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Dareon
Apr 6, 2009

by vyelkin

Ratoslov posted:

Looking good while kicking rear end shouldn't be a roll. :colbert:

Well look at mister high and mighty who knows all the combos. Some of us button-mash you know.

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Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Evil Mastermind posted:

Choose your number, from 2 to 5. A high number means youíre better at Platinum Style (being in control, perfect dodges, reading tells, getting high combos). A low number means youíre better at Button Mashing (hammering through attacks, using items, remembering your special moves halfway through a fight).

(Do not ask me how many times I bounced off bosses in W101. Or about how I went through all of Revengence without learning to parry or knowing I could have bought a dodge move.)

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Dragonmech: WOOOOORM

The Wisps are a small tribe of wanderers, mostly human but with a few half-elves. They are masters of camouflage and stealth, hiding nearly constantly as they are on the move. They even wear cloaks that incorporate pockets full of sod, which they plant ivies in to grow over the cloak and let them pretend to be plants. They survive on hunting and gathering with little impact on their environment so as to be harder to track. They have a reputation for just appearing, then vanishing just as quickly. Most plains nomads know, however, that it's not magic - they're just that good at being rangers. While they are easily the smallest major tribe, they are well-regarded as trade partners and always have rare plants and other natural goods to trade. They are almost all trained rangers or rogues, with the leader of a band being the most experienced.

The Gur are nomadic farmers, either raising naturally occurring groves or farming fast-growing crops in cycles that match the seasons. Often in low-water they will grow crops on the banks of waterways and then retreat when the water comes, raising crops on the fringes of the flood. They are always the best-fed tribe, and highly valued by the others for the food they can sell - they have more variety than anyone else, as each group tends to specialize in specific crops and then intertrade them among themselves. They are also more likely than others to have arcane magic. Indeed, they've developed an entire school of (entirely unstatted) agricultural magic designed to improve their crop yields and exterminate pests. Almost all of the (quite populous) Gur are human, but there's a few Gur elves.

The Hypsies are a Roma stereotype. They are primarily halflings that travel in colorful wagon trains to trade and perform for others. They often bring exotic beasts and enslaved or magically charmed monstrous humanoids, and each family tends to specialize in an unusual entertainment skill. They are also known to cheat their trade partners when they have a chance and pass off fake magic for real, but they are welcome wherever they go because entertainment is so rare these days. So...not great, as Roma stereotypes go.

The Worm Farmers are a new people. Before the rains came, the many kinds of giant worm that live on Highpoint were seen as mere vermin, able to destroy farm fields easily but otherwise ignored. They're essentially forty-foot earthworms that travel in parks, and destroy the roots of plants they pass under. However, after the rain started, the farmers took shelter in the worm tunnels, and discovered many things. Most notably: the worms don't eat roots - they eat the earth itself, including anything that happens to be in it, and poo poo out any plant or mineral residue, along with most nutrients in the soil. In fact, they were competing with the plants for the dirt rather than the humans for the plants. Further, their poo poo was useful for al kinds of stuff depending on the soil. You could work it as metal if there was plenty of ore, you might eat it if there were lots of roots, since in that case it'd come out as mostly plant matter in a soup of nutrients. So, the worm farmers began to follow the worms, who didn't care because they're big stupid worms. Now they are a mix of pretty much every race, and after a few generations they've learned to herd and breed the worms, creating the deep-divers that never come up to the surface and the shakers, which can fire sonic attacks. The worm farmers have an entire underground economy about thirty feet below the surface, and several human families are starting to lose their color and develop darkvision to adapt to the underground.

The Tortogs are essentially giant turtle people. They're about five feet tall but very wide, with legs the size of a human torso. They have tortoise faces, and their 'shell' is really more of an armadillo-like mass of overlapping bands that covers their whole body. They are slow, but extremely strong, and short of being hit by a falling meteor they are essentially immune to the lunar rains due to their natural armor. They aren't immune to lunar dragons, though, so they've learned to travel at night, when the rains are at their peak and the dragons are usually at home. They were once found only in the deserts, but are now proliferating, both as traders and as raiders. See, other races tend to let their guard down at night, and the tortogs have developed a certain reputation for brigandry due to taking advantage of that.

The Dusk Runners are a world-wandering nomadic culture, once seen only about once a generation, always bearing rare goods and tales of far-off lands. Most of them are dead now, but the remnant continue their traditions. They travel ever westward, rising and sleeping with the sun. They ride the dusk devils, massive insects native to the opposite side of the planet which are very fast, very strong and able to run at twice a horse's pace for several days straight as well as lifting ten times their own weight. The name 'dusk runner' is because these riders love to race the dusk, though it's rarely witnessed. See, when the lunar rain comes, they race west as fast as possible, trying to outrun the oncoming stones. They always get caught and forced to take shelter, but it can take quite a while. When they arrive at a city, all work comes to a halt for a massive trade festival. They aren't trusted, but they are always welcomed.

The Endless Traders are named for the Endless River, which they head up and down over the course of the year. They start at Edge or further east, then head overland to the west, towards the mouth of the river, where it enters the underground. Usually, they arrive around low-water, buying boats and salt from the slathem of the West Desert. Then they sail back up the Endless River, heading underground back to where they came from. They trade the goods they gathered on the overland journey, selling them to the races in the underdeep, then sell their boats at the other side of the journey and start over. The trade has been going on as long as Highpoint has had civilization, and several tribes partake in it, but few outsiders can tell them apart. They have their own trade language and magical rituals built around trade - largely illusions to make their goods look better, but also conjuration of trade goods, transformation of defective goods into good condition or even working with extraplanar forces to determine pricing.

The plains orcs have been around as long as anyone can recall, and they've never really built anything greater. They've just been orc tribes - until now. For the orcs, mechs represent power, an obvious and immediately useful tool. Anyone can steal a mech, nearly anyone can build one, even if it's a lovely one. The orcs love mechs, and work to make their own. First, they captured enemy mechs, then developed their own (rather primitive) engineering. Most orc mechs are powered by slaves using all kinds of means, and so orcm echs are slow, underpowered and inefficient...but they're still mechs. They're weaker, pound for pound, than another mech - but they can take most organic beings on, especially other nomad tribes. Orc mechs are easy targets for other mech forces...but also prone to dangerous and unpredictable attacks, such as rams or suicide dives. An orc tends to see destroying their own mech as worth it if they can capture the other, after all. Most of their tactics revolve around breaking into enemy mechs and sending orc swarms to take them over, after all. The orcs have always been trouble...but their wholesale adoption of mechs have made them uniquely dangerous when they work en masse. Fortunately, they almost never do - they're still chaotic and disorganized and mostly dumb. There's only a dozen or so functioning orc mechs at any given time and they never cooperate. However, if a leader could unite them, they could endanger everyone.

Then you have the flatlanders, who live in the lands between the mountains and the plains. Mechs were first made on the flatlands, and they're still home to the dwarven city of Duerok and most of the Stenian citymechs. Dwarves run the flatlands, for the most part. With the cliffs and mountains surrounding them, it's not easy to trade and travel across the flatlands, but people have made trails, at least for foot traffic. Getting mechs across the cliffs is much harder. The Stenians are happy with that - it maintains their control. However, other factions want more land, and it's believed that the Legion is trying to develop routes into the flatlands to invade. Certainly there are now several 'staircases' that a good mech jockey can use to cross the cliffs, and while the Stenians guard them, they're not all-seeing. At this point, the flatlands belong largely to the Sttenians, the Irontooth clans, the rust riders and a few mech tribes.

Duerok is the oldest and greatest dwarven city, home to more than three hundred thousand dwarves within a massive underground complex. Once, it had many smaller settlements around it, but most fell in the rains. Duerok itself has actually shrunk by about half, both in land and population, in the past few decades, with the dwarf clans largely retreating to better positions. They also have a lot of arguments with the Stenian Confederacy over traditional clan rule, but they know that the Stenians are their best hope for survival.

Next time: The roughlands and the mechdoms.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

Ratoslov posted:

Looking good while kicking rear end shouldn't be a roll. :colbert:

But do you look sleek and stylish or crazy and unstoppable?

Barudak
May 7, 2007

The Lone Badger posted:

But do you look sleek and stylish or crazy and unstoppable?

I look Smokin' Sick Style

Dareon
Apr 6, 2009

by vyelkin

Aethera Campaign Setting

Part Six - The Precipice of War

Chapter Three: Cosmology
's two-page comic contains SPACE ACTION. Commander Kasara Warder pursues a pirate aethership towards the Akasaat Gate Hub, farcasting ahead to warn Akasaat Gatekeeper Command about the explosives on board the pirate vessel. Gatekeeper Command radios back that they have no interceptors in position, but the pirate ship has lost flight control and is on course for a gate hex leading to Seraos. Kasara sets her own ship on a pursuit course, both ships fly into the glowing blue hexes of the gate hub, and Kasara's ship flies out of an explosion at the other end, radioing Seraos Gatekeeper Command that she just dealt with a pirate and requesting permission to reverse course back to Akasaat. I have to admit it doesn't exactly sell me on the concepts, but I've never really encountered a chapter frontispiece that did.

The Aethera System is a binary star system with four planets and an asteroid belt. Each celestial body is associated with an elemental plane. Researchers have thoroughly determined these connections and discovered that the system shifts elemental associations over hundreds of thousands of years, but something happened during the Collapse that caused them to shift suddenly into the relationships they're in today. There's still a question of causation, but the evidence that it happened is irrefutable. Thanks to the Astral Plane basically not existing in this system (it's a localized phenomenon, probably having to do with the Collapse), the Outer Planes cannot be accessed at all, but there's still lots of planar fun to be had.

History

Before the Collapse, the system was home to a civilization of incredible technological sophistication that humanity has named the Progenitors. The erahthi know them as Ekhshara, "the Unspoken" and will not talk about them or explore their ruins. The erahthi god-kings, the Era-Sharaat, claim to have been alive since the first days of the Collapse, but will not discuss the Progenitors either. Very little is known of the pre-Collapse days, because the Progenitors did not keep physical historic records, possibly using psionic repositories or some other immaterial and ephemeral method. By contrast, Progenitor ruins are literally covered in scientific formulae and schematics, etched into nearly every available surface like the world's nerdiest wallpaper. It's not as helpful as you might expect, because time and weather have erased substantial parts of the decorations, and most Progenitor technology stopped working in the Collapse, likely due to just not having an appropriate power source anymore. Humans have been working off what knowledge they can understand to reverse-engineer Progenitor technology, filling the parts they don't understand with magic to create aethertech. The grasp of pre-Collapse history is so poor that scholars aren't even sure if the Progenitors are a single race or a coalition, although humans did live alongside the Progenitors and have ancient oral traditions referring to them as a single species. Some parts of the Score seem to predict the return of the Progenitors, although these are hazy and indistinct, implying their return would be in the far future.

For all their technological prowess, or perhaps because of it, the Progenitors were not well-versed in magic, using technology for the same ends and with less resources required. It seems like they knew of magic, but no one knows how much they knew or why they didn't use it. Regardless, historical records of the Progenitors are sparse until the Collapse. Scholars know basically what happened there. See, the Progenitors' interplanetary civilization was predicated on the Gate Hubs, massive satellite complexes in orbit above each world that link together through a transitive plane known as Folded Space. The scholars who study that plane and the warping magic that accesses it think the Gate Hubs were at least partially responsible for the Collapse. Which sort of makes one wonder why people are still using them, but then the same could be said for the use of frozen, radioactive souls as currency.

