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Feb 13, 2012

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

I like that a good half of the Imperial archetypes are sympathetic or understandable, and then you get stuff like the Ironbreakers.


Jun 14, 2015

slime time

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?


Covok posted:

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

Aw. Maybe? I'd prefer text over voice, but beggars can't exactly be choosers.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Night10194 posted:

I like that a good half of the Imperial archetypes are sympathetic or understandable, and then you get stuff like the Ironbreakers.

I did say this book had the best people in the game (the Enlightened) and the worst (the Breakers).

I love this game, but have no time for a weekly one, I'd need asynch discord text or pbp to play.

Feb 13, 2012

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

I mean, a heroic monk, a boisterous gunslinger, a thoughtful scientist, and a diplomat wandering off to save the Empire (probably from itself) sounds just as much fun as crazy ninja hero time.

Jun 14, 2015

slime time

I'm really digging the way that all of these groups have their own reason to oppose the ninja, it's not just BECAUSE WE ARE BAD GUY FACTION.

Feb 13, 2012

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

I mean I would totally play a monk who beats up ninja in order to demonstrate their philosophy is flawed, then politely points out what they did wrong and how they could improve themselves and their souls afterwards.

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Leraika posted:

I'm really digging the way that all of these groups have their own reason to oppose the ninja, it's not just BECAUSE WE ARE BAD GUY FACTION.

hell, even the core book fully admits the Ninjas are a bunch of backstabbing self-centered assholes when they don't have an enemy to unite against.

Feb 13, 2012

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

Robindaybird posted:

hell, even the core book fully admits the Ninjas are a bunch of backstabbing self-centered assholes when they don't have an enemy to unite against.

The purpose of a ninja is to flip out and kill people, after all.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Really, for me, any of the Imperial archetypes can be done in a way that makes them a Good Person except the Breakers. An Executioner can struggle against the serial killer that lives in their brain, find positive channels for their aggression and can struggle with the darkness they've accepted into their souls. A Golden Lion can...okay, they're harder, but the example contact that is like 'no really we can be NICE guys, try it out' shows they can do it. certainly they're not worse than the Hidden Strands, Grasping Shadows or Recoiling Serpents when those guys feel like being complete assholes. (Hell, the Strands deliberately kicked off the entire war by assassinating the Emperor's family in an effort to get him to wipe out some of their rivals.)

You can't do a positive Iron Breaker. It is literally impossible. One of the example PCs at the end of the book tries but she can't do it, because you literally enslaved a magical angelic kitten forever by shoving demonbone spikes into it and devouring its flesh.

Feb 13, 2012

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

It's totally fine for the nominal bad guy of the setting to have at least one force that absolutely explains why they're the nominal bad guy.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Oh, absolutely.

I just kind of don't feel like they're doable as a PC option, even in an Imperials game.

Obligatum VII
May 5, 2014

Haunting you until no 8 arrives.

Night10194 posted:

Black Smokes and Engineers sound cool as hell.

Also their pictures are rad.

I like the monks too. Wow, the ninjas sure seem like morons, making a whole lot of enemies they could have avoided and escalating things constantly.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ninja Crusade: Empire's Reign - Life in the Provinces

The Black Veil Province is home to the Grasping Shadows, and they loom large over the people. The war has poisoned their natural resources, and the ninja rule with an iron fist. The people live in constant fear of drawing attention, and life there is all about being inconspicuous. No one dares to speak poorly of the clan, because that gets you killed. Everyone fears their neighbors are informants. Dissent will see your home burned, your family killed - or worse. So the Black Veil people do not meddle with each other as much as possible. Keeping your mouth shut is how you get respected. Travelers that ask too many questions or seem too friendly rarely get much in response, and speaking poorly of the province will get you dirty looks or even fights. Many of the locals have lived in the area for generations, because it is their home. The mix of fear and pride is hard for outsiders to understand.

Sometimes, the Grasping Shadows will take jobs from the locals in order to strengthen their hold on them, but talking to them isn't easy. Some will tell a friend or relative of their need, saying much but never really telling anything of note. If they are lucky, the word will be passed on to someone else, who knows someone else, who knows a ninja. Thus, speaking of a problem or need aloud always means the problem is dire indeed there. The ninaj will then approach the person in need, to test their loyalty. They ask the question: "Why do you build a fire but retreat from its heat?" The only correct response is "Because I prefer the shadows." Say anything else and you die where you stand. You might ask the ninja to intimidate someone, to get resources you need, even to kill. The cost will be information, money, supplies - anything the clan needs.

The local businesses are highly regulated. Business ownersm ust pay fees and fill out paperwork to administrators controlled by the ninja. Beneath that, however, if a business is seen as out of line, the ninja will intimidate or even raid them. Merchants that do not change their ways just...vanish. Running a business in the Veil is hard, and means having to work closely with the Grasping Shadows. Even worse, there's spirits to deal with. Things move, and strange things happen. It is not rare to speak in the night to a person who has been dead for years. These souls are bound by violence or tragedy, and their true danger is when they coerce someone into helping them pass on. Those that don't help will be harassed and haunted until they give in...or they die. Most citizens learn that the trick dealing with spirits is to not make any verbal deals with anyone you aren't certain is alive, and even then, be careful. Most carry charms and know protective prayers and chants. Uneducated travelers often become targets of the dead, without a knowledgeable guide to protect them.

Outsiders tend to see the Black Veil people as stoic, no-nonsense people...but with something dark lurking beneath the surface. The references to events or customs that make no sense or have no context seem innocent, but they are often unsettling. If a traveler has earned the trust of the locals, they are loyal allies that do not ask questions and will do what little they can to help...but if not, well, it's dangerous. Soldiers do not like having to work on the edge of the area, and it's usually a job for newbies, a test of their resolve. It isn't unheard of for the locals to raid Izou camps for fun, and the Shadows make it clear to any soldiers that they are not welcome. Sending a soldier to the Black Veil is a threat officers use to keep people in line - the desert on the edge of the Empire is not fun for anyone, and few ever want to go back. Still, a soldier that respects the strength the locals have to survive there may survive, too.

Bridge to Battle Province is divided heavily by the war. They have been used by both sides due to their strategic position. A soldier must always be careful, for it is equally likely to meet an enemy as a friend on the road. Some citizens see both sides as evil. Some believe the Empire has put them at more risk and resent them, while others think the ninja should just give up and surrender. The arguments are everywhere, and local law enforcement often has to break up political arguments. Many of the people feel like they are caught between two angry dogs. Tehy cannot even forget the war because of the many training centers, barracks and camps of the Izou forces. Soldiers are everywhere - and if not them, you can see the effects of the mines, the coughs and disease of mineworkers spoiling a once-beautiful land.

Those that dare enter the forests of the Virtuous Body Gardeners can petition for favors at the shrines within. Medicine and other resources can be gained...if you're willing to owe a debt to the clan, who might ask for labor, resources or that you spread rumors. The Inks will use whatever they can to get an advantage, more out of habit than anything else at this point than to prove their own worth. They take credit for anything they can, whether they were involved or not. The people endure this posturing for the sake of peace, mostly, and know that if they were to call out thel ies they hear, it'd just mean more fighting. They aren't ready for that yet. They pick their battles. However, the feigned apathy to the ninja boasting and lies is wearing thin.

The locals are pretty much ready to fight everyone. Even themselves. It's their only way to deal with a world that has used them and won't reward them for it. It's not hard to understand - the exploitation by all sides is obvious everywhere. Most citizens fear what will happen when the resources run out and they are no longer useful. A small resistance works to hide caches of supplies, but many fear what will happen if either side finds out they're planning to revolt and declare independence. It's a dangerous dream, but the idea of being free of both ninja and Empire is spreading. Outwardly, people keep up appearances and avoid suspicion. What seems a simple conversation can lead to veiled discussion of plans to take the land back. The resistance feels people out and plasn to grow their numbers. They started with single agents that had little to lose, but now, entire families are joining. Caution is still important, of course, given the many opinions in the province. But the resistance is patient, waiting for the right time.

A soldier that discovers the resistance must decide. You could turn them in for a possible rward. You could try to blackmail the resistance for personal benefits. You could do them small favors. You could play both sides - like many, no sides. It all depends on how you feel about the Empire and why you joined up. Either way, life in the Bridge to Battle Province is a constant balancing act of pushback and holding back, and travelers must learn this quickly or flee.

Bridge to the World Province is the western side of the Empire, full of many ports. It is easily one of the wealthiest provinces, thanks to the imports and exports, and it's full of soldiers leaving and returning, plus refugees fleeing the more wartorn areas and making camps while they scrounge up the money for passage out. No ninja clan truly controls the area, but the Living Chronicle have many temples, keeping their ties to the Land of Crashing Waves intact. Few permanently live in the area, though, and they rarely call on ninja directly. Instead, they have customs. If they have a problem, they tell a Chronicle monk, who will record it for posterity. Leaving a legacy is what matters to those who live in the area, and the best way to do that is to get it recorded on a historian's skin. If a request is seen as truly important, a monk may contact a ninja to handle it somehow, of course. But that is rare, and the Bridge citizens are mostly self-reliant sorts. They don't look to anyone else to solve their problems. They aren't especially loyal to the Empire, and will help the ninja when it seems beenficial, but they also know that the Empire ultimately controls their lifestyle, so they try to remain overall neutral.

The merchants in the area mostly focus on services over goods. Their wealth is obvious even at a glance, and they can afford enough oil lanterns to keep the streets bright as hell, day or night. It's opulent as poo poo and no other cities anywhere use the system. You can get just about anything you need in the province, if you can pay. Famously, they hold the Flesh Festival in the Summer Solstice, in which naked or lightly clad citizens are playfully chased by monster-costumed other citizens, ending in 24 hours straight of drinking and parties. Originally, it was a memorial to the destruction of the old Yuukou before its rebuilding, but now it's basically just hedonism. It should be unsurprising as well that, given the money in the area, mercenaries and cutthroat politics and intrigue are all over the place.

Cradle of Life Province may be caught in its own vicious ninja war, but it is still the breadbasket of the Empire, full of open grazing ranges and farms. More horse ranches, these days, given the need for mounted cavalry. It was once the most fertile land in the Empire, but it was poisoned by ninja using both mystic and traditional techniques, and much cannot now grow crops. Still, they have more farmland and better food than most provinces, it's just in drastically reduced number from where it once was. The military presence has increased, to prevent further harm to the farming. The Empire's been running a propaganda campaign centered around the poisoning of the Cradle of Life, and the Cradle citizens have embraced it. They are mostly farmers and simple ranchers, and the attacks that were blamed for the famine and food shortages caused many riots and much death. The Empire makes sure everyone knows it was the ninjas' fault, especially when distributing food to the hngry, and most of the Cradle is fully behind the war effort. They hate the ninja, and those that operate in the province do so without support and with many watching out to report them.

Even the Pack of the Black Moon who live in the area find they are the targets of hate and defiance. Once, you would hang out a dried duck as an offering to a ninja's dog to gain their favor. Since the Crusade began, this tradition has been dying. Those Cradle citizens still loyal to the ninja are quiet about it, fearing being called traitors by their neigbors. Now, they call the Hounds by burying the ducks instead., and the Pack remain eager to serve the people and regain their trust. The entire thing was caused by a war between the Recoiling Serpents and the Black Moon, who now hate each other, even within the Coalition. The Izou forces have learned a lot about this shadow war from prisoners, and have actually gone to some lengths to extend the conflict. This keeps the Cradle under their sway and the ninja at each other's throats, after all. In the meantime, the government is trying to find ways to restore the land's fertility.

