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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
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2014-2018



Disney is not attached to the idea of Star Wars as fans. Also, they are good at business.

Games Workshop is run by fans who desperately want it to fit their particular fan vision, and also have no business sense.

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Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


Asimo posted:

Holy they can't even understand what this statement means for their business and how horrible the implication is. Admittedly, it's not really unique to GW since there's several other fandom-based hobbies that circled the wagon and pandered to an insular and aging fanbase instead of trying to get new customers, but still...

I think you read it wrong. He said they weren't born when the Atari ST came out: that is, they are no older than 30. (31? Around there.)

Admittedly I'd still think a better boundary for old/young is probably lower than that. And it's still kind of weird he used the Atari ST as an example of a video game system and not, say, a console. The rest of the quote is still comedy gold, but he is not indirectly calling his fanbase super old.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



The ST is a Brit thing. Consoles were mostly an American thing, in the UK Microcomputers were the main method of playing vidjagams.

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


Wapole Languray posted:

The ST is a Brit thing. Consoles were mostly an American thing, in the UK Microcomputers were the main method of playing vidjagams.

I thought the Mega Drive/Genesis was pretty big over there too, honestly, though that's a few years later.

JackMann
Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.


Fallen Rib

I think his point on the video games was, "Our customer base grew up with video games, and they're still buying our models." The rest of it is pants-on-head dumb, though..

I look forward to the Vampire write-up. My one experience with LARPING was when I was dragged to a Vampire the Requiem LARP, so it'll be interesting to see how much I actually understood about what was going on.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


Prism posted:

I thought the Mega Drive/Genesis was pretty big over there too, honestly, though that's a few years later.

It was, to the point that PCs with Mega Drives built in was a thing in Britain.

It helps that the Master System actually got exposure in Britain whereas in America it was basically all NES all the time.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
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2014-2018



Vampire: the Requiem, 2nd Edition

The Gangrel, called the Savages, are survivors. They understand the Beast within, more than any other vampire clan. They are predators in the truest sense - not human at all, but animals. Hunters. They are primal creatures, resilient and strong and unstoppable. They don't seduce, they don't lie, they don't trick. They don't need to. They are the apex predator, after all. They just need to hunt. The entire natural world bends knee to them. Other vampires fear their Beast. They think it'll overwhelm them, make them do terrible things. The Gangrel never worry about that. It's not that they won't do terrible things - they just like it. They are wild creatures, unstopping and unstoppable.

It doesn't matter what you do to a Gangrel. They can take it - and they can dish it back a hundredfold. Anything you throw at them, they can push through - and they won't be alone. They are the masters of animals, able to command lesser creatures without even a word. They are shifting, changing things who are never able to be trapped. Their weakness, if they have one, is that they give up so much of themselves to their hunger. They give up their human bodies and minds for the power to hunt and kill. There is no escape from the Beast - not for the prey or for the predator. For the Gangrel, the hunger and the fury are always waiting just under the surface.

Some claim the Gangrel descend from the Mother of Monsters herself, Ekhidna. After all, they are monsters - the ultimate predators, evolution in action, taking out the weak and strong because there is nothing stronger than the Gangrel. Others date their origin to the Roman Empire and its farthest edges, where the barbarian tribes worshipped brutal gods. The offspring of man and god was a blood-crazed beast, and it hunted the Ventrue Gnaeus and devoured him. The vampire's blood corrupted the creature, creating the first Gangrel.

Other legends speak of an ancient, prehistoric bog. Deep in the water, left in a tomb of ice, is a decaying beast, an ancient creature that devoured the sacrifices of early man. In the deep bogs, it preserved this corpses with strange magic and moss. The first of these bodies emerged, powered by death and hungry for more. The first Gangrel was that first body of the bogs, and even now, some of the dead swallowed by the earth and mud are preserved and pickled and sent back to hunt.

One story speaks of a huntsman in the wood, a weeping man at midnight who had failed his queen. He resigned himself to death and lay down on the forest floor. The creatures of the wood came to peck and gnaw and feed upon him, but he did nothing. The flesh was taken, and what was left was burned away by the sun. The earth embraced the bones, taking them into itself for many nights. At last, the bones were spat back out. The huntsman's descendants can call out, and the beasts of the wood still answer, for inside the belly of every beast is a tiny bit of the huntsman, and all the world is his roaring, lowing, hunting graveyard, savage and free.

”Stereotypes” posted:

Daeva: Watch the peacock eat its own wings to make itself tame.
Mekhet: The shivering Shadows are always watching. So we just ramble to places they fear to go.
Nosferatu: The abandoned, half-finished sculptures of a lazy Beast.
Ventrue: Heya, little brother. Did you know that you'll last only as long as their termite towers? That'd make me nervous, staring down the mouth of forever.

The Gangrel can be found in any covenant. The Carthians like them because the Gangrel are dynamic. They bring change where they go, not out of new ideas but because they are wild, free and brutal, and things must change to deal with them. The Circle of the Crone welcome the Gangrel with legends of Ekhidna and primal magic, and the Savages take well to the bloody, cruel rites of the Crone. Gangrel in the Invictus are rarer, with their love of freedom, but some aspire to be free by rising to lead. They learn to turn their savage predation to politics, becoming almost noble, and...well, the Invictus respond well to primal leaders, after all. The Gangrel are useful to the Lancea at Sanctum, if not especially common. They are treated as the truest of God's beasts for the purpose of scourging the sinful, and some even take on the role of dark angels, using their shapeshifting ability to become flying reminders of God's wrath. The Ordo, on the other hand, likes the Gangrel and tends to actively recruit them because the shapeshifting abilities of the clan are fascinating. They are creatures of endless variation, unlike most vampires, and the savage freedom of the Gangrel can be useful in finding new hints to evolving the vampiric state.



Next time: Mekhet

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


I feel there's quite a bit of overlap between the Sexy and Noble Vampires. Both seem to just mind control people for fun and profit, with a different focus on the fun-profit axis. Or maybe it's because most vampires in popular media are noble dudes who are also sexy.

Oh well, at least everyone having a possible origin that is linked to fairytales is pretty funny.

ZeroCount posted:

Underworld is basically a lovely oWoD larp put to film with a bunch of Matrix special effects so I wouldn't be surprised.

Man, what's the closest thing to Matrix in the WoD? I guess Mage or Demon?

Count Chocula posted:

I won a DVD of the 1922 Nosferatu movie yesterday, which made up for it since it's the best vampire movie and the best clan.

A very close contender, but the best vampire movie IMO is The Fearless Vampire Killers. It's a bit like Castle Ravenloft, except the murder hobos are idiots.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 17:35 on Dec 14, 2016

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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The primary thing seperating the Daeva and the Ventrue is that the Daeva are about desire and the Ventrue are about control.

This becomes apparent comparing their clan specialty Disciplines, which we'll get to later. Daeva get Majesty, which makes people like and respect and want to be around and helpful to them but does not directly control their actions. If you work real hard, you can fight through it and hate them. Ventrue get Dominate, which just reaches into your brain, flips a switch and forces you to obey their directives even if you hate their guts, but can't make you remain loyal outside those directives.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


Doresh posted:

Man, what's the closest thing to Matrix in the WoD? I guess Mage or Demon?

Old mage or New Demon, the Technocracy in 3rd edition mage were basically Matrix Agents.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Mors Rattus posted:

The primary thing seperating the Daeva and the Ventrue is that the Daeva are about desire and the Ventrue are about control.

This becomes apparent comparing their clan specialty Disciplines, which we'll get to later. Daeva get Majesty, which makes people like and respect and want to be around and helpful to them but does not directly control their actions. If you work real hard, you can fight through it and hate them. Ventrue get Dominate, which just reaches into your brain, flips a switch and forces you to obey their directives even if you hate their guts, but can't make you remain loyal outside those directives.

Ah, so it's like the difference between the Command and Passion Word in Godbound. Good to know.

Kurieg posted:

Old mage or New Demon, the Technocracy in 3rd edition mage were basically Matrix Agents.

Groovy.

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Stereotypes posted:

Daeva: Watch the peacock eat its own wings to make itself tame.

This just seems like a strange reference to me. It's referring to the Ripley Scroll, right? It's about elemental symbolism and the philosopher stone, and contains the line "The bird of Hermes is my name, eating my wings to make me tame", which is commonly seen as a reference to a stabilizing agent in an alchemical compound. It's just really weird to see Gangrel referencing a 15th century alchemical scroll, and it's not even really relevant?

Hunt11
Jul 24, 2013



Grimey Drawer

Kaza42 posted:

This just seems like a strange reference to me. It's referring to the Ripley Scroll, right? It's about elemental symbolism and the philosopher stone, and contains the line "The bird of Hermes is my name, eating my wings to make me tame", which is commonly seen as a reference to a stabilizing agent in an alchemical compound. It's just really weird to see Gangrel referencing a 15th century alchemical scroll, and it's not even really relevant?

I think they might have been referencing Hellsing with that line.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Hunt11 posted:

I think they might have been referencing Hellsing with that line.

Yeah, that line pops up every now and then there.

(Though I could swear that Alucard was more of a Gangrel-type himself...)

