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Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Is this bait/switch stuff actually called out as such in the book? Because good god drat, I got tired of KS pretending he was clever with his 'Hook, line and sinker (TM)' adventure seeds.

And manga-sized RPG. Good heavens, what could that possibly be?

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Bieeardo posted:

Is this bait/switch stuff actually called out as such in the book? Because good god drat, I got tired of KS pretending he was clever with his 'Hook, line and sinker (TM)' adventure seeds.

And manga-sized RPG. Good heavens, what could that possibly be?

No. I just have gone through some of the Hook, Line, Sinker adventure supplements already and I recognize the pattern. For those less aware, the Hook, Line, Sinker format was created by Jolly Blackburn (of Knights of the Dinner Table) for Shadis and he then provided permission for Siembieda to use it (after contributing some adventure seeds in that format for a Rifts book). It's supposed to be Hook (the situation), Line (something to interest the PCs), and Sinker (a twist that makes it into "a real adventure"), though in reality it often boils down to "Bait and Switch", in my opinion. Though Dead Reign doesn't follow that format the adventure seeds are done similarly enough.

Legend of the Five Rings fans will know the same gimmick under the name "Challenge, Focus, Strike" (unsurprising, since Shadis birthed AEG), and I believe it has seen use in just about every edition of that game.

For those less aware, "manga-sized RPG" likely refers to Robotech: the Shadow Chronicles, another Palladium RPG from the same year that owes much of its text to a certain goon writer (the Palladium thread has a lot more detail). But, of course, only Siembieda's name is on the cover.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I've now run a couple sessions of Myriad Song and will probably start reviewing it tomorrow or the next day, but as a preview I'd like to leave you with how it does improvised weapons because I think it's one of the first games like it to answer 'why the gently caress would you bother with these instead of just a pistol'.

If you have the improv-weapon making Gift, you can choose to spend an Equip action (a single combat action) to pull some random junk out of your gear and slam it together into a scroungetech weapon. These weapons are generally a little less accurate and don't add extra successes to damage (though they do respectable damage on their own), and have a small chance of malfunctioning every time you use them, but if you roll well on your Craft check you can make a nailgun-railgun gatling gun that fires specially tooled, high-caliber nails at 600RPM and is somehow equipped with a functioning smart-scope made out of a monocle and a broken beer bottle. Or your own Iron Man 1 Escaping From The Cave suit of improvised armor. Improv equipment and cannibalizing stuff is an entire power set with its own set of gifts and they also apply to weaponizing power and engineering tools if you want to live out your ultimate fantasy of making a remote-controlled chainsaw launcher.

I think you can probably tell my review is going to be reasonably positive.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012







The Primordial Feast: Part 3

Family Reunion
Stephanie is at her local coffee shop, getting a venti iced coffee with an extra shot of espresso. She didn't sleep well last night. And as she sits in her corner, drinking, she notices a woman. Specifically she notices her again, the same woman who's been there every day for a while. She doesn't order anything, just sits there and reads "The new you", to the point that she could have finished reading it three times over by now. When Stephanie looks at her watch the ticking of the second hand makes her sick to her stomach, so she stuffs her watch in her bag, and leaves as fast as she can.

quote:

“I think Sparks — I mean, Stephanie — is starting to notice me,” said Nadia, straddling a chair backwards in the dining nook. The glass of the closed window muffled the cacophony from the garage below the apartment, and it faded to white noise from long familiarity for the three throngmates.

Corazón shoveled a huge mouthful of canned beef stew into her mouth and then talked around it. “It's okay, you can call her whatever you want. Not like she's here to argue.”

“No, the point is to call her whatever she wants.” Nadia looked down at the table, hunched over the chair's back. “She gets to choose her own name now.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Anyway,” Nadia continued, “she ordered a really big coffee with extra espresso.”

“Mm-hmm.” Cora gestured at the two Prometheans with her spoon. “That means—”

“No, don't tell me,” Prin interrupted, adopting a thinking pose with one hand on hir chin. “I know what it means. It means…” They waited. She's in a bad mood. She didn't sleep well.” Hir raised eyebrows turned it into a question.
Apparently Stephanie is, or was, a Promethan who completed her journey and became human. Prin is treating the whole affair like an experiment, studying Stephanie to see how Nadia and hir can also complete their journies. Corazon, on the other hand, is a beast. Nadia and Corazon want to be a part of Stephanie's life "Humans need friends too" but Prin doesn't want her to be caught up in their disquiet and show up at their door with a Molotov.

quote:

“Thank you all for being here tonight,” said the woman at the microphone. “As you know, we've gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of one of our finest officers, Detective Kelly Anderson. Let's give her a round of applause!”

Kelly stood in front of the room, smiling, as they all clapped.

“We've put together a slide show to showcase all of Detective Anderson's wonderful achievements,” said the emcee, gesturing to a projector screen. A flickering picture appeared there, like a still photo from an old home movie, of a bruised and beaten college student's corpse. “Take this aggravated assault and murder case, for example, which she never solved!”

Another round of applause. Kelly wasn't smiling anymore.

The picture changed. Now, a woman and her son lay side by side in matching coffins. “And this double homicide, the perpetrator of which was never caught despite the hate group that claimed credit!”

Everyone cheered. Kelly opened her mouth to protest, but the sudden glint from the emcee's badge seemed to warn her off, saying you have no voice here. You don't matter.

“And this next one — oh, who am I kidding,” said the woman, grinning now in the fitful light of the projector. “Why don't we be honest with ourselves? Detective Anderson isn't worth the paper her resignation will be printed on!”

The applause became laughter, filling the room. The glint wasn't coming from the emcee's badge anymore, but from her teeth, which seemed to elongate more and more the longer Kelly looked. “Why don't you just die?” the emcee roared, taking a step forward as a huge, hairy brute burst from beneath her skin, foaming at the mouth. “Then your murder can go unsolved, you pathetic has-been!”

Kelly screamed.
Detective Anderson is a Hero, in case it wasn't obvious.

The next morning, Nadia's at the coffee shop watching Stephanie again. Stephanie looks worse than ever, dark circles under her eyes and that vacant stare of an extremely tired person. Eventually Nadia's concern for her friend overcomes her desire for anonymity so she approaches her.

quote:

Nadia hovered, hoping to be noticed without speaking, but no such luck. “Hi,” she said eventually.

Stephanie looked up, pushing her bangs away from her face. “Um. Hi.” She smiled belatedly. “Can I help you with something?”

“No, not at all,” said Nadia, and then paused. “I mean, yes.”

“Oh,” Stephanie said, her smile bemused now. “Well, what is it?”

“It's…” Nadia cast around desperately. Her hand came up, still holding the book. “It's this book,” she said hastily. “I don't understand it. I thought you might.”

Stephanie's expression changed several times, but Nadia couldn't identify anything in it. Then Stephanie said, “Sorry, I'm pretty out of it, I haven't been sleeping much. I don't think I can help you.”

“Is something wrong?” said Nadia.

“Nah, not really.” Stephanie shrugged, then chuckled. “Just some bad dreams, that's all.”

Nadia didn't see what was so funny about that. “Bad dreams? Like what?”

“Like, bad dreams, I dunno. Something about a clock? Or was it…” Stephanie looked down at herself, her chest, her arms, turning her hands over as though they were unfamiliar. She took a long sip of coffee, rested her forehead in her hand for a moment, and then glanced sidelong at the Promethean. “Look, I have to go.”

“Oh. You do?”

Stephanie stood up and clutched the cup to herself like a security blanket, or a weapon. “Yeah, I do,” she snapped. She brushed past Nadia and went out the door.

Nadia rushes home and confronts Corazon. It turns out Cora has been intentionally starving her horror so that it will visit Stephanie in her dreams and try to make her remember her old life.

quote:

Cora sprawled on her back across the hood, her long hair splayed out over the shiny painted surface like corkscrew graffiti, and dropped the wrench with a clunk. “Maybe she's just remembering stuff.”

“No! She can't!” Prin glanced between them in alarm. “It'll ruin everything!”

“Who says?” Cora challenged hir. “Who says she shouldn't remember?”

