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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book 14: New West Part 12: "Those who break, mock or condemn The Code are regarded with contempt or worse."

O.C.C.S & NPC Villains of the New West
By Kevin Siembieda with ideas & additional text by Chris Kornmann


So, we've got 56 pages covering 16 O.C.C.s and 5 R.C.C.s with 2 extra sub-O.C.C.s for a total of 23 classes. If there's an example of runaway class bloat in a Rifts book, Rifts World Book 14: New West will a shining example for years to come for the most useless, pointless classes we've seen since Rifts Mercenaries (which gave us such delights as the Forger and Safecracker classes). So we'll be breaking this up into several updates, but we'll have to wait until the next update with the new "Men at Arms" classes.

We also get a note that "drifter" isn't a class but is just a general descriptor that can be used for a number of classes. But before any of that, this update will cover:

The Code of the New West

Yeah, alignments aren't enough, it's time for another chivalry-style code that Siembieda loves so much... only this time, all Western PCs are expected to abide by it. I'll just reproduce it as-is.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Never draw your weapon unless you're prepared to use it!

Genre-enforcement to help the quick-draw union protect its niche. I guess sitting with your weapon ready while on guard or the like is a no-no.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Never cheat in a showdown, or expect to live like a snake.

But if you don't cheat, expect to die like a dog.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Never kill or deliberately hurt women and children.

Looking forward to my untouchable bandit gang of women and children.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Never kill clergy, 'cept in self-defense.

"You can't gun me down!" "Why not!" "I'm a priest of Ahriman!" "poo poo! That means you're evil as gently caress, but... the code! The code!"

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Never kill, injure or steal another man's horse or vehicle, unless he's dead and ain't needin' it no more.

It is, however, okay to kill the horses of women and children. Ironic!

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Never take another man's woman.

Things that are okay: taking a man's man, or a woman's man, a woman's woman, or any other gendered or non-gendered pairing.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Never destroy a church or holy place, unless it is a place of evil — and then beware the wrath of gods and demons.

Also beware their tens of thousands of M.D.C.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Never take more money than what's owed to you.

Cred cards make this trickier anyway, where they're accepted.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Never spit in the face of the law. Show respect until its proven that the law in that town ain't genuine.

Only spit at the neck down.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Show women folk respect; remove your hat and avoid cursing.

Careful, you might give the gentler sex a case of the vapours.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Respect the land and power of nature.

"gently caress you, tornado!" "You broke the code!" "Respect the tornado, you low-down rattler!" *blam!*

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Respect (and fear) magic.

"gently caress all these zombies!" "You broke the code!" "Respect the zombies, you low down rattler!" *blam!*

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Respect and honor a worthy opponent.

"gently caress off, Steve!" "You broke the code!" "Respect Steve, you low-down-" "Oh not again-" *blam!*

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Treat others like you'd like to be treated. Show cowboys and travelers kindness and hospitality unless they ain't worthy of kindness or mercy.

Respect somebody, unless you don't care about being respected by them?

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

If you cheat at cards or break the law, expect to pay the consequences. Just because you don't get caught or punished one time, don't make it right.

It's good that we have a code to enforce the laws. Law's nothing without a code.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Keep your sworn word of honor, "because sometimes all a man's got is his honor." A man's word is his contractual bond.

Good luck with that in court.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Kill only in self-defense and in justice. The latter can include acts of revenge, "eye for an eye," protecting others, using deadly force against those known to be killers, etc. The only exceptions to this rule are vampires or other "hellspawn demons." The only good vampire or demon is a dead one (including Brodkil).

"I'm gonna shoot you, you lousy Brodkil!" "You'd gun down a mother?" "Well I guess I have to take off my hat off first- agh!"

TL;DR: codes are dumb, especially codes with a bunch of sexist, regressive bullshit baked in. Yeah, it's the genre, but this is the New West. poo poo could've changed in the four centuries since the 19th Century... even if this was accurate to it.

Next: "Guy with guns" gets 11 different classes.

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Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





I suspect that was ripping off the "Chem Geld" trait from the FFG 40k game line, which was essentially, "You know what that word means. Immune to seduction, resistant to Charm, take an Insanity point."

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Nessus posted:

I suspect that was ripping off the "Chem Geld" trait from the FFG 40k game line, which was essentially, "You know what that word means. Immune to seduction, resistant to Charm, take an Insanity point."

Which they also later replaced with Cold Hearted because they realized Chem Geld was creepy and weird. It does the same thing but just implies you can harden your heart a bit to handle attempts to move and trick you instead of getting weird.

Obligatum VII
May 5, 2014

Haunting you until no 8 arrives.

Mors Rattus posted:

Next time: Cats, Hedgehogs, Monkeys, Rams, Rats, Roosters, Snakes and Turtles.

Huh, no illusionist foxes? That's kind of a surprise for something like this.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Foxes got added in a supplement.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


So Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition was announced as winning the Judge's Spotlight for the 2017 Ennies.

Edit: Amusingly, Epyllion is one of the nominees for Best Family Game.

MollyMetroid fucked around with this message at 18:36 on Jul 6, 2017

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Night's Dark Masters

True secrets of the Black Arts require a reading knowledge of Egyptian.

The Lore of Nagash is straight up better than 'normal' main rulebook mortal Necromancy. It's missing the curious and very powerful Destroy Undead capstone spell mortal necromancers learn, but otherwise its control of the undead is better, its attack spells are mostly better, and it can buff undead (including vampires) very well. This is because mortal necromancers are practicing a damaged and less well preserved tradition of the original black art of Nagash. Vampires, on the other hand, often learn High Nehekaran as part of their training in necromancy, because there are still some native speakers scampering around making trouble for the Old World. No need for a Rosetta Stone when Lahmians all study under an actual Nehekaran queen.

Blight is a powerful spell that will render an area unfit to live in, killing the land and creating a space of dark magic of about one square mile. The blighted, blackened landscape cannot crow crops or sustain wildlife unless a Life Mage comes in and tries to counter the problem. In addition to being useful for inconveniencing the living, the blighted area also lets any user of Dark Magic add an extra die to their casting checks, which is insanely good for them. It's very hard to cast (CN 27, so hitting a 27 on anything less than 4d10 is impossible to near impossible) but only takes 2 full combat rounds to cast.

Control Undead is a difficulty (CN 17) spell that lets the caster take control of a wraith or ghost. Any undead with Ethereal and Undead traits can be completely dominated with this spell. The creature is entitled to a WP test to avoid being captured. It lasts a full 24 hours and since it only takes a half action to cast, you can use the other half action to channel to boost your chances.

Fountains of Blood is a simple (CN6) spell that causes living within its area of affect (12 yards around the caster) to bleed like crazy when injured. They suffer 1 additional wound any time they take a hit that wounds them, and vampiric feeding drains 2d10 Strength per round instead of d10, making killing someone by strength drain much easier.

Gaze of Nagash is a lackluster attack spell that is surprisingly difficult for how not-useful it is (CN12). It allows the caster to launch a magical attack for Rounds equal to their Magic characteristic, but each attack costs a half action to fire and is only Damage 3, the same as the basic, petty Magic Dart that everyone learns.

Hellish Vigor (CN 15) is a real winner for vampires: It allows the caster to imbue up to 2xMag undead creatures with additional power for 1 minute per point of Mag. This power manifests in letting those undead reroll 1 failed Weapon Skill test per round as long as the spell is in effect. Remember that vampires don't have Fate Points, and this becomes their only way to reroll failed parries or attacks. Similarly, it can make a flock of chaff skeletons or zombies quite a bit more dangerous.

Re-Animate is the bread and butter of a necromancer (CN8, easily cast by any experienced mage). It allows the user to raise up to their Mag characteristic in skeletons or zombies from surrounding corpses, at the cost of 1 half action per body they want up and moving. The undead remain active permanently, until put back down by force or released by their master (or their master's death).

Ride Through the Night is an odd spell (CN 11) that enhances up to 6 mounts with dark magic. Mounts enhanced this way can Run even if they're Shambling (as the undead Nightmares Dragons tend to ride are) and become Ethereal, as well as gaining +1 Movement until sunrise. Any coaches or riders also gain Ethereal while mounted, though the rider can get off to remove it at any time. Vampires use this to chase down prey, when they decide to let someone get a head start and see if they can get out of Sylvania before sundown (A favorite game for most Carstein parties).

Spell of Awakening is one of the most powerful spells in the Lore of Nagash (CN 24). It works exactly like Reanimate, but the creatures you raise will be Wights, which are much, much more dangerous undead. This spell requires great individuals; the corpses you use must be those of characters who had an Advanced Career at some point in their lives.

Finally, Withering Wave is another attack spell, and much stronger than Gaze of Nagash (CN 21). It hits up to your Mag characteristic in living foes (it will not work on undead) at up to 18 yards, and they all instantly lose d10 Wounds without any way to reduce the damage. Armor or TB do nothing against the damage.

We also get a sidebar on controlling the undead: Vampires with less than 3 Magic cannot control their undead freely, being somewhat inept wizards and initiates in the black art. They need to spend actions to issue commands to their minions and have to have line of sight at a range of 48 yards. Vampires (or mortal necromancers) with 3 or more Magic can see through their undeads' eyes, issue commands freely, and do so through obstructions. They still need to remain within about 48 yards of their minions to maintain direct control.

We also get a few examples of large Ritual spells:

Father W'Soran's Architect is used by Necharchs who can't find a gloomy tower to perch in to simply build one. It requires a blueprint drawn in the blood of a mason, the skull of a troll, and a chunk of stone from Nehekara. It takes 4 hours to cast, it's CN 20, and if you screw up, one of your hands turns to stone permanently and becomes useless. If you succeed, it instantly builds you a properly spooky 50 foot tall wizarding tower.

Legion of the Dead allows the caster to raise a swarm of undead quickly, undead that are easier to control. It requires the sword arms of ten soldiers, a barrel of rum, warpstone, and a drum made of human skin and bone. If the caster makes the CN22 roll, it raises 30 skeletons and zombies to fight for them, minions who can get as far from their master as they like without losing control of them and who do not count towards ones' normal maximum of minions. If you fail the casting roll, it still raises a squad of 30 undead...they just immediately attack you.

Rain of Blood is an essential part of vampiric logistics on the march. It requires the hearts of 5 Shallyans, Khornates, or some mixture of the two as long as it adds up to five, a griffon's feather, and a calf born in the last spring in the land you intend to target. If you make a CN17 roll, it causes the sky to darken and a storm to blow up, raining blood down on the area and protecting any marching vampires from the sun. The blood is perfectly palatable to a vampiric army's officers. If you fail, it instead causes a rain of holy water. Bring an umbrella.

Rebirth in Blood is the most important of spells. It requires a cursed or tragic location, the hands of a midwife, the tooth of a dragon, the womb of a cow fed on blood, the last drop of a human's blood, and the remains of a vampire. It's CN 27, but that's only the difficulty for avoiding trouble. If you fail casting the spell, you suffer the curse of the region you're casting in (usually killing the caster). If you succeed with a CN of 32 or better (You're going to need buffs like the Meditation talent, or a Blighted area, to reliably pull that off) the vampire is immediately returned to life. This ability is relatively unique to vampires of all the various villains of the Old World, because their souls never go to rest. As long as someone still remembers a vampire's legend, there is always the chance that humans will bring them back to pay them tribute, their hands giving them flesh once again.

Finally, a vampire can learn to Summon the Ship of the Damned. This spell requires the birth caul of a sailor, a ship that sank with most of her crew, the hands of a drowned priest of Manaan (God of the sea), a chunk of warpstone, and a manifest written in blood. It's CN 18, and if failed, the caster gets to experience what the drowning souls of the crew did when they died, gaining 2 Insanity from the nightmarish experience. If they succeed, they immediately get the ship raised and underway as a spooky ghost pirate ship, with accompanying spooky ghost (or skeleton) pirate crew, with no need for wind for her sails or oars to allow the ship to move at full speed along the sea. Summon Ghost Pirate Ship's uses should be obvious.

Next: Magic Items and the sundry undead.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 16:15 on Aug 4, 2017

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Night10194 posted:

Which they also later replaced with Cold Hearted because they realized Chem Geld was creepy and weird. It does the same thing but just implies you can harden your heart a bit to handle attempts to move and trick you instead of getting weird.
This also makes more sense as a "benefit" you can gain while leveling up in a range of professions, rather than "Your inquisitor rewards you for your loyal service by stuffing Nofuckatal down your throat."

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: Beasts of War



Felines are Fire-elemental, and their skill is Athletics. They come in all shapes and sizes, and they definitely believe they're the best of all animals - fast, skilled, able to get into anywhere and blend into any environment. The problem is, they're cats. Their Trigger is that they're basically lazy, and will do what they can to avoid work. It's a point of pride, after all. The party gains 1 Karma when the feline slows progress with their pride.

The example Major Animal is a Master, Queen Kazuhiko. She is very cunning, but basically lazy. She killed her own father to rule her pride, but has sense spent her time lounging around while her bother, Michio, plots to kill her. She doesn't mind that, because she's busy sleeping. She is 15 feet long, bright red and has a very deep, imposing voice. Unlike other animals that make pacts from necessity, Queen Kazuhiko actively looks for ninja so she can turn them into defenders of her throne, and also do things like bring her a thousand fish to eat or get her a candelabra she saw once and liked. She is a very high maintenance pact animal, and particularly likes the Blazing Dancers. She will never, ever make a pact with a Black Moon summoner, because dogs. She has 25 Health, 22 Psyche, 9-die attack and defense pools, Initiative 6, 2 Actions, Armor 2, Damage +1 and 4 Dynamic Actions, plus 5 dice in a wide array of skills. She has Fighting (+), Athletics (+), Intuition (-), because she is a calculating and agile warrior, but has trouble changing tactics mid-battle. She knows five Jutsu from the Ways of Fire, Beasts, the Warrior, Survival or Movement. In her presence, you (her summoner) get some of the nine lives of cats. Any time you would hit Health or Psyche 0, she can spend a Dynamic Action to negate it or take the damage herself for free...but she's not gonna bother with the second one unless you're Rank 3+ and she likes you. Also, she can spend a Dynamic Action to automatically act first, regardless of Initiative. She cna teach this to you as a Median jutsu using Yang+Speed, which lets you spend a Dynamic Action at the start of the Round to automatically go first this Round and get an Initiative bonus next Round. The Twist? Kazuhiko can't use this power if she's been distracted by something (one of Perform or Deception) last Round, because her attention's not on the fight.

The leader of the Felines is a Greater Feline named the Wild Sabretooth, which is five stories tall and has only once been summoned, during the Summoner Skirmishes, where he fought and killed an Imperial-enslaved giant poisonous frog. Rumor says that he currently lives in the wild lands of the Land of Seed and Blossom.



Hedgehogs are Earth-elementa, and their skill is Survival. They also excel at finding lost things. They're small and can easily be carried in a bag or pocket, but their quills make them difficult to handle. In a bad mood, they get even worse. You need mutual respect to deal with them - otherwise, you're stuck with a small but very spiky animal that is prone to extreme moods. Their Trigger is that they are easily oveerwhelmed by anxiety in a big world. Life underground is much easier. The party gains 1 Karma if you could really use the hedgehog's help, but it has anxiety issues preventing it.

The example Major Animal is a Warrior, Hibiki. She's only about twice the size of a normal hedgehog, with bright red eyes and a love of collecting rings of all kinds of design. She spends most of her time in the Hedgehog Realm, sorting through lost items that she's found, and she will happily recover lost items for her summoners. She's honestly one of the nicest Celestial Animals in existence, and always looks to help others without selfishness. She is known for her direct approach with summoners, though she only goes for those who are honorable, particularly the Will of Iron. She has Health 6, Psyche 7, 3 dice to attack, 7 dice to defend, Initiative 7, 1 Action per round, Armor 2, Damage +0 and 1 Dynamic Action, plus 5 dice on a number of survival and social skills. She's got Fortitude (+), Might (-) - she's a very tough little critter, but not very strong. She knows two jutsu from the Way of Earth, plus Teleportation and Rise From the Ashes. She can be asked to find a lost item, which takes her up to a week as she sifts through her collection of lost items...but if the item can be found at all, she can bring it back, even if it's destroyed. She also has defensive spikes. If someone attacks her, a successful Defense on her part either removes a weapon Quality or, against unarmed foes, deals 1 damage. She can teach this as a basic Jutsu using Yin+Fortitude, which causes quills to sprout on the ninja's back that do the same. However, one Twist: Ranged weapons are immune to this.

Even the biggest Greater Hedgehog is no more than one story tall, but that doesn't make them safe. They are often bad-tempered and lash out at rude people, and they have extremely powerful abilities to devastate landscapes. The last time one was summoned, it was the hedgehog Yoichi, who made enough fissures and earthquakes to sink an entire Five Blades city into the earth, killing hundreds of thousands of people.

Monkeys are Wood-elemental, and their skill is Speed. Some say they are the bridge between normal monkes and humans, as they stand on their hind legs and are critical thinkers. And, of course, inveterate pranksters. Izou people sometimes have pet monkeys, which can help them blend in. Their Trigger is that they love pranks, the more damaging the better. The party gains 1 Karma when one of their pranks puts the party into a precarious situation.

The example Major Animal is a Warrior, Sita, who is one of the children of the Monkey King. She heads to Earth primarily to make her own legend, apart from her father, and she looks for summoners to be heroes that help her on that path. The Ninja Crusade's a good time for heroes, so she's paying attention. She's a cheerful monkey of 8 feet who, like all monkeys, loves pranks, but is actually bright enough not to prank authority figures. She loves young and optimistic summoners with a sense of balance, and particularly enjoys working with the Wardens of Equilibrium. She has 9 Health, 9 Psyche, a 7-die attack pool, a 5-die defense pool, Initiative 11, 2 Actions per round, Armor 1, Damage +1 and 2 Dynamic Actions, plus 4 dice in a wide range of skills. She is Fighting (+), Speed (+), Perform (+), Crafts (-), Discipline (-). She's fast, deadly and beautiful (for a monkey), but she's easily lured into traps and gets bored quickly. She knows six jutsu from the Ways of Movement or Wood, plus Tree Hopping. She also has most techniques from the Blunt and Monkey styles. Also, on a successful DEfnese, she can spend a Dynamic Action to teleport anywhere she can see - and if she goes behind the attacker, she can instantly Counterattack at +1. She can teach this as a Median jutsu of Movement using Yang+Speed, which lasts for several Defense checks and doesn't cost a Dynamic Action, but limits distance teleported to (Movement*2). The Twist? Opponents that use Perception in their next check get +1 against Sita by keeping track of her movements.

The most legendary Greater Monkey is Hanuman the Monkey King, who rules both the Monkey Realm anda few lesser celestial realms. He is the ultimate trickster, but has a child-like wisdom and, of course, the strongest martial arts in the universe. He is also more than capable of outsmarting his foes. Every few centuries, however, he's stripped of all his powers and sent to Earth so he can get that greatness again from scratch - a tool hge uses to prove, over and over, that he deserves all the status he's got.

Rams are Metal-elemental, and their skill is Fortitude. They're a testy, bad-tempered and boisterous group, known for beating up their summoners both to teach them resistance techniques and to relieve their own stress. They are often seen as pets, but rams are rare in big cities and not seen as normal there. The rams respect a ninja with a strong sense of pride. Their Trigger is their tempers, which they take out on anyone nearby. The party gains 1 Karma when this kind of thing puts strain on the group and makes their work harder.

The example Major Animal is a MAster, Kuniyuki, who finds humans very fascinating. Rare among Celestial Animals, he has earned the power to take human form. It's not a pretty form and most people will assume he's an Untouchable, but it is human, and he uses it to observe humanity. However, Kuniyuki is a cynic and sees the Izou class system as hopelessly corrupt. He respects those with strong convictions...but not those who treat class as important. Any ninja he pacts with had better be able to hold their liqour, though - and the easiest way to earn his pact is a drinking contest. He hates cheeriness, and as a result has a surprising number of pacts with the Grasping Shadows. He has Health 14, Psyche 12, 6 dice to attack, 5 to defense, Initiative 8, 2 Actions per round, ARmor 2, Damage +1 and 2 Dynamic actions, plus 3 dice in a wide array of skills, mostly physical in nature. He has Might (+), Stealth (+), Travel (-) - Kuniyuki is very strong and surprisingly sneaky, but he's no good at dealing with mounted foes. Her has 5 jutsu from the Ways of Survival or Metal, plus Cannon Punch (except his uses his horns). He can take on human form in any shape he desires (as long as it is, as noted, not very pretty), and can drop it instantly if he needs to fight. All of his attacks cause Knockback, and he can teach his summoner Cannon Punch as a Basic jutsu rather than a Median one. The Twist? If the target defends with Brace, they are immune to the knockback effect, though they still take damage.

The most potent of the Greater Rams is Ensen, who is said to have made the Ensen Volcano as a show of his strength to the ancient peoples, proving he was able to knock the top off even a mountain. Even today, some humans still pray to Ensen as a god, which he rather appreciates. He will sometimes even send them good luck in return.

Rats are Metal-elemental, and their skill is Deception. They're sneaky, clever and natural liars, experts at negotiation. They often have rare artifacts and lost texts, and will happily hide in your coat and whisper advice to you. They tell the truth...most oif the time. They're excellent at spotting lies, but their Trigger is they're not good at truth. They will lie to their summoners on occasion. The party gains 1 Karma when it turns out the rat lied for their own purposes.

