I'd buy in an instant. Fantasy became too codified with Tolkien - it needs to get back to its strange roots in Lord Dunsany and Fritz Leiber, via Moorcock - lots of unexplained things and poetic descriptions. See Dark Souls for how this can work in the modern world. I'd wear a 'Make Fantasy Fantastic Again'.

Since it's an old D&D writer, though, it'll probably be too codifed and boring and have a ton of numbers - I think D&D is what started the slide into rote fantasy.

wiegieman posted:

Not only is the mythology true and something that rewards you with magical powers for following it, but multiple versions of the same mythology are true, at the same time. Much of this comes from the fact that linear time is a recent invention, and everything before that happened the same way stories are told around a campfire by people who really don't want to bother hashing out when exactly Yelm/Orlanth/Etc. did something great.

This is the good poo poo. This is what I mean when I say 'fantasy'.

Rand Brittain posted:

Yes, well, that's the worst part of Ascension, the fact that the game about ideology frequently works to made that ideology nothing but meaningless set dressing.

When I say that it's all true, I'm not talking about literal truth so much as the fact that nobody's mythology is ever bullshit they made up to justify what they want to do, and if they resemble things that people made up to justify sketchy things, well, it's still correct.

I think drawing a line between 'truth', 'fiction' and 'bullshit' is hard in the 'real world', but is totally pointless in a mythic fantasy setting where belief shapes reality. Any 'bullshit' is probably 'true' to people (or ducks) if it helps them make sense of their weird Bronzw Age life. Or it's probably both 'true' or 'false' at the same time - 'false' to the rulers but 'true' to the people. Plus tricksters and stuff who cross between categories.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 03:05 on Aug 10, 2016

Young Freud
Nov 26, 2006

Hostile V posted:

Fun fact: a human pelvis can basically only seat one human (y'know, basically you from the waist up) so joke's on you, edgy DIY home improvement vampire who wanted a loveseat swing to snuggle upon their loved one while also saying "hello world, I am a loving psychopath, gently caress subtlety and gently caress the Masquerade, call the cops on my rear end if I left the curtains open again".

Technically, a female pelvis can seat more than one but the others have got to be really small.

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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

Young Freud posted:

Technically, a female pelvis can seat more than one but the others have got to be really small.
For my own mental security and to spite this Vampire book, I'm gonna take the high road and imagine Wednesday and Pugsley Addams just having a blast in the backyard.

Jan 29, 2009
Claiming his daughter is a slut because she's bisexual is pretty loving lovely too.

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

I think the "Weather changing eyes" is a really lovely attempt at mentioning how Hazel eyes can look different colors depending on lighting and any predominant colors surrounding it.

But yeah, just holy poo poo poor editing and so much edge it's cringe-inducing.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Count Chocula posted:

Since it's an old D&D writer, though, it'll probably be too codifed and boring and have a ton of numbers - I think D&D is what started the slide into rote fantasy.

To be fair, Monte Cook got his start in games other than D&D... rules-lite games like Rolemaster and Champions, to be specific. :v:

Dec 22, 2003

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

Ah good, so Godlike here has the rules I need to run WWII JoJo's!

Jan 6, 2012


Hm, Brave New World is over and I don't think Eternal Hearts is bringing the required '90s levels to the thread. Here!

Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

It's not Japan okay

So '90s you'd think this was an Image comic cover

Oh, poo poo! It's 1997, a new CCG is rising up to face against Magic the Gathering, and it's all about high flying samurai fantasy action. And then they made an RPG about it, who would've thought? Legend of the Five Rings is one of the better known samurai fantasy RPGs, set in the land of Rokugan. The samurai clans of the Emerald Empire vie for supremacy, in the battlefield and in the courts, while unspeakable enemies plot in the shadows and gather their forces in the blasted lands south of the Empire. AEG's flagship product, L5R was the jumpoff point for many elfgame writers, among them the controversial John Wick himself. The things we'll see! But to be fair, Wick alone did not write up the whole game and setting. In fact...

the man himself after the credits posted:

Without these folks, this would have been a diceless game with five Traits I would have never paid attention to, a bunch of Skills I wouldn't keep track of and a 350 page Book of Void. Just mentioning them here doesn't do justice to the work they did to make sure this book came right.

Those who stand alone, fall alone.

Thank you, thank you. Thank you all.

- JW

So, yeah. Anyway!

Once we get past the mandatory "what is an RPG?" section, we get a crash pronouncing guide for Rokuganese, the language of Rokugan. It's "based" on Japanese, as much as a McBurger is "based" on a burger. There's a glossary of Rokuganese words and phrases so that you can sound kawaii as hell. "Abunai!" "Hayaku!" "Doro Teikoku no Hito!" That is supposed to mean 'Imperial Road', by the way. Long story short: Rokuganese is really, really bad Japanese, to the point of cringe. It was 1997, but still. But to the actual game!

Just loving with you, this is the Hârnmaster Japan sourcebook.