“I say,” Prin's jaw clenched. “If it is you, you'd better stop.”

“Oh, you say. What the hell do you know? When was the last time you were human?” She cupped a hand next to her ear. “What's that I hear? Never?”

The Promethean stepped close to tower over her. “I may not be human,” sie hissed, “but I know more about you than you think. I know that thing that lives inside you won't rest until you've ripped the wool from her eyes and destroyed her life. I'm not going to let that happen. Do you hear me?”

“What life?” Cora bared her teeth in a sneer. “Bills by day, Netflix by night, no family, no friends — if you ask me, it's worth destroying.”

“Good thing I never asked you.”

Cora's hand shot up to grab Prin by the collar and pull hir down until she could smell hir breath, like tea and ashes. “She'd be better off here where she belongs and you know it,” she growled. “People are weak and miserable. She's not. She's one of us.”

“No,” said Nadia, stalking over to wrestle the two of them apart. “She's not like us anymore, Cora. I tried to talk to her, she practically ran away from me.”

“You talked to her?” Prin turned on her, aghast.

“Yes, and it was a mistake. Are you happy?” Nadia shoved hir back, sending hir stumbling. “You were right, we were wrong. Just the way you like it.”

“I don't —”

“We should leave.”

“What do you mean, leave?” said Cora.

Nadia gazed out at the setting sun. “Leave New York. Go far away. I think we need to…I think I need to let her go.”

“Like hell.” Cora slid off the hood and snatched up her wrench. “None of us is going anywhere.”

The Prometheans watched her storm out of the garage. They watched the sun go down. They wondered whether she was right, and whether they could afford her being wrong.
It turns out that putting the cheerleaders of inhumanity together with people who aspire to be everything that humanity represents is an incredibly bad idea. Particularly when said Beast has a hunger for destruction and wants to destroy her happy life simply because she has a happy life.

In the meantime, Kelly Anderson's heroic tracking has led her to Stephanie, she makes it sound like there's a murder investigation going on, but subtly lets drop a question on if Stephanie's been having nightmares before moving on to a more legitimate sounding line of inquiry. The hero has the Beast's target, and she knows the Beast will be there again. She circles the block a few time to make sure that she isn't being followed and pulls into a spot just down from Kelly's building to wait.

In Cora's apartment, she's struggling to sleep. As she drifts off she becomes aware of her horror trying to wrench control of Stephanie's dreams.

quote:

Through the eyes of her Horror, things were not as they should have been. She wasn't in her Lair, but instead stalking a grand concert hall with high vaulted ceilings that vanished into darkness above. Up on stage, a frail little shape sat at the piano, playing to a metronome's beat. The music sounded feeble and tinny by comparison to the monstrous ticking of the metronome, pounding like the rhythmic fall of a judge's gavel. She passed empty row after empty row. She silently climbed the stairs to mount the stage. She raised one razor-sharp claw, ready to tear the false flesh from the pianist's bones to reveal what was really underneath.
Cora thinks back, she hasn't fed since Sparks left them, it just wasn't the same without her there. The way she delighted at the expanded understanding of human terror. She was theirs and they shouldn't have to give her up. Cora doesn't want to forget, and she's going to go see if Sparks doesn't have to forget. Though she's going to at least try to do it without her horror getting in the way.

I'm just going to quote this whole section.

quote:

Something alive prowled the shadow of a spindly city tree, but only for a moment. That shadow was the door that led Cora into the pitch black of a bedroom, two stories above the street where the tree's sad dead leaves scraped the pavement in their windborne quests. She was the presence of the darkness. She was everywhere, she filled the room. The darkness said, "Sparks! Sparks, wake up."

The woman in the bed stirred and opened her eyes, then clutched her blanket close to her chest. "Who's there?"

"It's me, Cora." The voice sounded affable, but the darkness was total. "We were friends, once. We can be friends again."

Stephanie's eyes darted back and forth across the room, seeking a figure, a target, something to run from. Nothing. "W-where are you?"

"Just calm down and think back. You remember last year, don't you? When we went to Coney Island, and you made me take you on the Ferris wheel, and we got stuck at the top and Nadia tried to climb it? And we got thrown out?" The voice laughed. "You remember, right?"

"What?" Stephanie didn't dare get out of bed, but she reached toward the bedside table with one hand, fumbling around. "I dunno what you're talking about, leave me alone!"

"We never should've left you alone in the first place," said the darkness. "Your name's not Stephanie, it's Sparks. You're not even human! You're a machine, a living machine who can think and feel and loves pancakes, don't you remember me?"

"No! Get outta here before I call the cops!" Stephanie's hand found the lamp. She groped for the switch.

"Don't do that," the voice warned. "Please, Sparks, listen! We used to stay up all night together watching old horror movies! You'd ask me what was supposed to be so scary and we'd eat hot dogs right out of the fridge and —"

Light flooded the room and chased the shadows out. The darkness vomited up a woman who stumbled back, squinting. Stephanie stared at her. “I don't know you,” she whispered.

“Yes, you do!”

Stephanie threw herself off the bed and bolted for the door. Cora's hand lashed out like a whip and seized her by the hair, yanking her back and dragging her toward the full-length mirror. “You don't believe me?” Cora sneered. “I'll show you what you really are! Look!”

In the mirror, Stephanie saw her reflection flicker and change. The lamplight shone dully on the gears and bolts that made up her body. The metallic casing of her skull, frozen in a vacant grin, held two LEDs where her eyes should have been. In the center of her chest, a chrome mechanism ticked out an artificial heartbeat, sickeningly regular. When she screamed, it sounded like an electronic squeal, like radio feedback. “Now do you remember?”

“No!” Stephanie struggled and kicked, but Cora's grip on her hair held fast. “No! Let go of me! Please, please…please stop…it's not me, it's not!”

“Fine.” Cora's face contorted in a scowl. “If that's the way it has to be.” She slammed Stephanie's head into the closet door. The woman collapsed in a heap, a trickle of blood smeared on the wood. Cora ran a finger through it. It was blood, not oil. Cora turned and flicked off the lamp, plunging the room into darkness once again. She crouched beside her erstwhile broodmate, and the room swam.

Prin and Nadia are running to Stephanie's apartment, since Nadia suspects some of what is going on. Once Prin realizes the severity of what's going on, she picks up Nadia, uses Pyros to elongate her legs, and takes off down the street, ignoring the horrified onlookers. At Steph's apartment, Nadia rips the door off it's hinges and rushes inside to find Stephanie unconscious and bleeding on the floor. They also realize that Cora has turned Steph's bedroom into a part of her lair, and force their way into the dream.

Elsewhere, Kelly wakes up, having dreamt of the hunt to come.

quote:

The tingling in her limbs meant that something was wreaking its havoc, and she knew she wouldn't be alone by the time she walked into that apartment. She'd heard the rumors about this neighborhood, seen the reports: weird incidents, nonsense complaints that couldn't be corroborated, one teenaged girl begging to be admitted to the hospital's psychiatric ward. The monster and its cohorts had shown their true colors one too many times around here, and now these people would get the chance to retaliate, thanks to their protector. The call to arms was her birthright, too. Just like her duty.
She notices Prin and Nadia breaking their way into Steph's apartment building, and the ruckus draws the attention of the members of the neighborhood, all woken from their sleep by Kelly's call to arms, and she rallies her miniature army to glorious combat against the monsters. And she leads them into Cora's lair through Steph's bedroom.

In Cora's lair, she's chasing Steph through a factory making hundreds of copies of faceless robot manikins. The monster is rending her flesh revealing the gears and circuitry underneath. "Cora watched her prey's flight, watched as the full horror dawned, threw her head back and howled at the sheer pleasure it brought her. But it wasn't enough. Sparks still didn't remember. The hunt was on." Meanwhile Nadia and Prin are in a dark subway station, every so often the N train rushes by but never stops. From the darkness ahead a mass of people and a uniformed police officer with a flashlight emerge.

quote:

“Oh, hell,” said Nadia.

“Maybe we can reason with them,” said Prin. “But given our track record with Cora's enemies, I doubt it.”

“Hold it right there!” the officer called out. “I know you're working for the monster. Surrender now or we will open fire.”