The example Major Animal is a squad of many, many rats: Hachiro's Family Business. Hachiro is the eighth of 32 rat siblings, but was the first of them to make pacts. His siblings were encouraged by this, and they work as a team to help their summoners. Hachiro intends to start his own legitimate business on Earth, having grown tired of celestial politics. He is loyal first to his family, and if they're in danger of death, he will even betray his summoner. He's also very selfish and will only pact with those that can help him raise his status, especially those with silver tongues. He particularly likes the Hidden Strands. He and his family have 12 Health, 15 Psyche, 4 dice to attack, 6 to defend, Initiative 7, 1 Action, Armor 0, Damage +1 and 2 Dynamic Actions, plus 4 dice in several social and knowledge skills. They are Discipline (++) and Perform (-) - they keep cool under pressure, but are easily mesmerized by artistic shows. They know four jutsu from the Way of the Unseen, plus Mold Metal and Melting Touch. When summoned, Hachiro usually shows up with a fully stocked shop run by himself and his family. He almost certainly has what you need or something close for sale, and if not, he can find it. However, everything has a price, and Hachiro mostly doesn't take money. Further, at any time he wants, Hachiro can call any of his relatives to show up and help. This gives +1 Attack to the squad each time. He can teach this as a Median jutsu using Yang+Persuasion, letting the ninja summon a blood relative or squadmate within several miles, though they can attempt to resist this with Yin+Fortitude. The Twist? If the target is unwillingly summoned, whoever summoned them gets -2 to all checks for several rounds.

The most infamous Greater Rat was Daiki, who lived in the ruins of the Orime Dynasty and ate the misery of several communities that lost everything. His existence encourages this - he is drawn to despair, and his presence causes sickness and death, which fuels the despair he feeds on. He is a vile beast and many believe he was responsible for the Year of Floods.

Roosters are Fire-elemental and their skill is Intimidation. They are energetic, boisterous beasts that are very, very loud. They are good planners and teach their summoners how to out-think foes, especially using fear. All of them are male, but you can summon a Celestial Hen if you want a female version that is otherwise identical. Their Trigger is that these celestial cockerels see everything as a challenge to their authority and hate to be disagreed with. The party gains 1 Karma when the Rooster blows up at their summoner or the group and puts them all in danger.

The example Major Animal is the Warrior Akihiko-Chan, a hyperactive rooster that loves to travel and experience new things. He's young, naive and 12 feet tall, as well as vey skilled. He's quick to jump into anything new and interesting-looking. He prefers cheerufl summoners, particularly the Virtuous Body Gardeners, and hates grumpy ninja. To get his loyalty usually means a race against him, which he will probably win - but the real challenge is taking the loss with a smile and being a good sport. If you actually beat him, he'll love you forever. He's got Health 8, Psyche 4, 5 dice to attack, 6 to defend, Initiative 14, 2 Actions, Armor 1, Damage +1 and 3 Dynamic Actions, plus 4 dice in several physical and social skills. He is Athletics (+), Speed (++), Might (-), PErsuade (-). Akihiko-Chan is very fast and actobatic, but he's not very strong and is very gullible. He knows three jutsu from the Ways of Fire or Movement, plus Trackless Movements. You can spend a ki to have him help you travel if he's with you, skipping any single Journey stage except Ocean and Temple, and arriving in a quarter of the time. Also? He can spend 1 Dynamic Action per attack to attack multiple times on the same Initiative. He can teach you Swift Soul as a Basic jutsu instead of Median, too. However, the Twist is that he hates hitting the wrong target and will end his assault if someone uses the Protect Defense against his attack.

The last Greater Hen to be seen was Mitsuko of the Light, a three-story chicken. She was summeoned in the Orime Rebellions, was terrified by what she saw, and immediately turned herself into pure fire, screeching so loudly that she killed half of the warriors around her, including her summoner. Fortunately, it allowed the rebels to take the city, but at massive cost.

Snakes are Water-elemental and their skill is Persuade. They understand humanity very well, and love negotiation...and coercion. Snakes enjoy debates on just about any topic, and if you can't keep up with them, they will make your arguments for you. They look similar to normal snakes, but with unique and distinctive color patterns, and typically stay near their summoners physically - up a sleeve, often. However, while they are good advisors, their Trigger is that their advice is not magical. They can't see the future. The party gains 1 Karma when following the advice of the snake actually sets the summoner or party on the wrong path.

The example Major Animal is the Master called Khis. He's forty feet long and is one of the most potent Major Animals summeoned in the old Mercenary Wars, and later by the clan that would become the Recoiling Serpents during the War of Withered Fangs. Unfortunately, the Imperials know Khis and his form, and there is now a price on his head, forcing him to cut most of his ties to earth and losing him his status in the Snake Realms, where his former role as king has been usurped. Khis now wants a summoner with power and willingness to use it to help him regain his throne. First, he will test the summoner's social skills, then orchestrate scenarios they must survive before they can even meet with him. He has made pacts with several REcoiling Serpents, whom he views as the perfect tools. He also hates having his time wasted and is absolutely happy to kill summoners that disappoint him badly. He has 26 Health, 22 Psyche, 7 dice on Attack and Defense, 13 Initiative, 2 Actions, Armor 2, Damage +2 and 3 Dynamic Actions, plus 5 dice on a large number of social skills.He has Fortitude (+), Intimidation (+), Persuasion (+), Marksman (-). It's hard to hurt him and he's extremely charismatic, but he's so large that he's an easy target. Khis knows six jutsu from the Ways of Survival, Water or Great Serpents. His saliva is one of the most venomous things in the world, able to be spat at a target for 4 damage and dissolving whatever items, weapons or clothes the target had - or double that, if Khis can swallow the target. The Twist? If the target's used any Stealth checks this Round, they get +1 to Dodge the venom. Also, if the summoner has Alchemy skills, Khis can give them his saliva to make their Poison potions do 3 damage instead of 2, at +1 Difficulty to resist. The hard part is convincing him to do this.

The most potent Greater Snake is Natsuki, but she is currently enslaved by the Izou. She was summoned to swallow several other Celestial Animals summoned by the Lotus Coalition, and while she did get some sick enjoyment of killing these enemies of hers, she now wants nothing more than to escape and personally kill the Emperor for his insolence.

Turtles are Water-elemental and their skill is Knowledge. They are the keepers of knowledge for all of the celestial realms. They are very old and remember very, very many things, and are more than happy to remind everyone else of their mistakes. They can recall many, many pieces of trivia in startling clarity. They don't like fighting much, and they're not very big so they usually aren't good at it, but some ninja carry them around in bags. Their Trigger is, they're slow. They tend to not treat time as a factor, even when it is. The party gains 1 Karma when their casual, slow relaying of information becomes a problem in tense situations.

The example Major Animal is the Warrior Wakana. She's been around on Earth since the founding of the Izou, and she has no intention of ever going back home. She lives under the ocean and has spent her many centuries accumulating knowledge. She is ten feet tall, slow, and very patient. She favors the Living Chronicle over all other clans, because she deeply cares for their goal of finding and sharing information, but she'll work with any ninja that is wise by her standards. She especially enjoys riddles and will often require her summoners to answer them before she'll actually show up. She's got 7 Health, 11 Psyche, a 4-die Attack, 7-die Defense, Initiative 5, 1 Action, 3 Armor, Damage +1 and 2 Dynamic Actions, plus 5 dice in several resistance-based or knowledge skills. She has Fortitude (+), Speed (-), because she is a giant goddamn turtle. She knows three jutsu from the Ways of Water, Beasts or Kept Lore. She can see backwards and forwards in time - but she cannot share her knowledge freely. You must spend 2 ki to ask her a question about the location you're in, from any point in the time spectrum she has seen...with the note that knowing the future can change it. When she withdraws into her shell, she doubles her Armor, and can spend 1 Dynamic Action to pop out just long enough to attack before going back in. She can teach this as a Median jutsu of Water. The Twist? Every time she tucks herself in, she gets -1 Initiative.

The most famous Greater Turtle was the Floating Island, which is said to have held a piece of land containing cities and villages on its back. However, any such civilizaiton is either long lost or very, very well hidden, and many explorers dream of one day rediscovering the Island.

Next time: DEMONS

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: HELL MONSTERS

So, basically, hells exist. Many hells. They are largely underground, and if you do evil in life, you get sent to the hell appropriate for your actions. There's a murder hell, a theft hell, a dishonoring-your-family hell, and so on. The souls in the hells can see Earth, but feel only despair and rage. Spirits, which dwell in the heavenly afterlife between reincarnations, can return to gently caress with people, send omens, be worshipped as ancestors, and so on. Thse spirits and ghosts are the topic of many legends, but are mostly positive - they guide their descendants with omens, try to make the world a better place, that kind of thing. They tend not to be visible.

Well, bad people can come back, too. They are warped and twisted by their time in hell, and they are called demons. Legend holds that once, demons walk the Earth until the Celestial Animals and their human allies forced them below the ground, into the hells. Celestial courts were appointed as keepers of the hells, to stop demons getting out. Some, however, are allowed to come out to redeem themselves and their families by honorable acts, and these demons try to improve the world as a form of atonement. When their job is done, they go back to their hell until they are given passage to a celestial realm and/or reincarnation. Others just cause problems when let out, however.

Unlike most spirits, demons take a physical form when they come to Earth - typically, a revolting one. This is part of the test. To be redeemed, they must find someone on a path of immorality or dishonor and attempt to turn them back to goodness. This can take a very, very long time - but it's time not spent in a hell. Sometimes, a demon will even get too comfortable and try to stay forever, either staying after their task is done or never trying to complete it. In these case,s the keepers of hell and any summoners that have befriended them must set out to retrieve the demons.

The worst souls are those that have been in hell so long that they've gone mad from the torment. They have no chance of redemption and have never been allowed out of hell. Those that do come to Earth somehow are known as Oni, and they are different from most demons, full of rage and destruction. Oni are cunning, able to slip past the keepers and escape without notice.

So yeah, some demons are monstrous creatures that try to redeem themselves but are fuckin' terrifying so have trouble getting anyone to listen to them. Some of them are honestly trying, others are trying but also using loopholes that let them extend the time they're out by sabotaging their own work, and some just gently caress around until a magic dog comes to beat them up or whatever. And then you've got the Oni.

Oni are giant, vaguely humanoid monsters made of a substance that indicates the crime they committed in life. A murder Oni might be coated in blood, while a dishonor-your-family Oni might be surrounded by dark clouds. They are all deformed or hideous in some way - giant, bulging eyes, elongated limbs, massive fangs - and each is unique. They are also all violently insane, and while they may want things like finding their descendants or loved ones, or punishing some type of person they hate, but no matter what, they can't help but cause destruction and death wherever they go.

The game also has charts to tell you what, on average, is appropriate for weak, medium or powerful foes, with the various stats. This lets you design your own NPC threats, both for individuals and for squads or masters.

Anyway, from here we get the last real section: life in the Izou Empire. It was, as we've discussed, founded by the former fisherman Izou Zurui, and it has stood for 765 years. There have been many powerful Emperors since Zurui, and it is said that every Emperor is destined to be at the center of at least one major event that will define their reign. No Emperor, however, has ever been so notorious as the current one, Izou Mamoru. He was burn in 691 of the Izou Era to Empress Mamoko, who fought against one of the worst insurrections in centuries. She led an underpaid and demoralized garrison against the rebels while nine months pregnant, having caught her general conspiring against her. Despite the fact that her son was about to be born, she personally led the cavalry charge that broke the rebel ranks, using a modified chariot. After that, it is said that the sun parted the sky and light fell upon her, and she began to give birth behind a protect wall of her soldiers. Legend holds that one of the last of the Celestial Lions appeared on the field, roaring and then heading back into the woods. Thus was Mamoru born into the world, in the dying arms of his mother, the Empress. He was raised by his father, a weak but kind man who vowed to make him the leader of men his mother would have wanted him to be.

Assassins threatened Mamoru from an early age, but he was taught to fight and use jutsu by the Silver Blades, the elite fighters of the Emperor who descend from mighty duelist Morimoto Ichikyo, and the Hidden Strands of Fate. Together, they made Mamoru a great warrior. Before his death, Mamoru's father also decreed the creation of a special order of Imperial ninja, the Golden Lions, to protect his son. Mamoru traveled the Empire for years, learning many secrets. He wanted to be a fair, just ruler and felt he had to see the world outside the Palace to do that. It is said that he did many great deeds, which became the subject of songs and plays. Most infamous of these was the final encounter in his wandering time - the Silver Serpent.

In 715 IE, Mamoru went to a fishing village where a statue had been raised to his father. He was treated well, but the locals were nervous, and told him that a great beast lived in the caves nearby. The fifteen-year-old Emperor declared that none would live in fear in his land and set off to fight with the aid of only three Golden Lions. The lair was a simple cave, and Mamoru had to leave his bodyguards behind with his armor in order to fit through the entrance. Within, he found a great hall full of scrolls and books of all kind, but no foe - just a single Celestial Serpent on a pedestal. When he asked where the enemy was, it told him that even a small threat could bring down his kingdom. Mamoru tried to attack, but the Serpent became a massive creature with a single, blazing pearl on its head. They fought for hours, and when the Lions cam to search, they found Mamoru in the cave, with the Serpent in pieces all around and the books and scrolls destroyed. He told them that he understood the lesson now.

However, for all the great things he did, Mamoru will be remembered most for the loss of his family and the Ninja Crusade. When his heir, Yasou, was training the in the woods in 737 IE, he became involved in a battle between two clans and was killed in the crossfire. Mamoru was deeply hurt by the loss and mdae laws to crack down on open ki manipulation, designed to hurt ninja cultural heritage and hopefully save others from his son's fate. He and his wife, Hana, were still deeply in love and still had two children. When Hana and their daughter Megumi were killed by rebel ninja in 751, Mamoru's sorrow became hatred, and the Ninja Crusade began. He made his son, Crown Prince Kano, his greatest general, and only the Golden Lions were authorized to be ninja. He gathered them and chose several to become a new caste of soldier, the Executioners, who learned forbidden arts to destroy jutsu. He also seized several of the most deadly and vile jutsu texts hidden in the Great Library. Mamoru and Kano struck quickly, destroying all the ninja villages they knew of overnight. All whom they caught in these attacks were killed mercilessly, and their corpses lined the roads as a warning. The Emperor encouraged the people to rise up against the ninja, and he gave his army steamtech and gunpowder, invented by his engineers, to face ninja techniques.

The Ninja Crusade has been more than battles. It began in 752 IE to purge the Empire of corrupt, manipulative clans, and The Empire has been merciless against the ninja. He sees the Crusade as more than just a battle against the ninja, but one against superstition and tyranny. To this end, he's had plays and stories made to portray ninja as vile kidnappers and murdeers, and the reclusive nature of the clans has played to his favor, with many villages rejecting the ninja and reproting them to Imperial authorities. For three years, the ninja were put on the run. The Empire had numbers and the clans barely survived. They soon unified into the Lotus Coalition, however, and the desperate alliance solidified their positions. The Emperor overreached, and while the army had an early advantage, the clans lay siege to Daiwa in what they thought was the end of the Crusade. They sent a strike force of a hundred ninja to assassinate the Emperor in 757 IE. The palace seemed defenseless, but the Golden Lions, Executioners and Silver Blades were ready and waiting. Battle raged, and at last, only one ninja remained - the ronin Danketsu/

Danketsu made it to the Emperor, and they fought, though none know what was said. Whatever happened, Danketsu escaped, his sword broken and bloody, and his wounds too bad for even the best healer to fix. As he died, he told the clans he'd killed the Emperor. In his honor, the hidden village Danketsu was founded and named. They celebrated for days, and Kano declared a state of emergency, but the death of the Emperor was never spread. Instead, it was reported that he was becoming healthier and stronger - an obvious play. The ninja gathered to raid Kano's camp in early 759...but the Emperor came out to face them, strong and healthy, cutting down ninja like wheat. The Coalition was forced to flee back to Danketsu, and many rumors spread about the Emperor's new abilities and if he had in fact died.

The Crusade hit stalemate in the Bridge to Battle Province, where the clans and Imperial Legion were unable to drive each other out. The ninja began to take out officers and generals, demoralizing the Izo army...so the Emperor decided to use more radical means. He had a Golden Lion summoner call on a Greater Animal that had once served the Izou and asked it to fight in his name. It is said that it was far too easy for it to happen - and so, in 762, Vakhesh the Fire Ape, whose fists were molten metal and whose head bore iron horns, came to fight. Vakhesh was not just a terrifying fighter, but a brilliant general. He used himself as a distraction, allowing the Legion to strike at the ninja strongholds while he fought their champions. He was brutal, destructive and left much in ruin. The ninja called on Tetsuo the Aggressor, a mighty Bear, to help them. Even with his aid, the defeat of Vakhesh was not easy. Some say the two only grew in power as they faced each other. It was only with the sacrifice of Tsuki Misako that Vakhesh was banished, as she used her ki to destroy his body on Earth. Tetsuo vanished to roam the countryside afterwards. By the end of three months, five towns were destroyed and almost all the crops in the province and its neighbors had burned. The last time an Emperor had summoned a Celestial Animal had been the War of Withered Fangs. Now, it became commplace, as the Summoner Skirmishes began. Animal fought Animal, and it was seen that the Emperor's beasts were bound by black chain, leading many to believe they had been enslaved.

The Crusade only got worse in 764, when the weather turned against the people. The rivers in the Silk Belt and Middle Provinces flooded with rain, destroying nearby villages and croplands. The looding only got worse, spreading across the entire Empire, to be followed by plague, mosquitos and flies. Even Danketsu was besieged by illness. The ninja were hardpressed even to survive, let alone help the peasantry, and many saw the rains as a sign of Heaven's anger at the use of Celestial Animals so cruelly. This ended the Summoner Skirmishes - now, the Animals are used more sparingly, thanks to the rains and the drain on Imperial and ninja resources to battle the floods. As famine struck, the ninja began to find signs of a cult taking advantage of the war's suffering to power a ritual. They had summoned and empowered an Oni.

In one of the few cases of cooperation between the Lotus Coalition and the Empire, a team of ninja and Golden Lions worked together to defeat the demon. It is rumored that the leader of the Lions betrayed her men to join her lover in the Lotus Coalition, but no one can see if this is in fact true. The floods lasted a full year, until 765. It is unclear if the demon caused the weather or not, but it is known that the Empire took time to rebuild after the devastation, and the ninja seemed to have done their best to help the people recover - though the Empire's focus was on rebuilding the army rather than the land. That brings us to now.

As for what happened to the Emperor in the time he was gone...well, it's hard to say. Most of the Empire believes he never died at all. He walks, he talks, he shows no sign of weakness except for age, and he is often seen joking with merchants, praying with priests and blessing the sick at the palace once a month. There are many possible answers, and the ninja debate them all. It is possible that some ancient entity was pactbound to the Emperor and brought him back, at the cost of the Empire now serving its will. It is possible that Danketsu lied and fled rather than die in the field. It is possible that Danketsu killed a servant, rather than the Emperor himself. And...well, it's possible that the Emperor has learned a jutsu that has made him immortal. That would be pretty bad.

Now, life in the Empire. The Izou believe that family is everything. Honoring your parents is vital, and your parents must instruct in good living. War has made people desperate, but family is more important than ever. You can trust family in a way you can't trust strangers. Your family will never turn you away, because you are family. Outsiders cannot be trusted, however. Paranoia can exist within families, too, since ninja are so persecuted. Knowing that one of your relatives is a ninja means that you have to weigh whether to turn them in or not. It would save the rest of the family...but the shame of betraying your kin is enough to haunt any Izou citizen. It is not easy to turn your back on family.

Beyond that, the Izou have always had a very rigid class system. However, the devastation of the long war has led to some fraying of the system, and in some provinces, rich nobles have lost everything and become peasants, while some commoners rise to become warrior-class by joining the army or one of the many criminal societies of the Empire. Still, for most, class remains absolute, due to the dominant religions of the Empire. Still, some see a chance to improve their lot, and others have learned that class is no guarantee.

The most common class is the Commoner class - farmers, fishermen, barmaids, apprentices, everyday people. They are the vast majority of the Empire, and they have suffered most from the war. Above them are the Artisan class, who have been hit almost as hard. They were toolmakers, artists and so on, and with the economy ruined, few can afford their works and fewer still are investing in art. Only the best can still find work. Most Artisans have fallen and become Commoners by now, while others have become hermits, practicing their art in isolation. The only Artisan trade left relatively untouched are the Geisha - skilled entertainers who excel at music, games and poetry, and who exist to keep the nobles and warriors distracted from the war effort at this point, as well as being hired spies and messengers for noble families. The crude may call them concubines or prostitutes, but they are neither. They are unique in the Empire for being in regular contact with Silver Blades and Golden Lions, who both often take advantage of the geisha as a way to rest from their difficult and taxing duties. Thus, a geisha can be extremely powerful via subtly manipulating them in conversation.

Above the Artisans are the Merchant class - those who buy and sell goods. That's everything from a simple shopkeep to a merchant prince, of course. The class has become very divided between rich and poor, as some stay in business by dealing directly with the Imperial forces, while others battle over customers in the big cities, where most merchants have gathered. Those that cannot make it there have often lost everything because they could not adapt fast enough. Above the Merchants are the Warrior class, who stand just below the Noble class. Warriors serve the nobles as lieutenants or as members of specialized bands. A Warrior is not just a guard or soldier - those can be of any class, really. Warriors are born to the role, raised from a young age to fight. These families have been devastated by the Crusade, but many have been elevated to Warrior status by the Emperor in order to secure more loyal troops.