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


Alucard is an elemental monster who thinks humanity is the absolute best since it was a human who beat him the first time. He relishes being bound and hates it when someone stops fighting against their fate, either through suicide or accepting supernatural power.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kurieg posted:

Alucard is an elemental monster who thinks humanity is the absolute best since it was a human who beat him the first time. He relishes being bound and hates it when someone stops fighting against their fate, either through suicide or accepting supernatural power.

He's so adamant about being defeated by humans instead of other monster that he's basically some kind of reverse Beast that relishes in the normal hero narrative.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Vampire: the Requiem, 2nd Edition

The Mekhet, or Shadows, are quiet. Hollow. Hard to notice. They come in the dark and take when no one is looking. No one notices it, no one helps. And being invisible, they see all. They notice everything, find every secret. They are unknowable, because they are everywhere and nowhere. They see mysteries and darkness and are drawn to them, finding patterns where others see only mist and chaos. Where other vampires are loud, boisterous and, by comparison, blatantly obvious, the Mekhet is silent, cautious, hidden.

A Mekhet can go anywhere, see anything, and no one will stop them. They are not as strong as other vampires, not as fast, certainly not as charismatic or commanding. They don't need to be. No one can bar a Mekhet's path because no one can see them coming. You don't need magic to command others when you can take their secrets without them so much as noticing. The Mekhet enjoy watching those around them, studying them. Often they find their subjects beautiful, compelling. More than any other vampire, they can see their prey as friends...friends whom they just take a little from. Just enough. You'll never even notice they've been there, never notice the wounds they leave in their wake. Of course, the Mekhet lose something in hiding. They isolate themselves and become less human by doing it. They see the shadows and sins that others hide, and can never go back to the state of pleasant ignorance. They can never unsee what is behind the mask.

One myth states that the witch-king of Egypt, Akhenaten, gave to his high priest's daughter a terrible thing from beyond the world. This thing ate her heart, hollowedo ut her soul, and it married Akhenaten. The hollow woman and the king used an army of hollow soldiers to tear down the old gods, to destroy the Cult of the Phoenix...but they could not stop the Cult of Set. The priests of Set removed their own souls so that no demon could eat them. They rose again after death, hurling the tyrant Akhenaten to the underworld, but they didn't understand the price of what they had become.

Others say that there are far reaches of the world that ancient explorers found. The final seas, the moving islands, the waterfalls that flowed uphill. These explorers, going beyond all others, sailed into the dead lands, where there was no sun, no stars, no light but that of tyhe blind fish that glowed in the cold, dead water. They took direction from the dead, at the price of blood. First the men sold their livestock, then their own blood. Each cup of blood bought a single question - and at last, the men returned to the living world...but they left all their blood behind them. They had to get more, to fill that void...and to fill the holes in their being left by the secrets that the shades of the dead had told them.

One story tells about a witch who did something terrible. She was overrun by envy and pride, filling her with a terrible garden of thorny feelings. Her magic mirror consumed her reflection, full of her envy and her hate. Her children still stalk the shadows, obsessed with secrets and divination, but afraid of the mirrors that stole their ancestor's reflection. They search for something lost, but do not remember what.

”Stereotypes” posted:

Daeva: Suffering unnatural lust towards a Serpent? Just look into her soul. Clears that right up.
Gangrel: The Man and the Beast are having an amiable picnic in that Savage's head. It's rather disturbing.
Nosferatu: You look how the Daeva feel.
Ventrue: Those with the most schemes are always the most nervous when we walk into a room.

The Mekhet are not common among the Carthians, who prefer visibility and signal to silence and stealth, but they make excellent spies and reporters when they do join, often becoming expert vampiric whistleblowers. Among the Crone, they seek out dark occult secrets, diving deep into the unholy depths to retrieve them. Often they excel at blood sorcery. Among the Invictus, they serve as excellent spymasters - perhaps too good, even, as they make other clans nervous by what they know. They rarely lead, but when they do...well, the terror of a prince that rules by information cannot be denied. The Lancea tend to attract the Mekhet for the magic they teach...and then the zeal comes afterwards. The Lance are happy enough with the arrangement, given that they get vampires that can read out the secrets of relics with a touch and the sins of a man with a glance. The Ordo Dracul and the Mekhet are a natural fit, given the curiosity and undeniable skill of the Shadows at finding occult secrets and seeing beyond what others can, helping them discover what other clans can only barely grasp. They barely need to be given instruction - they'll delve into the mysteries the Order seeks all on their own.



Next time: Mekhet

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Mors Rattus posted:

Vampire: the Requiem, 2nd Edition


I love how even a vampire RPG needs a dedicated Goth class.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Vampire: the Requiem, 2nd Edition

The Nosferatu, or Haunts, are monsters. They're quiet, sure. You shouldn't notice them. But you do. They sneak up on you from behind, from the edge of your vision, and then you can't help it. They terrify you. They may look monstrous, or they may look normal, but something about them strikes you to the quick. Sure, every vampire is fearsome - but the Nosferatu are more than that. They are fear incarnate. They are wrong. Viscerally horrific, terrifying on a level that goes beyond conscious thought. There is always something wrong about them, even if you can't see it.

And they know it. The Nosferatu know that no one, no matter how strong or how tough, is immune to fear. They know that bravery is not enough, because they exist beyond that. They reach out from the ancient dark and grab the terrified monkey that lives in your brain by the throat. Fear is the ultimate democratizer. There's no option. You'll be afraid. You'll cower. They'll look at you and know what makes you sweat and shiver. They are terror living inside a human suit. They can't help it, and that's the worst thing about being Nosferatu. It doesn't turn off. The Nosferatu have no more choice in the matter than their victims. They are outsiders, wolves at the door, and can never be something else. They can use it, they can terrify, but they cannot be loved. They will always be alone and isolated, and that isn't good for keeping a human perspective.

Some say that the Nosferatu were born of corpses long dead - that one year, the graves simply opened and spat forth a number of rotting cadavers, which rose and become the first of the monstrous Haunts. Others name the progenitors of the race - the Brothers Worm, a group of vampires who dug into the holes and bones of the Earth, into the hollow places, where they find strange and writhing gods. They consumed the slimy deities and the divinity changed them, body and soul, into something new - something chthonic. They spent an age ruling in darkness and touch and fear, dancing in the bones of the Earth.

Other stories talk about a coastal city in which infants born deformed were cast into the depths of the sea. They sank, wailing and drowning, alone. And these dying babies landed in the crushing depths, among hideous things that never knew the light of day. And they returned, later, to the city that had birthed them, and taught what they had learned...taught it in the dark, with hunger and blood and terror.

One story tells of seven grotesque creatures that gathered about a glass coffin. A beautiful princess of pale skin had come to them, exiled, and saw the beauty that lay beneath their deformed visages. She lived among them, but poison and treachery slew her. The monstrous creatures, good in the soul, vowed to stand guard over her bodyu ntil a hero came to bring her back. But the night was long and cold, and no hero came. Starving, self-loathing, they nibbled at the corpse - only little bits, they said, that no one would miss. And when winter finally ended, they looked into the coffin and saw nothing but skin and bone. Horrified by their actions, they fled, and by some dark magic, their insides came to match their outsides, twisted and deformed in soul as well as body. Their children and their childrens' children continue their feast now - and will forever after.

”Stereotypes” posted:

Daeva: The Serpents tempt with spoiled fruit. We worms hide inside, eating your apple to the core.
Gangrel: For us, the worst has fallen that can befall. For them, it's still crawling out of their skins.
Mekhet: They are the silence. We are the stage whisper.
Ventrue: There is a moment - after the meticulous planning, the flawless execution, the perfect victory - a moment of triumphant respite. That is where we nest, in the shadow between seconds, waiting for you.

The Carthians do decently well with Nosferatu - the politics of fear can easily bring change, and the underground lairs that many Nosferatu favor are handy when taking on an entrenched establishment. Other Nosferatu see themselves reflected in the crone - divine in their horror. They believe that the Nosferatu are inherently beautiful...by the aesthetics of the Gods Below, the dark and ancient depths. The Invictus values the Nosferatu, who are often extremely good at creeping into places of power and finding the weaknesses of those around them. It is better, after all, to be feared than loved. To the Lancea et Sanctum, the faces of the Nosferatu are demons, agents of plague and God's wrath, who excel at terrorizing sinners. It gives them purpose and explanation for what they are. The Ordo, meanwhile, are a fit place for those Nosferatu that enjoy their seclusion and seek only something to think on while alone. Their lairs make excellent labs, and the Ordo provides them hope to alter their twisted forms - or to transcend their nature and become something even more.



Next time: Ventrue

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Doresh posted:

I love how even a vampire RPG needs a dedicated Goth class.

Mekhet are more like this guy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRU4iZUsTY0

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012



"Please. I go through everyone's trash."

ZorajitZorajit
Sep 15, 2013

No static at all...