Unlike other provinces, the Credle of Life is genuinely hospitable. Visitors and travelers are always welcomed into local homes to share a meal or sleep off their fatigue in exchange for some farm work or even just sharing stories. The locals are happy to answer questions - indeed, tourists are often unpleasantly surprised by how talkative they are. The dialect is very fast, but also drawling, so it can be very hard to understand what the Cradlers are actualyl saying, not that this stops them from trying to talk to anyone they meet.

Flame River Province was the birthplace of the ninja and is still full of insurgents now. It's a harsh land of mountains, volcanos and rocky shores. Most notably, it has the Ensen Volcano, largest in the empire and regularly belching thick smoke and ash. The Empire is researching the area to see if farms or work camps could be set up to offset the loss of arable land in the Cradle of Life. The insurgency has died down some, but it's still there and supported by many locals. The northern regions are full of criminals, bandits and rebels, as well as refugees from both the Land of Mountains and Valleys and the Land of Exalted Flame. Very few imperial agents ever travel to the remote region, and those that do are usually looking to find a specific person, to hire local mercenaries or are part of the agricultural expeditions. Still, few citizens of the province go there either, because of, you know, all the bandits and mercenaries.

The area is controlled by the Blazing Dancers that built the Wu Ji Theater. Their stages were once destroyed, but are rebuilt greater than ever. The theater is no longer open, but the people see it still as a place of hope, making pilgrimages to join the troupe or contact the ninja for aid. Leaving an invitation to put on a show in your village is all you need to do, and there are often hundreds of requests sitting on the Wu Ji doorstep at any time. If the ninja accept your invite, they will announce a new city on the Blazing Dancer tou and show up to put on a show, which often distracts everyone from their real mission. It may take months, but they try to follow up with all requests, unlike many ninja clans.

Their performances are ovwrhelming supportive of the Emperor, his generals and his nobles, occasionally changing the shows on the fly to curry favor with some specific spectator. This keeps them safe from Izou loyalists and the Emperor, for the most part. A few performances recently have made fun of some political decisions or even satirized the Emperor a bit, but these are few and far between...albeit much more common than even a few months ago. The Blazing Dancers know what they can get away with right now, and they know that Flame River people see the hidden messages in each show. When the DAncers show up, everyone is filled with hope, and the locals overwhelmingly support the clan. The Izou army is starting to notice the hidden messages, however, and has ended many shows before they can even be put on. This weakens the ninja ability to sway the people, but also makes the locals feel hopeless and beaten over the head by propaganda. It remains unclear if their hearts and minds will change - the province could go either way, depending on how things continue.

Iron Province once belonged to the Land of Five Blades, and the citizens still see themselves as essentially occupied by an invader, taken by Imperial greed. Ritual is a fact of life for them, and a soldier coming to the area will note how even the smallest interactions are ritualized - and taken deadly seriously. This ranges from a simple prayer to the many spells that protect the local temples. These rituals are kept by ancient tradition and habit. More recently, though, as the Empire begins to run low on funds, the youth have started not only using subtle ritual to gently caress with the army but also skirmishing with the soldiers, who must be wary at all times of being jumped. It isn't war yet, but that might not be long in coming.

The western Aikuchi Mountains make the place seem timeless, especially with the teleporting temple of the Will of Iron. The locals are strong believers in mystery and magic, and they tend to accept that change both exists and that people can cause it, if they are willing to risk things. They have seen what the Will of Iron can do, and some believe they can learn the same power. The elders believe that the mountains and the ninja are protection against further conquest, while the youth that are loyal to the Izou see them as a threat to the Empire. It is never easy to visit the Will of Iron - the trip is arduous, and some never return. If they do find the temple, however, they can ask for protection in exchange for metals, which are precious to the clan - a fact the citizens are happy to know and epxloit to ensure the clan is loyal to them as well.

Since the occupation, the Will of Iron have weakened. They are eager to help protect the area, but cannot stop the open war they know is comng. The older folks, who remember a time when they were Blades rather than Imperial, hope the Will of Iron will oust the Izou entirely. The youth, who grew up like this, tend to be combative but more willing to accept the idea of imperial rule. They argue a lot, but until open war comes, they just try to live as best they can. They are a passionate, resolute people, who enjoy crafting things with their hands and working the land. They are stubborn in their beliefs and wish to continue their lifestyles, however they see them. While they may disagree on politics, they always help each other, because they know that others will help them in their need. Travelers that are willing top ut in some hard work to help out are welcomed and received well, and the Iron people are also fond of those who are practical and do not waste resources, which are precious. They reuse what they can and often have little in the way of luxury or decoration so common in other ares, to better leave space for things they need.

Ultimately, what the Irons want is to continue their simple lives of farming, mining and trade. Their most valuable resource is the metal they mine, and they know it. Most resent that they must sell to those that control them, but there's no real choice in that. They do what is practical to survive, and that's selling metal to all buyers. That's not to say they aren't choosy about their clients when they can be - they are more than happy to sell to those who will help the province free themselves over those that won't.

The Middle Province is both the physical and the spiritual center of the Izou, the cornerstone on which the Empire stands. It is the heart of the Empire, and is thus always full of travelers and tourists - underhanded and legitimate. The capital welcomes all, and even the disloyal can get in in disguise. Still, the tide of travel is a fraction of what it once was, making the province and Daiwa seem empty and lonely. EVen so, every month there are organized celebrations of the Empire, with song, dance, food and goods from across the land. These have done good in promoting diversity, but many feel they seem forced and orchestrated to distract from the problems caused by the war.

The Wardens of Equilibrium make their home here, and contacting them is easy - find a shop, give the shopkeeper a jade in a bag soaked in milk. The ninja are pretty hands-off, all things considered, but every shop owner knows they're watching and can choose to put you out of business. Thus, they pass on these messages, and the Wardens contact the requester with an hour...though they only honor requests that are in line with their philosophy of balance and will not, for example, help a rich man get richer. Even so, most of the Middlers are loyal to the Empire, thanks to the constant bombardment of propaganda about its greatness and the Emperor's immortality. The Crusade has hurt them less than others, though many have still lost power and wealth. Some have even gained from the Crusade, though, and sitll truly believe in the Empire, while others are secret friends of the ninja, using their political leverage to help the Coalition.

Despite stereotypes, not all Middlers are from Daiwa. Other parts of the province are used to test explosives and other weapons, but since the Year of Floods, the land has grown fertile despite this alchemical testing. Farms are growing larger, but occasionally some poor, unlucky farmer stumbles onto a hidden cache of explopsives or secret alchemical laboratory, both decades old. There are even rumors that the rebellious alchemist-general Ishimaru Kaito concealed a cache of enough explosives to destroy the entire Daiwa valley. These are usually dismissed as nonsense, but the ninja are hunting for Kaito's agents to see if the rumors are true.

Oak Leaf Province is forested and dark, full of hunters comfortable with the land. Much is amde of the wood of the forests and the pelts of the beasts that live there. Most of the locals trade with travelers and eahc other to survive, and are noted for their dark hair and the pale complexions caused by the constant tree shade. They are also smaller than most other people, allowing them to more easily hunt in the crowded forests. They make their own weapons and keep their own counsel, originally of the land of Seed and Blossom. It is largely untouched by battle, largely by not resisting. The cities have moved on, but most of the rural villages are unhappy with either side of the Crusade and prefer to trade with neither as their method of protest. While these rural folks dislike the Bamboo Herbalists more these days, those ninja remain in the area and protect with with their illusions. The locals take it in stride and mostly do not mind, and the urban folks tend to find the entire Crusade ridiculous.

The Oak Leafs look down on anyone who cannot take care of themselves. Solving your own problems and feeding your own family are what they see as most important, and they don't like getting involved in the affairs of others. They also do not mince words, speaking plainly and tersely. Soldiers that want to hunt or use the local resources had best make sure they have permission form the owner of the area to avoid getting run out of town. The citizens are generally healthy and long-lived, between the local ninja being medics and their unwillingess to fight the Empire directly. They tend to be happy that they've been so untouched by war, but some feel guilty and wonder what could have been, had they not surrendered when the Empire came to Seed and Blossom. As a result, the locals try to help travelers, to assuage their guilt and to help the people they see as more touched by war than themselves. M<any refugees settle in the area, and are welcomed.

While helpful, the locals od not like to talk politics, given their diversity and because they prefer to ignore the war when they can. They prefer to mediate and not blame, seeking to prevent arguments and welcoming all sides, as long as they keep the peace. It is no surprise, then, that the Oak Leaf are relatively popular in other areas and welcome anyone who comes to heal and leanr. Soldiers are treated no differently than anyone else. The Herbalists rarely turn requests for aide away - all you have to do is show up in their city headquarters and present your problems. If they can help, they do. The locals thus often feel extrmely protected and well-disposed to everyone around them.

Silk Belt Province is liekwise almost untouched. However, its silence hides a pall over the region ruledb y the Hidden Strands. The fear of ninja retaliation here is stronger than anywhere but the Black Veil, and the Strands operate in total secrecy. Still, there's so beautiful and tranquil a place that many forget the ninja are even there until it's too late. It is a place of art and knowledge, after all, which has quickly capitulated with the Emperor's will in order to keep the archives and tourism safe. Now, it is the province to visit to forget your problems and pretend they don't exist. Ignore the war It's just not there. The Silk Belters arne't bad people, per se, but they are self-absorbed - a trait cultivated by the Hidden Strands and their political allies. It can disturb travelers, but this apathy to others is rather infectious.

The province has a long history of unsavory politics and unscrupulous trades in power. It is home to Tennokiba, a ciy used as neutral territory for nobles and politicans to meet in, awaqy from prying eyes. The politics here as often cause peace as chaos, and the locals are pretty nonchalant about that. The STrands once controlled the place more obviously, but since the Crusade's escalation, the power structure was corrupted by criminals organizations. The locals are loyal to neither ninja nor Empire - they shift with the winds, as long as life remains unchanged. The criminal families make the most sense right now. The ninja have begun to infiltrate these families, treating them as equals in deals but plotting their demise.

Etiquette in the Silk Belt is more strict than anywhere else, and formal dining with enemies and potential allies is a formal art. Breaking the rules is an affront to everyone, a total disrespect to the host. Everyone in the area takes time to teach their kids how to avoid these embarrassments, and there are even restaurant-schools you can send your child to to master these arts. It is here that many alliances begin and deals take shape. Leaving an invite underneath a stone on your doorstep is the local way to call the Hidden STrands, though few do these days. If the ninja accepts the invitation, they will expect a ceremonial meal in which to solidify the details, and it always costs something precious to you. So far, this method has avoided Imperial notice...but it may not remain so long.

Triumph Province is home to the Recoiling Serpents and their murky bogs. They do not fear that they will lose power. They fight the Izou daily, knowing the value of their strategic position near the center of the Empire. The locals know that survival is a battle, and that those in power will do all they can to turn them into pawns. As a result, they adapt easily to hardship and work to make their problems work for them when possible. For the people, the name of the province has gone from an Imperial gloat to a local pride at how they triumph over bad situations. They believe that they can defeat the Empire - they will survive anything, can wait out all fate has for them, and they will remain at the end.

While the province is the largest of all, it has the lowest population. Most of its cities are separated by Serpent-controlled swampland, and the residents have to be tough to travel between them. They move quickly, always watching out for dangers - both from the land and the ninja. Sometimes they'll call on the Serpents when they need medicine or other things only the ninja have. The method's easy - head into a swamp. They'll find you soon enough, especially if you go to the spots they put signs up in. However, the locals do this only out of desperation. The Serpents aren't known for generosity.

