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kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Hello again. Who else here thinks rats are adorable? Lets talk more about Children of the Horned Rat.

First, I’d like to talk about what makes the Skaven stand out among the assortment of antagonists a Warhammer Adventuring party would face. They’re by far the most sane and human of the common designated antagonists. And that’s saying something. Lets go through the usual suspects in Warhams:
  • Chaos is completely bugfuck crazy. They inflict just as much horrors on themselves personally as anyone and Chaos so corrodes their souls and bodies that a lot of them don’t really care about that longsword in their thoracic cavity. As the name implies, there often isn’t even much of a plan behind it all and the Dark gods enjoy tormenting their followers as much as their enemies. Chaos Warriors are the super powered space marines of the setting, complete with zero-dimensional characters. Beastmen are their easily killed chaff who are there to provide filler. And demons are scary, but… they each got their schtick and they stick to it. And in WFRP, demons are very much glass cannons, too. Not to mention that by design, you can never give Chaos a defeat it cares about. You can just ruin the odd cult.

  • Orcs and goblins? They’re English soccer hooligans, all right. But are never anything else. The fight because fighting is all they know and all they want to know. They’re more akin to a belligerent and hungry weather phenomena than anything else. You don’t really strike bargains with them either. That warboss will just punch you in the face and laugh. And if you punch back? He’d still laugh. The fight is what they like.

  • The undead? Sure, an individual vampire or necromancer can be a lot of fun. Powerful, charismatic, with a variety of interesting strengths and weaknesses for your players to chew on. But you can’t have a bunch of them in a campaign easily, given their power. And their minions are… well, they’re skeletons and zombies. Mindless automatons who you can never reason with and never say terribly much other than demanding your frontal cortex. The minions can always get back up and it’s hard to keep a good vampire down. And combats against mindless undead can be grinding battles of attrition. Fitting, but still tiresome after a while.
But Skaven? They bleed and when they die, they die. Every single clanrat and slave is scheming to somehow get ahead. And will swear vengeance and spite you should you ever harm them. Since they have an actual civilization and society, you can actually attack them in their home and do damage they care about. There is nothing stopping the Empire (or sufficiently capable band of Adventurers) from going underground and totally wrecking a Skaven clan. You can flood their warrens, you can explode their irreplaceable superweapon, and you can kill their annoying/genius leader and all that damage is way more permanent than what you can do to nearly any other foe.

Basically, the Skaven fill the role of an Evil Empire. They have a plethora of potential leader types, hordes of expendable clanrats that will just as happily flee in terror as tear you to shreds, and an arsenal of high-tech superweapons. And they’ll always be willing to cut a deal if they think it’s safer than stabbing you. They can always stab you later when your back is turned. And from a DM’s perspective, when you need to find some ninjas to suddenly throw at your players, the Skaven are always there. I keep Clan Eshin on speed dial for just such emergencies.

Anyway, lets move on to the next chapter:

Chapter II: Skaven History

This chapter is fairly short. Part of that is explained in the intro. Skaven do not generally care much about history. They are extremely self-centered, after all. They do not care overmuch about other Skaven and their culture and religion do not memorialize the dead. They will, of course, reminisce a fair bit about their personal experiences such as their great triumphs, all the skaven that betrayed them, their great plans, etc. Skaven don’t even have a calendar. When they need a way to measure time for complex operations or travel they use waypoints, days, phases of the moon, or other convenient and handy measuring guides that catch the leader’s fancy.

Basically, Skaven don’t record or keep history. They don’t make historical tomes and they don’t care about historical artifacts save for their usefulness. Only two times does a Skaven care about : Right now, when they don’t rule the world. And when they will rule the world, which will be very soon. What this means is while there are bits of history known from the surfacer perspective and the occasional legend amongst the ratmen themselves, the bulk of this history is not something a character in a game is likely to learn. It’s here to inform the reader.

The First Wave

The origin of the Skaven is very much like that recorded in the poem ‘The Doom that Came to Kavzar’ related in Chapter I. An ancient city once peopled by men and dwarves prospered and grew strong and wealthy in the southern part of the Old World near what is now Tilea. Their city is magnificent and they wished to celebrate it by building a great tower to their gods. They built it massively high, seeming to pierce the heavens. But they came to the point where they could no longer lift their stones up to finish it. A stranger came to their city, clad in a hooded grey robe, who offered to help finish their tower in exchange for putting an adornment for his own god on the tower as well. The people of Kavzar accepted.

This did not go well. The tower was finished the next day, topped with a great bell. But it soon began to toll, calling down rain. First of water, then poison, then a rain of shards of the unstable magical mineral known as warpstone. The crops and animals perished, the metals corroded, and people died. The survivors were devoured alive by the large and bold rats that had crawled out of their sewers.

These rats became the Skaven. For a large chunk of the next few centuries, they contented themselves with growing and prospering in their newly christened city of Skavenblight. They learned to farm, they mined warpstone, learned sorcery, rebuilt the city to suit them, and came to worship their creator, the Horned Rat. After centuries of growth, Skavenblight could no longer hold them all and their mundane construction and tunneling efforts could not keep up. So, they called up the first sorcerers and warlocks to fix this. They attempted to do so by creating a great warpstone machine which was designed to create massive underground spaces where Skaven could live and prosper freely.

As is the way of these things, the machine malfunctioned spectacularly. It exploded, shaking all the world to its foundations. Some say it was the great calamity that broke the back of the Dwarfen kingdoms. For the Skaven, it made things even worse. Skavenblight sank into the ground like a stone in a mud puddle, turning the surrounding lands into a giant marsh. From the ruins, the modern Skaven society emerged. The Council of Thirteen came to rule the Skaven and what mages were left founded the order of Grey Seers.

The bulk of Skavendom was forced to migrate, spreading across all the world. North to the Chaos Wastes, west to Lustria across the sea, east to distant Cathay and Nippon. Those that stayed in the Old World decided decided that the best way to get new homes and resources was to take them from the dwarfs. They instigated a long and terrible war against the dwarf kingdoms, allying with greenskins for convenience. The Skaven used the greenskins as cheerfully expendable shock troops while Skaven did infiltration, sapping, and making a nuisance of themselves. They took many dwarf holds, but were unable to seal the deal due to the dwarfen invention of gunpowder being used to defend their capital of Karaz-a-Karak.

Nagash
The Skaven also took an interest in a man-like creature called Nagash, the founder of necromancy. He also happened to have built his fortress atop an enormous deposit of warpstone. A century of warfare ensued, with endless rat swarms fighting endless hordes of undead. But both sides grew tired of the endless stalemate and called a truce. This freed Nagash to return to Nehekara and completely kill all living things within it and begin his ritual to do the same to all the world.

The Skaven realized swiftly that they were included in the category of ‘all living things’ and decided that the only proper course of action was to backstab Nagash and save the world. They forged a weapon of incredible dangerousness, pouring every bit of their power into it, and made it so that the wielder could be directly assisted and observed by the Council of Thirteen. Of course, in Skaven tradition, the weapon would certainly kill whoever wielded it. So they sent some infiltrators to Nagash’s prison, found a suitable candidate inclined to vengeance, and turned him loose with the magic blade. With the full might of Skavendom’s most powerful sorcerers behind him, the enchanted Fellblade, and his own skills, the last king of Khemri struck down Nagash. He’d get back up, as is the undead way. But hey, the Skaven saved the world. They don't really believe it, either.

Clan Pestilens
Meanwhile, those far off clans in distant Lustria have been busy themselves. Mostly busy dying of horrific jungle diseases, granted. But they learned a lot from it. The ancient, pre-human temples of Lustria contained many secrets as well. The Skaven started to learn what they could from them and came to worship disease, learning how to wield it themselves, and believing this was the true power of the Horned Rat. The newly christened Clan Pestilens warred upon the native lizardmen, bringing death and plague. The lizards objected to this and repelled the plague rats, who decided to sail back to the Old World to share the Good News of decay and pestilence and the true nature of the Horned Rat.

The Skaven back home were not impressed when Pestilens showed up to suddenly claim to be the true followers of the Horned Rat and all the other Skaven should bow to them. The Grey Seers in particular objected to this, being the true prophets of the Horned Rat. Inevitably, this lead to civil war between Pestilens and the Council. While war amongst Skaven was common, this one turned out to be epic even by Skaven standards. The fearless fanaticism of the Plague Monks matched to their willy nilly unleashing of plagues put a sizeable dent even in Skaven demographics. The Greater Clans that held power at the time retaliated with Clan Skryre unleashing its devastating arsenal of magitek weapons and Clan Moulder sending in its warbeasts. Still, plagues couldn’t be stopped by bullets and certainly not by beasts. Pestilens was infecting its way to the top.

This changed when what would be the fourth Great Clan came back from its own sojourn. Clan Eshin had gone off to the orient and decided to return bringing its secret ninja wisdom, offering their services to the Council. Pestilens leaders and their allies began to suffer a plague of poisonings, daggers in delicate places, and having all their secrets pilfered. Pestilens eventually sued for peace, taking as a consolation prize a seat on the Council. The civil war ended with both ninja rats and plague rats offering their services to the Council.

Human Offensives
Being consumed by massive civil war kept the Skaven from finishing off the dwarfs or seriously bothering any other peoples for quite a while. But that was then and this was now. The Skaven cobbled together a plan to take over the Empire and decided to let Pestilens show what they could do that didn’t involve killing Skaven. Pestilens unleased the Black Death on the Empire, a devastating plague that wiped out roughly half the population of the Empire. The utterly corrupt Emperor Boris Goldgather was also eliminated by an Eshin assassin. Leaderless, weak, and half dead, the Empire was swiftly invaded by the armies of the Skaven. A third of what was left of the people of the Empire were killed or enslaved within months. The Skaven preened and took a leisurely approach to besieging the remaining holdouts.

Two events conspired to ruin their plans. First, as they were expanding across the Empire, they came upon a border region near the mountains. Sylvania, they found, was extremely rich/cursed with warpstone deposits. This was relevant to their interests and they moved to occupy the land. The local aristocrats happened to be powerful necromancers and the Skaven were shocked and frustrated to be fighting yet more hordes of restless dead. Frustrated, they did what came naturally and sent huge hordes of Skaven to simply batter them aside. Both ended up utterly exhausted, but the Skaven did not take Sylvania.

The second event was the appearance of future childhood fairy tale hero Count Mandred of Middenheim. He’d managed to hole up in Middenheim and keep the plague out, his armies intact. In a devastating charge, her sallied out of the city and charged the rats that were besieging him. With the bulk of their forces sent to Sylvania, the remaining Skaven armies proved hollow and brittle, being run down by Mandred and his armored knights. He rallied other survivors and led successful campaigns to expel the Skaven from the Empire. He was crowned Emperor Mandred Skavenslayer and led the Empire in a time of rebuilding. Some years later, he was assassinated by an Eshin agent. Skaven will certainly hold a grudge.

Sometime later, the Skaven tried a similar plan in Bretonnia, plaguing them with smallpox. While initially successful, this was ultimately even less successful than before. Wood Elves and Bretonnian knights retaliated swiftly and drove the ratmen back underground to engage in the customary backbiting and recriminations.

Chaos Wars
Tangentially allied to Chaos, the ratmen will sometimes say they’ll help the Chaos hordes and beastmen. During the Great War Against Chaos, though, the Skaven provided only token support to Lord of the Everchosen of Chaos Asavar Kul in his fight against Kislev and Emperor Magnus the Pious. Centuries later, in the Storm of Chaos, they would turn out to be the only semi-Chaos faction that accomplished anything of note. While their warpstone bomb (the amusingly named DOOM HEMISPHERE) built beneath Middenheim failed to explode the entire city as they had hoped, it did create some damage. They were the only Chaos forces able to enter the city reliably, their armies won some minor victories, and it was a Skaven Assassin that claimed the life of Valten, Sigmar Reborn. Much more than Everchosen Archaon could claim, certainly.

The end of the Storm of Chaos brings us to the present day and the end of our history of the Skaven people. The last section of the chapter lists a timeline of events in Skaven history, putting the several different narrative arcs together and showing how they line up as well as including the big events in Warhammer history to show what was going on elsewhere at the time.

Final Thoughts
This is a pretty short chapter and relates a lot of events you will see repeated elsewhere in Warhammer lore. It does tell them from a more Skaven perspective. The timeline at the end also really helps to keep everything straight. For a DM, this may be useful for creating plot seeds. But for players this section is pretty skippable as well as light on artwork. You're not expected to know it in character and it doesn't really give information that would really help you. It mostly answers a bunch of questions about where the Skaven came from, how they get into everything, what they've been doing all these years, and how nearly everything they do tends to create a mess.

kommy5 fucked around with this message at 12:35 on Jul 1, 2017

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Fun fact: The Von Hels and Von Draks of Sylvania were originally taught necromancy by a mysterious foreigner to drive off the Skaven that were all over the shitloads of warpstone in their country. Said foreigner would eventually return as Prince Vladimir to marry the Countess Isabella von Drak, who was herself a necromancer in the tradition he'd shown them centuries ago.

I doubt he actually planned things quite that well but Vlad would probably tell you he did.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


The fact that the Skaven saved the world from Nagash(at least temporarily) is consistently hilarious to me. They constantly trip up everyone's plans... including their own.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book 14: New West Part 7: "Until then, he waits like a festering blister, ready to erupt and spread its puss and venom."

Colorado

We're just going to cover one place with this update since it gets the microscope. It's-

Silvereno

A mining community (mainly silver, of course) located at the base of mountains in Western Colorado, Silvereno is generally an early 20th-century town. Despite this, cyborgs work the mines and they do have some advanced electronics. One of the most wealthy and powerful places in the "New West", it's a pretty decent place to set down. There's also lumber, manufacturing, trapping and hunting, as well as various craftsmen. It's relatively tolerant, and accepts D-Bees but prejudice against them is common. It specifically notes that Simvan and Brodkil are likely only tolerated with a "sponsor" who will take responsbility for them, as they're seen largely as sentient-savoring barbarians.