The first chapter, the Book of Earth, deals with the setting. And as expected, we are treated to the wonders of RPG fiction. It is a cold, rainy night, and a ne'er-do-well called Ginawa is playing dice at a roadside inn with other samurai and merchants. He seems to have a grim past, but right now he's more concerned about making a big score. And he does! There's some grumbling from the audience, but they cough up the money. Just as Ginawa bids everyone good night, a drunk samurai tries to stop him and get him to play until he recoups all his losses. To make it worse, he's armed even though all samurai are supposed to leave their weapons at the entrance. The drunkard calls Ginawa a coward, which gets our guy somewhat miffed - enough to stop his clumsy sword blow and break his arm over his leg. Though drunk, the samurai remembers not to cry in pain. The police in the form of a squad of armored and armed samurai arrive, Ginawa tries to explain he was just defending himself, but turns out the drunkard was actually the local magistrate! The samurai politely ask him to come along, and he is revealed to be a ronin, a masterless samurai. Leaving some money for the innkeeper to pay for a priest to purify the blood he has shed, he goes along to meet the local daimyo (lord), Ataka. There is some talk between them, and the daimyo decides to replace the useless magistrate for a more capable subordinate, Hijiko - the leader of the samurai that took Ginawa in. She is now his head magistrate, which leaves a post that Ginawa, with his skills could easily fill. He feels misgivings about it, since he has failed a master once already, but Ataka is having none of it. Ginawa accepts, but when he reveals his name everyone but the daimyo become very, very anxious about him. See, Ginawa is the carrier of one of the spooky-as-poo poo Iuchiban blades, forged by the BLOOD SPEAKERS! Ataka still lets him in, because he can see the PC aura believes the Fortunes have put him in his way. May Ginawa's Path of Blood end with honor!

Mythology time! Or history. Might as well be the same, I mean, it is a fantasy game. In the time before time, Nothing created the world through fear of being alone, desire for companionship, and regret at actually creating the world (the three Original Sins). After that, three gods that cannot be named (because they gave up their names) created one man and one woman to give shape to the world.This couple started naming things, and named each other: Lord Moon and Lady Sun. As they named the world and all that it contained, a race called the Naga became the world's first civilization. They went to sleep when Lord Moon, who chased Lady Sun across the skies, caught up with her. Nine months later, she gave him nine children: Hida, Doji, Togashi, Akodo, Shiba, Bayushi, Shinjo, Fu Leng and Hantei. In a very Greek twist, Lord Moon decided the children of the Sun and the Moon would grow to be greater than he, and he decided to eat them all. Lady Sun could not stop him, and cried tears that fell to the earth, but got him drunk and replaced the last child, Hantei, with a rock. For years (maybe centuries) Hantei trained in secret under Lady Sun to fight his father. He challenged him, cut up his brothers and sisters from his belly and won, but they fell to the earth. Fu Leng fell away from them along with one of Lord Moon's hands, and in his panic he dragged Hantei down with him, away from Heaven.

Aw, look at lil' Fu Leng with that tiny skull on his clothes :3:

Hantei and his remaining siblings, the Kami, were no longer gods, but not mortals either. Where the blood of Lord Moon and the tears of Lady Sun gathered together, they formed people, men and women. The celestial children gathered them and decided to teach them the beginnings of civilization itself. They also held a grand tournament to decide who would lead them: all the siblings fought except Togashi, who saw what would happen. The last duel was between Akodo and Hantei; the latter won, the former swore eternal loyalty, and Togashi made a prophecy that when the last Akodo fell, so would the last Hantei. The newly enthroned Emperor and his siblings created several Clans according to their wishes and abilities, and spread across the land - but suddenly, an army of foul creatures fell upon the fledgling Empire. Fu Leng was back, and he had been corrupted by crashing so hard in the earth he fell underground. The armies of the Empire could not fight back the nightmarish hordes, and everything seemed lost until one little man, Shinsei, told Hantei he could defeat his brother. At first he did not believe him, but the little man proved to be incredibly wise. Shiba's transcription of Hantei's talks with Shinsei became the Tao of Shinsei, one of the cornerstornes of Rokugani religion. The wise man required seven mortal warriors to journey with him to Fu Leng's realm: they would be the first samurai, a word that means "servant." So they went, one from each Clan, and nothing was heard from them until suddenly Fu Leng's army lost its strength and the Empire's forces crushed them. Only one samurai returned, however: it was the Scorpion samurai, dying and clutching twelve scrolls and an enchanted obsidian hand.

A thousand of years have passed. The Kami passed away in various forms, leaving the business of running the Empire to their children. There are now seven Great Clans for each of the Kami, along with a number of Minor Clans created as reward for heroic acts of lesser samurai. They are the Crab (brave and brutish), Crane (cultured and urbane), Dragon (mysterious and isolated), Lion (brave and honorable), Phoenix (philosophical and pacifist), Scorpion (sneaky and stabby) and the Unicorn (outgoing and foreign).

Geography! Rokugan is rocky and mountainous, surrounded by mountain ranges on three sides and the ocean to the east. Only a fifth of the land is flat, the rest is various flavors of hills, valleys and mountains. The climate goes from cold and snow-heavy winters to sultry, long summers. Disasters like earthquakes and tsunami are regular. Its society is very regimented and class-conscious, and the common belief is that everyone has their place and bad things happen to those that try to cheat their destiny. As can be presumed, the Emperor is at the top of the chain, and under it there are many daimyo that swear fealty to him and rule in his name. The samurai caste is the highest of them all, and the only one allowed to carry katana and wakizashi, symbols of nobility. Those are further divided into the Emperor at the top, clan daimyo, family daimyo regular samurai, non-fighting samurai caste people. and masterless ronin. Below them there's the heimin, the 'half-people'. Again they are subdivided: peasants at the top, craftsmen in the middle, merchant in the lowest rung. Samurai can kill a heimin if they feel their honor has been compromised by their rudeness, so heimin try to be very obsequious to samurai. Under them there's the hinin, the 'non-people.' This includes criminals, entertainers and gamblers as well as the eta, the undercaste that deals with labor considered physically and spiritually unclean like leather working or disposing of human corpses. Killing hinin is not a crime for samurai, but killing particular hinin (like a samurai's favorite geisha) may carry other consequences.

