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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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





Ninja Crusade 2e - Truth and Lies: Ninja Cop

Like the last book, the two clan focuses are told via in-character lectures. The first focus is on the Will of Iron. It is about a student in the clan studying under the clan's masters. The student has no assigned identity so I'll call them 'she'. Our first lecturer is the man called Justice's Blade, Hagane Katikata. He's an old man who once served as the leader of Imperial law enforcement, and he was extremely good at it. His name still terrifies criminals. While old, he is muscular and active, and he has given away almost all of his possessions since the Crusade began. He is an extremely strict and unrelenting teacher, and his students almost invariably become leaders in the clan. He has a strange sense of humor and a terrible hatred of criminals.

Our initiate is late, but Justice's Blade decides to let her stay as long as she doesn't break any other rules. He admits this is harsh, but that's how he does. He begins with a lecture on himself. He was once the High Marshal of the Empire and Chief Arbiter of the laws of the Empire, and he still uses the old forms of law which praise the Emperor and his divine justice - even as he fights against the Empire. This is because he hopes that one day the Empire will return to its old ways. Justice, however, is something more than even the Emperor - more than any person. It is what makes humans human, what makes them a society rather than a collection of tents. Society cannot exist without law and order. The birth of the Hagane is proof.

Once, you see, there was a village in the Land of Five Blades that was utter anarchy. Murder and theft were rampant, the mayor lived in opulence and innocents suffered without cause. This changed when one warrior tried to establish his own form of order. He attempted to claim the title of magistrate and impose law, but the peasants were too scared to help. The mayor laughed at him and had him beaten and left in the garbage heap. He stayed there, meditating as his wounds mended. He could not take on the whole village himself, not when the law was corrupted. And thus he had his revelation, as he stared at his sword. The blade was steel - strong, capable of perfection. To bring law and order, he must take up that strength and take on the burden of enforcing the law himself. He trained for months to perfect his skills, gathering ot him those he knew to be honest and just. They made forges in the mountains, making weapons as they trained their bodies and mimds. For a two-day period remembered as the Forging, the man and his warriors stalked the roofs of the ivllage, slaughtering bandits and thieves with their new blades and jutsu. The mayor tried to escape by disguise on a boat, but they were waiting for him. The boat burned, with all aboard trapped on it.

The warriors brought law and order, and slowly widened the lands they protected. Many villages heard about their justice and asked for their help and protection. Others refused them, but still appreciated their ability to keep lands secure. This newborn Will of Iron had to remove a few wicked towns from the map, but not many - only when the towns threatened to currupt those around them. The law must be enforced equally, or it means nothing. Since then, the Hanage have served to render judgment, necessary and unpopular. They are secret, but their judgments are public, to send a message to would-be lawbreakers about the risks. Law, they know, supplements desire and natural impulse. All crime is driven by desire, rational or not. To give in to these desires is unethical and undisciplined. Thus, the Will of Iron focus on discipline above all things. They hone their bodies by training and their minds by pholosophy and debate.

But where does the law come from? Who makes them, and what makes following them just? Once, the answer was simple. The Will of Iron served the Empire, following the Imperial code of justice and supplementing the work of the guards and magistrates when needed. Many worked as judges, even hunting other ninja when they broke the laws of the Empire. That was the simpler, easier time. However, when the Ninja Crusade was declared, the clan was shocked. They had never been traitors - but they were hunted all the same. The idea of a law declaring existence illegal, for no reason other than your very nature, is unsound and tyrannical, not just. Justice's Blade denounced the Emperor's actions in court, and was imprisoned for it. He chose not to resist. In prison, he was visted by his brother Kotsei, the new High Marshal. He was given a choice: renounce his clan and serve the new law, or be executed as a traitor. His brother told him he believed this was just, and when Justice's Blade told him he was wrong, his only reply was 'well, one of us isn't in prison.' And so, Justice's Blade escaped, forswearing his loyalty to the Emperor and his brother.

What, incidentlaly, is the code of the Will of Iron? That'd be the Tao of Steel!

quote:

  • To let one crime go unnoticed is to perpetuate lawlessness.
  • With the law on your side, you never have to stand up to your enemies; they will have to stand up to you.
  • When your heart and your mind are linked, trust your instincts and accept the consequences. Let justice stand with you and you will persevere.
  • Punish the wicked above all else.
  • Stopping a crime is meaningless if the criminal can commit it again.
  • Nothing is truly absolute: A man may be greedy but legitimate, angry but in control, slothful but full of meaning, prideful but not wicked, kind but hateful, and noble but evil.
  • One mistake can lead to major crimes.
  • Steel bends but must not break; the same must be true for the law.
  • All methods must be considered to preserve order; anything less invites failure and chaos.
  • Be as strong in your sword arm as you are in your judgment; mete both out swiftly and ruthlessly.
  • A starving innocent is tragic, but a fat criminal is an outrage.
  • Fear not failure in yourself but failure in your duty, for your duty is with the people.
  • To tolerate a crime today weakens the resolve to enforce the law tomorrow.

Justice's Blade takes our student for a walk. He explains that now is a perilous time, and no clan truly loves the Hagane, for all have suffered when they came to enforce law on ninja criminals. Once, they were respected by the people, but no longer. Now, they must depend on the other clans to survive, seeking aid from the criminals they once fought. It's hard to work alongside murderers, say, even if they hold the knowledge oyu need to complete your mission. Justice's Blade knows that he's old-fashioned and cannot accept some of the compromises that are now needed. He knows that some despise him for his former service to the Emperor, that even others of the clan feel he committed crimes to carry out the law. However, he must exist, to preserve the traditions of the past. He tells the student that honor and justice must never be sacrificed to politics and greed. The principles of the clan are as true now as they were when it was founded, and while they may be criminals, their only crime is to love the Empire so much that they want to save it rather than let it drat itself.

Then he tells an old clan fable, to explain where the will to fight for justice comes from. Once, a clan elder named Masako had to make a terrible choice. He lamented over it, but at last had to side with the law, even though it pained him greatly. The Hagane had never been deputized by the Emperor, though some individuals were. They were seen as aids by some and vigilantes by others. Masako was an idealist that wanted to use his skills for the good of the Empire. He was an amazing warrior and ninja, and swore to serve the magistrate of the city of Oido. For years, he served as the blade of law in the corrupt parts of the city, killing traitors and criminals who were too powerful for the magistrate to touch. Still, he could not get rid of all lawbreaking. His master, the magistrate, then gave him a list of names to kill, telling him they were murderers and thieves. Masako did it, but when he found the last name, he found the magistrate's own guards waiting, ready to kill himself. The man thanked him for his justice, and then committed suicide. Masako demanded an explanation from his master, and was told that he was too honorable to do what needed to be done - he'd never have agreed to eliminating the competition or stealing food shipments to increase the need for the magistrate to take power. Thus, he had spared Masako's honor and lied to him to help him save face and achieve a perfect city. Masako, however, saw himself as having betrayed the law. He rejected the offers of treasure in payment, and instead killed the magistrate.

Then he retired to the wilderness, where he worked to fight bandits and petty crime. Oidi had days of rioting after the death of the magistrate, then their governor, but it soon returned to normal. This is not, however, a lesson in futility. Masako was a good Will of Iron ninja, who served law faithfully. His only fault was serving another man blindly. He cleaned up a city and was a good lawman until his eventual death. He is to be commended for serving the law over his own desires.

We end with Justice's Blade sending the student to a man named Ono, ordering her to return only when she can tell him how many laws truly exist in the world.

Next time: Iron lands.

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 15:31 on Jul 26, 2017

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy: Knights of the Grail

Strange women lying about in lakes distributing grails is an excellent basis for a system of government.