The local cities are always being sieged - the young cannot remember what that was not so. The locals know that at any time, an attack could come and they might need to find shelter. Soldiers outnumber civilians, and the locals avoid them or cater to them in order to avoid conflict. Luxury is scarce, and even basic needs are hard to meet during a siege. This uncertainty means the Triumph people avoid making waves and being noticed whenever possible. They rarely keep track of time in the way others do, because they know they might have a future. Gallows humor is common, to retain what hope is left. It can be unsettling, but it is understandable once you spend any time in the region.

Soldiers are often sent to train in Triumph, because constant siege is a perfect training ground, even for Golden Lions and Silver Blades. The people have adapted, even if they don't like it. Soldiers are just a part of life now, and business have adapted to meeting their needs, seeling them goods and luxuries the army doesn't provide them. The soldiers that can use gallows humor as well as the locals often get the best deals. No longer do the locals farm by day and practice sickle katas by night. A few elders try to keep up these traditions, but the world is changing, and the locals adapt. Disease and wounds, however, are rarely a problem. The Triumphers are long used to dealing with the swampy landscape and the ninja that live there, and they know how to avoid getting sick or falling into danger. They can wait to fight back.

Next time: Religion and Organized Crime

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006

Alien Rope Burn posted:

"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."

TBF, most ranching doesn't use motor vehicles largely because livestock is super-sensitive to changes in their environment. I'd imagine that taking a nuclear-powered vector-thrust vehicle would be exceptionally loud and frightening to cattle. Best to stick to horses and dogs to drive and shepard cattle, and leave the hovercycles to maintained security and reconnoiter ahead.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

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.

I think everyone who's seen Deadwood or Westworld knows that's not what Saloon Girls do.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Young Freud posted:

TBF, most ranching doesn't use motor vehicles largely because livestock is super-sensitive to changes in their environment. I'd imagine that taking a nuclear-powered vector-thrust vehicle would be exceptionally loud and frightening to cattle. Best to stick to horses and dogs to drive and shepard cattle, and leave the hovercycles to maintained security and reconnoiter ahead.

Fair enough!... though there are some that are largely silent, too, and ATVs have replaced horses on some ranches in real life, and both have their drawbacks and benefits. Cattle can be spooked by ATVs, but get used to them over time if they're in regular use. Opinions can be pretty strong on both sides, but it mostly seems to boil down to personal preference.

Still, I'd think I'd at least see more protection on those horses, given the setting.

Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Fair enough!... though there are some that are largely silent, too, and ATVs have replaced horses on some ranches in real life, and both have their drawbacks and benefits. Cattle can be spooked by ATVs, but get used to them over time if they're in regular use. Opinions can be pretty strong on both sides, but it mostly seems to boil down to personal preference.

Still, I'd think I'd at least see more protection on those horses, given the setting.

Really the thing that bugs me is that it seems like the world should be too different for it to be profitable for a cowboy to drive regular cattle around for grazing and to market and stuff. Cattle won't cross a painted line on the ground, how are they gonna react to a ley line? Also who's all this for? Is there even a working refrigerated rail industry to transport that beef somewhere? My general assumption would be that most of the large population centers are eating some weird variation on future food (oh boy, plankton again!) instead of straight up steaks.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine

Obligatum VII posted:

I like the monks too. Wow, the ninjas sure seem like morons, making a whole lot of enemies they could have avoided and escalating things constantly.

The problem is that even now but definitely before the Crusade, ninjas are not a group in any cohesive sense despite the layman's assumption otherwise. So it's less "boy these ninjas sure do gently caress up a lot" and more "Man, that dude sure was an rear end in a top hat. What, no, I don't know them." and the big lesson of the Crusade is possibly that the clans can't afford to assume they're immune or not responsible to the acts of other ninjas.

Internet Wizard
Aug 9, 2009


theironjef posted:

Really the thing that bugs me is that it seems like the world should be too different for it to be profitable for a cowboy to drive regular cattle around for grazing and to market and stuff. Cattle won't cross a painted line on the ground, how are they gonna react to a ley line? Also who's all this for? Is there even a working refrigerated rail industry to transport that beef somewhere? My general assumption would be that most of the large population centers are eating some weird variation on future food (oh boy, plankton again!) instead of straight up steaks.

Who needs refrigerated rail cars when you can hire cowboys to drive the cattle to your house?

Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion

Internet Wizard posted:

Who needs refrigerated rail cars when you can hire cowboys to drive the cattle to your house?

People who don't want to butcher their own cows?

Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten

wiegieman posted:

People who don't want to butcher their own cows?

This is Rifts, like 70% of the population would pay more for that.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

theironjef posted:

Really the thing that bugs me is that it seems like the world should be too different for it to be profitable for a cowboy to drive regular cattle around for grazing and to market and stuff. Cattle won't cross a painted line on the ground, how are they gonna react to a ley line? Also who's all this for? Is there even a working refrigerated rail industry to transport that beef somewhere? My general assumption would be that most of the large population centers are eating some weird variation on future food (oh boy, plankton again!) instead of straight up steaks.

In my opinion (like you haven't gotten enough of that in these reviews)...

We have cowboys not so much there to explain how people survive but to fill a genre niche, and since the authors (not just Siembieda, but Kornmann as well) had cowboys on the brain, we get cowboys. The thing is, Rifts rarely worries about the basic infrastructure of society is or how people live day to day, and so often things just don't make sense. How does a comparatively tiny city-state like Northern Gun have enough supplies and production to supply much of the Eastern US with goods - highly mechanized goods, at that? Moreover, it often doesn't consider how existing elements might interact - there's nothing keeping Simvan Monster Riders or Psi-Stalkers from walking up to your cows in the middle of the night, instantly being recognized as the cow's best friend, and marching off with your whole herd. And when you look at that and consider things, it gets more flavorful to have something like "Yeah, we need to install these psi-dampeners around the farm just to make sure those D-Bees and mutants can't use their whammies on Poor Bessie." And that's without getting into wondering how so many vehicles are nuclear powered without a steady stream of uranium. Even with gas or electric, there's a question of how widespread oil refineries and other energy sources are. And, of course, food...

It's not something RPGs necessarily have to worry about, but for a post-apocalypse world or even post-post-apocalypse, things like supply and demand become important enough to weave plots around, and it's surprising how little attention Rifts pays to it. It's more on the level of (old-school) D&D or Star Wars or Robotech where most things boil down to conflicts between factions that often can be fitted into neat ethical boxes and the details of the world other than where you aim your mini-missiles don't matter too much.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 22:18 on Jul 8, 2017

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ninja Crusade: Empire's Reign - I am posting quickly because I want to get to the powers.

Religion is built into the foundations of the Izou Empire. Everyone, from the lowest to the highest, is on some level a spiritual person. Before the rise of the Izou, each state had its own religion. The Empire did not institute any formal state religion, but does tacitly approve of what is now the most widespread belief: you are reincarnated based on your dharma, and your station in life is determined by how you acted in your past life; your next life will be determined by this one. This, to the Empire, is the core that a harmonious and smoothly run society is built on. Faith, the Imperials know, could strengthen or weaken the state, and the government as gone to lengths to destroy the symbols of the religions of other states in order to prevent their mass penetration into the Imperial consciousness.

The Imperials do not usually go so far as the Enlightened and usually don't believe there's some way to escape the cycle of reincarnation, but they are at least on the path. It is one of the reasons the Followers of Ko were able to ally themselves to the Empire after the assassination of the tamashi. Many ninja are portrayed in Imperial propaganda as souls that were despicable in their past life, and some even hints at the idea that they are corrupted by Oni to spread evil for the purpose of disrupting peaceful Imperial rule. The fates of the Emperor's family are often used as examples of the evil the ninja do, though the Emperor's temporary absence is never mentioned - just the attack on the capital that failed to kill him.

Broadly speaking, the people of the Empire do recognize several gods, known as kami. There is no unified dogma, but most worship their ancestors' spirits and various local gods. Sometimes they will also worship their village's founder. Remembering and praying to these spirits brings strength and honor to the community and the family. Gods, spirits and ghosts are just a part of everyday life. Some villages have small public shrines or temples, but most homes also maintain their own family altars, known as kamidana. Prayer to the ancestors, while ubiquitous, is not codified as part of any official religion. These days, neighbors are often suspicious of those whose ancestors might be ninja, and some families take pains to exclude known ninja from ancestor worship, even if they are pained by doing so.

The young are also beginning to question their faith in the dharma. The idea that you should know your place, when so many have been forced into crime and murder just to survive, is hard to countenance. Some pray to their ancestors as well, for guidance on how to free themselves of the ninja and the Empire alike. Village leaders often tell people that both sides have forgotten those they claim to fight for.

According to the beliefs of the Empire, there is a period between death and reincarnation. In this period, some spirits stay in the Celestial Courts, to help their descendants on Earth and prepare for reincarnation. Others, tied somehow to the Celestial Animals, go to their realms after death. Most are welcomed and help strengthen family ties, but not all. Some also then contact their livving relatives to help try and free the Animals caught by the Iron Breakers.

While there are a number of organized religious sects, not all devout people consider themselves part of one. You might well practice a ritual-oriented form of worship built into your daily life, calling by prayer to the ancestors to ask for help with nature spirits to ensure family success, or for strength to get through the next day or to get revenge on those that hurt you. Some even pray for forgiveness while seeking out criminal work, believing it is all they have left. The Enlightened believe that breaking laws to survive is spiritually weak, but they also are happy to teach anyone who will listen, set aside their old ways and walk a new path. They've seen a slight surge in recruits, as many are seking guidance these days.

While some question the karmic wheel these days, many still lean heavily on the worship of ancestors and spirits. Not all, however. Some have sought out demons, Oni and darker spirits. These creatures have long memories, and they reward their worshippers. The Oni in particular thrive on sorrow and chaos, which abound in great amounts right now. Oni are often happy to exploit regular people, masquerading as helpful beings until they can extract the ultimate price from their followers. They fan suspicion and distrust, gorging on the chaos that follows.

A particularly new sect is the Reconciled. While many believe there is no divine being more portent than the Emperor, the Reconciled teach that there is a single Heavenly being that is more potent even than he. They believe that those who have done or seen evil can be forgiven in this life, that dharma need not drat them to a life of misery and pain. By penance and prayer, all can find redemption. This is a very tempting prospect for many. The Enlightened teach something similar, but theirs is a more judgemental sect, which can be offputting to those on the outs. The Reconciled are more accepting of those who have been through a harsh time but are not so jaded as to lose all hope of their own redemption. The Reconciled are also easier to find than Enlightened monasteries. They believe that redemption is for all, and should not be sought in hidden contemplation. Rather, it must be found on the streets, feeding the hungry and tending to the ill. Prayer is needed, but penance must be action.

And now we jump to organized crime. There are always criminals, and now, it is easy to become one even accidentally - dissent, for example, can get you branded a criminal. Ninja are all criminals now, too. This can lead to authorities harassing many people just because someone saw something strange. Laws can be abused and corrupted. Officials extort wealth from people who are even suspected of sympathies with the ninja, threatening them with the weight of law. With so much crime, it is no surprise that criminals organiuze. These groups are known as itsutai - fmilies, though they are not always actually blood-related. They are used by the rich and powerful, but looked down on heavily as evil beings, pretenders at nobility that reach beyond their dharma. Of course, this is never said too loudly, for fear of retaliation.

