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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


SirPhoebos posted:

Damnit, now I have to figure out if L5R using Palladium rules is something I need in my life or a horror to run away from!

You know I can work this out.

It would just be a different class for each clan samurai but the only thing different would be their skill packages and stat minimums, so you could be born a clan samurai but not qualify for it. Mysteriously, they would all have Radio: Basic. Rules for shugenja would be announced for Mystic Rokugan back in 1999, but still unreleased as of 2016. :downs:

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kaynorr
Dec 31, 2003



Is there anywhere on the web where I can see a somewhat detailed summary of the L5R metaplot over the years and how the CCG tournaments shaped it? It might be goofy as hell but there is nothing like it and I'm curious what all those guys with clan flags on their backs were doing at GenCon while I was playing Shadowrun.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



My L5R in another engine story is that I'd never heard of it when I got the 3e Oriental Adventures book. I thought the game was meant be played either normally or in no-fun humans only stuffy rainbow samurai mode. I thought the restrictions were just some author's bad idea of fantasy historical accuracy (magic samurai would NEVER willingly hang out with Japanese dwarves!) And summarily ignored the setting restrictions to run a campaign with like Vanara Shugenja and a Crab-clan Sohei.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me! :swoon:


theironjef posted:

My L5R in another engine story is that I'd never heard of it when I got the 3e Oriental Adventures book. I thought the game was meant be played either normally or in no-fun humans only stuffy rainbow samurai mode. I thought the restrictions were just some author's bad idea of fantasy historical accuracy (magic samurai would NEVER willingly hang out with Japanese dwarves!) And summarily ignored the setting restrictions to run a campaign with like Vanara Shugenja and a Crab-clan Sohei.

Well that's not all too far from the truth! :haw:

EDIT: I remember the 3E Oriental Adventures suggested that the DM can have each Clan be a traditional D&D race. The best was making the Scorpion halflings-the mental image of Kachiko as a hobbit made up for all the other dumb stuff in that book.

On the topic of the Lion being ultra-boring, they're stuck playing humans in this variant.

SirPhoebos fucked around with this message at 21:33 on Sep 1, 2016

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Simian_Prime posted:

I have no problem with Clan infighting, but there doesn't seem to be any clear reason for it besides "petty high-school backstabbing." It would be nice if the books gave us a clear understanding of the stakes involved ("they complete for land or X resource, or for the favor of the Emperor, or for strategic advantage against the Shadowlands, etc."). But instead they just say "of course they fight with each other, they're character splats! That's what character splats *do*. Now read this list of our favorite pet NPCs..."

I guess the writers knew of the Sengoku era, but they didn't want to go all out to preserve their setting or something. So it's clans fighting each other for reasons. It's Feudal Not-Japan. Those whacky samurai are fighting each other all the time, amirite?!

SirPhoebos posted:

EDIT: I remember the 3E Oriental Adventures suggested that the DM can have each Clan be a traditional D&D race. The best was making the Scorpion halflings-the mental image of Kachiko as a hobbit made up for all the other dumb stuff in that book.

Which clan is the most Kender of them all?

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



SirPhoebos posted:

Well that's not all too far from the truth! :haw:

EDIT: I remember the 3E Oriental Adventures suggested that the DM can have each Clan be a traditional D&D race. The best was making the Scorpion halflings-the mental image of Kachiko as a hobbit made up for all the other dumb stuff in that book.

On the topic of the Lion being ultra-boring, they're stuck playing humans in this variant.

Oh right! I remember there was a rad pencil sketch of a dwarf crab in there, but it was buried under text the way 3e always did.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



There are other non-human species in L5R, btw, than the Nezumi and Shadowlands guys. You've got, let's see, the Naga, the Five Races (Troll, Zokujin [read: molemen], Kenku [read: tengu], Ningyo [read: merfolk] and the Kitsu), the various spirits, and the Ashalan (read: sand elf vampires).

Rokugan isn't big fans of any of them except MAYBE the Kenku and the Kitsu.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


"Vaguely based on a very inaccurate surface reading of history and edgy 'gritty realism' maybe." describes a lot of Wick's early work.

Covok
May 27, 2013

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


chiasaur11 posted:

As for their virtue, well, if your virtue makes you abuse children, drown yourself in pride, and send good soldiers to a pointless death, I'm not sure losing that virtue is that much of a cost to society.

I'm not sure what you're referring to here since I'm not following this F&F, but I remember L5R 4th Edition addressing issues like this by reminding people to view life and death in much different terms than our modern, western perspective would lead us to. It's one of the issues, I feel, that a lot of game settings can suffer from at some point: the issue of modern values clashing with the setting's values. Ironic, I suppose, since an element of this hobby is entering a fantastic world that is not like our own.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



4e also presents the 'child abuse' thing as rumors other clans tell but which aren't accurate for 90% of the Lion.

Emerald Empire is a good book.

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005
The Biden administration is actively fighting to withhold COVID vaccinations from our child concentration camps and pointing out that somebody used the word "democrat" as an adjective will not make that fact go away

Mors Rattus posted:

4e also presents the 'child abuse' thing as rumors other clans tell but which aren't accurate for 90% of the Lion.

Emerald Empire is a good book.
I remember one of the writers as early as 2e talking about how "no, that's retarded, the Lion wouldn't kill off 90% of their children before their gempukku when their armies need soldiers" and taking the piss in some fiction where we got to "see" a prospective Lion go through the gempukku ceremonies, getting a pass through VERY creative interpretation of the conditions.

And, especially in 1e, the whole thing of "the Clans go to war all the time for dumb reasons" makes even more sense than it does later; they each have their own reasons, on top of the general reason of "an idle warrior class stifling under an impossible code of honor" thing. Like...the Lion take their "stewards of the Emperor" thing super seriously, and are OBVIOUSLY the most honorable and strong and would do a better job looking after their neighbor's lands which belong to the Emperor anyway in the long run, and our armies need the practice and farmland besides. Meanwhile the Crab keep getting shut down in the courts for being dirty and gross and bringing up taboo subjects, and decide "gently caress it, we'll just take what we need, for the good of the empire" and invade the Crane again. Et cetera, et cetera.

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Way of the Lion: :stonklol:


TEST YOUR MIGHT

Time for our important NPC section. We start with Akodo Kage. He was son of a lesser Akodo lord, raised in relative peace and then sent to the Akodo bushi school. At a young age, he proved adept in the physical arts, quickly mastering kenjutsu and studying numerous methods of hand to hand combat. As a youth, he served in the Emperor's personal guard as well as the Akodo armies, skipping many ranks due to his proficiency in arms. This gained him enemies, but he was a fit commander. The Emperor himself asked him to join the Imperial Guard, where he distinguished himself and also served as an Imperial magistrate in the capital. He is kind of a hermit, rarely speaking his mind and practicing what he calls 'reclusive meditation' which involves long journeys to the Phoenix mountains. He married the Emperor's cousin, and it was whispered that he would assume the throne if the Emperor did not have a heir. He did, and five years later his wife died of the plague: Kage was grief-stricken and never remarried. Turning to the study of the Tao, he met a young Akodo Toturi in a monastery, and grew interested in the boy, teaching him bushido and kenjutsu. He even asked his Champion to allow Toturi to return with Kage as his tutor, but he was refused. Only when Arasou died in battle did the Akodo finally listen to him. Since then, he has been revered as one of the most honorable sensei of the Akodo house. He tried to avert battle between the Lion and Crane before Arasou's attack on Toshi Ranbo, and though he was not successful the Crane remember his efforts. He was also instrumental in making peace with the Unicorn after a border skirmish led to a troop of battle maidens riding off a cliff rather than dying at the hands of bandits; Kage managed to avert open war and rescue the Lion troops that had invaded the Unicorn lands while searching for the same bandits. He has often visited the Unicorn lands since, and many of the Shinjo consider him a man of great wisdom. His current most promising student is Matsu Hiroru, younger brother of the Matsu daimyo. Kage is not dishonorable, but knows that sometimes the rules of bushido must be broken for the good of the Clan, yet deep inside knows that bushido keeps civilization alive. Without it, all would surely fall to ruin. Akodo Bushi 5, great stats and skills, solid duder. He's got Major Allies (unknown) and Sworn Enemies (unknown), and both Toturi and Hiroru as Dependants even though those two are more than able to take care of themselves.

There's only one other thing. His Honor is 4.2, and that's what all Honor-interacting mechanics use. But his real Honor is 0.5. And he's got a Dark Secret: he's a the loving Kolat Master!


He also has Lore (Warhams) A Low skill.

Akodo Toturi was the first son of an Akodo and Matsu couple. Before his birth, Akodo and Matsu samurai were not allowed to marry due to the competition between both houses and to avoid the strife such a child would cause. However, his father (youngest son of the Champion) was allowed to marry the youngest daughter of the Matsu daimyo as long as any male children were raised as Akodo. His father did not do this for love or power, but to strengthen the loyalty between the feuding families: the Matsu had been gaining significant power through their battles with the Crane and threatened the Akodo power within the Clan. When he was born, the Akodo celebrated him as an heir to his father's house, but the Matsu expected a daughter and assumed he would be a weakling and failure. He was taken to the dojo at the age of 5, and his training was disastrous: he was meek and more interested in the Tao than warfare. Eventually even the Akodo agreed that the boy was useless, and they sent him to a monastery. For over ten years he was raised by the monks, dedicating himself to studying tactics and strategies and the writings of enlightened masters such as Uikku. The only Lion Clan member that paid any attention to the boy was Akodo Kage, who used much of his "meditation" time at the monastery working with Toturi so that he wasn't completely untutored in the martial arts. Back home, his parents had a second child, Arasou, who seemed to have all the aptitude for war and violence that Toturi lacked - he was soon proclaimed heir to the Akodo line on the back of his first major victory against the Unicorn. Both brothers met only rarely for festivals and formal occasions. Arasou was bethroted to Matsu Tsuko, daughter of the Matsu daimyo - an unprecendented move as it would mean that both houses would share a single leadership if Arasou became the Champion. Tsuko and Arasou were made each other and loved each other, but delayed their marriage as Arasou boasted he would give his bride Toshi Ranbo as a wedding gift. Arasou was killed in battle, however, and his uncle (the heirless Lion Champion) was mortally wounded. Toturi's father was too old to have another child, so he recalled him to lead the Akodo. Toturi was not ready, but he threw himself into his new duty and the Lion have thrived in the years since, though Tsuko never accepted him. He considers strategy more important than bloodshed, and his skill in tactics and ability to negotiate have given him the reputation of a good daimyo, if not a good warlord. He is engaged to marry Isawa Kaede, Mistress of the Void. Their wedding was arranged when both were infants, and both have not spoken for many years other than by letter. Akodo Bushi 4, has the Ear of the Emperor and a Great Destiny! Also an Obligation to Kage and True Love (Hatsuko) :ohdear: He also has Lore (many) at 3-5, because.


The DARK SAMURAI. Really.

Ikoma Ryozo, the DARK SAMURAI, was born twisted and deformed with shrunken limbs and withered hands. Many thought he would die, but his mother prayed to the Fortunes to save him: next morning, his limbs were straightened and he was whole. It was called a miracle, a gift from the Sun Goddess to his mother, who came to be revered as a paragon of virtue. His father, a former Matsu, spoke little of his birth and rarely approached his wife after that night, with rumors that he did not want to stain her purity or tempt fate with another child. The truth is, he did not want to know how she had performed the miracle: Ryozo's mom had dabbled in maho all her life, and her journals contained strange magics and other dark rituals. When his father discovered the truth, he burned the journals and forbade her to practice magic, and they never discussed the matter again. She retired to a convent after her husband died in a skirmish, and Ryozo grew without knowing the truth of his miracle. He is fine warrior and superb leader, and he achieves a sort of uncanny clarity in battle: he calls it his "deathwatch", when time slows down for him, his body glows faintly and his hands leave trails of shadow. Other Lion that see his aura recoil and remember the tales of Ryozo's birth - surely this is the power of the Sun herself? He has dark skin, and considers his Taint to be part of his destiny. He rejects all attempts to identify or remove it, as he believes it to be a gift from Amaterasu. He doesn't consider himself dishonored by his 'birthmark.' Matsu Bushi 4, way below Insight, and with Death Trance and Deathwatch as Advantages. Deathwatch itself gets no mechanical support, though. Oh, and Shadowlands Taint 0.3.


Fresh from a rousing session of beating the snot out of someone.

Ikoma Tsanuri had a very auspicious birth on New Year's Day, as when she breathed her first breath a crow flew into the room and rested on her crib. Afterwards, it was learned that a leper beggar at the city gate had been suddenly healed overnight. Her parents rejoiced at the omens, knowing their daughter was destined for greatness. The Kitsu daimyo himself suggested that she should be allowed to choose her own destiny. A fan, a mempo and a scroll were placed in front of the four year old child: she stood up, walked towards the throne, beyond it, and took a young Akodo Toturi's hand. Her parents were outraged, to the point of accusing the Kitsu daimyo of being a Scorpion imposter. Her father drew his sword and threw it at the shugenja's feet, and in the silence that followed the little girl picked up the sword with Toturi's help and gave it back. Her father fell to the ground and begged Toturi to raise her; he would commit suicide that night. For the next decade, she lived with Shinsei monks learning history, philosophy and religion, but her true calling was the martial arts, trained by Akodo Kage just like Toturi before her. She returned with Toturi to the Clan after Arasou died, and over the last few years she has served as his karo. She is worried about rumors of Matsu officers questioning Toturi's authority and her own, and she spars regularly with Matsu Tsuko to head off any difficulties. Akodo Bushi 1, but already the daimyo's karo? Nepotism!


Speaking, stabbing, it's all the same innit.

Ikoma Ujiaki is the foremost Lion diplomat, though also trained with the sword. He fought as a banner-bearer in battles against the Phoenix and been in combat many times, transfered to the diplomatic corps when he received a near-fatal wound. Since then, he performs his duties with a savageness that matches his Lion battle fury. Every situation is a challenge to him and he takes defeat as a personal insult. He controls the Lion political strength, not afraid to using his contacts and allies to get the best of a situation. When the Crane ask the Emperor to have Lion armies withdrawn, he puts them in a strong position. When the Phoenix argue, he threatens. He is not a pleasant man; clever and arrogant, he uses brute force to gain what manipulation cannot. His hatred of the Crane is deep and he wastes no opportunity to oppose them. He used to be a diplomat to the Hantei court because of his lineage, but his temper and rashness cost him his position, something he blames solely on Kakita Yoshi. He's clever, but not brilliant, and can't stand not being told he is not one of the foremost minds of the Empire. Ikoma Bard 5, which really makes me wonder how he can deal with Doji and Bayushi courtiers. Or how he survived years of frontline battle. Also Honor 1.3. He does have an Intelligence of 6 - without the Shintao 3 to back it up. Needless to say, he's low on Insight.


Say 'Kitsu Motso' three times fast.

Kitsu Motso was expected to join the Kitsu shugenja school since birth. He failed miserably. The ancestors did not talk to him, did not see or hear him, did not care about him. There were rumors about his mother's faithfulness to her lord, and he was devastated. All his life he had been assured by his father, the Kitsu daimyo, that becoming a shugenja was his destiny and yet the Kitsu denied him. Instead, he joined the Matsu bushi school and turned his hatred and anger inside - he has never forgiven his ancestors for not giving him his 'rightful place.' It's rare that a Kitsu is born with too little of their ancestor's blood already, and even rarer for that child to be the daimyo's child. Yet with the Matsu he showed an aptitude for combat that seemed to make up for his lack of magic talent. His sword was swift, but he also had keen intellect and tactical acumen. He has served the Matsu family since his gempukku and follows their creed. But he has never settled down, never married, and never admitted to himself that he is anything other than content with his position in life. Some say he is the ideal choice for a husband to Matsu Tsuko now that her betrothed is long dead, others whisper he will be the next Keeper of the Hall of Ancestors. He is fearsome in the battlefield with his personal prowess and skill for tactics; he is also vain, arrogant, angry and his inner thoughts veer towards retribution and destruction of others. He has never forgiven the Kitsu shugenja, and doesn't ask for his ancestors' advice before going into battle. Matsu Bushi 4 with stats better suited for a Rank 1 PC, a Heart of Vengeance for the Kitsu, and a Kaiu Sword (!)



But Ancestors don't let you do that kinda thing!

Kitsu Toju is brother to Motso and one of the finest Kitsu shugenja. He has risen from the youngest son of a daimyo to head of the Sodan-senzo school and daimyo of the Kitsu family. He was a shy, quiet child, struggling to overcome a stutter that has accompanied him since birth. He was not the smartest or strongest of his brother, and little was expected of him - except that on the Day of Choosing, his abilities were proven. Where other children could only make fire dance or waver, he made the embers glow white hot, and in the fire's vision the spirit of one of the first kitsu extended a hand to the shocked child. He immediately joined the family school and learned the rituals and ceremonies needed to properly honor the ancestors. Outside the spirit world, he is shy, quiet and timid. His stutter prevents him from making long speeches, and he moves cautiously. He leads his family through example, and while not a charismatic leader, he is well-loved. In ritual, however, his eyes burn with passion, he loses the stutter and his voice soars through sonorous phrases. No other Kitsu has such mastery of the art as him, and the ancestors come to him as beloved brothers and sisters. Kitsu Sodan-Senzo 5, very low on Insight, with a Great Destiny and Innate Abilities--- but he doesn't use spells since he's got Full-Blood Kitsu Ancestry, does that mean he gets free Raises on ancestor summoning? What?