“Working for her?” Nadia called back. “Where you do people come up with this stuff?”

“This is your last warning,” said the officer.

“Prin,” Nadia murmured quietly, “get out of here. Go find Stephanie and Cora. I'll handle them.”

“Are you sure?” Prin glanced at her.

“Don't worry. I have a plan. I think.”

Prin's face was a mask of clear skepticism, but sie nodded and vanished as soon as sie reached the limits of Nadia's light. Nadia turned to give the crowd a smile. “Well, you came all this way, I wouldn't want to disappoint you.”

The officer — Anderson, Nadia saw now on her nametag as she came closer — smirked, hooking a finger around the trigger of her pistol. “You have no idea what your boss is in for,” she said. “You think I would come here with just any weapon? This Beast-killer has been in my family for generations. Every bullet in it has your master's name on it. Move aside and she'll be the only one.”

“Sure. I'll move aside.” Nadia stepped to the edge of the platform and dropped down. The third rail hummed. She didn't know whether electricity in the Lair would act like normal electricity, but she had no time for experimentation. Anderson and her posse cautiously peered over the edge to see what she was up to. She grinned up at them and stepped onto the third rail. The power of Pyros coursed through her, filling her nigh to bursting. “Come and get me,” she said through gritted teeth, her voice raw with fire, the industrial staples holding her mismatched parts together revealed as her light burned with blinding intensity and the tunnel filled with sparking current.

Anderson fired and hit the Promethean square in the chest. Seconds later, the bullet pushed itself out of her skin and clattered on the track. The policewoman gestured for her people to back off, and followed her own advice. “Find the monster!” she yelled.

Nadia yelled back without words, leaping up onto the platform. She landed swinging.
I really want to play Promethean now.

Prin reaches Cora's heart, a vast barren plain studded with rocky formations beneath a stormy black sky. Flashes of lightning provide the only illumination. Prin reaches Steph around the same time Cora does.

quote:

Stephanie flinched back, but Prin held on tight so sie could speak close to her ear. “It's all right! I'm here to help you!”

“What a hero,” said Cora.

Prin looked up to see the ghastly creature looming on top of the outcrop, silhouetted in a lightning strike. “Corazón!” sie shouted. “Stop this!”

“That's la Corazón to you.” The monster bared her teeth. “Destroyer of lies.”

“You want to talk about heroes?” Prin pointed back the way sie'd come. “There's one out there with a small army looking for you. You're lucky Nadia decided to keep them busy.” Sie reached up with a hand, as though sie could grasp Cora's from here. “You do still care about Nadia, don't you? I know you're in there somewhere.”

“This is what you never understood about me, Prin, even with all your poking and prodding.” She spread her arms. “What stands before you isn't 'the thing that lives inside Cora’. This is me. It's always me, it's always been me.”

“Fine,” Prin barked, dropping hir hand, “but leave Stephanie out of it! She fought hard for the life she has, don't take it away from her!”

“I just want her to remember!” The last word came out as a furious roar, exploding with a gale force that threatened to tear Stephanie out of Prin's grasp and send her flying. Prin flung hir arms around the human and rearranged hir Azothic radiance into a shield to shelter them both, glad it was too dark for her to see hir withered face.

“But she refuses,” Cora shouted down, as the storm smothered the echoes of her roar. “So I'm going to take her apart, clockwork piece by clockwork piece. And when I crush that chrome ticker of hers, she'll wake up and she'll know. She'll come home to us.”

“This isn't right!”

“Ask Nadia if she cares about what's right!” Cora's hideous features contorted with malice. “Look at you. You'll never be human. The way people feel isn't about right and wrong, Prin! It's about what's in your heart.”

“It's not your heart that concerns me,” said Prin, putting hirself firmly between Stephanie and the Beast. “It's your stomach. So if you're determined to do this, you'll have to get through me.”

“Gladly.”
The fight goes poorly for Prin, needless to say, the only reason she survives at all is because she's a Promethean, but her leg at least is broken.

quote:

“Stop!” called a voice over the rain.

Cora looked up. Detective Anderson stood not thirty feet away, leveling a heavy pistol and a flashlight at her. “You're not welcome here,” she snarled.

The officer didn't bother with banter or taunts. She pulled the trigger. Cora expected to laugh it off, but the bullet pierced her like an icy dart. Her muscles spasmed painfully. “What did you do?” she gasped.

“Nothing but my job,” said Kelly. She tensed to fire again, but something slammed into the back of her head and she collapsed, Probable Cause slipping from her grasp. Nadia appeared out of the gloom.

“Thanks,” said Cora, grinning.

“Don't thank me,” Nadia snapped. Her eyes fell on the pistol. She stepped over Kelly's inert body and picked it up.

“What are you doing?” Cora protested. “I thought you'd understand, of all people!”

“I understand just one thing.” Nadia slowly advanced, keeping the gun steady even while her voice shook with rage. “That cop said this weapon is a Beast-killer. That's all I need to know.”

“Nadia…” Prin smelled the rising bile of hir throngmate's Torment, drowned in her breathtaking passion, and fell silent. Sie was in no shape to pull Nadia out of this now. It was too late for Cora. Too late for the throng.

“You're going to kill me?” Cora's voice rose to a hysterical pitch. “Nadia, we're family! I just want us all together again!”

“I don't care what you want!” Nadia's eyes were wild in the lightning's white-hot light. “You think I don't miss her? You think I wouldn't give anything to have her back? You selfish bitch, you have no idea what she went through to get here, and I am sick and tired of your entitled, hypocritical bullshit! You are not one of us! You never were!”

“Nadia, wait —”

The gunshot was louder than the thunder, as was the one that followed, and the one after that. The Horror toppled in dreamlike slow motion. Nadia had nothing else to say. She stomped over to Stephanie and grabbed her wrist, pulling her roughly to her feet. The woman had no argument and offered no resistance, letting the Promethean yank her away into the darkness.

Prin and Cora are left alone in Cora's heart as it falls apart. "I didn't want to die like this, not looking like this, not with you here. You thought of me as human, just with a monster in side of me somewhere. It was the one illusion I kind of liked."

Back in the real world, Steph wakes up with Nadia watching over her, after she makes it very clear that she has no idea who Nadia is and never wants to see her again, Nadia leaves. But she notices that she's still bleeding, that there's a dent in her closet door, that the nightmare happened, at least in part.

quote:

The woman in the shadows wasn't a nightmare. She was real. She was real, and every time I turn off the light now I think I see her. I threw out my watch. I bought a nightlight. None of that got rid of the dreams, though. They're just different now. Not nightmares so much as distant pictures behind glass, and if I lie still for a while right when I wake up, I feel sad. Sometimes I wake up crying already.

I miss her. Somebody. I don't know who, but I wish she were here.

I really really like this story. I don't think I can state that enough, this is easily my favorite story in the book since it portrays the Beast as it actually is, a horrifying self centered monster.

Trinkets
Which is why I hate that it's immediately followed up by this.

quote:

“This place is a shithole.”

“A townie shithole.”

Dav and Galen aren’t wrong. The place in question is a townie bar, run by three generations of Stowes, frequented by three generations of Colebridge residents. Usually, we’d drink over at Jana’s place, or bring our booze to the park, but she’d wanted to come out tonight and this is where the cheap drinks are. That, and Jana’s hungry. She’s kicked back in her chair, eyeing the regulars at the bar the way some people eye a dessert tray. When she shifts, I feel her shoulder brush mine, even though we’re a foot apart.

Jason sits hunched over his beer, trying to make himself small as possible next to Jana’s bulk. He didn’t want to come out tonight, though I know he has to be hungry. Every time Jana’s laughter booms out across the bar, he flinches. Her laugh draws attention, and even though Jason and I are technically townies, too, he doesn’t want to be spotted. His family and mine have lived here a good three-quarters of a century, but small town bullshit means some last names are more important than others.

It's a basic beast story told all over again. Long and short of it is that Miranda loves Jason, they've been friends since high school, surprisingly they're both beasts. Miranda does something dumb, raises the ire of a Hero, the Hero targets Jason, the entire brood bands together and kills the Hero, also Dav and Galen are basically one character since they don't do anything separate from each other, except they're also gay.

