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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Mr. Maltose posted:

Give Ewen Cluney a couple months to bust one out, I think they're working on one in addition to like six other games.

Ewen's a good person but their games are pure Madoka and they own that, they don't know a lot about the earnest part of the genre.


Oct 9, 2012

Count Chocula posted:

You're going to want to read League of Extrodinary Gentlemen, then. If for some reason you only read fictional dossiers that rewrite classic literature, start with The Black Dossier. Alan Moore even has the hubris to apply that treatment to Shakespeare, featuring one of James Bond's ancestors. And it goes on to do things like a William S Burroughs/Fu Manchu mash-up.

Could you just read The Dracula Dossier and it's related materials on its own, without playing the game? Tracking down all the footnotes and such could be fun in a House of Leaves way, and might get me to actually finish reading Dracula.

The look reminds me a lot of S. already (for those who haven't read it, it's an obscure novel filled with marginalia by a couple of researchers trying to decipher it).

Still, as a GM I have all too often had to deal with players who cannot be trusted to read and remember a two-page handout. I have to say it's daunting to imagine handing the players an entire novel.

Black August
Sep 28, 2003

Yeah, and again, every piece of weird politically charged junk you read bleeding out of Zaddy's writeup, was easily leagues worse before the weeks-long tester forum rage posts and eventual editing cutups.

Dec 22, 2003

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

In a lot of ways it seems like the best approach to take for an 'earnest non-grimdark magical girls game' is to find something that draws off the Silver Age of comics and just tweak some of the details. You'll get close enough even if people aren't into the cartoons, and if they are, hey, there you go.

Of course, I'm gonna bet that there aren't any superhero RPGs that embrace Silver Age madcap antics, because those have way less room for dexterity-modifying feats.

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer
I'm a little surprised that they continued the Ravenloft canon, given references to the setting reboot and side-line stuff, rather than just restarting it. It's not like 2E and 3.x were particularly compatible to begin with, so having the Dark Powers shake the setting like an Etch-a-Sketch wouldn't have harmed continuity much further.

Black August
Sep 28, 2003

So what made Ravenloft so popular to make it still hold on for so long? Was it just the novelty of the first dedicated horror-flavor setting to come into D&D?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

I believe also surprisingly good writing.

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

Mors Rattus posted:

I believe also surprisingly good writing.

Yeah. When I first got the book, I thought it was super awesome.

MonsieurChoc fucked around with this message at 01:20 on Feb 11, 2016

Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.
Ravenloft was my first D&D campaign, and the Van Richten Guides are still some of my fav gaming books ever.

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Yeah, the writing was really good, even for the tie-in novels. P.N Elrod who did some decent vampire mystery novels wrote a couple of books in the line, and one book was written by Laurel K. Hamilton - before she gone batshit crazy.

Van Richten's Guides are excellent in-world guides and out-of-world guidebooks to the big categories of baddies, and when the line got shuffled to White Wolf, the setting write up only got better.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Chapter 2 Continued

Arts and Entertainment
As with the printing press and medical advances, the 16th and early 17th Century entertainment ideals of the people of Araterre managed to gain a foothold on Yrth. This means that Shakespearean theatrical performances, polyphonic musical orchestras, and the artwork of the great Renaissance masters have supplemented the more Medieval forms of creative expression across Ytarria.

While Sahud has dramatic reenactments and the Islamic nations have great oratory amphitheaters, theatrical plays are almost entirely a thing of the Christian lands. Great theatrical halls can be found in many major cities, performing the works of the great playwrights and Christian morality plays to thunderous applause of large audiences. There are also theatrical troupes who take their shows on the road, playing anywhere from the grand halls of a local noble to the rugged center of a rural village. Musical theater – that is to say, opera – is also present, but the only actual opera halls that have been built are in the two cities of Tredroy and Megalos.

Musical Arts
Most classical instruments can be found on Yrth, though the piano was never invented and the church organ and harpsichord instead hold sway in the place of later keyed instruments. Orchestras tend to be limited to dance halls or the homes of the nobility, with the majority of music elsewhere being played by either small groups of troubadours or solo acts. It should also be noted that the strangest piece of text in GURPS Banestorm so far calls this section its home.

GURPS Banestorm posted:

Songs may also survive the transfer, although incomprehensible references in the words may lead to them being accidentally mangled or deliberately changed as they spread. No one realizes that one of the most popular Cardien ballads about the recent wars between al-Wazif and Megalos uses the tune from the Beatles’ “Yesterday,” while only a few professionals know that the weird and decadent songs recently so popular with the Megalan aristocracy are the work of Cole Porter, freely translated into Anglish.

Outside of harem dancers in al-Haz and al-Wazif and ballet in the thriving cultural center that is the city of Tredroy, most dancing that occurs in Ytarria is a social affair. No Megalan or Cardien dandy worth his knickers doesn't know the latest slow dance or jig that is popular when all the nobility get together.

Most writing in Ytarria is focused on the tangible and real, albeit often aggrandized. Epics are extremely popular, especially nationalist founder's tales such as the Simoniad for Megalos, Nine Knights of Redhall and Lay of Conall for Caithness, and The Voyage of Jean and Catherine for Araterre. The Nomad Lands, where the Celtic- and Norse-descended Northmen dwell, hold epics to an even greater standard and consider their eddas to be sacred texts. The writing of novels is present but not particularly common due to the fact that its writing style is not particularly popular in the Christian lands. Meanwhile, over in al-Haz and al-Wazif, you have poetry favored by the nobility, oral storytelling and written fairy tales popular amongst the common folk, and travelogues by dashing adventurers enjoyed by both sides of the social strata.

Visual Art
Art is another area where the lands vary in their practices. The Christian nations primarily utilize Italian Renaissance techniques, but their actual execution varies. In Cardiel and Caithness, the great artistic minds paint or sculpt Biblical scenes or local heroes in a vibrant and dramatic manner that often show even the flawed sides of grand figures, while the artists of Megalos create anatomically correct but ultimately lifeless vanity/propaganda pieces of Megalan royals and heroes both past and present, always with a placard or engraved statement that makes viewers sure they know who they are looking at and what they are meant to feel. Over in the two Muslim nations, the majority of visual art is abstract geometric decoration in a fashion based around the 'Arabesque' style of Earth. There has also been adoption of the Persian miniature style of painting, though there is some controversy in the Shi'ite community over whether or not such representational art might be questionably moral. Over in those other two countries that aren't part of the Crusader attention party, you have artwork being entirely used for religious and ceremonial purposes in the Nomad Lands and calligraphic landscape and figure drawing in Sahud.

Architecture is still mostly the same on Yrth as it was on Medieval Earth for the cultures of Ytarria, save for 16th Century Gothic architecture gaining a huge surge in popularity across the Christian nations. While a fancy palace or cathedral is nice, however, a lot of nobles have their actual living quarters still based on Medieval fortresses with added protections against magical foes.

Elven Arts
Elves see art as a participatory event, meaning that they don't attempt to create long-lasting works or uphold certain figures as patrons of the arts. They share dances, stories, poems, and displays of magic that tricks the senses. The fact that elves see everything in their lives as aesthetics means that they are also technically always at least half-participating in performance art. Humans tend to find elf art weird, but eventually come around to its "pervasiveness and perfection" (the book's words, not mine).

Dwarven Arts
In stark contrast to the elves, dwarves favor extreme meticulousness and detail so that even the most hard-eyed viewer of the art will know that it was crafted to its utmost potential. The gems in a piece of jewelry can't just fit well, they must fit perfectly, and all of the various engravings and filligre around it need to have just as much care taken with them. Likewise, a dwarven saga will feature details about politics and local events that most human writers would find tangential to the overall plot and pointless to include. Gnomes, however, have abandoned the forms of their dwarven ancestors in favor of elven artistic opinions. Humans, elves, and gnomes alike agree that dwarven art is really, really boring.

Goblin Arts
Goblins were culturally overwhelmed by humanity, both through their willingness to go along with cross-pollination of ideas and the fact that they brought very little of the works of Gabrook with them during the Banestorm. Their main unique artistic measure now is the hraknoom, a practice of alliterative triplet limericks that are typically geared either to provide a paradoxical statement or some manner of twist at the end. It is a popular pastime for goblins to have freestyle hraknoom contests as a test of both improvisation and wit.

Social Arrangements
Have you heard about this thing called feudalism? Well, let me tell you all about it. Almost all of it, that is, as there are specific Social Status charts in chapter 5 too! :pseudo:

In the Christian lands, the lowest of the low are the serfs. You and your land are one and the same, and both are under the command of the local lord. Serfs can't move somewhere else, marry, or generally do any big change to their life without asking the lord for their permission. Villeins have slightly more autonomy, as they technically own their land but must pay for it in labor services to the lord. Some villeins known as cottars have full ownership of their land, but they still ultimately have to pledge loyalty to their lord and are likely to have any attempt to buy or sell land blocked. In al-Haz and al-Wazif, all peasants are effectively either villeins or cottars, with no equivalent to the serfs other than possibly slaves if you count serfdom as being like slavery (which the book adamantly states is untrue).

The Merchant Class
The Christian nations have a hard time figuring out what the hell to do about merchants, as they don't really fall into the traditional social stratigraphy of their society and can come in forms anywhere from poor roadside traders to wealthy trade fleet moguls. Merchants are typically free citizens that adhere to the rules of a local merchant guild, and the fact that many merchants are truly wealthy means that only some particularly stubborn nobles and clergy that see merchants as welfare parasites truly hate this social group. Hazis and Wazifis typically have little good or ill to say about merchants beyond noting that Mohammed himself was once a tradesman.

Knights – or ghazis and 'amirs in al-Haz and al-Wazif – are the brunt of class of warriors in society. While villeins and cottars are often conscripted into militias and warring forces, knights have actually good mounts, armor, and weaponry that is the benefit of being a land-owning member of society with a wealthy benefactor from the nobility. Caithness is notable as the only nation that allows women to become knights. Most knights of the Christian nations have Code of Honor (Chivalry), or at the very least a -1 point quirk representing their often failed attempts to follow that ideal. There is no such code among the ghazis and 'amirs, who only follow futuwwa, a generic concept of masculine honor.

The Nobility
The 1%. Nobles live on the backs of their estates, having to manage the basic needs and affairs of their peasantry, defenses, and various servants in order to get lavish living in return.