"Let's go gently caress some poo poo up and get wasted."

Matsu Agetoki is the current leader of the Lion's cavalry, a fierce and wild samurai that lives life with a combination of anger and joy. He was enthralled with horses at an early age - he saw in them freedom and power that nothing else in Rokugan could bring. He has shown utter fearlessness while mounted, attempting feats that none save the Otaku Battle Maidens themselves would even consider. He killed his first man on horseback at the age of thirteen. No one has ever doubted his role in the Lion armies and since his gempukkue he has put everything towards leading his Clan's cavalry. He enters battle with a Crab's abandon, and while most of his commanders prefer to hold him back and use his unit's power to break the enemy, he sometiems can't wait that long and sends his troops onto the melee before they are truly needed. His men are well-trained, however, and he has learned to unleash them only when conditions are favorable. Tacticians may gnash their teeth at his impulsiveness, but he's never hindered military plans or cost unnecessary lives. He emphasizes speed on the battlefield (legend has it that he once plucked an arrow out of the air), and off the battlefield he is pretty much the same. He understands the rules of etiquette, but he is boisterous, laughing too loudly and punctuating his speech with wide arm movements. He looks down on the infantry like Unicorn do, but more out of pity - they suffer all the horrors of battle and never experience its true joy, he says. Matsu Bushi 4, maybe a point or so short of Insight but pretty okay otherwise. He's got Benten's Curse for being too much of a dudebro. :v:


MASTERY OF TIME AND SPACE

Matsu Hiroru is the younger brother of Matsu Tsuko. He was a bold child that spoke his mind, and liked to use casual observation to shock and manipulate others. He learned while attending the seppuku of the wife of Shiba Ujimitsu (the Phoenix Champion) that words have a power of their own, and the right word - true or not - can control anyone's actions. When the Champion's wife fell dead, his little daughter came to her mother's body and cursed his name and the name of their ancestors; Ujimitsu cut her head off a moment later. One woman had died with honor, the other with shame; to Hiroru, both were bodies with no real difference from each other. (He is a little edgy, this guy.) That image has followed him through his life, and he is plagued by the concept of death as the equalizer of souls. He is destined to become the Keeper of the Hall of Ancestors as the second Matsu child, and though he finds no comfort in them the souls of the dead speak to him as they would to a Kitsu. The statues know his bloodline, and his heart. He attended the Matsu school, where he grew bored and started playing pranks that went from childish amusmements to more dangerous diversions, creating him a reputation as a troublemaker. Akodo Kage (again, this guy!) noticed his prowess and asked the Matsu daimyo to oversee his training personally, to which she swiftly agreed. He trained Hiroru for six years in many styles of fighting, and both men gained confidence in each other. For many years, Hiroru delivered Kage's messages and performed infiltrations and other acts - all in the name of the Hantei, while outwardly being the ideal Lion samurai. When the Emperor commanded the Lion and Crane to stop warring and to exchange wards, Hiroru was furious - the Crane had been given a victory and also a spy with the honored Lion dojo, and he continued his studies while harassing the bold young Crane, Doji Kuwanan. He found it easy to manipulate Isawa Nosuriko, Kuwanan's betrothed, into his bed - and easier too to turn the liaison into blackmail. On the night before her wedding, he went to visit her, only to find her hanging from a ceiling beam. He had never considered himself a bad person before that night, but now he was facing someone that killed herself because of his own deeds. The rest of the Clan don't know what happened that night: Hiroru was full of jokes and laughter at dinner. When everyone retired, people heard a bad argument between Hiroru and Kage, stuff breaking, and they found only Kage bleeding from a shoulder wound. The rest of the Clan have given up Hiroru for dead: they found a body with his mon and sword in the Scorpion border. If Hiroru had still been alive, he would have returned - he had suffered no dishonor, and his sensei wanted to take him back with open arms. If he were alive, he would've returned. (He's totally still alive.) Matsu Bushi 4, with a shitload of skills including both Kaze-do and Mizu-do, Lore (Ninja), Lore (Kolat), and Ninjutsu. Also has an Obligation (Kolat) and somehow having Doji Kuwanan as a Major Enemy is an Advantage.


Ladiezzzz.

Matsu Hokitare is an unusual Lion. He has served as a scout to the Matsu forces, a diplomat and even as a performer in his family's court. His dexterity is remarkable, and he has traveled three times the length of Rokugan delivering messages and scouting for Matsu Tsuko. He is cheerful, thin and wiry, with large teeth and a winning smile. He knows how to ride a horse and on any visit to the Unicorn lands he can be found trying to wheedle steeds from the Battle Maidens, bringing sweets for the horses and gifts for the ladies. It's a long standing joke with the Otaku that some day someone will marry the cheerful Lion and give him a chance to get close to the steeds he so admires. When he was first assigned as a diplomat, it was thought that he would bring his good nature to the negotiations table. He turned out to be forthright, quick witted, and shockingly honest. If he saw an advantage, he pointed it out; if the opponent was getting the better part of a deal, he asked about it, openly and in public. Swiftly he was assigned to duty with the Scorpion, hoping he would repeat his success at ferreting out plots, and he was given a permanent post. Unfortunately, that would be shortlived: he uncovered brutal blackmail, and when the Scorpion realized they tried to bribe him without success, then resort to threats and even the murder of his younger sister. Despite this, Hokitare revealed all that he knew to the Emerald Champion's court. He was then taken into the personal guard of the Matsu daimyo and has been a part of Tsuko's retinue for the last three years. He is not the best fighter or tactician, but he is honest. He can be trusted. If his opinion is asked, he will give it, and if he is questioned he will answer with all that he knows. Matsu Bushi 3, just a little short of Insight, with a big honking target on his back for poisonous ninja that don't exist but really, I like this guy.


Negotiation is for CRANES.

Matsu Tsuko never doubted her role in history. Since she was three, she has had greatness thrust upon her. She saw her parents little, as they paused between battles only long enough to see that she excelled in combat. She had few friends, for her parents insisted that she never forgot that she was the heir to the Matsu house. Only one voice in her childhood spoke to her with love: her aging uncle, Matsu Yasau, the caretaker of the Great Hall of Ancestors. For hours he regaled the girl with tales of her ancestors, filling her head with magnificent battles and heroic deaths. Every night he made her say goodnight to the statue of Lady Matsu, which first Tsuko did with shyness and fear and later with honor and dignity, and she would often go to sleep at the feet of the statue on nights when thunder rocked the Matsu palace. After Hiroru was born, Tsuko's mother took her to the battlefield: at one point, a Phoenix suicide squad raided their camp and attacked the commander's tent. She crushed a Phoenix soldier's throat with her boken, but her father died. She asked why the Phoenix came knowing that they would die; her mother answered that it was their duty. She asked about her father; her mother glared and responded that even questioning his death was insulting its purpose, and they never spoke of it again. Years later she dominated the Topaz Championship, forced the Shinjo to publicly ask the return of their battle banner in court after taking it from them in battle, and has become Rokugan's greatest hero. After the whole thing with Arasou and Toturi though, she sees the new daimyo as an impostor and weakling, and wastes no opportunity to make her feelings known. How can the Clan achieve the glory it deserves under the guidance of a Crane in Lion's clothing? Matsu Bushi 5, not enough Insight, and with Traits over 6 without the necessary Shintao 3. She also has Great Destiny and is Driven to reveal Toturi as a coward. None of this will ever end badly!


Say he's some art nerd. Come on, you know you wanna.

Matsu Seijuro was the counterpart to Doji Kuwanan: he was the Lion ward sent in fosterage to the Kakita Academy. Even as a very young boy, he understood the importance of his role, and the need to set an example for the Crane as representative of his Clan. As hard as he tried, though, he did not succeed: the other Kakita students had the benefit of history and instinct, while he had to both remember his Lion heritage and embrace a new set of values and techniques. He pushed himself to the limits of endurance, climbing the cliffs near the Kakita palace in his spare time and challenging classmates to meet or exceed his limits in runs and other exercise. His efforts ultimately paid off, and while he never reached the perfection he demanded of himself, he impressed many with his dedication. In public, most of the Crane that trained wit him praised his endless drive; in private, they said that he was a competitor that had not yet learned the time and place for competition. Some of his teachers also expressed disquiet at his intensity, but most dismissed it as typical Matsu behavior. He returned to the Lion lands, to find that his brethren dismissed his training as a joke: he was a casualty of politics and should not expect them to share in his 'sickness.' He was routinely mocked and always told that he could never be considered a true Lion. The first time he challenged a fellow samurai to a duel, he promised he would let him off easy - the duel ended with the other man's guts on the floor. A second duel followed the first quickly, then another. Any time he felt slighted, Seijuro demanded retribution. After killing six opponents, people learned to stop slighting him, and things started to change: commanders started asking his opinions on strategy, fellow samurai nodded to him with respect, and when matters of the Crane arose he was approached with the reverence of a sensei. Not that this has changed him much: he still pushes himself to excel beyond his peers, strives to live by the Matsu code and refuses to feel hampered by his Crane training. He dresses in traditional Lion garb, offset by his Crane daisho, and chuckles evilly while he fights. Kakita Bushi 3, on the level with Insight, with a Willpower of 6 but Shintao 2 - come on guys, you could've just given him the point, it's not like you're using chargen rules! He also has a Kakita Blade and high Iaijutsu, but only Void 2 which is eh for a dedicated duelist.

Ancestors! Akodo One-Eye, the paramount of samurai virtue, costs 10 points and allows rolling twice in the battle chart and taking the better result, having +1 to the Battle skill (to a maximum of 6) and reducing the Natural Leader advantage cost in 1 point. Akodo Shinju was Akodo's best spy, whose mother was a Shosuro that taught him all he knew. He pulled the "I prepared Explosive Runes this morning" trick on the general of a maho-tsukai army, which is cool. 2 points to always get a Heroic Opportunity on the Battle table. Ikoma, who died surrounded by pretty women and booze, costs 2 points and lets the player ask the GM a single yes/no question per game session about their current situation in the game, which the GM must answer honestly. Kitsu the cat-man costs 8 points and lets the character Sense ancestors like a Sodan-senzo, so it's pointless to take as one. Matsu Hitomi is the most famous samurai-ko of the early Empire. Her unit was placed under the command of a Dragon daimyo in a war between the Dragon and the Crab, but she was ordered to attack the castle of her lover, and as legend has it she dueled the Dragon daimyo naked, killed him, and escaped with her forces from the Dragon army. Chased by the Dragon and also by the Lion for her betrayal, she was finally trapped in a village now known as the City of Remembrance. She's a tragic figure and the reason why many samurai-ko take the name 'Hitomi.' For 6 points, the character can spend a Void Point to reroll an attack or damage roll, taking the result they prefer, but they cannot attack for any reason someone to whom they have a strong personal tie.Akodo Godaigo was the Akodo commander that chased Hitomi after fighting alongside her, and there is much speculation about his reasons to align himself with the Dragon instead of her. Historians have no record of his death and there are those that say he is condemned to walk the earth forever, denied honor and rest and remembered only for his crime against Hitomi. A Disadvantage ancestor, for 2 points the character's Rings and Glory can never be higher than their Honor.

Sample PCs!


MC of the official L5R yuri drama visual novel.

The Akodo Strategist was born to prominent Matsu parentage. She was supposed to take her place along her mother in the Lion's Pride, but she had feeble health that only got worse. Her mother insisted she was blameless and buried herself in work, while her father was just as evasive. She only had one friend in those years, a silver-haired girl named Yusiko that taught her how to fold paper in the way of her homeland. The PC exhibited talent with puzzles and mindgames, and soon she was reading different books from her classmates and drilling with different teachers: she ended up being sent to the Akodo War College. She didn't want to part with her only friend, but that only drew her parents' wrath: she was "her enemy." There was so much pressure on her to provide operable opposition to the Crane above all other Clans, and she delighted in the idea of finally being useful to the Lion until one of her suggestions was responsible for a great Lion victory - and she saw the aftermath, the dead and the wounded. How can she continue to kill as if the swords were swung by her? But how can she disobey her parents? Akodo War College bushi, with Tactician and Clear Thinker (and Origami 1), but Bad Health and Softhearted. Didn't the Crab book already have a Kaiu tactician that couldn't bear the thought of death? Bleh.


"Ah, yes, the story of when my regent attended the Sparrow soiree. It was a dark and stormy night..."

The Ikoma Peacekeeper has worked very hard to be where he is today. The position he sought was very hard to acquire and required much effort and promises to obtain, but eventually he became an appointed representative of the Empire: an Ikoma Peacekeeper! Sometimes late at night he wonders why he thought championing peace in the Empire was a good idea. None of the Clans desire to end their bickering, and peace will never be possible until all outside threats are quelled. But he can't afford the luxury of doubt, as his clanmates (especially the Matsu) will not allow it. For the last several months he has been assigned to an unaligned regent traveling the continent. His goals are the same, but his manner is far more erratic, and the PC worries his behavior will reflect badly on him. Last week, he was recalled into Lion lands to deal with the swelling friction between Akodo and Matsu, along with the regent. If he had trouble with the less irritable Clans, how will he fare with the Lion? Ikoma Bard with Glory 3 and Bo Stick 2 when all the bard stories in the world won't help. Also just Intelligence 3 which shouldn't be possible with his school and family.


You should have that eye checked, dude.

The Imperial Guard grew with a dad that taught him about the odysseys of their ancestors. He grew into a fine young man, but at his gempukku he didn't have the enthusiasm and excitement when reciting his lineage that Dad remembered. He went off to guard the Emperor and his nobles, but his Dad worried - he gave him his sword so that he would always be at his side, but thought that his kid no longer had time for him, that he would not care about those that came before him, that his efforts had been fruitless. But he was jsut a foolish old man, as the PC came last night to sit at his bed and tell him all those stories that he heard as a boy, and the new stories that he was creating now. Dad is proud. :unsmith: Akodo Bushi 1, nasty in a fight but with Benten's Curse, Proud, Overconfident and Driven (to make father proud), he'll be in trouble with courtiers. At least he can just iaijutsu them to death.


Nice 'stache.

The Kitsu Shugenja was born with a twin. He is of full Kitsu blood: his twin brother lacks it. The condition puzzled the family and the ancestors had little to say on the matter - in fact, they were quick to avoid the question. So he was sent off to study the art of killing, which disturbed the PC - he communed with the dead every day, but thinking that his brother would be repsonsible for ending so many also came with the dread of communing with someone he had actually killed by his own hand. They kept in contact through the years, but don't have the mystical bond twins are supposed to have. Six months ago, he attended his brother's funeral. He was considered a hero by the Matsu, but the PC couldn't shake off the idea that something was terrible wrong, and could not find his spirit to commune with. Kitsu, his patron ancestor, was uncharacteristically blunt when asked: his brother had returned to Rokugan. He has to find him now, and discover the final piece of the puzzle. Kitsu Sodan-senzo, with a bunch of Ancestors and a Higher Purpose, but also Haunted by Kitsu. Huh? Also 1 point in Kenjutsu because he's not some Asahina, Christ.


"gently caress everything forever."

The Matsu Deathseeker is like, gently caress the Akodo. And especially gently caress her father. Her mother died dutifully as a true Matsu, in combat. Her father moved on to another woman (a Crane!) and became a gardener on something. Her warrior skills are unparalleled, but she can't join her sisters, not while the stain that is her father remains on her soul. In life there can be no honor for her, but death, death is something else. She has requested the right to wear the badge of a Deathseeker, and she does seek death - but also dignity, and distinction for herself and her mother, as well as throwing wide the gates of her father's shame. Perhaps her sacrifice can accomplish this, but at least she will die knowing she has purged her family of her father's hated blood. Matsu Bushi, with Hands of Stone and Hand to Hand 3, also obviously a Deathseeker.

Next: it's Jigoku, but not Jigoku.

Traveller fucked around with this message at 21:28 on Sep 2, 2016

Covok
May 27, 2013

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


Mors Rattus posted:

4e also presents the 'child abuse' thing as rumors other clans tell but which aren't accurate for 90% of the Lion.

Emerald Empire is a good book.

Oh, this was a child abuse thing? Now I feel like poo poo. But, yeah, now I remember hearing that was a rumor against the clan the other clans propagate, now that you mention it.

Adnachiel
Oct 21, 2012



Part 11: The Bad Guys Win

At the start of Chapter 19, we learn that it’s David who grabbed Becca. He acts like the creeper that he is while she tries to tell him that Emmet is hurt and needs help.

quote:

"Can't do that, Sis. Too bad about the old man, though. Guess the excitement of launching a political career from the pulpit in the same week his dyke daughter-in-law gets her head cut off was too much for him."

She slams her boot’s heel into his knee and foot, forcing him to turn her loose. He, in turn, punches her in the head.

quote:

Her skull seemed to shatter into fragments like a crystal chandelier. Fiery confetti raged across her vision. Slowly she slumped to the floor. She saw David standing over her, silhouetted in a blazing pyrotechnical display.