The Lady of the Lake is as key to the Bretonnian state and character as Sigmar is to the Empire. She enlightened Giles d' Breton and his comrades, and even now she provides the Grail to true knights of noble character who seek it. She is the oddest Goddess in all the Old World, as she is the only one who is directly, physically seen by her followers. Myrmidia or Shallya may send signs, but no-one has ever actually seen the Gods in person, except in this one case. The Lady's worship is also socially bound, unlike the Gods of other lands: Her official cult is exclusive to the nobility. She has no Initiates and no Priests, only her Grail Damsels and the Grail Knights who fight in her name.

The Damsels are also the product of one of the most tragic affairs in Bretonnian culture, one that has left a deep and abiding scar on the national psyche. Almost child with magical talent vanishes before the age of 3. Boys and girls, peasants and nobles, children are simply taken, spirited away to the Fae Enchantress, the greatest servant of the Lady. Sometimes the girls appear years later as the mighty Damsels, supposedly initiated by the Lady and the Enchantress, but they refuse to speak of any of what happened to them in the meantime. Boys are never heard from again. The fact that every single child could be lost before the age of 3 is a painful and nerve-wracking experience for loving parents, and many strive not to get too attached until the danger has passed. Being human, this doesn't work. The stuff relating to the theft of the children is some of the saddest stuff in all of Bretonnia, and I appreciate that the book took the time to consider just how painful this would be for families, and how much of a mark it would leave on the country.

The Lady of the Lake is said to stand for honor, chivalry, and courage in the face of danger. The dictates of Chivalry are her commandments, and to many of the knights she is the ideal Lady that they must serve in all ways. The romantic ideal personified, the perfect woman and mystical representation of Bretonnia itself. Her main concern as a goddess seems to be maintaining the stability of the Bretonnian state and defending it from external threats, working through the devotion of the knights and the Damsels. Her Damsels do not travel outside of Bretonnia and seem to regard anything but the country as outside their sphere of influence. She seems to show no concern for the fate or plight of the peasants under the current system of government, and most peasants worship other Gods, like Taal and Rhya, or Shallya. Indeed, the greatest cathedral of Shallya is in Couronne, and the Sisters there are much beloved of the common folk. Nobles of Bretonnia are not monotheists, of course; they still offer the proper rites to other Gods, they simply believe the Lady is their especial patron, much like Imperials believe they are Sigmar's heirs. The Lady also has some different strictures for noblewomen: They are to guard their modesty and innocence, serve their father before marriage and their husband after, push to succor those who are weak and helpless, and swear to only show their favor to the bravest and best of knights. In essence, the Lady's strictures on noblewomen are that they should be more like a character from a courtly romance.

Grail Chapels are the main temples of the Lady, usually constructed by a newly minted Grail Knight where he encountered her. It should be noted the Lady will only ever appear to a Questing Knight who is actually male, actually Bretonnian, and actually a noble. She has a clear preference for reinforcing the structure of Bretonnian government and barring a campaign being about an exception (which is always a good concept for a campaign!) only people who match her checklist will ever find the Grail and ascend. In theory, these small, sacred spaces are supposed to be attended by a Grail Knight, but most Grail Knights spend their lives as wandering paladins, and as the chapels are founded where a knight finds the Grail and Grail Knights tend to die eventually, there are far more chapels than knights. A few knights remain at their chapel their whole lives, becoming Hermit Knights and attendants. At attended chapels, the Knight keeps up the building and defends it with his life, and every Ladyday (holiday) gives a sermon on the virtues of the Lady and the values of chivalry and courage. As most knights are chosen for their pure hearts and mighty courage, they aren't the best speakers. Moreover, they're determined and fearless people with a strong work ethic, so they feel they must make a great effort. This means these sermons are usually extremely long and very rambling. Some chapels will be attended instead by Grail and Battle Pilgrims, an odd thing where peasants become caught up in the religious mania of the Lady despite her ignoring them. These enthusiastic pilgrims proclaim the deeds of the knight who founded the chapel and display any relics they could find of the man, and their leaders tend to be much better orators and preachers.

Despite her ignoring the peasantry, both peasants and nobles commonly go on pilgrimages to visit sacred sites throughout Bretonnia. Nobles go on pilgrimages to travel outside of their domains without being under arms, to prove their piety, and because it's an excellent reason to travel through other lands and meet possible marriage prospects, make friends, and make allies. Peasants do so for much the same reason, with the added bonus that a Lord looks impious if he is too overbearing about refusing peasants the right to travel to sacred spaces. It is much easier for a peasant to get permission to take a holiday to go on pilgrimage than it is for any other reason. Peasants love to go on pilgrimage to chapels attended by actual Grail Knights, as the sermons and services are open to all Bretonnians and this is one of their rare opportunities to meet or speak to one of the land's proven heroes. Some chapels are attended instead by Grail Damsels, and these are always popular with the nobility, while peasants tend to stay away. Some chapels become so popular as destinations that entire towns and industries spring up around them, becoming the Bretonnian equivalent of a religious resort and retreat, attended by people of multiple social classes. These are a good place for a PC party to meet.

Grail Damsels are weird, and no-one would ever mention that they are weird. These servants of the Lady were raised either in the forest of Loren, or in some other world entirely, and return to Bretonnia with mysterious powers and the Lady's direct blessing. They are led by the great and mysterious Fae Enchantress, and whether she is simply the greatest of their order or some sort of demigoddess is unknown. Grail Damsels have total freedom within Bretonnia, and are completely outside all social custom. They mark themselves by their uncovered hair, and always appear young and beautiful until they simply withdraw to the forest of Loren, supposedly to die. They are also free to do as they wish with their many paramours and admirers, and not a few are famed (not notorious, none would ever dare criticize their behavior!) for their promiscuity. They also seem to be completely incapable of having children.

These mysterious women are the only accepted users of magic within Bretonnian society. They wander the country as they wish, doing what they wish, when they wish, but it always seems to work out to protecting the security and stability of the current Bretonnian state. Experienced Damsels become Prophetesses, able to read the heavens and foretell events and dire portents as they give counsel to the lords of their land. The Fae Enchantress herself is a common presence in every royal court, and has been since Giles founded the office in the first place. She is supposedly immortal, and may well be the same woman who first advised the founder of Bretonnia. She is the only person in the country with authority greater than the King, because she is the only official with the power to deprive a King of his crown. She crowns every new king in the Lady's name, and many suspect she is the Lady's avatar. She refuses to answer any questions about this, simply chuckling politely and changing the subject whenever she is asked at court.

Next: Grail Knight Groupies, Stolen Children, and Existential Sadness.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 17:21 on Aug 4, 2017

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Kavak posted:

7 and 11.
Well yeah, obviously.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Wouldn't any large gathering of people just end up summoning demons to itself whenever someone in the group hits a break point?

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Congrats, you just guessed half of the end of the module.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I mean, it's the good old Chaos problem, too: It's not like shooting one of these things in the face really does anything to it. It can just get summoned again by something else. You don't have infinite bullets and health, and the enemy has infinite numbers as long as someone out there is scared of it.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Night10194 posted:

I mean, it's the good old Chaos problem, too: It's not like shooting one of these things in the face really does anything to it. It can just get summoned again by something else. You don't have infinite bullets and health, and the enemy has infinite numbers as long as someone out there is scared of it.
Absolutely correct.

Also I like how going on pilgrimage is just a guaranteed holiday for the peasants.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Hostile V posted:

Absolutely correct.

Also I like how going on pilgrimage is just a guaranteed holiday for the peasants.

