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open_sketchbook
Feb 26, 2017

the only genius in the whole fucking business

Simian_Prime posted:

Monsterhearts already exists.

(jk I actually like MH)

SEX MOVE: Just Straight-Up Remove The Dingus

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The Vosgian Beast
Aug 13, 2011

Business is slow

theironjef posted:

Hey, how about we do the thread's namesake? System Mastery presents FATAL. The first one, specifically.

1: The first thing I found when I googled "Byron Hall" was a blogpost about how everyone was too mean to him because he was clearly a genius https://sheikhjahbooty.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/i-think-maybe-we-were-too-harsh-on-byron-hall/

2: Grendel's mom wasn't hot in the poem, that was just the CGI movie that came out like half a decade ago.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


The Vosgian Beast posted:

2: Grendel's mom wasn't hot in the poem, that was just the CGI movie that came out like half a decade ago.

Based on the cutting edge of historical research!

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012




Conspiracy X Second Edition Back Cover posted:

You wake up in the morning and get the feeling that something isn't as it should be. Why do certain figures appear out of nowhere and become famous overnight? Why do the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer? What is the government really paying for when it shells out 75 bucks for a screwdriver? Why is it the more questions you ask the less answers you get? Why is it any answer always leads to another question?

I promised I'd get to this title near the start of the year, and neither snow, sleet, hail, nor crushing depression could hold me back forever. And now, here we are, Conspiracy X, a setting that's been around the block a few times. First came Conspiracy X, the startup project of Eden Studios back in 1996. It utilized a system that was more or less the evolutionary ancestor of the Unisystem engine, with less condensed skills, more attributes, and generally a bit more chunkiness to it. It was popular enough to get twelve sourcebooks, with names such as The Hand Unseen, Atlantis Rising, and Bodyguard of Lies: Mokole. In 2002, there was also a GURPS Third Edition version of Conspiracy X released, which as far as I know is the only GURPS title that has been (and still is) sold firsthand outside of Steve Jackson Games's storefront.

Finally, you have Conspiracy X Second Edition, the title I'm here to throw at you for your entertainment. This title was released in 2006 and unified Conspiracy X into the rest of the Eden Studios stable by making it run on Unisystem. After a gap of five years, most of the material from the first edition ended up snaking its way into three further sourcebooks all funded through Kickstarter: The Extraterrestrials Sourcebook covered the original sourcebooks on the Atlanteans, Grays, and Saurians (the three alien races of the setting), The Paranormal Sourcebook condensed the first edition's supplements on psychics, arcane powers, and monsters from cryptozoology, and The Conspiracies Sourcebook revamped material on Aegis, Black Book, and the build-your-own-conspiracy book Sub Rosa. You may notice this leaves three books out; those would be the Bodyguard of Lies trilogy, which I may cover in the future as a little aside.



Chapter 1: Indoctrination
Since the first chapter of the book is also the introduction chapter, I figured I'd roll it in with this introductory post rather than separate it into its own thing. First is a basic overview of the standards the book uses. You've got the Unisystem and its use of the d6, d8, and d10, all measurements are Imperial but the basics of conversion to metric are noted as a nice little gesture to different countries, and the book flips between male and female pronouns each chapter because Eden Studios felt that Wizards of the Coast's "he or she" was too clunky and the singular they wasn't really en vogue back in the Bush years. There's also the whole "what is roleplaying?" spiel, with the metaphor of it being like playing make believe but with some rules to keep everything on the rails. In Conspiracy X, he Game Master equivalent is referred to as the Chronicler and players are referred to as Cast Members. I'll probably still call them GM and players in this review anyway, because I'm stubborn that way.

The central premise of Conspiracy X is that the world is truly and distinctly Fortean in nature once you peer behind the curtain of lies: Lizard people are trying to rule the world, little Gray men crashed in Roswell, Hitler was a wizard who also had his scientists build flying saucers, psychic operatives helped Lee Harvey Oswald aim his shots from the grassy knoll, the Illuminati is real and run by Atlanteans, etc. etc. You even have werewolves and vampires, though probably not in the way you'd think. Not so different from a lot of The X-Files or such, right?

Well, the big thing here is that you are part of the conspiracy. The core rulebook assumes that you are going to be part of Aegis, an anti-extraterrestrial secret government agency that is in a backstage cold war with Black Book, another secret society that is embedded in the American military and has decided to work with the aliens rather than against them. You aren't the Mulder here; no, you get to be the Cigarette-Smoking Man, including all the grim and morally gray duties that may entail. Of course, just because you are part of the conspiracy doesn't mean you are cleared for all of the answers:

Conspiracy X Second Edition posted:

To keep the “Truth,” as well as the full details and rules for the paranormal and alien races, completely out of sight of the players, separate sourcebooks have been created. The first two books, The Extraterrestrial Sourcebook and The Paranormal Sourcebook, detail all the alien motivations and plans, as well as rules for powerful psychics, magical rituals, and corrupted monsters. This information is to be parceled out by Chroniclers as the campaign progresses, if at all. Hints of the “Truth” are covered in the later chapters of this book, as are sample alien characters and paranormal powers, so that Chroniclers can run fully realized games without purchasing the other books. The details in this book, however, only touch the surface of the lies, cover-ups, and supernatural horrors that await the unsuspecting agent.

In some games one might be tempted to refer to this as GM adversarialism, but it makes sense to have that kind of secrecy in a game where part of the point is that you don't know deep the rabbit hole goes and are supposed to find out yourself. That and there are a lot of parts of the narrative that are meant to be malleable depending on what the GM and players are most comfortable with (more on that when we get to the 9/11 sidebar later on). Indeed, a big thing the introductory chapter here emphasizes is that you should play the game in a way that the players have fun, not necessarily in a way that is the most by the books. Some of the recommended media include Freakylinks, The X-Files, Twin Peaks, Akira, 24, and Hong Kong action films, to give you an idea of how varied they want you to be able to play the setting.


Next Time: Does this all sound crazy? Good, because that means I'm at least not totally incompetent in conveying how it feels to look at this setting. With the intro out of the way, it's on to the meat with the first portion of Chapter 2.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 17:36 on Mar 2, 2017

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 6: "In an attempt to find a technological equivalent of the Armor of the Sun, the armorers of Arequipa worked for years trying to develop a flame-covered suit of power armor."[


This is a rocket weapon or a laser weapon. Can you tell which one it is?

Weapons and Equipment of the Empire of the Sun

So even though they're magically-dominated, the Incans recognize the need for guns. So yayyy we get another gun section, yayyy I'm so excited. Yayyy. They get most of their weapons from Arequipa or from New Babylon (wherever and whatever that is). They also like glitter boys because "they look like homages to the sun god", which having gotten to see the art for the sun god, they look nothing alike. Maybe this book assumes (like I once did at a young age) that GBs are golden, when actually they're silver, since they've rarely been seen in color art? Hm. Also, sometimes they steal Arkhon weapons, but that's another equipment section.


This is the opposite of the other gun. Can you tell which one it is?
  • Inti-10 Variable Laser Pistol: This was originally designed to beat Arkhon armor, but actually is a failure in that regard. Though it can be used to beat laser-resistant armor, about the only thing that packs it is the glitter boy, and their enemies don't use those. It also doesn't do much damage, so it's really just a failure. But they use it anyway!
  • Inti-20 Variable Laser Rifle: Like the above, but with genuinely decent damage, so it's okay!
  • Illapa-1 Rocket Pistol: This is shorter range than the above pistol, but does better damage with its rockets. It's "rather clumsy" but there's no penalty to hit with it or a strength requirement, so why even have that in the flavor text?
  • Illapa-5 Rocket Rifle: This actually does great damage and is good against the Arkhon armor, but for some reason isn't their mainline weapon. Maybe they just think lasers are cooler? Hard to say.

"Wait, did I pick up my rocket gun or laser gun today? Well, I'll figure it out."

There's also Gilded Body Armor, which is an suit for elites that's designed to have a fancy sun-god headdress and facemask. It's tough for armor, but not immensely so. Then there's Sinchi armor which looks more like riot gear and is firmly on the low end of the armor tiers. Apparently wizards and priests like to paint it bright red or yellow and attach feathers, and maybe paint a target on themselves to make the effect complete.


"Don't worry, I'm the good kind of Sauron."

Nazca Power Armor

This kind of makes you look like Sauron or a sith, but in actuality is a techno-wizard suit designed to fight glitter boys, and we get a crazy amount of details for a suit of armor, like:
  • It has special fiber-optic cameras throughout the suit so you can't blind it by blowing off the head (isn't the pilot's head in there anyway?).
  • It's only designed for Inca heights (1.7 to 1.75m) so larger people have penalities using it.
  • Nazca magic gives it a force field and lets it shoot "pure ley line energy", whatever that is.
  • It also has laser-guided rockets, but that the lasers are visible, which is an issue.
  • It can beat up Arkhon Death Cyclops and Stormwind suits, but it's vulnerable ot air attack.
  • There have been 250 suits made, 65 destroyed, 30 are missing, and the Arkhons have captured some but don't really understand the magical components.
  • blah blah blah blah blah
So, this has about 200 M.D.C., but 600 with a charged forcefield, making it comparable toughness-wise with the Glitter Boy. But can it actually match up in terms of dishing out damage? No, not really. It has missiles that let it do a strong alpha strike but then it turns out of steam - it has a machinegun / rocket rifle that's no better than the infantry weapons above, its blasts of "ley line energy" are no big deal, and though it actually does solid damage in hand-to-hand, it doesn't even come close to the boom gun's firepower. Long and short: a glitter boy can defeat this thing in six successful attacks, while the Nazca power armor needs ten successful attacks to defeat a glitter boy.

Everything described as a "glitter boy killer" is bullshit and this is no different. If the rules actually supported using tactics other than Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, it could get creative, but they don't, so it can't.


Conveniently placed flames.

Armor of the Sun

So this isn't a proper power armor per se, but magic talisman that surrounds the wearer with a flaming sun golem. It glows with sunlight and can toast vampires and set objects on fire (do not activate while pumping gas), and only lasts for short periods (two hours at a time, upt ot six times a day). But if it's destroyed, it can't recover for 24 hours, thereby avoiding the dumb Armor of Ithan loop you see with a lot of magical items in this game, where once your M.D.C. is depleted you can just reactivate it and heal back up to mostly full.