This knocks her unconscious.

She wakes up later in one of the catacomb’s cells just as David comes back with their unconscious father over his shoulder. He tells her that he and an unknown party have plans for him. She once more implores him to get their dad to a hospital. He whines about how everyone treats him badly.

quote:

"You just don't get it, do you? You never have." He dumped the old man unceremoniously onto the floor. Becca winced and shut her eyes. David said, "He's had this coming for a long time, the sanctimonious old prick."

"He's our father."

"He's a used-up old piece of meat," said David. "I've taken his poo poo all these years. I've bowed and scraped--"

"--You've done nothing of the kind. He adored you."

If you haven’t noticed, they don’t really show much of how Emmet “adores” his shitbag strawman of a son. It’s all telling, not showing.

quote:

"--Nothing I ever did was good enough, nothing satisfied him."

"That isn't true."

"But I understand why he thought I was a gently caress-up. It was because of all the crap you fed him all these years. Don't look at me like that. You're worse than he is. You poisoned him against me. God only knows what lies you told him about me."

"You mean like how you raped me?"

"You loving bitch! I never raped you. You seduced me. You practically begged me to come to your room and gently caress your brains out." He began to pace, gesticulating wildly. "See, this is what I mean. Your malicious lies have ruined everything. Destroyed my life. Kept me down. That's why there's got to be some punishment, some long-overdue justice meted out.”

If the circumstances hadn't been so ghastly, she might have laughed hysterically. To think that David actually believed she'd been a co-conspirator in her own rape,

She asks him if he killed Francine. He denies it, but she doesn’t believe him. She then asks him, almost nonchalantly, when he’s going to kill her. He says he’ll do it when he’s good and ready and isn’t going to tell her. Then, he randomly shocks her with a stun gun he found in Emmet’s store of vampire-hunting equipment. When she comes to, he’s cutting her clothes off. She mentions Pieterzoon and how he’ll kill both of them once he gets loose, but David’s not worried. She kicks him. He punches her.

Then he rapes her as something moves in the shadows.

quote:

When the shadows coalesced into their final form, however, she found the strength to scream.

Chapter 20. Lucita kicks David off of Becca and demands to know where Pieterzoon is. Becca manages to get out a groggy answer about him being around there somewhere before Lucita licks her face and drinks from her “sexily”. While she’s distracted, David manages to get Lucita with the stun gun. There’s a picture for this. Even though I think it's meant for something that didn't happen now.

:nws:http://imgur.com/JRBKWLZ:nws:

Eh, I’ve seen bigger. Also, what the hell did Bolton use as a model for David’s face? It looks he’s wearing a mask.

David looks like that, if this book was written nowadays, he would be going on about how he’s the “Supreme Gentleman” while piercing his lips for his camera phone every few seconds.

Lucita and the Evil Ken Doll fight some more. (She manages to get him in the dick with the stun gun. Oww.) Then Sascha comes out of nowhere and slams a stake through Lucita’s heart, paralyzing her.

quote:

Vykos smiled and patted David's cheek. "You've been tortured, so now you want to be a torturer. I love seeing that transition in a mortal. It bodes well for your potential as something more."

Sascha kisses Lucita and tells her that it’s going to bring her an eternity of suffering by leaving her drained enough that she’s crazy with hunger, but not enough to kill her. (Being in torpor doesn’t affect one’s hearing. So that isn’t a pointless move.)

quote:

It turned to David, who stood watching, spellbound with awe and terror. "Torture is an art. If you're good, I might let you practice on your sister later on."

His presence is torture enough. He doesn’t need training.

At the start of Chapter 21, Rapunzel is still trying to dig her way out of her grave and still thinking about her chat conversations with Dracon. Apparently, she originally went along with it to get back at Senator McNamarra… somehow.

quote:

When had she decided to make it real? To actually let Dracon go through with it? When had sex and death become so united in her mind that not to experience both together seemed a tragic lack? She wasn't doing this to punish Gil McNamara anymore, she told herself, or because some sick part of her craved annihilation. She was doing this because she wanted to experience everything.

Dracon tells her to meet him in the garden of an unnamed cathedral. While he wants to fucks her, he also wants to get back at someone. Kill two birds with one stone, I guess.

quote:

[Dracon] Later I'll take you somewhere else, of course. But I'd like us to meet at this particular location. It's special to me. An old acquaintance of mind, an arrogant old fool, presides there. To defile the ground that he considers sacred would be quite satisfying.

[...]

[Rapunzel] While you gently caress me every way you possibly can.

[Dracon] Certainly. Sex acts you can't even imagine. I'll give new meaning to the expression 'to gently caress your brains out."

At this point, Rapunzel finally reaches the surface and pulls herself out of her grave. She finds herself somewhere east of the Washington Monument, and decides to look for the church spires she remembered. But not before finally getting a look at herself.

quote:

A sickle moon slid gleaming out of the clouds, providing just enough light for her to look down and see the ghastly changes in her body. The sight wrung screams from her and short-circuited what was left of her mind. All that remained was the obsession that had driven her from one lover to the next throughout her life.

In life, obsession had ruled her. In death, more so.

She barely could remember who Gil McNamarra was, but she remembered well the man who'd had her tortured and buried.

He was her real lover, her unholy prince. And she was going to find him.

Meanwhile, David tries to find his way around the catacombs. He’s frustrated at the thought of Becca both being alive and watching her die for some twisted reason. We also learn that he’s made an agreement with Sascha.

quote:

Even more importantly, he had his arrangement with Vykos. Eternal life, eternal youth and beauty. And, afterward, if his poo poo was on the devil's cock -- and it already was -- then so be it.

I think Satan has a bit more self-respect than that.

Eventually, he comes across Emmet. (I don’t know if he moved Becca somewhere else before he raped her or Taylor just somehow lost track of the fact that he brought Emmet to her earlier.) Emmet is relieved to see his son, but David just gets all pissy with him.

quote:

"Why, look, imagine running into the old paterfamilias, the esteemed Reverend Vargas, candidate for mayor, a prisoner in his own dungeon! Becca mentioned seeing you. I know how much you depend on her, but unfortunately, she's in no condition right now to be of any help."

"What are you talking about? Where is she? What's happened?"

"Ah, as usual all your concern is for her, Dad. None for me. But that's all right. I'm used to it."

"David, listen--"

"No, you listen to me!" Raw hatred rent his features. Emmet found himself cringing, stunned by the display. "In a few minutes, when the pews are full, Vykos is going to drag you back upstairs to address the faithful. And don't go all noble and tell me you won't cooperate, because believe me, Dad, you'll do what it tells you to. I know, I've been there."

Emmet asks where Becca is again. David says she doesn’t matter and will probably be dead soon, if she isn’t already. Emmet then begs him to tell him that he had nothing to do with Francine’s death. He says he didn’t, but he did gently caress her, and pretends that he actually enjoyed doing it.

quote:

"Jesus God, Becca was right. You're sick."

"Shut up! You want to know who needs help, Dad? It's you. I mean, Christ, look at this -- this tomb you've got yourself down here. All these years you've dedicated your life to fighting vampires. Why? Because you thought Becca's mother was killed by a vampire. Stuck his fangs in her neck and his dick up her twat, drained her blood out, left you a widower with a lifetime grudge against the world."

No offense to Kuuenbu, but I can only hear David’s dialogue in his voice now.

He continues his rant, and it turns out that David was the one who killed Becca’s mom. What a twist. :what:

quote:

He let out a laugh. "That's a hoot, Dad, because you know what? Your wife wasn't killed by a vampire. I killed her. I killed Becca's mother, because she got in my face, said I was an evil influence on Becca, some such garbage. I knew you were obsessed with the supernatural, so I set it up so you'd believe what you wanted to believe anyway--" He made his voice sarcastic, campy, Twilight Zonish, "dark forces are afoot in the universe. It isn't other people we have to be afraid of, it's them, the spooks and the goblins, the things that go bump in the night. You pathetic old fool -- Elaine's murderer was right there at your dinner table and you were too busy ramming stakes though dead guys' chests to realize it."

Emmet’s only reaction is to declare that he is ashamed to have fathered David.

Oh, and have a heart attack.

quote:

Emmet's eyes half-closed, and he blinked as though suddenly disoriented. Then he gave a moan and bent double as he thumped his cuffed wrists to his chest. "Oh, God -- my heart!" His face went ghastly gray. Wheezing, he sank to his knees, then fell forward, hitting his face on the dirt floor.

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005
The Biden administration is actively fighting to withhold COVID vaccinations from our child concentration camps and pointing out that somebody used the word "democrat" as an adjective will not make that fact go away

I found the official writer piss-take I was thinking of earlier; it was from "Hidden Chicken", Rich Wulf's L5R "Hidden Emperor" era parody thing.

quote:

"Wait just a second..." I said, rubbing my head. "I've got a gempukku ceremony tomorrow! I have to study!"

"Eh, don't worry about it," Turi said. "It's just a Matsu gempukku. They're easy."

"What do I have to do?" I asked.

Turi thought a moment. "Well, first you have to recite Akodo's Leadership from memory. Cake. Then you have to wield twenty weapons of war. Simple. Then you have to cut a pomegranate in four pieces before it hits the ground. Kid's stuff. Then they hit you four hundred times with a stick and you have to just sit there and stay awake. Easy. Then you have to fast three days in a room full of food. No prob. Oh, then they brand you."

"Nice knowing you, Garou," Sanzo clapped me on the shoulder.

"That's ridiculous!" I said. "What happens if I fail any of that?"

"You die," Turi said.

"Wait, that doesn't make sense," Toku said. "The Matsu are the largest samurai family in the Empire. How can they have such a difficult gempukku and still be so big?"
It goes on from there:

quote:

Soon it was the next morning. We gathered before Kyuden Matsu among the various members of the Lion Clan. I wasn't the only one to be receiving my gempukku ceremony that day. Matsu Bufu, Ketsui's little brother, was there too. He was a large, rather dim looking samurai. At the beginning of the ceremony he showed Okura a grin with about four teeth.

"I hope me pass," he rumbled.

"Er... good luck," Okura whimpered, shying back from the large man.

"Recite Akodo's Leadership," Okura said in a deep voice, and the crowd grew silent.

I whispered a spell under my breath, releasing a current of air spirits at Okura's mind. He was reciting the whole book in his head, ready to call me if I messed up. I just read it out of his mind.

"And you, Bufu," Okura said. "Recite Akodo's Leadership."

"Lions good!" the boy announced, and a thread of drool hung from his lip.

Okura glanced around uncomfortably. "Er, yes," he said. "Yes, that's right. Next test."

The twenty weapons of war was the easy part. Turi pointed out a quick loophole there for me. You had to wield twenty weapons, but you didn't have to wield them *well*. Luckily, growing up on the Kaiu wall I actually knew quite a few of the weapons. Bufu, on the other hand. Well... they let him count the weapons. He only managed to count four, but Okura said that was close enough and we moved on.

The trainer hurled the pomegranate into the air. I whispered a brief spell and an obliging air spirit appeared, invisibly holding the fruit long enough to cut it. Okura sneered and reluctantly nodded.

The trainer hurled another pomegranate. Bufu screamed and cut the trainer into four pieces. It wasn't the result they wanted, but it was pretty creative so they went with it.

The next part was pretty hard. I didn't have a spell that would last long enough to defend me from four hundred blows from a bamboo stick. Luckily, Sanzo had a bottle of sake. I drank it down as quick as my body would physically let me, and that seemed to do the trick. The trainer laid the bamboo into me and I stumbled off with a grin, sore all over but not feeling a thing.

The first time the trainer hit Bufu, he drew his sword and cut that guy into four pieces too. Again, they said that was close enough.

The last test was pretty easy. I couldn't move for about three days after the sake and the beating, and Bufu ate all the food in the chamber anyway. The trainer looked like he was about to say something, then he remembered his two predecessors and decided against it.

Ikoma Tsanuri approached the two of us when we were done, a wide smile on her face. "Congratulations," she said. She handed each of us a katana worked in gold and brown. "Matsu Garou. Matsu Bufu. You are now Lions."

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Hidden Chicken was my canonical introduction to Rokugan.
It is well worth reading through for anyone familiar with the setting from like, the line launch to the end of Hidden Emperor.

Edit: Worth noting is that Rich Wulf was pretty much in charge of the game for a long time.

MollyMetroid fucked around with this message at 03:40 on Sep 2, 2016

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


AmiYumi posted:

I found the official writer piss-take I was thinking of earlier; it was from "Hidden Chicken", Rich Wulf's L5R "Hidden Emperor" era parody thing.

It goes on from there:

I'm pretty down with this as a piss-take on all those stupidly lethal trials warrior cultures always have in fiction to serve as excuses for your PCs to have to do a sidequest and fight giant cave dinosaurs.

Admittedly, sidequests where you fight giant cave dinosaurs are cool.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Night10194 posted:

I'm pretty down with this as a piss-take on all those stupidly lethal trials warrior cultures always have in fiction to serve as excuses for your PCs to have to do a sidequest and fight giant cave dinosaurs.

Admittedly, sidequests where you fight giant cave dinosaurs are cool.
I imagine in practice any actually, for-real, genuinely profoundly lethal training regimen won't get you Sardaukar, it'll get you Fremen - Fremen coming for your rear end!!

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


It also bears mentioning the internet rage that came out about the then-ronin Toturi, given he was essentially the #1 hero of the game at this point (at least, going by the narrative). Everybody was expecting him to be some Lion badass, but when he turned out to be his kind of milquetoasty guy who hated violence, some people felt their preconceptions snap. See also: Dairya, another ronin badass, who turned out to be an ex-member of the pacifistic Phoenix... though that was the result of a tourney, IIRC.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


Also have I just not been paying much attention, or does the Lion seem to have more important characters who were SPECIAL FROM CHILDHOOD than the others? I feel like every single Lion bit I read had them already standing out from their peers at around age 3 or 4, or even straight from birth with the DARK SAMURAI.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me! :swoon:


Alien Rope Burn posted:

It also bears mentioning the internet rage that came out about the then-ronin Toturi, given he was essentially the #1 hero of the game at this point (at least, going by the narrative). Everybody was expecting him to be some Lion badass, but when he turned out to be his kind of milquetoasty guy who hated violence, some people felt their preconceptions snap. See also: Dairya, another ronin badass, who turned out to be an ex-member of the pacifistic Phoenix... though that was the result of a tourney, IIRC.

It's especially funny because Toturi was the second Lion Thunder, so he's supposed to be the reincarnation of Matsu herself.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Toturi is cool, tho, so it's okay.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me! :swoon:


Mors Rattus posted:

Toturi is cool, tho, so it's okay.

Indeed, and one of the big reasons I stopped following the metaplot was when they killed off his line.

unseenlibrarian
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.

Apparently he's weirdly not popular because about half the L5R games I've almost played in have been "Toturi never became emperor!" and then I ask "So does the Monkey Clan exist without him, or"

And the answer is invariably "Haha no" so I wind up not playing in that game.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



SirPhoebos posted:

Indeed, and one of the big reasons I stopped following the metaplot was when they killed off his line.

Yeah, I got pissed that they didn't let the Toturi line have at least, like, a good dang run before killing 'em off. Toturi proving the innate power of humanity and hanging out with awesome dudes like Toku loving owned, let the guy have at least a couple of good generations before you gently caress it all up.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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






Godlike, Chapter IV Part IV: Talents and Will


Ultimately, all Talent powers are based on Will. Because all Talents are manifestations of the same Talent: the ability to impose your beliefs on reality. So the strength of your powers is based on your belief in them, as well as your self-confidence and morale.

Everyone, Talent and non-Talent, has a Base Will score equal to Command+Cool. Talents also have a Will score that fluctuates up and down. At character creation, any leftover points of Will become points of Base Will--a great bargain compared to what it costs to increase Base Will later.

War, huh, good god! What is it good for? All your Talent powers stop working if you have zero Will. When you use a power, you must risk 1 point of Will, and you lose it if you don’t generate a set and fail to activate the power. Losing all your Will is the fast lane to losing not only your powers, but your mind. You spend Will in Contests of Will with other Talents, and to improve your powers.

Gaining and Losing Will

You gain a point of Will whenever you roll a Height 10 set while using your powers. (Hard and Wiggle dice don’t count. Optional rule: at character creation, you can tie your Will to a Stat or skill instead of your powers: useful for those who only have hd or wd.) You get a point of Will any time you win a Contest of Wills, and if you defeat another Talent in combat, you gain their Command Stat in Will points. You also gain someone else’s Command Stat in Will points if you save their life. Finally, you get a point when you accomplish something significant (like taking an enemy position) or do something awesome and impressive--GM’s call, but if players are high-fiving you it probably counts.

Oh, and if your Will is lower than your Base Will, you get a point back for every good night’s sleep. That’s why Base Will is so important.

You lose a point of Will when to fail to activate a power. Most of the other ways of losing Will are severe, costing you half of your current Will total. Failing a Cool+Mental Stability check, suffering a great loss, and losing a fight with another Talent all cut your current Will in half. If you try to save someone’s life and fail, you lose their Command Stat in Will points.