Not far off from real life, I'm pretty sure.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Well, few medieval serfs in the real world could afford to be pilgrims. It was a costly thing to do, given the need for food and supplies, travel goods, roadside inns and so on. It did happen, occasionally, but more often you'd get...well, the Chaucerian crew, a demographic of middle to upper classes with the wealth to be able to afford taking a several-week to several-month break. Or several years, if you decided to be an idiot and head for Jerusalem.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy: Knights of the Grail

Seriously, just gently caress the Fae

Pilgrimage is pretty sweet for peasants. It's like, the one time they're totally allowed to travel and not engage in backbreaking subsistence farming or labor. Sometimes, they take this a little too far. Some peasants get really caught up in the whole 'Lady of the Lake' thing, despite her pointedly ignoring them. Peasants who desperately want to serve the Lady can't become Grail Knights or Damsels themselves, but they CAN form roving bands of religious groupies that follow Grail Knights around! You see, by legal technicality, as long as a peasant is following a Grail Knight around and technically on the pilgrimage they got permission for, their Lord can't return them to serfdom, legally. Peasants stick to Grail Knights because wandering paladins are significantly less likely to drive their groupies off by turning into a giant werewolf monster and scaring the poo poo out of them (On TT, this is what the common Lore of the Beasts spell did, and Damsels often wield the Lore of the Beasts, so the image of a beautiful Damsel turning herself into a 9 foot tall murder-machine became kind of an running joke with our group) than Damsels, and Damsels are generally more feared than loved among the peasantry anyway.

Grail Knights consider these roving bands under their protection, because they are sworn to defend the people of Bretonnia. They try to discourage them by avoiding speaking to them, giving them orders, or anything that might encourage them, but this just causes the peasants to try harder. Plus, most peasants who become Grail Pilgrims believe the knight is so far above them that it's totally proper he not speak to or interact with them. Also, they try to help however they can, watching the knight's camp at night and warning him of ambushes, cooking his food, and helping take care of his armor. As they get more experienced with adventure, they start to form an actual military unit around the knight, and some Grail Pilgrim mobs can become exceptionally motivated warriors. Enemies who are used to a knight's peasant men at arms breaking and running are often shocked when they find the devoted, determined pilgrims fighting back with all the valor of the knight they're following. The pilgrims also grab any relics that 'fall off the back' of their knight, like discarded spoons, broken weapons, or bits of armor, and use these to build the band's reliquary. If the knight happens to die and his family can't claim the body, the pilgrims will claim it for themselves, dress it in armor, carry it around on a skeletal horse, and continue to fight in its name. Grail Pilgrims are weird people. These weird bands of religious crusaders can even find themselves sought out for lords' armies, and were a flavorful and pretty useful unit in the TT game.

Most peasants don't go into this whole Lady business like the perpetual pilgrims, though. Most worship the normal gods of the Old World's pantheon. Village elders are fond of invoking Verena in their ad-hoc negotiations and legal dealings, as are the Merry Men. Morr is beloved for his protection against the undead, and everyone like Shallya (even the nobility) because everyone is going to get sick or hurt at some point. Taal and Ryha are just as important to Bretonnian farmers as to Imperial ones, and every sailor honors Manaan, peasant or noble. Ranald is much more honored as a God of Merchants in Bretonnia, rather than thieves or rebels, and is very popular with city folk. If the nobles paid more attention to peasant religion (and the merchants having access to guns) this might worry them. For the peasants, especially, Shallya is as honored as the Lady of the Lake. Shallyan priests and priestesses provide very real relief and are some of the only doctors people have access to in Bretonnia. The cult is given almost no political influence, but the love of the common people and the donations of the nobles still let them do plenty of good. It's a common heresy among peasants to believe the Lady is, in fact, a servant of Shallya and not a Goddess at all. The fact that Grail Knights tend to treat the peasantry better is seen as proof of this among its adherents, but the Damsels and Knights ruthlessly stomp this idea out whenever it becomes too popular.

Bretonnian holidays are all based around celebrating the great deeds that founded the country, rather than honoring specific Gods. As everyone likes an excuse for festivals, the Gods of the Old World have their holy-days celebrated as well, but only the holidays centering on the Lady are considered to be of real importance.

And now, the Fae. The Fae have scarred the national psyche of Bretonnia by the practice of stealing the children of both commoner and noble, taking anyone with magical talent before the age of three. Thus, Bret characters should generally not be capable of magic. The Fae strike at any time, night or day, and are never seen coming nor going. The children are often taken from the bed they share with their parents, there one moment and simply gone the next. Even though everyone knows this could happen, parents naturally love their children; these losses are devastating. People try various means of coping, like refusing to name a child before they learn to talk, so they won't be so attached, but these things don't work. In the face of this, some try to protect their children, but this is illegal by long custom of the land; the Lords fear the Fae will strike at the country if they are denied. If a parent manages to hide their children and is discovered, the child is taken before the Damsels and tested. If the child is gifted, they are taken. If they are not, the child is killed in front of the parents as penalty. Some cruel lords demand the parents murder their child themselves, on pain of death if they refuse. In those cases, many parents choose to die.

Despite this harsh penalty, people still try. There are all sorts of folk practices, like giving the child a doll of themselves in hopes the Fae steal that instead, or claiming to all the village the child was still-born and hiding them in the wilderness until the time of danger has passed. Some of them even work. Wealthier parents will sometimes pay poor families for a son or daughter to replace one taken, raising it as their own and pretending it was their baby all along. Some wicked people use the Fae's work to cover up infanticide and exposure when they cannot afford another mouth to feed; claiming the babe disappeared because of the Fae means the loss will not be investigated.

The book doesn't mince words on this particular subject: The Fae are wood elves. Bretonnians know about elves, but they don't believe the creatures that live in the forest of Loren are the same as the people from across the sea that they trade with. The Fae Enchantress is, herself, most likely an elf. Why they steal children and what they do with them is not answered. Perceptive players might notice that the Fae Enchantress is an elf, the Fae are elves, and the Damsels only use Arcane magic, not Divine, and start asking questions about the Lady of the Lake. Those questions aren't answered here; what's going on with her could be the obvious answer (elves are bastards and are using Bretonnia as an enslaved buffer state to protect their hellish forest) or it could be something weirder entirely. Whatever the case, one of the saddest places in the setting is a grove in Quenelles where sometimes, the Fae give a child back if they took the wrong one by mistake. It is filled with parents waiting desperately for their child to be returned. Few ever get their loved one back.

Next Time: Things get Way Less Sad As We Explore The Provinces.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 17:22 on Aug 4, 2017

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




A child who was taken and then given back by the Fae sounds like a great PC concept.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The Fae stuff is genuinely pretty dark and I'm kind of glad it is. Yes, this is a medieval society with high infant mortality, but on top of that the chance that for the first three years your child could just *vanish* would do things to people. Especially when you're told by the people in power there's nothing you can do about it and that they'll kill your child if you're caught trying.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



I've also always theorized that the Fae stuff might be part of Bretonnia's aversion to the Empire. For all that the Empire has going on that Bretonnians don't like, they don't have to worry about the Fae. The colleges of magic may not be beloved, but they're respected and a magically gifted child has a decent chance of going on to a respectable career.

I think there'd be a lot of envy and resentment there from Bretonnian parents who have lost children to the Fae.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



It should also be noted that even by wood elf standards, the Fae are weird assholes.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Mors Rattus posted:

It should also be noted that even by wood elf standards, the Fae are weird assholes.

Yeah, like...if you're an Imperial elf from the Laurelorn forest you probably look at Loren elves and are like 'Man, what the hell is their deal'.

The Loren does stuff to people. And the Fae/Wild Riders/Orion are elves who've been even further shaped and warped by it.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012






Does it explain why they're stealing magician kids?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


No, that's meant to be something you answer for yourself.

The End Times explained it as they're trying to build a magic space ship to save some people from Chaos because it will obviously inevitably win but uh gently caress the End Times in every form.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



I wonder what the Bretonnians think of the Dwarfs. Can't imagine they interact much, but it seems to me that they'd have a lot in common.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


They're not firm allies like with the Empire, but they're on good terms, because they both hate orcs and the knights often end up helping out dwarf-holds or vice-versa in their mutual quest to defend against the things.

