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Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case

Robindaybird posted:

Not to derail from Caster Supremacy, but wasn't Tomb of Horrors originally conceived as a convention game with the idea of seeing which PCs could make it the farthest?

Yes, sort of, but this adventure was published years later and was meant to be a fully playable module. It was just trading on the infamy of the original Tomb. The advised character levels are 13-16, which means wizards can have up to 8th-level spells and priests up to 7. This includes favorites like gate, resurrection, polymorph any object, etc. The expected party that would undertake this adventure is very, very tough.


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.
I think it says something about the quality of Stolze's writing that he manages to make "a house, but evil" somehow creepy and cool.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
I'm pretty sure credit for that goes to Dennis Detwiller; Stolze was mainly the Rules Guy for Godlike.

Kellsterik posted:

The Wild Talents canon timeline is really not very well written, IMO. I was considering doing a writeup of it in this thread a few years ago. I found it to be much less creative and interesting than Godlike, maybe because the focus isn't as tight. Shortly after WW2, superpowers all over the world mysteriously broaden from the unique restrictions that Godlike had and become more generalized, which takes away a lot of flavor. From what I remember offhand, the highlights include an anti-government Talent counterculture emerging in the 60s, a sort of above-the-law semi-secret international rescue and humanitarian organization for Talents with a "benevolent conspiracy" feel to it, several wars with alien species on the other side of a wormhole opened with supertech, and Talent terrorism featuring al-Qaeda and friends. Don't go in expecting a lot of detail about how Talents integrate into postwar Soviet society.

One thing I found really interesting about the Wild Talents setting is how strongly it's of its time. It was very obviously written by an American author during the middle of the Bush years. There's a heavy focus on Middle Eastern terrorism, an idea of international intervention for the better and the value of a "world police" force of Talents, kind of a Clancy techno-thriller feel.

Stolze posted:

I was not really involved in WILD TALENTS. By that point, money was tight… I don’t remember exactly what was going on, but ‘money was tight’ is always a credible guess about my motivations at various career junctures. Anyhow, I had loads of White Wolf projects in the hopper and, while the ORE was something I loved, I did not have the time to play Rules Rabbi pro bono. Besides, I wasn’t sure it was even a good idea.

WILD TALENTS was pretty much designed by committee through fan input on ARC DREAM’s web site and mailing lists. One big lesson from Unknown Armies is that the game isn’t always what the designer thinks it is. Sometimes it becomes what the fans think it is, and that may even be a good thing. I was very curious to see what the ORE would turn into if Dennis and company could take the best ideas of the loving fans and harmonize them. It’ll either be sublime or a freaking mess. Either way, I’m curious.
Writing by Internet forum committee. Always a golden idea.

Dec 10, 2007


BinaryDoubts posted:

I think it says something about the quality of Stolze's writing that he manages to make "a house, but evil" somehow creepy and cool.

I'm kinda surprised Baba Yaga's hut hasn't been made into a Pokémon yet :japan:

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

Pictured: Poster prepares to celebrate Holy Communion (probablY)

This avatar made possible by a gift from the Religionthread Posters Relief Fund

SirPhoebos posted:

I'm kinda surprised Baba Yaga's hut hasn't been made into a Pokémon yet :japan:

Is there a move called "curse" in pokemon these days?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Josef bugman posted:

Is there a move called "curse" in pokemon these days?

Yes. It's Ghost-type. If used by a Ghost-type, it takes away half the user's max HP immediately, than 1/4 of the opponent's max HP each round until it faints or swaps out.

Used by non-Ghosts, it lowers the user's Speed one step and raises Attack and Defense one step.

Jan 7, 2015

Divine Powers - Part 2

It's Godbound time again, this time with some particularly lovely Words.



She has an army the way that other women have fingers. She
can feel them around her, a constellation of warriors awaiting
her will. Here and there the hot prickle of engagement warms
her senses; a moment's focus sends allies to these spots. The
scouts she sent down the pass shimmer in her mind with an
urgent request for her attention. She borrows their captain's
eyes for a moment, seeing the Patrian legionaries crouched
along the ridge line in a well-prepared ambush. An instant's
focus halts her vanguard as she loosens her sword in its scab-
bard. This will be a matter for her personal attention.

It's fine an dandy being a badass one-man-army, but sometimes it is just better to have the help of a couple loyal minions. This is the Word for such occasions.

As this Word centers aronud one's leadership skills, it boosts CHA and allows the Godbound to understand and be understood by any intelligent creature he comes across, which makes you one hell of a protocol droid.

Many Gifts of this Word only work on minions, NPC allies who have willingly and formally sworn their loyalty to the Godbound. This makes them a bit like worshippers, but they don't necessarily have to be ones (though there's probably a lot of overlap).

Gifts start off very thematic with Guards! Seize him!, which as you might've guessed is about making a small group of minions make a dramatic entrance at your call, as if they were just waiting behind that one door the whole time. This is actually done with some mental time travel shenanigans, as the minions were alarmed early enough that they made it just in time for you to give the actual command. This of course means they can't be too far away (10 miles to be exact), and they must actually be able to get to you on their own, and they enter through whatever way makes the most sense. No magical teleportation here.
The Lieutenant's Wisdom is similar to one of the Apotheosis Gifts in that it lets you borrow the senses of a group of minions you've marked before giving them an order. You can also communicate with them telepathically. If one of the group can provide a bird's eye view of the area, you can essentially command them like in a RTS game.
The Greater Gift Bearer of the Sacarlet Crown then turns on Grand Strategy mode, as you become automatically aware of any major events in your domain and can send out one-sided telepathic messages to your officials. You also get an extra point of Dominion each month to spend on your lands.
When things get bloody, you can count on the Greater Gift Invincible Iron General to beef up your troops. Your soldiers gain an extra HD, can use your level as their new Attack Bonus, and they're Morale gets turned up to 11, making them fanatical badasses. You can also give mental orders to your lieutenants and are always aware of the condition and location of all of your units. Think Total War.
The Soldier's Faithful Heart is a need passive you can grant to 100 times your level in NPCs. It works like some kind of beneficial geas in that the NPCs' loyalty gets boosted to such a degree that only magical means could force them to betray you, no matter what.

Aside from all these wonderful toys, there are also a few Gifts dealing with the general idea of leadership and obedience: Know the Inner Truth lets you profile a conversational partner for their true motivations. The Lines of Rule let you instantly figure out who's really in charge among a group of people, and you can boss around lesser foes as if you were their boss (though they get to save if this would be all too awkward). A Thousand Loyal Troops lets you try to boss around even worthy foes.
Finally the Greater Gift Thrall-Making Shout lets you give a command to a large group at once. Of course, they won't follow you if you're already fighting them, and you can't make the follow a suicidal command.



Hengest walks through the necromancer's army and the pale
bones of Raktian soldiers cringe away as he passes. Somewhere
on the far shore of this sea of dead men, a thin woman in pale
robes shrieks useless commands. The Godbound slings his axe
at his belt and raises a hand limned in black radiance.
That hand drops in dismissal, and with it crumples the army
around him. Their collapse blossoms outward from the God-
bound, a steadily-expanding ripple of quietus as they drop in
soft clatters of bone and rust. In moments, only the necroman-
cer and the demigod remain standing on the field. She wails
under Hengest's gaze and turns to flee, but a wave of his dark
hand silences her as swiftly as it has her slaves.

Yeah, you're basically a Super Cleric. Or a Super Necromancer. Or both. It's your choice.

Godbounds with this Word can use the command portion of Turn Undead at will, ordering them one Mob at a time. Worthy foes can try to resist, and even if they fail you can't make them destroy themselves.
You also make for a great detective because you can gain immediate knowledge of anything that is dying or has already died 100 ft. around you.

For the less dickish Gifts of this Word, you can boost the above detective sense with Keeper of the Graves, essentially scanning the area (now 200 ft.) for any kind of corpse and finding out who they were and how they died. If you keep Effort committed, you gain invincible defense against lesser undead. This let's you pull off the above stunt were you just walk right inside of an army of undead. This would also allow you to just casually stroll through a market during a zombie apocalypse.
White Bone Harvest is another Gift used in the quote. You insta-kill all lesser undead you see, and even worthy foes take your level in damage.
Summons to Day is a Greater Gift that lets you resurrect a mortal creature as long as it was not dead for more than a month, is still relatively intact, did not have a proper funeral, and its can't be already hanging out in a paradise. Supernatural creatures or even Godbound are right out of the question.

For something more dickish (depending on how you look at it), you can use Withholding the Mercy to allow willing living creatures to continue acting for a while even after they hit 0 HD, after which they drop dead. Oh, and anf anyone gets knocked out around, you can decide to havem them die or stabilize on the spot. Fun.

The sinister Gifts of this Word include Mantle of Quietus, which lets you automatically hurt lesser foes who hit you, by I guess rotting them a little.
A Pale Crown Beckons is your Animate Dead kind of deal, summoning lots of lesser undead or much fewer greater undead depending on your level. You can't make greater undead out of corpses that had proper funeral rites, and you can make your little army permanent by paying Dominion points.
Scythe Hand is a type of Gift that will pop up in other Words. These gifts essentially summon a type of "weapon" for you to use, dealing 1d10 damage at a range of 200 ft., using whateer Attribute Modifier makes the most sense. How exactly this whole Gift looks is up to you, so you can have it shoot out phantasmal skulls, or make skeleton hands burst out of the ground, stare people to death and all that fun stuff. This Gift also has the additional effect of always dealing at least 1 point of damage to a living or undead target, even if you miss.
The Greater Gift No Release is probably the ultimate dick move. You target any non-Godbound, and as long as you keep your Effort committed, the target can't die. Even if their entire body were to be ripped apart, they would still be alive, suffering immense pain and suffering until someone magicall stiches the body back together, or you feel like not being a dick anymore and stop this whole deal.
Reaping Word is a Greater Gift and a save-or-die effect. Lesser foes don't even get to save at all, while worthy ones can always spend Effort to no-sell it. You can target anyone within sight range, but you don't even have to see the target at all if you know its true name. Worthy foes are a bit hard to pin down, as you not only need to spend Effort for the day, but also can't use it for as long as the worthy foe is undamaged.


The most rogueish of all Words. It grants powers of stealth and generally messing with people's heads. It grants a boost to either DEX or CHA, depending on whether or not you feel more comfortable sneaking around or lying through your teeth.

For sneaky Godbounds, you can get yourself A Familiar Face. As long as a group is not actively looking out for intruders, you can perfectly blend in with them. You won't raise any suspicion, and you automatically know how to properly talk or behave. It doesn't even matter what kind of race the group is, so you can just blend in with the Drow. Or Aboleth.
Perfect Masquerade lets you take on the appearance of any humanoid you've seen, instinctively mimic his voic, mannerisms and whatnot. As long as you don't act OOC, only worthy foes and close relatives have a chance of seeing through this disguise.
Shadow Play lets you create perfect illusions, affecting all sense but touch.
Veiled Step makes you hide in plain sight. Worthy foes can try to resist like always, but lesser foes will just plain ignore you unless you're like right in front of them or actively draw attention.
The Greater Gift Walking Ghost is an upgrade of Veiled Step (refund included). Now lesser foes will only ever notice you if you attack them or just stop caring, and even worthy foes can only try to spot you if you're right in their line of sight or they're actively searching for hidden enemies.

For the more socially-inclined Godbound, try Deceiver's Unblinking Eye. As long as the other person does not have the Deception Word as well, you can tell if he's lying or trying to deceive you. And petty mortal illusions and disguises don't work on you any more.
Liar's Flawless Grace is the opposite of that Gift. Your lies don't register as such when someone uses magic or other supernatural stuff on you, and lesser foes will always fall for them unless they are obviously wrong.
The Greater Gift Conviction of Error lets you troll someone with a bit of paranoia, making them think that one of their beliefs has been a lie all along.
The other Greater Gift Impenetrable Deceit lets you troll on a greater scale. You claim for something to be false, and everyone within earshot range will believe you. This can include ridiculous stuff, but don't expect "I am not the moon!" to last very long once you stop committing Effort.



You have the power over rock, earth and soil, as well as its qualities of strength and durability. You can kind mess a bit with metal, but you're mostly an Earthbender.

Unsurprisingly, this Word grants a boost to either STR or CON.

Earthwalker lets you not only sense hollow spaces in earth or rock, but you and your buddies can also just walk through earth, rock, soil... really almost anything as long as it's not of a thinner consistency than mud.
Jewel-Bright Eyes gives you x-ray vision, allowing you to see through earth and stone. You can also see through any gemstone you have ever touched.
Mountain Thews gives you a brief burst of strength. Takes too much concentration to be used in combat, but it allows you to lift or smash just about anything up to a house or small ship.
Obduracy of Stone is your natural AC 3 Gift. You also become immune against stone or earth, don't suffer any harm from being buried and in fact you don't have to breathe, drink or eat at all anymore.
Rebellion of the Soil lets you collapse or outright disintegrate any non-magical structure or object (if it's not worn), up to a house in size.
Stonespeaker lets you communicate with the earth to get information from a specific point in the past.

For Greater Gifts, you can get yourself Builder of Mountain Peaks to pretty much earthbend, Fury of the Avalanche to create shards of stone you can fling as a weapon (and damage any lesser foe who's not flying), or Tremors of the World's Heart to cause an earthquake and wreck everything in a 300 ft. radius.


Godbound are pretty durable little buggers. You take it one step further by being absurdly resistant to physical harm.

Naturally, this means you get a CON boost. You also don't have to bother with eating, drinking, sleeping or even breathing.

How absurdly resistant can you get? Well, Amaranth Vitality grants you regeneration while you're still enough. It's not fast enough to affect combat, but you can recover all of your health in around an hour or so.
Body of Iron Will is another natural AC 3 Gift that also makes you immune against environmental damage, including radiation and the vacuum of space.
Defy the Iron lets you Commit Effort to no-sell physical damage.
Harder than This lets you adapt to become immune against a physical peril (like lava) or a special attack (like a breath weapon).
Elemental Scorn grants you immunity against one type of energy, which you can even share with the group by committing Effort.

For a somewhat different application of Endurance, you can get Untiring Inspiration, which makes use of your tireless constitution to gain extra Influence. You can also spend Effort to not only refresh your allies, but let them not worry about food, water or even air just like you.

For Greater Gifts, Fear no Steel grants you Damage Reduction on anything, and you can commit Effort for the day to become immune against non-magical weapons for a scene.
Unbreakable is a beefier version of Defy the Iron, making you immune against physical harm for a turn.
And finally we have Undying. You essentially function like a Tarrasque in that you will always come back to life unless someone offs you with the help of a Word, a Gift or some other divine effect.



