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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ninja Crusade: Empire's Reign - Imperial Party Time

Okay! First up, we have a pistolier lady to make. We will go with...Tsukiya Momoko, because that's a name that popped into my head for some reason.

For step 1, Wood: Youthful. Momoko is an energetic, naive and hyperactive sort who comes off as a big kid sometimes. For step 2, we decide that before she joined the army, she was a farmer who helped her family harvest the crops. She's still not really used to the high society circles that the Black Smokes are sometimes required to be in. Step 3: Motivation. Still, she was never particularly happy with being stuck at home, so Momoko signed on with the army so she could see the world. Nature: Adventure. Now we determine what she did before getting promoted to the Smokes. She served, I'm going to say, as a guard to traders. Normally, that's mercenary work, but the Army sometimes gets that stuff done for staunch Imperial allies. Mercenary: Trader. Her excellent work here and adept use of the simple gun she was given earned her a job with the Black Smokes. She quickly befriended Sugai Chiemi, a miner who now supplies Momoko with most of the materials she needs for her gunpowder, but got on the bad side of Asano Daishi, who doesn't like her cheerfulness and tendency to undercut his more frightening demeanor. Lastly, we get 6 levels of Martial Training/Favored Tactics. The Black Smokes get Ranged, Eagle, Wildcat and Alchemy as options, plus Way of the Gun. She can fire really well in darkness and poor visibility, is very hard to knock down, and specializes in using two pistols and making her own smoke to cover her movements.

Tsukiya Momoko, Black Smoke
Element: Wood
Gift: +1 Athletics when playing games or taking part in physical competitions.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma whenever child-like naivety or lack of respect hurts you in some way.
Gift: +1 Travel when going over rough terrain.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when your behavior in high society has a negative effect.
Gift: +1 Travel when going somewhere you've never been before.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when you go off the beaten path and it ends badly.
Gift: +1 Deception when making a distraction.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when your eagerness hinders the group.
Gift: +1 Marksman when using guns at Close range, +1 to Dodge, +1 Initiative.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when you are left defenseless due to your reliance on your guns.
Skills: Athletics 4, Deception 1, Fighting 1, Fortitude 2, Holistics 1, Intimidation 1, Marksman 4, Might 2, Perception 1, Perform 3, Persuade 2, Speed 3, Survival 2, Travel 2
Ally: Sugai Chiemi (Survival)
Rival: Asano Daishi (Intimidation)
Fighting Styles: Ranged (Firing Bland 2), Wildcat (Lands on Feet 1), Way of the Gun (Double Barrel 2, Smokey Aftermath 1)

Her Engineer friend is going to be Sagara Kyosuke. Step 1: He's a Collector. Since he was a kid, Kyosuke just can't throw anything away if he thinks it's interesting. He worked with his parents as an architect, learning how to build and make beautiful homes. He joined the army because...well, he thought it was is patriotic duty. He doesn't really care about the ninja, he just loves the Empire. While going through the Imperial College, he served as a combat medic, diagnosing and helping the soldiers brought in as part of his anatomical training. Now, he is a full Engineer, and more than ready to use his skills for science and the Emperor. For combat styles, he gets access to Ranged, Paired, Trap Master and Snake, plus Ingenuity. In combat, besides his mastery of engineering, he relies on poisons and thrown weapons - sometimes both at once. He has befriending Matsumura Tagane, making him his prosthetic hand, but often butts heads with the egotist Hirane Goto.

Sagara Kyosuke, Engineer
Element: Earth
Gift: +1 Perception to spot something missing or out of place.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when you just can't resist going after another addition to your collection, regardless of the danger it puts you in.
Gift: +1 Perform when selling your wares or showing your skill to a crowd.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when something you made is used against you or the group.
Gift: +1 Discipline when doing something above and beyond the call of duty to complete a mission.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when you can't neglect your duty, even when doing so causes complications for the group.
Gift: +1 Intuition to treat something you've never seen before.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when your pride causes conflict within or for the group.
Gift: +2 Crafts when dealing with something mechanical. You can spend 2 Karma to get a hint from the GM about how you might ingeniously get around an apparently impossible obstacle.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when you are presented with a task or mystery that consumes your concentration regardless of what you need to focus on.
Skills: Crafts 5, Discipline 2, Fortitude 3, Holistics 4, Intuition 2, Knowledge 3, Marksman 2, Perception 2, Perform 1, Speed 2, Stealth 2, Survival 2
Fighting Styles: Ingenuity 2 (Black Powder, Clockwork Devices, Civil Engineering, Equipment and Gear), Snake (Poison Striking 2), Ranged (Living Missiles 2)
Ally: Matsumura Tagane (Marksman)
Rival: Hirane Goto (Perception)

Now, the worst possible Iron Breaker, Liu Kojiro. Step 1: He's devious. He fights dirty and is happy to cheat and double cross. He grew up to become a marauding bandit. He joined the army for a simple reason: he likes hurting people. In the army, he became a skilled enforcer for his commander, if a bit rebellious. Still, he never turned his back on causing harm. He got picked as an Iron Breaker for his wilderness tracking skills and general lack of conscience. He gets access to Blunt, Chain,. Dragon, Trap Master and Black Bones. He works well with his old partner in crime, Choshi Miko, but hates the moralizer Gensai Zetsumei. He has personally enslaved Horuma, a Celestial Rooster of some skill.

Liu Kojiro, Iron Breaker
Element: Water
Gift: +1 Fighting for unsportsmanlike attacks.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when a cheat gone wrong causes a problem in the future.
Gift: +1 Intimidation when conscripting services or items.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when you choose your own personal gain or safety over the group.
Gift: +1 Athletics for the rest of the Battle whenever you incapcitate an enemy.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when you choose not to incapacitate an enemy and it comes back to haunt you.
Gift: +1 Intimidation to interrogate an enemy.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when you disobey an order to your detriment.
Gift: You never need food or water. You get +2 Survival for tracking, or +3 against a Celestial Animal. You get +(Rank) against all Celestial Animal abilities.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when your lack of compassion and basic human decency causes issues for the group.
Skills: Athletics 2, Crafts 1, Discipline 1, Deception 3, Empathy 1, Fighting 4, Fortitude 3, Intimidation 3, Knowledge 1, Marksman 1, Might 3, Persuade 1, Stealth 2, Survival 3, Travel 1
Fighting Styles: Black Bones 1, Dragon (Master of Surroundings 2), Chain (Chain Dance 1, Flying Chains 2)
Ally: Choshi Miko (Stealth)
Rivals: Gensai Zetsumei (Perception), Horuma (Intimidation)

And the guy who is desperately trying to make Kojiro not be the worst person, Hina, a monk. She was noted for her wisdom from a very young age. She has been a monk since childhood, raised by the Enlightened. She volunteered to help fight the ninja due to her strong conviction that they needed to be punished for the death of the tamashi. Now, she seeks out the tamashi's killer as her sole real goal in the war. The Imperials mostly use her as a champion in battle, leading charges. She can learn any Animal style, plus Reach and Portents. She is quite close to Onishi Shizue, her cousin, but deeply distrusts Koyanagi Yaeko, who she feels is too close to the ninja.

Hina, Enlightened
Element: Water
Gift: +1 Intuition to randomly come up with correct common knowledge.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when completely inaccurate but truthful-sounding information leads you or your squad into danger.
Gift: +1 Fortitude to remain unmoving for long periods.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when you choose observance of your code of behavior over safety.
Gift: +1 Travel when traveling closer to the goal of your quest.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when taking actions that take oyu a step backward from your goal.
Gift: +1 Fortitude vs poison.
Trigger: Gain 1 Karma when you share your truth and it causes conflict.
Skills: Athletics 3, Discipline 3, Empathy 3, Fortitude 2, Fighting 4, Holistics 2, Intuition 2, Knowledge 2, Might 1, Persuade 2, Speed 2, Stealth 3, Travel 1
Fighting Style: Mantis (Mantis Feasts Well 1), Bear (Angry Mother PRotects the Young 1)
Jutsu: Path of the Body (Diamond Finger Technique), Path of the Mind (Linked Minds Meditation), Path of the Spirit (Ki Strike, Knowing the Soul)
Balance: 2
Ally: Onishi Shizue (Might)
Rival: Koyanagi Yaeko (Perform)

Next time: Mass Combat rules! Also, Mass Combat rules.


Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ninja Crusade: Empire's Reign - How To Fight An Army

Mass combat is not actually frequently needed - most Ninja Crusade stuff is fairly small scale. But when you need army on army action, the game has you covered without having to care about what random soldier HP values are. Step one, both armies are assigned a Threat ranking, ranging from Pitiful to Unstoppable. Generally, you don't want to be on the low end of the scale. To determine the armies' Threat, you first assume both start as Moderate, the central value. You then upgrade the larger force one step, to Fearsome. If the smaller force is half the size of the larger, the smaller force is downgraded to Minor. If it is a tenth the size of the larger, it is instead downgraded to Pitiful. After that, you decide which force is better-equipped. That force goes up one step. Higher Threat is usually better, except in one situation. Mass Combat initiative is not numeric - the lowest Threat force goes first, period. They have less to manage.

At this point, both sides declare the Stakes - that is, what their goal is in the mass combat. 'To survive', 'to slaughter the enemy', whatever. Obviously this has to make sense for the size of the conflict, but that's all that limits it. Then, you come up with your Compromised Stake. This is a lesser version of the Stakes which assumes you take significant losses or have to make major sacrifices. During any Clash action, you can choose to take your Compromised Stake and withdraw. Even if you fail, this costs you a Threat rank, but if you scceed, you get the Compromised Stake and pull out of the battle. The enemy can pursue, but that'd be a new mass combat, with new Threat ratings and so on.

Mass Combat has two stats: Tactical Might (for clever plots, battle tactics, surprise and other mental variables) and Strategic Might (physical forces, quality arms, support lines, etc.) Effectively, these are a force's Psyche and Health, respectively. Your Tactical Might is your Threat Rank Power (there's a chart) plus twice the commander's Intuition. Strategic Might is your Threat Rank Power plus twice the commander's Fighting. Because Threat can shift during battle, this can and will shift your mass combat healthbars around.

However, mass combat is unlike normal combat in that there is the Buildup phase. This is the period of preparation before the battle actually begins. There is either No, Short, Medium or Long Buildup. No Buildup means that you hear about the battle no more than an hour before it starts, and you get no chance to prepare. Short Buildup is within an hour to a day of notice, and has time for one Buildup Action. Medium Buildup is a day to a week of prep time, and has time for two Buildup Actions. Long Buildup is over a week and has time for three. To make a Buldup Action, you declare what you're doing to help prepare your side for the battle and make a roll as normal. The successes become bonus dice you can use during the battle as needed. On a Boost, you cah choose to either upgrade your force's Threat by one rank, decrease the enemy force's Threat by on rank or get surprise in the first clash, and have to explain how your preparations help with this. A critical failure gives the enmy a Boost.

Every turn in mass combat, there are two events: a Clash and a Spotlight Action. The Clash represents the macro-scale battle. The Spotlight is for individual heroics. Each turn, the player commanding the force chooses which member of their team gets the Spotlight that turn. This happens before the Clash, and can influence it. Spotlights are normal actions, but have larger scale of narration - you're narrating an entire event in the battle, which may well involve more than just you, but only one person gets to make an action roll. Instead of causing damage or otherwise calculating the mechanical effects, however, the successes apply to the Clash roll as bonus dice. Boosts can increase or decrease one of the sides' Threat rank by 1, and you explain how that happens.

The Clash is rolled by the commanders. If the first Clash was a surprise, however, only the surprising side can act in that Clash. Further Clashes cannot be surprise. All Clash actions are done as normal for combat, using the stats of the commanders. However, the higher Threat rank force gets +2 to the roll - and goes second, as noted. Support modifiers and tool modifiers cannot be applied - your only modifier is the Spotliught action. The Difficulty is always 1+(difference in Threat rank), in either direction - it's hard to damage a significantly bigger force, but just as hard to take down underdogs fighting to survive. A Boost either adds or removes Threat rank, and damage is dealt to either Tactical Might or Strategic Might. If either hits 0, the force cannot fight any more, but that doesn't mean they're dead or taken out. It means they're in a strategic situation that is untenable and can no longer meaningfully oppose the larger force. At that point, individuals can keep acting, but the Stakes have been won or lost. The defeated group does not get their Stakes, and the winning group does.

Commanders take most mass combat actions, and are usually the formal leader of the force involved. Sometimes, however, a character will be the de facto leader by shining more. That's on you to decide. If a leader is killed, the force must take a full action to appoint a new leader, which leaves them very vulnerable for that turn. This is why ninja like to take out leadership rather than fight directly, and that's why the Empire heavily defends its commanders and trains potential replacements.

You can, obviously, continue to use Dynamic Actions in mass combat, they're just narratively different. Likewise, you can take advantage of the environment - it's just much larger in scale.

The book ends with an adventure focusing on the Imperial PCs attempting to frame ninja for a murder in a small village, while avoiding the ninja that are there and making sure the propaganda is convincing. It's not easy, and takes a lot of skill. It primarily will involve setting up a fake murder scene rather than actually doing a murder, convincing the village it's the ninjas' fault - especially the three major leaders of the village community - and then, once they hate the ninja, actually taking down the ninja team if possible. The ninja must not seem to be heroes or martyrs. Also, ensure the Empire cannot be implicated in the frame-up, under any circumstance.

The End!

So, we have left: Land of Seed and Blossom (weirdo creepy foreign ninja), Firebrands (Blazing Dancers and Virtuous Body Gardeners), Truth and Lies (Will of Iron and Hidden Strands of Fate) and Clan Pack #1 (three minor clans).