A number of itsutai exist within the Empire. Some are potentially noble vigilantes; most are not. The Itsutai Nakatsune are led by Nakatsune Haga, a family patriarch that has never even gone far from his home village of Nogata. However, he has always had a talent for seeing what people needed and how to get it to them, with little regard for law. He has been happy to steal, to bribe, to smuggle. After all, it's just doing favors. And so his gang grew, at the top mostly his closest friends and below them more distant allies...but everyone was always clear: Haga was in charge, and there were rules. The girls were not to be prostitutes, but should be used to gather information, to be couriers or even enforcers. The elders of the village were never to be targeted by crime. And so Nogata has flourished, because they were good in Haga's eyes, always respectful of the ancestors. Haga also forbids any violence near his village. It is his home, and his power is built on protecting it. He doesn't have to be ostentatious about his power - the village just has to know he's their protector. The village leaders seek him out. None call it asking permission, though that's what it is. However, not all are happy with Haga's leadership, and recently he's had people try to kill him, or hire ninja to do the job. His loyal guards have killed most of them, but not all. Haga has responded by sending word to his childhood friend Norisue Aya, who is now a Golden Lion. She is to come home and find the traitors. Haga wants to be a good citizen...and to find and destroy the ninja who have tried to break his peace. He'd be heartbroken and shocked to learn who was behind it, but the book doesn't reveal who that is. His gang travels to nearby towns and cities to smuggle contraband and sell it, and to remind people what Haga does not allow. Mostly, they smuggle stolen liqour and luxuries, sometimes weapons and sometimes people who need to get in or out of cities. Haga doesn't like ninja, but their coin is good coin and sometimes, you need to do favors. Of course, Haga has also loaned out his people to help Imperial soldiers at times - not always muscle, either, sometimes spies or informants.

The pirates of the high seas also cannot be ignored. The Pirates' Guild is ruled by a triumvirate of three - Riyono Mori, whose mother was the last captain of her ship before a bunch of ninja stole a shipment of weapons bound for the Empire, Akifusa Nakagawa, who killed his way to the top, and Chikanori Chiba, and elderly, agreeable man who became a captain when his own captain retired. Chiba is still vicious in battle, of course, but if you're on his good side he's a fair and kindly man. He never shorts his crew and he doesn't play politics. Mori and Nakagawa are both younger and more hotheaded, and Mori inherited general command from her mother, as well as the favors her mother was owed. Chiba prefers to be a guide, and Mori hates ninja, which has given her favor from Imperials that need her work...but has also soured some contracts. Nakagawa's ruthless violence and general nastiness has also scared off some work. Chiba knows war must mean compromises, and tries to get the two to work better at getting more contracts. The three crews don't always work together perfectly - there's always arguments over contracts or splitting the take. Mori tries to have a lot going on at once, so that the work can be farmed out to whoever's best at it and so they can all stay sharp and keep the coin flowing. There is one thing they all agree on, however. Never, ever work with the Will of Iron. They are too inflexible...and they were the ones who killed Mori's mother. Chiba tried to explain to her that not all ninja are like that, but it hasn't really worked out.

The Kodama Collective were run by Kodama Matsukura, whose mother saw visions that let him rise to the top. Many see him as brilliant and unpredictable, and he is a very powerful man in the city of Tennokiba, running gambling, brothels and slaving. With the help of his mother's seer powers, he has established routes to many places ner Fuchou for his slave trade, and has gained a reputation for evading both ninja and Imperial patrols. When he brought home his pregnant consort, however, his mother tried to poison the girl, and he had her imprisoned. The mother, Kodama Gou, is not ashamed of her son's work, but she believes they have rules, and she has foreseen that his son will bring only chaos and upset the balance. Matsukura convinced himself she was wrong, though his mother prophesied that his son would kill the mother in childbirth. It was the only vision she's ever had that he would not believe. It came true, of course, and she never stopped telling her son to kill the boy, Taro. Taro has been raised to inherit the guild, but Matsukura has no real affection for him - that died with the consort, Hiki. Taro is now in charge of the Collective. He runs the weapons dealing, the pleasure trade and the slaving. He knows his grandmother foretold the future for his father, and he revels in the world of crime. He saw to the death of his own father, framing a rival guild, which he then destroyed, along with the twon they lived in. They left it all as a symbol to show the world what crossing Taro Kodama would mean. Now, Taro is destructive, chaotic and ambitious. He always looks for ways to streamline his empire, and is more than willing to kidnap family members of those that owe him debts, putting them to work in various ways.

Zaitsu the Immortal is a 150-year-old man, a rogue Bamboo Herbalist that left his clan to master the sword. He eventually became a warlord, gathering bandits and ronin to his banner. He tried to fight the Empire, but failed. Now, in the chaos of the Crusade, he has broken out of prison and is trying to rebuild his army. The Lotus Coalition has wanted to contact him, but the Bamboo Herbalists forbid it, still seeing him as a traitor. Zaitsu was a terrible ninja - he was never stealthy and over-relied on his ronin to protect him. However, he's an excellent swordsman and commander. He hast three lieutenants - Hideaki, a young man who is a prodigy with a blade and got framed for various crimes, whom Zaitsu is training in 'ninja arts' (primarily, fighting). Dokuouhtei, a former Golden Lion who was stripped of rank for defending and sparing a young child in a ninja village and who was rescued from execution by Zaitsu. In exchange, he swore to forever serve the immortal and is probably the only true ninja in the group, though he garbs his followers in bad, makeshift copies of Golden Lion armor. Last is TEnzen the Mad, an unorthodox former general of the Imperial ARmy whose tactics often conflicted with Imperial doctrine and who was forced into retirement. He spent time as a mercenary, and has now befriended Zaitsu, who shares many of his opinions. The four lead an army that could be only a few hundred men, or if the plot required it, a few thousand.

Next time: How to play an Imperial.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ninja Crusade: Empire's Reign - The Imperial Game

Chargen for Izou characters is broadly similar to the ninja. Steps 1, 2, 4 and 5 are the same. Step 3 changes from Tragedy to Motivation - the thing that drove you to join the army and/or the Crusade in general, whether that was conscription or a belief or whatever. Also, for most groups, you don't have or gain ki or jutsu. That changes up step 6 and 7. For everyone but the Enlightened and Golden Lions, you skip step seven and instead of 6 levels to spread between Style techniques and Favored Tactics, which are similar but Assignment-exclusive. For the Enlightened and Golden Lions, you get 2 levels, same as normal, and 5 points to spend on "jutsu". Enlightened, however, can only take from their three Paths, rather than any normal jutsu, and no one else - not Golden Lion or Ronin - can take those. Golden Lions can select any jutsu, except those - even clan-exclusives.

The Enlightened do not have ki - instead, they have a trait called Balance, which is equal to twice their Rank. They use Balance the same way a ninja would use ki, but they get no training bonus or Backfire, ever. Also, they take 75 XP to rank up, rather than 50. Executioners do not have jutsu, but do have ki, which is used in their Ki Negation abilities.

So, let's talk about abilities, and then you all can give me some characters to make, to show off how chargen works for Imperials.

Black Bones is the unique technique of the Iron Breakers. They forge weapons from the bones of demons, long rods that they can summon at will and wield as a staff. They use these to enslave the celestial beasts. It's not a pleasant experience - it involves piercing the Animal with black bone rods, usually through the muzzle, neck, arms, legs and heart, though each Breaker has their own unique approach. Enslaved celestials cannot return to their home realm. When not summoned, they exist in a dimension of total solitude and nothingness, with nothing to touych and no one to speak to and no light to see by. OFten, they go mad if not summoned regularly. Some Breakers don't care bout that - they enjoy breaking the pure, heavenly being. So far, no ninja has ever found a way to remove the Black Bones from a celestial, even after killing the Breaker that enslaved them, short of the Breaker willingly doing it themselves. These beasts are forever tainted by demonic energies and cannot go back to the celestial realms. Even if they could, the taint would see them banished by their fellows. Some of these beasts return to the Empire voluntarily, seeing it as the only place they are still welcomed. Others hide with the ninja and hope someone finds a cure for their taint.

To an outsider, Black Bones and the Summoning arts are virtually identical. However, a Summoner befriends the Animals. Iron Breakers just tap into their ki directly and control them. They are not limited by Animal Families, but have no Minor Animal to help them. The longer they use therods, the more potent their control is, and the more beasts they can command at once. They may have up to one Celestial Animal summoned per Level, and have never found a way to bind the Greater Animals, which is probably a good thing. Once a Breaker captures an animal, they command for as long as they choose to kee pit. However, they can remove the rods themselves to attempt to capture another - usually when they're trying to get a stronger one. Some leave the freed animals behind, while others kill the old animal and eat it. Like Summoning, the levels are locked to Rank as well as...well, levels. Summoning is also an act of effort on your part - it costs 1 damage (of either type) and an Intimidation+Discipline check. Your summon can stick around until its task is done or one scene passes. You get +1 on the check if you share an element with the animal's family, as per normal.

Level 1: you get a single enslaved Major Animal, which you can summon and control at will and which must be only a Warrior. You name it and mark it as a Rival, with its family's skill associated with it. However, you don't actually owe it favors - rather, if the favor box is marked, the beast is injured, crazed or otherwise impaired. Going a session without summoning it clears the mark. If summoned with the mark, the animal gets -2 to all checks. You may only control one animal at this time. At Rank 2, you get control of a second Major Animal in the same way, which can be a Warrior or a Squad. You may also summon your Black Bone weapons in the form of a bo, tonfa, nunchaku, sansetssukon or yari without a Quick Action or a Prepare ACtion. Black Bones are indestructible either as weapons or in animal-control form.
Level 2: You must be Rank 3. You get a third Major Animal, and your Animals can be Warrior, Squad, or Master. You can command two summoned Animals simultaneously. At Rank 4, you get another Major Animal. While you and all your animals are still Rivals, you get only a -1 to their associated skill in their presence, rather than -2.
Level 3: You must be Rank 5. You get another Major Animal. You can command up to three summoned Animals at once. You may also access the dimension they are stored in for fast travel. You disappear, reappearing elsewhere seconds later. You can use this several times per session and can travel several miles with it. In Battle, you must spend a Dynamic Action to use it, but if you do, you can instantly avoid an attack, reposition or escape entirely.

Ingenuity is the unique technique of the Engineers. They know how to make new devices. It's not just about intelligence or scientific rigor, however - it's about thinking outside the box and finding the best way to combine simplicity, power and ease of use to solve problems. You must dedicate yourself to the field you are trying to work in, of course - an Engineer that works in guns must be a good marksman, for exmaple.

The way this works is that Engineers receive Resource Points. This represents, mostly, backing from the Imperial College in order to get the materiasl you need, but you can also make Crafts+Intuition rolls to scavenge through trash piles to gain RP. You may never have more than 10 RP at any time. You spend RP to create inventions. An invention lasts for one Scene before it breaks or needs to be recreated. The invention either increases an item's strength or gives a useful advantage - you might make a grapple that boosts Athletics for climbing, or you might make a device to let a raft fold up into a compact cube. Each invention costs 1 RP, and if you spend a second RP, the invention lasts all session. You must make a Crafts roll for each invention, with the second skill in the combo being based on what the modification or device does. A firework modified to be more accurate would use Marksman, while shoes that don't leave footprints would use Stealth. The more successful you are, the more you can modify the device's dicepool or stat bonus. Each modification you make costs 1 RP, as noted, and some amount of time. A quick jury-rigging might take a few turns, while fortifying a building might take a day.

Level 1: You get two Fields of Study and begin each Session with 2 RP.
Level 2: You get two more Fields of Study and begin each Session with 3 RP. You also automatically get 1 free RP with each successful scavenging check, on top of the normal results.
Level 3: You get two more Fields of Study and begin each session with 4 RP. When you roll to make inventions, 9s count as 2 successes now.