Slaves are legal and widespread in Megalos and both of the Muslim nations, as well as legal but more scattered in Caithness, the Nomad Lands, and the dwarven lands such as Zarak. Orcs and ogres are also both big on the whole slavery thing, though they have no actual laws as such either way given that they are savage barbarians. Even in Cardiel, where social reform efforts abolished slavery, there are fringe cases of it still occurring in isolated locations. The only places where slavery is a true unknown are Sahud and the sanctuaries of the elves. Slavery in Ytarria is of the traditional variety, modeled on Imperial Rome in the Christian lands and on Arabic customs in al-Haz and al-Wazif, as chattel slavery was either never introduced to Yrth or never caught on if it did.

Ytarria has a greater monetary economy than actual Medieval society. While there is still bartering and living off the goods of your land and all that, all of the great nations have their own minted coins that are used in the more inhabited areas for the purchase of wares and services. Megalos, Araterre, and Caithness have the farthing (copper piece worth $1), penny ($4 silver piece), mark ($200 gold piece), and pound ($1,000 bar of silver), al-Haz and al-Wazif have the halala ($1 copper piece), dirham ($4 silver piece), dinar ($100 gold piece), and talent ($1,000 plus-size thickness gold piece), Cardiel uses money in both of the above forms, Zarak has the khenn ($1 copper piece), dann ($12 copper piece), ffo ($144 silver piece), and tohn ($5,184 gold piece) that are all extremely rare outside of dwarven lands, and Sahud has the lone $10 silver piece called the yen. The Northmen of the Nomad Lands are not mentioned at all, so who knows what they use.

Crime and Punishment
The law is Medieval, and thus pretty poo poo. Public flogging or mutilation are common punishments for things that aren't worth the death penalty (which is also publicly performed in the old hanging fashion), you only get incarcerated after your trial if you happen to be very politically expedient or someone thinks they can torture more useful things out of you, rape and similar assaults against women are seen in sexist "property value" terms in every nation except Caithness and Cardiel, etc.

Political Systems
My god, are we really talking about feudalism again? I thought we already covered that pretty thoroughly. Oh well. This part talks about fiefdoms, fealty, and the divine right of kings. Moving on.

Megalan Autocracy
While technically a feudalist nation, Megalos is considered to be an autocratic and authoritarian regime because the emperor is above the nobles rather than the "best among equals" as kings are amidst nobles in other feudal nations of Ytarria. More interesting than whether or not one type of feudalism is more noble than another is the fact that Simon Menelaus had a huge boner for Rome that has continued in the centuries since he founded the empire in the first place. This has lead to several unique developments in Megalos, such as the resurgence of gladiatorial games and the creation of the Imperial Legion of well-trained legionary soldiers and battle mages that has all but ousted the traditional knights. The autocracy is weakest in Araterre, where the Aralaise puppet nobles are second to powerful merchants and clergy.

Muslim Government
In al-Haz and al-Wazif, feudalism is technically in play, but begins to weaken at the top of the structure. The current sultan or caliph is who oaths of fealty are sworn to, not the actual position of leadership, While there are some officials and families that give their loyalty to each new ruler like clockwork, there are enough fringe cases that some long-reaching political tensions can arise when the head honcho dies and there are influential groups that disagree with the next to the throne.

In certain parts of Ytarria, such as the Nomad Lands, there is no greater government, and the largest social order is the tribe. These tribes are lead by chiefs (known with local names such as jarls or headmen depending on the region) that are selected either by blood, by a council of elders or shamans, or elected in a primitive form of democracy. Chiefs are responsible for their entire tribe's well-being, but also typically have a lot of power and respect to match the size of their responsibility.

The bastard child of Medieval Chinese Confucian bureaucracy and Japanese feudal lords, lead by an emperor known as the Heavenking. Most other nations see the Sahudese government as weird and confusing, but that's not really surprising, as that's what most other nations say about anything involving Sahud.

Towns and cities technically don't follow the system of feudalism. Townsmen are mostly free in the sense that modern citizens would be rather than under the rules of the serfdom or villeinship, but are nonetheless below the nobility and can be physically harmed if they don't know their place. The leadership in towns is made up of an elected council of wealthy townsmen that in turn serve a mayor or a governor. Governors are appointed by the local lord and can replace council members as they wish, while mayors are elected by the town council and are thus subject to their whims and desires.

One of the most important parts of towns and cities – other than their leaders, of course – are their guilds. The guild is effectively the union of Ytarria, creating an organized force of laborers in a specific practice that monopolize that practice and ensure fair wages, item prices that are lucrative but not exploitative, and product quality. Being a member of a guild also provides insurance for its members: the guild cares for its members' families if a member dies and pays for the rebuilding of destroyed store property or the cost of healers if members are ill or injured. The two main types of guild are merchant guilds, which are all about buying and selling, and craft guilds, which provide specific goods or services. The extent of a craft guild actually varies depending on the size of a community. For instance, while a small town may have a Clothman's Guild, a big city near the heart of Megalos will have its same practices split into the Spinner's, Weaver's, Tailor's, Dyer's, and Embroiderer's Guilds. Guilds hold a lot of political clout in Megalos and Cardiel, very little in al-Haz and Caithness, and a middling amount everywhere in between.

Guilds Unique to Yrth
Five types of guild are found on Yrth that originated in the nations of Ytarria rather than extended concepts from Earth. Two of these are new due to the whole fantasy element, for instance. Alchemist's guilds regulate the practice of experimental or unskilled alchemy to ensure public safety as much as they do their actual product, while mage's guilds focus on hiring out magical services such as enchanting magic items or using spells for various crafts. Armsmen's guilds, by contrast, take the very Earthly practice of hired toughs and make it a respectable profession. Armsmen include mercenaries, bounty hunters, unaffiliated battle mages, and other people who want to get paid to fight but don't want to fall under anyone's banner. Finally, you have thieves' guilds and assassins' guilds, the two forms of underground guild. Thieves' guilds form monopolies on extortion, racketeering, prostitution, smuggling, kidnapping, and any other number of nefarious activities, while assassins' guilds do what their name implies and kill specific people discreetly for a fee.

Conspiracies and Secret Societies
Wizardly Conspiracies
Mages tend to follow one of two courses in life: either they act like normal people, or they fall into a destructive cycle of megalomania and belief in caster supremacy, creating in-groups, those in-groups inevitably falling into infighting over who is the most supreme supremacist, and then dissolution of the group as its former members join and use non-magical groups as proxies for their petty squabbles. While the megalomaniacs are only about 20% or so of people with Magery, it and the legitimization of mages in power by most nations means that they aren't all that inclined to having conspiracies.

The big place where they actually work together for a greater conspiracy is in the suppression of gunpowder. As stated before, mages quickly realized that firearms could allow mere peasantry to have destructive power without any need for supernatural powers, and this scared them enough that they began to correspond with each other rapidly and plot to convince the nobility that guns were a threat to their national stability as well. In the rather lax Caithness, mages have taken to being glorified thugs that rough up secret technologists in dark alleys, since the Caithnessers in power don't seem to want to go along with their anti-gunpowder racket like most nations' lawmakers have.

Pagan Cults: Paganism (defined here as any non-Abrahamic European religion, so Sahudese religions aren't counted) has found a strong foothold as the major religion of the Nomad Lands, but in the Christian and Muslim nations it is persecuted and driven underground. These minor sects aren't actually all that conspiratous, as they mainly just want to be left alone and practice their religion in secret.

Mystery Cults: Mystery cults are very regional societies that revolve around preserving a specific ideal in secret. Unlike pagan cults, mystery cults are more motivated and often have extreme vows and psychological conditioning to keep their members loyal. Mystery cults can support pagan religions, political concepts such as communism or democracy with a veneer of mysticism on top, illegal activities and actions (again with a veneer of mysticism on top), or even a desire to preserve specific spells that they don't want anyone else to have.

Diabolic Cults: Demon-worshipers. Some diabolists are persecuted pagans who were pushed into desperation, others are anarchists willing to risk eternal damnation (assuming there is a Hell that demons come from) to break the system, still others are atheists that use demons to strike against religion with the thing they fear most, and a few of them are even genuinely evil and wish to consort with things just as diabolical as they are.

Bardic Colleges
The College of Bards is a fraternal society that takes a mixture of Medieval minstrelry and Catholic traditions, Celtic beliefs, and Sufi Islamic mysticism and mashes it together into a form of mysticism based primarily around music as an expression of magic and faith. The College doesn't actually care about the religious affiliation of its members, which haas lead to some clergy viewing the organization as a potential source of sinful dissidence, not that the College particularly cares. Unlike proper troubadours, College bards are not particularly well-respected in any Christian nation other than Caithness, which has lead to more than a few bards being cocky around a noble and then getting the axe for it (sometimes literally). Bards are usually seen as suspicious at best in al-Haz and al-Wazif, save for some Sufis that see them as kindred spirits, while in the Nomad Lands they are seen as foppish but ultimately respectable people only slightly inferior to Northman skalds.

The Underground Engineers
An informal secret society of those who wish to see technology progress in Ytarria, especially if it's banned technology. The fact that underground engineers have no centralized leadership means that they haven't exactly conquered any lands, but it also means that they are hard to squash completely – like a hydra, you cut off one head, two more sprout in its place. Most underground engineers have recreated TL4 technology such as blunderbusses and early muskets, some have even managed to replicate TL5 technology such as electrical and steam engines. Some underground engineers also take up the cause of preserving and spreading social concepts such as Protestantism and democracy rather than just physical devices.

Oh hey, speaking of the Protestants, they're also here. While they may have been crushed and forced underground in the imperial lands of Megalos, it has managed to actually survive above ground in several key places. One is Cardiel, where they are tolerated but treated as second class citizens. In the city of Tredroy (which is technically Cardien land, but also technically part of al-Haz and's complicated), ever infamous for its rebellious streak and seemingly endless glee at pissing off Megalos, there is even a Protestant school system and official administrator known as the Secretary of the Protestant Congregation. Finally, in al-Wazif, Protestants are viewed as any other People of the Book and have open worship in the large cities. Al-Haz is theoretically accepting in Protestants but suppresses them just as much as any other non-Muslim in practice.

Spy Rings
While there are some large groups of spies in service of nations or bouncing around as freelancers, most espionage on Yrth is made up of small cells that are gathered together for a specific purpose and then break apart when that purpose is done. The lack of any more advanced methods of communication means that most spies look and listen for any interesting news and send their information to a central spymaster, as opposed to hunting down a specific secret and risking discovery before the information can be delivered.

Next Time in GURPS Banestorm: Have you heard the twenty-eight pages of good news? All about Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and those other religions that aren't as important.