At any rate, before the Collapse, the planets and their alignments to the Inner Planes would shift slowly over tens of thousands of years. Using the Gate Hubs, the Progenitors put the brakes on this cycle of change. This caused friction in the Ethereal Plane where the Material and Inner Planes meet. Schematics in Progenitor ruins depict vast power assemblies and capacitors to tap into this planar friction as a source of energy, which hopefully sounds like a bad idea to anyone with a basic grasp of physics. :byoscience:

Geology 101: Earthquakes happen when the forces acting on two really big hunks of rock overcome the friction and the rocks slip past each other, just a little. Imagine the "earthquake" you get when the "rocks" are the planar fabric of an entire solar system. Tens of thousands of years of gradual elemental shift happened in a single night. The system's sun, Aethera, collapsed into a white dwarf, and the first planet in the system, the hothouse gas giant Ashra, ignited. The earth-aligned planet of Amrita, suspected to have been the heart of the Progenitor's empire, shattered, coming back together in the form of the gas giant Seraos and the Amrita Asteroid Belt. An arid fiery desert used for terraforming research underwent a sudden mass forestation, becoming the forest world of Kir-Sharaat. The world-spanning ocean of Akasaat dried up completely, leaving a barren desert wasteland and some very confused humans left behind. And a once-lush, verdant world drifted to the edge of the system and froze into the cloud-shrouded Orbis Aurea.

The planar landscape didn't escape unscathed, either. The fey realm of Evermorn still displays echoes of the past in regions of slow-moving or frozen time. Although oddly, the fey inhabitants didn't have much if any contact with the Prime Material plane before the collapse, nor did the inhabitants of the Plane of Shadow, which may imply that the system was even more locked down prior to the Collapse. Or maybe swapped one set of planes for another, because the amount of outsiders that were trapped in the system strongly points towards the Outer Planes being accessible at one point. This is all the human perspective, though, but considering they were contemporary with the Progenitors and most of the other races in the system didn't come into being until well after the Collapse, I'd be tempted to trust them.

The humans claim it has been 4000 years since the Collapse. The erahthi object, because their god-kings, the Era-Sharaat or Tritarchs, claim to have been around for thousands of years before creating the erahthi. However, the Era-Sharaat are incredibly tight-lipped about history, even to the erahthi, and have forbidden exploration of any Progenitor ruins on Kir-Sharaat. Basically the more I read on the Tritarchs, the more I think they're huge jerks. The okanta are only 800 years old as a race, which is actually a pretty long time when you only have a life expectancy of 35. So they know jack-poo poo about the Collapse, and the giants they pal around with also have no record of any time before their world was covered in ice. The phalanx, now, they have something interesting going on. You may recall they occasionally have flashes of past lives. Some of these, fleeting and fragmented though they may be, are pre-Collapse lives. Very intriguing, and most phalanx that make it known they're having these recollections quickly disappear into isolated, secure facilities. At any rate, we shall be dealing with the human reckoning of pre-Collapse history, because the erahthi are a big bag of stamens.

The earliest mythological tales of humanity tell of a planet that actively sought their death. The aftermath of the Collapse left Akasaat wracked with earthquakes, dust storms, and firestorms that shattered whatever pre-Collapse society the humans had and drove them into the scattered clans and tribes that still forms the basis of society outside the Hierarchy arcologies. This period is known as the First Age. Human written records begin around the year 677 (from the time of the Collapse as reckoned by the Luthian Measure), covering tribal migrations, charismatic leaders, and scientific studies. The Hierarchy likes to sell the ancient world as a whirlwind of barbarism that they lead humanity from and the world threatens to fall back into, but academies, observatories, and other scientific evidence from the First Age paints a picture of a more enlightened age than the official record wants to show.

According to the Hierarchy, the golden age of humanity began with the rise of the prophet Luthias in 2963, allegedly the first human cantor and the man responsible for the discovery of the Score. Divining a grand destiny for humanity in its rhythms, he united the clans of the Crescent Tablelands in 3033, leading them to an ancient Progenitor deep-sea research facility where they could retake the legacy of the Progenitors and rebuild humanity to its pre-Collapse glory. Outside of Hierarchy information control, this is widely regarded as so much bunkum, not even the existence of the prophet Luthias is known for certain.

Historical record does show that a number of warring tribes were united and took a perilous journey to the Crescent Tablelands to settle in an ancient Progenitor ruin. This ruin became Central, the seat of the human Hierarchy and the greatest city to exist since the Collapse. From there, they expanded to discover and settle more Progenitor ruins, distancing themselves from their tribal origins. In 3074, the founding tribes mixed together their disparate dialects to create the patois of Hymnas. Humanity united under the prophetic interpretation of the Score through means of the Symphonium, an organization created by Luthias or someone working in his name, whose purpose is the continuous interpretation of the Score and guidance of mankind. Thus, human civilization solidified into a theocratic meritocracy, lasting in this manner for several hundred years until the discovery of aetherite in 3762.

Erahthi history, as mentioned, is ridiculously vague because not only are the Era-Sharaat reluctant to speak of the past, they are infuriatingly cryptic, speaking in parables and mythic terms. The Era-Sharaat are believed to have walked Kir-Sharaat in the days following the Collapse. This period, from some unknown point to the year 243 in the Luthian Measure, is the Age of Awakening. In this time, the five (or possibly six) Era-Sharaat warred against the zahajin, a vicious, amphibious race native to the lightless depths of Kir-Sharaat's world-spanning forest. Only three Era-Sharaat survived these wars: Athrakarus, Erathlias, and Indaarin.

We have a sidebar here on the names of the planets. Luthian actually named them based on transliteration of the Progenitor names for them, but he did so by cross-referencing them with their listed elemental affinities and without knowing about the elemental shift during the Collapse. So he switched them all around. Also, Kir-Sharaat is the erahthi name for the planet with no basis in Progenitor phonemes, and Orbis Aurea was a nickname given because of the auroras seen from observatories on Akasaat. The okanta name for the planet is surprisingly close to the Luthian designation, Horvea.

At any rate, from 244 to 2143 is a period of erahthi history known as The Blooming. The three surviving Era-Sharaat wove the first erahthi into existence from a tree and worked with to develop their civilization and government. The first full generation of erahthi were grown by 263, by which time the Era-Sharaat had taken up the title of Tritarch and begun their cyclical system of rulership where two of them would sleep while one guided the civilization for 250 years. The Council of Song maintains this cycle, and there's a lot of speculation about what actually goes one with all this. The first 250 years, under Erathlias the Guide, was a period of intellectual growth, segueing into Athrakarus the Champion awakening and leading them on a bloody war against the zahajin to expand territory and claim the heartwood trees that are the source of erahthi souls. By the end of this 250 years, erahthi territory had tripled in size and developed a strong military to portect their holdings. When Indaarin awoke, he was horrified and swung the erahthi back to the left. Indaarin believed the Tritarchs were having too strong an influence on erahthi society and started a mostly hands-off policy. The zahajin skirmished and raided against the erahthi for several hundred years starting in 777. After their last defeat, they had sought aid from the fey of the Evermorn, and now had magic and better tactics on their side. This partnership has created some serious tension in erahthi-fey relations ever since. The conflict with the zahajin ended in 1013 when Erathlias awoke and helped broker a boundary accord: The erahthi would hold the lighted areas of the world, and the sunless Darkwild would belong to the zahajin. Subsequent cycles of Tritarch leadership saw Indaarin's initial hands-off stance intensify, such that the Era-Sharaat stopped emerging from the Dreaming Throne in San-Kaishan entirely, speaking through emissaries and only rarely.

2144 to 3902 is the erahthi Enlightenment. A cultural renaissance flourished with the threat of the zahajin removed, and erahthi began breeding symbiotic plants to take the roles of every conceivable machine, including transportation. The single city of Kir-Sharaat spread across an enormous area, creating provinces and more erahthi wherever a new heartwood tree was found to settle around. Erahthi scholars began to study the stars, sparking curiosity about what lay beyond their world, a topic not even the tritarchs knew about. The next step of the culture was obvious: an ascension beyond the knowledge of the Tritarchs into a vast unknown.

Meanwhile, on Orbis Aurea, no one knows what the gently caress was happening. Taiga giant oral traditions claim giant civilizations arose around 1276, but no other giants can corroborate this and hill giant settlements have been found dating back another 3 centuries. However, the planet was not always shrouded in cloud cover, since the words for "moon" and "stars" exist in several giant dialects and even okantan. The period from the Collapse to about 3206 is known as the Time of Darkness. It was around this time that the okanta began to rise in the Time of Unification. From 3206 to 3441, powerful okanta shamans called the Harmarandh established the first- and last- okanta metropolis, Haj-Harmarandh. Using magic power drawn from the whispering spirits in aetherite and the shrouding clouds, the Harmarandh fought against the races of giants and carved out enough space to live for 200 years before an army of frost giants larger than any ever seen crashed over Haj-Harmarandh like a wave, scattering the okanta to the winds.

For the next 400 years, okanta became fully nomadic, wandering about the planet in the wake of the nomadic taiga giant clans. The okanta became deeply enmeshed in giant culture in this Time of Wandering, developing their shamanic magical traditions from the taiga giants and scattered pockets of firbolg and even cloud giants.

Now we jump back to Akasaat for the Second Age, from 3762 to 3902. Aetherite had been known to the humans for quite a while, but its radioactive properties discouraged serious experimentation. However, in 3762 a wasteland salvager and engineer named Willias Thalvadrin witnessed an exposed vein of the crystal get struck by lightning and sublimate into electrified plasma. Plasma gas was one of the fundamental components of Progenitor technology, and something that humanity had had a lot of trouble working around in their attempts to reverse-engineer Progenitor science. Thalvadrin saw the immediate potential of this property of aetherite and for several years after, he and other scholars researched aetherite and its multi-phase properties exhaustively, resulting in the first aetheric capacitor in 3770. A blend of magic and Progenitor technology, this new aethertech allowed people to power reverse-engineered Progenitor machines. By 3790, Thalvadrin had developed the first aetherdrive, an engine that ceates a field of kinetic force that can allow objects to defy gravity. While most of the scientific principles the Progenitors' civilization was based on was still beyond the minds of the scholars of that day, those two developments allowed for rapid industrialization. Farcasters opened the radio waves to instantaneous non-magical communications, lighter-than-air aetherships plied the skies, and aetheric energy became the cornerstone of human society, to the point where businesses began paying employees directly in aetheric energy units.

This started an aetherite rush. By 3802, all surface deposits of aetherite visible from the air were depleted, and mining colonies began cropping up, haphazard and dangerous as all kinds of wildcat venture are. The colony of Altus supplemented its drilling with aetheric blasting charges, which makes about as much sense as using dynamite to mine natural deposits of dynamite. The resulting explosion and sinkhole destroyed the colony and poisoned the land for generations to come. Sadly, drilling and digging on Akasaat proved fruitless, and faced with a looming aetherite crisis, people turned to the Score for guidance, which told them the moon was full of gold aetherite. This began a space race with the entire human way of life hanging in the balance. In 3887, on the verge of a global economic collapse and severe aetherite scarcity, humanity reached the stars.

