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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Superiors 2: All of the Art in this Chapter is a Dude Shoving Food Down His Face, It's Kinda Gross

Haagenti's restaurants and food chains spread through all of Shal-Mari, but some areas cluster them thick enough to outnumber the brothels and cinemas. The air is thick with the smell of food, and the clashing scents can actually be kind of a problem. They serve everything from Roman stuffed dormice to American ice cream to Russian potato soup to wheat germ concoctions out of health food stores. Recipes from all of history are on sale, and many of the demons will actually highly praise the humans that invented them. (This rarely carries over to respect for the damned, however.)

Haagenti maintains no regular palace or home. He moves around the Principality of Shal-Mari as he likes, making a temporary headquarters out of whatever restaurant he currently feels like eating in, taking over every nearby building and usually most of the street. The owners of the restaurant receive his favor and get to rub shoulders with ranking demons...but they also have to work themselves to the bone to feed Haagenti, who will sit next to the kitchens eating as much as possible. His honor guard and courtiers have to order out - he doesn't share. Nearby restaurants that they don't take over try to keep operating, hoping to profit off the influx of demons. The ones that do get taken over can only hope to get some benefit, because they're expected to make do with the honor of service. Good for the reputation, not the wallet. Low-grade minions are recruited from all nearby restaurants to do errands, administrative tasks, guard work and so on. Regular deliveries and visitors tend to be blocked by the traffic of the street. It's as much a problem as an honor, really. Tether outlets are sited in the back rooms of certain establishments, guarded by the owners. It's a mark of pride, power and status, and it means more potental customers. Having to support and assist the Tether is usually considered worth it. However, if the Tether is demolished, the restaurant is likely to lose customers exceptionally quickly.

The Grand Recipe Repository was built after Kobal suggested it might be good to keep formal records of the best work of Gluttony. Haagenti designed it personally, and it shows. It's a hideous building, looking like nothing except a sagging, neon bridal cake 15 stories tall...and that's after the actual architects toned it down. Kobal adores eating near it, especially if his dining companions hate ostentation. Commonly called the Suppository, it's run by Gluttons trained in filing. Recipes are actually fairly well organized, indexed by name, creator, ingredients and techniques. Entry is supposed to cost 1 Essence, but the four Djinn guards typically ask for a bit of a bribe, too. Haagenti files his records of rewards and Distinctions in with the recipes, and it's rumored that secret information of treasonable nature is in there somewhere. This is actually true - the building is controlled by the Fangs, Haagenti's spy organization. The Fangs are all very intelligent and keep their identities secret, using tunnels for when they have to drag someone in. They take great care to ensure the other staff at the Repository are dull, unimaginative and unlikely to explore or investigate. If they do...well, the Fangs are still Gluttons, and demons can be tasty.

Haagenti stores the Hearts of his demons in an immense vault under Shal-Mari, supposedly beneath one of his favorite restaurants, of which he has several, but the labyrinth leading to it has prevented anyone from being certain which one. The Calabim and Djinn guarding it don't encourage hanging around to make maps, for that matter. The Hearts jumble together in large drifts, making it hard to find your Heart unless you materialize next ot it from Earth. The vault has only one exit, guarded by an immense Knight of Banquests able to consume most demons whole. It works out fairly well, as security systems go.

Other celestials see Gluttons as obsessed by hunger, willing to do anything for food, and generalyl rather stupid. And often they are in fact busy with hunger, their own or that of others. However, the ones that encourage Gluttony in others are just as common as the ones focused on their own hunger. They are all motivated, both by Haagenti's desires and their dissonance conditions, to increase the power of Gluttony around them. They tend to be quite enthusiastic, and even the most uncaring Djinn of Gluttony knows how hunger feels and likes sharing it. Many of them see themselves as friends to humans. They are, after all, encouraging them to enjoy their natural urges. What could be more natural then releasing tension with a spree of consumption? What could be more pleasant? To a Glutton, gorging is the greatest of experiences for anyone. Of course, the smarter ones do realize there are consequences. Humans can't consume forever, thanks to metabolism, age or finance. Still, eat or be eaten. Humans and even demons that can't take the pace are food, not eaters, and food can't hope for much. In the moment that a human dies of a cholesterol-caused heart attack and is damned to Shal-Mari, they move decisively from 'friend' to 'food.'

Among demons of Gluttony, when left alone, organization varies wildly. The most potent is always on top, and the juniors obey or get eaten. Demons of roughly equal power squabble sometimes, but largely cooperate unless they have conflicting plans or they run out of food. There's just not a lot of treachery between Gluttons unless their plans get in the way of each other, in which case the strongest wins or a more potent demons shows up to take over the situation, a time-honored tradition just as much as blaming each other for the result. The fact that they grow dissonant from failing to make humans Consume enough results in a lot of fellow-feeling and readiness to help each other out. It can be affection, but just as often it's an understanding that everyone benefits from increased Gluttony. It won't stop demons expecting a bribe or favor in return, though. They're still demons. Things change when Kobalites get involved. Haagenti often orders his demons to work with the demons of Dark Humor. The more tolerant Kobalites let Gluttons do as they normally would, insisting on reports or obedience only when it's strictly needed. The Gluttons like this and cooperate well that way. It also helps when Dark Humor's plans use or advance Gluttony somehow. However, other Kobalites insist on their own ideas of organization, which vary wildly between demons, and if they're much more potent, the Gluttons obey...but if they're not, well, accidents can happen.

Gluttons tend to believe that every human should be eating, right now. Gluttony is deliberate, self-gratifying consumption, and while animals can do it, humans are much better for it. Most feel friendship towards human gluttons, if not so much as towards demons. They have their hearts in the right place, and any human willing to indulge themselves can rise to greatness. They may be menial, petty and inconsequential, but it's the thought that counts. Still, Gluttons look at humans as useful, not just friends. They're good deep-cover agents, since it's hard for Gluttons to stay inconspicuous, given their dissonance. Humans also make good thugs. However, and especially in this modern era, they are very good at persuading other humans to overindulge. Even unwitting agents can provide a lot of good propaganda - articles on how it does more good to binge than hold back, scientific proof on the perils of abstinence, advertising...the works.

Gluttons attract human minions by various means. Hellsworn are typically persuaded...but sometimes dragged to a Tether to gorge themselves until they either die or gain a Force. That usually only works for thugs, though, unless you're really lucky. More educated Soldiers must be recruited deliberately, and generally only for specific schemes. They are tempted, rather than force-fed, and Gluttons often target their families, as well - a family that indulges together won't stop each other from acting gluttonously. Any demon of Haagenti with the brains to get an intelligent Soldier will also tend to have the brains to be subtle about it. Simple minions are much easier than Soldiers, though. They can do any purpose, and usually they just get bribed or blackmailed into service. The best ones tend not to be aware of the War, making them sincere and honest when they promote Gluttony's cause. As long as they take orders and keep consuming, they tend to be treated well. They may even get to share in whatever the demons are enjoying. Only a few Gluttons actually like destroying humans, and a sufficiently valuable agent can escape even them. On the other hand, if they fail or don't seem gluttonous, they get recategorized as food, and are lucky if they get off as lightly as being traded to another Word rather than being used as a suicide mission...or a snack. (They push the cannibalism thing hard, because Gluttons are otherwise a little too personable.)

Minor signs of favor aren't important among Gluttons - power is. Still, they do like being given the stuff they enjoy, as they are...well, gluttons. They love material rewards of all kinds. Minor punishments, likewise, can include forced abstinence or removal of luxuries...or even stitching your mouth shut for a while. More extensive rewards and punishments depend on Haagenti's mood and how much he's paying attention, which usually ties into how hungry he is. It's best to bring food when reporting in. If he's pleased, he may hand out lavish rewards...but he's pretty arbitrary that way, so be ready to thank him no matter what he does. Punishments are equally arbitrary, and Force-stripping is relatively common, as Haagenti likes the taste of Forces. Occasionally, though, you can lessen the severity of punishment by blaming other Princes' manipulations, as Haagenti is convinced they all despise him. It won't save you from important failures, though.

Haagenti tends not to have the subtlety to tempt angels to Fall nor the hatred of angelic Words to try and recruit them deliberately. Fortunately, some of his demons do it for him. Smart Gluttons look for angels that either love food or aggressively deny interest in it. Careful resonance and attunement usage can end with gorging angels, who are then vulnerable to self-indulgence or disgust with themselves. Still, most of the time they'd prefer to kill or bribe an angel rather than trick them into a Fall. Outcasts are given the hard sell, though - Haagenti tends to think that they've already left Heaven, so they may as well finish the job. He doesn't really understand a lack of Gluttony in others, and Outcasts that Fall but don't join him are more likely to be eaten than traded away. If they are recruited successfully, however, they may be given high rank to start. If they're not, they'll be given a menial one until they get into the spirit of it all. Once in a while, Haagenti both gets useful intelligence and recognizes its worth, using it to plan some new scheme. He's not always as good at this as he believes, and ex-angels should avoid him if things go wrong.

The most common job for demonlings under Gluttony is bringing food or serving at tables. Of course, they have to avoid eating the food themselves, and most are ambitious to grow large enough to get their own food. They're kept deliberately hungry and made to grovel and slave for anything they get, because being hungry is the most important part of being a good Glutton. Older demonlings and Fallen are trained in recipes, tastes, etiquette and whatever else their boss likes. While most just devour, some prefer to eat politely, especially Impudites, and typically this training uses the carrot of allowing the student to eat if they work well. Physical punishment is rare for Gluttons, as nothing is more painful than being unable to satisfy your hunger.

Next time: You ate what?


Jan 7, 2015

unseenlibrarian posted:

I was really hoping for more Shadow powers in the mix for Ouroboros than it got. Most of the fighty part of the powerset seems to be the copy power/renegade manipulation stuff.

The best shadow powers are definitely found in the Simple Powers. For the normal Powers, there's really only one attack Power that's clearly shadow-themed (though you can probably reflavor other Powers as needed). The Syndrome also only really has two meta-Powers that work with it (the rest is only works on Copy Powers), so you really depend on Copy Powers or Cross- and Tri-Breeding to add some utility and variety. Though this is a pretty good justification for the Syndrome to have developed its copy ability in the first place.

It's a shame there's no dedicated shadow Syndrome, but I guess you can get pretty close by having a darkness-themed Angel Halo/Ouroboros character.

Double Cross - Infinity Code

Other Syndromes

All of the old Syndromes get six new Powers to play with, except for Bram Stoker who gets a whooping 23. Most of the time, these new Powers are there to allow for alternative builds and tactics.

Angel Halo

These are all about light-bending. You can spread your laser beams to cover a wide area, assist a comrade at dodging and confuse opponents. You can also play a D&D 4e Fighter by debuffing an opponent if he's attacking someone other than you.

High Encroachment Rate Powers let you dodge otherwise undodgeable attacks and play bodyguard by switching places with a comrade that's about to be hit.


Here are some nice debuff Powers that use gravity to make the target slower and less useful. The Evil Eyes themselves get some awesome utility, as you can now turn them into petrifying spears or just launch them at foes like a cannonball.

High ER Powers let you spam Balor Powers more freely and create miniature wormholes on your body to make an enemy suffer the same damage he just caused you, making you a less powerful version of that mutant bloke from Vampire Hunter D.

Black Dog

Zap yourself with lightning to boost your powers, shock attacking enemies like Blanka and yank them closer to you like Scorpion. You can also buff allies (or yourself) and make them go faster.

High ER Powers let you ignore [Armor] and give your or an ally an extra turn.

Bram Stoker

Use your blood to restrain or debuff opponents, boost the effect of other Bram Stoker powers, and get more utility out of your Red Servants by using melee attacks through them or sacrificing them for additional effects.

The new Red Servant Powers make your Servants more tanky while allowing them to ignore [Armor]. The can also now play Red Shirts and take on support forms that buff or debuff just by being there. Going by RAW, these forms buff or debuff anyone in the same Engagement, so they're tricky to use if you're a melee guy yourself.