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

ProfessorProf posted:


I'm not going to go over all 400+ pages of Dracula Unredacted, but as I talk about specific points of interest, I'll also drop in some of the annotations in the book that refer to them.

I'm sure you'll get into this, but the three new Campaign Frames are my favorite part of the book, especially "They Saved Hitler's Blood!", and I look forward to that.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
Sahud is still... a problem, I take it?

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 04:44 on Feb 11, 2016

Jul 9, 2003

Black August posted:

oh god not the Zadkiel writeup
I'm wondering why Choirs on the far end from humanity of the Humanish <-> Inhumanish scale, like say for example cherubs have gender identities at all.

Black August
Sep 28, 2003

Zereth posted:

I'm wondering why Choirs on the far end from humanity of the Humanish <-> Inhumanish scale, like say for example cherubs have gender identities at all.

Generally your Word and its meaning in human society is stronger than your identity as an angel. But yes, you're right! Angels that high in divinity typical don't give a poo poo. But since the author was a freaking creeptoid wackjob it had to be untactfully rammed in. Nevermind about how loving stupid it is to have stuff like Kahlid, the Elohite, the Choir literally devoted to being OBJECTIVE, have the Word of Faith and end up being such a tardshow about it. This guy had to roll along and throw Zadkiel into the same blender full of gently caress.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Superiors: Zadkiel - Protection Racket

Zadkiel, like Novalis, hopes that all demons might some day be Redeemed...but it's easier to kill them. Despite Zadkiel's deep anger at the rebels, however, she does accept some Redemptions. Some demons even come to her for it, despite Hell painting her as a mad killer. Her requirements are strict, though. First, no Fallen angels. They are not welcome in her presence, though if they are sincere in seeking Heaven she will direct them to a Judgment Tether. Second, you must be willing to give up all selfish desires in favor of humanity's needs, proving your sincerity by consistent good works. Third, a Seraph and another angel must speak for you before she'll come. This is to protect the demons, by reducing the chance they'll die from insufficient repentance. Generally speaking, it does work - if Zadkiel agrees to try Redemption, the subject usually survives. Penitents can fail to live up to her standards, though - and when a demon decides that, they are sent to chains, if needed. Zadkiel has few Redeemed in her service, and she watches them carefully - but out of love, not spite. She always worries they might be tempted to Fall once more. She is very kind to them, for she knows they need her love.

The Redeemed of Protection receive no special training. Zadkiel and her angels give advice and guidance, of course. She treats new demons as newly fledged angels, in fact. They are given their Choir attunement for achievement. The most certain method is to protect a human fro mdemons, but recently Redeemed are never assigned to protect humans directly. Preventing suicides, bringing families back together or protecting communities from outside forces may also merit promotion, and sometimes, Zadkiel forgoes the earning, giving the attunement as a gesture of trust after a brief trial period.

Cherubim of Protection serve a Cherubic Archangel with a Cherubic Word - it's no surprise they are some of the more valued angels in the ranks. They are so dedicated that even other Cherubim can be alarmed by it. They train constantly when not guarding, and they are often good at tracking, as some people need Protection before they can be attuned. Many also collect language skills. And, of course, they use weapons. All of them know how to fight, and they take great care of their weapons. When not on assignment, they seek those that need help. Tethers and angelic contacts might know about attacks on demons, people in need of backup or even humans that just need some help. This freelancing helps, just a little, with their addiction to guarding people. Still, boredom is fairly rare - every Archangel, even Jordi, has a few humans that need Protecting, and Zadkiel rarely has enough Cherubim to go around. Occasionally, they work as partners to a Saint or Soldier, acting as special agents to ensure the most urgent missions contain both Protection and mortal views. Further, the human is always the one in charge - they're the expert on Earthly matters, after all. Zadkiel's Cherubim see themselves as the elite of their Choir, which rarely endears them to other Cherubim.

Seraphim of Protection prefer Roles with authority and nosiness, allowing them to unravel the self-deceptions that endanger others. In Heaven, they work to monitor other angels for fatigue, bitterness and heartbreak. Empathy for humans isn't easy for them, but they have learned it. They are gentle with the Truth, choosing their words with care, for they gain nothing if a Truth is rejected and resented. Still, it isn't easy, and they are quiet beings who prefer to demonstrate goodwill by action rather than words. They get on quite well with seraphim of Creation, Flowers and Animals.

Ofanim of Protection are patrollers, watching over entire regions for anyone in trouble. Many act as helicopter pilots, keeping the radio open for any requests for backup. They are Tether watchmen and guards, and while some are potent warriors, many function first as messengers, particularly the message of 'come, and bring your friends and all your ammo, we need help.' Recently, the Ofanim of Protection have tended to take Lassie as their mascot. They understand the problems that can happen to someone bringing help to a hurt or trapped human, and all of them understand the annoyance of getting people to understand that, in fact, Timmy is down the well again.

Elohim of Protection are rare, as they often cannot share the deep love for humans that Zadkiel does, but they do understand loving the culture that keeps humans civilized. They provide the brakes for the Word's runaway adoration of humans, and while it's unpopular, it's an important job. They do believe in protecting humans, however. Humans need it, to help counter demons, and the Elohim prefer a light touch, encouraging humans to do the right thing on their own. They prefer deep cover Roles that let them work and then move on once the human is ready to Protect others. Once started, momentum handles the rest.

Malakim of Protection are almost universally female, and they are known as the Soreres Honoris, or Sisters of Honor. They protect humans and help other angels all the time. They seek out evil to slay when not on assignment and rarely ask permission. If no demons are convenient, there's always murderers, crime lords and corrupt politicians. Crooked cops are especially appreciated as targets, even if you get punished for it. All other things equal, they tend to prefer being on EArth, helping others fight. They love a righteous cause, and to them, none can be more righteous than protecting the innocent. However, most of them will cover up a bit of dissonance in other Malakim...provided the Malakite is in danger of death and working to fix things. Protection is needed, after all. A small but significant minority disapprove of this mercy - a dissonant Malakite is, after all, a danger to everyone. It's like letting a rabid tiger live near a school. These Malakim, who tend to prefer male vessels to distinguish themselves from the rest, are not popular - but they speak out of concern, not anger.

Kyriotates of Protection are the least attached to any gender. They are Zadkiel's reserves and spies. In violent situations, they are the troops of last resort, and often they just watch and listen, taking only the minimum action. Not even the most paranoid Kyriortate has more concern for their host than Zadkiel does, and their assignments reflect it. Most prefer to take mover mortals in danger only when they have no other options.

Mercurians of Protection work deep cover, infiltrating human organizations. They help work between the angels who need assistance and the humans that run the organizations Protection manages. Sometimes they recruit Soldiers, but only those who have six natural Forces, are informed of the many risks and know they won't get many benefits. They must sometimes fight...anbd if one of them has to kill a human to save another, Zadkiel expects them to do it. She'll remove dissonance, as long as there really wasn o other way, though she'll likey assign the Mercurian to Tether duty to help recover from the shock.

Most Protectors work on jobs that don't duplicate anyone else's work. Often, their job is to protect a specific person or group. However, Protection also shows up to help whenever asked to. When they have spare time, they also advance the idea of Protection among humans. Michael and David do self-defense, but Zadkiel believes their focus lacks an appreciation for greater society. She wants to teach empathy for others and the reason to take a stand before they teach the skills to do so. Still, they have little time to do this as more than just role models.

Protection has a large permanent presence in Heaven. The Ministering Angels never leave, as thir work in healing souls and wounded angels keeps them busy. They are helped by relievers and blessed souls, as well. Protection also has trainers and mntors in Heaven to teach others. The msot common task in Heaven, however, is manning the walls. Sometimes it's punishment detail, to give you time to contemplate your dissonant actions. Other times it's a chance for heartbroken or shellshocked angels to get some peace and quiet. Either way, it's not eventful work and probably won't be until Armageddon.

Few Protectors work in the Marches, but some do assist Dreams. Zadkiel also assigns her most trusted and discreet angels to serve as emissaries to ethereals that share her goal of protecting humans. She is particularly favorable to the few Muslim Ethereals out there, as she believes Ethereals have some role to play in the world - she just doesn't know what. Secondly, angels are sometimes sent to kill ethereals who threaten humans, particularly Kyriotates, who serve quite well as assassins. Some say they've wworked with the Tsayadim, but it's hard to find a spirit assassin to ask. Either way, the Marches are dangerous. Dominic doesn't appreciate dealing with Eterheals in a friendly way, and the Tsayadim will attack such angels without question. Assassins, on the other hand, terrify the ethereals, and working with the Tsayadim has its own hazards, if true. Plus, you know, bad spirits, demons of Beleth - it's easy to see why only Zadkiel's most trusted get to work there.

Earth is where Protection is most needed. They tend to divide missions into 'internal' and 'external' protection. Internal work is usually done by Seraphim, Elohim and Mercurians, and it's about protecting people from themselves. External work is about facing outside threats, usually done by Cherubim, Ofanim, Malakim and Kyriotates. Sometimes these two sets of jobs cross over, of course. Zadkiel also sets angels to bodyguard people in secret, counsel humans who don't feel safe, defend specific locations, infiltrate and inspire human organizations to Protect others, to randomly help out in rescues they run into, to retaliate against demonic attacks or rescue enslaved humans, and to run support networks for other Words.

Angels of Protection are always willing to help other angels. In fact, most of the time, they start out helping each other. It's a matter of respect - if someone asks for help, you give it, period, unless there's something more pressing. PRotectors are often disappointed by other angels, who don't tend to share this view when dealing with their own problems on Earth. They work hard to try to stay true to their ideals, no matter how unhelpful other angels can be.

Next time: Humans

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012

Black August posted:

Yeah, and again, every piece of weird politically charged junk you read bleeding out of Zaddy's writeup, was easily leagues worse before the weeks-long tester forum rage posts and eventual editing cutups.
It seems hard to believe that there were parts of the entry worse than "Tuareg women are scary!" and "stereotypical Jewish mother who hates Palestinians (which are equal to Nazis)", and yet I somehow totally believe it anyway.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Sahud is still... a problem, I take it?
They have a sidebar that states Sahud is "race blind" and accepts anyone of any species that acts properly Sahudese, but then they still have the mostly east Asian population, the exclusively Japanese proper nouns, the honor duels between noble samurai, the submissive women, the otherization of them as one of the two "weird" cultures away from the Christian and Muslim lands, and...well, we'll get to Sahud when we get there. But suffice to say, yes, it's still a problem.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011

by Azathoth

Mors Rattus posted:

I believe also surprisingly good writing.

