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Hutter
Feb 16, 2011

It's been giving me nightmares.


I also vote for option D for banestorm.

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gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

I'm reading through Ken[neth Hite] Writes About Stuff's issue about the mythological figure of Lilith, and the "Queen of the Vampires" version of Lilith as a Night's Black Agents villain has her statted out at 50 Aberrance

The mechanics seem to reinforce the theme of the player-agents being in over their heads because unless you have a super-solid plan, any "real" Vampire that recognizes the players as a threat can just dump a dozen Aberrance into an attack and kill someone dead pretty much instantly. You can't really face any of the "bosses" without having waged a war to deny them of their lackeys, their equipment, their resources and their lifeblood first.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



You know, I'm writing up the next Torg post, and trying to make a weird science gizmo as an example, and now I'm actually wondering which is more aggravating: trying to make a pulp gizmo, or trying to make a magic spell.

I mean, the spell-making system is batshit insane (and we'll get there), but at least one you're done the spell just works and you don't have to keep maintaining it and fixing it and poo poo.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?


gradenko_2000 posted:

The mechanics seem to reinforce the theme of the player-agents being in over their heads because unless you have a super-solid plan, any "real" Vampire that recognizes the players as a threat can just dump a dozen Aberrance into an attack and kill someone dead pretty much instantly.

While this is pretty much true, it's worth noting that this isn't like Fate where higher attack roll = more damage; once you hit, all further points spent are wasted, and damage is rolled normally.

That being said, if the enemy has Vampiric Strength they can burn Aberrance to boost damage, and massive attack roll boosts can allow for some really nasty called shots.

PantsOptional
Dec 27, 2012

All I wanna do is make you bounce

gradenko_2000 posted:

I'm reading through Ken[neth Hite] Writes About Stuff's issue about the mythological figure of Lilith, and the "Queen of the Vampires" version of Lilith as a Night's Black Agents villain has her statted out at 50 Aberrance

The mechanics seem to reinforce the theme of the player-agents being in over their heads because unless you have a super-solid plan, any "real" Vampire that recognizes the players as a threat can just dump a dozen Aberrance into an attack and kill someone dead pretty much instantly. You can't really face any of the "bosses" without having waged a war to deny them of their lackeys, their equipment, their resources and their lifeblood first.

I haven't played NBA, but having read the Dracula Dossier I can barely imagine confronting him even after you've done all that.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Superiors 2: Take 2

Impudites of the Media are known as Players, Face Men and Groupies. Their relationships with their stars are designed to inflate the stars' egos and self-centeredness, and the seek to push their charges into model selfishness for others to emulate. In the presence of their star, they are always toadying sycophants, and they tend to enjoy catering to their stars every needf so deeply that they end up controlling their lives, particularly for older stars. Sometimes they even marry their charges.

Demons of the Media in Hell are mostly at work maintaining the Media's infernal bureaucracy. They tend not to be the most creative or ambitious, at low levels, and quite powerful at upper levels. There's also the job of making regular Hellish propaganda, which doesn't take a lot of creativity - you just reshash the old stuff over and over. That's how most demonlings of Perdition get their start. Producing new entertainment or altering history takes more creativity, and it's where many young demons work. Nybbas prides himself on being able to produce facts to prove anything, and his demonic clerks struggle to alter Hellish records to prove whatever he wants this minute. Kronos enjoys this - he includes every version of the altered records in his Archive, along with the true ones. They may not be marked as false.

Work in the Ethereal means inspiring dreams of fame, though such demons have to flee both Blandine and Beleth - their dreams tend to be pleasant, which means angels of Dreams can find them and demons of Nightmares object to the treatment of humans that way. They also work to protect the dreams of media darlings from celestial intervention. Less publically, Nybbas negotiates with certain ethereal groups. For example, he has close ties to the Japanese kami, thanks to the rise in popularity of anime and manga. (Andrealphus approves of this as well, due to schoolgirls and tentacle porn.) Nybbas only allows responsible and potent demons to engage in these negotiations, but other demons are sometimes sent to the Marches to get new ideas, creeping into dreams to bolster their lack of creativity.

Earth is where the Media shines. Humans, after all, are where the action is, and Earth is the ideal post. Demons of the Media all work in the media, supporting it not only because it's disosnant not to but because they love it. There's jobs for those that want attention or those that like to promote the idea of the Media. No one's wasted - everyone has a place, and the Media wants everyone. It gives even the most pitiful demon the knowledge that they're part of something world-changing. They can all bask in that reflected glory, and they love it. While they my compete among themselves to push their own projects, it all serves the Media.



Nybbas wants to control all of the Media - including odder bits. He sponsors mapping of the world, digitizing of literature (so it can be morely easily altered or adjusted), compiling of news and documentation...the end goal, of course, is controlling everything that people read, watch or hear. He also has demons working in scientific research. Vapula's great, but he can't do everything, especially in areas like subliminal processing, where some of Nybbas' more scholarly demons work.

Demons of the Media love awards, and the easiest way to reward them is to give them one with a silly name to flaunt. They mean nothing to other Words' demons, though. Being sent to Earth is also a faovrite reward. Earth's important, so demons that go there are important. They can then be rewarded by corporeal things - anything that's a status symbol, really. Underlings are also popular as rewards. Anyone who's anyone has at least a personal assistant on top of the servant granted by their Band Attunement. Really important demons will have a full entourage, and number of subordinates is a great way to tell how powerful someone is in the Media.



The first level of punishment is boredom. Tasks no one wants - writing farms, mail room work, whatever. None of this takes place on Earth, of course, which is a punishment all its own for many demons. Active cruely comes next - being assigned to work under bad bosses, being sent to investigate the Marches, being made to appear on one of Nybbas' Hellish game shows. The final level is the off switch. Death. It's reserved only for the most boring demons. But hey, it could be worse. Most demons of the Media are too afraid to mention it, but rumor has it that Nybbas sells away his worst demons in sensory deprivation cells.



Demons are always friendly to outsiders, at least those important enough to notice. The lower status a demon is, the nicer they are. Even the most important ones habitually thank the little people. It's all fake, of course, a knee-jerk habit. When working with other demons, the Media tends to defer to the outsiders, then quietly arrange things to their own desires. If the outsider complains, the Media demon will make a big show of getting mad at someone else whose fault it might be, then quietly making nice to them later.







The Scene-Setters are a group of demons whose job is to make places more telegenic. Sure, real things might happen, but if the scene doesn't look just right, the audience won't believe the truth. Therefore, they provide special effects and set dressing to make any story believable, no matter what they need - body parts, blood, pyrotechnics, a mob, whatever. They are perfectionists, and while they may be ambitious, they prefer to work behind the scenes, not on camera. Some are so specialized that they never want to leave their positions and never will. Others use them to manipulate the Media and Earthly organizations.

The Worshippers of News tend to be seen as insane by others. They're mostly Habbalah, but there's a very few unbalanced or pathetic others. They venerate the 'spirit of news' as a living thing, praying to icons of celebrities and famous disasters. Nybbas himself ignores them and rarely promotes them, but many of his other demons sneer at them. They do tend to have followings of deluded and fanatical humans, though they tend to be more passive than not (though some occasionally try to cause newsworthy disasters or blow up 'impure' newspapers). Rumor has it that the Marches actually might have some incarnate spirit of news, but no one's bothered to confirm it.



Next time: The Final Broadcast

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Mors Rattus posted:

Superiors 2: Take 2
Less publically, Nybbas negotiates with certain ethereal groups. For example, he has close ties to the Japanese kami, thanks to the rise in popularity of anime and manga. (Andrealphus approves of this as well, due to schoolgirls and tentacle porn.)

God drat it SJ Games, you're better than this.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Say, Mors, are you going to be covering the In Nomine Anime supplement?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Probably eventually.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Double Cross - Infinity Code


Player Section

This little chapter covers all sorts of player options, from T-Loises to vehicles, including some very odd but awesome choices. So let's get started:

T-Loises

The Demi-Crystal is a failed attempt to create an artifical Renegade Crystal. It has a different effect than the real deal (temporar Power levels for instant HP loss instead of improved Crit Value for higher Encroachment), and you'll turn to ashes upon death.

The Special One is not only one of your Loises, but also the single most important person in your entire life. Once per Scenario, you can turn this special bond into strength, striking through the toughest defenses with ease. But should your Special One become a Titus, the trauma from this event will give you a big penalty towards Encroachment Rate reduction.

Living Dead - unlike the Undead T-Lois - actually is what it says: You were dead once, and now you're back in the land of the living. You don't need to be a zombie or coma patient. Your "death" could be mental (drug overdose?) or social (emo phase / war trauma).
Whatever the case, this experience has made you tougher to kill. Any damage you suffer gets reduced by a random amount. On the downside, your Encroachment Rate reduction is a bit gimped.