Contests of Will

Contests of Will are a big part of using Talent powers, but the rules are really simple. If you use a Talent to harm another Talent, they can spend a Will point to stop you. You can then spend a Will point to negate their point, and so on, until someone gives up or is reduced to zero Will. Contests of Wills happen instantly and automatically and don’t require an action from anyone.

The only tricky part of Contests of Will is figuring out when they happen and when they don’t. They only happen when a Talent uses powers to directly harm or interfere with another Talent.

Is someone shooting lightning at you? That definitely begins a Contest of Wills. It also applies if someone is attacking you with a Hyperstat or Hyperskill--but if you win, you don’t negate their attack completely, just their extra dice. You can defend yourself normally. (Yet another reason to take Hyperskills instead of flashy Miracles.)

However, an invisible man attacking you doesn’t begin a Contest--his Invisibility power only affects him, not you. Likewise, you can’t stop another Talent from smelling you with his Hypersense or locating your squad with a Detection power--what he’s affecting is his own perceptions. A Contest does happen, however, if an enemy Talent uses the Control power to turn the dirt under your feet into mud--even though he’s affecting the mud, and not inflicting damage, in game mechanical terms he’s using his Control pool to try to reduce your dice pool, so that counts as harm.

As an example of how Contests do and don’t work, let’s say a super-strong Talent throws a truck at you. You can’t stop him from lifting the truck, because his Hyperbody is affecting the truck, not you. But a Contest begins when he makes a Body+Throw roll to toss it at you, because then he’s attacking you directly with his Body Stat.

Finally, a Contest of Wills only happens if the defender knows they’re under attack. That’s one reason so many Talents died in the war.




Battle Fatigue

Characters suffer combat stress from losing all their Will or from failing Cool+Mental Stability rolls. Talents are stronger at facing the horrors of war than normal people--the same Will that lets you tell gravity to gently caress off acts as a buffer against things that would break an ordinary person.

You have to make a Cool+Mental Stability roll in these circumstances: when you witness a horrifying event, when you’re under immense personal stress, when you’re in imminent danger of death, and when you’re attacked by a tank or heavy weapon. As you see, most of these are up to the GM.

When you fail a roll, you have to do one of the following: flee as fast as you can (lose half your Will), curl up into a ball (lose half your Will), or stand your ground and fight on (lose all your Will).

Losing all your Will really sucks. You have to choose one of the following: lose 2 experience points, lose a point of Cool or Mental Stability, lose 2 points of Base Will, lose a die from one of your powers (or downgrade a special die to a normal die), or gain a mental illness.

Catatonia: The world outside your head has become too much to bear, and you enter a fugue. You stop moving and interacting normally, and are likely unable to even dress, bathe, and feed yourself. When you come out of it is up to the GM.

Depressed: Sometimes, you get so tired that the simplest tasks require great effort, and you feel disoriented and out of touch. The GM can require you to make another Mental Stability roll or fall into a deep depression where your Will can never rise above your Base Will.

Insomnia: You can’t sleep. Unless you’re in a totally soothing environment, you have to make a Mental Stability roll. If you fail, you don’t sleep, so you don’t recover Will or heal from injuries naturally.

Manic-Depression: Your mood cycles between lethargy and energetic recklessness. When you’re manic, you take dangerous risks and halve all experience gains. When you’re depressed, you lose a die from all pools. You can make a Mental Stability check to hold steady and ignore your symptoms for (Width) rounds in combat or (Width) minutes out of combat.

Phobia: Something scares you stiff. When confronted with it, you lose a die from all pools (and Wiggle dice go before regular dice).

Schizophrenia: You don’t understand what’s real and what isn’t. Elaborate fantasies, even visions, delusional beliefs, and false sensory stimuli are common.

Though schizophrenia is usually chemical in nature, and long-lasting, it can also be a curable illness. Whether or not you can recover is up to the GM to decide, but schizophrenia was poorly-understood in the 1940s. If your condition worsens incurably, you lose all ability to differentiate between fantasy and reality, but your Talent powers are no longer subject to being interfered with or resisted by other Talents. Congratulations, you’re now one of those “mad Talents” you’ve heard about. Hand your character sheet to the GM and roll up a new one.

Shell Shock: Godlike doesn’t attempt to detail the many and varied symptoms of PTSD. Professionals were already calling “shell shock” by other names before WWII, and some had guidelines for dealing with it, but the Allied powers often forgot or failed to implement the lessons learned in the first World War. Most military doctors with direct experience had aged out of the job.

To have Shell Shock means you can’t handle combat anymore. The very thought of it fills you with terror, and stimuli like loud noises are likely to drive you to panic. You’ll do anything, anything to stay away from the front, and being there is enough to send you to zero Will, day after hellish day.


Spending Will

Besides Contests of Will, you can spend Will points to improve your Base Will and your powers. (Stockpiling Will to win Contests is a valid tactic, but you risk losing half your Will due to sudden trauma.) You can’t store more than 50 Will.

Increasing your Base Will by 1 costs 20 Will points.

Improving your Talent powers is simple. Spend the required Will for those dice, just like in character creation. You have Harm 4d and you want to make it 4d+1hd? Spend 10 Will for that Hard Die and it’s yours. If you want to “promote” a regular die to a hard die or a hard die to a wiggle die, just pay the difference. Easy.

But what about buying entirely new powers? It’s nearly impossible. Becoming a Talent is a rare and fundamental shift in the way a person sees themself and reality--it’s even more rare for it to happen twice in a lifetime. A brand-new die in a Hyperstat or Hyperskill costs 30 Will in addition to the normal cost. To buy a die of a new Miracle, you have to build up a reservoir of 50 Will and spend it all. The GM can give you a break for 40 Will, if the Miracle is similar to your existing powers. In the Godlike setting, the only exception is those Mad Talents I mentioned--but they’re not PCs, anyway.

With the GM’s approval, you can also spend Will points instead of experience points to improve Stats and Skills. (This is actually meant to happen when you’re on a mission and not during downtime.) The reverse isn’t true; only Will improves Talent powers.


Experience Points

The rules for experience are important, but simple enough to seem like an afterthought. PCs can gain up to 3 experience points per session. Everybody gets 1 automatically. The GM awards another point to one player for good roleplaying or bravery or whatever. Then the players vote on who gets the third point. Ties mean nobody gets it, and Christmas is canceled.



You see here that you can also spend Will to improve stats and skills, representing gaining quick experience in the field and succeeding through force of will when lives are at stake. You can’t spend Will instead of experience points during downtime between missions.

And by the way, raising a Stat or Skill above 4 costs a point of Base Will. Experience is not enough to reach the peak of human achievement.


Talent Considerations

Concentration: Invoking Talent powers requires concentration. As with anything else, being hit in combat causes you to lose a die from your highest set. Always On powers that aren’t normally rolled may need a roll to activate Talent gets hurt.

Side effects: Players can give their PCs’ powers side-effects that aren’t significant enough to change the cost, but can be useful or perilous. A Talent who shoots fire will be able to light fires easily, but has to be careful around fuel and munitions. A Talent whose power generates light might use his power as a flashlight, but he’s likely to draw fire in combat.

Talent detection: As I’ve repeated, a Talent can identify another Talent using their powers, who will in turn identify the person spotting him. (Talents describe the effect differently--it’s difficult to explain, like describing a smell.) This only happens if the power-user is in plain sight, though--Invisibility and Fade don’t automatically fail when other Talents are looking at you, nor can Talents always spot each other through smoke and darkness.

Using powers to defend: Superficially, Defends powers are simple. You roll the power as if it were Coordination+Dodge to Gobble dice from an attack. But like some other aspects of Godlike I’ve discussed, the mechanics are simple, but determining whether or not it applies can get complicated.

Not every power that has the Defends quality can be rolled to Gobble dice--several powers have it because they defend or protect you in other ways. Some of these explicitly tell you not to roll them (like Extra Tough) while others clearly aren’t meant for dodging attacks (like Detection). Others are marginal cases: Affinity has both Attacks and Defends because it gives you extra dice for all actions and protects you from harm--but if I have an Affinity for subzero environments, can I roll it to Gobble dice from a freezing Harm power?

It’s implied that even Defends powers which are meant to Gobble dice can’t ward off any kind of attack. Flight is good example of one that’s situational: it can dodge, but probably not when you’re indoors. Harm is a key example--if you breathe fire at people, you can perhaps blast a hurled car out of the air or stop people from charging you, but it won’t stop a hail of machinegun fire. (You could argue that a cone of fire blinds and scares people too much to aim at you.)

This is a problem on a descriptive level: it encourages people to design powers that are bland but broad. A Harm power that creates invisible waves of force is less interesting than one that creates a torrent of razor-sharp icicles, but it gives you a stronger argument that your Harm can ward off most kinds of attack.

That said, there are some clear-cut limitations on using defensive powers. First, if it doesn’t have the Defends quality, it can’t defend, even if it seems logical for it to do so. The power is too narrow or too slow-acting to be used against attacks in the heat of combat. Second, you can’t use a power to Gobble dice from an attack with a Penetration rating higher than your die pool. Machineguns and shells are harder to dodge and block than bayonets and bullets.


Sample Characters


PurpleXVI posted:

Make a wizard, use powers to give him as close an analogue to iconic D&D spells as possible(fireball, magic missile, etc.), if at all possible, but physically fragile.

Melvin Humbert is a stinky nerd that nobody likes. He has Talent powers. Raised somewhere in the Midwest on a steady diet of Weird Tales and parental neglect, Melvin is not particularly intelligent but has taught himself to speak in an awkward imitation of the writing styles of Lovecraft and Smith, which annoys basically everyone he meets.

Nonetheless, Melvin’s powers endow him with an impressive ability to violate the laws of physics in multiple ways: invisible force fields, creation and transmutation of matter, and manipulation of fundamental forces such as light and gravity. However, Melvin believes that his powers are sorcerous rituals which require hours of “studying” his pulp magazines, and that the rituals store magical power within him that is consumed when he invokes it. What’s more, using his powers requires him to toy with miscellaneous articles he keeps in his rucksack. The logistics officers are forever annoyed within for requesting bizarre items such as glass rods, powdered rhubarb, and clumps of bat guano. Nonetheless, his superior officers value his flashy abilities for their considerable power...and their tendency to draw fire.

Containment 2hd (Flaws: Nervous Habit, Only Works Once Per Day, ADRU 1/2/4)
Control 2hd (Flaws: Nervous Habit, Only Works Once Per Day, ADRU 1/2/4)
Create 2hd (Flaws: Nervous Habit, Only Works Once Per Day, ADRU 1/2/4)
Detection 2hd (Flaws: Nervous Habit, Only Works Once Per Day, ADRU 1/2/4)
Harm 2hd (Flaws: Nervous Habit, Only Works Once Per Day, ADRU 1/2/4)
Transmutation 2hd (Flaws: Nervous Habit, Only Works Once Per Day, ADRU 1/2/4)
1 extra Will point.

Okay, the D&D Wizard actually works out to be pretty useful because I consider only working once per day to be a -3/6/12 Flaw for most powers. He’s still a gross nerd with bat poo poo on his fingers.

Hostile V posted:

Fade or Control or both.

Moshe Balbus was an aspiring young filmmaker when the war broke out. He expected to spend the war doing PR for the army, but when his Talent manifested he was snapped up for combat duty. Moshe has the power to control light, a power he can also use on himself to fade from view. The phenomena he creates are short lived, and he must “direct” the action with his hands, like a cinematographer framing a shot.

Control: Light 4d ((Extras: Precise Control. Flaws: Short Duration, Nervous Habit: Hand motions. ADRU, 3/6/12)
Fade 2hd (RU 3/6/12)
1 extra point of Base Will.

Nessus posted:

Godlike concept: A former petty criminal Japanese-American whose life goal is to get rich even if he's not a hostile (or particularly bright) sort. Power is heavy on Disintegration.

Terry Inoue has always had trouble fitting in. Things were alright in California, but when his engineer father moved the family to Indiana for a job, he found himself the focus of unwanted attention. After years of drifting, drinking, and petty confidence schemes, Terry accidentally killed a man who attacked him in an alley. He was still holding the man’s body when it suddenly vanished.

Disintegration 2hd (ADRU 5/10/20)

5 extra points of Base Will.

Kellsterik posted:

A dissident Japanese member of Oomoto-kyo who can turn herself into an embodiment of L.L. Zamenhof with Hypercommand and universal languages, working to end the war one soldier at a time.
Ishikawa Hisaya was raised by a progressive and educated family who joined the Oomoto-kyo sect. They paid careful attention to their daughter’s education and encouraged her interests in literature both Japanese and European. She fled Japan soon after the group’s headquarters were destroyed by the government in 1935. While traveling in Europe, she spontaneously developed the ability to transform into the striking image of the deceased Dr. Ludwik Zamenhof. She found that her new form (a bespectacled older white man) conjured more respect than idle fascination when she preached her pacifistic beliefs. In fact, her ability to convince people of her principles of humanism and nonviolence was superhuman.

Turn Into L.L. Zamenhof 2hd (Alternate Form, Flaws: No Physical Change, Peace of Mind, ADRU 2/4/8)
Hypercommand 5d (Attached to Alternate Form)
Language: You Pick 1hd (Attached to Alternate Form)
(Repeat the above 11 more times)
No extra Base Will.

This character brings some interesting peculiarities to light. First, the Attached Flaw makes it very very cheap to add Hyperstats and Hyperskills to an Alternate Form. Second, Godlike doesn’t have telepathic communication or mind-reading, and there are no “omni-powers” that simulate increased stats and skills at will. You can speak many languages, but truly universal languages isn’t possible with the powers they give you. So I created a Talent who can speak 12 extra languages when transformed.

Also, a Hypercommand Talent who speaks all languages is a terrifying idea if that person isn’t the very picture of benevolence.

That said, it’s pretty easy to justify creating a Universal Linguist power; Talents can’t read minds, but they can do things like reading emotions by reading subtle physiological changes. (Even if the Talent in question isn’t particularly intelligent or insightful in any other way--just like Side Step gives you super-dodging even if you’re a klutz.) So, say your Talent gives you an uncanny ability to learn languages just by listening to them.

Universal Linguist (RU, 2/4/8)

You have an uncanny ability to learn any languages you hear. Roll your Universal Linguist; if you succeed, you become temporarily fluent in that language (use your pool for relevant Tests). The effect lasts for (Width) hours or until you sleep. You can “store” a number of languages equal to your pool. The GM can assign a Difficulty to the roll based on how much of the language you’ve heard, if you haven’t been listening for at least a few minutes. You don’t learn these languages permanently, but you have a good case for being able to spend Will to learn them during a mission (and with no lengthy training, to boot).

Count Chocula posted:

Frank Sinatra gets drafted, gets powers

Thanks to his prepossessing confidence and charisma, few suspect that young Francis is secretly the deranged serial killer, Mack the Knife.

Hypercommand 4d (Extra: Buddy Buddy)
Hypercool 3d
Hyperskill: Knife-Fighting 4d
3 extra points of Base Will (and 3 from Hypercool)

chiasaur11 posted:

I was going to suggest a brash young English immigrant with a focus on improvised weapons and minor precog, but this is good too.
Tom Mitra is a young doctor who entered the military to help with a shortage of trained doctors in the British Army. While he has no love for the British Empire, being raised in a prosperous Anglo-Indian household made him better educated about the international situation than his peers, and the atrocities of the Third Reich motivated him to act. While under fire from German troops who made no exception for medical personnel, he discovered an ability to survive he didn’t know he had, and even killed two German soldiers in hand-to-hand combat. Since then, he’s realized he’s a Talent who simply knows what to do when under fire. And when trapped with an enemy in close quarters, he exhibits a shocking (some would say morbidly humorous) ability to defend himself with whatever is around--pens, scissors, chairs, debris, anything. To his own horror, his enemies invariably wind up mortally wounded in these situations.

Go First 1d (ADR, Extra: Combat Precognition, 4) 4
Precognition 2hd (RU, Flaw: Only in Dreams 2/4/8) 8
Hyperskill: Brawling 2hd (Flaw: Only with a weapon, 1/2/4) 4
Hyperskill: Knife-Fighting 2hd 6
3 extra points of Base Will.

I wanted to add Side Step, too, but just didn’t have enough points. Defensive powers are great for two reasons: first, they can stop attacks that can’t be dodged and ignore cover, and second, they can save you from having to to bid a lot in Contests of Will. But it’s not worth it if you don’t have points to spend for a decent-sized pool.

Notice that I’ve made liberal use of Hard Dice. Some powers (like purely defensive ones) will never want Wiggle dice instead of a big set of tens. 2hd and 4d cost the same, and for noncombat powers (where Width is less important) it’s usually better to have a guaranteed 2x10 set than a 50% chance of generating a set at all. Just watch out for anything that penalizes your pool, like hunger, fatigue, and mental illness.


Next time on Godlike: Jesus loving Christ, it’s finally time to talk about the setting.

