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Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Keep the Superiors train rolling.

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Simian_Prime
Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.

Wrap up Superiors, then do GMs Guide.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




The whole point of the Drow is to have an evil player race for your party to fight. Obviously they had to be elves who are cursed with black skin, because who else could be so edgy and special. They come in small groups so you can have cute little mirror matches against the party, they have spell resistance so you can't just have the wizard chump them at the beginning of the encounter, they have powerful magic items that turn to dust in the sun so that their fighter can duel your fighter, and their leaders are super sexy evil cleric women to ensure that there will be a divine caster on the enemy side.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


I think it's more that they couldn't get rid of the Drow because Drizzt is such an iconic part of the realms and the fanbase would transmute into an undulating mass of pure white-hot rage if they killed off the drow race.

They were able to crush the Egyptians and depower the Thayans because they don't have nearly as much screen presence.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Kurieg posted:

I think it's more that they couldn't get rid of the Drow because Drizzt is such an iconic part of the realms and the fanbase would transmute into an undulating mass of pure white-hot rage if they killed off the drow race.

They were able to crush the Egyptians and depower the Thayans because they don't have nearly as much screen presence.

You say that first part like it's a bad thing.

Were the Thayans racist as well? I thought they were just massive dicks.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


I like Ravenloft! :downs:

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


Oh I would like it, but Hasbro would have thrown a fit and 4e would have ended a lot sooner than it did.


Well they were Wizard-racist, if you weren't a wizard you were chattel. Thing is 4e made a *lot* of changes to the world, mostly to break up and weaken the existing governments and allowing for player characters to actually do something beyond be the pawns of greater powers (primarily all the loving wizard nations because they'd been riding high on the Mystra train).

quote:

  • The Spellplague affected the landscape, making the ground rumble and heave up and down like the surface of the sea. Curtains of blue flame swept the landscape, reshaping the land by cutting crevasses or lifting and sculpting the plain into hills and ridges. Shards of earth wrenched themselves free and became earthmotes.
  • Rifts opened in the Underdark beneath the Sea of Fallen Stars, causing the level of water to drop, cutting many ports off from their livelihood.
  • A surge in the use of technology, divine magic, and worship of the Deities of Knowledge and Invention.
  • Political upheaval across the land that resulted in many attempted coups, invasions, and uprisings. Especially against governments and nations that had relied heavily on arcane magic for defense or controlling their population.
  • Large parts of Abeir and Toril switched places (small, almost imperceptible parts had been switching places since the Time of Troubles but this event was markedly more noticeable), swapping Maztica and the continent of Laerakond, which became known as 'Returned Abeir'.
  • Mulhorand was completely destroyed, and the Mulhorandi pantheon disappeared. The land was later settled by Deep Imaskari and became the empire of High Imaskar.
  • Unther was obliterated when a fragment of the dragonborn nation of Tymanchebar was transplanted from Abeir onto it, eventually becoming the realm of Tymanther.
  • Southeast Chessenta was also obliterated by the appearance of Tymanchebar. Other parts of the nation collapsed into a rift into the Underdark. Unlike Unther however, Chessenta survived and prospered - though it's beloved ruler Tchazzar disappeared without a trace.
  • Chult became a large island when most of the Chultan Peninsula was cut off from the mainland. Much of Samarach was drowned, it's survivors spellscarred, and the yuan-ti realm of Serpentes fell. The city of Mezro collapsed and its ruins became occupied by the undead remains of those who didn't make it out in time. Ubtao's barae were lost and the jungle became home to massive monsters from Abeir.
  • Evermeet was pushed into the plane of Faerie, leaving behind a pale shadow of what the island of the elves used to be, though the isle's residents could move back and forth from Faerie to Faerūn at will.
  • The island of Nimbral completely disappeared.
  • Halruaa was destroyed and turned into a land full of rampant spellplague.
  • The Shaar became a wasteland called the Shaar Desolation.
  • The region surrounding the Great Rift collapsed into the Underdark, creating an enormous cataract in the earth called the Underchasm. Bits of what used to be the Underdark began to float above the Underchasm as earthmotes.
  • The halfling realm of Luiren was completely submerged underwater, becoming the Gulf of Luiren in the Great Sea.
  • Lantan was hit by massive waves and flooded, killing all of its inhabitants. However the nation had resource camps in other locations, namely Chult, so not all Lantanese citizens and technology may have perished along with the actual island.
  • The peninsula known as Var the Golden became a region of the Great Sea called Var the Drowned.
  • The Misty Vale was devastated by blue fire, though the wild elves that occupied it survived. Known as Elfharrow, it was fiercely defended from all intrusions.
  • The illusions that cloaked the settlements on Selūne failed, revealing them to those on Toril.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Kurieg posted:

Thing is 4e made a *lot* of changes to the world, mostly to break up and weaken the existing governments and allowing for player characters to actually do something beyond be the pawns of greater powers (primarily all the loving wizard nations because they'd been riding high on the Mystra train).