The main gimmick here is support for <RC> aka Renegade Control Powers in the form of <<Beast Blast>>, which lets you shout people to death. This offers more choices than being a big dumb fighter.
Still, if you want to stay a big dumb fighter, you can get <<Hell Beast's Instinct>> which lets you use [Body] instead of [Mind] when using an <RC> attack. This is really handy if you're a Chimaera Cross- or Tri-Breed that also wants to be competent at breathing fire or laser beams.

Aside from these two Powers, you can make yourself immune against Powers that try to move you around and have an ally ride on top of you if you hulk out. The high ER Powers let you keep your cool when going Berserk and reduce incoming damage.


Pull yourself all over the battlefield like Luffy and mess around an opponent by infecting him with yourself. You can also dabble into Orcus territory by fusing with nearby surroundings to attack. If you want to atake on a more passive role, you can transform yourself into a form that is mainly there to buff another target and makes yourself pretty useless. I think this means you turn yourself into flesh power armour or a Guyver suit, but I don't really want to think about all the possible body horror goin on here.

High ER Powers boost your own attacks by sprouting additonal limbs and temporarily clone yourself for the sole purpose of getting another use out of a limited-use Power.


Gain extra damage from charging enemies and push yourself to spam more powers. New support Powers also let you heal and buff.

High ER Powers let you play bodyguard like the Angel Halo above and negate enemy Powers.


Some of these Powers let you get more mileage out of the sand created as part of your Syndrome, shredding away enemy defenses and building up your own. If you're a fan of normal weapons instead of ones you create yourself, you can now make those ultra light, letting you swing around the heaviest of weapons with ease like you're Cloud. Combined with the Neumann Syndrome, you can now dual-wield miniguns and two-handed swords with ease.

You also gain the ability to split up your weapons, trading in damage for hitting multiple targets. The high ER Powers let you create useful support tools that offer a nice skill bonus and a monstrous bonus to any check.


The best Powers are about weaponized words: Dodge attacks by confusing/annoying your opponent, and use your eloquence to hurt him. Add in some debuff stuff, and you can basically tell the World's Funniest Joke.
You can also hypnotize an opponent to make him forget how to use his Powers, reduce incoming damage to an ally by telling him to make a barrel roll, and the high ER Powers grant yet another bodyguard and damage nullifying Power.


Most of these Powers revolve around bending space to hinder the enemy or assist your own attacks, by increasing their effective range and having them come from all kinds of directions.

The high ER Powers give your attacks area effect and prevent enemies from getting rid Bad Statuses because this is your Domain and they better play according to your rules.


These revolve around boosting your own Powers and healing yourself. The high ER Powers let you guard unguardable attacks and buff the crap out of your allies.


These are pretty fun. Solaris is for the most part a support Syndrome, but these new Powers let you actively attack people by spitting acid and liquid explosives. You can also coat your attacks with poison and use slime to stop enemies from moving.

High ER Powers let you mess people up with poisoned gas and sacrifice yourself by liquifying yourself into a health potion. Yikes.

Common Powers

The new Common Powers give you the DX equivalent to Weapon Focus. You can also get yourself a short burst of speed to cover wider distances and bolster your own healing abilities. There's even a power that lets you send out your Renegade to heal others, giving everyone access to a cheap and reliable (if a bit weak) healing Power.
To mess aronud with the action economy, you can give yourself an additonal Minor Action or use a new high ER Power to get a whole turn. Both have fortunately limited uses.

The big stars here are however the new Common Simple Powers, making them the first Common Powers available to everyone.
So, what do these do? Well, you can have the entire party be super secretive by talking in frequencies normal humans cannot hear, leave markings all over the place that they can't see, get a unique visual mutation you can pop out at will as a form of genetic ID, and try to hide your overedness from examinations. These really give the setting a whole new secret society vibe.

Playing up the effect the Renegade has on the human body, you can make yourself immune against normal diseases and the effects of alcohol, or give yourself a completely different appearance from your pre-Overed self.

Finally, you can stare down people in the form of a more accurate Warding field, and you can extend Simple Powers that only affect Extras and non-Overeds to cover all non-Extra NPC and willing Overeds. This is mainly useful for the Solaris Syndrome withs brainwashing Simple Powers, or if you want to Stare Down fellow Overeds who are just playing along. Other than that, I don't really see a whole lot of Simple Powers that are actually affected by this.

Next Time: T-Loises and Items - introducing Slendergjaum.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011


I guess Eurynomus is a real demon, but I thought it was a clever nod to this:


Euronymous used Dead's suicide to foster Mayhem's 'evil' image and claimed Dead had killed himself because death metal had become 'trendy' and commercialized.[12] In time, rumors spread that Euronymous had made a stew with bits of Dead's brain and had made necklaces with bits of his skull.[13] The band later denied the former rumor, but confirmed that the latter was true.[10][13] Moreover, Euronymous claimed to have given these necklaces to musicians he deemed worthy,[14] which was confirmed by several other members of the scene, like Bård 'Faust' Eithun[15] and Metalion.[16]

Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Chapter 9: Dramatic Systems, Part II: Eh, just make something up I guess?

M20 contains some vague outlines for how hazardous environments might be hazarduous, using the existing rules. The vagueness of the rules is pretty insulting; dangerous conditions may inflict 1-4 Bashing damage per hour, but nothing really explains what a dangerous condition is, or when when any given frequency is appropriate. 4B/hour is for "truly extreme conditions", which is difficult when I have no idea what that's relative to. "Environmental protection gear add to the Stamina roll[to soak environmental damage] (generally between one and three dice)", but when is something environmental protection gear? The difficulty for the Soak is not given; it says to check Resisting in the Feats sub-chapter, which was the feat that has a nonsensical difficulty. "Deadly situations - like hard vacuum or deep-sea pressure - inflict lethal damage instead. [...] Such damage usually involves quarter-hour intervals[...]". There's lots of examples of things that kill faster "in minutes or even seconds." but no guidelines are given for what kills how fast, and there are no real examples of what's supposed to inflict 1 Lethal every 15 minutes. It feels more like someone's notes than proper rules, and the way every parameter has to be adjudicated by the ST makes me wonder why it was written up in the first place.

The rules for thirst and starvation are far more well-defined, but surprisingly generous. Each day without food causes 1 Bashing, and each day without water causes 1 Lethal. A Stamina roll with increasing difficulty per day without nourishment can alleviate these effects - the net result is that the average character can survive for a little over 8 days without water, which is pretty impressive. If the ST does rule that you can't heal while starving or thirsting. Bashing damage always heals at a rate greater than 1/day, so it's not possible to die from starvation, and sometimes thirst, unless already heavily wounded when able to heal - there's no explicit note here in these rules about this, and the rules for healing damage don't say anything about conditions that prevent healing from occurring (and even then, the most reasonable interpretation is that the most severe conditions cause slower healing, which for low levels of Bashing damage is still faster than starving. These rules have a giant gap that require the ST to step in and correct them, which is always an annoyance in rules.

The rules for using the Demolitions skill are hidden away in the Explosions sub-chapter of the Environmental Hazards sub-chapter, because you'd obviously go look for them there, rather than in any of the parts of the rules involving the use of skills. There's lots of fancy tidbits here; the passages on electrocution note a TENS unit (a therapeutic device also used a lot in BDSM) as doing Bashing damage, akin to a taser or car battery. Falling damage maxes out at 10 dice of Lethal at falls of more than 100 feet, which means that with 7 health boxes, the chance of dying immediately from a fall of any height is a mere 4% (if my dice-roller works like it should). In other words, most people in M20 would survive jumping out of an aircraft, especially if they start receiving First Aid within 24 hours of impact.

M20 posted:

A flying object loses one die of effect after the first 20 feet unless it’s self-propelled or aerodynamic, two dice after 30 feet, and three after 50 feet. A thrown table, for example, loses momentum thanks to its mass; a motor-powered car, however, does not.

Thanks to its mass? The more mass it has the less momentum it loses. Deceleration is inversely proportional to mass, and proportional to surface area and the square of velocity.

There are rules for damaging objects; instead of Health, objects have Structure, and instead of Soak they have Durability (which is a straight reduction rather than a roll) which works equally well against Bashing, Lethal, and most types of Aggravated damage. If that sounded easy, rest assured that the text will spend many paragraphs explaining this with lots of unnecessary asides, like how Dracula can't bite through a bank vault with his fangs (an example that is very relevant to Mage).

And, gods, Brucato can't write clear rules for poo poo. Here's one line on using magick on objects:

M20 posted:

In all three cases, figure that a damage-based Effect from any of those Spheres reduces an object’s Durability by -2.

Here's another:

M20 posted:

And yet, Entropy, Matter, Prime, and perhaps Life still subtract -2 from the target’s Durability for each success rolled

"-2" and "-2 per success" are pretty loving different!. There are also guidelines for how to rate things, which claim that laptops are "Easily broken" for 2-3 Structure, while cameras are "Sturdy and complex", making them have as much as 4-5 Structure. If we assume a camera is fragile, this means that to destroy it in one blow takes about 6 damage. The weapon chart has several pistols that do 4L damage. In other words, shooting the camera with a gun may not destroy it, and in a lot of cases, are unlikely to.

There's rules for drowning and poisons and...

M20 posted:

Thanks to the long associations between poison and the Awakened, most Sleepers consider magic to be a sort of metaphysical or even literal toxin.

No they don't!

Like so many things in this book, and a staple of 90's White Wolf RPGs, the text is terrified of having to give actual numbers even as it fills tables with them. Toxins do damage equal to their Toxin Rating in dice "one or two times per ingestion". One or two? Which is it? It's pretty important when we get to Ammonia (Toxin Rating 4) and once is a major wound and twice is death. Characters are allowed a Stamina roll to avoid the effects of a toxin, but it's unclear whether this is once (to avoid all damage) or if the Stamina roll is made every time the toxin might cause damage (i.e. potentially twice). In the latter case, it's also not clear whether the Stamina is rolled as soak, or to fully ignore all the damage. If you botch the Stamina roll, the ST is given full permission to kill your character. It's also not possible to cure toxic or disease effects without magick, because Sleeper in MTAs apparently forgot to invent antidotes.

It appears possible to kill oneself by ingesting 8 doses of marijuana, since THC does 1B of damage per dose. However, the text under the next heading will explain that cannabinoids don't cause damage at all, because consistency is for D&D players. There's also a number of drugs not written up in the table of toxins, with rules that work differently from how all other toxins work; alcohol causes impairments after two drinks, with the alcohol-content of the drink determining the Difficulty of the roll to determine the impairmens. Cannabinoids can give +1 or -1 to Perception dice pools, and lower the Difficulty of Time-spells by -1. Cocaine and methamphetamines cause automatic damage with no Stamina roll. Emphatogenics like MDMA increase Willpower but cause 2B damage or 1-3L on a botch (1-3? How helpful!). The text suggests that opiates increase Intelligence, because of Sherlock Holmes.

I didn't mention the rules on explosions much, because they were kind of generically fine, but there's a weapons table that has explosives, ranging from sticks of dynamite to nuclear weapons. The way explosives work in M20 is that they cause [Blast Power] dice of damage within a [Blast Area] radius, and -1 dice of damage per yard outside the Blast Area. This... is not how explosives work. It's a decent abstraction I guess, but the "blast area" of an explosive is a function of the explosive force; there's basically no way you can have Dynamite do 6 dice over a 3-5 yard radius are, but have Nitroglycerin to 3 dice over a 4-yard-radius area. There's also the table entry for a nuclear weapon, which has a Blast Area of 1-30 miles, and a Blast Power of "Seriously?", because if you're outside those 1-30 miles, you'd never ever want to know how many extra yards outside the Blast Area you have to be to be safe...

Now, vehicle rules!

M20 posted:

Cycles are notoriously difficult too. You may assume that a character needs at least one dot in Athletics in order to operate a bicycle, a Dexterity of at least three to operate a unicycle, and no fewer than three dots in Drive (or perhaps a specialty in Motorcycles) in order to avoid smearing himself across the pavement on a motorcycle. Again, a character can mount a cycle and maybe move slowly down the street on it under calm conditions. If she needs to exert control over that bike and its velocity, though, that’s another matter entirely…
I will not get over just how difficult it is to operate two-wheeled vehicles in M20.