Living Legend is... well, I just have to quote the introduction here:

No. 61 Living Legend posted:

Do you want to hear my story?

Well, I’m going to tell you anyways,
because I only do what people don’t
want me to do. See, you’re already
getting to know me!

First off, hi! I’m a legendary assassin.
Yeah, everyone in the underworld
knows who I am. I have like a million
followers.

My job has me killing bad guys that
have no conscience, people who can
somehow live with themselves. One
hit usually costs a million dollars,
but sometimes, I’ll accept a word of
gratitude as payment. Because when
it comes to killing, it’s not about the
money. It’s all about the heart, man.

So that’s why I thought I’d just pop in.
See how you’re doing. Then kill you.

OK, you’re probably wondering how I
got onto your super-secret space
station. Well, I bought a space shuttle!
Look, I’m famous. I got connections.

…Now then, let’s play a game. I’m
the hunter, and you’re Bambi’s mom.
When you die, I mark your grave with
a rose.

Now run!
Keep the space shuttle in mind. It will be important later.

Basically, you're so darn famous that you have excellent connections that allow you to get any procuarable Item once per Scenario without having to make a check. The downside is another Encroachment Rate reduction penalty because you're apparently some kind of self-centered dick.

As a Guardian, you put the safety of others before yourself. At the cost of fewer Titus effect choices, you can play bodyguard and take the hit for someone else. Unlike Powers that does the same, nothing can redirect the attack once you've made yourself the target.

Being a Harmonizer, you are an empathic Overed with the natural ability to stabilize the Renegade activity of others. Once per Scenario, you can increase your Encroachment Rate and have someone else use one of their Powers for free, letting him continue to dish out the hurt even if he's dangerously close to become a Gjaum.

Finally, we get the two Ouroboros-exclusive T-Loises: I've already mentioned Shadow Buddy before. Pretty much all Ouroboros Overeds use their Powers through their shadows, but you are a rare case were your shadow is actually sentient. This so called Avatar typically takes on a form mythology or even pop culture, not unlike a strange Renegade Being. If you're character goes the way of the Gjaum or dies, building your next PC as a Renegade Being that used to be the Avatar sounds like a pretty cool option.
The Avatar doesn't fight as an actual character in battle, it simply helps you out and grants you another Power to use as its signature. It's a Persona or Stand, basically.

The secend Ouroboros-exclusive is Anima Regium, which makes you the host of the strange Renegade Beings of the same name (more on those in a later section). It's a bit like a Renegade Crystal in that most hosts just turn into Gjaums, but you manage to control it. Your Anime Regium buddy lets you be a dick once per Scenario, causing a target to auto-fail at whatever check he's trying to perform. If you go Berserk, you turn into a tall creature with a white mask. And if you turn into a Gjaum, you stay that way. This doesn't have any mechanical effect, but you get extra creepy points for looking like Slendergjaum.

Unique Items

There are some pretty nifty sword options with the Snake Blade (a sword that can turn into a blade whip for extra range) and the Liquid Blade (whose liquid metal blade lets you tinker around with its stats). Ranged characters can get themselves Der Freischütz, a pretty hard to dodge rifle that only has 3 shots per Scenario.
Other interesting choices include the Convict's Restraint Jacket (a haunted restraint jacket that grants you a damage boost if you burst free from it, which makes for some pretty weird combat beforehand) and the Red Nightmare (essentially Overed steroids for a juicy 1-round-buff).

Syndrome-exclusive Unique Items also offer some neat choices (2 for everyone, but I'll focus on the most interesting to keep it brief): Angel Halos can use a Light Amplifier for super-accurate laser beams. Balor Overeds gain a Gravity Absorber (pretty much Captain America's shield without the throwing part). Black Dogs gain access to a Linear Motor Vehicle (a pretty fast vehicle powered by the ddriver's electricity). Bram Stoker Overeds can use the blood-producing Hematinic instead of the usual HP cost for most of their Powers. Chimaera Overeds get The Massive Repercussion (a big club) and Adaptive Armor (armor they can still wear when hulking out to monster form). Exiles can get Junk Food (restorative food only they can digest) and a Metallic Skeleton to become a Wolverine ripoff. Hanumans get funky Sound Armor (essentially small sound blaster to divert attacks). Morpheus Overeds can get a Secret Alchemy Tome is a medieval book that helps in creating Stock points through achelmy. Neumanns can use the Lightning Count (a pistol plucked directly into their brain for easier weakpoint targeting). Orcus Overeds have Mimir's Memorandum (an Orcus-encrypted book that hides Connections for spontaneous use). Salamandra can use the Maxwell Program for precise air molecule manipulation (granting a buff or debuff to someone else in the process). Solaris Overed's can use Misleading Clothing to become harder to resist in social situations *nudge nudge*.

Finally, Ouroboros Overeds naturally get the broadest selection (as everyone else already got a couple exclusive items in the last supplements): The Wendigo Blade is essentially an itemized Overed killer power that poisons targets, the Dusk Mantle is a pretty tough mantle, the Tarnished Mirror can be used to restrain targets, the Symbolic Card can be used for a selb-buff, and the World Egg can hypercharge a Warding field so much that absorbs Renegade strains, debuffing any Overed you want (with an extra debuff for Renegade Beings because they're made out of that stuff).

(Non-Unique) Items

This is the last and biggest section, so let's cover it one category at a time.

Weapons

Here we have some sensible choices that are pretty much everything you've been missing so far: tonfas, spears, ballistic knives, war axes and hammers, shurikens, flamethrowers, rocket launchers, machine guns, various kinds of shotguns... and then you have a Guitar and a Drill, in case you want to re-enact Macross 7 or Gurren Lagann.

Armors

Here we get some skill-assisting utility "armor", including lab clothes for <Knowledge> skills, a stage costume for <Art>, a motorcycle suit for <Ride: 2-wheeled>... and a Yellow Track Suit for - of course - <Melee>.
Continuing the trend of ridiculous UGN combat armor, we get a willpower-enhancing school uniform that is as protective as the bomb suit we also get. Other highlights include the Jet Suit for temporary flight and Roller Boots for fast movement.

Vehicles

Another mix of the ordinary and the insane: A jet ski, a horse, a sports car, a humvee... and a Submarine and the above-mentioned Space Shuttle. Though my personal favorite is the Segway, which is just the right kind of vehicle for a Neumann Overed dual-wielding a drill and a guitar.

Connections

All sorts of new connections ranging from a freelance reporter, a blogger, a homeless guy and - my favorite - an online forum.

Miscellaneous

This includes quite a bit of stuff to upgrade existing items, be it through better materials, a scope, alternate munitions or vehicle armor. Also includes a couple more restorative drugs, and a voice changer.

Black Dog Items

You might want to take the Vibro-Whip or the Armor Skin, but you really want the Miniature Flying Turret to pretend that you are a Gundam.

Servant Items

This inlcudes shields, armor and other sorts of offensive and defensive upgrades, including one that destroyes the Servant at the cost of a huge die bonus for some desparate measures.

Next Time: The World - the metaplot (what little there is) marches forward.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 19:10 on Jan 26, 2016

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Superiors 2: Cut, That's A Wrap

The All-Star Club is made of Media demons of a certain level of status and renown. It commands respect among lower-grade demons and envy among the mediocre, but the demons with real power now the truth - it's just a convenient way to group medium-power demons of potential use or threat. Belonging may be a mark of status, but it also makes you a target for the guys on top.

Kandid Kamera is Nybass' secret service, working in two main areas, surveillance and enforcement. Their ability to get recordings of anything is unequaled, even by the Game, though the accuracy of those recordings is sometimes dubious. They are reasonably efficient and rarely short on folks to spy on, but because everyone knows much of their evidence is faked, they need personal or physical evidence to take on demons of high rank. Kandid Kamera's at its best on Earth, where the evidence they produce or procure isn't scrutinized as heavily, and an entire branch of the organization is dedicated to gathering blackmail on humans of use to the Media.



The Fashion Victims are those demons of the Media that got attached to some trend and failed to move on from it. Sometimes, they cluster together in self-defense, still using their out-of-fashion appearances and dreaming of regaining their former glory as they help each other back to stardom. After all, one rediscovered style often brings others. Naturally, any that do manage to become fashionable will ruthlessly step on the others to get ot the top. They are Media, after all.



Just as with anyone else, Media demons are very polite to the Game. Asmodeus is hunting for weaknesses to break up the Nybbas/Vapula team in order to reduce the danger of both. Nybbas has made it clear he doesn't want Asmodeus breathing down his neck, and any Media demon who gets Game attention will be lucky to wind up permanently assigned to slush pile duty. Demons of the Game always love information, so that's the bribe of choice for the demons who have so much of it. The Game knows a lot of the data is suspect, but they have use for documented lies to incriminate people with. Nybbas has no desire to hand discipline over to the Game. He has his own solutions. Still, his demons have a lot of autonomy on Earth, which makes Asmodeus worried.