Let's move on.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012







The Primordial Feast: Finale

Premeditation

Three years ago, Sandhya wakes up with a start as she was roused from a dreamtime feeding session, her attempts to move as her horror would just end with her falling out of bed with a start. Is that what it's like? Is this what I do to them? The lights flick on, revealing her Mage friend Hal looking groggy as she is, but staring daggers at her.

quote:

“That was you.” He spat.

“…Wait…” She croaked, and coughed, trying to clear her throat.

He reached across the wall to the mantelpiece, still keeping his eyes on her. Like I could turn on him at any moment, she realized. His fingers found his wand among the mantle’s clutter.

She’d laughed when she’d first seen his wand. Made the obvious jokes. Double-entendres. She’d played with it yesterday, until he’d irritatedly snatched it back and put it up there. An instant of hurt pride, soon forgotten.

It was a lot less funny when he pointed it at her like a weapon.

“If I ever see you again. If you ever try anything like that again on me or mine—” His rage was cold, controlled.

“Hal… Wait… I don’t… I didn’t…”

“—I will end you.”

With that he teleports her out of his apartment and into the forest along with her things, and Sandhya Tembhekar resolves never to get involved with mages as long as she lives.

In the present day, Sandhya is working the aid station at a marathon, handing out water cups to the front runners. Ten minutes later an ambulance drives by as her Horror rumbles within her "Another leader humbled, another meal in her Horror's belly. It wasn't exactly lying in wait within a river to bite passing princes, but even nagas had to move with the times."

Two months later Sandhya stands outside the residence hall where Charles Foster's family retrieves his belongings. Charles was working with her at the Aid station, but he went missing the next day. He's the fourth student dead this year, the cops say that they're all ODs, but they keep showing up at the old Library. Sandhya has had her suspicions for a while, but by the time Charles' family came around she'd confirmed them. "She sat out there, long after the Fosters drove away, after the sun went down, thinking through her options, not liking any of them. I have to give him a chance, she decided."


That night she goes to the library herself, heading to an upper floor where she' knows she'll find her target. To her eyes he's just a short middle aged white man huddled in a heavy overcoat. To her horror he's a bent backed creature with round eyes, pallid skin, needles for fingers and wreathed in IV Lines.

quote:

“You’re back” He croaked.

“You’re getting careless, Vance. Someone’s going to notice you.”

The other Beast let out a single harsh laugh.

“They came in here. Looked right past me. The only one who knows is you, and it’s because we’re the same.”

Sandhya grimaced.

“We’re nothing alike. I feed in this world, and I leave them alive—”

“You’re in denial.” He snorted. “Still swallowing what your Devourer told you about lessons.” The last word was a mocking sing-song.

“She also said that if our Horrors fed in the Dream, the prey only suffered a nightmare. You’re killing them. Needlessly.”

“Safer this way. No one left alive to be a Hero and come after me like they came after her. You learned every lesson except the one that killed her.”

She took a deep breath, felt her Horror’s restlessness, irritated by the arrogance.

“Vance, please. You don’t have to kill them. A few roofies in a bar and you’ll be just as fed.”

“And open myself up to getting caught.”

One more try.

“Please.”

“It bothers you because you want to join me. Because you know that I’m right. We’re not teachers, Dr. Tembhekar, we’re not human. We’re monsters. And we’re alike more than that — your fangs are just like my fingers. We both exist to be the fire in their blood.”

She shook her head. He gestured out at the night skyline, streetlights glinting below them, lonely figures of those still up walking past.

“Stay tonight. Maybe we’ll catch a meal together. If we both feed, we can link our Lairs, become a brood. You wouldn’t have to be alone, clinging to the nonsense Erica taught you.”

She backed away a step, and shook her head again.

“I can’t do it, Vance. I still believe in our purpose.”

As she reached the stairwell she paused, shaking. Vance called back to her.

“When you accept what you are, I’ll be here.”

She descended, and felt a mixture of fear and resolve growing with every step.

Not one more.
As she plots out her next move she just hopes "he'd calmed down by now."

This story has a mixture of old and new beast in it, in that she was devoured but he kills to stop from "Making Heroes", I'm going to allow it because "Making Heroes" is probably one of the better points of real personal horror that Beast has.

That and Dave Brookshaw is an insane maniac.
Yes, this story was written by Dave Brookshaw.



Sandhya waits at the tube station in London, waiting for Hal. She took the train here then switched to the tube in an effort to hide her real origin in case the Mage was still angry at her. Fighting the urge at every stop to just go home and keep her head down, to hope that the problem solved itself. But after the final train pulls away with no Hal in sight she sighs and goes to leave out to the street. When she does she feels someone grab her arm firmly. Of course it's Hal, being secretive and unexpected as mages are wont to do. She asks to talk to him in private though he wants to stay in a public space. When he asks what she wanted to talk about she says that when he teleported her away he hurt her. And threatened to kill her, and she wants to know if he can actually do it.

Later they're at a diner with Halcyon(yes) masking their conversation to be something dull about work. He mentions that she looks "fed" and wonders how things are going for her. Since he hasn't heard anything 'big' through the grapevine but she's obviously doing well.

quote:

“I have to feed, Hal. My kind, we don’t have a choice about it. I’m a naga. I humble those who stand above the crowd. Now, I’ve arranged my life so I can eat a little, often. Athletes. Top-flight students. Bright young PhDs. Make them stumble a bit, prick their pride, and I can go another week or two.”

“You went back to university.”

“Finished my doctorate. I’m a postdoc now. Students everywhere, and reversals of success are not unusual. No one gets hurt. What happened to you is what happens if I don’t feed; the naga hunts for herself, but even then, it’s not fatal. Dangerous for me, but — and no offense — they get over it.”
I could mention high tension people who kill themselves after such a 'stumble' and that even her measured feeding method can still be dangerous, but the story makes it pretty obvious that she's justifying it to herself. Particularly since she also goes over the "other" option, where she can kill someone and go for months without feeding, but she doesn't. The problem is that someone does and she needs to stop him. Halcyon says he'll help and he'll meet her at her home. "What makes you think I'm ready to tell you where that is?" "What makes you think I don't already know?".

At her Flat, Sandhya tells him more about Vance. Mainly that he's the Apex of her area and he's got deals in place with all the local Vampires and Werewolves that means she can't attack him in the physical world. And since he's the Apex he'd kill her in a Horror to Horror fight. The way he feeds is by imposing his lair on an abandoned building and chasing his prey until they're exhausted, then injecting them with toxins that are a part of his lair which means they go away when the lair does. Leaving nothing but a dead body with injection marks. The way he feeds is costly but rewarding, making a vicious cycle. Sandhya wants his help to kill him since it's become obvious that Vance won't change his ways, preferably in a way that doesn't lead back to her since his allies might want to get revenge on his behalf. "Can you do it?" "Not alone. And not just with your help."

“Welcome to Marrakesh.” Teleportation is definitely a quick way to travel, if nothing else. "Vance's realm is urban and maze-like. We need someone who can navigate through that environment, who's immune to his tricks and traps. A contact of mine lives here, and she's uniquely qualified. Also, unlike many of the beings we might recruit, her kind can make the trip we're about to make." When Sandhya asks why she'll help them, Hal mentions that this woman has been hunting someone for the past twenty years and Hal knows where he is, He's known for five years, he's just been waiting for an appropriate time to use the leverage. "Keep your friends close, Sandhya, and always keep something to offer them if you need them in the future. We’re here." Their target is a woman in faded pants, a loose top and a headscarf, with large golden eyes. Najat.

And I'm just going to quote this next bit.

quote:

“I said I’d help. You don’t seem overjoyed.”

“No— It’s… Thank you, sincerely, but, I have to ask… What are you?”

Najat raised her eyebrows.

“Excuse me?”

Sandhya blushed, embarrassed, annoyed at Hal’s obviously enjoyment of catching her out.

“I can sense monsters, and people like Hal who are connected to the supernatural. Something about their souls, but you…”

“Oh! That must be because I don’t have one.” Najat said, matter-of-fact, and poured herself another cup.

“I don’t understand.”