This writeup seems to be mostly Kornmann, with occasional moralizing interjected by Siembieda, like with the "if you're playing a Simvan you better be ready to catch some poo poo" above.


"Look, with hair like this, I just have to carry my hat around instead."

Government

Silvereno has a small (four person) town council with an elected mayor, sheriff, and representatives for the mining and lumber "guilds" respectively. The current mayor is Gwen Severson, a skilled administrator that's good at spin and wants to attract tourism. She's a "9th level master politician" (not an actual class) with exceptional intelligence, physical endurance, and maximum beauty.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

She is a 45 year old, raven haired beauty who doesn't look a day over 30.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

A five foot, 10 inch (1.75 m) tall, beauty with long, flowing black hair, and a trim, shapely figure. Gwen has bright, emerald green eyes that seem to look into one's very soul. She has a very tanned complexion and although not
physically strong, is very toned and youthful looking.

Okay, we get it. This is also a hint as to her big secret, which is that she's allied with a group of vampires called "The Lost" who give her magic water they supply from Chichen Itza. This is a callback wayyy back to Rifts World Book 1: Vampire Kingdoms where some vampires are squatting on a magic well in the Yucatan that has healing water. For Severson, it drastically slows her aging and makes her into a mega-damage creature thanks to extended exposure of a drink every day. She's essentially an addict. She keeps the vampires secret, and in turn they largely feed on bandits, rustlers, and other criminals. Oh, and transients. They also keep a number of Simvan imprisoned as a blood supply, which she's not entirely comfortable with but doesn't have much choice if she wants her magic water supply.


Power of Hawk Eagle!

The Law in Silvereno

The Sheriff and about 200 deputies keep the peace. Mega-damage weapons and armor are prohibited from being worn on the streets, an offense punishable by having the items confiscated and a week in jail. Misdemanors generally call for a small fine, and major times can lead to hanging or jail. Crime levels are relatively low, though.

Sheriff Jacob Whispering Wind is a Apache that left his clan because-



- and adventured before settling down in Silverado and becoming sheriff. He's a tough do with a heart of gold and a code of honor and is kind of generically heroic. He's suspicious of Severson she he's found out she's bulletproof, and thinks there are a few vampires but finds it curious they only seem to feed on criminals and transients.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Race: Human/Indian



We get a statblock for him too, and he's a "7th level Araphao Spirit Warrior"... I thought he was Apache? I guess they hosed up. He's got exceptional mental and physical endurance, affinity, strength, and prowess, in continuation of NPCs just getting wayyy better stats than PCs will likely roll. Presumably his O.C.C. will be showing up in Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West (clarification - yes, it will, but the powers will be entirely different), but he basically gets a number of spells related to a totem animal (in his case, eagle). He can fly, talk to birds, get a mild combat boost, enhance its vision, and make an "eagle cry" that allows him to penalize foes (no save!), but only when seeking vengeance. He also has clairvoyance and danger sense, which seem to be good psychic powers for a cop. He has a magic talisman that gives him a force field in place of armor and has a magical eagle's talon he can throw out for modest mega-damage and have it return to him. He also has an "Apache war club", completing the confusion of what tribe he's supposed to belong to.

The Lost

So, there's a vampire sleeper cell of sorts in town that mainly stays secret on account of people not expecting them (being so far north of Mexico) and by only killing people who won't be missed. Given how often vamps need to feed in Rifts, I find this pretty dodgy, but it's part of the premise, I suppose. They're lead by a master vampire called Essai Ramirez, who works for a vampire intelligence who uses them mainly to gather information. Once he gets the order, Essai is ready to try and turn Silverado into a vampire slave farm, but until then he keeps things cool.


"Vampire? No, I'm just Latin."

Essai Ramirez was a young man in love with a woman named Katherine, but kept from her by a family fued. The vampire intelligence was able to convince him there was a way for him and Katherine to be together forever, only a little blood thirst and sunfear required. He became a master vampire and shortly vamped Katherine after that, and they've been together ever since. He's innately eeevil just like any master vampire, but is honest and keeps his word. His 8th level Master Vampire statblock gives him exceptional attributes across the board, including a superhuman affinity. In addition to armor and gun, he also has a magic ring that can cast agony and a necklace of snail shells that casts... speed of the snail.


Shouldn't that cross be burning a hole in her chest?

Katherine also gets a statblock with really high (in fact, unrollable) stats for a 6th level Secondary Vampire, including a superhuman beauty (because this section is your standard "guys are charming, girls are hot") that actually isn't normally achievable by secondary vampires. She turns a brothel called the Lucky Lady that lets her pick off unsuspecting travelers. It's rumored that she robs her clientele and Essai is believed to be a mysterious gambler and her lover. She's obsessively doting on Essai and despite her superior position in society, she isn't much more than his sadistic moll. There are about 14 other generic vampires waiting for PCs to put stakes in them.

Places of Note in Silvereno

We get details on all sorts of places, most of which I'm going to skip because it's stuff like:

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

4. The Militia HQ & Armory. Located on the other side of town, away from the Sheriff's Department, is the meeting place of the Silvereno Volunteer Militia. It is a big, convention style, one story, mega-damage building (2000 M.D.C.) surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Weapon stockpiles include 1200 suits of inexpensive Plastic Man body armor (35 M.D.C.), 400 Urban Warrior body armor (50 M.D.C.), 1200 basic energy rifles, a few hundred rail guns and heavy weapons, 4000 fragmentation grenades, 120 Triax DV-12 Dyna-Bots, ten X-10 Predator Power armor, six Triax X-500 Forager Battlebots, a pair of NG-V7 Hunter Mobile Gun Robots and a hundred hovercycles (see Rifts® Sourcebook One for complete stats on these bots).

Ugh. An example of the kind of meaningless cataloging I usually skip, but they must have quite the budget for a humble western town.

The saloons get most of the , like:
    The "Trail's End" Saloon: The most popular and down-to-earth saloon, run by a retired adventurer named "Buck" with a bunch of old stories and a cyber-arm.
  • The Lucky Lady Saloon: The aforementioned bordello of blood, it attracts a rougher crowd and is often a place for underworld rumors or recruitment.
  • The "Shaft" Saloon: A grimy place that caters to mine workers, many of them cyborgs. Run by T.C. Brennon, an old mining cyborg that sent his children to school in Lazlo.
  • The Silver Dollar Saloon: This is a fairly average saloon with a bit of showgirl exploitation, but is mainly notable for the number of Black Market members and smugglers who frequent the place.
The Story of Shaft 8

We get a story of how there were two miners who went into a shaft and got killed by a thing. What thing?



In any case, the next mining crew saw the condition of the bodies and just sealed the shaft off. It turns out that the shaft is a connection to another world that the monster came from because-



And it's left open for GMs so they can have a mineshaft dungeon or whatever. It's a lot more word count but that's what it boils down to.

Next: Humble folks without temptation.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 13:06 on Jul 1, 2017

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Drugs Win Fights

Now we're getting into specific clans. Each clan has two fighting styles they teach, a set of skill and ki bonuses they give to members, a favored jutsu only they can learn, a special bonus (or Gift) and a special trigger that gives the party a resource called Karma when you do something that causes problems in a specific way. They also have a list of names and their specialties, to choose as either an Ally or Rival, and a set of three Bonds for other party members. (We'll get into what all that means during the chargen chapter. The organization here is not the best.)



The Bamboo Herbalists are also known as the Ika Clan, the Brewers or the Caretakers. They train in the Bear and Dragon styles, and their unique jutsu is the Way of Caring Hands. They give +1 Athletics, +1 Empathy, +1 Holistics and +1 Travel, and they get +1 Yang Ki. They were born in the Land of Seed and Blossom, and even then, in that ancient time, they were masters of medicinal jutsu on a level that no one else in the world ever was. When the Izou Empire came to conquer their land, the Ika were split down the middle on how to handle it. Half wanted to join the Izou and become great, while half wished to remain behind, in their ancestral land. Those that joined the Izou Empire became the Bamboo Herbalists, and ever since, they have been both the most welcome nad most hated of clans. See, their expertise in medicine and healing jutsu made them beloved by the Imperial army, able to heal soldiers even in the middle of battle. Even today, their aid is needed in any plan of the Coalition simply because they are the best medics in the entire world.

However, other clans also hate them at times for their near-constant refusal to respect territorial boundaries. Ninja clans usually take pride in their borders, but for the Ika, it's all about valuable resources - wild herbs, berries and so on - that only grow in territories they don't control. They also have something of a thrillseeker streak and a tendency to invade other lands to steal ingredients they don't actually need, so it's easy to see why others don't really trust them as much as they might. Still, they were the first to join the Lotus Coalition, seeking to end their isolation from others and gain a new purpose. Besides, it showed everyone that without them, survival would be impossible. The past decade of healing other ninja and protecting Danketsu and other villages is nothing for them - they've been doing this forever. It's even gotten them ways to get ingredients they need without having to perform raids or sneaking missions, though they still enjoy the thrill of personally seizing ingredients.

Bamboo Herbalist lands tend to be full of forests and jungles with many rare plants. They spend much of their time wandering the wilderness to get and test new ingrdients, both to learn how to use them and also to develop their own physical skills of survival. They may be safe in their own lands, but when others come, they often find the forests foggy, confusing and full of poisons. The Ika tend to be naturally vibrant, passinate and energetic...well, natural may not be the right word, because it's due to their secret initiation drugs. These drugs extend their youth, enabling them to live for very long periods while remaining young and vital. They are rarely in a hurry, and they tend to keep their numbers low because the ingredients are limited. Unlike other clans, they have fully embraced Danketsu as their own hidden village rather than one of several they maintain, and essentially the entire clan now lives there. They are its most stalwart defenders, though they do still retain a number of secret labs outside Danketsu that they can use to conduct their often somewhat controversial drug experiments and brewing work.

For the Bamboo Hebralists, the Ninja Crusade has been an advantage. Danketsu brings trade and wealth to their lands, and with hundreds of ninja from many clans there, it'll safe for years. Their work has improved relations with other clans, and frankly, the entire thing is a victory for the Ika except for the actual, you know, war. Their main goal now is ensuring that Danketsu survives even after the Crusade ends and other ninja choose to leave or destroy it. Any student of history knows that ninja gather in times of war and then go back to killing each other after, but the Ika hope to prevent that second part.

The Gift of the Ika is that they are very long-lived, due to the physical transformation they go through as a result of training and drugs. They get +2 Fortitude against poison and sickness, and they can go for up to (Fortitude) days without food, water or sleep. Further, for every two years of time that pass, they age only one year. Their Trigger is that their mentality as a result of their lifespan makes them impulsive and prone to leaping at danger. They are frequently found heading into very dangerous locations and taking on challenges far beyond their abilities. The party gains 1 Karma when they accept a dare, even an implied dare, to do something dangerous.

Their list of potential contacts is: Nomuro Jotaro (Empathy), an expert counselor that can help fix or ruin a life. Akanishi Jin (Holistics), a doctor who knows everything there is to know about herbs and how to use them but who never, ever works for free. Domoto Toshinobu (Discipline), a farmer and master of meditation who often trains the worthy. Ibuka Sakura (Fighting), a brawler and a drunk who loves a good fight. Unto Aya (Perception), a snoop and gossip who also makes an excellent spy. Ika Tsuyoshi (Intimidation), a local daimyo who rules with an iron fist. Further, for Bonds, they have the following:
  • Choose one ninja you know has your back if your thrillseeking gets the better of you.
  • Choose one ninja who you have an unrequited crush on, making it harder to say no to them.
  • Choose one ninja who distrusts the use of herbs to solve problems, very much at odds with a Bamboo Herbalist.





The Blazing Dancers are also known as the Odoriko Clan, the Dancers and the Flame-Spitters. They use the Eagle and Monkey styles, and their unique jutsu is the Way of the Immaculate Show. They give +1 Fortitude, +1 Marksman, +1 Perform and +1 Speed, along with +1 Yang ki. They began as a single family, the Odoriko, who danced in secret. See, they come from the Land of Exalted Flame, where dancing, smiling and celebration were strictly forbidden, in accordance with the philosophy of The Way, which forbade outward display of happiness and emotion in general. The family soon grew into a number of hidden collectives that gathered by night to celebrate but were eventually hunted down. The survivors had only one escape: crossing hte Great Desert into the Izou Empire. It had never been done before, and everyone knew it was impossible. However, their special jutsu allowed them to survive with only a few losses. They set out to conquer the Empire with their performances, using ornate caravans to travel and put on shows until they drew the Emperor's eye.

The Emperor adored their signature performance, the Destroyer's Dance, and offered them his approval along with lots of money. This allowed them to build the Wu Ji school and theater at the base of the Ensen Volcano, where they began training performers - some ninja, some not, but all stars. They soon came to control the territory around the theater, defending it from other ninja, who always underestimate the carnies. The Ninja Crusade has changed fundamentally little about the Odoriko. All assumed that they had ninja, so the Emperor removed his official support of their troops and spread evil rumors to damage their reputation. It worked in larger cities, but border towns, crippled by the war, often ignore the rumors and accept the Dancers for a chance to smile for a while. They get enough money to keep their theaters going, and also to provide a convenient front for inconspicuous travel by the Lotus Coalition.