Yea this is the tipping point, it was a novel setting idea in the age of orcs and 10x10 rooms guarding treasure chests but what really made it stick was they actually put effort into making the righting good quality, and that's pretty critical in horror.

Jul 19, 2012

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

Zereth posted:

I'm wondering why Choirs on the far end from humanity of the Humanish <-> Inhumanish scale, like say for example cherubs have gender identities at all.

I'm guessing the reason why she has such a strong female gender identity is because it means that the strongest in-universe supporter of the Muslim faith is a woman.

Which, at least in 97, was probably "edgy".

Black August
Sep 28, 2003

Kurieg posted:

I'm guessing the reason why she has such a strong female gender identity is because it means that the strongest in-universe supporter of the Muslim faith is a woman.

Which, at least in 97, was probably "edgy".

Oh this wasn't 97, buddy.

This was 2010.

Aug 23, 2009

MonsieurChoc posted:

an epic adventure that was never actually published

Hold on, what?

Jul 19, 2012

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

Black August posted:

Oh this wasn't 97, buddy.

This was 2010.


Black August
Sep 28, 2003

God even the naming is dumb. Just call them Zadites like everyone else ever did.

This is another point about her, and a lot of IN material really. She's mechanically boring and weak. It's the sign of a poor writer who can't even come up with mechanics that don't rely on boosting a resonance (making it Restricted), or slapping some way to get out of dissonance on it. To speak nothing of the mechanically repetitive ones like Kobal, who are just variations of the same power, while also forcing the player into a pigeonhole role.

Zadkiel is just boring. Uninspired. Unnecessary.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

I don't mind her. Clean up the problematic elements and you have an angel in the traditional Guardian Angel/Touched By An Angel mode, who's followers going around helping people, often in disguise. And since so many of the Angels are assholes, it's good to have another nice one, who can still throw down in a fight. If you want to make her scarier or more ambiguous, play up the overprotective thing. She actually seems human, and one of the few relatable Angels.

Anything more for Novalis?

Nov 9, 2011

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


No matter how open-ended the game is, it needs a foundation to build on. In this case, that foundation is Bram Stoker's Dracula. So, here's the defaults.

The Default Dracula
NBA's Linea Dracula vampires are the vampires assumed by this book. Damned, Supernatural, or some combination of the two. Included later in the book are rules for running it with Mutant 'telluric' vampires.

Dracula's goal is the same as it was in 1894 - to rule Britain. He's assumed to be extremely evil, and how much progress he's made towards his goals in the last century is up to you. Notably, the book does not assume that Dracula is Vlad Tepes; there are a lot of other options you can choose from.

The Default Dossier
The Dracula Dossier is at the heart of the campaign. The agents need it to hunt Dracula. Edom will kill to get it back. Dracula will kill to destroy it.

One of our default assumptions is that the Dossier wasn't uploaded to the web - why not?

Option 1: The Dossier can't be uploaded. Some supernatural quality of the document keeps unresolving scans or shutting down cables. Maybe it's like Dracula himself, and doesn't show up on digital records. Maybe some of Dracula's blood touched it in 1940, or Edom placed a Goëtic curse on it deliberately.

Option 2: Hopkins didn't want to get tracked down by GCHQ, for fear of backlash from Edom or MI5.

Option 3: Exposing Edom and MI6's role in that much dirt would be a huge propaganda victory for al-Quaeda.

Option 4: Option's code of professional ethics and Englishness wouldn't let her cheat the game.

Names and Worknames
One big assumption of the book is that most of the names we know aren't the real names of those people. "Johnathan Harker", "R.M. Renfield", even "Dracula" may all be aliases. The annotations also reference names like BULSTRODE and GOBLIN, clearly worknames for people they didn't or couldn't name outright.

The main thing you get out of this is the ability to make anyone be anyone else. BULSTRODE could be a Romanian mobster, or BULSTRODE could be the last heir to the Van Helsing family. Keep track of these names and who they might actually refer to. When you're sure who they are, write it down in your notes.

The Default Campaign

A lot of the campaign's structural details can come straight out of the NBA defaults. For example,

The Dracula Conspyramid
Dracula is a medieval reactionary, so his Conspyracy should fit neatly into the standard pyramid. Something like this:
  • Level 1-2: Whatever the players look at first.
  • Level 3: The Ruvary Szgany, Romanian government ministries if Dracula only controls part of the country.
  • Level 4: A Legacy or Bride. Edom, if Dracula doesn't run MI6. The Russian Mafiya in Romania.
  • Level 5: Dracula's Brides, or a vampiric Legacy. MI6 or Romania, if he controls either. The Satanic Cult of Dracula.
  • Level 6: Dracula.

Have a sample!

In this version of the pyramid, Dracula runs the CIA's Eastern European presence, and his chief lieutenant is Countess von Dolingen, one of his Brides. An immortal Quincey Morris is the Countess's go-between for running the Ruvari Szgani, while the CIA runs SRI and bits of the Romanian Mafia, also counting Morris as an asset.

Most of the lower levels are left intentionally blank - you don't want to over-plan the lower levels of the pyramid, since they're easy to stick things into as the players investigate.

Dracula's Vampyramid

As the agents move in, Dracula works against them. Here's his playbook - it's much nastier than the default Vampyramid.

I love this as a tool for running a truly open-ended campaign - instead of leaving it purely up to the Director, or outlining Dracula's specific responses to everything the party might do, the book outlines Dracula's battle strategy in detail, and leaves its implementation to you.

Row 1: Scout the Foe
  • Shadow Agent: Dracula uses rats or owls to shadow the party, Sense Trouble 8 to detect it. Vampirology and Outdoor/Urban Survival spends reduce Difficulty to 7.
  • Shadow Source: Dracula sends his minions to shadow the party's people, focusing on women. He wants to find out everything he can about the agents' connections, as he did to Mina and Lucy back in 1893. Watching the watches is a great way to start moving up the Conspyramid.
  • Enhanced Interrogation: Dracula picks a weak-seeming agent and enters their dreams to drain memories and plans (as he did to Renfield and Lucy in 1894). Dream-sending must be in the same city, and can't penetrate garlic or crucifixes. On the first night, he extracts surface details of the agent team, creating a 3-point pool of resources. On night two, he learns all of the team's Network contacts, lowering Difficulties in acting against them by 1. Night three gives Dracula all of the team's Safeties, and gives him a back door to top off his data again later.
  • Quid Pro Quo: Dracula contacts one of the Dukes of Edom and demands a full rundown on the agents in exchange for exploding another terrorist cell. The agents may be able to track the Duke back from the meet.
  • Gift Box (Feral): Dracula sends a box of Romanian grave earth into the Agents' current city, planting clues about it on easily-dispatched minions. If the agents find and open it, inside is a feral vampire, a ghoul, or a bunch of ball bearings and C4. The goal is to learn how the agents hunt, and to discourage them from opening his boxes in the future.
  • Probing Attack: Dracula sends street-level goons to attack an agent. The goals are to identify the threat levels and weaponry of the agents - Sense Trouble to notice the Renfield observing the battle.

Row 2: Sow Dissension
  • Double Agent (Renfield): Dracula plants a double agent in the agents' circle of contacts. If possible, he won't burn this agent until row four or five.
  • Penetrate Network: Dracula works his way into established contacts for the party - any assets they run, he flips. His top priority is flipping assets with access to the agents' safe house. Dracula can attempt to flip two contacts per session, and continues trying to flip them until row four.
  • Turn his coat for him (Renfield): Dracula approaches one agent with an offer of recruitment - power, money, safety - through an asset that the agents didn't suspect worked for Dracula. Even if they refuse, Dracula's minions treat him as though he accepted the offer, putting money in his accounts and killing his enemies.
  • Burn and Freeze: Dracula picks one agent and has Edom burn them. For that agent alone, Heat in Britain increases by 3.
  • Intelligence Failure (Renfields, Wolves): Dracula crafts evidence tailored to one agent's skillset, leading to a major victory against his forces, but instead of a jackpot at the end, it's just a deathtrap. The goal is to make the team mistrust that agent.

Row 3: Terror
  • Destroy Safety: Dracula finds as many places of Safety as he can, and obliterates them as dramatically as possible.
  • Turn Solace: Dracula finds an agent's Solace and turns them into a vampiric minion, Lucy style.
  • Kill Agent: Dracula tries to separate one agent from the team and kill them as brutally as possible. Military Science or Vampirology to realize immediately that their only hope is immediate escape.
  • Massacre: Dracula kills a lot of innocent people, painting the party's names on the wall in blood. Even if the agents don't get the message, Edom does - Heat +2.

Row 4: Strategic Retreat
  • Tetsudo: Dracula's forces withdraw to Romania. Edom takes this moment to try and recruit an agent, offering them immunity and possibly a job in exchange for letting Dracula go.
  • Marlowe has Left the Building: Dracula arranges a confrontation, and fakes his own death. Cunning agents will notice that he's playing out the last scene from the novel, and he survived that one, too. If the players actually believe that he's dead, they can go chase Edom for a while, before Dracula rises again.
  • Sacrificed Pawn: Dracula burns a source in Edom to reveal some high-level intel, hoping to instigate a full-on war between the agents and Edom.

Row 5: Envelopment
  • Cloak: Dracula drops completely off the grid. His minions and Edom bleed the agents dry as he hides in somewhere where his power is at its highest - likely his castle.
  • Dagger: Dracula activates a previously unused node of his Conspyramid and sends them to make the agents turtle up so that he can hunt them down.

Row 6: Destruction
  • Total War: Dracula makes the destruction of the agents his sole priority. Every asset he controls comes down on their heads. Heat rises by 3, nightly mental attacks drain the agents' stability, wolves and Renfields chase them wherever they go. No rest until one or the other dies.

Edom Pyramid

You didn't think Dracula was ALL you had to worry about, did you? Whenever Dracula slows down, Edom picks up the pace, targeting the agents whenever they're losing momentum.