(note: you probably shouldn't use words like 'heimin' or 'eta' around actual Japanese people.)

Women can belong to any of these castes, but their roles are slightly different. Those who take up arms are known as samurai-ko, and they must take vows of celibacy since they can't serve both their husband and their daimyo. :sigh: Which doesn't meant they don't take lovers but it's scandalous enough to send them to a nunnery if they're caught. Marriages are all arranged and romance doesn't come into it, but it bears noting that the wife is the one that actually runs the house; the husband receives a stipend from his wife but it is the woman that actually handles their finances. A man's extramarital affairs are ignored by society, but samurai are expected to be discreet so that they don't insult their wives' families. A samurai's schooling begins early, taking up around nine years of their childhood. At around 13 to 20 years, they undergo their gempukku ceremony to become legal adults. They're considered young until the age of 20, then 'middle-aged' until 40, at which age they're supposed to go into a monastery and retire from public life. Many samurai scoff at that, and even officially retired 'monks' usually stay behind as powers behind the throne and such. The ultimate test of courage for a samurai is seppuku, ritual suicide, and the game warns that it should not be taken lightly in games. Peasant lives are less complicated, but they also have to deal with all the bullshit that comes with being of lower station, including punishing taxes and such. Rokugan's favorite food is rice, along with fish, seafood and vegetables. Red meat is looked down on, and nobility believes it makes them smell dirty. Usual clothing includes the kimono robe, usually including a samurai's clan colors and their mon (heraldic device).

Bushido is the code of the warrior that all samurai (are supposed to) adhere to. It emphasizes virtue, courage, loyalty, sincerity and excellence. Sincerity should be noted as not being the same as honesty: it is the ability to appear honest. Pointing out uncomfortable truths is not honorable because it causes a scene and brings embarrassment to everyone. A samurai's word is still valid, however - if they say they'll do something, they're expected to do it or die trying. Samurai are also expected to avenge insults and crimes against their family: for instance, if one samurai kills another, the deceased's family may appeal to their daimyo to talk to the killer's daimyo and arrange a proper blood feud. The death must be public for the feud to be valid, and once the challenger or the challenged die in this formal duel, the matter is (supposed to be) settled.

A samurai's sword is supposed to be their soul. They're very particular about them: not only are samurai the sole caste that may carry them legally, but disrespecting a sword is akin to disrespecting the samurai's ancestors. Even touching it can be grounds for insult and a duel. Because of all of this, etiquette is very important: people tend to ignore realities rather than embarrass themselves pointing them out. They're super polite to each other even though many people know most samurai are punks that need to be put in their place. Social rituals like gift-giving are very important and formal.

Again with society: the Emperor is at the top, and around him there are the Imperial Families, his blood relatives. These have no actual power, but they have direct access to the Emperor's ear and use it to trade favors and resources with the clans. The Imperial Magistrates are the Emperor's justice, commanded by the Emerald Champion. They do everything from manning way stations in the imperial roads to stopping assassination attempts, solving crimes against the Empire or even fighting Shadowlands raiders. Justice is ruthless, but it only considers direct testimony and confessions. Samurai may be punished with orders to commit seppuku, refusal to accept a seppuku request (forcing the samurai to live in shame) or granting seppuku with a wooden blade (because they're not believed to have the guts to go through with it.) Lesser crimes are punished with everything from public beatings to house arrest. The seven great Clan daimyos or Champions hold the real military power in Rokugan, as well as direct control over the land. They have their own magistrates as well, investigating crime and shady dealings in their provinces and keeping an eye on suspicious regions. Each clan comprises several families, all of which have a daimyo of their own. A samurai swears fealty to their family, the family swears it to their Clan Champion, and they swear it to the Emperor.

The chapter ends with a quick review of the rules. L5R is a d10 dicepool-based system called Roll and Keep. Rolls are usually made against a Target Number (say, 15), and a player rolls a number of dice and gets to keep some of them to try and meet or beat the TN. That's for Simple rolls; Contested rolls when one character tries to stop another from doing a thing are done against a relevant stat x 5 as the TN. If one makes the roll and the other fails, that's it: if both succeed, the highest roller wins, and if neither do the contest carries on. Players may also deliberately Raise their TNs by 5. Each Raise brings a better effect, like more damage in a weapon strike. Usually, rolls are of the Trait + Skill type, where you roll as many dice as points in the relevant trait and skill you have and keep as many as trait points you have. Dice that roll a 10 explode: you keep them, and roll them again.

Roll your Swag + Style, keep everything :whatup:

Next: highborn PCs, jury's out on whether they're doomed, murderous or manchildren

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

Apparently Wild Talents was a real Charles Fort book, and it's free online:

Madlands is awesome. Its one letter away from Badlands, but it probably is a sin to be glad you're alive in Madlands, since it attracts not-Tigger. The whole setting is gross and disturbing, but in a fun way, not a White Wolf/FATAL way. Those monsters remind me of yokai.