Nov 1, 2012

Just keep on walkin'.
Weirdo creepy foreign ninja!

Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo
Seed and Blossom is also my vote.

May 27, 2013

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

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ninja Crusade: Land of Seed and Blossom - Creepy Weirdo Ninja Forest Land

The Land of Seed and Blossom is exotic, dangerous and very much unlike the Izou Empire. It was conquered some four centuries ago and has been mocked as weak and cowardly ever since, but its ninja remain terrifying in their power over nature, life and death. The claims that a Blossom ninja can kill a healthy man with a single touch are not far exaggerated, but the Land of Seed and Blossom has always been a peaceful place...until recently. The local people not hate their ninja, certainly not the way many in the Empire do. They embrace them. The ninja are looked to for leadership and expertise. They can often go without need for disguise, in those areas not ruled by the occupying Izou. However, the Izou stranglehold has been tightening, as the Emperor tries to weed out their ninja, and it's led to a general dissent among the Blossom and even a desire for uprising.

The Blossom ninja clans also aren't usually at each other's throats, again unlike the Izou. They work together for the most part, like a family - albeit a rather dysfunctional family. The reason is in the origins of the two nations. The Izou Empire was born in blood and battle, and is ruled over by a single absolute leader. They are used to competing for power, to rule by an arbitary and unpredictable authority. The Blossom clans were born out of need, to help preserve the Blossom people and their culture. They help to run the government and the nation. To the Blossom, ninja are teachers and shamans that keep the nation balanced, spiritually speaking. Their history, as they tell it, is one of Seven Catastrophes, each birthing a ninja clan.

Legends of the Catastrophes are passed down in traditional stories and are the basis of Immortalism, the central religion of the Land of Seed and Blossom. This history is not one of exact dates, but always is in the same order, no matter who tells it. The First Catastrophe was the Invention of Man. At the dawning of time, humans crept out of the se and lived as wild beasts - the worst of beasts, in fact. They murdered each other, ate each other, thought of little but survival and the pleasure of the kill. In their infancy, they threatened to destroy themselves. This was solved by the coming to the Land of Lu Dongbin, the first Immortal. Legend says that his skin was a deep, crimson red, and that he had many arms which wielded many weapons, and eyes of diamond. He had power over the fires of life, mesmerizing those humans that met him. He could turn mountains into crystal with a mere touch. He was a god to these humans, and he showed them a look at a new world.

Lu Dongbin's first great act was to implant a mystical jewel into the forehead of each human, opening their third eye to the flow of chi. This gave them language and emotional stability, inventing the ideas of tradition and culture. Under Lu Dongbin's teachings, the BLossom people established territory, invented education and etiquette and became somewhat civilized. Some refused to kneel to the Immortal, rejecting civilization and peace. These people fled west, it is said, to found the lands that would become Izou and the Land of Five Blades, so violent and conflicted. Once Lu Dongbin was certain he had taught the Blossom people all his most vital lessons, he left to find adventure. He did not, however, leave his people alone and unguided. He imbused a chosen few with a bit of his divine power. These would be the first ninja in the world, the Shouka Clan. Theirs was the futy of embedding the Birthstone into the forehead of every newborn, a tradition that has survived to this day. These ninja are now known as the Crystal Bearers, the bringers of Lu Dongbin's blessings.

The Second Catastrophe was the Plague of Trees. The people became confident and polite, but they found a land ot the east, the Untamed Wilds, which were full of trees and wild beasts. This was fine, when humans too were beasts, but now, they needed food, shelter and protection from the deadly jungle predators. The beasts of the jungle killed man each day, and starvation killed more. It was enough to drive people from the Land, but many were far too sick even to travel, due to toxins and poisonous fruits from the Untamed Wilds. Thus came the second Immortal, Iron Crutch Li. He appeared to be a man with dark skin, who walked with an iron crutch. He hide among the people, pretending to fear the wild and helping to care for the sick and hurt. He was touched by the unity of the Blossom people in these terrible conditions, and so he revealed his true nature - a man of bright green skin, with a beard of vines and hair of autumn leaves.

Iron Crutch Li taught the Blossom how to live as one with the land, how to cultivate food in the jungle and to carve away the dangerous places. He taught them agriculture and how to use it. He also taught them how to found cillages and cities, turning the Land of Seed and Blossom into a nation rather than a collection of disparate tribes. He took on apprentices, teaching them the arts of making potions and the pursuit of immortalty. Thus were born the Bamboo Alchemists, who went on to cure many diseases and began a golden age of prosperity. He also told the ninja that more immortals would come, when the people again had to be set on the right path.

The Third Catastrophe was the Culling of the Lambs. With peace and happiness came the invention of Caste and a boom in childbirth. Having a large family was seen as a sign of wealth and status, with some having as many as twenty children. Due to the medical advances of Iron Crutch Li, the people lived longer and had no fear of death. There was a danger of imbalance and overpopulation, which would ruin the Land. Thus came Zhongli Quan, whose skin was black as oil and whose face was painted with a skull. He appeared in the center of the Land in a great explosion. He told the Blossom that they had wasted the bounty they had been given. He whirled his fan, which was made of fire, and in one wave he destroyed an entire city and all who lived within.

Zhongli Quan wandered the land, striking those that would take from others to become stronger. He knew that honor could not be gained by draining the land of its resources. Instead, he called on the people to practice filial piety. They must respect age above all - for the eldest would have the most descendants, as their children bore children. Yet with this respect must be a law: no parents should have more than two children at any given time - only once their children had grown to raise their own families could more children be had. The eldest man and eldest woman would be at the top of this hiearchy, leading the government. Zhongli Quan did not kill alone. He found a man, Yakyubyo, whom he entrusted with the duty of culling the unworthy. This man and his Kouhei Clan were given the power of disease, should another purge ever be needed. Thus was the clan of Yakyubyo's Pox founded, with the best of all warriors. Fear of them was enough to teach the Blossoms temperance in reproduction.

The Fourth Catastrophe was the Calming of the Dead. Life had returned to normal, but the people were fearful. They had buried so many dead in the wake of Zhongli Quan's wrath and the aggression of Yakyubyo's Pox. The ground overflowed with death, the land stinking of rot and pestilence. Perhaps draining the life from the earth or the hungle, some of the bodies rose by night to cause horror and chaos. The ninja fought these zombies, but this was only a temporary solution. It was an enemy that the Crystal Bearers could not negotiate with, that the Bamboo Alchemists could not cure and that the Yakyubyo's Pox could not destroy.

Thus came Zhang Guo, who rode in backwards upon his white mule, playing a lute. He had no teeth, no pupils in his eyes and he spoke only in a whisper. It is said that he rode his mule through a field of the dead and was left untouched by their grasps. Thus, he cam eto put order to what was broken, calming the dead with his magic song. He taught the Blossom the proper funeral rites - more than just burying the dead or leaving them to be devoured by beasts. He used his necromantic power to play a song that sent the dead back to their eternal sleep. He called for those willing to keep watch over the dead, founding the Phantom Voices. These ninja he taught the death rites to and spread them through the Land to oversee funerals and dispose of the dead. Thus, the Land was cleansed of death and the future made brighter.

The Fifth Catastrophe was the Poisoned Bodies. Decades came and went in peace, but the Land was made insular. The Blossom people slowly began to look outside their own world, to see what other nations had to offer. To ensure their safety, the Elders sent forth emissaries to other cultures. Meanwhile, many outsiders came to visit the Land and experience its joys. Somewhere in this time, a young boy named Fa contracted a wasting disease from one of these foreigners. It is commonly believed that this disease was caused by the Slithering Gods, given their ambitions and proximity, but there is little proof. The Bamboo Alchemists could find no cure for this sickness, for it was too strong for them. It soon spread across the Land, killing thousands. Without help, the Land would be doomed, for the people had no resistance to this plague.

When things were at their worst, a woman appeared. She was the fifth Immortal, LAdy He Xiangu, who was beautiful and fair of skin, with long red robes, and she carried a lotus flower. She demanded to meet the first carrier of what was called the Fa Disease. She took the boy and kissed his Birthstone, filling with magic which cured him easily. However, to cure the entire Land was too much even for an Immortal, so she chose certain women, honing their purity of body and spirit that they too might make the cure to Fa Disease within their chi. She granted mastery over the blood, forming the Sisterhood of Blood, and when she was finished, she walked into the Ouka River and vanished. It was in this time that the Bamboo Herbalists broke off from the Bamboo Alchemists, leaving the Land for the Izou. Any other clan would have been very weakened, but there had always been many Alchemists and they lost no apparent power in the split.

The Sixth Catastrophe was the Loss of Joy. This came when the Izou were no longer content with their borders. Their power grew such that the Land could not resist them. War spread across the world, as the Empire attacked all of its neighbors at once. The Blossom stood strong and were able to push the invaders back for a time, using walls of wood and crystal and wielding plague, blood and death. The people rejoiced, confident that the ninja could always protect them, and for years, there was no sign of further aggression. No one saw it coming when the Land of Five Blades and the Izou worked together to attack. The power of the ninja was nearly halved in an instant, and many cities and monuments were destroyed in the battles - particularly the Seiseki Temples, where once the Birthstone Imbuing ceremonies had been held.

It was not long before the Elders were forced to surrender. The Izou and Five Blades armies occupied several cities and sectioned off much of hte land, and there was nothing even the ninja could do to stop them. Lan Caihe, the Sixth Immortal, came son after - but in secret, and not with intent to call the attention of the enemy. They chose instead to help the people. Caihe appeared as human, but entirely asexual, with neither male nor female features. The spirits of the people were at their lowest, and Lan Caihe taught them that they must always celebrate their culture, despite any failures or sadness. Born of their teachings were the Splendid Chameleons. Lan Caihe taught the ninja to manipulate their bodies in many ways, to amuse the people. The ninja traveled the lands, bringing happiness in a time of despair. The Izou thought their spirits broken, but they were wrong.

The Seventh Catastrophe came a mere 200 years ago - the Wild Infestation. A species of insect, the suu, came out of the Untamed Wilds and attacked the Land. Search parties were sent to destroy suu nests, but none were ever found. The suu devoured vegetation and stored food quicly. The nation was blighted, and many died of starvation or turned to terrible acts for a taste of food. The Emperor called away many of his armies for lack of food, supplementing the occupation with Five Blades warriors.

Han Xiang, the Seventh Immortal, emerged from the wilds. He was a man composed entirely of suu insects, and he gave power over the suu to a single family, the first Immortal ever to choose only one bloodline for their gifts. His appearance was not to teach a lesson, however. His goal was simple: incite unrest in the Land. The people needed to drive out death and hunger and oppression, but they were too beaten to do so alone. With control of the suu, however, they might do it. It is said that this would be the final gift to the ninja, and that the seventh Immortal split himslef into suu, to hide within the bodies of those who would be the Grim Creepers. Thus, the planning could begin for a new world.

The Eighth Catastrophe is coming. Change is slow in the Land, even with the new clan born two centuries ago. The Izou remain strong in occupation, as the Elders have commanded peace. Both male and female Elder were descended from the crystal Bearers, and have always favored nonviolence...until the Elder male, Ge Hong, died peacefully in his sleep. A new Elder was needed, and after an exhaustive search, one of Yakyubyo's Pox came forward to claim the title. This man, Sunzi, pushes for uprising constantly. To him, it is necessary to remain a nation at all. The other Elder, Mei Chin, preached peace and softens his words, leaving him unable to effective implement change. However, Sunzi turned many against this peace...and eventually, Mei Chin was assassinated.

The new female Elder, Wang Anyi of the Splendid Chameleons, agrees with Sunzi that the people must rebel against the Izou. Together, they have given word to begin preparation to evict the Izou army from Seed and Blossom. This, the Blossom Uprising, has put the land into a great state of change. The Blossom ninja are not hiding from a hunting army - they are waging a guerrilla war against an occupying force. They favor surprise attacks, bombings and other guerrilla tactics. So far, however, the Izou have proved too numerous and difficult to defeat outright. The Blossom are now awaiting an eighth Immortal, to cement the Uprising as correct and to bless them, that it might succeed in cleansing the land of enemies.

You might think that the Blossom Uprising and the Lotus Coalition would be allies against the Izou army. However, the Blossom people are proud and rather xenophobic. To them, an Izou ninja is no different than an Izou soldier. The Uprising is to cleanse all outsiders from their land - every last one. Not only this, but the Lotus have noticed the Uprising and have been using it as a decoy to draw attention away from their efforts. They have planted evidence exaggerating the number of soldiers and assassinations of the Uprising, forcing the Emperor to commit more troops to the Land of Seed and Blossom. This has allowed them to launch several surprise attacks on the Izou successfully, at the cost of the Blossom. That's not to say they could never work toegether - but it would take a lot of patience to reach a national-scale alliance. Otherwise, it's all on the individual. Even the Sisterhood of Blood, the most peaceful of the Blossom ninja clans, has had to deal with bloody ninja conflict on the Izou border for centuries - no one's exactly looking at any Izou as friends.

Blossom ninja are, to a great extent, chosen from birth. as the Birthstone Imbuing ceremony is performed by the Crystla Bearers, a shimmer can be seen in the jewel if the child is destined to be ninja. The brighter the shimmer, the more powerful they will be. Typically, such a child is left with their family, but watched over by ninja as they grow - usually the same Crystal Bearers that implanted the Birthstone. When they come of age, they are given a chance to join one of the seven clans. No Blossom would dare refuse. If a ninja offers power, you take it. Period. Gifts given by the Immortals are rare, and to refuse it to be cursed by the clan that offered the gift. A Crystal Bearer might rmeove your ability to manipulate chi, while Yakyubyo's Pox might kill you.