The damage this can take is actually based on your Mental Endurance, which is actually a neat mechanic, so it's around 200-500 M.D.C. depending. It does decent automatic damage just from proximity, modest flame blasts, can blind people with surprising effectiveness (but it doesn't play favorites, so try not to blind your allies), and is a decent melee combatant. It doesn't have a radio or sensors, but it does protect from environmental hazards, can see the invisible, sense magic, and send telepathic messages over a mile (but only to psychics, wizards, and priests for some unknown reason).

It's not bad, really, the damage it does is a little underwhelming as with many Rifts vehicles, but it's at least an interesting and different design, which you don't see very often in these sections. So kudos to that.


Nipple guns... fire!

Atahualpa Combat Suit

Unlike the other suits, this is Arequipa's attempt to make a purely technological suit of armor, and though it's pretty dinky, it's cheap and has seen regular usage in Empire forces. It isn't very tough, uses one of the infantry rocket rifles with a bigger clip (still a great gun, but a little underwhelming to see), has mini-missiles, and crappy machineguns that don't even do mega-damage without special ammo. There's nothing more to say about it other than it being the power armor equivalent of a red shirt.


It's important for armor to be on fire!... so the enemy can target it at night.

Solar Combat Armor

So, not to be content with designing disposable cannon fodder, Arequipa decided they wanted to make a real flaming suit like the Armor of the Sun, only without magic, but they couldn't put it off. So they asked New Babylon for assistance, and now with their assistance, can make power armor suits that are literally on fire. Apparently it uses um... a magnetic field to project plasma outward and it really doesn't make a lot of sense, just take it as writ that they can make a suit of flaming power armor.

So it's moderately tough for a suit, and does solid damage but shooting plasma from foes. It has a rail gun that does passable damage, and crap eye lasers. It also can do plasma damage to anything in contact with it (punches included.) and tends to set everything around it on fire. The whole obsession with setting suits on fire would seem to be an issue around tropical forests and grasslands, but hey, who am I to criticize their willingness to set the world on fire for the sake of being super rad?


Like Mini Coopers, only for tanks.

Slinger Light Tank

This is a mini-tank and while not it's not the blatant copy of Dominion Tank Police's Bonaparte Mini-Tank that the XM-300 "Terror" Mini-Tank was, the similarities are notable, and feels like the same inspiration channeled through a different writer. It's a two-person tank that runs on gas or electric, has a cannon that somehow only does less or marginally more damage than the rocket rifle (depending on ammo type), and has two machineguns (one front, one coaxial) that do nearly as much. Oh, and it's somehow even weaker than most power armors.

Sorry, Leona, it's a death trap.

So that's the end of the Empire of the Sun. Honestly, they're kind of neat and it's interesting to have a large, benevolent, and capable nation, though they suffer in that magic is often given a short shrift in terms of combat capability. It's good to also have a civilization that brings back the "old ways" for comprehensible reasons, and yet still allow themselves to wear slacks when necessary. Still, this isn't Rifts, and so there's a lot of handwaving going on to make it work, as much as it does work at all.

Next: Space invaders.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



The Vosgian Beast posted:

1: The first thing I found when I googled "Byron Hall" was a blogpost about how everyone was too mean to him because he was clearly a genius https://sheikhjahbooty.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/i-think-maybe-we-were-too-harsh-on-byron-hall/

2: Grendel's mom wasn't hot in the poem, that was just the CGI movie that came out like half a decade ago.

1. I read that guy's blog post. His argument requires Hall's statement that all the sex stuff he put in FATAL is for the sake of completeness and historical accuracy to have been made in good faith. He has an NPC in the game named Cuntrina.

2. Oh yeah...

Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.



Clapping Larry

Alien Rope Burn posted:


This is a rocket weapon or a laser weapon. Can you tell which one it is?


This is the opposite of the other gun. Can you tell which one it is?

Ooh! Let's try and think about this like a sensible person.

The rocket weapon is the top one with the shoulder brace because rockets have recoil and lasers don't.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


That second gun looks like a glock with too long a barrel and a weird rear end drum mag.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Drum magazine full of rockets and a pump-action laser.

Cthulhu Dreams
Dec 11, 2010

If I pretend to be Cthulhu no one will know I'm a baseball robot.


Glazius posted:

Ooh! Let's try and think about this like a sensible person.

The rocket weapon is the top one with the shoulder brace because rockets have recoil and lasers don't.

A rocket launcher shouldn't have much recoil - but where does the back blast go?

If there is no way to vent back blast it must fire the middle like a ballistic round which then starts a rocket motor gaffer it's been 'fired' from the 'gun' but that makes even less sense.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


theironjef posted:

Heck, half the people in here have read FATAL before, and Fifty Shades was so vanilla that it ended up being my main complaint. We'll totally live. I'm just so pumped to talk about this poo poo book! Also I just designed a shirt based on one of my old jokes just so I could buy it for myself. It's a good day!

All I could think of beforehand and during your review it is that it's just like tabletop gaming's equivalent of a hot pepper challenge. It's hard to imagine anybody enjoying FATAL outside of trollish contrarianism. Savage Rifts is pretty solid, though, hopefully it's a palate-cleanser. (Especially since it has the sense to put the skullzis in the NPC category.)

Glazius posted:

The rocket weapon is the top one with the shoulder brace because rockets have recoil and lasers don't.

The first (with the brace) is the Inti-20 Variable Laser Rifle. The second (the pistol) is the Illapa-1 Rocket Pistol. Not that the brace is an indicator - both of the rifles have braces, of course, but I don't reprint every piece of gun art in these sections because for the most part they're either just a series of boxes or cribbed loosely from some real gun. The only real giveaway is that that, yes, the Illapas have that drum-style mag, but it's really hard to tell with the sideways view - the shading is the only real indicator. Of course, the laser rifles are supposed to use e-clips, but there's no sign of them in the actual design.

Cthulhu Dreams posted:

A rocket launcher shouldn't have much recoil - but where does the back blast go?

If there is no way to vent back blast it must fire the middle like a ballistic round which then starts a rocket motor gaffer it's been 'fired' from the 'gun' but that makes even less sense.

The book calls them rocket weapons but then describes them as firing "15mm explosive bullets" so

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 ONE PART TWO

Making a Blood Bather


Making a Bather is pretty simple. For the fifth step of character creation, you figure out your character’s Ritual and all of the effects you get. At step six, Bathers start at Morality 5 and gain 10 XP with the option to lower their Morality for more XP. They also start with -1 Willpower dot due to needing to sacrifice one to make the Ritual actually work. That’s pretty much it!

FACETS

The Facets of the Ritual are broken down into Blood, Bath, Frequency, Effects and Preparation. Each one controls a different part of the Ritual, and you should remember that it all has to add up to 0 to be viable.

Bath

The Bath determines exactly how, when and where you’re gonna get that blood all up on you. You pick when you want to do the Ritual and unless otherwise stated/selected the tub is a regular-rear end tub or some other vessel that you can put blood and yourself in. For this, and for other Facets, this doesn’t really cover every possible option and the GM can just like figure out whatever with the player. Listed below are the options, description and modifier cost.
  • No Tub: There is no tub. This choice usually only works with the kind of Ritual that involves you getting all up on them and stabbing the blood source. +3
  • Any Tub: Yep. +3
  • Specific Material: This can be as simple as “only a plastic tub” to as complex as “a tub made of unwrought cold iron” or like a gold tub. The modifier depends on the Resources cost of the tub with a negative modifier based on the Resource point cost. So gold-plated diamond tub would be like 5 Resources which is -5 modifier.
  • Unique Tub: It only works in this one specific tub. If it’s destroyed, you lose all benefits from your Ritual and might not be able to ever make a new Ritual. -5
  • Symbols and Carvings: You gotta accessorize and it’s gotta be artful. -1 for one-time design or -2 for a design that must be applied every time. Adding the alterations is a Dex+Crafts roll with 5 successes needed, every roll taking 30 minutes.
  • Attendants: What’s better than a ritual alone? A ritual with friends! Or a captive audience. Maybe you have to gently caress/be hosed while bathing, maybe people just gotta cheer you on or chant. Modifier depends on how many people are involved, with 1 person/up to 5/more than 5 costing 2/-3/-5. If they have to have special training, add an additional -1 point.
  • Any Hour, Any Day: Just do this whenever but it depends on the Frequency too. +2
  • Day or Night: Pick one. Once the sun has set/risen, you have until it rises/sets to do your Ritual. +1
  • Sunlight/Moonlight: The sunlight or moonlight must be shining for the Ritual to work. Watch those weather reports. 0
  • Moon Phase: This gives you about 3 days a month to do your ritual depending on the phase. -1
  • Season: Start a new holiday in a season of your choice where you give the gift of blood to yourself. -1
  • The Stars are Right: Well look at Captain Fancy over here. You have a maximum of 4 days a year you can do your Ritual, days like solstices or eclipses or equinoxes or whatever. -3 modifier, -2 if this is a regular thing like a solstice.
Blood

The book points out that the blood Facet is kind of tricky. For starters, the average person has 8 pints of blood in their body. That’s a gallon. Now imagine picking up a gallon of…let’s say you want to take a bath and the faucet’s plumbing is hosed up so you have to use those gallon containers of water. The average bath has 35-50 gallons of capacity in the sense of like a shower-tub. A free-standing soaking tub has a capacity like 60-80 gallons. Imagine just how much space all of those gallon plastic containers are going to take when you’re done pouring them in the tub. That’s at minimum 35 and maximum 80.


Just imagine these things everywhere.

Now imagine they’re human corpses, and remember that a drained human corpse has only lost the weight of its blood.