Lastly are adventure seeds, but none of them are even slightly interesting besides a mysterious relic remote the Media has managed to accidentally create that turns the local area into a black and white movie set in the 40s, or possibly teleports you to an Ethereal realm with those traits.

The End!

So, what's next? GM's Guide, a Player's Guide, a Liber, the first part of the Revelations Cycle or the next Superiors book?

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

It's too bad that the Material synthesis Morpheus power uses the shortest range when you combine two weapons into one, because who doesn't want to go full Desperado/Shadow Hearts and have a rocket launcher or machine gun built into a guitar.

mcclay
Jul 8, 2013

Oh dear oh gosh oh darn


Soiled Meat

Whichever one has rules of Etherals. Lets get Pagan.

PantsOptional
Dec 27, 2012

All I wanna do is make you bounce

IIRC the next Superiors book has some really interesting stuff, especially when you get to Yves, so I vote for that one.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


unseenlibrarian posted:

It's too bad that the Material synthesis Morpheus power uses the shortest range when you combine two weapons into one, because who doesn't want to go full Desperado/Shadow Hearts and have a rocket launcher or machine gun built into a guitar.

I'd rather go for the almighty drill tonfa. Though rocket launcher plus machine gun does technically equal a bolter, doesn't it?

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG


Part 13d: Gizmos and gadgets: Keep rollin' rollin' rollin' (what?).

A big part of 30's pulp is the weird technology. Jet packs, shrink rays, mind-projection helmets...all the toys that shouldn't be remotely possible and yet feel right at home in the setting.

Torg has two types of pulp devices: gizmos and gadgets. Yes, there is a mechanical difference.

Gizmos are...well...

quote:

A gizmo is a technological tool with abilities expressed in terms of attributes, skill, powers or Special values (such as armor values). Thus, cars, guns, microwave ovens, and invisibility belts are all gizmos, as are shrink pills and knockout gases (these too are technological tools). A construction crane, for example, would have Strength since it is capable of lifting heavy objects, while an invisibility belt would have the invisibility power, and a wonder drug would have the medicine skill because it is capable of curing illness.
...okay, sure. The book does point out that "designing a microwave oven using these rules is time which could be better spent doing something else", which begs the question of why they included it in the example to begin with.


Ah, such a level of trust in the players...

Even after all this time, I'm still amazed that the game feels the need to point out that this system isn't a full-blown technological process and is, in fact, an absrtracion.

It's important to point out that, in order to be a gizmo and thus built using these rules, the object must be technological in origin. A helmet designed to project your thoughts is fine, but a mystic amulet that does the same thing can't be built with this system, even though you can build a gizmo that contains magic skills. How would you get that amulet, then? I don't know, make something up or buy the Aysle sourcebook, I guess.

At the highest level, there are four steps to creating a gizmo:
1. Decide on the purpose of the gizmo.
2. Draw the blueprint
3. Gather the components
4. Build the gizmo

Building or repairing a gizmo requires either the science or weird science skills, but using them does not.


I don't know why they felt the need to point out that Mobus is TEH BEST.

The first step (decide what it does) is the only easy step. A gizmo can contain any attribute, most of the skills in the game, and all the available pump powers except super attribute and super skill.

For this example, I'm going to build Starman's Cosmic Rod. The cosmic rod let Jack fly, it could lift objects in a gravity field, and fire bolts of energy. In game terms, that'd be the electro-blast, flight, and telekinesis powers.


I think that's sufficiently pulp-y, don't you?

So that's done. The next step is to draw the blueprint. See, when I said this was a system to build a gizmo, what that means is that the player actually has to draw out a blueprint and assemble components to do this.

Before we can really get into the blueprint phase, we need to discuss components. There are a bunch of them, and you need to know how they all work before you can really get going.

First off, every component needs a housing, which is basically the object you're building the gizmo into. It can be pretty much anything; a belt, a car, a giant-rear end laser, and so on. The housing will determine the gizmo's base Toughness.

Each attribute, skill, or power you build into a gizmo requires its own system, which are the real mechanical chunks of the device. Each system can have boosters that increase the values of the abilities built into the system but make it harder to use, and compensators that offset the booster penalties.

Every system, without exception, requires a power source. If a system uses actual powers, it needs a Possibility capacitor to function, because powers only work by having Possibilities dumped into them. Anything else requires a power plant.

Lastly, there are adapters and caps. I'll get back to those later, but for now just keep them in the back of your mind.

Now that we know what all the components are, now we have to assemble them. Gizmo creation involves assembling all the systems one at a time, then adjusting the inherent values with boosters and capacitors.

The first step of building a system is to generate a science or weird science total against the tech rating of whatever you're building into the system. The result of the roll is the value of the ability...

...except that every ability you can jam in a gizmo has a limit rating that caps it. To go higher, you need to use boosters.

So let's start with the Electro-Raysystem. Electro-Rayhas a tech value of 27 and a limit value of 7. That means that, barring boosters, I can't get the ray's damage value above 7, which is actually pretty crap (that's the same damage rating as a throwing knife).

For the sake of example, let's say I have a weird science skill of 15 and I don't roll below a 4, which would put me into the "0 or less" range for the power's final level. So now I have an Electro-Ray system at 7.

Since I want my Electro-Ray to actually loving do something, I need to install boosters. This is another skill roll, this time on the General and Push Results Table (remember that?). The result on the table is the modifier on the system's strength. If you're using the normal science skill, you can only add one booster to a system and use the speed column of the table, but if you're using weird science then you use the power column and can add as many boosters as you want or until you fail a weird science roll, at which point you have to stop.

So let's boost the Electro-Ray. My first booster roll total is 10, which is +4. I'll add another booster, and rolling again gets me a total of 15, which is +6. That's a strength of 17 so far, which is the same as a flintlock. Guess I better keep rolling! One more roll gets me another +6, for a total final strength of 23. Four rolls to make a weapon barely stronger than a .357 Magnum.


Yeah, I know how you feel.

By the way, if I had failed any of those rolls, then I would have had to stop trying to improve the system, and couldn't try to add more boosters at all until I take another add in my weird science skill or find a GM-fiat component. So it's entirely possible to try to build a gizmo, tank the roll to determine the system's strength, tank the first booster roll, and wind up with a useless gizmo I'm stuck with for at least a few adventures.

Anyway, every booster on a system increases the difficulty of using that skill/power/whatever by 1. On top of that, the difficulty to repair a gizmo is equal to the total number of boosters installed throughout all its systems. On top of that, if a gizmo is using two systems at once (like using the cosmic rod to fly and blast people), the difficulty of using those systems goes up by +2 in addition to any other penalties. The only exceptions are adding boosters to the housing's Toughness, which won't count in terms of penalties, and powers that don't need a roll to use, in which case the penalty becomes a side effect that limits its usefulness.

To counter these penalties you can build compensators into a system. You can't start adding compensators until you're done adding all the boosters, because the difficulty of the roll to to add them is the final boosted value of the system. Also, you can't add more compensators than boosters.

Adding compensators works the same way as boosters, so in our example gizmo I can roll my weird science up to three times to counter the penalty for the three boosters. For the sake of example let's say I only managed to install two compensators at +3 each. Now the Electro-Ray system has a final strength of 23, +1 difficulty to the attack roll, and a compensated value of (base power+value of boosters-value of compensators)=17. Compensated value will come into play later.

But we're not done yet! Now I have to add a Possibility Capacitor to actually fuel the power. See, powers in a gizmo still have an adventure cost, it's just that the cost is reduced by 2, then increased by one for every booster attached to the system. This cost needs to be payed out from a capacitor the first time it's use each adventure. More than one system can draw from the same capacitor, but a capacitor can only hold a maximum of 10 Possibilities so if(when) poo poo starts getting expensive you're probably going to need multiple capacitors. The only upside to this is that we don't have to roll to add it.

So what happens when the capacitor runs out? It'll need to be recharged, of course. This requires a laboratory of some sort, a day, and someone to donate the Possibilties to put into the capacitor. Because even with a gizmo, a PC has to pay out the loving points to allow someone to keep their goddamn powers.

Jesus loving Christ.

Oh, and although we're not going to have one in this gizmo, systems that grant an effective attribute or skill use power plants instead. Power plants require a roll to build, and the plant's value is the result of the roll. Power plants just work until a hero setback or hero stymied result comes up in combat. When that happens...

quote:

[T]he gizmo operator must generate power plant totals for every gizmo currently in operation. The difficulty number is the largest system value which draws power from the plant. If the plant powers more than one system, use the One-On-Many Table. The number of successes is the number of systems still working. On a stymie, the player decides which systems are still powered. On a setback, the gamemaster gets to choose. Any systems which lose power may not be used until the power plant is repaired or recharged. Recharging requires a laboratory and a full day.