However, if the Birthstone shows enough power, the ninja may ask for the child straight away. Parents are heavily encouraged, traditionally, to give away their child. The child is never lied to - they are told that the Immortals ahve chosen them and they have been taken from their normal life. When they become adults, they may choose to seek out and reconnect with their birth parents, knowing that they have received the best possible preparation for the wars to come.

From the moment a ninja joins a clan, they have a new, expansive family. They leave their past and usually their birth surname behind, taking the clan name or an entirely new one. Like the Izou, the BLossom ninja follow a master/student relationship, and most teachers never take on more than three students at a time - there are no sensei teaching entire villages. Students, to the Blossom, are family first and ninja trainee second. They must be given as much love and attention as your own child. Students are often housed with their teacher, doing errands in exchange for meals and training. Secondly, there just aren't a ton of ninja, compared to before the coming of the Izou. There aren't that many students available today, as many Blossom are killed or begin to believe the Imperial propaganda, that their own civilization is primitive and backwards.

For the Blossoms, community and family are vital. Even before a child knows their own name, they understand their place in the family. Most Blossoms see themselves as part of a larger organism - the community. Travelers often find that the Blossoms lack individuality, compared to the Izou...but it comes from the way the nations were bor, One was born on the backs of the conquered, the other on the bones of its own people. For the Blossom, togetherness is what keeps them alive. Knowing that family and the elders are the most important keeps them going. Family, as they define it, is more than blood. Your friends are an extended family, your teachers, everyone in your village is, to a greater or lesser extent, your family. Beyond that, your province, then the nation. You are a vital piece in the puzzle that is the Land of Seed and Blossom. This internal loyalty means that even the most antagonistic clans have a bond of unity that does not exist among the Izou ninja or even Izou society as a whole. You squabble with family, sure, but ultimately you aren't true enemies.

Immortalism is a very powerful faith among the Blossoms. They go to shrines to pray to the seven Immortals that are known and to pray for the coming of the Eighth, perhaps final, Immortal. These shrines are sacred, kept in every village, and travelers have been killed for even leaning on the buildings for too long. Sacred places must be respected. It's not just faith, either. The tradition of imbuing the Birthstone grants a bit of the spirit of the Immortals to your soul. Even the least of the Blossom citizens will, if not killed, live to well into their 130th year or more before they die, and on average they tend to live about 30% longer than any other land's people. With this age, they know, comes knowledge. Blossom society respects age above all else, and they believe that age brings wisdom. Crimes against the elderly are punished far more harshly than other crimes, especially if the victim is influential. This is also why the Land is ruled over by the eldest man and eldest woman still living. Blossom ninja can expect to, on average, live to around 160 - or twice that, for Bamboo Alchemists. This means that ninja are often seen as agents of the Immortals and revered by the people. If a ninja needs food or a bed, they can get it. They must be careful not to take advantage too much, however, for fear of turning hte people against Immortalism and towards the Izou.

The idea of Class as a hierarchy in the way the Izou use it does not exist within the Blossoms. They believe that all are born equal, with ninja only slightly ahead due to chi manipulation. It is on the individual to determine what Caste they will become, rising or falling over the course of their life rather than being a single Class from birth. If your parents rose to a high Caste, however, you are expected to at least match and ideally surpass them if possible. Falling short of your predecessors brings shame to your family and friends. This drives most people to at least try, but also prompts those born to lower caste families to try and remain at that level, so they do not overburden their children. Ninja, too, are bound by caste. They are at a slight remove from society, sure, which prevents their birth families from being dishonored by their actions, but they must still better themselves or be seen as weak by their clan.

The Blossom recgonize six Castes. First is the Gatherer caste. Every citizen is born a Gatherer, and most do not remain so unless they are children or have no goals whatsoever. The dutiy of a Gatherer is to see to basic necessities - farming, basic commerce and gathering resources. They are rarely left to do so alone, and are not seen as adults. A physically adult person that remains a Gatherer is usually seen as crippled, mentally deficient or criminally lacking in motivation unless they have a very strong reason. Ninja of the Gatherer caste are almost certianly children, as the clans push their students to excel early. Those that cannot make it beyond this Caste are doomed to be poor ninja at best, and Yakyubyo's Pox has been known to just kill such students.

The next caste is the Family Bearer caste. Family Bearers are adults by societal tradition, having passed a series of trials to prove responsibility, integrity, strength and ingenuity. Children tend to prepare for these trials around age 13, and the actual tests vary by region and are influenced by local Immortal legends. In Grim Creeper land, for example, a child may have to put on a glove full of fire ants to resist the poison, while a Phantom Voice village may require them go on a spirit quest into the forest, with only ghosts to guide them home. Once the trials are complete, you are an adult and a Family Bearer. You may now own property and work without constant supervision, as well as get married and have kids. When you get married, you will be given a bit of land and some cattle. Marriage and having kids is heavily encouraged but not mandatory. All ninja are expected to at least reach the Family Bearer caste.

Some citizens remain Family Bearers forever - basically, peasants. Some, however, are not complacent, and aspire to the Hunter caste. Being a Hunter is more than just going out with a spear - you can train for years to try and hit the level of a Hunter. Typically, one must prove triumphant over much larger prey than yourself and share it with your village in a big celebration. Hunters always carry a trophy of their first kill, and can easily be spotted by that trophy. Many believe that one cannot be a true warrior until they reach the Hunter caste, and the skills taught to reach the caste are very useful for a ninja. Yakyubyo's Pox is noted for its very large number of Hunters.

To leave the Land of Seed and Blossom, you must rise to Adventurer caste. You must have succeeded on several large hunts to prove yourself. Once you do, you may now wander as you like in the Land and beyond. Your Birthstone also sparkles to show others that your journey has no destination. Leaving the Land is a huge deal for a Blossom, exhilirating and terrifying. In another land, you have no family, few friends, and must represent all Blossoms. Some choose to go, but many never do, instead only going to different parts of the Land, or into the Untamed Wilds...ideally with a ninja guide, given the dangers there. Ninja of the Adventurer caste tend to be worldly and hard to trick, and often more tolerant of Izou ninja than most, or at least less likely to start fights with them. Understanding other people is a vital Adventurer skill, after all.

Once one has become experienced and wise, one can reach for the Advisor caste, reputed to be what Adventurers become when their journey is finished. Many, however, skip directly to Advisor - it's not hard, if your life has been eventful. Advisors have the duty of guiding the young. They are the generals, strategists and community leaders. They ensure all proper rituals are observed, including the Birthstone tradition and the rites of passage to rise or fall in Caste. This is as high as you can go if you are not the eldest person in your community, and it's a highly respected Caste. Many ninja strive to reach this level, earning a position of power in their clan.

The Chief caste belongs exclusively to the eldest in a community, who rules over the village, town or city. They answer only to the Elders...and there is a price. The Chief can rarely live a normal life. The people are constantly around them, adoring and serving them, and they muts create a legacy that their children must strive to live up to. Chiefs often make loose alliances with their neighbors, but can easily be rivals, too. They look to their Advisors to help them choose how to act and how to gain and control territory, but ultimately, decisions are their responsibility. They trade the freedom of trael for a leadership role.

It cannot, however, be said that the Izou have not influenced the Blossoms. They've been around for 750 years, and run the nation for almost half that time. Other nations often see the Blossoms as cowards, having peacefully surrendered in 326 IE, after a decade of war. However, the Blossoms are proud that they, alone of all nations, have never been the aggressor in any way whatsoever. For a long time, the Izou and Blossom ninja were always fighting each other, and this is one of the many reasons that hte Blossoms don't especially care to help the Lotus Coalition. After all, in the invasion of the Land, it was the Izou ninja who did the worst to the people. While the Blossoms have been strong, over all, in retaining their beliefs and culture, many have come to follow the Izou belief system. More and more children have no faith in the Immortals and little respect for their elders. Some families have even chosen not to have their children implanted with a Birthstone, hoping it will make the Izou soldiers treat them better.

Even the Elders' leadership has been more often figurehead than actual, as the Emperor is assumed by many to command all 'important' decisions for them. The Blossom mostly continue to look to the Elders for aid, however, and in truth the Emperor seems to care very little for the general goings-on of the people as long as his armies are still in order and the Izou still own the land. However, there has been some recent bleed of hostility towards ninja. It's one of the many reasons that the Elders and ninja decided that the Uprising's time had come - if left too much longer, the ninja might have lost the support of the people. Their goal now is to take the Land back from the Izou, using the Ninja Crusade as a distraction. Each clan has their own agenda, of course, but all agree: the Izou must be removed, once and for all, even if it means total war.

Next time: Clans of Seed and Blossom

Nov 4, 2007

zamtrios so lonely
Grimey Drawer
The Cactus People in New West are one of the best things in that book so far--which is damning with faint praise but they're just peaceful, odd-looking planties with blood that can power dark rituals and doesn't spoil. That last is a fantastic hook that I am stealing for something else later.

May 7, 2007

The Cactus people are my favorite thing in rifts, excepting possibly the time traveling capybaras

Jun 20, 2008

I have yet to see one single solitary thing in, what, 50 Rifts books that made me want to play it even a little. How do you write 50,000,000 words about a sci-fi future where all realities collide and have it come out so bland? I mean, the New West is apparently half the size of modern America and consists of nothing but:
  • bandits,
  • native Americans,
  • robot bandits,
  • robot native Americans,
  • magic bandits, and
  • magic native Americans.

People ride horses! There's a 13 + 2d4% chance any given person might own a hat! Wow!

megane fucked around with this message at 23:58 on Jul 9, 2017

Feb 13, 2012

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

megane posted:

I have yet to see one single solitary thing in, what, 50 Rifts books that made me want to play it even a little. How do you write 50,000,000 words about a sci-fi future where all realities collide and have it come out so bland?

Having shitloads of stuff does not guarantee any of that stuff will be at all interesting.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007


I'm almost envious of your anger, these Rifts updates are flowing through my mind and leave no trace because I lost all ability to care about Simbieda's ramblings.
Don't worry, you'll join me soon.:zombie:

Jan 6, 2008

I'm sure this has been asked before but... how do people actually play Rifts? Tons of houserules to make things sort of work, or just completely straight-faced like the rules make sense?

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Darwinism posted:

I'm sure this has been asked before but... how do people actually play Rifts? Tons of houserules to make things sort of work, or just completely straight-faced like the rules make sense?

From all reports, even Seimbedia doesn't play Rifts RAW.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ninja Crusade: Land of Seed and Blossom - Yes We Are All Weirdos

One note - unlike the Izou, there aren't really any minor clans in the Land of Seed and Blossom. When your main clans are all divinely inspired and minor clans have no Immortal backing, well, that happens. The few that have sprung up either left the Land or got absorbed into another clan.

The Bamboo Alchemists are also known as the Ika Clan, the Alchemists and the Shamans. They practice Frog and Wildcat styles, and share the Way of Caring Hands with the Bamboo Herbalists. They get +1 Athletics, +1 Crafts, +1 Holistics and +1 Marksman, along with +1 Yin ki. The Ika were the second clan of Seed and Blossom, and not long after the first, the Crystal Bearers. They came from a time of war and disease, and they were the healers the people needed. They became shamans, neutral in all conflict, perfecting their healing potions. It lasted a long time, until the clan split. When the Izou came, one group of Ika decided to join them in an effort to expand their expertise and get new ingredients. The other half of the Ika chose to remain behind, having all the Untamed Wilds to explore and needing no stolen lands.

The two camps formed a rift, and the group that would become the Bamboo Herbalists left for the Izou. The remaining Ika held strong to their traditions, but also became increasingly hostile and xenophobic. Rather than thrillseekers, they took the name Bamboo Alchemists and became recluses. Now, the Alchemists have been called from hiding to aid the rest of the Blossom ninja in taking back their land. Like the Bamboo Herbalists, they have practiced body modification to prolong their lives, but they use a much different recipe. They call on the power within their Birthstones, which gives them greater insight into Immortalism. Their healing expertise is also extremely valuable if the Uprising is to succeed.

The Bamboo Alchemists primarily live in the southeastern Hougo Range of mountains, but also have small hideouts across the Land. They use any jutsu they can to protect their territories - quicksand, explosive traps, illusions, even magnetic shifts. The people in their lands are usually healthier than those of other areas because the ninja come in the night, healing them by stealth. They are still the shamans of the people, after all. In times of extreme need or unique disease, they can also be summoned by burying a mixture of bodily fluids from the diseased patient. Beyond that, they spend most of their time hiding as hermits, trying to become immortal. They meditate and drink mystic potions to strengthen their bodies, and they study combat, but primarily for self-defense. Young Alchemists begin by taking in a mixture of rare herbs to prepare them for the poisons they must take later, to increase lifespan. To become a full ninja, they must spend an entire week in meditation, despite the pains of hunger, thirst and poison. The Bamboo Herbalists still think of their cousins as potential allies, but the Bamboo Alchemists see them as deserters and traitors to the Land, and hate them beyond measure. Now, the two clans fight when they meet, mostly because the Alchemists desperately want to kill their traitorous cousins.

The Ika are of mixed views about their decision to aid the Uprising. They very much understand the desire to push out the soldiers of the Izou, whom they believe taint the land itself with their presence. However, they don't especially like working with other clans - particularly Yakyubyo's Pox, whom they see as their diametric opposite. They have not gotten along in centuries, after all. So for now, they reluctantly help, but desperately hope for the arrival of the next Immortal, who can tell them if that is actually correct or not.