I like Hot War. You could probably mitigate some of the grimness by tossing in a dash of English surreal horror/fantasy: a pinch of The Prisoner/The Avengers/Doctor Who when he was trapped on Earth/We Happy Few/JG Ballard/New Wave sci-fi.

Hostile V posted:

Fun fact: a human pelvis can basically only seat one human (y'know, basically you from the waist up) so joke's on you, edgy DIY home improvement vampire who wanted a loveseat swing to snuggle upon their loved one while also saying "hello world, I am a loving psychopath, gently caress subtlety and gently caress the Masquerade, call the cops on my rear end if I left the curtains open again".

If people called the cops every time one of my weird artist/songwriter friends had decor that looked like a skeleton, they'd all be locked up. The first, second, and fifth assumption should be 'memento mori/art about mortality'.

Making one from a plastic skeleton would be fun.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 05:57 on Aug 10, 2016

Aug 23, 2009

Nessus posted:

Ah good, so Godlike here has the rules I need to run WWII JoJo's!

Oh good it wasn't just me. But wouldn't the 1940's still be all about Hamon? Stands are pretty rare until people start getting shot with the Arrows in the 1980's.

Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool

Toilet Rascal

Simian_Prime posted:

Digging those Madlands monsters.

They're really cool and actually fit with the setting, even more than Glorantha.

May 9, 2013

c:\>erase c:\reality.sys copy a:\gigacity\*.* c:

Traveller posted:

Hm, Brave New World is over and I don't think Eternal Hearts is bringing the required '90s levels to the thread. Here!

Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

It's not Japan okay

So '90s you'd think this was an Image comic cover

My favorite thing about that cover -- aside from that I think it's meant to depict the Emerald Champion of the time, Doji Satsume -- is that the poor bastard is holding his sword backwards. I guess he's so 90s he's going to bludgeon dudes to death while pretending to be Himura Kenshin?

Dec 22, 2003

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

Kavak posted:

Oh good it wasn't just me. But wouldn't the 1940's still be all about Hamon? Stands are pretty rare until people start getting shot with the Arrows in the 1980's.
A. The Arrow came to Earth at some unknown point and several characters in Part 3 and 4 so far have their Stands "just 'cuz," including one ancient sword that probably dates back to when Egypt was still into eyeliner and hawks.
B. Maybe Hitler hosed up and launched Arrow particles into the air as part of some effort to regrow his missing testicle.

Also Hamon would clearly be classed under the "tribal magic" things listed there, though you'd have to have the knack to breathe good breathes.

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Dark Secret: Likes Elfgames Unironically

I think you're supposed to protect the geeky wizard instead of hiding behind him, guys.

The second chapter, the Book of Water, is dedicated to character generation. What's that? You want more RPG FICTION? You got it! Ginawa rides with Hijiko. They're on a mission, and she doesn't appreciate his lack of manners. He's rubbing his belly after a good meal! Perhaps his skill is as dull as his manners. Ginawa takes the hint and they stop to engage in a mock duel with a couple of sticks. It's over quickly, and Hijiko smugs a little because she had him beat. Ginawa knows it's true (she made him overcompensate more than necessary) , but he doesn't want to show it. He grumbles and jumps a little when she catches him talking to himself - only ninja skulk about! Hijiko laughs: everyone knows ninja are peasant superstitions, but Ginawa has seen them. Hijiko asks when... Ginawa replies that it was the night his lord was killed. Foot well stuck in mouth, Hijiko tries to apologize, but Ginawa brushes it off. He has nightmares that night that keep him up and clutching his sword like a PTSD-ing veteran. Later, they meet the Scorpion magistrates they're supposed to meet: the Lion and the Crane are about to engage in a battle and both the Scorpions and Ataka (a Lion himself) want to know how it'll play out. Ginawa is rude to them, the Scorpions aren't too hot on him either, and Hijiko alternates between pulling rank on Ginawa and keeping from laughing at his antics. Travel papers are shown, they agree to ride together. Ginawa notes that Hijiko doesn't like them either, but she just muses that they gain nothing by loving them over. This is when Ginawa tells the story of the frog and the scorpion: a scorpion asks a frog for a ride across a river, the frog refuses because the scorpion will poison him, the scorpion is like "lol no" and the frog is like "lol ok" and of course the scorpion stings the frog midway and dooms them both. It's in their nature.

Scorpions are kinda dicks is what the book is saying.

So, characters! Players should start with a concept before taking pencil to character sheet, to really bring them to life, you know? Characters are more than just some numbers and notes. We get a number of questions to define the concept, from basic stuff like "what clan does the character belong to" and "are they a bushi or a shugenja" to "are they married? do they have children?" (Note that there are a couple of matriarchal families in Rokugan, the Matsu and Otaku, where the usual wife-husband roles are reversed) and "what do their parents think of them?" We also get notes on samurai archetypes: brash, noble, courtier, reluctant, rogue, scholar. This is just fluff so far, no hard numbers or anything. Names are made up according to what sounds "easy" or "fun" to pronounce from a list of syllables. It's Rokugan, not Japan!