See while I agree with cleaning out stagnant or offensive parts of the setting, I don't see that as necessary for player agency- if the PCs make a goal to topple a kingdom or organization in a setting, I'm going to let them have a fair crack at it, NPCs be damned. Or are you saying there aren't enough openings for that?

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


It does change things from a relatively static setting to one where a lot of old truths no longer hold sway and there's plenty of opportunities. You're no longer working against all the institutions who want to keep the status quo.

senrath
Nov 3, 2009

Look Professor, a destruct switch!




Kavak posted:

See while I agree with cleaning out stagnant or offensive parts of the setting, I don't see that as necessary for player agency- if the PCs make a goal to topple a kingdom or organization in a setting, I'm going to let them have a fair crack at it, NPCs be damned. Or are you saying there aren't enough openings for that?

There weren't really enough openings. Too many nations/organizations in the Forgotten Realms were full of what were effectively max level wizards.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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




(S)ENTRIES, PART 1

We've reached the end of the book, so it's time for a sample operation! If you might play this game later, and your GM seems inclined to use sample scenarios, maybe skip the next couple updates.

Eyes Only Briefing
A quick summary of the operation, intended for the Director. In this case:
  • Canadian Air Force general Malcom Lennart found out about vampires.
  • A conspiracy paymaster sends Georg Rudek to hire the party to steal his laptop, and Anton Dedopovic to pay off the party and secure the laptop for the vampires.
  • Anton Dedopovic has a worsening kidney disease and has found out about the vampiric nature of the conspiracy. He's planning to double-cross the vampires, take the laptop for himself, and trade it for vampiric immortality.
  • The agents track either Anton or the paymaster to Belgrade.
  • The paymaster may be Belgrade gang boss Danilo Brigovic, or someone higher up.

The Spine
The basic flow of the operation goes like this: The agents meet Rudek in Dubrovnik, Croatia, where he answers some questions and getse them into Bosnia. There, they heist the laptop from SATO HQ in Sarajevo, then escape into the Serbian Zone. Anton meets up with them, and drives to his Double Cross at the cemetery in Gostilj. Regardless of Anton's fate, the agents turn up additional clues when policing the scene. They either track the paymaster or track Anton, the trail leads to Belgrade and a Payoff.

The Job
The opening hook is Rudek offering the job. He's a fixer well known to and trusted by at least one of the agents, althuogh he has a shady background in Balkcan intelligence.

Meeting Rudek
Rudek meets the party in a chain hotel room in Dubrovnik, Croatia, wiring necessary funds to the agents in advance. If they're suspicious, they can arrive early and scout, but the situation isn't very sinister.

Rudek lays out the objective, starting with a photo of Lennart, which Military Science recognizes as a Canadian Air Force general. Rudek suspects that he's been looking into purchasing records or shifty political deals, but is holding the evidence close to him. The laptop never leaves his side. Objective: Secure the laptop, ensure no backup exists for it (this is obviously because the vampires are doing a cover-up, but what's Rudek's justification for this objective?). Reward: 100,000 euros, half now and half on delivery.

Once the party secures the laptop, they're to rendezvous with Anton Dedopovic on the Serbian side of the partition line. Rudek gives them a flash drive with a basic dossier on Lennart, satellite photos of Camp Butmir, GPS coordinates for the Dedopovic rendezvous, and a Belgrade phone number to call when the job is done. If the agents agree, Rudek eletronically transfers funds to whatever account they specify - a 1-point Accounting spend or 2-point Criminology spend recognizes the bank as owned by the Russian mafiya.

Asking Questions
The players will probably want more info than that. Either Rudek provides it freely, or they'll have to dig it up on their own. Some topics:

Brigadier-General Lennart
Military Science will yield Lennart's background - if not available, spends of Bureaucracy, Network, or Digital Intrusion (Difficulty 5) will also work. Lennart is a logistics expert in and liason with the USAF. The only red flag in his file is a sudden transfer to Sarajevo before he finished his NATO tour in Naples. It might have been to stymie an investigation in Europe, or it might have been something he did to get access to records of Bosnia and Kosovo missions. Which it was is up to the Director and the further conspiracies of the campaign.