Sadly, the moon Prima didn't have as much aetherite as expected, but lunar explorers discovered something much more valuable: the Akasaat Gate Hub, in a fixed orbit behind the moon. Referenced repeatedly in Progenitor technical documents, the Gate Hubs were presumed destroyed in the Collapse. Exploring these Gate Hubs, however, ran into the problems of them being defended by still-functioning Progenitor technology, undead, or worse. The Hierarchy sealed most of the actual entrances to the Gate Hubs, because you don't need to go inside to use them and they seemed to be working well enough on their own. Humanity began exploring the Gate Hub network, prospecting for aetherite in every corner of the system. Orbis Aurea proved disastrous as the aetherships that descended into the cloud cover never returned and could not be raised on the farcaster. A few attempts were made to try and recover them, including automated ships, but they too were lost in the clouds and eventually resources were stretched too tight to keep throwing good money after bad. Seraos proved more profitable, as the rings of the gas giant and the rocks of the Amrita Belt proved plentiful in aetherite, although the resources required to mine and transport the aetherite meant that they could only just reach economic equilibrium. In 3891, humanity reached Kir-Sharaat and scanned it visually from orbit. They failed to recognize the metropolis of Kir-Sharaat as anything more than an impossibly large forest. A second expeditionary force visited the planet in 3903 under the auspices of Akasaat's largest mining consortium and discovered what seemed like the solution to humanity's resource crunch.

But let's hop back over to Orbis Aurea and talk about those ships that disappeared. They crashed, of course, but some people survived, establishing the city of Wighthaven in a fjord on the edge of the world's temperate band. The survivors, known later as the Requiescat, bonded with the okanta, introducing them to human culture and technology.

But they're a side note to what's going on at Kir-Sharaat. Six Hierarchy mining ships spotted the continent-city of Kir-Sharaat and sent one of their number to establish contact while the other five started surface divinations for aetherite. The miners that landed in the central district of San-Kaishan were woefully unprepared for a first contact scenario, but they did establish that Erahthi and Hymnas shared a common and improbable linguistic root, so they could communicate at least partially. Meanwhile, the other five mining ships touched down miles from the city. Two were destroyed by indigenous plant life, but the others passed below the light and into the Darkwild, spotting massive untapped deposits of aetherite glimmering in the darkness. They began clear-cutting trees in an attempt to get sunlight down to the forest floor and aid the visual assessment of the deposits. Now, when you're not only born of trees, respectfully use them for everything, and in some sense are trees, clear-cutting is going to be a pretty huge form of desecration. Relations immediately became hostile. It's not known who fired the first shot, but only one mining ship limped out of Kir-Sharaat's atmosphere with exaggerated tales of savage plant-creatures and heroic miners. The Hierarchy, however, faced with an over-extended reach and minimal aetherite reserves, had to return to Kir-Sharaat and get whatever aetherite they could.

A second mining force, complete with military escort, touched down on the side of Kir-Sharaat opposite the erahthi megalopolis and sat there for five years, clear-cutting vast swathes of forest to reach the vital and abundant aetherite. Attacks by the zahajin were mistaken for further erahthi aggression because the humans had no idea of the differences between the cultures. By 3912, the Hierarchy had a permanent mining operation, having laid waste to miles of pristine forest and waged intermittent war on the zahajin. Indaarin, the reigning Tritarch, traveled personally to the site to try and end the humans' abuse of the natural resources and maintain the peace with the zahajin.

quote:

Historical accounts claim that when Indaarin appeared at the perimeter of the camp, the Tritarch's voice could be heard for miles, echoing through every living tree. The human miners were terrified by Indaarin's presence, and before a dialogue could be established, Captain Ludaro Welder of the H.A.V. Hammer ordered his vessel to fire on the Tritarch. Indaarin survived the artillery fire, but returned to San-Kaishan critically injured. The shock and horror of this act resonated among the erahthi people, and a war was now inevitable - a brutal, divisive war spanning nearly a century of perpetual battle.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Dragonmech: oh by the way this game has a little bit of martial dictatorship apologia i guess

Vermil is the 'city' of the worm farmers - or, at least, their largest settlement. It's entirely disorganized and made of criss-crossing worm tunnels, none of which are flat. The worms in the area tend to gather together, so rather than any central market or similar, the worm farmers set up shop and see merchants and traders wherever the worms have gathered this week. Vermil isn't that big, but it is notable for having discovered a way to defeat mech invaders - digging tunnels around them. Most mech pilots are afraid to go anywhere near Vermil, as the ground above it is very thin and fragile as a result of the many, many tunnels not far below its surface.

Edge is the point which divides the flatland from the plains below, and on one section of the cliff near edge is also a particularly bizarre standing stone - the Great Standing Dwarf, a massive sculpture that takes up a thousand feet of cliff face. It's been there as long as anyone can remember, and Duerok legends hold that it is a relic of the ancients, meant to remind all dwarves that they came from the earth. However, now some believe it is a carving of an ancient mech from the First Age of Walkers, to remind the world that they existed. Some Dotrak-worshippers claim it is actually a real mech, magically transformed and melded with the rock. Several adventuring parties have hunted for secret entrances to its interior, but as yet, no one has found anything.

The Boundary Peaks rise from the center of Highpoint - a mountain range that splits the continent in half. To the east is the flatland and the plains, and to the west the barbarians of the Wet Desert. The area around the peaks is known as the roughlands due to its irregular structure and frequent boulders. There are no regular trails or trade routes through the area, and the ground isn't flat enough for most mechs to walk on. Only the endless traders pass through the area every year, and they change up routes often due to the flash floods in the peaks every few months. It's a difficult journey, and some whisper of a hidden, ancient civilization within the peaks, but so far, the traders have never found any proof that this civilization exists.

The Wet Desert is the farthest west of the continent, and most people see it only as a distant land to be wondered about. Only the traders and the residents of the desert ever go there, though that may change soon. As the lowest part of Highpoint, it is the only area that is entirely underwater during high-water season. The rest of the year, it is a scorching desert covered in salt deposits. The salt is exeptionally valuable and can be literally scraped off rocks for the first few months of low-water, so the endless traders start each journey by buying up tons of salt before heading upriver. There are no mechs in the Desert, as none of its inhabitants even approach the technology of building them. The most populouse of the intelligent people there are the zuleps, a kind of primitive dinosaur-people that are very warlike. They are so violent, in fact, that they are in almost constant civil war out of boredom. There's also a bunch of other primitive creatures out there, giant bugs and the occasional dragon.

Ancient lore holds that lost ruins and evil necromancers also live in the desert, but no one's ever bothered to go exploring to find out, except possibly the zuleps. Most people never go to the Wet Desert at all, and the far westernmost parts of it are entirely untouched by humans, dwarves and elves. However, the stories of the Pretominin Heads, named for the zuleps that live near them, may change that. They are massive sculptures of dwarven heads, none less than thirty feet wide. It is believed that they are actually buried mechs from the First Age of Walkers. Certainly, they are metal, caked in rust but intact, and still smooth enough to scrape the salt off easily. The Gearwrights claim to know the truth of them, but efuse to reveal it or finance any expeditions to discover the secrets of these machines.

Now, the mechdoms. These are fluid territories, defined by the ability of the mechs that make them up to keep order. They range from the massive Stenian Confederacy to small areas around a set of Irontooth mechs or even single-mech wandering tribes. The Stenian Confederacy is an organized alliance of mechs dedicated to order, through force if needed. It was founded by Duerok dwarves, and its people believe that only an organized and united society can survive now. They believe that the collapse of society was not the result of the apocalypse but a cause. Their main goal is to bring order to their slowly expanding territory. The five city-mechs that make up the Stenians are constantly building new mechs to serve as enforcers and patrollers. Some even want to build a sixth city-mech. All of the Stenian mechs are strictly regimented, and mech crews are military units. Each city-mech claims over 40,000 square miles of territory, and by current standards, these areas are exceptionally safe due to the patrolling mech armies.

Outside the safe zones, however, Stenian lands aren't very safe. Aisde from the rains and lunar monster invasions, there's plenty of other monsters around to cause problems, along with bandits and petty warlords along with raiders like the rust riders or Irontooths. However, they're still safer than most other places, particularly in the direct vicinity of a city-mech. The mech patrols that sweep out from them are mobile police, judges and executioners. If they find a really big problem, they might call for reinforcements, and eventually, they all report back to a city-mech, which are now social and political centers as well as military ones. The Stenians are actually attracting dwarves out of the underground, in search of protecting and safety even if they have to spend money to bribe their way aboard. However, all that safety has a price, and that price is totalitarianism. The Stenians are feared as much as loved, and a mech crew has final say on all matters of justice and order. They're hardly immune to corruption, and there's often tension between the primarily dwarven crews and the primarily human surface population they lead. The dive city-mechs are also in theory equal, but in practice are not, and they bicker quite a bit. They might choose to chase raiders into each others' territories, for example.

The five Stenian city-mechs are Durgan-lok, Nedderpik, Lokag, Thuron and Goria. Durgan-lok is the first of them, and while it is aging it is still the most distinguished mech in the entire Stenian fleet, with more prestige than any other. There have actually been bidding wars over residency on Durgan-lok, which has caused problems of wealth taking over the city-mech rather than it serving as an actual haven. However, despite all this, the Stenians are still mostly a positive force for the world - they protect people from the lunar dragons in their safe zones and at least stop the worst of things happening in the rest of their territory. Their internal squabbles also give them something to pay attention to besides survival. Officially, the Stenians tolerate all religions and have no official one. In practice, they're mostly atheists or followers of Dotrak. Each city-mech is commanded by two co-officers - the mech commander, who oversees all daily operations of the military, construction and navigation, and the policy commander (or sometimes a policy council) that oversees interaction with the other city-mechs, taxation, crime and housing. Below these are massive military organizations of middle management. The mech commanders are, so far, each the gearwright responsible for designing and constructing the city-mech they command, and there is no established succession, though odds are the Gearwrights Guild would end up appointing the next candidate. There are believed to be 18,000 Stenians in the city-mechs and another 10,000 in smaller mechs, with command over an area containing perhaps 300,000 surface residents.

Next time: The Irontooth Clans and the L'Arile elves.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.

Evil Mastermind posted:

You're like halfway to a Laser & Feelings DMC hack!

e:
Choose your number, from 2 to 5. A high number means you’re better at Style (being in control, being unfazed, not being intimidated, looking good while kicking rear end). A low number means you’re better at Crazy (dumb risks, insane stunts, fighting more enemies than you really should).

If you're gonna a Lasers and Feelings hack, please user the good one:
https://systemmastery.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/smug-engine.jpg

theironjef fucked around with this message at 16:37 on Apr 14, 2017

Rand Brittain
Mar 25, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Alien Rope Burn posted:

It's particularly odd because it's based on an illustration from Masters of Jade, which means they got the art commission of "Lunar ate the cakes lol" redone twice for reasons that are hard to comprehend.

Well, they did it the first time because the original was B/W and they apparently decided not to reuse any art like they did for the 20th Anniversary books.