Just... just read these two; the first is from the object rules, the second from the vehicle rules:

M20 posted:

Ramming into, or being rammed by, other characters or solid objects (walls, tables, vehicles, etc.) may – at the Storyteller’s discretion – inflict one die of bashing damage for every 10 feet (or three yards) of velocity at the time of impact. A dude who runs 20 feet before slamming into a wall, for instance, might take two dice of bashing damage from the impact.

If that object’s Durability Trait is higher than the character’s Stamina Trait, he may take an extra automatic bashing health level from the impact. A car that had traveled 40 feet within the previous turn, for example, would inflict four dice of bashing damage for its velocity, plus one health level of automatic impact damage to whatever it hits because… well, it’s a car.

M20 posted:

In order to avoid absurdly complicated rules, assume that a vehicle ramming a character inflicts that vehicle’s Durability in bashing damage, plus one die for every 10 MPH (14” per turn) that the vehicle was traveling at the time. Thus, a crotch-rocket motorcycle ramming someone at 50 MPH inflicts eight dice of bashing damage, but a limo going at that speed inflicts 10.

There are two different rules for this!

The rules are also somewhat split on whether they want to be cinematic or not; cars protect against most small arms bullets (no matter the Durability of the vehicle) because that's the cinematic convention, but shooting gas tanks to make cars explode is hard, "movies notwithstanding". Though when you manage, it does 12A dice of damage. The rules for shooting targets inside a car also highlight a particular issue of M20's dice system. You can hit a target inside a car either by scoring 4 or more successes (which, coincidentally, means that whenever a target inside a car is hit, they take at least 4 extra dice of damage), or by taking a +3 penalty to the attack roll. This creates the immediate "dilemma" of having to chose between the two. A player probably wants to pick the best one, but actually figuring out which is the best option is very difficult. This leaves the player unable to easily make a decision their character doesn't even have to take; the character is in both cases trying to hit the target inside the vehicle.

There are stats for various vehicles, and they're ridiculously though; a jeep has Durability 4, making it almost impevious to pistol fire. Even more interesting is that a 105mm tank shell (20 damage) averages 8 Health levels, which is not enough to destroy a jeep, limousine, pickup truck, SUV/Van, off-road truck, HMMVW, RV, bus, or any kind of large truck. Sure, everyone inside will be dead from spill-through damage, but the vehicle is not fully destroyed. Even more egregious are the military vehicle stats given. The APC has durability 12, making it almost impossible to pierce with a 105mm tank gun (6% chance)... and on average it'll be fine after a hit from a 120mm tank gun. The game's Light Tank has 15 side armour, making only 1 in 6 shots even cause damage. Modern tanks are tough, but not this though. The APC should be perforated by any tank gun, and the side armour of tanks is nowhere near tough enough to take 120mm shells without issue.

The weapons given for each vehicle are also ridiculous; the Light Tank mounts, in addition to the 105mm gun, two .50 calibre machine guns and two grenade launchers. This is ridiculous; no 'light tank' has ever mounted this much. The only tank that comes close are certain variants of the Centurion tank, and it didn't have the grenade launchers. The Heavy Tank mounts, in addition to the 120mm gun, three .50 calibre machine guns and four grenade launchers. Again ridiculous; certain versions of the M1A1 Abrams might have been mounted with three .50 calibre machine guns, but this is not standard; the standard M1-family tank has 2 .50 calibre machine guns and 1 .30 calibre machine gun. No other tank of which I am aware (and trust me, I am aware of a lot of tanks, courtesy of playing a lot of Wargame: Red Dragon) mounts the number of guns the Heavy Tank in M20 does, and certainly nobody mounts four grenade launchers on their tank. They might mount one or two and load them with smoke grenades. Lethe, some of the machine guns are even given as being hull-mounted, which hasn't been a thing since the 1950's.

There are aircraft stats too; the 105mm gun can't expect to destroy news helicopters, small propeller aircraft, or hot-air balloons in one shot either. The Attack Helicopter has as much armour as an APC.

In short, and there are some details I haven't dwelt on here, the vehicle rules are dumb and pulled out of thin air. It's OK to not desire to be Phoenix Command in terms of military equipment stats, but even then a mediocrum of real-world adherence can be expected.

I do like the Inventing, Modifying, and Improving Technology sub-chapter. It's one page, half of which is a table with all the Difficulties and successes to accumulate on an Extended roll. Hotwiring a car is 3 successes on Wits+Streetwise or Intelligence+Technology or some appropriate ability at Difficulty 5. Fitting a new part is a Difficulty 6 roll to accumulate 10 successes. It's very handy to have this kind of table, and it can be easily consulted, as opposed to many of the other mechanisms in this game that require lots of adjudication.

The Digital Web: Playing in the World of Woecraft
The Digital Web is a virtual reality magickal realm, and it has special rules. It can be accesses through VR goggles, smartphones, and turning your body into information and downloading your entire self into it. The Digital Web has lots of little rules that I don't think are worthy of any commentary, good or bad, though some are worth mentioning. Paradox functions differently in the Digital Web; all magick must be in-paradigm for a computer simulation, it can't be too powerful or flashy, and special areas may have specific rules set, allowing things to be considered Paradox at the whims of whoever is managing some part of the Web. Digital Web Paradox is also separate from real-world Paradox in most cases, making it rather harmless. Paradox manifests as, among other things, lag in the simulation.

OK, so, I was going to try to explain the various ways to die in the Digital Web, but I ran into an issue:

M20 posted:

A traveler who enters the Web through either sensory visitation or astral immersion uses his Intelligence as Strength and his Wits as Dexterity. Stamina is still Stamina. Although his icon may take damage, his physical body rarely does. (See Digital Damage, below.)

Checking the heading Digital Damage, it does not explain the difference between physical and VR damage. Many times it seems as if it should, but it appears that getting damaged in the Digital Web also causes physical damage to the character no matter what. Several rules reference damage one's "Icon" has taken as if it's distinct from regular damage, but no effect explained so far in the game can actually damage someone's "Icon". There are many, many ways to die in the real world from Digital Web damage, but they seem rather superfluous when taking enough damage or effects to trigger them often involve being dead anyway. It's like an entire passage - the single most important passage for explaining the Digital Web - is just missing from the book. You can't actually run anything in the Digital Web when the rules for getting hurt there are missing.

Also the Web drains people's life-force by inflicting on them headaches, obesity, and back pain.

The Otherworlds

M20 posted:

Theoretically, a person retains her material form when she walks into the spirit world through a Shallowing. Thing is, as certain mages claim, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle may be at work in such situations: is that person still material because she thinks of herself as material, or is she transformed into spirit matter, simply believing she’s still material while the rest of Creation views her as a spirit?

...that's not how the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle works. It's actually rather noticeable that every single time Brucato says something about science, he says something that is at worst plain wrong and at best just incredibly stupid. It ranges from this example here and his claims about mass and acceleration, to the claims that the universe being made from a viscous superfluid validates the aether theory and that tying ancient Sumerian prophecies into recent papers on string theory is in any way profound (it actually just makes one sound like a conspiracy theorist).

All mages can see into the Periphery, requiring the ST to describe the intrusions of the Otherworlds into mundane reality all the time. The physical world is separated from the otherworlds by the Gauntlet, One way to enter an otherworld is to step sideways (what an incredibly silly term that is) through the Gauntlet into the Middle Umbra. This lets the mage enter the spirit real, where they are corporeal, but must use Spirit magick to interact with the physical world. The High Umbra can be entered by astral travel through the Gauntlet. When making an astral projection, the mage uses Mind magick, and their disembodied self has their physical traits in the High Umbra determined by their mental and social traits as well as Willpower. The mage can interact with the physical world only through ghostly projections that can't move physical objects, and with magick. The Low Umbra can be entered by complex Entropy-Life-Spirit magick. Going to the Low Umbra is difficult though, because of World of Darkness metaplot where the war between the Ravnos in India and the Kuei-Jin caused the Ravnos antediluvian to wake up which caused the Technocracy to drop nukes on it which caused the ghosts of the nuclear weapons to appear in the Low Umbra which let a bunch of very unhappy ghosts use the ghost-nukes to blow up Enoch, the ghost of the original Enoch where vampires ruled over mankind before the Biblical Flood, which caused a giant maelstrom in the Low Umbra that makes the place very, very hostile, so you can't go there. Travel through the Gauntlet is more difficult in places that are technological, because the Technocracy have been trying to close off the Gauntlet to nasty things don't come through.

Death in the Middle Umbra means destruction of the body, because it entered the spirit world. Death in the High Umbra separates the mage's mind from their body, and the mind has to find the body before it dies in the physical world. Death in the Low Umbra can't kill you again, but sends the soul to the Harrowing, the mage's own personal nightmare-realm, where they'll face attacks on their integrity and path to personal Ascension; success on the test qualifies as a Seeking, failure on the test results in a loss of a dot of Arete.

All these Umbral realms exist in the Midrealm, where Mount Qaf and/or the Life Tree connect them together. Mount Qaf is in the Digital Web and Mount Qaf is in the Midrealm, but the Midrealm and the Digital Web don't otherwise intersect. Most of these border the physical world through the Gauntlet, and the Paths of the Wyck connect them all together.

Between MTAs 2e and MTAs Revised, there was a huge metaplot event where the Avatar Storm caused the Earth to be separated from many of the Horizon Realms that also exist in the Otherworlds. M20 struggles very hard to cater to both Revised and 2e and constantly mentions that the Avatar Storm may or may not have happened, to various effects.

I like the idea of all these otherwords, though as I've mentioned in an earlier part of this review, they're not really explored well, and some rules are unclear. For example, if you're killed in the High Umbra, you have to go find your body... but the rules don't mention whether this is all that happens - does death in the High Umbra simply mean losing one's connection to the physical body? Or are there other effects? Can you still move around in the High Umbra as if nothing had happened? This is not explained, and the text makes it seem like I just have to guess or make something up. These otherworlds don't really have their special features described in a straightforward manner either; instead their features are scattered all over the sub-chapter, with the rules for magick in the otherworlds given as a single list that notes not all of the rules in the list apply to all otherworlds. The ST is left having to figure it out from the text, rather than, for example, a sidebar for each otherworld explaining its rules.

Ghosts and Stuff

M20 posted:

Infinity wears infinite masks. And for simplicity’s sake, we call those masks spirits. Rooted in a word meaning “breath” – and, by extension, “life” – spirits embody cosmic and Earthly principles, giving recognizable identities to things beyond comprehension. In plain English, then, spirits give character and personality to natural forces and psychic ideas. So in game terms, they’re characters who are far more transcendent than they might appear.

What a spirit is certainly needed to be explained four times in three different ways. 687 pages, people!

M20 posted:

To slap a different handle on such entities, some mages call the spirits Umbrood – a bastardized term meaning “the offspring of shadows.” Again, that term’s not wrong, though many spirits find it insulting. The term “brood” suggests children, and when mages use it, that suggests that mages feel parentally superior to spirits. It’s not hard to understand, then, why spirits would get a bit hacked off at a presumptuous mortal who regards himself as the father of a cosmic entity. No wonder that so many mages find themselves in hot water with the spirits!

Not really? If I call someone a child of something, that doesn't imply that I also see myself as its parent.

Spirits are entities that live in the Otherworlds and are made from spirit-matter. They're inspired by animism, so they are the personification of some thing or concept. Every rock has a spirit, but there are also spirits without ties to physical objects, such as demons, angles, and various weird things inhabiting the Otherworlds. Spirits are simpler than most NPCs; they have Willpower to do phyical stuff, Rage to inflict damage on things, Gnosis to do mental or social things, and Essence for health levels and to power their Charms (which are the distinct, spell-like powers of spirits). When a spirit loses all of its health levels, is disappears for a while, then reforms and has to spend some time regenerating its Essence.