The numbers show up now. Each character is defined by five Rings. They are Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Void. The first four have Traits attached to them. Earth has Stamina and Willpower, Water has Strength and Perception, Fire has Agility and Intelligence, and Air has Reflexes and Awareness. These are all rated from 1 to 5; a Ring's value is the least of its Traits. Void has no traits, and it's sort of an ur-Ring that encompasses them all. Characters have a reserve of Void Points that can be used to enhance rolls or power certain techniques. Characters also have Skills, stuff they know how to do. A character picks a Clan, a Family within the Clan and a School where the character trained to become a bushi (fighter) or shugenja (spellcaster/vaguely defined priest). Note that you don't have to attend a school just because it has your family's name on it (so you can have Kuni bushi or Kakita shugenja, for instance) Each School has different techniques, starting Techniques and gear, and other attributes. Characters get 25 Character Points to distribute between their traits and skills, as well as purchasing Advantages. Of course, this is a '90s game so there have to be Disadvantages you can get for more sweet Character Points, though you can only get a maximum of 10 extra points from Disadvantages. Skills can be raised up to a maximum of two ranks at chargen (so max skill rating starting out is 3 for school skills and 2 for the rest) at a cost of 1 CP per skill point, while traits are raised at 8 CP per rank and 12 to raise the Void Ring. Characters have Wounds, which serve to show how much damage they can take before going down. Wounds have levels, and each level equals Earth x 2 Wound points. As you go down in levels your character takes more and more penalties to their dice rolls until they're Down, Out or Dead. A '90s game with a death spiral? Perish the thought.

Furthermore, characters have Honor. No, not talking about that other honor. Honor is rated from 0 to 5. At high Honor ranks, characters become more rigid and inflexible, but also more noble and trustworthy and viceversa. A character's starting Honor depends on their Clan and school, and usually goes from 1 to 3. Each Honor rank is made of ten Honor points, which are gained or lost depending on the character's actions and deeds. Honor can also be increased with CP or decreased to get extra CP at chargen. Characters also have Insight, a measure of how well known they're in Rokugan, which is the sum of all Rings multiplied by ten plus all their skill points. Their School Rank is how advanced they are in their school's techniques, and they must accumulate more Insight (by increasing Skills and Rings) to progress in their School. When they hit a new Insight rank (Characters will have some 110-130ish starting Insight) at 150 and then every 25 points after, they can go back to their school sensei and level up train to the next level THIS ISN'T D&D GODDANGIT. Glory is how well-known and respected your character is in Rokugan--- wait, wasn't Insight the "fame" trait? Ugh. Anyway Glory indicates your character's status in Rokugan's social ladder. It starts equal to your School Rank (so 1 for starter characters) and increases as you level your School Rank or perform glorious deeds. It is rated from 1 to 10 and each rank also has a number of Glory points. Only the Emperor has Glory 10, while PCs move around the 1-6 region. Non-samurai have Glory 0. Finally, characters start with an Outfit depending on their starting school. Usually it comprises katana and wakizashi for bushi, along with extra weapons, some armor traveling gear and some pocket money, while shugenja get a spell scroll bag, writing tools and maybe a weapon.

Skills! They have several divisions depending on how honorable or dishonorable they are. High Skills are for noble characters and performing them is honorable. Somehow Acting is a High skill even though we were told actors were hinin before. Oh well! They also comprise stuff like Etiquette, Calligraphy, History, Lore (of various kinds, like Shadowlands Lore or Shugenja Lore), Heraldry, Horsemanship, Investigation, Meditation Music, Poetry and Sincerity (lying your rear end off is honorable, see) The Shintao skill must be raised to 3 or more in order to increase Traits past 5, so hit your books if you want to get really swole. Bugei skills are martial ones. All weapons have their own weapon skill except for swords, which all are covered by Kenjutsu. Archery rolls use Reflexes rather than Agility as expected because Rokugani archers use their instinct over barbarian tricks like actually aiming at stuff. There's also things like Battle (how to command and fight as an organized unit), Defense, Jiujutsu (punch a motherfucker) Iaijutsu (the fast draw, used to strike in the first round of combat instead of wasting time pulling your blade out and for formal iaijutsu duels) and "sumai" Wrestling. Merchant skills are not dishonorable, but neither are they honorable. They cover stuff like Craft (of all kinds, though weapon and armor crafting is honorable) Commerce (how to handle money, dishonorable for samurai) and Herbalism. Low skills are dishonorable. Forgery, Gambling, Poison, Seduction, Stealth, Torture. Don't get caught using these. While some skills have clear methods of use (Meditation is one hour of concentration and a TN20 roll to recover all Void Points) many don't, even stuff like Medicine, Poison or Horsemanship.

Advantages and Disadvantages. Let's see! For good stuff, you can get things like Absolute Direction (1 point, you never get lost, +2 dice to any rolls to figure out where you are), Blackmail (you have dirt on someone, costs are equal to target's glory rank and one point less for Scorpions, so by RAW you could have dirt on every last peasant and merchant and Scorpions could have dirt on every Glory 1 samurai forever) Different School (5 points, you can take a School outside your clan), Great Destiny (4 points, you have an important destiny and can escape certain death once per story) Inheritance (you get an ancestral item, costs go from 3 to 20! and the exact effects are pure GM fiat :catstare:) Large (you're huge, 2 points, 1 for Crabs) or True Friend (your NPC friend sticks for you, costs depend on the friend's position and the depth of their devotion). Bad stuff includes Bad Fortune (1 point, you roll on a table that includes things like 'you lack one item from your starting gear' to 'a very important roll in your future will automatically fail, eat it') Black Sheep (5 points, your family hates you and treats you as eta and you can't progress in your school beyond Rank 1 :stare:), Chemical Dependency (3 points you're addicted to something, like alcohol or opium), Dark Secret (5 points, there's some seppuku-worthy poo poo in your past that someone might just dig up) Haunted (an ancestor ghost spooks you, costs depend on how often they show up in a story) Social Disadvantage (3 points, you lose 1 Glory rank each time you take this, ronin must have at least 3 points of Social Disadvantage) or True Love (3 points, you're in love and when you have to choose between your ~*true love*~ and your Clan you have to spend a Void Point to do so and if you lose your love's favor you can't spend Void Points at all until you get it back)

And now, the Clans! A neat thing about the clan pages is that they're in color and they summarize the character generation rules, so you can create a character with less page flipping. In true '90s fashion, we also get stereotypes of what Clans think of the others. How exciting!