Fields of Study are basically the areas you can make inventions in. They can overlap, but they shouldn't be overbroad. The game gives a list of potential fields of study:
Black Powder: Devices that use black powder - both noisemakers and bombs, and anything in between, and presumably black powder weapons like guns, too.
Equipment and Gear: Climbing devices, hidden compartments and modifying existing equipment with new functions.
Civil Engineering: Aqueducts, plumbing, architecture, artillery and fortifications.
Metallurgy: Armor, metal structures, new metal materials, probably metal weapons.
Covert Equipment: Spyglasses, spy toys, hidden compartments, forgeries.
Clockwork Designs: Clockwork and steam-powered devices of all kinds - prosthetics, hydraulic lifts, pneumatic pumps.

Jutsu Retrieval is the unique non-Jutsu technique of the Golden Lions. It is...well, it's the theft of jutsu by the dissection of living or dead ninja and the study of their bodies and spirits. These dissections are cruel and dangerous, and many believe they're just fearmongering propaganda. Thye are not. At level 1, you get to do the ability. Each of level 2 and 3 reduce the difficulty of the checks involved by 1.

Retrieving a jutsu involves a long, gruesome ritual. The target is stripped and covered in symbols written in the blood of a Celestial Animal, in a room filled with special cinnamon-scented incense. Then, they get tortured to raise their ki levels and bring out the jutsu in their minds and souls. It is very hard to manage the pain of the torture, and few survive the retrieval. Once the right amount of pain is reached, the target is cut open and dissected. Golden Lions study to understand how to tell a jutsu based on the target's bones, muscles and internal organs. A living target, obviously, must be restrained to keep them from escaping or damaging themselves. Corpses can be used, but at -2 to all checks. The ritual takes 8 hours at least, but spending a full day gives +1. It's a Holistics+Discipline check, with a success retrieving the secrets of a single, randomly selected jutsu the target knows...and kills them or destroys the body being used. A Boost either lets the target survive, lets you pick which jutsu you get, allows you a second jutsu or halves the length of the ritual - you pick. Dead bodies are destroyed even on a Boost, however. You can't use the ritual more than once a week on a target - they need time to recover, which cannot be sped along by jutsu because that would alter the spiritual information within. You then take the jutsu you found and write it down on a scroll. You get a -2 XP discount to leanr that jutsu - so if you get the same jutsu often enough, you could learn it for free. However, no one but you can use your notes to learn the jutsu at all - the ritual is exceptionally personal. The use of Celestial Animal blood is part of why the Lions work closely with Iron Breakers.

Ki Negation is the special technique of the executioners. Learning it is a long and extremely painful process, but it is what makes the Executioner so terrifying to ninja. They learn to balance their internal ki to lash out at other ki-users and their jutsu. Ninja do not understand this at all, not the way Executioners do, and no one else can even begin to perform these techniques. It turns your ki into a weapon, and this can be used for even more than countering jutsu. Executioners with this ability can tap into their ki to use it, but cannot Mold Ki to gain more. The abilities, like Summoning, are also rank-locked.

Level 1: You can Sense Ki as per the Portents style. When you are present for a jutsu activation, you can spend 1 Dynamic Action to roll Discipline and the opposite type of ki as the jutus to suppress it, canceling out successes. If you fully suppress a jutsu, you get 2 Karma and the ninja gets -1 to that jutsu for the scene. You may also just spend a ki outright to cancel the jutsu, regardless of how powerful it is. At rank 2, you get a bonus based on your ki. If you have more Yang than Yin at any time, you get +1 to Fighting and Fortitude, and gain 1 Yang when using jutsu suppression, and get +2 when using Support on a character that is Yin-aligned. If you have more Yin than Yang, you get +1 to Marksman and Stealth, gain 1 Yin when using jutsu suppression and get +2 to support Yang-aligned. If you are balanced and have equal Yin and Yang, you get all the skill bonuses but none of the other bonuses.
Level 2: You must be rank 3. You may now, when you fully suppress or cancel a jutsu, take on any beneficial effects it would have had for the ninja. If the jutsu was targeted at anyone but the ninja, it retargets towards the ninja and they must now Defend against it as if your suppression roll was the jutsu activation. At rank 4, you may reflexively spend some of your own ki to destroy the target's ki. Destroyed ki cannot be remolded until after the Scene.
Level 3: You must be Rank 5. You can cut off a 4-tap environment from being molded by sacrificing 1 ki, or a 6-tap environment for 2 ki. Once you do that, you can attack with the ki using Marksman+Discipline, dealing +3 damage and causing a level 1 condition of the GM's choice based on the environment type. You can do this a number of times equal to the taps the environment once had.

The Paths are the unique 'jutsu' of the Enlightened. They have basic, median and advanced jutsu, just like normal. The Path of the Body deals with, obviously, augmenting the body's abilities.
Diamond Finger Technique (Balance+Fortitude): Your fingers become as deadly as a blade when you strike at pressure points. Your unarmed attacks do +1 damage and have the Sharp quality for the scene.
Intangible Strike Method (Balance+Speed): The speed of your blows increases until the force can pass through material things. For several strikes, you may ignore Armor.
Silence of Wind (Balance+Stealth): Your movements become utterly silent, as do all inanimate things you touch. Water splashes silently, pictures fall over silently. Any living thing you touch during this can hear you normally, however. On a Boost, you also get +2 Stealth for the scene.
Sliding Stance (Balance+Fortitude): Your body can bend nearly impossibly. You get +1 Athletics for the scene and can easily perform near-impossible contortions.
Twisting Stance (Balance+Travel): You cannot suffer Knockdown or Knockback for the Battle.

Cat Stance (Balance+Speed): You get +2 to all Defense checks for several rounds.
Iron Head (Balance+Fighting): You must have Twisting Stance. You headbutt your target with the activation check, dealing +1 damage and knocking them back quite a ways. With a Boost, you also cause Pain 2.
Lizard Climb the Wall (Balance+Travel): You instantly climb quite a ways based on your roll.
Ringing Round a Tree (Balance+Athletics): You must have Sliding Stance. You double your Strength and deal +1 physical damage for the scene. On a Boost, you triple your Strength instead.
Swift Eye Gouge Technique (Balance+Speed): You must have Intangible Strike Method. You can instantly remove something from someone's hands, pockets - even their eye socket. You use the activation as an attack, ignoring all penalties for striking a small target and getting +4 Initiative if this is your first Action. This can only be used once per Round.

Iron Shirt (Balance+Might): You must have Iron Head. You become immune to all ranged weapons. You don't even have to make a Defense roll - they just bounce off. If the weapon is a gun, you instead just get Armor 2 against it.
One Finger of Chan Meditation (Balance+Intuition): You must have Swift Eye Gouge Technique. You can attack something inside something else. Aainst a living target, you roll the activation as an attack and deal Injured condition instead of damage, as you cause internal bleeding and ruptures. If you go over the level 5 limit, the rest of the damage is dealt as a Deprived condition.
Series of Blows (Balance+Speed): You must have Lizard Climb the Wall. This duplicates the 10,000 Fists jutsu, but you can split successes between Inflict Harm actions and Move actions, allowing you to fight almost entire armies.
Surge of Life Meditation (Balance+Fortitude): Your next year of aging takes several years based on your roll. The first five times you use this, it affects only one year of aging. The next five years, you age 2 years over thaat period. The next 5 times, you age 3 years over that period. This continues until the years beat your dicepool and the technique is no longer effective.
Universal Flow (Balance+Empathy): You must have Cat STance. You give yourself to the universe, removing thought from your actions. For the rest of hte Battle, you get +3 Initiative, ignore all environmental penalties (including poor visibility) and get a Boost on only 2 additional successes when making combat checks.

The Path of Mind is all about augmenting or manipulating minds and thoughts, or about ignoring physical limitations.
Altered Truth (Balance+Deception): You can put a thought in the target's mind, as long as it's not easily contradicted or clearly untrue. The thought lasts for one scene.
Floating Position (Balance+Discipline): You free yourself from gravity with mental power. You can fly a decent ways off the ground at half your Movement for the scene.
Linked Minds Meditation (Balance+Empathy): You and a number of others link your minds together for the scene. You can communicate mentally with any of them at Far range, but the only one they can communicate with is you - you need to be their go-between.
Stable Mind Meditation (Balance+Discipline): Your heal your own mind, reducing mental conditions. You cannot do this in Battle or under duress.
Stoic Warrior (Balance+Intimidation): You get +2 Armor against mental attacks and may ignore 1 Armor when making mental attacks.

Art of Invisibility (Balance+Stealth): You must have Stoic Warrior. You cloud the minds of others, making yourself invisible to them for the scene. This ends immediately if you act aggressively, even against inanimate objects.
Finger Lock (Balance+Knowledge): In a grapple, you paralyze by grabbing your foe's finger. The activation is an attack, and you cause the Pain condition instead of damage. On a Boost, you also cause Embarrassed 2.
Mind Over Matter (Balance+Knowledge): You must have Stable Mind Meditation. You focus your mind, getting a bonus to your next physical skill check.
Sleep Touch (Balance+Persuade): You touch someone's pressure points, causing Knocked Out 2. In combat, this is activated at -2.
Twin Lock Stance (Balance+Speed): You join your forearms together to block as a wall. You get +1 to Defense checks and may Block weapons without penalty for the Battle.

Crippling Strike Amenti (Balance+Discipline): You must have Finger Lock. You strike so accurately that it makes it hard for the target to function. The activation is an attack that does +1 damage and also causes Broken in addition to damage. If you exceed the level 5 limit, you apply a second Broken condition for a different skill.
Forgetful Mind Prana (Balance+Knowledge): You must have Altered Truth. You can alter thoughts and memories via pressure points, duplicating the Information Consumption jutsu, but taking only moments rather than a ritual. A Boost means the victim can't even question the new memories.
Paralyzing Strike (Balance+Holistics): You strike to disable. The activation is an attack, and if it hits, you deal +1 damage and the target loses a number of Actions based on your Balance. A Boost doubles all effects.
Share Minds (Balance+Empathy): You must have Linked Minds Meditation. You meditate with the target, opening your minds to each other. Once used, you and the target know everything about each other. Everything.
Unlocked Puzzle Prana (Balance+Crafts): You attune your mind to logic and puzzles. You get a number of +2 bonuses, which you may spend on any mental checks during the scene.

The Path of the Spirit manipulates spirits and souls, both to reinforce and to confuse. It also taps into ki abilities.
Bow Stance (Balance+Perception): Your attacks also cause the Confused 1 condition for several strikes.
Elemental Training (Balance+Fortitude): For several hours, you can withstand adverse weather without any problems, and you get Armor 1 against Elemental jutsu for the scene.
Following the Tenets (Balance+Travel): You use this before a Journey to align yourself with the Eents of Ko. You get a number of bonus dice that you may grant to any member of the group for their Stage checks.
Ki Strike (Balance+Discipline): For a number of attacks, you may choose to deal no damage and instead drain 2 ki.
Spirit Steps (Balance+Discipline): Your spirit leaves your body for several minutes. In this form, your are invisible, undetectable by any means and cannot interact physically with the world.