Off to rewatch all of Justice League again

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





CHAPTER SIX

UNDEAD KOMBAT


Immortality is real. The rules of it are complicated, but it's a real thing. Immortality was discovered back in the BC heyday of the Persian Empire by the Magi, a group of magicians with the power to speak to the dead. Through the communication of necromancy, they learned that not all souls leave the body after death. Someone who has managed to kill a minimum of 20 people, 20 confirmed death, will have their soul bound to their body as a punishment until their body rots. When the body rots, the soul leaves for the afterlife. With a sense of curiosity that only magicians have, the Magi started stealing bodies of soldiers and experimenting with the bound souls. Eventually, they hit upon a ritual that involved sacrificing a life to allow a proper 20-kill-corpse to live again. The Magi (who had racked up a sufficient death count, what with being experimenting magicians) then started chugging poison and getting resurrected one at a time. Soon they were all septuagenarian immortals with an army of loyal undead soldiers, the Magi all relatively well preserved due to being dead for just a few hours.

The first 24 years of immortality went pretty well up until the hunger hit. The inexplicable hunger was confusing to the immortals and got stronger going into the 25th year, but they all gathered and ritually sacrificed new lives to feed themselves. This confused and scared the Magi, who sequestered themselves away from their soldiers to discuss a solution to the problem. While this happened, the hunger reached an apex and caused uncontrollable anger amongst the soldiers. When the Magi returned, half of the soldiers were destroyed and the rest of the soldiers weren't hungry any longer.



The truth of the matter is that their method of immortality meant that the initial life energy only lasted so long and more energy had to be taken from another undead. If this empire of undead was to survive, they would have to figure out how to stay fed. The answer wasn't hard to figure out: survival of the fittest, winner feeds on the loser. A tournament would be held every 25 years and the soldiers would fight against each other. To replenish the ranks, the Magi would seek out suitable soldiers or killers and offer them undeath. The new soldiers would provide perfect fodder to feed the other soldiers without threatening the Magi thanks to the fact that pretty much all of the old soldiers are loyal through and through. The Magi themselves would feed on anyone who disobeyed the rules of the tournament or just weren't up to snuff.



The Magi were happy with this plan. Their soldiers couldn't threaten their power and having at least 20 years to train the new recruits would give them a fair shake at fighting. That meant the only thing that could threaten their power was each other.



So the Magi promptly split all of their soldiers evenly and put space in between each other, selecting a piece of the world to settle and make their own little kingdom. The Magi convene and arrange their forces to fight one-on-one, bet on who might have the most remaining soldiers and spy on each other.

There have been 149 tournaments over the past years. The tournament gives the Magi and soldiers something to look forward to, but not everyone has survived. Seven Magi still run the tournament with three more unaccounted for, all of the other Magi being destroyed for trying to withdraw from the tournament.

The Rules of the Tournament of Souls

The tourney is divided into two phases. The Open Round is the first half (and used to be the whole tournament) where every zombie is matched up against another Magi's zombie and fights to the death. Soldiers never fight someone else under their Magi patron's banner. This did the job of getting everyone fed for the next 25 years, but a lot of the soldiers weren't satisfied and some of the Magi wanted more entertainment.

This lead to the creation of the Conquest Round. The Conquest Round is optional and each Magi enters 5-10 soldiers and bets on the results with money and other soldiers from their stable. The only restriction on betting is that you can't bet against your own soldiers, but it's not uncommon for a Magi to lose a bunch of soldiers and then win in Conquest and fill their ranks with more soldiers. There's also a good incentive for soldiers to volunteer to enter the Conquest round. For starters, every soul consumed from another soldier adds cumulative energy: kill five and you don't have to feed for 125 years. You're also exempt from having to fight in the Open Round for the years you're fed, but most continue to fight for the thrill of the combat and the power. Finally, the act of consuming another soul makes the winner stronger.

Finally, the most important rule: the Magi who hosts the tournament gets to add one innovation. This can be a good addition (the Magi Mardonius introducing fighter seeding and brackets) or a bad addition (Xeromenidies' decree that all fighters will wear iron boots and square off at the bottom of a hundred foot deep pool of muddy water).

The 150th Tournament

Pharzuburra (I will be calling him Pharz, I will not say this whole name) is the Magi hosting this year's tournament. He hadn't won a tournament since the 16th century and thinks having the home field advantage and adding his own innovation will give him the edge to break his losing streak. This tournament's twist? Living warriors will fight against the dead and this has lead to a big change of the Magi recruiting and training the living.

The Magi think it's a hoot. The soldiers, not so much. The tournament has become the religion of a lot of the undead and it would be a gigantic pain for a regular human to win something meant for them. They're also unhappy with the presence of the living because killing a human deprives them of a meal. On the human side, a lot of them have no idea what they're getting into. Some have been told there was a gigantic prize at the end of the competition. Others had their Magi tell them up-front about the truth of the tournament and have been killed when they tried to quit or have just had to train their asses off. The last year or two have been full-bore balls-to-the-wall training for the human contestants regardless and the tournament is ready to begin.

The Magi



The Magi are all 2500+ years old and are incredibly powerful and proficient in magic and other skills. They all physically look like desiccated corpses with long white hair and beards and tanned skin that pulls against their bones, some wearing modern clothes or older garb. But, again, appearances can be deceiving. It's going to take at least a handful of people to go up against them or the help of another Magi.



Pharz is running this year's tournament. He dresses in modern clothes and has a surprisingly high voice. Despite being the host, he's planning on cheating if he can get away with it. He's a very compulsive, fastidious person who loses his bananas when things go awry. If something derails the tournament, he's the one who is probably going to react without thinking of the consequences.

Xeromenidies is the local weirdo. Sometimes he wears clothes that show off his splendor, sometimes he wanders around in a bathrobe. He's annoying and he likes to prank the other Magi and their soldiers. The thing that makes his annoying personality worse is that he has a very good win streak for his bets.

Mardonius really liked the Spartan way of doing things. He and his soldiers spend their immortal years devoted to constant training and practice. Fittingly, he has the soldier with the highest win rate in the tournament: Lysander, a warrior who has entered seventeen Conquest Rounds and walked away the victor every time. Mardonius doesn't talk much or have much to say.



Hazzura is still a priest of the Persian empire and gods and is pretty much the only one who still is. He believes the tournament is a holy religious act and recruits a lot of cultists or religious people to become his warriors. They like to sing hymns a lot and this annoys people.

Gygerras thinks immortality is pointless without power. To that end, he spends a lot of time playing with the stock market, investing in things, paying people to fight governments, typical sinister immortal stuff. He really only competes because he knows if he didn't the other Magi would come hunting for his head. To that end, his soldiers lose a lot but he doesn't care. He often throws money at the problem to get more for the next tournament.

Jerebes was lazy in life and is lazy in undeath. Unfortunately, it's hard to nap when you're undead and now he mostly spends his days lazing around, wishing he could regain that sense of restfulness. He goes through the motions as his most trusted soldier and aide Kim Lee runs most of his affairs. As a result, there are rumors Kim Lee might usurp his boss' position.

Rutulla would like to leave the system. He tried once with the help of the Magi Umaru but then things went pear-shaped. So he betrayed Umaru, who was destroyed, to save his own skin. Now he's waiting for the suspicion of the others to pass so he can make another attempt to go solo. He also doesn't do too well because he doesn't really care about the tournament.

SCENARIOS

Undercover


If anyone has seen the Street Fighter movie, congrats, this is that movie! The secret UN task force is recruiting the best martial artists in the world to infiltrate the tournament. The Magi are known to Interpol as The Seven, a ring of criminal masterminds who need to be brought to justice. These ultimate martial artists will go undercover with the help of a guy who knows a Magi whose stable could use more human warriors. To reflect this level of skill, the players' Martial Artists should be made with +10 Quality points, +20 points for Skills and +10 points for Chi Techniques. Also the PCs should know how many people they've killed over the course of their life; this number could be the difference between death and undeath.

The players will get on a boat in Singapore that is crewed by a bunch of surly sailors and a Zombie Warrior. The Warrior will lead a search of the players and they'll find the tracking devices (if they're ever recovered, they're broken). The players get blindfolds or are confined to small rooms and transferred between multiple ships over the course of three meandering days before they reach the island and the tournament.

The players are kept in their quarters for the first few days, but they can escape and poke around the island. They're kept out of the Open phase so that way all of the soldiers will be guaranteed a meal, but the players can totally catch a glimpse of the fights if they're sneaky enough. If they get caught, they're returned to their quarters and maybe tied up. The Magi or soldiers won't kill them because they're not intending to let them leave alive one way or the other.

Now comes the Conquest phase. The players and all of the other fighters are brought to the grand stadium where the truth is revealed and they meet the Magi. There are 100 total fighters in Conquest: the players, 57 zombies and enough humans to round it out to 100. The pairings are announced for the first round and every human has to fight a zombie. Everyone is moved out to a different arena and the players should fight less powerful zombies for the first round.



Ultimately the goal isn't to win so much as it is to successfully contact the UN team in Singapore using the island's multimedia center. It's still going to take them a few hours to get to the island, so until they make landfall the players will have to survive. The grand finale is a full-on siege of soldiers shooting up zombies and going after the Magi. Everything up until then should be fighting with an emphasis on letting the players do cool poo poo in the ring.

Welcome to the Revolution!