A lot of text is spent reassuring readers that M20 doesn't want to make any authoritative statements about the nature of real-world religions as they relate to M20's spirits; "We’re not here to tell you how to believe or to force a religion (or the lack of one) down your throat. Maybe all spirits really are aliens or angels or demons or archetypes. That’s your call to make, not ours." Then it goes on to describe how there are three really important spirits; the Essential Divinity, the essential divine that's every, the Godhead, which are representation/personifications of the Essential Divinity, and The Adversary, spirit-Satan. For a game that doesn't want to force religion down the throats of its readers, it has metaphysics heavily rooted in Christianity.

Peeking ahead at the chapter containing actual spirit writeups, Spirits can become ridiculously though. Spirits soak damage with their Willpower, which is typically at least 5; 7 and 8 is not unusual. Most mages soak with Stamina, averaging 2 and reaching a usual maximum of 5. One Charm lets spirits add their Gnosis to their soak, which will roughly double their soak, giving ranges from 10 to 16. Like always, the text is confusing; all forms of damage is the same to spirits, so they soak it all with Willpower, but when they use a Charm to soak with Gnosis, it only applies to Bashing and Lethal unless they pay extra. The text under Rage implies that spirits simply inflict [Rage] dice of damage whenever they attack, no roll to hit necessary, while the text under Spirits in Combat notes that they use Willpower as their to-hit roll.

End of Chapter
Phew! Finally! This was a long and pretty boring chapter, even after I broke it up. It's heavy on rules, which really highlights a major issue with M20's writing. It's supposedly an edition for consolidating all the important game material in one place for ease of use, but the writing is so terrible it can't accomplish this. The rules are poorly written and hard to parse, the rules aren't easy to find, rules are split, sometimes they're repeated unnecessarily, other times they're repeated and contradict each other. Sometimes, like damage in the Digital Web, they're missing. Where Brucato's worldbuilding and lengthy rants were annoying, his inability to write rules makes the game actually unplayable. What a terrible shame it is that OPP decided that they'd release a 20th Anniversary Edition of their game, before they hand it to someone who delivers an unplayable mess.

But then, I really wonder why the hell they decided that they'd give the job of writing M20 to Brucato in the first place, when all of these issues with his writing were already known.

Next: Rules for magick!

LatwPIAT fucked around with this message at 14:52 on Jan 24, 2016

Jan 7, 2015

LatwPIAT posted:

Also the Web drains people's life-force by inflicting on them headaches, obesity, and back pain.

I also assumes it causes bad hygiene and a graving for toritos and Mountain Dew. And transports you into your parent's basement. And forces you to draw original Sonic characters (do not steal). And spend hours each day complaining about pop culture.

Man, I think I've finally found something in Brucato's literary ejaculations that actually amuses me: Nerd - The Geekening, the timeless tragedy of people who are (kinda sorta) all-powerful in their virtual world, but are shunned by the real world because of it. Their power is a curse that turns them into despicable manchildren.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Superiors 2: Dumb Gluttony Tricks

One thing that Gluttons have figured out how to do is cause riots via use of the Consume attunement. One Glutton can do it alone, but more is easier. The trick is using the attunement on enough poeple in the crowd that eventually, mob hysteria breaks out. It's particularly effective in food lines or civilian groups under wartime rationing. Devour's a good trick for destroying evidence, meanwhile, especially with the Numinous Corpus Song of Fangs. You can eat weapons, goods, corpses, the one case, even 20 pounds of C4 just before the cops showed up. Gluttons also tend to have a basic idea of first aid and anatomy, thanks to their need to be able to butcher anything and patch up overindulgent humans. Further, while most of them hate killing their victims, a small grou[ are skilled poisoners and assassins, often working with demons of Technology and Death to keep up in the latest trends in poison. They take it as a point of pride to produce food good enough to get victims to want to eat it. Some demons, particularly Balseraphs and I,pudites, also make a point of learning etiquette from across the world - it's much easier to fit in if you know how to behave at the table, after all. Others master the art of voluntary regurgitation, allowing them to store small objects in their stomachs and vomit them up later with an Agility roll. They are especially fond of combining this with use of the Song of Thunder as a gross joke. Some demons even deliberately fail at using Devour to do this - while it hurts, it does empty them automatically, and can also be used as a last-ditch weapon against someone in front of them.

Balseraphs of Gluttony are so good at convincing others to be gluttons that they can actually impose it as a Discord. MAny of them truly believe that everyone is gluttonous by nature, born and going to die that way. They don't think they're forcing people to do something unnatural, just revealing something inherent in them. Of course, not all of them are gluttonous themseles. They tend to either be gourmands, devouring eveything nearby, or gourmets, indulging themselves only in very specific hungers and ascetic in other matters.

Djinn of Gluttony, despite being Djinn, feel something close to affection for other lguttons. Many of them find it comforting to know how widespread Gluttony is. Besides, it's a safe vice - you destroy the desired object, no risk of attachment. Sensible. They range from the neat to the sloppy, but all of them have some preferred indulgence or food, even if they won't admit it. Many position themselves to be able to indulge regularly, so they won't have to try to find it later. If ordered elsewhere, they get annoyed and grumpy until they can find their pleasure again. Some of them are particularly perverse, believing that the only thorough way of severing an attunement safely is to eat the target.

Calabim of Gluttony see it as a method of destruction. Everything vanishes in the entropy of pure hunger. Their Prince is an example of the devastation of hunger. They rarely care about their appearance, homes, or much of anything but eating and breaking things. They view this as a form of partying. Food is for eating, furniture is for interesting smashing, and everyone else is either a fellow glutton or a target. However, they're rarely deliberately cruel or corruptive. They just follow their own urges for Gluttony and entropy.

Habbalah of Gluttony often see the satisfaction of hunger as a reward, only to be given to the virtuous. As proof, they point to thir ability to excite hunger in others as a punishment. Very few see Gluttony as a positive virtue in others. They are divided between those who see it as a sin in and of itself and thoe whose hold that the worthy can do as they will, even indulge in vice. The first group are ascetics, while the second happily indulge...they're worthy, after all. In either case, they are eager to keep gluttons around them, either to test or torture them. Some enjoy organizing and supervising orgies of consumption but do not partake themselves. Others join in the party, confident that they're the only ones to really deserve it. They tend to despise the people around them, sometimes including other demons, Haagenti or themselves, if they're the ascetic types. They hate themselves and take it out on everyone else.

Lilim of Gluttony tend to think of themselves as artists as well as givers. After all, their power lets them make meals so good that no one can refuse them. They often like to point out that they don't sell their bodies or kill people, they just provide art and beauty. They tend to find it very easy to see themselves as ethical and have large groups of friends. They are, however, often all the more selfish for their comfortable belief in their own niceness. They are nice...until they're refused. At that point, they'll do whatever it takes to get that person out of their way. After all, everyone else likes them, so it's clearly the victim's fault.

Shedim of Gluttony see their Word as the perfect corruption, one they can do with any host. A gluttonous human is a happy one, at least temporarily, and one that is expressing thyeir own true nature. After all, humans are hungry. That's life. Leading them to increasingly indulge is easy, instinctive and tends to stick after they leave. Their understanding of natural vice makes them particularly good at using a host's gluttony against them to drat them. Of course, they do get jaded. Many react to this by learning to cook or getting their hosts to do so, in order to explore taste further. They become gourmets who have particular preferences. Others follow a binge-and-starve cycle, keeping themselves in check by allowing themselves wild orgies of consumption every so often.

Impudites of Gluttony are arrogant, proud demons. They like humans, sure, but their ability to take Essence from them without charming them tends to make them see the concept of charm as unneeded. Humans should adore them by right - they don't need to waste their time being nice. Of course, it doesn't stop them from wanting to look good, but most don't bother with anything but that. Their ability to charm is a weapon, not a general-use tool. The noise of their draining often makes them prone to moving around quickly or finding a way to conceal it, like working at a Tether. If they do charm a victim in order to avoid the Disturbance, it tends to be mercenary rather than out of any desire to avoid the victim becoming hungry.

In Shal-Mari, the main job demons of Gluttony serve is getting Essence from the damned. They work in restaurants of all kinds to sell food for Essence. Some of the more refined or smarter demons provide other luxuries, and some creative demons can produce truly beautiful artwork here, though both the Game and the Fangs watch them closely to be sure they don't try to Redeem. Outside of the food, Gluttons also serve as muscle for Kobalite establishments, staff the Recipe Repository or make a career as property movers for the court of Haagenti, since someone's got to carry all their stuff when Haagenti decides to move on. Shal-Mari's border guard is also disproportionately Gluttons, helped by demonlings or damned souls to stay supplied with snacks.

Haagenti has little interest or patience for the Marches, but he can grasp that making humans dream of food results in more consumption. That means a handful of Gluttons steadily head to the Marches. Beleth is only midlly annoyed by this - food-dreams tend to be nightmares more than happy ones, and so she doesn't go out of her way to have her demons chase down Gluttons...though they can fight if they meet by accident. Occasionally, a skilled and intelligent Glutton will be sent to work with Nightmares in order to fashion a specialty dreamscape. Haagenti doesn't care about ethereals, but he's happy to take tribute from them. Some of his demons can even see use in them as decoys or minions. A few have even headed to the Far Marches to make deals, which would be strongly disapproved of by Beleth and Asmodeus if either knew of it.

On Earth, there are two main jobs. Consume and get humans to consume. The second is actually the more important one - a glutton doesn't need help to commit gluttony, and if all you did was eat, the Word would not spread. Demons who have to persuade humans to eat may provide food or consumer goods to tempt them, typically Lilim, Balseraphs or Impudites. Others persuade humans to overindulge out of pride, false beliefs on health or an urge to get a bargain. Balseraphs and Shedim are best here. Some act as public examples, inspiring humans to similar acts or acting as public proof of the goods of self-indulgence. Calabim enjoy partying, and Lilim, Balseraphs, Habbalah and Impudites do well in higher-status roles. Tethers also need guarding, particularly by Djinn or Calabim, and Shedim are sent to corrupt specific targets or ensure they do specific actions, unless it'd be easier to just talk to them, in which case anyone can do it. All Earthbound demons are also expected to think up new ways for humans to indulge, and any demon that can have a really great idea will receive great recognition.

The Feeders are those demons of Gluttony whose job is to ensure Haagenti never stops eating. They bring him souls, Forces, food, anything he can stuff in his maw. More experienced Feeders work to find exotic foods or the work of the best chefs. Haagenti especially loves the taste of endangered species, which makes these Feeders despised by angels of Jordi. One special team is kept entirely secret. See, Haagenti liked eating Meserach and Mariel so much that he wants other Superiors. It'd be unwise to attack a Prince right now, though, and Archangels aren't easy to get. In a flash of genius, Haagenti decided to search for traces of any Prince believed dead or vanished, such as the former Prince of Disease, Makatiel, who destroyed by Dominic and Asmodeus, or the former Prince of Rpaine, Genubath, who vanished when Valefor took power. These demons are dedicated researchers and detectives, hiding their existence expertly because no Prince would be happy to learn that Haagenti dreams of devouring more of them.

Next time: The problems of Gluttony

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Superiors 2: Food For Thought

When a Glutton no longer feels the hunger, when the stress gets to them...well, some of them just use calculated stupidity and obsession. It works, if you can handle being that dumb. Pay no attention to the odds or the situation, enjoy yourself, fele no stress. The stupider demons are good at this and tend to be able to remain focused on the job for a very long periods, ignoring stress and not thinking about danger. This can frustrate angels that are trying to stop them. Smarter gluttons tend to make allies, starting out with bribes but eventually making genuine friends. They find this tends to help them destress by having people to watch their backs or giving them fresh perspectives from outside. That's really useful for a jaded Glutton. However, they can shift quickly between affection and indifference. They love their food, but only when it's in front of them. They don't sympathize with it. Likewise, they may genuinely feel deep fellowship one day and abandon a friend that can't keep up the next. They also tend to destress by binging on food.