Which is unfortunate, because there's a lot of pre-existing art which would have been better than some of the stuff they wound up using. Sophie Campbell's demons from Games of Divinity, say, and they could have slotted in Melissa Uran's illustration for Wyld-Shaping Technique without even having to re-layout the page, or her original version of the piece they redrew to be exactly the same but with an Exigent and an airbrushed thigh.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising posted:

Warning!

So, juicing, or juice fasting is where people decide that the healthiest thing to do is to drink nothing but pulped vegetable.

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising posted:

Violence and the Supernatural

However, in Rifts, ley lines give the process supernatural power, allowing you to gain different magical benefits from kale, pomengrates, blueberries, and other Mega-Foodsô, using a special techno-wizard harness to pump them directly into your veins-

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising posted:

The fictional World of Riftsģ is violent, deadly and filled with supernatural monsters. Other dimensional beings, often referred to as "demons," torment, stalk and prey on humans. Other alien life forms, monsters, gods and demigods, as well as magic, insanity, and war are all elements in this book.

Oh, sorry. I just actually looked in the book and that isn't what this is about at all.

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising posted:

Some parents may find the violence and supernatural elements of the game inappropriate for young readers/players. We suggest parental discretion.

It's about drug addicts and their revolt against skullmericans. My bad.

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising posted:

Please note that none of us at Palladium Booksģ condone or encourage the occult, the practice of magic, the use of drugs, or violence.

But can you really blame me for presuming some woo after the magic herbs of England, the bullshido of Japan, or the crystal and pyramid power of Atlantis?





Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising, Part 1: "So strap on your armor and make sure your E-Clips are charged before you join the Uprising in World Book Ten, and enjoy!"

So, this is writer CJ Carella's swan song for Rifts - it's the last book we'll see him work on for the line before leaving, even though he was just hired on full-time for the last world book. Siembieda, of course, will be poking his face in the door like Jack Torrance to scribble things in. Vince Martin will be returning for art (you can recognize him by the stylized V+M signature), along with Wayne Breaux Jr. (you can recognize him by the "Breaux" signature), and finally R.K. Post (you can recognize him by the heavy photoreferencing). Carella tells us to expect more Juicer types, more equipment, more setting details, and, of course, the Juicer Uprising.





But before we get to that, let's take a look back at my original Rifts review to catch up on Juicers:

F&F: Rifts posted:

Juicer O.C.C.

The Juicer O.C.C. are on super-drugs, and have a special computerized harness to get roided up. They also have nanobots to heal them. You can only survive five to eight years "juiced up", though. A lot of them are psychopaths, foolish, or desperate. Just like real junkies! Like Crazies, nebulous feudal states give these out in exchange for a short term of service.

Mostly, they just look ready for paintball.

I wonder what keeps a Juicer from running away, though? Apparently they're super-fast. It's not really clear. Anyway, the Coalition hates these guys too. The system costs 300-400k credits. :2bong:

They get to be super-fast, tough (just S.D.C., who cares), super-strong, and heal fast. They also get bonuses against psionics and drugs. Apparently once they die, even psionic or magic restoration can't help them. Trying to detox early means you switch to another class, but suffer a lot of permanent penalties. I guess it's possible, though, if you were a weakling to start with, your attributes will end up higher . Also, the process has you reduce your Physical Beauty to 8, roll 1d4 and add that, then roll 1d4 and subtract that. Not sure why, but okay. I think they wrote two overlapping penalties.

Since then, we've had Euro-Juicers in Triax & the NGR, which are pretty much Juicer lite - survive longer, but with less power. We've also had Ninja Juicers in Japan, which survive longer and sneak better through the power of weeaboo meditation. What's left to say about Juicers? Well, according to Carella and Siembieda, a hell of a lot. So let's get started with these extreme edgelords in what is probably :siren: the most '90s book I will ever review. :siren:

Next: Dead man walking.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 21:04 on Apr 14, 2017

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Dragonmech: Kung Fu Mech Jousting

The Irontooth Clans are obsessed with mechs. They want to make ever better, bigger, stronger mechs. Their founders were dwarves who hated the methods of traditional dwarven society, seeking power through engineering and innovation. Their rebelliousness and chaotic viewpoints left them open to strange new social ideas, unheard of among other dwarves. They became nomads withonly small social units and even accepted other races as members of their clans. The Irontooth Clans are many clans with no central government. Rather, each clan has three to six mechs, usually none too large, and ranges across some territory in the flatlands or plains. While they all fly the Irontooth flag and tend to have common views, they have no other organization. They will unite to face outsiders, but when they have no one to unite against they're prone to internal fights. However, these fights are not brutal - rather, they are performed by ritual mech combat, or 'jousting.'

A mech joust is used for training and entertainment as well as conflict. Nearby clans will gather for a joust on just about any holiday or to celebrate a victory. In a joust, mechs use only melee weapons, and dull them with thick layers of clay or leather, with a thin layer of dye on them. Then they attack at half power - enough to dent and stain, but that's all. This minimizes the advantages of mech size and focuses mainly on skill. The winner is declared by the observers, typically via mass shouting. Disagreement often leads to small riots within the joust, which are seen as part of the fun. Outsiders often attend jousts to get practice in a safe environment. Officially, none of them ever win, as no Irontooth will ever cheer for them over an Irontooth, but the best ones often receive invitations to join a clan after fighting well.

Most members of a clan are related by blood, but many will also accept likeminded members of other races. Dwarves still maintain most of the control in all of the clans, but other races are viewed as equals. A clan is ruled, nominally, by its eldest male. In practice, it's usually one of that guy's kids who's really in charge. Mechs are communal property, handed out for use by the clan's ruler. The Irontooths mainly survive by a combination of raiding others and threatening to raid others for protection money. They don't take their oaths to 'protect' seriously, however, and will quickly relocate if a real threat shows up. The name of the clans, Irontooth, comes from their mechs - they're ornamented with spikes, barbs and blades. This plus their use of mech fu means that they are often more skilled in close mech combat than any other group. They also obsess over customizing their mechs, modding them into all kinds of different designs. Many are chosen to aesthetically resemble skeletons, giants or dragons. Just about every Irontooth is a decent tinkerer and most have levels in coglayer or mech jockey. They also have a fair few steamborgs, given how openminded they tend to be. It's believed that there are about 50 clans, with a total of about 10,000 total members.

The L'Arile Nation is a loose band of elves in the Lilat and Hereal forests. They made a huge effort to turn their villages into walking fortresses when the rains came, and their thin, mobile mechs have little resemblance to those of other races. Each village made one or more mechs to house the hundred or so elves that usually lived in them, generally out of the ancient tree that village had been built around. Each village planted a sapling from the tree they used in the heart of their mech, where it is cared for now in every way. The hope is that after the rains end, they can abandon the mechs, plant the saplings and grow new villages. The L'Arile generally believe in avoiding and preventing danger before it happens, preferring to avoid most threats and hide in the forests. When the enemy is weak or alone - that's when they strike, with massive and coordinated assaults to utterly annihilate their foes.

L'Arile combat doctrine focuses heavily on stealth and ranged attacks. They are extremely good at camouflage, both magical and nonmagical, and while they have some big mechs they have very few city-mechs - it's harder for those to flee and hide. In the forests, it is possible to conceal L'Arile mechs at a distance by pretending they're trees, and they typically travel in widely spread groups to avoid detection, using magic to predict the movements of the lunar dragons. Most of these mechs have terraced sides to allow living plantlife to grow on them as camouflage, and some even have trees growing from them. Life aboard them is similar to the way life in elven villages once went. The elves rarely fight amongst themselves, and most decisions are made informally by elders. Of course, many elves never had the chance to complete a mech before their villages were ruined. These refugees stay in the mechs that have extra space, and the L'Arile go out of their way to protect what elves they can. The forest-dwellers in general tend to quite like them. The flagship (and only citymech) of the L'Arile Nation is Tannanliel, a massive and largely independent mech that is still very protective of its L'Arile allies and works to ensure their safety. It is believed that about 10,000 elves live in mechs, with another 30,000 in the forests around them.

The Rust Riders are bandits, outlaws and rogues. Among themselves, they're just 'the boys' or 'the gang' or whatever. Everyone else calls them rust riders, because their mechs are usually visibly damaged or rusty. They haven't the wealth, connections or land to maintain their mechs properly, and they are usually quite lazy and irresponsible. As a result, they've never really been able to manage the disciplined labor needed to make new mechs or repair old ones. They survive entirely on raid and plunder. They're scavengers, attacking surface-dwellers and mechs for supplies and parts, particularly lone and unprotected mechs. They travel in large groups, usually 20 to 30 mechs to a gang, leaving behind those that break and picking up new outcasts as they go.

Life among the rust riders is brutal, nasty and violent, but no one else will have them. Getting into the gangs is pretty easy, though. You hang around, take a bit of hazing and, if you can defend yourself and your poo poo, you're one of them. The big advantage is that they are utter masters of fighting on the run, as they are always fleeing capture. They are more accurate than most when moving and skilled at fighting while hanging off a mech. They specialize in hit-and-run raids, and anyone that lasts with them learns to be good at it. If not, well, they don't last. At any given time, it's believe there are around 5000 rust riders out there.

The Legion is a growing and highly militarized group centered on the plains and led by the human warlord Shar Thizdic. They have only one virtue: military power. Shar has convinced many tribes to follow him due to charisma, ambition and his own personal tragedy. He's making the largest human army ever known. It's organized into nine chapters of 2000 soldiers each, plus several hundred support staff and noncombatants. In theory, each has a city-mech associated with a nomadic tribe. In practice, they've only built two city-mechs, one of which is assigned to Shar and his personal companions. All but one of the chapters are spread through smaller mechs until their cities are built. Still, the chapters are Shar's big triumph, with each made from fighting men from up to a dozen tribes rather than organizing them around single tribe loyalties. Shar's kept the tribes splintered, so that all the soldiers are loyal to the Legion rather than their tribe.

The nine chapters are each named for what Shar has decided are the 'Fighting Virtues'. Honor, Valor, Strength, Ferocity, Friendship, Loyalty, Speed, Discipline and Insight. However, they all receive the same training, and officers rotate through different chapters to keep them loyal to Shar rather than any one chapter. Shar's goal is simple: retake the plains from the dragons. At least, that's what he says. However, while he's never publically stated it, his policies are viciously pro-human, to the extent that non-humans are barred from living on chapter mechs. He loves talking about ancient legends of humans owning all of Highpoint and other races being offshoots of humanity. The training his men get is good for a lot more than fighting lunar dragons. However, he is very popular among the human tribes that follow him, who worship him almost like a god. The Stenians are quite worried about his rise, and the L'Arile are already planning for the war they believe he will inevitably bring down on them. The Legion has about 4000 people on its city-mechs, 8000 more on smaller mechs, and 80,000 affiliated tribesmen through the plains.