The Noble class is highest, ranging from the head of a city to the daimyo of a province. Imperial poltiics are cutthroat, and so nobles must be clever, cunning and truthless. Those that lack guile just don't survive long. The war has, of course, thrown things into chaos, but the court is no less deadly for it. Many families were executed by Imperial command or banished to undesirable places for suspicion of working with ninja. Of course, all nobles have some ties to the ninja - no family could truly defend from their rivals without a few ninja on retainer. Still, all nobles at least pretend to obey the throne. A small number truly support the Emperor as savior of the realm, while others are mere sycophants, afraid of the Emperor's wrath. Others secretly hate him and his rule, and are waiting for the right chance to rebel against him.

The war has also created a new class - the Criminal class. Criminals have risen to prominence because the land is without security. Farmers want protection, and must often look to someone besides the ninja or the army to get it - and the price is often far too high. Many lowborn families have had to even trade their own children to a crime family to get protection, leading to the birth of more criminals, raised by other criminals to serve them. Criminals now organize into groups known as guilds, a mimicry of the noble families. Guild leaders are chosen by seniority and are often called Great Mother or Great Father. They are not always blood-related, but for these 'families' that doesn't matter - a member is blood when they got adopted, and that never goes away. The guilds have grown obscenely powerful in recent years thanks to the fact that the army and the ninja are both busy with each other. It's cost regular people far too much for them to not need the help of someone offering, even at such a price. Several villages are essentially owned by crime guilds that keep both the Imperials and the Coalition out, often with the aid of former soldiers or renegade ronin.

The lowest class are the Untouchables, who do all that is considered to dirty for anyone else. Butchers, who must touch the filth that is animal blood. Blacksmiths, who work in heat and soot. Gravediggers and corpse collectors. People whose occupation makes them undesirable or unclean. Thanks to the Crusade, there's more of them than ever. Merchants and farmers that have lost everything turn to street sweeping and dung collection to survive. Unrest is rife among the Untouchables, who now fight each other for work. Plus, those that have always been Untouchable resent the newly joined members of the class, looking down on them in a way they've never been able to do before.

Now, religion. There are many, many religious faiths and systems in the Izou. Broadly, most citizens tend to believe in reincarnation linked to dharma - that is, one's life and position are a direct result of one's actions in the last life. One's deeds now determine one's next life. That is why the concept of class is so baked into the culture, and why few actively try to better their class...or, at least, few did until recently. The curren chaos has led some to reject faith in the karmic system and instead worship Oni, demons or spirits. Worship of ancestral spirits is actually almost universal, but isn't really seen as a religion. It's just a thing you do. Other sub-faiths have turned to more fearsome supernatural beings, desperate for aid. This means that right now, the Izou are at their most superstitious and fearful - more than they have ever been.

Next time: Ninja geography.

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 TWO PART THREE: SAMPLE CHARACTERS

Or

G-G-G-G-UNIT


I made some sample characters, took suggestions and had some real good rolls. One of them I just hand-picked numbers for. You can definitely tell which one I had to hand pick the stats for, it was the only way to get Maximum BP for Maximum Suffering.

All of the characters (except one) are members of Cell Block G0099, a block in the women's side of the prison. It's as basic as it gets. The fabulous foursome have each other's backs and keep each other company.

#3752447, "SOAPBOX"
CONVICTION: DISSIDENT
TIME SERVED: 18 YEARS
GOAL: ESCAPE



On the outside, Genevieve "Soapbox" Angstrom was a peace activist and public speaker. Her main focus was the rights of the refugees whose homes were destroyed by the numerous wars and the protection of people who could be preyed upon. She gladly worked for the Unification Movement...and then was tossed aside when the folks of power settled into their new positions. She continued speaking up for women and refugees and continued to draw crowds and a few people with axes to grind didn't particularly like that. Now the PTM is in charge and Soapbox has been behind bars for far too long. Considering the previous prisons she lived in, the Gehenna is a step up in some regards. She's been hardened by prison but comforted by the knowledge of her innocence. That and the facts that she's soft spoken and a senior con means she's got the ear of plenty of girls who are willing to learn at her knee. She's sort of become a den mother to G-Unit and will do her best to try and keep them all alive when Perdition comes.

Soapbox has the advantage of being slick enough to talk her way into calmer situations while also not dealing with as much guilt. There's not a hell of a lot to the social monster tree but I feel like there's enough to make it worthwhile.

#4027277, "DOC"
CONVICTION: MURDERER
TIME SERVED: 7 YEARS
GOAL: REDEMPTION



Lindsey "Doc" Kane isn't the biggest fan of her prison name, but it's easy and it stuck so that's what folks call her by. Before imprisonment, Dr. Kane served in the armed forces as a trauma surgeon, doing the best she could to keep soldiers alive. When the wars ended, she was hit with a double whammy stigma. First, she was looked down upon for her military service. Second, people started trotting out the patients she couldn't save to smear her reputation. Unable to escape the charges and slander, Dr. Kane was swiftly convicted and has been dealing with the guilt ever since. She knows, fundamentally, that she wasn't really responsible for not being able to save them all. But the guilt gnaws at her, so much so that she finds herself unable to keep to herself. She's since put her knowledge to work in the Gehenna as a means to keep herself safe; folks may not like that she'll work with the Custodians to help patients in the hospitals and psych wards, but they can't complain too much with the patch-jobs she doles out for free. G-Unit helps keep her safe from prisoners who don't want her healing people, even though she's more than able to stand up for herself. She'd rather stand up for others.

Doc ended up being way more bad-rear end than I intended thanks to very lucky rolls and her Traits giving her good stat boosts. She's astoundingly competent at brawling and thinking, giving her a huge advantage at being a doctor and a backup fighter.

#6559156 "TAMAHAGANE"
CONVICTION: VICE OFFENDER
TIME SERVED: 6 YEARS
GOAL: POWER



Elena "Tamahagane" Riviera was, on the outside, a dealer in forbidden and illicit Japanese antiques. A passionate collector, her vault was filled to bursting with things she purchased, things that fell off the back of a truck and things she made. A deal gone wrong ended up with a cop following her back to her collection, whereupon they were all seized and she was thrown into the slammer. Tama has never forgiven the authorities for taking her away from her goods and ever since then she's had a bubbling anger towards authority of any time. Fortunately her skills on the outside serve her very well in Gehenna. While she's certainly lacking all of the tools she needs, she's a chronic doodler and her ability to sneak things (and hide them with ease) have resulted in her becoming a woman you go to if you need things. This suits her just fine, her cell now decorated once more by her hobby and her general crafts. One day she'll figure out how to apply the proper folding techniques to a shiv and then she'll have a weapon to suit her tastes. Until then, G-Unit has her attention and is at the top of her client list.

Tama is a crafter, able to put poo poo together and find the parts she needs. Lucky for her, salvaging doesn't require a skill and she's got decent enough smarts to put it together. I was considering picking Candy-Man but I don't like that ability in particular. And she has Large Cavity because A: I ran out of stuff to give her and B: she'll be the focus of something odd later involving that.

#8382534,"BETHAMPHETAMINE"
CONVICTION: MURDERER
TIME SERVED: 6 YEARS
GOAL: SURVIVAL



Elizabeth "Bethamphetamine" Beauchamp was more than happy to serve as a soldier. Her military history was a tapestry of kicking rear end and taking names as a special forces operative. It took the authorities a while to track her down and she was ultimately dragged to court kicking and screaming. She's taken to prison like a fish to water, finding a camaraderie with Doc Kane and sticking with her like glue ever since. Her time behind bars has been the ultimate training ground for her skills, honing her agility and ability to evade danger and be the eager muscle G-Unit needs. She hasn't made a lot of friends outside of her group with her unorthodox approach to combat and fighting other prisoners, but she's perfectly fine with quality over quantity.

Beth is a fighter, built around evading and getting in multiple shots. She can only deal nonlethal damage with her fists, but get her some brass knuckles and she becomes a bobbing and weaving terror to behold.

#9920175, "PINCUSHION"
CONVICTION: ANARCHIST
TIME SERVED: 6 YEARS
GOAL: POWER



Brendon "Pincushion" McLaren was the sort of person who believed that he was special. He was so consumed with the drive to make himself stand out and attain the power he believed he deserved, he was more than willing to break the law for it. His passing knowledge of experimental PTM criminal psychology, mixed with flat-out delusions of grandeur, lead to the grand plan of being arrested for public vandalism and pleading madness. The next step of his plan was to willingly submit himself to every single thing the PTM could throw at him to try and trigger some kind of latent ability that he could use to show them all. He was still in mandatory isolation when he was loaded onto the Gehenna near the nuclear reactors. Since then, Pincushion hasn't lived in a cell block proper, let alone a women's block. Pincushion is a fixture of the local psych wing, eagerly fighting against his captivity to try and see if he's gotten any stronger. The main reason he knows the group is that he's a frequent problem patient to Doc Kane and when Gehenna hits...well, Pincushion may be crazy but he's not dangerous. He deserves a shot at living, even if his brain is all muddled from the harsh psychiatric "treatment" and experimentation.

Pincushion exists to show off what happens when you try to build for a character that has maximum Suffering and maximum Psi Potential. Fun fact: he no longer feels Guilty for his actions thanks to Nihilism (we'll see that later) and also it's mechanically impossible to gently caress your character up so bad by taking both Castration and Psychobaric. In fact, both stages of Psychobaric are such a useless goddamn point sink that I jiggered his stats so he'd fit under Maximum BP and he still couldn't afford both of those and Castration. Plus having all three of those means he's so much worse at psi poo poo than what I've set up. He's as insane but he's got less Psi Strength and chance of becoming psychic. And, of course, we'll get into that later using our dear friend Pincushion as a min-maxed example.

NEXT TIME: Chapter 3, the item chapter. Prisoner-made goods vs. regular-made goods, one night only in the Hell In A Cell Ladder Match.

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 08:24 on Jul 7, 2017

WeedlordGoku69
Feb 11, 2015

by Cyrano4747


So wait, is Abandon All Hope ripping off Superjail, or is it ripping off Deadman Wonderland, or is it splitting the difference? I'm kind of having a hard time getting a feel for what ultra-edgy grimdark sci-fi prison thing it's ripping off, but it is extremely not original.

WeedlordGoku69 fucked around with this message at 09:35 on Jul 7, 2017

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



LORD OF BOOTY posted:

So wait, is Abandon All Hope ripping off Superjail, or is it ripping off Deadman Wonderland, or is it splitting the difference? I'm kind of having a hard time getting a feel for what ultra-edgy grimdark sci-fi prison thing it's ripping off, but it is extremely not original.

Perhaps something closer to home?

ZorajitZorajit
Sep 15, 2013

No static at all...

I'd been reading it assuming it was a more complicated way to file the serial numbers off Event Horizon and Doom.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Maybe with a touch of Fortress.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



LORD OF BOOTY posted:

So wait, is Abandon All Hope ripping off Superjail, or is it ripping off Deadman Wonderland, or is it splitting the difference? I'm kind of having a hard time getting a feel for what ultra-edgy grimdark sci-fi prison thing it's ripping off, but it is extremely not original.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Y'know, I've been reading about a poo poo-ton of 80s-90s adventure games, and I gotta say, those would provide much better inspiration than some of the movies and games listed. Imprisonment and psychological horror were very prevalent genre elements.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





LORD OF BOOTY posted:

So wait, is Abandon All Hope ripping off Superjail, or is it ripping off Deadman Wonderland, or is it splitting the difference? I'm kind of having a hard time getting a feel for what ultra-edgy grimdark sci-fi prison thing it's ripping off, but it is extremely not original.
Superjail has joy and creativity and a more realistic premise

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Hell, the 'game' part of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream was intentionally not so much trying to escape or win (though you could, despite the objections of Ellison) but trying to continue to show humanity and a better nature in the face of a sadistic and twisted hell that wanted to break you and make you an animal.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Halloween Jack posted:

Y'know, I've been reading about a poo poo-ton of 80s-90s adventure games, and I gotta say, those would provide much better inspiration than some of the movies and games listed. Imprisonment and psychological horror were very prevalent genre elements.
Paranoia is the one that baffles me the most because the Warden is such a non-entity. It doesn't get much in the way of personality and even during the campaign books it just...does barely anything. That and they pick System Shock 1 and not 2 and Doom doesn't even really show up? Like, System Shock 2 at least has The Many and the robots as enemies and it's just way more thematically fitting than the one where it's just you vs. machine because that's not the point of your game where the prison has gone to Hell.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition: There Must Be More Than This Provincial Life

The Empire is divided into ten provinces. The Middle Province is not just central geographically, but is also the most important and central politically. It has more villages and cities than any other province, and the Imperial Guard watches over it carefully. It is the greatest stronghold of the Emperor's strength. The place is preserved pretty well, as the fighting here was mostly done by ninja, and few places were destroyed as a result, though many courtiers and nobles were killed. It is home to the capital, Daiwa, which is a quiet city at this point. Many loyalist families were killed here, and now there are empty fortresses dotting the city, their inhabitants long since dead or gone. The place is quieter than it was once, though its markets remain quite busy. It was once home to the Children's Palace, a giant playground for noble kids, which is now forsaken after a massive battle between Celestial Animals. Oni are said to haunt it, and few ever go there now.

There is also the city of Heigenchou, which feeds the rest of the the province as an agricultural hub. It was used as a testing ground at one point for explosives and alchemy, but that was a long, long time ago. Still, secret caches and labs house hidden gunpowder experiments, and ninja sometimes come hunting for secret weapons. There is also Nanchou, the South City, which was a fortress built once for war, then turned into a giant prison. The prison-city has doubled in population since the Crusade began, and at this point, the Imperials barely have any control over it at all. It is run by factions of criminals, exiles and assassins, and many of the crime families in theory locked within the prison can still influence the world outside due to rampant corruption among the prison guards. Some ninja are also imprisoned in the city.

The Silk Belt Province is one of the few parts of the Empire untouched, relatively speaking, by the Crusade. It is wide grassland and forest, and its main export is silk. However, behind the calm, peaceful silk farms are the largest secret villages of the Hidden Strands of Fate, formed centuries ago. They use specialized silkworms to grow the strongest and most versatile threads, and despite the best efforts of the Izou, the location of these villages has never been revealed. It is home to the city of Jikankei, also called the City of Art, long a refuge for artisans and historians. It surrendered immediately when the Empire came, being a city of scholars rather than warriors, and as a result its museums and storehouses of knowledge remain largely untouched. Ninja occasionally visit to seek out hidden knowledge.

Tennokiba, also known as Heaven's Teeth, is a city of politics. It is now neutral ground for all kinds of people - ninja, diplomats, criminals, nobles. They all use it. It was once a headquarters for the Hidden Strands, but they moved after the criminal families subverted much of the city's power structure. They still are quite powerful there, however. Unmeishi, the second-largest port of the Empire, is also here. It mostly trades with the Land of Mountains and Valleys, and it's busier than ever despite the war. Weapons are brought in here, both for the Imperial Army and various noble families that maintain private forces. There's also a constant influx of refugees.

We get a sidebar on Fouchou, the Floating City, which began as a group of merchant boats that bound themselves together in the hopes of evading Imperial oppression. They roped off the boats and sold their wares off the coast, hoping it'd protect them from normal law. The number of boats slowly grew, used both as stores and homes, until the place became a city all its own. Today, it travels up and down the western coast, selling its wares to anyone that visits the massive market. Theoretically, you can get anything there, for a price. They'll deal with ninja or Imperials, with no one having the majority of influence, and they often have mystical items and ingredients for sale. However, the place is not the most upright and moral one, and some boats sell slaves or addictive drugs as well.

The Bridge to the World Province is one of the richest, due to being a major port hub. Most imports and exports go through here, and the war has done well by them. The Emperor brings in food, supplies and weapons constantly, while refugees flood out to other lands. This is where you go to raise your station - with the right skills and a little luck, a mere merchant can become rich as a king overnight. The Living Chronicle also hides its most sacred temple here, Shajisei'n, the Temple of Scribes, where preserved bodies are kept for all time, their skin preserved. It is said that in times of need, the dead themselves will rise to defend the temple. The largest city is Kiwan, or Turtle Bay, which is the biggest port in the Empire, built into a large canyon that ships can sail into and dock along. The canyon walls are connected by rope bridges and are heavily decorated with carvings to display the power and status of those who live in the buildings within.

The other major city of the province is Yuukou, called the City of Vice or Oil's Light. It is famous for the thousands of lanterns that are lit at all times, day or night. Just about any pleasure can be bought here, and the city's population has swelled with refugees seeking an escape from the dark years. It is also the center of the Empire's underground slave trade. Here, desperate families sometimes sell people to support themselves - sometimes willing family members trying to support the rest, and sometimes not.

The Cradle of Life Province is the breadbasket of the Empire, full of farms, ranches and nurseries. Most of it, these days, is in ruins. The ninja tried to cut off the Emperor's food supply by destroying or sabotaging fields, and the Year of Floods destroyed even more. The remaining land is guarded heavily by the Army, as without this province, the Middle Province and the armies would starve. The Pack of the Black Moon maintains a small, secret temple in the ruins of Souchou, once the City of Grass on Lake Higan, where new crops were created. Today, the ghosts of the ninja that died in the floods guard the ruins. The only major city remaining is Higandou, once a strategic center in the War of Withered Fangs. Today, it is a renewed military city, full of soldiers and mercenaries readying for battle with the ninja.

Flame River Province was the birthplace of the ninja, where the first temples were founded and the first jutsu discovered. It is a land of mountains and home to the Ensen Volcano. When the Emperor first came to power, it was one of the first lands he attacked, and while the mountains should've made it hard, the province surrendered without a fight. They knew, even then, that an occupying force does not conquer ninja, who remain hidden. The Ninja Crusade has been furious here, trying to hunt out the ninja in the hidden caves and peaks. It's died down for now, but te bones remain as a reminder. It is home to Kakou, the Fire Port, a wild border town known for its outlaws, mercenaries and refugees. Imperial forces rarely visit - they see no point in expending the effort they'd need to take the city. Refugees from the Land of Exalted Flame and the Land of Mountains and Valleys have gathered there, so there is a vast squatter-city around the city proper.

Kokyuryu City, the City of the Breathing Dragon, is said to be the last of the Ancient Dragons. It is a home to old temples and monasteries, and it was believed a sanctuary of ninja, so the Emperor ordered it sacked. However, local lore holds that on the night of the raid, a dragon appeared in the sky and burned the Imperial troops to ash. Today, ash statues stand in the streets in positions of agony, said to be the remains of the invading army. The city is haunted now, with the statues coming to life at night and reliving their battle with the dragon. Those that get caught up in it risk becoming more statues in the streets.

The province is also home to the Wu Ji Theater, the best in all the land. Those that journey here must pass beneath massive red arches, said to have been made by giants. The original stages were destroyed in the Year of Floods, but that didn't stop the locals from building new stages very quickly, to keep the performances going. Plays and music here are all overwhelmingly supportive of the Empire, at least at first glance, to avoid drawing negative attention. However, several are satires that subtly mock the Emperor.

Black Veil Province was devastated by the Great Desert, long ago, and the Crusade has been little better, as the place became a battlefield for summoned beasts. Then the floods came, poisoning the ground and water. Now, the land is a nightmare of strange trees and birds. It is home to the Grasping Shadows, though their control has weakened recently. Still, they remain powerful allies of the local leaders. Arashi Port, once a proud city, was already dying before the Crusade due to poor sailing conditions. Today, it's a ghost town, abandoned due to the poor nature of the Arashi Sea. Some say that in certain moon phases, the place become a town of spirits, wicked and kind, who now take up the ancient tasks of fishing and maintaining the port city.

Kafukyuu, the Widow's Tear, has long been seen as cursed, ever since a long-dead Emperor was assassinate there. It was once known as a city of vice and crime, but war and flooding have nearly destroyed it. Now, it's just crime - a cesspool of murder, refugees, banditry and criminals. The only reason to go there is to escape the law - but that's a good reason for many. The city of Kukudou, the Black Road, has been burned down many times for many reasons, and it has always returned. The main thing it imports is soil, as there is no viable soil for miles around. It keeps getting rebuilt for its steel. Kokudou steel is the best in the Empire, and only made here. The houses are built low and squat, to protect against sandstorms, and the people of the city tend to be built as tough.

Bridge to Battle Province was named because of its status as a launching point for the Empire during the War of Withered Fangs. It would be beautiful, were it not so often caught up in wars, and it has long been a center of conflict. The Virtuous Body Gardeners make their home here, hidden in a bamboo forest said to be infinitely deep. They are surrounded on all sides by war, with the Imperial Army always present. Its only major city is Heiminmu, the Commoner's Dream, so named because one Emperor declared that 'it should be every commoner's dream for the direct enjoyment of his betters.' It is a mining city, working constantly to bring up ore and metal, to smelt and smith it. It is also a place of death, as black lung and mining injuries are common, as are Imperial soldiers waiting to head south to the front.

Iron Province was conquered in the War of Withered Fangs, when the city of Sensoumon, the Gate to War, was founded. It was used to surround the Triumph Province and end the war. Today, however, the Iron Province is on edge. The population is just waiting for the Land of Five Blades to attack when the Empire gets overextended by the Ninja Crusade, and already, the locals are starting to rebel against the Imperials. The western Aikuchi Mountain border causes a sea of mist to form nearby, and the miners of the mountains practice many rituals to pay homage to the local spirits. The Will of Iron maintains their home in these mountains, hidden by a magical spell that allows their temple to teleport between the peaks. However, their influence has greatly waned, and they can no longer prevent open war in the area.