BinaryDoubts
Jun 6, 2013

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




Stuff and Blood… Let’s Read Cryptomancer! (Part 8)

Shoutout to Philipp Kruse, who did all of the book’s art

Stuff (or equipment, if you prefer words that are less fun to say) is the lifeblood of the adventurer. Everyone loves acquiring poo poo, everyone loves cool swords, and no one will turn down a gleaming pile of loot. Cryptomancer recognizes that, hey, gear is cool – but it also doesn’t drown itself in mechanical minutia to describe how one greeble is different from another.

Gear has two components: qualities and rules. Qualities are basically flavour descriptors, stuff like “Elven made” or “Named”. Doesn’t change how a piece of kit works, rules-wise, but it’s a great way to encourage players to think about and characterize their gear beyond just “+1 to killing”. You have spots on your character sheet for trademark weapon and trademark outfit, so you’re encouraged to use qualities to flesh out your character’s particular look. (Too many RPGs ignore the importance of fashion in making a cool character!)

Rules are similar to tags from Dungeon World in that they’re simple descriptors that can meaningfully change how a piece of gear works. (Unlike Dungeon World, all the tags have defined mechanical effects). For weapons, you have rules like “dirty”, which means you can use it to shank someone in a grapple, “overwhelming”, which means it can only be parried by shields or other giant weapons, and “balanced”, which means you can throw it at someone up to medium range. (Not sure that’s what balanced usually means when you’re talking about swords, but I’ll take it). There’s a weapon list, but it’s more intended to show how you can combine tags to make distinct weapons. A mace is described with brute melee, damage +1, melee, and short, while a halberd is described with brute melee, cumbersome, damage +2, melee, overwhelming, strength req: 3, and two-handed.

I like this system a lot, but wish there were a few more tags – something for reach weapons, perhaps, or tags that grant unique actions in combat. Regardless, it makes it easy to just grab a few tags and throw together a sword – you don’t need to keep the equipment list handy. Armor has a similar system, albeit with a much smaller list of tags. Pretty much just different kinds of deflection, some agility/endurance requirements, and a tag describing whether or not it’ll draw the attention of security personnel.

Cryptomancer posted:

Generally speaking, ammunition is not fun to track, and bolts, arrows, and stones can be recovered after battles, so it is recommended that GM’s and players just trust in the universe and not bring up ammunition unless dramatically appropriate.
I can only imagine the moment you try and bring up missing ammo during a “dramatically appropriate” situation is the exact moment your players begin describing collecting arrows after every fight to make sure they never get caught empty-quivered again.

The Stuff chapter rounds out with a list of gear, but it’s all pretty much bog-standard adventuring stuff – potions, poisons, a few bombs, lockpicks, and so on. Same as with arrows, the author notes that they list medicine kits and not individual bandages because gear is supposed to supplement the character’s abilities, not create more bookkeeping. The only actual consumables are bombs and potions, which obviously are used up after being thrown/quaffed.

Combat

Love the sense of motion in this one. Also, the severed hand.

Cryptomancer posted:

Let’s face it: elves, dwarves, and orcs have been killing each other ever since Tolkein invented them. Combat is a pillar of the genre, and we embrace it. As game designers, we have endeavored to make combat extremely lethal. Toe-to-toe combat generally ends horribly for everyone involved. Battles are often decided before the first die is cast, and whoever seizes the initiative or fights from an advantageous position generally wins.
For best results, apply dagger to back as soon as possible

As with the rest of the game, the rules for combat are pretty drat lightweight. There aren’t even initiative rolls – the moment a player says some violent verb – “I shoot him”, “I charge him”, “I swing at him”, combat starts with that player going first. There’s a subsequent rule, though, which is what I’ll call the Law of No Take-Backsies. You can interrupt the GM and shoot off an arrow, but if it turns out the mysterious figure jumping out from the shadows was actually trying to save you – well, there’s no going back. After the first action, combat works in turns. All of the players get to take their actions, then the GM characters (or vice versa if a GM character attacked first).

On your turn, you get a move and an action. Moving involves changing your character’s distance relative to another character or object – the scale being close (a few yards), short (30 yards), medium (60 yards, roughly ½ of an American football field), long (120 yards), and extreme (a mile). Obviously, this is all theatre-of-the-mind stuff, but your move action can basically move you up or down one of those range increments. If you want, you can trade in your other action for an extra move, letting you cover more distance. (Some actions, of course, like unsheathing a sword or opening a door are “free”).

Attacks use the exact same mechanics as the rest of the game, which is the fastest way for a rules system to win me over (UNIFIED MECHANICS OR DEATH). You roll your five dice, making a skill check with the difficulty equal to your opponent’s relative core rank. The only wrinkle is that your opponent can declare how they’re defending before you roll – so they can decide to parry (using Power) or dodge (using Speed). Missile attacks work similarly, but you can only parry an arrow if you have a shield. You can also try and take cover, using Wits, which seems a little silly – guess they wanted to make sure Wits had something to do in combat. Magical attacks target Resolve, and can’t be dodged or parried or take-covered-against.

Characters have 5HP + their Endurance rank. The moment you hit 0HP, you’re unconscious. Every turn after that, you lose another HP – once you reach -10, you dead. Attacks deal damage equal to the number of successes rolled, plus or minus a few based on the weapon’s damage value. Attacks dealing 1 or 2 HP have no additional effect – they’re minor wounds that will hurt, but not mess you up too bad. A 3HP loss from one attack is a critical wound, which results in you taking another 1 damage any time you move and attack in the same turn. If you take 4 damage in a single attack, you start losing blood, fast – you’re bleeding out at 1HP per turn no matter what you do. Thankfully, the two don’t stack, but two critical wounds will upgrade to a mortal wound. There’s some bubbles to fill in on your sheet to track wound status, but I don’t think it’s a particularly onerous bit of bookkeeping. It does, however, make combat very dangerous. If you take a big hit early on, you’ve gotta get out and get stabilized because it won’t take long until you’re passed out in a pool of your own blood.

You can stabilize a wound to remove its ongoing penalty, but it’s extremely tough to fix your own wounds, so your best shot at ssurviving is to get a friend with some bandages to take care of you. You regain 1HP for every 8 hours spent resting. Nothing else short of magic or healing potions can speed up your recovery beyond that 1HP/8hr speed – which means you are going to want to steer clear of fights as often as possible because they take so drat long to recover from.
There’s grappling, which lets you, well, grapple opponents. While grappled, you can struggle to escape or you can try for a submission hold, which lets you knock your opponent unconscious through MUSCULAR GRABBING. The other lil’ rule tucked away at the end of this section is sneak attacks – basically, if you succeed on an opposed Stealth check, your attack deals +1 damage for each success you got on the stealth roll. If you’re real sneaky, you can deal some really nasty wounds to an unsuspecting foe. There’s also a quick reminder that you can use shards in combat, but that you need two hands to send encrypted messages, so try not to forget the reality of holding a dumb crystal in your hand while narrating combat.

Next time: downtime, crafting, secret hideouts, and the baleful eye of the Risk Eaters!

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


BinaryDoubts posted:

I can only imagine the moment you try and bring up missing ammo during a “dramatically appropriate” situation is the exact moment your players begin describing collecting arrows after every fight to make sure they never get caught empty-quivered again.

I'm reminded of the One Last Shot stunt from Spirit of the Century -- where you can declare yourself to have 'one last shot', get a hefty bonus to your attack, but then you really are out of ammo.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me! :swoon:




Planescape: Planes of Chaos - Ysgard (part 2)

Ysgard is the most detailed of the 5 planes in this box set, and most of places described are related to the Norse. It’s hard to have too much viking, but this section makes the effort.

Ysgard
Most of the places of note are on the first layer, which shares its name with the plane. Y’know, the booklet briefly makes fun of Primes for calling the Plane something else (it’s kind of buried in the booklet-Gladheim, I think?), but at least that doesn’t give two places the same name. To be fair, Ysgard the layer is where most of the inhabitants can be found, and it’s what everyone thinks of when talking about the plane.

Alfheim: Alfheim is where Frey and Freya live. Most of the time it’s just Frey here. Frey is the deity of “neutral-leaning elves who want little to do with the Seldarine”. The elves of Alfheim are even bigger jerks to dwarves than the norm, and interestingly they aren’t fond of gnomes either. Unlike Arvandor, Alfheim has extreme seasons. During the summer, the elves are in full Spring Break mode, and welcome guests that aren’t on their poo poo lists “heaping them with gifts (elven chain mail and elven cloaks and boots are common gifts for those who do the elves a great favor)”. During the winter, Alfheim is blanketed in snow, and the elves basically hibernate in underground warrens.

Outside the winter season, the Alfheim elves live and sleep out in the open. Frey and Freya take after the petitioners while here, and it’s possible for a visitor to come across a Power just sleeping in the woods (queue text about whether Cagers believe these stories-a common theme in Planescape is that as incredible as the Multiverse is, it takes more than a berk’s say-so to impress people. Sometimes the setting lays the cynicism on a bit too thick.) There are a few permanent structures. The Alfheim have their own High King and Queen, which is an annual office elected by the Realms Barons and Baronesses (who are themselves former High monarchs). This ruler resides in Xeno’s Tower, a dwelling that can only be reached by elves. Finally, there is the High Grove, where the two festivals described in the Travelogue are hosted.

The elves of Alfheim glow as per the light spell, and cannot be blinded by any light source. Visitors can be charmed by fey creatures that live deep in Alfheim. No save is given, but the booklet says the only way to escape is to get the fairies to argue over who should take them. The current High King and High Queen are basically Bill and Hillary Clinton (I mean in a vague sense, not the Blindingly Obvious Terry Goodkind sense). A powerful half-elf ranger and member of the Ringivers lives in the forest with his band of followers, and will provide help to anyone that needs it. The last major NPC of the realm is an exiled valkyrie named Skogul. Skogul is trying to find a Giantess that has made off with a magic axe. Alfheim weapons have a +1 non-magical bonus (To hit? Damage? both?) while only costing twice their listed price.


Zwingli the mad Skald posted:

If a berk won’t raise his blade, he doesn’t deserve a warrior’s death.

Asgard: Asgard is the largest realm maintained by the Norse Pantheon. All of the Aesir make their home here at least part of the time, which includes Aegir, Baldur, Foresti, Frigga, Heimdall, Idun, Loki, Odin, Sif, Thor, and Tyr. Loki, as mentioned previously, keeps a bolt-hole in Pandemonium, while Tyr has set up a realm in Mount Celestia for his Forgotten Realms followers. As part of a treaty with the Vanir, Frey and Freya take turns living in Asgard for part of the year. Asgard probably has more detail than any other divine realm in Planescape. It certainly is the most detailed in this box set. The description goes into specific geographic features like Iving River, Lake Amsvartir, Vidi, and the plains Ida and Vigrid are mentioned, as well as the Norse myths they’re tied to (Vigrid, for example is where Ragnarok is fought). All the Aesir have massive halls that cover several acres, but the Powers themselves are usually mingling with their followers and petitioners in disguise. All the Halls have their own specific name. Baldur’s fabulous hall Breidablik was mentioned in the Travelogue. Other halls are Fensalir (Frigga), Glitner (Forseti), Thrudheim (Thor and Sif), Gladsheim (common), Valaskialf and Valhalla (Odin). Strangely for divine realms of Planescape, there are quite a few specific details about Asgard. The walls, for example, are 40 feet thick and 80 feet tall, and Valhalla has 540 doors for einheriar to pass through.

Asgard is where the Plane reaches peak Murderhobo. Thankfully, players that embrace this attitude instead of trying to play it safe receive the same benefit Petitioners get. So if they die heroically, then they get reborn the following day. There are some caveats to this. First, simply dying in combat isn’t enough for a rez. A player has to be heroic, which means pushing through enemy ranks, defending allies and going after the biggest foes. I dislike this because it leaves too much room for a DM to screw a player trying to be as :black101: as the dice allow. Second, the effect works as the raise dead spell, which in 2nd edition meant the player has to make a resurrection survival save, and loses 1 point of constitution on a success. If a player does manage to prove himself, then Asgard will treat him or her like a rockstar, at least until someone new comes by and shows them up.

The most important non-Power NPCs in Asgard are the Valkyries. Now, there are no stats for Valkyries in the Monstrous Supplement that came with the box, nor are they in the Planescape Monstrous Compendium. It’s a pretty big oversight, but I suppose you could wing it by just re-flavoring one of the Aasimon. Anyway, the leader of the Valkyries is Reginleif, who is amusingly a member of the Fated. Sometimes I think the writers get a little carried away placing NPCs into factions, but I love the image of an immortal warrior-woman and Odin’s most important lieutenant carefully reading a libertarian newsletter. Besides Reginleif, there are two other named NPCs. Harald the Left-Handed, the de-facto leader of the Einheriar, and Thorval Barensen, a were-bear ranger and member of the Ring-Givers. Magic components cost 50% more in Asgard, if a DM actually keeps track of components.

Himinborg: Heimdall’s Great Hall, Himinborg, is located outside of Asgard’s walls, guarding Bifrost. Heimdall spends most of his time watching Bifrost, so the job of actually running the hall is left to Bjorn Hammarskold. Despite his importance, Bjorn isn’t actually a proxy. Bjorn is a true believer in the Fated philosophy, so if you get scammed in Himinborg then you’re S.o.L. Despite this, Bjorn is described as being “quick but fair” when judging disputes. Himinborg serves as a center of trade and Asgard’s first line of defense. The trade comes from traffic along Bifrost, which brings a lots of visitors from the Prime Material. This traffic attracts cross-traders ready to prey on newcomers. If a Prime can survive their schemes, then he might be worth watching.

Allvaldi of Himinborg posted:

Eternal vigilance is the most honorable duty.

Himinborg always has warriors of every stripe standing guard or passing through. If a player is going to spend any time here, it helps to build a reputation for being a tough bastard. The quickest way to accomplish this is by bribing a bard, assuming you can back up that reputation. Local news includes a rogue that wrestled a Cornugon in Sigil and won seven years of service, and now the hapless Baatezu is being made to stand in the hallway on display.

Bifrost: The Rainbow Bridge is a permanent conduit with one end anchored next to Himinborg and the other to one Prime Material world of Heimdall’s choosing. On the Prime, the rainbow appears as a particularly vivid rainbow whose base doesn’t move as one approaches it. Generally, Bifrost only appears during the day, though sagas say that Heimdall can summon the bridge at night in times of need. Trips on Bifrost take 1d6 hours from one end to the other. While on the bridge, the light it emits is so bright that it hampers combat (same as fighting in pitch darkness). The bridge cannot be destroyed by physical or magical means, and it negates the magical talents and items of anyone travelling on it. Undead and other creatures that harmed by sunlight are destroyed if they try to travel over Bifrost.

Jotunheim: This is the realm of the Norse Giants, and is one of the most hostile areas in the Upper Planes. In D&D, Surtr and Thrym are Powers in their own right. Mimir and the Well of Mimir can also be found here, although Mimir is merely a Proxy. Jotunheim is Iceland if all the Icelanders were replaced with 18-foot tall Hell’s Angels bikers. Even more than the rest of Ysgard, this place is hostile to visitor, especially those Size L and smaller. Though to be honest, distinguishing the Giant’s behavior as any worse than the Aesir is difficult, but maybe that’s the point the writers wanted to make? :shrug:

Skrymir the Fire Giant posted:

You want it? I’ll arm wrestle you for it.

Jotunheim has three major settlements. Utgard is the biggest city and fortress. It is heavily defended, particularly with illusions. Thrym occasionally stops by to hold court when he’s not just wandering the glaciers. Otherwise the city is ruled by the giant king Utgard-Loki. The king has a council of jarls, and the rules of succession are “kill all other claimants, including the current ruler if you’re impatient”. Meerrauk is the ancient thronehall of the giants, built into an active volcano. Unlike his colleague, Surtr stays in one place, ruling from Meerrauk. Meerrauk is where the Skull-Throne of Ymir can be found. The smallest settlement in Jotunheim is a Ring-Giver enclave. It’s a beer-hall named Okalnir, and it’s where giants go to have fun when not battling the Norse. The River Iving runs through Jotunheim as well as Asgard, and a clan of mountain giants will ferry people between the two realms.

Aside from Utgard-Loki (who has wrestled-and beaten-Norse deities), there’s a wandering shaman that preaches on behalf the Abyssal Lord Kostchtchie. How this shaman has not been insta-killed by Thrym, especially because the core box explicitly says that sending preachers into another Power’s realm is a huge no-no, is not explained. There’s also a crippled deva that’s being forced to serve as a jester “in the city of Jotunheim”. There isn’t anything remarkable in the service section.

Gates of the Moon: This is the first location in Ysgard unrelated to Norse Mythology. The Gates of the Moon are interesting because the two deities here have a similar portfolio but are part of different pantheons. Selune is a Forgotten Realms deity, while Soma is...an Indian deity? I remember reading Soma being the name of a drug used in pre-Hindu rituals, but anything else is guesswork on my part. Not that it matters-apart from the mention at the beginning, this section forgets about Soma and only really talks about Selune. They’re both Moon deities, if the name of the realm didn’t give that away. The booklet says that Selune has been wooed by Thor and Loki (damnit, Greenwood! :argh:) in her hall Argentil. The realm changes with the phases of the moon. One of the most interesting effects of this is that periodically the River Oceanus during high tide.