Affect the World (Balance+Empathy): You must have Spirit Steps. While using Spirit Steps, you may activate this to be able to affect the physical world for several checks in any way you normally could. You can only use this once per use of Spirit Steps.
Graceful Swan Technique (Balance+Stealth): You must have Bow Stance. You become light as a feather, able to walk on walls and jump long distances. You get +2 Athletics and ignore fall damage for falls up to 50 feet. However, you may only stay on a wall or ceiling surface unmoving for (Balance) Turns before falling. On a Boost, this number is doubled.
Horse Stance (Balance+Discipline): You focus your spirit, increasing your Balance by 2 for a number of activations.
Knowing the Soul (Balance+Intuition): You look into the eyes of a Close target, learning a number of things about them based on your activation - rank, Ki levels, clan/assignment, likes, dislikes, name, whatever.
Long Distance Punch (Balance+Intimidation): For the scene, you may attack using Fighting within Near Range. On a Boost, it extends to Far Range.

Hand of Sun Rays (Balance+Empathy): You must have Horse STance. You call spiritual energy into your hands, making them glow as you attack and granting you power. The activation is an attack that causes Dazed and Burned as well as damage. If you exceed the level 5 limit, extra levels are converted to 2 damage each.
Piercing the Veil (Balance+Travel): You must have Spirit Steps and Horse Stance. You can teleport to anywhere within a decent range that you can see.
Poison Hand Tehcnique (Balance+Fighting): You must have Ki Strike. You fill your aura with anti-ki energies for several attacks. Anyone hit takes 1 damage and Poisoned 1 on top of all other damage. For several rounds after, they continue to take 1 automatic damage and the Poisoned condition increases. On a Boost, all effects are doubled.
Split Essence Meditation (Balance+Discipline): You must have AFfect the World and Knowing the Soul. You split into two beings - the yume that controls intellect and the akuma that controls physical power. The yume gets +2 to all mental rolls but cannot participate in physical Battles. The akuma gets +2 to all physical rolls, but automatically fails all non-Intimidation mental or social checks. All other stats are identical to yours for each. You may remain separated for several hours and can be any distance apart. The yume has your Psyche, the akuma your Health. If one hits 0, the two halves are thrown back together and you suffer Knocked Out 2. Otherwise, the merge happens at the end of the duration without any problems.
Vibrating Strike (Balance+Discipline): You must spend 1 Round neither attacking nor defending. After this, your next hit deals no physical damage, instead marking the target's spirit. They take 1 damage the next round, 2 the round after that, 3 the round after that, and so on for (Balance) Rounds. This damage is dealt to Psyche before Health, and generally ends if they fall unconscious. On a Boost, you may have it deal to Health first if you want.

Next time: Voice of the Emperor, the Way of Dazzling Pilferage, the Way of Silver Blades, the Way of the Gun, and I make some characters.

Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo

Make a pistolier lady.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006

theironjef posted:

Really the thing that bugs me is that it seems like the world should be too different for it to be profitable for a cowboy to drive regular cattle around for grazing and to market and stuff. Cattle won't cross a painted line on the ground, how are they gonna react to a ley line? Also who's all this for? Is there even a working refrigerated rail industry to transport that beef somewhere? My general assumption would be that most of the large population centers are eating some weird variation on future food (oh boy, plankton again!) instead of straight up steaks.

There's a kernel of truth to the New West and it is that civilization would revert to an almost "Western" frontier lifestyle outside the industrialized centers that survived the Cataclysm, like the Coalition, Ishpeming, or the Manistique Imperium. They'd trade livestock, agricultural products, water, and other natural or cultivated resources to the industrial centers, who would return them textiles, machinery, printed media, and other refined and manufactured goods. In fact, the Coalition States are almost arranged as a big distribution network, with these big factory arcologies centered within short distances from their agricultural centers. Chi-Town in particular being mentioned that it doesn't inhabit Chicago itself, but is located eighty miles southwest, in the middle of Iowa cornfields. But, because of distance and hazards, especially among people outside of the Coalition, most manufactured goods would get filtered to those folks by networks of independent traders and other travelers. Most fashion and goods would be utilitarian, much like the cowboy hat, introduced in the 1860s as an evolution of the Mexican sombero as well as an alternative to the bowler and sailor hat that were worn by settlers to keep the sun out of their eyes and off their face and neck. But there would be a fetishizing of finer goods: in the American west, there was a lot of Europhilia and Anglophilia, with attempts to emulate European or Victorian dress and mores to the best they could.

Those Ramon Perez illustrations are mostly spot on in selling this idea: a lot of people wearing MDC body armor, a lifesaver out in the field, with jackets or wearing fancy shirts underneath, typically with a hat, mostly for flourish to distinguish them from the filtered, climate-controlled, sterile Coalition armors and for Western flair.

But, a lot of those Western towns were heavily supported by known cattle trails, rivers, and, later, the railroad. There's even further disruption in that, thanks to nuclear-powered hover transport, you don't even need to follow those trails anymore and could go anywhere. Or, more importantly, NOT go anywhere. With tradition ground vehicles that require fuel or animals that require food and water, every town you cross is a stop. With nuclear-jet engines that can run hours at a time at top speed, can fly to mile-high ceilings, and require refueling every 20 years, there's less of a need to do that.

Feb 13, 2012

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

MollyMetroid posted:

Make a pistolier lady.

Yes, we need gunfu pistoliers.

But that means we also need an engineer.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine

Make the worst human being of an Iron Breaker. Just the shittiest person possible.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

A a diplomat-monk who's made it his personal mission to fix them.

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer

Mr. Maltose posted:

Make the worst human being of an Iron Breaker. Just the shittiest person possible.

Black Iron Chef.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine

Bieeardo posted:

Black Iron Chef.

Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade War Machines.

Apr 23, 2010


Gordon Ramsay's (going to) Hells Kitchen.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements

See, I'm really enjoying the Imperial description while at the same time I can't bring myself to care about the ninjas. Not that I think the Empire are the good guys - it's clearly a shades-of-grey-and-also-the-Emperor-might-be-a-demon situation. But much like what little I know of Mage: The Ascension, it seems like the Empire (or in Mage, the Technocracy) has a massive advantage in their writing. All of the Imperial factions are inherently tied together not just by a common cause but by well-established organizations, cultural roles, and relationships. The monks and Silver Blades and Jadeforgers and the like are always going to be bound to or indirectly struggling against the Golden Lions and Iron Breakers. Heck, even without the Very Evil factions, the Emperor himself is a great multifaceted figure, someone to whom allegiance is theoretically owed but who will almost definitely be in conflict with idealistic PCs, the best kind of PCs.
The ninja clans seem much more like how I think about rival or antagonist factions, since they're all free-floating; they seem easier to slot into a game at will without dealing much with their support structure, which fits how I think about antagonists more than how I think about writing for PCs.

Apr 8, 2009

Alien Rope Burn posted:

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.

The Wired Gunslinger sounds like a legitimate and mostly playable Crazy, and doesn't do dumb things with mental illness. Like, that first ability is pretty horrifying for day to day life, but you can see how someone might want soldiers who can always get off the first shot and might not care if they're going to live comfortable lives in downtime or not. That is to say, this is the first Crazy that you've covered which sounds like a legitimate supersoldier project instead of like, Vault-Tec deciding "lol I guess we'll market this dumb boondoggle as a thing to make a buck."

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ninja Crusade: Empire's Reign - Sword Lasers

Voice of the Emperor is the special technique of the Jadesmiths. It is the greatest of political skills, combining verbal tricks with a focus on the grand strategy of politics to work on a level few comprehend. It can be a gentle tool or a blunt instrument, and it is extremely powerful. Like the Portents style, it has only one technique tree that unlocks a number of different abilities.
Level 1: You get Air of Authority and either A Subtle Implication or Voice of Rebuke. You also get +1 to Knowledge checks related to know politics and bureaucracy.
Level 2: You get Voice of Righteousness and the ability you didn't pick at level 1.
Level 3: You get either Voice of Fury or The Lord's Will.

A Subtle Implication: You know how to wield words as weapons at exactly the right time. You can make an Empathy+Intimidation check to plant an idea in someone's mind and make them obsess over it for several scenes. You can have this active on up to (Intuition) targets at once.
Air of Authoirty: You get +1 to all social or mental skill checks. You always appear regal, noble and authoritative. You may give the Embarrassed 1 condition on any Boost of any kind. All attempts to sully your appearance or dismiss you out of hand get -2.
The Lord's Will: You have total authority. As long as you hold your Action during a Battle and instead stand back and give orders, every Karma point spent gives two dice, and any time Karma would be gained, 2 Karma is gained instead.
Voice of Righteousness: You speak with passion easily. You may spend 1 Karma to get +2 to one of DEception, Empathy, Intimidation, Perform or Persuade for the rest of the scene. You give a +1 bonus in the same skill to up to (Empathy) allies for the same duration, empowering them with your passion.
Voice of Fury: You can drive a crowd to a frenzy or calm them easily. You can make an Empathy+Intimidation check to do so. If you succeed, the crowd obeys your orders for the scene. You can have them cause or stop a riot, attack a foe, defend a place - they're your personal army for the scene. All attempts by other people to affect the crowd's behavior get +1 Difficulty.
Voice of Rebuke: You know how to keep others in check with a verbal sting. You may spend 2 Dynamic Actions to make an Intimidation+Deception check against the target's Intimidation+Discipline. If you win, they get -4 to their next roll.

The Way of Dazzling Pilferage is a Water-elemental jutsu used by the Golden Lions to copy and mimic the abilities of other fighters and ninja. The Golden Lions also have very strong basics and understand jutsu and combat styles in a way few others do. On a Boost, you can get +1 to defend or resist against jutsu or styles for the Round. The Backfire gives a level 1 Bruised condition that applies only to mental damage, due to low self-esteem.
Armor Synch (Yang+Perception): You align your ki with your armor, tying it to a specific jutsu. When you use that jutsu next, you use this activation roll instead. You may do this with no more than (Intuition)/2 jutsu at once, and a jutsu remains synchronized until you next use Armor Synch. However, an enemy can attack you at -3 to strike your special armor and render you unable to use a one jutsu.
Golden Aura (Yang+Discipline): You summon energy form your gold armor into an aura. You choose either +1 Fighting or +1 Athletics to gain for the scene. On a Boost, you get both. This jutsu can be canceled with a targeted attack, as in Armor Synch.
Lion's Pounce (Yang+Stealth): You leap at the foe. If your next attack is a surprise attack, it does +1 damage. On a Boost, +2 damage instead.
Pack Tactics (Yang+Empathy): After another character uses a jutsu, you give them a bonus to their activation check.
Jutsu Reading (Yang+Perception): You get +2 to defend or resist against a specific jutsu for the Battle. You may have this active for up to (Intuition) jutsu at once.

Lion Blast (Yin+Marksman): You channel your armor's ki into the mouth on it, firing a ki laser to Far Range. The beam does +1 damage and causes Bruised 1 on a Boost.
Lion's Roar (Yin+Intimidation): You mkae a load roar. Anyone in Near range gets Sensory Loss 2 until the end of the scene and also takes the jutsu as a mental attack defended with Discipline+Fortitude.
Jutsu Mimicry (Yang+Perception): You must have Armor Synch. You may use this to temporarily copy a jutsu you have seen, synchronizing it to your armor as per Armor Synch, and can do so reflexively with a Dynamic Action. This jutsu can be disrupted as per Armor Synch, and any mimicked jutsu count against your Armor Synch limit.
Skill Mimicry (Yang+Perception): After you are attacked, you can mimic the foe's ability. You get a obnus to one of the skills in the attacker's combo for the rest of the Battle, capped by the opponent's skill level.
Style Mimicry (Yang+Perception): You must have Skill Mimicry. After seeing a technique from a fighting or weapon style being used, you may activate this to gain that technique until the end of hte Scene. This can be done reflexively with a Dynamic Action.