Row 1: Irritation
  • Trail False Lead: Edom plants a false lead in the agents' path, pointing far away from Edom.
  • Arrest Agent: An agent is arrested, and terrorism charges are mentioned. The jail time is used to make the agent sweat, or to sow dissent among the party. Extra dangerous if the party already has Heat.
  • Private Intercession: Edom forces an ally of the agents to delvier a warning. Not an overt threat, but the contact is temporarily unwilling to help the agents unless a spend of Reassurance gets them back in the game.
  • Shadow Agent: Edom dispatches a team to shadow an agent - Sense Trouble picks up the trail, then a contest of Surveillance keeps you ahead of the watchers. Edom pulls back if confronted, sending in a new team in a few days.
  • Intimidate Agent (Jack): An Edom agent shows up to intimidate an agent via violence, trashing a hotel room, or shoving someone into traffic. Staged as something deniable, but a warning is delivered more discreetly: Stay away from the Dracula case.
  • Make Inquiries: Edom tries to dig up cover identities and figure out who they're really dealing with. Edom may increase Heat by 1 by tipping off their enemies, but they're mostly here for the intel, not to attack.

Row 2: Nullification
  • Offer Intel: Edom lets the agents pick up some intel about themselves or Dracula, in order to make their next move more predictable, letting them lay a trap.
  • Freeze Assets: Edom locks down bank accounts associated with an agent. Accounting spend or Preparedness test to still have money stashed away, otherwise it's time to find a new source of funding.
  • Ruin Contact: Edom frames a contact of the agents, hitting them with professional disgrace or a sex scandal. May double up by trying to turn the contact against the agents.
  • Surveillance State: Surveillance kicks into high gear. HOLMES 2 distributes the agent's name, ECHELON listens for their voiceprints. This is the work of Edom's elite hacker Prince. Doing anything online requires a Digital Intrusion test against Prince. Failure means she gains access to the agent's computer or discovers their current location.
  • Arrange Accident: Not necessarily lethal, but not necessarily not lethal, either. Car crashes are good. Collateral casualties are acceptable.

Row 3: Elimination
  • Dissuade Agent: Hound or one of the other Dukes of Edom contacts an agent for a free lunch meeting. He explains that Edom has plenty of experience dealing with vampires, that Hopkins and the Dossier can't be relied on, and it's fine to just let it drop. There might be a payoff, a threat, or even a job offer.
  • Targeted Earthquake: Edom deploys its Earthquake Device (if they have one) and shakes up an agent, possibly dropping a building on them. The earthquake is tuned to cause resonance between the agent and the telluric currents, allowing vampires to sense the agent at a distance, as long as they're touching the ground.
  • Extraordinary Rendition: A Jack strike team (led by a Legacy or Duke) grabs and abducts the agent to an Edom interrogation cell. The others have to mount a rescue.
  • Burn Agent: Edom drops 5 or more Heat on one agent by circulating 'proof' of terrorist associations. The earthquake device is used to stage an atrocity that can be linked to them.

Row 4: Drastic Action
  • Recruit Agent: Edom offers an agent official sanction to come in and hunt vampires with MI6 sanction. Do everything they were doing before, but with funding, equipment, and training - the only catch is they have to give up on Dracula. The offer may be a ploy to recover the Dossier and kill the agent.
  • Offer Target: Edom offers a node in Dracula's Conspiracy as a tempting target. The opening is legitimate, and serves both to get the agents off Edom's back and to open the door to the possibility of a recruitment later.
  • Sacrificial Play: Edom sets up a Duke for a fall, or sacrifices one of their big facilities. Evidence is planted to make it suggest that this was the end of the conspiracy, and that Edom is gone for good. Edom goes underground, making it look like they're out of the picture.

Row 5: Necessity
  • Kill Agent: Edom sends its vampire to kill an agent, backing the vampire up with a Duke, a hand of Jacks, and maybe an earthquake. Edom burns the last of its resources striking at the party.
  • Vampirize Agent: Edom reveals an agent's location to Dracula, giving him a reason to turn the agent. Goal is to turn one of the agents into a vampire, then capture them.

Row 6: The Truth
  • Offer Revelation: With everything else burned, Edom still has a century of secrets. Edom's chief, "D", reveals something critical - a secret from the past one of the agents, the extent of Dracula's control on the British government, Dracula's next target. Reveal anything, offer any bargaining chip, to keep Edom alive.

Next: Legacies.

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

Kavak posted:

Hold on, what?

Yep. From The Fraternity of Shadows (the biggest current Ravenloft fansite):

Fraternity of Shadows FAQ posted:

What is Death Undaunted? Will it ever be released?

Death Undaunted was to be the fourth and final Grim Harvest adventure, produced and published strictly online by the Kargatane and would detail Azalin’s resurrection and return to the throne. However, this product was delayed by the transition to D&D Third Edition rules which necessitated a complete re-write. Then the Kargatane, the official Ravenloft website at the time, lost the privilege of producing the first official 3rd edition RAVENLOFT products when the line was licensed to Arthaus and Swords & Sorcery. They were hired to write the next few published books for Arthaus. However, the Dark Powers decided on a different course then the one that was planned, and this product will likely never be finished let alone released. Hints at what could have been can be found in some current Ravenloft products. The Third Edition’s timeline notes that five years after his ‘death’: "Heroes restore Azalin to power, foiling a traitorous attempt to enslave his spirit." Further hints can be found in Ravenloft Gazetteer II.

John W. Mangrum, the primary author of the adventure, kindly shared his unfinished manuscript for Death Undaunted with us, which is available in the Library.

Jan 10, 2013

The time for
has come!
Well. That´s it. I´m buying Night´s Black Agents. drat you DRACULA!

PS: Very nice work, ProfessorProf!

Dec 27, 2012

All I wanna do is make you bounce
Dracula Dossier is loving great. To me, the absolute best part is that Edom/British intelligence keeps failing to learn any lessons whatsoever and just keeps touching the red-hot stove that is Dracula.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Superiors: Zadkiel - Copy Protection

Zadkiel loves to spread the ideas of Protection among humans, but she wants them firmly out of the War. Failing that, she prefers to infiltrate human groups that already exist and repurpose them for Heaven. She forbids the recruitment of mundane humans, never assigns human servants and accepts Soldiers only grudgingly. In fact, a Soldier must be denied twice before she will accept them, to prove their dedication. Laurence often requests the services of thsoe who persist, so Zadkiel has very few Soldiers at all. She treats normal humans like children, keeping them as far from the front lines as possible. If they have good mundane jobs, they should keep them, but there's always more room for those who help others. Typically, Zadkiel will use humans aware of the War solely as an information network or PR for the Word, or more rarely to do logistics or manage the support organizations she runs.

Soldiers are regarded as the equal to angels in all things but combat, and Zadkiel will punish any angel that behaves otherwise. However, humans are not expected to fight demons and will be taught Songs to help them escape instead. Soldiers work to counteract Hellsworn or prepare safehouses, and often work in gun shops, TV stations, soup kitches or military bases. As for Saints, Zadkiel has less than 20. Some are fighters, like Horatius Cocles, while others, like General Geroge Crook, work to prevent the exploitation of others. (He sacrificed his military career in life to protest the mistreatment of the Native Americans.) And some, like Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, are inspiring leaders. Saints are treated better than most of Zadkiel's actual angels, and some other Words' angels believe Zadkiel shows them too much favoritism, passing over worthy angels in favor of the Saints. Protectors point out that Saints are why Heaven fights and exemplars of human potential who deserve all the rewards she gives. Most Protector Saints and Soldiers work alone, but will sometimes team up for a single large job.

Protection is officially a big happy family, but there's still some subgroups based on different viewpoints. The Brothers are those angels of Protection who self-identify as male for whatever reason - personal preference, political statement and religious belief are most common. Sometimes they are teased by the other angels of Protection, but they are also seen as providing a vital balance to the Word.

The Dempseyites vastly predate their current name, and they are the most warlike Protectors. While Zadkiel sanctions overkill in retaliation, the Dempseyites believe in hitting demons before the can do any harm. Many are victim-spotters who work closely with Fire to handle the victimizers while they themselves work to counsel the victim. Many angels that leave Zadkiel's service were Dempseyites, but the core group enjoy serving Protection. They're too aggressive for Flowers, too undisciplined for the Sword and too willing to retreat for War, and they love humans too much for Stone. Protection is a good compromise.

The SCholars of the Faith are those of Protection who enjoy studying holy works, and often not just the Quran. Some try to reconcile discontinuities in prophecy, while others try to understand the similarities between traditions in order to bring humans together with shared beliefs. Others want to refute those that urge violence and hatred in the name of religion, and many Elohim simploy enjoy the study of holy works, with no use in mind for the information at present.

Protectors are family, and they keep in close contact with each other. New angels are always given contact information for at least one other Protector, angel or Soldier. They're not as good at keeping track of other Words, who don't hand out contact information quite as easily. Still, they're fairly good at tracking down reinforcements or lost things. Most Protectors have regular duties, but can quickly call up help. When a Protector falls out of contact, other angels may even abandon their work to find out why, then rescue or avenge them. The care for each other is surpassed only by their love for humanity. Even when not actively defending humans, Protectors love being around them. They accept that humans are imperfect, sure, but they believe in them anyway.

Some Protectors become heartbroken by what they see, however. They try to support each other, when the burden gets too heavy, and if needed they can retreat to the Castle until they can regain their internal balance. Protectors who develop significant differences of philosophy are not encouraged to leave, however. Zadkiel does not want to drive anyone out of her service or make them feel unwelcome, and will punish those who do. Still, sometimes a transfer is a good idea. When an angel asks for that, Zadkiel will ask only a few questions. Once she's sure you're not leaving due to pressure or mistaken assumptions, and truly want to leave, she will approve of any transfer, but removes Distinctions higher than Vassal and any Choir Attunements but that of your Choir. She leaves all else in place unless the other Archangels requests otherwise. She also allows her angels to retain her Rites and invoke her as if thy were still Protectors - they're still family, after all. Transfers to Protection are started off with light duty to help them integrate.

When dealing with outsiders...well, either they're Protecting or being Protected. Or they're a threat, but they prefer not to think that about other angels. They are especially find of Laurentines, who have a similar mandate to help those in distress. Zadkiel's angels will never refuse to aid others, even angels they dislike, or Outcasts. They try to stay on good terms with all angels, even those whose Words clash with Protection. They're good at making friends with just about everyone except Lightning, who tend to find them annoying and unhelpful. Relationships between Protectors are fairly common, and they can also fall in love with just about anyone...except, again, Lightning and Stone, though even then it has happened and tends to be full of drama. Protectors are most likely to fall in love with angels of Flowers, however, in search of peace.