Gluttons are quite easy to get along with and often enjoy parties. They're cheerful and like to see others enjoying consumption as well. Many other demons, however, find them stupid and focused on the flesh. Demons of Haagenti know and resent this, and many of the dumber ones deliberately play to stereotype, doing their best to disgust others when they sense they're being looked down on. Smarter ones learn restraint and caution, surprising those who believe all Gluttons are idiots. Generally speaking, they get on quite well with the rest of Shal-Mari and the Media. Nybbas' demons like to popularize Gluttonous fads, and Gluttons like being famous. Despite the feud between Haagenti and Andrealphus, Gluttony and Lust can get along quite well as long as they aren't trying to control the same people. Freedom's temps are also easy to work with if you can negotiate.

Technology, the War, Factions and Nightmares are happy to use Gluttons but do not often view them as friends or equals. The Gluttons may resent this but will cooperate if they gain from it...though if the other demons try to take command, they can be very unruly subordinates. Demons of Fate and the Game see demons of Haagenti as sensualists, weak and stupid. I nreturn, the Gluttons view them as boring, ineffectually and mindlessly strict. Cooperation typically needs to be enforced by threat. Theft, on the other hand, is convenient, but distrusted, since they'll as easily steal from you as for you. Demons of Death are occasionally allies and occasionally foes, depending on circumstance. Generally speaking, Gluttons will take offense if a Death demon murders one of their human friends. As for demons of Fire, there's always hostility on some level.

Both gourmets and gourmands have the same objective: obsession with food. The gourmand may shovel down cheap foods while the gourmet lightly pecks at exotic dishes, but in the end, they obsess over their tastes to the exclusion of all else. While the stereotype of Gluttony is gourmands, favoring quantity to quality, that's not all of them. There are gourmets in their ranks, and sometimes Haagenti himself demands the rare and unusual to tempt his jaded tastes. In their worst moments, these demons combine the worst aspects of both, demanding unusual food in extreme quantity. Haagenti may not be good at explaining it in words, but he and his demons know that both of these kinds of gluttony help, and work to inspire both.

Servitors of Haagenti do not get dissonance for failing to be personally gluttonous unless he inflicts it personally. Rather, they fail to spread it among humans. Gluttony is entropic and increasing. What was enough before isn't now, and now won't be enough later. All demons of Gluttony must thus work to increase the number of souls affected by the Word, manifesting as a need to force a human to Consume every few days or suffer dissonance. Gluttony is contagious, spreading among the souls of humanity and destroying their will. In Hell, Gluttons have the same dissonance condition, with time passing measurable in their natural Essence gain, but they have little difficulty fulfilling it by inflicting hunger on the Damned.

Typically, demons of Haagenti have little trouble with their dissonance condition. They tend to enjoy pushing humans to consume - everyone, after all, should be gluttonous. The problem is that use of the Consume attunement can be obvious, bringing attention down on you. If you're assigned to a small town or confined area, you may well run out of convenient subjects, particularly if they start to resist. You can deliberately gain dissonance by choosing not to use Consume, but you'd better have a good reason if questioned. If you can demonstrate that it would have endangered you, that might work...but only if it would've also disrupted Haagenti's operations, not just risked your life. On the other hand, if you just didn't want to force humans to Consume, well...better not get caught.

Next time: Kobal

Nov 8, 2011

My apologies if I missed it somewhere already, but are these DX supplements available to buy anywhere? Cause this all sounded great and someday I'm gonna play the poo poo out of this game.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

LornMarkus posted:

My apologies if I missed it somewhere already, but are these DX supplements available to buy anywhere? Cause this all sounded great and someday I'm gonna play the poo poo out of this game.

They're on DriveThru and IPR.

Nov 8, 2011

Evil Mastermind posted:

They're on DriveThru and IPR.

Ooo, thanks much.

Edit: Ah, and they got over their aversion to PDFs, awesome. Guess I know where a big chunk of my next paycheck is going.

LornMarkus fucked around with this message at 18:24 on Jan 24, 2016

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012


LatwPIAT posted:


This is a pretty great typo!

Also, it takes like an hour tops to find out the general armament of real modern tanks and similar stuff. This is one of those persistent problems with """rules light""" systems that nevertheless want to plop huge lists of gun porn in front of you. Tons of authors seem to want to do this but without going to the pretty minimal effort of not being totally wrong at it.

Dec 24, 2007

Evil Mastermind posted:

They're on DriveThru and IPR.

Hard copies also on Amazon and some stores stock them as well.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

That Old Tree posted:

Also, it takes like an hour tops to find out the general armament of real modern tanks and similar stuff. This is one of those persistent problems with """rules light""" systems that nevertheless want to plop huge lists of gun porn in front of you. Tons of authors seem to want to do this but without going to the pretty minimal effort of not being totally wrong at it.

Really the '90s was a time where "storytelling!" and "rules light!" often were just an excuse not to test anything, because pffft what kind of a philistine are you that let yourself be bound by the rules, amirite?

Oct 17, 2007

Here I am coming, with the good news of me, and you hate it. You can think only of the bell and how much I have it, and you are never the goose. I will run around with my bell as much as I want and you will make despair.


I just broke Mors's In Nomine review into multiple writeups (by book) so I could put the trigger warning on just the demon princes book. I should be up to date with everything in the thread now (except TORG; if someone wants to do me a favor and collect the list of posts since the writeup was rebooted, that'll help lots).

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011


This seems relevant:


...that's not how the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle works. It's actually rather noticeable that every single time Brucato says something about science, he says something that is at worst plain wrong and at best just incredibly stupid. It ranges from this example here and his claims about mass and acceleration, to the claims that the universe being made from a viscous superfluid validates the aether theory and that tying ancient Sumerian prophecies into recent papers on string theory is in any way profound (it actually just makes one sound like a conspiracy theorist).

Th last thing I want in my game about reality warping mages fighting secret battles is conspiracy theories. I feel like you need a pinch of 'but what if new developments in science make it all true, maaan?' to really capture the tone of 90s sources like Snow Crash and The Invisisbles. I read two separate comics that referenced Julian Jaynes' fringe theories on the bicameral mind. The trick is to put in references to fun, interesting bullshit that encourage further reading.

I'm more bothered by the gun/tank porn - I never got statting that kind of thing up. Make things as powerful as they need to be for the story you want to tell, so a tank could be a massive endboss or just canon-fodder if your Mages really want to go to town. 90 stats for individual guns are less powerful than the idea of a Shotgun or a Revolver. The whole thing should be way more rules-lite and freeform anyway, since the magic system gives players such a high degree of narrative control.

I'm bugged by how Mages apparently can't ride a motorcycle or handle their drugs, but weed making Time magic easier is a detail I always appreciated.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 20:24 on Jan 24, 2016

Feb 13, 2012

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

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Really RPGs are a time where "storytelling!" and "rules light!" often are just an excuse not to test anything, because pffft what kind of a philistine are you that let yourself be bound by the rules, amirite?

This is accurate. Not for all rules light systems, but it's still accurate.

I mean rules heavy systems don't test much either. Effective playtesting is a too-rare thing in RPGs.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

LornMarkus posted:

My apologies if I missed it somewhere already, but are these DX supplements available to buy anywhere? Cause this all sounded great and someday I'm gonna play the poo poo out of this game.

It's extremely hard to find the core rules in physical form but just about everything else is freely available.

Night10194 posted:

This is accurate. Not for all rules light systems, but it's still accurate.

I mean rules heavy systems don't test much either. Effective playtesting is a too-rare thing in RPGs.

Well, it was particularly true of '90s White Wolf, there supplements generally saw no playtesting and even had a few writers who were just pure theorycrafters and didn't even play the games they were writing for. There's a weird combination of wanting rules for everything during that time because there's an acknowledgement that people wanted them but with the attitude of "if you actually need rules for anything, real GMs use their *imagination*".

Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!

That reminds me: how are you supposed to use the character creation tables that have 11 entries?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

I don't think there's an official answer, but I roll 1d12-1 when necessary, myself.

Jan 7, 2015

LornMarkus posted:

Ooo, thanks much.

Edit: Ah, and they got over their aversion to PDFs, awesome. Guess I know where a big chunk of my next paycheck is going.

Excellent. Spread the Renegade!

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Really the '90s was a time where "storytelling!" and "rules light!" often were just an excuse not to test anything, because pffft what kind of a philistine are you that let yourself be bound by the rules, amirite?

Though even with the "rules light" excuse, I have to wonder why a game about reality-bending wizard dudes requires writeups for several kinds of tanks. What's next? Submarines?

ThisIsNoZaku posted:

That reminds me: how are you supposed to use the character creation tables that have 11 entries?

Roll a d12 and reroll 12s?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Superiors 2: It Does You Good To Laugh

Kobal is Hell's jester, beloved by Lucifer and allowed to say what none other can. He is brother to Haagenti and now growing jaded and bored.

Kobal's symbol.

Farce of Mistaken Identity is a Servitor attunement allowing you to spend 2 Essence and make a Will roll to masquerade as someone else for (CD) minutes in any one aspect - voice, appearance, smell, etc. Victims resist with Perception at a penalty of (Corporeal Forces), and Seraphim of Destiny or any Cherub attuned to either you or the person you're mimicking automatically resist. The effect works if recorded on tape or film.
Now THAT'S A Punch Line lets you spend 1 Essence to tell a joke and make a Will roll. The target must resist with Will at a penalty of (Celestial Forces) or be stunned for a moment. The higher the CD, the longer the stun, but it's up to the GM how long.
Rant of Scorn allows you to instantly determine a person or item someone respects or cherishes, then devise an improvisational satire on that thing, planting a seed of scorn in the victim. They must make a Will roll, penalized by (Celestial Forces), or be forced to laugh at something they once loved.
Secretly Replaced allows you spend 2 Essence and make a Will roll to substitute one item for another as long as they are similar in some way - a diamond and a shard of glass, an apple and an orange, even a window and a door. Victims resist with a Perception roll at a penalty of (Celestial Forces) to notice for (CD) hours, though Seraphim of Destiny and any Cherub attuned to the target or the substitute resist automatically.
Kobal's higher Distinctions do not offer any additional powers, but do give rank. His Marquises are veterans, generally in charge of operations, while Counts oversee up to five Marquises. Counts are either extremely skilled or extremely stupid - Kobal's been known to promote demons far above their competence to watch them crash and burn. Kobal has only four Dukes. Three of them oversee Hell, the Marches or Earth, and the fourth is his personal secretary. Occasionally, he names a fifth Duke, who has always been destroyed in a funny way.
Kobal can teach the Songs of Laughter, Numinous Corpus: Mouth, Correspondence, Fruition and Pestilence.

Expanded Rites:
1. Cause a humorously improbable fatal 'accident.'
2. Force someone to confess an embarrassing personal secret in front of an audience.
3. Convince someone to make a wildly inappropriate spectacle of themselves.

Before the Fall, Kobal was the Angel of Laughter, a Word covering release of tension, fondness between friends and mirthful joy. God selected him to perform a special mission, which he would not discuss. At first, Kobal served well, but as the years went on, he became frustrated by humanity's perverse sense of humor. They often denied joy and seemed to enjoy suffering, preferring to laugh at each other rather than together. Laughter began to change by their actions, and Kobal had no idea how to prevent it. He began to hate humanity for its control over him and his Word. He was one of the first and most eager of Lucifer's recruits, scorning God's plan for him and fighting savagely to prove angelic superiority. When he and his fellow rebels were cast down, he believed that he finally got the joke - and it was on him. He laughed until he cried tears of fire, and from that day on, he swore no one would ever get the better of him again.

Lucifer named Kobal a Prince to counter Yves and Destiny. Dark Humor, Lucifer thought, would foil the bright futures of humanity and rob them of hope by showing them that life was a cosmic, cruel joke. Kobal took the Word and job happily, and his new Word mirrored his feelings on the worth of humanity. At first, he reveled in his freedom, enjoying his work deeply. He kept an eye out for likeminded demons, and soon spotted the potential in the demon Haagenti, at first only to amuse himself by making an uncouth demon part of Hell's elite. However, it didn't take long to realize that Haagenti could be more than a cheap joke. Kobal was delighted with his rise and continues to both secretly and openly support his 'brother.' However, Haagenti's success has not distracted Kobal from his growing problem. Kronos has been amassing power since he appeared, has stolen the most important task of Dark Humor and has taken over that which Lucifer left to Kobal. It has not gone well with Kobal. Engineering the rise of Haagenti helped him stave of ennui for a time, but now, he broods again, trying to devise the perfect joke to throw himself back into prominence. Nothing seems funny any more, and it takes greater and greater suffering and destruction to get any rise out of him. He can't erase the nagging doubt he has that he's once more the butt of the joke.