The quantity of blood is generally abstracted unless you pick the specific options that require you to have a certain quantity of it. If you want the Bather to have to be a mass murderer, then that should be worked into the Facets of the Ritual as necessary.
  • Some Human: At least a pint to a quart of blood must be human for a +5; the rest can be animal or water or whatever. For a quart to two quarts, +3. If a gallon, -1.
  • Any Human: The blood can be taken from anyone in the right place at the wrong time. +2
  • Half the Population: The Ritual works with either male blood or female blood. Interestingly, the blood of trans people is mentioned as being up to the Storyteller for if their blood will work for the Ritual or not. +1
  • Age: Child, adult or elderly. -2, -3 for child blood because of the fact that attacking a child will generally always bring more heat.
  • Race, Creed or Color: Only people of a certain ethnicity, belief system or racial group can be used for the Ritual. You should do your homework to make sure your victims actually qualify. Modifier of 0 for a group that’s relatively common down to -2 if they’re rare or isolated or secretive.
  • Supernatural Blood: This is a good way to get the local community of that type of supernatural entity real mad at you real fast, even if you’re a Hunter. -5
  • One Source: It all has to come from one victim, so don’t spill any! -3
  • Drained to Death: No murder, no power. -5
  • Left Alive: The victim should not/need not die for the Ritual to work. Very tricky to pull off. +5
  • Coat the Skin: You need roughly a gallon to give yourself a skin coating. Imagine having it all just poured all over you from a standing position down onto your head. That’s how much you need. Often paired with not needing a tub. +2
  • Immersion: You need enough to fill a tub and fully cover yourself with it if you dunk down into the blood. This would be a rough estimate of 30 gallons. -4
  • To Spare: About a 100 gallons. Hope you own a pool and can dispose of many bodies! -5
  • Fresh: The blood must be no older than a day fresh or nothing doing. -3
  • Preserved: The blood can be chilled or kept indefinitely but it can’t be allowed to rot or stagnate. Good luck with that. +1


Effects

Here we get into the real meat and potatoes. Getting immortality alone from the Ritual is actually kind of easy and straight-forward. It’s not too hard to formulate a “simple and easy” Ritual around that alone. Thing is, the Ritual can also be set up to give you other benefits and if you talk to your Storyteller, you might be able to gain powers not on the list. I mean, you’re already possibly killing someone to do this. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?
  • Immortal: No death by old age and no aging, no death by natural causes, no death by normal illness. Pretty good package that also gives +5 to resisting supernatural illnesses. +5
  • Immune to Poison: No damage from toxins, drugs, poisons. You can still get high on stuff like painkillers or skag or just drink heavily but your body will shake off the effects 12 hours later with no damage done. +2 for normal poison, +4 for supernatural poisons too.
  • Immunity to Disease: Never get sick for all eternity. This includes supernatural diseases. +2 if you already picked Immortality, +3 without it.
  • Temporary Attribute Increase: Popping a Willpower point and making a Resolve+Composure roll lets you turn any successes into a boost for Strength, Dexterity or Stamina on a 1:1 point basis for a scene. +5
  • Permanent Attribute Increase: You can select this multiple times. The Physical Attribute is buffed by 1 dot at a cost of +3 per pick. This lasts as long as you’re empowered by the Ritual.
  • Quick Healer: Gain the Quick Healer merit and heal in half time for +2. You don’t need to meet the qualification of the merit.
  • Regeneration: Well hello there. Heal all Bashing in a half hour, 1 point of Lethal every 15 points and Aggravated 1 point per day. +4
  • Return from Death: As long as your body is reasonably intact, heal 1 Aggravated damage per hour after death. Having your body pulped, incinerated or heavily dismembered means you’re not coming back. Anything less than hardcore bodily destruction means you’ll be back.
  • Striking Looks: Gain the 4 dot merit for +1.
  • Intoxicating Presence: Haemo. By Chanel. Get +3 to social rolls for seduction, distraction or persuasion.
  • Blood Manipulation: A nasty little benefit that allows you to gently caress with the blood of others. Touch someone and make them have a stroke or heart attack, rolling (Manipulation+Occult)-Victim Stamina. Every success is a point of Lethal dealt and this can be done reflexively especially if you’re grappling with someone. Doesn’t work on vampires. +4
  • The Fading: Lose the benefits of your Ritual for a period of time immediately before you do the Ritual again. And I mean all benefits, from immortality to sex appeal. The modifier is variable: Month/Week/24 hours/12 hours/1 hour at -5/-4/-3/-2/-1 apiece. If you also have a Facet that limits when you can perform the Ritual, the modifier gains another negative point.
  • Life-Bound: You literally can’t live without the Ritual now. Fail to perform it in time and you automatically die. -3
Frequency

How often you have to perform the Ritual. The variables below help you figure out what happens if you perform the Ritual too early or too late. Generally speaking, unless you take the Strict Timeline option, doing the Ritual early means you just reset the clock. If it’s every 5 years on the winter solstice and you do the Ritual 3 years in, then it’s reset. If you’re too late, well, generally speaking you just lose your benefits.
  • Chronicle: The Ritual is performed in a time span that’s equal to or greater than every ten years. This means that Ritual will probably only show up once in a given Chronicle and the GM should decide if that’s appropriate or not for the Ritual created. +5
  • Five Years: +3
  • Yearly: +1
  • Semiannually: Twice a year, 0.
  • Quarterly: Four times a year, -1.
  • Monthly: 12 times a year. We’re definitely in danger territory. -2
  • Weekly: This choice really doesn’t play well with any Ritual that requires more than a gallon of blood due to a minimum of 52 people needing to give blood a year. It’s also kind of a pain in the rear end for story purposes. -4
  • Daily: Ha ha good loving luck. -5
  • Strict Timeline: The Ritual can only be completed the exact moment the old one expires. If you’re too soon or too late, there are consequences.


Preparations

Does anything special need to be done with the blood or can it just be used as-is?
[*]Any Biomass: You can basically own a wood chipper and just mulch a bunch of bodies before taking a dip. It doesn’t matter if there’s anything else besides blood in there; as long as it came from a human body it works. +1
[*]Simple Blood: As long as the tub is filled with like 75%-90% blood, it still works. Tears, sweat, bodily waste or in-blood toxins don’t gently caress up the Ritual. 0
[*]Pure Blood: Only blood works, nothing else. No drugs in the blood will be allowed and the victim should be tested for how clean they are. General contamination control should also be practiced before draining the victim. -1
[*]Infusions: The blood has to be extracted and pre-mixed with something else, like poisons or silver flakes or bubble bath liquid. No mixing, no Ritual. This behaves like the Special Material requirement for the tub, modifying the negative points of this Facet Ritual for X points of Resources.
[*]Still Alive: The victim has to be alive and this might count as torture for making degeneration rolls. At the very least, it causes a logistical issue for how the victim is going to be bled into the tub by needing restraints. -2[/list]
SAMPLE RITUALS

The Halliwell Ritual


Arthur and Belinda Halliwell married in 1906 by eloping. Terrified of losing each other and losing the sexual spark in their life, they figured out their Ritual to stay immortal and healthy and energized together forever. Aww. Kinda.

On the night of their wedding anniversary, they have to coat each other in the blood of a married person while having sex. The blood needs to be prepared months in advance with an infusion of wine, flowers and poison. It’s kind of good for them that they need to prepare months in advance; they lose their powers the week leading up to their anniversary.



Ms. Winnow’s Ritual

Ms. Winnow really likes younger guys. They like her back, which suits her just fine because her Ritual needs a lot of bodies to fill a tub. She spends every five years after her Ritual wining, dining and seducing young men. Then, on the night of choice, she calls up a gaggle of them and slaughters them all to fill her tub. She draws the sigils on the marble in blood, climbs in and slips beneath the blood to arise rejuvenated with the morning sun. Then she moves and the hunt begins anew.



Aiden Corbett’s Ritual

Aiden saw his father die of muscular dystrophy when he was 11 years old. This put a fear of death in his young mind and he decided to figure out a way to prevent himself from getting old and succumbing to the same fate as his father. Aiden figured out his own version of the Ritual by the time he turned 13 and his mother never figured out something was deeply wrong with her son. Aiden now roams the world, 13 years old for the last 5 years, taking a life every week and using an adult’s life to keep himself forever young. They’re doomed to die anyway, and Aiden knows how to hide in places to avoid being caught as a runaway.



Thoughts on the Mechanics

Alright first I just wanna show you what a basic, immortality-only Ritual would look like.

Bath: Any tub 3, Any Hour Any Day 2
Blood: Drained to Death -5
Effects: Immortal 5, The Fading (24 Hours) -3
Frequency: Semiannually 0
Preparation: Simple Blood 0, Still Alive -2

That's a general framework and granted it can be improved upon, but the point is twofold. First, to get immortality alone, it'll still require some finagling and negotiating of the Facets. The perks and downfalls of the Ritual all come from having to counter the necessary choices. Second, the simplest route will require murder. Sure, I could've picked the less lethal options but you know what that requires? More finagling.

The easier it is to gain immortality, the more immoral it is. And I like that! I like how you can very much get all this power at the cost of tying yourself to a complicated, tedious process made of either hoops or more corpses. Let me go dig a Ritual out of a tradgames post on another website that was all hoity-toity "ha ha I can game the system".

Some person on an internet thread whose language I had to clean up substantially so you can probably guess where this is from posted:

Should you possess Resources 5, the Blood Bather template becomes top-tier. An old adage goes, "Screw the rules I have money!" Wealth can buy one many things, from conveniences to weapons to friendship to more wealth, and indeed, in this modern age, it can even purchase you. For this, we shall assume that you, once again, possess Resources 5. Our method of immortality shall be through a Blood Bather ritual, as delineated in pages 32-37 of WoD: Immortals. The goal here is to adjust our cost factor to +0 to render it a valid ritual.

• Bath: Specific Material, Resources 5. Our tub is made out of solid diamond (-5).
• Bath: Symbols and Carvings. The bath has to be adorned with fabulous esoteric charms before the ritual (-2).
• Bath: Attendants: Six attendants must be present (-5), and they have been trained to perform a complex performance of song and terpsichorean motions (-1).
• Bath: The Stars are Right. The bath must be performed during summer equinox (-2).
• Blood: Age. The blood has to come from adults and adults only (-2).
• Blood: Half the Population. The blood has to come from people of our sex, whatever that is (-1).
• Blood: Race, Creed, or Color. The blood has to come from black people (-1).
• Blood: Left Alive. The victims need not die for the ritual to work (+5).
• Blood: Coat the Skin. All we need is a total of one gallon of blood in total (+2).
• Blood: Fresh. The blood needs to have been drawn from the donor's body within one day of the ritual (-3).
• Effects: Immortal. We do not age, do not die of natural causes, are immune to mundane diseases, and are highly resistant to supernatural diseases (+5).
• Effects: Attribute Increase (Permanent). One of our Physical attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Stamina) is increased by 4 dots (+12). For comparison, 2 in an attribute is roughly equivalent to 10 in D&D, and 5 in an attribute approximates to 24 in D&D, so this is a huge boost.
• Frequency: Five Years. The ritual has a duration of five years, and can be renewed (+3).
• Preparation: Infusions, Resources 5. The blood needs to be mixed with hilariously expensive herbs and reagents (-5).
Total cost factor: +0. This is valid
So, once every five years, the day before the summer equinox, we gather six trustworthy black adults of our sex, pay them an astronomical sum, and have them come to our mansion. We rehearse a performance of Summer Sunshine by the Corrs with them until they get it absolutely right, and then have them stay the night. We then bring them over to our solid diamond tub, adorn it fabulously, extract 1/6th a gallon of blood from each of them, and dump it into the vat. We climb into the tub and have them perform their extravagant Summer Sunshine act. We are now immortal for five years.