The Gift of the Ika infuses their bodies with Yin, extending their lifespan and making them very flexible. They age only one year for every two years that pass due to a constant ingestion of special potions. They also get +1 Initiative, +1 Athletics for flexibility and do not need to breathe. Their Trigger is their xenophobia. The Alchemists have isolated themselves away, and they hate and fear the unknown. The party gains 1 Karma when their aversion to people and things not of the Land of Seed and Blossom becomes a major problem.

Their potential Contacts are: Oki Seishiro (Survival), a man who has whatever herb or ingredient you need...but never for free. Oye Utemaru (Discipline), a monk who stands on one leg in the ruins of his village, refusing to move until the Izou leave. No Nanami (Intimidation), a legal expert who knows how to use the Izou's own laws against them. Ika Meiji (Persuade), an Alchemist often sent into the Izou lands to trade with Herbalists, perhaps out of Elder practicality. Kanda Ruka (Travel), a village fur dealer who often spends her time on the road. Ando Io (Crafts), a warrior famous for the paintings she does in the blood of defeated Izou soldiers. Their Bonds:
  • Choose one ninja who is always trying to get you to do crazy dares and stunts.
  • Choose one ninja who doesn't seem to want to do very much in your eyes.
  • Choose one ninja who is always trying to get you to make potions for them.

The Crystal Bearers are also called the Shouka Clan, the Keepers and the Jewelers. They practice Rhino and Snake styles, along with their unique Way of Shards jutsu. They get +1 Crafts, +1 Intuition, +1 Might and +1 Perception, and their choice of +1 Yin or Yang. They are the clan that most embodies the Land of Seed and Blossom, the first ninja of the Land and the priests who ran the now-ruined Seiseki Temples. Once, every parent sought them out for the Birthstone Imbuing ceremony, which ties the child to the Land and all its people. They were the nation's most beloved ninja. When the Izou came, they were its first defenders, using their mastery of crystal to fight back. Ultimately, they failed, losing many vcillages and eventually even the Seiseki Temples. Now, the Bearers are spread thing. They still do their work, but are hunted by the Izou, who know that if the clan were to reassemble, they could easily provoke the nation into uprising.

Many citizens believe the Crystal Bearers lead the Blossom Uprising. They are incorrect. The Shouka were scattered into many small, disunited collectives, unable to gather under any banner until the Elders supported them. The Elders, until recently, believed that the Crystal Bearers gathering in number would lead to the Izou crushing everyone. Their only refuge is the ruins of the old Seiseki Temples, and those are almost always under Izou watch. Now, the Crystal Bearers serve as advisors to Yakyubyo's Pox, who are the true leaders of the Uprising.

Life as a Crystal Bearer is life in hiding. Even though their home province is one of the largest, they mostly travel in small groups or live in tiny, hidden villages. Their domain is known for crystal trees and crystal-encased fruits, used as markers to warn trespassers to turn back. Most of these areas are still around the Seiseki Ruins, but the Izou have been instructed to kill any Shouka ninja on sight. Tradition holds that the Shouka can be summoned with a doll made of crystal intertwined with the hair of a child, hung from your door. Most commonly, this is done for the Birthstone ceremony, but also to get their advice or have them perform a marriage. In secret, the Jewelers practice the deadly art of crystal control, which is another reason the Izou hunt them. They are finally growing again as a clan, however, as true patriots flock to the banner of the nation's most beloved ninja.

The Uprising represents a new chance for the Crystal Bearers. Right now, they merely advise, but they hope that by the end, they will lead. To do that, they must regain their former power and knock the Pox from their role as leaders. They hope to be the heroes of the Uprising, looking for chances to strike great blows against the Izou. They know that afterwards, another Catastrophe will surely come, as they always do - probably an all-out war between ninja, because the Pox will likely not back down without a fight. They see themselves as having no choice but to prepare for that day and hope it will not come as badly as they fear.

The Gift of the Shouka lies in their strong ties to the elements and the power of the Birthstones. They get one Basic Elemental jutsu tied to their Birthstone for free. (Diamond for Earth, Onyx for Metal, Emerald for Wood, Opal for Water, Ruby for Fire.) Their status also allows them to reduce all penalties from Embarrassed by 1. Their Trigger is that they are scatteed and fragmented. They are individually revered, but many believe them to be doomed to split into lesser clans or Ronin. The party gains 1 Karma when people ignore their sage advice due to this stigma.

Their potential Contacts are: Oishi Toshie (Empathy), a beloved and revered midwife of the clan. Mukai Fuuko (Crafts), a gemcutter who specializes in producing ritual gems for the clan. Shouka Yasuo (Perception), a clan member who is fascinated by looking into the souls of those he meets. Arata Ano (Might), a barren woman who offered herself to the warriors of Uprising as a concubine and was instead made a warrior who has now proven her great skill. Murai Michinaga (Holistics), a master of healing potions who works to ensure the warriors survive the front. Ozaki Shumei (Speed), an advisor who is great at making sure his plans are chosen by always being the first to explain his plan. Their Bonds:
  • Choose one ninja who you want to protect from harm, because it seems like the right thing to do.
  • Choose one ninja who believes the Immortals have left them to die... and you disagree.
  • Choose one ninja who has agreed to help you bring the Crystal Bearers back to their former glory.

The Grim Creepers are also known as the Warawara Clan, the Creepers and the Bugs. They practice Mantis and Spider styles, and their jutsu is the Way of the Hive Body. They get +1 Fighting, +1 Intimidation, +1 Stealth and +1 Survival, and +1 Yang Ki. They are the youngest of the Blossom ninja clans, born only two centuries ago when the insects known as suu invaded the Land. They used their unique jutsu, taught by the Immortal Han Xiang, to lure the suu and capture them, destroying most but saving a small number of their own use. They spent years cultivating the bugs, hiding them in their own bodies.

The suu are filled with ki and allowed to harmlessly live within the ninja, feeding off blood with no ill effect. This does deform them and make them move in disgusting, insectile ways, however, which can easily give them away and has turned several Blossom communities against them. You might wonder why a clan would pick such a dangerous route to power. The answer is easy: the Warawara are rebels and insurgents, and have been since their formation. They bred the suu within themselves as weapons against the Izou. They serve the Uprising now primarily as spies and assassins, with the aid of their tiny insect friends.

The Creepers mostly live, these days, in the forests around cities, usually in underground villages in secret tunnels. Their domain is usually only notable for a lack of non-suu insects, as the suu and Warawara are both quite territorial and eat any bugs that drop in. The Grim Creepers have never been treated as demigods, unlike the other clans. They were simply made to free the Land from the Izou. However, people are known to leave bugs along in their territory - it's never clear if an insect is random or part of a ninja colony. They are born to rebellion, and most of them are born to the clan as well. These initiates are implanted with a queen suu at birth, which kills about every third child. The young ninja then learn much about insects and particularly the suu as they breed, feed and train the bugs. When they are properly skilled in martial arts and properly hateful of the Izou, the rest of the colony is added to their prepared bodies.

The Warawara have spent two centuries preparing for this very moment. They were never able to get the other clans to support the idea of rebellion, largely because of how new and young they were as a clan. Not until the Elders called for it, anyway. Now, they willingly and enthusiastically serve the Uprising. When it is over, they will look to expand, so that one day they can be as beloved by the people as the other Blossom clans.

The Gift of the Warawara is the colony of thousands of tiny suu in their body. They reduce all Poisoned and Diseased conditions by 1, as the bugs protect them, and they get +4 Movement from their lighter, buggy odies. They may also release bugs from any orifice and can open up any point on their body at will to release said bugs, to use their bug-related jutsu. Their Trigger is that even in the Land of Seed and Blossom, they are notably creepy as gently caress. They have raspy voices due to bugs in their throats, they have insects crawling all over them, they're often hunched or deformed. The party gains 1 Karma when their outward appearance causes problems.

Their potential Contacts: Iseri Noriyuki (Fortitude), formerly a respected Hunter who is now deeply addicted to the drugs he uses to keep himself going. Kawahara En (Intimidation), an Izou Executioner that has taken a liking to the Creepers, though he'll still fight other Blossom ninja. Hokama Chiho (Perception), a lookout for the Uprising who speaks in a dialect that may or may not derive from the Land of Exalted Flame. Handa Shihi (Travel), a wilderness guide whom the suu will not attack. Warawara Kijuro (Knowledge), a bug expert that studies the suu for new subspecies in the hopes of learning new jutsu. Seto Harumi (Fighting), a Hunter who fights primarily to entertain others and has had relatively few real fights. Their Bonds:
  • Choose one ninja who you respect for their overlooking the youth of your clan.
  • Choose one ninja who doesn't like creepy things, so you play pranks on them.
  • Choose one ninja who you dislike because they are obsessed with something.

The Phantom Voices are also known as the Tomurai Clan, the Guides and the Phantoms. They practice Crane and Dragon styles, and their jutsu is the Way of Denied Repose. They get +1 Discipline, +1 Empathy, +1 Knowledge and +1 Speed, along with +1 Yin. The Phantom Voices are the clan of the Land of Seed and Blossom most drawn to death, and they know it is just a part of life. They are from the southern lands, drawn from tribes that were the first to believe in an afterlife and to learn the customs of funeral. Now, the fear of going to a hell or becoming a walking corpse instead of going to heaven is normal, but it began with the Phantoms, who lead the people to a better spiritual place. They keep the traditions of corpses and funerals now, developing a limited ability to communicate with the dead. Their numbers grew to the point that, before the Izou came, one or two lived in every village.

When the Izou attacked, they brought with them the idea of corpse-handlers and Untouchables. The Phantoms were either ignores or dirven away, called on now only by those still faithful to the old ways. During the Uprising, however, they have returned to their old communities. They want to help rid the land of the occupation, and they have begun turning their jutsu from tools of communication and purity into weapons in order to do so.

The Phantom Voices don't really subscribe to the idea of territory. They have their own hidden villages, sure, but have little need to control land. Some believe it is still their place to only really interact with others during times of mourning, while others are enraged about the discarding of Blossom tradition under the Izou. Visitors to their domains may find illusory graveyards used as camouflage. Their training method is very different from other ninja, using weeks at a time of meditation and eating dead flesh in order to attune themselves to the dead. Their rituals allow them to mix their minds with spirits, until they can hear the whispers of ghosts on the wind. Once they are full ninja, they also work to maintain large libraries of Blossom history, law and geography. They can be called on for a funeral by leaving a decorative bowl containing the deceased's name on your doorstep. Their funerals for the sinful usually involve grinding the corpse to dust and spreading it over consecrated land, while purer spirits can be buried with proper feng shui to let them rise to heaven. The Phantom Voices and Living Chronicle are frequent rivals, as the rather imperialist Chronicle tend to feel entitled to ancient scriptures that the Tomurai keep sacred. Both sides have killed over this before.

The Tomurai have attempted to be the voice of reason for the Uprising. It hasn't really worked. They believe that the Izou ninja are nto the enemy, and that a truce can be reached with the Lotus Coalition. They hear the screams of the dead and the ancestors that ask for peace. But in the meantime, they just keep track of events and keep themselves ready to aid their fellow ninja on the path to heaven, serving as best they can.

The Gift of the Tomurai is their defense of the secrets and traditions of the Land. They get +1 Travel when journeying in the Land of Seed and Blossom and +1 Knowledge for Blossom history. They also reduce the penalties of Confused by 1, due to their security in their knowledge. Their Trigger is that they are taught from youth that to speak too loudly is wrong, as it ignores the voices of the dead. Because of this, they rarely speak, and when they do, it is barely above a whisper. The party gains 1 Karma when their silence is perceived as overly contemplative or judgmental and makes others uneasy.

Their potential Contacts: Morioka Asako (Crafts), a friendly wagon-maker who smiles a lot at people she meets and carries a big hammer. Nakatomi Reizo (Discipline), an Adventurer that loves to lead the way into new lands. Sugita Yoichi (Empathy), an Advisor who is known for his ability to read just about anyone. Tomurai Katsuhito (Perform), a ninja renowned for using funny faces in place of speech. Kano Michi (Marksman), a farmer who is renowned for killing any predators before they can even threaten her herd. Kuroda Sachi (Intuition), a gambler whose rivals often end up dead. Their Bonds:
  • Choose one ninja who has some sort of problem and they need your help to get through it.
  • Choose one ninja who is good at picking up your non-verbal cues.
  • Choose one ninja who is impatient and never asks you for your often slow counsel.

Next time: The Sisterhood of Blood, the Splendid Chameleons and Yakubyo's Pox. Honestly, the Creepers are probably not the creepiest of these clans.

Nov 4, 2007

zamtrios so lonely
Grimey Drawer

Darwinism posted:

I'm sure this has been asked before but... how do people actually play Rifts? Tons of houserules to make things sort of work, or just completely straight-faced like the rules make sense?

In my high-school experience, using the bones of the system (roll d20 to hit, add your cheaty attribute bonii) while ignoring a lot of the additional rules about burst fire that made no sense and probably using the missile rules from Robotech because we knew where in the book to even find those. Our group didn't have a lot of magic-user players so the full brokenness of spells wasn't made clear. Also, all our Rifts games tended to fall apart after a few sessions. I mean, a lot of our games did that, we were just teenagers screwing around mostly.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

megane posted:

I have yet to see one single solitary thing in, what, 50 Rifts books that made me want to play it even a little. How do you write 50,000,000 words about a sci-fi future where all realities collide and have it come out so bland?