At the heart of Dancer territory is the Wu Ji Theater, home to amazing performances and parties. Few cities they control ever need more entertainment than they provide, and they work to keep the people's spirits high and their spirit unbroken. The Emperor has tried to seize the Wu Ji Theater several times but always failed. The Blazing Dancers are one of the chief clans of Danketsu, and they are teachers by nature, going to great lengths to get others to understand togetherness and strength in numbers. They try to make friends with other clans when they can, but the Grasping Shadows despise them, generally, for their foreign origins. Their training tends to be quiet and unassuming, and they'll take in any volunteer. Some work as stagehands or designers, but the best rise through the ranks and become ninja. This means that not all memebrs of the clan are actually ninja, and thousands of them are mere performers - only about a third of the clan is actually ninja.

The Ninja Crusade divided the clan early on. Many saw it is merely another attack on their people and wanted to return to the Land of Exalted Flames. Some left, but the vast majority of today's Blazing Dancers were born in Izou and wanted to stay - it's their home. Other clans focus on the war to an extrem, but for the Blazing Dancers, Danketsu represents a new future for them. If they can keep it alive, they can live their indefinitely and just allow the Ninja Crusade to die out for lack of targets. Their attempts to push peace and hiding, however, are consistently shouted down by more aggressive clans. They have decided to keep fighting alongside the others and defending Danketsu until they can find a way to change minds.

The Gift of the Odoriko is that each masters a specific type of performance - song, acrobatics, musical instruments, whatever. They get +1 to any check where they can use this specialty explicitly, and +2 if it's a Perform check. Their Trigger is that they are not respected. While some welcome them, many listen to the evil words of the Emperorr and believe them little more than jesters or fools at best - and leeches at worst. The party gains 1 Karma when this bad reputation makes things hard for them.

Their list of potential contacts is: Ryoko Naoko (Perform), a songstress without parallel in either skill or ego. Odoriko Mao (Crafts), a costumer known for his excellent disguise and tailoring skills. Takahashi Tani (Fortitude), a little woman that is renowned across the Empire as a champion eater. Masumi Ichiro (Speed), a quick messenger. Suzuki Hidetoshi (Intuition), an extremely old member of the clan who is capable of much wisdom and much doubt. Nakata Sachiko (Marskman), a villager who grew up alongside the ninja and is now an Imperial engineer, possibly a friend and possibly a foe. Their Bonds are:
  • Choose one ninja who always knows how to make you laugh.
  • Choose one fellow ninja who isn't a fan of your art. You are determined to prove them wrong.
  • Choose one ninja who thinks they are protecting you, but it's really more like you are protecting them.



Next time: The Grasping Shadows and Hidden Strands

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I was watching Justice League Dark last night, and Oubliette seems like it would be good for playing Vertigo/Hellboy comics style mystical adventurers, too. I'll be a little disappointed if we get to the Races section and it's either the standard Fantasy Heartbreaker array or complete Nexus/Floating Vagabond openness.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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#1 Builder
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Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: The Desperate Cry: NINJA IS A WORD THAT MEANS THINGS



The Grasping Shadows are also known as the Kumori Clan, the Shades or the Shadows. They practice Eagle and Wildcat styles, and their unique jutsu is the Way of Ebony Clutches. They give +1 Discipline, +1 Intimidation, +1 Marksman and +1 Stealth, as well as +1 Yin ki. The Grasping Shadows claim to have been one of the first ninja clans, and they've killed plenty of ninja to back up that claim. For generations, they were controlled by the Hebi Clan, waiting for the chance to break free and take power on their own. That chance came with the rise of the Izou Empire. The Kumori were selcted by the Emperor as his Imperial Assassins, eliminating any foes and rivals he needed gone - including a few leaders of other clans or kingdoms. Their mastery of stealth allowed them to operate with little supervision, and they were very good at killing, growing rapidly and soon becoming a dangerous threat to their rivals in the Hebi.

However, when the Izou began to turn against the ninja, the Shadows began to target the Empire. They murdered advisors and allies of the emperor, even regional daimyos, sometimes making it seem accidental and sometimes not. They rejected service to the Empire and made a point of antagonizing the Empire's Silver Blades, who enforced Imperial justice. They tried to unite the clans against the Empire, but all the really got were some ronin and minor clans, not the fear-inspiring alliance they'd hoped for. They attempted to train these ninja in their more traditional techniques, but found they were often rejected in favor of strange and new jutsus and fighting styles. This caused the Kumori to dislike almost all the other clans, whom they still view as, essentially, not true ninja. They cut off almost all communications and hid in their own lands, defending and terrorizing their citizens as they saw fit. The Crusade, however, forced them out of their self-made exile and into the Lotus Coalition. They don't like it, seeing these other clans as lessers who do not understand the meaning of 'ninja', but they know survival at any cost means teaming up.

The Kumori define things rigidly. Peace requires truth. Truth requires obedience. Obedience requires tradition. Those who are not part of the Kumori Clan cannot be fully trusted, even if they are allies or friends. Refusal to accept tradition is refusal to be a true ninja. Life in Shadow lands is very peaceful...until you step out of line or speak against the Grasping Shadows. At that point, punishment is quick and often deadly. Most citizens accept this, however, as they remember the Shadows as protectors and enemies of Imperial oppression. The Kumori training focuses on stealth and assassination, often using traps and poisons. They know that obedience and hard work are all that can be counted on, and masters do not tolerate failure or laziness. Those that cause trouble or want to use their powers greedily are treated harshly. If they can learn to obey, they can continue to train - but if not, they are often killed so they won't become a future problem. Becoming a full Shadow ninja means total obedience and perfect discipline. Trainees are typically given a target, usually a ranking or corrupt Izou official, and are told to kill them using a plan of their own design. This is seen as the perfect illustration of how to seek true peace.

While the Grasping Shadows belong to the Lotus Coalition as a major member, they are only involved for one reason: the utter destruction of the Izou Empire. Some among them have begun to understand the use of other clans, especially those who also honor ancient tradition, such as the Living Chronicle and the Hidden Strands. Perhaps these clans, they say, can continue to be used later. The elders, however, see the alliance entirely as a means to an end, and once the goal is complete, if the other clans do not embrace Kumori ideals, they will also need to be destroyed. For peace, and presumably to stop arguments over the definition of the word 'ninja'.

The Gift of the Grasping Shadows is in moving unseen. They get +1 Stealth when using shadows, and if they succeed on a Stealth roll with this bonus, they also get a bonus to Intimidaqtion equal to how much they succeeded by. However, their Trigger is their pride. They see other clans as mere ki manipulators, not true ninja in any sense - just children getting in the way. Because of this, they often cause problems with their squads, and the party gains 1 Karma any time their pride gets in the way of progress.

Their list of potential contacts is: Akiyama Shigematsu (Discipline), a monk with a vow of silence who nevertheless seems to know everyone. Sando Kata (Intimidation), a delicate beauty who is one of the best kidnappers and ransomers in the world. Nakashima Kagehisa (Fighting), a pit fighter who always seems to know what the word on the street is. Ruko Tani (Empathy), an old woman willing to listen to anyone's problems and give advice, even to killers. Kumori Takashi (Marskman), a thief who has been wanted by the Izou for years and who runs many safehouses. Soga Kiyomi (Knowledge), a nun in a Living Chronicle monastery who is always willing to share stories. Their Bonds are:
  • Choose one ninja who has made you rethink the position of their "lesser" clan.
  • Choose one ninja who has caught you performing a heinous act against a perceived innocent.
  • Choose one ninja who has saved your life and you may owe a favor.





The Hidden Strands of Fate are also known as the Asaito Clan, the Strands or the Thread-Bearers. They practice Crane and Horse styles, and their unique jutsu is the Way of Spun Threads. They give +1 Deception, +1 Intuition, +1 Perception and +1 Persuade, as well as +1 Yin ki. The Asaito have long had massive influence over the Empire. They claim to have been one of the first clans, a political family who used the Orime Rebellion to steal the secrets of jutsu from peasants. They hid among the peasantry and helped destroy the regime, claiming their place among the ninja by subtly replacing other clan leaders with their own people, via assassination or honor killing. Not that they're honorable by any means - the Hidden Strands of Fate are born traitors. Clan leadership tends to change hands every five years or so due to secret plots and coups - faster, if the current leaders gently caress up badly. All Strands sleep with one eye open, fearing their brethren will want to take their positions. Many are nobles or warriors by bloodline, used to backstabbing - literal or otherwise.

Predictably, they don't trust peasants or other clans, either. After all, they so often control these people. Training masters, in particular, are known for trying to control every detail in the lives of their students to push them to embracing clan philosophy. The rest of the Coalition hardly trusts them, and for good reason. It was revealed some years ago that key leaders in the Hidden Strands of Fate deliberately caused several of the events leading to the Ninja Crusade. A coup within the clan killed these leaders, of course, and since then the group has been more fully aligned with the Lotus Coalition. While the internal plots continue, they are more accepted now than once they were - now an actual, if mistrusted, ally rather than a bitter foe required for survival. They always seem to have an agenda, though.

Hidden Strands of Fate territory is just west of Daiwa, the capital of the Izou, where there are miles of jungle. Their villages are hidden here, and rarely visited, for the area is heavily trapped, with thousands of threads crossing the jungle, ready to trigger nasty, nasty effects. This is to protect the vast silk industry of the Strands, from which they derive most of their wealth. Their final goal is usually peace. They'll kill many to achieve it, but they do not want chaos. Thus, they have put aside infighting and feuds to combat the common enemy of the Empire. Their students tend to be of higher social class by birth, so they at least can influence Izou politics and laws, and this is the main way they help the Lotus Coalition - changing and manipulating the enemy from within. Their training is brutal, teaching both self-reliance and manipulation. Most infamous are their training tournaments, in which initiates must compete against both nature and each other. It is rare for more than one student to survive to the end of these tournaments, the rest dying to traps or their fellow competitors' betrayals. The more ruthless the victor is, the more favor they gain with the clan. It is harsh, yes, but the Asaito often become hardened warriors and survivors far younger than other, more pleasant ninja.

The Hidden Strand leaders have been rebuilding for years. The murder of their former leadership that caused the Crusade allowed them to establish a new directive in aiding the Coalition. This has done little to prevent the problem that most of the leaders openly despise other clans they work with, however. They are already planning ways to gain control of Danketsu and its Tribunal. For now, however, they are happy to be advisors until the time to strike is nigh. Likely, that time will be just after the Izou Empire is defeated.

The Gift of the Asaito is that their lives are tightly controlled. Every event is part of they or their masters' plots, each designed to strengthen the clan's members through suffering. This is painful, but it drives them to power and prestige beyond imagining. They get +1 Initiative, and may choose at the start of every scene whether they get +2 from their Hardship Gift (a chargen step) or if their Hardship Trigger gives 2 Karma when it occurs. Their Trigger is...well, they're corrupt and treacherous. Any time they are working, they have some side job they're doing for the clan - gathering names, retrieving secrets, stealing objects of value. These missions begin small, but as an Asaito rises in rank, their side jobs get bigger. The party gains 1 Karma when their secondary and secret objective causes tension or appears to make them go against their allies.

Their list of potential contacts is: Natsume Mitsuyo (Persuade), an Izou politician renowned for her silver tongue. Kawakami Haruki (Deception), an underhanded politician whose schemes reach everywhere. Kakuta Soseki (Fighting), a mercenary who will kill anyone for the right price. Asaito Yukio (Travel), a wagon-drover who can get her clients anywhere - or make it hard for them to get into anything. Asaito Natsuo (Holistics), a poisoner and apothecary whose mastery of herbs is unquestionable. Murakami Hiromi (Stealth), a thief who can get anything she is asked for. Their Bonds are:
  • Choose one ninja who who made you feel welcome into the squad when the others weren't too happy with your assignment.
  • Choose one ninja who has caught you in a betrayal and who may never fully trust you again.
  • Choose one ninja whose life you saved at some point. The time may come to cash that deed in for a favor.



Next time: The Living Chronicle and the Black Moon.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: I Am Nerdja And This Is Dog



The Living Chronicle, aka the Rekishi Clan, the Codices and the Historians, are masters of the Crane and Mantis styles. Their unique jutsu is the Way of Kept Lore. They get +1 Crafts, +1 Knowledge, +1 Perception and +1 Travel, as well as +1 Yin ki. The Rekishi began centuries ago in a small monastery. An aging but powerful lord sought out the monks and asked them to document his life and deeds, for future generations to learn from. The monks did, and the manuscripts they made were so beautiful and so detailed that the lord immediately invented several monks to his court, to record all that they saw. Their skill became so famous that many other nobles recruited the monks to their courts, to record their history. The monks took this all deadly seriously, documenting everything they saw without error. This eventually led them to uncover the existence of ninja and ki manipulation. In compiling this knowledge in their first Great Library in the Land of Crashing Waves, they unlocked the ability to manipulate ki themselves. This allowed them to control the elements and master the seas and mountains around their temples. However, their experiments became increasingly dangerous, and one day, the monks unleashed forces they could not control, destroying the Great Library and devastating the monastic order.

The Rekishi monks knew that if their goal of recording all knowledge were to continue, they had to take drastic steps. They renamed themselves the Living Chronicle and used all of their resources to begin a program of tattooing their own bodies with historical events, documenting history as it happened on their own flesh. The elder monks immediately branded major events onto their own bodies, with plans that, in death, their skin should be ritually removed and preserved. This ritual has been held in secret by the clan, and it is their greatest honor, ensuring that the living text is never compromised, even in death. They joined the Lotus Coalition early, to record the battles, decisions and events of the campaign. They have also become the best strategists among the ninja given how much history they know in the Empire.