E: That's an important thing about dwarfs: They never forget a wrong and have the big book of grudges and all, but they also don't forget a favor. You help a dwarf out in a war, he'll be happy to get his throng together and come help you later. They've always been pretty open to helping out people who help them, and they'll accept help despite their pride if they A: Didn't ask for it or B: They did something for you previously and it's just you returning the favor.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 17:00 on Jul 26, 2017

Hunt11
Jul 24, 2013



Grimey Drawer

In a weird way the Fae kidnapping also helps to give the people of Bretonnia a sense of unity. As in it is the one thing where all of Bretonnia's people are equal.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Frankly, just about everyone gets along with Grail Questers. A knight out doing quests and helping people is something that no one really objects to (y'know, except for Skaven/Chaos/Orcs/other marauders).

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


Welp. When I try out Bretonnia in TW:WH, I know what I'm doing

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



SirPhoebos posted:

Welp. When I try out Bretonnia in TW:WH, I know what I'm doing

I usually make a point to blow up Bretonnia no matter who I'm playing in that game because their accents annoy me and I enjoy teaching them why you don't bring swords to a gunfight.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Mors Rattus posted:

Frankly, just about everyone gets along with Grail Questers. A knight out doing quests and helping people is something that no one really objects to (y'know, except for Skaven/Chaos/Orcs/other marauders).

They even note that Questing Knights start trying really hard not to take everything a peasant owns when they request hospitality and get surprisingly familiar with how bad things actually are for them through their wide travels and trouble-shooting.

One reason Grail Knights might tend to be nicer is that being a Questing Knight gets you out of the bubble, so to speak.

chiasaur11
Oct 22, 2012





Inescapable Duck posted:

A child who was taken and then given back by the Fae sounds like a great PC concept.

"My parents were actually hoping to get my brother back. I was kind of a consolation prize."

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




What's the maximum number of Breton social conventions you could break with a single character?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Kavak posted:

What's the maximum number of Breton social conventions you could break with a single character?

Depends on if your DM allows a PC Damsel.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Night10194 posted:

Depends on if your DM allows a PC Damsel.

Lesbian peasant woman becomes a Grail Knight would be pretty high up there, I'd imagine.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Yeah, but you can't break that one RAW.

Let's see: Noblewoman who is secretly the daughter of a merchant faking her credentials, who decides to become a Merry Man to fight against injustice, and also contracts vampirism.

That one would be pretty high up there.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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2014-2018



And yet the only one she could really get in a lot of trouble for is the vampirism.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




Has to be transgender.
Has to be a hardcore communist.
Gifts firearms to the people.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Brets are also weirdly okay with vampirism as long as you're, like, the dramatic black knight who wanders around challenging questing knights at fords. That's proper and they respect it.

There's also the fact that a Grail Knight has pretty much even odds, gameplay wise, in a straight fight with the average Blood Dragon. Which also attracts Blood Dragons, and Grail Knights, for pretty much the same reason.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Night10194 posted:

Brets are also weirdly okay with vampirism as long as you're, like, the dramatic black knight who wanders around challenging questing knights at fords. That's proper and they respect it.

There's also the fact that a Grail Knight has pretty much even odds, gameplay wise, in a straight fight with the average Blood Dragon. Which also attracts Blood Dragons, and Grail Knights, for pretty much the same reason.

I've also heard mention that even regular old questing and grail knights in Mousillon dress in black and red with spikes and heavy breathing, just to fit in.

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


Man, everything you're saying about Brets sounds fantastic, Night. Keep telling us more . Any good anecdotes?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


You know what the really funny thing is? For all the Bret, Kislev, Vampire, Skaven, and even Chaos books are great? The Empire book *sucks*. Sigmar's Heirs is a legit bad sourcebook.

I think this is because all the detail on the major cities got sucked into the pre-made campaign books.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Ninja Crusade 2e - Truth and Lies: Make Sword

We join our student as she meets with Ono. Just Ono - he has no other name. He was the smallest (but not youngest) of seven children, and he was kept at home at the forge while his brothers became ninja warriors outside. All of them died, and at last Ono was sent to be the family warrior. He mastered studying while working at the forge, and he is still most at home there. He wears very little clothing and has a massive hammer and anvil tattoo on his back. He does own a set of very light, expertly made armor, though. While he is reclusive, he enjoys having people hang out while he's working, even though he rarely speaks. He likes to listen to stories and songs, and has a soft spot for those who are mistreated due to their appearance.

He is also born and bred Iron Province. He explains that the locals are functional - they don't make more than they need, and are proud of it. They respect the law, though once the land was divided and lawless. That was when the Will of Iron were young, and two other clans made their home in the mountains, and were lawless and cruel. As the Will grew, they realized that they had to protect the local villagers, too, and taught them to make better arms and armor, and how to fight. They destroyed the clans that lived in Iron Province, absorbing them and teaching them to respect the law. In exchange, they learned to master the province, forging it into what it is today. Eventually, the Izou came, and the Will tried to fight them. They failed, and the Iron Province was conquered. They could have kept fighting...but it would have had no meaning, for the Emperor was a generous conqueror and under him, the land prospered. That they must now fight the Empire is a tragedy, but justice must be brought to the Empire.

Ono gets to work making a plow as he talks. He explains that the metal of the land is strong, and it must be approached correctly, or even an expertly made piece will break, while a ruined one can stand strong. The ore must be made in tune with your soul, and wielded the same way. The clan attempts to emulate iron, fluid like heated ore and light as steel, but heavy as iron when they strike. However, steel is not rigid and unbending. The Will of Iron just allows others to believe they are, because this makes them underestimated. Yes, it may seem they are always watching, like spies. This is both true and false. Yes, the Will watch people. However, constantly watching is not effective on its own - you become so focused on what you watch that you do not notice the cries of those in pain next door. People cannot be supervised constantly - the Strands may try that, but the Will believe in freedom. They believe freedom is compatible with law.

To find guilt, they must use different methods than just watching everyone constantly. You can follow a known criminal to see what they're up to...but why not pay a local beggar that knows the guy to tell you if the guy's done a crime? Think about why a crime is done, rather than just blanketing an area blindly. Motive and detail can help you greatly. Use all your skills, including knowledge and martial skill, to be effective. Ono admits he has another secret - one that people like Justice's Blade hate. Crimes have different depths. If you only have time to stop one crime, don't pick the beggar on a street where begging isn't allowed if you could be stopping an assassin going for your lord. Some crimes are worse than others, and a modern Hagane must understand that. Further, mitigating circumstances exist, and so does mercy. A man that steals from a beggar may be greedy, but you don't need to kill him when you can reeducate him. A man trying to murder his daughter's abusive husband should be stopped - but so should the husband. The law is the law, but you are the one that decides how to enforce it.

Ono then takes the student to deliver the plow. They stop after, to rest at a temple. He tells a story about Justice's Scales, once leader of the clan, who did many great things. She was a sculptor, fighter and singer of great skill, and very wise, as well as a friend of her Emperor from childhood. This attracted to her a demon lord, Ozuku - an oni of immense size, with metal horns and three tongues, who craved the flesh of those with pure heart. She could satisfy his hunger for years, after all, and he kidnapped her. As he prepared to cook her Justice's Scales asked him why he wanted to eat her so badly. He explains that she will feed him for a thousand years, and she asks what she has done to deserve this punishment from such a noble lord.