Hotaru no Kouji, the Firely's Path. is a city named for the many fireflies that gather there by summer. It has also been burned down many times, between the Land of Five Blades, the Recoiling Serpents and the Imperial ARmy. It is always built on the ash of the last time from bright red stone that symbplizes a hope for peace. It is home ot the Palace of the Lions, where peace talks are held between the Land of Seed and Blossom, the Land of Five Blades and the Izou Empire. Right now, it's basically the only point of peace in the province. Quite the opposite of Kitetsuchou, the Shining Metal City, which once produced iron for the Empire. It's full of old mines, and it's said that once, a thousand smokestacks filled the sky. However, an attack by the Land of Five Blades destroyed the city, leaving it mostly abandoned. Ninja now operate secret mines there to gather metal for the Lotus Coalition.

Triumph Province was the site of the final battle with the Slithering Gods in the War of Withered Fangs, and that's why it's called that. Today, it's in the midst of total war. It is covered in jungle, bamboo and swamps, punctuated by rice paddies. The Recoiling Serpents remain a powerful force there, constantly reasserting dominance by attacking any Imperial forces in the region, then hiding out in the many swamps in the center of the province. Five Blades mercenaries are also common in the area, and they, the ninja and the Army fight constantly. Particularly around Dainiryoku, the former Southern Capital of the Izou. It is a fortress city constantly under siege. Every month or so, the siege is broken, but inevitably begins again. The fortress is surrounded by pits and trenches, and the Izou have started using it as a training fround ofr the Golden Lions and the Silver Blades, due to its proximity to Danketsu and the constant fighting. It is a major target of the Lotus Coalition.

Koshinchou, the Sickle City, was named for the many sickles once made there. It was a trade town run by warrior-farmers that used the sickle both in work and battle. However, the War of Withered Fangs salted the fields and burned the town down, and today it's purely a military outpost for the Empire, where wounded soldiers go for triage or rest. The other city of the region is Yanuma, or Night's Bog, built on the ashes of a port. The Izou burned the entire city in one day, building the new one on its ashes as a statement of power. At which point the Recoiling Serpents flooded the town and reclaimed it, rebuilding it on ramshackle huts built on stilts. It isn't much to look at, but it is a vital strategic location for the southern battles.

Oak Leaf Province was given to the Izou by the Land of Seed and Blossom as part of the peace accords with them. It is full of massive forests, and as the Empire has been faltering, the Land of Seed and Blossom has been trying to reclaim the territory. Danketsu is settled in the region, along with most of the Bamboo Herbalists, and te city is enchanted to keep intruders from finding it in the forests. There is also the city of Kiheki, the Wooden Wall. It is a community o fart, built entirely of intricately carved oak logs, specialized so that they will not burn. It has been entirely reclaimed by the people of Seed and Blossom, repurposed to fit their strange culture. The central palace is now a home to over a dozen families, the shops have been converted to hold livestock and the best doctors in the world congregate in the area - several of whom are Bamboo Herbalists, who remain at the center of Kiheki's medical studies. The other city is Oriki, the City of Broken Trees, one of the first in the area to fall to the Izou. Now, it is the last Izou hold in the province. The buildings are barely standing, made of rubble and ruin, and a series of stake walls have been put up around the patchwork mess of an urban center, to protect it from attack.

So let's talk a little aobut the Five Kingdoms and other places in the world that are not the Izou Empire. There's Horde Island, near the Land of Crashing Waves - a known pirate haven that is the best place in the world to find criminals, slavers and mercenaries...though it's definitely a bad place to go if you have any semblance of a conscience. The Land of Crashing Waves itself is in the Western Ocean, a massive archipelago of diverse islands, overseen by the Island Council on Risutoa, the unofficial capital. The islands elect representatives to this council, to vote on the laws of the land. It was not always so - for centuries, the islands warred constantly for control, until the explosion at Lake Kansou that led to the founding of the Living Chronicle and the Council alike. Still, old habits die hard, and the political tensions of the islands are constant, with each island and its representativies having their own agenda. Manipulation is a fact of life. The Izou have tried many times to take the islands, but the superior navy of the Crashing Waves and the many pirates that come in to help always stop them. Eventually, they just formed a somewhat tenuous alliance. The Land of Crashing Waves sitll sometimes provides soldiers and ships to the Empire, but their resources are waning and they're becoming impatient. As the war goes on, the Island Council is less willing to commit their own people and ships to it.

Pirates are now raiding the coast in greater numbers, and far less likely to be working as Imperial privateers. This has also exacerbated the Crashing Wave internal conflicts, as with their alliance they were left without an outside foe to battle against. Now, the dissent is moving from bribes and lobbying ot violence. It can only be a matter of time before the alliance with the Empire is dissolved so that the Council can try to focus on home affairs. Risutoa is also home to the Grand Library, the greatest collection of written works and preserved corpses in the world. It contains books on every subject there is, and it's not the first such library on the site. The first was destroyed in a flood, many years ago. The Council allowed the Living Chronicle to form in order to preserve and rebuild the knowledge, using their own bodies to hold the text. The few scrolls that survived were copied by ninja and curated as very precious artifacts. Recently, tales of the Crusade have entered the library - heroism and cowardice alike are rrecorded and preserved, particularly the story of the Emperor's return. The Living Chronicle are eager to hear that story end.

The Land of Exalted Flame lies to the east. It is known that the elders indoctrinate the youth there in The Way, the teachings of the philosopher and peacemaker Kasai, who lived millenia ago. These teach reverance for elders and ancestors, forbiddance to harm another and so on. The people are highly religious, very pacifist and exceptionally strong believers in community over individual desires and needs, often forgoing their own desires for the sake of the land. Arrange marriage is normal, and acts of creativity or joy, such as dance, are frowned on if not totally forbidden. The leaders of the Land of Exalted Flame are those who are believed to have obtained perfect being, and they make all decisions from their capital, Seishin. At one point, the Izou believed it would be easy to conquer pacifists. At first, they were right - hundreds of thousands of Exalted warrior-monks were killed...and so the most powerful ninja of the land worked together to set fire to hundreds of miles of land between them and the Izou, killing many war parties and even their own settlements to create the Great Desert, also known as the Desert of Black Sand, too barren to live in and too hot to even cross for most. When the Empire tried to attack by sea, they made a massive hurricane that has yet to end, forming the Arashi Sea. This solidified the hate between Exalted Flame and the Izou, and there has been no alliance between them at all. Honestly, no one's heard much from them in years - messages go unanswered, and Exalted Flame diplomats and ninja do not come to the Empire. The Blazing Dancers fled the land, and since, it has only gotten more insular. Now, their famous displays of ki and spirit manipulation are just stories.

What is known is that when an Exalted Flame child comes of age, they must go on a pilgrimage to Kaen Island, a holy land. There, they must hurl their most prized possessions into the Kaen Volcano, cementing their ties to the kingdom and The Way. They must do this without any aid from other people and with only minimal food and water. Their foreheads are marked with black ash from the Great Desert, where the quest begins. The most devout travel the entire distance on their knees, bowing every ten steps.

The Land of Five Blades is a warrior culture, renowned for its strength. It lies to the southwest, and is not unified - it is ruled by seven nation-state,s the largest of which is in the center, run from the city Monotagari. The land is renowned for its architecture - primarily metal - and its many factories. The Blades were the first to develop steam power and use it, which is why the Empire attacked them - they knew they couldn't win in a fair fight, so they userd assassins and covert squads to take key locations. It worked, sort of. The Blades were stronger than the Empire ever thought, and though land was lost, it was not a total victory. Neither side could realy win, and it dragged into stalemate for a few years before the two sides decided to ally. In the early years of the Crusad,e the Blades sent metal to the Empire to make guns and machines, as well as many warriors to fight. In exchange for this, their people were allowed to take part in the Izou political system, which they hoped to use to benefit their country.

It hasn't really worked. Over the years, several have been asssassinated, pushed out or demoted, especially if they were vocal about the Blades' needs outweighing the Empire's. The most powerful in the Land of Five Blades have a plan to put a stop to it, but have not told anyone what it is. It probably involves a lot of fighting. fter all, the Blades are known for their strict code of honor and their common ceremonial and even celebratory combats. They fight for marriage rights, to settle disputes, even to become adults. These duels are rarely to the death, and Blades are expected to take defeat gracefully, but take revenge when they must. This appeals to many Celestial Animals, who often spend time living among the Blades. Recently, the Emperor hunted for an ultimate weapon and this resulted in several Summoner Skirmishes, which the Blades took as a personal affront. They look down on those summoners that work for the Empire and have begun to make their own pacts. Further, five of the world's best swordmasters are from the Land of Five Blades, and many that wish to learn the art head there to fight, though many of those die. The Will of Iron originally hail from the area, and they and other ninja from the Blades are renowned for lethal an aggressive jutsu.

Legend has it that the 300-foot Sword Tower, centuries old, is the remnant of the last great battle between some rival ninja clans that uses the Celestial Animals against each other. The Blades have carved it out, building a structure out of a gigantic sword impaled in the ground. They use the metal, which is imbued with magic, to create some of the most potent weapons that have ever existed.

The Land of Mountains and Valleys is in the north, and has an even bigger wealth gap and class gap than the Empire. It has been in civil war for three decades. The Empire sent assistance for a time, allying with the western half of the nation, which now provides them with saltpeter and war supplies. The East, meanwhile, has been engaging in guerrilla battle for most of that time, with the West beginning to retaliate only recently. Some say it reminds them of the first Ninja War agains the Orime. The civil war began when the Kishin family took over all the local business and political interests, mining out ancient ruins that were supposed to be preserved and spending their money wastefully. This lasted until the village of Shori came together in rebellion. At the peak of the fighting, master ninja of the Way of the Earth formed an artificial mountain between East and West. Both sides blame each other for the troubles of the nation, and neither have bothered to name the mountain. The fighting continues, but the Ninja Crusade has put a strain on the economy there, and the wealth gap is thinning as the economy begins to fail and those in power begin to lose their wealth - a state that they fear far more than the war. The West has maintained their alliance with the Izou and kept some advantage, as they Empire trades them resources. They hope they can win a decisive victory soon.

Beyond their settled lands in the north are the Frozen Wastelands, full of ice and snow. There, animals not seen anywhere else live on the high tundra, drawing in those that wish to hunt the most exotic beasts. Healers also come hunting for rare harbs that grow only in this harsh climate. It is a worthy trek, if you can handle the harsh conditions.

The Land of Seed and BLossom was attacked simultaneously with Five Blades. However, unlike the Blades, they couldn't hold off the Izou Empire, and they surrendered to avoid extinction. Until then, the land had been very peaceful and free, with many exploring the eastern Untamed Wilds, where rare beasts and plants grow in natural splendor and no civilization has built. They're smaller now than they were, but they still exist...albeit with the potential loss of many species never discovered. The Seed and Blossom lacked the artillery to hold off the Empire, and so they were conquered, with the Empire seizing their medical expertise. The entire region is an immense jungle, and the people of it see themselves as offshoots of a single giant tribe. There are several self-ruled villages, but they all answer to the Elders, the eldest men and women, who rule from the capital of Yuuki, where everything is done to grant their desires. In return, they rule the land with their wisdom. The male Elder died when the Ninja Crusade began, and his replacement has been significantly more aggressive and warlike.

In the decade since, the Lands of Seed and Blossom have been focusing on exploring the Untamed Wilds in search of anything that might let them gain an advantage over the Empire and force them to leave. The Elders have also been using various methods to protect their medicines and keep them away from the Empire, believing the resources are far too precious to give to their conquerors. The Izou still control much of the land between Seed and Blossom and the Blades, but the two nations continue to battle on the Hantai Sea in an effort to explore the mystical Lost Island, which is protected by magic barriers. This competition between Blades and Blossoms has lasted over a century and shows no signs of stopping. The Bamboo Herbalists hail from this land, years ago, and the local ninja are experts at body manipulation, disease and transformation.

When a child is born in Seed and Blossom, the local priests implant a birthstone in their forehead, which brings both luck and understanding of one's place in the world. Families used to bring their children to the Temple of Seiseki to do this ritual, but the Empire burned the temple when it came. There's been plans to rebuild, but in the end, the Elders decided to leave the ruins as a memorial. Now, pilgrimages to the site mourn its loss rather than celebrate.

That's it! The last bit gives us a list of inspirations - a much more cromulent list than Epyllion had, too. Anime: Avatar: the Last Airbender, Basilisk: the Koga Ninja Scrolls and Brave 10. Movies: Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Journey to the West (2013), Sorcerer and White Snake (2011), Kung Fu Hustle. Oh, and special section on Naruto, as the anime most influential to the entirety of Ninja Crusade 2e. BEyond that, the ame just offers some ideas for what campaigns you might run - clan wars, politics, training stories, etc. - and how to properly use Triggers and be immersive in descriptions. We also get sample characters - basically, all the art from the early section, plus a few more that I assume were KS backer creations.

The End!

The current supplements for Ninja Crusade are: Empire's Reign (sourcebook on the Imperial forces, who contain both the best people and worst people in the entire setting), Land of Seed and Blossom (sourcebook on the ninja of Seed and Blossom, who are all into really creepy powers), The Firebrands (sourcebook on the Burning Dancers and Virtuous Body Gardeners, plus some associated minor clans), Truth and Lies (sourcebook on the Will of Iron and Hidden Strands of Fate, plus some associated minor clans) and Clan Pack #1 (a small PDF on three minor clans).

E: More directly, what do you want to hear more about?

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 21:22 on Jul 7, 2017

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Hostile V posted:

Paranoia is the one that baffles me the most because the Warden is such a non-entity. It doesn't get much in the way of personality and even during the campaign books it just...does barely anything. That and they pick System Shock 1 and not 2 and Doom doesn't even really show up? Like, System Shock 2 at least has The Many and the robots as enemies and it's just way more thematically fitting than the one where it's just you vs. machine because that's not the point of your game where the prison has gone to Hell.

Not to mention tonally jarring, Paranoia's tone ranges from Loony fest to pitch-black comedy depending on how hard the game master wants to lean on the oppressive dictatorship vs the alpha computer's insanity, but it's still at the end of the day a comedy game, while Abandon All Hope wants to be grim and serious.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



How many of the supplements have more information on Celestial Animals? Also: Those, please.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



The two clan-focused supplements and Seed and Blossom have new animal families. The Imperial supplement covers how the hell the Imperials, who have only one ninja clan, have been enslaving them.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


You know my opinion on which supplement goes above the others in terms of expanding the setting most usefully. Empires reign gets my vote.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book 14: New West Part 13: "Most suffer from mild paranoia ("People are out to get you, watch out! What was that? Is somebody sneaking behind you?), delusions of power ("I'm the fastest and deadliest there ever was! What was that?!"), always looking around, have trouble concentrating on other skills and other subjects (no or low skill bonuses), are easily distracted, and like to kill — really like to kill."

So, let's get right to the classes this time, because geez, there are a lot of them.


Check the poster in back.

Bandit O.C.C.

This is literally just the Pecos Raider class from the last book with very slight updates. One or two skills are changed, and now it has access to cowboy skills, and the bandit gets some extremely slight extra bonuses (+1 init, +2 vs. horror factor). If you decided to play the (lovely) Pecos Raider class, you're already getting shortchanged. What's more, this is otherwise a reprint of material from the previous book. I can understand it more when they decide to reprint something like the simvan, because it's been like 20 books since we last saw the guys. This is just silly, especially when it refers us to Lone Star for more information.



It's obviously mainly intended for NPCs, given it has Siembieda pass-aggery about how sure you can play one but you'll be wanted and give the rest of the PC group a bad name and you might get into accidental fights with good guys. It's not really worth it for a class that mainly just gets some basic survival, piloting, and weapon skills, and pretty much crap otherwise. No attribute requirement, though, so anybody can play one.


"Don't strike that pose just yet, you cann't actually get any cool quick-draw skills." "Sonuva-"

Bandit: Highwayman O.C.C.

As illusionists are to magic-users, highwaymen are to bandits, I suppose. Theser are supposed to be ambush experts who hit travellers, stagecoaches, caravans, etc., and get a small bonus to initiative and a level-dependent bonus against fear or horror factor as a result. Once again, we get the same handwringing that the Bandit class gets for PCs (it's literally the same text we had a page ago reprinted again, in case you missed it the first time I guess).

Outside of their bonus against fear, they're generally unexceptional, but get some of the new trap skills in this book and are good riders and decent fighters. However, they get poo poo for extra skills and the only big deal they get is a free hovercycle. An unexceptional class you only have a 31% chance of qualifying for.


Indeterminate D-Bee? Don't worry, you'll probably get stats down the road.

Bounty Hunter O.C.C.

Oh, sure, Rifts already has a core class called the Headhunter, but... these guys are Bounty Hunters. Completely different! It emphasizes a lot of these guys hook up with others to increase their odds, while others prefer to make sure a bounty is divided as few ways as possible. Some are law-abiding and others are jerks, etc. Most are amoral and just are in it to make a buck. We get some details on typical bounty amounts, from 200-1500 on the low end (petty crooks and lesser demons) up to 25,000-50,000 for reknowned outlaws and superhumans. It goes on about all the issues you might have collecting a bounty (lack of evidence, the bounty poster doesn't actually have the money), etc., in case the GM doesn't want to make your money easy. There is some handwringing once again about how people don't generally like bounty hunters, but it's relatively subdued.

They naturally have some tracking and information gathering skills, but are only modest fights at best, with middling other skill picks. They get some bonuses on physical endurance, initiative, against fear, but nothing exceptional. The only thing that stands out is that they get a choice of:
  • A high-quality suit of armor (Triax T-10, T-11, or the new Dead Boy armor) and some bonus credits).
  • A power armor suit and a free set of skills to use it with.
  • Magic armor and a magic weapon - it's really not clear what, since Rifts has magic item lists of wildly varying value. Alternately, you can have a bio-wizard parasite, 1d4 bio-wizards microbes, and a minor magic weapon (from Rifts World Book 2: Atlantis).
  • A vehicle with extra features like some extra weapons (vague on what you might pick from), radar, and an improved radio. Alternately, you can have a robot horse, but the super-vehicle's a better choice in most circumstances.
They also get 1d4 cybernetics. It's really only their equipment kit that makes them decent at all, otherwise they'd be a really dull, but it at least makes them an alright pick. Too bad only 9% of characters will qualify for it...


1890s or 1990s?

Gunfighter O.C.C.

So, this is a mercenary class that focus on, unsurprisingly, guns. Because Siembieda is hung up on notions of honorable warriors, he compares them to his notion of samurais and knights, and many follow that dumb ol' Code of the West.

As a class, they get a poo poo-ton of abilities compared to the last few. They get a bonus attack withh any kind of gun, a bonus to try and disarm people with gunfire, a bonus against fear, ability to repair and jury-rig guns (and maybe bombs, it's vague), a special bonus to initiative if you were lucky enough to roll within that special top 5% of Prowess ratings, ability to shoot two guns with one attack (at half your strike bonus), sharpshooting for revolvers / energy rifles / energy pistols (and the bonuses for that stack with the above), access to all of the sharpshooting trick shots, and high-level gunfighters get a Horror Factor. Compared to something like the Headhunter or various soldier classes, this is just a straight and fairly notable combat upgrade over those guys. They get a broad variety of skills from mechanical to weapons, but a small number of other skill picks. They're a really strong combat class for something that isn't outright superhuman, but that's relative. Only 17% of characters will qualify, though.


"I know this class doesn't use shotguns, I just... gimme a break!"

Gunslinger O.C.C.

This, unlike the gunfighter, is just a pistol duellist specializing in quick-draws. Few make it to qualify as a gunslinger, with most getting gunned down in their first few duels, so those that survive get reputations pretty quickly. But what do they do for a living? Well most are effectively assassins. We get a lot of and statistics about how few live to become professional and few live to retire. They specialize in handguns essentially because they're easy to conceal and sneak around.

They get an initative bonus if, once again, they're one of the few 5% of characters that'll have an exceptional prowess. Otherwise, they can do two-gun action, get sharpshooting for revolvers and energy pistols, all of the trick shots, a Horror Factor dependent on their level, a bonus against fear, a bonus to disarm with gunfire, and bonus attacks with pistols dependent on their level. It notes that their reputation also means that they've often recognized "like Michael Jordan or Michael Jackson", forgetting that such widespread fame relies on a modern media network that doesn't seemingly exist anymore.

Like gunfighters, they represent a general combat upgrade over earlier combat classes... but are hobbled by most of their focus is on pistols, and most pistols in the Rifts setting are hot garbage. They get a number of criminal-type skills and, of course, gun stuff. They get a bit more in the way of skills than the gunfighter, but in general the gunfighter has it better due to having access to extra guns. Because of their ridiculous prowess requirement of 17, though, it's unlikely anybody would get to play a human gunfighter anyway, given only 1 in 400 characters will qualify. Oh, and they avoid cybernetics because that's what it says in the script.


"I wasn't cool enough to be a Cyber-Knight, so..."

Justice Ranger O.C.C.

So, these are essentially Texas Rangers only without Texas, the stereotypical wandering lawman who metes out justice based on that motherfuckin' Code of the New West. Of course, they also act as judge, jury, and murderer, so there's that. Also, they hate supernatural monsters and nonhuman looking D-Bees, so not only are they sexist, they're racist, too! Great guys so far. In any case, they're relentless lawbringers... or... well, codebringers? I mean, it's not clear what law they work for, if any. Despite hating on ugly D-Bees, only 50% are human (another 25% are psi-stalkers, 5% cyborgs, 2% mutant animals, and 18% whatever). They're supposedly generally good and decent people aside from all the -isms they seem to have. People either "love them or hate them". They seem kinda hateable! It's entirely unclear how one becomes a "Justice Ranger", if it's self-appointed or if there's some organization or... what? It's suggested they may be descended from the RCMP since they have the motto "Justice Rangers always get their man, come hell or high water." Actually, Rifts World Book 20: Canada will have an entirely different RCMP-descended group - the Tundra Rangers. So much ranging to be done!