Every member of the Rekishi is from the central monastery, the rebuilt Great Library, now called the Fortress of Scrolls. Here, the ninja and monks of the clan study together and trade stories. Outsiders can never tell which monks are also ninja, and the truth is that there aren't actually that many. Every monk learns the basic fundamentals of jutsu, but very few ever go beyond that. Every member is also expected to learn and become literate in multiple languages in order to assist in the cataloging, preservation and documentation of texts. Every member serves at least two years in the archives as part of their training, and at least one year traveling the world with an inker, documenting their experiences and anything they witness on their bodies. Returning with fewer tattoos than expected is seen as failure to properly place oneself in the middle of history. After, many go on to become monks in service to lords or officials, or stay at the monastery to work more in the archives. The order has many small monasteries and enclaves and are generally welcome, as most do not suspect the monks to have any ties to the ninja clan of the Living Chronicle. However, the largest enclave outside the Fortress of Scrolls is now Danketsu, which collects knowledge on ninja and is a strong signal of Rekishi support.

The first and foremost goal of the Living Chronicle is the preservation of knowledge and understanding. For centuries, they were fine with being neutral in all conflicts, regardless of what kind. The Empire changed that, forcing their hand by attacking Rekishi enclaves and burning them - along with their texts - to the ground, murdering many of the monks within and ruining their tattoos. The Chronicle are now utterly dedicated to the Coalition cause thanks to those actions, seeing the wanton ruin of knowledge as something they must eradicate at all costs. They want respect for knowledge to be returned to the land, and they have deep insight into human motivations thanks to their vast libraries. The Emperor has placed a bounty on the head of any Living Chronicle monk suspected of jutsu usage, and the Rekishi desperately want to restore their order to its proper place before he realizes that while few of the Historians are ninja, all of them use jutsu to a certain extent.

The Gift of the Rekishi is knowledge. Every one of them has studied and memorized many lords and their histories, remembering ancient kingdoms that no one else does. They get a free Specialty for the Knowledge skill as a result. They also understand emotion and fear better than any, pulling on their knowledge to keep themselves calm in any circumstance. They get a number of automatic successes on any check to remain calm or overcome fear equal to their Knowledge, capped by their Rank. However, their desire for knowledge is also their Trigger. So many histories have been lost to time, and they will not see it happen again. The party gains 1 Karma every time the ninja risks their life or those of the group to recover a document or historical text.

Their list of potential contacts is: Kondo Kei (Crafts), a master calligrapher that will happily teach anyone that shares their stories. Oishi Toshie (Knowledge), one of the chief historians at the Fortress of Scrolls. Aoki Hyobe (Perception), a major advisor to a young daimyo, and a lover of drink with a tongue loosened by it. Muraoka Mikazuki (Travel), a merchant who deals across the Empire and is always happy to tell her stories to the Rekishi. Rekishi Marise (Fortitude), a monk that has been embalming the Living Chronicle for decades. Kurokawa Iwa (Marksman), a hunter who grew up alongside the ninja and occasionally resents their gifts. Their Bonds are:
  • Choose one ninja whose stories you'll always listen to, no matter how bad they are.
  • Choose one fellow ninja to whom you are determined to teach the value of history.
  • Choose one ninja whose life story you need to chronicle, as a key figure of major events.





The Pack of the Black Moon are also called the Tsuki Clan, the Hounds and the Mutts. They practice the Dragon and Horse styles, and their favored jutsu is the Way of Twin Beasts. They get +1 Athletics, +1 Fortitude, +1 Might and +1 Survival, as well as +1 Yang ki. The Tsuki claim a long, long tradition of being in tune with nature. They see cities and urban life as chains which taint the land and betray the true nature of humans that live there. They do not often get along with other clans, who consider their lack of discipline and sophistication somewhat disturbing, but none can doubt their brutal effectiveness. The most unique feature of the Tsuki, however, is their reliance on their specially bred ninja dogs, which they've been raising for centuries. Every Tsuki bonds with a dog from a very early age and is raised alongside it. These dogs are a fundamental part of the clan's jutsu and martial techniques, and each is valued by the Pack as much as a man is. They'd never have survived without the dogs, after all, given how much the Grasping Shadows despise them.

The Pack have survived to the modern day thanks to their total knowledge of forests and caves in the Empire - a skill that cannot be overvalued in the current crisis. While their animalistic ways still draw some scorn, the Pack know they're survivors and face any outsider attacks with a terrible fury. They prefer, however, to tend to their packs and herds - but if pressed, they defend their families at any cost. The alliance with the Coalition has given them a new perspective on the world, and while they still prefer to keep to themselves, they know they must adapt to continue surviving. Danketsu welcomes their scouting skills, and many have grown to respect the dangerous powers they hold.

Pack ninja prefer to live by themselves, usually, or with only immediate family and close friends nearby. They do appreciate the finer things, but for them, simplicity is itself intensely enjoyable. They see any outsider first as a potential foe, and they are often seen as barbaric due to their rough manners. However, this is a safety measure from long years of being targeted by other clans. The only one closer to a Tsuki than their dog is their spouse, if they have one. They are raised alongside the dogs and are taught to play with them as equals. The dog, in a Tsuki home, has a seat at the table and eats as much as any human. It is a member of the family. When the dog dies, the entire family mourns and will be given gifts by the community until a new dog is adopted. The humans of the Black Moon are very much like their dogs in many ways - they sleep outside as often as not, they run barefoot, they stalk prey together. They can tap into ki with their dog as a living extension of the world's life force. Many foes of the Tsuki have been shocked and defeated by this, as the ninja are able to channel their jutsu through the dog nearly as easily as through their own bodies.

For the Tsuki, there is only one goal: Survive. Protect yourself, your family, your dog. Destroy all intruders. These simple goals work well with the Lotus Coalition, and Danketsu has shown the Pack that their ways aren't so different from those of other ninja. As long as they are respected, they really have very few problems, and once a Tsuki decides you're their friend, they never betray you. They believe their role is to teach the others how to live simply, and to guard the paths that lead to the hidden village. In many ways, they are the most loyal of all members of the Coalition, though they stand to gain the least from the defeat of the Empire. Their lives won't actually change that much. All they want out of the Ninja Crusade is that the world is a bit simpler when it ends.

The Gift of the Tsuki is their dogs. They fight together, work together, play together. They get +1 to any check in which the dog can somehow be an active participant. Further, in battle, the ninja dog is treated as a friendly Smaller Animal, but with +1 Health and Psyche above the normal stats for one, which go up another +1 each time the ninja gains a Rank. By spending 1 ki of either type, any jutsu they activate also extends its effects to the ninja dog. Their Trigger, however, is that they're...simple. They don't enjoy the subtle complications of urban life, nor the traditions and ceremonies of other clans. The party gains 1 Karma whenever the ninja disregards etiquette and tradition to the detriment of the group.

Their list of potential contacts is: Iwao Akiyama (Stealth), a jeweler and artisan by trade who acquires valuable materials despite looking like a poor farmer. Sanada Mako (Deception), a trickster that takes advantage of local folktales and legends to scare away Imperial soldiers with her illusions and inventions. Matamura Keiko (Knowledge), a seer who keeps old folktales alive and is said to haord the most ancient and secret stories in order to buy food for his family with them. Ichiyusai Moeka (Travel), the best sea pirate between Izou and the Land of Crashing Waves, who can get anything anywhere. Ikoma Sakawa (Intimidation), a businesswoman who loves nature and seeks to profit without destroying it, but whose need for control leads her to ruin her competition. Tsuki Mei (Survival), a woman known to be able to tame any animal and who often travels in search of rare and exotic animals to sell. Their Bonds are:
  • Choose one ninja who you view with suspicion, even though your dog loves them.
  • Choose one ninja who you find arrogant and condescending.
  • Choose one ninja to be your trusted advisor on all things regarding civilization or "normal" society.



Next time: The Recoiling Serpents and the Virtuous Body Gardeners.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


The Pack of the Black Moon are one of my favorite clans, just because they get to have a dog. A dog that helps!

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


It's good to see the Darkest Dungeon Man With Dog being a class happen somewhere else.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012




Part 2: "The Ku Klux Klan was their brainchild"

Chapter 1 Continued


The Lodges

quote:

They call themselves the Lodges. They were the force behind the Inquisition, the Reformation, the Industrial Revolution and most major conflicts and events since before the fall of the Roman Empire. They sabotaged the Ghost Dance, the Boxer Rebellion, and every mystical attempt of magical cultures to fight off European invaders. They have been the secret protectors of Western civilization for 1,000 years, and the secret masters of the world for longer than that.
So...they're assholes, basically. If that wasn't enough, they are also mostly made up of racist, misogynist white men that believe in the superiority of the West and intentionally spread materialist and secular ideology to prevent the plebes from achieving Initiation through gnosis. Oh, by the by, Gnosticism's going to be a big theme for these guys.

Assuming their history is correct, the first Lodge was founded during the Roman Empire by Simon Magus, a Samaritan Initiate in the First Century, and spread outward through the adherents of the Gnostic Gospels. From there, the Lodges slowly weeded its way into Roman society and the underground Church alike, having full control once Constantine took the throne as Emperor and declared Christianity the Roman Empire's official religion, removing the possibility of pagan Initiates interfering with the plans of the Lodges in the region. The oldest extant Lodge, the Roman Lodge, came about during this period and quickly gained strength by becoming the puppet master of the early Roman Catholic Church.

The Lodges outside of the Holy City inevitably fell into line as supporters of various polities in Europe such as the Kingdom of France, Kingdom of England, and the Byzantine Empire, as well as the inexplicable Jewish and Muslim Lodges in the Middle East that seem to defy all the logic of the demographics of the Lodges. The Crusades, Hundred Years' War, Protestant Reformation and subsequent wars between Protestantism and Catholicism, French Revolution, American Revolution, American Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Cold War have all been dick-slapping contests between the Lodges.

It was also the Lodges who sent Initiates along with the colonists of the Americas, Australia, India, and the African continent, neutralizing local Initiates so that their magic couldn't be used to stand against the steamroller of superior Western technology. On the specifically post-colonial American and Caribbean front, the Lodges influenced the Atlantic slave trade, witch hunts, demonization of Voodoo as Satanic, police brutality, militarism, and animal rights activism (it interferes with animal sacrifice to the loas, you see).


The organizational structure of a Lodge varies depending on the whims of who's running it, but most are split up into cells referred to as either councils or dioceses. Individual members have a rank in the hierarchy that goes from one to ten, typically known as degrees. Heading up a council is an elected tenth degree Initiate known as a bishop, whose power is held in check by the fact that a unanimous vote by all sixth degree or higher members of the council can strip him of his title if he pushes into territory they disagree with. Outside of the actual membership, councils also have puppets in local government, law enforcement, and business unions, as well as groups of hired assassins and legbreakers pulled from ex-military and ex-police if they need to use violence rather than magic to get what they want.

The rulers of all the Lodges are the Secret Masters, the longest-lived and most powerful Initiates of all time. Who are they? Nobody knows, because only tenth degree Initiates of the Lodges can even see them, and they aren't talking. There are rumors, though, and the supposed Secret Masters include Aleister Crowley, Comte de Saint-Germaine, Emperor Constantine, Harry Houdini, Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia, and Simon Magus himself. Some have questioned why the Secret Masters don't just stop the spirit-caused atrocities of the world if they're so mighty, to which traditionalists have shrugged and gone “they work in mysterious ways” and schismatics have yelled that the Corruptors are so thorough that they have even gotten to the Secret Masters.



Major Lodges and Other Lodge Orders
As with the Voodoo sects, notes on the three most influential Lodges and a smattering of smaller groups is given.

The Roman Lodge: As mentioned in the discussion of the history of the Lodges, the Roman Lodge is the power behind the Roman Catholic Church. They also happen to control most other fundamentalist Christian sects these days, "including many whose members would froth at the mouth at the suggestion that they have anything to do with Catholics". Roman Lodge members can be split up into three categories. First, there's the ones who genuinely believe that they are the vanguard of the Lord, pious Initiates whose magic is guided toward keeping Christian hegemony and spreading its morality. Second are some Gnostics who are just using the un-Initiated faithful of the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations as a sledgehammer for their own purposes. Finally, of course, there are the "corrupt Initiates", the evil guys who secretly serve the demiurges and other Corruptors. The third category is why pedophile priests exist, as well as why they typically don't get convicted. Regardless of which of the three groups they're in, the entirety of the Roman Lodge's membership is hugely sexist, seeing women as either whores or babymakers.

The Royalist Lodge: Out of numerous Lodges related to specific European kingdoms eventually came the Royalist Lodge. These disparate individuals came together during the time spanning the English Civil War and French Revolutions, as the members of the Lodge realized their firmly held belief in the divine right of kings was being threatened by revolutionary movements across the continent. Once monarchies began to fall out of the style outright, the Lodge went from elitism based on class to elitism based on race. The Ku Klux Klan, for instance, was these guys' creation, which is why the Klan has their ridiculous mystical titles like Grand Wizard and so forth. Unconfirmed rumors suggest they also used magic rituals to create AIDS and spread sickle cell anemia.

The Enlightened Lodge: The Renissance-spawned Enlightened Lodge are the guys we have to thank for the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. They're also the force of power behind the Freemasons and most experiments in government, as they believe in sociopolitical change as long as it happens slowly and under their strict control. And, as the book tells us:

quote:

They have finally consigned one of their experiments – communism – to the trash heap of history. Now if only the Powers controlling China would relent . . .
Unfortunately, for all that nicety, they're still sexist and racist, just to a lesser extent than Lodges like the Royal or Roman. You could think of them as the group going "all lives matter" while they apply their magical knowledge to white men first and foremost.