Immortality sucks if you're still shackled to something like the Tournament of Souls. The players are all zombie soldiers who are tired of fighting and training and doing nothing else. They get to make killers from any time period up to 500 BC and get 140 points instead of the regular 90 for zombies. They also need to pick a Magi to work for (and they might not all work for the same Magi).

The game should begin on day one and include the Open phase so they can get their feeding done and allow the players to have some fun cracking skulls. Fortunately, they won't be matched up against each other. Hopefully they live and walk away with a full belly for the next 25 years, but that only lasts so long. The players will need to come up with A: a way to get off the island and B: figure out how to sustain themselves for years to come.

To get off the island, you'd need either a helicopter or a boat. Fortunately there's no short supply; each Magi owns a yacht that's guarded by other zombies who aren't fighting at the moment. The yacht itself has a helipad and a copter used to ferry zombies from the stadium to the boat. They're also likely not the only fighters who are dissatisfied with their current state of affairs. If they poke around, they'll find at least a dozen other zombies who would be willing to join an escape attempt. A big enough mob of zombies will pretty easily steal a yacht without much effort.

The real problem is the food. The book says it's possible to bring along hostage zombies to eat them in the future (or hell you could just kill a bunch in the escape) but this is only temporary in the long run. The real trick would be to kidnap one of the Magi, which is no small feat. Since the Magi fear final death, it wouldn't be too hard to find convince one to cooperate. Alternately, they could force the Magi to teach them the secrets of magic. There is no easy choice here; even with the knowledge of magic, you need a proper type of corpse to raise it and kill it to eat.

The final choice is when to launch the escape. Later in the tournament, there are less guards to impede your hijacking. There are also possibly less zombies to join your rebellion.

Other Uses

The book freely admits that because this is a stand-alone setting, it's not too hard to incorporate in another game somehow. It wouldn't take modification to include the tournament in a fantasy setting, for example. They don't really go about how to do it, but y'know, you can.

THE ISLE OF THE DEAD

Like Flesh Eaters In Little China, the book was kind enough to plot out arenas and such for you to use when you play the game. The titular Isle is a small island in the Malay Archipelago of Indonesia and is actually called Turtle Island thanks to its healthy population of turtles. Since Pharz set up shop here, he's been calling it Isle of the Dead and demanding others call it that because it's more appropriate. The island is four miles long, up to a mile wide in places and naturally shaped like an oblong. It points north to south, with the north side of the island more raised and rocky with jagged cliffs. The whole island is covered with jungle. And yes, there are plenty of turtles.

Pharz has been building on the island for twelve years and has set up a good little hub here. The buildings are a Hollywood interpretation of feudal Japanese architecture and the seven Magi each get their own palace to lounge in. The residences all have running water, electricity and air conditioning. There's even a communications center with satellite receivers and transceivers. The zombies all stay with their Magi in the palace and have access to anything they might want to satisfy any need. The humans don't unless their Magi is particularly nice. The residence for the living amounts to comfy dorms with cement rooms and access to nutritional food, a bed and other niceties. Making their furnishings nice wasn't on Pharz's list because none of them are leaving the island alive.

The Stadium

The stadium is where the Open phase is held, a Roman-style amphitheater on the beach. It seats 500 spectators, is full of electronics to record everything and has a box for each Magi. The floor of the stadium is where the Open phase eliminations take place, the zombies coming down from their seats in the stadium to join the fight when it's their turn. The floor of the stadium is made of fine white sand, but a foot beneath the sand are modular metal plates that contain multiple traps and dangers so the combatants aren't just hitting each other until one dies. For every turn that passes, each combatant rolls a d10 and has to contend with a danger from the arena's floor attacking them. These random events are dangerous but they can be leveraged by a human combatant to help get an edge on the durability and strength of a zombie.



THE TOURNAMENT FIELDS

After the Open phase is done, the stadium and its dangers are discarded. The Conquest Rounds are fought across the island on different arenas that vary in danger and traps to mix things up and provide entertainment. Each field has a viewing area for the Magi and select guests to enjoy the havoc. The following fields were all designed by Pharz and are his favorite, but as the GM you should feel free to come up with your own.

The Flame Pits

The Flame Pits were built in a cave on the north end of the island. The arena is laid out like a giant chess board with each square measuring three meters across. The white squares are marble pillars, the black squares are six-foot-deep pits filled with fire. The two combatants have to maneuver from square to square to fight each other without falling prey to gravity and fire. If you fall or are thrown into a pit, fire deals 1d6 damage a turn and you have -4 to all defensive actions while in the flaming pit. It takes a turn to climb out of the pit and you can't defend yourself while doing it, but at least it doesn't require a roll to get out. Because the zombies have a weakness in their spine, fire doesn't affect them too much. Spending two rounds in a fire pit set the zombie ablaze and now living fighters have to deal with their enemy being on fire and unhindered by it.

Hall of Long Knives

The Hall is a concrete building in one of the jungles. The building is a thirty square yard room with a twenty yard high ceiling. Hanging from the ceiling and walls are weapons attached to strings: knives, maces, spears, clubs and more. Basically the GM should have any melee weapon available for the players to use. Most fields only let the fighters use their fists and natural weapons, so a melee weapon is a definite boon for a living opponent. However, the weapons themselves are a risk for the fighters to gamble on.

To obtain a weapon, you have to first select a weapon. When a player picks a weapon, they should roll 1d10. On a 1-5, it's a simple thin thread holding the weapon and the weapon comes free with a tug. On a 6-10, the weapon is attached to a fine fishing line and requires a Strength test to get it free. Failure to free the weapon takes your whole turn and there's no way to tell which substance is holding the weapon. When the weapon is free, the quality of the weapon becomes an issue. You can spend a turn evaluating the weapon you picked and make an Intelligence+Hand Weapon test, or you can just use it. The GM should roll 1d10. 1-4 means that the weapon is a replica or a fake and immediately breaks when it hits the enemy, dealing no damage. 5-7 means that the weapon is in bad condition or just badly made, doing half damage and only dealing regular damage. 8-10 means that it's a high quality weapon, giving you +1 to hit and +1 extra damage.

The Heights

At the north end of the island, a large ravine cuts through a cliff wall, 20 meters wide and 200 meters deep with a river at the bottom. A tangle of rope ladders, cords, walkways and more criss-cross the entire ravine. The ropes lead all the way to the river to provide a way back up if you fall, or you can try and catch yourself on something. You can only stop a fall after falling 3 meters, with a failure dropping you 3 more until you hit the river. Every 3 meters deals 1d6 damage to the character who fell, 1/3rd of damage calculated getting dealt to the spine of zombie characters thanks to kinetic force.

The trick to the Heights is manipulating a 3D space and using it to your advantage. Everything rocks and shakes and was designed to be uncomfortable to traverse; even the rope bridges have oddly spaced steps and a wobble to them. Strategic maneuvering is important; having the high ground gives you +2 to hit and to damage while fighting from the low gives you -2 for both. Clever or smart characters can also spend an entire turn making a Perception/Notice test to find an advantage the arena's creators tucked away.



The Maze

The Maze is a hedge maze built into the jungle. Years back Pharz sectioned off a bit of jungle and laid out the walls using bamboo and thorn bushes, grooming the thorns/bamboo but letting the jungle run wild between them. You can only see up to three meters ahead of you at any time and the maze is full of traps and computer-controlled lights and sounds randomly trigger to throw fighters off their game. Each X below is a site of a random trap or event that will reset automatically after two rounds (with the option of an additional trap triggering with the next activation). These spots can be caught ahead of time with Notice at least. Unfortunately, it's -2 to the task due to the jungle lighting and the entire maze has a general -1 to hit and Perception.



You might notice that the maze is big. Well, there's another element at play. Fighters in the maze are dropped off at a random point five yards away from each other and equipped with a transmitter. Go more than five meters away from your opponent and the transmitter will make noise and explode in two rounds if you don't get closer. The transmitter also can be used to help you find your opponent. If you successfully point it in the direction of your opponent, it'll vibrate noiselessly if you're pointing right at them, regardless of stuff in the way. If the transmitter is destroyed, the fighter loses the match and their life is forfeit.



PREMADE CHARACTERS









FINAL THOUGHTS

I've had a lot to say about Enter the Zombie and one of the things I enjoy about F&Fing is that I get to engage on a deeper level with the game. I still really like Enter the Zombie, but it does have its uneven patches. Hard Boiled Corpses and Flesh Eaters are pretty solid campaigns, Once Upon a Corpse needs a bit of creativity on the part of the players and GM and I think Undead Kombat is the weak link because it's not too full of a campaign idea. Fortunately, in the future, AFMBE will acknowledge that some scenarios are less full than others and are just indicate which ones are and aren't.

The zombie creation rules are great, the new zombie powers are fun and helpful, the Martial Artist and Shooter are good additions and the rules support them as good Essence-using alternatives to the Inspired. Even with the rough patches, it's still a book I'd heartily recommend people pick up to expand AFMBE core and it's a good first expansion to the line.

The next game is a game I remember liking at the time but I definitely haven't touched it since I read it, so join me as I dive back into All Flesh Must Be Eaten with PULP ZOMBIES.