So, they get the same disarm shooty bonus, a bonus against fear, can quick-draw either handguns or rifles (they have to pick one- pick rifles, if you don't want to suck), and they get a Horror Factor at level 5. They get a laundry listed of wilderness skills and stuff useful in a fight or chase, but only a middling number of skill picks. They get the same equipment picks as the bounty hunter, though, making them a legitimately better version of the Bounty Hunter as long as you don't mind being a Prick of Justice. Mind, their requirements restrict them to 10% of characters rolled up. That's game balance!


Flinging the deadliest porkchop.

Psi-Slinger P.C.C.

That's "Psychic Character Class", which some may need a reminder about because we haven't seen hardly any new ones since the corebook. Magic? Sure! Fighters? Yup! Psychics? Um... I think there was a psychic Gypsy class?

So, it turns out, disappointingly, that they don't sling psis. Instead, these are essentially just psychic gunslingers, using their psychic powers to shoot energy. They're more common in the New West because the lure of Western thematics is preternatural west of the Mississippi or some poo poo.

They can shoot energy bolts, upgrade S.D.C. projectiles (guns included) to do M.D.C., convert up to 30 mega-damage from an attack against them from Mega-Damage to S.D.C. (and halving anything larger), and a variety of minor psychic powers (and also a mind bolt and psi-sword). They also get quick-draw and sharpshooting with pistols and can use them as paired weapons, get all the trick shots, get a Horror Factor at 1st level (mind melters & bursters = not scary, guy firing telekinetic bullets = scary), and gets bonuses to disarm and against fear. Their skills are pretty much like that of gunslingers - they're pretty much trading off raw combat power (attacks) for special powers, but those special powers are really, really good. Their ability to convert damage to S.D.C means an armored psi-slinger can essentially ignore energy damage of 30 mega-damage or less. You can only play one if you're a human or psi-stalker, though. However, their attribute requirements are the same as the Gunslinger, so once again, only 1 in 400 characters will qualify.


"I should have been the gunslinger art, but no, they have to pick the piece that looks more like Eastwood."

Saddle Tramp O.C.C.

You know what we needed? A new vagabond class. See, the tramp is supposed to be a wandering drifter type (the one that supposedly didn't have a class, but here it is) who's vaguely shady and criminal, and looking for that One Big Score so they can get back to being a lazy good-for-nothing. There's really not much of a concept here, but they're supposed to be shady Jack-of-all-Trades.

They actually get a bump to affinity, which is pretty rare, and some inconsequential combat bonuses. They have a mix of wilderness, lore, music, and weapon, and despite being almost entirely underwhelming, they have only a few other skill picks. While they're not as bad as the "core" vagabond, they don't do anything particularly well. About the only thing they have going on is that there are no requirements to play one, but there's also not much reason to play one, either. There are a lot of filler classes here, and this is just the start.


"I wasn't cool enough to be a Justice Ranger, so..."

Sheriff O.C.C.

As it says in the title, these are generally the head of local law enforcement in a town. We get a lot of about law enforcement in Rifts but it doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

Sheriffs get to pick a particular weapon type (pistols, shotguns, rifles, bows, or blades) that they get an extra attack for, once again there's the bonus to disarm and against fear, quick-draw bonuses for the 5% with exceptional prowess, and they get a Horror Factor at 6th level. This... is starting to feel really cookie-cutter. So many of these classes just have variations on just the same set of bonuses over and over and over. They can take sharpshooting but don't get it for free. They get skills with law, investigation, and weapons, with a surprisingly weak number of other skill picks. 17% chance to play one.


"I wasn't cool enough to be a Sheriff, so..."

Sheriff Deputy O.C.C.

Do you want to play a Sheriff, but don't have the stats to match up? Well, maybe you can play a Sheriff Deputy, which is like a Sheriff, only objectively worse in every sense. But you have a 55% chance to play one!

This is how Siembieda fills two pages while adding nothing.


"What? No! I'm not drawing my gun, I'm just scratching my rear end."

Wired Gunslinger O.C.C.

This is, what, the sixth gunslinger-styled class so far? Well, this is one where you've been fitted with crazy implants that have been modified for less crazy and more speed. Who modified them?



Well, you get to be a twitchy mother goose, but it can grant paranoia as you're wired to jump at every little thing. But most get addicted to using their speed in fights and are the kind of jumpy combat addict we've seen variations on ever since the original Juicer O.C.C. Here's their first "special ability":

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

1. Danger Response (special): Automatically notices and reacts to movement, especially movement seen out of the corner of the eye. It is an instinctive and reflex response to draw and point his gun at anything that moves because it could be an enemy or it startles him — just pray he doesn't shoot first and ask questions later (many do). In many situations, the character's reflex reaction to even overwhelming odds is to shoot, dodge and keep shooting until the danger is gone. This causes the deaths of many Wired Gunslingers, but 25% kill themselves after 10+2D4 years (unless miscreant or diabolic evil alignments) because of the stress from the constant anxiety of thinking an enemy is lurking behind every shadow, or because they accidentally injure or kill an innocent person (often a child or woman) as a result of the danger response.

Yep. Their first class feature is "you might give yourself a heart attack or murder a child!" Wow, I bet you're hankering to play one of these after that!... not that there are any mechanics for accidental child murder. In any case, they get minor bonuses to strength and speed, but get a big bump to prowess (it's automatically exceptional), an extra attack, big bonuses against fear, a big bonus to initiative, an "automatic dodge", the ability to use pistols akimbo, and sharpshooting for pistols with all of the trick shots. They get bonus attacks as they level up and the same horror factor as the gunslinger. They're basically a better gunslinger, but they roll for random craziness as they level up. Only humans and near-human D-Bees (elves, atlanteans, ogres) can take this class. Unlike the gunslinger or psi-slinger, they have no particular requirements and anybody can play it. It's the gunslinger for everybody!... as long as you don't mind putting a bullet in a baby.

Next: Alcoholism is a occupational character class?

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 01:19 on Jul 8, 2017

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.


MollyMetroid posted:

You know my opinion on which supplement goes above the others in terms of expanding the setting most usefully. Empires reign gets my vote.

100% agreed. Most of the supplements for NC2E are okay, but Empire's Reign is pretty legit. Not only does it give you a whole new set of classes to play with, changes chargen for a military campaign, gives advice on a military campaign, and does a good job making villain factors playable, it also expands the setting. Plus, I think the Silver Blades (not-Samurai), the Enlightened (monks who hate how ninjas co-opted their mysticism and religion for warefare), and Black Smokes (snipers and pistolers who just go crazy in battle) are cooler than the ninjas.

Though, for being not-Uchias from Naruto, the Golden Lions are pretty wimpy. I mean, they work well as villains and the only Ninjas in Empire Reign as they can use any Jutsu and don't have to worry about Ki too much (to make things simplier on the GM), but they really do seem like one of the weaker clans.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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





Ninja Crusade: Empire's Reign - Are We The Baddies

We start off with a history of the Empire, except this time from the Empire's perspective. Children are taught the history of Izou Zurui early, and the history is clear: total authority over the world came from Zurui's honor and power, and the Empire itself is unstoppable and glorious. In the time when Zurui lived, the use of ninja had discouraged large-scale armies, but the city-states were growing tense with each other. Ninja had once been a deterrent to total war, but now, the many nations were too strong to be threatened so easily by ninja power, and war became inevitable after a five-year drought forced conflict over food and rivers. When two armies came to a small fishing village, few knew it would become more than a pointless skirmish...but the family if Izou Zurui was slaughtered in the chaos, and he swore vengeance against those that took them from him. As Zurui buried the dead, he saw a vision of a land at peace, his descendants living happily, undivided by religion, language or people. He saw the world united under one leader, and spirits spoke to him of his destiny. Zurui never said all the spirits told him, but he awoke to find a golden sword and the location of a dojo in his mind, where he could learn the art of war.

The Grasping Shadows trained him, gave him the means to raise an army that would destroy those who would ruin the land. They pledged to assist him and train his elite forces. Zurui excelled under their tutelage, and he would soon lead them and defeat armies far more numerous than his own, thanks to his bold leadership and clever strategy. He and his men became heroes of legend, and to this day, many nobles claim descent from Zurui's followers. He brought doctors and scholars with him to conquered lands, to see to the needs of the people. Zurui never burned villages nor temples, and he showed mercy when he could and made examples when he had to. He found many generals chose to join him rather than face him, and he became the ruler of an empire far greater than anything the Orime Dynasty had ever dreamed of.

While Zurui was grateful to his ninja trainers, he never fully trusted them and always made sure to pay his debts to them prmptly. He knew they would be loyal only as long as there was mutual respect, and he negotiated carefully with other clans. He would leave them in peace if they did not threaten his realm, and so the clans used this chance to expand their power and eliminate their rivals. When Zurui died, four decades later, his nation was strong, and it was said that when the Emperor's last breath came, a dragon flew over the Palace to escort his soul to the heavens. However, Zurui's nephew, Junshinichi, quickly destroyed the peace in his Expansion Wars, seeking to take new provinces into the Empire. This expansionist conquest would continue over time - every Emperor ended up following one of two paths. They were either conquerors, adding new lands to the Empire, or administrators, caring for the people.

The early years were not totally easy, however. The Jahata Rebellion was an insurrection that spread across the Empire, centered on the city of Jahata, where the crops were destroyed by famine and the water plagued by Crashing Wave pirates. A strange man came to the city on the back of a yak, preaching a new religion that caught on quickly. He told them they need not fear an unjust Empire, that they could be their own masters, and so Jahata rebelled. It spread quickly, and soon the Yak symbol could be seen across the Empire, and even Imperial garrisons took up the banner and the ways of the monk, having sometimes gon unpaid for months. The Empire broke out in civil war, and the court was unsure of what to do, while the Emperor, not long from having been a boy who took the throne when his father died of illness, was unprepared.

It was his sister, Lady Sako, who was the more skilled of the two. She had studied under her uncle, and begged her brother for a commission in the Army to become a soldier. She struggled at ifrst in the ranks because of sexism, but soon became a fierce and competent commander. She won the loyalty of her men by brave and intelligent tactics that allowed her to defeat forces many times the size of her own, and she was made Commander of the Southern Legions and set to fight the Jahata rebels. She managed to cripple them in a series of bold raiders, ending the rebellion by razing Jahata and destroying the forces of the Yak. Few can recall what happened to the priest that led the rebellion. It is said that a team of ninja stormed his stronghold near the end, trying to bring an end to the war. Few records exist of what happened there, but the ninja who returned told tales of snakes with the heads of men and strange, foul beasts.

In more recent years, the ninja were the stuff of legend. Their conflicts sometimes needed Imperial intervention, but for the most part, they kept to the shadows. They were fainfully employed and, as the Izou Empire grew, they worked among the Izou. The Empire was a beacon of grace and honor in the world...until the ninja slew the son of the Emperor, and the great purge was called. New laws were made to ban the ninja teachings and to arrest even those ninja known to work with the government until their loyalty could be truly proven. This was not, at the time, out of hatred, but of fear of ninja power, for the Emperor Mamoru knew well what they were capable of. It was a welcome thing for the Army, who had never liked the one threat that challenged their power in the land. They believed the ninja to have operated too easily, to be blasphemous and dishonorable. They wanted to control the Empire's peace without needing to avoid or appease a group little better than terrorists. Helping them were the Golden Lions, the so-called Emperor's Clan, who were personally charged by Mamoru to continue their jutsu work to better fight the other ninja. New divions like the Executioners and the newly revitalized Engineers Guild were formed, and the Empire capitalized on a newly discovered invention - gunpowder.

Once, gunpowder had just been used for stage trickery, but its development as a weapon gave the Army an edge. Ninja had many powers, yes, but now they could field soldiers using weapons that could pierce nearly any defense. Mamoru was willing to pay any cost to train his forces, and the Crusade began. As it grew, so did the destructive revenge tactics of the ninja. Despite his best protections, the ninja slew Mamoru's beloved wife, Izou Hana, and her head was put on a pike outside the Palace. Their daughter, Megumi, whose voice was said to be as beautiful as the dawn, was left poisoned, to waste away and day. This enraged Mamoru, who ordered that no ninja be spared. The barbaric acts of the ninja could not be forgiven, and the Emperor told far and wide what had been done to him and to others. He told the people to throw off the tyranny of the ninja, that he would no more allow anyone to fear these vigilantes that existed outside the law. The people rallied behind their leader and his wisdom, and the Army's ranks swelled.

The Emperor learned from his spymaster, Katosoge, that the ninja planned an all-out attack. He knew that if he traveled amongst the people, the ninja would use them ash uman shields, so he devised a trap for them, to end things quickly and decisively. He gave orders to summon his best warriors and hid them away in the PAlace, waiting for the ninja to come. His spy in the Lotus Coalition told him they were on their way, and he was ready. There was little resistance as the ninja entered the capital and the palace. As they emerged there, however, they found the 'Emperor' was a mere decoy, a servant. The secret passage they used was sealed behind them, and the Golden Lions, Executioners and Silver Blades emerged to defeat the ninja. The ninja were fierce, but the Golden Lions were able to negate their jutsu by stealing their powers. The Silver Blades and Executioners punished the ninja with death in combat, but one of them managed to break away and flee into the palace, where he had the sheer luck to stumble upon the Emperor and his escort. The Emperor could not restrain himself when he saw the ninja trying to kill his men, and he drew his sword to fight.

That is where all official reports end. It is known that the ninja, Danketsu, escaped despite suffering terrible wounds. It is known that Danketsu reported the Emperor's death, and that the people received no news from the palace for several months. It is known that at the end of that itme, the Imperial legions suddenly charged forth once more in battle, armed with the locations of some of the most hidden temples and dojos of the ninja clans. It is known that they spared no one in the villages they found. At their forefront were great celestial beasts, summoned by the Imperial Summoners to wage war. And it is known that Emperor Mamoru rode at the forfront of the army in this march, as strong as ever. The Lotus Coalition gathered in their new village, Danketsu, and prepared for the war to begin anew. The Imperial people were filled with hope that at last, the war might end.

We then cut to a brief sidebar on a few famous emperors. Zurui the First, obviously. His nephew, Junshinichi the Conqueror, who expanded the borders. Emperor Huhua the Blessed, who supported the arts and the sciences and whose reign saw the discovery of black powder. Emperor Akono the Horseman, who led the fight against the Matamoto, a clain of demons that sought to conquer the Empire. Empress Xia the Lonely, who is said to have led the Empire through famine and restored it to glory. Emperor Gong the Corrupt, who spent his entire treasury on the infamous Golden Pleasure Palace and is the only Emperor to have ever died of choking on food. Lastly, Emperor Ide the Lawgiver, who codified what had been thousands of minor edicts into today's easily understood legal system.

Anyway, back to the Emperor. See, being Emperor is more than just being a hereditary king. The Emperor is supported by divine might, not only that of the gods but also the ancestors of the Izou people. He is a bridge between past and present. A strong Emperor means the Izou will have great fortune. A weak Emperor means plagues and bad economy. The Empire is said to be run solely by the bureaucracy, with the Emperor as its one absolute power. Under the Articles of Heaven written by Izou Zurui and later expanded by Izou Ide, the power and authority of the throne are defined, with many provinces led by assemblies or noble councils which the Emperor may step into and change as he sees fit. The Articles do give guidelines on how the Emperor should act and Imperial children study them closely as they grow up. Of course, there have been ruling Empresses. It's not common, but the Emperor chooses as heir the child most fit to lead, and that is not always a boy. Chauvinism among then obility makes life for an Empress hard, and they must work harder than men to be seen as worthy, but every Empress so far has not only excelled as a leader but led the Empire through many hardships successfully. Because the Emperor has divine authority over all things, however, it's hard to remove a bad or cruel one. There's been times of civil war, sure, but peace has been maintained either by the Empire doing its best to handle a weak Emperor or by standing strong in the face of barbarity. Only once in all of Izou history has an Emperor been assassinated, and that because the sons he passed over as heirs were particularly vicious. The son that ordered the murder has had his name stricken from history, and the nation was led afterwards by Empress Xia, whose reign was thirty years of amazing prosperity.

The big question these day,s though, is what happened to Emperor Mamoru? According to Danketsu, he died, and the ninja spread this rumor far and wide, but Danketsu died before revealing all the details of the fight, and the Golden Lions sealed the palace for months. In that time, the Empire did little atacking and focused on regaining its strength. However, Mamoru returned apparently unscathed, with the only change being a more proactive and vicious approach to his war against the ninja, plus an apparent knowledge of many hidden ninja bases. He became known as the Immortal Son of Heaven, his battle standard changed to a phoenix rising from a sword's hilt. He is now paranoid, seeing traitors everywhere, and will not hesitate to purge advisors who are not absolutely loyal. When he holds court, it is often deathly silent, for fear of offending him. He keeps his daughter locked away from the public for her own safety, and some wonder if, when the ninja are finally exterminated, he will embrace peace or will turn his eye towards conquest.

There are several facts known about the events of the night of Mamoru's apparent death. More than five squads of soldiers and forty specialists were at the battle. The Imperial heroes Mitsuo Harama of the Black Smokes and Musashi Harama of the Silver Blades were both among the dead. Danketsu was the only ninja survivor, and he escaped the palace and evaded capture.The Palace was locked down and the Imperial City occupied by hundreds of soldiers for nearly a year after the event. The Emperor emerged alive and immediatley reorganized the Army and renewed his war on the ninja. Mamoru today is certainly crueler than he was before, and punishes most crimes and infringements with death now. So...what actually happened? There are many rumors.

Some say that Mamoru is dead, and that one of his bodyguards has taken over his identity. The reason it took so long was so the court could groom the man to pass even the strictest test. Others believe that a Celestial Phoenix was summoned and merged with Mamoru, gifting him its power of resurrection. Others say that the Emperor died and that his soul was devoured by a powerful Oni, which now operates his body and uses it to sate its evil appetites. Others say that the gods saved Mamoru from Danketsu's blade at the last minute, and that Danketsu was given his 'trophies' of proof by the trickster god, who sought to mislead the ninja due to their failure to properly pay him honor. Still others say Danketsu lied, stole the trophies on his way out and left his comrades to die. The Emperor was never killed at all. Still others hold that the Emperor did die, but his rage and cruelty kept his bdoy moving. His spirit will not leave until his vengeance is complete, but the body is starting to rot under his armor, and he must now work even harder to be sure the ninja all die before he finally disintegrates and is cast into the hells.

While the Emperor likes to joke about his 'resurrection' and has taken the nickname of Immortal Son of Heaven, he has privately commanded that anyone who spreads stories that he was ever in true danger fro mthe ninja should be punished. This hasn't stopped him from using his immortality rumors to strike fear in the ninja forces, and certainly he seems as strong as ever, if not moreso. He has become colder towards his people, but he does still run the Empire and esnure that the borders are safe and that food and money continue to flow as much as possible.

The courts, of course, are what keep the Empire together. The bureaucracy is often joked about, but without it, the Empire would have collapsed centuries ago. The hierarchy is simple enough, really - there are ranks, but ultimately, the Emperor commands, and the courts are left to execute his edicts. It may seem convoluted from the outside...and in many ways it is, given the absurdity ofone man being responsible for all things but needing so many ministers. But it works more often than it doesn't. Education is a major focus and route to advancement, as it allows even the poor to get ranking government positions, which have strict competitions to judge candidates. The drain of this competition on students is a frequent subject of plays, in fact, given the dramatic potential of changes in caste due to Imperial patronage.

The Imperial Court itself meets, on average, twice a month, though the Emperor can call them whenever he likes. It is a regal, dignified occasion and a chance to show off wealth and ower. It usually lasts all day, with many feasts and performances to entertain the guests as well as reviews of issues of politics. New inventions are often demonstrated, and the best soldiers are there to protect the court. Around midday, the bells ring to announce the Emperor's desire to hear petitions. The Royal Advisor controls the agenda, and getting a chance to speak to the Emperor means going through him in advance, often with bribes. The court lasts for as long as the Emperor remains interested, with no set duration...save one. One the anniversory of Izou Zurui's death, the Emperor opens his palace to the public to hear their issues and arbitrate disputes. This is seen as the only way for the poor to ever speak to him, and some spend their life's savings just for a few minutes. Mamoru still honors this tradition, but his judgments are highly influenced by his moods. Occasionally he will dsmiss those he finds dull or will give strange, apparently nonsensical procalmations out of boredom. Since his resurrection, he's gotten more brutal, but that has never stopped people from showing up and hoping he'll rule in their favor.

It should be noted that for centuries, the law of the Empire was enforced by the Will of Iron, alongside the Imperial wardens and constables. They were heavily relid on to keep people safe and to solve crimes. DEspite the Crusade, many Will of Iron ninja want to keep this tradition going, even though they are now seen as criminals. Many city guard captains maintain an off-the-books policy of working with the Will of Iron in exchange for denying their involvement in a case. It would be scandalous if it came out, but it has kept crime from getting even worse.

Next time: Daiwa, the Imperial City.

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


Alien Rope Burn posted:

It notes that their reputation also means that they've often recognized "like Michael Jordan or Michael Jackson", forgetting that such widespread fame relies on a modern media network that doesn't seemingly exist anymore.

Coalition Credit Dreadfuls?

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.


Just as a general question, how many people here would be interested in a Ninja Crusade game after reading the Fatal and Friends breakdown?

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


Covok posted:

Just as a general question, how many people here would be interested in a Ninja Crusade game after reading the Fatal and Friends breakdown?