I think Rifts has some legitimately neat or fun ideas, but they're often tucked away with a lot of chaff. I mean, the Psi-Slinger is an example of a fine class that does something specific - even the Gunslinger or the Gunfighter would be alright if you just consolidated them into one class. But then, you've got the rest of the classes in this book. A lot of folks like the Cactus People, and the Fennodi have a neat visual design, and even the Lyn-Srial have their fans, but Mountain Giants not so much. And so on and so on.

Of course, the time at Rifts dropped it was groundbreaking in its corebook (in its scope, if not the actual rules)... but then it often doesn't live up to it's promise with the expansions, and since then we had all the games of the '90s and '00s that pretty much kicked a lot the doors down in how we think about rules and world-building. Meanwhile, Rifts has remained essentially the same.

But there's a reason I'm changing up how the reviews are done (this and the next review were written before that), and that chaff is a big part of it.

Darwinism posted:

I'm sure this has been asked before but... how do people actually play Rifts? Tons of houserules to make things sort of work, or just completely straight-faced like the rules make sense?

Pretty much like AD&D or most other early eighties games, where you pick and choose the rules you want or can figure out, dump the rest, and spot or house rule anything else. Most of the basic mechanics are pretty parse-able (especially compared to AD&D), but it tends to fall down on a lot of the particulars.

Jul 9, 2003

Darwinism posted:

I'm sure this has been asked before but... how do people actually play Rifts? Tons of houserules to make things sort of work, or just completely straight-faced like the rules make sense?
Aren't there a few holes in the rules that basically require house ruling to get the system to actually, you know, function?

Robindaybird posted:

From all reports, even Seimbedia doesn't play Rifts RAW.
I really want to somehow force Seimbedia to run a game of Rifts exactly as written.

Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
I mean, I ran into that when I wrote my own games back in high school. I always noticed I just sorta ended up with a pile of 'these are the rules we use most of the time' and then wrote more in as we went, without quite making the connection yet that that was how we were playing D&D 2e and stuff, too.

It's one reason so many people remember 3e differently than how it was written; every group adds and subtracts from almost every game they play. The expectation that needing to do that to get a game to function is a normal part of this hobby is something that needs to be dead and buried, but even with a functional game people are going to mess around with it anyway.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012

This is an issue with games that actually work without a million houserules because people still houserules good games for no goddamn reason and break tons of poo poo without thinking about it. I've had to drop out of tons of campaigns because the idiot gm didn't read the rulebook and realize that scrapping the initiative system actually breaks several major class functions, or something similar.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso

Night10194 posted:

I mean, I ran into that when I wrote my own games back in high school. I always noticed I just sorta ended up with a pile of 'these are the rules we use most of the time' and then wrote more in as we went, without quite making the connection yet that that was how we were playing D&D 2e and stuff, too.

It's one reason so many people remember 3e differently than how it was written; every group adds and subtracts from almost every game they play. The expectation that needing to do that to get a game to function is a normal part of this hobby is something that needs to be dead and buried, but even with a functional game people are going to mess around with it anyway.
IME this is far more prevalent with AD&D than 3e. Hardly anyone plays with all those rules.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

did you roll for wild talents yet

Feb 13, 2012

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

Halloween Jack posted:

IME this is far more prevalent with AD&D than 3e. Hardly anyone plays with all those rules.

I suppose that's true; I played a lot more AD&D 2e than 3e because 2e was where I got my start with RPGs.

It's also a thing with Warhams: Warhams 2e is a system that works and works fine with a bunch of fiddly extra stuff no-one really bothers with thrown in on top of it. Despite them being dutifully ported over and reproduced in every WH40KRP book since, I can't think of any times that anything besides the 'take an Agi test at every stage of a fall to possibly avoid damage' stuff from the Warhams Fantasy falling/jumping distance/overland travel speed tables ever came up (I mean I was playing a Blood Dragon whose entire thing was his crazy high Agility and acrobatics, so Wilhelm liked doing a lot of free-running and occasionally dramatically diving off buildings to catch someone who was falling). Such things just never needed solid rules.

Sep 10, 2003

peed on;

Wapole Languray posted:

This is an issue with games that actually work without a million houserules because people still houserules good games for no goddamn reason and break tons of poo poo without thinking about it. I've had to drop out of tons of campaigns because the idiot gm didn't read the rulebook and realize that scrapping the initiative system actually breaks several major class functions, or something similar.
That was one of the (many, many) ways that D&D 3.0 screwed over melee classes. To the extent that melee classes had useful special abilities and feats, it was by engaging with the (complicated, confusingly written) Attack Of Opportunity rules. Your fighter could stop someone passing through their AoO, or your Rogue could bypass someone locked in an AoO without triggering a reaction so he could sneak into the rear ranks and start stabbing casters. Well, the AoO and general detailed gridding was one of the first things discarded by play groups, instead preferring to play combat as Theater Of The Mind, and well now all you feats that involve reach and manipulating the AoO reaction rules have just been rendered completely null. If you threw out the AoO stuff, you nerfed most of the powers of a whole series of classes that were already nerfed to begin with.

Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Warhammer Fantasy: Night's Dark Masters

Dark and mysterious items for dark and mysterious vampires

Magic Items are interesting to cover because there are so few guidelines about how to put the drat things in Fantasy. It's not that hard to translate a Biting Blade or Sword of Might from tabletop (Give a melee weapon AP and make it Best Quality or give it SB+1 Damage and Best) but for all the talk of how players aren't meant to get hold of many of the things and they're meant to be pretty impressive, there are precious few examples of what works for a magic item in the core book. Here, we have a couple vampiric or death themed items and their descriptions, as well as what Knowledge skill can identify the thing or tell the players its story. The book also notes that vampires tend to have more access to magical gear than humans, both as a function of having centuries to pick it up and by virtue of being magic, themselves.

Algrund's Orrery is a complicated and lovely little clockwork model of the planets, moons, and their orbits. It gives a +20 to all Knowledge (Astronomy) checks (useful if aboard a ship, I suppose) and if you can figure out its true powers, it will let you create a 10 mile area of artificial night for an hour every day. It simply cancels out all direct sunlight and replaces it with moonlight or starlight, as appropriate depending on the erratic orbit of the second moon. It was simply produced by a master dwarven craftsman and bought legitimately by the Celestial Wizards' Order in Altdorf to aid in their studies. The interesting note in the description is that the Lahmians have turned one of the wizards and are trying to use her to get at the Orrery, since they'd like to steal it to study it themselves. It's easy for one of them to fit in with wizards who tend to sleep all day and stay up to study the stars, but with all the wizards awake at night, it's proving hard to steal the thing.

The Asp Bow is a powerful magic weapon from ancient Nehekara that turns arrows into living snakes in mid flight. Somehow the angry, pissed off snake does a Damage 4 (as opposed to Damage 3 for normal bows) hit that causes a Toughness test or the target takes an extra 2 Wounds, making it effectively Damage 6. On a 96-00 on the BS test, though, you release too late and it turns into a snake and bites you. Vampires and undead are immune to the poison. The Asp Bow was stolen from a tomb in Khemri, the land that was once Nehekara, but the adventurers who stole it died mysteriously soon after making it back to Imperial territory. Mummy's curse or Lahmians, it could go either way, but the bow found its way to Nefereta's court and is currently the favored weapon of her best assassin.

The Blood Chalice is an enchanted, extremely heavy metal chalice that seems to be perpetually filled with blood. If a character (it does not specify a vampire, so presumably this works on the living) drinks from it for a full round, they heal d10 Wounds. Similarly, if a blade is coated in it as a full action, it gains +2 damage (no duration given, I'd assume for one fight?) It was made by Wallach Harkon, the jackass 'master' of the Blood Dragons' most visible and organized group, to remind him of the blood of enemies he particularly admired or enjoyed killing. When his lover was killed, he added her vampire blood to the mix (shortly before starting to go crazy about how no Blood Dragon should ever marry or let 'love' distract them from their quest, I wonder if these events are linked). It went missing when his imaginatively named Blood Keep was burned down for the first time.

The great Carstein Ring needs no introduction. When used by a vampire of the Carstein line, it gives +3 Armor to all locations, makes them regenerate d10 Wounds a round, and if they are killed while wearing it, they return to life at sundown the next day. The One Ring of vampires that Vlad subverted to escape Nagash's control, this was also key to his attempt to take over the Empire. Its theft was probably aided by his son Manfred in an ill-considered backstab to prevent his father from becoming undisputed ruler of the Empire and give him the opportunity to do the same, something that's been going fantastically for him what with being contained in Sylvania right now and having heroically run away from every decisive battle he planned.

The Dagger of Jet is a normal dagger, but if it deals 1 Wound it immediately lowers the target's Strength and Toughness by 10. Neither can be reduced to 0 this way; 1% is the floor. A victim recovers 1% to both stats per hour of rest. This dagger was used to cut the throats of condemned sacrifices for the vampiric court of Lahmia, back in its glory days. After being used in enough sacrifices by people imbued with dark magic, some of it rubbed off on the knife and now it lusts for blood, itself. This is important because this is one of the critical sources for magical relics in WHFRP, and a reason they're so rare: Actually forging a relic on purpose is very difficult. Many are made simply by being exposed to enough magic and enough action.

Lady Zamada's Portrait is a portrait of a pale woman of noble bearing, though some swear sometimes she has a dance partner or a lady in waiting. This is because a vampire can step through the frame and join the Lady Zamada in her portrait, becoming a painting of themselves until they choose to step back out. This is primarily used as a party trick among Von Carsteins or a way to avoid an unexpectedly sunny day in Sylvania. Carsteins, especially, have a great love of sponsoring artists to paint their portraits, since a lack of reflection runs in their bloodline. This specific portrait is the only surviving work of a great Tilean master who was burned by a an angry mob atop a pyre made of the Carstein family portraits he'd painted. Nothing is said about who comprised such a mob, but it can't have been Sylvanians. Such philistine attitudes suggest Stirlanders.

Necrotic Powder will age and warp anything it's applied to. A practitioner of necromancy or a vampire is immune to its effects, but otherwise it will rust steel, warp wood, and decay flesh, doing 2d10 Wounds immediately on application to a character. This awful stuff was designed by Necharchs to distill dark magic into a warpstone powder base, to be used as a weapon and a tool for eating through locks and bars should they find themselves impeded.

Vampire's Bane is a mighty silver greatsword, enchanted to be as strong as steel. Any user of the Vampire's Bane will find their Strength Bonus is doubled against vampires, letting a human go toe to toe with most of them. It was originally a ceremonial weapon blessed for use by Captains of the Black Guard of Morr, but when it was used to behead a powerful Strigoi Ghoul King it gained power of its own. It was eventually used by a fanatic Black Guard to kill the great historian (and generally tolerated) Count Sangster von Carstein, the author of some of the best regarded histories of the Empire from Magnus to the Present. Once Sangster's admirers returned him to life, the Captain was eventually sent back to the Temple of Morr as a zombie with a long, eloquent, and very insulting note attached to his head by a nail. The sword has been missing since.

The Wailing Blade was Vlad von Carstein's favorite sword. When swung, it sounds like the shrieks of the damned, causing everyone within 6 yards to reroll successful Terror or Fear tests against its wielder. It also imparts some of Vlad's infamous temper; if the sword is drawn in anger, it takes a WP-20 test to sheath it without drawing blood. The Wailing Blade was actually made by the Dark Elves of Naggaroth, a chilly northern land on a continent far across the western sea. Nagash took it from one of the bodyguards of the elves he extracted dark magic from, and when he appointed Vlad his general in ancient times, he presented this sword to him as a gift to go with the ring. Vlad has kept it ever since, but when he was killed at Altdorf, the sword went missing from his body. Who knows where it's gotten to?

Next: The Hordes of the Dead.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 17:24 on Aug 4, 2017

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
I realized as I thought about it is that don't want to paint too rosy a picture for Rifts a launch - I remember some folks in a Mekton play group I was in at the time finding the world building pretty slipshod (mainly the Coalition's huge army with no or only token infrastructure), and Mega Damage was almost universally regarded as a mess.

But Palladium was regularly in the top 5 best-selling RPG companies for a reason, too... at least through the 90s, anyway.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 19:32 on Jul 10, 2017

Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
The thing that drives me nuts about Rifts is that the core idea is solid and appealing - just take all your action figures and playsets and mix in all the direct-to-VHS movies at your local Video Hut then sprinkle in some video game cut scenes, and have crazy gonzo shooty action explodey fun with it. D&D but also with mecha and skull tanks and Mad Max wastelands and space aliens and vampires and Atlantis and everything else you can think of. Fine. Excellent, in fact.

But the execution is terrible, both on a mechanical level (the groggy OD&D derived ruleset which is full of nonsense Gygax faux-precision that leads to jokes like "There's a 13 + 2d4% chance any given person might own a hat") and on the publishing level (Supplement Treadmill wall of books stuffed with padding and contradicting itself and hyperdetailing every single goddamn thing no matter how ungameable or nonsensical), both of which cut against the free-wheeling gonzo action fun element which is the game's notional core appeal.

Nov 4, 2009

Look Professor, a destruct switch!

Night10194 posted:

AoOs also wouldn't actually force a foe to stop their movement/action (they'd just take the damage if you hit them) and most stuff had enough HP to just ignore one hit from the fighter if it wanted. All the grid maps in the world weren't going to fix that part.