Hal leaned back in his chair.

“Your kind are fueled by the basic fears of humanity.” He drawled. “What do you call it? ‘The Primordial Dream’? All the nightmares hidden beneath civilization, culture, and story. Najat here,” the mage nodded to their hostess, “doesn’t have a human soul. She’s got what some people call a Nahual instead.”

“I’m a cat,” Najat said.

Dave Brookshaw posted:

Yes, it was me who decided to raid the big backlog of obscure, unloved CofD creatures and settled on Changing Breeds. And I'd do it again, I tell you.
With this Dave Brookshaw resurrected a pain I put to rest a year ago and has become my sacred enemy (not really).

quote:

“You’ve got an animal’s soul? Like I have my Horror?”
“Deep in the human soul,” explained Hal “there’s a barrier, a boundary between humanity and the soul of the world, the animals, even the stars. Your Primordial Dream clusters around that boundary like… like rock pools after the tide’s gone out. The animal parts of the human race, where the monsters live. What you’re sensing is that Najat lacks that boundary. She’s a daughter of nature, in harmony with her animal nature. You’d find, if you tried, that your Nightmares slide right off her. And that’s how we’re going to bait him into our trap.”
And since Matt McFarland didn't say otherwise, Changing Breeds are completely immune to nightmares. I guess if Ferals have to exist in this world, them being the ultimate foils to the only thing worse than them is an acceptable niche.

The following day, Hal decides to give Sandhya the mage's perspective on things.

quote:

“Your motives. You said we’d address them later, and now’s later.”

She closed her eyes, thinking.

“He’s abusing his power. He kills the people he feeds from.”

“So we’re going to kill him in turn?” He did not sound satisfied.

“It’s not the way we behave. We have a responsibility, a purpose.”

“You’re doing this in service of some higher power?”

“The Mother put us here to teach people that — okay, what?”

He didn’t reply for a moment, choosing his words.

“Have you heard of Peter Childs?”

She frowned.

“He’s famous for something?”

“Reality TV star, went to prison recently for a massive drug binge. His behavior wasn’t just down to fortune; it was his fame that possessed him.”

“I’m not seeing the relevance.”

“His fame literally possessed him, Deeya. We don’t know how it got through into material reality, but the astral embodiment of his celebrity took him over. Drove him to greater and greater excesses, feeding off the notoriety. It’s gone now, exorcised, but his life is ruined.”

Her Horror shifted.

“I’m not possessed, Hal.”

“Technically, no.”

Technically?” Her voice rose, in warning. Hal shrugged.

“No, and neither is a Sin-Eater, but you are to Childs as they are to people ghosts take refuge in. ‘A higher purpose’? You, Vance, you’re both Goetia with delusions of grandeur. There’s no Primordial Mother, no higher purpose behind what you are. You’re the astral embodiment of a particular fear, no more, no less.”

He stopped, watching for her reaction. She tried to get hold of the rage steadily filling her, knuckles turning pale as she made fists. He spread his hands, conciliatory, but all she could think of was how fake the gesture looked.

“I am not saying this out of spite. I’m saying it out of concern. This man has breached your moral code, and for that you are going to punish him. That’s fine. That’s what all justice is, in the end. But when we do this tomorrow night, you owe it to yourself to be honest about it, and go in with a clear mind.”

“Get out.” She said, quietly.

“Take this advice, if you take nothing else. The best murders are premeditated.”
It's worth that Mage is the only game where premeditated murder is less of a sin than killing in the heat of the moment, because you get kind of hosed up in the head when you can change the laws of reality and losing control is a bad thing.

That night they meet up with Halcyon and his apprentices on the hill overlooking the town. They enter a prepared tent and all go to sleep after Hal links their minds. They wake up in the Temenos and begin walking through the memories of human history. They start off in a riot, continue through the French Revolution, the English Civil War, a realm made entirely of tall black gallows, all the while heading towards the Horror of the Proud Man Humbled, Sandhya's lair.

When they find it, Sandhya merges with it, and they wait for Halcyon's apprentices to finish their part of the spell.

quote:

Hal sat down. Najat paced back and forth behind him, keeping him between her and the water.

“You had to have an argument with her the day before we put ourselves at her mercy, didn’t you? It wasn’t tense enough for you.”

Hal gritted his teeth.

“I didn’t mean to.”

“No, you were just you. Look, you like her. It’s obvious you like her.”

“I like a lot of people.”

“Not that kind of like. Have you considered maybe she’d like you back if you didn’t score points off her all the time?”

“I hadn’t thought about it.”

“You haven’t thought about it?” She repeated, disbelieving. “She’s perfect for you — nerdy, weird, can paralyze people by jabbing them, and best of all if you get too…” She paused, searching for the right word. “…Wizardly, her inner snake monster will murder you in your sleep.”

Halcyon didn’t respond. Najat turned to look at him.

“You already did, didn’t you?”

He glared down at her.

“I don’t want to talk about it”

The cat laughed.

“You did! You rode the snake!”
at least the Feral is clowning on the Beasts and Mages alike.

The apprentice lets Hal know that her spell is done and they're able to continue through the primordial dream. They leave Sandhya's lair through the last place that she fed, and in the split second that she's separated from her horror but not yet in control of it it tries to eat Hal ("We'll talk about it later.") But now that they're in a Chamber of the Hive, they'll be able to find the Apex's lair. As they get closer they can hear the whispering of the Omphalos, being brought closer to the Primordial dream by Hal and his assistants, meaning it's time to go to work.

quote:

Vance snarled, swiping the air with his claws. One passed uncomfortably close to where she actually stood, hidden by the illusion Hal had cast on their way in.

“Have you ever seen a cat catch a spider?” Hal asked, amused.

Najat, ignored while Vance focused on the humanoid prey, suddenly lunged, shifting into her hybrid form as she did so. Her claws stabbed into Vance’s back, and she opened a surprisingly wide mouth before biting, hard, down on his vulnerable neck.

Vance shrieked and jumped, trying to throw her off. Najat let go, black blood dripping from her claws and fangs, and grinned as he spun to face her. She jumped back as the Horror lunged, twisted to land on all fours with feline grace, and ran.

The Horror charged after her.

But Vance's Horror can't keep up, and Najat can see through all his tricks, eventually she actually manages to lead him (and all of them) Out of his lair and through the space between lairs, straight to where Hal wants him to be. They land in the midst of a great desert, winds and hot sands eroding away at their dream selves while Najat just kind of watches. Vance howls in pain while Sandhya is at least somewhat protected by Hal's spell.

quote:

“You said we aren’t human. That we’re monsters. Other people,” she looked at Hal, who seemed ashamed “have told me, at length, that we’re just dreams. The thing is, we’re both. We are the nightmares of the human soul; we exist to remind thinking beings that their Bright Dream is fragile. Everyone tells me that I’m an idiot to see a purpose in that…but they’re wrong.”

She crouched, feeling the pressure of Hal’s spell keeping her from going to him.

“This is what’s beyond the Dream. This is what denying your humanity looks like. Some beings belong here.” She looked at Najat, who had become fully human, smiling wearily at her. “But we don’t.”

“Let me go. Please let me go.” Vance begged.

“No. I won’t. You can’t open a Pathway from a desert; there’s nothing for you to use. This place will consume you. I’m told that normally, once it cuts you down to the bone and you can’t hold onto yourself any more, you wake up like our prey is meant to wake up. Scarred, maybe, but alive.”

“That’s not going to happen, though” Hal said, matter-of-fact.

“My friend here has bound you.” Sandhya could see the realization in Vance’s eyes. “And when it consumes you, you’ll die. But don’t worry, Aaron. It won’t get that far.”

She pitied him now, watching him writhe.

“Hal will stay here to make sure you don’t get free, but I’m going to wake up now. I’m going to come to your library, stand over your body… and I’m going to feed. You’re immune to poison, just like I am, but I don’t just bite people. I drown them.”

She stood up.

“Goodbye, Vance.”

The police find Vance's body and chalk it up to another overdose. Sandhya feeds by bringing the mighty low, and she just killed the former Apex. Her horror is happy, and for now isn't trying to bite Hal's head off. Things are mostly right with the world.