The Crab Clan lives in the southwest corner of the Empire, facing Fu Leng's Shadowlands for a thousand years. They are used to fighting under terrible conditions against foes that outnumber them three to one. They believe in honesty over sincerity, which doesn't make them many friends in Rokugan's courts, and they loathe being lied to. As far as they are concerned, the strong rule over the weak: the first Hantei beat the first Hida so they owe fealty, but if a Hida could take the throne from a Hantei they would do so without hesitation. The families of the Crab are the Hida (+1 Strength), the main family of the Clan; the Kuni (+1 Intelligence), the sinister-looking shugenja family; and the Yasuki (+1 Awareness), politicians and merchants that serve as the Crab's diplomats and link to the outside world. The Yasuki used to be a Crane family, but they shifted loyalties around the time of the first Crane-Crab war and the Crane hate them for it.

The Crab's shugenja school is the Kuni school. +1 to Willpower, starting Honor 1.5, they get a free Raise to Earth spells. Their skills are Calligraphy, Defense, Kenjutsu, Meditation, Shadowlands Lore, any one High skill and any one weapon skill. Their beginning spells are Sense, Commune, Summon, 3 Earth spells, 2 Fire spells and 1 Water spell.

Their bushi school is the Hida school (+1 Stamina, starting Honor 1.5). Its skills are Archery, Battle, Defense, Jiujutsu, Kenjutsu, Shadowlands Lore and Tetsubo.
  • Rank 1: the bushi adds Earth to the total of their attack and damage rolls, and they can use heavy armor without penalties.
  • Rank 2: Once a day, they may spend one Void Point to make a TN 20 Earth roll that negates all damage from a single blow.
  • Rank 3: the bushi gets two attacks per turn.
  • Rank 4: the bushi may sacrifice 3 Wound points at the beginning of a turn to keep an additional die in attack and damage rolls.
  • Rank 5: the bushi can spend a Void point each turn and make a single action even if they are Down, Out or Dead.

The :black101: est dudes.

Stereotypes posted:

Crane: They exploit the favor system to the extreme, to the point of ridiculousness. They rely on those favors and the Emperor's graces to save them from destruction.
Dragon: Who knows anything about the Dragon? They remain hidden away in their mountain keeps and 'contemplate truth.' Send one of their samurai out with me to the Shadowlands and I'll show him truth.
Lion: It is the Lion whom we respect most. Their courage and strength are the reason. They do not claim nobility as the Crane do, but allow their actions to speak for them. However, that does not change the fact that they are all pompous fools.
Phoenix: They may be weak, but they are also willing to acknowledge their weakness. Still, I have seen what a Phoenix shugenja can do, and I would not mind having one on my side the next time the Shadowlands invade.
Scorpion: The Crane relies on favors and the Scorpion relies on secrets. Both are cowards; the Scorpion is just more clever about it.
Unicorn: Theirs is a mighty force to contend with, but they rely too heavily on their speed. We acknowledge the right of the strong, not the lucky.

The Crane Clan lives to the east, by the coast. They use political maneuvering to keep their position as advisors to the Emperor. All Emperors marry Crane ladies, so all Emperors have had a Crane as their mother. Many daimyo also have Cranes as their mothers, so the clan can call in favors from almost all clans at any time. They've also attracted the finest swordsmen in the Empire to teach at their dojo, and attending their iaijutsu school is one of the greatest (and most expensive) honors a samurai can get. Their families are the Doji (+1 Awareness), whose leader is Doji Satsume, "probably the most famous warrior-poet of the Empire" and also maybe the guy in the book's cover; the Kakita (+1 Agility), whose fencing school is the most famous of the Empire; and the peaceful Asahina (+1 Perception), formerly a Phoenix family that went to the Crane when a Phoenix shugenja was saved by a Kakita samurai-maiden.

The Crane's shugenja school is the Asahina school. +1 Awareness, 3.5 starting Honor. They get a free raise to Air spells. Their skills are Etiquette, Meditation, Shintao, Calligraphy, and any three High skills. Their beginning spells are Sense, Commune, Summon, 3 Air spells, 2 Earth spells and 1 Water spell.

Their bushi school is the Kakita school (+1 Reflexes, 3.5 starting Honor.) Their skills are Archery, Etiquette, Iaijutsu, Kenjutsu, Sincerity, any High skill, and any High or Bugei skill.

  • Rank 1: the bushi adds Iaijutsu to initiative rolls and may use Iaijutsu instead of Kenjutsu.
  • Rank 2: the bushi may raise the TN by any value instead of 5 during iaijutsu duels.
  • Rank 3: the bushi may spend more than one Void Point in iaijutsu duels.
  • Rank 4: the bushi may attack twice per turn.
  • Rank 5: before initiative is rolled, the bushi may make a Void vs Void roll with their opponent. If the bushi wins, they may attack them with a TN of 5.