You could force a foe to stop moving with an AoO if you took a feat from the Expanded Psionics Handbook called Stand Still (which had absolutely nothing to do with psionics). :downs:

Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Warhammer Fantasy: Night's Dark Masters

Hordes of the ravening dead

Vampires are powerful, obviously, but they are also individual. An individual can only do so much; who doesn't need servants? While many will have mortal admirers, students, or hangers on, the easiest and most loyal servants are found among the dead.

Ghouls are not actually undead at all. Ghouls are what happens when a human eats human flesh too often, some kind of corpse-born disease that is thought to be a direct curse from Morr. Ghouls become warped and bent, feral creatures with deadly claws and sharp teeth. They prefer sentient flesh to any other sort of food, but they'll scavenge anything as long as it's meat. They're somehow immune to the horrible disease and filth they acquire by carrion feeding, but the living victims they bite and claw aren't. Vampires find these pathetic creatures useful. They can handle daylight, you *can* feed on them in an emergency (but gods, the scandal!), and they eagerly serve their 'betters'. Strigoi are especially fond of Ghouls, seeing something of a kindred spirit in fellow twisted outcasts that feed among dug up graves and charnel houses.

Skeletons and Zombies are terrible fighters, but excellent soldiers. They will do exactly what their master says, they need no food or rest, and they will never break or flee in battle. They have no initiative of their own and require constant command by intelligent undead or necromancers. They are, it cannot be emphasized enough, chaff in the surest sense of the word except for one saving grace: They scare the hell out of the living. A zombie isn't a match for even the weakest starting PC, but they all cause Fear, meaning some of a low level party is going to spend part of the battle unable to do anything but parry and dodge until they gather their nerve. Vampires love using these creatures as soldiers, since they're easy to raise and don't require any investment or care.

Spectres and Wraiths are echos of a dead soul, the parts that could not move on to Morr's realm. Guilt, hatred, fear, despair, and other negative emotions pool into a tormented, mad, ethereal thing that no longer desires to do anything but destroy that which has a whole being and a complete soul. Wraiths are the worst, being the spirits of necromancers who screwed up experiments in true immortality. A small, hollow echo of a terrified and damned soul, the rest of it obliterated, with all the hollow spaces filled in by the howling Dark Magic they worked with, Wraiths envy the living even more than Spectres. Vampires rarely create such creatures, but powerful rituals can bind ones that already exist to service. These ghostly things require magic weapons or spells to destroy, and won't be a simple problem for the average party.

A Wight is special. A Wight maintains some of its intelligence, and must be made from the body of a hero or other talented person (remember the spell that creates them requires the corpse have had an Advanced Career in life). Being intelligent, Wights are still capable of learning and growing (ancient Wights should be given one of the monster 'careers' to advance their stats and skills further) and are capable of commanding other groups of mindless undead. Indeed, in cases where Wights rise up without a master due to some ancient curse or leak of dark magic, they are sometimes found quietly putting together skeletal dukedoms to maintain units of troops, silently keeping up their army in case orders arrive some day. Wights are generally happy to let a vampire deal with the annoying aspects of politics, preferring to stick to their troops and their duties.

Finally, Necharchs and other greater necromancers will sometimes decide they want to stitch a whole bundle of monstrous flesh together and reanimate it in such a way as nature never would. Alternatively, they might want to raise the bones of a mighty creature like a giant or a dragon. A character who wishes to do this needs a Magic of 2 or better and Academic Lore (Necromancy). They also need the body of a great monster (or monsters) and an ounce of warpstone for each Wound the thing possessed in life. Creature write-ups in Warhams have a 'slaughter margin', a determination of how likely an average starting fighter would be to kill it in open combat. The difficulty of raising a creature (or amalgamation of creatures) is determined by taking its slaughter margin and adding that to the difficulty of Spell of Awakening (the CN24 spell for raising Wights). Keeping the creature intelligent raises its Slaughter Margin one step. Stuff that's Average (even fight for Johan Schmidt, Empire Soldier) or below doesn't modify the difficulty. Challenging stuff like a Chaos Warrior adds 3. Hard things like a Minotaur or other big beasty add 6. Very Hard creatures are the limits of what this can handle without devising an entire ritual specifically for the one creature you are trying to raise, and include creatures like Griffons or Hydras, and add 9. Combining traits and characteristics from multiple creatures requires you to take the margin of the nastiest thing and double it to get your casting difficulty; making a Griffon-Spider is actually really hard!

Once you've done all this, this counts as a Ritual and thus can use the Meditation talent to boost its casting. The Blood Gift Mastery over Flesh will also improve the ability to make Greater Necromantic horrors. Once you cast the spell, if you fail, you lose the corpse and the warpstone and have to start over. If you succeed, but invoke Tzeentch's Curse by rolling doubles or worse on your casting dice, a mortal practitioner automatically suffers a necromantic side effect (these are always negative and can include permanent penalties to stats!) from the core book. Vampires are normally immune to such things, but even they suffer a side effect from such powerful rituals if they roll doubles on the dice that determine which curse effect they get hit with. The creature you raise will have the stats of the original creature, minus d10 Weapon Skill and d10 Agility to represent damage during reanimation. If you combined two creatures, they get the highest stat from each of the two donor creatures in every stat (so say you raised an Ogre-Dryad, it would have the Dryad's higher Agility and the Ogre's higher Strength and Toughness). If the thing wasn't Frightening before, it is now.

And that's finally all the mechanics! Next time: A Vampire Campaign. Why to play as them, why not to play as them, why to play against them, and a final wrap-up on what I think of Warhams Vamps.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 17:24 on Aug 4, 2017

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ninja Crusade: Land of Seed and Blossom - Maybe Disease Murder Ninjas Weren't The Best Idea

The Sisterhood of Blood are also known as the Ketsueki Clan, the Sisters and the Bleeders. They practice Eagle and Horse styles, and their unique jutsu is the Way of Vital Currents. They get +1 Empathy, +1 Fortitude, +1 Persuade and +1 Travel, as well as +1 Yang. Sickness, birth defects and deformations have been a constant for the Blossom people - and many others in the world. However, centuries ago, there was one that was far worse, resulting in thousands of stillbirths. Children that were born developed severe mental disorders and were often born without limbs. That is when the Fifth Immortal came, forming the Ketsueki Clan out of women with the purest of hearts. By the use of special alchemy and ki manipulation, they mastered controlling their own blood, including the power to flush out the impurities that could affect childbirth.

The Sisters found that the Blossom, whether from prolonged exposure to the Untamed Wilds or due to some strange attack by Yakubyo's Pox, had acquired a blood disease, particularly those in the eastern parts of the Land. They traveled the land as medicine women, curing this disease with their own blood. Thus the Sisterhood of Blood were born, accepting other women into training to protect the Land and its fertility. Some people still carry this blood sickness, the Fa Disease, and so the clan remains. This truth, however, was learned only after the Izou occupation, when the Sisters began to get pushed out of some villages. It was found that in the places they could not go, fertility problems became more prevalent. The Uprising, they know, is not just for freedom for those living, but for those yet unborn, to be able to be born healthy. Thus, they are the most altruistic of the Blossom clans.

Members of the Sisterhood tend to look and act entirely like normal people. They find that being close to the people helps them aid the land, and as well as working with new mothers to cleanse their children of bloodborne disease, they also give advice on how to live prosperously. They work with young lovers to ensure their relationships are strong, advise families on how to stay together, tell everyone how to prosper under Izou oppression. Their land tends to be dangerous - they are altruists, but fiercely portective ones. They use traps that can drain the blood from intruders, marked only by the presence of bloodless animal corpses. They can be summoned to aid you by splashing a mixture of blood and milk on your door. They train a lot in how to control their own blood flow. After mastering this, they begin to understand the blood around them, including the blood of animals, the sap of trees and the rivers of the Land itself. They consider themselves the guardians of all these things, and despite their terrifying power, they strive to maintain peace. By tradition, all members of the Sisterhood are women.

The Sisterhood of Blood tend to be at the back of the Uprising, both physically and metaphoriclaly. They tend to prefer ranged combat...but more than that, they dislike the brutality that is often wielded against the Izou. They have tried to get the Elders to listen to their views on this, but it has not worked in the slightest. They back the Elders and their decision, being entirely loyal to the Blossom, but they have also begun to take expeditions into Izou, to find Izou ninja that can help them end the war peacefully.

The Gift of the Ketsueki is total control over their own blood. They reduce all penalties from Bleeding by 1, and are even able to convert their own blood into ki. It is painful, but whenever they take 4 or more physical damage at once, they instantly gain 2 ki (with type of their choice). Their Trigger is their extreme reliance on peaceful methods. Other clans often see them as all talk, refusing to ever get their hands dirty. The party gains 1 Karma when they choose pacifism when action is required.

Their potential Contacts: Ketsueki Take (Holistics), the best of the clan when it comes to the health of children or pregnant women. Takata Kyuwa (Intimidation), a young Chief leading a young village, always looking for an Advisor he can really trust. Shiraki Koko (Crafts), a woman who restores war-damaged works of art. Koike Haruka (Knowledge), a woman that travels the land keeping record of health so the Elders have documentation. Masaki Motoyasu (Might), a firefighter renowned for his ability to carry more water than anyone. Oki Benjiro (Fighting), a strong man who protects travelers. Their Bonds:
  • Choose one ninja whose life you saved once. They feel they owe you a favor, even though you didn't ask for one.
  • Choose one ninja who was your rival during a Caste trial.
  • Choose one ninja who you have exchanged secrets with. Now, each of you has leverage over the other.

The Splend Chameleons are also known as the Idou Clan, the Chameleons and the Shifters. They practice Bear and Sloth styles, and their unique jutsu is the Way of Molded Bones. They get +1 Deception, +1 Fortitude, +1 Intimidation and +1 Perform, as well as +1 Yang. The Blossom have always loved art and expression, once renowned for their sculpture above all else...until a new art was created. A number of alchemists followed the ways of the Sixth Immortal, experimenting with ki on their own skin and bones. They ingested special minerals and sap, to make them flexible, and inhaled the smoke of sacred woods, finishing it off with a concoction of gold and jade that gave them total control over their entire bodies. These, the Chameleons, then began to perform across the nation with their mastery of contortionism. This became the art of the Blossom, as viewed by other lands - freaks, body-changers. However, to the Blossom and the Chameleons specifically, this is art, not abomination.

When the Izou came, the Chameleons made statues that portrayed defiance against them. The Izou tried to get rid of them, branding their work as eyesores and the Chameleons as criminals. They were forced into hiding, andm uch beauty was forever lost. Now, with the Uprising, the clan has returned to its old ways. They tend to be somewhat less aggressive than other clans, usually focusing on pranks or sneak attacks. They see themselves as artists first, warriors a distant second, after all - but they'll fight nonetheless.

Splendid Chameleon villages are always beautiful and mysterious. They shape the forest itself into living sculptures, along with anything they create. The Idou are also noted for strange hairstyles, often deliberately misshapen or asymmetric, as well as commonly having piercings and limbs that are longer than normal. They are also known for, quote, "celebratory orgies where the ninja switch genders constantly throughout." So that's a thing. They can be summoned by hanging bushels of red berries over your door, and mostly you call them in celebration times, to make the party better. Initiates are taught for years how to appreciate art, and how to manipulate their bodies and environments only after that. Most are born into their clan and begin practicing body modification around the age of three. Doing it later in life takes a week-long, extremely painful ritual involving the ingestion of terrible poisons, which many die from.

The Splendid Chameleons use their abilities as best they can to infiltrate the Izou, hiding as soldiers or officials and using their position to further the Uprising. They have run into both the Virtuous Body Gardeners and the Blazing Dancers, who tend to claim to have superior art. These meetings tend to turn into huge parties, but the Chameleons take a special pleasure in knocking their Izou counterparts down and showing them up, as well.

The Gift of the Idou is their ability to control their own bodies and the art they make. They get their choice of +1 to all Crafts checks or +1 to Perform, chosen at chargen, and lower the penalties from Broken and Injured by 1. Their Trigger is that, in comparison to other ninja, they are extremely loud and boisterous. The party gains 1 Karma when they just can't help but be the center of attention and it causes problems.

Their potential Contacts: Omori Yugoro (Deception), a Blossom spy who has even removed his Birthstone to better infiltrate the Izou. Fukuda Ton (Crafts), a talented sake brewer. Idou Sen (Persuade), a pickup artist who excels in using her skills to pick up both men and women. Nakao Rii (Perform), a beautiful storyteller whose stories are very, very good. Kawamoto Gekko (Marksman), an Izou soldier who has Uprising sympathies and might be able to be turned. Eto Romi (Athletics), a woman who is one of the fastest runners in the Land. Their Bonds:
  • Choose one ninja who shuns all of your advances, though you suspect they are secretly in love with you anyway.
  • Choose one ninja who isn't one for frivolity.
  • Choose one ninja who has become a close friend through family ties.

Yakubyo's Pox are also known as the Kouhei Clan, the Pox and the Sick Men. They practice Spider and Tiger styles and their jutsu is the Way of Unending Blight. They get +1 Athletics, +1 Fighting, +1 Holistics and +1 Survival, as well as +1 Yin. They come from a time when the people had grown too plentiful, too lazy and self-obsessed. They lacked the food to sustain their numbers. Yakubyo was the male Elder at the time, and he was told by the Third Immortal to gather warriors. Yakubyo was sick and cancerous, but he learned to use this to his advantage, crafting jutsu that gave power over disease.

The clan was made of those who had not fallen to exces, and they trained for decades to make the people realize their shame. They unlocked their ki, bringing death and disease to the people, summonign swarms of locusts and horrible plagues. This was Yakubyo's Pox, the ninja who called the people back from becoming like the Izou are. Now, they continue to lurk in the dark, ready to cull the herd if they must. In the current complacent climate, they are the leaders of the Uprising, fully backing the plan to rid the land of the Izou once and for all.