Heck, I'd be down.

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.


Mr. Maltose posted:

Heck, I'd be down.

It would be voice only because I just can't manage PBP. Never could hold my interest and I've tried.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Alien Rope Burn posted:


"I wasn't cool enough to be a Cyber-Knight, so..."

Justice Ranger O.C.C.

So, these are essentially Texas Rangers only without Texas, the stereotypical wandering lawman who metes out justice based on that motherfuckin' Code of the New West. Of course, they also act as judge, jury, and murderer, so there's that. Also, they hate supernatural monsters and nonhuman looking D-Bees, so not only are they sexist, they're racist, too! Great guys so far. In any case, they're relentless lawbringers... or... well, codebringers? I mean, it's not clear what law they work for, if any. Despite hating on ugly D-Bees, only 50% are human (another 25% are psi-stalkers, 5% cyborgs, 2% mutant animals, and 18% whatever). They're supposedly generally good and decent people aside from all the -isms they seem to have. People either "love them or hate them". They seem kinda hateable! It's entirely unclear how one becomes a "Justice Ranger", if it's self-appointed or if there's some organization or... what? It's suggested they may be descended from the RCMP since they have the motto "Justice Rangers always get their man, come hell or high water." Actually, Rifts World Book 20: Canada will have an entirely different RCMP-descended group - the Tundra Rangers. So much ranging to be done!

So, they get the same disarm shooty bonus, a bonus against fear, can quick-draw either handguns or rifles (they have to pick one- pick rifles, if you don't want to suck), and they get a Horror Factor at level 5. They get a laundry listed of wilderness skills and stuff useful in a fight or chase, but only a middling number of skill picks. They get the same equipment picks as the bounty hunter, though, making them a legitimately better version of the Bounty Hunter as long as you don't mind being a Prick of Justice. Mind, their requirements restrict them to 10% of characters rolled up. That's game balance!

It's sad that Siembieda has a limited media exposure, otherwise these guys would be the equivalent of the Gunslingers from Stephen King's Dark Tower series.

Alien Rope Burn posted:


Flinging the deadliest porkchop.

Psi-Slinger P.C.C.

That's "Psychic Character Class", which some may need a reminder about because we haven't seen hardly any new ones since the corebook. Magic? Sure! Fighters? Yup! Psychics? Um... I think there was a psychic Gypsy class?

So, it turns out, disappointingly, that they don't sling psis. Instead, these are essentially just psychic gunslingers, using their psychic powers to shoot energy. They're more common in the New West because the lure of Western thematics is preternatural west of the Mississippi or some poo poo.

They can shoot energy bolts, upgrade S.D.C. projectiles (guns included) to do M.D.C., convert up to 30 mega-damage from an attack against them from Mega-Damage to S.D.C. (and halving anything larger), and a variety of minor psychic powers (and also a mind bolt and psi-sword). They also get quick-draw and sharpshooting with pistols and can use them as paired weapons, get all the trick shots, get a Horror Factor at 1st level (mind melters & bursters = not scary, guy firing telekinetic bullets = scary), and gets bonuses to disarm and against fear. Their skills are pretty much like that of gunslingers - they're pretty much trading off raw combat power (attacks) for special powers, but those special powers are really, really good. Their ability to convert damage to S.D.C means an armored psi-slinger can essentially ignore energy damage of 30 mega-damage or less. You can only play one if you're a human or psi-stalker, though. However, their attribute requirements are the same as the Gunslinger, so once again, only 1 in 400 characters will qualify.

Using Ultimate Edition, Psi-Stalker Psi-Slingers are even more powerful since they become Mega-Damage creatures when fighting near magical monsters, supernatural creatures, and ley lines. That means they convert MDC beams to SDC, then SDC plinks against MDC skin.

Of course, this is true for any Psi-Slinger in MDC armor, but it's particularly egregious with Psi-Stalkers in RAW Ultimate Edition Rifts.

Alien Rope Burn posted:


"What? No! I'm not drawing my gun, I'm just scratching my rear end."

Wired Gunslinger O.C.C.

This is, what, the sixth gunslinger-styled class so far? Well, this is one where you've been fitted with crazy implants that have been modified for less crazy and more speed. Who modified them?



Well, you get to be a twitchy mother goose, but it can grant paranoia as you're wired to jump at every little thing. But most get addicted to using their speed in fights and are the kind of jumpy combat addict we've seen variations on ever since the original Juicer O.C.C. Here's their first "special ability":


Yep. Their first class feature is "you might give yourself a heart attack or murder a child!" Wow, I bet you're hankering to play one of these after that!... not that there are any mechanics for accidental child murder. In any case, they get minor bonuses to strength and speed, but get a big bump to prowess (it's automatically exceptional), an extra attack, big bonuses against fear, a big bonus to initiative, an "automatic dodge", the ability to use pistols akimbo, and sharpshooting for pistols with all of the trick shots. They get bonus attacks as they level up and the same horror factor as the gunslinger. They're basically a better gunslinger, but they roll for random craziness as they level up. Only humans and near-human D-Bees (elves, atlanteans, ogres) can take this class. Unlike the gunslinger or psi-slinger, they have no particular requirements and anybody can play it. It's the gunslinger for everybody!... as long as you don't mind putting a bullet in a baby.

And yet, even with all this, the Wired Gunslinger makes more sense for Crazies than the base description for Crazies. I even think that the Crazy as written in Savage Rifts is based more off the twitchy, paranoid rage monster of the Wired Gunslinger than the Looney Tunes spasmatic Crazy from the base book.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Cassa posted:

Coalition Credit Dreadfuls?

If the metaphor had been for Annie Oakley or Wyatt Earp it probably would have made more sense, at least, instead of the King of Pop.

Young Freud posted:

It's sad that Siembieda has a limited media exposure, otherwise these guys would be the equivalent of the Gunslingers from Stephen King's Dark Tower series.

The Justice Rangers are just baffling because they're treated like some sort of tradition or organization that's widespread... without any real indication that there's an actual tradition or organization that gave birth to them. I mean, it's not like the Cyber-Knights where they have a clear HQ and knighting process and take on squires. The Justice Rangers just... are. My pet guess is that a some point they were merged with the Apocalyptic Cavalry and were pulled away from that to be something more playable and sympathetic, but never had that backstory replaced... it's just a guess, though.

Young Freud posted:

Using Ultimate Edition, Psi-Stalker Psi-Slingers are even more powerful since they become Mega-Damage creatures when fighting near magical monsters, supernatural creatures, and ley lines. That means they convert MDC beams to SDC, then SDC plinks against MDC skin.

Of course, this is true for any Psi-Slinger in MDC armor, but it's particularly egregious with Psi-Stalkers in RAW Ultimate Edition Rifts.

Yeah, you can do it with any D-Bee that gets a mega-damage hide who qualifies, or just play a Demigod Psi-Slinger and throw whatever magical or psychic class you like on top of that. Of course, for extra game-breaking, I already mentioned combining the Psi-Slinger with the Sea Inquisitor to laugh off most energy damage in the game while dual-wielding automatic pistols for farcical damage (to supernatural monsters).

Young Freud posted:

And yet, even with all this, the Wired Gunslinger makes more sense for Crazies than the base description for Crazies. I even think that the Crazy as written in Savage Rifts is based more off the twitchy, paranoid rage monster of the Wired Gunslinger than the Looney Tunes spasmatic Crazy from the base book.

One interesting thing I think is that the illustration is pretty much the seed for the crazy character in the Rifts graphic novel, too, given the bowler hat sitting to the side.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ninja Crusade: Empire's Reign - One Night In Daiwa

So, one note. While the court is firmly and publically behind the Emperor - obviously - the Crusade has been a topic of some debate. No noble would dare do anything but support it in public, but behind closed doors, they debate if it is just, if it had to happen, and if it should continue. Some see it as a costly war that only brings misery to the Empire, or argue that it has unleashed terrible dangers - the Summoner Skirmishes, say, or the wide authority given to the Golden Lions and the Executioners. The Emperor wants to go on until every ninja is dead or has fled the Empire, but many in court are trying to find another way to end the war...if they can do so without losing honor or being killed by hte Emperor.

So, Daiwa, the Harmony City. It is the heart of the Empire, the largest city in all of the nation and...well, honestly, uncommonly low in population at the moment. It once had 800,000 people, but less than two thirds that number still live there, and the place feels rather empty. Still, it is isolated from the horrors of war, and the people there are quite happy to keep it so. Summer is humid an winter is damp, and in spring, the air smells of apricots and cherry blossoms can be seen everywhere. In autumn, the city is full of the red and yellow of plum and maple, and leaf-viewing parties are popular. All kinds of animals live in the city's extensive parks, from sika to tanuki, and monkeys can be found on the rooftops, arguing with sobgbirds, at all times. The Emperor treats all animals in the city as his property, so they are left alone. The architecture is highly traditional, with heavy use of machiya, or wooden townhouses, as both homes and businesses. There is also a huge number of karasansui - that is, dry rock gardens. Even the poor try to keep them. The largest is in the Hall of Heroes Memorial, resembling a river made of stone. The entire city is very clean and controlled, due to a very large sanitation system and many street sweepers.

The siege of 757 left scars, however, especially in the Noble District. Entire families died in the onslaught, leaving their estates empty. Many have disappeared as their gardens have overgrown massively, hiding the buildings behind bamboo and vines. Squatters, untouchables and criminals often occupy these ruins. By Imperial decree, some of the estates have become fortresses, protected by earthworks and canals, which serve both as defenses and firebreaks. Crown Prince Kano has also been giving some of the estates to prominent and loyal members of the Warrior class, which has been annoying the nobles, while others are bought up by rich merchants that are trying to join the gentry classes.

The shopping district is one of the few parts of the city which is very busy, full of goods from the entirety of the empire - even very rare goods. For example, one can find kokuei steel in the Black Veil Market, one of the few places outside Kokudou that has any. There's many ryokan - that is, traditional-style inns - here, aiming for tourists, travelers and diplomats and competing very aggressively. It also makes a good location for some of the Lotus Coalition's spies, such as Arata Koizumi of the Bamboo Herbalist, whose medicinal skills are turned towards brewing and who runs the most popular bar in Daiwa, gathering information from drunken guards and dignitaries.

The Kochou District is also known as the floating world, home of art and recreation. The geisha teahouses serve to provide conversation, drinks and various traditional games and entertainments, while the expensive bars and restaurants cater to many exotic tastes from across the empire. Private ryokan also exist here, for those that don't want to stay in the markets, and of course there are the widely popular communal bath houses. There's also plenty of gambling dens and, well, discreet prostitution (of both genders). The geisha tolerate the flesh trade in exchange for payment in cash or information, but do not especially like it.

The Temple District is surrounded by a bamboo grove, and it is always austere and tranquil. The temples actually predate the Izou Empire itself, and at the heart of the district is Tengoku Temple, built atop a natural and eternal spring of pure water. It was designed so expertly that there are no nails in the entire construction. The monks and priestesses tend to its many shrines and offer healing and aid to the worshippers. Each spring, during the cherry blossom festival, all of the city comes to attend the Sky Dragon's Ceremony, in which the monks parade around a dragon costume through the city to call on divine protection for the Emperor. For most, this is the only time they ever see the Emperor himself.

The Imperial PAlace is surrounded by gardens, shrines and temples, plus the tombs of the former emperors, each guarded by Silver Blades. There is also an hono guard over the empty mausoleum of Mamoru, though no one is sure why. There are many food and souvenire stalls through the park, selling ti pilgrims and dignitaries. Occasionally, angry mobs execute captured ninja here to try and gain imperial favor, and this has grown more common since the siege of 757. Not all of the executions are actual ninja, but it brings in money, so few complain. Even before the siege and assault, thje Palace was formidably defended - massive walls, concentric moats. The original palace, built after Zurui's conquest, was a single castle twenty stories tall, but it's been greatly expanded since. The floors are designed to 'chirp' at the slightest pressure, to prevent stealth. Indeed, these are so distinctive that the staff can identify individual footsteps and their location just by the sound. Secret doors and moving walls let guards easily move through the structure and protect the imperial family. The grounds have expanded with each emperor, and now there are many estaes and residences. Crown Prince Kano currently lives in the Imperial Barracks, near the troops, and the palace ponds and gardens are faithfully cared for. One small home is guarded eternally by silent Golden Lions. This is the former home of Izou Megumi, the Emperor's daughter, and he often visits it by night. His screams of rager can be heard across the palace on those nights.

This is all quite nice...but there's also the slums. Daiwa has them. They're just cordoned off from the rest of the city by ivy-covered walls. Thousands of people live in crumbling townhouses - all classes, as long as they've lost their luck and ability to support themselves in the rest of the city. The lucky find menial work; most do not. The guards rarely visit the slums, and crime is common. The place is mostly controlled by Jirokichi, a violent and cunning man with strange and unnatural abilities. In truth, he is secretly a Celestial Rat summoned during the war, who then decided to amass an army of criminals and spread his influence, though it's unclear what his goals might be.

The city of Nanchou was once the main training camp of the Mercenary Wars, but it was abandoned some time after, nearly consumed by the jungle. It would have remained so, had Mamoru not had the idea of turning the ruins into a prison. Its population is now in the tens of thousands, and its already ruined infrastructure can barely keep up. The north and south gates are secured by military facilities, guarded by soldiers and feral dogs, who attack escapees on sight. Drawbridges lead into the prison-city proper. The guards ring bells to warn that they are entering, and prisoners have ten minutes to retreat to their homes after that. Anyone caught outside will be considered a threat or escapee and will be attacked. This keeps the guards from being outnumbered when they enter the city proper, and riots are pretty rare. The guards deal with those by staying on the walls and firing explosives and flaming arrows into the prison.

The prison itself is ruins, in the lower wards, commonly flooded, which form a natural moat. The prisoners tend to the deepwater rice fields and carp fisheries, working as slaves to feed the army. Many die here, of disease, drowning or snakes...or starvation. Still, the punishment for stealing food is far worse than going hungry. The city was originally a tiered design of five districts, but the lowest tier at this point is basically just a violenty shantytown of huts and black markets, known asthe Scatters. Many prisoners never leave it - new arrivals are at constant risk of robbery, murder or enslavement by other prisoners. The only rule of Nanchou is you keep whatever you're strong enough to take, even people. As you head upwards, the buildings get more intact and the resources more plentiful, and so the upper levels are where the more powerful prisoners live. The guards avoid these areas, leaving the inmates to do as they will. Dozens of crime families and gangs vie for control of the upper tiers, and turf wars go on constantly. By day, prisoners scavenge for tools and weapons, and occasionally an ancient cache is found that shifts the power balance.

Currently, Nanchou is dominated by three factions. The Iron Dogs are former soldiers, led by Masa Tamotsu, a former Executioner imprisoned for civilian-focused brutality, who worships the evil Celestial Dog known as Inugami. He buries his foes up to the neck and lets them die of thirst, then uses their corpses in rituals of magic and worship. The Dogs are very strong fighters, and they control large caches of fresh water, which is very precious in the city-prison due to poor sanitation and rampant disease. The Deadly Lilies are a gang of educated women, former artisans and former courtsans ledb y Rangiku Sato, once a geisha in the Imperial court until a Hidden Strand ninja falsely incriminated her. She hates the ninja virulently and will kill anyone she thinks is a ninja without hesitation. She and her gang protect the female inamtes as best they can, so long as they pledge their lives to the gang. The Lilies run a few very guarded prison brothels to finance their operations, and kill anyone that breaks their strict rules. They are also expert poisoners. The final of the three major prison gangs is the Night Foxes, led by the mysterious figure known as Noppera-bo, the Faceless. Every member must be a killer - they must murder someone to join the gang. Once they do, they give up their name, station and even their face, as they all wear bat-like masks. Those that won't are...well, disappeared. The Night Foxes' ranks are told by the number of ears they've collected, worn on a necklace.

We also get descriptions of the cities of Kiwan, Kokudou and Hotaru no Kouji, the strongholds of the Empire. They're kind of interesting, but broad, and only a few details really matter. Kiwan worships the Celestial Turtle Genbu and has for a long, long time, and the priesthood of Genbu is very powerful and taxes the city to keep the shriens running. Killing a turtle is a punishable offense - one that is punished by death. The city is run by the Eight Winds, a council of mechant families that decide on just about all matters of law within Kiwan, with the Voice of Genbu (the high priest) breaking any tie votes. However, one of the families secretly are Wanizame, shark worshippers that work to undermine the Eight Winds and who partake in cannibal rituals each year.

Kokudou is a bleak, deforested area because of the constant mining and needs a lot of food. It has been destroyed and rebuilt eleven times, and it mostly exists underground, in pit-houses carved from rock. It is also one of the best places in the Empire to become an engineer, and an engineering college is under construction in the hopes of getting more Imperial funding. It is also the source of kokuei, or night steel, which is basically patterned steel.

Hotaru no Kouji, on the other hand, is a beautiful and diverse city that has become a diplomatic center of peace negotiations. Every year, thousands of fireflies gather to mate over the city, and this display is shockingly beautiful...but lately, superstition holds that the fireflies are the souls of the war dead, and that their increasing number is a bad omen. The summer brings not just fireflies, but massive trade, and when the merchants come, open air bazaars form throughout the normalyl serene city. It's also home to the Palace of Lions, where peace talks are held with the Five Blades and Seed and Blossom. It is guarded by porcelain Shisa statues and built of copper and sandstone. The design is like a labyrinth, allowing total anonymity when needed - entire delegations can stay for weeks without meeting each other, tended to by monks who willingly cut out their own tongues. The palace is also home to Governess Shiruetto Yamauchi, who runs the city. She was raised by the Will of Iron, but she supports the Ninja Crusade in the belief that it will purge the clans of carrogance and corruption. The city is also home to a yearly martial arts tournament that runs for two or three weeks, in which fighters must defeat their foes, get them to submit or knock them off an elevated platform. Duels to the death are rare, and the one with most victories is the Firefly Champion. Shiruetto encourages the tournament as a release of tension, and has been champion before - she beat 94 opponents over the course of 15 days.

Next time: Assignments of the Imperial Army.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ninja Crusade: Empire's Reign - You're In The Army Now

Assignments are the Imperial equivalent of clans. See, they're all soldiers in the same army...but just being some rando grunt is boring. So you can't do that. All PCs are a member of one of the elite groups that belong to the Imperial Forces or support them in one way or the other. Each one has its own qualifiers and requirements, but they're all a step above of the rank and file. They don't all like each other, either. Their tactics can often collide, and there are rivalries over who is the best. However, in the end, they're all working together, and they can usually do that when the missio ncalls for it. After all, the ninja are the larger threat, and cooperation is the only way they'll all survive.

The Black Smokes are also known as the Aines, the Shatters and the Black Powder Brigade. They study the Ranged, Eagle, Wildcat and Alchemy styles, as well as their own unique Way of the Gun. They get Athletics +1, Marksman +1, PErception +1 and Perform +1. See, once upon a time, the mixture of charcoal, saltpeter and sulfure was known as just blakc powder and was only used for magic tricks and fireworks. However, it was soon found to also be a powerful explosive agent that could cause massive devstation. The Empire began to hard the stuff, placing it in the care of a unit called the Black Powder Brigade, who followed the Engineers' Guild around and helped carry stuff and load weapons. The engineers didn't see the delicate nature and true power of the tools and explosives they were making. The Black Powder Brigade found a few skilled inventors among them and worked with them to invent the first firearms. These elevated what was now called gunpowder from a purely destructive force to a beautiful one, unlike any other tool the Empire has. The name 'Aines' came from the Brigade's almost euphoric love of the sound of bullets firing. The Brigade asked the Emperor for their own responsibilityu and authority, and they took on the name of the Black Smokes. They became the soldiers that turned the tide of the Expansion Wars with their superior technological force.

The Black Smokes are just as vital in the Ninja Crusade. Ninja are quick to use their jutsu and skilsl to defeat common soldiers, but with a gun and the right training, you can kill dozens of ninja easily. A bullet is the ultimate equalizer against magic, taking out the enemy before they can do their hand signs. Anyone can hold and fire a gun, but only a Black Smoke can make it sing. Despite that, they live pretty similarly to the common soldiers. They get orders, they move out, they work in squads that maximize their advantages on the field. However, they don't use melee weapons much, preferring to hang back and strike foes down at range. Those that do jump into the midst of combat use smaller guns, firing in close combat almost like a dance through battle. The Black Smokes see use of the gun as artistry, and the battlefield as a canvas. Some race to see how many they can kill, while others become obsessed with their guns, trying to take the minimum shots possible in order to preserve the soul of the mechanism. A few take eyes as trophies, drying them and grinding them up to mix with gunpowder in the belief that it makes kills more likely.

When not on assignment, the Black Smikes tend to hole up in thier mines, extracting the ingredients for gunpowder or making their own bullets. They tend to prefer getting their own materials, and they make better gunpowder than anyone else. It's not a fast process, but they enjoy it, and it's part of why they've been in charge of guns for nearly a century. Specifically, they viciously guard the secrets of making bullets, mixing gunpowder and where the best ingredients can be found. There aren't a lot of Black Smokes out there - for every ten foot soldiers, there is only one Aine. However, they make up for that in capability. They're versatile - a gun's useful on just about any misson...except for stealth ones, as they are quite loud, and the Black Smokes enjoy the noise. Some prefer smaller, more accurate weapons, while others prefer long-range rigles. The rifle-users are renowned for their sniping at range, while the pistoleers prefer to get up close and use flair to defeat their foes. The Emperor is bright enough not to rely on either for when a job must be done secretly, however.