The Servants of Hecate: Taking their name from a smear campaign against female Initiates used by the Medieval Roman Lodge, the Servants of Hecate are a matriarchal Lodge that was founded by priestesses of various fertility deities, Initiate nuns, and Henry II's wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. The Lodge had an uneasy peace with the other Lodges until one of its members, Joan of Arc, took part in the Hundred Years' War. This gave the other Lodges an excuse to brand Servants of Hecate as heretics corrupted by the demiurges, and a non-small number of its Lodge members were tortured and murdered over the course of the Inquisitions. Ever since then, the Servants of Hecate have been mistrustful of the classical Lodges, and have found more common ground with the Voodoo Initiates and other native magical groups than their supposed brethren. The group is even behind the rise of Wicca, neopaganism, and feminism, spitting right in the face of the Roman Lodge.

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn is a Lodge that was born in Egypt during the waning decades of the Roman Empire. These guys are basically another flavor of the Enlightened, even having fingers in the same Freemason and fraternity pies, and are big fans of white British people. Members are the Golden Dawn are typically selected for being rich and intelligent on top of having magical talent. The typical jobs Golden Dawn Initiates get up to are either investigating Corruptor activity or keeping mundane society in the dark about the supernatural by funding professional debunkers and skeptic organizations.

The Ophites: One of the stranger minor Lodges, the Ophites hold that the serpent of the Garden of Eden is actually the protagonist of the Bible, being the one who was able to free humanity's mind from the grips of the demiurges. They see both this serpent and other snake deities the world over as evidence of the spritual path of knowledge and asceticism that has been set forth for humanity. The Ophites are also the only Lodge with non-human membership (that's admitted to, at least), with a number of its Initiates in the past several centuries being the serpentine In-Betweeners known as the Snake People. Why these particular Snake People are both nonviolent and open to Initiation is a mystery to everyone besides the Ophites.

The Readers of the Kabbalah: A Jewish lodge that follows the Torah and Jewish mysticist traditions. They were originally almost entirely concerned with the spiritual world rather than material one and kept to themselves, but other Lodges jealous of their talents kept instigating antisemitism and spreading conspiracies about Jewish overlords in order to keep the Kabbalists down. This, of course, spilled over in World War II, when the Kabbalists took up arms against Nazis and Nazi-fueled Corruptors. Ever since then, the Kabbalists have distanced themselves with the European Lodges and ramped up their fight against the Corruptors. Some particular Kabbalist councils, the Israeli Lodges, also have been engaging in conflict with the Islamic Lodges for the past half a century.

The Islamic Lodges...don't get their own entry, actually. All we know about them is that Lodges are split along the Sunni-Shia divide, that Sufi mystics in particular make great Initiates, and that they've been having conflicts with the Readers of the Kabbalah. That's it.



The Schismatics
Various horrors from the 20th Century onward, especially that whole "the German Lodges went crazy and helped along the Holocaust as part of a massive human sacrifice ritual to the Corruptors" incident, have led to repeated breakoff groups that went to make their own less bigoted Lodges (and since Aleister Crowley was involved with one of them, they may have in fact been with blackjack and hookers). This especially blew up in the 1960s, as more and more Initiates realized that being a racist white man was not necessarily the best course for changing history. Collectively, the Lodges that split off in the 20th Century are known as the Schismatics. These do not technically include the Servants of Hecate or Readers of the Kabbalah, even though those Lodges hem far closer to the Schismatics than the traditionalists. Two specific Schismatic Lodges are given some air time in the book:

The Crowley Society: The Great Beast/Master Therion/Aleister Crowley created this Lodge as a schism from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The Crowley Society's members follow the vision of the Carpocratian sect of Gnosticism, which states that gnosis lies in complete and total experience of the breadth of material vice rather than eschewing oneself from it. They love to engage in BDSM, have kinky sex while letting spirits possess them, have sex with In-Betweeners, and take designer drugs. In spite of other Lodges pointing at them as the biggest evidence of Corruptors influencing the Schismatics, Crowley Society Initiates constantly bumble into heroism, stopping various evils in order to keep the party of life going rather than out of any altruistic goal.

The Wild Hunt: Riding forth under the mantle of the horned god Cernunnos, the Wild Hunt is made up of fanatical hunters of Corruptors, corrupted Initiates, and In-Betweeners. Most, but not all, members are those who had spontaneous Initiation from horrible events and have internalized that pain as a righteous fury. They don't have any fear of death or suffering, but also have no compassion for those they fight, and all the other Lodges are a bit frightened of the Hunt's ruthless dedication to their cause. A Wild Hunt ride typically consists of a few Initiates investigating their target before calling in the reinforcements, which include both warrior Initiates and brutal hound spirits.



Next Time: The bad worse guys of the world.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 23:35 on Jul 1, 2017

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012


Night10194 posted:

It's good to see the Darkest Dungeon Man With Dog being a class happen somewhere else.

It's probably more related to these two fine fellows and their fine dogs.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Man With Dog being a hero is universal.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Didn't Shadow have a dog in Final Fantasy 6? He was a ninja.

Covok
May 27, 2013

Yet where is that woman now? Tell me, in what heave does she reside? None of them. Because no God bothered to listen or care. If that is what you think it means to be a God, then you and all your teachings are welcome to do as that poor women did. And vanish from these realms forever.


Dog is the true hero of mankind.

unseenlibrarian
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.

One of the later-introduced 1E ninja clans was basically 'like the dog clan, but with trained ninja tigers'. Needless to say they didn't get along well.

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


I'm a little surprised that this supernatural setting drawing on a specifically black spirituality doesn't have more to say about the Islamic Lodges and their use in plot hooks than "uhh, Sunni/Shia divide, Sufi mysticism," *checks notes on hand* "and they don't like the Jews"

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

In the game 'The End', the only two creatures that weren't made inimical to the meek after the Day of Judgement were cows because they were so dumb...and dogs because they're dogs and are all good boys and girls.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




MollyMetroid posted:

Didn't Shadow have a dog in Final Fantasy 6? He was a ninja.
Interceptor was the best.

And Gau was sort of everybody's dog. Oh, and so was Umago I suppose...

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


Night10194 posted:

Man With Dog being a hero is universal.

This man is your friend.
He fights against skaven.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Officially Designated Evil Ninja



The Recoiling Serpents are also known as the Hebi Clan, the Coils and the Serpents. They practice Snake and Wildcat styles, and their jutsu is the Way of Great Serpents. They get +1 Holistics, +1 Speed, +1 Stealth and +1 Survival, as well as +1 Yin ki. The Hebi are a long, long line of warriors from the Triumph Province. They are a nightmare, a story to tell children to frighten them, believed to be a myth for centuries. They ruled their land utterly, and were looked on as sacred judges, whom the people would turn to as protectors to preserve their honor. Criminals feared them, and even the just knew that the Serpents could strike at any time. The ancestors of today's Recoiling Serpents began the War of Withered Fangs - but the Recoiling Serpents have become their own clan, and terrible in their own unique way. Their territory is full of swamps, and they are infamous for regularly luring in Izou soldiers and rival ninja to die in the swamps, for they hated all other clans. Whenever the chance to assassinate someone important or powerful came, the Serpents always took it. Often, they were also blamed for deaths they had nothing to do with, and were happy to take credit anyway.

The Hebi arguedh eavily over whether to join the Lotus Coalition, but ultimately doing so is what kept the Izou off their back for years. They were lumped in with all the other ninja, who were now hated as much as they were. They finally had a use for their murder skills besides their own notoriety and hatred. Many criticize them for their deeply dishonorable methods, but they don't care what anyone else thinks. In Danketsu, they sell poisons and weapons to anyone that will buy, and there are many buyers. They are a deeply proud clan, and they see the current state as ironic - they once stood against Imperial aggression, and now others seek to fight against the very destruction of their beliefs that the Hebi faced when they became the Recoiling Serpents. They are more than willing to teach the others how to be guerrillas, but only because they know that doing so will, one day, free them to become great once more.

The Hebi are used to isolation, and while they've learned to trust a little in the Coalition, they know that the clan always comes first. They are ferocious and proud ninja, and many long for the days when they were free and independent of all ties. They have deep, deep grudges against all other clans, but for now, they put them aside. They focus on how to deliver poison to their victims as easily as possible. They are forced in training to master every aspect of a specific poison, from its smell to its taste. The young are often thrown into pits of venomous serpents - only the survivors earn the right to become ninja. The Hebi remain one of the largest ninja clans, and so their presence is often felt. The other Lotus Coalition clans watch them warily, for the elders can remember the damage the Serpents have done to the other clans. However, the Hebi are happy to use their reputation to try and force issues or mission choices. They make veiled threats, imply that accidents will happen - they're more than willing to intimidate their allies, and against their enemies, they are even nastier.

The Recoiling Serpents make their home in Triumph Province, the largest Imperial province. This is because they have always defended their territory - even when in alliance. It would dishonor them to turn over even an inch of their land. The Ninja Crusade has, by and large, worked to their benefit, allowing them to absorb and take over neighboring areas. They want to spread their influence and power so that they will be in a good position when the Crusade ends and the ninja are once more fighting each other. For now, the Serpents play nice - well, as nice as they get - but they know it won't have to last too much longer.

The Gift of the Hebi is snakes. Their training alters their own physiology, softening their skin and making their body exceptionally flexible. This allows them to mimic the movement of serpents. They get +1 Health and also +2 Athletics for checks involving flexibility or escaping confinement. However, their Trigger is their vengeance. The Serpents are not good at holding back from vengeance. A wrong left unavenged burns in their very core. The party gains 1 Karma when they engage in revenge against the party's goals and to their detriment.

Their list of potential contacts is: Akiko (Holistics), a mysterious poison-maker who will sell her wares only for trinkets that hold personal value to the buyer. Daigo Orino (Stealth), a tracker and smuggler who prefers ot be discreet and professional with her clients, ending all contact when the job is over. Taneda Hide (Crafts), a one-armed ninja who once poisoned himself due to a faulty needle and now specializes in making secret poisoning tools. Hebi Misaki (Fortitude), a restaurant owner who loves cooking and knows many ways to kill secretly. Orihara Mika (Perception), a boat captain who is proud of both her speed in travel, the style of her craft and her skill in dice. Ezaki Kohei (Athletics), a former runner and celebrity in the Empire whose wife was mudered and who has now turned to drinking alone as much as he can. Their Bonds are:
  • Choose one ninja who seemed genuinely fascinated by your clan's nature, always looking to learn more.
  • Choose one ninja who irritates you with almost every word they say.
  • Choose one ninja who you feel has an ability you admire, but you'll never admit this to them.





The Virtuous Body Gardeners are also known as the Sumi Clan, the Gardeners and the Inks. They practice Monkey and Tiger styles, and their jutsu is the Way of Inked Skin. They get +1 Crafts, +1 Fighting, +1 Intuition and +1 Perform, as well as +1 Yang ki. The Sumi are the youngest major clan in the Lotus Coalition, a breakaway group from the Living Chronicle 80 years ago. They were the tattooists of the Chronicle, responsible for making the markings on the skin, and were very skilled, but treated with little respect. As their expertise grew and their tattoo-manipulating jutsus became more important, they eventually surpassed their mentors. They found the methodical, practiced tattoos of the Chronicle stifling and inelegant, and so they broke away and became free to create true masterpieces. They were opposed, of course, by more traditionalist clans like the Will of Iron or the Grasping Shadows, who saw them as children throwing tantrums. The Chronicle, however, saw them as wayward souls that might one day return, and are now resigned to the fact that the Sumi have found a new identity and will not come back.

The initial acceptance of the Sumi into the Lotus Coalition was reluctant due to their youth as a clan, unproven in battle, but a number of other ninja vouched for their dedication and skill. Even those who opposed them could not overlook the words of the Blazing Dancers and the Living Chronicle. The Sumi have since proven themselves dedicated and able, often volunteering for dangerous missions. Now, many of them are taking leadership roles in the Coalition, seeing themselves as a force for chance in the world, a catalyst to push the Coalition forward.

The Gardeners hold a relatively small territory southeast of Daiwa, bordering on the lands of the Black Moon, the Shadows, the Serpents and the Wardens of Equilirbium. The idea was that constant struggle with these clans would strengthen the Gardeners, but in recent years the focus has been firmly on the Empire. War with the Empire has enhanced their jutsu and fighting skills. They have also wholeheartedly bought into Danketsu, seeing it as a way for them to hone their skills and gain the support of other clans. Their influence is slowly growing in the village, though they were unable to get it built on their land, due to its proximity to the capital. All Sumi begin their training with weapons and combat, but their true training will not begin until they master that. After this, they are secluded for weeks, with contact allowed only for three-day periods of ritual scarification, preparing their bodies for their specialist jutsu and enhancing their pain tolerance. Some even begin to enjoy pain, taking ever more extreme methods of self-mortificaiton. Scars, piercings and burns are badges of honor among the Gardeners. Once training is complete, each ninja is branded at the base of the neck with the clan's symbol, showing their membership to all. After this, they are often dedicated to their clan on a very deep level - but even if they weren't, it wouldn't matter. One only leaves the Sumi as a corpse.

Since their creation, the Virtuous Body Gardeners have wanted only one thing: legitimacy. Their early actions of territorial expansion and deliberately pissing off other clans was a way to prove themselves. Over the past decade, they've eased off on the constant aggression, and while they remain very outspoken, their anger is typically directed at the Empire instead of other ninja. This has given them some of the legitimacy they wanted, along with increased numbers. A few clans still dislike their rebellious tendencies, however, and there are hints that once the Izou are done, the Sumi will have another war on their hands.

The Gift of the Sumi is painting. They are skilled at all forms of painting and tattooing, getting +2 to all Crafts checks related to painting or tattooing, and their work gets double the normal pay. Further, due to their intense physical training, they reduce all penalties from pain by 2. However, their Trigger is their constant need to prove themselves. They know they're young and disrespected, and so they will often volunteer for stupid or dangerous missions just to show they can do it. The party gains 1 Karma whenever they accept a mission or job to do something dangerous or foolish that at least one other person has refused.