The oni is flattered, and he explains that her nobility will soothe him. She asks what causes his pain and hunger, and he explains that he cannot stand to eat normal food, but still must eat, and only the pure can soothe his stomach. Justice's Scales listened to the demon's laments, soothing him with her words. She was found the next morning, holding a small box. She explained that the demon had shrunk in the night as he confessed his sins, until it was only the size of a frog, and was sleeping in the box now. This story, we are told, is why the Hagane must be virtuous and idealistic. Virtue can lead to amazing feats - binding a demon with your words, or holding off bandits for hours. Virtue sustains.

We then get another story to illustrate this virtue. A Will of Iron and a Grasping Shadow cross in the road, and they bump into each other. The Hagane apologizes, but the Shadow is enraged and lashes out, starting a three day battle. At the end of the third day, the Hagane is defeated and about to die, but the Shadow offers to spare him in exchange for one favor in the future, which must be done. The Hagane agrees. Years later, the Shadow's village is raided by soldiers, and the Shadow calls on the Will to come and protect his family to the death and cover their retreat. He expects the Hagane to renege or attack, but the man just nods and goes to do it. The Shadow is so shamed by this that once his family makes it to the forest, he goes back to fight alongside the Will of Iron before they both die. This is the power of righteousness.

Then they talk about the temple they have stopped outside, Shirin Cha, where the first Will of Iron wrote the Tao of Steel. The temple is built into a series of caverns where he trained and made weapons, and the first laws of the clan are written on bronze plates there. At one point the Empire seized the temple, until twenty ninjas gave their lives to collapse some caves on the invaders and save the main temple by sealing it forever. Now, it has been hidden in the mountainside until it can be opened once more, and it is believed that a number of elders exist in suspended animation via meditation within.

A valley nearby is called Honor's Regret, and you can see a pair of warrior ghosts always fighting there. See, there used to be a Will of Iron who had to bring his son to justice, for the son had killed his wife when he discovered she had not been faithful. They hated and were disappointed in each other, and they died facing each other in the valley, but their souls cannot rest. Walking through the valley fills anyone with negative emotions and hatred, and sometimes the Will of Iron will lure foes there to thin them out...but only if they have the discipline to resist the hatred themselves.

Ono admits that not all crimes can be easily forgiven - but they also do not all deserve death. The clan knows this, so they developed a method by which they could deal with those that were redeemable but not easily let off. These men were not always weak, and could be quite dangerous...so they made a dark sorcery of last resort. This is the Repeating Prison. Those who are imprisoned are placed in great casks full of herbs in potions, then put in a cell. The cask sends the prisoner into a semi-conscious state in which they are, by magic, made to relive their crime from every possible angle, to learn about what they have done and why it was wrong. Even within the clan, the Repeating Prison is very controversial, and it is kept extremely secret because, were its existence to be revealed, it would also come out that a number of nobles and other clans' ninja are kept there...and that could lose the Hagane the support of the Lotus Coalition. To protect the clan, the elders have deemed it necessary to keep the prison's mere existence a secret.

Ono then sends the student on to her next instructor.

Next time: How to be iron.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012





Experience

Right, pay attention you bunch of Homo erectus rejects because this is IMPORTANT!

See, Würm doesn’t use Experience like other games. This isn’t Experience Points you gather to use to become more powerful by buying stuff or hitting arbitrary power-up points. Instead, Experience in Würm is used as a renewable resource to make you better at basically anything.

How it works is this: All characters start with 3 Experience. This increases as characters accomplish feats and complete adventures at values of 1, 2, or 3 based on the length of the adventure and its relative difficulty. These literally represent your character’s increasing life experience and sharpening skills.

Players can spend this Experience to add 1d6 to any roll, except for Talents or Skills the player does not have. This does stack with Strengths and any other bonuses to boot. You can also use Experience to boost Dodge or Running scores by 3 for one Round.

The important thing is: Experience isn’t gone forever. It’s a pool. At the end of the session or adventure, then your Experience Points reset to their maximum value, free for you to spend next time all over again. I really like this system, as it can be used to make characters overall better and more capable over time while jettisoning 90% of the problems traditional EXP systems create like power-creep and crippling overspecialization.

Stamina

Stamina is your HP. It’s an explicit abstract, representing the capacity to withstand not only physical damage and wounds, but also illness, starvation, dehydration, and extremes of heat and cold.

Bear Man characters start with 30 Stamina, and Long Men start with 24. The Breath of the Giant Stag Strength makes that 40 and 36 respectively, and the Fragile Weakness makes it 20 and 16. If you have both they cancel out to be back to default.

When you hit 0 stamina, you’re unconscious, or at least so weak you’re totally out of action and can’t do anything useful or constructive. At -10 you die. This is obviously stolen from D&D, but gives players a nice buffer that means one-hit kills are very rare unless they’re way out of their depth, or someone deliberately finishes off a downed enemy.

Increasing Stamina Points
You can increase Stamina by permanently spending Experience. But, to keep you from dumping it all into Stamina to become superfat you can only spend one point per session, and had to have earned Experience during that session.

The stamina gains are not 1:1 though. Each Experience Point spent on Stamina gives you greater benefits. Starting with +3 Stamina at 1 XP spent, up to +20 Stamina for the 8 XP spent. Once you spent 8, you can not increase Stamina anymore, so there is no infinite HP inflation to worry about.



Talents and Secret Skills

These are covered in depth in Chapter 5, but this is basically an introduction to how they work for character creation purposes. Talents are based on Craftsmanship and Art, while Secret Skills are split into Combat, Shamanism, Enchantment, and Sorcery.

All characters start with all the basic Talents known by their tribe or clan, based upon that clan’s culture: Mousterian, Châtelperronian, Aurignacian, or Gravettian. In addition they can take one additional Talent or Secret Skill to start with if they also start with an additional Weakness.

Any additional Talents or Secret Skills must be earned in-game. The game does advise increasing the starting Experience and allowing to start with additional Talents or Secret Skills if you play a one-shot or short series of adventures instead of a long running campaign, and for any replacement characters in case of mid-campaign death.

Prestige

Social standing is actually given a lot of focus in Würm, and act as a sort of secondary experience system. Prestige is an important way of determining social standing in a world where hierarchical societies are basically nonexistent. Prestige is a combination of three sub ratings: Bravery, Generosity, and Wisdom.

Bravery
Characters gain Bravery points by facing danger and performing dangerous tasks. It’s earned by hunting and combat. Points are only earned if you win the fight or successfully complete the hunt. The two determining factors of how many Bravery Points a fight gets is how much damage the most powerful attack your opponent could do, and whether you killed/captured them or they ran away.

If an opponent is captured or killed, you take the maximum value of its highest damage attack (A 4d6 attack would be 24 for example) then divide that by the number of people who participated in the fight or hunt, rounding down to a minimum of 1. This is how many Bravery Points each participant gets. You add 20 points to the Maximum Damage value if the opponent is also a shaman.

Example posted:

For example: killing a mammoth brings in 36 Bravery Points (for its Trampling Attack at 6d6), to be shared between the hunters. If there are five hunters, they all gain 7 Bravery Points (36 divided by 5 = 7.2, rounded down = 7). If there are only two of them, they each gain 18 points (and for taking down a mammoth between them, they deserve it!).

If the enemy runs away or escapes from the fight, you can still earn Bravery, as long as there is someone else to witness the fight, such as another Player or an NPC. For this calculation, you roll the opponent’s strongest attack instead of just taking the maximum value, then divide and round as above but for a minimum of 0. Shamans get a bonus of 10 in this case.

There are also two special exceptions for earning bravery: First, if you manage to win a fight either while suffering a Serious Wound or by finishing with a Critical coup de grace the individual gets a 1 Bravery Point bonus. Second, if you manage to win without anyone else around to see it, you only get 1 Bravery Point unless you bring back a trophy showing proof of your victory.