The Gift of the Black Powder Brigade is twofold. They choose either up-close or distance training. Up-close characters get +1 Marksman when using guns at Close range and +1 to all Dodge rolls. Distance characters get +1 Marksman with Ranged weapons and +3 to ranged attacks from Plan Attack actions rather than the normal bonus. Also, both groups get +1 Initiative. Their Trigger is that they tend to be completely dependent on their guns, often forgoing backup weapons or training melee. The party gains 1 Karma whenever they are left defenseless by their overreliance on guns.

Their potential Contacts are: Torisei Teto (Empathy), a fearless warrior that fights all the time. Asano Daishi (Intimidation), a man who excels at using his guns to terrify his targets as well as kill them. Sugai Chiemi (Survival), a miner who knows her way around the Empire's cliffs and can make missions much harder or much easier for people. Fukuoka Zennosuke (Perform), a politician skilled at giving speeches to crowds. Takishita Juri (Crafts), a gunsmith who is known to be able to craft all kinsd of unique bullets for any situation. Egami Yachiho (Deception), a mistress of disguise who can get into and out of just about anywhere with a few words. Their Bonds are:
  • Choose one other character who you respect for their artistry, even if their instruments differ from your own.
  • Choose one other character who distrusts firearms, and always goes out of their way to show you that traditional weapons are superior.
  • Choose one other character who has needed your help on the battlefield on more than one occasion, and is expecting to have to pay you back soon.



The Engineers are also known as the Imperial Inventor's Guild, the Sages and the Builders. They train in Ranged, Paired, Trap Master and Snake styles, plus their own Ingenuity. They get Crafts +1, Intuition +1, Knowledge +1 and Marksman +1. The Engineers are a secret order, only recently giving the lbessing of the Emperor. Once, they were seen as just another part of the Army, working on aqueducts using ancient principles. Thanks to Emperor Han, Mamoru's grandfather, a renewed interest was taken in their works and strange philosophies, and they have become a group of scientist-philosophers with the goal of expanding human knowledge and testing their theories outside the lab. It all began with a strange man named Hinshin and his daughter, Nakomi. Hinshin designed machines to fire hundreds of fireworks, but which had no real practical use. The Empire was at war with the Matamoto, a group of Raiju demons who were invading towns. Nakomi watched her father's fireworks displays and had an idea.

She took his designs and expanded on them. When the demons came for the local garrison, she unveiled her machines, blasting the enemy lines apart and leading the soldiers to victory. Emperor Akono heard about these machines and made Nakomi and her father the commanders of the Imperial Engineers. Since then, the Engineers have been working on science and rational philosophy while trying to perfect their machines. Some are accident-prone or too impractical to use, but the Engineers want to test their owrk in the real world and build on the results. Success or failure - all that matters is the learning you get from it. They are both praised and hated by the rest of the Army, and these days, they are essential to success.

The Engineers value both order and chaos, working to combine centuries of practical knowledge with many new and strange theories. For years, they obeyed the order to only research practical things to aid the Empire, but have now been encouraged to seek new means, which has splintered them into many philosophies. They can often be hard to get along with, as many traditionalists do not appreciate the rapid changes they espouse or the philosophies they follow. This means the Engineers tend to be isolated, working onl with their peers in hidden labs. Specific fields tend to flock together - those that want to build war machines, those that like to experiment with alloys, and so on. It's home to them. The citizenry view them with both marvel and disdain. Sure, a new means of getting water from a well or heating your home is amazing, they're very thankful. But they're also not happy when the town's metal supply vanishes or the new printing press releases fumes that sicken the entire town. For the Engineers, this is just part of the discovery process, just one more step to further science and humanity.

The Engineers' goals may seem complex, but they are ultimately very simple: grow and nurture the creative sciences and expand the understanding of the scientific world. Now that they have the authority to ravel where they want, recruit the best minds and test out their inventions, many Engineers try to solve every problem with science and technology. They are always looking for the rare resources they need to make their new tools, and they view their constant struggle with traditionalists as just a transitional phase as they delve into the world's secrets.

The Gift of the Engineers is sudden geninus and adaptability. They get +2 Crafts with anything mechanical and may spend 2 Karma to ask the GM a question about how to ingeniously get around a specific obstacle they face. The GM always answers with 'If you do <x>, you think it'll do <y>', and is told to let the Engineer's actual roll determine their fate, once they give the idea. Their Trigger is their curiosity. The Engineers are always seeking the unknown, which can often interest them more than their actual mission. The party gains 1 Karma when they are presented with a task or mystery that consumes their concentration, regardless of what they actually need to focus on.

Their potential Contacts are: Matsumura Tagane (Marksman), a one-eyed rifleman with a prosthetic wooden hand and a mastery of trick shots. Gima Ron (Crafts), a savant who uses simple tools to make large machines and who will happily trade his information for food or pretty stones. Takeshi Aiko (Knowledge), a former teacher at the destroyed Wind Valley Dojo who now travels the land, helping to rebuild what she finds broken by the ninja and the army. Matmura Rei (Intimidation), a woman known as the Iron Banshee for the shrieks and roars her machines make to disorient foes and scare them off. Dai Hanako (Persuade), a jaded quartermaster who has spent years gaining the respect of her fellows and who knows where everything is in the imperial inventory. Hirane Goto (Perception), a boastful man who is nonetheless essential to working out problems with experimental machines, and will do so for free as long as you can put up with his massive ego. Their Bonds:
  • Choose one other character you feel a fascination with and want to learn something meaningful from.
  • Choose one other character who you find simple and ignorant about the wonders of science.
  • Choose one other character you believe will always understand you.



The Enlightened are also known as the Koans, the Follows of Ko, and the Bound. They study all of the animal styles, plus the Reach and Portents styles, and their own special Paths of the Body, Mind or Spirit. They get +1 Discipline, +1 Empathy, +1 Holistics and +1 Speed. They are monks who have existed longer than the Empire and will survive after it falls. They claim that once, there was a being known as Ko that sought immortality. By meditation, Ko freed their mind from possessions and emotions. Through body techniques, they left behind the ideas of man, woman and even human. They prepared their vessel and separated their spirit, ascending to the heavens to meet the gods and celestial courts. After days in a trance, Ko opened their eyes and told their dsiciples: "I have unlocked the secrets to attain true enlightenment. I have returned to show those desiring the secrets of the spirits." Ko spent decades teaching these lessons, mixing them with extreme fighting skills to prepare the body for the journey. Thousands of monks studied the Tenets of Ko, passing these lessons on to the next generation. Ko's body died, long ago, but Ko's spirit is continually reincarnated, known as the tamashi. Specialized squads of monks are sent to find the new tamashi every time, sometimes taking years to find their new spiritual leader.

The teachings of the Followers of Ko influenced the Izou, spreading the idea of reincarnation to the masses. While the Empire's system was one of dharma and strict social classes, the Enlightened offered another solution to escape oppression. While these two ideas seem at odds, they fed into each other symbiotically. The Enlightened have, until now, done their best to stay out of the Emperor's wars. They are kind, patient people who do not like to harm others. However, they could not forever stay out of the Crusade. The tamashi was assassinated by the ninja shortly before the Year of Floods, throwing them into chaos. It is believed that this was done to cripple them, but it has done the opposite - the monks joined the war.

The Enlightened have monasteries in every land, but most live within the Izou borders, usually high in the mountains or behind some other obstacle that makes them hard to get to, so that would-be students face the first of their trials getting there. To become an Enlightened is simple - submit to be taught and give up your old life. A monk has no family, no friends, no attachments. In exchange, they have a place to sleep, regular meals and nonstop training. For the Koans, everything is a chance to learn a new lesson about the universe. They must abstain from strong emotional ties, alcohol and causing harm to the universe. Every life, they believe, is sacred - even that of an animal or insect. Every death sends ripples through the soul that take millenia in the celestial courts to work off. Many outsiders believe that their intense martial arts training goes against their pacifist beliefs, but just because they won't start a fight doesn't meant they won't defend themselves or their comrades. When not physically training, most monks spend their time in deep meditation, to clear their mind of distraction and free their spirit. It's not easy, however, and only the best monks can attain this state without hours of work.

The alliance between the Izou and the Koans is beneficial for both...right now. But it's a tenuous balance. The army gets a handful of highly trained warriors, and the Koans get to fight those that killed their leader, and get to prove to the Empire that their teachings are superior to ninjutsu. The monks consider the ninja an affront to their teachings - liars who believe in a quick way to power without hard work, who steal away many that might have become students working to enhance their souls. Ninja are just tricksters, they believe, who must be dealt with so that the people return to the correct path. The Enlightened are exceptionally few in number among Imperial forces. Each is a massive help in battle, but all are volunteers, not conscripts, and most of the monks have still chosen to stay out of the fight. The generals usually send Enlightened when they expect large numbers of ninja - otherwise, well, why use a cannon on an ant hill?

The Gift of the Followers of Ko is that they've spent years enhancing their abilities on every level of mind, body and spirit. At the start of each scene, they choose Discipline, Fighting or Intuition, and get +2 to that skill for the scene. They may spend 1 Dynamic Action to swap the bonus to one of the other two skills. Their Trigger is...well, pacifism. An Enlightened never throws the first punch, always tries to get out of conflict with words. They battle only in self defense or when they are convinced it is for the greater good, and are never quick to fight. The party gains 1 Karma when a swift punch would have saved them much trouble and danger, but they couldn't bring themselves to throw it.

Their potential contacts are: Kahae Taku (Deception), a former bandit leader turned magistrate who can always tell when someone is lying and has deep insights into what drives people to crime. Yunokawa Gingka (Intuition), the monk currently in charge of finding the new tamashi, who is often busy but has many resources at his fingertips. Onishi Shizue (Might), a mother who focused her physical strength massively to save her child and has somehow retained this gift, becoming her village's local hero. Tsudo Fumihiko (Knowledge), an information dealer who knows many things and will tell them if you pay her, but whose loyalties are somewhat questionable. Koyanagi Yaeko (Perform), a Blazing Dancer that deeply respects the Enlightened, and who could be a useful tool or a dangerous spy. Uchiyami Eiri (Fortitude), a man who has found ways to go without food, drink or sleep for days at a time with neither jutsu nor monastic training, but few understand how he does it. Their Bonds are:
  • Choose one other character who has forgotten the ancient teachings. It's up to you to become their mentor, whether they want it or not.
  • Choose one other character who shares the patience of a monk. The two of you often meditate together, while the others thrive in chaos.
  • Choose one other character who scoffs at the Tenets of Ko and the idea of pacifism. This person is not to be trusted.



The Executioners are also known as the Anti-Ninja, the SCarred and the Butchers. They study all weapon styles, plus Tiger and Bear style, and their own unique Ki Negation abilities. They get +1 Deception, +1 Fighting, +1 Intimidation and +1 Might, as well as +1 to either Yin or Yang. (They are one of the few groups in the Army with a ki balance.) See, after the fourth great war, the old agreements with the clans were nearly eradicated, and the Emperor needed ways to deal with potential ninja threats. No matter what he sent at them, the ninja would vanish, brainwash his ofrces or use their jutsu to win. A solution was required. Rumors existed of those that could resist jutsu, and this led to Uoya Ikuto, a serial killer locked away in Nanchou in solitary confinement. For some reason, mystical effects were just deflected off him, like water. The Golden Lions were called on to dissect the madman and investigate his abilities, and doing so, they constructed a spiritual blueprint of his mental instability and aura, which they could then overlay on another person's soul. The end result was a new kind of soldier - slightly insane, but ready to fight to the death for the Empire...or, if the process failed, a sniveling waste of flesh that was ofrever destroyed. EVen the survivors clawed at their own bodies due ot the feelings of the soul, leaving scars on themselves.

This group became known as the Executioners, the perfect instrument against the ninja when the Crusade began. Not even a Golden Lion could so skillfully lock a ninja down long enough for a public execution, after all. Beyond their duties as literal executioners, they were also sent to lead many attacks on ninja villages, using their abilities to nullify magical defenses and traps that would have otherwise stopped the army. It was not long before just about every Izou army unit contained at least one Executioner, and now, they are even more important.

The life of an Executioner is constant blood and violence. Sure, they were once a normal person or a patriot...but now, their will is driven by the need to tear their foes apart. They spend years training in martial arts, but the mystical template placed on their soul also gives them a basic understanding of how to use weapons for maximum carnage. They see Ikuto's murders in their dreams, hearing his eternal screams of torment as he was cut apart by the Lions. Thy practice ritual scarification to turn this extreme emotional distress into a weapon, and to keep themselves from descending into becoming the monster that Ikuto had been. Still, each Executioner is a person, even if Ikuto's memories haunt their dreams. They are individuals witht their own desires - usually, they want to become unit commanders. They have little time for personal attachments and tend to see people as tools or targets. Some pity them, but each Executioner was a volunteer who was well informed of what would happen to them. The power they use is also rather intoxicating.

The Executionrs have long proven to be excellent warriors, but are rarely sent on stealth missions. Their tendency to resort to all-out battle to solve any problem is...not subtle. Their involvement in Imperial affairs has increased, but their numbers have not kept pace with demand, and they tend to die spectacularly in battle. Not all of them, however, go for the kill. Some take prisoners, toying with them until they get bored and discard the broken victims. Some believe they are leaving their own imprint on the victim's soul in the process. The Emperor does not encourage this, but few are willing to tell an Executioner what they can't do - these elites tend to be violently bad-tempered, thanks to their serial killer headmate.

The Gift of the Executioners is that they are masters of battle. They have access to all weapon styles (rather unique among Imperial forces), and may always entirely ignore the Pain condition, regardless of its level. They can also pick one other physical condition and treat it as if it were one level lower than it is. Their Trigger is...well, Ikuto. He scratches at their soul whenever he can, getting them to spread chaos and destruction. The party gains 1 Karma whenever they create random, damaging chaos that causes problems for them or the group.

Their Contacts: Ajibana Naosuke (Athletics), a soldier who is known for his ability to leap across rooftops to provide backup for his allies. Morioka Sakyo (PErsuade), a thief that can take himself out of just about any situation. Hino Kaiya (Empathy), a geisha that knows how to use her skills to calm even the most savage Executioner. Soga Reiha (Fighting), an Executioner who likes to take her aggression out on husbands caught in the red light district (despite the fact that technically, that's not illegal). Nozaki Shingo (Survival), a man who has survived in ninja territory for decades and is excellent at tracking them down...for a price. Kamon Kenko (Holistics), a medic who is excellent at her job, but spiteful and more than willing to block those that cross her from getting treatment. Their Bonds:
  • Choose one other character who knew you before you were an Executioner, and distrusts you now that you're different.
  • Choose one other character who can pull you out of your bloodlust.
  • Choose one other character who feels uneasy around you, with or without a reason.



Next time: Golden Lions, Iron Breakers (THE WORST PEOPLE), Jadesmiths and Silver Blades.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Black Smokes and Engineers sound cool as hell.

Also their pictures are rad.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book 14: New West: Part 14: "Saloon Bums of a good or unprincipled alignment are typically individuals who have had their bodies and/or spirits crippled in some way — old and infirm, physically weak or crippled, dull witted (and innocent?), homely and insecure, emotionally scarred or traumatized (family, friend or sheriff was slaughtered while he stood frozen in terror, or while he was beaten and held down, or he was the only survivor, etc.) and so on."

I am... I am feeling... worn after covering eleven classes in a row.

Time for six more.

It's gonna get worse.


"No armor, soft horse... sure hope nothing mega-damage happens along." "Everything's mega-damage now, Chet." "Well, poo poo."

Cowboy O.C.C.

Well, you probably saw this coming at this point.

It brings up that a lot of people think Westerns are historical work, and so you get a lot of people who no doubt call people "Pilgrim" or "Huckleberry" or "Calico Queen".



So, they're big on the Code of the New West and are involved with cattle herding, but more rarely things like rhino-buffalo or dinosaurs. They love horses and "few self-respecting cowboys" ride hovercycles or robot horses, because... Siembieda gets the stereotype in his mind and wants it enforced even though there's no justification. Like, over and over in this book. Why wouldn't you use a hovercycle? It doesn't poo poo all over, won't break a leg, and doesn't die of fright when a gargoyle says "boo!" Also it can take a punch from a pixie. But no, they're like "Well, Saint Marlboro would not approve, no sir."

I have got to get through these quicker but you have no idea how many I'm skipping over as it is. But we get the The Code of the Cowboy, which I guess is an addendum to The Code of the New West. Let me also introduce you to The Code of Things I Am loving Sick of Already, Starting With Cowboys-

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Consider a fellow cowboy a friend, until he proves otherwise.

Friendship is Marlboro.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Greet a fellow cowboy with a friendly word and hospitality. Never wave a greeting; it is bad form and may spook the horse or cattle.

This is why you use hovercycles! You can wave at them all you want! Hello, hovercycle! HELLO!

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

If one rider dismounts, you (and all others) should too.

I guess this is what they mean by getting off your high horse.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Grabbing the bridle of a mounted man's horse is an act of aggression and intrusion over the rider's control of his horse. Expect trouble!

What trouble? I've got his horse!

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

It's a cowboy's sacred obligation to show hospitality to visiting cowboys, including sharing food and information.

Friendship is Marlboro.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Deadbeats, loafers, tramps, saloon bums, outlaws, gamblers, and gunslingers ain't cowboys and ain't particularly welcome, especially at the ranch or on cattle drives and roundups. Watch your back around these fellas.

That's more like prejudice than a code.

Unsurprisingly, they get a lot of cowboy skills, ability to play a musical instrument, shoot some guns, and a modest amount of other skills. They can be sharpshooters if they're willing to pay for it. They're pretty unexceptional as far as classes go, but despite that, you only get a 23% chance to play one.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

The cowboy's horse is always of very good to excellent quality and well trained. In real life, the cowboy's horse was often lent to him by his employer. However, in Rifts, most cowboys, especially those who travel from job to job and engage in adventuring, own their own horse. 5% may own a hovercycle instead, and 7% may have a robot horse, but most prefer a real horse. As one pre-Rifts cowboy named Jo Mora said, "a man afoot is no man at all ... indeed, a dismounted cowboy is just a plain bowlegged human who smells very horsey at times, sleeps in his underwear, and is subject to boils and dyspepsia."

I guess that's supposed to be romantic but just sounds gross. Catch you on my hovercycle, horsefuckers!


"Well, don't expect me to applaud."

Mining 'Borg/Prospector O.C.C.

So, often you can get turned into a cyborg for indentured service working like a robot, if that sounds like a good idea to you. These bodies are designed for strength and mining and not shooting, so YMMV. They get special skills to create or evaluate tunnels, properly design and dig underground spaces, find their way underground, and get basic blacksmithing. First, you can choose to be only a partial reconstruction cyborg, and despite being "specificially designed for strength", you only get a strength of 20. They get some enhanced senses, and lungs with oxygen storage and filtering. Alternately, you can be a full cyborg, in which case you get a strength of 30 instead, special modular arms to fit shovels, drills, or torches, and possibly an extra limb for an extra attack... and everything that a partial cyborg gets. As ever in Rifts, there's not much point in being a partial cyborg.

They get a number of repair, mining, and weapon skills, and a surprisingly solid selection of other skills, but there's not much reason to recommend them over other cyborgs unless you actually plan to go mining or dungeoneering, and the latter is rather lacking. About the only use I could see is being a tunneling expert for a group of mercs or omething. Unlike most cyborgs, this has a mental endurance requirement which means only 38% of characters can qualify to play it. Apparently, becoming a miner is more taxing and difficult than being a soldier?


Please note that none of us at Palladium Books®.condone or encourage the occult...

Preacher O.C.C.

Christianity is actually acknowledged in Rifts?

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Player Character & G.M Note: If playing a religious character feels awkward, uncomfortable or somehow wrong, then don't include it in your games. Also please try to understand and respect the religious faith and sensibility of other players. Even if one player feels seriously uncomfortable, the Preacher character should be tossed out. Please note that the Preacher character is NOT intended to disparage any religious faith. It is a broad representation of the Judeo-Christian traveling preachers of the Old West, modified and refitted into the fictional world of Rifts®.

Well. We're given two basic types of preacher. The first is the "fire and brimstone" preacher who threatens people with warnings of hell and is willing to go around kicking rear end for the lord. Most are just good but harsh people, we're told, but:

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

However, the Fire and Brimstone Preacher is also more likely to harbor resentment and bigotry toward D-bees and even encourage their extermination; Simvan and Mountain Giants are often on the top of their list. They also have little kindness or respect for "heathens" such as Native American Indians and Psi-Stalkers, or any people who worship ancient "pagan" spirits and alien gods. As for the supernatural, these preachers often lead crusades against the demonic, and actively promote the destruction of all supernatural beings. "As the Lord drove the serpent out of paradise, so must we drive the demons and monsters of the Rifts from our world." This usually includes dragons, shapechangers, (supernatural or not), and all monstrous and reptilian beings regardless of their alignments and intent.

Once again, like the Coalition or the Justice Rangers, "nice guys except for all the hideous racism". We also get the "peacemaker" sorts who are more willing to forgive people if they're willing to perform penance, and is more willing to put themselves up as martyrs in the way of harm. Most are nomadic traveling from town to town, which I guess is mostly an excuse to be an adventuring preacher.