And that's it. And you can see after that last story why I was compelled to finish off this review with the fiction anthology.

If you haven't listened to it and you have the time you can listen to our Podcast Review of Beast now that it's technically not full of spoilers.
We also did a review of the Beast Kickstarter when that first came out (After we spend 2 hours talking about better games ).

I will probably review the Beast part of Dark Eras when that's finally released since being the one person who can stomach this game enough to hate review it is the superpower that I never actually wanted but this review is done. Get thee behind me Beast.


Oh Right.


DON'T BUY BEAST

Daeren
Aug 17, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED


The Promethean story is an exceptionally good horror story, and more or less the only unequivocally good thing about Beast as it currently exists. Shame it only exists because of the rest of it.

Luminous Obscurity
Jan 10, 2007

"The instrument you know as a piano was once called a pianoforte, because it can play both loud and quiet notes."


God drat that Promethean story sounds good.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Congrats on finally finishing Beast.

FOR NOW


Hostile V fucked around with this message at 06:49 on Nov 1, 2016

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

thelazyblank posted:

From a more historical context, it was one of the first games that had that sort of drama/plot/etc point system where the goal was basically to spend them. They gave you a lot of them, and were pretty friendly about giving a few more here and there. Not a perfect game by any means, but you could probably make a pretty good 2nd (3rd if you count Angel as a 2nd?) Edition of the Buffy RPG that would stand up to modern design without having to gut the game and start over.

Also unlike TORG's 'Possibilities', Drama Points were awarded separately from experience and were only used to change the situation to the user's favor.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

The Promethean story read to me like someone digging up the personal details of a transwoman and insisting on using her given name despite her protests, in an effort to make her return to her pre-transition life.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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The Mage story is hilarious because while it is a huge example of Mage egocentrism it also is completely consistent with evidence.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:

No. I just have gone through some of the Hook, Line, Sinker adventure supplements already and I recognize the pattern. For those less aware, the Hook, Line, Sinker format was created by Jolly Blackburn (of Knights of the Dinner Table) for Shadis and he then provided permission for Siembieda to use it (after contributing some adventure seeds in that format for a Rifts book). It's supposed to be Hook (the situation), Line (something to interest the PCs), and Sinker (a twist that makes it into "a real adventure"), though in reality it often boils down to "Bait and Switch", in my opinion. Though Dead Reign doesn't follow that format the adventure seeds are done similarly enough.

Ah! Thanks. It felt a lot more self aware than he usually comes off, but I wouldn't have put a new adventure seed gimmick past him.

Speaking of, I had no idea that he'd borrowed the Hook, Line and Sinker format from someone else! That would go a long way toward explaining why it felt so awkward in the RIFTS books where I encountered it. His presentation felt weirdly affected, like it was a gimmick that he was determined to make popular, even though his own adventure seeds rarely merited the presentation.

I never got into Shadis or AEG's lineup, so I didn't realize its origins. Learned something neat today.

LatwPIAT posted:

The Promethean story read to me like someone digging up the personal details of a transwoman and insisting on using her given name despite her protests, in an effort to make her return to her pre-transition life.

This, on the other hand, makes me think of the Beast shouting 'what gives you the right?' at a Hunter. Chills upon chills. Fuckign Beast.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Bieeardo posted:

Speaking of, I had no idea that he'd borrowed the Hook, Line and Sinker format from someone else! That would go a long way toward explaining why it felt so awkward in the RIFTS books where I encountered it. His presentation felt weirdly affected, like it was a gimmick that he was determined to make popular, even though his own adventure seeds rarely merited the presentation.

If you ask the man himself, he'd probably say that he improvded on a bunch of vague suggestions, so it's really all his work.

quote:

This, on the other hand, makes me think of the Beast shouting 'what gives you the right?' at a Hunter. Chills upon chills. Fuckign Beast.

Someone needs to make a snarky bullshit table where each splat gives an answer to this question, followed by the Beast getting roflstomped.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012






And I did technically Finish the review on Halloween, all it took was me absolutely destroying my sleep schedule. Wheeeeeeee


Doresh posted:

Someone needs to make a snarky bullshit table where each splat gives an answer to this question, followed by the Beast getting roflstomped.

quote:

Vampire: You're loving with my Herd and threatening the Masquerade.
Werewolf: You're messing with the balance and creating a brood of copycat murder spirits.
Mage: ME!
Hunter: God/My Gun/Article 42 of the Rico statute.
Changeling: Survival
Promethean: You really have to loving ask?
Mummy: RETURN THE SLAB! The man in gauze, the man in gauze
Sin-Eaters: You sure do make a lot of ghosts.
Demon: No answer, just *squish*.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I love the idea of Beasts as just some kind of jumped-up, superpowered Goetia-Claimed. It works.

I also like the flat delivery of the line 'I'm a cat.' I actually think the Changing Breeds as a concept have a place in the game. This place would involve throwing out literally their entire book. What I would go with is, essentially: you don't just have an animal soul, you were an animal. Human is not your natural form. You are a shapeshifter because sometimes, animals become people. Why? We can figure that out later.

But it'd essentially be a focus on looking at humanity from something nearby but not quite there. It could never support an entire gameline, but maybe a sort of side-group, like ghouls or wolf-bloods. But the basic idea of 'we aren't human, we're animals in human suits' and running with it to explore instinct, 'nature' and so on. Their Integrity-alike would probably be built around going against your animal instincts versus your adopted human worldview and would probably vary pretty wildly, kind of like Harmony in that sense.

Basically: Thanks DaveB, you wrote a good story that breaks down Beasts to something hilariously unimportant in the greater scheme of things and gave me a good idea for how to do Changing Breeds.

RiotGearEpsilon
Jun 26, 2005
SHAVE ME FROM MY SHELF

Mors Rattus posted:

I also like the flat delivery of the line 'I'm a cat.' I actually think the Changing Breeds as a concept have a place in the game. This place would involve throwing out literally their entire book. What I would go with is, essentially: you don't just have an animal soul, you were an animal. Human is not your natural form. You are a shapeshifter because sometimes, animals become people. Why? We can figure that out later.

Well, the furries would buy it up like hotcakes, and the furries do have money.

Davin Valkri
Apr 8, 2011

Maybe you're weighing the moral pros and cons but let me assure you that OH MY GOD
SHOOT ME IN THE GODDAMNED FACE
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!


Mors Rattus posted:

I also like the flat delivery of the line 'I'm a cat.' I actually think the Changing Breeds as a concept have a place in the game. This place would involve throwing out literally their entire book. What I would go with is, essentially: you don't just have an animal soul, you were an animal. Human is not your natural form. You are a shapeshifter because sometimes, animals become people. Why? We can figure that out later.

Wait, isn't that the concept behind Golden Sky Stories?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Davin Valkri posted:

Wait, isn't that the concept behind Golden Sky Stories?

Similar, though I think tonally the games would easily be distinguishable. In one, you solve the minor problems of children. In the other, you fight vampires for unclear reasons.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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RiotGearEpsilon posted:

Well, the furries would buy it up like hotcakes, and the furries do have money.

also, side note, i would prob not give them hybrid forms because i want them to be distinct from werewolf, their gimmick would probably be more weird

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I was always disappointed with Changing Breeds because it tempted me with the possibility of playing a wererhino and then made it dirty and awful.

But yeah, it would be better if it was like Feng Shui, and you could draw upon a lot of animistic mythologies for it. Of course, you'd probably want mechanics that aren't crap. Essentially, like Beast, you'd be better off starting from scratch if you wanted to "fix" it.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Yeah, that's correct.

I have some ideas, though, and not a ton else to think about at a data entry job. I certainly wouldn't even crack Changing Breeds open while working on it, though.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



yeah, the Promethean story definitely reads like someone trying to drive a transwoman or lesbian back into the closet for "The good times we had", or trying to make someone come back to an abusive family because "You can't break up family" - it's well-written from the excerpts, but kind of nauseating.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012






Robindaybird posted:

yeah, the Promethean story definitely reads like someone trying to drive a transwoman or lesbian back into the closet for "The good times we had", or trying to make someone come back to an abusive family because "You can't break up family" - it's well-written from the excerpts, but kind of nauseating.