The most important feature of the Gates of the Moon is that is has the best known access point to the Infinite Staircase. The Infinite Staircase is an interesting alternative to Sigil for getting around the Multiverse, although there are a few catches. The staircase will take its users to where they truly want to go. So if a group is travelling the staircase, they need to agree on the destination. Sods travelling alone are taken to the city of her heart’s desires-and at that point have a really hard time ever leaving that city. On the other hand, if she passes up the chance to go to said city, then she can never reach it again using the stairs. “The Staircase is a quick way to get PCs involved in an adventure, especially if they’re trying to reach someplace that the DM doesn’t want them coming back easily...”

Lillendi, werecreatures and shards (enchanted creatures made of fire and moonlight-I’m guessing they’re a FR thing) are the principal inhabitants of the Gates. The shards live in city named New Orleans Mahogany. Werecreatures are able to fully control their their transformations in this realm, and are never compelled to change their form against their will. The other magic condition of the realm is that daylight and light-based spells are subdued, and cannot cause harm to creatures.

There are two named NPCs of the realm. Ulena the Fox is an Lillendi and principal proxy of both Selune and Soma. She’s mostly interested in keeping out kill-happy Ysgardians. Ottar Long-Legs is a fat werebear that can serve as a good guide.

Merratet: Get your cat-ears out. Merratet is the realm of Bast, the Egyptian goddess of cats and everything cat-related. This entry is disjointed, with information and rules in places they normally aren’t in other Realm entries. For instance, whenever Bast is abroad (which is frequent) stewardship of the realm is held by a giant speaking panther named Skullbury “best known for stashing kills in the palace closets, wardrobes, and gardens.” In addition, Bast’s dreams are telepathically projected to everyone in the Realm. While her petitioners don’t mind this, visitors are disturbed by them. As a result, priests and wizards cannot regain spells unless they hire a dream hunter (20g a day, although towns in the realm will have one on retainer). Both Skullbury and the dreams are described in the first section of this entry, where normally important NPCs and special magical effects have separate sections in these entries. There’s also the catte-drawing below that screws up the formatting of one of the pages. Whatever I’m just being nitpicky again.



Merratet is located on the far side of a vast ocean on the border of Vanaheim. Bast’s personal abode is a vine-covered acropolis, and the rest of the realm consists of savannah, shrub-lands and desert. The realm has been a hiding spot for Loki and Bragi on occasions. Bast and her servants like to party, and many of Bast’s followers are Sensates. There are three towns in the realm, although the entry says that towns are rare because “petitioners rarely gather for fear of attracting notice of by prides or single stalkers.” The town of Rummm has discovered that great cats won’t attack you if you wear a mask on the back of your head, because they prefer to strike from behind. A “famous” pride of weretiger bandits called The Half Moon Tigers operate on the outskirts of the town. Their leader is called the White Shadow, and it’s at this point that I wonder if a freelance writer mixed up his submission to a White Wolf splatbook. The village of Eowr is run by celestial lammasu. The lammasu run a hospital, but they’re also really smug, and passive-aggressively encourage patients to switch to lawful-alignments. They’re certain that their irritated guests will return after they get into a fight with another soul-sucking fiend because what is healing magic? The oldest lammasu in the realm is named Shinora of the White Mane, and will talk the ear off of anyone who gives her the chance. The last town is Bresiris. It’s run by a rakshasa maharajah or a sorceress that turns visitors into were-panthers or both-it’s not really clear because a) the paragraph is being crowded by a cat picture and b) it’s written in that 90’s style of not even giving the DM clear information. In any case, dreams here are more vicious than the rest of the realm, though there aren’t any additional mechanical effects besides “eventually go insane”. Even the Dream Hunters are hard pressed to protect visitors, and whoever is in charge has killed or co-opted the ones in town.

Whether awake or asleep, visitors to this realm always have the impression of being stalked. If they don’t hire a Dream Hunter, then they’re constantly on edge. This causes their constitution to decline at a rate of 1 point a day. It also imposes a -3 to surprise rolls (the twitchiness makes distinguishing real threats from the background noise). Carnivores are not affected by this. Instead they dream of hunting and killing.

Dream Hunters are most often sphinxes, tabaxi, and a breed of house-cats called The Children of Bast. Besides guarding visitors from the effects of this realm, a Dream Hunter can “stalk and kill dreams, wyrds, fates, and prophecies. Mechanically, this works as a variant of the psionic powers Spirit Sense and Precognition. The best of the Dream Hunters is an Androsphinx named Mragatep. He’s described as relatively sociable for his kind, and is eager to find a Gynosphinx mate. So yeah, an adventure hook for PCs to get magic cats to gently caress.

A dumb place overall, but it’s dumb in a fun way.

Vanaheim: Right, back to the Norse. Vanaheim is the home of the Vanir. This includes Frey, Feya, Uller and Njord. Frey and Freya of course are often hanging out in Alfheim or Asgard. There are a few subtle differences between the two Norse Realms. The inhabitants of Vanaheim are more into competitions and feats of strength than just straight murder-hoboing. Vanaheim is a foggy, coastal realm. There are two named sub-regions. Folkvang, or “Field of Folk” is where most of the petitioners’ hang out, and is where Freya’s hall Sussrumnir is located. Ydalir is a forest grove where Uller likes to hang out. Like Asgard, Vanaheim doesn’t have towns but great halls. Besides Sussrumnir the other great hall mentioned is Noatun, Njord’s hall on the shore of the ocean.

Vanaheim doesn’t have any special conditions. The sub-section simply reiterates that Petitioners are more into duels and formal competition than their cousins in Asgard. Of the named NPCs in the realm, the most unusual is Volund the Unruly. Volund is a dwarf with wizard levels, something that wasn’t allowed by 2nd Edition Rules. We’ll get into how he manages that later. The other NPCs are a ship-wright named Swanhild Prow-Gleam, and the Skald Torsten the Fair. The main watering hole for visitors is a shop/inn/bard college called Starry Night.

Skeinheim: Skeinheim is the stronghold of the Ring-Givers sect. The town is run by the sect’s factol, Ingwe Alting. There’s a long paragraph on who would be looking to succeed Ingwe, but these would-be successors aren’t trying to backstab each other and the factol isn’t old or anything, so it’s basically pointless fluff. Skeinheim is a testament to the strength of the Ring-Giver philosophy. While the hall looks unremarkable on the outside, inside the hall is lavishly decorated with gifts presented to the Ring-Givers over the years. In fact, the hall itself was a gift to the sect from the Fated! How the Ring-Givers pulled that off is a well-kept secret. However they did it, the Fated aren’t happy with the result, and so every man 13 and older are trained and armed to fend off attacks. Women will help in defense too “though they wield only kitchen knives and kindling axes.” Uhh, okay.

Geirmund of the Ring-Givers posted:

Strength to those who stumble, food to those who hugner.

Everything is free in Skeinheim, at least on the face of it. The dark of it is that giving poo poo out is how Ring-Givers get people in-debted to them. The Bargainers are actually insistent on giving stuff away, which results in them tossing about plot-hooks like Pinhead. The two adventure seeds involve finding an arsonist that has infiltrated the hall and finding out what is spooking the ratatosk on the nearby connection to Outlands.

Steadfast: The last location described in the first layer is an independent town located halfway between Asgard and Vanaheim. It is a fiercely independent town populated by those without ties to any other community in Ysgard. Steadfast is so independent in spirit that there is no formal ruler, and anyone that tries to make himself one gets scragged. There is an informal leader, a Bariaur named Arwen Ramsgate. Arwen is responsible for organizing a race for young rams and ewes of marriageable age. These races are Serious Business for the bariaurs. For instance, a week-long brawl once broke out because of a careless comment about the grooming of a contestant’s tail. The brawl destroyed 40 homes and set fire to the Red Stripe Stable and Tavern. “The tavern’s missed, but the smell of the stable still lingers.”

Ysgardian Proverb posted:

Better to wrestle a giant than lock horns with a Bariaur

Steadfast is in fact a Bariaur community. I think that’s something that should have been stated in the first paragraph. The town boomed chaotically once the Bariaur discovered that it was relatively safe from crazy petitioners. Steadfast is built with Bariaur in mind, so there are no chairs, and guests of any species have to make do with a bed of straw and a bucket of oats. The town can quickly be moved if necessary, and the Bariaur know how to defend themselves. The adventure seed involves a group of Hill Giants wanting to take a crack at the merchant life but think the best way to do that is kidnap a few Bariaur and force them to set them up in Steadfast’s makeshift markets.

Muspelheim
On the second layer of Ysgard, the fiery underside of the landbergs face upward, creating a landscape that is perpetually on fire. This is where fire giants are most numerous in Ysgard The booklet describes this layer as one with “surly inhabitants, and warm, flat ale”.

Muspelheim: Like Olympus, the layer shares its name with the most prominent realm. In fact it is the only realm described. Surtr can be found here when he’s not in Jotunheim. Muspelheim has several conduits leading to the Plane of Fire, and efreeti and fire giants are on good terms with each other. Muspelheim is centered around a fiery mountain range (really, you can assume anything on this layer is fiery unless otherwise noted) called the Serpent’s Spine. Most of the fire giant clans make their homes in these mountains, constructing watchtowers and citadels for defense against both outsiders and their neighbors. Just below these peaks is Golden Mist, an unusually fertile region where giants actually engage in farming. Muspelheim has one body of ‘water’, the aptly named Lake of Lead. Muspelheim has one town of note, Njarlok, ruled by Svaling-Ofen the Fair. Svaling-Ofen’s beard is described as “lined with cunning.” Uh, what? The town is the source of a unique volcanic aquamarine. Finally there is the Spire of Surtr, an impossibly tall structure supported by magic. The one notable feature is that it’s inhabited by “soft, devout giant maidens” that are often the target of bridal rai-OKAY MOVING ON!


I dunno Tony, can you add more cunning to that beard?

So here’s the effects of the fires in Muspelheim the realm (and presumably the rest of the layer). Visitors suffer fire damage as they would on the Plane of Fire, although Muspelheim does have breathable air. The fires vary in colour, and this indicates how much damage they do. Black flames do 1d6 damage a round to the unprotected. Red, orange, and yellow are the most common hues, and these do 2d6 damage a round. Blue and purple flames do 3d6/round. Green fire, which is especially rare, does 4d6 damage/round, but also hardens the skin of any creature that can withstand the flames for 10 rounds (-1 bonus to AC). White flames do 7d6/round, and blind anyone that can’t protect their vision (such as a darkness spell or equivalent). Wounding and sharpness weapons lose their special qualities because wounds are instantly cauterized in the heat. Spells that create any amount of water instead have the combined effects of fireball and shout, releasing a concussive blast of steam in an area of 10 feet radius per spell level. The noise can be heard for miles around.

All the important NPCs in the realm are fire giants, or ‘fire’ giants for one. Crazy Ingmar is a barmy frost giant who believes he’s a fire giant. He wears a ring of fire resistance, and is accompanied by an old wolf named Rednose. Rednose is basically doing the second act of Ol’ Yeller, but he’s kept his master alive up till now. Glammand the Noisy is the Forgemaster of the Forges of Surtr, which supplies giant-sized arms and armor to the giants of Ysgard. Glammand oversees a huge contingent of slaves to make enough gear to meet supply. Like Jotunheim, there isn’t a lot here to interest non-giants.

Nidavellir
Nidavellir means “Dark Home” and is the third layer of Ysgard. On this layer, the earthbergs are packed closely together, creating a shifting subterranean landscape. Nidavellir is home to two warring realms, Nidavellir (again with realms and layers sharing names) and Svartalfheim.

Nidavellir: Nidavellir the realm is the home of the Ysgardian dwarves and gnomes. While there isn’t a particular Norse deity that is their patron, Muamman Duathal from TSR’s dwarf pantheon, visits this realm and keeps an eye on the inhabitants. There are a few that claim that the actual power of the realm is Hod the Blind, a Norse god of smithcraft who was exiled after the Norns foresaw that he would make the mistletoe spear that would kill Baldur. Norse dwarves are basically regular D&D dwarves, although they’re usually chaotic aligned instead of lawful aligned-with no appreciable change in how they act. The major difference is that norse dwarves can become wizards. Their level cap is 16, which is the same as elves. The norse dwarves are divided into two sub-races, the Durin and Modsognor. Rule-wise there’s no different, but Durin dwarves will make make magic weapons for outsiders. While their prices are steep (10,000gp minimum), in 2nd edition being able to just buy magic items was a rarity.


Vinndalf of the Ysgardian Dwarves posted:

If you aren’t the hammer, some berk’ll think you’re an anvil.

All light in Nidavellir is dampened, so you need infravision to see. There’s some in-setting theorizing on why this is so that is actually a joke of quantum mechanics, so that’s worth the word count. The largest community in Nidavellir is the manufactory Ashbringer (also called the Great Bellows and the Chorus of Ringing Anvils). Ashbringer is supported by a network of mineshafts, the greatest of them is Verkelheim. After they are played out, abandoned mineshafts often become infested with underground monsters. The dwarves make regular sweeps to clear out these invaders, partly to protect the realm but mostly to test out their new weapons. There are three important NPCs named in this entry. Albreich the Fire Tamer is the king of the dwarves. He’s ruled for seven hundred years and has kept his subjects from killing each other over petty rivalries despite being a duplicitous bastard in his own right. The booklet comments that Albreich would fit right in if he ever moved to Sigil. Audumla the Giant Slayer is a priestess of Dumathion. Despite her name, Audumla is probably the most reasonable of the high-ups. Finally there is Bergelmir Fire-eye, the most fanatical of the raiders sent to attack Svartalfheim. His company is called the Ice Born, for how ruthless they are.

Svartalfheim: If you took Drizzt Do'urden and changed him into a place, you’d get Svartalfheim. The dwarves of Nidavellir are convinced that the drow are a vanguard for an invasion by Lolth, but the truth is these drow just want to be left alone. Svartalfheim is a secretive realm, and as such it’s unclear who the resident Power is (if their is one). Most likely though it’s Eilistraee, the goddess of Drizzt clones good-aligned drow. Svartalfheim is warmed by sulphurous springs and underground geysers, which supports an ecosystem of strange trees that do not need sunlight. Unlike Nidavellir, the realm is filled with a silvery light, dimmer than the glow of Alfheim but enough to illuminate the tunnels and caverns. Svartalfheim magically enhances acoustics. Bards can use their abilities as if they were 3 levels higher, and all visitors can sing ‘adequately’ in the realm. The drow have decorated the realm extensively with semi-precious gems and metals like mica and pyrite. So everything looks pretty but has no monetary value. My theory is the residents don’t want to give murderhobos any extra reasons to crash the realm.


:smug: is unbound by alignment

Svartalfheim has two capitals. Dokkar is the commercial capital, and is crowded even compared to Sigil. The most interesting quirk is that none of the merchants haggle. Instead they examine each buyer before giving a price from which they will not budge. Visitors can’t help but suspect that there’s some secret way to bargain with them. Dokkar is home to the realm’s leaders, a fighter/thief named General Jan Thorisen and his consort Dagmaer Atheling. While Jan is respected, Dagmaer is beloved by the drow for representing peak OC donut steel the best aspects of their race. Yggwyrd is the spiritual capital, and in contrast to Dokkar isn’t inhabited by any living residents save for a powerful witch-mistress named Ingrid Liansdottir. Yggwyrd means “City of the Ancestors” and contains shrines to every elven god, hero, master bard and saint. When a Drow of Svartlfheim dies, he’s brought to this city to be interred, and here their spirit can be communed with by his descendants. Yggwyrd is guarded by a variety of spectral undead (banshees, haunts, ghosts), who will attack any non-drow that tries to enter the city. Svartalfheim does have a conduit to the Lower Planes called Elkhound’s Gate. It is guarded by two fighter/mage brothers named Leif and Olaf Persson. Leif and Olaf prevent fiends from entering the realm, but don’t care if bashers use the gate to reach the Lower Planes (though they do give advice to anyone that looks really clueless.) The one other notable NPC is Majarenna the Dancing Priestess, the greatest of the realm’s raider against the dwarves. Majarenna has never killed an opponent, but instead pulls off thefts and pranks on the humorless residents of Nidavellir.



And that’s it for the DM’s guide! There are two additional booklets in the box. One is a collection of adventure seeds, and the other is the Monstrous Supplement.

Next time: It’s just a fraction of a box set and I already miss Tony

Adnachiel
Oct 21, 2012



Part 12: A Literary Hail Mary

Chapter 22. An hour later, Sascha is pissed and David is drinking. Emmet didn’t die from the heart attack, but he’s not coherent enough to address the congregation like Sascha wanted. David doesn’t give a gently caress as long as he gets to be a vampire.

quote:

When he peered out from behind the curtain at the people filling the church, David fantasized what it would be like when he could look at such a scene and see only one thing -- food. Living bags of blood -- sack lunches, if you would. Nourishment for the future rulers of the world -- himself, of course, among them. It hadn't happened yet, but it would. It must. Vykos would turn him. Then not only immortality would be his, but power unimaginable.