One last thing we need to take into account before we can actually assemble this drat thing is housing integrity. Remember back where I said that every housing has to have a Toughness stat? That's because a housing can only safely use systems that have a compensated value equal to the housing's Toughness+5. If a system's compensated value is higher than that, the housing takes a damage result equal to the difference between the housing integrity and the system's compensated value, ignoring KO results. If the gizmo takes too much damage, it'll stop working and need to be repaired.

The cosmic rod probably isn't that strong, let's say it has a Toughness of 7. The housing integrity is therefore 12, which is 5 less than than the Electro-Ray's compensated value. In this case, that's an O3, but using Electro-Ray does two shock damage to the user each shot, so it's really O5. Every time I fire the Electro-Ray, the cosmic rod takes 5 shock. Because a character can take up to its Toughness in shock before getting knocked out, I can fire the Electro-Ray three times before the whole device breaks down. And that's assuming it's not taking damage from other sources.

Oh hey, I haven't designed the flight and TK systems yet! Let's just assume I didn't roll super-high on those, which is fine because I don't need to break the sound barrier or fling tanks around (or get into making more boosters and compensators). I generate a [/b]flight[/b] value of 10 (100m/round; about 35 mph) and a telekinesis value of 12, which lets me lift 250 pounds. Both of those are under the housing integrity so we're good there, and I'm not going to bother adding boosters.

Oh, and I need to figure out the adventure costs for everything. Electro-Ray actually costs one more than normal at 5, flight costs 1, and TK costs 2. Given that a capacitor only holds 10 Possibilities, I'm going to have to recharge this drat thing at least every two adventures if I give Electro-Ray its own capacitor.


The reason mad scientists go mad is because of this system.

So now we have all our systems. Now we actually get to assemble them by drawing the blueprint!

Here's the blueprint symbols for all the available components:

They're like Legos, only they make you want to kill yourself.

Every component in your gizmo needs to be drawn out. Each system is pretty much a loop that links the power/skill, the power source, and any boosters and capacitors together. Also, you see how every component has so many lines for connections? Those are fixed connectors; a housing will always have four connectors, and if you only need two of them, then the other two need to have caps attached to them. Likewise, adapters have to be used to attach multi-component systems to a housing.

So now we get to draw everything out. Here's the Electro-Ray system:


Thank God for free flowchart programs, is all I'm saying.

And here's everything attached and capped:



Now, you're probably wondering what the hell the point of drawing out the blueprint is. I mean, we've already gone through the hassle of defining what everything does, right?

And the answer is "yes, but..." Because now we come to the point where we actually have to build the loving thing in-character. That means actually buying all the components, and making more loving rolls to actually create all the connections between components in-game.

See, I've been doing this out of order. What you're supposed to do is draw the blueprint while designing, adding all the components and rolling to connect them as you go along. In addition to the normal rolls for adding boosters and compensators, you have to roll to attach the power source to each system, adapter, and cap. Each roll you make while building the gizmo, pass or fail, requires a day of work. The only consequence of failing to connect the generators, adapters, or caps is just wasted game time.

In addition to all the rolling, you also need to buy every single component off the equipment list. The cosmic rod has a housing, three boosters, two compensators, three adapters, three Possibility capacators, and a cap. A small housing costs $30, systems up to value 15 cost $500, systems range from $400 to $40000 depending on the system's value, the capacators cost $5000 a pop, caps are $5, adapters cost 10% of the value of the system they're attached to. Oh, and each booster and capacitor costs as much as the system it's attached to.

So assuming I lowball the system prices based on the given ranges:
pre:
Housing: $30
	Cap: $5
	
Electro-Blast: $41,600
	Value 23 system: $6,000
	PCP: $5,000
	3 Boosters: $18,000
	2 Compensators: $12,000
	Adapter: $600
	
Flight: $5,560
	Value 10 system: $500
	PCP: $5,000
	Adapter: $60
	
Telekinesis: $5,560
	Value 12 system: $500
	PCP: $5,000
	Adapter: $60
Grand total: $52,750. And again, that's the lowball. How in the hell is a character supposed to get that much money?

Gizmos, despite their nature, are still subject to the rules for Tech axioms: the tech value of the gizmo is the highest tech value of all its component systems, and using it outside that axiom level will risk disconnection. That said, they never cause contradictions inside Nile Empire axioms.

So what happens if you want to play someone who just uses the gizmo, but isn't the one who actually made it? I guess you better hope the GM gives you an NPC scientist with a decent skill, or hope that you roll really well because the whole shebang assumes that the character is the one making the device, not that it was given to him or he found it or whatever.

And you're also going to need someone who can fix the drat thing, because (as stated previously) gizmos can take damage. A gizmo that is "knocked out" has to be restarted with a simple science roll, but repairing damage can be done with either of the construction skills. The difficulty to repair a gizmo is the gizmo's highest value, plus one per booster. In the cosmic rod's case, that's a 26, which is pretty drat hard.

So there we are. About 20 skill rolls, $50k in-game cash, and I have a gizmo that I can use to do things assuming it doesn't shake itself apart with shock damage, and an attack that's as strong as a loving pistol and yet costs $40,000.

Why any of this? Why is this so complicated? Why are there so many goddamn steps and limits and drawbacks? When you get right down to it, building more than one power into a gizmo is barely cost-effective in any sense of the phrase, especially since you still have to pay out Possibilities to fuel powers.


This whole thing is giving me a headache, so here's some kitties.

But don't worry! The Terra sourcebook realized that this whole process is too complicated, so it had a "simplified" gizmo creation system. And by "simplified", I mean that you don't draw blueprints anymore. That's really the only significant change in the process.

Oh, and under the newer system boosters and compensators work differently; now boosters do a point of shock to the gizmo every time the power is used, and compensators can reduce that damage. The reason for this? Because the old way let players "chuck the limit values out the window".

GOOD! Those made no goddamn sense! Letting people be powerful should be the point of a self-styled cinematic system, especially when it takes place in a pulp reality! Not forcing a bunch rolls and mechanics to make your device worth a drat.

Also, this being Torg, there's literally two pages of explanation as to why the Terran gizmo rules are different from the Nile Empire gizmo rules, because people needed an in-game explanation apparently. Like when there was the Time of Troubles to explain the changes between 1e and 2e D&D. The short form is that Mobius' understand of pulp technology (which is what informs the Empire's weird tech) has become outdated from recent developments back home on Terra.

Just to over-complicate matters even more, what the Nile Empire book calls a "gizmo" is called a "gadget" in the Terra book, and the Terra book uses "gizmo" to refer to a one-shot pulp device, like a strength-boosting pill or a one-shot teleporter made from spare parts. They're built like bigger devices, except they don't use Possibility capacitors, and instead have to be fueled by someone spending Possibilities when the device is used. Whatever.

--
Christ.

Why?

Just why?


NEXT TIME: Why should gizmos have all the overcomplication?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



For the record, Ethereals are the final Player's Guide - but Corporeal is, IIRC, the first one, and has Pagan Soldiers.

And the next Superiors would cover Blandine, Gabriel, Khalid and Yves.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


In what ended up being a complete surprise to me, we had a three-way tie up into the very end, at which point GURPS Banestorm eked out a marginal win with five votes to Black Agents's and Voodoo's four! Sorry, Warehouse 23, you weren't even in the running.

Now that the polling is out of the way, the second to last GURPS Technomancer post will be up today, and the final exit tomorrow, after which Banestorm will start as soon as I've gotten a few posts of it written.



EDIT: And for Mors Rattus's poll, I'm going to vote for Superior 3. As much as I want to hear about the old gods, I want to hear about how they treat Khalid more.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 19:37 on Jan 26, 2016

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Mors Rattus posted:

Probably eventually.
That's fine. I mostly just waned to make sure Midjack was aware it existed!

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015



I will never get tired of this ridiculous system. All that's really left is to assign all these part to a hit location chart, and I can finally build my BattleMechs with the granularity they were always meant to be built with.

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.




My vote is for the Pagan stuff Mors.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Zereth posted:

That's fine. I mostly just waned to make sure Midjack was aware it existed!

Oh, I own it and the entire rest of the In Nomine line though it's been quite some time since I've looked through them.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Midjack posted:

Oh, I own it and the entire rest of the In Nomine line though it's been quite some time since I've looked through them.
Ah, fair enough! I think I'm in the same boat, actually.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I like how Evil Mastermind keeps labeling the PSC as PCP. Because whoever came up with this whole scheme was definitely on something.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





PantsOptional posted:

I haven't played NBA, but having read the Dracula Dossier I can barely imagine confronting him even after you've done all that.
I forgot the acronym for the game under review and thought for a shining moment about having to confront Dracula on the b-ball court.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Nessus posted:

I forgot the acronym for the game under review and thought for a shining moment about having to confront Dracula on the b-ball court.

Kohta Hirano's doing the Space Jam sequel?