Golden Interference (Yin+Fighting): You must have Armor Synch. You use your armor's ki flow to disrupt the enemy, typically via a headbutt. The target cannot use the Zen Mind Dynamic Action for the rest of the scene. On a Boost, they also cannot Mold Ki. This jutsu can be interrupted as per Armor Synch.
Golden Shield (Yang+Crafts): You use your armor to totally negate a jutsu, giving up your normal defense or resistance check to do so. This can be disabled as per Armor Synch.
Jutsu Prediction (Yin+Intuition): You must have Jutsu Reading. You can subtly nudge your foe into using a specific kind of jutsu. This is opposed by Discipline+Intuition. If you win, you select an element. If the target uses any jutsu next Round, they must be of the chosen element. You also get a bonus to defend against any of their attacks or resist any of their jutsu next Round.
Shadow of the Pack (Yin+Deception): You must have Pack Tactics. You create a number of illusory copies of yourself. When you are hit by an attack, roll a die. If the number is lower than your number of copies, a copy is hit and destroyed instead. Otherwise, you are hit normally. This lasts until the Battle ends or all copies are destroyed.

The Way of All Rivers is the unique Weapon Style of the Silver Blades. Its techniques can be used with any sword at all - curved, straight, short, wooden. Any sword.
Way of the Silver Tide
Level 1: Your every action is a cut, even when you defend. On a Boost when you Block/Parry a weapon attack, you may cut the attacker's weapon in half. On a Boost when you Block/Parry an unarmed melee attack, you cause the Injured (Limb) 1 condition on the attacker.
Level 2: You can swing your blade so precisely that you cut not only what is in front of you, but everything in a straight line out to Near Range. If foes are lined up, you can hit all of them in that line. You roll only once to attack, applying it to all valid targets.
Level 3: You can swing your blade in an attack identical to the level 2, except that it cuts out to Far range now. Both this and the level 2 now deal +1 damage. However, if you use this to attack at Far range twice in the same Battle, your blade shatters after the second attack.

Way of the Sword's Heart
Level 1: You may spiritually tie yourself to your blade with a Fighting+Intuition check. While tied to the blade, you get +1 Fighting and cannot be disarmed. This lasts for several Rounds.
Level 2: While tied to the blade, you can make an up-down attack, then immediately reverse it. This attack deals +2 damage and is defended against at -2. When you use this, your sword-bond is immediately broken afterwards.
Level 3: While tied to the blade, you may make a horizontal cut across the shoulders and neck. This attack does +3 damage and causes Bleeding 3. When you use this, your sword-bond is immediately broken afterwards.

Way of the Tiger Rush
Level 1: You use raw power to cut deeper. On a critical failure while using this tree of techniques, your blade shatters. Before striking, you may hold the weapon in one hand and prepare the strike with the other to build power. You may make a Quick Action to make an Athletics+Discipline check. On a success, your blade gets the Brutal quality for the Round. On a Boost, it lasts the entire Battle.
Level 2: When you defend at Close range, you can learn to counter-attack. If you get a Boost while defending, you can reflexively make an Athletics+Fighting check to boost the damage of any counterattack you make, capped by the original attack's dicepool.
Level 3: After a successful attack, you have learned to increase damage by striking the blade. On a hit, you can reflexively make an Athletics+Fighting check to add damage to the attack. However, if you use this twice in the same Battle, the blade instantly shatters.

Way of Instant Step
Level 1: You can Move as a Quick Action without the normal penalty. Alternatively, you may accept the penalty to move four times your normal Movement rather than three.
Level 2: When you attack with a sword using Speed after using a Quick Action to move, you deal +2 damage.
Level 3: Once per battle, you can zwee fight. To do this, you roll Fighting+Speed and spend a Dynamic Action to immediately attack a number of foes within Near range.

Way of the Silver Iaijutsu
Level 1: You can draw a weapon without spending a Quick Action to do so. You get +1 Initiative per level of this technique, as long as your weapon is sheathed when the Round starts.
Level 2: Before you draw your sword, you may spend 1 Dynamic Action to makke a reflexive Intimidation+Speed check that does +2 mental damage. You can do this only once before drawing.
Level 3: You may now immediately sheathe your blade after you attack, for free.

Way of Last Blood
Level 1: When you strike an enemy that has yet to act this Round, you do +1 damage per level.
Level 2: After you strike an enemy that has yet to act this Round, you get +1 to Defense, or +2 on a Boost.
Level 3: If you are the first to act in the Round, roll a Perception+Fighting check. If you succeed, you get +2 Fighting on your next attack. On a Boost, you also cause Bruised 1.

The Way of the Gun is the Black Smoke-specific weapon style. Its techniques all work with any kind of firearm unless otherwise stated.
Aine's Ring
Level 1: You ignore one level of Sensory Loss per level.
Level 2: While attacking with a Loud weapon, you do +1 damage to Psyche at Close range. On a Boost, you also cause Sensory Loss (Hearing) 2.
Level 3: When you fire your weapon, everyone in Close range must make a Perception+Fortitude check. If they fail, they get Sensory Loss (Hearing) 1 and Afraid 1.

Double Barrel
Level 1-3: You may dual wield Pistols or other small firearms (but not Rifles). What this does (besides let you even try to do that) is give you +2 Marskman per level while you do, as you send massive amounts of bullets at the foe.

Eagle Eye
Level 1: You get an additional +1 per level from using Plan Attack to aim.
Level 2: On a Boost when you attack, you may hit another target in Close range as well as your original target. They can Defend as normal. You can do this up to (Perception) times per shot, assuming you get enough Boosts.
Level 3: You get one free Plan Attack action each Round.

Never Unarmed
Level 1: You may draw your gun without a Quick Action. You get +2 Initiative in the first Round of any Battle.
Level 2: You carry (Strength)/2 backup guns, which you may draw and use if you are ever disarmed or run out of ammo with the weapon you are using.
Level 3: If you are disarmed, you get a free Counter Attack with your backup weapon, if you still have one.

Smokey Aftermath
Level 1-3: You use extra gunpowder to produce smokey clouds. You get +1 Stealth per firearm attack you've made this Round, capped at (Level*3). You cannot use this with a Loud weapon.

We also get two new general Weapon Styles. Defending is for defensive weapons.
Effortless Defense
Level 1: You can make an additional Defense per level each Round without penalties.
Level 2: If you successfully Block/Parry, you get +1 to your next Defense, or +2 on a Boost.
Level 3: Wen you fail a dEfense check, you can spend a Dynamic Action to negate additional effects you might suffer from attacker Boosts.

In Harm's Way
Level 1: When you Protect another character, you get Armor 1 per level against the attack.
Level 2: When you use the Protect defense, you get +4 Movement for it.
Level 3: When you use the Thicker Skin Dynamic Action, you reduce damage by 2 per spent Dynamic Action, rather than 1.

Turn the Tide
Level 1: On a Boost when you make a Defense check, you get +1 Fighting per level against the attacker for the rest of the Round. You can apply this to only (Level) foes per Turn.
Level 2: When you Counter Attack, you deal +1 damage.
Level 3: When you Deflect Attacks, you only need to spend 1 Dynamic Action rather than 2.

Reach is for long weapons, like spears.
Spinning Weapon
Level 1: If you spend a Dynamic Action to attack a second time in a Round, that attack gets +1.
Level 2: After a successful attack, you get +1 to Block/Parry for the Round, or +2 on a Boost.
Level 3: You may make an attack on everyone at Near range by spinning your weapon. However, it gets -1 damage.

Unbreakable Boundary
Level 1: Your weapon gets the Driving quality.
Level 2: On a Boost with a weapon attack against a foe in Close range, you can immediately perform a Knockback attack.
Level 3: When an opponent moves from Far to Near range, you may immediately make a weapon attack against them.

Watchful Sentinel
Level 1: Opponents in Near range of you get -1 per level on Discipline checks.
Level 2: If an ally attacks a foe in Near Range of you, you may roll Intimidation+Fighting. On a success, you give the foe -1 to their Defense check, or -2 on a Boost.
Level 3: You may assume a watchful stance as an Action. While in this stance, you get +1 to Defense and all foes in Near range of you get -1 to Defense. This ends when you move.

The new weapon Qualities are:
Defending: You get 1 more free Defense check before penalties kick in each Round.
Driving: You get +1 to Knockback attacks.
Exploding: On a Boost, you deal +2 damage. On a critical failure, you take 2 damage. (The most notable example weapon is Blast Bracers, which are bracelets full of explosives that explode when you punch people. They are somehow not destroyed by this.)
Loud: You get -2 to Stealth after using this weapon.
Reload: On a critical failure, you run out of ammunition for this weapon and can't attack again with it until you get more.
Restraining: On a Boost while attacking, you may automatically initiate a grab.

Next time: I underestimated the size of this, so we make a pistoleer, an engineer, the worst possible Iron Breaker, and a talky sort of monk.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

MJ12 posted:

The Wired Gunslinger sounds like a legitimate and mostly playable Crazy, and doesn't do dumb things with mental illness. Like, that first ability is pretty horrifying for day to day life, but you can see how someone might want soldiers who can always get off the first shot and might not care if they're going to live comfortable lives in downtime or not. That is to say, this is the first Crazy that you've covered which sounds like a legitimate supersoldier project instead of like, Vault-Tec deciding "lol I guess we'll market this dumb boondoggle as a thing to make a buck."

Pretty much, I mean, it's not great, but it's at least conceivable as an alternative to juicing as opposed to the "Deadpooling process" that the normal Crazy treatment seems to consist of.

Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.

Fallen Rib

From everything I've seen about RIFTS here and elsewhere, it's not so much a game about the post-apocalypse as it is an excuse to dump out the contents of your toybox and play with all the toys at the same time, like Buzz Lightyear helping Sheriff Woody foil the evil Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013

You know listening to the most recent episode of Inward Empire made me think there would be a whole lost of things you could do with a cowboy in a magic revival setting. Do something with the whole "heir to the knights of old" idea or some sort of supernatural adaptation to the harsh magically influenced wilderness, but this appears to have just not been in the cards fort RIFTS and it's "we need a boring rear end lovely version of every class".

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012

§3 Denizens of Oubliette

It’s easy to forget that Oubliette is home to more than just
fairy tales. If you hide long enough, you can almost convince
yourself that the place is inhabited by normal folk. Spend
enough time in Grandhall and you’ll forget what lies over the

I’m not talking about werewolves, vampires, and giants.
Those are the least of your worries. I’m talking about the
truly wicked things, the creatures that stalk the wastes below
Deathborne, the hideous lurkers in the forests of Fellmoor, the
mind-demons below Mubigild, the conceptually abhorrent
occupants of the darkness below everything.

Some of us came to Oubliette because we were forgotten. But
some of us—them, really—were not “forgotten” so much
as “exiled forcibly by the metaphysical laws of reality itself.”
Think about that. Beings live here that literally could not exist

And they’re our neighbors.

Section three is all about the inhabitants of Oubliette, and is the first non-introductory chapter so we’ll be getting lots more detailed setting info. This chapter covers the caste system that defines the social strata of Oubliette, the most common sentient races in the city, and the various factions that make up the city. This is also where the heavy Planescape inspiration starts being really evident.

§3.1 Broken and Unbroken

Broken and Unbroken are the two overriding states of being in Oubliette, separating the sane and the active from the mad and catatonic.

§3.1.1 The Broken

Look there. The gutters are full of nihilists,
cynics, misanthropes, and skeptics.