Protectors mostly cooperate with Judgment, as Judgment protects Heaven from heresy and rebellion. However, they also sometimes feel like they need to Protect against Judgment, too. Sometimes they step in, especially when they believe Fire needs to get protected, or other 'lax' Words. Zadkiel will also protect ethereals who actively help humans, despite it violating Heaven's standing policies. When one of their own gets in trouble, Protection tends to try to deal with it internally before calling in Judgment - even to the point of informing Zadkiel. However, if a Protector becomes Outcast, their fellows are harsh. The only way to restore the stain and blasphemy of it is to have them stand trial or die, after all. When working against Judgment, Protectors never block them directly, however. They will attemtp to persuade by reason and request mercy, or redirect a triad to a more dangerous target to delay them. They might relocate or hide the angel under their Protection, or as a last resort ask for Zadkiel's aid. Dominic does not ignore this obstructure, and the Judges will punish anyone that fails to cooperate. However, Dominic has more pressing issues to handle, and recognizes both Zadkiel's value to him and her desire for mercy. Still, he treats Protectors no more leniently than any other. Zadkiel will not help angels that defy Judgment, and requires that they take the consequences for keeping secrets. These tend not to be severe by Dominic's standards, but Protectors still prefer to settle matters before Judges have to take notice.

And then some really boring adventure seeds.

The End!

Next: GM's Guide, Corporeal Player's Guide, Liber Canticorum or Revelations 1: Night Music?

Nov 9, 2011

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

PantsOptional posted:

Dracula Dossier is loving great. To me, the absolute best part is that Edom/British intelligence keeps failing to learn any lessons whatsoever and just keeps touching the red-hot stove that is Dracula.

They're like the Space Pirates in the Metroid games. Maybe THIS time cloning Metroids won't spiral out of control and get an entire planet destroyed!

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

PantsOptional posted:

Dracula Dossier is loving great. To me, the absolute best part is that Edom/British intelligence keeps failing to learn any lessons whatsoever and just keeps touching the red-hot stove that is Dracula.

Well, Vlad the Impaler was pretty good at fighting the Ottomans, right? We have this little dust-up in the Middle East and boy howdy maybe he could help us with Daesh. Certainly nothing could go wrong!

I mean given what we know of the fuckups of the NSA/CIA and various government agencies (Operation Fast & Furious, etc.) you could totally see this line of reasoning going down and being totally accepted.

Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.
GM's Guide sounds good to me.

Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.
I just love the idea that the Hammer Dracula movies were made to cover up the attempt to re-activate actual Dracula as an asset in the seventies. At least I assume that's what Agent Cushing is a reference to. Which means that Christopher Lee may have been one of Dracula's handlers.

Aug 23, 2009

unseenlibrarian posted:

Which means that Christopher Lee may have been one of Dracula's handlers.

Holy poo poo yes.

Jan 7, 2015

Mors Rattus posted:

Ewen's a good person but their games are pure Madoka and they own that, they don't know a lot about the earnest part of the genre.

The only Ewen game that could work is Tokyo Super Heroes, a Super Sentai RPG that never made it out of beta status. It even has a couple pages about magical girls, which should work for the most part as some magical girl teams since Sailor Moon are so Super Sentai that all that's missing is a giant robot (and even that is a thing thanks to Magic Knight Rayearth).

Mors Rattus posted:

There really is no good place for earnest Magical Girl games except maybe OVA, which is basically Generic Anime Game That Isn't BESM.

That one is a hot candidate, and I like how characters are rated in relative terms (so no worries about lifting capacities). What I don't really like is how combat bonuses are spread all over the place, and some Abilities do sound pretty similar.

Maybe I'll try a homebrew based on Double Cross. Replace the Encroachment Rate with something that can't turn you into a NPC and let Loises provide bonuses without having to make them Tituses, and you're halway there.

ProfessorProf posted:

At that point, just run it in FAE or something.

Man, it's been forever since I looked at FATE. A shame, I quite liked how Spirit of the Century got away from those wound boxes and did something more elegant.

(Is it still a thing for third-party FATE supplements to be big tomes with too much crunch? That might be important in the long run.)

Nessus posted:

In a lot of ways it seems like the best approach to take for an 'earnest non-grimdark magical girls game' is to find something that draws off the Silver Age of comics and just tweak some of the details. You'll get close enough even if people aren't into the cartoons, and if they are, hey, there you go.

Of course, I'm gonna bet that there aren't any superhero RPGs that embrace Silver Age madcap antics, because those have way less room for dexterity-modifying feats.

So probably not Hero System.

Maybe Mutants & Masterminds can do the trick...

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Sahud is still... a problem, I take it?

I can't wait to find out more about these guys. Sounds very cringeworthy.

(And what's up with the name? It sounds neither Chinese nor Japanese)

ProfessorProf posted:

They're like the Space Pirates in the Metroid games. Maybe THIS time cloning Metroids won't spiral out of control and get an entire planet destroyed!

Don't forget the Federation. They do this as well. Apparently the Alien franchise doesn't exist in this continuity.

unseenlibrarian posted:

I just love the idea that the Hammer Dracula movies were made to cover up the attempt to re-activate actual Dracula as an asset in the seventies. At least I assume that's what Agent Cushing is a reference to. Which means that Christopher Lee may have been one of Dracula's handlers.

This setup would work well with that Nosferatu "prequel" movie were it turns out that Max Schreck is a vampire. I can totally imagine Dracula starring as himself for shits and giggles.

May 25, 2012
Hey kid, do you like 90's metaplot characters?
Do you like them showing up in 2015!

Stone and a Hard Place is the third Plot Point campaign for Pinnacle's Deadlands Reloaded line. I picked this up on a whim for one reason. I had heard that the Deadlands Plot Point campaigns focused on defeating the setting’s big bads. Pinnacle has a tendency, to put it lightly, of over-protecting their NPCs, so when I saw that this one was about Stone, I had to see what they’d do.

The book contains both player and GM (Marshal) content. I’m only going to cover the background on Stone and the main adventure line. Finally, to be upfront, I’m not going to be fair to the content I’m going to cover. If you’re familiar with Deadlands, it’s probably clear why. If not, it should be pretty soon.

Lastly, if you’re unfamiliar with the Deadlands backstory, please check out the reviews in the F&F archive.

So what’s the big deal about Stone….
Normally, I’d just direct you to the existing Deadlands Classic F&F reviews, but this book promises the FULL STORY on Stone. I don’t know what’s new, so feel free to chime in on additions or changes. So saddle up, cowpokes. We’re in for a weird ride.

Stone: This is your life (pg 32 -39)
Jasper Stone was born in 1833 in Alabama. His mother dies in childbirth, so his four brothers and father are jerks and beat him. Also, even as a child, people can tell something’s off about him (he’s eeeeeeeeeeevil). He torments animals and eventually moves onto his family.

Timeskip to the Civil War, Stone joins the 13th Alabama army and fights for the Confederacy. At this point, he’s described as being an amazing soldier, faster and more accurate than anyone else. And he revels in killing. His skill causes him to rise to the rank of Captain, much to the surprise of his superiors. On July 1, 1863, the battle of Gettysburg occurs. The battle of the Gettysburg is when the Reckoners break out of their prison, causing the dead to rise and creates chaos on the battlefield. It’s the primary reason why the Civil War doesn’t end, since the battle isn’t the turning point for the war. Stone’s unit is caught in heavy fire and morale is breaking, both due to the attack and rumors of the walking dead. Stone doesn’t care for this and threatens to shoot any man who does not follow him in the charge. His men, realizing that one more dead officer isn’t going to be missed, shot Stone in the back with their muskets. The unit is overrun by the Union and Stone is dragged off to a medical tent.

But it is too late, the body was stone-cold (bad pun straight from book). While this happens, a demon from the Deadlands decides to possess Stone and make him a Harrowed. This demon was quite evil when it was a human, a fierce pirate. It created a fierce nightmare for Stone to experience, to break his will and make sure the demon would be in control. But Stone simply yawned and grabbed the demon by the throat.

“Maybe you ain’t heard o’ me. Name’s Stone. I will let you reside here, you filthy maggot, and I will make use of whatever power I can wring out of your wretched hide. But I am in charge. You’d do well to remember that”

The now undead and Harrowed Stone sat up, to the surprise of the surgeon pulling out musket balls from him and left. Immediately, Stone is visited by Death itself. Death is impressed at Stone and gives him an offer. But Stone refuses to listen to Death, saying he has to wait until Stone finishes a task. :nyd: Over the next few months, Stone hunts down the men who shot him in the back. He finds his brothers and kills them and their families. Finally, after returning each beating his father gave him, he burns him alive. Then he returns to Death, who is impressed.

Time to jump in a give some commentary. By now, you can start to see the issue with Stone as a character. He’s a walking collection of cliches. He’s the evil child and the bad-rear end. He’s better than everyone else. He’s unfazed by the creatures that caused the world to go to hell. And he brushes off Death and earns his respect. I’m sure Stone killed plenty, but he’s just a single guy. Death should have been “That’s nice, but I dealt with the Assyrians. Sit down and shut up.” I think this part of the backstory is new, but it adds nothing. Before, he was a faceless ‘bad-rear end’ who showed up to kill your characters. What does this add? Nothing, he’s just boring with no flaws.

Back to the story for some timey-whimey bullshit.
So Death has Stone hunt down heroes. By killing heroes, the world sinks deeper into fear. But Stone crosses another one of the Reckoner’s servants, Reverend Grimme. Grimme imprisons Stone for 23 years. Those 23 years are enough for humanity to fight back. The Reckoners, as a last ditch effort, send Stone back in time. The following events are detailed in the Devil’s Tower adventures ( Road to Hell, Heart o’ Darkness, Fortress of Fear). Old Stone (from the future) gets some heroes to break Young Stone out of Grimme’s prison. Young Stone and Old Stone try to create a Deadland on Earth, but are stopped by a group of heroes and and gunslinger from the future. Defeated, the two split up and do what they did best, kill heroes. Many more heroes are killed than in the previous timeline.

So that’s Stone, the NPC darling of Deadlands. Why is he so bad? In his first appearance back in Classic, he’s described as someone who shows up when the heroes get too strong. That’s fine, but the book goes out of it’s way to tell the Marshal’s that Stone should be unbeatable. Now he’s useless as an antagonist, since he should just kill anyone who stands up to him. Hope your players like running like scared dogs. And why was it so important that Stone remains alive. Why so their “story” could be told. And it does this in the worst possible way. In the part that describes the ‘canon’ events of the Devil’s Tower adventure, this book constantly refers to the heroes (i.e. the players) as dupes and fools, being lead around by the nose by the important metaplot npc. And the worst part, the reason this has to exist: Deadlands: Hell on Earth. That game needed the Reckoners to win. So instead of making it an alt-history or completely separate from Deadlans: Weird West, they had Stone kill your characters. Yep, everything you did was for naught because your heroes were killed by Stone.