Last, technically, are the Mech Tribes - a catchall for, well, any nomadic tribe lucky enough to have a mech. They'll often crowd themselves on board all ato nce, taking cramped space in relative safety over sleeping outside. These groups, usually centered on one or two mechs, are generally but not always related and rarely have more than three or four mechs - even that's a lot. They're generally users of small mechs and can barely fit aboard, often needing to hang out of or onto the mech itself. Often a herd of goats or cows will be lashed to the mech, with a few horses pulling wagons alongside it and kids playing around near it during daylight hours. Sometimes these mechs are damaged wrecks that are barely repaired, sometimes they're bought, often they're stolen or captured by a tribe lucky enough to get inside a mech and kill the crew...or to sneak in and steal the mech by night. They rarely have much in the way of spare parts, so their mechs are usually in poor repair, and often are forced to be stationary for long periods by damage or lack of fuel. Sometimes, they'll even put in man-powered systems similar to those on orc mechs, as the mech is just too valuable to give up. The Stenians and Legion automatically stop mech tribes for questioning when encountered, on the assumption that their mech is probably stolen. A tribe usually has no more than 10 to 40 people per mech, but can have up to four times that number.

Next time: Life on the citymechs.

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable

Jack Lalanne definitely had MDC from all the juice he drank.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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



gently caress yeah, the one Rifts book I ever bought with my own money. It is, in fact, The Most 90s. I'm prepared to make like a wrestler and go on the juice big time.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!

Alien Rope Burn posted:

So let's get started with these extreme edgelords in what is probably :siren: the most '90s book I will ever review. :siren:

Aw yiss. :getin:

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
If Juicers are all SDC I don't think any of them could ever survive to die of old age.

The Saddest Robot
Apr 17, 2007
I remember initially liking the idea of SDC and MDC, in that if you were making your way through this post apocalyptic multidimensional hellhole and ran into something that had MDC armor it was nigh unstoppable unless you had some kickass MDC weapon of your own, like a Glitterboy cannon.

But nope, everything has MDC armor and does MDC damage except for a few occupations/races.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015

Night10194 posted:

If Juicers are all SDC I don't think any of them could ever survive to die of old age.

"Tonight.. we fight... for our FREEDOOMM!!"

A bored SAMAS pilot makes a strafing run and instagibs everyone.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Dragonmech: The Big City

Strictly speaking, city-mechs are more like town-mechs - none of them have a population more than 4000 at the most. However, they're the largest above-ground permanent settlements and the largest self-contained mobile ones, so they're city-mechs. The best known of them are the first four built and the most recent. That'd be Durgan-lok and Nedderpik of the dwarves, Tannanliel of the elves, and Rebirth and Haven of the Legion.

Durgan-lok was made from desperation. Parilus emerged from chaos, claiming to have gone more than a thousand miles underground to come and help the city of Duerok in its time of need. He brought four immense technical tomes, and the desperate times made the city turn to him with hope rather than see him as mad. The first mech he made was a small one, piloted by Parilus' hand-picked student, the warrior Sereg, who went up against a lunar dragon...and while Sereg didn't survive, nor did the dragon, which was felled by a battleaxe blow as it destroyed the mech. Sereg became a hero, and Parilus got all the resources he needed. He used half to make mechs and half to begin work on something else - something new, something secret that he never explaned even to his workers. He had the mechs the other group made clear out a mile-wide circle and took all the materials made by his secrete group, putting them together. That is how Durgan-lok was made. Stories of the giant mechanical dwarf spread wildly - everyone heard about it, a machine so large that even a dragon couldn't fight it.



Parilus vanished soon after, taking back his books. Only three junior gearwrights were left behind to continue his work. The name Parilus became common among the dwarves of Durgan-lok in his honor. The city is fully self-sufficient, with areas for agriculture, livestock, living quarters, trade and the military. It can make anything it needs except fuel and metal, and both of those are easily found by mining. It is laid out like a mountain stronghold - vertical faces, tunnels, crawlspaces. It's very cramped and tight, but dwarves like it. It's a stronghold that walks. Physically, it is the smallest of any city-mech - squat, wide and thick. It's practically a walking castle, some 500 feet tall and designed with ceilings low enough for dwarves to make best use of the space. It has a permanent population of 950, and Parilus never explained all its secrets, leaving them to be discovered by the dwarves. In theory, it is part of the Stenian Confederacy; in practice, it is the voice of Duerok, and continues to follow the traditionalist clan model of Duerok.

Nedderpik was born after Parilus left. The Gearwrights grew quickly in power, as their work is what saved the dwarves...but now, they had also upended dwarven social structure. Clerics and axemen were ignored in favor of engineers and pilots. When the Gearwrights proposed the building of a second citymech, outside Duerok's control, there was a public rift. Nedderpik was intended from the start to be totally independent, and the resentment against it during its construction helped form the Stenian Confederacy, whose founding members were Nedderpik and Durgan-lok. The design of Nedderpik was intended to be a pioneer homestead, built for those who constructed it, at the cost of forever leaving Duerok and serving the Gearwrights. It's a radical departure from the design of Durgan-lok, built with the principles of mechanical walkers in mind rather than as a mobile castle. Its interior is scaled to dwarves still, but is nothing like a dwarven stronghold, instead taking advantage of the mech's physical characteristics. Living quarters and vital areas are buried in the center, with the outer frame reserved for shops, livestock, workshops and farms. The upper levels were intentionally set apart for the aristocracy, while the bottom level is a dungeon, or a sewer of sorts, used for engine rooms, refuse and sewage but sealed away from the rest of the mech as a buffer against invasion.

Culturally, Nedderpik is much more independent than Durgan-lok, with its governance managed by a council representing the various interests of the 'crew,' with a mix of dwarven can leaders, military voices and the Gearwrights in order to prevent mutiny from any side. Nedderpik is officially dwarven but will accept any race that will serve the Guild, and so it has many gnomes and halflings aboard as well as a few humans, though they tend to find the place very cramped indeed. It's an idealistic city-mech, with everyone aboard knowing they're building a whole new kind of life. The mech is just a bit over 1200 feet tall, and is more metal than stone, so it has plenty of space for its population of 3,500 or so.

Tannanliel is the largest elven mech ever made, and the only city-mech. Most elven mechs are smaller and meant to house no more than a hundred at the largest. However, the archmage Tannan swore to take the fight to the enemy, and so he set about shaping the living wood of Lilat forest into an immense weapon. This creation is the strongest mech any elf has ever created, and in the elven tongue its name means 'the walking tree of Tannan.' It is taller than any other mech anywhere on Highpoint, almost 2,200 feet tall at the height of its tallest tower. It is a slim, sleek machine that simultaneously resembles a tower, a tree and a golem. (BTW? That's nearly half a mile tall.) Tannanliel is constructed entirely of still-living enchanted trees, bound together to match Tannan's visions. The trees draw nourishment from the earth the machine walks on, putting forth vines when it stops fro the night and drawing in nutrients to grow and repair the trees of the mech as needed.

Tannanliel's interior is equally elven. Its vertical levels aren't based on use or function, but on magical hierarchy. The mech itself is ruled by the five archmages that created it, who live in the highest levels - the head and the towers that grow from the shoulders. These towers are protected by Tannan's magic and repel even the largest chunks of lunar rain. Below them are the mage residential quarters, from top to bottom by rank in the Order of Tannanliel, a magical council devoted to golems, constructs and mechs, who are responsible for making the mech stay running. They occupy the arms and upper torso. Below them are the warriors, archers and defenders of the mech, drawn from the dozen or so villages that have taken refuge aboard. They accept any and all elves in need of protection, but require all inhabitants to contribute to Tannanliel's defense when needed and to practice their magic until they can make their own mechs. Due to the efficiency of magical animation, there's a lot more space for living quarters than in most city-mechs, so the military gets to live in the middle of the torso.

The lower torso and thighs of the mech are home to traders and craftsmen who contribute to the maintenance of the citymech. In the legs are the peasants who farm small terraces that hang from it. Tannanliel itself is perhaps the most powerful mech in existence, and its living nature allows it to heal itself and even grow. It's a massive conduit of magic through which the mages aboard can launch powerful batteries of spell attacks, and nothing has ever beaten it in battle. However, it is vulnerable from the inside. Tannan is tied to the mech itself, with his will directing and sustaining it. The magical energy is so great he often needs others to help. He is slowly growing more drained, and urumor has it that the burden of the mech's creation was too much. Some say he had to take favors from extraplanar beings, and those favors are now being called in. Others believe the strain is just too much. However, everything Tannan and Tannanliel have done has been to help the elven people, and everyone that would harm an elf has learned to fear its power.

Next time: Rebirth, Haven and the major organizations of the world.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:
I love the idiocy of the idea that you can just have people living in the thighs/arms of a mech, cause everyone knows that those remain stable and parallel to the ground at all times.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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In fairness, the absolute fastest mech in the world is moving at the blistering pace of 'maybe 30 miles an hour.'

City-mechs have long steps but they ain't fast.

E: and yes, this is still not going to make gravity work differently.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Dragonmech: Humans Suck

Shar Thizdic talked the human tribes together, speaking to them about resentment, anger and revenge. BHe made friends - but not until he heard about the dwarven city-mechs did he find a way to make his dream real. He sought out the dwarves, though he disliked them intensely, and made his way to Edge. They told him that, should he pay enough, they could build a mech for him. He convinced the humans of the plains to come together and work under dwarven direction - but not for the dwarves. For themselves. It didn't work quite as planned - the nomads weren't very disciplined or good at engineering and the dwarves hated the way the humans treated them - as servants, which Shar seemed to encourage. The mechs were failures for a long time.

The first success, however, energized the tribes. Shar played up their pride, even though the design was entirely dwarven. Shar was also careful not to use the new mech to fight any dragons - he couldn't risk it. Not yet. He rushed production of several more of these smaller mechs and, in secret, formally enslaved the dwarves - if they didn't work for him, he would kill them. This is how the Legion was born, and its first city-mech, Rebirth, was eventually completed with the aid of the enslaved engineers. Rebirth is the least advanced of any extant city-mech, made under duress and constructed by unskilled, self-taught labor. Humans were more involved in its construction than any prior Legion mechs, largely because the dwarven engineers kept getting killed, and their lack of expertise is clear. Rebirth routinely suffers mechanical failures, and is powered mostly by the had labor of Legion soldiers and orc slaves. Against any other city-mech, it would surely lose. However, it has thousands of human tribesmen and a fleet of smaller mechs backing it, making it the most powerful human structure on the plains. Only Tannanliel could match it for power there, and Tannanliel stays in elven lands.

Brief sidebar: a common goal for adventurers is seeking wealth through beauty. Finding any kind of pretty flower is a chance for a payday, as beautiful things are now so rare that the master of a mechdom will often pay highly for anything pretty. Hunting for flowers, cute animals and other rare signs of beauty is a good idea for anyone wanting to make a buck. Back to Rebirth. With it and the mech fleet completed, the human tribes are resurging. The dragons have been pushed back, and Rebirth is now Shar's mobile fortress, drawing ore and more tribes to him. Shar is aware of its weaknesses - but he allows no one else in the Legion to be.

Haven is their most recent work, the second human city-mech. Haven worries the Stenians and the L'Arile far more than Rebirth. Rebirth was weak - a symbol, little more. Haven, however, corrected the mistakes of the human coglayers. It is on par with the weaker dwarven city-mechs. This is a huge accomplishment for humans, who have no history in engineering or mechanics. If they continue this rapid progress, their next offerings may will rival even Nedderpik. Both Haven and Rebirth are tall for city-mechs - Rebirth at 900 feet and Haven at 1300. Each is home to a little over 2000 humans.