The Kouhei make their home in hidden villages in the boggier parts of the Land, where every step is dangerous due to all the poisonous plants and diseased insects. Locals tend to develop immunities to the many sicknesses from birth. To call upon the Pox, one drinks rat's blood and then prayers into a campfire, to be carried to the clan by pestilent winds. As for what they do when not out killing - well, they train. All the time. They don't grow food, as their wards supply it in tribute. All of their time is spent preparing for battle or developing new diseases to use as weapons. Usually, they test these on prisoners of war, but will kidnap people if they have no better options. Some even experiment on themselves. By tradition, all of Yakubyo's Pox are men. Women who have tried to join have always died a slow, disease-ridden death, no matter how they prepared.

Yakubyo's Pox are very straightforward, and have a very simple set of goals. Kill Izou soldiers, Izou ninja and anyone that gets in the way. The Crusade's just an excuse for refugees to come to their lands - and those refugees should be killed, too. Their main focus is on the Uprising, and they lead it, though they obey the Elders in all things, obviously. They are the front line, and proud of it.

The Gift of the Kouhei is hteir constant battle-readiness. To join the clan, one must defeat one hundred warriors and kill one hundred beasts. They get +1 Health, are immune to the Diseased condition entirely, and get to choose a weapon Quality at chargen, gaining +1 when using a weapon with that Quality. Their Trigger is that, well, they're...trigger-happy. They love fighting and they hate having to wait. They pace a lot, even sweat, when they have nothing to do. The party gains 1 Karma when they give in to this urge at the worst of times.

Their potential Contacts: Kouhei Toyokuni (Stealth), a master hunter of the clan who can bring down just about anything - and knows it. Nagako Sadako (Perception), an expert alchemist who can recall all the ingredients of any potion she tastes. Namiki Kanzaburo (Crafts), a tatoo artist whose attention to detail and care in laying down Caste markings are both famous. Kurogane Kuniko (Survival), a woman who raises animals and uses them as therapy pets for shellshocked ninja. Omura Izo (Holistics), a master of disease and medicine who alerts the Pox when he believes people are dying of illness. Shouka Yuma (Intuition), a major Crystal Bearer in charge of naming all local children. Their Bonds:
  • Choose one ninja who you want to fight one day... of course, to prove you are better.
  • Choose one ninja who finds sicknesses as fascinating as you do.
  • Choose one ninja who has seen you fail at an important task, but keeps it a secret... for now.

Next time: Wood Geography

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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



When the Cigarette Economy Collapses, Gold Will Be the Only Valuable Commodity


Before Perdition, the currency of choice on the Gehenna is cigarettes (henceforth referred to as smokes for brevity). On the outside, smokes were rightly regarded as dangerous to the general public. But the PTM saw that prisoners A: have been using cigarettes for years as currency and B: was an effective currency because there was a demand due to addiction. As a result a crop of tobacco was added to the agro-domes of the Gehenna so the ship can keep making smokes and perpetuate the economy. The actual worth of a smoke is heavily abstracted and can be seen in action below:

Note: the majority of these services will be out of commission due to [HOLIDAY]/[PRISON SHIP IN HELL]/[LACK OF MATERIALS]. Availability depends on level of stability in the area.

Makin' Stuff

Prisoners can be some of the most resourceful and motivated people alive with the proper drive and tools. But to make things, you have to find the components you need to construct them first. Before Perdition, prisoners would strip things they could get reasonably get access to. A lot of the systems were old and redundant and as a result, not everything could be salvaged. After Perdition so much of the ship is either offline or damaged that there's no real harm in stripping things down for their base parts. First you have to determine if what you've found can be reasonably salvaged from. Below are some typical sources.

Then you roll 1d12 and see if you get anything from it. This isn't a check, this is just a flat roll. If you have Scrounger, you automatically get at least one piece which is pretty good.

There are ten components that are used to make the things you want.

Successful salvage means that you get your pick of up to X parts from what the source has to offer, but you can only take up to Y of a component. So if you need two Torsion pieces, you're not going to more than one from a manufactory machine.

I actually like this system, it's a bit true to prison in real life and it's a good system that isn't really too crunchy. But now we get into the bad part: actually crafting.

For starters, your ability to craft is limited by your tools and your level of ability. Items have one of three Complexity ratings (rudimentary, basic or complex) so to attempt complex items at all, you need Jury Rig and a high quality toolbox. There's no roll involved to craft, but there are two things you have to expend. First is time, which is always tricky to basically utilize and as a result it's real hard to run any of the official adventures because only a few of them have enough "time passing". The other is Build Points, which I dislike heavily because that's your experience. I'm never a fan of trying to make the players choose between self improvement and items because it always results in a massive gap. The BP expenditure is the main strike against this system.

Items Proper

All prisoners have a standard kit of things they get automatically, which are:
  • Prison overalls.
  • Boots
  • Hygiene kit which contains a dental swab, tube of toothpaste and pills which when swallowed cause the prisoner to excrete deodorant from their pores every few hours (because in real life a hunk of deodorant could be used for various crafting projects).
  • A magnetic bracer, used to help keep the prisoner in the ship in case of hull breach.
AAH gives stats for both items made by prisoners and items that were either manufactured on-ship in the shops or were loaded onto the ship ahead of time. So I'll basically be dividing them betweens Machine-Made Items and Prisoner-Made Items. Items have:
  • A control level (1-3) which indicates the Access level you need to get this item and not get in trouble if you have it. After Perdition it's generally the level of Access needed to get at it. An Asterisk means that this is a hand-made item.
  • Cost in smokes (generally useless after Perdition outside of certain areas).
  • BP cost.
  • Complexity.
  • Time required.
  • Components.
If N/A shows up, this means the item can't be made by prisoners because the Gehenna just lacks the reasonable means to do so or it's out of the prisoners' hands.

  • First aid packs have enough materials to heal 1d4+1 damage from any source before the bandages, burn cream, painkillers, etc. are depleted. They're pretty prevalent throughout the ship.
  • Flashlights go out to 40 feet and are pretty strong. Needs a hydrogen cell.
  • Gas masks give the wearer complete immunity to gas and breathable hazards, originally given to the Trustees in riot duty.
  • Hydrogen cells are the main power sources on the ship for mobile things. They're small chips or little cases that you just plug in to power the item in question, containing up to 10 charges. A typical recovered cell has 1d10 charges left and the game doesn't mention any way to recharge them which is...bullshit?
  • Light rods are three-foot-long rods containing chemicals that give off steady light for 8 hours. The light casts out to about 20 feet.
  • Motion detectors are exactly the same kind of model as what you'd see in Aliens. They're the size of a Geiger counter and identify all moving items the size of a dog or bigger up to 100 feet away. Needs power.
  • Ration packs are bundles of nutri-sludge, canned protein and dehydrated meal pills. They're highly valuable due to the fact that they're the most reliable food source in Hell. Eating a pack gives you a choice between two benefits: lose 1 point of Despair or gain 1 Health. "A character can only benefit from this once per encounter"????
  • Basic tools consist of things you'd find bundled together on the shelves of a hardware store: screwdriver, hammer, augur, wrenches, hand drill, etc. Can be used for Basic or Rudimentary crafting purposes.
  • Complex tools consist of higher-end tools and materials for more specific uses, like a soldering iron or a voltmeter. Used for Complex, Rudimentary or Basic crafting.
  • Work passes are metal wristbands used to get prisoners into high security places so they can work. The foundries, tool storage, medical facilities and more need a pass, so they're pretty valuable for prisoners to find after Perdition.

  • Batteries are the prisoner answer to needing hydrogen cells, hand-made containers that generate an electric charge. They work, but they're not fancy; as a result batteries hold up to 8 charges max and will have 1d8 charges if found. Anything that requires a hydrogen cell can also use a battery.
  • Breath masks are hand-made gas masks, able to keep up to 90% of all gas/breathable hazards out. They look janky but hey, they work. How does their ability to keep things out work? I don't know! The game doesn't explain this for most prisoner-made items; I would assume you roll 1d10 and on a 10 or 1 it's failed but yeah the game doesn't explain that.
  • Hand torches are prisoner-made flashlights, generally just wiring attached to a bulb in a metal tube. They shine out to 30 feet and need an energy source.
  • Rudimentary tools are made by prisoners out of whatever they can get their hands on. Something heavy can function as a hammer, something thin can function as a screwdriver, something sharp can be a saw. It's easy to hide them, but they can't build much and can only be used for Rudimentary crafting.
  • Work pass emulators are hand-made knockoffs that consist of microchips and electronics wired just so to perform the same function as a work pass. They have a 90% success rate, and should they be caught as forgeries that would trigger an alarm and a Custodian crackdown in the area.
ARMOR is such a short list I just put it all together.

  • Makeshift armor is prisoner-made and basically just material scrounged up and fashioned into a suit. Common materials include cafeteria trays, sheet metal from workshops, pieces of Custodians and plastisteel from walls. This armor reduces physical attack damage by 1 point unless the attacker rolls maximum damage.
  • Chem overalls reduce acid damage by 4 points but protect against nothing else. In that same vein, heat overalls reduce fire damage by 4 and nothing else and radiation suits protect fully from radiation but protect against nothing else.
  • Riot armor is/was used by Trustees to help out Custodians during big riots. Riot armor reduces all physical damage by 1. A riot helmet also reduces damage by 1 and stacks with the armor's bonus. Finally, a riot shield doesn't provide any armor. Instead the player can choose to have the riot shield take a blow, protecting the wielder completely and destroying the shield in the process.

  • Cattle prods are generally found attached to Custodians. If not, it needs a battery. They deal 1d4 damage and cause a Reflex check or else the target is knocked back to the next square and will fall prone if anyone else is in that square. Y'all smell that? That's the smell of "we spent a shitload of time designing for d20 and can't escape it" sneaking in.
  • EMP pulsars were installed on the ship in case of a Custodian malfunction, issued to certain Custodians and accessible by Trustees. Past incidents of Custodian rampages and prisoner massacres lead to the creation of the weapon. Any machine hit has to make a Prowess save at a +5 disadvantage or get shut down for 1d4 turns. Need a battery.
  • Entanglement grenades are foam grenades. Pull and throw and encase all targets in a rapidly hardening foam. Anyone making a Reflex check has a +2 disadvantage to escaping the goo, which lasts 2d6 minutes or until a gallon of water is applied to it.
  • Hand grenades were included as weapons of last resort in case of a riot. They are nasty weapons, dealing 3d6 to everyone within two squares of the target. All sixes rolled explode and get added on to the total damage and anyone hit is knocked prone. Failing your throw means it goes 1d4 spaces off in a random direction.
  • Irritant throwers are nozzle-tipped guns attached to backpacks of irritating fluid. Getting hit deals 1d4 damage and causes a +2 penalty Prowess check or be incapacitated for 1d4 rounds. The stream of each shot is 15x15 at the longest point and each contains 1d10 shots of spray when found. Good for crowd control.
  • Laser cutters are a family of high-tech tools used for ship repairs that a prisoner is using as a weapon instead. They need a battery and every shot deals 3d6 damage to a single target with 6s exploding. They can also slice through steel so be careful with that and are so heavy you can't attack and move on the same turn.
  • Mace canisters can hit targets up to three squares away. They're not throwable weapons; you just squeeze the trigger. Mace canisters don't do damage, they just do the incapacitating effect of irritant throwers. Each canister has 1d4 shots if scavenged.
  • Riot batons deal 1d6 damage and hurt quite a good deal.
  • Scatter guns are combat shotguns modified for riot use and prisoner control. Their damage and effect depends on the loaded round. Each round, once loaded, has ten shots before the scatter gun needs to be reloaded. Rounds are expensive too: 10 smokes for rubber slug, 25 for tear gas, 50 for barricade busters or flash bangs.
  • Slug guns are pistols that have been smuggled in or were literally built into little pockets on the ship by corrupt construction workers who were paid to hide a little gun panel. Slug guns hold 10 rounds and deal 1d6+2 damage with exploding 6s. Their ammo is expensive as well, with 10 smokes for a single round.
  • Sonic beamers were designed to incapacitate rioting prisoners with waves of sounds. They're...glitchy. Beamers target single prisoners and deal 2d6 nonlethal damage, meaning at 0 the prisoner is just KO'd. However, the gun is prone to power spikes. The dice explode on a 5 or 6 and once an explosion happens, the damage becomes lethal. Requires a power source.
  • Stun guns are tasers. A successful hit forces a Prowess check where failure means unconsciousness for 2d10 minutes. Only works on humans, requires a power cell.
  • Tear gas grenades follow grenade throwing rules but instead do irritant thrower incapacitation only. No damage is dealt.