The knyaz had gold. He had land, and serfs, and a walled city
for his own. He had a wife, and a daughter, and the friendship
of his wife's father. But he did not have a son, and that is why
his domain would be torn to pieces by his neighbors as soon
as his weak heart failed. The healers said his wife would never
bear another child and her father would be first for his blood
if he put her aside for another.
Jakob would give her that son, strong and handsome and
looking just like his father. He would give her that son and the
hope of an unburnt city, and then the knyaz would see that a
certain man died. Life for life, for the gods are fair.

The Word of harvests, sex (in the reproduction sense) and other fun stuff. Though like Death, you can also mess with those things in a bad way.

As a passive effect, you can boost your CON, gain perfect control over your reproduction cycle, and you become immune against wooden objects and any kind of plant-based monster or poison.

Birth Blessing is a pretty multi-purpose Gift. Want to make someone sterile? Induce a miscarriage? Optimize the child a bit, like getting rid of birth defects? Or how about a virgin birth? This Gift does it all.
A Second Spring is a neat little healbot Gift that grants instant recovery to allies in sight, healing 1d6 + the Godbound's level in hit points. Doesn't sound like too much, but you the targets don't have to commit Effort to be healed. You do have though, limiting the amount of healing you can do per day.
Seeds of Death on the other hand lets you shoot cancer at people (damit I though that was in the Health word). It's the same 1d10 over 200 ft. deal as the Scythe Hand of the Death Word. Its special effects are that the first use of this Gift in combat is completely subtle in its appearance and effect. It's only in the following rounds that the tumors show up (yikes). Lesser foes hit by this will die of cancer in 1d6 months unless healed by magical means.
A Sense of Ash is a neat utility Gift that lets you sense whatever plagues, curses and other nasty things are going on in any given area, plus whoever might be behind this. If you come across a creature that can spread diseases, you not only recognize it as such, but also know what kind of disease it can spread.
Touch of the Green Restraint tries to immobilize foes in a 50' radius with surprise vines. Lesser foes thus bound will all be hit by the fray die, and bound foes brought to 0 HD can be either merely immobilized or outright crushed.
Withering Curse lets you make several acres worth of land barren for a generation (unless dispelled with this very same Word). You can also turn wood into ash and seriously damage plant monsters.

Greater Gifts of this Word include Cornucopian Blessing, which lets you turn a container full of agricultural goods into a nifty artifact that can vomit out several tons of said goods without running out, for as long as you keep that Effort committed.
Unending Abundance is the polar opposite of Withering Curse in that it makes the area super fertile, which can be put to good use by the faction controlling it.
For ultimate dickery, you can use Sever the Line to not only make the target sterile, but automatically damage all of his offsprings (excluding those you wish to spare). The target's direct children suffer 1d12 damage, with the die being reduced for each further generation.


A pretty flashy Word that is all about burning stuff. Though you can also undo said burning, if that's more your thing. You can also mess around with intense feeling for a more subtle approach.

This Word grants not only immunity to fire and sword, but lets you use fire as a magical weapon for free, with 1d10 damage and a range of 50 ft. Fire bolts? Fire whips? A really, really long fire sword? You decide.

Consuming Gaze lets you turn stuff on fire till nothing but ash is left, even if the object is non-combustible. Like similar object-destroying powers this one doesn't work on worn stuff.
The opposite of the above is Give forth the Ashes, which unburns the same amount of stuff each round, repairing objects and healing fire damage, though this can't resurrect the dead.
Firestorm lets you basically summon a D&D fireball from above, except the impact point can be anywhere within sight and the radius is 100 ft.
Firewalker lets you sense nearby flames, teleport from flame to flame and take your allies with you.
Master of the Furnace is is pyrokinesis. You can mess around with any flame in sight, and set fire to flammable objects.
Nimbus of Flame grants you a heat aura that damages anyone who attacks you in melee.

Greater Gifts include Burning Rebuke, a stronger version of Nimbus of Flame that applies your Fray Die to anyone (including worthy foes!) who attacks you with anger or passion. Only mindless or disciplined foes can avoid this damage.
Cinder Words lets you set people or objects on fire with words, dealing your Fray Die to any lesser foe within earshot range and setting one object on fire per round.
Seering Blade upgrades your free fire weapon to the standard 200 ft. range, and anyone killed by it explodes, dealing 1d6 damage to anyone within 20 ft.

Next Time: Even more Words. As for Zetta, he obviously gets the Command Word, seeing how he spends the majority of his own game ordering his "monkeys" around. Endurance is also a good fit as Overlords are very resilient and are never really portrayed as requiring actual armor. Only one more Word, and he can spend some points on Gifts.

Dec 23, 2012

When the game says you can drop a fireball on anything you can see...

...Does that mean also anything you can peep at through your worshippers' eyes? :stare:

Jan 7, 2015

Siivola posted:

When the game says you can drop a fireball on anything you can see...

...Does that mean also anything you can peep at through your worshippers' eyes? :stare:

It's more of a personal sight range. Gifts that work if you're not even anywhere near the place typically point that out, like the crazy sniper Gift of the Bow.

(Though if your level is sufficiently high, you can always have that worshipper pray in a corner so you can teleport there.)

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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

"I'm gonna go to the bathroom and when I come back I totally will not have my God following behind me throwing fireballs like they're on sale."
"That's an oddly specific statement but here's the key to the john."

Jan 7, 2015

Hostile V posted:

"I'm gonna go to the bathroom and when I come back I totally will not have my God following behind me throwing fireballs like they're on sale."
"That's an oddly specific statement but here's the key to the john."

*Commits Effort*

"Oh, and I'm not the one setting everything on fire."
"OMG why is everything burning?!"

Doresh fucked around with this message at 22:06 on Sep 19, 2016

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Way of the Phoenix: It's got a way of helping you to breathe a little better

The Shiba mon, two crossed swords surrounded by the flames of the Phoenix. There is a variation used by yojimbo to the Isawa that puts the symbol of Void between the swords.

The Shiba family is a curious case in Rokugan. They bear the name of their Clan's patron Kami and their Clan Champion is chosen from their ranks, but they are still subservient to the Isawa and the Champion does not rule with absolute authority. They are a family of warriors in a peaceful Clan, where violence is abhorred, yet they remain vital to Phoenix interests. Shiba was a thoughtful and pragmatic Kami, very interested in the new world upon which he and his siblings had descended. He questioned the men and women he met about everything, observed all that he could see, and lasted quite a bit in the Tournament of the Kami by watching the others carefully. Unlike Togashi, who sought to cut himself from Rokugan, Shiba wanted to be a part of everything he saw: he could spend a whole day watching a farmer plant his field or listening to random conversations. He wanted to learn from humanity and be part of their struggles, which wasn't easy because mortals were uncomfortable around him and even his siblings found him too conciliatory to tolerate for long. As time went on, he found himself more and more isolated from the world he desired to connect with, but he found solace when Shinsei arrived. He understood Shiba's isolation, and in his words the Kami saw how the lives of men had meaning and the ways in which they were linked to the divine. When Fu Leng arose and the Thunders were gathered, Shiba talked Isawa into going once he learned that he could not march with Shinsei. Isawa named his price and the rest is history. Shiba stayed in Gisei Toshi when Isawa left, and he worked hard to integrate Isawa's followers into the Empire that they had just joined. His children were trained in the martial arts to serve as yojimbo, and to this day the Shiba family continues to uphold the duties of defenders of the Phoenix lands and bodyguards for Isawa shugenja going south. For all of his efforts, though, the new clan lacked something, a common identity. Troubled by the increase in tensions between the family lines, he went to sleep one night, and dreamed of standing on a high mountaintop while a huge flaming bird flew towards him. It was the entire universe, it said, but Shiba asked how this could be as it was obviously of the element of Fire. But since the bird was hatched from an egg and the fluids of life, it was of Water; it soard through the skies, so it was of Air; it died in ash and rose whole from the ground, so it was Earth; it was all of these things and none of them, so it was of Void. Shiba was not even separate from the bird: it was the reflection of his soul, just as he was its manifestation. The bird was the Phoenix, the Eye of Eternity. Upon waking, he summoned his people, and told them that they were now the Phoenix Clan. The Isawa knew in prophecy that one who would speak with them with the voice of the elements and be as a flaming bird would come, so they nodded as the new Clan rejoiced. Reports on how Shiba died are sketchy. Some believe he dies hundreds of years after he fell from the sky, others that he was killed in the final battle against Fu Leng. The standard tale is that Shiba went into the Shadowlands to rescue the Seven Thunders and Shinsei, and returned - but not as Shiba. His first son, Shiba Tsuzaki, vanished from their palace soon after his father was gone, claiming he was 'calling' to him. When he returned, he proclaimed that his father was dead, but that he would live forever in his descendants, and all those in attendance could sense a wave of invisible energy, and another presence behind Tsuzaki's face.

The Shiba family has an awkward position. They must serve and protect the Isawa while clashing with them in matters of clan policy. They conduct their duties with honor and dedication but it's clear that they sometimes chafe under their control. The first duty of the Shiba is protecting the Isawa, due to their Kami's vow. This vow defines their responsibilities and purpose in life. After gempukku, they serve a period in the Phoenix's Home Guard, patrolling the lands and defending them from any threat. Shiba fortresses are laid out in a semicircle on the outer edge of the territory, keeping the Isawa woodlands and holdings from being defiled by outsiders. After some three or four years, those who wish so can become yojimbo to an individual courtier or dignatary. Shiba tend to look upon their Isawa charges like a parent to a naive child. They must be kept safe, but they can't be trusted to survive on their own. Phoenix shugenja often complain of their yojimbo's 'suffocating' presence. Shiba guards are always scanning potential threats and dangerous situations, keeping their eyes on the crowd while the Isawa discuss philosophy or negotiate with other dignataries. If danger does arise, the guard immediately jumps between the Isawa and the threat, heedless of their safety or that of others nearby. Shiba bushi are notorious among House Guards of other Clans for constantly asking about security measures, and for many gunso a Phoenix's visit can be terribly trying. The Shiba take pride in this dubious reputation. Now, none of this means the Shiba never question the Isawa: friction between the two families has always existed and the Shiba often express frustration at their shugenja. They are more immersed into pragmatic reality than the Isawa, and often reach conclusions that the Isawa don't like, particularly regarding the use of violence. The Isawa can hide behind their walls and maintain the moral high ground, but the Shiba bushi cannot affort to do so. Shiba and Isawa argue a lot, but the former are still dedicated to protect the latter. Their duty is to their Kami's vow, not to the shugenja: the Isawa will be protected, whether they want to or not. They are quick to close ranks if outsiders try to put pressure or insert wedges between the families of the Phoenix, however. Many Scorpion and Crane have learned this lesson too late when their efforts to undermine Phoenix unity resulted in lethal duels with enraged Shiba.

A case of Phoenix hair in the morning.

The Clan Champion is, as mentioned earlier, not the ultimate authority of the Clan as it is with others. The Champion has the respect due of their position and serves as a mouthpiece to the rest of Rokugan, but lacks the authority to dictate policy for the Clan. This has never been a problem: the Shiba have never used the Champion for political ends. They will argue with the upper echelons of the Isawa family, but at the end of the day they will nod their head and acquiesce to their wishes. Other Clans speculate why this is so, pointing at Shiba's vow, the Champion's consuming military responsibilities or simply saying that the Shiba are too weak to stand up to the Isawa. The truth is more complicated. Unlike other Clans, the next Champion's identity is not known until the previous one passes on. This is because the Champion's soul passes on to the successor. The Champion dies like the phoenix, only to rise again in the new generation. Each Champion gets a form of immortality - when they die, their soul joins that of all other Champions, and each passing transfers the memories, feelings and emotions of the previous Champions into the new one. Their natural personality remains dominant, but the force of numerous souls now support their actions. This burden can be quite traumatic, and some Champions are unable to bear the strain. The Isawa provide the assistance needed to make the transition as painless as possible and ensure that the new Champion can control the voices now raging within their mind. Sometimes, not even this assistance is enough, and Champions are seized by strange prophetic fits and speak in voices. The inherent instability of the Champion is a major reason why the Phoenix trust their leadership to the Elemental Masters instead. A potential Champion is identified when they try to touch the ancestral sword of the Clan: only the real Champion can touch it, and it will wrench itself out of the grasp of any other.

Out of nowhere, a loving sea monster.

Major battles of the Clan include the Battle of Sleeping River, where the Phoenix joined all the Clans in stopping Iuchiban after he escaped his prison. It was the Phoenix who rallied the allied forces when the undead broke through their lines, with Isawa shugenja striking down Iuchiban's hordes and countering the dreaded maho of the Bloodspeakers, and Shiba guards buying time for their charges to do their work. What could have been a complete rout was transformed into a victory, and while the clans suffered horrible casualties they did not break. The Five Nights of Shame involve a young family, the Snake Clan. They lived in the Dragon Heart Plain and had comfortable if unremarkable lives. But an ancient spirit, a Shuten Doji, haunted the land around their castle, and came calling the first evening of every month for many years, screaming in fury and begging the family to heed its pleas for mercy. The small family struggled to ignore the summons, but one dark night the young son of the daimyo was unable to resist the call. Once he had gone to the spirit's side, the haunting stopped for a while. The daimyo died, which the Phoenix mourned as he had been a friend to the Clan. The son ascended to the throne but there was a darkness within him, and had learned foul secrets from the Shuten Doji. The Phoenix uncovered the plot, and fell upon the Snake lands. Shiba blades killed every last man, woman and child of the Snake in five days, while the rest of the Empire watched the slaughter with horror and outrage. The Emperor demanded that the Phoenix explained their actions, and the Elemental Masters only replied "Never Again." In the Battle of the Broken Daisho, an ancient feud between Kakita Gosano of the Crane and Matsu Tusun of the Lion burst. They fought many minor skimishes until their great armies were ready to attack, but on the day of the battle a bolt of lightning and a fierce downpour fell from the clear sky, and a small Phoenix army commanded by Shiba Toriiko, Champion of the Phoenix, placed itself between them. The Crane and Lion generals demanded an explanation, and Toriiko said that they would rip the Empire apart in their feud and that her men would not live in the world they would make. Tusun believed that the Phoenix was siding with the Lion, and ordered his troops to fall upon the Phoenix... who never drew their weapons even as the Matsu killed them. Even the stoutest of their bushi trembled at the Phoenix's discipline, men that quietly replaced the fallen on the battle line without hesitation, and some of their commanders committed seppuku rather than continue to slaughter the Phoenix. Kakita Gosano tried to get Toriiko to stand aside, but she simply said to Kakita that she would not see a world devoured by pride and prepared herself for a duel. Gosano assumed the stance and saw that she was willing to die, and her technique was superior. Only pride made him charge, and he ended up killing Toriiko, who also never drew her blade. He realized that she had not been talking to him and felt the presence of his own ancestor, Kakita, turn away in shame. Matsu Tusun received Gosano's broken blades at noon, and the Crane retired to a monastery in shame while the Lion also withdrew. The Battle at Fate Gorge was born from a challenge made by Lord General of the Lion, Matsu Uniri, that shugenja were unnecessary in the Armies of the Emperor. The Isawa argued that an army of soldiers was no match for an army of shugenja, and the Shiba said that an army of Isawa could beat an army of Matsu. Uniri accepted the challenge. Three months later, the lines were made and the Isawa teleported a hit squad of eight Shiba in a suicide mission to the Matsu's war room, ready to cut off the Matsu's leadership. They were not counting on a young Matsu Tsuko, only expecting Uniri and his wife. They killed Uniri, but Tsuko and her mother took care of the Shiba. The rest of it is history. At the Battle of the Sun Princess, the Phoenix army hid themselves from their Dragon foes in a magical fog, and when the fog parted they used it to rain magical havoc upon the Dragons, cutting down their shugenja and bushi.