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Bieeardo posted:

I like how Evil Mastermind keeps labeling the PSC as PCP. Because whoever came up with this whole scheme was definitely on something.

Listen, that was an update I had to loving power through to get done. You're lucky I made sure to fix my bbcode mistakes.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kavak posted:

Kohta Hirano's doing the Space Jam sequel?

Having Bugs troll the hell out of Alucard would make my day.

mcclay
Jul 8, 2013

Oh dear oh gosh oh darn


Soiled Meat

Nessus posted:

I forgot the acronym for the game under review and thought for a shining moment about having to confront Dracula on the b-ball court.

Stop leaking the Shut Up and Slam 2 design document.

A GODDAMN TYPO
Oct 22, 2008



Throwing in a vote for the next Superiors book - I'm really liking them.

(And if there's a way you could please thumbnail the wider pictures that break the tables, I'd appreciate it.)

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Evil Mastermind posted:

Listen, that was an update I had to loving power through to get done. You're lucky I made sure to fix my bbcode mistakes.

It's like GURPS Vehicles but not even having the excuse of being a physics simulation, it's... a... well, like a lot of TORG seems to be just shouting "but you have to earn your fun!"

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



A GODDAMN TYPO posted:

Throwing in a vote for the next Superiors book - I'm really liking them.

(And if there's a way you could please thumbnail the wider pictures that break the tables, I'd appreciate it.)

I can timg them in the future, sure. They don't break tables for me, so I didn't realize they would for other folks.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Alien Rope Burn posted:

It's like GURPS Vehicles but not even having the excuse of being a physics simulation, it's... a... well, like a lot of TORG seems to be just shouting "but you have to earn your fun!"

I don't know if it's "earn your fun" so much as a weird kind of simulationism that tries to make you *feel* like you're really building the gadget yourself. After all, there's a certain type of player who really gets a kick out of drawing circuit diagrams and the like for his Zapdeath Gun.

The odd thing is, many of the Torg creators were veterans of Mayfair's DC Heroes system. In the first edition of DCH, if you wanted to have a gadget you had to build it yourself, and that meant you were at the mercy of the dice. First time I tried to create a character, I started building a powered exoskeleton, rolled really well for installing the Strength stat, and all of a sudden my middle-tier hero could arm wrestle Superman. After a ton of complaints, Mayfair abandoned that system (for another system that didn't work either, but that's another story). So it's kind of funny watching them make the same mistakes with Torg.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



I'd like to continue with the Superiors series. May as well keep at it.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


All I want in this world now is to play that hard-boiled 30s Demonic reporter. Hell I want a whole TV series - if they can turn Lucifer into a cop show (they just did) where's my newsroom filled with demons and at least one angel, getting the scoop at all costs?

quote:

Kandid Kamera is Nybass' secret service, working in two main areas, surveillance and enforcement. Their ability to get recordings of anything is unequaled, even by the Game, though the accuracy of those recordings is sometimes dubious. They are reasonably efficient and rarely short on folks to spy on, but because everyone knows much of their evidence is faked, they need personal or physical evidence to take on demons of high rank. Kandid Kamera's at its best on Earth, where the evidence they produce or procure isn't scrutinized as heavily, and an entire branch of the organization is dedicated to gathering blackmail on humans of use to the Media.

Now we know what Andrew Breitbart does after he died.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 01:06 on Jan 27, 2016

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012





Chapter 7: Organizations
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Tactical Talismans, and Firearms (A3TF)
On top of what the real ATF regulates, the A3TF deals with the regulation of "tactical talismans", classed as any magic item capable of producing physical harm or dysfunction. They also cover magic item smuggling and supernaturally-induced arson. The NRA and their kin in the world of Technomancer see combat wands and other damaging magic items as a direct extension of the second amendment, and arguments over tactical talisman control get just as nasty as ones about gun control.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
The CDC still deals with diseases, of course. And since vampiric leukemia and ambulatory necrotic plague are diseases, that means the CDC gets to have its own special team of undead slayers. Hazardous Material and Entities Teams, or HazMETs, go out and personally take care of the threats of entities classified as "ambulatory biohazards", including vampires, toxic zombies, atomic liches, and chonchons. HazMET teams also get called out when there is a need to have wizard battles with bioterrorist mages.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
While they're best known as a spy agency, the CIA in the world of GURPS Technomancer is actually criticized for lack of spying, as they have spent a lot more of their budget on trying to figure out new surveillance and countersurveillance spells rather than recruiting foreign operatives and gathering intel.

Drug and Alchemy Enforcement Agency (DAEA)
The DAEA is at the front of the War on Drugs and Alchemy, an ongoing fight that started with cartels on the Mexico border but has since spread nationwide. Libertarians (and presumably other left wing groups, but only libertarians are mentioned by the text) have contested the fact that DAEA offices now have access to large amounts of conventional and magical firepower and large legal jurisdiction, and raids of local mom and pop elixir shops have lead to some civilian accusations that the organization is on the payroll of Big Alchemy. Their agents don't really care, though, because...

GURPS Technomancer posted:

They know what crack and spelljack can do to a neighborhood, and see firsthand the horrific “brain labs” where society's lost are brain-leeched to make PHTP. When they hear of a cop ripped apart by gangbangers supercharged on illegal combat elixirs and PCP, they have no qualms about shutting down the back-alley shop that makes the stuff.

Excalibur
Remember the Star Wars project? Well, in the world of GURPS Technomancer, Reagan instead came up with this black ops project, and unlike Star Wars, it succeeded. Ronnie was terrified at the fact that the USSR figured out how to create kinetic kill satellites soon after the USA did (because dropping big rocks is apparently a difficult discovery), so he ordered the testing of a new form of satellite that would be able to break through even the extremely powerful Force Dome spells that the kinetic kill satellites are enchanted with. The result is the Excalibur: a satellite containing a nuclear warhead that, when detonated, powers twenty-four mana-active lasers that drain the Force Dome while the blast's concentrated radioactive beam itself incinerates the juicy mechanical innards. While nuclear detonations in space don't threaten causing a Hellstorm event like one in the atmosphere would, it is still technically against the Test Ban Treaty of 1953, so the Excalibur is kept very much under wraps to avoid international outrage.

Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI)
The Bureau is home to some of the world's best forensic mages. Seers attempt to predict crime sprees or major events so they can be stopped before they happen, exorcists are on hand to deal with demonological and spiritual crimes, and certain occultists on staff are trying to unravel the mystery of the Seelie. For whatever reason, most of the already short entry space for each organization is spent discussing how many individuals of various real world personnel types the FBI has.

National Astromancy and Space Administration (NASA)
A surprisingly terse entry, simply noting the actual space holdings that NASA has. I can assume that this is a result of the last two chapters detailing a lot about space travel already. Most launches by NASA are done at the Johnson Space Teleportation Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Astromancers there have access to immense powerstones, allowing them to channel enough energy collectively to teleport things up to five tons in weight out into orbit. Space Port Hermes is the primary space station in orbit for NASA to transport things to, and it acts a staging point for the organization's two moon bases. The Hubble Lunar Observatory is an observatory of thirty scientists that live on the far side of the moon and observe the stars, while Kennedy base is a joint NASA, European, Canadian, Mexican, and Japanese space station with a maximum one thousand person population found across forty buildings.

Paramagical Regulatory Agency (PRA)
A spinoff of the Department of Labor, Department of Education, and Environmental Protection Agency, created to deal with magical concerns related to all three of the above mundane organizations. While the PRA has authorization to shut down someone's business, they have no legal authority to deal with criminal acts, and primarily just end up providing leads for the police and FBI or aid with legislation related to the regulation of magical commerce. The Republican party has repeatedly tried to defund the PRA, to no success so far.

Other US Agencies
These poor saps only get a few sentences rather than the few paragraphs the other organizations so far have gotten. To give a quick rundown of an already quick list: the National Reconnaissance Office runs satellites enchanted with the Wizard Eye spell and send their information to the NSA and CIA, the NSA has nothing really new of note about it right here compared to what it already is in real life, the Secret Service supplies agents with magical items enchanted with Missile Shield or Reverse Missile, and the US Space Command is the Air Force's space branch for when there is tension out in the wild black yonder.

Chili Wizard
For whatever reason, chili is actually the most popular fast food in Technomancer's America, with Chili Wizard being the leading chain. Chili Wizards are easily spotted by their stereotypical wizard's tower-shaped buildings and their cartoon dragon mascot El Draco the Chili Wizard. Their chain was the first group of drive-throughs to utilize pots enchanted with the Cook spell to make restaurant-quality food at fast food speeds, and they have continued to lead the food industry in innovations surrounding the creation and application of spells related to the creation of food.