Their list of potential contacts is: Okumura Yuko (Might), one of the strongest men in the world and all too aware of it. Sumi Chimaki (Speed), a beautiful woman who is deadly with a blade and loves to be the center of attention. Saito Juzo (Perform), a street performer noted for his extreme contortionism. Yasutake Hizuru (Intuition), a midwife who claims she's brought more children into the world than there have been deaths in the Crusade. Asai Oniji (Deception), leader of a gang of orphans and thieves who hates traitors. Tachibana Kozue (Persuade), an alchemist who sells sleeping and healing potions that aren't very reliable. Their Bonds are:
  • Choose one ninja who you are determined to tattoo, whether they want it or not.
  • Choose one ninja who you are constantly trying to impress.
  • Choose one ninja whho is itching to challenge you to a battle of blades.



Next time: The Wardens of Equilibrium and the Will of Iron. Also maybe the ronin.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Kellsterik posted:

I'm a little surprised that this supernatural setting drawing on a specifically black spirituality doesn't have more to say about the Islamic Lodges and their use in plot hooks than "uhh, Sunni/Shia divide, Sufi mysticism," *checks notes on hand* "and they don't like the Jews"

Yeah, I'm a bit surprised given how the Brotherhood of Islam had a huge influence in African American culture and politics, and that several north african countries are predominantly or heavily islamic - you think they'd get a decent write up.

NGDBSS
Dec 30, 2009








Robindaybird posted:

Yeah, I'm a bit surprised given how the Brotherhood of Islam had a huge influence in African American culture and politics, and that several north african countries are predominantly or heavily islamic - you think they'd get a decent write up.
It's basically "we didn't do any research" on several different levels - like the assumptions that Muslims = Arabs (Arab Muslims are only around 10% of the total because except for Egypt the Arab nations tend to be underpopulated), leading into the concept that Muslims and Jews are always in conflict (when the problem is primarily a regional conflict sparked by land distribution and kept alive by various uncompromising actors over the years*), that no sects exist beyond the Sunni and Shia (despite being something of a fringe sect with messianic teachings, the Ahmadis still have worshippers on par with the entirety of Judaism).

So as Fossilized Rappy said way earlier, the book is very 90's. ...

*Which isn't to say that Islamic anti-Semitism doesn't exist beyond the lens of the Israel/Palestine conflict, but that's more a problem with fanatical shits being fanatical shits regardless of creed.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



NGDBSS posted:

It's basically "we didn't do any research" on several different levels

Thus my 'bit', Carella seem like a decent dude and does try, but there's definitely a White Dude Myopia in this book.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



NGDBSS posted:

It's basically "we didn't do any research" on several different levels - like the assumptions that Muslims = Arabs (Arab Muslims are only around 10% of the total because except for Egypt the Arab nations tend to be underpopulated), leading into the concept that Muslims and Jews are always in conflict (when the problem is primarily a regional conflict sparked by land distribution and kept alive by various uncompromising actors over the years*), that no sects exist beyond the Sunni and Shia (despite being something of a fringe sect with messianic teachings, the Ahmadis still have worshippers on par with the entirety of Judaism).

So as Fossilized Rappy said way earlier, the book is very 90's. ...

What's probably the best take on Islam in gaming during this time? Cyberpunk 2020 supplement "When Gravity Fails", largely because George Alec Effinger was a Middle Eastern Studies major and took that poo poo seriously?

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Young Freud posted:

What's probably the best take on Islam in gaming during this time? Cyberpunk 2020 supplement "When Gravity Fails", largely because George Alec Effinger was a Middle Eastern Studies major and took that poo poo seriously?

That one is a contender for all time best.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Not to cut off my own eventual conclusion, but I definitely think it's a case of good intentions mixed with the 90s roleplaying game scene (and the 90s in general) being what it was. Things like the random aside about communism as a failed experiment, the "both extremes are dangerous, we need the middle path", etc. hit that 90s liberalism tone pretty well.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Robindaybird posted:

Thus my 'bit', Carella seem like a decent dude and does try, but there's definitely a White Dude Myopia in this book.
There is a certain naive charm, sort of like with Aladdin from Disney, in presenting Islamic/Arabic/MENA culture as exciting and exotic, not some kind of menacing alien horde who can only be held at bay by.... something.

Mover
Jun 30, 2008

Goodness no, now that wouldn't do at all!


"As a member of the Tsuki Clan, I have dedicated my life to the first and most noble among animals given to mankind. I was born at the same hour as my pup's litter was delivered, and he has never left my side. He eats at my side, and we share the same food. I think like the dog, run alongside the dogs, and even the humans who accompany me are but a part of the dog pack. I have trained my entire life to emulate him, and to fight alongside him, as all of us ninjas who call ourselves, 'The Pack of the Black Moon' live our lives."

"Ah, I see. And the name of your style?"

"Horse."

Angry Salami
Jul 27, 2013

Don't trust the skull.


Robindaybird posted:

Yeah, I'm a bit surprised given how the Brotherhood of Islam had a huge influence in African American culture and politics, and that several north african countries are predominantly or heavily islamic - you think they'd get a decent write up.

There was also, IIRC, Muslim slaves in Haiti during the revolution, and a strong Muslim presence in slave revolts in Brazil.

Comrade Koba
Jul 2, 2007





Welcome to the 90's, where everything you don't like is obviously controlled by the Demonic Nazi Illuminati.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Cash Money vs Justice



The Wardens of Equilibrium are also known as the Chuushin Clan, the Monks and the Merchants. They practice Bear and Snake styles, and their jutsu is the Way of Balancing Scales. They get +1 Deception, +1 Discipline, +1 Knowledge and +1 Persuade, and their choice of +1 Yin or Yang ki. The Wardens were born of the cycle of catastrophe that so often has been repeated. They rose after the War of Withered Fangs, the conflict in which the economy of the Empire was ruined and thousands died. Several merchant groups came together to try and make a force that would prevent this from ever happening again. The founding leader of this group, Chuushin Nobu, taught them to balance their emotions and draw strength from that balance. They allied with monasteries, training with the monks to master the art of ki balancing in order to remain strong. Rather than being centered, however, they usually found it best to swing between the extremes of Yin and Yang, and they would often side with different groups in conflict, earning them a reputation for betrayal.

The Wardens have planned for a long time ahead, and they always weigh the many outcomes of their potential actions. This pragmatism has served them well in business, and for some time they were the richest clan in the entire Empire. Their numbers grew, mostly as nobles and merchants from each province joined them and added to their collective wealth. They also absorbed criminals as easily as honest businessmen, and while they hate cmmon thugs and bandits, organized crime makes sense to them. Taking both honorable and wicked alike fits their idea of balance. Without them, however, the Empire's order would have been lost years ago. When the Crusade began, the Wardens were prepared, organizing the early resistance and helping to found the Lotus Coalition. Few believed that uniting bitter ninja rivals was possible, but the Wardens are used to the impossible. Their diplomacy was what allowed the birth of Danketsu, and they've been leaders in the Coalition since it began. By pooling everyone's resources, they have helped everyone survive - and they're sure never to let them forget that fact.

The Wardens live in away that is dedicated to focusing themselves on one path. The path may change, but their lives, they feel, are meaningless unless they act with perfection. This is a massive strength for them, allowing them to purge competing emotions inside of them by focusing on Yin or Yang. Instead of spreading themselves widely, they empower themselves by choosing one feeling to be their focus. It is not easy, and some Wardens can spend their entire lives unable to tame either Yin or Yang, while others cannot choose but a single path. They may find they need to purge themselves and embrace the opposite of their current mindset. To do this, they perform the sacred ritual known as the Rite of Walking Another Path, which profoundly alters the personality and thoughts of the user. The Wardens have many businesses and monasteries across the Empire, and they enjoy the wealth and influence this brings. However, they are careful not to become caught up in wealth - they work to see the clan prosper, but they know that wealth is fleeting and that obsessing over it can destroy balance. Wealth makes life easier - but the easy path isn't the road to enlightenment, they say.

Actually, since the Crusade began, the Wardens have lost a lot of money. They're still strong, both politically and economically, but they aren't nearly as rich as they were. Their more passive, economic approach tends to be unpopular with the more action-oriented clans, such as the Will of Iron or Blazing Dancers, but the Wardens see Danketsu as the place to prove their philosophy correct. They attempt to subtly maneuver Coalition politics towards their views. Still, they are amazing strategists and have plenty of safehouses across the Empire, which they allow the other clans to use relatively freely. However, the Wardens know that the alliance will collapse once the Ninja Crusade ends.

The Gift of the Chuushin is their ability to maintain strange ki balance within themselves. If their Yang is greater than their Yin, they get +2 Health. If their Yin is greater than their Yang, they get +2 Psyche. If both are exactly equal, they get +1 Health and +1 Psyche, and +1 to all jutsu activation checks. Their Trigger, however, is also drawn from their ideal of balance. They have helped and harmed everyone in the course of their history, and their philosophy of balancing all sides makes them hard to trust. The party gains 1 Karma when they are forced to break a promise or alliance with someone which causes tension or conflict.

Their list of potential contacts is: Sawai Yuuki (Persuade), a toymaker and candle-seller who uses children to gather all kinds of rumors. Kida Shiro (Intuition), a weapons dealer whose clients have allowed him to learn the locations and movements of all kinds of armies in the Empire. Manabe Rin (Knowledge), a librarian and poet with many high society connections. Katsuya Tsuyoshi (Deception), an Imperial bureaucrat and trade manager who can easily control who is and is not allowed to buy and sell in the capitol. Narumi Nao (Survival), an animal trainer and circus manager rumored to be from a destroyed noble house. Chuushin Taro (Crafts), a counterfeiter infamous for his peerless falsifaction of artwork. Their Bonds are:
  • Choose one ninja who you respect for their intelligence, and can rely on their counsel.
  • Choose one ninja who you cannot bring yourself to trust due to their chaotic nature.
  • Choose one ninja who you find a worthy ally on the battlefield.





The Will of Iron are also known as the Hagane Clan, the Sheriffs and the Judges. They practice Mantis and Tiger styles, and their jutsu is the Way of Heaven's Judgment. They get +1 Empathy, +1 Fighting, +1 Intimidation and +1 Perception, along with +1 Yin ki. Their clan is one of extremes, born of a time of chaos and death. They are dedicated to the ideals of truth and justice, ensuring that all crimes are uncovered and all guilty parties punished. Many believe their view of the law is extremist, but they see it as just the simplicity of the law. The founder, Hagane Yoshiro, was one of the first justice-seekers, who sought guidance from the gods after his brother was accused of a crime and set to be executed, despite his innocence. Yoshiro was dedicated to seeing justice done, so he made sure to get the commission to forge the blade that would kill his brother and made it from a mysterious metal he found in a temple. When the blade refused to slice his brother's neck, Yoshiro took it as a divine sign of the immutable nature of justice and its power.

Because of their strict adherence to the law, the Will of Iron have often been foes of other clans, quietly policing the Empire for centuries before the Crusade began. Many of their lessons were learned in their time in the Land of Five Blades, and they continue to face the wrongs of society, but must now be more selective. By joining the Coalition, they have survived, and they see themselves as the moral compass of the alliance. They have become very useful arbiters of disputes in Danketsu, to be sure. They believe in law and justice very deply, seeking to punish the wicked and protect the innocent, bring order to a chaotic and often lawless time. Their methods are harsh and sometimes work against their own interests, but overall, the Hagane are resolute foes of crime. They are strong as the swords and clubs they wield, and they have a belief that others often criticize: Only the guilty have something to hide. This doesn't always go over well with other ninja.

For the Will of Iron, life is a constant act of maintaining perfection and order in a world of chaos. Those who bend the rules and take shortcuts are everywhere, but for someone dedicated to all of the law, in its entirety, this is unacceptable. Their training focuses on mental and physical fortitude, to make them as unyielding as iron. Thus, only the toughest and most resolute of their members ever master their clan jutsu, for they don't waste their time on those without the will to learn. They have a deep fire in their souls, and the Hagane are famous for their internal arguments. Many in Danketsu like to watch as two Will of Iron spar with each other, debating points of law while fighting. The real victor must win both battle and debate. They aren't always active, though. To relax, the Hagane enjoy both blacksmithing and study, and can often be found in temples or teahouses, giving impromptu lectures on legal matters. They try to be ready for anything at all times, and they greatly enjoy debating law and legal affairs, usually quite loudly. They also work in their forges to seek to create perfection in the form of the metal weapons they use to enforce law.

The Will of Iron are the enforcers of the Coalition, doing their best to ensure honor and stability in a group of such different clans with such different views. Their skills are very welcome - they are some of the best fighters in the world - but other clans find their strict adherence to the law tiring. Their plan at the moment is to increase their numbers and try to preserve order in whatever form of government follows the Empire's death. They hate being forced to work with those who have no honor, but are willing to bide their time and gather resources for now.

The Gift of the Hagane is metal. They attune themselves to metal and metal tools in their years in the forges, believing that no warrior should ever use a weapon they can't make. They get +1 to any check when using a metal tool or weapon, or +2 if they made the tool or weapon themselves. However, their Trigger is their very strict moral code. They do not deviate from thje letter of the law, and even bending the rules tends to rankle them and make them want to find a criminal to punish. The party gains 1 Karma when they stand firm to preserve the law, keep a promise, refuse to break an oath or rule or betray their own conscience, to their detriment.