The Asako mon, a hand holding a quill. On fire! It's said that they used to have an older, more sinister mon. Spooky.

The Asako family are enigmatic like the ise zumi, and encouraging like the Ikoma. Their origins lie in the beginning of bushido, and on the great secret that the founder, Asako, received from her old friend Shiba, many years after his death. She was in her youth one of Shiba's many human companions, traveling and learning from each other. In that time, she was married to a great shugenja, Yogo. When Fu Leng came, Shiba was more and more busy and Asako dedicated herself to her healing craft, traveling with Shiba's armies and missing her beloved Yogo. Unfortunately, Yogo was cursed by Fu Leng to betray the ones he loved the most, and not even the greatest Isawa shugenja could break the curse. He considered seppuku, but at the last moment was swayed by Bayushi, and joined the Scorpion knowing that he would never love them and thus be safe. Upon hearing of her husband's deed, Asako was crushed and bitter. Shiba returned and offered a place to begin again, among friends. She gratefully agreed, but her son, Sagoten, was less forgiving and vowed to abandon the cruel abandonment he and his mother had suffered. When Isawa agreed on going to the Shadowlands, another condition was that Asako's son would marry Isawa's daughter. Sagoten agreed, realizing how much his true father's enmity of the Isawa could be inflamed but not what would be done to his mother in the process.

Months after the Thunders departed, Lady Doji came to the Isawa and asked them to divine the locations of the Thunders. The Isawa did so, more out of concern with their funder and anything else, and determined that only one still lived but were not able to determine their identity. Shiba volunteered to find the Thunder and marched into the wastelands, but only Shosuro returned with her twelve Black Scrolls and the obsidian hand. Meanwhile, a great magical work was being made for the marriage between the Asako and Isawa lines, one that would come to be known as Isawa's Last Wish. Mere weeks before the wedding, Shiba merged with the spirit of his son appeared before Asako, and told him the real story of his death. In his words, Asako lost herself, slipping into a new state of comprehension. Shiba told her that there were lost paths to divinity, denied to humans by birth and blood, but the race of mortals was gifted and destined to walk the path of godhood in time. Nature was crafty and retarded their progress, but there were ways to trick her, to slip past her on the way towards apotheosis. They talked through the night, and when dawn came Asako was alone. She took the secret that Shiba taught her and wrote it down in a script of her own devising, only sharing the cipher with the handful of people that she had revealed the truth to. Each generation, the cipher is redesigned to avoid accidental or intentional exposure to the words. Publicly, Asako continued her work as a healer. At Shiba's behest, her new family shifted its focus towards the recording of history, as the Kami said that it was an important part of understanding the human condition. They collected every lost fable they could find, every myth from the mouths of wayfarers, all that they could find for their treatises of the past, and they built an extensive library chronicling not only the war with Fu Leng but the hundreds of years before the Kami walked the land. At some point, the Isawa learned that the Asako had a secret denied to them: they demanded immediate disclosure of the secret, and when refused they demanded that Asako and her family leave the city at once. The wedding was canceled, and the shugenja charged with the creation of Isawa's Last Wish, the magical gift, were ordered to halt their work. By Shiba's request, a small contingent of Asako's historians remained to tend to the Imperial Library, but as a concession to the irate Isawa they would never be allowed to leave. They were finally allowed to go outside to retire and seek replacements, but to this day no Asako sets foot on the ground of Gisei Toshi, they're always carried by attendants. The Asako settled near the Ki-Rin Shrine, in the central Phoenix lands.

Aw, that magic dragon thing is cute :3:

The Asako have not suffered any great tribulations in the thousand years since the war with Fu Leng. They have had the time to develop independently and freedom from political interference, and with the extraordinary information they have protected this has resulted in a decided solidarity within the family. They are still quite structured, however. One portion of the family dedicates itself to research the Secret and its implications for Rokugan, developing training methods to bring out the latent abilities all humans share. They include the Asako that are the most 'enlightened', having walked further down the Path. These Asako are extremely isolationist, adhering to the doctrines of older, retiring samurai, but also the most knowledged and experienced of the family. They decide who is ready or isn't ready for ascendance. The other side of the family is outgoing and friendly, dedicated to the development of all Rokugani. They are lower-level practitioners of the Secret's mystic abilities, following the Way of Shinsei and preparing the 'younger' Clans for a time where they can become like that Asako, closer to godhood. The Asako realize their beliefs would be considered heretical, even blasphemous by others in the Empire. For instance, they believe the Imperial prerogative to enthrone new Fortunes to be a "false path" and denying of the Path of Man, but they still realize the Emperor's word is law and continue to hide their knowledge rather than upsetting the careful balance of the Empire. They guard the secret of mortality itself and immortality beyond that, and will never reincarnate again, preparing themselves to transcendence into becoming true Fortunes themselves. Their abilities allow them to change the attributes of a person at will, making them hardier and stronger, or slower and weaker. None of those initiated in the highest ranks of study have died of natural causes in three hundred years, and when one of them dies to violence all are lessened for it. Theoretically the dead immortal reincarnates as an Asako again, but the family harbor very ill feelings towards such perpetrators, as they have taken the life of one just a step away from ascendance.

Next: the supremacy of the casters.

Traveller fucked around with this message at 17:59 on Sep 20, 2016

Aug 23, 2009


Yes, sort of, but this adventure was published years later and was meant to be a fully playable module. It was just trading on the infamy of the original Tomb. The advised character levels are 13-16, which means wizards can have up to 8th-level spells and priests up to 7. This includes favorites like gate, resurrection, polymorph any object, etc. The expected party that would undertake this adventure is very, very tough.

And they're still liable to get slaughtered. The sheer volume of Negative Energy Plane not-even-a-wish stuff would inflict losses on an Epic-level party.

Dec 22, 2003

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

BinaryDoubts posted:

I think it says something about the quality of Stolze's writing that he manages to make "a house, but evil" somehow creepy and cool.
In a couple of timeline entries we should see some REAL hosed up poo poo.

Apr 8, 2009

Nessus posted:

In a couple of timeline entries we should see some REAL hosed up poo poo.

Are we talking the good kind of hosed up poo poo or the bad kind?

Dec 22, 2003

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

MJ12 posted:

Are we talking the good kind of hosed up poo poo or the bad kind?
Well all that poo poo they were doing to try to make a Talent sounds a lot like "Thursday" in one of your mid-tier Nazi death camps so I'm going to guess that that enterprise will encounter some emergent difficulties and really angry Talents.

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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

Yeah when you accidentally create the psychic embodiment of a child-eating Russian fairytale by trying to kill one superman you made, chances are very good that this will not be the apex of poo poo going wrong. Baba Yaga is remarkable but it sure doesn't sound like the worst thing that'll happen.

Young Freud
Nov 26, 2006

Nessus posted:

Well all that poo poo they were doing to try to make a Talent sounds a lot like "Thursday" in one of your mid-tier Nazi death camps so I'm going to guess that that enterprise will encounter some emergent difficulties and really angry Talents.

Let's not forget that America did stuff like this all the time, like using 60,000 largely minority soldiers to see how chemical weapons would react to their skin or using conscientious objectors as biological weapon subjects.

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Or intentionally infecting all the men in Tuskegee with syphilis - there were a lot of hosed up experiments, which is not even touching MKULtra later on.

Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.

And, oh, seriously contemplated gassing five million Japanese people, mostly civilians, due to the bloodbath Operation Olympic was expected to be.


During the summer of 1945, as millions of U.S. servicemen planned for two massive invasions of Japan and several thousand others were engaged in the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb, a handful of Army officers had another plan to end the war.

Major General William N. Porter, chief of the Army's Chemical Warfare Service, orchestrated a scheme to kill an estimated five million Japanese with poison gas. A document kept under wraps for five decades, the 29-page, "A Study of the Possible Use of Toxic Gas in Operation Olympic," details the ultimate attack.

Strategic bombers (B-29s and B-24s) would drop 56,583 tons of poison-gas bombs in the first 15 days of what the document called the "initial gas blitz." And they were to drop another 23,935 tons of gas bombs every month that the war dragged on or until all targets had been hit.

When landings began in November, tactical fighters and attack planes were to drop another 8,971 tons in the first 15 days, followed by 4,984 tons of bombs every 30 days. Other planes would swoop low, using spray tanks to spread thousands of tons of liquid gas over Japanese defenders. During the landings, U.S. troops would bring ashore 67 Army battalions of 105-mm and 155-mm howitzers and 4.2-inch mortars that were to fire about 1,400 tons of gas shells every 30 days.

Against unprotected troops—or civilians—these weapons would have been devastating. Against protected troops they would have caused casualties and, equally important, forced defenders to fight in restrictive gas masks and protective capes. Thus far in the Pacific War, neither side had used chemical weapons.

This proposal was the culmination of more than a year and a half of intensive planning by the Army's Chemical Warfare Service. Senior military leaders first considered the concept in November 1943, after almost 1,000 U.S. Marines were killed taking Tarawa Atoll from determined and fanatical defenders . A month later, General Porter wrote: "The initiative in gas warfare is of the greatest importance. We have an overwhelming advantage [over the Japanese] in the use of gas. Properly used gas could shorten the war in the Pacific and prevent loss of many American lives." 1 The core rationale of U.S. military commanders was simple; they perceived the use of chemical—and also biological—weapons as a way to save lives. And the option remained on their minds as Allied assaults moved closer and closer to the Japanese home islands.

In April 1944, U.S. Army chemical warfare and air intelligence officers prepared "Selected Aerial Objectives for Retaliatory Gas Attack on Japan," highly detailed studies of Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Yawata, and adjacent cities and suburban areas. This analysis examined the climatic conditions, construction characteristics, street layout, and other features of Japanese cities to determine vulnerability to gas attacks.

The secret 1944 report noted, for example, "The gas attack program is aimed primarily at causing the maximum number of casualties, crippling transportation and public services, complicating and delaying the repair of HE [high explosive] bomb damage and making targets more vulnerable to incendiary attack."

Japanese cities were particularly vulnerable to gas attack, notably because residential areas were constructed almost entirely of wood, and "Liquid mustard [gas] is readily absorbed by wood which is almost impractical to decontaminate."

Meanwhile, U.S. forces were pushing relentlessly toward the Japanese home islands, using conventional weapons and methods for amphibious landings on Peleliu, the Marianas, the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and, on 1 April 1945, Okinawa. The landings were becoming more costly, however; tenacious Japanese defenders ashore were being aided by kamikaze attacks against U.S. warships and transports.

The U.S. death toll was inciting strong reactions. "You can cook them with Gas," read an editorial headline in The Chicago Tribune on 11 March 1945, as U.S. troops were fighting on Luzon and Iwo Jima with heavy losses. The editorial declared the charge that poison gas "is inhumane" as "both false and irrelevant. ... The use of gas might save the lives of many hundreds of Americans and of some of the Japanese as well."

In May 1945, General Joseph Stilwell, soon to take command of the Tenth Army on Okinawa, wrote to General of the Anny George C. Marshall, Anny Chief of Staff, about the pending invasion of Japan. His suggestions concluded: "Consideration should be given to the use of gas. We are not bound in any way not to use it, and the stigma of using it on the civilian population can be avoided by restricting it to attack on military targets."

On 29 May 1945, General Marshall told Secretary of War Henry Stimson:

... of gas and the possibility of using it in a limited degree, say on the outlying islands where operations were now going on or were about to take place. [Marshall] spoke of the type of gas that might be employed. It did not need to be our newest and most potent—just drench them and sicken them so that the fight would be taken out of them—saturate an area, possibly with mustard, and just stand off. ... The character of the weapon was no less humane than phosphorous [sic] and flame throwers and need not be used against dense populations or civilians-merely against those last pockets of resistance that had to be wiped out but had no other military significance." 2

On 9 June 1945, three officers of the Army's Chemical Warfare Service submitted the ultimate, top-secret gas attack plan to General Porter, who approved it.

The Army planners had chosen 50 "profitable urban and industrial targets," with 25 cities listed as "especially suitable for gas attacks." The report declared, "Gas attacks of the size and intensity recommended on these 250 square miles of urban population ... might easily kill 5,000,000 people and injure that many more."

The use of gas was to begin 15 days before the landings—starting with a drenching of much of Tokyo, because an "attack of this size against an urban city of large population should be used to initiate gas warfare." Planners targeted 17.5 square miles directly north of the Imperial Palace and west of the Sumida River. Almost a million people would be in that area at the time of the first strike. Within two miles of the target area were 776,000 more Japanese; they probably would be in the path of wind-carried gas. (Ironically, the size of the targeted area was almost exactly the same as the area of Tokyo burned out by the B-29 firebombing on the night of 9-10 March 1945. But the chemical warfare planners made no reference to bombing damage to cities on the target list.)

The attack on Tokyo was to begin at 0800, when the greatest number of people would be concentrated in the city. Four-engine B-29 and B-24 bombers would drop either 21 ,680 gas bombs weighing 500 pounds or 5,420 bombs weighing 1,000 pounds, depending upon their availability. All would be filled with a gas known as phosgene.

During subsequent attacks on other Japanese targets—both by U.S. aircraft and artillery—three additional types of gas—hydrogen cyanide, cyanogen chloride, and mustard—were set to be used. (Phosgene and mustard gas had caused many thousands of casualties in World War I.)

Mustard gas would be used against Yawata and the nearby cities of Tobata, Wakamatsu, and Kokura, a highly industrialized area. The objective was to "hamper operations and produce mustard gas vapor casualties" among the 279,200 people in the gas attack zones. "Refresher attacks" would launch every six days until the first frost.

In direct support of the invasion of Kyushu, cyanogen chloride bombs were to be dropped on Japanese troop units around Goshima, the chief city on Kyushu. Raids on reserve troops, however, would likely "produce large numbers of casualties among the unprotected urban population of Kagoshima." Gas attacks, the report continued, "should be coordinated with the 'softening up' bombardment of the beaches prior to landing."