File doesn't indicate specialized computer training, so it's unlikely that there are any hidden backups of his data online (Investigative use of Digital Intrusion will yield this, plus the fact that hiding backups online would be an even bigger security breach than taking his laptop home every night). No obvious hooks to pressure Lennart are found - he doesn't drink, he has a modest retirement plan, he votes Liberal, and his long-term girlfriend in Alberta is similarly clean.

Anton Dedopovic
Anton is an rear end in a top hat. He's a killer and rapist working for the Serbian mafia. His main interests are human trafficking and heroin, but he's useful as a cut-out for operators in former Yugoslavia. Tradecraft and Streetwise get all this info, but for a 1-point spend of Tradecraft or Criminology, you can find out that he's been spotted in Switzerland several times, and rumor is that he's trying to set up a heroin ring there through a private hospital. The truth is that he's trying to find a cure for his disease.

The Rendezvous
Rudek's GPS coordinates lead to an Orthodox cemetary east of Gostilij. If the agents want to scout it out, Rudek would warn that they lose two days and risk running into a roadblock. Tradecraft tells that entering the Serbian zone is likely to alert Dedopovic. If they insist on it regardless, give them a roadblock that they can spend Military Science, Intimidation or Cover to get past, but doing so will absolutely report them to Dedopovic.

Dedopovic's sniper Vladek is staking out the cemetery, but he has orders to not make contact with the agents. Noticing him is a Difficulty 6 Surveillance test, catching him is a Surveillance contest.

The Lift
One way or another, the party eventually heads to Sarajevo. Rudek arranged rooms at a hotel, but the agents can also use Network (Difficulty 4) to get a safe house in the area. Time to steal a laptop.

Heisting the Laptop
This should be pretty easy, not actually being the heart of the operation. It's fine if it turns out a bit anti-climactic.

The Target
Lennart lives in the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza, and has one local woman who cooks and cleans for him. She doesn't live on the premises, but comes in while he's out. Security is good but not amazing - Difficulty 4 Infiltration, failure notifying both the NATO base and the police. His office is in Camp Butmir, which has a constant presence of uniformed personnel from a dozen different nations at all times. Getting on the base isn't hard - 1-point Forgery or Difficulty 3 Cover will get you credentials, Difficulty 4 Disguise or 2-point Military Science or Intimidation will also get you in.

Lennart's office is watched by his adjutant, Captain Sebring, who knows exactly who is or isn't supposed to be in the office. Lennart keeps his laptop secured in the office during work hours, and then takes it with him when he goes home.

Lennart's Schedule
  • 0600: Wake up, exercise, shower.
  • 0645: Staff car arives to pick him up.
  • 0700: Arrives at office at Camp Butmir.
  • 1100: Lunch brought to his office. Lennart generally works alone, attending meetings or briefings as briefly and sparsely as possible.
  • 1800: Staff car arrives to take Lennart home.
  • 1830: Stops for dinner at a restaurant or arrives home.
  • 2000: Arrives at home from restaurant, works or reads.
  • 2300: Lights out.
In six days, Lennart is scheduled to catch a flight at 1500 hours out of Sarajevo International Airport. He must not be allowed to take the laptop with him on that flight.

The Boost
The players will come up with a plan to secure the laptop. Let it work. In playtest, agents bugged the office with Infiltration and Electronic Surveillance, identified the laptop model with Data Recovery, bought the same model, duplicated Lennart's with Conceal, and made a switch during his final day on the base, so that he wouldn't notice the switch until he had already left the country. Alternate possibilities:
  • Steal or switch the laptop at night (Surveillance to avoid military and police security, Infiltration, Filch)
  • Steal or switch the laptop from the office while Lennart is out (Infiltration, Filch, Military Science, Disguise, Cover)
  • Hitting the staff car during transit and stealing the laptop directly (Driving, Hand-to-Hand, Disguise, Shooting or Explosive Devices)
  • Hack the laptop, download the files, then wipe the hard drive (Digital Intrusion, Infiltration, Electronic Surveillance)
  • Poisoning Sebring and pretending to be Lennart's temporary adjutant (Pharmacy, Infiltration, Filch, Disguise, Military Science)
  • Poisoning Lennart, stealing the ambulance, and pretend to be EMTs (Pharmacy, Infiltration, Filch, Disguise, Diagnosis, Driving)
Enterprising players can and no doubt will think of more strategies beyond this list.