Kobal's frequent visits to a Shal-Mari demon-exclusive comedy club, Laugh Till It Hurts, are now the talk of Shal-Mari. It is run by the demon Thratch, Demon of Snappy Comebacks You Only Think of After It's Too Late, and it is now a forum for those hoping to impress their Prince. Some of the acts are good, but most are terrible. No one is sure when Kobal will show up or why he keeps coming. Thratch doesn't mind and knows better than to ask questions.

Kobal's Word contains irony, satire, misdirection and mistaken identity. Though often weary of it, Kobal still serves his Word and makes it the center of all of his plans. He doesn't spread happiness, but hatred, scorn and intolerance. He has a refined and educated sense of humor, preferring cunning and subtle schemes. He typically has no patience for low humor unless it furthers his plans. He holds nothing sacred, not even his Word, but only he is allowed to make jokes about it without risk. Anyone else had better hope their joke amuses him. He tends to avoid obvious targes - he just smiles to show he gets the joke and then moves on. His restraint, patience and seemingly lightweight Word mean he is one of the most underestimated Princes. However, he is extremely clever and the freedom granted him by Lucifer is unrivaled in all of Hell. He can get away with things no one else can even think about. For example, he once had his demons randomize all of Asmodeus' files, which took years to recover from. Lucifer apparently just smiled.

In public, Kobal still pretends to be devil-may-care. Privately, though, nothing enrages him more than seeing someone use an opening he missed or beat him at his own game. The thought he hates most is 'I wish I'd thought of that first.' Kobal works indirectly, lacking the strength to beat Baal and having too much tact to be so forthright as Beleth. He prefers to see his demons manipulate others as well - it's funny to corrupt someone, but funnier to get them to corrupt themselves.

Kobal's introspection began when Kronos was made a Prince, and Prince of Fate, no less. It stole Kobal's most important responsibility, and Kobal felt betrayed by it. Kronos grew quickly and was so effective that Kobal has been unable to reclaim any of the duties he lost. Some believe Lufier meant this all along, and that if anyone knows what plan God had for Kobal, it would be Kronos or Yves. Clearly, then, Kronos is right to oppose Kobal and keep him from power. There's never been enough open hostility for wa,rh owever, and Kobal's hatred of Asmodeus is much more blatant. Kobal knows Kronos is more powerful, and Kronos holds back for some reason.

Kobal's greatest project in a thousand years was the rise of Haagenti. Others see the Prince of Gluttony as a simpleton, easily manipulated. Kobal assures them they are correct, that he'll never realize he's been a tool all his life. Then he goes back to his office and laughs endlessly. He has plans for Haagenti, but has told no one. They remain close allies and appear to trust each other deeper than any Prince would ever dare.

Kobal is bored and has settled, now that he has only the job of serving his Word, on ending the War. He considers the constant war a bad joke with a boring punch line. He plans now for the Big Joke, some plan that will make Lucifer laugh - and even force all the other Princes to join in. He is at turns amused and disappointed by the stalemate that Hell seems to be in, and he has decided it is finesse that will end the War. While he'd never admit it, he sometimes doesn't care which side wins, just so long as the War ends. He now seeks relics, plots and actions that can alter the balance of power. He has turned from a status quo Prince to a closet activist, but he remains cautious. He wants to be able to deny his responsibility if he fails, and take unquestioned credit if he succeeds. It's not an easy balance. He's tired of being underestimated, despite spending eons ensuring he was. He wants more respect, to be noticed. Kobal's fellow Princes have yet to realize he's now interested in the War as a whole, rather than just his Word and Hellish politics. They continue to understimate him, and it's boring. His final goal is to overcome all that boredom that's set in these past few centuries. He knows it's ironic for him to be bored with jokes, and in his darkerm oments, he wonders if someone has turned the joke on him. He always tells himslef he's just tired of the War and of being a mere jester. Once he finds the Big Joke, it'll all get better.

Kobal has many potential foes - he's played jokes on a whole lot of people and others don't think he can take things seriously. Despite this, he's an excellent politician, an old Impudite Prince who knows how to smooth over ruffled feathers and make deals to protect himself. He isn't reckless and won't perform suicidal plans, even funny ones. He schemes in private, sekeing alliances only when it helps him or is especially funny. He is by nature a diplomat, though he tends to provoke extreme reactions - few are indifferent to Kobal. While the Princes may curse him, they find him useful, and he's good at making them blame each other. He's also one of the wealthiest Princes, Essence-wise, which makes him a good ally.

Superior Opinions posted:

Andrealphus: Human lust certainly can be amusing at times, I'll grant you that, but Kobal tends to use it as a one-trick pony. There's a great deal more to the sins of the flesh than slamming doors and hiding in coat-closets, after all.
It's amusing that someone so obsessed with one sort of contact should be so averse to any other sort of contact: contradictions are part of the best jokes. He produces such delightful comedies of manners and heartbreak, all with the human body as a stage and motivation.
Asmodeus: He seems to think that he can play by his own set of rules in the Game. I doubt he quite realizes just how wrong he is about that. When the time comes, though, I will be there to help him remember the rules in Hell. [pause] I owe him a special favor, as well.
It's almost too easy. He's so full of himself, so puffed up with his own importance that I just have to poke a few holes to deflate him. But then he spoils the game anyway, because he just doesn't get it.
Baal: I don't think he's a concern of mine. I stay out of his way, and he'd best know enough to stay out of mine. I deal with serious business daily, and he just laughs. I've no time to waste on foolishness.
War can be a gas...just ask the Germans! Oh, I slay me. But Baal is incapable of appreciatin a good joke; he even said the Children's Crusade was pointless! No sense of humor, won't incorporate any of my best ideas into his plans.
Beleth: Kobal is a weakling and a buffoon who is far too easy on humanity, causing them to shake with laughter rather than quake with fright. He thinks that his petty malice and hokes mean something. Some day he will understand true fear.
Well, she's a little spy, you know...and I think she wastes the Marches. The potential there is so...ahhh, but nobody would even get it. I tried once, to work with her. Never again; she said that I was being kind to humanity. And when I was there in her realm...she was poking around. No, no fun. None at all.
Belial: He's a wet noodle, slimy and soft. He would be consumed in an instant in the bold heat of my plans. Someone should light a fire under him.
This guy has a burning desire to really cook my goose. I can't understand what inspires him to flame me, but at the same time I'm sympathetic to his combustible personality. I myself at times indulged in in-sin-diary tactics. Just because I don't necessarily hold a torch for Gabriel doesn't mean I'm not sensitive to the boiling point of Belial's nature. And he does have balls. Fire balls of course - what were you thinking?
Haagenti: The only other reason to open my mouth, aside from eating, is to laugh at Kobal's jokes. Once, he made me laugh so hard that French fries came out my nose. Mmmm, French fries. Maybe with chili and cheese and sour cream and [trails off into indistinct gurgling noises].
Dear, dear brother Haagenti...our brother princes laugh at you, and at me for supporting you. I've worked for centuries to set up this punchline, but it won't be much longer.
Kronos: He tried to do my job, and is bitter that I've done it better. He had his chance and couldn't live up to it. When the time is right, he, too, will meet his proper Fate.
No sense of irony. No sense of real pathos. Just lots of knowledge, the keys to the whole orchestra, and no clue. He doesn't get it. Frankly, he's in the way, an accident waiting to be finished. [Smiles wickedly] That'll be good for a laugh.
Lilith: He's always been a free thinker, willing to flit from idea to idea, and I value that. He's not bound by reality; no plan seems too outrageous to him. He also knows how to repay his debts, good or bad. Another admirable quality.
She's got a sense of humor, sure, but she rarely tells you what's so funny. I think she's laughing on the inside more than she ever lets on. Got to admit, the joke was on Heaven the day they let her get away!
Malphas: Kobal has an air of sophistication and intelligence that I sometimes find so lacking in othe Princes. Though he doesn't always share my vision, he can sow tiny seeds with his Word that bear bitterly divisive fruit. He and I work well together.
Oh, yes, he gets the joke - or rather, he provides the butts of the jokes. Every time somebody makes fun of someone else, we're building a new faction, and every time there's a new division, there are new groundds for humor... Wall of words, my friend, wall of words.
Nybbas: When it comes to chuckles, nobody does it better than Hell's head chucklehead. He's got his Word down to a true art form. It's just too bad so many of his plans end up with a dead lead actor. No sequels then, baby! Major bummer.
Nybbas shows some promise, but he's far too proccupied with flash and glitz rather than the dirt and grit where true comedy lives. He's happy to show, rather than do - a serious flaw.
Saminga: Kobal told me that death is the last pure form of comedy, but all paths through his humor lead to my realm. He works with me, chuckles occasionally at some trifle, and misses the really important end: death. After all, if they die laughing, they're just as dead.
The joke is often on him, I fear. But he's got a great sense of fatal irony. Death, pain, fear - comedy is about death, pain and fear. Saminga sits at the heart of the good stuff, and manages to be pretty funny himself without meaning to.
Valefor: Some of my best thefts have been in concert with Kobal. He's got a sense of style I admire, and I appreciate the way that he can steal dignity from humanity in an instant, usually right from under their own noses. That's a real theft.
Useful only as a passing gag. Valefor and his Servitors are about as reliable as Lucifer's promises. Better to take advantage from him than be taken advantage of.
Vapula: Kobal is flighty and quirky, and I don't have the patience for his sense of humor. He seems to value my inventions only for his crackpot schemes. His jokes don't really test the mortals; they just annoy them. Not good enough. We don't need weak Princes.
Ah. Technology. He gives mortals the power of angels and never realizes the irony; his eyes are blinded by science. But his Word is the wave of the future, and I need him as an ally.
Blandine: Scorn, mockery, ridicule. These are not the things of dreams; they belong more to Beleth than me. Kobal does not understand what his Word does to humanity and for that I cannot forgive him.
How noble, how grand. Blandine offers more potential for cruel irony than she realizes. I hope she never does.
David: A prancing jackanapes. He claims a sophisticated sense of humor, but the truth is that he laughs like a hyena. It's a meaningless, animal, predatory noise. All it means is that he's hungry for more suffering.
"We've secretly replaced David with a Habbalite painted black. Let's see if anyone notices." My Servitors like to help his Servitors overestimate a human's endurance. A Stony gets this priceless expression on his face when he realizes he's pushed a human over the edge into ruin or damnation.
Dominic: He was trusted by God, trusted with a task no Archangel was given. And now, iti s lost. And he is lost.
You know, it's funny. Who's up there with secrets and plots and suspicions? A Seraph. What happens to Seraphim who keep secrets and start fibbing about their plots?
Eli: The guy needs to cut people some slack, man. He never knows when to stop with the cutting comments. I remember when he was one of the good guys, and he was pretty cool then. What the heck happened?
It's only a matter of time before the "Archangel" of Creation joins us. He's already cheerily disillusioned with Heaven...given a chance, I'm sure I could finish the job.
Gabriel: I will not abid his cruelty. His constant torture of others stokes the fires of my anger. He thinks his comedy grand, but it is really empty of life and vigor. Tired. He should be extinguished.
How amusing that Fire doesn't catch my spark. No matter, I've a special spot burning just for her... Pathetically simple to manipulate - all the better to mock you with, my dear.
Janus: His schemes and plots don't amount to much more than breezes through the trees. He's a free thinker; too bad he has such bad jokes.
Flighty and unpredictable. What his role is in the War, I have yet to determine. By the way...have you ever seen Janus and Valefor in the same room together? Me neither.
Jean: I am at a loss to understand his concept of humor. This is odd, because I have studied several statistically valid samples of his work. Regardless, he should be avoided when possible.
If anyone needs a life, it's this sad-sack of an angel. Jean would rather read reports and study electrons than get out and enjoy a decent laugh.
Jordi: Kobal and his ilk are the same people who laugh while family pets are run over in the driveway. They make me sick.
Sometimes I wonder if Jordi can grasp any human emotion. Anything with fur and more than two legs is good? Yeah. Maybe for dinner with a nice white wine sauce.
Laurence: What have we to fear from this laughing buffoon? Kobal can only threaten those who are insecure. The Holy Spirit is a shield against scorn and mockery.
So, God's on Generalissimo Number Three...they seem to have staffing problems up there. Anyone who takes himself as seriously as this boy does is just begging to have a "Kick Me!" sign pasted on his back. And you know, that's not a bad idea...
Marc: Sarcasm and ridicule do not build trust among people. He and his underlings make my job a lot more difficult. Delicate business negotiations and top-level trade meetings can fail because of the wrong word, the wrong gesture. I can hardly find anything amusing about that.
I think Marc's halo is too tight. Comedy isn't about building anything! Besides, money can't buy you happiness, but it sure is good for a few chuckles.
Michael: Kobal is a corruption of the human spirit, and he steals their hopes of victory, of success, of anything - he destroys a warrior's spirit with despair and mockery. He's more of a threat than he seems.
Poor Michael. Poor, poor Michael. In his stubbornness and blind integrity, he goes on struggling and perpetuating this inane War, mirroring Baal till the two are a matched joke. He achieves nothing, and he only continues to cause humanity pain by making them live in the middle of his War. I could laugh. But after millennia, it grows stale.
Novalis: Caustic words salt the ground of friendship and trust, and even bitter fruit must be a difficult harvest to stomach year after year. He was able to share God's gift once, but is he really lost?
Sometimes I think the bleeding heart act is a sucker ploy, but if it is, the Archangel of Flowers is playing a pretty good role. The goody-two-shoes sure make it more fun to play our little reindeer games.
Yves: Only God and Kobal know what his special task is about; even I only have an inkling. All will be revealed according to God's wishes, of course, but I can't help feeling Kobal has squandered so much of his potential. A true shame. I miss him.
Wise as Yves claims to be, he still can't quite manage to figure it all out. Babbling about the greatest Destiny and the highest potential... Can't he see that it's all in vain? Such a waste.
Humanity: The little pieces on our chessboard. Sometimes they're clever. Usually they're stupid, but still more interesting than demons. What can I say? I like playing with my food. But Earth just isn't fun any more, and I don't know why.
Soldiers of God: Not much more fun than angels. And what do they serve for? Pie in the sky, that's what. Their Halo bosses don't respect them any more than we do.
Hellsworn: Quite useful in some situations, but on the whole they lack the right sense of fun about the whole game we play. At least they usually go quietly, smiling.
Ethereals: Relics and remnants, along with all the other trash in the Marches. When the right time comes, perhaps they may yet prove useful to me. Somehow.
Sorcerers: I laugh m rear end off at these guys. They think they're controlling Hell. It's soooo much fun to see how far you can take them and how high you can build them up.