Extremely detailed analyses of city layouts even paid attention to the width of streets and the location of parks. Discussing one gas-attack zone in Yokohama, for example, the report said: "Zone I covers the center of the city proper, a triangular area congested with residential and mercantile structures. This is the most densely populated region in the city. Dense clusters of low residences, broken only by narrow streets, extend inward. The northern and western parts of this district are covered with cheap native shops and theaters. There are no large factories in this zone and comparatively few household shops."

Army planners believed that Japanese officials would not evacuate cities, even after the first wave of poison-gas attacks, because of the strain that mass evacuation would place on the transportation system and because workers were needed to keep factories operating.

Target selection was based on the thesis that "... most Japanese cities of over 100,000 population are located on or very near the coast, a fact of significance for gas attack because it aids identification and exposes them to daily land-sea winds .... There are few open spaces in most Japanese cities. There are a number of parks in Tokyo but few elsewhere ...." Noting that about 70% to 80% of the roofs in typical cities were tiled and the rest sheet metal, the report says that both types "are easily penetrated by gas bombs."

Cities were "studied in considerable detail for the purpose of preparing gas zone maps," depending upon the density of population. The greater the concentration of people, the better the gas target.

Only five copies of the top-secret report of 9 June were made. On 14 June, other documents show, Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet, received a secret report on the use of poison gas from General Marshall.

The timing of the discussion between King and Marshall strongly suggests that poison gas was discussed at the 18 June 1945 meeting in the White House on the invasion of Japan. The minutes of that meeting refer to other, undisclosed topics. One was revealed later to be the atomic bomb.

The newly available report of 9 June strongly indicates that another object of discussion at the White House on 14 June was the massive use of poison gas.

On 21 June, according to one of the documents, orders went out to step up production of several poison-gas types so that stockpiles could satisfy the massive amounts urged in the plan.

The Army's Edgewood (Maryland) Arsenal and civilian laboratories already were researching toxic gases extensively, and factories were producing toxic materials as well as weapons. The first poison-gas plant was at Warners in New York state, which opened in April 1944. Initially, it produced 15 tons of cyanogen chloride per day, later increasing to 60 tons per day. By mid-1945 several additional plants were producing toxic gases, and several more remote areas were being used to test them. In 1942 a chemical test area had been set up in the desert wasteland of Utah, including part of the Dugway Valley, and at Fort Sibert in Alabama. Other chemical test sites, with more tropical conditions, were at Bushnell, Florida, and San Jose Island in Panama. Toxic U.S. weapons were also tested on Brook Island in the Australian state of Queensland, as well as at smaller test facilities in Canada and India. (Massive numbers of U.S. toxic weapons were also stored in Australia.)

Weapons intended to destroy tanks, planes, or even buildings could be tested against inanimate objects. But toxic gases were meant for human targets. Thus, volunteers—thousands of U.S. and Australian servicemen—were experimentally exposed. The precise number of men on whom gases were tested may never be known, but the U.S. Navy alone had at least 65,000 test volunteers from the Great Lakes training station near Chicago. 3

The Army and the Navy conducted several research projects, and the Navy had a 1O-by-15-by-17-foot chemical weapon test chamber at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., across the Potomac River from the suburb of Alexandria, a few miles from the Capitol. Several men could be exposed to gases for up to an hour to test the effectiveness of gas as well as protective clothing, masks, and ointments. The volunteers were alternately exposed to the gas wearing ordinary and protective clothing, plus gas masks. Although the volunteers were monitored closely and examined before and after the tests, many suffered injuries. 4 In Australia, volunteers wearing normal clothing and gas masks worked moving sandbags in the gas chambers. Many were hospitalized, often with the skin around the scrotum and underarm burned raw. 5

By 1945, almost 51 million chemical artillery shells, more than 1,000,000 chemical bombs, and more than 100,000 aircraft spray tanks were available. 6 Also in the new arsenal were mustard-gas land mines made from rectangular, one-gallon tin cans, commonly used for varnish or syrup. The ten pounds of mustard in the can were detonated by a slow-burning fuse or electrical current, and the gas would spread over a considerable area. They were intended as booby traps or for contaminating fields, roads, or buildings. By April 1945 more than 43,000 such mines reposed in Pacific stockpiles. 7 Other chemicals were mass-produced but were not used in specific weapons.

This huge U.S. chemical arsenal was intended for a multi-front war, supporting U.S. combat operations in Europe and the Mediterranean as well as the Pacific and Southwest Pacific areas. In 1945, it was proposed, all of this arsenal of toxic gases would be used to drench the Japanese home islands—creating some 5,000,000 Japanese casualties while saving countless U.S. lives.

The exchange between General Marshall and Admiral King on 14 June 1945 addressed the fanatical Japanese resistance being encountered in the Pacific. Marshall's memorandum to King stated: "Gas is the one single weapon hitherto unused which we can have readily available which assuredly can greatly decrease the cost in American lives and should materially shorten the war." 8

Only 50-odd years later has the scope of the plan for that weapon's ultimate use come to light.

1 Memorandum from MGEN William N. Porter to LGEN Joseph McNamey, 17 Dec 1943; War Department file OPD 385.

2 Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, Memorandum of Conversation with GEN Marshall, "Objectives towards Japan and Methods of Concluding the War with Minimum Casualties," 29 May 1945.

3 Rexmond C. Cochrane, "Medical Research in Chemical Warfare" (Aberdeen, MD: Aberdeen Proving Ground, U.S. Army [n .d.; 1946]), Monograph, 163, 167.

4 See, for example, Naval Research Laboratory, "Chamber Tests with Human Subjects, IX. Basic Tests with H Vapor," in Constance M. Pechura and David P. Rail (ed.), Veterans at Risk: The Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1993), p. 361.

5 Karen Freeman, "The Unfought Chemical War," The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (December 199 1), p. 32.

6 A detailed breakdown of chemical munitions is provided in Leo P. Brophy, et. al., The Chemical Warfare Service: From Laboratory to Field (Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1988), p. 65.

7 Ben R. Baldwin, et. al., Readiness for Gas Warfare in the Theaters of Operations (manuscript in National Archives), pp. 449, 454.

8 Memorandum from GEN Marshall to ADM King, 14 June 1945, enclosing "Memorandum entitled U.S. Chemical Warfare Policy."

Mr. Polmar and Mr. Allen are coauthors of Codename Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan and Why Truman Used the Atomic Bomb (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995). Their Proceedings article "Invasion Most Costly" (August 1995) won them the Naval Historical Center's Rear Admiral Ernest M. Eller Award.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
The death camps did produce many Talents, but remember that the goal was to either kill prisoners quickly or work them to death--Hitler was still denying the existence of non-German parahumans at the time of the Wannsee Conference, well after the Einsatzgruppen were formed.

Beria, on the other hand, was deliberately trying to create Talents through a meticulously honed program of torture--not surprising that a serial rapist would have a talent for that sort of thing.

By the by, the experiments on conscientious objectors were carried out by the OSRD, the same organization with Section 2 under its umbrella.

Mar 30, 2012

There actually is a superhero comic derived from that:

Dec 22, 2003

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

Halloween Jack posted:

The death camps did produce many Talents, but remember that the goal was to either kill prisoners quickly or work them to death--Hitler was still denying the existence of non-German parahumans at the time of the Wannsee Conference, well after the Einsatzgruppen were formed.

Beria, on the other hand, was deliberately trying to create Talents through a meticulously honed program of torture--not surprising that a serial rapist would have a talent for that sort of thing.

By the by, the experiments on conscientious objectors were carried out by the OSRD, the same organization with Section 2 under its umbrella.
All I'm saying is that if Hitler wasn't getting Talents gunning for his rear end constantly by end of year '42 at the latest, he must've had one himself. Probably the one that made him the Kung Fuhrer.

e: Actually given that Hitler survived a gas attack it wouldn't have been impossible for him to get one, though obviously WWI didn't seem to generate them.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
He had the world's most powerful Zed as his personal bodyguard, in fact.

This isn't mentioned in the corebook, but Hitler did manifest a Talent. It's discussed in Will to Power. When the Uberkommando was formed, Ubermensch had their uniforms decorated with an Odal rune.

On that day, Hitler gained the power to make Allied snipers jizz in their pants.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 02:37 on Sep 20, 2016

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Part Six: The Haven Races, Part 1

Now it's time to get to the stuff I think most of y'all were really interested in: the setting. And before I get too deep into this, I am going to point out something important: a lot of what I'm going to talk about here in terms of history is conjecture based on what's said in the book in regards to other things, or by reading between the lines of the current state of the setting. Fragged Empire is a setting that's about looking forward more than looking back; the past is there to be mined for lost knowledge, but for the most part the galaxy considers humanity to be an ancient legend, and the general attitude towards the Archons and X'ion can best be summed up with "and good ridance".

Things start out with a little more info on the overall setting timeline. To hit the major points:

It's over 10,000 years from now.

Humanity has been extinct for most of those 10,000 years. We reached a point of cultural and technological stagnation, as well as genetic erosion, after expanding throughout the galaxy. While we were still around, however, we created two very important things that would affect the universe for millennia to come: the ley lines, the cracks in space that allow for FTL travel, and out genetic "replacements", the Archons.

Before humanity died out, we also created a galaxy-wide distributed computer network called the Palantor Network. Humans copied their minds into this virual paradise so they could live on after a fashion.

The Archons inherited the galaxy from humanity. However, instead of focusing on advancement through what we normally think of as technology (i.e., electronics, computers, etc.), the Archons chose to focus on genetic engineering.

For the next few millennia, the Archons created and seeded the galaxy with new intelligent species. Some as experiments (such as the Vargati), some as tools (the energy-manipulating Twilinger, who'd later become the Twi-Faren), and some as "pets" (the Kaltorans). Every new species was a step towards the Archons' overarching goal: the creation of a "perfect species" as proof of their mastery over life itself.

The Archons thought they achieved their goal with the creation of the twelve X'ion. Unfortunately, the reasons why the Archons turned on their creation have been lost to history. What is known is that the Archons attempted to destroy the twelve X'ion, but only succeeded in killing eleven of them. The remaining X'ion survivor managed to escape into deep space.

Two hundred years later X'ion returned with its own genetically engineered race: the Nephilim. X'ion wanted revenge on the Archons, and began attacking every living thing in the galaxy. In a rush to defend themselves, the Archons created the soldier race known as the Legion.

As the Legion became overwhelmed, the Archons attempted to access ancient human robotics technology in a last-ditch attempt to stop X'ion. They pulled what they thought were long-forgotten AI programs out of the Palantor Network and jammed them into warbot bodies, creating the Mechonids. The once-human minds were driven insane by this sudden "attack" of being pulled out of a digital paradise and jammed into poorly-understood positronic brains in warbot bodies to go kill things, and as a result the Mechonids also turned on their creators. Oh, and they wanted to wipe out all other organic life, too.

Within six years, the Archons were rendered completely extinct by X'ion's forces.

Its work done, X'ion returned to deep space, leaving the Nephilim behind.

One hundred years of "peace" followed. Although, technically, it's only really "peace" because nobody was really able to fight; nowadays it's refered to the "Years of Darkness" due to the surviving species being cut off from...well, everything. The Legion's commanders were dead. The Nephilim's creator had abandoned them. The Kaltorans, once the Archon's favorite race, were almost wiped out entirely due to their favored status. None of the races left behind had the desire or the technology to continue the war, so for the next century the various races crawled out of the rubble, looked around, and started to rebuild. It would be the better part of a century before the various races rediscovered interplanetary travel and began to meet up. Tenuous alliances were formed between former enemies for mutual survival.

Five years ago, a formal alliance between the Vargati (now calling themselves the Corporation), the Kaltorans, the Legion, and the Nephilim was created. Focused around the Haven star system, all the remnants of the Archons and X'ion gather together and try to figure out what comes next.

Which is where we are now.

An Archon

As stated previously, the four races presented in the core book are the largest power blocs in the galaxy. Not because of numbers, but because of what they've brought to the table, and also because they happened to get to said table first. They're collectively referred to as the "Haven races", and while they're all allied with each other there's really no central governing body just yet. That's not to say there's no overarching bureaucracy yet; in the Protagonist Archive there's a piece of fiction involving the new races petitioning an immigration board (consisting of a member of each of the Haven races) for permission to settle in the Haven system. That said, ultimately a galactic government is still a ways away, mainly because long-distance trans-system communication doesn't quite exist yet. Or, more accurately, hasn't been rediscovered.

Which brings us to a little side-track in regards to the technology of the setting. As we've seen, even though the Archons didn't really care about the technological side of things, the Haven races still have access to a very high-tech infrastructure. While an extinction-level "apocalyptic" event did happen, there's still mass production, computer networks, and the ability to perform advanced cyber implant surgery. That said, while there's general access to all this stuff, there's still a lot of technology that's been lost, or that is just flat-out not understood at all. The Archons had no interest in developing new technologies that weren't related to genetic manipulation, so they just used the stuff the humans left behind without worrying too much about how it worked as long as it did.

So there's still well-maintained computer networks and manufacturing plants, as well as manuals and instructions teaching people how to create new stuff. People aren't scrounging to make guns out of spare parts or Frankensteining spaceships together. Genetic and cybernetic implants aren't exactly commonplace, but the tech level is high enough that they're possible. But at the same time, there's still a lot of gaps in the technological understanding. For instance, nobody's been able to crack how to make a galaxy-wide communication network yet. Or figured out how the Ley Lines were made. Or knows how the Mechonid/Palantor positronic brains really work. So while there's a stable technological base, there's still the need for people to go explore abandoned Archon facilities or find lost human colonies and try to rediscover what was lost.

So, back to the book. We get a nice breakdown of the four core races, ecah one getting a run-down of their histories and current situations before getting into a gazeteer of the Haven system. And before we get into the details, I just want to share one side-bar with you.

While that's not technically true (the "reveal" of why the Mechonids went haywire was revealed in the Protagonist Archive), it's still nice to see, and really that's the only revealed secret. It reminds me of how things were done in Eberron, where Keith Baker set up a bunch of big mysteries in the setting then left the answers up to each individual GM to answer to their own preferences.

Enough preamble. Let's start talking about the races, starting with...

Each race gets a generalized demographic block, describing the usual generalities you'd expect; average height/weight, homeworld, common characteristics, things like that. We also get a listing for the races' current population and annual growth rate. This is actually kind of important, because (as we've seen, and will see again) not all the races were built to breed at high numbers. For example, the current Corp population is 8.9 million, but their population growth rate is actually -12% per year. To put that in a bit of perspective, the current human population growth rate is 2%/year.

...and she saw that it was good.

The Corporation were once known as the Vargarti, and were one of the Archon's earlier attempts at creating their "perfect race". Unfortunately, the Archons saw the Vargarti as failures for some reason that's never explained. As "punishment" for being engineered wrong, the Archons vastly reduced the Vargarti's ability to breed (hense the -12% growth rate) and gave their homeworld of Varsphere to another Archon-created race, the Ursai.