NutritiousSnack
Jul 12, 2011


Kurieg posted:

Alucard is an elemental monster who thinks humanity is the absolute best since it was a human who beat him the first time. He relishes being bound and hates it when someone stops fighting against their fate, either through suicide or accepting supernatural power.

Yeah. It's the reason he loving loves throwing down with Anderson, an actual hero, and the Major, a loving nazi but just enjoys outright bullying other monsters.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Another perfect Mekhet example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaLjwSpZ6Cs

(I'ma stop now, but as you can see the Mekhet are my favorite Requiem clan)

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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The Mekhet are amazing, but I'll admit the core doesn't do a great job of presenting them, perhaps because it just recommends you turn to the book that does the single best job possible presenting them - Clanbook: Mekhet from Requiem 1e, which is largely written in character. It is framed as a collection of information on the history and culture of the Mekhet clan, commissioned by some unknown person and compiled by a young Mekhet named Frances Black. Pareidolia features prominently in the Mekhet she interviews...except that occasionally it isn't wrong. Frances herself is a postmortem Embrace, which is more common among Mekhet than other clans, and is also a subtype of Mekhet known as the Hollow Mekhet.

Essentially, the Hollow do not actually have reflections because their reflection is alive. Most vampires show up in mirrors, sort of. Frances Black doesn't. At all. She also cannot appear on recording devices of any kind - cameras, audio tape, telephones...the works. Her reflection exists as a roaming spirit that exists largely to make her life more complicated, both for the better and the worse depending on its whim. It can appear in the real world, in mirrors or over recorded media, and it likes to gently caress her social life up a lot for no clear reason, though it is occasionally helpful.

The book also introduces recurring character in nWoD Vincent Moon. Vincent Moon is a Mekhet who has set himself up as an occult master, except that his idea of what an occult master looks like is based on 1950s Britain, so imagine Aleister Crowley through the lens of fuzzy slippers, beaded curtains and goofy seances. He practices a form of book-based divination that comes off as being exceptionally dumb and vague most of the time, except that occasionally his method produces highly specific and accurate answers - which ends with him recruiting Frances into a bizarre mystery cult he runs based on the magic of British surveillence. Which is, again, goofy and dumb and inexplicably has some truth to it. In person, he comes off as a vaguely flamboyant goofy uncle, but the vampires of London are afraid of him. By trade, he is a sci-fantasy author for Analog-type magazines. His work is featured in several Hunter books, and it is goofy-rear end Conan-style adventures which are overly melodramatic, goofy as hell and yet contain inexplicable nuggets of actual true occult lore interspersed almost at random.

These are the Mekhet.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


ZorajitZorajit posted:

Off to rewatch all of Justice League again

And I think I need to put in more effort in getting the DVDs. It's oddly hard tracking this down in Europe.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



I was gonna say that Vincent Moon's name was familiar but could only think about it in the context of The Mighty Boosh. Night Stalkers has The Master of Drachenstein, a 1930s pulp story adapted from 12th century events set in the UK. Spirit Slayers has Wolfshead, same hero from the previous story, same setting, same adaptation from the same period released in the 1920s. No story for Witch Finders though, those were the only two I could find.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


Doresh posted:

And I think I need to put in more effort in getting the DVDs. It's oddly hard tracking this down in Europe.

Second time I get to post this in this thread in a month, weird how things keep looping back to the DCAU


Though I imagine finding region 2 copies of all this poo poo might be considerably more difficult.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kurieg posted:

Second time I get to post this in this thread in a month, weird how things keep looping back to the DCAU


Though I imagine finding region 2 copies of all this poo poo might be considerably more difficult.

I have Batman TAS from the UK, and I figured more of that can never hurt.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


Justice League and JLU are both amazing

Superman is.. okay.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Vampire: the Requiem, 2nd Edition

The Ventrue, called Lords, are winners. Just ask them. They're tougher than anything, unafraid of anything. Their word is your command. They rule, they dominate and above all, they win. They take. They conquer. Much of vampiric history has been recorded by Ventrue, because the Ventrue love to talk about their own triumphs. This has resulted in a rather unreliable set of histories, because they love to glorify themselves rather than tell the truth. They claim to descend from Troy and the warrior Aeneas, from Roman gods. This is, of course, utter nonsense, but they don't care. Any proof that the world is theirs to rule is fine by them.

Not all Ventrue are rich, but none of them are followers. They lead. They rule. They command. Perhaps their kingdom is a group of homeless people under a bridge and a swarm of rats in the gutter, but they are a kingdom nonetheless. The Ventrue are meant to lead, at least as far as the Ventrue are concerned. They are terrifying because their confidence is not unwasrranted. They don't have to chase you down at a sprint, because you can't hurt them. You can't even threaten them. They'll shrug off anything you do, and with a word, they'll force yoou to obey. Indeed, that is in a way their curse. The Ventrue can command without question. They can mesmerize people, force them to obey. But they cannot sway hearts and minds - just force obedience. Better fear than love, sure, but they can't ever really know how those around them feel, and most Ventrue are always wondering if their peers just look down on them.

One myth claims that the Ventrue are descended from the children of Cronos. These children were swallowed by their father, but they gnawed their way free of his belly, and that emergence in darkness and blood stained them. Now their descendants rise to power in blood and gore, patiently destroying and consuming all obstacles. Others trace the Ventrue to Eastern European Gangrel bloodlines that broke away from their savage brethren, losing the power to alter their flesh in favor of the power to command. Some even claim the Ventrue are but a weak cousin to the Gangrel, deluding themselves with lordly claims.

Others claim the Ventrue descend from Rome and the ancient Camarilla sect, once led by the lost clan Julii. What remained of the Julii, these people say, became the noble Ventrue, each a shining monument to the glory once held by the vampiric race. This, adherents say, means that there are secrets yet remaining in their blood to be unlocked, to revive the ancient days. The Ventrue certainly tend to prefer this take on their history to the Gangrel theory.

One story tells of a dark night, in which the owls and ravens of the wood found a hero, guiding him deep into the woods where a pale princess lay sleeping. As the prince knelt to kiss her awake, he found her cold and dead, unmoving. The birds sang, and the prince felt a strange desire rise within. He took the corpse-princess, and at the height of their passion, she awoke, laughing madly and cruelly. Their children inherit the gifts that she gave to her erstwhile lover that night.

”Stereotypes” posted:

Daeva: Forever is wasted on those trapped in the tunnel of immediate gratification.
Gangrel: We are the monarchs of lesser beasts, we do not become them.
Mekhet: "Knowledge is power," he sneered to me. So I made him sing everything he knew to me in falsetto.
Nosferatu: If fear is your only tool, then every problem starts screaming.

The Ventrue like to win - and some of them like a real challenge. They are drawn to the Carthians, for what greater challenge than taking on the established structure of the world? Others are drawn to occult power, mastering the secrets of darkness with the Circle of the Crone. The stereotype, of course, is the Invictus Lord, and it's not wrong to say that the Invictus bring out the greatest strengths of the clan. More rarely, a Ventrue will feel the desire to be a moral authority, a spiritual one. They join the Lancea et Sanctum, and many are quite faithful, while others see it as a route to power. The Ordo Dracul draw the more frustrated Ventrue, those who wish they had as much control over their own weaknesses as they do others. They often seek the ways of the Dragon with a singleminded obsession, taking their own bodies as another Ventrue might take over a city. Many idolize Dracula as well, seeing him as the ultimate winner among vampires.



Next time: Lost clans

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



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


Part 15e: The science of magic

...

Okay.

I hate this chapter.

No, really. I loving hate] this chapter.

It's basically a microcosm of everything I hate about Torg's overall mechanical mindset. Why? Because it refuses to allow the game's mechanics to exist without talking about what all these skills and rolls and poo poo actually mean in the setting itself.

This chapter is called The Theory of Magic, and is a very in-depth look at how magic works and how to create spells.

And when I say "how magic works", I mean getting into the in-setting understanding of what the types of magic are, how they interact, what they all mean, and basically validating and defending the whole Torg magic system.

Written by a physicist.

I'm going to say that again to make sure we're all clear here.

The whole spell design system, the system used to make all the actual spells in the game, was written by a physicist.

Let that sink in.

And how do we learn the ins and outs, the whys and wherefores, the fundamental explanation of how magic actually works? Why, with seven pages of fiction, of course!

quote:

The brass hinges on the door squeaked loudly, announcing Mathea’s entrance into the classroom. The murmur of conversation died the instant she crossed the threshold, her appearance as effective as any silence spell ever cast. She moved quietly to the podium, setting down her notes and her hindsight bowl. She unstoppered her flask, emptied water into the bowl, and uttered a spell. She faced the class, looked sideways at the bowl, and an image of a whiteboard appeared behind her. Another spell, and a colored marker began to write for all to see:

Mistress Magister Mathea of the Two Towers, First Arcanum, First Division.

She turned over the first page of her notes as she absently pushed back strands of gray-streaked hair to a comfortable resting place above her spectacles. The notes were familiar; the students before her were not.

For one thing, they were all human. Not a dwarf, elf or giant among them. For another, they were clothed strangely; many wore tight-fitting straight pants, shirts with peculiar angular collars, or more comfortable looking woolen overshirts called “sweaters.” The women wore similar outfits, or skirts which would be completely useless in the field, having no pouches or pockets sewn into them.