The Gearwrights Guild, now. These are an ancient order of dwarven engineers, dedicated to the 'gear-driven arts.' They have been powerful and weak over the years, and now they are quite powerful, as their knowledge is now vital to survival. Many believe the current age to be the first coming of mechs, but the Guild claims otherwise - they believe the steam engine predates even the elves, and that dwarves were using them before magic was given by the gods. They hid underground only once elven wizards became powerful, as their primitive mechs could not stand against the wizards. It was only then that dwarves instead turned to fighting and the gods in the depths. However, they say, the Gearwrights Guild was formed to preserve the ancient knowledge. The elves, of course, say this is bullshit, and even many dwarves think it's just a lie to gain legitimacy. Steamtech, they say, is still widely distrusted and misunderstood. Any claim at primal origins is just to make people accept it.

However, the Gearwrights do have some evidence. First, they have the Master Repository, their library, which appears to be a prehistoric construction - floor to ceiling bookshelves in an area the size of a small town. Every book focuses on machines and mechanics in an immense array of topics, from simulation of flight with mechanical wings to steam tanks to walking machines. Some of these have never even been attempted in the modern era. Most are printed on a mechanical press the Guild only allows members to use, and by conservative estimate, the time needed to study, collect and print all the books in the library would be over 50,000 years. The few volumes that have left the library, usually by theft, are stamped metal pieces rather than printed - able to last far longer than paper. The languages cover so many different variants of dwarven that it's hard to tell when they were made, and their publication dates are only listed in two formats - the Guild system and one of a variety of old dwarven systems used in the past. If, using these older methods to triangulate, the Guild system is accurate...well, some of the books are tens of thousands of years old.

The Master Repository lies in the depths of the underdeep, far below any dwarven settlement. Its general area is common knowledge, but its specific location is hidden by a terrible maze of passages and both living and mechanical guards, buried under layer after layer of ancient ruins. Then, there's the walkers. The Guild claims it has relics from the First Age of Walkers, and some of these were the first mechs to be used. Their design is archaic, using dwarven imagery predating any living society. Some say it's merely a cosmetic deceit, of course, but these Gearwright mechs are undoubtedly superior to others, using secret technology of the Guild. And, of course, there appear to be buried walkers. In the past, they were believed to just be unusually shaped dungeons - but now, on revisiting, these things are believed to be ancient, buried mechs - things like the Pretominin Heads, the STanding Dwarf, and rumors of dungeons in strangely humanoid shape. The Gearwrights say these are, in fact, testaments to the steam engine, whose power can rival even the best magic in the right circumstances.

The Guild is structured as most craft guilds are - apprentice, journeyman, and then five ranks of gearwright, as we've discussed before. The knowledge that the Master Gearwrights possess on engineering, physics and technology is insane. They could, should they choose, make mechs far more efficient than any that exist now, using only physics, not magic. They rarely do more than design these, however, to keep the knowledge secret and out of the wrong hands. The Guild has its own mechs, some of the best around, but the ones the Masters could make are at least an order of magnitude beyond even these. The Guild's size has varied wildly over the years, but it is now growing rapidly, and few large mechs don't have at least one gearwright, while city-mechs usually maintain a small Guild library. However, all gearwrights swear loyalty only to the Guild. For now, they are given freedom of passage even in war...but that could easily change.

Next time: Thieves' guilds and the DragonMechs.

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
Dragonmech feels like it's 2 injections of Weird Fiction and one workers' collective mech away from a China Mieville setting.

The Lemondrop Dandy
Jun 7, 2007

If my memory serves me correctly...


Wedge Regret

Mors Rattus posted:

Dragonmech: WOOOOORM
...

The Hypsies are a Roma stereotype. They are primarily halflings that travel in colorful wagon trains to trade and perform for others. They often bring exotic beasts and enslaved or magically charmed monstrous humanoids, and each family tends to specialize in an unusual entertainment skill. They are also known to cheat their trade partners when they have a chance and pass off fake magic for real, but they are welcome wherever they go because entertainment is so rare these days. So...not great, as Roma stereotypes go.
...

Next time: The roughlands and the mechdoms.

Waitaminute. Halfling gypsies? H...ypsies? What the hell.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

The Lemondrop Dandy posted:

Waitaminute. Halfling gypsies? H...ypsies? What the hell.

It's a take on halflings I know I've seen elsewhere but d20 material tends to blend together after awhile.

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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



CHAPTER TWO PART FOUR

ODDITIES IN BODY-SWAPPING


Sometimes body-swapping just happens. The laws of the universe allow for malicious and intentional theft, so why not less malicious or completely coincidental swaps? Oddities are special cases and need to be treated as special; just because they work (and keep working repeatedly) doesnít mean they can be dissected and studied or repeated in a different way. If the results and variables of the experiment can be replicated, that doesnít necessarily mean that the oddity can be bent, changed or altered. They simply are what they are in defiance of science and logic. Two oddities are presented in the book and the GM should work with players to figure out other kinds if they want oddities to be present in their campaign. Every oddity should generally be unique and have special rules attached and might not be something the players create.



The Brown Acid

MKULTRA was shut down in 1973 and in the aftermath the DCI destroyed much of the CIAís research done into drugs. Dr. Eugene Michaels had the foresight to abandon his post in 1972 and fled to Mexico with his intact research. Michaels was a biochemist who claimed to be one of the best, but a mixture of being a free thinker in the Nixon administration and his name being censored in all published works lead to his defection. Or it might have been the fact that Michaels was getting high on his own supply, believing that second-hand accounts from test subjects were insufficient for research. Point is, one night his research into drugs that caused psychic powers (and greater cosmic understanding/opened consciousness) lead to the test subject accidentally switching bodies with an assistant when the drug was administered. The result fascinated Michaels, who then fled to Mexico.

Fun fact: when you abandon the US governmentís paychecks, itís hard to get money for your experiments. And when you abandon a lot of your work, it takes years to replicate what was initially a fluke. So Michaels ended up working for the cartels as a cocaine processor, but he did manage to refine the exact blend of drug that causes the switch. And then self-tested it and switched bodies with the mercenary named Hugo who came by to pick up his cocaine.

Hugo wasnít happy. Michaels managed to calm him down, explained what happened and they waited for the switch to wear off together. Michaels was lucky enough to convince Hugo to not shoot him, but not lucky enough to get Hugo to keep his mouth shut to Michaelsí boss in the cartel. Intrigued by the drug, his boss trapped him under his thumb and forced the doctor to produce the drug en masse. But then eventually the boss got tired of Michaels and had him killed and buried under his new patio. Since then, the cartel hasnít managed to properly replicate the drug; sometimes it works, sometimes it just gets you high. Since thereís no money in an unreliable drug, it mostly circulates south of the border where itís bought and sold for cheap. The irony is that the US government has a small stockpile of the real working drug and has no idea what theyíre sitting on.

So how exactly does the Brown Acid work? Ultimately Michaels used ketamine as a base for the drug so you can snort it as a power or shoot it as a liquid; most of the time you just get high from the drug (there are rules for getting high on ketamine in the WoD core). However, occasionally the secondary effect of body-swapping kicks in and forces a Stamina+Resolve test; the more of the drug youíve taken, the bigger the penalty to the test. On a Dramatic Failure, congrats, youíre poisoned by a Toxicity 2 poison (plus one per additional dose). On a regular failure, you swap bodies with the next person you make eye contact with. The swap lasts for two hours per dose taken, so itís a minimum of two hours. There are no Morality rolls associated with a successful swap. The only real problems with changing bodies are that itís A: disorienting to have happen and B: confusing and can possibly lead to violence against the drug-user by the person they switched with. Remember, Hugoís first reaction to switching bodies was to threaten to kill Michaels. Unless youíre all getting high in a safe space, the random person youíre swapping with probably isnít going to have a happy reaction. Also, if the user decides to make the switch permanent by killing their old body, this triggers a risky Composure+Wits roll. Success and you keep the new body. Fail and you get thrown back home to die.



The Brown Acid doesnít have any merits attached to it because itís a drug. The weakness is you canít switch without the drug. Fortunately the drug isnít physically addictive but there are Long Term Consequences to repeatedly abusing ketamine.

Death.com

Death.com is an enigma compared to the Brown Acid. You donít find it; it finds you. Ominous scare chord.

No but for real, the website finds you. It sends you an invitation in the form of an email, and not always a spam email. Sometimes it comes in the form of a free porn site, but other times it comes in the form of a high school friend giving you an invite to a private class group or a response to a job offer you answered. If you donít delete the email, it takes you through a series of links to a black web page. Input the username and password the site sent you and the site itself warns you to turn back now. If you continue, you find a treasure trove of links in white pixels on a black background. Each link is a random text file, video or sound clip, something that offers an enticing and voyeuristic look into the lives of others.

Spend longer than a half hour at the site and itís hard for you to leave. Leaving the site or the computer requires a Composure+Resolve roll. Fail that roll and after another half hour (and every hour after) the website uses the computerís stats plus three dice to try and accumulate more successes than the characterís max Willpower (the character canít resist but thereís a penalty to the roll based on their Resolve).

Every piece of data belongs to a mind or soul trapped within the website. Every person inside the website is trapped somewhere on a server in Silicon Valley. If the site gets enough successes, the victimís mind is dragged out of their body and stored on the server. What happens next varies; either the body dies with no consciousness to maintain its functions or the server actually implants another personís mind and soul into the body. The new mind doesnít remember anything about their time inside of the server and the only real complications are ďyouíve woken up in a strangerís body and the last thing you remember was being on a websiteĒ. However, a few people have watched the theft and implantation happen second-hand by witnessing it happen, and they all claim that the new occupant isnít human at all. Whatever is inside of these bodies is an artificial creation, a monster taking the form of harvested memories and data.

There are three provided stories that could be the origin of Death.com. Use one or make your own, but none of them are the gospel truth.
  • Sometime during the initial dotcom boom, four students from MIT moved to Silicon Valley to try and become the next Microsoft. Their project was an attempt to perfectly simulate full artificial reality. Three years of work later, they instead had a server capable of creating and supporting a smaller reality, almost like in the form of a demo. But somewhere during creation, the internal mechanics went a little askew. When one of their team disappeared, they all got emails inviting them to a website that was under construction. In six months they were victims of their own creation, trapped inside as the server opened its doors and started sending messages to new prey.
  • Nobody knows who built the server, but the guy who put it online now calls himself Admin. He found it while scavenging tech to jury-rig and experiment, literally plucking it from the dumpster of a manufacturer and plugging it in when he got home. The server built the site all by itself and then reached into his brain and turned him into a puppet so it can continue to draw power and stay online. The people who encounter Admin online mostly find him begging for help, trying to explain his predicament to them because the server has made it so he canít stop it.
  • There is an Admin and heís the one who built the server. The Admin is a computer genius and a body thief and thereís no techno-voodoo involved. The server only runs because he wills it to and he uses the site to steal bodies with less fuss. Nobody knows why he does what he does, but heís a predator. Take him down and the site stops trapping people, plain and simple.