Next time: It hurts to laugh

Nov 8, 2011

Alien Rope Burn posted:

It's extremely hard to find the core rules in physical form but just about everything else is freely available.

Oh I'm good on that, I bought the physical back when the original review rolled through the thread.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Doresh posted:

Though even with the "rules light" excuse, I have to wonder why a game about reality-bending wizard dudes requires writeups for several kinds of tanks. What's next? Submarines?

Look, you have to have rules about how you can pwn tanks with your rad magic powers, so you can brag to friends about how your character could totally turn a tank into a flower pot. It's important!

Dec 22, 2007


The Demon of Snappy Comebacks You Only Think of After It's Too Late is fantastic. I assume it was just L'Esprit de L'Escalier in French.

Aug 23, 2009

I've had fever dreams more consistent and logical than M20.

Nov 6, 2011

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

They needed a better writer for Kobal... He's not funny. (Unless that's part of the joke? But this feels like it was written by somebody who doesn't actually understand comedy)

Nov 6, 2011

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

To elaborate, I think that Kobal works better not as the Joker, but as an unfunny hack who's been crowned the King of Comedy despite telling the same racist, sexist, dick-and-fart jokes for centuries. Like a demonic Adam Sandler, with Haagenthi his Kevin James.

Simian_Prime fucked around with this message at 02:31 on Jan 25, 2016

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

There seem to be strong hints that Kobal may be arranging for Haagenti to ascend as the Archangel of Prosperity. That would be pretty funny. And the joke would be on every one of the other demon princes.

The Lone Badger fucked around with this message at 02:32 on Jan 25, 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.

The Lone Badger posted:

There seem to be strong hints that Kobal may be arranging for Haagenti to ascend as the Archangel of Prosperity. That would be pretty funny. And the joke would be on every one of the demon princes.

He ascends to Heaven wearing cargo shorts.

Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case

It seems to me like the effective way to play Kobal is more about Schadenfreude that Dark Humor-- he represents the small part of human nature that finds glee in the suffering of others, that lacks empathy and callously distances himself from situations so he can laugh. Kind of like Andre, but with situations instead of relationships. What makes him sinister is that he believes in disregarding the bonds that tie us together in society in favor of taking spiteful joy in others' sorrow.

It falls a little flat because they really are trying to write him as the Joker, and the Joker comes across as a total goofball when he's not being written well. Kobal could be sinister, but instead he's just hammy.

Nov 6, 2011

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


It seems to me like the effective way to play Kobal is more about Schadenfreude that Dark Humor-- he represents the small part of human nature that finds glee in the suffering of others, that lacks empathy and callously distances himself from situations so he can laugh. Kind of like Andre, but with situations instead of relationships. What makes him sinister is that he believes in disregarding the bonds that tie us together in society in favor of taking spiteful joy in others' sorrow.

Kobal as "the final episode of Seinfeld".

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Basically that's what I got with the first blurb, that's he's a badly written Joker. It's really hard to do a thing on dark humor as humor is largely subjective, and the "Thinks about" blurb really hones in the write doesn't understand what makes something funny, I had to skip it after the terrible stream of fire puns. A pun at it's most effectively is to be used with a precision, surgical strike, instead of carpet-bombing everyone.

Jul 24, 2013

Grimey Drawer

I kind of like the idea that Kobal is just going through the motion now as the entire war has turned into a joke that is no longer funny any more. That could actually be a fun angle to play him, the comedian who has finally decided to end this war one way or another as the worst jokes are the ones that are dragged out for too long.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine

Kobal is bored and doesn't want to even be here (the metaphysical here of being a demon prince and engaging in his word), but by god he's contracted to this show. He's not putting any effort into it and just going through the motions of his routine, the worst kind of comedy.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Superiors 2: The Best Medicine

Kobal is lucky that Lucifer has a strong and complex sense of humor. It lets him get away with things no one else could. After eons, he has a pretty good idea of what the Lightbringer will let him get away with, and he doesn't push those boundaries often. While he depends on Lucifer as his protector, he also knows that Lucifer isn't as strong as God. He privately questions Lucifer's ability to ever beat Heaven - after all, he witnessed Lucifer get hurled from Heaven by Michael.

However, Kobal considers the Host to be an army of humorless, self-righteous drones who lack timing, spontaneity and appreciation for a good prank. They can't act independently, are far too serious and, he's certain, wouldn't last a day in Shal-Mari. He's as cynical about God as all other things. In his earliest days he was an idealist, and as a new Prince he was violent and bitter. Now, Kobal believes God is largely irrelevant. If He cares, it sure doesn't show. God did give him a special mission which he won't speak of, though. Lucifer might know something or might not.

Kobal founded Shal-Mari when he was made a Prince. Over time, it became a way to build alliances. He invited Andrealphus in, and Lilith called in a Geas to build the Guildhall of Free Lilim - though the joke was that he wanted her there anyway. He's helped Haagenti get settled, as well as a few minor princes, like Fleurity, Habbalite Prince of Drugs and Mammon, Balseraph Prince of Greed. Shal-Mari is renowned for corruption and intrigue, but most of that takes place at low levels. Its rulers get far more out of cooperation, most of the time. Kobal has owned the stages of Shal-Mari since long before Nybbas was made. EVen after his rise, Dark Humor controls most of the cineplexes and theaters in Shal-Mari. Kobal has entertainments for everyone, shading them to the tastes of the demons in each district. Nybbas sometimes tries to start Media theaters, but Kobal only allows a few, and only as long as they're less popular than his. Usually this isn't hard - the damned of Shal-Mari prefer Kobal's comedy to the sitcoms and soap operas of the Media.

Kobal's palace looks like a modern skyscraper. He keeps it perfectly plain and sedate, as he appreciates the irony of the contrast between it and him. He lives out of the penthouse office, overlooking all of Shal-Mari. The office is tastefully appointed with leather and mahogany, and one of the walls has posters of human works that Kobal appreciates most. He keeps his demons' Hearts in the basement, along with his relic collection. They are watched over by a number of powerful Djinn with no real love for pranks, except on intruders.

Most of Kobal's Tethers mark a spot of special tribute to Dark Humor, some event htat was ironic, funny or satirical. He has one of the few Antarctic Tethers, at the final campsite of the Scott expedition. Others include Stanford University's football stadium, the grave of President Harrison and the school named after him. More notable is the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, the site of the death of General George Custer. By itself, the massacre of Custer's force would have gone to Baal or Saminga's Words, but because Custer became a martyr in his attempt to slaughter natives, because he was seen as a noble victim, it became a source of deep irony. Over the years, many, as Kobal did, have come to see it as funny. It's unclear when this became worthy of a Tether, but Kobal was the only Prince to claim it, and the irony has only grown over time. The Seneschal is Ert, a Habbalite who works as a park ranger named Duane Custer (no relation) that appears a a friendly older man who loves to give advice and is usually the first on the scene when someone has a flat tire, empty gas tank, failed breaks or a horrible crash.

Kobal gives his demons wide latitude in their plans. His Dukes and Counts each have their own styles, but none of them are micromanagers - Kobal won't allow it. In large cities, Kobalites tend to work in small cells or solo operations. Occasionally, though, Kobal will set them against each other, and the ambitious knwo that making fools of their competition is a good way to rise. All Kobal really wants, though, is for his demons to tip him off when something big or funny is going down. He values demons who can learn his tastes, and he prefers very intelligent ones. Most Princes dislike cleverness and ambition in servants, but Kobal isn't worried. He's confident in his skills and that the selfishness of his demons will unmask anyone who genuinely wants to betray him. Usually, he's right, and many of his best recruits are poached from other Princes, distrusted by their original bosses for their intellect. His organization is more effective and efficient, pound for pound, than any other group in Hell. Sure, they'll undercut each other, but they appreciate their freedom and usually save their worst tricks for other Princes' servants. Of course, there are plots and betrayals. Kobal generally responds to truly treacherous demons by temporarily making them a Duke and then seeing to it that they die.

Kobal recognizes effort and likes interesting rewards. Beside Words and attunements, he also likes to hand out bonus Essence, free trips through Shal-Mari, celebrity lookalike vessels or allowing demons to star in a theatrical production in Hell. His punishments, however, are harsh and often fatal. A failure due to luck usually gets a punishment in the form of a difficult mission, which you either survive and prove yourself in or die. Sometimes these tests aren't even funny. Should you fail and make Kobal lose face or ruin his joke, though, you suffer. Mere carelessness or overenthusiasm won't kill you, but your assignments will suck until Kobal decides you've learned. If he decides you're stupid, though, you die. Typically, it comes disguised a reward. For example, Fulrick was a rising star in Dark Humor until he screwed up a plan to lace London's water supply with hallucinogens using Vapulan GMO fish. Fulrick was taken aside, assured that Kobal was not upset and that he'd even been put up for a Word. He was then named Demon of Pencil Shavings, made a Duke and dropped into Stygia to fend for himself. He lasted a week. Another time, Kobal handed a group of failures a letter and told them to deliver it. If they did, all would be well. It was a message for God, care of Yves, complaining about a lack of air conditioning in Hell. The demons were never heard from again.