The :sparkles:est dudes.

Stereotypes posted:

Crab: There is more to bushido than swordplay. Their strength and courage is admirable, but their lack of respect for civilization is their downfall. A stubborn, arrogant and uneducated brute you must pacify with a pretty wife: that is a Crab.
Dragon: I would not pretend to understand their ways. All I know of the Dragon is their devotion to mysteries and their tattoos. We are seldom able to procure favors from the Dragon, for they are reluctant to step outside their monastic temples.
Lion: The Lion are our most dangerous rivals. They despise us for our position and how we gained it. Their lack of skill in the court has not improved their position at all, and neither has their hot headed pride.
Phoenix: Of all the other Clans, we respect them most of all. They are a civilized Clan who understands the necessity of our ways. Never lose favor with the Phoenix, for the knowledge of a single shugenja can be worth more than a thousand samurai.
Scorpion: Our most brilliant foe. There is nothing more convincing than the smile of a Scorpion. Once they discover your secrets, you will never be free from their manipulations.
Unicorn: Their distance from us is unfortunate for there is much we can gain from them. They have only returned to the Empire in the past two hundred years, and are eager for allies in our uncertain Empire. Any man who is eager for allies owns something you can gain.

The Dragon Clan lives up north in the mountains. Togashi retired to those mountains a thousand years ago and it wasn't until three samurai joined him in the mountains that the Dragon Clan was born. Everything since then is just speculation. There are rumored to be many secret orders in the clan, one of which - the ise zumi tattooed monks - is part of Rokugan's popular culture, with fanciful stories about monks that fly in the air, shift their shapes and breathe fire. Their shugenja have unexplained powers, but other shugenja claim that they do not understand the basic points of magic. Their bushi schools teaches how to fight with both wakizashi and katana, and while Kakita practitioners scoff at the thought they do so to rep their school instead of actually lacking respect for the Dragon technique. Their families are the Togashi (+1 Agility), ruled by the mysterious Togashi Yokuni and home to the ise zumi order; the Mirumoto (+1 any Trait), known for their adaptability; and the Agasha (+1 Awareness), the most "traditional" of the Dragon families.

Their shugenja school is the Agasha school. +1 any Trait, 2.5 starting Honor. They get a free Raise to Fire spells. Their skills are Shintao, History, Calligraphy, Meditation and any High or Bugei skill. Their beginning spells are Sense, Commune, Summon, 3 Fire spells, 2 Earth spells and 1 Air spell.

Their bushi school is the Mirumoto school (+1 any Trait, 2.5 starting Honor) Their skills are Archery, Defense, Kenjutsu, Meditation, Shugenja Lore, any one High or Bugei skill.

  • Rank 1: the bushi gets +5 to their TN to be hit as long as they're wielding both katana and wakizashi.
  • Rank 2: the bushi gets 2 attacks per turn.
  • Rank 3: the bushi can spend a Void point to give a spell targeting them a free Raise, or to increase their TN in 5.
  • Rank 4: if the bushi kills an opponent with an attack, it does not count as one of their attacks this round and may attack again immediately.
  • Rank 5: the bushi gets 3 attacks per turn.

The :greencube:est dudes.

Stereotypes posted:

Crab: The Crab hides in his shell. The seagull lifts him in the sky and drops him and then eats the crushed remains. The badger turns him over and eats him inside out. His shell is his weakness. If he casts away his weakness, he can use his pincers.
Crane: Relying on the weakness of others is ignoring one's own strengths.
Lion: The Lion is sleepy until roused, and then it is ferocious. If you keep the Lion sleepy, it is of no danger to you, but also reluctant to come to your aid.
Phoenix: They are brothers reborn in the fires of knowledge. We are both seeking the same thing, but our roads are different. Sometimes they cross, however, and then we regain our bearings, learn how close we are and - sometimes - decide to switch paths.
Scorpion: Do not be misled. It is not the pincers that can kill you. It is the tail it keeps hidden behind its back.
Unicorn: They say the sighting of an Unicorn is good luck. Fortune is theirs, but she is a fickle mistress, easily turned against you with baubles and empty praise.

Next: the other clans, and a new and completely inferior character type.

Traveller fucked around with this message at 16:40 on Aug 11, 2016

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso

taichara posted:

My favorite thing about that cover -- aside from that I think it's meant to depict the Emerald Champion of the time, Doji Satsume -- is that the poor bastard is holding his sword backwards. I guess he's so 90s he's going to bludgeon dudes to death while pretending to be Himura Kenshin?
No, see, the blade is just facing that way because of the way his wrist is turned. When he swings it forward and down it will be facing forward again.

His real problem is that his right wrist is so badly broken that his hand is backwards. Not to mention that compound fracture of the elbow.

Jan 29, 2009
Probably wouldn't hurt him to open his eyes so he can react to whatever is going on, either.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
It's a John Wick game. Where we're going, we won't need eyes to see.