What was truly strange was not their appearance, but their attitudes, their patterns of knowing, their view of reality. These students had been selected by Core Earth officials and approved by Pella Ardinay. They had an aptitude for magic. But they had no conception of how magic worked, no experience with its day-to-day uses. One of Mathea’s favorite examples of theorem application and restrictions, the breakfast brownie, would be meaningless to these students. They had probably never seen a brownie — at breakfast or any other meal.

Mathea cleared her throat. “Good evening. This is First Arcanum. I am Mathea, Mistress Magister from the Arcane Academy of the Two Towers. I am here through the graces of Lady Ardinay to further her efforts in helping the people of your land adjust to the reality it now holds. In Aysle, magic is pervasive; trying to adapt to Aysle without an understanding of magic is futile … ah, yes?” questioned Mathea, indicating a frantically waving youth garbed in black leather. His hair was thin, vertical and tricolored. He lowered his hand when Mathea acknowledged him.

“When I’m done with this, can I make the bullets in my Uzi explode on target?” he asked. There was a titter from one of the other students. The rest waited quietly for an answer.

Mathea took a deep breath. “Combining magical principles from Aysle with the technical artifacts from your Britain is a subject considerably more advanced than what we must cover here. Should you fail to learn — and learn completely — what I have to teach, magic will be of little use to you. Once you have mastered the knowledge I present to you, then perhaps you can experiment with the possibility of exploding bullets.”

Mathea waited a heartbeat for her words to sink in, then plunged ahead. “I have a question for you. What is magic?”

Not directly relevant, but this is what I think of every time I read that last paragraph

And when I say that this fiction is about explaining Torgian magic, I mean that Mathea is babbling on about what spell duration is. What cast time means. What all the lines and terms of a spell's stat block mean, because all that stuff and everything I'm going to talk about in this chapter are all known in-setting.

(Before we go any further, you might want to go back and reread my original post on how Torg magic works in the first place, particularly the stuff about knowledges.)

Once the fiction finally grinds to a halt (barring one last sidebar), we get to the point of this chapter: Spell Design. And even here outside the fiction we learn that the steps of spell creation were in fact created by someone from Aysle.

quote:

The following is condensed from Magister Throrvald’s Foundations of Effective Magic, but they are presented in a manner which is directly applicable to the Torg game, leaving out many of the metaphysical asides which have confused students in the past.

Here is an overview of spell design:
1. The mage decides the effect she wants the spell to have, and then chooses the knowledges for the pattern, mechanism and result. The mage needs all four magic skills to design a spell, but the pattern skill is the only skill necessary to cast the spell.

Next the mage chooses whether the spell should be cast directly, focused, impressed or placed in a ward. It is at this stage that the axiom level of the spell is decided upon, and the bonus number of the spell is assigned to increase one of its attributes.

2. The mage assigns values to the pattern, state, control, apportation, and duration portions of the spell process.

3. The mage uses her magic skill and the pattern knowledge to generate totals. The pattern total is generated from the magic skill used to observe the pattern, with the mage’s adds in pattern knowledge added to the skill value. The conjuration, divination, apportation and alteration totals are generated using the respective skills, which have each been increased by the adds of the pattern knowledge. The pattern knowledge adds are added to the magical skills only for spell design, never for casting the spell.

4. The skill totals are subtracted from the pattern and process values. If a skill total exceeds the pattern or process value by more than five, a -5 is recorded. The only exception is when the alteration total exceeds the duration by more than five; the full difference is recorded. This is the reason many spells have a short duration. These are then added together into the spell sum. If the spell sum is less than zero, it is raised to zero.

5. The basic complexity is calculated. The basic complexity is increased by the type of magic skill used in the pattern, the maximum value of the pattern or spell process, the spell sum, and reduced by the cast time of the spell.

6. Theorems are applied, restricting the effects of the spell, or requiring additional steps in the casting process. Each theorem takes at least a week to apply; taking additional weeks tends to increase the effectiveness of the theorem. The totals of all applied theorems are added to form the theorem sum.

7. The final complexity of the spell is equal to the basic complexity minus the theorem sum. There are minimum complexities depending on the type of magic used to cast the spell.

8. The spell is recorded. It is given a name. The final complexity is split into backlash and difficulty at the discretion of the mage. The other values of the spell are recorded.
Bear in mind...that's the condensed version.

And you know what this means, don't you? That's right...it's time for me to try and make a spell.

The spell I'm going to create will be something I can cast on a sword or axe or whatever so it'll animate and fight on its own for a while. A pretty basic effect, right? I mean, I could do that in a few other systems with minimal effort.

With my overall spell effect defined, I have to pick the knowledges for the "pattern, mechanism, and result". These were defined in the fiction dump, but here's what they mean:
  • The Pattern is the knowledge that ties to what you're trying to effect.
  • The Mechanism is the knowledge used to manipulating the pattern. This will usually be either Magic, Living Forces, or Unliving Forces.
  • The Result is the knowledge that ties to whatever my final spell is supposed to do.
Or, to put it in simpler terms than the book does, a spell will take something of type <Pattern> and through the use of <Mechanism> will create an effect of type <Result>. It's possible for the Pattern and Result to be the same thing; for example a fireball spell would have a Pattern of "Fire" (because it's affecting fire) and a result of fire (because it's creating fire).

I think. This whole thing is confusing as poo poo.

Back in the original magic chapter, we learned about the 28 Knowledges:

quote:

The Essences: Death, Life, Time, True Knowledge
The Principles: Darkness, Light, Magic
The Mixed Forces: Inanimate Forces, Living Forces
The Elements: Air, Earth, Fire, Metal, Plant, Water
The Seven Kindred: Aquatic, Avian, Earthly, Elemental, Enchanted, Entity, Folk
Theory Knowledges: Cast Time, Control, Duration, Range, Speed, State

Each one of the non-theory Knowledges does get an entry explaining what it means, and what it means if it's the pattern, mechanism, or result, like so:

quote:

Inanimate Forces
Inanimate forces are the link to the elements. Inanimate forces can affect kindred. Inanimate forces cannot be used to transform or change kindred, even if the changes are illusory.

Inanimate forces are the forces which affect elements, and are associated with elements: heat, electricity, magnetism, forces which bind elements together, forces which make them appear as they do. Only those forces which are specifically covered by another knowledge, such as light or living forces, are excluded from the range of inanimate forces.

Pattern
Inanimate forces are used in a pattern when a mage wants to convert one inanimate force to another.
Example:Alteration/inanimate forces is the pattern of a “convert gravity to heat” spell, magic is the mechanism, and inanimate forces are the result.

Mechanism
Inanimate forces are used as the mechanism for a variety of less costly spells using the elements. Inanimate forces can apport any physical object, including kindred.

Inanimate forces can be used as the mechanism for results of light or magic, mixed forces, or elements.

For elements, they may be used as the mechanism for divination, alteration, or illusory conjuration.
Example: The fool’s gold spell has a pattern of alteration/metal, a mechanism of inanimate forces, and a result of metal. The resulting metal may look and feel enough like gold to fool the magically unprepared, but Ayslish merchants have long since bought enchanted coin scales from the mage guild to remedy this problem.

Result
If you want a lightning bolt, you need inanimate forces as the result of your spell; same with magnetism, gravity, or other force which is not an embodiment of an element, living forces or light.
Examples: The lightning bolt spell has a pattern of alteration/inanimate forces, a mechanism of magic, and a result of inanimate forces. The general purpose telekinesis spell has a pattern of apportation/air, a mechanism of magic, and a result of inanimate forces.
There's some weird implications there, such as the idea that Ayslish mages understand what magnetism is, or that "telekinesis" is actually just airbending.

I have to pick one of those for the Pattern, one for the Mechanism, and one for the State. Each of the Knowledges (except for the Theory Knowledges) can generally be used as any of those three slots. For the record, "folk" refers to natural self-aware races, while "entity" refers to straight-up supernatural beings such as ghosts or demons.

Since I'm trying to make a spell that animates a weapon, the most applicable knowledge for the Pattern would probably be metal. I'm also affecting something made of metal, so I suppose the Result would be metal as well? The Mechanism would be inanimate forces, because that's the Knowledge used to move items around.

So there we go. First step down.

Now I have to start assigning values to a bunch of things.

Now I have to define the pattern by...wait, didn't I already do that? Whatever, lets just get through this. I have to further define the pattern by picking a magic skill (alteration, apportation, conjuration, or divination). This is an easy one, since spells based around moving objects fall under apportation.

Next I have to decide how the spell is cast; is it just cast directly, focused on another person or object, impressed (i.e., Vancian-prepped for quick casting), or put into a ward. Normal casting generally requires a lot of time, and my spell is something I'm going to want to be able to cast in combat as an action, so I'm going to need to make it impressed. That way I can prep it ahead of time then release the spell when needed.

Now I decide where I want the spell's Bonus Number to go; it can be assigned to either the effect, range, or duration. I'll assign it to the effect because I think it'll make the sword a better fighter.


Yeah, you and me both, buddy.