Leviathan Investment Group
Our prerequisite megacorporation, since this is a 90s game after all. Leviathan owns a lot of companies in numerous fields, has large numbers of lobbyists under its thumb, is connected to a few foreign dictatorships, and is lead by a mysterious man named Jericho Rain. Hidden to all but the corporate elite of Leviathan is the fact that Rain is actually a particularly intelligent blue dragon. He was a member of the Black Berets during the Vietnam War, where he made his living as a black market arms salesman. The fortune he made off that was what he used to pump life into a small investment firm he found and transform it into the corporate giant – well, let's be honest, corporate leviathan, because that's totally what they were going for with the name – it is today. Some of the big companies Leviathan has swallowed up include:
  • Global Hazardous Operations and Security Techniques: GHOST is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it trains magical security for law enforcement and corporate interests, as well as some of the best Hellhounds in the nation through their own Cerberus Unit. They even have criminal mage reform programs across the USA that they pay for out of their own pocket. On the other hand, GHOST also has a base off of American soil, down in Surinam, that acts as a mage PMC that contracts out to war-torn nations across the Third World. Whether or not they secretly have the backing of a Herculean senator from the midwest is unknown.
  • Hermes Technology: The largest alchemical R&D and manufacturing group in America. It is a profitable venture for Leviathan, being its largest subsidiary thanks to huge money from varous elixirs and being the first to develop aerosol elixirs and sell them to the military and law enforcement groups. They also keep mysteriously having accusations against them concerning illegal alchemical waste dumping either dropped or settled out of court.
  • Leviathan Genetics: Leviathan Genetics is perhaps most famous for being the inventors of the Transfer Pregnancy and Spellgraft spells and custom-engineered familiars, but it has so far still been a huge money sink for LIG. Still, research keeps going, combined with aggressive headhunting at mage campuses for anyone who has any whiff of talent regarding genetic manipulation. Since human genetic engineering is currently illegal in the United States in spite of their lobbying, Leviathan Genetics has a branch down in Surinam with their PMC brethren that allows wealthy individuals to fly there and request Spellgrafting or other fetal tampering for a hefty sum. Rain's ultimate goal is an "everyone will be superheroes...if they can pay" situation: not content with having Spellgraft allow children to be born with a single innate spell, he keeps filtering cash into Leviathan Genetics for the ultimate goal of being able to genetically induce Magery itself.
  • Leviathan Media Group: A book, magazine, and compute game company, without any deep dark secrets or the like. Some of their most popular periodicals include Better Living Through Alchemy, Chimera Life and its racier counterpart Chimera Babes, Financial Wizardry, Hermetic Gardening, Popular Enchantment, and Tactical Sorcery Review.
  • Sunspark Opals: A joint investment between Leviathan and Manadynamics that creates and sells watches and jewelry that have embedded Powerstones. It also doesn't have any deep dark secrets.

Manadynamics
Manadynamics was the pioneer of both industrial enchantment and the creation of Powerstones, large opal-like gemstones that hold extra mana that can be used for casting and automatically recharge themselves over time. While other groups quickly reverse-engineered the concept and courts ruled that Manadynamics could not hold monopoly on the concept of a magic rock, the company is still the primary manufacturer of Powerstones due to the number and quality they produce. Most other products of Manadynamics are the result of partnerships. On top of their jewelry business with the Leviathan group noted above, their other really big successes have been creating flying carpets with DuPont and the Harmonic Converter™ mana-powered engine with Ford Motors.

Necrotech
If you recall, these guys have been embroiled in legal controversy over their spell that lets you watch no longer running television shows. That's probably actually the least of the problems this company has had. Golems at their factories had programming to use deadly force against unauthorized personnel, necromantic waste was unsafely stored, and numerous conspiracy theories swirled around them, all leading to eroding public trust in the company. This all came to a head when a massive industrial accident at NecroTech Albuquerque in 1991 killed two of its brightest scientists and lead to a CDC investigation, which unsurprisingly found numerous health and safety violations that lead to the facility being sealed off. The combination of the loss of key personnel, its largest research lab, exorbitant fines, and plummeting stock more or less crippled Necrotech. The only reason they survived at all was a buyout by Sephiroth Industries in 1994. While merely a subsidiary of Sephiroth, Necrotech survvied and rebounded thanks to corporate restructuring and greater safety measures that got both the public and the military (for whome ghost dynamic lasers and golems were built before the 1991 incident) back on Necrotech's side.

That's not the whole story, though. Those conspiracy theories? Two of them are true, at least. Claims that Necrotech were researching interdimensional travel were true, and that research continues covertly under the leadership of Sephiroth Industries. Conspiracy theorist claims of a nefarious device code-named Soulburner were also, unfortunately, very much true. Andrew Bleys, the man who founded Necrotech and one of the two scientists who died in the 1991 disaster, was obsessed with trying to find something that could channel excess mana even better than Powerstones. His eventual decision: human souls. Thus was born the Soulburner Gestalt, a terrifying machine that is a giant tube with five hundred decapitated but nonetheless alive human heads plugged into wall sockets and writhing in eternal pain. Each head acts as a Powerstone, but their connection to the machine means they all act in unison, effectively making a ridiculously powerful Powerstone that could fuel tons of magic use. When it was discovered during government raids of the Albuquerque facility after the 1991 disaster, shocked NSA agents spirited it away and supposedly dismantled it, but kept Bleys's original blueprints secretly hidden under lock and key rather than destroying those as well. You know, just in case.


Sephiroth Industries
Sephiroth Industries began as just another one of the various Powerstone companies vying for a piece of the Manadynamics pie, notable only for managing to survive the head Powerstone company's crippling licensing fees by designing a new form of Powerstone in 1968 that was large and energy-packed enough that it could be used to revolutionize the space race. The ascent of chairwoman Elena Chapel also lead to an ascent of the company, with her decision to push more money into spell R&D leading to Sephiroth's invention of the spells Conduct Power, Draw Power, and Steal Power in 1978. Selling these spells to schools and commercial businesses for a flat rate one-time licensing fee not only made Sephiroth Industries money, but also broke the monopoly Manadynamics had on the field of magical energy.

The company now specializes in telportation-grade Powerstones, teleportation shuttles, electromagnetic-related magic, energy to mana and mana to energy conversion through their invented spells, and the products created by their subsidiary Necrotech. Sephiroth Industries is also the primary civilian provider of space transport to both space stations/satelittes and the moon, and their own massive wheel-like space station dubbed Yetzirah is planned for completion by 2005.

Other Corporations
Like those random US agencies, these are the corporations that are at the bottom of the word count barrel. American Telegraph, Telephone, and Telepathy manufactures magical telecommunications gear on top of mundane phones and the like, Boeing Hyperspace creates teleportation wands, Brujera Mexicana is the largest magitech corporation in Mexico and creates a variety of civilian and military magic items, DuPont makes Kevlar and Ectoweave™ as well as flying carpets, IBM makes both magical and non-magical computers and developed the Small Vision spell, Intel was the first to use the Inscribe spell for microlithography, Lockheed-Martin tries really hard to compete in the same sales fields as Sephiroth Industries but has only beaten them in the creation of military aircraft, and Manastar is a software developer that pioneered awakened computers and scrolls on CD.

Activist Groups
Since these guys actually manage to have a big more to them than the "other [x]" groups do, they get enough attention from me to actually pull out some bullet points rather than one rambling sentence.
  • Bothered About Magic Prostitution: BAMP protests against the use of Create Servant constructs, plastic golems, and video entities (magical constructs created by enchanting part of a film reel, VCR tape, or CD in order to reproduce a thing that is on screen as a full-sized animate entity) as sex workers. They allege that these acts are becoming more and more common, and that legislation is needed now before things get out of hand.
  • Everyone's Against Spirit Exploitation: Founded in 1980, EASE primarily protests against the status of elementals as tools and property in spite of their sapience, but also support privacy rights for the dead and lessened use of the Summon Spirit spell. With around twenty thousand members and strong public support, they are one of the most successful magical activist groups in the United States.
  • Greenpeace: The most well-known "responsible" (the book's scare quotes, not mine) environmental activists. A recent incident involved French-sanctioned terrorists attacking Greenpeace after a protest of France's testing of necronium bombs in the South Pacific.
  • League of Chimera Voters: The largest activist group in the United States with around one hundred thousand members, the League of Chimera Voters is basically the NAACP but for chimeras.
  • Nightclaw: A New Mexico-based chimera activist group. Unlike the League of Chimera Voters, Nightclaw goes with the bash-the-fash strategy of activism rather than quiet protests and letters to city representatives.
  • The Right Path: A really weird straw atheist organization. They argue that magic is inherently irrational and that hard science should be supported instead before Western civilization topples from its own folly. This would make far more sense if this was Mage and not Technomancer, where magic is in fact quite scientific and can be researched, measured, and developed like any other type of technological advancement.