(also what is a :greencube:)


Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Well, it's raining like crazy and so I can't go hike in the mountains, so it's time for more Ironclaw

Working our way west across Calabria, we're going to cover the Doloreaux. The Doloreaux are another conservative faction, similar to the Avoirdupois, except that unlike the Horses they're in a pretty goddamn bad place at the moment and will probably be forced to change or take drastic measures or risk becoming a rump state. Both their neighbors hate them (The Phelan and the Avoirdupois), their land isn't particularly fertile or good for feeding their people, their only major sea-port is cut off from most of their lands by a dangerous overland route requiring passing through mountains infested by a hostile tribal goat people who do not like or bargain with any outsiders, their religion and social structure are facing serious pressure from their neighbors and foreign influence, and in general the Boars are not having a particularly rosy modern era. This is all saying nothing of the fact that their land is covered in ruins that may date back to the Autarchs, the fabled and terrible wizard kings who once ruled Calabria, or the legacy of the great tyrant, who was either a surviving Autarch or a boar who managed to discover some of their secrets and become Dark Lord of all boars for centuries over a millennia ago. They also face religious strife, as the state religion of the Doloreaux is a pagan nature worship that faces increasing pressure from S'Allumerite missionaries and scholars. Thus, unlike the Avoirdupois, who are a superpower and thus pretty content with the status quo (even as it threatens to knock them off their comfortable perch) the Doloreaux can see they're going to have to change things up and they're none too happy.

Doloreaux history is complicated by the fact that until 100 years ago, they kept everything to oral tradition. There are dozens of versions of each major historical event, and the far-back history of the land is so wrapped up in Lutaran (their religion) mythological cycles about the conflict between light and dark, natural and unnatural, that it is very difficult indeed to ascertain their accuracy. Like every House, the Doloreaux will claim to be the eldest people of Calabria, dating their arrival back to an age of legends 2000 years ago. The one thing their sources agree on was that northern Calabria was a refuge for the boars, whether they were fleeing the (supposedly) apocalyptic wars of the great wizard kings or just seeking a new home, until Septagus came. Septagus was (according to legend, though archeologists have found some evidence of a similar man with a similar name, referred to as the wizard prince of the boars and prisoner of the catacomb, whatever that means) a mighty wizard lord himself, and a terrible evil. He is to this day a common bogeyman for the Doloreaux, and within their religion he is sometimes portrayed as the opposite number to the Goddess Lutara, being the representative of darkness and evil. He supposedly enslaved their ancestors, until a great hero named Brugue the Strong was empowered by the Goddess and rose up to defend the people. Brugue's exploits seem to be a mere mythological cycle, talking of battles with giant flying lizards and common meetings with his goddess as he journeyed the land and fought epic battles, seeking the gifts and favors of his goddess until he was able to defeat the terrible wizard lord, but they are also some of the only written history of that far-off time period. They were chronicled in a great epic poem, written by an early priestess of Lutara. Whether this age of legend really existed or this is simple mythologized history about legendary founder of the nation is difficult to discern; in our world this would be easy, but magic obviously exists in Calabria and was almost certainly stronger in the old days.

The Doloreaux persisted as tribal warrior bands, united some by their common belief in the worship of Lutara, until they met the hardened Avoirdupois in battle for the first time, after the Avoirdupois' conflict with the sea-raiders had already formalized their professional army. The boars were slaughtered, and some of their lands absorbed, sparking a rivalry that would continue until the present day. The most powerful chieftains came together to try to match the drilled and disciplined Avoirdupois, and are seen as the direct ancestors of the current noble house of Doloreaux. Thus began 300 years of expansion and war, as the new feudal system caught on and the need to expand the holdings of the state in order to expand the ranks of the nobility caught fire. They expanded as far as they could, but could never actually defeat the Avoirdupois decisively, and were rebuffed by the Legions of the Rinaldi in the south. Once they had reached their limit for their borders, infighting developed; they believed at the time that no lord could hold a lordship without corresponding grants of land, much like the horses, and so with a limited amount of land in their possession the lords and would-be lords fell to fighting over it. This led to the creation of titles of merit bought from the crown by wealth and coinage, rather than land, permitting people to take court posts without necessarily needing to hold significant estates.

Special note needs to be made here of the Chevernaise. These tribal goat people live in the north of what is technically Doloreaux land, controlling the Rothos mountains. The Doloreaux have tried countless times to rid themselves of the goats over the centuries, and have always failed. The Chevernaise raid caravans and attack travelers, and worship strange spirits that no outsider really understands. They are considered demons and monsters by the boars, especially as they cut the Doloreaux off from easy access to the northern port of Epinian and its tremendous mineral wealth; while Epinian is technically in their domain, and a source of much of the crown's finance, moving things to and from the port is a nightmare because of the rough terrain and the hostile tribesmen. This landlocking, combined with the poor agricultural quality of Doloreaux land, means the boars are becoming increasingly economically desperate. This fact is beginning to unite the houses of Doloreaux behind the idea that they are falling further and further behind, so why wait? Now is the best time to unite the nation as one and make real, total war upon their traditional enemies. If the Doloreaux lack for food and sea access, they do not lack for ore and smithies; the rolling hills and mountains of their land yield high quality materials that can make very fine cannon and guns. Similarly, with the advent of print, the Doloreaux are one of the only houses considering that it may be possible to form actual organized units and corps of wizards. Some of their nobles also pick at the ancient ruins of their homeland, wondering what powers and secrets might hide among them. The Doloreaux are aware they are losing on the economic front, and plan to make a great and final effort to seize what they need by any means necessary, before it is too late.

Next: The Culture of the Doloreaux and Lutaran Faith.

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