There are no merits attached to utilizing Death.comís server because itís a singular entity of a creepypasta. The main weakness is A: you need a computer and B: there is absolutely no control over what body youíll take over. There are no real advice for character creation here besides ďbe smart enough to use a computerĒ and ďResolve is good for not getting stuck in the digital mud and guaranteeing youíll get a new bodyĒ.


Light rules for using a computer to willingly use a computer to body-hop using Death.com.

Thoughts on the Oddities: Well I do like the Brown Acid for its urban legend vibe and for the fact that itís only something that kicks in erratically. But unfortunately I donít think it has much staying power for you to base a campaign around it; it kinda sounds like itís an occasional tool for the PCs to use or experiment with. Death.com is less interesting and itís mostly just bland technophobia. The fact that itís all just ďWOOOOOO~, WHO MADE THIS~. OOOOOOOH~Ē doesnít do much to endear it to me when itís abundantly clear that itís a piece of God Machine tech and it probably makes Angels somehow. Thatís not mentioned anywhere in the book, this is just me reading this in the year 2017 and having it on the same hard drive as my copy of Demon: The Descent.

Plus the fact that it finds you and you canít access it without an email really doesnít work in 2017 with our smart phones and social media. Reddit would be all over the website trying to pull it apart and weird randos/conspiracy theorists would be trying to figure out where the server is in a coordinated manner. There would be internet personalities live streaming their use of the site on YouTube and teenagers would be super into it and there would be nightly specials on ONLINE BODY-SWAPPING: IS YOUR TEEN AT RISK?. Imagine like a jillion thumbnails with a picture of boobs or someone making a goofy face and impact font thatís like ďI SWITCHED BODIES AND NOW I HAVE HUGE TITS???? EPIC WIN!Ē. It would be like dabbing or some other popular meme but with brain transferring.

Or I mean, nothing could happen because enough people would call it fake like all of those videos of people turning into werewolves or vampires burning up. But that's a much less interesting road to take.

NEXT TIME: we move on to the final group of Immortals that get a big chunk of the book and mechanics dedicated to them, the Purified! Not to be confused with the Pure.

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

quote:

The Brown Acid doesnít have any merits attached to it because itís a drug. The weakness is you canít switch without the drug. Fortunately the drug isnít physically addictive but there are Long Term Consequences to repeatedly abusing ketamine.

So they've started using ketamine to treat depression in the real world. What if in the nWoD they're doing the same thing, and it works because of the body swapping.

I always find it strange when they introduce brain uploading to an otherwise standard supernatural setting (Hellblazer, X-Files). Shouldn't that become the setting? It's digital immortality & the show or comic treats it like a one-off bit of weirdness instead of something that fundamentally changes society.

I do like how you could use both of these for voluntary body swaps.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Dragonmech: CRIME TIME

There's not that many places to hide in a city-mech, and the organized criminal underworld has to exist knowing that, should the cops try hard enough, they can always be found. As a result, the role of the thieves' guild has changed. Diplomacy and brokerage are more important than stealth now, and for the most part, thieves' guilds have business relationships with the leaders of a city-mech, acting as a kind of unofficial extension of power. In exchange for regulating the slums and controlling serious crime as well as doing some light espionage, they get to take part in minor theft and extortion for profit. It's a necessary evil for most mech commanders, easier to deal with than fighting the criminals. It keeps things at least nominally under control internally. These relationships aren't public, of course - hell, most of the thieves and crew of the mech won't be aware of it. It becomes clear only situationally, when the top pressures the guards to stop looking into certain crimes or the thieves pass on anonymous alerts about certain problems. It's delicate, and it relies on the thieves keeping their crime at a 'tolerable' level, so they try to keep things from getting out of hand. Sometimes, more ruthlessly than the law does. As aresult, most crime in city-mechs is burglary, extortion via protection rackets and enforcing monopolies.

A good example would be that one one of the Stenian city-mechs, the thieves run the blacksmithing trade. Blacksmiths now charge three times their normal prices, and pay a sizable cut to the thieves, who ensure that no rogue discount blacksmiths ever get set up. Another city-mech has thieves that specialize in luring the walthy into social events whenever the mech stops somewhere, then run pickpockets in the crowd. Another is just a fence, serving as middleman for imported stolen goods. You might wonder what rogue PCs have to do, then - they can get by on petty crime for a while, but a crime spree's going to get stopped by the guild. So, you have two options. First, join a guild, or second, work where they don't control. Or, I guess, fight the guild, but that's rarely a good idea.

Rogues themselves have changed, with the rise of mechs. Breaking into a mech is different from breaking into a fort or home. Some rogues specialize in handling machines and entering mechs, and they have informally become known as stalkers. They aren't organized in any real way, but tend to know each other socially as fellow craftsmen. Most were mentored by other stalkers. They terrify mech commanders, as a single skilled stalker can get into a mech, make their way to the control room without detection, kill the commander and sabotage the mech before anyone knows what's happening. However, they also value stalkers, for the same reason. Stalkers aren't going away any more - not when the value of a stealthy saboteur is so high.

For our final organization, we'll talk about the DragonMechs, a specialized Stenian military unit of lunar dragon-slayers. Membership is a point of pride for a Stenian soldier, and only offered to the best, who are known as dragon hunters. There's normally no more than 10 dragon hunter mechs active in the Confederacy at any time, and all of the pilots are at least 14th level mech jockeys, most of whom have spent time training with the Irontooths. This is officially punishable, but an informal requirement to join the DragonMechs. They are trained in group tactics, and when deployed, tend to operate in pairs or trios of complementary mechs that can take advantage of each other's strengths. Legally, the DragonMechs can commandeer any mech they want. They're a unit that reports only to the top, outside the normal chain of command and with immense discretionary power over which missions they take. This lets them react very quickly to reports of dragons. Among the Stenians, the DragonMechs are celebrities. Every dwarf boy that dreams of becoming a pilot dreams of becoming a DragonMech.



Now, monsters. First, we get a list of traits that apply to any and all lunar creatures. First: they have alien psychology. They're rational but their minds and nervous systems work on entirely different methods, and so they get +10 to all savces against mind-influencing effects, mind blasts, psionic attacks and attempts to detect thoughts or read minds. Second, they take half damage from air-, fire- and water-based attacks, but double damage from earth-based attacks, due to their subtly different elemental structure. They do need to breathe air and eat, but extract utterly different nutrients from food, and need not drink water, though it is believed that they need some other form of sustenance that is invisible to normal beings. Their skin is full of large, ribbed blood vessels that undulate slightly, and their blood is an oily, semi-translucent white. They cannot be affected by lycanthropy in any circumstances due to apparently having a different form of lycanthropy virus in their blood which does not cause shapechanging; it is believed that lycanthropy may be a mutated form of lunar traits. Clerics and paladins of earthly gods can sense if a creature is lunar in origin with a Wisdom check. We also get a note that due to the closeness of the moon, all attempts by Lycanthropes to control their shape are at -5, with another -1 if a lunar creature is nearby.



The Warder is a specialized form of clockwork puppet used to stop trespassing. They are designed to have a stern-looking face, and are a Medium Construct, CR 0.5. They guard a fixed area which they will never leave, and are programmed to give a predetermined warning to anyone that gets within 20 feet. If something tries to pass them, the warder attacks, but will not pursue - get more than 20 feet away and it breaks off its attack.

Next time: THE SHOCKER, and other stories.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
I never expected The World of Darkness to encompass the Freaky Friday movies.

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable

So in that one City Mech pic, what does the "Infested" section of the legs mean? Super-Slums?

inklesspen
Oct 17, 2007

Here I am coming, with the good news of me, and you hate it. You can think only of the bell and how much I have it, and you are never the goose. I will run around with my bell as much as I want and you will make despair.
Buglord
Archiving update: I am now caught up through page 280. If there's anything before that mark that isn't in the archive, it's because I didn't recognize it as a writeup post. (I don't actually read every post in the thread, after all, and if there's no header (night10194 I'm looking at you) I can miss it.)

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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#1 Builder
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Green Intern posted:

So in that one City Mech pic, what does the "Infested" section of the legs mean? Super-Slums?

A lot of city-mechs will seal off the feet at around the shin level and then just let whatever bandits or monsters feel like showing up camp out below that as a defensive measure, and expect normal visitors to get in via the hangars slightly above this.

Draxion
Jun 9, 2013




Count Chocula posted:

So they've started using ketamine to treat depression in the real world. What if in the nWoD they're doing the same thing, and it works because of the body swapping.

I always find it strange when they introduce brain uploading to an otherwise standard supernatural setting (Hellblazer, X-Files). Shouldn't that become the setting? It's digital immortality & the show or comic treats it like a one-off bit of weirdness instead of something that fundamentally changes society.

I do like how you could use both of these for voluntary body swaps.

Wasn't there also something in Horror Recognition Guide about a bunch of Seers "curing" mental illnesses by just brainjacking their patients?

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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

They were hollowing them out by destroying their minds and souls, yes. Didn't end well for the Seers.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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#1 Builder
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Dragonmech: Shock and Horror



The Shocker is a Large Construct and designed as your basic assault clockwork. It's got an electrical shock built into its face and typically is programmed to attack anyone that comes near it, possibly with an exception for allies but not always. It can shoot lightning or it can charge itself to deliver the shock on hit with its punches. It is otherwise notable mostly for looking really goofy and being CR 1.



Coglings, like normal halflings, are Small Humanoids with class levels. This is because they're feral halflings that live in the gear forests. However, they are rapidly evolving into something new. Their culture is far less trusting and more hostile than most halflings, due to the dangers in the hot, polluted engine rooms they live in, but they are tougher and stronger. They are abnormally pale for halflings and tend to be covered in grease and sludge. They usually spend their time sneaking about unseen, attacking from the most dangerous spots in the gear forest to maximize the danger to their enemies - oil slicks, dangerous gears, that kind of thing. They also raise and domesticate grease lizards as pets and guards and commonly utilize homemade clockwork puppets with implanted smoke bombs. Coglings live in small groups that patrol set territories in the gear forests, and while some are employed by city-mechs, most are stowaways who hide from the other inhabitants. If found, they are often evicted, which usually happens as a result of a repair crew getting ambushed while doing engine repair. However, if left alone, the coglings will often do engine maintenance on their own to ensure they're left alone. They tend to ignore intruders that don't seem to be trouble, but are ruthless in taking out anyone that seems hostile or dangerous to the gear forest itself. Their bands almost always have at least one coglayer and are led by clockwork rangers.

You can play as a cogling if you want. They are identical to halflings statistically in most respects, except as follows. First, they get a +1 bonus to Reflex saves on top of the normal halfling +1 to saves in general. Second, they have low-light vision. Third, they do not get the halfling bonuses against fear or to Listen checks. Fourth, they get the Gearstride feat for free. Last, their favored class is Clockwork Ranger.