Terrorists
Like activist groups, the clan of setting villains here are still more noteworthy than any of the collective Other Guys, so the bullet points are getting pulled out again.
  • Army of God: Muslims that hate magic, the USSR, and Israel. They are supported by Iran and Afghanistan.
  • Dead Brigade: While mostly made up of vampires, the leadership of the Dead Brigade is an atomic lich hacker named Lord Deadlady. Lord Deadlady. Their primary goals are beating the poo poo out of the CDC, attempting to force the US to repeal anti-vampire laws, and trying to create NEMA reactor accidents to create more undead.
  • Elemental Liberation Front: ELF is a splinter group of EASE that felt peaceful protests wouldn't get elementals freed from their slavery at any reasonable rate. While only about thirty members strong, those members include elementals, chimeras, and at least one dragon, which means they aren't exactly weaklings.
  • Gaea's Guard: A group against NEMA reactors and the proliferation of necronium products. Their main attacks are against NEMA power lines and corporate offices.
  • God's Own Army: Like the Army of God, but Christian instead of Muslim and not supported by or turned against any particular nation.
  • Irish Republican Army: If you lived through the 90s, you probably know who these guys are. In the world of GURPS Technomancer, they engaged in necromancy and the summoning of demons taking the form of beasts from Celtic mythology.
  • Loki's Stepchildren: A group of radical anti-Christian neo-pagans, made up entirely of nonhuman races. They target human Christian groups for their attacks.
  • South Atlantic Solidarity Strikeforce: A Maoist collective that have allied themselves with the killer penguins. The only attacks SASS has made have been against Argentinian bases on small Antarctic islands, so they aren't particularly demanding as far as terrorist groups go.
  • Weather Underground: Another actual terrorist group that did horrible things in the real world in the 90s. In Technomancer-land, they have actual weather control magic.
  • Wodinspear: A group of Norse neo-pagan skinheads with ties to Neo-Nazis. They hate all non-whites, including non-humans, and I can only imagine how well they react to Loki's Stepchildren given their shared religion.

Elementalist's Union
The Elementalists' Union is a union for mage laborers who utilize elemental magic. It is a powerful union that has contributed to the political careers of various Democrats and lobbyists that are pro-labor and pro-magic. The Union's biggest troubles have come from the mob, which has been attempting to infiltrate and influence the union's members in New York and New Jersey, and the protestation of their use of Summon Elemental and Control Elemental spells by activist groups.

Enoch Foundation
The Enoch Foundation is an international nonprofit that utilizes various healing, plant-boosting, and weather contrl spells to aid those living in Third World nations. After accusations of imperialism in the past, modern Enoch volunteers have taken to working with and assisting local mages and community leaders rather than ignoring them while going in all gung-ho.

Syndicado Nacional de Trabajadores en Brujera y Curandera Quetzal
A mage worker's union in Mexico....and that's pretty much it. I'm not sure why these guys aren't in the upcoming "Other Organizations of Interest" section instead of here.

Brothers of the Morning Star
A cult that preaches oneness and achievement of spiritual clarity, even claiming that non-mages can gain Magery by rising through the ranks and achieving their own personal divinity through cosmic enlightenment. The Morning Star's leaders claim that their teachings come from Ozymandias, a spirit who is the last survivor of a mighty civilization that was once found on Venus but was destroyed after all but Ozymandius strayed from the path of enlightenment. In truth, Ozymandias is just a malebrachne demon, albeit one who has managed to get an impressive following.


Church of the Knights of the Apocalypse
A splinter group of Southern Baptists who adapted their premillenial dispensationalist ideas to the magical world. They see chimeras and undead as part of Gog and Magog, along with Cuba, Russia, and Canada (change that to Russia, China, and Iran and you more or less have a non-magical version of what my parents taught me, so not too far off so far). Chimeras in particular are believed to be sired from incubus sperm, and thus carrying the spirit of Satan. The signal of the Rapture and the Apocalypse after it is said to be a third Hellstorm in Jerusalem some time in the next century, and the Knights feel it is their duty to save as many souls in the time before and block the 'forces of darkness' from having too much support when the end does come. On top of standard fundamentalist right wing political positions, Knights urge their members to avoid and boycott chimera-owned businesses and support legislature that directly or indirectly hampers chimeras' civil rights, especially their ability to breed. Women in the church who have the rare misfortune of a pregnancy that spontaneously has the fetus develop into a chimera rather than a human typically either abandon the baby or have an abortion in spite of the church's pro-life stance – both in secret, of course, to avoid abuse and accusations of devilry.

The Rachelites
Almost the polar opposites of the Church of the Knights of the Apocalypse, the Rachelites were created by Rachel Curwin, a woman who claimed that the voice of God spoke to her and told her to take up "the sword of Alamogordo" (magic) and smite those who would threaten peace and justice. Rachelites are entirely made up of mages who believe that Curwin's vision was both true and a commandment from God that deemed magic a tool of the righteous. They join various law enforcement and military groups to enforce the law, and are big supporters of the US government. You probably shouldn't talk about the Hellstorm, though – they consider the name to be sacrilege, and instead refer to the Hellstorm as the Eye of God or the Divine Whirlwind.

The Condor Group
The Thule Society were Nazi mystics that had no magical talent whatsoever, since there was no such thing as magic yet. As the Third Reich collapsed in 1945, terrified Thule Society priests hiding deep in the mountains of Bavaria attempted to contact Hitler's ghost in a desperate attempt to figure out what to do. Surprisingly, it worked: the Trinity test had made magic real, and their ceremonies suddenly had merit. Hitler pointed them westward, destined to create a Fourth Reich in the New World. Their seance answered, the Thule priests made the pilgrimage to Argentina along with other Nazi escapees and created a front for themselves as a financial and consulting firm called the Condor Group. Using the Exchange Bodies spell, they hid wanted criminals such as Otto Skorzeny, Martin Bormann, and even Joseph Mengele behind entirely new faces, and through their deceptive charms they worked their way into the good graces of Juan and Eva Peron. Saving Eva from a life-threatening illness and teaching her the ways of the mage sealed the deal for good.

Nazis now effectively rule Argentina, the power behind the throne of the immortal Eva Peron. Decades of indocrination to Nazi ideology, eugenics programs, and armies of ghost U-Boats and their damned crews raised by Condor Group necromancers ensure that the Nazi legacy will continue, and the combined use of Steal Youth and Exchange Bodies spells has meant that the original Thule priests are still around as well. They even have Hitler at their side – sort of, at least. A ghost that is believed to be Hitler is kept in a protective glass sphere, but all he does is scream and mutter nonsensical words and phrases, seemingly having been driven even more mad by whatever happened in the afterlife.


The Cartels
Operating primarily out of Colombia and Mexico, the Cartels are well-known for their large hand in the drug trade. The sheer amount of magic that makes crossing countries unnoticed easier has forced the DAEA to abandon hopes of winning the War on Drugs through border control. Instead, they focus on policing American streets and aiding Mexican and Colombian efforts to fight the Cartels on their native soils. The main products the Cartels move are cocaine, spelljack (cocaine infused with crushed powerstones that causes the user to cast spells more effectively, feel overconfident, and have glowing red eyes; being addicted to spelljack is a -20 point disadvantage), and the infamous Purified Human Theokinesis Protein. PHTP is created from theokinesin, the cerebral chemical that is produced in tandem with Magery. Taking PHTP increases a character's Magery advantage by one level or grants Magery 1 to a non-mage for the twenty-four hour duration of the drug, as well as producing , but overdosing can actually lead to permanent loss of a level of Magery. The thing that makes it illegal, of course, is the fact that you need to hack up someone's brain to get at, and Cartel manufacturers have started to run kidnapping and murder rings just to make PHTP.

The Mafia
Mafia activities are mainly focused on protection rackets that target small magic item shops and construction businesses, magic-aided blackmail, mind control magic, and prostitution of chimeras and succubi/incubi. They have also begun to smuggle magic items from America to Europe, as Europe has a fair amount of tariffs that make their magic item prices overall more expensive. Mafia wizards are called Bernandanti and specialize in mind control and necromancy spells, with Soul Jar being actually enforced on members of the families to ensure their loyalty.

Triads
Triads are best known for exploiting Asian immigrant sweatshop workers and smuggling drugs, firearms, and alchemical elixirs across the Pacific in both directions. They also directly compete with the Cartels for PHTP production and distribution. Some Triads gangs are lead by dragons, who gain high status thanks to connections they made in the east Asian underworld during the Vietnam War.

Other Groups of Interest
The Vatican has a group monitoring priests and nuns that are mages and coordinating Catholic mage training, Mexico's feds have a decent number of mages, and Mossad uses golems and primarily targets Middle Eastern countries and Argentina. That's pretty much the summary of the very short "other groups of interest".