The Escape
If the agents go in hard, there will be a chase. Use Thriller Chase Rules as usual, crossing the border into the Serbian zone gives the agents a 2-point Driving refresh, as Sarajevo police have to request clearance for pursuit. If they went quiet, they can cross the border with ease, steal a car, and make it to the rendezvous, where everything will no doubt go as planned.

Next: Nothing goes as planned.

Davin Valkri
Apr 8, 2011

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


ProfessorProf, do you know why the sample adventure is titled "(S)ENTRIES"? The best I can figure is that BGen. Lennart and his laptop, Dedopovic, and to a lesser extent Rudek, are acting as "sentries" for the player agents' "entries" into the world of vampires, but that might be a stretch.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


senrath posted:

There weren't really enough openings. Too many nations/organizations in the Forgotten Realms were full of what were effectively max level wizards.

The Neverwinter you see in NWN2 would have been a really good city of adventure, since the leadership has been decapitated and there's so much that's been destroyed and lost. They never really wrote about it in the 3.5 books though, and by the time you see it in 4e it's been doubly hosed by the spell-plague, Neverembers Mismanagement, and about 30 civil wars.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Kurieg posted:

Neverember

Is it like a law that the city be led by people with really stupid names that start with "N"?

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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


Davin Valkri posted:

ProfessorProf, do you know why the sample adventure is titled "(S)ENTRIES"? The best I can figure is that BGen. Lennart and his laptop, Dedopovic, and to a lesser extent Rudek, are acting as "sentries" for the player agents' "entries" into the world of vampires, but that might be a stretch.

Yeah, I have no idea. That sounds as plausible as anything.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Rand Brittain posted:

Because that would make all the Drizzt novels for 4e non-canon, is the only reason I've been given.

Not that nerd franchises seem to need a reason for having overcomplicated excuses for their reboots.

Don't tell me Mr. Genderswap Yuri Action can't just write some silly book about how Drizzt and Elminster travel back in time to undo the events that lead into 4e, undoing them for the setting but still having them affect his God NPCs.

wiegieman posted:

The whole point of the Drow is to have an evil player race for your party to fight. Obviously they had to be elves who are cursed with black skin, because who else could be so edgy and special.

Because just having a bunch of normal elves who happen to be dicks is silly. Only humans are allowed to cover all alignments without having to split off into sub-races.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 17:24 on Feb 8, 2016

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Doresh posted:

Don't tell me Mr. Genderswap Yuri Action can't just write some silly book about how Drizzt and Elminster travel back in time to undo the events that lead into 4e, undoing

Not to be Pedantic, but Salvatore is Drizzt's writer, and you get a Kojima-esque situation where he's sick of writing the guy, but does't trust anyone else to do it well.

Honestly my favorite settings have always been Ravenloft and Planescape, Forgotten Realms is largely a nostalgia entry-realm for me, despite the massive issues it has.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I've always liked Ravenloft, but running it in D&D has always struck me as a screw-you of Wickian proportions. Dumping a bunch of murderhobos into a gothic horror scenario, turning a swathe of their magical arsenal inside-out, and offering them bennies to start meandering down the road to NPChood was a raw deal, and that's not even touching the outright racism toward non-humans and renamed Roma given mechanical weight.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


I'd volunteer to cover the 3.X Ravenloft material, since it's the one that made fall in love with the setting, but I don't trust myself to actually finish it (I never finished that Wraith: the Great War review).

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I'd like to see that. My experience is with the 2E material, which worked relatively well if you ignored the 'suck your PCs into the Demiplane of Dread!' approach they seemed to like, and made everyone native to the setting and aware of the risks of using certain spells and tactics.

And, you know, made sure your players knew they were in for something more Dracula than Army of Darkness.

Bieeanshee fucked around with this message at 18:48 on Feb 8, 2016

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Bieeardo posted:

I'd like to see that. My experience is with the 2E material, which worked relatively well if you ignored the 'suck your PCs into the Demiplane of Dread!' approach they seemed to like, and made everyone native to the setting and aware of the risks of using certain spells and tactics.

And, you know, made sure your players knew they were in for something more Dracula than Army of Darkness.