Also, we are endowed with either amazing strength (+4 Strength), the agility and deftness of a Touhou character (+4 Dexterity), or the physical tenacity of a cockroach (+4 Stamina). In D&D terms, this is equivalent to +20 Strength, +20 Dexterity, or +20 Constitution, so we really do become a ludicrous physical specimen.
Shitload of work and preparation, isn't it? Doesn't kill anyone but it still requires sacrifice of money and blood and effort. Look at all of the hoops you have to go through for something that still has to be done every five years and requires substantial investments into making your donors not squeal. I like the Blood Bather mechanics to construct a Ritual. I like how it's all clunky and give and take, making things fit and having to saddle yourself with upsides and downsides. It's a system I enjoy a lot and I like its implementation quite a bit. Now, that being said, let's move on to Morality.

MORALITY

I'm gonna let the book speak a bit for this, which is something I don't normally do, but.

WoD: Immortals posted:

Blood bathers obviously don’t tend to retain their Morality for very long. The chart of Morality violations on p. 91
of the World of Darkness Rulebook lists “utter perversion, heinous act (mass murder)” as a sin against Morality 1, and slaughtering people for their blood qualifies. As such, performing the Bathing Ritual constitutes a chance for degeneration (roll two dice). If the blood bather does not kill his victims, but still takes blood from unwilling people, the Ritual is a sin against Morality 3 (planned crime; roll two dice). Even if he only needs to kill one person every five years, the result is still a sin against Morality 3 (planned murder; roll two dice), and some Storytellers might rule that this counts as serial murder, which is a sin against Morality 2 (roll two dice).

The World of Darkness Rulebook states that someone who falls to Morality 0 is beyond redemption and unavailable as a player-controlled character. A blood bather in this state is probably riddled with derangements, feels absolutely no remorse about what he does, and focuses only on obtaining the blood for his next Ritual. This is a fairly accurate depiction of blood bathers, though, and so if the player truly wishes to portray such a character, the Storyteller can, of course, allow it. See “Playing Blood Bathers,” later in this chapter, for a more in-depth discussion on players using these characters. As stated above, starting blood bather characters have Morality 5, rather than 7, and have the option of lowering the rating further. For every point the player removes from the character’s Morality rating, she can add five experience points to the character. So, a starting blood bather character with Morality
3 has 20 experience points to spend (all such characters get 10, and dropping two dots of Morality nets 10 more).

A group of blood bathers that shares a Ritual is slightly resistant to gain derangements (though not to losing Morality). Whenever a character would have to resist gaining a derangement for an action directly in furtherance of the Ritual, and one of the other participants is present to see the act (whether or not she assists), the character may spend a Willpower point to gain the usual three-die bonus on the roll to resist the derangement.
So, while this does make sense, mechanically this is...nnnnnot fun. It's a very quick ride down into crazy-town which offers such derangements as:
  • Sanguinary Animism (mild), where the Bather believes that victim's voice is riding shotgun in their head yelling at them for what they've done and making it hard to resist doing what they tell you.
  • Personality Shift (severe), where the Bather actually becomes what they think their victim was like, the description of which includes the following: "During this time, the character behaves in a manner consistent with how he perceives the victim, but has no special insight. For instance, a white man who murders a black man and then suffers from this derangement might attempt to speak in African-American vernacular English, but wind up sounding ridiculous." Y'know nothing lightens the mood of murder like a little bit of humor about racial ignorance.
  • Blood Addiction, where the character can't really function without seeing some blood on a daily basis and if you can't hold back the cravings you devote everything to spilling blood again.
  • Homicidal Addiction, which is like blood addiction but with the caveat that you kill to feel like yourself again when subjected to a serious stressor.[list]
    Delightful. Absolutely delightful. So in a nutshell, even the nicest Bather like our grognard-generated pop-music-loving millionaire is, despite their precautions, roughly on the same level of morally hosed as Shanky Pete who is only in it for immortality, just immortality. Both of them start at a minimum of 5 Morality and they're both going to hit roughly the same Mortality loss rolls for the same general reasons.
So let's take a look at Integrity real quick and I guess see which system wears it better. In a nutshell, murder of a normal person is always a breaking point to your average person. Makes sense. There are modifiers to your Integrity roll for things involving torture, witnessing violence and or even inflicting violence. However, Integrity is generally just "how together am I and my mind?" and it's just generally a cleaner system to use. The fact that there is just a general flat pool of dice with bonuses or hindrances you roll based on circumstances as opposed to "roll X dice at Y Morality" is a lot easier to execute and understand why it happened in relationship to your character. The other benefit is that all those risks minimizing long-term harm actually do have a mechanical benefit; the penalty for causing someone harm (making them give up blood for you) is less rough than premeditated murder. Plus engaging with your Integrity actually mechanically benefits you. I dunno! I'm running on fumes right now and don't have much more to say at the moment. Should've quit writing this a half hour ago. Oh well. Anyway, point is, Blood Bathers are actually kinda more playable with the Integrity system mostly because it focuses on your relationship with your mind and deeds vs. society. I'd probably just keep starting at Integrity 5 with the Integrity system, meaning you lose a very slight benefit to Integrity roles but are still functional, just flawed and rattled.

NEXT TIME: Sample characters and themes

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

I appreciate detailed reviews, but that part on the blood bathers is not so much a review as it is copying down the actual rules...

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Yeah sometimes I get a little too thorough for my own good but...I dunno. I at least try to put it in my own words I guess. I will endeavor to not just rip whole dang chunks out of the book but there's only so much I can do, using it as a guide and all.

rastilin
Nov 6, 2010


Honestly I enjoy reading a thorough review, especially when it includes notes and interpretation to put everything into context. Feel free to do the same for the next chapters.

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


theironjef posted:

1. I read that guy's blog post. His argument requires Hall's statement that all the sex stuff he put in FATAL is for the sake of completeness and historical accuracy to have been made in good faith. He has an NPC in the game named Cuntrina.

It's a bad post.

I read some more of his blog, though, and there's some really interesting stuff about traditional African games in there too.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Cthulhu Dreams posted:

A rocket launcher shouldn't have much recoil - but where does the back blast go?

If there is no way to vent back blast it must fire the middle like a ballistic round which then starts a rocket motor gaffer it's been 'fired' from the 'gun' but that makes even less sense.

Rocket pistols have existed since the '60s. The way they would vent the gas as the rocket was leaving the gun was through holes in the frame and "barrel".

The ray effect coming out of the barrel is the rocket exhaust as it's speeding up

The MBA Gyrojets had some potential and saw some testing in Vietnam with special forces, but it's acceleration left a lot to be desired. Supposedly, you could hold your hand in contact with the muzzle and the rocket would get stuck there and burn out. It was only at range where it could actually kill someone with lethal enough velocity.

Even the firing mechanism played with the slow acceleration, since the gyrojet round would be set off by a hammer-like arm set in front of the chamber then pushing the rocket into the firing pin when the trigger was pressed, which the arm would be reset by the rocket as it took off. Of course, you could have the "hammer" jam and have the rocket burnout fruitlessly against it, which did happen since the guns where made of really flimsy metal.

open_sketchbook
Feb 26, 2017

the only genius in the whole fucking business

The weapons were made of zinc, which probably wasn't the best material, but combined with the fact that they didn't need a real barrel it meant that those pistols were kind of unbelievably light. Special forces that used them (and got used to them) were quite fond of them as silent weapons at the 100m range, and because they weighed almost nothing they didn't mind packing it on top of other weapons.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



open_sketchbook posted:

The weapons were made of zinc, which probably wasn't the best material, but combined with the fact that they didn't need a real barrel it meant that those pistols were kind of unbelievably light. Special forces that used them (and got used to them) were quite fond of them as silent weapons at the 100m range, and because they weighed almost nothing they didn't mind packing it on top of other weapons.

Yeah, I figured it was zinc but it was late and I didn't want to hunt for what was the construction of the Gyrojets. It also means that the guns were fairly low pressure at the launch point.

The Gyrojet volley gun seemed like it was an idea before grenade launchers, especially rifle-mounted underbarrel launchers, became more commonplace. It seems like it was built around the idea of peppering a target-rich area like a machinegun nest with a single trigger pull, which you can do with normal fragmentation rounds or beehive rounds with a grenade launcher.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

rastilin posted:

Honestly I enjoy reading a thorough review, especially when it includes notes and interpretation to put everything into context. Feel free to do the same for the next chapters.

I would have no clue how this all fit together if you hadn't been so detailed. Not joking at all.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

Young Freud posted:

Rocket pistols have existed since the '60s. The way they would vent the gas as the rocket was leaving the gun was through holes in the frame and "barrel".

The ray effect coming out of the barrel is the rocket exhaust as it's speeding up

The MBA Gyrojets had some potential and saw some testing in Vietnam with special forces, but it's acceleration left a lot to be desired. Supposedly, you could hold your hand in contact with the muzzle and the rocket would get stuck there and burn out. It was only at range where it could actually kill someone with lethal enough velocity.

Even the firing mechanism played with the slow acceleration, since the gyrojet round would be set off by a hammer-like arm set in front of the chamber then pushing the rocket into the firing pin when the trigger was pressed, which the arm would be reset by the rocket as it took off. Of course, you could have the "hammer" jam and have the rocket burnout fruitlessly against it, which did happen since the guns where made of really flimsy metal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e23o0NIHtFw

Made by goon Life Size Potato

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.