Chapter 8: World of Wizardy
The very last chapter of GURPS Technomancer gives us a brief gazetteer. Almost all of it focuses on the heavily mana-touched areas of Trinity's Shadow (the USA, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and southern Canada) and the Antarctica Hellstorm (Antarctica, southern Argentina, and various tiny islands). Since those areas are the ones with the highest number of mage births and supernatural entities, they are given far more attention on what has happened to them, which I guess is reasonable but at the same time a bit sad at the same time, given that I'd love to see what certain other nations do with their smaller but nonetheless present mage populations.

Places of Power
Certain places that have long (Victorian era-long at the least) been associated with the mystical and the arcane, such as Easter Island, Stonehenge, and Buddhist temples. These aren't listed in any detail, with the book instead asking us to look at GURPS Places of Mystery and take inspiration from it. I may just do that later on down the review line, book, thanks for the suggestion.

The Manabelt
Covering a two hundred mile radius that covers most of New Mexico and parts of west Texas and northern Mexico, the Manabelt was the epicenter of the magic blast of the Triniy experiments. The results were insane, to say the least. In most of the world, one in a thousand people are born with Magery 1, one in ten thousand are born with Magery 2, and one in one hundred thousand are born with Magery 3. In most of Trinity's Shadow and the Antartica Hellstorm, those numbers are one in one hundred being born with Magery 1, one in four hundred with Magery 2, and one in one thousand with Magery 3. People in the Manabelt have six times as many mage births as the rest of Trinity's Shadow, and the otherwise rare chimera births are just as high as mages. Unsurprisingly, people flock to the Mana Belt for both agricultural and industrial business, chimeras gather there due to safety in numbers, and non-mage tourists who want a taste of magical power travel there to be able to use magic for a brief period of time. Some particular locations of note within the Manabelt are also given.
  • Alamogordo: Near the epicenter of the original blast that created Trinity's Shadow and the Manabelt, Alamogordo is both a major magic agricultural center and military location. On top of White Sands Missile Range being converted to a slace teleportation center, it is the location of Camp Merlin, the wizard training ground for the US Army.
  • White Sands National Monument: A gypsum desert that is best known for having an all-white subspecies of basilisk. The park is open unless tests are being performed at the White Sands Missile and Space Teleportation Center.
  • Trinity Site: Sixty miles northwest of Alamogordo, the Hellstorm still rages where it was born. The Army keeps the area under lock and key, since it's probably in everyone's best interests to avoid any deaths in a terrifying mess of radiation, super-high mana, hurricane-force wind, and lightning.
  • Albuquerque: The second largest city in the Manabelt, Albuquerque is home base for major magical corporations including Sephiroth Industries and its subsidiary Necrotech and Hermes Technology. There is also the large mage's college of the University of New Mexico, SpecOps dragons and high-power stealth fighters at Kirtland Air Force Base, and a burgeoning tourist industry. The city also has a darker side in the Lower Central Avenue district, which has become known for such things as vampire snuff films, large-scale succubus prostitution, and PHTP trade.
  • Carlsbad: This small town is best known for the things around it, rather than anything in and of itself. The Living Desert Park is a nature-rich wonderland famous for its walking cacti (close to zombee cactus, but without the undead or bee control parts), Carslbad Caverns has numerous bats and urban legends about vampire clans in its labryinthine depths, and the controversial Waste Isolation Plant and its salt domes packed with mana-active waste.
  • El Paso-Juarez Metropolis: The most populated Manabelt city is Ciudad Juarez, partnered with the Texan city of El Paso as a "twin cities" urban metropolis. El Paso is famous for having the prestigious magical academy of the University of Texas at El Paso and the headquarters of Manadynamics, and Ciudad Juarez balances a large tourist industry and magic item factories with a reputation for being heavily corrupted by the Cartels.
  • Roswell: Roswell, New Mexico, is a mostly idyllic ranching town and the head of Chaves County. It is home to the New Mexico Military Institute, a military cadet school with around a thousand students pulled from high schools across the country, and also supposedly where Seelie faeries manifested in 1947 and were captured by the government and taken away from Roswell to Area 51.

Mexico
Mexico has become a powerful industrial nation thanks to the manufacture of magic items, magical healthcare, and plant magic boosting its agriculture, though it still lags behind the United States in wealth. There is also the stumbling block of unrest with the native peoples in Chiapas after a revolt spurred on by the lack of magical aid in the region, as well as the ever-present issue of the Cartels. Mexican mages nonetheless get a lot of business from various nations that are on less than friendly terms with America.


Central America and the Caribbean
While this is a multi-part segment like several before, it's unfortunately not really interesting enough to have a bullet points party. The nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua can all be summed up as "poo poo's hosed with cycles of left wing and right wing violence that is often fueled by Cuban and American interests", and Belize merely gets a note that it has a fair bit of tourism and geomancers looking for oil. That just leaves the two notes on the Caribbean to cover. Haiti was one of the few Caribbean islands that didn't fall under Trinity's Shadow. This forced Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his successors to hire mercenary mages from Mexico to help prop up their rule, until the US broke everything apart and restored democracy in the early 1990s. Meanwhile, Fidel Castro is kept strong and healthy in Cuba thanks to youth potions, while a network of state-sponsored magical education attracting mages that in turn help provide medical care and infrastructural work. Cuban mercenary mages are popular with the USSR and its allies.

Canada
Most of southern Canada was under Trinity's Shadow, save for Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. This has created even greater tension amongst the Quebecois, who are totally serious about separatism this time you guys. Its magic healthcare system is the best in the world, its variant of NEMA reactors known as CANDU reactors are popular exports, and Canadian wizards are often made part of the UN Peacekeepers.

Argentina and Tierra del Fuego
Argentina has powerful magical agriculture, healthcare, and military might. It also has a fascist leadership of the ageless Eva Peron and her Nazi allies, which is not so good. Enemies of the state are unpersoned, murdered, and then animated as zombie laborers that toil away in the country's mines and factories. Even worse have been the injustices made against the native Ona and Yaghane people of Tierra del Fuego, many of whom were moved to the Argentine mainland under the pretense of safety concerns regarding magic radiation, only to be tortured and used in horrific experiments by Dr. Mengele. Israel and the United Kingdom have repeatedly hinted to the United States that Nazis are in Argentina, but for whatever reason there has been no severance of diplomatic ties.

The Mundane World
Socialists in Europe have accused America's magic supremacy as an imperialist threat that leads to magical pollution, mana-resistant diseases, vampirism and other undead plagues, and the enslavement of elementals, but most of the rest of the world is ultimately ambivalent about the subject of magic. The only two countries detailed here are Vietnam and Surinam. The former s an authoritarian regime that has yet to recover from the magical scars of the Vietnam War, while the latter was taken over by a mercenary's wife named MAria Hawker, her mage mercenary flunkies, and her Dutch allies.

Creatures of Enchantment
I actually completely forgot that this tiny segment at the end existed, and it's honestly not hard to figure out why. This is more or less the bestiary of non-playable magical entities, And each entry has one or two sentences at best followed by a terse stat block. Basilisks are spiny Gila monsters that can cast Flesh to Stone, great crimson manticores are mutant mountain lions with rudimentary sapience, a venomous stinger on its tail, red fur, and a human-like face that can parrot random phrases it hears from humans it has preyed on, jackalopes are antlered jackrabbits that are aggressive during their mating season, walking cacti are vaguely humanoid and actively carnivorous cacti that stand 15 to 20 feet in height and impale prey on their spines, albino alligators are massive white alligators found in sewers across America, and leviathans are immense eels with reptilian heads that are known to attack ships.



Next Time, in GURPS Technomancer: Looking toward the past and the future with brief coverage of the Vietnam War adventure Technomancer: Strange New Guys, a look at mentions and legacy traits of GURPS Technomancer found in GURPS Fourth Edition, and my own final thoughts on the setting as a whole.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Details of the interdimensional transit research and the Soulburner are in GURPS Time Travel Adventures, which predates Technomancer by a few(?) years. It's neat, because while that adventure is only a quarter of a 3E softcover, it still manages to offer an intriguing snapshot of the setting to come.

Madtrixr
Nov 27, 2010




Gonna toss in another vote for mors to do another Superiors book, I can't get enough of all these dirty secrets of the biggest players in Heaven and Hell.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





So how did the mana thing work in Technomancer, I missed that. I know the "official" GURPS rule is that normal Earth is a low-mana zone (-5 to zaubs) but in places like Stonehenge or something it might be "normal." This sounds more like "no mana before nukes".

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oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Nessus posted:

So how did the mana thing work in Technomancer, I missed that. I know the "official" GURPS rule is that normal Earth is a low-mana zone (-5 to zaubs) but in places like Stonehenge or something it might be "normal." This sounds more like "no mana before nukes".

That's actually one of the big questions in the setting. There's no certain evidence that magic existed in the past, but there's the possibility of it.

Magic (in the form of Oz particles) did predate the Trinity Event in space, they seem to be emitted by the sun but are blocked by earth's atmosphere or magnetic fields.

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