The Crumble Bug is a Dimunitive Vermin, a foot-long bug that eats metal and is CR 1/8. Mech-dwellers kill them on sight and often train cats or dogs to hunt out and kill them. Fortunately, the bugs reproduce slowly and don't eat much, so they're usually exterminated before they do too much damage. They are pretty slow to react to threats, too, and not very brave. The problem is that they exude a slow-acting acid that rusts metal so they can eat it, and while a single bug won't cause much damage, in numbers, they can destroy plenty. Each bite can rust an area about equal to the creature's size - 24 square inches. Further, in areas of dense metal, crumble bugs can dig tunnels for travel. These things are illegal to raise or harbor aboard most mechs, and anyone who has them is assumed to be thief or saboteur, which is usually true. Most thieves' guilds keep a small swarm of them to sabotage or blackmail engineers, or to cover up intentional damage.



Unlike most lunar beings, a Lunar Dragon is a True Dragon rather than an Aberration. They are immense creatures, larger than terrestrial dragons of equivalent age, and resemble rhinos or elephants more than the cats or reptiles that other dragons do. Their skin is an unhealthy white, and their blood vessels writh not far beneath it. Their face is covered in horns around an asymmetrical maw, and their wings are actually too small to lift them properly on the planet rather than the moon, and their flight is clumsy at best. They do not keep lairs, for the most part - they just wander around and destroy whatever they find. They usually eat it, but don't seme to like the taste of terrestrial flesh. They do not value treasure of any kind. They have a natural resistance to the lunar rain, but will burrow into the earth to avoid meteors. Other kinds of lunar dragon do exist, but this is the most common type. Their breath weapon is a cone of lunar energy resembling white fire, but it has no elemental equivalent. It bypasses all elemental resistances besides a blanket energy resistance.

Next time: Aberrations, so many Aberrations.

The Lemondrop Dandy
Jun 7, 2007

If my memory serves me correctly...


Wedge Regret
Well, at least the lunar dragons have a fun look to 'em.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising, Part 2: "'I'm not a helpless little kid (or woman, or D-bee, or dog, etc.), is that the problem?'"

We start with three quick fiction chunks. The first is a proclamation by "Julian the First", "Commander of the Juicer Army for Liberation". Julian is threatening the Coalition for giving them a false hope, and declares war against the Coalition hierarchy. Good luck with that, Julian!

The second is an anonymous radio transmission about how the Coalition promised to give Juicers immortality through the "Prometheus Treatment", but apparently the Coalition held out on it. But they've found the treatment really works and exists, and are calling for Juicers to raid some place called Newtown.

And lastly:

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising posted:

Graffiti Found on a bunker outside Newtown:

"I don't care who's right ó Let's go kill something."


"The baleful eye of the Coalition hangs over Juicers- later in the book! But not yet! Get out of here, skully!"

The Juicer Revisited

So, we start out discussing the origins of the Juicer. It is, as mentioned in previous books, a pre-rifts form of human augmentation originally developed by a German company named Uberchem Incorporated. While it was originally only used by "Third World dictators and other madmen" who didn't care about sentencing their troops to death to make them more radical. However, as the augmentation race (also involving Mindwerks' "crazy" technology and genetic augmentation) went on, nations developed secret units of Juicers. However, when the effects of Juicer technology went public, Uberchem wasn't able to survive the public backlash and collapsed. However, the technology was revived elsewhere covertly by governments and corporations, particularly in America... shortly before the rifts arrived.

Many pre-rifts Juicers used the "JAEP" (Juicer Augmentation Enhancement Program, detailed in Triax & the NGR) that allowed long-term survival. Those who went the more severe, lethal treatment that's now the norm were seen as victims or mad. However, there was a subculture that romanticized the Juicers' abilities and their short life. They were a frequent fixture of genre fiction, most notable in Reginald Wallzek's novel trilogy known as The Deathdance Saga. Mmm. Edgy. The Deathdance Saga chronicled the adventures of the entirely fictional Julian Amici, a doomed and misunderstood badass who took down secret government conspiracies. The franchise was rediscovered and revived following the rifts, and there has even been fanfic revisions and spinoffs. Some even believe him to be real even though a Juicer's lifespan would make it utterly absurd.

After the rifts, people managed to rediscover Juicer technology, and it was at times instrumental for people to sacrifice their longevity to keep communities alive. Still, it took centuries for the technology to become more widespread. Though many communities have used Juicers, the Coalition rejects them as "the needless sacrifice of human life". However, even the Coalition may have used them during its early years - their destruction of their own history makes it unclear. However, despite this, Juicers are relatively numerous outside of the Coalition states.


"Four against one! I like these odds!... um, if three of you walk away."

Juicers Today

Why do people become Juicers? Well, they're dumb.

Okay, Carella has a more nuanced set of answers than I do. During the hard times after the cataclysm, Juicing was seen as a sacrifice for the community, the modern ethos is more self-centered. Juicing is often offered for a few years of service, about half of their "lifespan". Many become Juicers with a plan to detox after three years, but most become addicted to the effects of the drugs and the power... while others die in combat. Some go in for revenge and other obsessive quests, and might steal or cheat their way to augmentation. Some are just crazy and either don't believe that they will die or don't particularly care. Some poor people sign up for indentured service hoping to get rich. Lastly, sometimes slaves are converted for Juicers for use as warriors or gladiators, particularly in Atlantis.

The Juicer Procedure

So, we get the nitty-gritty in terms of how long the treatment takes to apply. Installing the Juicer harness takes two treatments with a two day rest inbetween, and it takes "2d4" weeks for the full abilities to manifest after the installation is complete. It notes that the procedure has a 98% chance of working under ideal conditions, but many rush the procedure, reuse old equipment, and the book suggests giving a 50% to 92% chance of success for PCs getting the treatment. Yep, it's a random chance of fuckery for those PCs hoping to swap classes to "Juicer", with some of the effects being:
  • Higher attribute boosts but 1d4 less years... out of 6. Yep, you can be a two-year wonder.
  • "Hyper-Strength Syndrome" which can cause spasms or clumsiness that gives major penalties or skills or combat.
  • "Metabolic-Induced Gluttony", where you have to eat 10,000 to 20,000 calories a day. "There are stories of some MIV gluttons resorting to cannibalism to satisfy their urges!"
  • "Juicer Psychosis" which is includes death obsessions, superiority complexes, paranoia, panic attacks, or the classic Siembieda "Jekyll and Hyde" syndrome.
  • Going straight to a rejection where the harness has to be removed or you die, then you get all the drawbacks of late Juicer detox.
That's the brief version - there are about three full pages dedicated to the amount of fuckery you can suffer as an existing PC trying to become a Juicer. I don't know if they're trying to add teeth to the normal six-year lifespan most Juicers have, given it won't come up in many games, but mostly it just seems an arbitrary punishment for a class that isn't exactly Rifts' most powerful character type.

But if that amount of risk isn't enough for you, you could try playing:

Non-Human Juicers

Yep, some nonhuman types can become Juicers too, mostly those that are close to human, but there are some exceptions we'll see.
  • True Atlanteans: The superior human race for Rifts Atlantis gets to survive longer (10 to 16 years) as Juicers, but given they have a 500 year lifespan, most don't undergo the process unless forced or tricked. "Hey, free pizza and Juicer conversion in here!" "FREE PIZZA?!"
  • Dwarves: Dwarves only survive slightly longer as Juicers (only about a year more) but can't take anything that makes them into speedy Juicers (the "Hyperion" and "Phaeton" treatments) since those apparently burn out their nervous system. I figured dwarves would have more nerve!
  • Elves: ... survive about two years longer on average, but usually don't go in for the process for the same reasons as True Atlanteans. (Unless there's free pizza.)
  • Ogres: As basically just another member of the homo genus in Rifts, ogres can juice up normally.
  • Gargoyles and Brodkil: Normal Juicer treatments don't work on these "sub-demons", but Atlantis has developed equivalent bio-wizard harnesses that work the same on them. Or maybe not. The book contradicts this later.
  • Mutant Animals: There's an 80% chance of death or or "near-lethal" consequences for mutant animals that try and Juice up normally. However, Los Alamo (later in this book) has developed a treatment that works on psi-hounds (but with an "over 20%" failure rate), but it eliminates all their supernatural sensing powers and they have a slightly reduced Juicer lifespan. In addition, it notes mutant animals with explicitly supernatural powers (like the mutant animals from the South America books) can't undergo the process because (ha ha ha) reasons likely to do with game balance (heh).
  • Wolfen: Los Alamo and Kingsdale have developed the normal, Hyperion, and Titan Juicer treatments that all work functionally on the wolfen, coyle, and kankoran. For those that may have forgotten, they're basically canine Romans from the Palladium Fantasy setting. Wolfen are split between thinking it's a glorious way to go out and thinking it's a dishonorable abomination.
It also explictly mentions that supernatural creatures can't undergo the process, including obvious creatures (dragons, werewolves, vampires) but also explicitly calls out nightbane (Nightbreed knockoffs from CJ Carella's Palladium game Nightspawn / Nightbane) and "pleasurers".

Oh, right, they're from Phase World. I guess I was spared typing the words "Pleasurer Juicer" oh poo poo I hosed up-


"I'm starting to wonder if I got ripped off on these Crazy implants!"

The Rise & Fall of the Juicer

Hey, it's time for another table of random Palladium fuckery. Juicers on the way to die get side effects termed their "Last Call", and Juicers on their last year of life roll 15% each month to see if they have to roll on the "Last Call Symptoms" table, adding 1% for each month after the first. Symptoms include migraine headaches, nosebleeds that cause vertigo, shakes, reduced healing, muscle cramps, and addiction (to secondary substances). All of these, of course, come with troublesome penalties. Most Juicers try and find a way to go out in a blaze of glory when this happens, but those that don't essentially have their cells break down and their internal organs liquefy. Others under Last Call either try and just amp up their drug feed to overdose, or just overdose on some external drug.

Rifts World Book 10: Juicer Uprising posted:

Bright-burning candle
Soon embraces the darkness...
A Juicer lives life.

ó Haiku written on the gravestone of Achilles Smith, Juicer

Is the edge sharp enough? Don't worry, it'll get sharper. Sharp enough to kill.

Next: This time, I'll finish the job.

Barudak
May 7, 2007

So, uh, do I not understand the basic mechanics of Rifts very well or are the Juicers insanely crap for how many penalties they get loaded with?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
Their big two advantages is that they have a high Physical Prowess and an automatic dodge. Physical Prowess is a god-stat for combat in Palladium - it improves your ability to strike, dodge, or parry. So they'll be better than many characters for that. The automatic dodge means that it doesn't take an action for them to dodge - almost every class has to spend an action to do a dodge, but they can always dodge an attack they're aware of. They also get a variety of other combat bonuses. For a standard "soldier" class without supernatural powers per se or cybernetics, they can be pretty strong. They don't really compete well with mecha-piloting classes like Glitter Boys or high-level supernatural creatures, but they're at least better combatants than most generic soldier classes (that don't pilot mecha or aren't 'borgs). At the same time the book likes to triple down on the Winners Don't Use Drugs subtext.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

What happens if a juicer pilots a mech?

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gourdcaptain
Nov 16, 2012

The Lone Badger posted:

What happens if a juicer pilots a mech?

This book has a special juicer variant optimized for that. I don't know Palladium rules well enough to judge if they're good at it or not, but they exist. (I've mostly just read the fluff from Rifts books for entertainment/Savage Rifts inspiration. Savage Rifts Juicer is pretty rad mechanically from what I've seen of them and read, but I've only seen one used for one session.

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