Hostile V posted:

Yeah sometimes I get a little too thorough for my own good but...I dunno. I at least try to put it in my own words I guess. I will endeavor to not just rip whole dang chunks out of the book but there's only so much I can do, using it as a guide and all.
This specific thing kind of needs it though, given that otherwise saying "it's a give and take and requires fiddly crap to add up" doesn't really convey the specific levers you need to throw and buttons pressed to get your magical immortality out properly.

If the other Immortals have similar stuff, I say keep them in---I don't know about anyone else, but I've bought more books because of this thread than I can care to count, so you're only doing a net good here.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

This specific thing kind of needs it though, given that otherwise saying "it's a give and take and requires fiddly crap to add up" doesn't really convey the specific levers you need to throw and buttons pressed to get your magical immortality out properly.

If the other Immortals have similar stuff, I say keep them in---I don't know about anyone else, but I've bought more books because of this thread than I can care to count, so you're only doing a net good here.
Fortunately the other two breeds of Immortals that have Hard Rules have merits that give them powers in the case of one and buy ranks in powers in the case of the other. They don't require as thorough of an explanation of abilities because they honestly require less to function than figuring out a ritual and everything. I'll just keep the book/commentary balance in my mind going forward but there aren't gonna be many gigantic lists like the Facets.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 7: "His plans for the Empire of the Sun include mass executions of all Inca nobles and demigods; he has a list of specific targets to be assassinated or capture, and it runs into the hundreds of thousands!"

The Arkhons

As detailed before, the Arkhons are invaders who attacked Earth back in olden days, but now the came back, and we get to hear more of their story.

The Invaders

So, the Arkhons were contemporaries of the Atlanteans and Nazca, at least in terms of time, and were interstellar imperialists, and occasional genociders when there was too much resistance. They saw Earth as primitive and lightly populated, and Earth's magical defenses took them off guard. They realized they'd have to study Earth before giving it another go. Exactly why they're fixated on conquering Earth is not really explained. Lots of planets out there, guys!

The second invasion thirty years ago was solely orchestrated by one of their major clans, the Tlo-Arkhon, who had fallen on hard times and saw the invasion of Earth as a means to regain land and standing. So they warped into Earth orbit, and then thanks to the rifts, one third of the fleet never showed up and hasn't been seen since. Then they were assaulted by the orbital stations' defenses (from Mutants in Orbit) and they took some hard losses on the approach into Earth's atmosphere. There, they tried to bomb the Nazca lines before making planetfall, but the Nazca were able to defend the lines, and they crash-landed largely in the Andes, though it's said other survivors may have made it in parts of Asia, a plot point I'm pretty sure is forgotten by the time the Russia and China books are released.

Arkhons in Orbit

It quickly notes here that the Arkhon's arrival adjusts the Rifts Space (from Mutants in Orbit) setting with metaplot, and that GMs running campaigns in it can feel free to change or omit the information provided here. That's surprisingly thoughtful for a Rifts book!

Remember those ships that went missing during their invasion? Well, they finally showed up, having been warped forward three decades. Freedom Station and the Moon Colony opted to cease their hostilities to have it out with the Arkhons in an "epic space battle". There were heavy losses on both sides, and the Arkhons discovered their FTL tech was all burnt out. Led by Lord Tarris, the Arkhon in orbit are largely cut off from their leadership on Earth. Ironically, Tarris disagreed with the invasion in the first place, but plans to at least make the most of a bad situation. Mainly, they need to secure a base or run out of supplies in several decades. Their general goal is to raid and weaken the colonies before attacking and seizing the CAN Republic (the moon dudes, for the record). They've also established a small base on Mars, but are still contending with the mutant insects and rifted monsters that call the planet home.

The Arkhons in South America

The majority of the Arkhons, though, crashed in the Andes. And enough about that, time for a tangent!

We get some history: the Arkhons evolved parallel to Earth, just with a several millennia head-start. They were headed up by various clans called the Great Families, who eventually formed a World Council and then the clans got into space and started conquering like you do. However, once they ran into their first technologically advanced target, one of the families was forced to request aid from the others. After that, the World Council started to expand its role into one that oversaw conquered worlds.

When the Tlo-Arkhon massacred a million rebellious aliens, the Great Families were like that's going too far which is odd because didn't they genocide whole races just two pages ago? Well, maybe they mellowed out or something. Anyway, the Tlo-Arkhon were stripped of all their holdings, so they took their spaceships and grumped off to Earth.

It switches over to talking about culture, describing the Arkhon are a warrior culture, but with a sort of "winner take all" sense of "honor", and they don't sweat the necessity of fighting dirty. But the Tlo-Arkhon were even too backstabby for them, and Overlord Enno, the head of the clan, is a machevellian psychopath. He's pretty bitter about this current situation. It notes the Arkhons probably can't conquer the Earth like they plan, but they haven't figured that out yet and are likely to kill "thousands before they perish". Only thousands? That feels surprisingly optimistic, given the situation...

The Arkhon Freehold

The Arkhons build most of their communities around their fallen starships, which it points out are still too dangerous to attack directly, due to them having intact energy cannons that do 1d4 x 1000 M.D.C. It does point out that their mountainside location makes them "relatively short ranged", since though they could shoot through nearby mountains, this would probably create avalanches and destroy the ships themselves. Most of the ships have been refitted into citadels, and they have aerial patrols watching the mountain passes which often come into skirmishes with the Incas, Megaversal Troopers (?), or soldiers from the Silver River Republics. Also, they often try and raid any surrounding communities, murdering anybody who doesn't flee, or to send forces out to commit terrorism to intimidate locals. Basically, they're bad at friends.

We get a lot of details on their military breakdown, including noting submersible vehicles not detailed in this book.
  • A Fireteam is equivalent to a squad with 10-12 infantrymen, 3-5 power armor soldiers, or 1-3 aircraft, thanks, or robots. They're commanded by a Swordbearer
  • A Triangle is a company which is three fireteams lead by a Knight and four Swordbearers (one of which acts as a direct assistant for the Knight).
  • A Shield is four triangles commanded by a Duke and two Knights and four Swordbearers.
  • A Shieldwall-
You have no idea how many troop breakdown laundry lists these books have because I generally skip over them because they're dull as gently caress and usually consist of "Way too many baddies for PCs to confront."

Overlord Enno

So, Enno took over the clan hen his predecessor was ruled by rivals, and may have just be persecuted because he was threatening to become too powerful and take over the Arkhon Dominion and not because of the genocide. That's the way he sees things, but whether or not that's the truth is confusing. In any case, he's a generic tyrant villain who will murder a mama for giving him lip.

Rifts World Book Nine: South American Two posted:

His plans for the Empire of the Sun include mass executions of all Inca nobles and demigods; he has a list of specific targets to be assassinated or captured, and it runs into the hundreds of thousands!

Wait, there are only like a million people in the Empire of the Sun. He has like the names of 10% or more of them? Specifically? Does he just write down any name he learns?
  • Overlord Enno: "Angel Jose Castañeda, you will pay for your crimes against the Arkhon Empire!"
  • Underling Bono: "What are his crimes, his most terribleness?"
  • Overlord Enno: "He serves as a shoeshine to the Inca nobles!"
  • Underling Bono: "Really? He goes on the list?"
  • Overlord Enno: "He goes on the list!"
  • Underling Bono: "Seriously? He just shines footwear!"
  • Overlord Enno: "THAT'S IT! YOU'RE ON THE LIST!"
He has no statblock or art so we can move on.

Foreign Relations

Do we have to mention that the Empire of the Sun and the Arkhon are at war again? Well, they are. They skirmish and raid a lot around mountain passes. The Megaversal Legion, who are apparently transdimensional mercenaries, were attacked by overconfident Arkhons and slaughtered them, because as we'll find out, the Legion is pretty badass, and has kicked the aliens' rear end whenever they step their toe over the line. The Republic of Cordoba is occassionally subject to probing attacks from the Arkhons, with the aliens hoping to invade if Cordoba shows weakness. They don't really care about Columbia or Haktla but will blow either up all the same. And they've found out about Atlantis and consider it their major rival for world domination, even though Atlantis could probably smite the hell out of them. Lord Splynncryth, the head tentacle of Atlantis, knows about the Arkhons and couldn't care less.


"Dog boys? Never heard of them."

Arkhon R.C.C.

So, the Arkhons are supposed to be reptilian and feline combined, but they really look like humanoid cat-dogs to me. They're big on military garb that has one central eye (which will actually get explained) but some have taken to wearing Earth clothing as a fashionable new trend. "Behold! For I now wear the human pants!"

Sorry about that reference, it's all I can think of when I read that.

Anyway, their world is like Earth, only with a thinner atmosphere, as a result they like mountains and hate humidity, using environmental armor to overcome the accompanying penalities. In general, they value results over any other factor, whether it comes from skill or luck. As a result, the Tlo-Arkhon have a huge burden of shame they're trying to overcome. The other big factor is that their society emphasizes obedience to a fault; it's expected that a leader's equals will overthrow them, but never their underlings. As a result, most have evil alignments, but there are some outcasts that have fled to the far south to escape the war.

They're mainly strong and agile, and bizarrely (for Rifts) have a Physical Beauty average of 16.5, even though they look like a panther hosed a bulldog. But we can't judge them by our standards! In fact, they're more capable than humans in nearly every way, but they have some lower potential in some areas, mainly being strong and agile. However, they're still S.D.C. creatures. They live 200 years naturally, and 500 with their medical advances. Bizarrely, they can't see in the dark or the invisible or hear well or anything like that!... but they do have a bite and tiny claws. They can't learn magic, but get a small bonus against it, and are more likely to be psionic than humans. Their training is mostly in electronics, piloting, and weapons.

There's also a footnote that they use a credit system that's like, but not compatible with, Earth credits. Thankfully if you play an outcast, they give you a small amount of Earth credits instead.


Vulnerable to Danny Glovers.

Arkhon Spectral Hunter O.C.C.