Sascha sneaks up on him and asks if he wants another type of drink. It’s changed its form again.

quote:

He still wasn't accustomed to Vyko's stealth, or that tortured voice whose raspy whine reminded him of a psychotic child on uppers.

[...]

At the moment, Vyko's face was again monstrous, the face flecked with glittery, pearl-white scales, the hairline marked with tiny, hook-infested sores. Its hands looked normal, but the skin along its arms was a thorny mass of corrugated tissue interspersed with smooth, slick patches that looked like candle tallow. Its overall appearance was horrific enough, but the worst was its eyes -- unblinking drillbits embedded in sockets of unnatural depth.

…Vampiric bejeweled wax mannequin goblin?

Sascha hands him a communion goblet full of blood. David isn’t quite sure about it.

quote:

Vykos threw back its head and emitted a noise that must have been intended as a laugh, but came out as a clipped, chittery screech. "No wonder your father denigrates you, David. He's probably intimidated by your dry wit. I, however, find you quite amusing. After all, one who aspires to the Curse of Caine must acquire certain tastes.

The blood isn’t the best thing David’s ever tasted, but it’s the importance of the act that counts for him. Then Sascha drops another bombshell.

quote:

"If the taste's a tad on the sour side, there's a reason," said Vykos calmly. "It's your father's."

David's stomach felt as though it twisted inside out. He willed himself not to vomit. Not with that thing watching anyway.

Sascha notices his reaction, but David assures it that he doesn’t give a poo poo about the old man and blood is blood. Before he heads out to address the now assembled congregation, he asks if his transformation into a vampire is going to be a sure thing. The book says they made the deal earlier, but I guess Taylor forgot that.

quote:

Still, despite his terror, David pressed on. "I need your word you'll turn me. Soon."

Vykos studied him. "Why not? God knows you're sufficiently vicious. I shall make you my childe," it said grandly. "Instruct you in the dark arts that you already have such a bent for."

"Your word?"

"You have it. You will be my childe."

"But beautiful, the way I know you can look," he added quickly. "Not looking the way you do now."

The hate in Vykos's ungodly stare almost stopped his mind from working, almost halted his heart. Then the thin lips twisted into a facsimile of a smile. "So you shall have it, David. More beautiful than you could ever imagine, for all eternity."

You’re gonna get Vicissitude’d the gently caress up. Except you’re not because I know how this book ends.

David occasionally comes around the church for Easter and Christmas services, so the crowd already knows who he is and isn’t completely surprised when he takes the pulpit in place of his father.

quote:

I want to clear up some of lies [sic] that have been propagated. Sadly, those lies are promises my father made to you. Well, you need to know that those are promises which won't be kept. My father promised you a Second Coming, when divine beings will walk among us, when angels will walk on Earth. My father talked about a time when superior beings would move among us. What my father promised was a lie -- not because my father is an evil man who wanted to deceive you, but because he was deceived himself."

[...]

"The lie is that this time is in the future. The lie is that we have to pray for angels, that we have to beseech a Higher Power to rule over us and guide us in our sinfulness and confusion and weakness. We are not weak or sinful or confused, but we've been duped into believing in all manner of hypocrisy. Deny yourself now, my father taught, and you will be rewarded later. Deny yourself wealth and pleasure and sex. Well, let me tell you, that time is over. The time of self-sacrifice and self-denial is ended. Because that time my father talked about is now. That time has come. An angel is among us tonight, the first of many who have come to lead us and guide us."

After he says this, a blinding light appears behind him, revealing Emmet strung up on a crucifix, complete with stakes through his hands and feet. People start freaking out and heading for the exits as Sascha reveals itself.

quote:

"Stay exactly where you are, my friends. You are not free to go yet. I have things to say to you." Vykos's penetratingly seductive whisper came over the PA system. From the pulpit, over David and his father's head, radiated a gleaming yellow light. At the center of that light stood Vykos. So different was his appearance now, however, that David scarcely recognized him.

[...]

For Vykos, in its present form, was radiant, heart-stoppingly beautiful. Not clearly identifiable as either male or female, its pale skin and flowing hair seemed made of some ethereal liquid in a constant state of flow. Colors rippled just below the surface of its translucent skin. David found that, if he focused more than a few seconds on this phenomena, the colors seemed to mesmerize him, draw him in. As though his mind could fall inside Vykos as one plummets down a well and drown in the rank, dark depths of it.

The people in the crowd that haven’t managed to leave become transfixed by the sight of Sascha’s new form. I guess it’s like one of those octopus that changes its skin color to attract fish.

quote:

"Your angels have come," said Vykos. "We may not be angels as you envisioned us, as you were taught to expect us, but we are angels all the same. Powerful, immortal, and all-knowing. It is we whom you will worship, it is we whom you will obey and honor and adore. And as the Christ of your old belief system shed his blood for you, so you will shed your blood for us. And some of you, like David here, will be rewarded, will be allowed to rise and enter the Angelic Order. Immortality can be yours, but before that gift is given, you must worship and adore we who are gods in your midst."

Sascha hands David a stake and tells him to drive it through his father’s heart. Sascha wants to use the display to show that the new angels are supposed to be feared as much as they are worshipped. David doesn’t hesitate in complying.

quote:

[Emmet] saw David standing below him, stake raised. He tried to speak. There was no time. But as the stake was driven into his heart, something transformed. As he felt his soul part his body, he saw David's soul desert his body, too. David continued to live, of course, but what was left was only madness and corruption. The rest of David, the real David beneath the evil surface, slipped silently from his body and went with Emmet.

And, to his vast wonderment, it was, indeed, angelic.

So there was actually a sliver of a good person in that stereotypical shell of an evil shitbag? Could’ve fooled me.

So by now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Sascha and David have won. The plot seems to be pretty much over. How the hell is anyone going to fix this mess?”

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to see why Rapunzel was included in the book.

Chapter 23. The second she saw them, Rapunzel has been making a beeline for the church spires, only stopping to feed from the worst sources of blood imaginable, which isn’t helping her psyche in the slightest.

quote:

So she kept to the shadows and back alleys, feeding from whomever was too weak or sick or inebriated to fend her off.

A woman with glazed eyes and missing teeth propped herself up next to a shopping cart overflowing with shiny plastic garbage bags. Rapunzel ripped her throat out, slurping blood that was a toxic hellbroth of street drugs. The impact of what she had ingested staggered but didn't stop her.

[...]

Along the way to her lover, Rapunzel found new victims. A homeless man who'd ingested so much alcohol that, had Rapunzel not finished him off first, he'd have been dead by morning. A hooker sprawled in a doorway, semiconscious after ingesting a cocktail of smack, 'ludes, and Ecstasy. A runaway with so much coke in his system he didn't stop prattling until Rapunzel ripped out his tongue.

With each polluted feeding, what was left of Rapunzel's humanity fell away, and her madness deepened.

By the way, everyone can see her gross fleshcrafted self. This doesn’t have any lasting effect on the Masquerade.

Oh, you want to know what she looks like? Here you go.

:nws:http://imgur.com/GwjqiEV:nws:

She eventually finds her church spires and enters the building.

quote:

"Jesus, what the gently caress is that!"

David saw the shambling wreck that was what remained of Jean Locklear as she shuffled up the center aisle of the cathedral. Her garments ripped and bloody, face contorted in a grotesque snarl. Half her skull was caved in, patches of brain matter showing through. An obscene euphoria glittered in her eyes. Oblivious to the reaction of the people in the pews, she made her way up to the altar and prostrated herself at Vykos's feet.

"My lord and master," she intoned. "I've come back to you. Your daughter has come back."

"Get away," hissed Vykos.

David watched in horror as the crazed thing grasped at Vykos's legs. Her crimson tongue snaked out. She licked its feet, reached up to grovel for its penis, clawing at its clothing to try to take it in her mouth.

So Sascha kept that massive penis in its hypnotic angel form? Does it change colors too? “Behold, my angelic cock!”

David watches in horror as Sascha beats the poo poo out of Jean/Rapunzel, realizing that this is what happens to people that Sascha embraces.

quote:

David watched with mounting horror and revulsion as Vykos stomped her head until only an oozing porridge of flesh and skull fragments remained.

This is my future, David thought. Even if it doesn't destroy me right away, Vykos will never keep its word. It will make me as hideous as she was.

With Vykos's attention focused on the wretched thing at its feet, David began to back away. Then he ran for the stairwell leading down into the catacombs, thinking about Lucita chained there -- thinking it was not yet too late to strike a better deal.

Eh, based on the Tzimisce OCs I’ve seen, all you really have to do is dye your hair and eyes an unusual color, get a couple of piercings, give yourself some tastefully placed horns, and you’d fit right in. No need to Vicissitude’d yourself out 24/7.

And that, is why Jean/Rapunzel was in the book. She was a literary Hail Mary designed to get Taylor out of the hole she wrote herself into by having Sascha and David win. gently caress.

Chapter 24. David, being the fuckboy that he is, immediately to runs to where they left Lucita staked.

quote:

David didn't know if she was capable of hearing him or not.

"If I let you go, are you willing to promise me something? Well?" He waited a few seconds, got no response. "I'll help you, but you have to make it worth my while."

He takes the stake out. There’s a very half-assed pic for this.

:nws:http://imgur.com/JkaVEOT:nws:

Dude, why are you even loving naked in this picture?

When she comes to, she gives him the death stare to trump all death stares.

quote:

"Wait, don't hurt me. I saved you. I just went along with Vykos because I was scared not to, but I know better now."

"You're telling me you're changing allegiances?"

"What I'm saying is, I saved you, so you owe me, right? You understand?" Apparently she didn't, for she came toward him now, black malice in her glare, fangs visible beneath her upper lip.

She drinks from him. Once she’s done, he immediately starts nagging her about when she’s going to turn him.

quote:

"When?" he gasped, when she released him. "When will you turn me into what you are? You promised me, remember?"

"I didn't promise anything," Lucita said. "You're lucky I don't kill you."

"But I just saved you! Please, do this one thing for me. I want to be one of you."

"And why is that?"

"To be powerful, beautiful, immortal -- isn't that what everybody wants?"

I’m writing this from a sick bed and right now I want my body to stop exploding more than any of that stuff.

quote:

"Not everyone," said Lucita, "and I don't make promises. But you are an unusual man and might do well as one of us. When this is over, perhaps we'll talk again."

Lucita wraps herself in shadow and disappears. When she’s gone, David slowly realizes that he might have hosed up again. Sascha took Lucita down once and could easily do it again. And if Sascha finds out what he did, he’s screwed. As he goes to get the hell out of there, he realizes that Becca is still nearby, wounded, but conscious. Realizing that he would have an easy time killing her now, but wanting to do something a little more imaginative (and because Taylor needs to start wrapping things up), he picks her up and tosses her into Pieterzoon’s tank.

quote:

"I'm going to do you a favor, little sister. I'm going to throw you in there with your boyfriend." Setting Becca on the ground, he raised one panel of the steel aquarium top, then lifted Becca and pitched her into the cold water of the tank.

At the shock of the water on her skin, her eyes snapped open. David permitted himself to look at her only an instant, relishing her terror, before he slammed the heavy cover shut again and consigned her to the water.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Sure is a good thing she dug herself out of that grave and decided to look for her sire instead of using her new freaky body to go stalk that senator. Again.

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Way of the Lion: Emerald Champion Total War


Horsie don't care about your dumb honor duel.

Appendices, at last! First we take a look at the Lion armies. In the beginning of the Empire, as was mentioned, battles were even more of a mess than now: just a bunch of mooks murdering each other without reason or rhyme. Lady Matsu saw that there was the need to change this and started aligning her troops into the first "army", marching abreast and in multiple ranks to intimidate their foes. But the battle still degenerated into a disorganized mess once her troops made contact, and Akodo improved upon Matsu's efforts by developing formal marching, which he did by getting a guy that was fixing his house to bring all his planks, putting them on the ground at regular intervals and teaching the troops to step on each plank to move forward. This is the Path of Akodo, and why every Akodo walks Akodo's Way. (No mention on whether Akodo paid the guy for his planks, though.)

Lions classify their troops by experience rank: regulars, veterans and elites. The regulars are fresh out of training troops that fight in the frontline to get them up to speed; the veterans have been in the army for at least three years and take the second rank to prop up the regulars, fill gaps and finish off retreating enemies; the elites are at the rear and form prestigious units like the Emperor's Personal Guard or the House Guards. The troops are further defined as infantry (always heavy infantry by other Clans' standards), archers, siege engineers (with Kaiu techniques, but mostly employed on the offensive role) and cavalry: the Lion were the first Clan to make use of cavalry after the Unicorn. They maintain 500,000 soldiers at the ready - for reference, the second largest army is the Crab with 300,000 troops - and they are divided in about ten armies of around 50,000 troops each. Akodo designed the officer ranks that are now used by all Clan armed forces these days, and also added innovations like the use of taiko drums to maintain marching order and give commands, and the usage of sashimono (flags mounted on a samurai's back) and war banners. Akodo Toturi has further improved on the armies, to the disgust of the more traditionalist elements in the Clan: a full company of each army is now a cavalry unit, and two squads of the cavalry company and in the reserves are horse archers. This has sparked protests from many of Toturi's commanders and many men about to be assigned to these units have requested a transfer. The first to accept his new commission was Matsu Agetoki, to the dismay of his peers. :v:

Then we get some notes on running a military campaign. An ideal group for a military game has real life military experience, an understanding of military etiquette and a willingness to accept the chain of command and the fact that another player might end up as their commander. This ideal group rarely exists, of course. The real issue is the chain of command, as RPGs usually have a party of equals. What happens when one of them is giving orders, and others disagree? Issues of mutiny, insubordination and treason rise. The game recommends that players aren't put in direct command of other players. There's the suggestion to let the GM run the player's commander, with a note that playing an egomaniac abusive commander will soon lead to mutiny and that it's better to give very general orders that the players (themselves lesser commanders) can act on as they deem fit. If the command post has to be filled in by a PC, it's best to let the party vote on it - if the PC leader turns out to be an rear end, they voted. It's also important to work out with the players the ramifications of orders. There's also notes on logistics (a whole Lion army on the march with its baggage train can be up to 26 miles long on the march!) and military justice, which is even more unforgiving than the already harsh Rokugani justice system.


The most awkward of hugs.

And now, important battles! Of course. A sidebar tells us that many of these are defeats, because the Lion takes great care to analyze thoroughly every defeat they suffer while victories are like 'duh, of course we won' but really, if the Scorpion get to turn a major defeat into a secret victory the Lion should get some badass stuff, right? Anyway. The Victory With No Strike was a Lion feint in which they made the Crane believe they were about to invade them, let them try to 'trap' them with non-aggression treaties which they happily signed, then turned their troops around and went for fertile Phoenix lands. The Crane could not help because of the very treaties they had signed, until they found a loophole through which they put the Lion in a trade embargo and managed to pin the Lion army marching against the Phoenix with a Daidoji force that was 'bringing in supplies.' The Lion still won the lands that used to belong to the Unicorn before their return in the following truce, though, and held them for six hundred years. The Battle of the Hour of the Wolf happened at the shores of the Red Lake, then known as the Lake of Shining Glass, when ten thousand men died in an hour as an allied Bayushi/Daidoji force fought a Matsu army and were destroyed. The Ikoma believe that the Scorpion were about to invade the Beiden Pass once the Lion's reinforcements at the lake were destroyed, but the defeat put their plans on hold. The ghosts of the dead haunt the lake, and Kitsu shugenja are advised not to try to make contact with them. There's also a nearby lake where rotting corpses walk! The Red Snow Battle is a legendary failure, where commander Akodo Meikuko lost 15,000 men trying to make the climb against the Dragon fortresses. The Togashi allowed the attempt to see if it could it be done at all: bitter winter, ise zumi fuckery and finally the sight of the Togashi castle itself, just as the exhausted Lion arrived, were too much to handle. Meikuko's name became synonymous with mistake, and no Lion will name their daughter like that ever again. The Return of the Unicorn was recorded by an angry Ikoma daimyo of the era, begging the Emperor not to trust those "barbarians, meat-eaters and gaijin" that went through the Lion forces with steeds like oni and used blasphemous rituals that the Kitsu assured had nothing to do with the magic of the kami. At the Battle of Stolen Graves, a contingent of Imperial Guards led by Akodo Minobe fought Iuchiban's zombie army in the very streets of Otosan Uchi, and he impaled the Bloodspeaker in person with his spear - only to find out he could not be killed. The undying sorcerer was entombed in a great prison and Minobe was revered as the greatest warrior of his generation, but two centuries later Iuchiban escaped. The Clans massed their forces to fight Iuchiban's new undead force at the Battle of the Sleeping River, but Iuchiban concentrated his zombies and skeletons on a single point in the allied forces' line to break through and cause havoc. The Lion restored order to the faltering allied contingent and managed to turn what would have been a rout into a victory. The Night of Fallen Stars is seen by the Matsu as a show of great cowardice, when they offered honorable surrender or battle, and the Crane responded with filth thrown from Shiro no Yojin's walls, then collective suicide. For the Kitsu, however, it was caused by both Clan's unyielding pride, and they know that hundreds died needlessly because of it. At the Battle of Three Stone River, the Lion suffered such a crushing defeat to Phoenix elemental magic that the Emperor himself ordered them to incorporate shugenja into their forces. The Battle of Kyuden Tonbo we saw already in Way of the Dragon, though of course the Lion have a much worse view of the Dragonfly.