Generosity
This measures a character's social cache in their society. Paleolithic cultures didn’t have jobs, or what we would recognize as wealth, so instead what people are valued for is their unique contributions to their group. Generosity goes up when you give people gifts or when you perform favors for them

Gifts are simple: Whenever you give someone something then you get Generosity points equal to its Trading Value (Covered later, but essentially how much a thing's worth in barter). There is a limit though, the gift has to be something shaped by the person giving it and intended for a specific individual. Raw materials are generally owned in common by the entire group, and so you have to turn it into something to be considered a proper gift. Gifts of raw materials can work when given to other groups besides your own, but it has to be a lot of stuff.

Favors gain points based upon difficulty or importance of the task, and is up to the GM to determine.

One thing to note is that Generosity does not represent kindness, but instead how much your character can effectively contribute to the wellbeing of others in their society. People with high Generosity are not necessarily nice or kind but instead are seen as being powerful, loyal, and a useful member of their society.

Wisdom
While presented as an optional rule, Wisdom fits so well into the whole system I don’t see why you wouldn’t include it. Wisdom as it sounds represents your gathered wisdom from living, and how the community sees the quality of your counsel and ideas.

Wisdom is earned by three ways. The first is the simplest: Once your character reaches 20 years old, they gain 1 point of Wisdom every season (2 per year). The second is by showing great wisdom, or carrying out act that would gain you a reputation as being wise or seen as wise, the point value determined by the GM. The third is actually a meta-mechanic where if a player recaps the events of the previous session to the group they get 1 Wisdom point.

The Rest of the Rules

Let’s wrap up Prestige, this is getting long. Everyone starts with 6d6 Prestige, which you split however you like between Generosity, Bravery, and if used, Wisdom.

You can lose prestige, on a case by case basis determined by the GM for acting cowardly, selfish, stupid, etc. Basically you lose prestige whenever you act poorly and shamefully in front of the clan or tribe.

The GM should also play characters with high Prestige as being of more interest to the Spirits of the world, who will pay more attention to them and take a more active role in their lives.

One direct function of Prestige is to determine your Prerogatives. Essentially, as your total Prestige goes up, your character is afforded more privileges and rights within their tribe.



Finally, Prestige is halved when dealing with friendly tribes if the characters can introduce themselves. Hostile tribes or total strangers treat the characters as a prestige of 0. Characters cannot generate prestige between themselves: So making things for party-members don’t generate Generosity, and PvP fights don’t add Bravery.

Equipment
Okay, starting equipment! Everyone starts with summer and winter clothing, weapons of the players choice of average quality, non-magical jewelry, and basic tools to perform your known arts and crafts, start fires, etc. Instead of money, because that doesn’t exist yet, characters start with 1d6+1 Trading Value Points worth of miscellaneous trade goods of the players choice.

There are some restrictions or bonuses as well:

  • Mousterian characters can’t start with jewelry, a bone dagger, bone spear, or javelin.

  • Long Men can’t start with a set of bolas.

  • If you have the Venom of the Viper Strength you start with enough plants to prepare 2d6 cataplasms.

  • If you have the Song of the Blackbird or Majesty of the Aurochs Strengths you can start with a flute or drum.



Playing Child Characters
Würm is designed to be all-ages friendly. While there are parts that are not really child appropriate (Pregnancy, cannibalism, etc) the game is simple enough to be played with children, and so there are optional rules so kids can play kid characters! Or for people who want to play out as much of their characters simulated life as possible. Mostly these are just simple modifications to the base rules of character creation. These also act as good “introductory” rules, as they simplify several systems and lead to some character creation “in-game”.

  • You choose people, tribe, clan, etc the same as normal.

  • When playing a child you start only one Strength, the one based on your People, giving you only a choice between two for faster and simpler creation.

  • The Child Weakness is the only weakness child characters start with by default. Child gives y ou a -3 to all Strength tests and Damage (to a minimum of 1), has fewer default Stamina (16 for Long Man, 20 for Bear Man), and a -2 penalty to all Knowledge tests.

  • You can take an additional Weakness for an additional Strength or Talent, similar to Adults. Würm actually recommends two different interpretations of this rule: If the character starts the game with the Weakness it represents a congenital, natural, weakness from Birth. With this option the character gets them one additional Strength at the beginning of the game. The other is to give the new Weakness, and one new Strength, during play if the character suffers a trauma, wound, or illness, representing their growth through hardship.

  • Instead of all the basic Talents, Children start with only two basic Talents from their culture. This sounds bad, but Child characters should have more time in-game to grow and learn additional Talents compared to characters that start as Adults.

  • Equipment is unchanged from Adult characters.

  • Child characters start with no Experience, only 2d6 Prestige, and your age must be below 14 if a Long Man or 11 for a Bear Man.

While you start with only one Strength (or two if you take a weakness) you get a second strength at the conclusion of the first Adventure of the campaign.

The third strength is earned when the character has their initiation ceremony. To do this the character must be of age, and have earned at least 3 Experience. Würm recommends playing out the initiation, and a few of the premade adventures are based around characters going through it.



And that wraps up Character Creation! Next time Game System!

Firstborn
Oct 14, 2012

i'm the heckin best
yeah
yeah
yeah
frig all the rest


OvermanXAN posted:

Man, everything you're saying about Brets sounds fantastic, Night. Keep telling us more . Any good anecdotes?

Bret is my absolute favorite fluff in a game full of great lore. You could pluck anything out of warhammer fantasy and transplant it into another similar setting, and it'd be the best thing. In Warhammer it's just 1 little piece of world building silliness.
(Sorry if that's )

I keep re-installing Total War Warhammer just to play the Bret campaign.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West, Part 7: "The Native American Healing Shamans are some of the most powerful healing psionics on Rifts Earth, rivaled only by the Gypsy Gifted of Germany."


"Headdress? No, a bear is eating my head. Help."

Shaman O.C.C.s

So, these are people who devote themselves to being mediums between a tribe and the spirit world, and also maintain all those vaguely undetailed traditions. Unlike most wizards, they don't actually understand magic theoretically and instead get most of it by dealing with spirits. They're also in charge of Spirit Walks and Spirit Quests, whatever those turn out to be in this game. They also see the the needs and desires of whatever spirits they're connected with, so a Animal Shaman of bears might protect bears, or Elemental Shamans fight Captain Planet villains or whatever. Given there aren't that many evil polluters left in this setting, it seems like an relatively easy job as long as Northern Gun or Wilk's isn't building a steam-and-sparks factory in their backyard.

You don't get to choose to be a Shaman, for the record, you get chosen by the spirits who offer contact. Oh, and you have to be Native American, all other races can gently caress off, as if you had to ask at this point. That's despite what it said earlier about Pacific Islanders and the like being able to take these classes, yes. Consistency, pffft. Specifically, you have to be a Traditionalist or Pure One - Renegades need not apply.

Just because the spirits choose somebody to be a shaman doesn't mean they just get easy street, though, they have to go on a "Spirit Journey" and nearly die in some fashion, and on the brink of death the spirits contact and judge whether or not you're worthy. If they find you worthy, you're healed up and become a 1st level shaman!... if not, uh, good luck with being on death's door, chump! Alternately, a shaman can teach one of their children to become a shaman as well, which doesn't necessarily involve a Spirit Quest, but a symbolic ritual all the same. The spirits are fine with nepotism.

The gifts and powers provided by spirits can't be taken away, but if you misuse them, the spirits might kill you. "This is known as 'Bad Medicine'." Oookay. As far as I know, "Bad Medicine" in the context of popular Native American spiritualism refers to any evil curse or negative spiritual influence, but here (and throughout the book) it refers specifically to a punishment levied by the greater spirits on those who misuse shamanistic power. What counts as misuse?