That's pretty much the approach 3.5e went with.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Okay, I'm definitely intrigued now.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Planescape is great because like Ravenloft you can throw PCs into it, but let them go back to their own setting whenever they want, and Sigil is awesome for them to visit instead of awful like Ravenloft. You can attach it to literally anything in D&D and it still works- it's basically the oversetting along with poor Spelljammer. Sigil also doesn't have Romani racism.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Bieeardo posted:

Okay, I'm definitely intrigued now.

gently caress it, unless someone beats me to it, I'll :justpost: tomorrow.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Yeah, Ravenloft 3e is defined for me by its attitude of "This land is still worth saving. Don't give it up to the night."

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Rand Brittain posted:

Yeah, Ravenloft 3e is defined for me by its attitude of "This land is still worth saving. Don't give it up to the night."

Yes, that's exactly the tone darker settings should go for: Yes, the odds are stacked against you, things look grim, but fuckin' hell, you save that one little kid, that village, you put down one monster, break a single curse - there's another star shining in that big black void now, if people keep going someday, that sky's going to be littered with light.

I find relentlessly bleak settings like Necropolis exhausting - where it's "the world's permanently hosed and ain't nothing you can do."

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Robindaybird posted:

Yes, that's exactly the tone darker settings should go for: Yes, the odds are stacked against you, things look grim, but fuckin' hell, you save that one little kid, that village, you put down one monster, break a single curse - there's another star shining in that big black void now, if people keep going someday, that sky's going to be littered with light.

I find relentlessly bleak settings like Necropolis exhausting - where it's "the world's permanently hosed and ain't nothing you can do."

Which always brings across the tone of 'So why are we bothering to play' rather than exhaustion, to me. God, I hate Grimdark. Dark is great! Grimdark, not so much.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Superiors: Asmodeus



Asmodeus is the Prince of the Game, the internal security of Hell.



Argument of Casuistry is a Servitor attunement that may be used to convince anyone of the rightness or wrongness of a premise, based on physical evidence. However, this evidence does not need to be real - it can be flimsy, circumstantial or manufactured. You can, for example, 'discover' a burst capsule to convince someone that blood is a movie prop. This requires a Will roll to activate and lasts for (CD) minutes, resisted by Perception. If proof of the falseness of your evidence is shown, however, their mind will become clear again and they'll remember you lied. If they resist, you cannot use this attunement at all for (CD) hours.
Insert Coin to Continue allows you to spend 1 Essence after you fail a roll. You may reroll, but must spend Essence again to improve it - nothing carries over from the last roll. Interventions may not be rerolled, and if the new roll also fails, you can't reroll a second time. You can use this up to (Celestial Forces) times per day.
Rule of Law may only be used after invoking the Humanity attunement. It forces celestials on Earth to play by earthly rules, even if they don't want to. The target suffers all the restrictions of Humanity, adapted to suit their current form. This costs 3 Essence, can't be resisted and can only target those inhabiting a vessel or host that are in range of your ability to touch. This lasts for (Celestial Forces) hours or until your Humanity attunement ends, whichever is first.
Sense for Betrayal allows you to sense dissonance in any celestial, even angels, with a Perception roll. This perception lasts for (CD) hours, and will not identify anything about the target except how much dissonance they have and that they are a celestial of some kind.
Asmodeus offers distinctions above Baron, but only to his Wordbound - there are no simple Marquises, Counts and Dukes. He odes, however, offer some lesser Distinctions as needed.
Marquises are assigned to specific projects or objectives, but have free rein within those to execute their own plans using any servants of the Game nearby.
Counts run the organizations of Hades and its key buildings. They have almost total authority over their domains.
Dukes govern large parts of Asmodeus' territories, and they act as feudal lords of the Game, commanding the Bishops within their domain and all those demons the Bishops themselves command. However, they are kept in check by each other, Asmodeus and their Bishops.
It is believed that Asmodeusc teaches the Songs of Banishing, Binding, Retribution, Concealment and Correspondence, plus a variant of Numinous Corpus: Arms to produce appendages able to do much paperwork.




Remember: the Humanity attunement is the Game's ace in the hole, making you appear entirely human in all respects.

Expanded Rites:
1. Cause dely, frustration and confusion via legal paperwork.
2. Officiate at a chess tournament, deal a poker game or otherwise control the gameplay of humans.
3. Play and win three games in a row against a skilled opponent or opponents. Sometimes this is a 2-Essence rite but limited to a specific game or game type.