Which is why I like it. It portrays the Beast as a horrifying monster that insinuates itself into a stable healthy social group exclusively for it's own gain and forces others to dance to it's tune against their own interests. Cora is a petulant child who doesn't understand that sometimes friends move on and wants everything to stay the same.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

Davin Valkri posted:

Wait, isn't that the concept behind Golden Sky Stories?

Yes but GSS is actually good and fun.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Speaking of companies bouyed by furries having money, it's time for more of Sanguine's work in Myriad Song

I'd like to give the disclaimer that once again I won't be posting art from the game. Finding pictures is a little tough, I'm not a very visual person, and let's be frank: Aside from one really good artist they commissioned for the species pictures in Ironclaw, Sanguine's art direction is consistently awful. At its best the art is usually pretty generic cartoony stuff, at its worst it's just *bad*. I have no idea if this stems from having no real budget for art or if they've just got a terrible visual sense like I do.

Myriad Song is a weird game. Myriad Song is also not a furry game, though it does contain exactly one (1) furry playable race. Myriad Song is a game about playing as seeming small fry thrown into a galaxy that's collapsing on itself because the tyrannical demigods (or maybe actual gods) stabilizing it just up and walked off the stage 100 years back. Their toadies and minions are trying to keep things together and insisting they're coming back, but in the meantime, rebels who'd normally be easily crushed have all split off into competing nations and empires and the exploration of the galaxy is kicking into high gear. But surely a small crew of space truckers, private investigators, ex-stormtroopers, engineers, bounty-hunters, and navigators won't matter in such a vast and mighty galaxy, will they? Of course they will! This is heroic, feel-good sci-fantasy and your party of misfits and weird aliens are one cosmic macguffin away from upending the galactic order even further at all times.

Ages ago, as many of the races of the Myriad (a term used to refer to the overarching galactic community of sentient species) were just getting into space, strange beings called Syndics showed up out of nowhere. They had faster than light travel and mastery of a strange musical-magical force called Xenharmonics that tapped into higher planes of reality. They were also hostile as hell, conquering the entire galaxy within a short span of time. No-one could possibly stand against them, not when they could just teleport half your ship into another reality at will. Thus began the Syndicate Empire, and it would persist for millennia. The Syndics found their own uses for each race of the Myriad, and all toiled under their terrible masters, and eventually under their terrible masters' favorites. The Syndics picked servants from among those who had surrendered or displayed great loyalty and uplifted them, working with their genetics to enable them to tap into the music of the Xenharmony and see beyond sight. They granted inferior forms of their Xenharmonic technology to these aristocrats and put them above the others of their races. Those who could truly see the Xenharmonic weave became known as Conductors, used to ensure the success of Rondo jumps between the Magh-Signal towers the Syndics put up on every world. Conductors are essential to FTL, even now, though it's possible for a ship to handle normal runs and routes without them. They're also fully capable of teleportation, space-time distortion, and other time and space powers, and are, of course, fully playable. These families took these powers as proof of their exalted status and ruled over the others at the pleasure of their masters. No-one could challenge the Syndics or their lesser servants, until suddenly the Syndics just vanished.

No-one knows if they left or if they somehow all perished. But suddenly, where the Syndics had mostly confined species to their own worlds outside of heavily regulated travel, people could go where they wished. Suddenly, there was no demigod propping up the local tyrant, and a lot of the less well-armed and well-prepared aristocrats quickly found themselves overthrown. Suddenly, inscrutable alien space tyrants weren't suppressing conventional scientific research anymore, and people started to wonder if their own science could one day match the power of Xenharmonics. Sure, the Remance Empire remains; many of the core worlds of the Syndicate were able to fight off their rebellions and come together under one jackbooted-and-snazzy-uniformed galactic tyranny. They insist that the Syndics are coming back any day now and until then, they control much of remaining Xenharmonic technology, print the Monetary Note (the reserve currency of the Myriad), and try to ignore the fact that they're slowly running out of spare parts and don't exactly understand the technology their masters gave them. Every day, though, the Remnance gets a little more desperate, and the various rebels and competing states get a little bolder...

So! What first? Want a summary of more of the setting (there's no actual big Setting section, mostly, outside of the setup and summary in the front of the book and a bunch of example planets and plot hooks later on) or should we get into the races and things you can play as? The races in this game are tremendously weird and range from brain-eating accidentally sentient plants to a giant bat-monster with a symbiotic cordyceps infection (that the PC is actually playing as), for a barometer of how odd they are.

RiotGearEpsilon
Jun 26, 2005
SHAVE ME FROM MY SHELF

Night10194 posted:

So! What first? Want a summary of more of the setting (there's no actual big Setting section, mostly, outside of the setup and summary in the front of the book and a bunch of example planets and plot hooks later on) or should we get into the races and things you can play as? The races in this game are tremendously weird and range from brain-eating accidentally sentient plants to a giant bat-monster with a symbiotic cordyceps infection (that the PC is actually playing as), for a barometer of how odd they are.

Gimme these weird fuckin' playable species!

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kurieg posted:

[Snarky Bullshit Answers to a Snarky Bullshit Question]

Excellent.

Davin Valkri posted:

Wait, isn't that the concept behind Golden Sky Stories?

GSS shall henceforth be in continuity with the Chronicles of Darkness. The mascots for Mahou: The Shoujoing gotta come from somewhere.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 16:58 on Nov 1, 2016

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Mors Rattus posted:

I also like the flat delivery of the line 'I'm a cat.' I actually think the Changing Breeds as a concept have a place in the game. This place would involve throwing out literally their entire book. What I would go with is, essentially: you don't just have an animal soul, you were an animal. Human is not your natural form. You are a shapeshifter because sometimes, animals become people. Why? We can figure that out later.
Because opposable thumbs are pretty cool.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Zereth posted:

Because opposable thumbs are pretty cool.

The cat teacher from Princess Tutu lives a perfectly good life without those.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


Zereth posted:

Because opposable thumbs are pretty cool.

"Behold, humans! I have petitioned the spirits of the great beyond to be reborn as one of you, for a grand, noble, purpose!"

"Tell us, oh wondrous shapeshifter! What is this purpose?"

"Well you see I can't play Call of Duty without thumbs. Now shuffle over and let me get to work."

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012






Tell us, oh mighty sorcerer, the tale of Cawdblops

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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My big idea at this point is that sometimes, animals become more human. You get some of this from Hachiko-style 'dog awaits beloved master for decades' stuff, sometimes from an animal killing and eating a particularly metaphysically potent human, and sometimes from just being in the wrong place at the wrong time when big magic goes down. There is no grand unified mythology of the Changing Breeds, and their 'society' such as it is has more to do with the fact that they tend to be able to spot each other because they can spot the social cues of another animal in a human world than anything else. They don't have an ancient progenitor as far as they know (though if they did I'd tie it in with the over-beings of Pangaea like Wolf or Spider). The event that gives them humanity tends to shape their goals, and for the most part their goals tend to be fairly small-scale. Hachiko adopts a human family and decides to protect and guide them. Jaguar that ate a guy either tries to become that guy or starts hunting things like that guy. Magical accident cat is magnetically attracted to Weird poo poo. In all cases, their instincts and vaguely Uncanny Valley nature tend to attract trouble and chaos because, y'know, a cat pretending to be a human isn't likely to be super good at it.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012






Wolf Children is a very good anime.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


PurpleXVI posted:

"Behold, humans! I have petitioned the spirits of the great beyond to be reborn as one of you, for a grand, noble, purpose!"

"Tell us, oh wondrous shapeshifter! What is this purpose?"

"Well you see I can't play Call of Duty without thumbs. Now shuffle over and let me get to work."

The spirits of the great beyond should've just let him become a fighting game tournament player. You don't really need thumbs for an arcade stick.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


RiotGearEpsilon posted:

Gimme these weird fuckin' playable species!