The Usrasi didn't treat the Vargarti any better than the Archons did, pushing them to live on a single continent and using them as slaves. When the Great War happened, X'ion used targeted viruses to wipe out the primary race on Varsphere: the Ursai. So thanks to X'ion, the Vargarti got their homeworld back. Unfortunately, it was full of X'ion monstrosities, and even through they weren't the primary target they still suffered millions of losses. The Vargarti had no choice but to leave the planet.


For the Vargarti, the Years of Darkness were a chance to reimagine themselves and discard the inferior status given to them by the Archons. This re-imagining began when a small group of Vargarti warlords uncovered a ruin of an ancient city from the Golden Age of Humanity and learned of an ideology called capitalism. Embracing this ideology as a means to forge their own path, these warlords united the Vargarti tribes under a new identity: the Corporation. This became a purely capitalistic society, where each person succeeded or failed based on their own ability.
Once this big social change had settled, the Corporation left Varsphere and began a mass exodus to what turned out to be the Haven system. There, they made first contact with the Nephelim, who aided the Corp in settling the system and building their infrastructure. From there, the Corp made contact with the Kaltorans and Legion, and began the process that would lead to the alliances between the races.

As I've mentioned before, the Corporation aren't one big lower-case "c" corporation. There are hundreds of different companies, each one pretty much a government unto itself; it's really more of a cartel than anything else. The Corp are the only race that see the Great War as a good thing, since it freed them from being treated as garbage by their creators. They embraced the principles of capitalism since "everyone succeeds or fails based on their ability" sounds really appealing to a race that was flat-out told they were created wrong. Unfortunately, they've taken it too far; the entire culture is based around greed and profit, and if you fail, well...that's on you. You had every opportunity to succeed, but you didn't take it. Maybe if you work harder you'll move up the corporate ladder someday.

Something something American dream. Occupy Haven, and so on.

The overarching government of the Corporation is described as a "plutocratic oligarchy": a small group of the richest people (since that's how the Corps measure a person's worth) run the show. The governing body is called the "Board of Directors" (big shock), and membership is determined each year by figuring out the ten wealthiest companies each year, and putting those CEOs on the Board. Unsurprisingly, this means that come Board members have been on the Board for years as the top dogs tend to stay on top, while other seats change constantly as the bottom five best corporations tend to change pretty frequently.

The Board is responsible for setting both regulatory and general law. It's important to note that law enforcement is handled via private companies, and instead of things like prison time, most crimes are punishable by fines. If you can't pay the fine, you can wind up in indentured servitude to the company you "wronged" until you pay off the fine. And damages. And legal fees. Oh, and they're probably housing and feeding you too so you have to pay for that. What really makes this hosed up is that the punishment doesn't fit the ethics of the crime, it fits the financial cost of the crime. The punishment for murder can vary depending on the perceived or actual financial value of the victim, regardless of who that victim is. You shoot a Kaltoran in someone's store? Eh, call it 50cr for "inconviencing business". Killing a successful CEO, though? That can cost you millions. Of course, if it's a CEO of a failing company, then the fine would be a lot less.

Of course, this means that the legal system isn't so much worried about guilt or motivation. A trial for murdering a CEO isn't really about the defendant's guilt or innocence, but about how much impact this'll have on the economy at large.


The court speaks to our online Stream audience “We now return to the thrilling pay-per-view court!” Above the judge’s bench hangs a flashing neon sign, which reads “ProtectronTM Pistol”. A billboard for Draz Soda clings to the podium. The judge speaks. “Mr Collins, you have pleaded guilty of costing CorpSafe millions of Credits in life insurance and stock. Mr Collins, what assurance have you for the court that these liabilities will be paid?”

Collins’s lawyer stands and while looking directly at the camera says, “Mr Friendly of Criminal Liabilities Firm (We protect your caper), for the defendant.” He then turns to the judge. “Your honour, I refer you to exhibit D-1, a contract signed by both my client and the Body Count Conglomerate for the assassination of the CorpSafe CEO. In clause 112, the Conglomerate clearly indemnifies my client against any financial liabilities directly resulting from the homicide.”

The Judge responds “Is a representative of Body Count here today?”

“Yes, your honour. Peters of CorpLaw (Biggest, and Best!), stand for The Body Count Conglomerate.”

As the newcomer takes the floor, the animated Draz billboard flashes “Only 1.99cr”. The CorpLaw lawyer speaks. “Your honour, had Collins fully upheld his end of the contract, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Clause 233a of that same contract required that Mr Collins not be caught. By his negligence, not only has he left his contract unfulfilled by being captured, but he has also cost the reputation of Body Count by having his contract made public knowledge through this hearing. Your honour, we submit that the indemnity clause no longer applies and that the defendant is personally liable for both CorpSafe’s life expenses and for real and punitive damages to my client.”

His lawyer cautions him, but Collins speaks in his own defence. “Your honour, I have provided a copy of my credentials to you. In addition to my record I will take you and the court step by step through my successful assassination. This will be corroborated by a video recording taken from my own camera. You will see from this footage and my statement that I have upheld clause 233a, making every reasonable effort to remain uncaught, therefore maintaining Body Count’s liability.”

The judge declares, “Very well. The court will review this new evidence to determine whether the liability rests with the defendant or Body Count…” The judge smiles at the camera “… after this short ad break.”

Despite their rather...confrontational society, the Corp get along more-or-less okay with the other races. Partially because racism is bad for business, but mainly because what the Corp really want is stability. It's not exactly a secret that the Corp understand the need for inter-species cohesion probably better than anyone, and so far they're the only ones who've taken any real steps towards getting everything working.

The Corp get along best with the Nephelim, who were instrumental in helping the Corp get situated in the Haven system. The Nephelim also helped kickstart industrial development by the gift of Flesh Drone Workers (basically a vat-grown "robot" that can do simple manual labor or work assembly lines). They also get along surprisingly well with the Legion, mainly because each race takes care of what the other one doesn't want to deal with: the Corp hate the physical risk needed to explore the galaxy, while the Legion don't give a poo poo about things like manufacturing or economics. Legion tend to see a lot of employment on Corp planets and bases as security personell.

As for the Kaltorans...that's a different story. Back before the war, the Karltorans were the Archon's favorite creation while they were neutered and effectively dumped in the garbage. Now, the Corp are the galaxy's biggest player while the Kaltorans are still pretty much digging themselves out of the rubble. It's kinda hard to not be smug about that. Still, the Corp try to maintain trade relations for things like food and raw materials. The main problem there being that the Kaltorans don't really care about contracts, and tend to break them whenever they feel like it.

As stated before, the Corp are the biggest economic force in the galaxy. Hell, without them there probably wouldn't be an economy (or infrastructure) in the first place. The Corp were responsible for setting up the currency standard of the Credit and for getting interplanetary trade rolling. They're also a main driving force in technological development, although more in a "paying people to go out and find stuff" way than actually developing it themselves. Not to say they haven't created anything, it's just that their own R&D is focused on products they can wring a profit out of.

It should go wothout saying that the Corporation are currently dealing with a severe 1%-er/99%-er problem. "Work hard and you'll succeed" is one of those ideas that sounds good on paper, but in practice what hard work gets you is just more work. And while there isn't an exact 1%/99% split, the people on the lower end of the totem pole are starting to get a bit more proactive with fighting back. A terrorist organization calling itself UNITY has begun popping up to fight against the stranglehold the corporations have on their race's culture. UNITY's basic stance is "workers of the world, unite and kill the powerholders," so it's nice to see the Corporation has their own Commie menace to deal with.

At the end of the day, though, most of Corp culture is based around how they were treated by the Archons. They were told they were a failed experiment, they were treated like garbage, and they're the only created race that has no inherent genetic advantages whatsoever. This drives them hard to prove themselves and keep proving themselves, pretty much to the detriment of everything else. Corporate warfare is rapidly leaving the boardroom and turning more and more into actual warfare, and the various companies are acting pretty much how you'd expect given there's no such thing as any form of governmental oversight.

On the flip side of the coin are the Kaltorans.

As we've seen many times before, the Kaltorans were the Archon's favorite children. Unfortunately, this favortism caused them to become one of X'ion's primary targets right after the Archons themselves. The Kaltoran homeworld of Eden was the subject of orbital bombing and Nephelim monstrocities being loosed on the surface of the planet. By the end of the Great War, Eden was transformed from a paradise to a monster-strewn wasteland.

Here, you're family.

In order to survive, the Kaltorans moved underground. Or, to be more precise, underwater. Settlements were hurriedly built under the seas of Eden, and the population retreated to the relative safety of the darkness. Once there, the "Dark Tribes" began descending into paranoid savagery. Survival was difficult even without considering the Nephelim, and as the Kaltorans gathered into tribes they began to take on a very dangerous "us or them" mentality. Your family was everything, and anyone not in your family was a potential threat, if for no other reason because they were competition for scarce resources. Slavery and cannibalism became commonplace as the Kaltorans spent years turning on themselves.

To make matters worse was the Kaltoran's inherent genetic ability: genetic memory. Every Kaltoran is born with "seeded" memories from their parents, and their parents before them, and so on. This means that a Kaltoran can all upon the skills and knowledge of his entire family line, although the older the ancestor the harder it is to pull those memories. In game terms, this means that a Kaltorans reduce the penalty for an untrained Primary Skill roll by 1. The downside (again, in game terms) is that if a Kaltoran rolls triples on a Fate reroll, they immediately gain a minor psychological Condition as they're overwhelmed by memories.

This drawback ended up exacerbating the situation down in the caves. Each new generation was implanted with the memories of the war and the terrible things their parents had to do to survive, then that generation went out to create more terrible memories, which would be passed down to their children, and so on and so on.

Fortunately, the cycle was broken when the most recent generation decided they were done living in fear in the dark. This kicked off the Founding; an attempt to start building back upwards to reclaim the surface of Eden and take the planet back. This happened to coincide with the Corporation making contact with Eden, telling the Kaltorans that the war was long over.

Rather than try to fight back against the feral Nephlim occupying the surface and waste time trying to reclaim a destroyed planet, the newest generation of Kaltorans instead decided to spread out through the galaxy to gain new experiences and pass better memories down to their descendents. They've claimed the planet Kadash as their "new" homeworld, leaving Eden to the Nephelim.

The Kaltorans don't have any form of central government; instead they operate on what can best be described as a clan system. Each Kaltoran family is pretty much its own deal, with one member of the family appointed as its Elder (who may not necessarily be the oldest), and when something requires multiple families to get politically involved it's handled by the Elders.

This system does result in a culture that doesn't really have any consistency across itself. Since there's no formalized government, legality is more a vague concept based around general morality than something codified into laws. Minor crimes tend to be ignored if they don't really have a significant impact, but when a serious crime is commited, they'll come down hard.

When you get right down to it, the primary unit of Kaltoran culture is the family, and Kaltoran families tend to be pretty big. Sticking by your family was the only thing that got them through the last century, because without them you were pretty much hosed. And while survival isn't as big a concern as it used to be, it's hard to break out of that mindset after a century. Especially when you have the memories of the last three generations in your head.

The biggest problem that the Kaltorans have with re-integrating into the Haven system is, not to put too fine a point on it, everyone else. Kaltorans don't get along well with the Corporation because their cultures don't mesh at all. The Corps are all about profit, contracts, and control, but the Kaltorans operate on a barter system, handshake promices, and just doing whatever. Of course, it doesn't help that the Corps are pretty smug about how they're at the head of the table while the once-favored Kaltorans are scrabbling their way out of the dirt.

Likewise, it's really hard for most Kaltorans to accept the idea that the Nephelim don't want to fight anymore and they're supposed to be friends. Even for the Kaltorans who were born decades after their race was forced into hiding, the passed-down memories are hard to shake off. Not helping matters is the fact that the Nephelim have claimed Eden as their own.

The only race the Kaltorans really get along with are the Legion, mainly because they don't have much of a shared history. The Legion and Kaltorans have the political equivalent of a "nod at each other in the hallway" agreement. They respect each other, but aren't really going out of their way to do anything in regards to each other.

One thing that needs to be brought up about the Kaltorans before we wrap this up: the Dark Tribes still exist on Eden. The Kaltorans have left a lot of technology and cultural artifacts behind in their exodus, but the most war-worn survivalists refuse to leave the tunnels and underwater domes. The constant fighting and mental damage caused by handed down traumatic memories has resulted in the Kaltoran tunnels looking like the wrong end of a Rob Zombie movie. Forgotten, ruined tunnels are patrolled by warring clans of blind batshit insane cannibal survivalists who are masters of fighting in the dark, ambushes, and who see everyone who's not part of their family as a world-ending threat and, eventually, food. So far, nobody's been able to get salvage teams down there without getting said teams wiped out and eaten. And while the younger Kaltorans are more interested in experiencing new things than reclaiming the past, it's still a situation where they've been forced to turn their back on their own history for the sake of their own survival.

And since we're getting a bit long, we'll stop here. I don't really need to point out how the Corps and the Kaltorans are opposites in a lot of ways, but I do have to say I like how one is a reflection of the other in a lot of ways. The rise of the Corp versus the fall of the Kaltorans, the opposite view of culture, and (more interestingly), how the Corp are starting to enter a slow decline while the Kaltorans are starting to try to rise again. Of course, the same sort of "similarity of opposites" thing happens with the Legion and the Nephelim, but we'll talk about that more...

NEXT TIME: Old soldiers.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso

Godlike, Chapter V, Part IV

The last update concluded with the German invasion of the Soviet Union and the creation of the most famous and powerful “mad Talent,” Baba Yaga.

6/12/1941, Vichy France Surrenders in Syria: The Vichy puppet state’s holdings in Syria were a vital hub for the Afrika Korps. A combined force of Indians, Australians, British, and French troops forced them to surrender, and a Free French government was soon established.

7/19/1941, SSO Studies Zindel: After two weeks of extensive autopsy, the British SSO gave up further study of Zindel’s body. Even meticulous study of the brain failed to reveal anything physically unusual about the Talent.

8/4/1941, the August Uprising: Pevnost used his powers to coordinate a heavy assault on several Nazi facilities in Prague. He had access to several Gestapo and SS headquarters; one converted building had been his grade school! Czech partisans and British commandos took their targets completely by surprise.

The partisans held the city for four days before retreating to escape the arrival of a Panzer division. During that time, impromptu trials saw the execution of ten high ranking Nazis and Czech collaborators, including Jozef Tiso (president of the Nazi puppet state in Slovakia) and SS Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich. They were shot before cheering crowds on August 6 as the August Uprising became international news. Thanks to Pevnost’s powers, only 209 partisans and British were killed in the retreat.

8/9/1941, the Newfoundland Conference: Roosevelt and Churchill convened a top-secret conference to discuss issues such as the invasion of the Soviet Union, Japanese expansionism, the war in North Africa, and a potential Atlantic Charter. Roosevelt arrived via the SS Augusta while Churchill was escorted by Pevnost. Other Talents, including Bulldog, Cormorant, Basilisk, and Flip, were present to demonstrate their powers and potentially serve as bodyguards for both men.