So, it turns out the Tlo-Akron are pretty advanced cyberneticists... which hasn't been brought up previously, but they've got an O.C.C. to justify now! So, these are fancy cyborgs created some plastic / ceramic hybrid called "Cerasteel" which apparently looks organic and sometimes people have confused them for biomancers. I don't see how; biomancers cover themselves in magic wood and these guys look like a robot hosed a Predator. In any case, these have a fancy chameleon system that's not that big a deal, but we're told it's a big deal and that's what matters. They're mainly assigned to eliminate enemy scouting groups and to do "Morale Adjustment" which is a euphemism for "doing hosed-up terrorism to freak out the enemy", and many of them get savage urges to kill! Kill! KILL!... instead of PTSD. They prefer to fight "worthy" opponents, though, even though it just said they like to just decorate trees with villager sinew. Annnnyway.

Like default 'borgs, they have crazy amounts of M.D.C. between their bodies and added armor (up to 700), and they can run around at 120 MPH. They have fancy visual systems, translators, radio, and their much-vaunted chamelon system. (You can tell Siembieda didn't write this because they don't have a plasma phallus in their leg.) But what does the chameleon system do? Why, it gives them +5% to Prowl! That's right! +5%!... though I guess that makes up for the fact that 'borgs usually can't Prowl at all, maybe? It also does grant a sizeable penalty to people using Detect Ambush and Concealment against them, and mostly hides them from thermal systems. They get some electronics, ambush, and weapons skills, and a slightly reduced number of skills otherwise. Overall, it's pretty decent if you want to be an nigh-invulnerable Predator expy.


"Behold my nonspecific psychic might!"

Arkhon ESP Specialist O.C.C.

Another Arkhon variant, these are master psionicists who are brought in and trained for military or interogation. The Arkhon rely on them using their ESP to detect supernatural threads and counter them, or to find out secrets from prisoners. So! They get a basic package of ESP powers, and can then get some powers from other psionic categories, including super. However, their general progression is pretty slow and they don't really compare to human psychics very well, though they're pretty good at their role. They get electronic, intelligence, and weapon skills, and a slightly reduced number of other skills. However, with their high mental endurance requirement, you only have a 9% chance of playing one, because Palladium doesn't understand dice curves.


When a Klingon and an ape really love one another...

Fallam R.C.C.

Wait, who? These guys were only mentioned in the population breakdown, the fact that the Arkhons have this slave race should have probably been mentioned at some point in their description. Chances seem likely this is leftover art that's been repurposed with these guys tacked on at the end of the writeup.

So the Fallam are a race that was conquered by the Arkhons and essentially live as second-class citizens. They're basically big hunks of muscle and are minor M.D.C. creatures... because.... and mostly look like humans with apish builds and bumpy heads. They were originally treehugging peacelovers, but have been coopted into the Arkhons' culture of war. However, sa small group has fled all the way to Tolkeen in a shuttle, and are hiding out there there. There are also malcontents that engage in sabotage to work towards the Arkhon's defeat by the Inca. Many of them are just mechanics and technicians, despite their strength.

Predictably, they're strong 'n tuff 'n ugly, with only mild M.D.C. and a variety of minor combat bonuses. They get a variety of combat, fixit, and military skills, along with a free suit of armor that's actually pretty tough at 110 M.D.C. Nothing really stands out about that, they're particularly generic tough guys with a tragic backstory.


"Welcome to the undersea kingdom of- what, that's not our thing? But I got the trident..."

Fallam Battlemaster O.C.C.

3% of Fallam have the ability to channel a Battle Trance which is your standard kind of zen fightin' mode, but it leaves them exhausted. Concentration is tiring, I guess? Apparently they had practiced martial arts before being conquered, but their fu had waned in a long period of peace. The Arkhon have revived these arts and - wait, you said it was a genetic kind of thing, but now it's taught? Guh, make up your mind, Rifts. Anyway they're treated as elites even amongst the Arkhons, but they have a rivalry with other elite Arkhon units. Also there's a rumor that there's a secret cabal of them that's looking to overthrow the Arkhons one day, but certainly that's nonsense, right? Right.

So, they get some minor bonuses to their phsyical attributes and combat, the best of which is an extra attack. Their fancy-pants Battle Trance gives them a bunch of bonuses. But the only ones that really matter is that they get two more attacks and immunity to mind control and fear. However, they have to concentrate for a full melee round to activate it (pretty much forever in a Rifts fight) and it only lasts for a melee round per level, after which the Battlemaster turns into a Wimp... Master. They have a more directly combat-related set of skills, including martial arts, and are probably just a straight-up upgrade unless you were really wanting to play a Fallam greasemonkey or engine- no, okay, they're just a straight-up upgrade.

Next: Spiral power.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012




Chapter 2: Personnel
Recruitment
Congratulations, you're an Aegis agent! Through some manner of happenstance, you learned the Truth and were considered useful enough to be drafted into the organization's shadow war against Black Book, or the National Defense Directorate as it is officially known. Soon after the end of World War II, three alien species made themselves known to a select few, and from this event the two organizations were born. Why did the aliens come at that time, and why have they made an alliance with Black Book? , but Aegis is sure that whatever the aliens' plans are can't be good. After all, the government infiltration, abductions, and sometimes hostile actions don't seem to be some good will operation. As for Black Book, the Aegis leadership feels that they have made a deal with the devil, as it were, and that their schemes will eventually fall back on them in a horrible way. Until that time comes, the two groups shall continue their war with each other in the shadows.

As an Aegis agent, you are part of a specific cell made up of several other agents. Cells are not allowed to communicate with other, or even learn of each others' identities. You could be living a few doors down from another Aegis agent from a different cell and never even know it, which is an intentional attempt to heighten security and "keep operatives on their toes". The only ones who get to know everything are your bosses in the organization hub known as Aegis Prime, who are contacted through a special computer network called HERMES. Each agent has a HERMES link, which resembles a cell phone or PDA and contains a digital camera, vid and audio recorders, walkie-talkie, uber-wifi, GPS, satellite uplink, and access to the HERMES database. The link has special safeguards to identify the user, insanely high levels of encryption, and failsafes that blow the unit to hell if anyone tries to tamper with it. Agents are expected to give detailed reports on all actions and findings in the field, as well as keep everything in utmost secrecy.

Aegis's agency of secrecy is referred to as the Bodyguard of Lies, referring to the Winston Churchill quote "in wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies". Their reasoning is that telling everyone that the planet is being invaded by aliens who either look human, can make themselves look human, or can simply mind control humans to do their bidding might lead to a liiiiittle bit of civil unrest on a global scale. Furthermore, while the leaders of Aegis feel that the American government is corrupt and incompetent at best, they also realize that a known variable is much safer to deal with than a new wild card. Agents are expected to lie, defame, forge, and even kill to keep the truth a secret until the war is won.



Character Creation
As a Unisystem game, characters in Conspiracy X have six "parts" that make up the greater whole: Character Type, Profession, Attributes, Qualities/Drawbacks, Skills, and Finishing Touches. While there have been wonderful previous reviews of Unisystem titles such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and All Flesh Must be Eaten, I'll cover the bases anyway as some of it is different here and because not everyone wants to go back and look for another review just to understand the one they're currently reading.

Character Type is your "power level", and determines how generous the point buy is for you. All characters get to take up to 10 points in drawbacks, but beyond that their point allocation is dependent on their character type. Pre-Heroic characters are average Joes who are going into the world of Conspiracy X with the same general chance of survival and sanity as your average Call of Cthulhu character. They get 15 Attribute points, 5 Quality points, and 30 Skill points. Neo-Talented are almost average Joes, other than the fact that they get psychic or magic powers. They are almost the same point buy-wise as Pre-Heroics, save for allocating 5 Skill points to 5 points for Powers (magic and psychic funtime stuff). Heroic characters are cinematic martial artists, action heroes, and other people who aren't meat grinder material. They get 20 Attribute points, 15 Quality points, and 35 Skill points. Their supernatural equivalent is the Talented, which allocates 15 of those points they would have put into Skills into Powers instead.

Your Profession is more or less a prepackaged set of Qualities, Drawbacks, Skills, and Pulling Strings (more on that in a moment) based on a specific job. They usually only take a small chunk of your available points, as your job is only part of who you are.

Attributes come in six flavors, as per the typical standard for such things in roleplaying games. Strength is your physical power and reflects how much damage you can both give and take, Dexterity is coordination and how well you can aim your hits, Constitution is your immune system and physical endurance, Intelligence is your memory and learning ability, Perception is your five senses, and Willpower is your self-control and mental resistance. A score of 1 in an attribute means you are below average, 2 is average, 3 is above-average, 4 is very good, 5 is almost the best, 6 is the absolute limit for average human beings, and 7 or higher is superhuman. You also have four secondary attributes, affected by certain primary attributes and a x2 or x3 multiplier: Life Points are your HP bar and are affected by Strength and Constitution multiplied by four and given 10 more points, Endurance Points are your Fatigue Points by any other name and are your Constitution, Strength, and Willpower multiplied by three and then given 5 further points, Speed is your maximum movement and is your Constitution and Dexterity doubled, and Essence is your character's soul/life energy and given a total by the sum of all your attributes bundled together.

Qualities and Drawbacks are the system's form of advantages and disadvantages. Most of your character traits that aren't learned skills are gonna be in here. Most Qualities and Drawbacks are classified as either physical, mental, social, or paranormal traits. There is one exception, however: Pulling Strings. Pulling Strings is a special form of Quality that you can get for free from your Profession or being in with specific groups, though you can optionally buy Pulling Strings that you don't normally have access to as well. Most Strings you can Pull are some sort of legal enforcement or criminal favor.

Skills are all the tasks your character can train or learn to make better. Like Attributes, Skill points in Conspiracy X are mostly on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being a rank amateur and 5 being exceedingly competent. Anything higher means you are crazy-expert at that skill and it comes to you as second nature.

Finally, Finishing Touches is the term for all of your character sheet filler. That's your character's name, appearance, age, and gear.



Profession List
The list of Professions you can take is lengthy and has wide as hell coverage, with two or more Professions for pretty much every branch of the government. And I do mean every. ATF, BDS, BOP (with Professions from both the wardens and the prisoners), CDC, CIA, DIA, DTIC, FBI, ICE, NASA, NSA, and a veritable Campbell's can of other alphabet soup organizations are all here, as well as all the branches of the military since even Black Book can't recruit every single soldier out there. Rather than go over a remedial lesson on what immigration agents, border control, and federal agents do, I'm going to talk about the government organizations Aegis draws from that don't exist in the real world, especially since this is where we first start getting a look at some of the wild things that the secret world gets up to.