All shamans get specific powers- they get:
  • A special "shaman secret tongue" that all shamans can speak regardless of their actual culture.
  • If people try and steal their fetishes they automatically break.
  • They get a free totem animal and the basic benefits thereof.
  • They can make fetishes, which are their form of magic geegaws. Every level they can make five minor fetishes and two major fetishes, and are expect to give "half" of them away (round up? round down? no idea). Shamans can beg the spirits to let them make more. Furthermore, they have a hard cap of being allowed to only use four minor fetishes and four major fetishes, so by 3rd level or so they're mostly just being given away, apparently, and by 10th level I imagine a shaman's party is an embarassment of spiritual riches.
It should be noted that none of these classes have attribute requirements, because apparently the spirits choose only due to their own mysterious reasons. So anybody can play one!... well, as long as you choose to play a Native American Traditionalist, anyway. If you've been paying attention to Rifts so far, you'll know that one class for one archetype will never be enough, so let's start with the:


"Finally, life will turn to this land." "We have thousands of miles of forest?" "Yes... but... over here."

Plant Shaman O.C.C.

They take care of plants because plants have real spirits it's just that their bodies are different than animals but yet nobody takes corn as their totem spirit and what on Earth do I type about this, they take care of the "balance of plants and animals" and prune shrubs and are completely unsuited to most groups of murderhobos.

We're instructed to pick up a Farmer's Almanac to get an idea of what these shamans know "instinctively".

So, they're immune to disease and allergies (that'll keep all the allergy monsters at bay), can sense danger to plans, talk with plants and plant spirits (apparently plants can see and listen in all directions but have short memories), identify all plants and their traits, gain bonus potential psychic energy (but only when helping to "protect the plants or ecology"), can live about a millennium, get bonus strength and durability (not supernatural / mega-damage), are potential friends with Millennium Trees (not there are any known ones in America), can search for specific plants, heal plans, and get special plant shaman spells. They also can select from a very limited number of regular spells under a nature... ish... theme. If you have Rifts World Book Three: England they can learn mystic herbology, making them hilariously better than druids at the druids' own chosen vocation. Outside of some wilderness skills, though, they get to be hilariously uneducated. However, if you want to do poo poo with plants or interrogate dandelions about Coalition troop movements, this is an amazingly robust class.

Free horse.


"Bambi will never lose another family."

Animal Shamans

So, these get their powers from a totem spirit but are dedicated to helping animals. They apparently wander around, sometimes following their totem animals and helping them. They respect hunting for food but not for sport or trophies, and may seek retribution or instead just scare and lecture hunters. Also, sometimes they fight man-monsters. More on man-monsters later, comin' over the hill.

So, animal shamans are immune to diseases, can autoamatically diagnose ailments and injuries of animals (humans too?), they can talk + walk with animals, heal animals and cure their diseases, attempt to resurrect animals killed "not for food or self-defense" (the chances aren't hot, tho), and they get some shamanistic animal spells. They also get a totem plus all the totem bonuses (though not shapeshifting), though it's easy to miss because it's in the descriptive text and not the rules text. They also get a list of regular spells similar to the plant shaman. And like the plant shaman, their skills are slim. Kind of poo poo because animals are just S.D.C., so their potential aid is limited.

Bonus horse, of course, of course.


"Well, I had to wait for the thunderstorm, it looks silly during the day!"

Mask Shamans

So, the mask shamans create special fetish masks they grow from trees using magic rituals and the mask "drops from the tree like a ripe piece of fruit". No word on whether or not the masks smell of delicious apples. Each mask basically gives them a different selection of spells they can use, and is only used by the shaman. The only exceptions are minor masks with only one or two spells can be used by anybody who has enough P.P.E. to cast the spells in question, and masks created by the gods can be used by anyone (or only one person, if the gods choose).

Making a mask takes one day for each spell in it with only two hours of sleep a day, making it essentially a test of endurance to see how many spells you can stuff in - it requires a physical endurance above 22 to add more than seven spells to a mask, and you can't do more than ten total (unless you happen to be a god). If the shaman dies, their masks stop working. Each mask has a different type, which determines what spells you can select for it when creating one - animal, death, healing, protection, stealth, trickster, spirit, and war are the main ones available. There's also an animal totem mask that lets you gain the totem powers of a specific animal. They start with one spirit mask and one healing mask with 5-7 spells each, and can only make one "major" (4+ spells) mask for each level they have, and two "minor" (1-2 spells) masks for each level. Masks are M.D.C. Mostly, they're just mystics with odd limitations, but they get some of the new shaman spells on their available spell lists.

But that's not all! They get some healing psionic powers, are immune to fires... for some reason, are immune to disease and sickness, get an animal totem (as long as you're cool with the spirits), and they get two minor (non-mask) fetishes and one major (non-mask) fetish. For some reason they take double damage from wooden stabbing weapons (but not blunt weapons). Unlike other shamans, they get decent spread of skill selections.

And also they have a horse.


"Here in the lodge, we don't sweat death."

Healing Shamans

Look at the title quote. Yeah, seriously. The only people more magical and special at healing than these shamans are... gypsies. They'll heal anybody!... unless the spirits tell them not to. Whenever that might happen. Usually, they service a community, unless they go wandering aimlessly. Aimless wandering is the cornerstone of adventure, after all.

They start with a few healing psionic powers but by 2nd level get access to all of them. They also can choose a variety of others as they level of, if not many. They also get a very limited spell selections for healing and recovery spells, and a few shamanistic spells. They also get some specific fetishes: Healing (minor S.D.C. healing), Porcupine Quill (used to make tattoo fetishes), and Medicine Bundle (gives minor bonuses to all tribe members within 50 miles, and contains a number of extra-powerful other fetishes that can only be used during ceremonies). They get access to "Sweat Lodge (a.k.a. Medicine Lodge)" which is not only a lodge, but a "Legendary Fetish" maintained by the spirits and I'm trying real hard not to make fun of the term "fetish" but it's real hard when you have phrases like:

Rifts World Book 15: Spirit West posted:

... "Legendary" Medicine/Sweat Lodge fetish...

See, only "one in 10,000" healing shamans have their own personal sweat lodge... wait, there are more than 10,000 healing shamans? Given a PC can gain access to up to 7 different sweat lodges, that means there's at least 70,000 healing shamans, then. That should have a lot of impact on the setting, but mostly I think the math wasn't considered, as usual.

But I keep disgressing. Ultimately, the sweat lodge lets a healing shaman regenerate lost limbs and organs, and even bring the recently dead back to life with a surprising success rate of 80% (-5% per day since death). However, it takes a lot of P.P.E., so you probably need other spellcasters to fuel it, but it's the most reliable version of ressurrection so far. However, you specifically can't teleport to a sweat lodge because...



You can only teleport "within 1d4 days travel" of a lodge. What's more, only Healing Shamans can remember the location of the lodge, everybody else forgets the location after leaving. It's hinted the spirits move the lodges around and reveal the location to the Healing Shaman other than there being a set locale. They get a descent amount of skills and that's that. Oh. And a horse.

Now, the idea of a sweat lodge as super-healing is fairly bizarre; as far as I know it's mainly a form of purification mainly only along the indigenous peoples of the Plains, though it's known elsewhere and others have adopted it in more recent centuries. (There are similar traditions around the world.) Yes, traditionally, it's supposed to have healing properties. But the idea that it can resurrect the dead doesn't quite square with what I know. Also, scientifically, it's generally more likely to exacerbate medical issues due to the strain it puts in the body, and badly-constructed lodges have legitimately injured or killed people. As far as I can tell, most of these stem from bastardized New Age or "detox" versions of the ritual (science tip: sweat glands can't purify the body). Of course, it's also become an attempt to prove one's "manhood" with some as well, with similar risks.


The picture of androgyny.