KJobal loves recruiting the Fallen. It annoys Asmodeus when he does it without any screening, and annoying Asmodeus is always good. He also appreciates the irony of a Fallen angel coming to their senses. These former angels aren't given special treatment, but they also aren't expendable. Kobal never allows anyone to see them that way - all of his agents are worthy until proven stupid. He also looks for angels not quite Fallen yet that have traits he prizes - intelligence and an appreciation for the satirical. If he finds one, he likes to create an ornate plan to get them to Fall, sometimes using entire squads of demons to ensure the angel gets chances at dissonance. Once the angel nears the point of no return, Kobal often likes to do the hard sell himself, finding that an earnest speech about having once been an angel and understanding is usually effective.

Kobal prefers to get his trainees and demonlings up to speed quickly. They get a few years learning in Shal-Mari, and those who prove good at getting information will generally get called into the office, told they've been watched for a while and now are oging to get to be part of Kobal's most critical plans on Earth. This is of course a lie - it's just a test of competence under stress - but it puts the screws on. The job is never actually as important as it seems, and may not even be real. Of course, if you blow it, you won't get another chance for a long time. If you succeed, the next test is seeing what you do when you find out it was just a test. Laughter is the correct response. If you manage that, you'll be set to real work and have better odds of survival than in most other Princes' organizations.

Next time: The downsides.

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

Taking my post to this thread to avoid derailing the Next thread:

Okay, so 13th Age gets bandied around a lot as a potential alternative to 4th Edition that isn't as heavy as 4th Edition, so I'm not going to go into that any further. There's also BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia D&D, or mechanics-innovating retroclones like Dungeon Crawl Classics and Scarlet Heroes.

One game that I'd like to talk about is Fantasy AGE, which is a game by Chris Pramas and Green Ronin Publishing, notable for their previous work on Mutants and Masterminds, Blue Rose and True20. Fantasy AGE began its life as the Dragon Age RPG, and this is the setting-agnostic book for that system.

In lieu of a full F&F review that I'm never going to finish, I wanted to effortpost about its character creation and core mechanics to highlight what attracted me to it as a more player-friendly, beginner-friendly game.


Roll 3d6 to get a number from 3-18, then assign it, in order, to Accuracy, Communication, Constitution, Dexterity, Fighting, Intelligence, Perception, Strength, and Willpower

Accuracy:         11
Communication:    13
Constitution:     14
Dexterity:         9
Fighting:          8
Intelligence:     11
Perception:        8
Strength:          5
Willpower:         6
From there, derive the ability modifier. The reason they didn't slay this particular D&D-ism is that the ability modifiers are bell-curved. Allow me to demonstrate:

Accuracy:         11, +1
Communication:    13, +2
Constitution:     14, +2
Dexterity:         9, +1
Fighting:          8,  0
Intelligence:     11, +1
Perception:        8,  0
Strength:          5, -1
Willpower:         6,  0
If you tried to do this with any of the WOTC-era D&D's, you'd be screwed over so bad, because a 5 would be something like a -2 modifier, and a 14 is only half as high as it should be for your primary ability.

And then, per the book, you can swap any two abilities. Since I have a character concept of a Fighter, lets swap Communication and Fighting, to give us the following results:

Accuracy:         11, +1
Communication:     8,  0
Constitution:     14, +2
Dexterity:         9, +1
Fighting:         13, +2
Intelligence:     11, +1
Perception:        8,  0
Strength:          5, -1
Willpower:         6,  0
And then there are optional rules to either assign the 3d6 rolls to specific attributes as desired, or even a point-buy system where all your ability modifiers start at 0 then you have ten +1's to spread out over them, capping out at +3.

This right away grabbed my attention because it's random generation of abilities, but the results are tuned to guarantee basic competency.


The game has your standard fantasy races: Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Halfling, Human, and Orc.

Let's take a Dwarf character, so that our Fighter is stout and stocky. This grants the character:
* +1 to Constitution (bringing it up to 15)
* An "Ability Focus" in Constitution-Drinking (alternatively, in Intelligence-Evaluation)
* Dark Sight, to see up to 20 yards in the dark
* a speed rating of 8 + Dexterity
* can speak Dwarven and Common

and then, there is a 2d6 table of Dwarf benefits that you roll on twice, to give you a random bonus:

* I rolled a 6, which gives me "Weapon Group: Axes"
* I rolled a 9, which gives me "Ability Focus: Strength-Smithing"

This is another cool design feature: Not all dwarves are the same.


First, you roll 1d6 to determine your social class, and then another 1d6 to get a specific background within that class.

* I rolled a 4, which puts me in the Middle Class
* I rolled another 4, which makes me a Merchant, and gives me an Ability Focus in Communication-Bargaining (alternatively, in Communication-Deception)


The game has Mages, Rogues, and Warriors. Choosing a Warrior, we get:

* HP equal to [30 + Constitution + 1d6]. Having rolled a 2 on a 1d6, my starting HP is 47
* I gain the Brawling weapon group, and three more of my choice. Since I already have the Axes weapon group from being a dwarf, I can take that again to turn it into an Ability Focus in Fighting-Axes
* I become a Novice in two weapon-related talents of my choice. Since I'm wielding a big axe, let's take the Two-Hander Style, which at a Novice level means "whenever I hit with a melee attack with a two-handed weapon, I can push the target 2 yards in any direction"
* I become a Novice in Armor Training, which means I don't take a Dexterity penalty while wearing leather and mail armor

Starting Money and Equipment

As a middle-class character, I start with 50 + 3d6 silver pieces, and also:

* A backpack, traveler’s garb, and a waterskin
* Heavy leather armor and three weapons


I have a Defense of 11, since my Dexterity modifier is a +1 and I don't use a shield

Goals and Ties

The game asks that I come up with three goals for my character, and also mentions that these should be a mix of long-term and short-term goals.

The game also asks that I come up with a tie, however tenuous, with at least one other character in the playing group, in order to facilitate group cohesion.

At this point, our character sheet looks like:

Bodag Stonebones, level 1 Dwarf Warrior

Accuracy:         11, +1
Communication:     8,  0
Constitution:     15, +2 (+1 from being a Dwarf)
Dexterity:         9, +1
Fighting:         13, +2
Intelligence:     11, +1
Perception:        8,  0
Strength:          5, -1
Willpower:         6,  0

HP: 47/47
Defense: 11
Speed: 9 (8 + 1 Dexterity)
Two-Handed Axe: 3d6 damage
Heavy Leather Armor: 4 Armor Rating

Ability Focus: Constitution-Drinking
Ability Focus: Strength-Smithing
Ability Focus: Communication-Bargaining

Weapon Group: Brawling
Weapon Group: Axes
<two other floating weapon groups>

Novice Talent: Two Handed Style - push a target 2 yards in any direction after hitting them with a melee attack with a two-handed weapon
Novice Talent: Armor Training - no Dexterity penalty while wearing leather and mail armor
<one other floating weapon-related Novice talent>

Dark Sight
Languages: Dwarven, Common
Middle-class Merchant
So let's go over that character creation process again

1. Randomly rolled attributes, the modifiers of which are tuned to provide basic competency
2. Player-selected swap of two attributes, which allows for customization ("what do I want my highest stat to be?") without saddling the player with having to choose between an 11 or an 8 in Intelligence when they want to play a Warrior
3. Player-selected choice of race, with a set number of racial bonuses.
4. Player-selected choice between two possible Ability Focuses
5. Randomly rolled additional racial bonuses, to differentiate members of the same race between each other
6. Randomly rolled social status and background
7. Played-selected choice between two possible Ability Focuses
8. Player-selected choice between three classes
9. Randomly rolled HP, but with a significant guaranteed buffer of minimum HP
10. Player-selected choice of three out of eight weapon groups
11. Player-selected choice of two out of eight weapon Talents
12. Randomly rolled starting money, but also with a static set of gear that could mean you don't really need to buy anything immediately

So in every instance that the player has to roll randomly, the game is structured so that it always provides something useful.

And in every instance that the player has to make a choice, the choices are either tightly limited, intuitive against a character concept, or both.

Basic Mechanics and Combat

To do A Thing, roll 3d6, add the attribute modifier appropriate to the task, and then add a +2 if you have an Ability Focus. You succeed if you meet or beat the target number. The average target number is 11.

If Bodag wants to try and balance atop a wall, he'd roll 3d6 + 1 Dexterity
If Bodag wants to try and beat an Orc in a drinking contest, he'd roll 3d6 + 2 Constitution + 2 Drinking Focus.

With an average difficulty of 11, that means that Bodag is going to succeed at least 50% of the time on everything except a Strength check.

To make an attack, roll 3d6, add either your Accuracy or your Fighting modifier depending on the weapon being used, and then add a +2 if you have an Ability Focus. You hit the target if you meet or beat the target's Defense. To deal damage, you roll the damage dice for your weapon, add your Strength modifier, then subtract the target's Armor Rating.

To get an idea of how this math shakes out, let's look at a couple of "beginner" enemies:

Bandit: 15 HP, AR 3, Defense 11, +4 attack, 2d6+1 damage
Goblin: 15 HP, AR 3, Defense 14, +5 attack, 1d6+3 damage
Zombie: 25 HP, AR 4, Defense 8, +1 attack, 1d6+2 damage

Bodag would be rolling at 3d6 + 2 Fighting + 2 Ability Focus. That gives him a 90.74% chance of hitting the Bandit, a 62.50% chance of hitting the Goblin, and a 99% chance of hitting the Zombie.

He'd also be rolling 3d6 - 1 Strength - Enemy AR for damage, which means he'd be hitting the Bandit for an average 6.5 damage per hit, or just under 2 hits to being killed. Same with the Goblin. The Zombie has more HP and 1 more AR, so it'd take something like 4 and a half hits to kill

On the defense, the Goblin would be hitting him 95% of the time, but 1d6+3 damage against Bodag's 47 HP and 4 AR means Bodag could sustain as many as 18 blows before going down. The Bandit's average 4 damage per hit might kill Bodag in 11 hits, but the Bandit would be hitting slightly less often at 90%.

The Zombie would only be hitting 62.5% of the time, and would barely be hitting Bodag for more than 1 HP per hit.

Trying to do a similar comparison of level 1 D&D characters against level 1 monsters would tend to yield hit rates in the 60% range, and only if you packing 16-18 primary attributes, and a damage-to-HP ratio that could well be within two hits to death.

Even if Bodag was a Mage, he'd have [20 + Constitution + 1d6] HP (and 0 Armor Rating), which would mean the Bandit's 8 average damage per hit would need 4 and a half hits to take Bodag out of the fight.

I haven't even discussed the Stunt Die system yet, that allows for a measure of interactivity to both combat and non-combat rolls above and beyond simple checks against target numbers, but I hope the above illustrates the forethought and design that's apparent even from a straight reading of the text.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011


Kavak posted:

I've had fever dreams more consistent and logical than M20.

That's why I love it.
Kobal feels way too Original Character Do Not Steal. The other demons and Angels have some kind of basis in theology or actual sins. Maybe they could have made him a funny Prince of Envy, or just give another demon a sense of humor. Even his name is stupid.

Apr 8, 2009

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Look, you have to have rules about how you can pwn tanks with your rad magic powers, so you can brag to friends about how your character could totally turn a tank into a flower pot. It's important!

The funny thing is that because of the sheer ridiculousness of tank durability and the number of health levels they have, by RAW, your character is basically hosed if a tank drives in unless you're like, an evil Technocrat who minmaxes from previous books.

Nov 8, 2009

I think my spin on Kobal would be that he's preparing Haagenti to devour a Word. Not simply the prince or demon holding it, but the very metaphysical concept. That is his mission from God: to do the unthinkable and scour an evil Word from existence. I could see the irony appealing to him: the mere Angel of Laughter and Hell's jester striking a blow against evil that not even Michael had been capable of.


May 27, 2013

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

Strangely, the game seems better stripped of the Dragon Age license. If only because its love of random generation and the such just seemed so out of place for that license. That and the lack of Thief and Fighter powers. Also because it's just one book and not three books released over three years just to play till level cap.

IIRC, Mages ended up a lot stronger than the others due to spells. Did they fix that in AGE?

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