So preachers, unlike other priest types, get no supernatural power. God, unlike Isis or Ahriman or Coyote, apparently gives no fucks... or just doesn't exist. Instead, they get a hefty bonus to affinity, along with that bonus to disarm, as well as bonuses against fear and possession. The "fire and brimstone" preacher gets the following additional bonuses:
  • Extra S.D.C.
  • The ability to handle their alcohol better than others.
  • Extra weapon proficiencies.
To balance things out, the "peacemaker" gets:
  • Nothing.
  • Seriously, nothing. There's nothing here.
  • Look, they couldn't come up with anything for peacemakers, let's move on.
They mainly have Lore and some Medicine stills, and their decent skill set makes them kinda like a variant Rogue Scholar. They reject cybernetics as "unnatural" because I guess it says that in the bible somewhere. "And lo he said unto him, do not put in a clock-calendar, for having a watch implanted in your rear end is the way of the devil and powergamers. That dragon you play with is totally rad, though. Lo, thou shouldst have played a great horned dragon hatchling." About 34% chance to qualify as a man of god (of which 15% are women of god, because random percentages). It says they might get a sidekick or assistant, but doesn't mechanically define that sort of thing.


Note the reflection of the guy this his hands in the air in the sunglasses.

Professional Gambler O.C.C.

Like it says, you're supposed to be a risk-taker, maybe for money, maybe for good, whichever. That being said, they're willing to stack the odds and hustle and con.

As a class, they can read cards by touch, which we're told is the "the equivalent skill of reading Braille"... which is not at all true. They basically expand the Cardsharp skill in various ways in that exclusionary mechanic sort of sense - I'd think a character with the Cardsharp skill could stack a deck or palm cards, but apparently not now that it's a class feature! They get bonus melee actions per round when doing card tricks which... doesn't seem too useful in a fight. They get "tolerance to alcohol" which still hasn't been explained, a quick draw bonus (once again, only if their prowess is exceptional), an initiative bonus, and a bonus against fear. Naturally, they get variety of rogue / criminal skills, but only a fair selection otherwise. Like the Preacher, it says they might get a sidekick character... or maybe not. It's amazingly vague. None of their requirements are too strict, but they get a fair number of them, meaning you only have a 6% chance to qualify to play one. Yes, despite being a niche class few would play anyway, it's subtly restricted beyond most players' reach.


"For my combat action? I drink! That's all I'm good for!"

Saloon Bum O.C.C.

Yes. This is a class about being a motherfucking drunkard. But first we get a long diatribe about "The Western Saloon" which is vague - some are respectable, some aren't! They generally have a bar! They serve alcohol and drinks with colorful names! They have simple food! There might be a stage and entertainment! Most have gambling! Some have rooms to stay in! Some have... call girls? I don't think that's the right terminology for face-to-face prostitution. Let's move on to the class in question.

So evil saloon bums are often "wannabe outlaws" and "lowlife servants of greater evil forces". Good saloon bums are generally people who are disabled or traumatized or some sense, but who help out good people. Yes, for some reason it's all framed in a good vs. evil sense as if we're about to do a spinoff game, Bar Wars or something, about the struggle between different drunks? In any case, as somebody who's had to see alcoholism and its impact in my personal life, I should find this really offensive. Mostly, I just find it amazingly loving stupid.

As a loving stupid class, they get the ability to drink 2 1/2 times as much before getting drunk (previous classes with "alcohol tolerance" only get twice as much), get a bit of extra physical endurance, and a minor bonus against fear. They get a basic spread of skills kinda tending towards information gathering, a surprisingly average spread of other skills, and... yeah. It's a vagabond that can hold their drink better. That's loving all. That's-



Well, at least they don't have attribute requirements. If they had a minimum anything I think I'd detonate with disgust. There's also a class variant if you want to play a barkeep, who gets... extra lore skills, a bonus to rogue skills, and no drawbacks. It's another "just better" class type. This whole class is lazy and stupid, especially since there's no real benefit to any of it other than tricking baddies into getting drunk or something. Siembieda's worst class design is on display here combined with insensitivity, where he's like "let's take one activity and make it a whole class!"

Also true atlanteans can drink more because they're the superior race. Just FYI.


Yeah. This happened.

Saloon Girl/Barmaid O.C.C.

So, you're supposed to work at a saloon and flirt with guys to get better tips. That's the class. That's what you do with this class. Oh, I guess they're supposed to be also kind of roguish and get access to all sorts of stuff said around the saloon, but... yeah. This happened.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

If you stop and think about the character, the possibilities are endless and can be loads of fun.

I'm not saying you can't do anything with it, and yeah it's a Western archetype, but this is kiiinda sexist-

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Also known as Barmaid, Gold-digger, Tease, and Seductress.



Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Alignment: Any, but often selfish or evil.



Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Avoids unsightly cybernetics except for concealed implants and bio-systems necessary for medical reasons. They need to look soft, pretty and nice.



It's no FATAL, but it's a class solely about pretty women cheating and tricking dudes, so there's that. As a class... does it really matter...? Well, they get tolerance to alcohol, a bonus to affinity, and some miscellaneous bonuses including a minor bonus against fear. They get a bonus on charm / impress, but only if you roll around the 1% of characters with a beauty above 20. Domestic skills, useful on any adventure, are foremost here with some miscellaneous other skills and average other skill picks. About 19% chance to play them, mainly on account of a stiff beauty requirement. Can't have any homely saloon women girls in this game, no sir.

Next: Amingo.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I think I hate RIFTS more with every passing book.

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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ninja Crusade: Empire's Reign - The rear end in a top hat To Decent Imperial Ratio

The Golden Lions are also known as the Glorious Legion, the Celestial Warriors and the Guard. They use Tiger or Mantis styles as well as Master of Spies and Alchemy, and uniquely have access to the Jutsu Retrieval techniques and the Way of Dazzling Pilferage. They get +1 Fighting, +1 Intimidation, +1 Perception and +1 Stealth, and +1 to either Yin or Yang, being...actual ninja. For most of the Izou citizenry, the Golden Lions are a rumor - a nightmare tale to be told in warning. They say that the Golden Lions will always be there to protect you - or, if you offend the Empire, to vanish you in the night. They are bodyguard and secret police at the same time, designed to neutralize other ninja by using their abilities against them.

Once upon a time, the Golden Lions were a completely different clan. Izou Zurui set out to bring together the Empire, and he found a ruined monastery containing the remnants of a betrayed and defeated ninja clan. He had grown distrustful of the Grasping Shadows, and saw these survivors as potential allies. They swore to serve him forever if given the chance for vengeance, and so he named them the Golden Lions and had them serve him. They have protected Emperors for centuries, but never have they had the numbers they do now. They have been given massive resources by the Emperor, including first access to all slain ninja, and have considerable leeway in their work. Their knowledge of other clans' jutsu makes them terrifying foes, and they are said to be the only ones who know what truly happened between Mamoru and Danketsu, as the Emperor's bodyguards. They are utterly and totally loyal to Mamoru's will, and they will obey his every demand.

Becoming a Golden Lion is a huge honor. It's more than just skill at killing or guarding - it is having the means and will to do anything required to serve the Emperor, no matter what. The Golden Lions are ruthless and unforgiving, and it is no wonder the Lotus Coalition fears them. They are resolute and proud of the fear they cause as well as their duty to protect the Emperor - the entire clan would die if they had to do so to keep Mamoru alive. They work hard to eliminate compassion in their membership. This is beyond mercy in battle - see, they're experts at stealing the secrets of other ninja and incorporating them, and their methods range from bribery and theft of manuscripts to torture or other dark practices. They know that they can't match the Silver Blades or Executioners in single combat...but they don't try. The Golden Lions focus on team combat, overwhelming foes and setting up allies to get the kill. They believe themselves to be the ultimate warriors, growing ever more powerful the more they ferret out ninja secrets. They're as protective of these secrets as the people they stole them from, and they work to ensure none but they know the location of their secret dojos.

The Golden Lions stand apart from the rest of the Imperial forces, but they are essential to the Crusade. They like that they terrify the ninja, and they use it as much as they can. They see the Silver Blades as far too honorable, contemptible and their unwillingness to do the dirty deeds the Empire requires, and they look on the newer Assignments with some suspicion, fearing they'll try to supplant the Lions as the bodyguards of the Emperor. Their current strategy to deal with this is to just hunt down every ninja and take their lore and jutsu by force, in order to expand their knowledge and power. Once the ninja are wiped out, the Golden Lions will have a monopoly on ninja power.

The Gift of the Golden Lions is their stolen ninja arts. Whent trying to decipher secrets or lore of another ninja clan, they get +2, and they also get +1 Intimidation against ninja, with a cumulative +1 for every other Golden Lion present, capped by Empathy. The Trigger is their desire to get all the ninja secrets and keep them from all non-Golden Lions. The party gains 1 Karma when this mission comes into conflict with the rest of the group.

Their potential Contacts are: Naiko Akira (Athletics), a ruthless mind with a heart of gold, who is often at odds with is clanmates over treatment of peasants and civilians but who sees the clan as the next heroes of legend. Yuki Gin (Fighting), an enforcer who marks the ninja she kills as tallies on her armor and who has worked for many criminals over the years, learning how to fight expertly. Jin Chika (Deception), an opera singer who pretends to be disloyal but secretly serves the Emperor, hiding her own intellect to trick others into not ralizing she's a spy. Sokei Misao (Might) is a village mayor from the mountains who secretly works with the Golden Lions to keep her people safe after the ninja killed her father and brother. Tomi Yokio (Holistics) is an old man - none can say how old or where he's from - who knows many things and has a soft spot for those that truly wish to learn. Shiro Tanaka (Stealth) is rumored to have snuck into a Golden Lion dojo and disguised himself as a student but was never formally a member of the clan, and will trade what he learns to anyone who can pay. Their Bonds:
  • Choose one other character who you have chosne to trust, despite your better judgement telling you not to.
  • Choose one other character whom you scorn for the weakness you see inside them.
  • Choose one other character who you seek to get to acknowledge your superiority.



The Iron Breakers are also known as the Corruptors, the Breakers and the Black Bones. They use Blunt, Chain, Dragon and Trap Master styles, as well as their unique Black Bones ability. They get Crafts +1, Fortitude +1, Persuade +1 and Survival +1. See, ninja have been able to pact with celestial animals forever, and while the Empire has used this to their advantage, when the Crusade began, they lost most of their ability to use this massive military benefit. The Emperor called on his best trackers and beastmasters in an effort to find celestial animals living on Earth, to learn their customs and find ways to bind them. During this, these trackers learned that the celestials hated demons and their powers. The story goes that the Emperor summoned a potent demon named Kuroi Hone, using a magical sword to kill it instantly. Then, he had the demon skinned to reveal its black iron bones, which had properties that could be used to fashion weapons to unlock the power of the Celestial Animals. To test this thory, the Imperials found the lair of Vakhesh the Fire Ape, impaling his hands, feet and neck with black demon spikes, seizing control of his body and giving it to the newly formed Iron Breakers.

This was an amazing feat, of course - Vakhesh was one of the most powerful summoned creatures in the world. He was later used during the Summoner Skirmishes, baffling ninja with how the Emperor could do such things. The Year of Floods was very important for the Breakers, and while everyone else retreated in the chaos to try and handle things, the Breakers continued to scour the land for hibernating celestials to capture, even going so far as to force ninja captives to betray their pact families. These guys are, y'know, total monsters.

Most who become Iron Breakers are wilderness scouts and rangers skilled in tracking, or expert animal trainers. They are then led to the body of a celestial animal, either already captured or something they've been forced to go out on their own and get, then cut off and eat part of it. This becomes their first trophy, giving them a new Iron Brteaker name - Forecity Jin for a bear, say, or Snarl for a dog. There aren't a lot of Iron Breakers, but they are always busy. Some hunt out demon corpses to get the black bones that they use to enslave Celestial Animals, while others hunt for animals to capture, looking for tales of any strangers with large animals hanging out with them or rumors of strange eggs and other events in the wild. The Iron Breakers are a horror to celestial animals and work closely with the Golden Lions in order to terrify the Lotus Coaltiion.

The talents of the Iron Breakers are very useful on just about any ninja. They're obvious picks if the enemy is known to have summoners, sure, but they're also expert trackers. Their numbers are small but rising, as the Emperor wants to settle the entire war with a massive battle of summoned beasts. Since the Breakers are actively enslaving and stealing animals, they are both strengthening the Army and weakening the ninja. However, even the other soldiers do not like these guys at all. Their cruelty is horrible, and most sane and sensible people that care about other living things find them monstrous. The Iron Breakers don't especially care, and even if they did, typically wears masks to hide their faces and emotions anyway so you'd never know.

The Gift of the Iron Breakers is that they devour celestial flesh to augment their own bodies. They no longer need food or water, as this divine flesh empowers them. They get +2 Survival for tracking, or +3 to track Celestial Animals, and get a bonus against all of a Celestial Animal's ability based on their Rank. Their Trigger is that...well, to become an Iron Breaker is to give up your humanity, and after a few years, you lose touch with the fundamental idea of decency. The party gains 1 Karma when their lack of compassion and basic human decency causes problems for the group. Word for word.

Their potential Cotnacts: Gensai Zetsumei (Perception), a ki-sensing monk who demands acts of charity in payment for his services. Choshi Miko (Stealth), a thief and con artist that can blend with any crowd and is very hard to remember. Tokaji Konan (Speed), a woman with a massive array of trivia who can answer just about any question faster than anyone else. Shigeki Haji (Marksman), a gunman with a chip on his shoulder. Fuwa Shion (Discipline), a professional go player who is known for staring long and hard at problems before she finds the perfect answer. Hagino Kento (Travel), a man with a wagon and a boat who can get you just about anywhere and will tell you so at length. Their Bonds:
  • Choose one other character who you've known since childhood. You enlisted together, but they are uneasy with how disconnected you are now.
  • Choose one other character who has been ordered to protect you (whether they want to or not).
  • Choose one other character who thinks the Izou Army can win the war without Iron Breakers, seeing you as useless.



The Jadesmiths are also called the Builders, the Diplomats and the Voices of the Empire. They use Defending, Dragon, Eagle or Master of Spies styles, plus their unique Voice of the Emperor techniques. They get +1 Empathy, +1 Fortitude, +1 Perception and +1 Persuade. See, where the Engineers build Imperial infrastructure, the Jadesmiths build Imperial people]. When the Emperor needs people to obey him, the Jadesmiths go in first, to serve as his voice to the leaders of the Empire. They are a special authority, a weapon as strong as any sword. In the early days, Zurui summoned up the great counselors and lawmakers of the land to see what could be done to establish and enforce just one set of laws. Hundreds came, and their arguments filled the palace. The Emperor was resigned to the chaos until he saw one man in green robes, sitting in the center but saying nothing. When he was ordered to speak, the man told the Emperor: "Now is not the time to speak. The time to speak is when everyone has stopped talking and realizes they need to listen." He was silent again for a long time, but when he next spoke, his words had much wisdom. His proposals became Imperial Law, and the Emperor was so impressed by his simplicity and honor that he gave the man the most important job he could: ensuring the Empire would last.

The man was the first Jadesmith, and his modern descendants are now recognized by the jade pendants they wear. Their job is to preserve peace and society, and for them, the conflict iwth the ninja is ideological rather than military. They see the fear that many peasants live with, knowing that the ninja could appear from nowhere and brutally enforce their own rules without warning. That is why the Jadesmiths work to promote the Empire, working to make a peaceful and just society that prospers without need for internal aggression.

The life of a Jadesmith is split between study and debate. They arbitrate land disputes, bring messages of peace to brbarians, teach others and know when to stop and listen. It's nearly impossible, but the Jadesmiths use their abilities to read people and say what they need to hear, sometimes lying and sometimes not. While some Jadesmiths prefer luxury, most spend their time training and studying to be in peak mental and physical fitness. They may not wield swords like the Silver Blades, but their words are just as potent. The respect they are given differs throughout the Empire. They speak with authority, but their rank can only be used when giving a Jade Declaration from the Imperial Court, a task or mission assigned to them that grants htem power only within its confines. Some abuse this power, while others use it only when they absolutely must. It's a constant temptation, both power and curse, and the Jadesmiths must use their authority carefully and be ready to pay if they overstep.

Jadesmiths are mostly used as diplomats and social support on missons, bringing knowledge and understanding that others lack. They are political generals and economic commanders, not military, but their knowledge has proven essential many times. The Crown Prince ensures that one Jadesmith is put in every squad when he can, to help coorindate and relay orders more accurately and with more authority than most soldiers possess.

The Gift of the Jadesmiths is authority in their bearing. At the start of each scene, they pick PErsuade or Knowledge, getting +2 to that skill for the scene. They may also spend 1 Karma when giving orders to make an obligation in the target, which gives -2 to the target on any roll that goes against the order. Their Trigger is that diplomacy is a delicate art, and the Jadesmiths are used to giving concessions. The party gains 1 Karma when forced to concede something vitally important to the group despite protests from others.

Their potential contacts are: Ku Hiroshi (Deception), an actor who has lied so often that he has forgotten his true self. Ken Kiyoshi (Knowledge), a man crippled by ninja poisons who now spends his time reading and sharing information in the hopes of leaving a better world than the one he lives in. Murasaki Riku (Travel), the woman in charge of the Imperial corps of messengers. Kanaka Etsuko (Persuade), a businesswoman who runs an iron dealer traditionally run by her family's women, who is charming and very impatient with sexism. Hideyo Kuma (Fighting), a woman who has faith in diplomacy and politics but also feels that all diplomats should know self-defense, whose father was murdered by ninja and who deeply supports the Crusade. Kun Akio (Perform), a retired speechwriter nearly outcast from the court for his politics, who now teaches others the art of public speaking. Their Bonds are:
  • Choose one other character who has shown a great need for your guidance, and you are helping them.
  • Choose one other character who you are suspicious of, and constantly put their methods under scrutiny.
  • Choose one other character whose cause you wish to help however you can.



The Silver Blades are also known as the Ichikyo Family, the Sword Saints and the Honor Dogs. They are masters of Sharp, Paired, Mantis and Tiger styles, plus their unique Way of All Rivers style of combat. They get +1 Discipline, +1 Fighting, +1 Intimidation and +1 Persuade. There is no family in the Empire more famous than the Ichikyo, who have spent centuries mastering the sword and the craft of swordmaking. The Emperor has maintained the position of Court Duelist for centuries, and it's almost always an Ichikyo. Legends talk about many villages saved by traveling Silver Blades who stopped to fight some foe the village couldn't handle. Their founder was the orphan Ichikyo Morimoto in the early days of Empire, whose vlllage was slaughtered by bandits. As an adult, he trained to protect others, establishing an elite force to kep the lands safe and be exemplars of what he thought a warrior should be. They removed themselves from work like farming, dedicating themselves to mastery of combat.

Their philosophy, the Way of All Rivers, has given them a strict code that defines who they are, how they must act and how they should treat people. Right now, the Silver Blades are on the outs in the court, being one of the most vocal groups against the Ninja Crusade. They believe it's served its purpose and that now, the war is just heartless and cruel. They do not believe the ninja were innocent, certainly, but there's worse threats right now, and the Emperor's growing cruelty must be addressed for the sake of the Empire.

The greatest virtues of the Silver Blades are contemplation and dedication. They know that a rational mind backed with the determination to neer back down can defeat any challenge. They believe in rewarding patience, good conduct and honor, seeing strict adherence to honor not as a flaw, but as a strength. They dedicate themselves to the WAy of All Rivers, believing that life is a constant flow of many streams that all go to a larger source. They believe that pursuit of perfection is worthy, even if you never get there. Their high standards of honor often put them at odds with other Imperial soldiers when it comes to how to treat others. Almost all Silver Blades are of the Warrior class, born from wealthy families and spending most of their time mastering combat. Those few who began as Commoners rarely rise far in the ranks. They believe in honorable surrender, unlike the Holden Lions, and in protecting people over pursuit of ninja. They are not afraid to kill, but believe in strict adherence to the letter of the law. They often cross paths with the Will of Iron, and it's said that, despite the Crusade, they are rivals that help each other as often as they fight each other.

The Silver Blades now stand at a crossroads. They are loyal to the Empire, but do not agree with the Crusade. They believe some ninja are threats, but others are honorable and good. They will still serve faithfully, but they prefer missions in which they can bring their code of honor to bear, pushing the wicked and vile. They also love jobs that test their combat abilities, for they believe that only fighting great foes can make you great.

The Gift of the Silver Blades is that they are masters of combat. They get +1 Fighting when wielding a sword by channeling the energy of fate into the blade. They can also enter a special meditation to clear their minds, allowing them to spend a Dynamic Action to reflexively reduce all mental conditions they have by 1. Their Trigger is their honor. They are often surrounded by the ruthless, but they must stay true to their ways. The party gains 1 Karma when pursuit of honor comes into conflict with a decision that has grave consequences if they are forced to go against the needs of their comrades.

Their Contacts: Izumi Sako (Holistics), a spiritual adept who has dedicated herself to nonviolence but who owes the Silver Blades and sees them as the rightful protectors of Empire. Hiteroshi Kaiyo (Crafts), a one-armed swordsmith of amazing skill who lost her sword arm in a duel and who is very picky with her clientele. Matsurachi Eichi (Discipline), a recluse of the Silver Blades who has a deep understanding but is very eccentric. Kataoka Ren (Perception), an Imperial investigator who uses her sharp eyes and clever mind to find clues others miss. Hamada Shoraku (Fortitude), a martial artist who is dedicated to serving the law in a different way than the Silver Blades, who claims to have seen her own future and is preparing for a dangerous journey. Ichikyo Mitsada (Fighting), the former Court Duelist who has been in seclusion since the Crusade began, because his honor would not permit him to stay and has made him hated by the Executioners.
  • Choose one other character you feel great respect for due to their discipline and philosophies.
  • Choose one other character who you find too chaotic and unfocused in their conduct.
  • Choose one other character who you feel needs to be taught the hidden truth of your philosophy.



Next time: Life in the Empire.

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