Center for Advanced Phenomenological Studies: A huge security breach and loss of personnel in 1967 courtesy of a cabal known as the Montague Club was a shocking wakeup call for Aegis. Turns out that having no wizard insurance is a horrible idea! An occultist by the name of Peter Henry Westmane came to Aegis Prime out of the blue, claiming that not only did his mystics have ties to the organization that preceded Aegis, but could also solve the whole Montague Club problem. And solve it they did, with Westmane and a squad of spies and soldiers provided to him neutralizing almost all of the Montague Club in just a year. Aegis quickly offered Westmane a research facility at Nellis Air Force Base and funding for further study of the paranormal. While he knew full and well that Aegis had the ulterior motive of wanting to keep a potentially dangerous variable under their thumb, Westmane accepted the offer, and CAPS was born.

There are four Professions for CAPS characters: the CAPS Field Explorer is an archaeologist and anthropologist with a specialization in occult history, the CAPS Occultist studies the paranormal-producing phenomenon known as the Seepage and has learned how to manipulate it through magic rituals, the CAPS Parapsychologist studies a wide range of supernatural events but doesn't have the ritual knowledge of the Occultist, and the CAPS Psychic is trained to use their psychic powers to find information by any means necessary.

Project CYGNET and Project GRAYBEARD: Two covert government projects to enhance warfare through psionic means; CYGNET specializes in clairvoyance, while GRAYBEARD focuses on telepathy and telekinesis. CYGNET operatives are assigned to a secondary agency that they spy for, which can be any group other than CAPS, MKULTRA, or Project Rasputin, while GRAYBEARD operatives have no other allegiance (besides Aegis, of course). The other big thing that CYGNET has going for it is that its agents have access to THOTH, a remote viewing-enhanced supercomputer that can access the files of the NSA, CIA, and HERMES alike. CYGNET gets the Professions CYGNET Remote Viewer (a psychic specializing on spying through clairyovance) and CYGNET Scientist/Parasychologist (the nerds who get no psychic powers but have more knowledge skills), while GRAYBEARD gets the GRAYBEARD Operative (a more traditional secret agent who happens to also get psychic powers).

MKULTRA: In the fantasy world of Conspiracy X, not only did MKULTRA actually succeed in making psychics via LSD and other chemical substances, they also survived past the 50s by being transferred from the CIA to Aegis. While MKULTRA agents are some of the best psychics in the business, they are also kind of messed up in the head from all the drugs they take, and most other Aegis agents tend to be a bit nervous around them. The Professions this group gets are the MKULTRA Operative (the drug-fueled psychics who also know how to stalk and kill you), MKULTRA Psychic (the drug-fueled psychics who won't stalk and kill you but might just break your brain because they were told to get some important intel out of it), and MKULTRA Scientist/Parasychologist (the guys who make the drugs and train the psychics).


Project MOONDUST: Remember Project BLUEBOOK, the real world study on UFOs by the Air Force? Well, in the world of Conspiracy X, the reason that it never had any conclusive findings is that these guys snipped out all the real info first. MOONDUST takes part in what is more or less a XCOM's UFO missions, securing and cleaning up downed alien craft. MOONDUST also has a public face called BLUE FLY, which acts as a disinformation group by dressing up alien crash sites as foreign planes or satellites that were downed on US soil. MOONDUST operatives get a surprising five different Professions, with the MOONDUST Linguist (codebreakers and alien language specialists), MOONDUST Ops Specialist (the planners and safety team members) MOONDUST Tech Specialist (the guys that secure the tech and clean up the evidence after Ops makes everything safe), MOONDUST NAIC Technician/Engineer (scientists that study and reverse-engineer alien tech), and MOONDUST BLUE FLY Pilot (the one who flies the ship).

The Ranch: The Ranch is a major Aegis base of operations, located in the famed Groom Lake facility in Nevada. Research from other portions of Aegis filter into the secret parts of the base to help create new and better technology as well as dissect and study alien biology, while regular military operations act as a smokescreen. The two Professions for Ranch members is Ranch Scientist/Technician (most of the same stuff as other Scientist/Technician professions, just with access to the Ranch's toys) and Ranch Test Pilot (test pilots crazy enough to fly highly unsafe and experimental jet fighters created with reverse-engineered extraterrestrial technology).

Project Rasputin: Originally funded by Stalin to create Soviet psychics to fight Nazi occultists in World War II and later given even greater power under Nikita Krushchev, Project Rasputin was an effort to create very powerful psychics as well as psychotronic (psi-amplifying) devices such as a psychotronic satellite meant to be operated with the aid of space station Mir. Unfortunately for the project, the fall of the Soviet Union resulted in the new Russia disowning them and most of its members either assassinated or captured by Aegis operatives. A decent number of Rasputin psychics are still working for Aegis to this very day, with an especially high concentration around the Ranch. Their Professions are the Rasputin Psychic Agent (a psychic with electronics knowhow and access to psychotrons) and Rasputin Scientist/Parapsychologist (you know the drill by now on these guys).



Next Time: How many points does it take to get to the center of a big psy-op? The rest of chapter 1 will know!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




oriongates posted:

Regarding the Real World/Spirit World I'd definitely recommend checking out the Cold Hard World sourcebook, and in particular the "Cosmos Reloaded" sections, Astralia in particular is good because it allows both exploring the Spirit World while still having to worry about the Real World (since your body is always going to be there). Another option (which I think is somewhere in one of the books) is to limit Spirit World travel by having anyone who falls asleep in the Spirit World wake up in the Real World.

oriongates posted:

Honestly If I were running a real-world focused Dead Inside game I'd probably avoid organizations in general. They make a certain amount of sense in the Spirit World given the place is very "dense" with only the singular City and its surroundings, but there are probably only a small handful of Dead Inside and maybe another of Sensitives in any given city in the Real World. Having anything larger than maybe a few UA-style Cabals doesn't really jive.

But more generally, to make the Real World important I'd suggest having something that "pushes" the players back from time to time, and forces them to keep connections or relationships in the Real World. Maybe flip the script and have Real World actions be better for Soul Cultivation rather than making it easier in the Spirit World. Astralia works by making it so your Real World body always stays behind, so you're never able to completely ignore it and you've got to make sure you've got a safe place to keep your body when you're "out". Alternatively, just make it so you can't eat or sleep in the Spirit World and you've got to come back to reality every so often before you starve to death or faint from exhaustion.
Maybe I'm missing the point of the setting, but if I ran Dead Inside, the campaign I'd lay out for the players would have them acting as occult detectives, helping people in order to earn the Soul Points they need. With house rules like yours, PCs would have more supernatural power, but not to the point where being Dead Inside is great and awesome--the fact that the PCs aren't "cursed" with superpowers is a big draw of the setting.

I can see organizations being important to the DI setting in a good way that doesn't muddle its themes. For example, a support group for Sensitives, disguised as a newsletter or something, where they learn how not to get tricked and hosed over by Zombis and spirits and such. I can only imagine that being naturally Sensitive puts you in all kinds of danger if you don't have someone to show you the ropes.

LatwPIAT posted:

How is it Victorian? It's mostly "don't steal, don't harm people". It's not a perfect system, certainly, but I prefer it to Integrity. And you can pick up mental illnesses from being a bad person with Integrity. If your Breaking Points involve being a bad person, or you commit a murder, a Dramatic Failure on the a roll can result in the Madness Condition.
OK so a big problem with Masquerade's Humanity, and with nWoD's Morality, is that it deals with sanity based on this Romantic idea of "Madness" as opposed to how actual mental illness works. You acquire Derangements as a result of morally degenerating down a hierarchy of sins. (These ladders also weirdly overvalue property, which shouldn't even be a consideration in and of itself.) This gets weird, confusing, and downright offensive when you start mixing gothic horror with psychological horror that deals with real mental illness.

I'm going to review the books that introduced Paths of Enlightenment, so we'll have plenty of opportunity to chew on all the weirdness of Masquerade's moralities

Edit: Postscript: In terms of published media, the Humanity/Morality systems have the most in common with giallo films like Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve and Blood and Black Lace , and Bava's Deep Red and Tenebre (smartly titled Unsane in its American release). Films where a deep-seated trauma or an immanent kernel of madness drives characters to ever greater and consuming acts of violence. I've never seen a WoD book that acknowledged these influences, to my knowledge.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 22:15 on Mar 1, 2017

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Thanks for covering Conspiracy X, Rappy. It's a little too crunchy for my enjoyment but I like its approach to everything.

(I also generally like how the supernatural is Real and a Problem but all of the global conspiracies are like "yeah we're not paying attention to it, have you seen the aliens"?)

occamsnailfile
Nov 4, 2007



zamtrios so lonely

Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:



Rifts World Book Nine: South America 2: Part 7: "His plans for the Empire of the Sun include mass executions of all Inca nobles and demigods; he has a list of specific targets to be assassinated or capture, and it runs into the hundreds of thousands!"


I've been behind on the thread for like a week which is too bad, because the Nazca are kind of cool which is what I remembered from before--relatively egalitarian, willing to use technology and magic for the greater good, protected by neon space kaiju, (though I remember the stat blocks for those being somewhat underwhelming for things that were supposed to fight space ships) and working directly with their gods who are less dicks and stereotypes than the other pantheons to date. I mean it's still not great writing but Carella actually explained how the government worked to some degree, which a lot of Rifts nations don't, just saying 'there's a King or a Shogun or something but also a Board, I dunno'.

It's also kind of peak weird Rifts gonzo with mummies and returned gods and space wizards and kobold aliens and all that kind of thing.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I've packed my copy of SA2, so I can't check, but doesn't one of those Nazca power suits come stock with an Immunity to Energy enchantment too?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


occamsnailfile posted:

It's also kind of peak weird Rifts gonzo with mummies and returned gods and space wizards and kobold aliens and all that kind of thing.

It gets weirder before we're done, that's for sure.

Bieeardo posted:

I've packed my copy of SA2, so I can't check, but doesn't one of those Nazca power suits come stock with an Immunity to Energy enchantment too?