Myriad Song: The Races of the Myriad

So, first off, you obviously have humans. Humans are generally good at leadership and paradoxically, also great at blending into a crowd. Their racial skills relate to diplomacy, investigation, and coordination with others. You know what a human is, but what's interesting is a few of the things the game thinks are superior about them on the galactic stage. For one, the Syndics really liked humans, for some reason, so you'll see plenty of Human Conductors and Aristocrats, often marked by curious mutations or strange skin colors. Humans are also noted as the best cooks in the galaxy, as some of the most omnivorous guys and gals around. Finally, humans actually have superior eyesight to most of the other Myriad. This lets a human see more colors and clearer pictures, making them prized as marksmen.

Next you've got the Adhalians, space-birds. They don't have hands, and do everything with their feet and prehensile tails. They have tremendous phenotype diversity because it's common for their eggs to contain multiple children, and for the strongest to eat the others and take on physical features and genetic bits from them. This means they can also pick up insanely weird stuff like having teeth and mouths on their tails, extra eyes, or gently caress up their bilateral symmetry. This becomes a major marker in Adhalian culture: If you were born with a killing tail you're a raptor, a warrior. If you were born with extra eyes, you're an observer, a scientist or scholar. Adhalians excel in creative thinking, violence, and piloting anything that flies. Their specific racial gifts let them fly on their own power and revolve around their weird physiology.

Next come Elvers, eel-like amphibians (they're much more fish-like, but considering they can capably exist on dry land I feel comfortable calling them amphibian). They tend to be about 4m long and will lift themselves a couple meters off the ground from their tail to use tools or converse face to face with other races. They do not die of old age; Elvers just keep growing and growing. The eldest Elvers can't actually operate on land, being too heavy to exist outside of water and being dozens of meters in length. They tend to have terrible eye-sight, and it's stereotypical to see an Elver with high-pressure corrective goggles, but they can sense electrical currents instead. They're friendly, patient, and gregarious people, and curiously, have 4 genders that they shift between as part of their life cycle. An Elver is born neuter, and if they live in isolation, will remain neuter their entire lives. Elver develop their sexual characteristics based on the other Elver around them; a young Elver growing up among many female Elver is much more likely to turn out male. The fourth gender carries the fertilized eggs of the others to term, a process that has to happen underwater. Elver are kinda weird, but they're mostly nice people. They get racial bonuses with academics, observation, and athletics, they're excellent swimmers (obviously), and their weird bodies let them use their snake-like body as a weapon or store electricity and taser people like an electric eel.

Next we've got the Ishato, space-octopi. Standing on four tentacles and using the other four as manipulators, the Ishato are dexterous, quiet people. They were used by the Syndics as shock troopers because of their skill at silence, their cleverness, and the poison barbs on the end of their manipulators; their appearance also scared the hell out of most other sentients despite them being decent folk. Once the wars of conquest were over, their ability at multitasking led many Ishato to become professional bureaucrats and managers of the Syndic empire, and they were considered one of the most loyal species. Ishato cannot speak easily; without an amplifier their vocal communication won't rise above a loud whisper. Instead, they prefer to communicate via touch and dance. Needless to say, they mostly only do this with other Ishato because a race unfamiliar with them might mistaken being rubbed with a pair of tentacles for an attack. They have their own elaborate fashions, designed to set others at ease by wearing ceremonial robes and wrappings emblazoned with brail decorations for other Ishato to 'read'. Modern Ishato are having an identity crisis; with the Syndics gone, the conservative traditionalists want to keep to the Remnance and act like nothing happened. Younger Ishato are starting to turn against this, wanting to go 'bare' and no longer be ashamed of their appearance, and to forge their own identity for their species. Ishato get multiple arms and are naturally great at hiding, and their skills relate to dodging, fighting hand to hand, and enduring danger. They are cool space octopi.

Next come the bugfolk, the Lhampyr. They're a little underdeveloped, in my opinion. Sure, they can fly like the birds and they have some weirdness to 'em: they have 4 arms and a pair of powerful grasping feet, they can see in ultraviolent and IR but can't perceive color, and they have the ability to coordinate allies and friends by flashing their bio luminescence and doing a cool bug dance, but that's about it for them. They're good at spotting details, coordination with allies, and athletics. They were mostly undiscovered during the Syndic's reign, and so they don't have much of a known society.

NOW we're getting to the weird poo poo, with the Ludm-Rabo. Each Ludm-Rabo is actually two creatures (and this plays by having an extra d4 Trait die to throw around, since you have two separate Legacy (species) stats). The Rabo looks like a gaunt, muscular humanoid bat with no wings, and is dumb as all hell (they're barely sapient). Their entire species, however, has a symbiotic relationship with the Ludm, a kind of hyper-intelligent brain fungus. The fungus grows on a young Rabo's hair and spine, then plunges its tentacles into the brain when both are mature, networking their brains together. Rabo are massively strong and capable hunters, while their brain fungi are clever and charismatic. Ldum can't communicate, but the Rabo have such a wide range of vocalizations that the Ludm can easily speak fluently through their host. By nature and by the necessity of protecting their symbiotic host, Ludm are masters of chemistry and medicine; their species gift makes them excellent physicians and their second species Gift gives them the ability to use both the Ludm and Rabo's racial skills. The Rabo side handles senses, combat, and muscle. Play as these guys if you want to be able to argue with yourself and be a distinguished medical doctor who is also a crazy bat person. The Rabo side gets bonuses to Observation, Athletics, and Endurance while the Ludm is excellent at academics, presence (the ability to make an impression), and investigation. Ludm-Rabo are cool.

But they got nothing on Morphirs. Morphirs were a species confined to forbidden zones by the Syndics, for good reason: They're potentially insanely dangerous and they don't even mean to be. In their natural state, Morphir are unusually humanoid plants, about .3-2 meters in size. Nothing seems odd until they're fed: They're carnivorous pitcher-plants in this form, feeding on small animals and other creatures attracted to their scent. If they're fed intelligent creatures, or even just relatively clever animals like rats, a female Morphir will begin to produce buds that store a substance called Charas. This stuff is the distilled 'chemical memories' of the Morphir's victims, and when smoked it gives a crazy high as well as the ability to absorb some of the memories into the smoker. Criminals quickly got hold of Morphirs and started using them as drug manufacturing plants. Then some idiot decided to try giving them sapient brains to produce a stronger strain. Fed sapient brain matter, a Morphir slowly takes on the form of the creatures she's eating, and will gradually become capable of independent movement and sapient themselves! Morphir farmers usually try to stop this, but the longer one is fed sapient brains and the closer they get to awakening, the more powerful and valuable their charas becomes. Inevitably, some push their luck too far and end up with an escaped brain-eating plant that's newly sentient and doesn't quite know what to do. People are, obviously, a little suspicious of a brain-eating, possibly shapeshifting space-plant that just attained sentience because criminals fed it brains harvested from all their murdering and so Morphirs are usually not looked upon kindly. They aren't inherently evil, though, and while they can continue to eat brains (and absorb memories) they don't have any especial need or desire to. Morphir PCs are good at stealth and dodging, interrogations, and deceit. They get a host of powerful poisons and brain-eating natural abilities, and they're also great at hiding themselves and pretending to be another species.

I'll get to the last four next time, but I really wanted to get up to the shapeshifting brain-eating space-plants from evil drug plans gone wrong. They're awesome.

Daeren
Aug 17, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED


Kurieg posted:

Wolf Children is a very good anime.



Also Mors, your idea is cool but but I am pretty sure I'm legally obligated to give you a swirlie for trying to salvage Changing Breeds.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Daeren posted:



Also Mors, your idea is cool but but I am pretty sure I'm legally obligated to give you a swirlie for trying to salvage Changing Breeds.

does it count if all I'm taking is the name

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Mors Rattus posted:

does it count if all I'm taking is the name

No. But do not give them a chicken Illuminati. Feng Shui gets to keep that.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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I'm pretty sure none of my Changing Breeds would be capable of being the Chicken Illuminati without a lot of help from, like, the actual Illuminati. These are not a group of creatures entrenched in places of power. The closest you get is some dogs and cats who have decided to become family guardians/manipulators.

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wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




The whole reason the Ascended can pull off their global Illuminati schtick is that they have the feng shui sites and you don't. Without that they're just another group of people who are good at kung fu and shooting people.

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