Their list of potential contacts is: Koga Harue (Fighting), a mercenary that works to protect villages and towns, strictly enforcing the law against anyone, no matter what. Kusamura Yume (Perform), a traveling monk that does performances and tells stories in exchange for room and board. Hagane Fuyuko (Intuition), an investigator who is a zealot against crime, often at odds with the fact that they can never truly rest. Uefugi Miwa (Empathy), a guard captain in an Izou village who often is willing to share what she knows. Kaijo Ryuu (Might), a retired trainer who has spent years perfecting his pho gah soup recipe and who hates bullies. Imoto Samuru (Stealth), a trainer of messenger rats and pigeons whose brother was lost to a violent crime and who does his best to aid justice. Their Bonds are:
  • Choose one ninja who has impressed you with an honorable act, making you trust them more.
  • Choose one ninja who bends or even breaks the law often and has lost your respect.
  • Choose one ninja whho you seek to redeem of some flaw they possess.





The Ronin are also known as the Clanless, the Orphans and the Scavengers. Unlike clan ninja, they do not get two unarmed fighting styles to choose from. Instead, they can only select one - but it can be any of them. They have no favored jutsu...but more on that in a moment. They get +1 to any four skills of their choice, and +1 to their choice of Yin or Yang ki. See, a Ronin is one who has left their clan or has developed ki manipulation independently and refused to join a clan. Their lifestyle is looked down by clan ninja, who believe either the Ronin must be a shame to their previous clan or too prideful to listen to anyone. Most Ronin are still quite formidable, however. Before the Crusade, they were out casts and mercenaries, sometimes hermits. There are stories of some Ronin that earned their way back into a clan, but also others of Ronin who reveled in banishment and terrorized the land. For example, there is the tale of the former Blazing Dancer Kanaka the Knife, who burned his own temple to the ground when the girl he loved rejcted him. This is the view most have of Ronin.

In truth, they're usually just warriors without a patron family. They have the same skills and abilities as clan ninja, and some were once memebrs of clans that got wiped out in the Crusade. Others left their families due to some crime or failure that stripped them of honor, preferring to work in the shadows after that. Whatever the case, the Ronin have done will in the Lotus Coalition. They face their foes as bravely as anyone, proving to the clans that they're more than honorless dogs. Many ranking agents in the Coalition have begun to prefer hiring Ronin over clan ninja, seeing them as easier to work with and less likely to cause strife in groups. While they are still looked down, they rarely have the ancient feuds the clans can have.

Ronin once lived in the edges of the ninja world, but are now in high demand. The Coalition calls on them to help defeat the Imperial army and its black powder weapons, and many Ronin see it as a chance to expand their own fame or even form new clans. It's a test to become legend. That doesn't mean the clans all accept them, however. The Recoiling Serpents and Hidden Strands especially find them distasteful. Many Ronin became Ronin due to committing crimes or were taught by those who did. On the other hand, many begin to see them as worthy friends. Not all Ronin are criminals, and many have fought for good causes. In Danketsu, the Ronin are a common sight, and some have even been recognized by clan elders as useful and good, if with some distaste.

The Ronin lack unity, and so they have no agenda. Most follow their own ideals and philosophies and are often at odds with each other. They have many potent ninja in their ranks, but are beholden to none, which makes them excellent Coalition recruiters, as they have no past feuds to worry about. Ronin with plans to create their own clans often want to destroy a major clan in order to take their place, however.

The Gift of the Ronin is adaptability. They can spend a Dynamic Action to substitute one skill for another for any single check, allowing them to use their skills in ways that no one else can. Further, they may select any jutsu, even normally clan-locked jutsu...but in exchange, they have fewer jutsu during character creation, in total. The Trigger of the Roning, however, is their lack of friends. They have to survive in a world where few like them at all, and they are often angry about this. The party gains 1 Karma when they act out their independent nature in a way that puts them or the group i ndanger.

Their list of potential contacts is: Hagane Michiko (Fighting), a banished warrior who now serves as a bounty hunter for any clan that'll hire him. Aozara Satoru (Marskman), a smuggler whose left half of his face is paralyzed due to a botched poisoning, and who can get anything anywhere...as long as you put up with his paranoia. Mitsuyoshi Tamiko (SpeeD), a street musician whose skill lets her pass messages even under the noses of the best Imperial guards. Katayama Suki (Survival), a forest guide who knows how to get in or out of any city and who spends her time helping the innocent or entrapping the guilty. Motobashi Yuji (Discipline), a former legend in wrestling who now finds life boring and seeks out ever greater thrills to keep himself motivated. Kuwashiro Chino (Athletics), a mountain climber and trailblazer known for her ability to take even the softest noble into the high mountains. Their Bonds are:
  • Choose one ninja who was an old friend who knew you before you were Ronin.
  • Choose one ninja whose ideals you do not respect, and seek to prove that your way is superior.
  • Choose one ninja who came to your defense once when no one else would.



Next time: Character creation - a rundown. Give me example ninja you want to see!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Bear in mind I can learn more about Islam in the next 30 minutes than I could have with a few hours of research in the mid-90s. The Internet is cool sometimes.

Fossilized Rappy posted:

Not to cut off my own eventual conclusion, but I definitely think it's a case of good intentions mixed with the 90s roleplaying game scene (and the 90s in general) being what it was. Things like the random aside about communism as a failed experiment, the "both extremes are dangerous, we need the middle path", etc. hit that 90s liberalism tone pretty well.
Repost from the Chat thread:

The perspective presented in the World of Darkness is not all that different from The Matrix: it's the perspective of a middle-class adolescent beginning to question whether their reality is really real. You know that reality cannot be the one presented to you on television, nor do most people experience reality the way you do in an affluent suburb. (Lewis Mumford criticized the entire concept of a suburb as "an asylum for the preservation of illusion...based on a childish view of the world," and for good reason.) You know that when your parents and teachers tell you to be "realistic," it's a particular vision of realism.

So what you tend to see in these games is the mindset of someone breaking with the Establishment but with all the prejudices of someone raised in it. All the institutions of Western liberal democracy are presented as irredeemably corrupt. Middle-class suburbia is at best a colourless limbo. Christianity is nihilistic and the Roman Catholic Church in particular is made into a Satanic mockery of itself.

At the same time the City, as opposed to the Suburb, is presented as a nightmarish "concrete jungle" haunted by "urban predators." The Eastern world is presented always through the mystery-fogged lens of Orientalism. Non-Abrahamic religion--especially anything that can be conflated with the New Age movement--is "swallowed whole" without critique, to use an outdated Marxist-Leninist term. And of course the stories abound with various subtypes of Magical Negro, Noble Savage, Inscrutable Asian, and most famously, Thieving Gypsies.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book 14: New West Part 8: "It is said that things have gotten so out of hand that even a Cyber-Knight or Sky-Night is not safe on its streets!"


This book has a real dichotomy between how people dress in art and how armored PCs have to be.

The Colorado Baronies

So, refugees from Denver settled near the Platte River, which it turns out is also a ley line, where they developed an unprecedented number of mystics (as in the O.C.C. from the corebook) and were able to fight off demons and other threats, found the city of Hope. Exploring, they were able to assist other local survivors and communities with their surplus of magical talent, formint the Colorado Baronies. They also discovered the Lyn-Srial and developed an alliance. As such, Hope is one of the only places where humans practice cloud magic.

With four major cities ("baronies) and a variety of towns and villages, the baronies are a hotbed of magical activity, though many smaller communities are largely or entirely mundane. Larger cities are about equal to the '70s in technology (we just invented Pong, folks!) while other communities are 18th or 19th century. Seems like an awfully wide gap.... while techno-wizardry and magic are common at the larger communities. "Modern" technology from the Black Market and Northern Gun is starting to filter in, though.

It's relatively idyllic for the Rifts setting, though smaller ranches and communities are more vulnerable to outlaws and monsters.

The Barony of Hope

We get a lot of numbers in all of these writeups, like Kornmann took Siembieda's love of statistics and ramped it up, giving us a:
  • Racial breakdown of the community (mostly humans, a minority of D-Bees, psi-stalkers, and Fennodi in that order).
  • A random roll for the number of transients present (1d6 x 1000).
  • A list of surrounding communities and their population counts.
  • The number of sheriffs and deputies in each community.
  • The percentage of spellcasters (about 1d6 people in every 100 are mystics, and 1 in 200 are techno-wizards).
  • The literacy rate (47%) and magical education rate (30%).
Then, without missing a beat, we move on to the City of Hope and go through all those statistics again in regards to that particularly. Most notably, there's a far larger number of mystics (about 1 in 3 people) and techno-wizards (about 1 in 10 people). Education levels are high enough that Erin Tarn called it the "Lazlo of the West". See, I usually kind of skip all these statistics, but so much of this section is just numbers I wanted to give a taste of what it's like. And this is just the cliff notes. I don't think any of you care that the Pawnee North Plains are now the Pawnee National Grassland, populated by 1480 Pawnee, 200 Arapho, and 150 "other". And if you do care, tough.

Going on about the city of Hope, it's built right on a ley line nearly a nexus where Greely once stood (the original city was blown up by the ley line). The ley line is used like a highway by both flying and floating techno-wizard craft, and much of the city is literally powered by magic. The high degree of wizardry in the town serves as its main defense, and about half of the police force can use magic or psychic powers.


Magical Burt Reynolds.

The ruler is a "Baron Joseph Midgard", a mystic who is heavily influenced by Lyn-Srial ethics and philosophy. He has a Cabinet of Advisors that handle most of the day to day operations. How he was chosen or elected is unclear, though apparently the Cabinet is half elected and half appointed by the Baron. In general the law tends to be fair, punishment is oriented towards reformed, and free speech is closely protected. The police often use mind-affecting powers for investigation, interrogation, and apprehension, and though some consider it highly questionable, it has been very effective. Mega-damage weapons are banned and travelers are expected to leave any such weapons with the authorities.

Get get some numbers on the police force because this secction loooves some numbers (mostly mundane officers, followed by mystics, magic-users, and powerful psychics in that order).


Perez is alright.

The Other Baronies

... I'm going to cover in a bullet-point fashion because it's mostly just numbers similar to Hope with percentage points adjusted. Smaller communities may not have resident law enforcement and instead rely on cyber-knights and justice rangers running a circuit of local towns. Who are justice rangers? They're like Texas rangers, but they range further.
  • The Barony of Testament is similar enough to Hope. The City of Testament has a larger ranching community ("40% cowboys and ranch hands", so I'm presuming) and a lessened amount of magic and techno-wizardry. It's run by Salvador Mendoza, a mind melter who's generally a good guy but a "hard man when it comes to justice".
  • The Wilmington Barony has a higher D-Bee population and a similar amount of magic and cowyboys to Testament. The City of Wilmington regularly holds festivals on Saturday and church events (yes, references to Christianity occur in this book) on Sunday. It's open to tourists and run by the very public Baroness Arial Spelltwist, a "fun loving" 9th level Mystic that seems like the kind of quirky female leader you'd get out of some anime. Some suspect that the festivals will lead to a downward spiral of sin, but it hasn't happened yet.
  • The Barony of Charity is ironically named and is the bad apple of the bunch, with towns like Deadwood and Hangman's Bluff that basically serve vices and outlaws in about that order. Literacy drops a lot here and there's a notable (3%) population of straight-up demons and monsters. The City of Charity is scum + villainy and basically just used the benevolence of the other communities to get a leg up before then telling them to gently caress off. It's essentially run by an elite group of landowners and businessmen who are all too happy to let shady businesses like fencing, cattle rustling, and bloodsports happen under their nose. Baran Nathanial Zane is the head, a wizard that runs a large casino ("The Golden Eagles") and demands a cut from all businesses including the local Black Market, and who's awful fond of having people hung. His right hand is Lord Lamphrey, an extremely skilled and old elven gunslinger.
We get some side notes - New Durango is a notable mining town and Western Colorado is monster-dominated wilderness. And that's that

Next: I'm not going to be coy for once: it's time for some loving rodeos.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


With respect to World of Darkness stuff, it's also more than that. It's that, you know, 'what if the guys I was told were scary and bad weren't bad and everything was on its head' is one of the easiest ways to get a lot of blank space to fill in with whatever you want. It's an easy route to writing fiction. Just when that gets filtered through a very sheltered outlook it can lead to a lot of 'Hitler Did Nothing Wrong'.

There's also the idea among geeky circles that fiction 'exists'. That there's canons and things and that it's not the author's fault that X is hosed up, that's just how it is in the CANON. That can make a lot of the aforementioned trend towards clean Hitlers metastasize in fandoms.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Night10194 posted:

There's also the idea among geeky circles that fiction 'exists'. That there's canons and things and that it's not the author's fault that X is hosed up, that's just how it is in the CANON. That can make a lot of the aforementioned trend towards clean Hitlers metastasize in fandoms.

This is so loving aggravating when trying to critique work, there's a guy I no longer speak to who justifies all the Near-Rape storylines (and the general way all the female characters become little more than an extension of Kirito) in SAO as 'It's just how the story is, how else would Villain X be seen as a threat?'

The creator is not innocent, if something is in a story, the creator put it there - you can't praise the good parts the creator makes and shift the bad parts as some kind of fundamental truth of the world that the creator has no control over.

slap me and kiss me
Apr 1, 2008

You best protect ya neck


Robindaybird posted:

This is so loving aggravating when trying to critique work, there's a guy I no longer speak to who justifies all the Near-Rape storylines (and the general way all the female characters become little more than an extension of Kirito) in SAO as 'It's just how the story is, how else would Villain X be seen as a threat?'

The creator is not innocent, if something is in a story, the creator put it there - you can't praise the good parts the creator makes and shift the bad parts as some kind of fundamental truth of the world that the creator has no control over.

Stunning parallels with "of course I killed your dude, that's what my character would do."