And now I have to figure out the spell's axiom level, because yes it's possible to create a spell that can cause you to disconnect. The problem here is that the magic axiom tiers are so vaguely defined it can be hard to tell where a spell should be in terms of if it's allowed at a specific axiom level. For instance, apporation magic is possible at a magical axiom of 5 (albeit with long rituals), impressed spells need a magic axiom of 17, but if I didn't want to make an impressed spell I don't know what axiom level that would be because none of the listed tiers tell you what level just simple non-ritual casting is. Whatever, let's just assume I need an axiom level of 17. Fortunately that's just under Aysle's magic axiom so I'm good there.

The next step is designing the pattern of the sp...wait, this is the third time I've had to define the pattern! Come on, guys, didn't anyone read this before putting it in the book?

Apparently this part of defining the pattern is about settling on an effect and determining the area or volume of said effect. In game terms, the effect is the number used to determine how effective a spell is. If it's a combat spell like fireball, then the effect is how much damage it does; if it's a spell for moving things, however, then the effect is how much the spell can move and how fast it can move things.

So...I guess my effect will be how well the animated sword will fight? I'm not sure because there's no details here on how to chose your effect apart from "pick a number". In the case of my spell I'm just going to assign the effect as the sword's effective melee weapons skill, even though I have NO idea if that's allowable as something a spell can do. I'll assign an effect value of 16 because that's a moderately skilled fighting level.

Oh, I'm sorry, there's one example of actually working out an effect value: transforming one person or object into another. In this case:

quote:

If a spell is transforming one object or being into another, the result points of the spell must be enough to account for the greatest attribute difference between the original and the transform. The effect value of the spell is compared with the the original’s attribute which created the difference.

Example: A giant with a Dexterity 8, Strength 17 and Toughness 19 is being turned into a frog with DEX 4, STR 0 and TOU 1. The greatest attribute difference is between the giant’s TOU and the frog’s TOU, a difference of 18. A spell which would turn the giant into a frog would require 18 result points, against the giant’s TOU of 19, which would require an effect total of 37 if magic is the mechanism (making the effect illusory), 69 if any other knowledge is the mechanism, as it would have to be filtered through the Power Push Table.
Everybody got that?

quote:

As the above example shows, building transformation spells which can produce great changes can be extremely difficult if magic is not the mechanism. Fortunately, a mage named Colvinax discovered an important principle. Spells which have a mechanism other than magic may buy a Power Push result for the spell, and put this result point modifier into the spell. This result point bonus is added to any earned through the casting of the spell, although the spell must earn at least one result point before the modifier is added.
That's right...an in-setting character discovered a game mechanic. That is some Grant Morrison poo poo right there. On the plus side, I'm not changing anything into anything so I don't have do deal with this aspect of everything.

Now comes area and volume. I'm only affecting a single item so I don't have to worry about this either, but since I'm quoting large chunks of this chapter let's just enjoy this.

quote:

A spell effect usually only effects one target. A spell may affect an area or a volume, in which case it affects every eligible target as it comes in contact with that area or volume.

Ayslish geometers long ago noted that space has three dimensions. The range of a spell is one dimension of space (the length) over which the spell can take effect. An area affect spell has two dimensions over which the spell may take effect, affecting everything within a radius of effect; the result is a circle of effect. A spell with volume takes effect within a sphere. If the spell has a range, then the spell effect already has one dimension. All the mage must do is build the second dimension of effect into his spell. The smaller of the two dimensions determines the area of effect.
And yes, each dimension a spell has increases the difficulty of the spell.

So anyway we record all these values for the range and volume and such on the Spell Labratory Sheet, which I suppose I should show you now.


Oy.

The "Rmod" circle is for the Result Modifier, which is...tied to that stuff before about the result point modifiers? I guess? But I'm not using those, so I guess it's zero? It's hard to tell because while while the text refers to sections of the sheet as the "Pattern Section" or whatever, the sections on the sheet itself aren't labeled at all.

Yeah, there are going to be a lot of question marks from here on out.

Now that we've gotten through all that poo poo, we have to create the state path. We start by writing the values for the pattern, mechanism, result, and casting type on the Lab Sheet. Then we're going to have to move from the pattern to the mechanism to the result on the State Chart.

What's the State Chart, you ask?


That. That is the State Chart.

Look at that chart. loving look at it. This is what I'm doing for your entertainment. This is what I've been writing about for over three years. Is it working? Am I entertaining you? DO YOU LOVE ME YET? WHY DON'T YOU L


...sorry.

To navigate through the state chart, I start with the knowledge I've assigned as the pattern. In this case, that's metal, so I take that value (7) and write it on the lab sheet. Now I move from that spot to the knowledge for the mechanism, which is inanimate forces, and record the total values of the circles I pass through. Which isn't listed, but I'm assuming all those branches have a cost of 2 since every other line has a value. Fortunately I'm only moving one spot so that's just the cost of 2. Now I do the same again to get from the mechanism to the result, which will be 2 again.

As a larger example, if I wanted to go from folk to life, that would have a value of 2+3+7 = 12 for "life".

Now, I can swing through other areas of the State Chart if I wanted to; for example I could path my way through Light after I hit Inanimate Forces; this would add a visual effect to the spell that has no actual effect on anything but increases the difficulty. I don't know why you'd want to do that apart from some bullshit "roleplaying" reason, nor do I know why they make you pay for what is essentially descriptive dressing.

Oh, and here's something weird, but in a "that's actually odd" way rather than "these rules make no sense" way. The text mentions moving up and down the state chart based on the flow of the arrows connecting all the nodes; moving with the arrow costs the number in the circle, but moving opposite only costs 2. Thing is, in the PDF version of the book, the State Diagram doesn't have arrows, just lines. I'm honestly not sure why this is, but given that the official PDF doesn't have the full book cover, has a slightly different layout, and not all of the art, I'm guessing it was a reconstruction of old layout files or something. Basically, though, all the arrows move towards the top of the page.

Moving on. The "casting" value is based on the particular casting method. Impressed spells have a flat cost of 3, so at least we're set there. A spell that's cast directly has a cost of 0, a focused spell has a cost of 2, and enchanting an item...well...

quote:

To build a spell which can be placed in an object is even more difficult. The state path must be extended from the pattern knowledge to living forces (to be impressed), then to folk (to connect the state path to the character casting the spell), then to the element knowledge which best describes the material of the object (to be stored in the object.)
Note that this isn't for "enchanted" objects, it's for creating an item that will contain one use of a spell, like a scroll or a one-shot wand. No, I don't know why you'd want to do this since I don't think it affects the actual cast time.

Next on the list is the "control" of the spell. This starts with a flat value based on the skill used when casting the spell. For the dancing sword spell that's apportation, which has a base value of 10. I record that as the skill control cost, or "Skl" on the worksheet.

I can now tweak the spell's "controlling aspects", which is actually more confusing than everything we've had up to this point because it's barely explained. I think how this works is I determine which of the spell's stats I want to be able to adjust: additional targets, the shape of the spell, controlling the movement of an apportated item, duration, accuracy, and if it's a ward or not. I'm going to adjust the movement (so the weapon can move in more than just a straight line away from me) and duration (because if I don't control the duration, the spell can't be turned off). That's two, which I then look up on the ol' One-On-Many chart (remember that? it's how you use one skill on multiple targets) and get that modifier, which is +4. That gets recorded in the "Aspc" circle. The other two circles for this section are for spells that directly affect the target's stats or for disbelieving illusions, neither of which apply here.

Next is the spell's range and speed. Range is obvious (and comes off the Benchmark Chart), and "speed" is actually how fast the spell travels to its target in m/round, like that loving matters because if the range equals the speed, then the spell hits its target in one round. I'm just going to throw a range and speed of 6 in there because who loving cares. I mean, I could make them different values but there's no real point.

Now I get to pick the duration! This is probably the easiest part; I just look up the time on the Benchmark Chart from back in the core book and record the value for the duration I want. This is a combat spell, so a max duration of a minute should be enough. That's a 9, so I write that in the appropriate circle.

Almost done! Now I need to start adding up values. I bet you think that'll be simple, don't you?

See, the first totals I have to create are my "knowledge totals". That's the column that's outlined on the sheet. For each of those circles, I have to make a skill check with all four casting skills and the pattern knowledge skill, adding my ranks in the pattern knowledge skill. For the sake of this example, I'm just going to throw some arbitrary values in there. Let's say I have the spellcasting skills at 15 each, and 11 in the pattern skill.

Yes, your skill rolls are hardcoded into the spell.

Once I have those values, I can start figuring out the Spell Sum.

quote:

A spell is derived from the observation of a pattern, which is modified by the state path, aspects controlled by the mage, and finally the apportation and duration of the effect. But the entire process is woven into the pattern which it modifies, and each part of the process has an affect on the other. If a portion of the pattern or the process is beyond the capabilities of the mage (as represented by the total she generated), that portion can be offset by other parts of the spell. If a mage cannot muster enough control for the spell, excess ability in the apportation and duration aspects can make up for the lack of control. This balance is represented by the spell sum.
This is just doing all the math on the top part of the sheet.