When appearing openly as himself, Asmodeus prefers to have a fearsome presence. All of his vessels are intimidating, and his burning eyes are a terrifying symbol of his power in Hell. Most demons attempt to avoid his attention, and even Princes fear his raised voice. Asmodeus never does anything that does not benefit him, down to his very apperance. He apepars imposing to remind demons that he writes the rules, and to convince them that he must always appear this way. He has found that an even, bland tone heightens anxities and makes his occasional changes from it even more striking. Besides, Asmodeus does not like to instill more energy into anything he does than is absolutely necessary. That would mean caring, which a Djinn Prince never does. This does not stop him from redefining situations so that any irritation he wants to express becomes useful, of course. When he is not acting openly, Asmodeus will take on any form that might be useful to him. He frequently does not announce himself even to his own servants, and a few of his demons have been unaware they were reporting to him, thinking he had passed them over for inspection. He deals with this naive thinking as he sees fit. He has used many names and Roles, but mostly not known to be his. He sees little point in gathering power under names known to be his - it's less work to just use his own name, in those cases.

Many believe that the Word of the Game is purely metaphorical - pierce for perso, move for action, a complex and useless relabeling of the Symphony. A metaphor, however, is an artificial analogy between unrelated concepts. Asmodeus and his demons hold that the Symphony is the Game - not a filter, but in truth. They believe the universe was designed with rules, that its denizens were made with certain skills and flaws. Both celestials and mortals are controlled by their attirbutes and the nature of the world. They can be manipulated by those who understand this well. And thus, Asmodeus and his demons are arrogant enough to believe that the entire Symphony is a game. An unfair game. There is nothing just or fair about the world, and so therefore justice and fairness do not matter. What matters is winning. The Game is about knowing the rules well enough to manipulate them against your foes - and everyone is your foe - instead of yourself, so that you are the clear and decisive winner. And with victory safely in hand, you can write the rules of the next game to your liking.

The Game is a force of order. The rules must be followed or used, both the rules of the natural world and those made by Asmodeus, who does not draw a distinction between the two. If a demon must bend the rules, they'd best either not get caught or have a very, very good reason. On top of providing order to Hell, Asmodeus oversees all forms of the Game as played by humans. Mind-games, twisting the truth - that's all playing the Game of Asmodeus. Hypocrites, oathbreakers and thoe that exploit the letter of the law rather than its spirit further the Word. Further, Asmodeus also supports human competition in 'traditional' games - sports, board games, gambling and so on.

Before the Fall, Asmodeus was one of the most deovted Cherubim serving Dominic, Angel of Judgment. He was diligent, passionate and loyal, Dominic's closest friend. They worked together with the Metatron to codify the Word of God into the first laws, which Asmodeus found deeply fascinating. It is unsurprising, then, that Dominic sent Asmodeus to speak with Lucifer and test his judgment. Asmodeus spoke with Lucifer for a very long time, trying to learn his reasons. Lucifer appeared forthright, just and equitable, and Asmodeus came to believe it was unfair that God not listen to Lucifer's grievances. Lufier convinced Asmodeus that Dominic would better judge the rightness of his actions if he saw the Movement in action rather than be distracted by its apparent flaws. So Asmodeus returned to his friend and said in strict truth: 'Lucifer is aware of the choices he has made, and his reasoning will be explained soon.' Dominic could not tell the Truth, hidden by Lucifer's ineffability, but he trusted Asmodeus. And so Asmodeus returned to help Lucifer plan what would be the Rebellion. It's failure, to Asmodeus, was a triple betrayl: Dominic, for not following them. God, for not listening. Lucifer, for lying to them. And as he Fell, ASmodeus realized all of it signaled a greater truth: that justice was a lie, existing nowhere in the Symphony. He had no reason to care any more - God played them as pieces in some cosmic game.

In the chaos of Hell, Lucifer named Asmodeus with the Word of the Game, and Asmodeus took to the job of enforcing order with a vicious will. Instead of penance, he gave punishment. Instead of justice, he placed rules. The Game has not always been the finely tuned machine it now is. When Lucifer gave ASmodeus the Word, the idea of the universe as a Game to be played didn't exist - games of chance with one's life, sure, but the idea as a whole was weak and unrefined. Even now, the invention of new games shifts the metaphors and labels of the Gamesters. The current fashion for chess and card games as a structure is only a few millenia old. Int the earliest years, Asmodeus used what he knew - the makings of Judgment. In the beginning, it was more directly an opposition to Dominic, and it took Asmodeus' single-minded obsession to create the idea of the Game as something to play. He is deeply proud of it.