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Blind ninja with seeing-eye soulbound dog.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





CHAPTER FIVE PART TWO

THE REBORN


The Reborn are probably the most simple Immortals when all is said and done. The Reborn are people that have managed to get a hold of the secrets of reincarnation. And when I say reincarnation I mean true reincarnation, as in they get a new body but remember everything of their past lives. True reincarnation is only possible by mastering the inner self (or in very rare cases they just happen) and the key to reincarnation is your memories. The lives of the Reborn are generally as mundane as they get when it comes to Immortals: they are born, they live, they die. When they're reincarnated, recollection of their memories will help their true personality and self assert control over the body they now have. Some Reborn are able to remember everything once they're born while others have it all come back to them slowly up until puberty. The real trick is walking the line between acknowledging these memories and keeping them hidden until the change is complete. Some Reborn are in positions where expression of these memories and habits and hobbies is acceptable like if your past self was a religious leader and people tend to take care of you. Others are medicated and are mistaken for being delusional at an early age. Reborn society exists, an obscured society connected by metaphors and phrases that have been planted in pieces of history to tip off how to find each other. These dead-drops often serve to help link people together who won't recognize their new bodies.

The first recorded Reborn come from three places. There are the oral traditions of Tibet which tell of memories being reborn in new bodies, the vision quests of Siberian shamans and the vision quests of South American shamans. Reborn are believed to be older than that, but they have a decidedly mystic influence in their origins. Reborn throughout history have left themselves triggers for later use in a variety of ways: religious texts with code words meant to help recall memories, sand paintings, books and novels written about adventures in past lives. Without these memories and these triggers, the Reborn won't be able to remember how to condition themselves for the next rebirth. If they're unable to do this, then the Reborn is permanently dead and the mind of the new body is unable to draw on any of its past history.

That is the big downside of the Reborn. On the other hand, the upsides of the Reborn are generally...okay. Some Reborn claim they're able to access the Akashic Records, but regardless of their existence all Reborn can meditate once per day and spend Willpower to gain 3 temporary dots in a skill. The downside of this is that the skill can't exceed 3 points. They can also roll Wits+Empathy and spend Willpower to intuitively know the depths and scope of what someone else is feeling.

Story Hooks:
  • A child begs the PCs to help them reclaim a book that will help them fully regain their memories. Two complications: the book is under lock and key in a museum, and someone else wants the manuscript to regain their memories.
  • A teacher arrives, claiming to be Reborn and that they will teach all pupils the key to immortality and perfect beauty and health. All you have to do is pay for a week-long trip to study with them. The people who go along return changed, but is the teacher a liar or doing something worse to them?
Thoughts: Very underwhelming. Their powers are meh at best and I wouldn't even really recommend that they be used for player characters. They're just...there.

ETERNALS

An Eternal is a lich, plain and simple. A twist on a lich, but a lich nevertheless. An Eternal is someone who was so attracted to art and objects that their passion taught them a way to remove their spirit and transfer it to an item. As long as the item is intact, the Eternal can't die. However an Eternal also can't ever make another phylactery (well, they call it an Anchor). You get one Anchor, so make it count. An Anchor also has to be hand-made, not machine-made or naturally occurring (though you don't have to be the one to make it). Anything made out of stone or jewels or gold tends to be preferred due to their resistance against the ravages of age. When the vessel is selected, the future Eternal then commits ritual suicide (in whatever fashion they please) to shunt their spirit and their death into the Anchor.

The knowledge of the Eternal ritual is only attainable by the passion needed to discover it, or by befriending another Eternal. Lots of them tend to be involved in art or history, either as collectors or curators. They also tend to accumulate money to live comfortably to chase their pursuit of art. They're somewhat capricious when it comes to other Immortals and mortals in general; they don't require much for their immortality and they're going to outlive you, respectfully. This capriciousness gives them a sense of adaptability because it's all set in stone for them (pun intended). So while you have your good Eternals, there are very much your Dorian Grays or Baba Yagas. They're quite like vampires, in a sense.

Mechanically, all of the power of an Eternal is in their inability to die. They do not age, they cannot get sick, they regain 1 bashing every 2 minutes, 1 lethal every 8 hours, 1 aggravated ever day. Limbs regrow in months, organs regrow in weeks. Even if the Eternal is overpowered and killed, they will return a day later, max. They'll be weak and injured, but they'll be alive. On the flip-side, any damage dealt to their Anchor is permanent and affects the Eternal in a visually similar way. The damage can only be repaired with powerful magic or the careful and dedicated touch of a craftsman. If the item is dealt enough damage to be destroyed, the death of the Eternal mimics the destruction. As for other powers, Eternals can reinforce items with a point of Willpower and a roll to add +2 Durability. This can only be used once per item and is always used on their Anchor. Their fascination with art and items also gives the ability to innately know the approximate worth of an item (with a value relative to the society they're currently a part of), how old it is (within a few decades) and if it's a forgery.

Story Hooks:
  • A thief is in possession of an Eternal's Anchor and the PCs are tasked with guarding it. They're watching it while they go to visit the Eternal to force a favor from them, but the Eternal isn't about to take this lying down. They've used some of their money and power to try and get the Anchor back and punish the Thieves, so the Eternal's hired help are coming for the PCs.
  • An Eternal running a nearby auction house has been selling things that have been having detrimental effects on their owners. Figure out if the Eternal is meaning to do this but stop the items from getting out regardless.
Thoughts: Eternals make good villains because as player characters they're just...so-so. Very specific and niche abilities. Use them as bad guys/unexpected occurrences instead.

HARVESTERS

Harvesters have a mythology they believe in, a story from Egypt. The story goes that Imhotep, a master architect and creator of monuments, was an Eternal. He selected one of his favorite monuments and used that as his Anchor, rising from death as an Eternal. Imhotep had everything he wanted: money, power, art that would last the centuries, immortality. He didn't realize that one of his stone masons wanted immortality too until the man asked him for the secret. Imhotep overlooked the man (who was not as talented as him, as powerful as him, as good as him, hell notice how this guy doesn't get a name?) and refused to tell him the secret...at cost of his own life. One of the big steps of immortality is to want it bad enough, and the stone mason wanted it bad enough to take it from Imhotep with a knife to the throat while the architect was asleep. Which shouldn't have worked, but it did. And they say that's where the first Harvester came from.

This is a load of crap, but thing is true. Harvesters are normal people who take immortality from all sorts of Immortals. It's not a perfect transfer of power, but it's effective (and fatal to the victim) and the best you're going to get if you're going to reap the rewards without putting in the effort to make it. Harvesters do this by means of their scythe. A scythe is a weapon that has been imbued with a piece of someone who wanted immortality so bad they'd kill for it, guided by dreams and visions delivered to the hungry Harvester so they can build it. Alternately, a Harvester can absolutely die and leave their scythe behind. If you find a scythe, you now have the means to seize immortality from others. Since a Harvester can only make a scythe once, finding a new one is in their best interests if they get separated from it.

Harvesters are viewed with hate by the supernatural community at large. At best they're viewed as scavengers and at worst they're hunted and killed as threats. Harvesters, in turn, tend to focus on certain enemies and specialize in them. They're the group most likely to work with Hunters or be Hunters (which I mean...I like to think the Purified would make pretty good Hunters if they had to). The ones who tend to act more moral and view their work as making the world a better place have certain advantages the average Hunter doesn't and can be a good asset. Plus there's the fact that their scythes work very well on vampires. Blood Bathers are the only Immortals that tend to work with Harvesters if they have to; they're not shy when it comes to murder. Socially, there is no set Harvester society. Harvesters tend to take a protégé or hunt in groups (you can divide the spoils of a hunt up with all of the participants) or just know each other to share info on preferred targets. Lots of Harvesters are also family affairs, with parents passing down lore and scythes to the children to continue the hunt.

Mechanically, it's all in the scythe. A scythe is anything that can be used as a weapon: a baton, a letter opener, a pocket knife, a shotgun. The best scythes are ones that are unobtrusive and sturdy, so they tend to come in the form of knives or other easily concealable tools that won't be too easy to spot in the modern world. A scythe has double the durability it normally would and deals aggravated damage to all forms of physical supernatural creatures: Vampires, Werewolves, Changelings, Blood Bathers, Eternals, they're all fair game. A lethal weapon deals half of its damage as aggravated while a bashing weapon only deals one point of aggravated damage. Even a non-lethal weapon becomes a tool that deals aggravated damage. Their scythe is also their main weakness. First, if you take it away, they can't harvest anyone until they find a new one. If you damage it, the Harvester appears older (but the scythe can be repaired and the aging can be undone with a harvest). If you break the scythe, the Harvester ages one decade for every minute that passes until they reach their true age. For some Harvesters, this is enough to kill them outright. Even if it doesn't kill them, they still don't have a scythe on hand.

There are also rules for how harvesting life works. When a Harvester kills an immortal being with their scythe, they gain 3 years of halted aging and immortality for every century the immortal lived. Two Harvesters can deliver a killing blow by holding the same knife to split the gain or multiple Harvesters have to inflict a wound before the immortal dies for everyone to gain a proportional amount. If five Harvesters kill a 600 year-old vampire, everyone gains 3.6 years. Also, while they're living on this stolen chunk of time, a Harvester has access to enhanced regeneration: one bashing every minute, one lethal every hour, one aggravated every 4 hours, a limb in two weeks, an organ in one. Harvesters also get the ability to disrupt a supernatural being with their attacks. Whenever they attack someone and damage them with their scythe, this causes a Stamina+Resolve vs. target's Stamina+Supernatural Advantage (if they have one). If the target fails, they're incapacitated by the attack for the rest of the scene and this affects the immortal every time it hits.

Story Hooks:
  • "WHAT IF JACK THE RIPPER WAS A HARVESTER!?!?!?!?!" yeah fuckin' what if indeed. Someone dug up his knife and the PCs have to stop it from getting into the wrong hands because it's a Super Special Powerful Scythe Because Jack The Ripper.
  • A shitload of murder of Harvesters has been going down and the PCs have to figure out why the murder in the supernatural community has ramped up so much. Is it a feud between two groups of Harvesters or is it something else picking them off? Help the Harvesters put an end to this.
Sample Harvester

Lizzie Snow


"Funny that people think it's somehow easy to hunt down and kill immortals."

Lizzie Snow was born in the 14th century and managed to avoid the Black Death when a monk took her in as a mistress. Her first kill was said monk, an immortal whose libraries contained the secrets of harvesting and how to build a scythe (in her case, a pruning knife). Since then, she traveled Europe taking lives from more immortals before immigrating to America in the 19th century during the Potato Famine. Lizzie likes to focus on Eternals but will take what she can get when she feels her immortality running out. Her last kill was a Patchwork Person and currently that's on its last legs. She lives in the American Midwest at the moment and is working on an ID as an art collector to try and find a nice, juicy Eternal to sink her knife into. She's got an assistant handling the dirty work (she had a second who died to a vampire in the 1960s, mistaking it for a Blood Bather) and the two of them hunt together/defend each other. She's also a bit of a fixture of the Midwestern occult underground.



Lizzie has dark brown hair and plain brown eyes but is full of energy, dressing however she pleases and always carrying herself with a spring in her step. She loves the modern world and what her considerable stockpile of money can buy her, she loves the knowledge of the supernatural she's accrued, she loves her male and female lovers. She just doesn't trust any of it with the truth. Lizzie keeps her scythe on her at all times because she's too skeptical of a security system or safe, which leads to one of the few problems she has with the modern world. Since America (and the world) has gotten more paranoid about people carrying concealed weapons, it's gotten harder and harder for her to keep it on her in her purse without suspicion. It's something she's trying to overcome.

Thoughts on Harvesters and Lizzie: Lizzie is fine, though she's definitely in the 1% of success stories when it comes to Harvesters. She's a flat character but it depends on how one plans to use her. As for the class itself, I really like Harvesters! They're delightfully beefy player-character choices and their abilities definitely reflect that. They would make a great moral choice for a Hunter to consider becoming one to become more effective at the hunt and I like that. There are just two main issues.

1: the ratio of years lived to years gained is...really bad. I mean I get that they only cut a slice of the pie with the way that they operate and tonally that's absolutely fine. But three years for every century lived? It begs belief and reason (which is hilarious, but I mean in the sense of "fluff vs. rules") for someone like Lizzie Snow to exist. She's 700 years old which means she's killed enough beings to have a cumulative 23,333.333 repeating years. That's a lot of murder and also a lot of beings! If the ratio was better (like one year for every decade) then it would make better sense and would certainly justify why Harvesters would ever bother sharing a kill. This also has to do with my second point, though.

2: a lot of other monsters and splats have come out since 2009! Sin-Eaters, Demons, Mummies and yes even Beasts are all new to the party. Now, there's no doubt in my mind that this will get errata'd out the rear end in the second edition form of this, but as it stands it's got a lot of question and not a lot of answers. Werewolves are valid targets to deal aggravated damage to, yes, but is one actually able to gain immortality from killing them? How do Beast souls work when it comes to it; do they count as a form of immortality? The same question can be posed for Demons. Can one gain a shitload of immortality by shooting a Mummy in the back of the head due to the fact that Mummies were born in ???? BC? There are a lot of questions that are just up to the ST, and that's fine, but I am a weirdo who likes a little extra crunch to lean on so they can come to a better conclusion.

Anyway, that's the end of Immortals! I still posit that this is a pretty good book that's in need of some good rewriting for CofD and that the various breeds of Immortals can add some nice flavor and strangeness to the world of Darkness. Is it perfect? No, of course not. But it's pretty good and the things it's memorable for are not weird lovely things and that's pretty much the minimum amount I ask for in a good WoD book.

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Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Hostile V posted:

Can one gain a shitload of immortality by shooting a Mummy in the back of the head due to the fact that Mummies were born in ???? BC?

Do you have to permakill the immortal to get the Harvest? If so, Mummies might indeed give the jackpot, but first you would have to figure out how to stop them coming back ever again.

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