If there is, I can't find it. One thing I overlooked was that the Armor of the Sun does halve missile damage by apparently setting them off before they properly impact, tho.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


I always assumed the band Empire of the Sun got their name from from the Ballard book but you could tell me this was an overpowered RIFTS OOC & I wouldn't blink.


Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I'm probably conflating it with something else. South America 2 was one of my favourite books, but it's been ages since I last looked at it.

Crasical
Apr 22, 2014

GG!*
*GET GOOD



Update 6 (The Awakening Proper)

Aaaand here we go. The Big Event. The Awakening. The thing where Shadowrun really has it’s big split off from other Cyberpunk universes: Magic.

It begins not that far into the new year, January 11th, when some children are born...different. Changed or deformed, depending on how you ask, elongated or stubby. Struggling (and failing) to find any common link between this wave of new, strange births, the phenomenon is declared ‘UGE’, Unexplained Genetic Expression. In the first months of the event, things are actually relatively subdued. The civilized world had been making a great fifty-year long push for greater equality and inclusion of all sorts of people, and many parents assumed their UGE children would be accepted as part of that general social climate. Newsweek posted an article three months after the first births were the discourse over whether to label the children as ‘Dwarves’ and ‘Elves’ can best be characterized as a polite disagreement over whether labeling the children as different will be the first step in treating them different, or if it’s better to accept the new children as different, and stand up and be proud of that, while being on watch for potential persecution. Sadly, things are not so optimistic in the rest of the world. For the next three years, across the world, UGE children disappear, are given up for adoption, or are sadly just abandoned.

As the years wear on, strange phenomenon keep coming harder and faster. Unnatural, howling magical storms tore through the Australian Outback, Volcanic eruptions in Indonesia cause the government there, struggling under the strain of VITAS outbreaks, to collapse. The basalt columns that make up the Giant’s Causeway on the shores of northern Ireland erupt from the earth, taller and more solid than they have ever been. Stone circles and standing stones rise from the earth all over the united kingdom. In Salem, Massachusetts, the annual Samhain ritual is interrupted when a party of spectral beings, the fabled Wild Hunt, erupt from the mist and charge around and through the celebrants. In Nepal, explorers make positive, peaceful contact with a tribe of Yeti.

And then, Dragons.



(Muffled Dragonforce playing outside the window)


The great dragon, Ryumyo, appears over Mt. Fuji, on December 24th, 2011. His awakening is witnessed by hundreds of passengers on a train. Dragons are a Big Deal in Shadowrun: enormous, intelligent, and with incredible wealth and resources in their hoards. Ryumyo is a Great Dragon, which makes him an even bigger deal than any other old wyrm. Metahumanity doesn’t know it yet, but they’ve just lost their position at the top of the food chain.

In the UK, standing stones and stone circles erupt, charting the growing ley-lines and the areas where magical power swells and pools. In Ireland, the western forests start to grow rapidly, the ancient slighe roads repairing themselves while peat bogs and cairns emerge from the ground. In Caerlon, Wales, another great dragon, Celedry, is sighted, a western-style drake rather than a serpentine asian dragon, this time.

Across the world, with heavy rains pounding outside, one Daniel ‘Howling Coyote’ Coleman stands up. He’s been imprisoned in the Abilene detainment camp in the wake of the Re-Education and Relocation Act, but that’s not going to be the case for much longer. While his particular tribal affiliation is unknown, he’s the first, or at least, the most well-known Shaman. Daniel leads his people out of the detainment center, just standing up and walking out. The guards are powerless to stop him, a glowing field of energy stopping bullets and guards. Every prisoner at the detainment camp leaves with him, and they disappear into a storm without a trace.

As the new year begins, more dragons make their appearances, and more of the landscape is changed. Hualpa emerges in the Yucatan, an enormous feathered serpent. The power of the mana lines purify the Ganges, Indus, and Jamuna rivers in India. Tibet politely but firmly asserts their independence from China, aided by the Maya Cloud, an enshrouding cloud of mist circling the country that is nigh-impossible to traverse.



This is Hualpa, and he’s a bird dragon. Birdragon.

And then the Pope says 450 words that cause probably more harm over the next sixty years than anything else written in that duration. During the traditional New Year’s Mass in St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul the IV denounced metahumans as abominations in the eyes of God.

The Pope posted:

As disciples of God, we have a sacred duty to love all of his creations, and to act as stewards for all he has created. One of the great lessons of life, however, is that not all that we encounter in this world comes from God. True, he is the ultimate Creator, but many of his works have been twisted and perverted. There are few things in life that are more difficult than when something that is precious and sacred in God’s sight is corrupted.This is what we see happening in the world today. One of the greatest joys we have in life is the birth of a child and the extension of a family. In recent days, however, we have seen many births that cause worry and fear, where the works of god have become something far different than what they were supposed to be. They have become an abomination.
That is a strong word. It is true that these creatures that people have started calling elves and dwarfs are still very young, and some have said that we cannot make full judgements about them until they are fully grown. When one sees a rotten fruit, however, one does not need to wait for the fruit to grow even larger to be convinced of it’s essentially corrupt nature. So it is with these creatures.
These words will not be easy for many parents to hear. Parents have an instinct to love their children, and this instinct is a vital part of God’s plan for us. Yet many parents have recoiled from the creatures they have given birth to, and it is not difficult to understand this reaction, for they are not just children. They are monsters. They are a different sort of being, and thus must be treated according to a different set of standards.
A central tenet of Christ’s doctrine is an appreciation of all life. We cherish life, even when we recognize it’s occasionally corrupt nature. This means we cannot kill any of these creatures, no matter how much we may abhor what they represent. What we can do is contain them.
The best that can be done for these creatures is to provide a place for them to go, so that the world may be preserved from their corrupting touch and so that they may have a chance to live in relative peace without bringing upon them the conflict and violence that inevitably follow corruption. It is our duty as a church to provide such places so that the creatures may have a place to be and so that their parents may be able to find rest and peace after the tumult and disruption of these unfortunate births.

This causes, as you’d expect, immediate mayhem and schisms in the church. The Czech Catholics rise up against the Vatican and the French Catholic Church protests form a rift that never fully heals.

So, the world is essentially in chaos. All the destruction and disaster, the toxic floods, the volcanic eruptions, the giant magical storms, VITAS, the birth of elves and dwarves, leave a good chunk of the populace waiting for the religious apocalypse that seemed to be coming. No-one understood what was happening. The world needs a good old fashioned dose of exposition, and on January 27th, 2012, they got it. Dunkelzahn, the first Great Dragon to make contact with metahumanity, lands in Cherry Creek Lake in Denver, and…sits there, patiently. The media frenzies, people panic, and the military tried to seal the area. In the end, Dunkelzahn chose one lucky reporter, Holly Brighton, to come forward and receive an exclusive interview: twelve hours, sixteen minutes of Q&A with the ancient dragon. Summarizing all the questions, you came away with this: Magic was back. The world was built on a cycle, with magic ebbing and flowing, and 3113 BC to 2011 had been the Fifth World, an era without magic. With 2011, magic was coming back to the world, ancient creatures were awakening, and dwarves and elves were starting to be born again.

Metahumanity had their big answer, though not everyone took it well. It was scary, exhilarating, and disappointing: Scientists were split on how to deal with these physics and logic defying powers and creatures, and some chose not to believe at all. Some people were gifted, Magicians, and had the power to incinerate people with a thought. Scary for people around the magician, scary for the magicians who didn’t want the power, and exhilarating for those who did. Plenty of mystics, magicians, and the like ended up disappointed as they failed to receive the gift, their lack of ‘real’ magical talent revealing them to the world as frauds.


In the wake of this, people looked back to the vatican, and John Paul IV issued a Papal bill reaffirming his position against metahumans, and now, the Awakened, the magically sensitive: Metahumans and all magic is “Unholy and Ungodly by their very nature.”. Cardinal Edouard Duchamp of the French Catholic Church disagrees publicly.

FRANCE posted:

[...]We affirm that any child born from a mother’s womb deserves respect and love. We affirm that the goodness and worthiness of any individual is determined by their actions and their heart, not their appearance or their genes. We also affirm that God provides us many tools with which to do his work, and if we can further the cause of good through the use of the magic now appearing in the world, then it is our sacred responsibility to do so.



Good job on France for consistently decrying the crazier things that happen in the setting. I hadn’t ever really noticed that this was a recurring thing before.

A few more things of note happen. A few more great dragons awaken; Lung, the great dragon of China, awakens on Mt. Emei. The rising levels of magic result in the evacuation of Jerusalem’s old city due to dramatic spiritual manifestations. Lofwyr, another powerful Great Dragon, appears, and uniquely talks his way past the military forces sent to secure the area. This stands in stark contrast to another German dragon who awakens in the same time: Feuerschwinge. Awakening in 2012 near the Harz mountains, she promptly went mad and began incinerating the countryside, thousand killed over her rampage. It took the entire German military four months to stop her, and when she finally falls, it’s into the SOX, the irradiated zone bordering Germany and France. The body is never recovered, but Feuerschwinge is considered Metahumanity’s first successful kill of a Great Dragon. The scale of the destruction she wrought, as well as what was required to bring her down, should help hammer in the scale that Great Dragons operate at.

Next time, we can look at more corporate maneuvering. Won’t that be fun.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



What happened to Feuerschwinge plays a major role in Dragonfall. It's also kind of refreshing that a gameline recognize while France is majority catholic, it is a relatively secular country.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Jesus. Is it ever revealed that the Pope is possessed or something, or is he just the second coming of Hitler?

Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.



Clapping Larry

Bieeardo posted:

Jesus. Is it ever revealed that the Pope is possessed or something, or is he just the second coming of Hitler?

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Crasical
Apr 22, 2014

GG!*
*GET GOOD


Nope, he's just fueled by the incredible power of ordinary human prejudice.

Crasical fucked around with this message at 08:19 on Mar 2, 2017

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Bieeardo posted:

Jesus. Is it ever revealed that the Pope is possessed or something, or is he just the second coming of Hitler?
Given the timeframe you could have new popes who are less dicks later on. Or that French dude could reinvent the real medieval French tradition of having an antipope.

Big Hubris
Mar 8, 2011




While France is chill in Shadowrun, Quebec is not.

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Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



ErichZahn posted:

While France is chill in Shadowrun, Quebec is not.

Isn't that true in real life? (I kid, I kid - but the stereotype is there about Quebec)

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