Roosevelt congratulated Pevnost for his assault on Nazi Prague and promised to supply arms to the Czech government in exile. Bulldog was detached to act as Roosevelt’s adjutant and unofficial bodyguard through the end of the war.

Five days later, the two leaders signed the Atlantic Charter as a joint declaration. The Charter supported self-government and access to trade for all nations, global economic cooperation, freedom of the seas, and a general postwar disarmament. Furthermore, it declared that the Allies would not seek to increase their territory without the consent of the governed, nor to impose punitive economic sanctions on Axis nations after defeat--a repudiation of the treatment of Germany in the Treaty of Versailles, which caused the social upheaval that allowed fascism to rise. Hitler saw the Charter for what it was: a potential alliance against him.

8/15/1941, Section 2 Report on Talents: Section 2 submitted a secret report on the results of a month of study on the British Talents. They documented numerous violations of physical laws undertaken by Talents.

The most prominent example was Bulldog, who was asked to lift an 11-ton weight while standing in a pile of sand, which itself rested on a large scale. Not only did Bulldog lift the weight without having the necessary mass or leverage, the scale only registered 169 pounds...the weight of Bulldog and the sand. His feet didn’t even sink. It was the Section 2 scientists who first correctly deduced that Talent researchers should be more concerned with psychology than with physics.

8/21/1941, Nazi Persecution of Czechs: Two-hundred Czech citizens from the small towns of Lidice and Levzacky were rounded up and shot, and their homes demolished. Germany boasted that the towns had been “erased.” From that point, Pevnost concentrated his attacks on military positions and did not dare attack command posts in Czechoslovakia.

9/19/1941, the Fire of Kiev: German forces occupied Kiev, crushing all resistance and instituting martial law. Hitler prematurely declared that Russia was effectively defeated.

Three days later, the western sector of the city caught fire following several explosions. At first the Germans, who were rounding up remaining Soviet forces, suspected a counterattack. Instead they discovered a naked man walking unharmed and unconcerned through the intense blaze.

The fire died down after intense shelling of western Kiev, but by that time more than a quarter of the city had been leveled by fire and artillery. The mysterious “fireman” was never seen again. A report was filed with RuSHA SA, who immediately covered it up. Hitler still denied the existence of any non-German parahumans, and they refused to be associated with the incident.

9/23/1941, de Gaulle Forms Free French Government: General Charles de Gaulle formed a Free French government in exile to promote the liberation of France. He attempted to contact L’Invocateur to help cement his status as the unofficial leader of French rebels worldwide, without success. Allied leaders considered him a massive egoist and a thorn in their side, but he would remain a French military and political icon for decades after the war.

9/29/1941, Allies Send Advisors to Moscow: The United States and Britain sent advisors to determine how best to help the Soviet Union repel German invasion. While Churchill considered sending Talents as a show of commitment, he was concerned that Stalin would hold them hostage.

10/17/1941, Tojo Becomes Prime Minister: Prime Minister of Japan Konoe Fumimaro was removed in favour of General Tojo Hideki. Konoe, a member of the royal family who wished to avoid war, was ultimately defeated by the para-fascist movement he had founded. Tojo, a veteran of the Manchurian occupation, was a fervent militarist who had taken over Komoe’s IRAA. The Imperial Diet was now dominated by men calling for war with the U.S.

10/20/1941, Operation Typhoon Falters: The Luftwaffe had crushed the Soviet air force as predicted and subjected Moscow to intense bombing, and the Heer had taken nearly 700,000 prisoners. However, the offensive against Moscow came to a halt 60 miles from the city when the autumn rains began. Refusing to retreat, Hitler’s forces laid siege to the city while Stalin waited for reinforcement by his most potent ally: Russian winter.

10/31/1941, America’s Godlike Talent: The German U-boat U-562 sunk the SS Reuben James with a direct hit on the destroyer’s magazine. The explosion sank the ship in less than a minute. One of the few survivors was sitting on top of the magazine when it exploded. Ensign Lawrence Moreland was thrown a quarter-mile into the water, where he was rescued by the HMS Victory, shaken and incoherent. As British sailors attempted to restrain the crazy naked American, he leapt three stories from the bridge to the deck and sprang to his feet shouting “I’m indestructible!” The British radioed the news to nearby American ships.

As he was boarding a transport to the SS Eustis, a British mate punched Moreland in the back as a joke--and knocked him flat. He was pissing blood for three days. But the injury was perhaps a blessing in disguise, as it taught Moreland the limits of his Talent: it only protected him from injury when he could see it coming. This vulnerability would become a closely guarded military secret.

Moreland returned to the U.S. in secret, but Churchill congratulated Roosevelt in a private communiqué. “If there was a more fitting way for good to rise out of an evil so great, I could not think of it. America’s ‘Indestructible Man’ shall be quite a potent weapon indeed. This is nothing less than yet another nail in Mr. Hitler’s coffin.”

On November 10, Roosevelt announced the sinking of the Reuben James and the existence of the Indestructible Man in what came to be known as the “Godlike” address. “Now we have our own Talent. A son of these United States, who is invulnerable to all weapons turned against him. Never before has the power of creation been so directly placed within the hands of humanity. Godlike in their abilities, let us hope this new breed of man will carry the burden of a suffering world to our ultimate and unwavering goal—freedom for all the people of the Earth.”

For over a week, the American media was obsessed with Moreland, his importance briefly dwarfing that of the war itself.

11/6/1941, U.S. Commits to Aid Soviets: Roosevelt promised the Soviet Union over $1 billion in aid to defend themselves from German invasion. Few were optimistic about their plight, but Roosevelt and Churchill agreed that complete unity against the Nazis was necessary. (However, they considered their Talent research too vital to share with Stalin, and Soviet requests for same were simply denied.) The implications of the decision were felt at all levels by every major power involved in the war.

11/10/1941, Britain Repudiates Japan: Churchill announced that any action against the U.S. by the Empire of Japan was an attack on Britain as well. However, this did little to affect Japanese decisionmaking--Britain had relatively few military resources in the Pacific.

11/16/1941, Siege of Sevastopol: The last holdout of Soviet resistance in Crimea was Sevastopol, a port city defended by mines, mortars, and machineguns and reinforced from the sea. German troops laid siege to the city. Überkommandogruppe Section Blue did not arrive in time to launch behind-the-lines attacks...but the Soviet Talents were already busy. General von Runstedt barely escaped bomb attacks that killed four of his staff. He knew better than to allow rumours of Soviet Talents to get out, but the British and Americans learned of it. The SSO and Section 2 theorized that the Soviet Union had a large untapped population of Talents.

11/21/1941, the Indestructible Man on Film: Lines stretched around the block to see a special March of Time newsreel featuring the Indestructible Man. He was shot, stabbed, blown up, and set on fire to no effect. Americans drove for hours, to wait for hours, to watch a 30-minute newsreel and were delighted to do it--again and again. New York City’s Mayor LaGuardia called it “the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. This is history!” Further newsreels continued to fascinate the American public.

11/14/1941, Marines Occupy Surinam: By invitation of the government of the Dutch West Indies, the U.S. Marines occupied Surinam and other Dutch Caribbean islands in case of Japanese attack. Few Marines commanders believed it would happen.

11/25/1941, Sinking of the Barnham: U-331 sunk the HMS Barnham, the first battleship sunk by a submarine in WWII. All 861 crewmen were killed...except one. Yardley Smythe survived by teleporting back to Britain. Soon called “Rook,” he would become one of the most important British Talents of the war.



Powers: Rook could teleport any distance to any location, whether or not he had seen it. But first he needed to use his power to “feel around” for an equivalent amount of mass with which to switch places, a process that sometimes took minutes or even hours. He could switch places with a person as long as they were the same weight; sometimes clothes or other accessories were left behind to “even out” the transfer. His feel for his target differentiated between living and nonliving matter. His power was not tiring and he could cover vast distances quickly with repeated jumps.

Background: Yardley Smythe ran a family fishing business with his brothers near Cornwall in Britain. In 1937, he and one brother joined the Royal Navy, and was quickly promoted to officer rank.

The manifestation of his Talent allowed him to escape the sinking of the HMS Barnham in November, 1941. He found himself back in Cornwall, having switched places with most of a small tree. He promptly turned himself in to show he was not a deserter.

The SSO quickly identified Smythe as potentially very valuable as a saboteur. He was able to easily insert himself behind enemy lines in France and Germany to aid insurgents. In 1944, he was the center of a secret project codenamed Blitz. The plan was for Smythe to “rook” Adolf Hitler himself. Perhaps the intelligence on Hitler’s weight was faulty, or the diet program wasn’t quite right, but Smythe spent 7 months on a miserable diet to no avail before the plan was scrapped.

After the war, Smythe gathered intelligence from Soviet satellite countries, but apparently disliked his work. He moved to the United States in 1983 where he became something of a character actor, popping up in movies and music videos. As of 2002, Smythe was still alive and showed no signs of stopping.

11/18/1941, Auchinleck’s Offensive: General Auchinleck’s offensive by the British Eighth Army reversed the tide of war in Africa in a matter of months. In response to British gains near the Egyptian border, Rommel simply waited.

When the British engaged the Panzers, the fighting broke down into engagements by small forces without either side able to issue clear orders from the top. Then Rommel made a rare mistake, sending 100 tanks in hopes of capturing Alexandria or even Cairo. Auchinleck’s troops captured Tobruk, forcing Rommel to retreat and give up all the territory he had gained since his arrival in Africa.

11/27/1941, Section 2 Studies Indestructible Man: Section 2 completed a psychological evaluation and a series of physical tests on the Indestructible Man. They filmed him shrugging off 20mm cannon shells to the chest and Howitzer rounds to the face. Seeing the footage, General Nathan O’Sullivan remarked “Off the record, let me just say, gently caress, am I ever glad he’s an American.” The scientists also discovered his vulnerability to surprise attack, a carefully guarded secret. Direct orders from Roosevelt transferred Moreland to the Department of the Army.

12/1/1941, the Arizona Disarms: In Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd awoke with a strange urge to have the huge cannon rounds removed from the magazine of his ship, the battleship USS Arizona. He wouldn’t say why. Naval command thought it strange, but not enough to officially question the decision. His men worked 26 hours straight to transfer the explosives from the Arizona’s hold to dry-dock.

12/2/1941, Hitler Moves Fliegerkorps II: Hitler moved a 325-aircraft unit to patrol the Mediterranean and disrupt British shipping to North Africa. They were joined by 4 flying Übermenschen from RuSHA SA.

12/7/1941, a Date Which Will Live in Infamy: The Japanese attacked the U.S. Pacific fleet as it lay in port at Pearl Harbor, Oahu. Ironically, the fleet had been moved to Hawaii to deter Japanese aggression in the Pacific. Luckily, the American aircraft carriers which were the prime targets of the attack were all out of port--otherwise, the strike could have been a decisive victory in the Pacific without the U.S. launching a single ship against Japan.

Still, American losses were devastating. Of 8 battleships, 4 were lost and 4 heavily damaged; the Oklahoma was sunk with all of its 1,200 strong crew. Many other ships were damaged, and hundreds of aircraft were destroyed on the ground. The Japanese had 2 hours of total air superiority, even strafing nearby civilian towns without fear of counterattack.

Thanks to the prescient vision of its commander, Rear Admiral Kidd, the battleship Arizona fought back, despite a 1,750lb. bomb hit to its deck, downing 14 enemy aircraft. Its crew had been at battle stations since 7:00am, as if expecting attack. (Kidd’s foresight was probably the manifestation of a Talent, but if so, it never activated again. Kidd went on to become Vice Admiral of the Navy after the war, and after months of repairs, the Arizona fought in the Pacific before being destroyed as part of the Able atomic bomb test.)

Other crews downed 29 Japanese aircraft, and 5 midget submarines were destroyed before they could attack. Despite their losses and their failure to attack the aircraft carriers, it was a huge victory for the Japanese. At the cost of a small number of ships and planes, they had crippled most of the Pacific fleet and destroyed three-quarters of its aircraft. The attack was coordinated alongside attacks on Wake Island, the Philippines, Midway, Guam, Malaya, Thailand, and Shanghai. The Japanese conquest of the entire Pacific region had begun.

The next day at noon, President Roosevelt delivered a radio address to a public still recovering from news of the attack. The speech was short and to the point, explaining to the public that the Japanese had attacked in spite of ongoing peace talks, the attack had inflicted great loss of life and destruction of materiel, and that it was the center of a large plan of attack across the Pacific. “There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger,” Roosevelt concluded. “With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounded determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God. I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

The United States and Great Britain declared war on Japan within the hour, and were joined the next day by China’s General Kai-Shek, who moved his reserve armies into Burma. Two days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. The Second World War had begun.

12/10/1941, Allied Defeats in the Pacific: Japanese bombers sunk the HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales off the coast of Malaya. (The latter ship had participated in the destruction of the Bismarck and helped Pevnost escort Churchill to the Newfoundland conference.) Without air support, they were set upon by 80 bombers and quickly destroyed.

On the same day, the Japanese also took American forces by surprise. A large landing force took Guam, and the Marines (numbering only about 500) were forced to surrender.

12/11/1941, a Spirit in the Forest: When Japanese forces landed near Rangoon and put the British on retreat, the British were squeezed were squeezed on both sides by the Japanese and by Burmese nationalists who resented British dominion. One Burmese, a Karen tribesman named Kata, put his newfound Talent to use disrupting the British retreat from Prome. The entire 151st Indian Mountain Regiment was lost in the retreat. Their bones would be found 9 months later, scattered in the undergrowth and hanging from trees. The Talent called Chanduk (“Spirit of the Forest”) would go on to kill hundreds, possibly thousands, of British and Japanese troops during the war.


Chanduk (“Spirit of the Forest”)

Powers: Chanduk could control plants and animals in the forest, causing sudden changes in topography. These effects were permanent and often deadly. He could also move through dense forest quickly and silently.

Background: Little is known about Kata Nawng, except that he was a tribesman of the Karen people born around 1900. The Karen people were insular, desiring their own homeland and resenting British rule.

Nawng’s powers manifested days before the Japanese arrived. At first, he took them for a liberating force and used his powers to aid them. When he realized they were worse than the British occupiers, he began killing them as well. Nawng killed large groups of men at a time, using his powers to stalk them from a distance and cut off their attempts at navigation until they died from lack of food and water. Many victims weren’t found until months or years later.

The only survivor of Nawng’s attacks was Lieutenant Nelson “Cupboard-Guts” Till, an American Talent who didn’t need to eat or drink. Till reported that after the rest of his group was dead, a small tribesman came and silently shared his camp, answering his questions only with smiles and nods. In the morning, Till found that Nawng had left him a clear path out of the jungle.