  • Beat sticks are just sufficiently heavy bits of wood or metal that have been reinforced. They deal 1d6 damage but break on a 6.
  • Brass knuckles allow prisoners to deal lethal damage with their punches. Without them, all unarmed attacks just deal 2 nonlethal damage. They can be made out of metal, but they can also be made out of wood or a sufficiently sturdy bar of soap.
  • Cell block specials are home-made hand grenades or explosives. They follow hand grenade rules but only deal 2d6 damage. At least the 6s explode.
  • Energy projectors are prisoner-made energy weapons based on guns that were used to fight in the Last War. They're nasty tools (2d6+2 damage, exploding 6s) but unstable. When you load a battery and fire, you roll 1d10 to see how many charges the shot uses up. If it's more than what's left on the battery, the laser will still fire but the gun will break due to overheating and refuse to fire further.
  • Improvised weapons are exactly what they sound like.
  • A pocket shocker is a prisoner-made stun gun that only knocks targets out for 1d10 minutes.
  • Robo-killers are made by prisoners to act as EMP projectors, though they only knock out Custodians or machinery for 1d3 rounds.
  • Room-Brooms are jury-rigged shotguns made out of pipes and other components. They can only fire twice before being needed to be reloaded and barrier busters damage the gun when fired, breaking the gun when fired.
  • Scorchers are irritant throwers that have been modified to act as flamethrowers, using the backpacks to hold fuel instead of liquid. They are, by far, the best of the premade prisoner weapons, dealing 2d6 damage to everyone within a 15x15 cone. Being on fire deals 1d6 damage per turn until you're extinguished and can be avoided with a Reflex check. Plus the 6s still explode.
  • Shivs are ubiquitous prison weapons, dealing 1d4 damage. Plus they don't break!
  • Sticky bombs are attempts by prisoners to make their own entanglement grenades. While it's possible, the chemical mixture is never exactly right which results in only 1d6 minutes of immobilization.
  • Stun sticks are basically just wires wrapped around a beat stick with an insulated grip. It works like a cattle prod but only deals 1d3 damage and needs a power source.
  • Syringes can be used in a pinch, dealing 1d3 damage but immediately breaking. They can also be used for their intended purposes either in combat (where the syringe breaks) or out of it.
  • Zip guns are prisoner-made slug guns that hold only one bullet before they need to be reloaded. They do 1d6+2 damage and the 6s do explode, but two consecutive 6s means the gun falls apart. Plus the ammo is still expensive.

  • Cardiolax was intended for use as an antipsychotic for high-risk inmates, but it also works well as a depressant by lowering heart rate and calming the user. Cardiolax removes 1d4 Despair and you can take multiple doses with no problem.
  • Frenzy is a stimulant the prisoners make, or maybe it was smuggled aboard, or maybe it was part of a sinister government experiment and hidden onboard. Either way, Frenzy is a drug that pumps you up like PCP. You become immune to effects that incapacitate you and you gain +1 Psy Strength. Frenzy lasts for 6 hours and multiple doses cause the duration to increase proportionally.
  • Jump is a cheap narcotic that various Vice Offenders knew how to make and sell to the other prisoners. Jump delivers a euphoric rush to the user and also adds +1 to their Prowess for 1 hour. You can take multiple hits of Jump and the power will increase, but every hit after the first saps your Reflexes by 1 for the duration of the high.
  • Kaleidoscope is a psychoactive that was rumored to be made from a weird fungus some Trustees found while cleaning a sewage pipe. It affects the user like LSD; a dose forces a Prowess check or the user will just be uselessly tranced out for 1d4 hours and need to make Willpower checks to do anything. However, each dose adds +5% Psy Potential. Multiple doses can be taken (up to 10) for a maximum +50% Psy Potential at the cost of a trip that could last 10d4 hours.
  • Lazarus is found in the medical bays to help save a patient's life if they're in danger. A shot administered within 5 minutes of being lowered to 0 health or less will let the victim roll twice on the recovery table and take the choice they want. You only get one shot, though. Multiple doses don't do anything.
  • Redline is another prisoner narcotic that acts as a painkiller and nerve inhibitor. Redline gives +5 temporary health for 6 hours which is used up before regular health and fades away with no damage done to the user if depleted. You can take up to 4 doses of Redline for +20 temporary health.
  • Tranq is a muscular tranquilizer that was intended for use on patients if Cardiolax failed to calm them down. It forces a Prowess test with a +2 penalty or the recipient will be paralyzed for 1d6 minutes. The drug can be stacked too; each further dose adds +1 to the penalty and 1d3 to the paralysis.
Hidin' Stuff

And now we come to my favorite part of the equipment section, which is "how to hide stuff (probably up your rear end)". One thing I didn't mention in the weapon section is the stat "conceal". Conceal adds a penalty or a bonus to an opposed Wits check against an enemy. This is gonna take a bit to explain properly so have a seat.

For starters, the game doesn't explain at all who gets the penalty or the bonus, but it's easy to figure out exactly how it works. The bonuses or penalties are applied to the prisoner who is trying to hide the item; the +2 means that the prisoner gets +2 to their result to beat the opponent, or a -1 would be a -1 to their final result. Makes sense and I'm mostly just bringing this up as a minor nit to pick because let's go back and take a look at Large Cavity, the feat for hiding things up your rear end.

A prisoner can automatically hide a flamethrower, dangerous riot laser, EMP gun or combat shotgun up their rear end, no contest. They get a bonus to hiding brass knuckles, sure; anything with +2 is the second easiest thing to hide up your rear end. I legit have no idea how this came to be but I love it. My guess would be they just changed mechanics after play-testing and they never gave it a second thought. It's just, y'know, proofread your game just a little bit? Because I'm pretty sure that the human anus contains like six feet of layered intestines, the pancreas, the kidneys and a whole bunch of other little jiggly organs. There are twists and turns. And, despite what every single badly written erotica I've seen says to the contrary, fitting a hand up in there is pretty hard, let alone a foot-long rod and the attached back-mounted unit which is roughly the height of a fire extinguisher and all of the tubing linking the two together.

It is an absolute miracle that considering this fluke display of physics, a bunch of prisoners didn't get wise to this and start walking around bow-legged, clanking suspiciously with every step.

NEXT TIME: The chapter on gangs and the chapter on combat. I will ask the question you will all be thinking: where does one find pony-play bondage gear on a prison spaceship, including the full head-dress with the mane and everything?

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007


So a demon might bust into a room and be confronted by a pervert who pulls a makeshift flamethrower from his rear end? I'd just go work for ID software instead.

Aug 12, 2013

Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

So a demon might bust into a room and be confronted by a pervert who pulls a makeshift flamethrower from his rear end? I'd just go work for ID software instead.

demons didn't know what true hell was before they visited the Gehenna

Dec 24, 2007

Hostile V posted:

A prisoner can automatically hide a flamethrower, dangerous riot laser, EMP gun or combat shotgun up their rear end, no contest.

This is delightful.

Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.

Night10194 posted:

The Asp Bow is a powerful magic weapon from ancient Nehekara that turns arrows into living snakes in mid flight. Somehow the angry, pissed off snake does a Damage 4 (as opposed to Damage 3 for normal bows) hit that causes a Toughness test or the target takes an extra 2 Wounds, making it effectively Damage 6. On a 96-00 on the BS test, though, you release too late and it turns into a snake and bites you. Vampires and undead are immune to the poison. The Asp Bow was stolen from a tomb in Khemri, the land that was once Nehekara, but the adventurers who stole it died mysteriously soon after making it back to Imperial territory. Mummy's curse or Lahmians, it could go either way, but the bow found its way to Nefereta's court and is currently the favored weapon of her best assassin.

If by "mummy's curse" you mean "High Queen Khalida's assassins" I'd guess.

Feb 13, 2012

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

Cythereal posted:

If by "mummy's curse" you mean "High Queen Khalida's assassins" I'd guess.

I doubt the Lahmians would've gotten it if it'd been her people.

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer
And with that, the Gehenna docked with Space Station 13.

Nov 14, 2014

Bieeardo posted:

And with that, the Gehenna docked with Space Station 13.

I'd play a Space Station 13 tabletop, but I feel like there's not really a good way of doing that.

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer
I'm thinking a hybrid of FATAL and Synnibar.

Edit: Oh, right, good.



Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Warhammer Fantasy: Night's Dark Masters

The how-tos and therefores of a Vampire Campaign

The first thing they cover under the Vampire Campaign is why you might not want to let players vamp it up. First, and most important, vampires are crazy powerful. This is absolutely true; by Lord, the vamp I played as, Wilhelm Metzger, stood at 70+ in most of his stats, with 5 Attacks a round, 24 Wounds, 3 Magic, and an 89% Agility, plus Blood Gifts like Blademaster and Quickblood. He was able to take on, single-handed, pretty much anything short of an actual dragon and have a very good shot. And that was a solo campaign. Imagine an entire party of those killing machines. Having vamps around means needing to prepare for stuff to get crazy on the game mechanics side and they seriously strain the system at higher levels, since they're designed more as bosses for a normal player party to fight and trick than as PCs.

The second bit of advice as to why not to use vamps feels off mark, though. The book notes that they're much better villains and it's a waste of dramatic potential to use them as a protagonist. Setting aside that playing as a hammy, arrogant sort of villain can be really fun, it then points to Genevieve as the example to follow if you want a vampire as a PC. I think I made it clear that no-one should ever seek to emulate Genevieve Douidonne in their campaigns for a wide variety of reasons. Secondly, having played two different 'anti-hero' vampires, it's not that hard to justify it. With Wilhelm, he started off trying to be 'heroic' to impress a Shallyan priestess he liked and just found that his ego really, really liked seeing villagers thanking him profusely for cutting down a Beastman warherd or Norse raiding party. He got his practice, he got his blood, he got to revenge himself on the Norse he hated, and people told him he was great for doing it. What vampire could refuse? For Mina von Carstein, a young Carstein scholar of history and engineering who wants to 'make' history go rightly, well, a von Carstein deciding that they hold all the answers to fixing the world if only it will listen to them is the family's main trait. Starting off with good intentions (maybe even actually having good intentions) and then slowly going down the road of hammy megalomania technocracy is always an option. Vampires are defined by ambition and arrogance, and they hate the other traditional villains of the setting. If you want to play as a dubious superhero with fangs who fights tentacle monsters from beyond reality, that's pretty much in-setting.

The book is absolutely right to warn against mixing vamps and humans in the same party, but it could be done if you started the vamp at thrall and the humans in mid 2nd/early 3rd career. I would absolutely suggest that you leave vampire PCs to games that are either one on one (vamps being one of the character types powerful enough to handle not necessarily having a party, just allies they either raise up from the ground or call on occasionally) or small parties. I cannot see the system handling more than 3 or 4 of them in a group well. The little spiel on it being harder to motivate vampire PCs than mortal adventurers also feels off mark, though; they're an ambitious people. Getting a couple of them together to work towards some great goal or obsession shouldn't be hard. They caution against giving vampires morals or ideals, but I think that goes against the history and setting that's been set down. Vampires are clearly capable of caring about their causes, they're just supremely arrogant, their stuff usually works back around to being self-serving, and they tend to be very willing to use violence. They work from a different baseline than humans that will always put them in the much more monstrous category (the book is very right to point out that humans don't need any excuses or reasons to fight vampires beyond 'they eat people' to be morally justified) but given the degree to which they try to convince themselves what they're doing is totally justified (see the Lahmians claiming to be a major defender of civilization, or Vlad trying to rule the world specifically because he thought he'd be good at it) that suggests they still have their own pet causes and beliefs.

The book is right on one end, though: Vampires make really good villains. There's some wasted ink about various major archetypes of villainous vamps, but what matters most is that vamps are personal and vamps care about what happens to them. Chaos is a lame villain most of the time because by design it's got what I like to call the 'Nu-UH!' factor. You can't 'kill' a demon, most of Chaos's servants are too corroded and insane to care about their own deaths, most of its major lords are puppets of great and distant powers to the point that they lose personality, etc etc. You can write in ways that you do real damage to Chaos, but let's be fair: They aren't there in the normal setting because Chaos was always GW's writer's pet in Fantasy. But the undead are permitted to have personalities, ambitions, triumphs, and failures.

A Vampiric villain has plans to disrupt. They have lairs and resources you can destroy. They're arrogant enough to play with the 'rag tag bunch of muddy adventurers' long enough to give you a chance to get serious. They sometimes have minions that they need and realms to upkeep. And even more importantly, they have varied weaknesses and strengths that practically demand you get to know your big vampiric enemy personally before the final combat. The best vampire hunters plan their work and research their targets, and careful meetings and observation give your GM a chance to really develop your big enemy. Vampire hunters can be crazy in warhammer but this isn't because they're maniacs who are going too far and persecuting the innocent, this is because Warhammer acknowledges vampires are incredibly powerful and dangerous. The Hunter is the underdog. The Hunters are brave men and women who are going to go through a nightmare of undead, minions, and gloomy castles to confront a superhumanly powerful monster that hides behind a charming, romantic myth, and put a stake in its heart. Beating a vampire Lord is a great focus for a campaign, and the stuff of a real hero.

Another key point in the book is that vampires are vulnerable because it's very rare to meet one who just drinks enough blood to survive, killing no-one, and hiding among the population. If they just wanted to persist, such a thing would be easy. Most don't. With so much power, even the most venal vampire will usually at least seek some sort of excess or diversion. Take Vladimir, the archetypal vampire villain. If he had simply remained Count of Sylvania, no-one would have cared. Instead, he marched on Altdorf to try to rule the Empire and end the Time of Three Emperors, and when he found he would have to risk his life in his moment of triumph, he gladly rolled the dice (and they came up battle-pope). Manfred's cowardice is the exception, not the rule; most vamps have something they will take a chance on. Those shortcuts, those moments of grasping ambition, are where the heroes can finally put a stake through them.

After this is a short section of monster stats for a few of the minions not mentioned in other books, like doom-wolves or Nightmare mounts for Blood Dragons, but they're mostly immaterial.

Next Time: A wrapup of the night, and what I think of Warhams Vamps. Then on to the book I've been waiting to do for months: Knights of the Grail.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 17:25 on Aug 4, 2017


Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso
After seeing the new Castlevania anime, I kinda wanna rip off some of the broad strokes of WFRP's setting and play Shadow of the Vampire Lord.

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