I now have to figure out the basic complexity of the spell. This starts with a flat value based on the magic skill needed (apportation = 19), and adding the highest pattern value from the top half of the worksheet (that's the values just to the left of the vertical box). Then I determine the casting time based on the Benchmark Chart again; I'll take a cast time of four seconds for a value of 3. This value is subtracted from the first two, so the longer it takes to cast a spell the easier it is to cast.

I can also reduce a spell's complexity by applying theorems. Each theorem I put in a spell adds a week of game-time (eight hours a day, seven days a week) to the amount of time it's going to take my character to create the spell.

quote:

The value for applying a theorem is the value of the number of weeks spent applying the theorem. Process theorems each have a theory knowledge which grants the mage a bonus when generating the theorem total; the cast time theory knowledge gives a bonus to the theorem of cast time total. The bonus is equal to the adds of the theory knowledge.
knowledge.
For every theory I apply to the spell, I can reduce the overall difficulty by making a skill roll for each theorem I apply. I take the result of the skill roll made for the theory and subtract it from the basic complexity. Again, I'm just going to throw arbitrary values in here.

There are a bunch of theories, like "voice", "cast time", "similarity" and so on. All the descriptions for these are, again, in the seven pages of fiction about a school lecture about magic. Some of these theories actually have an effect on the spell itself; for example, the theorem of touch means that the caster has to physically touch the target of the spell.

Now I determine the final complexity, which is just doing all the math as indicated by the arrows on the sheet. I split the final complexity total between what I want the spell's casting difficulty and backlash values to be, and I'm finally loving done.


The final sheet, I guess

So here's the thing: I have absolutely no frigging idea if I did that right. I have no way of knowing if my spell is mechanically correct because the whole process is so needlessly complex it's impossible to just quickly go back and check my work. On top of that, there's barely any useful examples. There's one extended example of how to make a turn-people-into-a-frog spell, but what about other spell types? What about a simple attack spell? Or a teleportation spell? Basic things that shouldn't require a lot of exceptions or whatever to make?

To make matters even worse, I can't even reverse-engineer the existing spells, because all the spell creation math and values and poo poo aren't given. Most of the numbers I recorded have no use once the spell itself has been created and "bolted down".

Let's just finish the chapter out and move on.

The next part is Casting on the Fly, which is, yes, making up a spell on the spot. It also mean casting a spell that you haven't learned (i.e., spent Possibilities to buy), but have either seen cast or are reading out of a grimoire. The drawback to casting on the fly is that backlash is more dangerous. To remind everyone: suffering backlash means that you take the spell's backlash value, subtract the spell casting total, and apply that difference as damage. With a spell you've learned, if your skill roll was less than your Mind stat, you use the stat instead, so tanking a roll won't completely screw you. But if you're casting the spell from a grimoire because you haven't learned it, you don't get the buffer from your Mind. If you have a Mind of 14, roll a total of -5 to cast a spell, and the spell has a backlash value of 21, then if it's a learned spell then the final damage value is 21-10=11, which is less than a basic pistol. If that was being cast from a grimoire, then the damage would be 21-(-5)=26, which is about as bad as getting hit with a LAW missile.

It's also possible to cast a spell you've seen cast, assuming you have the necessary skills and knowledge. This is because of the Law of Observation, apparently. It works like normal spellcasting, but not only do you not get the benefit of you Mind, the spell's difficulty and backlash are increased by 4. To use the numbers in the above example, that increases the backlash damage to the same level as a 30mm autocannon.

quote:

Observing the pattern and then casting the spell is essentially rapid-fire spell design. The mage must assign the pattern and process values, then generate each of the five skill totals, arrive at the spell sum, and calculate the basic complexity. As no theorem may be applied in less then a week, the basic complexity is the final complexity. The mage divides the complexity into the difficulty and backlash of the spell. He must then either cast the spell the next round, or lose the pattern.
Yeah, because this is a system that lends itself well to quick calculation.


And you thought netrunning slowed your game down?

The next part is about Manipulating Spells and is basically ways to fiddle with the numbers of an spell as you cast it. You have to have all the magic and knowledge skills to do this. And what are the benefits?
1. You can spend a round shifting points between the spell's difficulty and backlash value.
2. You can spend a round moving points from one of the effect, range, or duration to one of the other two.
3. You can spend a round to move points from the cast time to either the duration (one-for-one) or range (two-for-one).
4. You can increase a spell's backlash by to increase the spell's effect, range, or duration. This takes no time but has to be announced before you roll.

Lastly, we get a bunch of stuff about Permanent Magic. Creating a permanent spell has the same penalties as casting an observed spell, on top of a -15 modifier to the roll, and believe it or not there's a reason for that modifier.

See, the highest magic axiom possible is 33, at which point all conjuration spell are permanent due to the high levels of ambient magic energy. But at axiom levels below that, there's a penalty to permanent conjuration (or other types of magic apparently) equal to the magic axiom of the world minus 33. And Aysle has a magic axiom of 18, so 33-18 = 15.



Making a spell permanent means that you either make the pattern permanent or the process permanent. Making the process permanent means that the effect will last forever (a permanent fireball will burn forever), whereas making the pattern permanent makes...uh...

quote:

If the pattern is made permanent, the potential to cast the spell permanently exists. The caster must still provide the appropriate magic skill to cast the spell. The primary advantage of making a pattern permanent is that the pattern need not be observed by the caster, as it is already there. The second advantage is that as permanent pattern is not yet part of the natural world, is cannot be dispelled by a spell effect of the same knowledge. Any effects of the spell may be dispelled, but the pattern itself could not be dispelled. Any theorem restrictions still apply to the spell; an altered fireball wand with a permanent pattern still requires the component of pitch and coal.
Whatever the hell that all means.

Note that none of that applies to enchanted items; that was all just making a spell that never ends. Creating a magic item (which is just an item with an existing spell in it) that can be cast by anyone is poorly explained, but basically involves creating a spell that will allow the storage and manipulation of other spells, then casting that spell as a permanent spell.

quote:

Constructing items which require no skill to use are difficult, as the spells must be impressed. The first step to building such an item is creating a permanent effect that allows spells with the result knowledge of fire to be impressed into an object. Assume we are building a staff of fire magic. The pattern is plant, the material of the staff. The mechanism is life, to imbue the staff with real living forces, allowing spells to be impressed. The result knowledge is fire, the pattern knowledge of any fire spell stored in the object. However, as discussed above (see “Casting” ), the state path is pretty convoluted: plant to inanimate forces to magic to life to living forces to folk (to allow folk to cast the spell) to living forces to light to inanimate forces to fire. The spell is cast directly.


So wait, people in the setting do know about axioms?

---
I hate this chapter.

Seriously, I'd argue that this one chapter is the worst thing in the entire Torg line, up to and including War's End.

No part of this, no part, was necessary.

Who cares how magic works in-setting? You don't explain how cybernetics or miracles or any of the other dozen power types work in-setting, so why do we need a literal lecture about How Magic Works?

It's magic! You don't gotta explain poo poo!

I guess they were going for a realism thing, or something, but...why? Who could possibly care? What would be lost by not having this?

I just...I don't get it.

I hate this chapter.

NEXT TIME: A lot of premade spells so you don't need to bother with spell creation!

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at 20:28 on Dec 15, 2016

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The idea that you need heavily systematized magic beyond 'This is how it works thematically and narratively' in fiction is a poison.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Night10194 posted:

The idea that you need heavily systematized magic beyond 'This is how it works thematically and narratively' in fiction is a poison.

Again: designed by a physicist.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
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I would like to point out that Ars Magica, the game which filled a third of a book with 'and now, a lecture on medieval beliefs on physics', looked at magic and how it works and went 'we promise that these theories are all very complete and good and you the player don't have to know them.'

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Mors Rattus posted:

I would like to point out that Ars Magica, the game which filled a third of a book with 'and now, a lecture on medieval beliefs on physics', looked at magic and how it works and went 'we promise that these theories are all very complete and good and you the player don't have to know them.'

Not only do you have to know the theorems in the lecture/fiction, you have to refer to it during some parts of the spell creation process. Seriously, at one point the instructions refer to "Mathea’s lecture".

We're all familiar with rules-as-physics, but Torg may be the only game with magic-as-physics.

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


All I took from that chapter was don't have magic in your TORG games.

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Mors Rattus posted:

I would like to point out that Ars Magica, the game which filled a third of a book with 'and now, a lecture on medieval beliefs on physics', looked at magic and how it works and went 'we promise that these theories are all very complete and good and you the player don't have to know them.'

I did like how they still clearly spelled out how a lot of the theories and magic function so that if you did care about it you could learn it. Someone who just wants to be A Wizard just knows Art+Technique and they're fine. Someone interested in the research and theory behind magic knows all about the Limits and the various theories on how and why they work and their interconnectedness, and you can plausibly come up with unified magical theories.

Ars Magica is Sandersonian magic in an rpg done right. There's enough rules and explanation so that magic isn't just the "Do Anything" button and you get a good feel for its powers and limitations, but it's abstracted and modular enough that you don't have to personally study for years to play it. drat, Ars Magica is a great game.

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Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Oh you can have it...just don't try to make new spells.

It's also worth pointing out that there is no equivalent system for creating miracles.

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