Chanduk is still rumoured to wander the highlands of modern-day Myanmar. The Talent magicians of the Kachin report that Chanduk occasionally appears at their border, silently observing them, but there have been no confirmed sightings in 60 years.

12/13/1941, the Battle of El Agheila: The Afrika Korps engaged the British 8th Army’s 7th Armored Division. The British were preceded by Larsen’s Folly, a 26-man Talent platoon that acted as a shock troop and recon unit under the command of Anthony Larsen. Larsen paled when he discovered he was facing the 280-strong Überkommandogruppe 2. Larsen decided to cover the retreat of the 7th Division.

In the first large-scale Talent battle of the war, Larsen’s Folly dug in near El Agheila and repelled 13 separate attacks throughout the night. Nine British Talents died including Pop, one of the first 4 who traveled to America. But Larsen’s Folly had killed 29 Übermenschen and allowed the 7th Armoured to escape. When they returned with reinforcements from the New Zealand 20th Infantry, Überkommandogruppe 2 collapsed. One hundred and twelve escaped, nine were captured, and the rest were dead.

Larsen’s Folly defeated Überkommandogruppe 2 largely thanks to ordinary military training. His men had all been fighting in North Africa for months and relied on orthodox tactics, whereas the Übermenschen expected their powers to do their fighting for them. For example, several were killed when Larsen feigned a collapse in their line and enclosed the Germans who foolishly rushed in, a simple inverted wedge formation. With such tactics he held off a force that outnumbered his 8-to-1, and took revenge for the deaths of Golgotha and Puppeteer.

Larsen earned the Victoria Cross for his actions, and a simple monument still bears the names of those who died in the battle. The 6 members of Larsen’s Folly who survived the war met there on the anniversary of the battle for decades, until Moamar Gaddafi’s government removed it in 1980. The ceremony resumed at the newly-built Talent War Memorial in 1996. At the time of writing, the last two members of Larsen’s Folly were still meeting.

12/18/1941, Japanese Invade Hong Kong: The Imperial Japanese Navy blocked the port of Hong Kong and shelled British and Chinese positions. Despite being totally surrounded with no chance of reinforcement and outnumbered by tens of thousands, the British and Chinese held out for days. When they refused to surrender, the Japanese responded with intense bombing that ruptured all the city’s water mains. Without clean water, the defenders were forced to surrender, and Japan had captured Hong Kong.

(Note: the Battle of Hong Kong began on 12/8, as the body of the entry states. I’m guessing that the authors made a typo and then slotted the entry in the wrong order based on that.)

12/19/1941, Hitler Assumes Control: Displeased with the halt on the Eastern front in the face of Soviet resistance, Hitler assumed direct command of the Heer. While the general staff still made many operational decisions, Hitler now had final authority and began managing the war in the East, hopelessly out of his depth.

12/20/1941, a Tiger Talent: The 1st American Volunteer Group, better known as the “Flying Tigers,” flew defensive roles for the Chinese Nationalists before their first major engagement over Kunming. With only 100 outdated P-40 Tomahawk fighters, the Tigers disrupted a bombing run by a much larger Japanese force.

During the attack, a pilot named Robert Young was forced to bail out when his plane was crippled by machinegun fire. His parachute also failed to deploy--forcing Young to manifest a Talent which allowed him to float gently to the ground. The man who would be nicknamed “FSAM” became America’s second Talent.



Powers: F-SAM could increase or decrease the effects of gravity on any object in sight range, plus or minus 70 to 90 times, for a period of 10-35 minutes. Used in combat, the effects of his power were often destructive.

Background: From childhood, Robert Matthew Young was obsessed with flight. He collected models, worshipped fighter aces, and even got Orville Wright to sign his cast after he broke his wrist jumping off his roof with a pair of tin wings. He became an airplane mechanic and trained to be a federal postal pilot, but was kicked out for his outrageous flying style. He then became a stunt pilot in an “air rodeo.”

Young joined the American Volunteer Group to aid the Chinese Nationalist government. While defending Kunming from attack in December 1941, he discovered his Talent when it saved him after his parachute failed to deploy.

Young returned to the United States to join President Roosevelt for a press conference to showcase new American Talents. After being the subject of studies by Section 2 and propaganda newsreels, he returned to China to fight with the 1st AVG “Flying Tigers.” It was a show of commitment by Roosevelt to impress Chiang Kai-Shek and intimidate Japan.

Young flew 67 combat missions and downed 63 Japanese aircraft mostly using his powers. Suddenly multiplying the gravitational pull on enemy planes caused wings to buckle and engines to fail. (Though this made him the highest-scoring American ace of the war, he acknowledged Major Dick Bong as the superior pilot.) His nickname, FSAM or “Fold, Spindle, and Mutilate” was a throwback to his time as a postal pilot.

Young returned from the war as a 1st Lieutenant in the Air Force. He taught the art of fighter piloting, and fought again in the “MiG Alley” of the Korean war, ironically fighting the Chinese he had helped defend. In the age of jet fighters, his powers were even more destructive, as the planes would shatter and explode when pushed past their limits.

Young retired from the Air Force at 45, bought a home in his native Connecticut, and started a business selling his powers to the highest bidder, mostly for construction and demolition projects. Young Talent Services became a multi-state corporation hiring Talents with powers useful for construction. Now run by his son, the company is worth $80 million.

12/22/1941, Roosevelt and Churchill Trade Talents: Churchill traveled to Washington to discuss the logistics of a joint war effort. Churchill was escorted by Jot, a powerful British teleporter, and 11 other highly trained and totally loyal Talent bodyguards. He detached two of them, Boxer and Mole, to American command in the Far East in exchange for concessions in the European theatre. While there, the two men developed an invasion plan for North Africa.

12/22/1941, the Dragon Stirs: A large Japanese landing force attacked a much smaller Filipino Army unit on Luzon. When his commander, a U.S. Army Captain, and 11 fellow Filipino soldiers were killed by a shell, Santiago Corzon was left unharmed. He charged the Japanese, transforming into a giant, fire-breathing, bulletproof dragon. He tore his way through an entire batallion with his teeth and claws before his power failed and he was forced to retreat. He joined the Hukbalahap, Filipino communist guerrillas, and continued the fight from the countryside.

By this time, Allies had received 16 reports of Asian parahumans, whom the Japanese called Gaki (“hungry ghosts”). Three were allegedly created in the attack on Hong Kong. Two escaped to join the resistance, while the last, a woman who could induce seizures, was killed. The Japanese displayed her head on a pole in front of the former British consulate building as a warning.

Most Gaki were Chinese, Mongolians, and Burmans who fiercely resisted the Japanese invaders. Section 2 dispatched advisors to assess the growth of the Chinese Talent population and offer aid and training.


Anguis (“Dragon”)

Powers: When angered, Anguis transformed into a dragon, 26 feet long and weighing 3.5 tons. He could breathe fire, and his claws and teeth could tear quarter-inch armor. He was nearly immune to small arms fire and resistant to explosives. His transformation normally lasted 1-3 hours, but could be extended with effort. After reverting to human form, he was exhausted and could not transform for several days.

Background: Santiago Corzon was raised in Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow, a British nunnery and orphanage. Fluent in English, he got a job with the United States Army translating Filipino requisition forms. He joined the Filipino Army (mostly under American command) himself, part of a rapid build-up against the Japanese.

Corzon was part of a shoestring Filipino detachment which came under attack from a large Japanese landing force in December 1941. He only survived thanks to his emerging Talent, inflicting heavy losses before retreating to Luzon. He joined up with the Hukbalahap, or Huks, communist guerrillas who were so successful at seizing territory in the “Japanese controlled” Philippines that they printed their own currency.

Corzon was a terror to any Japanese unit below battalion strength, waging a tireless personal war against them. His power failed suddenly during the defense of Manila, and his weakened human form was killed by a tank shell. The Huks suspected a Japanese Talent had deactivated his power. He was buried at Tarlac Point.

12/27/1941, MacArthur Retreats to Bataan: Overwhelmed, General MacArthur was forced to retreat to the Bataan peninsula. He hoped to use the mountain caves as natural defenses, but his forces were poorly equipped and trained. General Homma’s forces sealed them off and hit them with repeated attacks. MacArthur was rapidly losing the Philippine islands.

12/29/1941, British Talents Exceed 750: An SSO report to Churchill listed the names and powers of 756 British-born Talents. The number of parahumans now exceeded their ability to carefully study every one. They reduced the examination period to 3 days, and Churchill anticipated fielding over 1,000 Talents before the spring.

12/30/1941, Sheol Emerges: By this time, the Nazis had begun the systematic mass murder of Jews, Roma, and others deemed “life unworthy of life” in occupied Europe and Russia. SS Einsatzgruppen committed numerous acts of mass murder, while the first death camps had opened in Germany and Poland. Amid the carnage and terror, rumours circulated of a powerful Nephilim . This Talent was a Jewish girl who could absorb the minds of those she touched. Jewish partisans jealously guarded her, and sometimes brought her out of hiding to preserve within herself the memories of those taken away to the camps. By the age of 18 she had absorbed 3,000 minds...and lost her own within the maelstrom of personalities she carried. The Gestapo hunted her relentlessly for three years as she traveled from one safehouse to the next, preserving the minds of the people Hitler sought to exterminate.



Powers: Sheol copied the personality and memories of anyone she touched. The process knocked Sheol and her target unconscious. When they awakened, usually in minutes, a copy of the subject’s mind was stored in Sheol ’s subconscious. When a personality surfaced, she perfectly imitated that person’s voice, mannerisms, and knowledge.

Sheol ’s “native” personality, if she still had one, was impossible to identify. When stressed, she switched personalities so rapidly that she had conversations with herself. It was possible to evoke a personality using memory cues, but never for more than about 15 minutes.

Background: Nothing is known about Sheol ’s origins except that she was a Jewish girl, between the age of 15 and 20 when her Talent manifested, protected and hidden by the Jewish underground in Poland. Sheol seemed to have a sense of self-preservation and often copied the minds of German soldiers, using their knowledge to help the Jewish operatives who protected her from the Gestapo and Einsatzgruppen .

When rumours circulated that there existed a Nephilim who saved Jews from the death camps, she became a legend. But having one’s mind preserved by Sheol was a questionable salvation. Most personalities that surfaced were terrified when they lost their grip and receded into the depths of her mind. It was impossible to determine how many personalities Sheol absorbed during the war, but Israeli scholars estimated somewhere from 800,000 to over a million.

The SS captured Sheol in 1944 just moments before the Russians liberated the region of Poland where she hid. But the Nazis released her on the day of Hitler’s death, and the Russians turned her over to the Allies in a deal brokered by Eisenhower. The Jewish Legion of Five Thousand took adopted Sheol as their spiritual figurehead, and when the nation of Israel was formed, Sheol resided in a small home that every Israeli youth was required to visit. There were rumours that from time to time, Sheol would choose certain people to copy, though the government strenuously denied it.

Sheol died of natural causes in 2001, her real name and age unknown. Her house remains as a memorial to the memories that she saved--for a time--from the fires of Holocaust.

1/1/1942, the Paukenschlag Plot: On New Year’s Day 1942, representatives of 26 Allied nations gathered in Washington, D.C. to sign the Atlantic Charter, unifying the free world against the Axis. They were guarded by 37 Talents on the lookout for spies and assassins.

Just minutes before Roosevelt and Churchill’s meeting in the Oval Office, British Talents Bulldog and the Shade discovered an Übermensch in parahuman disguise, attempting to sneak a bomb into the White House.

The Shade tackled the German spy from behind, using his power to put both of them “out of phase” with the physical world. The explosion went off in complete silence, killing both men. Everyone else at ground zero was literally untouched by the explosion. Defying the Axis, Roosevelt and Churchill held a moment of silence for the young man’s sacrifice and continued the signing of the Charter which would be the beginning of the United Nations.

It was only after the war that the details of the attack from the German side came out. Called Paukenschlag (“Drumbeat”), the operation was an Abwehr plan to eliminate both Churchill and Roosevelt, utilizing the powers of their premier spy, Doppelgänger . Doppelgänger ’s powers of disguise were perfect but for one fatal flaw: it was always active, and thus always visible to nearby Talents. Poor intelligence had led Wasserfall to believe that few Talents would be present at the conference.

Next time on Godlike: War across the world, and two major powers build concentration camps.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 21:35 on Sep 20, 2016

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Way of the Phoenix: Though the storm and rain

Okay who was the joker with the frogcutter arrow, we're at WAR for kami's sake

New character options time! As always, we start with new skills to add to the glut. We have now Advanced Medicine/Acupunture which allows a character to successfully treat a patient with a Perception + Advanced Medicine roll at TN 15, modified by the severity of the wound or disease. The treated patient heals at twice the normal rate thereafter, but only one roll can be made per disease or wound. Poisons are determined with a TN of 20+, and can only be treated if the character also has Poison or Lore: Poison. It's a Craft skill, and really what's the point of the High Medicine skill now? Cipher allows encrypting or decoding written information. Intelligence + Cipher roll to encode something, and that roll is the TN for the Intelligence + Cipher roll to decode it. High skill. Research allows a once-per-spell reduction of 5 on the TN for a spell research roll and reduces the research time in one week per rank to a minimum of one month. High skill. Spellcraft is for shugenja only. TN 20 with Intelligence + Spellcraft to sway a kami's opinion of the character, or the same roll at TN 25 to detect a spell cast in an area or on a person. High skill. New advantages include Bland (for 2 points the character is bland, finding it easier to avoid notice but with smaller chances of receiving recognition or rewards) Chosen by the Oracles (5 points, the Oracles have an interest in you, which can be good or awful since the Oracles are barely human) Daredevil (4 points, when the character does something risky the GM secretly rolls a dice and on an even result they add a secret +10 bonus to the player's roll), Elemental Knowledge (6 points, it attunes a character to an element to the detriment of another. The pairs are Earth-Air and Fire-Water. They get -5 to their TN to cast a spell of the chosen element and +5 to the opposite, while spells cast on the character suffer the reverse modifier) Elemental Convergence (6 points, Ishiken only, the character can cast one Void spell their Void Ring times per day without it counting towards the cast spell limit, can only be taken once) Forbidden Knowledge (Phoenix only, 1-10 points, the character has SECRET KNOWLEDGE that other Phoenix know they hold, it's kind of halfway between Inheritance and Dark Secret) and Ishiken-do (5 points, Isawa shugenja only, requisite to become a Void mage). New disadvantages are Contrary (3 points, can't remain neutral on an issue or stand idly, Willpower roll to do something decisive and drat the consequences), Curse of the Kami (10 points, all spells have +10 to the casting TN and take twice as long to cast, the character can never learn or develop Techniques :stare:), Enlightened Madness (1, 3, 6 points, Phoenix shugenja only, like the Way of the Dragon disadvantage except that instead of a tattoo it's the spells of a whole element that get affected, Void cannot be chosen unless the character is a Void shugenja, with each level the character chooses an additional element to trigger the madness), Forgotten (4 points, Phoenix only, the character was Forgotten and can never use spells, magical items or abilities that require magical aptitude) Jealousy (2 points, the character must choose another character or dependent NPC and always try to outdo them) Momoku (8 points, the character cannot use Void Points to boost Traits) and Yogo Curse (3 points, sometimes people in the Asako family get the curse of the Yogo)

We now get rules for Shugenja Taryu-Jiai, or dueling for shugenja. Shugenja rarely use swords against bushi, and it's more common for a shugenja to have a stand-in duel for them in matters of honor, and if the stand-in dies they pay for their life with their own. But long ago, one Isawa Ujikki asked the first Kakita how those who were not dedicated to the blade could fight for their honor, and Kakita had no idea because he did not know the ways of the shugenja. They hammered out the protocols for shugenja dueling over several nights and published it in a scroll known as, well, Shugenja Taryu-Jiai. The initial protocol is similar to that of formal iaijutsu duels: the shugenja petitions their daimyo to ask the daimyo of the offending party to allow the duel. Spontaneous duels are frowned upon by the daimyo of the duelists. Either duelist can concede victory before the match without losing face. The mechanical procedure is as follows: the initiator of the duel declares one element, then the challenged does so. Each shugenja rolls Ring + School Rank, against a TN of the opponent's declared Ring x 5. The TN is reduced in 5 for each Free Raise the shugenja has on casting with the element they chose, like from school bonuses, and if the opponent's chosen Ring is opposite to the duelist they roll and keep another die. Whichever duelist exceeds the TN by a greater margin inflicts the total die roll in Wounds on the opponent, while the duelist with the smaller margin inflicts Wounds equal to the amount by which their TN was exceeded. If a duelist fails to meet or beat their TN, they take Wounds equal to the amount by which they were short, and if both duelists fail they both take damage and cannot cast spells of their declared elements for one day per five Wounds received. Whichever shugenja dealt more Wounds is usually considered the winner, and like in iaijutsu duels it's normal for the loser of the first round to concede.