But maybe this adventure changes things… Next up: Part One of Stone and a Hard Place.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

jadarx posted:

Hey kid, do you like 90's metaplot characters?
Do you like them showing up in 2015!

Stone and a Hard Place is the third Plot Point campaign for Pinnacle's Deadlands Reloaded line. I picked this up on a whim for one reason. I had heard that the Deadlands Plot Point campaigns focused on defeating the setting’s big bads. Pinnacle has a tendency, to put it lightly, of over-protecting their NPCs, so when I saw that this one was about Stone, I had to see what they’d do.
The Flood is focused on letting the PCs take down Grimme and his inner circle, and actually lets them do that on their own without a major NPC showing up to defeat the bad guys in a cutscene.

That said, while I'm curious to see how this pans out, the overarching metaplot of Deadlands needs Stone, Raven, and Hellstrome to stick around until Hell on Earth because of the major part they play in events; Grimme was the only servitor who canonically died between Deadlands and HoE. So this should be pretty interesting.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

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

Part 13f: Miracles, monsters, machines, and men of mystery

The last few chapters are pretty short, so I'll just cover them all in one post.

The chapter on Miracles of Faith starts with a list of the tenets of the Terran Egyptian faith (as filtered through Mobius, of course).
  1. Terra, the heavens, and all the other Egyptian gods were created by Ra.
  2. The Pharaoh is a divine being, whose will is law.
  3. The purpose of life is to achieve a state known as maat, which means "truth".
  4. Death is not final; when you die you are judged by Osiris, and if you have achieved matt then you ascend to eternal bliss. If not, your soul is devoured.
  5. Most gods use specific species of animals as their eyes in the mortal world.
Yeah, that's a good list of rules to live by.

I really don't think the people behind Torg really understood the point of religion.

Anyway, now we get a section on worship in the Empire. The Egyptian religion doesn't have weekly masses or anything, instead having large services on specific holy days. That said, there are weekly ceremonies held on Tuesdays because that's the day that Horus' planet naturally aligns, so it's a good time to get those ritual spells in.

And apart from a bunch of stuff about the church hierarchy (which is mainly focused on NPC skill levels), that's all there is about the I was saying, that's all there is about the Egyptian faith.

To absolutely nobody's surprise, there are modifications to the miracles rules for the Empire.


Unlike the miracles of Core Earth described in The Torg Rulebook, Egyptian priests cannot perform many of their miracles without concurrently enacting a special ritual consisting of sacred chants, movements, and sacrifices. The more powerful the miracle, the more complex the associated ritual. This ritual is always timed with the movement of the planets, and is affected by astronomy in the same way as mathematics. In game terms, whether or not a priest knows how to configure a ritual with the movement of the planets is reflected by his or her Egyptian religion score.
That's right, miracles also use the stupid planetary alignment rules from the magic chapter. On top of that, miracles have is a Ritual Time, which is how much time it takes to perform the miracle. If you're interupted during the ritual, then the miracle automatically fails and you have to start from scratch.

So once again let's take a look at some miracles.

Battle Bless increases the Toughness of a unit of 1,000 men, with a difficulty of 38 and ritual time of 2 hours. It lasts until the "position of Set is next 0", which means I guess you have to track the drat planets.

Great Curse gives the target a -1 penalty on all actions, makes them always stymied (loses their first reroll), grant enemies +1 to all actions against them, and if they draw stymied from the Drama Deck they take a setback (lose next action). The effect lasts for a week, but the caster can maintain the effect by making sacrifices to either Set or Horus depending on the Inclination of the target.

Invest Pharaoh is a day-long ritual that includes a feast for at least 100 people, and will formally recognize the target of the miracle as the Pharaoh of the people. The Pharaoh gets one free Possibility a week, and the difficulty of all miracles cast against him increased by 7. Technically you could cast this miracle on a person to make them the new Pharaoh, but you'd have to beat the rolled total of the current incumbent. Given that Mobius' ritual hit with a final total of 74 (technically 81 with the penalty), good luck with that.

Pronouncement of Doom does the same thing as Great Curse, but lasts for a year and a day, and every time the target performs an infraction of some sort against the caster's god, the penalty increases by 1.

Snake Staff does what you'd expect. It only needs two rounds and lasts for an hour, and the snake created can poison victims. This is another spell where you need to track when certain planets are in the "0" position.

This guy looks awfully bored.

The next chapter is Creatures of the Empire, and it's pretty dull. Mobius relies manly on human agents, so there's not a lot of real "creatures" to be had.

I mean, there's your giant Egyptian animals (crocodiles, asps, spiders, and so on), but there's not much else. That said, they things we do get are odd.

For instance, there's the Terran Martians.


ln the pulp reality of the Terran cosm, an advanced scouting party from that cosm's equivalent of the planet Mars (Horus) has secretly infiltrated human society. Their motives are, at this point, unknown, but invasion is suspected by those few who know of them.

How they managed to get to the cosm of Core Earth is also unknown, but several Martians have been spotted m and around the city of Luxor since the invasion. Terran Martians appear as average humans, their only distinguishing feature being a large diamond-shaped birth mark where the belly button would normally be. The true appearance of a Terran Martian is that of a spider-like insect with bulbous eyes. Special Martian-designed
"Chameleon Belts" actually change the shape of the Martian to conform to humanoid standards. The attributes are the same between shapes, except that the insectoids have pincers (damage value 15) on one set of limbs, as well as a set of hands and two pairs of insect legs.

Although the reasons are unknown, it has been noted thatTerran Martians always travel in groups whose size is some power of two (2, 4, 8, 16, etc.). They refuse to travel in groups whose size is not a power of two. Note that 2° is one, so Martians can travel alone. The number four seems to be of particular importance to them. Many things that they do have a "four" theme to them. If you were to meet one, he might say "hello" four times, or shake your hand four times, or both.
Uh huh.

It should be pointed out that 1) in the Terra sourcebook, Mars is just called "Mars" because Terra isn't completely Egyptian-themed, and 2) Terran Martians never come up again outside of being re-mentioned in the Terra sourcebook.

There are stats for gospog, even though it was stated that Mobius only has a handful of them. Unsurprisingly, they all look like mummies, and basically each generation is stronger than the last. Nothing really interesting here.

The shift in axioms has created one rather severe threat: walking gods. Technically they're not gods; they're more major tomb guardians that take the form of Anubis, Bast, Sebek, or Set. Each version has its own special abilities (Anubis has a giant sword an eye-lasers, Bast can cast spells, Sebek can clamp down with his giant claws, and Set has a giant spear and a sonic blast), and are generally intended to be "end bosses" in tombs.

Optic Blast! Optic Blast! Gene Splice!

Equipment is up next, and it's really just a list of weapons and gear available at the 1930's tech levels. You can't just buy pulp gizmos and doodads, so really it's just mundane gear.

It is worth pointing out that Mobius has instituted a new economy in the Empire: the base unit of currency is the royal, which equates to $10 American. Crowns are dime-sized coins minted from 14k gold alloy, and are stamped with the Eye of Horus.

Government taxation is pretty heavy: 20% of all legal earnings per month. Needless to say, this creates a pretty heavy divide between the upper and lower economic classes, and really does a number on people of Good Inclination since they're not going to try to make a little money on the side.

"Wow, this calculator makes all my magic a lot easier."

And lastly, we come to the character templates, and things get a little wonky with these. As you may or may not recall, there's no direct line between Terra and the Empire, so there was really no way for "good guys" to sneak in with Mobius' forces from home. Likewise, there was a one-time bridge created where Dr. Frest sent a bunch of pulp heroes on a one-way trip to Core Earth to help out.

That means that technically there are two types of Nile Empire characters: ones from the "Nile Empire" (people who've transformed) and "Terran Expatriates" (people actually from Terra). Unfortunately, you wind up with weird situations where characters were apparently from Terra despite working for "the Pharoah", even though he didn't become Pharoah until he left Terra.

Three templates were included in the base boxed set:

The Fast Hero answered an ad in the back of a Terran magazine looking for volunteers for "enhancement research", which actually gave her superpowers. But when she was expected to use her powers in the service of the Pharoah, she jumped ship and started working for the good guys. She doesn't have a tag skill, but starts with the flight power.

The Gadget Hero was the kid who spent all his time reading science journals and messing around with HeathKits. He was one of the forerunners of weird science, working for Mobius before learning about the Pharoah's expansion into other realities. He had his moment of clarity as he was moved down a maelstrom bridge with Mobius' forces. The Gadget Hero was made before the pulp gizmo rules existed, so he has a "gadget belt" that lets him fake one the pulp powers provided in the core set at a value of 17.

You got hit by...a smooth criminal.
The Tough Hero is...well, look. You know the drill; there's scum out there in the streets, preying on the innocent. Sometimes you need someone who's not afraid to get her hands dirty cleaning it up. Starting gear includes half a ham sandwich, a pack of gum, and a checking account with a minimum balance. World-weary receptionist is optional. Her tag skill is unarmed combat.

The Nile Empire book adds another ten:

The Amazon was a Core Earth college student who was on Hespera when the axiom wash happened. Now transformed to Nile's reality, she's now a skilled warrior-philosopher with some nice blessed gear. She also has two super attributes for an overal +4 to STR and +2 to DEX, with an adventure cost of 6 Possibilities, and the flaw that if a man taunts or tricks her and she suffers a setback from it, she loses the stat boots. Her tag skill is melee weapons.

The Dark Hero's loved one was killed in a bank robbery, so he grabbed two pistols, dressed all in black, and made them pay. Now he doles out .45mm justice on a nightly basis. He has the option of starting with either darkness, fear, or fog screen, which he learned from monks in Tibet. His tag skill is either stealth or intimidation.

The Engineer was a former member of the cult of Khem (the guys who resurrected Mobius), and followed him through the various realities building facilities for the Pharoah's forces for promises of wealth and power (not to mention not getting killed by the rest of the cult). After a while, he realized the promises were empty and that he couldn't just keep his head down any more. His tag skill is engineering, and he has access to the magic skills.

Oddly, the picture for the Engineer is of an older woman; either there was a mix-up between the artist and the writer, or that's pretty drat progressive for the tim.