The lands of the Lion stretch for miles through the innermost provinces of the Empire. The plains are lush, the mountains ranges full of timber and copper mines, and their fortresses are among Rokugan's oldest. At the south they are bordered by the Spine of the World mountains, home to a strange race of goblins called the zokujin. These 'copper goblins' have been enslaved by the Lion to work the mines: according to the zokujin themselves an Ikoma tricked them into giving away their freedom, but the Lion claim they saved the zokujin from certain death by offering them food and shelter. Whatever tale is true, the only living zokujin in Rokugan work the Lion's mines. They are the only creatures in Rokugan that can eat minerals, and must be watched carefully in case they take a 'snack' of the ore they are supposed to be mining. They have their own language, but can be taught to speak Rokuganese. Their few remaining legends talk of a mighty artifact called the Bloodwhite Stone, which is the creator of the Sun and Moon and holds the secrets of all magic; needless to say, the zokujin are ignored and their stories dismissed as children's fables. The Lion peasants work the plains for the rice needed to fuel their economy and supply the armies. Most of the Lion's wealth comes from trading with the Crane, Scorpion and Phoenix, but they save their best crops for the Crab in exchange for weapons and armor. The roads are kept immaculate due to ancient Matsu decree, so that troops can be moved quickly to the border. The central position of the Lion means that save for the Crab, they border all Clans and therefore no Clan can war on any other Clan without the Lion finding out and moving their forces. It also means the Lion have few places to retreat and must allow allies to march through their own lands to get to a battlefield. To the north lie the Kitsu's ancestral family castle, as well as a major trade highway that connects Otosan Uchi to the northern Clans. The Ikoma castle in the western reaches used to be the frontier of Rokugani civilization before the Unicorn returned, and many of the remaining Ki-Rin that fled from the advancing 'gaijin' served the Ikoma for a generation. The later Fox Clan, descendants of the Ki-Rin, could not retake their lands from the Matsu that now owned them, so they marched south through the Beiden Pass. The Lion midlands comprise most of the Lion territory, and important contested ground between them, the Crane and the Scorpion. The Matsu castle is located just above Beiden Pass, and is one of the most heavily fortified locations in Rokugan as well as the location of the hallowed Hall of Ancestors. Another important location is Shinden Shorai, the "Temple of the Future" where Akodo's wife bore her children and where most noble Lion children are born. It's a small corner of peace in the most hotly contested territory of the Empire, and the Kitsu claim no one who means ill can enter the ravine where it's located. There's also strange birthing rituals, of which the only thing known is the crude drawings of cats made by children, siblings to those about to be born there: the Kitsu say they have something to do with protecting the place.


The Mountain of the Seven Thunders, where Shinsei and his dudes gathered, is also in Lion lands. Good luck making the climb, is hella long!

And now, ghosts! It's common in Rokugan to tell ghosts stories at night during summer as a pastime, and often they have roots in truth. Many travelers have been accosted by the yorei, specters, and others have been accosted in their own homes. Some of them have lost their way to Jigoku, and may not be able to find it again. They can be confused and unaware of their own death, or angry and violent. There are also "little ancestors," which are perceived to be family spirits watching over their descendants or kami with a particular bent for justice, reacting to 'crimes' like failing to clean the house properly or not obeying one's parents. A third kind of ghost does not leave to the next world because it feels it still has much to do: there are stories of mothers that died too young and stay near their children, or a Crab samurai that died defending the Wall and stayed at his post in ghost form to kill any oni that approaches. The last type of ghost, the gaki, is defined by hunger: it wants to eat one thing uncontrollably, from silk to corpses.

The Kitsu are the great authorities in what concerns Jigoku, the realm of the dead. Not the same as the demon world Jigoku, incidentally. While young they learn of a road that crosses all other roads in Rokugan, that if you know where to look and how to walk leads you through a thick forest of stones to a great lake full of mist, with a narrow bridge that disappears into the mists ahead. This is the bridge to Jigoku, and only the very strong and very honorable can travel both ways. The journey to Jigoku is one that everyone, from the lowest eta to the mightiest emperor will do once, but only the Kitsu learn to be familiar with it. Many of the hungry or lost ghosts of legend are those who get lost in the forest of stones, and one of the duties of the Kitsu is putting them back on the road. Jigoku itself has a very mundane appearance, just like the living world, but with screwed geography - an inland forest might just be a few yards from the ocean, while cities can have great chasms in the middle. It is populated by men, women and children, carrying out similar tasks to those they performed in life over and over. A woman carries the same basket of rice in the field and empties it endlessly on a larger basket, because that was her role in life.The deceased Hantei emperor holds court in the phantasmal Otosan Uchi with a great pageant, and ignores the other thirty-odd Emperors doing the exact same thing. Jigoku is bleached and almost colorless in the lowest stations of life, while the sections close to the Emperor are a riot of color and light. The souls aren't aware of each other and shed their identities before entering, so they have no face. Kitsu that wish to contact them must learn to journey through the bridge, and seeking out the spirit they wish to make contact with: first they search for the remains of their identities in the mist, and use them as a contact point for the soul in Jigoku. The soul then recovers its memories and answers what the Kitsu wishes to know. They craft ritual masks for this, because their individuality is offensive to the faceless spirits: this mask will be the one that they will wear when they die, so only the Kitsu can choose how they will look like in death. From the time of the very first Kitsu, one member of each generation uses all their skill to retain their self when they die: they willingly cut themselves from the cycle of reincarnation to serve as Rokugan's living history. Not all Kitsu achieve the level of skill necessary to enter Jigoku, and those who don't perform a variety of services like helping grieving people, becoming historical resources with the Ikoma, taking confused spirits into the afterlife and dealing with a wide variety of spiritual matters. Oh, and there's no rules at all to go into Jigoku: ask your GM about it! :smuggo:

Nemuranai! The Bell of the Heavens is a heavy brass bell hanging on a branch of the forest outside Shiro Matsu. It was forged at the behest of a Crane daimyo that wanted to embarrass the Lion. A man pure of heart could ring it, it was said, so at the birthday of Hantei XVII it was brought to the Lion. The Matsu daimyo failed, and then a Phoenix daimyo, and all the other Clans failed too; the Crane daimyo made it ring with just a small tap. The Ikoma daimyo asked for permission to make the attempt, swung the hammer and made it chime loudly: his only reply was that the bell had no sound, and the Matsu now keep the bell as a lesson to those who think themselves pure of heart. No rules, so there! The Mempo of Matsu Hitomi was left behind along with the rest of her armor when she was forced to betray her commander and flee, so that she would not dishonor her ancestors. Only the boldest samurai-ko are allowed to use it. It gives a Free Raise to Battle, Kenjutsu and Athletics when in a combat involving more than twenty warriors, but if the wearer commits a dishonorable act the spirit of Matsu Hitomi herself will slay the offender. Hantei's Tessen is a war fan with the golden symbol of the Lion on one side and the chrysanthemum of the Emperor in the other. It was given to the Matsu when a daughter of an Emperor decided to marry a Matsu man. It is made of bronze, but strong as steel and cannot be broken by a katana; it also adds twice the user's Strength in combat and keeps three dice instead of the tessen's regular damage rating. The Ancestral Armor of the Lion is said in the Ikoma histories to have been the armor of the first Akodo daimyo and given to Akodo One-Eye by Hida himself. The last user of the armor, however, made a terrible pact with a Shadowlands oni: the Lion were called to help the Crab during the Battle of the Cresting Wave, but Akodo Fuso promised the oni to open a way for the Shadowlands in exchange for unparalleled battle skill. The break was successful and only Dragon intervention prevented the oni from marching north, but the oni still granted the armor a new dark power. It now sits in a secret alcove of the Ancestral Hall waiting for someone to cleanse the oni's taint. The armor's bearer can spend XP and raise their skills to 6 - they get reduced to 5 if taken off, but come back to their real rating if put back on. The user must also use it as often as possible, and only being in the Emperor's court or some equally pressing situation can get the user to stop wearing it. They also get the ability to spend up to three Void Points in a round. Finally, the Ancestral Sword of the Lion, Shori, is in Imperial hands. The user can attack as many times a round as their Honor.

Next: :ninja::aaaaa::cthulhu::aaaaa::ninja:

Traveller fucked around with this message at 20:39 on Sep 3, 2016

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Do Rokugani armies make use of levies/ashigaru, or is every soldier a samurai?

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


They definitely use ashigaru.

Adnachiel
Oct 21, 2012



Part 13: The End

Chapter 25. Lucita makes her way into the church and Sascha’s about to stuff its gross face with all the blood any vampire could ever want.

quote:

Lucita saw the faces of the people as they watched Vykos drink from his first victim: stricken awed, spellbound. Willing to believe the beautiful monster in their midst was one of the angels they'd been waiting for. Willing to overlook the discarded heap at its feet that had been Rapunzel.

Bovine beasts -- Lucita felt only contempt for them. She'd have liked to show them her powers, to twist their malleable minds even further than Vykos already had, but that wasn't her way. Her way was darkness deception and she relied on that now.

Lucita conjures up the shadows in her heart or some poo poo to flow out and cover the congregation, breaking their line of sight with Sascha and sending them into a scared frenzy, hiding behind the pews. She takes advantage of the distraction to get a hit in on him with her scimitar, but misses.

Most of the rest of the chapter is just these two fighting on the roof of the church. Sascha spends most of the start of the fight throwing chunks of stone at her. Then manages to disarm her and use her sword against her. She grabs one from one of the stone angels and hurls it at it. Sascha tries to diablerize her (i.e. drink her blood and absorb her soul and powers), but fails when she hurls the two of them backwards off the roof and Sascha onto one of the crosses. It’s all competently written. There are no pictures because none of this could be remotely considered sexy.

Hours later, a couple of ghouled fleshcrafted vultures come around and take Sascha’s body off the cross before the sun can come up and finish the job. So Sascha can still go off and do metaplot poo poo.

Chapter 26. Sometime later, Becca and Jan watch a recording of her addressing the congregation from a video screen while having sex. They stop, then start up again every single time they restart the tape.

quote:

"A demon had been sent to tempt us and to tempt my father. It corrupted his own son, my brother David, and used him to destroy his own father. The demon has been vanquished. A true angel, like the ones whose appearance my father predicted, was sent in darkness to defeat the demon. How can there be any doubt now that angels do protect us, that God watches over and blesses us through their eyes?"

Ooo. So hot. :geno:

quote:

But then it took a while for interest in the normal pleasures of the flesh to fade away, [Jan had] told her. In some Kindred, they never did.

It took you nearly 150 some pages to come up with that excuse? Why the hell didn’t you just go with that from the beginning?

If you haven’t guessed yet, Jan embraced Becca shortly after David threw her in the tank. Jan then used his renewed strength to get them both out of there.

quote:

And after that, he'd begun her instruction in how to hunt, how to kill, if necessary, and how to feed. How to make love even when there was no love in her soul to give.

Becca complains about having to watch the video over and over, but Pieterzoon insists that she needs to study it so that she can do a better job… emoting? Next time. She then gets pissy at the fact that no one is questioning the explanation she’s given.

quote:

Pieterzoon reached for the remote and hit rewind. He put a hand beneath her chin, tipped her head up to be kissed. "One of the more endearing qualities of humanity, you'll come to realize, dear, is its willingness to believe whatever it needs to if it will protect mortal sanity at any given moment. I think the Camarilla's fears about a breach of the Masquerade may be unfounded. As long as human beings find it too terrifying to believe in the existence of vampires, the Masquerade is safe."

And that’s why this entire event, which is covered on several big national networks, is never going to come up again.

Becca wants to tell everyone the truth about vampires, stating that she can feel the Beast rumbling inside her, but Jan assures her that she’s small potatoes compared to some of the “real monsters” out there. She insists that she wants to tell the truth again, then destroy herself, but she can’t because she loves being a vampire too much. It’s here that we finally get some loving explanation for the seemingly tone deaf book title.

quote:

"I want to tell them the truth and then destroy myself. I tell myself I've got to do it, but I don't. That's how I know that already I've become a monster. Because I don't want to stop what I'm doing. I like the taste and smell of blood. I love drinking it. I love the power. I'm happy to trade a beating mortal heart for a dead, eternal one."

Jan’s only response is for them to… just go back to having sex, I guess.

quote:

Pieterzoon kissed her nipples, neck, and mouth. "You see, my darling, you're becoming wise already."

Last chapter. David has retreated to a bar and is nursing his bruised ego with drink. He tells everyone that he was in the church when all the weird poo poo went down, but no one really cares.

quote:

"You read about the crazy guy who had himself crucified in his own church? Yeah, you must've, it made the headlines, it was on CNN, every loving cable news show. I was there. Some kind of spiritual psychosis, the shrinks are saying. The guy who crucified himself, that was my old man. You believe that? Hey, you don't believe what I'm saying, then gently caress you."

The woman gave him a queer, giggly grin. He wanted to punch her, but a bouncer the size of a Frigidaire was closing in.

He heads out and immediately realizes that he’s being followed. By Lucita. She’s incredibly upbeat for someone who is about to hand the gift of eternity to a massive, ungrateful rear end in a top hat.

quote:

She took his hand. "Walk with me."

She led him south, taking him to the part of the city that had burned the night of the riots. Under the unforgiving luster of the streetlamps, he saw the empty hulks of burned-out buildings, boarded-up windows and the broken bottles from looted liquor stores. When they reached one gutted building, she guided him inside, stepping over the sodden ashes of cremated furniture, books, drapes.

At the stairs leading down into the basement, he balked. "Okay, no more. Exactly where the gently caress is it we're going?"

"You wanted me to fulfil my promise, didn't you?" She slid her arm through his, long nails pressing into his biceps. "What is it, David? You're scared if you go down here with me, you won't be coming back alive? I thought that was the point?"

When he asks why they’re going down there, she tells him that when he wakes up, he’s going to be hungry and tired, and will need some place dark and away from humans to rest with a decent food source (in this case, rats).

The thought of feeding on rats doesn’t disturb him.

quote:

Nothing had the power to touch him now, he thought, not really. Not after what he'd been through. All he felt now was simmering rage and the excitement that came with the anticipation of committing cruelties on as many people as he could.

No, the world hadn't heard the last of David Vargas. No loving way.

The basement she leads him to shows signs of water damage from the firefighters and evidence that some homeless and drug addicts have set up shop in it, possibly providing David something other than rats to feed off of.

quote:

"To hell with loving diseased lowlifes," David said. "I'm going to drink from rich, beautiful people -- models and actors and thousand-dollar-a-night whores. Then I'm going to drain them dry and use their empty skins to wipe my rear end."

"Not that you'll be needing to perform that function," Lucita said.

Something shifts in his peripherary, but she tells him to ignore it as she bites down into his neck. The world fades.

He wakes up sometime in the middle of the afternoon alone. There’s nothing apparent to feed off of, but someone did leave him a flashlight. He turns it on and finds a cracked mirror propped up against the wall.

quote:

"Good evening, childe."

[...]

"Allow me to introduce myself. Erasmus Bonhomme, Nosferatu -- your sire."

With a cheery giggle, the repulsive beast picked up the shard of mirror and turned it so David could see himself.

The image froze him. When finally he could tear himself away, it was to bend double and vomit up his last meal as a human being. Then he screamed, or tried to, for his mouth was repositioned on his face in such a way that moving the flaps of flesh that passed for lips produced a spasm in the knobby lump of muscle around his jaw. His eyes, misaligned, asymmetrical pits, squinted and squeezed out bloody tears.

And that’s how Erasmus is relevant to the plot. Everything’s all tied up now.

Not willing to be ugly for the rest of eternity, David just runs outside and burns up in the sun.

quote:

Pushing aside Erasmus, he raced up the stairs, shrieking, knowing that outside the sun was blazing.

With a cry, David flung the door open and stepped into the fires of Hell.

And everyone lived happily ever after… for about 4 and a half years, then the Time of Judgment stuff happened and everything exploded and turned into a better game line.

Thank you for reading my dumb posts about this dumb porn book. It is now safe to read this thread at work again.

Adnachiel fucked around with this message at 00:53 on Sep 4, 2016

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



So in a nutshell...the entire thrust of this book was just so Sascha could pretend to be an angel and feed on a bunch of church folk and everything else was pretty much incidental (except for the death of a notorious vampire hunter).

So this entire story, in the hands of a better writer, could have just been a fifteen/twenty page short story spread out over the course of a regular Vampire book as the fluff because that's the only stuff that matters and it could end with David burning himself alive. What a waste of paper.

Traveller
Jan 6, 2012

WHIM AND FOPPERY



Thank you, Adnachiel. That was really awful! :v:

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Thanks for covering this, and thank it the one thing it did totally right - ending.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


I think that Eternal Hearts is up there as one of the worst things that's been reviewed in this thread(as in, the content matter was the worst, the actual review was good).

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Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Still pretty impressed that the deus ex machina that derailed the entire lovely plan could have literally began with the words "I put on my robe and wizard hat".

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