It’s likely that the majority of the inhabitants of Castle Oubliette are Broken. The sad fact is most mortal minds just can’t handle the stresses of immortality, and eventually their sanity either shatters or withers away. Most of the broken are a sort of listless mob, slowly wasting away while laying about in catatonia or wandering through the city seeking little more than to fulfill their base instincts. Some are more active, becoming mentally trapped, repeating the same action or job endlessly in a stupor. These sort, if their mania is constructive, are often captured and used as labor. Some rare Unbroken also turn feral and violent, attacking others like vicious animals.

Broken humanoids are often called “zombies”, though this is a slang term and not often used by those familiar with true Undead. Non-humanoids are often simply labeled as “monster”, and often are met with violence by the Unbroken. But, Broken can be “fixed”, and there are several organizations in the city who often attempt the rehabilitation of the Broken back into Unbroken. This is often done as a combination of welfare, particularly ensuring they get food and water, and therapy.

§§3.1.2, 3.1.3, 3.1.4 The Unbroken, Reasons for Living, and Walking the Line

What kind of person does it take to face eternity? Ironically,
the same that can face death.

The Unbroken are the active, sane population of Oubliette. While the Broken outnumber them, they are the living force of the city and drive everything that happens. The definition of an Unbroken is simple: Those still able to live a useful active life. Unbroken aren’t sane, many denizens of Oubliette can easily be seen as mad in their own way, but through sheer willpower they keep living instead of Breaking.

The way the Unbroken cope with infinity are many and varied. Some don’t think about the future at all just living in the moment all the time, others obsessively pursue some goal or task. Many just focus on living their daily lives, trying to recreate the sanity and safety of Life. Others just keep on through sheer bloody-minded determination, or through the fanatical dedication to a cause or ideal, or just by not giving a poo poo about it. A rare few accept Immortality, becoming comfortable with their long lives and reincarnations, or even considering Oubliette a relative paradise compared to the World of Life.

It’s also important to note that Broken and Unbroken aren’t exactly perfectly binary. There are many beings that walk a line between them, or seem to move between each state as their moods change, alternating between madness and sanity. While rare, these line-walkers show that things aren’t as clear cut as many think.

Okay, next time it’s the Castes of the Castle.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Rifts World Book 14: New West: Part 15: "According to Indians, Mountain Giants are also said to see spirits and will not hurt Indian Shamans, Indian Mystics or the mentally retarded."

Racial Character Classes Common to the New West

So, we're given a reminder that the D-Bees seen here are only the most notable or numerous, and that there are plenty out there that don't get writeups. In addition, the names here are usually the popular (i.e. human, I'd guess) names for races. For some reason it is "unusual" for D-Bees to provide names for themselves. Maybe ego and species identity is rare in the universe. We also get some base guidelines for a generic D-Bee race - basically just subtract 1d6 from one attribute (probably beauty) and add 1d6 to another, increase their P.P.E., and make "25%" into mega-damage, give them fur or bumpy heads or whatever, and there's an instant D-Bee. It's bizarrely... simple for Palladium. I'd normally expect a bunch of random tables, not a simple reskin mechanic. Oh, but D-Bees lose their culture in just a few generations, so we don't have to worry about making them nuanced or particularly interesting. Siembieda!

After that, we can move on to the D-Bee PC races, which means we're at least marching uphill from having a "Saloon Bum" class.

Agave Trail.

Cactus People

For once - and this is kind of rare, we get the actual name of this D-Bee race, Clszymllxbrrxxyfwrr. It's said to be "impossible" for humans to pronounce, but I think it's just literally impossible to pronounce, period. They're, as their name suggests, cactus-themed humanoids.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

Females are the most ... well ... lumpy, while the males have long leafy stands on the side and back of their heads, creating the illusion of hair.

So, they need light and "various gases", as well as vegetables, to survive. In general, they're peaceful, but are victimized as D-Bees and also by people seeking their "blood" as certain ethically vacant humans find it "tasty". It's apparently also useful for alchemy and for dark rituals that require blood (as it's a "blood" that doesn't spoil). They have often adopted human technology to defend themselves, though.

As far as their statblock goes, they have slightly superior attributes to humans save for affinity, beauty, or speed, where they're slightly inferior. They get a slight horror factor, but they're just S.D.C. creatures. They have some basic mental and sensory psionics, and a built in skill list with strong farming and wilderness skills but middling at anything else. This feels like an interesting "background" race as a result - they're different enough from humans to be distinctive, but the fact that their only playable occupation is "farmer" limits them as PCs.

The often romanticized image of cowboys and aliens.

Fennodi R.C.C.

Another gentle race of peaceful D-Bees, this is fairly clearly "drawn by by Michael Dubisch and given words by Siembieda". They're kind of pale, thin greys, only with tiny eyes. They wanders around and love nature and peace and smoking pipes (they're "immune to cancer", the book reassures us). They also like dressing like cowboys because gently caress you, this is New West, it's on the cover and we don't need no stinking reasons.

So, they have exceptional affinity, strength, and speed, are are generally better at humans at all things save beauty. They're still just S.D.C. creatures. They have empathic, telepathic, and guys get healing psychic powers and women get physical psychic powers, in a reversal of the usual stereotyping you see in , a slight telekinetic mega-damage defense field (only enough to really soak a single shot or two), and the unique ability to take on an astral form where they can move through things like a ghooost. They get the "Art of Nodox" martial art which largely just gives them notable defense bonuses as they level up and lots of bonus attacks. They get to choose an O.C.C. from a list, including cowboys, rogue scholars, rogue scientists, body-fixers, operators, preachers, vagabonds (sigh), saddle tramps (sigh), or saloon bums (sigh). They get survival skills, sneaking, and staff proficiency no matter what their class is, though. With GM permission, they can have a whisker coyote as a pet, whatever those are. (We'll see them later.)

See the quote that follows.

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

All are human in origin, general shape and appearance, but their bodies are usually (though not always) hairless, their skin discolored and blotchy, and often covered with lumps, blisters and red or brown sores. Frequently the limbs and hands are deformed (2-3 fingered hands plus a thumb, or a stump in place of a hand, etc.), their faces are typically long (horse head), and their bellies disproportionately extended or swollen-looking, like people suffering from malnutrition. Many have spindly arms and legs, while others have one arm that is longer or larger than the other, or huge, muscled limbs. Spinal deformity is also commonplace, creating hunchbacks and strangely twisted shoulders and torsos.

Because anybody missing an arm qualifies as a hideously malformed mutant.

Keepers of the Desert R.C.C.
By Chris Kornmann & Kevin Siembieda

These are mutated humans from and near Salt Lake City, which was apparently destroyed by a "dimensional anomaly" that bombarded the area with "horrible levels of alien radiation". Those that didn't die from the radiation or who weren't killed by other survivors fled into the Salt Lake Desert where they hid. They're generally deformed in various fashions, of course. But some talk of how they killed off those who drove them into the desert, and "hate all humans and loathe all beautiful things". But it turns out they're not responsible for those deaths, but their feared reputations causes the Keepers to generally keep a safe distance from other settlers. Sometimes they rescue people who become lost around the desert. However, those who commit "wicked" acts they often just kill. In general they wander around in robes and masks being good guy Tusken Raiders. Or just Tuskens? Something like that.

So, they're naturally uglier but slightly stronger and tougher than normal humans. Once again, they're just S.D.C. creatures, and have various survival adaptations (nightvision, resistance to weather, a dowsing sense, etc.). However, they give off radiation which can be hazardous to others in the long-term unless they dress up in environmental armor. They get wilderness skills and a truly pathetic number of other skills. Their big deal feature is that they get a random mutation, and then another for each 6 levels they have. Alternately, they can have the powerset of one "or two" magic or psychic classes, which is an oddly loose way to phrase things. Two classes worth of power? Why not?

Of course, random mutation means having a % table to roll on, including such highlights as:
  • You get super psionic powers but a transparent skull to display your psychic brain.
  • No psionics, but an immunity to psionics. Or immunity to magic.
  • "Indestructible Beauty" where you're a minor mega-damage being with exceptional looks.
  • Extremely radioactive where you can kill people in hours of exposure, but you can see a wider range of light and sense radiation (including the power sources of many Rifts mecha and power armor).
  • Stuff like supernatural strength or endurance or mega-damage.
  • Various specific spell sets like fire, "mystic hunter", "holy one", etc.
The fact that they need to level up to level 6+ to get pretty potent means they're not really worth the drawbacks, unless you can weasel getting two different whammy-casting O.C.C.s for the price of one.

Lyn-Srial R.C.C.
By Chris Kornmann & Kevin Siembieda

These are the same golden four-armed bird goody two-shoes and four-gloves from earlier, and this is their generic skill package in case you're not not interested in playing the cool Lyn-Srial. They're flat-out better than humans in all attributes, particularly with their high mental endurance, affinity, and beauty. They can fly, of course, are decent mega-damage creatures, have super-senses, can glow, can get some basic cloud magic (with more depending on their intelligence score). They get lore and wilderness skills, chiefly, and a slightly below average skills.

But you're not going to play them unless you lack the attribute scores to be anything else, so we can move on.

Lyn-Srial Sky-Knight R.C.C.

The dashes are where you find the justice.

So these are golden birdmen jedi, who protect others, destroy evil, dispense justice and wisdom (in not necessarily that order), and put a stop to despots and tyrants. But the Coalition's still around, so get to work, birdguys! So, they get extra combat bonuses, less lore and more fight, and slightly fewer skill picks. They get some basic combat and movement Cloud Magic, all of the War and Peace categories, and can choose one more spell of any type except Creation for every level they have (including the first). While not overwhelming on a basic level, Cloud Magic can potentially be pretty strong and makes them into very solid combatants... if they pick the good ones. Their high attribute requirements mean that only 14% of Lyn-Srial players can qualify for this class.

Lyn-Srial Cloudweaver R.C.C.

The generic cleric / priest sort, cloudweavers are supposed to be wise people and healers that sometimes back up sky-knights. We're told that "55%" of female Lyn-Srial become cloudweavers. So, they get similar skills to the basic Lyn-Srial, mild combat bonuses, and immunity to fear. They also get all Clouds of Defense, Travel, and Creation, and two spells per level. However, they can't take any War Clouds. And... that's all, they're just flat better than playing a regular Lyn-Srial. However, despite 55% of female Lyn-Srial supposedly becoming cloudweavers, only 12% of players running Lyn-Srial will qualify, because Rifts is-




Remember The Pitt?. I think Scott Johnson does too.

Mountain Giants

So, these are 10'-12' hulks that wander around the wilderness as savage hunters. They're extremely territorial, and will eat people for food or just to freak out their foes in a fight. But it's cool. They like kids and dog boys for some reason. Most people believe they're some rogue creation of Lone Star, but-

Rifts World Book 14: New West posted:

According to Indians, Mountain Giants are also said to see spirits and will not hurt Indian Shamans, Indian Mystics or the mentally retarded.

Good to know.

Stat-wise, they're not as dumb as one might expect, with slightly lower intelligence and slightly higher affinity and mental endurance than humans... I don't know if that's intentional. They're extremely strong and tough, and are tougher than even hatching dragons. They get a number of psionic powers that let them resist various environmental conditions or see the invisible or auras. They get some mild combat bonuses and bonus attacks, and the ability to pin people on a lucky roll. They get a variety of physical and wilderness skills and only a few other choices. For some reason they speak gobbely (the goblin language, for those that have forgotten), and get a war club that does slight mega-damage... somehow?

Very generic write-up that can't decide if they're gentle and wise giants or man-eeeaters.

Next: Welcome to the Wild Wild West.


Feb 13, 2012

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

It's nice to see the Black Veil Province is just Ninja Sylvania.

Von Carsteins vs. Ninja is something that actually happens all the time, too, because of those goddamn rats.

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