The Isawa, in addition to their regular shugenja training, also have the Tensai schools. +1 to their chosen Ring, 3.0 Honor. Their skills are Calligraphy, Meditation, Shintao, Theology, History, plus two other High skills. They get a Free Raise for all Rituals. Regular Isawa shugenja train with a Master that may have three to five apprentices, but tensai are apprentices to the actual Elemental Masters. Now, the Elemental Masters only have three to five direct apprentices themselves, but each also has a "school" of apprentices where elder students teach the younger. "Tensai" means "prodigy", and these prodigies specialize on one element to the detriment of everything else. The schools have a big washout rate, and competition is rampant as each apprentice knows they can be chosen to replace a retiring Elemental Master. Of course, only one can do so, but the others aren't looked down on: tensai are respected across Rokugan for their rigurous training and many clans beg for tensai teachers in their academies. They start with Sense, Commune, Summon, two spells of their primary element and one of a secondary element. Tensai choose one element from Earth, Fire, Water and Air. They get their School Rank in Free Raises when casting spells of that element, but +5 per School Rank to their TNs to cast spells of any other element. That's some harsh specialization, but hey, huge fireballs.

These samurai look remarkably :geno: for people being flung off to their dooms.

The Isawa Ishiken school teaches Void magic. It is the most powerful and most difficult force to draw from, and Void mages risk not only their power getting away from them or causing physical, external damage, but also losing themselves into the source of their power, unable to recognize or distinguish the elements from each other. The Realm of Void was not meant for man, and those who explore it for too long might find memories of the physical world or the other elemental realms more confusing and alien, until only Void is familiar to them. For this, Void mages dedicate themselves to training with Void magic to the exclusion of almost everything else. Children born with an affinity for Void quickly make themselves known to the Ishiken, the Void Masters, and it's part of their job to listen for those births in the stream of Void and determine the appropriate course of action. Some have only a mild sensitivity that manifests itself as a vague danger sense or a specially strong tie to an individual (a Kharmic Tie, basically), or doesn't manifest at all. If the child has more than this, the Ishiken make a decision: depending on the child's strength and the disposition of their family and other factors, they may erect mystical 'blinders' to muffle the sensitivity or take the child in as a Void initiate, an Ishi. This decision is made within the first five to ten years of a child's life. Ability with Void becomes increasingly dangerous after this point, as untrained children cannot understand, let alone control, their additional sense. It's easier to train a child with the appropriate knowledge, and most of those with Void affinity won't survive to adulthood. Ishi training requires pairing the initiate with a Master, which serves as their initial anchor in the physical realm to keep their bearings in the Void. The Master also creates mystical blinders for the trainee, and lowers them when they feel the student has the ability to withstand it.

Void shugenja have +1 to Void and 2.5 Honor. Their skills are Lore (Void Magic), Meditation 2, Shintao, Tea Ceremony and any other two skills. Their starting spells are Sense Void, Drawing the Void, Sense, Commune, Summon, two spells of a second element and one of a third. They can use common shugenja aspells with no penalty, though their initial spells are obtained as a result of their training rather than dedicated study. They can acquire spells later on just like other shugenja. Only ishi and ishiken can use Void spells. Mechanically, they work exactly the same as other spells. They are organized by "Rings" that represent when a common Void shugenja learns them, though it's common for them to skip rings and learn more 'powerful' spells before others. Of course, it'll be rare to find a master that will teach an advanced Void spell to a newbie.

First Ring spells are about feeling out Void.
  • Sense Void: the fundamental Void spell and the first any Ishi learns, they reach out through the Void. It's a form of astral projection, and after casting the character must make another roll for every half hour of travel in the Void, starting at TN 10 and adding +5 to each successive roll. The spell allows sensing out a being's thoughts or emotions, the components of a person or thing, supernatural phenomena and so on. Remember when Isawa Ujina felt what the horses were thinking in Way of Shadow? This is it.
  • Drawing the Void: the shugenja "grabs" a Void Point from the Realm of Void for their use. TN 15, can only be cast once per day.

Second Ring spells grant deeper insight into the Void, and thus the world.
  • Altering the Course: the Void mage can use up to their School Rank in Void Points in a single action. This does not give them extra Void Points, just allows them to go nova in one burst. TN 20 and 3 actions to cast, though.
  • Moment of Clarity: the shugenja grants a target character one skill for their Void in rounds. The skill uses the default Trait+1 as its Rank.

Third Ring spells allows subtle changes of the Void flowing through others.
  • Kharmic Intent: the shugenja and a target can share their Void Point pools for the caster's Void Ring in rounds. Both parties must agree, and once the link is made neither can break it or oppose the use of a Void Point without the consent of the other.
  • Void Release: the target can use their highest Trait instead of any other Trait, for the caster's Void Ring in rounds. TN is target's highest Trait times 5.

Fourth Ring spells refine their control of the Void and can affect others to a far greater degree. At this point, the Ishi no longer needs their Master as an anchor point.
  • Void Strike: caster steals one of the target's Void Points. TN is the target's Void Ring x 5, each additional Void Point to be stolen takes two Raises, and the caster can only steal as many Void Points as their Void Rank per day.
  • Void Suppression: caster forces a target to use their lowest Trait instead of a specific Trait. TN is the Trait to be affected times 5.

The fifth ring is limited to the Ishiken masters themselves, and they are rumored to be able to steal someone's Void entirely, unraveling them, or showing them the vistas of the Realm of Void to render them dead or insane. No rules for these, though! Pretty interesting support, I think.

This isn't normal, but on Void, it is. Not even once.

The Asako have the Henshin Academy. "Henshin" means "change," but also "progress" or "rebirth", and is the name the Asako gave to the academy where they train students to harness the Gift that Shiba gave Asako. On the surface, the Academy only trains librarians and historians, and only provides the pupils with a core curriculum before allowing them to choose their path. This has led to the idea that the Asako have little to offer beyond fundamental concepts, and that's exactly what they want others to think. Samurai have already started to tap on the Gift across Rokugan, but they refer to their efforts as Techniques. The Henshin use Mysteries, direct manipulation of the elemental essence. The henshin are still human and can't just command the Elements, however - they must 'trick' nature into submitting to them using what they call Riddles. Henshin are non-shugenja and can't cast or research spells. They have +1 to Willpower and 2.5 Honor. Their skills are Calligraphy, Defense, History, Medicine, Meditation and Shintao. A variant of the henshin described in a sidebar, the Michibiku, gets +1 to Awareness: they go out into Rokugan, helping or giving advice where they can and keeping the secret. GMs are encouraged to direct Asako PCs to this branch, but why put it on a missable sidebar that is on the Ishiken pages?

Anyway, the henshin students choose their own course of research into the Mysteries. In game terms, it means that with every School Rank they choose one Element to learn the rank effect and Riddle from. The trick is that once chosen, these abilities behave as if the character has the School Rank at which they chose them: for instance, a character that picks Air at School Rank 1 can reach School Rank 4, but their Air effects will always behave as if they were School Rank 1. So, there's an element of system mastery in picking which Elements to learn and when. Rank effects and Riddles can be used up to their Ring Rank times per day, combined, so a henshin with an Air of 2 can use the rank effect twice, the Air Riddle twice, or both once per day. Rank effects allow the character the ability to add or substract their chosen School Rank in an element from their own Rings, or half that value from another character, rounded down. No saving throw or anything, it just takes an action in combat for the henshin. :stonk:

Riddles! They require a roll of the relevant Ring against a TN set to the School Rank the element was learned at times 5. If the roll fails, the exact opposite of the intended effect occurs. If a negative dice pool or value happens, the attempted action or effect fails automatically.

  • Riddle of Earth: the henshin may ignore (chosen School Rank) + Earth in Wounds, or heal the same amount of wounds taken by another.
  • Riddle of Water: the henshin may add (chosen School Rank) + Water in dice rolled for physical Perception checks.
  • Riddle of Fire: the henshin may add (chosen School Rank) + Fire in unarmed hand to hand combat.
  • Riddle of Air: the henshin may add (chosen School Rank) + Air in dice rolled for social interaction checks.

The Final Mystery is that of Fate, and those who learn it are known within the Asako as the Fushihai, or Masters. No one chooses to become a Fushihai, and in fact none even within the Asako even know of this rank of training. The Fushihai choose who joins their ranks based on their progression through the Mysteries and understanding of the Riddles. Fushihai are fully aware of the Path of Man and their position in it at all times. Every thing they do and say, or don't do and don't say, affects their path. They act according to a strict code of conduct and actively avoid things that will hinder their progress. The game recommends GM to think carefully before allowing a PC to reach Fushihai rank and suggests that these characters are retired, as the Asako seclude new Fushihai for twenty to fifty years to train them and drill into them the need to keep the Secret. As for mechanics, Fushihai get the Contrary disadvantage automatically (they're acting more and more Fortune-like), they can reroll any action roll their Void Rank times per day and keep the best roll, and they are immortal - they will never die of old age or disease.

The heritage tables follow. We once again get "haha, you're clan ronin get hosed" results. The most interesting table here is the Forbidden Knowledge table, since it's inspiration for what the Forbidden Knowledge advantage actually entails. It can be something like an Asako scroll (if delivered to the Isawa, it gains the PC 1 Glory Rank and the entire Asako family as Sworn Enemies), extensive dark lore (+3 in any magical Lore, but the Epilepsy disadvantage and any spell with a TN of 10+ counts as stress for it), finding the skeleton of something with too many arms (Haunted disadvantage, with visions of a far away savage land instead of ghosts) or stumbling across a Fushihai ritual (the actual ritual is erased from the memory but Riddle effects are increased in one die) Cool stuff.

Forbidden Knowledge: Oni bowel movements.

Next: our pal, Isawa Ujina.

Traveller fucked around with this message at 22:01 on Sep 20, 2016

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.
Henshin should have to do a dramatic pose and put on a spandex costume with a full helmet to use their abilities.

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.
1E Taryu-jai is ridiculously deadly.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
Well, so is 1e iaijutsu dueling. Really, 1e is just deadly as poo poo.

So the Asako Henshin are easily one of the most broken PC schools in 1e, if not the most broken PC school, as we'll see when their Ancestor pops up. Conversely, I'm pretty sure Phoenix may have the worst heritage table. The odds of getting profoundly hosed are hilarious for something you're actually charged points to roll on.

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.
For all of the Phoenix claims of being pacifistic and wise, they come off a lot like Mage: the Ascension Hermetics, arrogant assholes who keep blowing up half the world and making deals with entities they shouldn't make deals with.

They're loving great. :allears:

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
I was a Phoenix when was a member of the Imperial Assembly, though I later "retired" to the Brotherhood of Shinsei.

Yes, this is a thing I did earnestly. :shobon:

Jan 7, 2015

unseenlibrarian posted:

Henshin should have to do a dramatic pose and put on a spandex costume with a full helmet to use their abilities.

It is a shame Shinkenger came out long after this edition.

(Then again their 6th ranger isn't even a ronin.)

Doresh fucked around with this message at 17:37 on Sep 21, 2016

Opposing Farce
Apr 1, 2010

Ever since our drop-off service, I never read a book.
There's always something else around, plus I owe the library nineteen bucks.
Viewtiful Joe would be a very different game if it was about a tabletop RPG nerd.

Actually, maybe not.

Jan 7, 2015

Opposing Farce posted:

Viewtiful Joe would be a very different game if it was about a tabletop RPG nerd.

Actually, maybe not.

Probably yes if he transforms into a spellcaster.

Rigged Death Trap
Feb 13, 2012


Doresh posted:

Probably yes if he transforms into a spellcaster.

Yes, Kamen Rider Wizard does exist

Jan 7, 2015

Rigged Death Trap posted:

Yes, Kamen Rider Wizard does exist

Also Magiranger. They even fought not-orcs (or rather sentient not-zombie-orcs) and mythological creatures!

Doresh fucked around with this message at 19:14 on Sep 21, 2016

Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.
Weird random question: would L5R be a good system for J-Horror?

Because I've been watching an LP of Siren and thought it might be interesting to trap a bunch of samurai into a feudal version of Hanuda Village... :kheldragar:

That Old Tree
Jun 24, 2012


Simian_Prime posted:

Weird random question: would L5R be a good system for J-Horror?

Because I've been watching an LP of Siren and thought it might be interesting to trap a bunch of samurai into a feudal version of Hanuda Village... :kheldragar:

It has corruption and fear systems, but they're pretty traditional "you failed the roll against :spooky: and now you have to run 50 yards."


Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

I wouldn't say so. L5R can technically do horror but no more easily than D&D could, really.

And I pick D&D because a team of samurai does at least have decent odds of beating most monsters that aren't completely, horrifically overpowered. (Like some oni.)

Especially if they have some Crabs around. As you almost certainly would in a horror game because monsters are kind of the Crab specialty.

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