The way the Game is played has never been quite identical to the way Judgment operated. Dominic is known for public trials, while the Game prefers more secrecy and subtlety. Makatiel, Prince of Disease, was the first Prince openly executed by the Game, but that was in collusion with Judgment. Asmodeus either has or would like others to think he has arranged from the removal of other princes, claiming secret responsibility for the deaths of other Princes, such as Beelzebub, the first Prince of Corruption, or Mariel, Princess of Oblivion. Those who suggest that the Game takes credit not due to them are likely to be accused of treason.

It is often believed that the top priority ofr Asmodeus is to prevent Renegades. This is false - Asmodeus's first and only goal is to win, which he breaks down into lesser objectives. First, prevent demonic pieces from benefiting the other side, directly or indirectly. Hell can't play effectively if its pieces break the rules, so Asmodeus devotes a lot of time to preventing that. Lucifer has charged him to maintain order and loyalty among inherently selfish, chaotic and treacherous beings. Asmodeus takes pride in doing his job well under these conditions, though he still holds the task in a certain amount of contempt. If demons would just obey the rules, the Game could focus on offense. Still, Asmodeus does what he can to advance his goals while enforcing the rules.

The Game also regulates the actions of other Princes. Though Lucifer sometimes chooses to intervene personally, he relies on Asmodeus to keep Hell running smoothly day to day. Asmodeus does this by mitigating the influence each faction has on the rest. He usually supports the more militant, proactive groups, but he has also been known to discreetly undermine them by quiet support of the 'softer' Princes, should the militants threaten his plans. Because playing blind is best left to opponents, which is everyone else, Asmodeus uses a network of spies. His demons go in disguise to mislead his foes, with Roles on Earth and more inventive methods elsehwere. When they discover danger or disloyalty, Asmodeus does not always order them to act, though - they may instead be told to observe. This allows a better understanding of the situation and potentially uncovers allies or accomplices in treachery. He's also not above setting up spy networks that don't realize they're spies for him, or giving misinformation to the spies of others.

Asmodeus also does more straightforward things - fighting Heaven and expanding his Word, mostly. He prefers to fight Heaven by influencing other groups to do it for him - usually just telling Ball the right piece of information will do it. Asmodeus does not rule out subtler plots, though, or even personal appearances. He also needs to protect and expand his Word. He holds the Game is played everywhere, if often poorly, but he finds it easiest to show this to others in the fields of politics and law. He looks forward to winning the War and designing a new set of rules for the world to come after.

Asmodeus acknowledges that God created the first Game: the Symphony before the Fall. He believes that he himslef has redefined and refined this Game after the Fall, making it something that belongs to him. Asmodeus believes that God, too, must play by the Rules, which is why God has not intervened directly in the Game between Heaven and Hell. He also believes that Lucifer does not correspond to any standard piece or card in any game, though he is obviously both a player and Player in the great Game. Even chess cannot classify Lucifer. He cannot be the queen piece, for Asmodeus knows the queen's moves but not the full extent of Lucifer's. He cannot be the king, either, for the War would not be over with Lucifer's death, though Hell would be crippled. (Asmodeus has decided that Fate is the 'king piece', even before Kronos' ascension.) Asmodeus continues to resent that he must serve Lucifer, and takes a certain satisfaction in refusing to name Lucifer in the role as the most important piece, without which the game is lost.

Asmodeus doesn't really hate or scorn humanity - he doesn't care enough about humanity to hold them in hatred or contempt. He has noted their ability to act without Disturbance and to influence Words, which led him to make the Humanity attunement in order to duplicate that nature and disguise his servants. He has come to the conclusion that humanity is most valuable as ignorant pieces and tokens of victory to feud over. He does not individual humans as having some skill in the Game, however, and he does not forgo the use of Hellsworn or sorcerers.

Next time: Opinions.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rand Brittain posted:

Yeah, Ravenloft 3e is defined for me by its attitude of "This land is still worth saving. Don't give it up to the night."

From what I read of Ravenloft, it always seemed singularly bleak and hopeless to me. I never got the impression the horrors could be overcome but temporarily.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Alien Rope Burn posted:

From what I read of Ravenloft, it always seemed singularly bleak and hopeless to me. I never got the impression the horrors could be overcome but temporarily.
Hey man, enough temporaries start to look like a lifetime.

My personal favorite D&D setting is Dark Sun, even if it has lovely fiction attached to it, apparently.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Dark Sun is definitely my favorite as well. Once I finally finish with UA I may do a Fatal and Friends for some of the crazier stuff, like the Book of Artifacts and the Halfling bio-engineers.