No, she doesn't start with any armor. Why do you ask?
The Egyptian Princess's father and grandfather were both members of the cult of Khem, her grandfather being one of the people who resurrected Mobius. Unfortunately, she were dragged along for the ride when Mobius began conquering other realities because her father received a favorable sign from the gods. Turns out that the sign was faked, and her family was tricked into Mobius' service. Time to make up for the mistake. Her tag skill is egyptian religion and can take the faith and focus skills.

The Jungle Lord's parents were anthropologists in Ethiopa when the axiom wash hit, and they were both killed by Mobius' forces. He managed to escape into the jungle, where he was found by Ooorook the gorilla and her tribe. They took care of him, trained him, and taught him to communicate with the creatures of the jungle. Armed with his newfound strength, it's time for a little revenge. He starts with the animal friend power, and his tag skill is maneuver.

The Mathematician is another former Khem cultist, although he were really just an apprentice to one of the full-fledged cult members. Dragged along when Mobius began creating his new Empire, it wasn't long before he realized that Mobius' promises of glory were just that: promises. He managed to escape the pharoh's clutches and is now trying to make amends for his past. His tag skill is mathematics and he can also buy magic skills.

Who needs a costume when you have dense body hair?
The Mystery Man is from Terra, where he grew up incredibly rich and incredibly bored. Then all these costumed heroes and villains started popping up all over the place, and he thought, "I say, that sounds fun!" He had the money to afford the best training and to travel the world learning amazing techniques, and it wasn't long before he was thwarting the bad guys. It also wasn't long before it stopped being a game and became something he genuinely cared about, so when he learned that Dr. Mobius hadn't actually vanished but travelled to a new world, he leapt at the chance to follow. He can start with a pulp power if he wants, and his tag skill is disguise.

The Old Professor was never the heroic type until the maelstrom bridge dropped while she was on a ship in the middle of the Mediterranean with some colleagues. She were caught in a reality storm, which caused her ship to crash on shore just as Mobius' troops were establishing their territory. She were captured, but managed to escape when the same storm destroyed her captors. It wasn't long before she realized that reality was different, and that the old laws of physics aren't what they used to be. Now she's got a whole new field to discover. She start with a few gadget parts: four system components, five boosters, four adaptors, two caps, and two possibility capacitors, which is all actually worth a small fortune. Her tag skill is weird science.

The Private Detective spent ten years of his life as a cop walking a beat. But he butted heads with his corrupt superiors one to many times, and found himself kicked off the force. Now he works for himself. One day, a dame came in asking him to investigate the mysterious death of her father. Turned out is was one of those masked weirdos by the name of Mobius. He didn't realize there was more to him than a headdress and evil laugh until he learned he'd skipped town, and by "town" you mean "reality". He met up with a bunch of masked types who were going to follow him, and you agreed to come along. His tag skill is evidence analysis.

Thumbs up...for FREEDOM!
The Rocket Rangers were created during The Great War on Terra (WWII hasn't happened there yet). They're a international police force with a strong moral code, and this particular Ranger is the exemplar of that force. To quote the book, "You're almost too good to be true. Everyone likes you, and it's no wonder; everything about you is nearly perfect. You always know the right thing to say to make people happy, and you don't suffer from a single negative personality trait." Your only piece of starting gear is a Rocket Ranger Battlesuit, and your tag skill is flight.

The Rocket Red battlesuit is pretty drat powerful; it grants the wearer STR 14 and TOU 19, +7 armor (max 23), flight 11, and mega-sight. The downside is that it imposes a -1 to DEX, and the suit tends to overheat meaning that you take extra stress when a fatigue result comes up.

The Terra sourcebook added another handful of templates that are supposed to be exclusive to Terra, but they fit into the Empire pretty easily.

The Adventuring Archaeologist spent the majority of his life in one hole or another in some corner of the world or other, digging up relics of the past. Of course, this is on Terra, so that means that sometimes you have to deal with ancient curses, magical artifacts, and pre-Nazis. But we all know that just makes it more fun, right. And yes, he does start with a fedora. His tag skill is science(archaeology).

What's all this, then?
In a world of super-villains, jetpacks, rogue sorcerers, gangsters, spies, and lord knows what else, there's gotta be someone looking out for the common man and protecting him from the threats beneath the notice of the superheroes. That's the job of the Beat Cop. His tag skill is scholar (local neighbourhood), which may be the most useless tag skill ever.

The Ex-Gangster used to own these streets. People paid him tribute and gave him respect. Now these wingnuts are coming in with their capes and their ray guns and they don't know nothing about respect. They sure as hell didn't respect him when they vaporized half his gang. That was a pretty loud wake-up call. Maybe it's time for him to take a look at what he's doing, y'know? If people are paying him for protection, then shouldn't he be protecting them? He did buy a super-strength serum from some scientist, just so he could play on the same level as the capes (super attribute TOU+3), and his tag skill is petty crime.

The Government Spy is a loyal operative armed with a few hidden gadgets, a tux, and a rock-solid ego, and always gets the job done. Stopping terrorists, thwarting Martians, getting the lovely scientist's daughter, no matter what he does he looks drat good doing it. He starts with a device that boosts his stealth by 3 and a pair of dark vision goggles. His tag skill is espionage, of course.

Smoke me a kipper, I'll be home for breakfast!
If it's got wings, the Pro Pilot can fly it. His father was a pilot in the Great War, and he grew up at his father's knee. The Great War was over by the time he were old enough to fly, but nowadays there's plenty of would-be conquerors out there, and if you're lucky, they've got some forces you can dogfight with. He do start with a plane; either a two-seater fighter or a junky old passenger plane. His tag skill is air vehicles.

The Pulp Sorceress was a normal student, bored with her mundane classes. Then she met the Old Man. He sensed power in her, and took her under his wing and taught her the ancient secrets of sorcery. She learned how to bend the world to her will, but before she could learn why she were chosen to learn these abilities, the Old Man vanished. Guess it's time for her to forge her own destiny. She get a few pre-designed spells and her tag skill is pulp power (sorcery).

And with that, we finish up our visit to the Nile Empire.

It should be no surprise that I love the Empire. I mean, why wouldn't you? It's your standard-issue Nazi-punching pulp action, but instead of Nazis (which were starting to get overused even back then), you get Egyptian cultists. It takes the whole idea and spins in it a really fun new direction that lets you deal with an old concept in new ways.

But the Nile Empire brings Torg's biggest flaw into stark relief: the mechanical overcomplication. Pulp gizmos are way too involved to create, with a ton of unnessesary extra rolls. Magic has a ton of new subsystems that are supposed to add tone but just make you roll like three extra times to do one thing. Adventure Costs on powers make them very non-cost-effective in the long run.

I mean, I get what they're trying to do, but the way to make things thematic isn't to jam more and more mechanics onto your already overdesigned mechanics. Tone requires a gentler touch.

And speaking of tone, I want to bring up the idea about how pulp heroes aren't supposed to be "costumed tights-and-logo superheroes", then in every book after this one people with powers were always presented as costumed tights-and-logo superheroes. They couldn't even keep their non-mechanical tone consistent through the books.

Despite all that, the Nile Empire was the most popular of all the realms that appeared throughout the game line. Pretty much every published adventure had at least one scene in the Empire, and it received so much focus that other realms suffered a bit from lack of attention.

The Empire was popular with the game's writers, too. Not only did they write up on Terra (the only "home cosm" to get that honor), one of the writers' pet characters was the pulp hero Destructo Don, who appeared in the novels and a few of the adventures later in the line.

But for now, we leave Mobius' artificial sun in our rear view mirrors as we fly to the distant horizon, smiling at the memories of thrilling adventures and shaking our heads at the stupid mechanics.

...everyone has enough Possibility points to keep their abilities, right?

NEXT TIME: New adventures! New realms! New dumb mechanics!

Black August
Sep 28, 2003

Count Chocula posted:

I don't mind her. Clean up the problematic elements and you have an angel in the traditional Guardian Angel/Touched By An Angel mode, who's followers going around helping people, often in disguise. And since so many of the Angels are assholes, it's good to have another nice one, who can still throw down in a fight. If you want to make her scarier or more ambiguous, play up the overprotective thing. She actually seems human, and one of the few relatable Angels.

Anything more for Novalis?

rear end in a top hat Angels was never meant to be the default of the setting. While Zadkiel does do that well, being kind, she's just a role already filled by a lot of other Archangels. I wouldn't ever want to make her scarier and more ambiguous, but after you pull the weird poo poo from her writeup, she just plain doesn't offer much the other Archangels don't already. It wouldn't take a lot to salvage her, though. Better mechanics, a less politically charged role, maybe even tap into the human/inhuman aspect of things and have her be the one stirring up poo poo about David's conduct or Novalis' attitudes, and being a bridge between the Militant and Peace factions.

I'm coming from too much time with my head under water though. For a new player and GM, Zadkiel is a decent fit for a neutral small time Archangel to run jobs with. It's why I liked using her as a sort of troubleshooter, small mercenary style gathering of experts and highest end security, the Archangel you call in before an operation goes awry, or after it already has and you need immediate rescue.

As for Novalis, sadly nah. She's one of the few Superiors who got neither an expanded writeup (like the Superior books), or a semi-expanded writeup (like a lot of Superiors got in the Rev Cycle books). She has her core rules self and that's it, apart from smatterings of info about her in other texts. Which is fine. She was always a pretty hot button topic with writers as the Peace Leader head. Especially with the right wing nuts.


Dec 22, 2003

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

Doresh posted:

So probably not Hero System.

Maybe Mutants & Masterminds can do the trick...
M&M is the game I have most experience with, regarding superheroes. It works, but it's kind of complicated, and that's where my crack about tons of dexterity-modifying feats came in. I also felt it tended to make powers feel very same-y (even if, yes, it did let you model a poo poo ton of them). The latter is to some extent inevitable in any RPG, because there is little to no effective difference between "I shoot a beam of fire/force/purple light/tiny baby frogs" at the target other than ancillary side effects.

Depending on how you wanted to go I'd use either an *World hack (yes, yes, you can do that for everything, but magical girls are often open ended), FATE or a Savage Worlds mod, depending on how crunchy you want it to be. Like Pretty Cures tend to involve a fair amount of karate fighting and tactical conflict so Savage Worlds would work better for that, while something like Utena would suit *World given the weird abstract surrealism that pops up a lot, such as fighting kangaroos and thinking you laid an egg.

e: The real question is how do you model the Jojo's, since Jojo actually requires a certain degree of weirdly specific crunch.

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