Just because you love something doesn't mean you can't point out its utterly ludicrous elements as well.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Maybe Asmodeus's word, which he interprets as 'everything', is giving Eli word-friction like Gabriel.

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


Nessus posted:

Hey man, enough temporaries start to look like a lifetime.

My personal favorite D&D setting is Dark Sun, even if it has lovely fiction attached to it, apparently.

My first exposure to D&D was the PC game Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager. I remember casting Silence on wizards, than talking them to iniatiate a fight.

I want to run the Culture novel The Player of Games in Hell. Is there anything that can force demons into honorable competition?

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




I loved Shattered Lands and Wake of the Ravager. I also played them before I started playing tabletop D&D, which makes it surprising that I could actually manage...those older games did not try and and "hide" the D&D mechanics well and I had no idea what "1d8" was compared to "2d4" or what a THACO was.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Nessus posted:

Hey man, enough temporaries start to look like a lifetime.

My personal favorite D&D setting is Dark Sun, even if it has lovely fiction attached to it, apparently.

Not just bad fiction, but bad metaplot fiction, culminating in a second edition boxed set that massively rewrites the setting at the hands of the novel heroes. PCs? Pfft, what about 'em?

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Ratoslov posted:

Maybe Asmodeus's word, which he interprets as 'everything', is giving Eli word-friction like Gabriel.

That or his head is so far up his own rear end he can see daylight. It seems to me that Asmodeus' Word fundamentally boils down to the idea of law and order. Not justice like Dominic, but the idea that everything is part of a greater cosmic order. Being a demon prince, Asmodeus naturally believes that this order, these cosmic rules, can be manipulated and used to one's benefit like any mortal laws.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Ratoslov posted:

Maybe Asmodeus's word, which he interprets as 'everything', is giving Eli word-friction like Gabriel.

It's all in the game, yo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cryMVK1PwuQ

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


Cythereal posted:

That or his head is so far up his own rear end he can see daylight. It seems to me that Asmodeus' Word fundamentally boils down to the idea of law and order. Not justice like Dominic, but the idea that everything is part of a greater cosmic order. Being a demon prince, Asmodeus naturally believes that this order, these cosmic rules, can be manipulated and used to one's benefit like any mortal laws.

https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/1494157-the-player-of-games

Just read the whole book:

quote:

The set-up assumes that the game and life are the same thing, and such is the pervasive nature of the idea of the game within the society that just by believing that, they make it so.

quote:

All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elefant and both intellectually and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains makkeable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory, to use an unfashionable word. In this, the future is a game; time is one of the rules. Generally, all the best mechanistic games - those which can be played in any sense "perfectly", such as a grid, Prallian scope, 'nkraytle, chess, Farnic dimensions - can be traced to civilisations lacking a realistic view of the universe (let alone the reality). They are also, I might add, invariably pre-machine-sentience societies.

The very first-rank games acknowledge the element of chance, even if they rightly restrict raw luck. To attempt to construct a game on any other lines, no matter how complicated and subtle the rules are, and regardless of the scale and differentiation of the playing volume and the variety of the powers and attibutes of the pieces, is inevitably to schackle oneself to a conspectus which is not merely socially but techno-philosophically lagging several ages behind our own. As a historical exercise it might have some value, As a work of the intellect, it's just a waste of time. If you want to make something old-fashioned, why not build a wooden sailing boat, or a steam engine? They're just as complicated and demanding as a mechanistic game, and you'll keep fit at the same time.
Iain Banks, The Player of Games (Culture, #2)

mcclay
Jul 8, 2013

Oh dear oh gosh oh darn


Soiled Meat

Aw man, did 5e really reverse all the cool stuff about 4e Forgotten Realms? I loved High Imskar and its psuedo-Eberron-ness. I bet they destroyed it just so they could bring about actual Egyptian slave empire. 4e FR was loving great.

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Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




mcclay posted:

Aw man, did 5e really reverse all the cool stuff about 4e Forgotten Realms? I loved High Imskar and its psuedo-Eberron-ness. I bet they destroyed it just so they could bring about actual Egyptian slave empire. 4e FR was loving great.

It seems to have- they haven't released a proper setting guide yet, just one for the Sword Coast. The changes have mostly been pieced together from the novels. 5th Edition has got to be the least coordinated roleplaying game I've ever seen.

And Greenwood didn't write High Imaskar therefore it's bad and Mulhorand is good. :reject:

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