Paradox Shamans

This is the '90s and so we can't skip the notion of androgyny and shamanism, so here goes. So, these are shamans that are supposed to embody both male and female aspects and thusly become the most powerfulest shamens. They call get a legendary spirit bow to defend against otherdimensional threats and get time-affecting magic, putting them at odds against temporal raiders and their disciples (from Rifts World Book 3: England). Most of the time they wander the wilds to defend Native American people, protect "the space/time continuum", and maintain the "cosmic balance".

So, the Paradox Shaman's major ablity is to view the "Memories of Earth", which means if they want to find out something about history, they can call it up 25% of the time. We then get a litany of things you're not allowed to use this for:
  • For personal gain.
  • For personal advancement.
  • For the greed of others.
  • For the history to be recorded for scholars.
  • To uncover historical mysteries.
  • To reveal unambiguous information that would hurt others.
  • Use it to fuel hatred of others.
  • Use it to betittle others.
So do the spirits punish them for breaking these rules? Well, no. Are they somehow restricted in what information they can access? Well, they can't get fine details. Nope, they're just presumed to abide by an unwritten code that the information only be used to help people. Except historians. gently caress you, Erin Tarn, you get nothing from us!

So, they also get access to all paradox shaman spells, some temporal magic (better hope you picked up a copy of Rifts World Book 3: England!), and have a spell list of arcane / dimensional / time spells they can choose out of the corebook. They can sense rifts within 50 miles, dimensional disturbances within a mile, see "dimensional effects" including the fairly useful ability to just spot invisible alien intelligence bullshit, and teleport along ley lines. They have the drawback where they can't create fetishes like other shamans, but get a variety automatically as they level up, most notably a "great body fetish" that makes them into M.D.C. creatures, a "heritage & self fetish" (lets you review your tribe's values), and at 2nd level you get a "legendary bow fetish" which is a bow that does really solid damage against M.D.C. targets and S.D.C. against anything else. Overall, it's a really versatile spellcasting class with an unreliable mystery-busting power that they can spam the GM with, since it has no cost. You just have to adhere to being a deeply, deeply '90s shamanistic trope.

Yes, you may think of all the talk about androgyny as an end-run about discussing the actual LGBT issues involved in this trope, and that'd deeefinitely seem to be the case here. Palladium at this point in time (maybe ever?) doesn't acknowledge their existence. Maybe they just remember that time they screwed up on every angle regarding it, but a lack of discussion of that in regards to this class really seems like trying to eat your cake and have it afterwards. Also just because spiritual power and some LGBT roles were associated in some cultures... making them into powerful cosmic powerhouses seems like a bit of a leap. Just a bit.

They get middling skills and a horse.


"I'll summon water at myself! This is my power!"

Elemental Shamans

How are we not done with shamans yet? FINE.

These are like warlocks (from Rifts Conversion Book) but instead of being tied to true elementals, they're tied to elemental spirits. Totally different, folks. They get their spells from gods and spirits and see the world as a bunch of interlocking systems, except not like a scientist, like... you know, let's just get to the powers.

So, they have to select one specific element. Oh, in case you're wondering, it's still just the classical Greek poo poo, so we have:
  • Air Shaman: Get Astronomy maxed out as a skill, hold your breath real long, tell wind direction, sense incoming weather maybe (but probably not), and are immune to wind effects. They can extend this immunity to others by touhcing them.
  • Earth Shaman: Get Holistic Medicine maxed out as a skill, sense minerals maybe, sense seismic disturbances, detect natural earth hazards maybe, take half damage from falls, maintain their balance against anything... maybe.
  • Fire Shaman: Create (non-mega-damage) flame, immune to normal heat and fire, take half damage from mega-damage fire, sense fires up to 40 miles maybe and forest fires up to 150 miles maybe, "recognize fire hazards" (not sure you need a power to sense fire), and analyze fires.
  • Water Shaman: Gain Swimming maxed out as a skill, hold your breath... long but not as long as an air shaman (element envy?), sense large bodies of water maybe, sense incoming weather in advance, detect impurities in water, and never sink unless you want to. People can stay afloat by hanging onto your corky rear end.
But there's more, of course. They get elemental warlock spells of their chosen element (better hope you have a copy of Rifts Conversion Book for that), can maybe speak with elementals (but probably not), sense elementals and elemental-ish creatures, get treated respectfully by elementals, and can maye summon an elemental in 2d6 minutes (but probably not, your chances are pretty lousy). Also we get some handwringing about how the elemental shouldn't help too, like saving the character's life. That sounds too troublingly useful!

Also for some reason they're vulnerable to stone weapons.

They get a surprisingly solid skill spread... and a horse. Of course they get a horse. Everybody gets a horse!


Did you know: bison are too dumb to know when they're dead! It's true!

Fetish Shamans

uuuuugh must not make jokes

It's my fetish shaman.

There, that's out of my system. These are shamans that are pros at entreating spirits to make magic goodies. These are also known as war shamans because they apparently supply all the weapons, and apparently often take the role of war chiefs. What exactly does a war chief do? How are they appointed? I didn't elect this fetish shaman!

Not my fetish shaman.

Let's do a bit of math. See, every 5 levels, they can make a legendary fetish. This costs them some of their Potential Psychic Energy, (1d4 x 10) + 20 worth of it, in fact. Let's see how this works out, given their P.P.E. ratings by level.

pre:
Level		Average P.P.E.	Average L. Fetish Cost	Resulting P.P.E.
5		46		45 (1 fetish)		1
10		63		90 (2 fetish)		-27
15		91		135 (3 fetishes)	-44
That's right, they have the ability but not the numbers to create all three legendary fetishes they have access to because somebody didn't do the math. And bear in mind P.P.E. is still needed to activate fetishes! So if they create any legendary fetishes, they're crippled in their ability actually use any other fetishes. Mind, it specifically says they can't even keep the legendary fetishes they create! They're required to give them up to other people.

This fuckin' game, man.

The legendary fetishes they can create are:
  • "Dragon Bone Armor Fetish" (may not contain actual dragon bone) that gives some pretty tough protection that regenerates.
  • "Serpent Fetish" that makes you immune to poison, dragon breath, immunity to "dragon gaze" (whatever the hell that is), and immunity to a dragon's horror factor.
  • "Spirit Weapon Fetish" which actually lets you create pretty solid magic weapons that do double damage to demons (handy) and triple damage to supernatural intelligences (inconsequential).
So some solid stuff, but probably not worth permanently crippling your character over. They also get three major fetishes, two of which are fixed tattoos - "Steady Hand", which gives a tiny bonus on some skills and attacks, and "War", which gives a bunch of modest combat bonuses. They also get a legendary fetish of their choice to start with. Unlike other shamans, they can have up to four minor fetishes and seven major fetishes. They can also sense magic items and automatically identify fetishes, as well as sense if "greater spirits, demon lords, or gods" are inflicted in a conflict (no details, though). They also get a bunch of sensitive psychic powers, a psi-sword at 3rd level, and... are vulnerable to fetish weapons, rune weapons, and techno-wizard weapons. Ironically, aside from creating legendary fetishes, they don't create any more fetishes than other shaman types, but can only hang on to more.

They get a variety of lore and wilderness skills and are excellent dancers. Also, they have a horse. I know. You were expecting something different. Look, it turns out Native Americans just get a free horse. It's part of equality. White people get all the political power, money, and country clubs. Native Americans get a horse. It evens out.

Well. That's it. I'm all out of shamans. Finally. We can move on.

Next: Shamanistic magic.

...mother fucker

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Firstborn posted:

Bret is my absolute favorite fluff in a game full of great lore. You could pluck anything out of warhammer fantasy and transplant it into another similar setting, and it'd be the best thing. In Warhammer it's just 1 little piece of world building silliness.
(Sorry if that's )

It's not , it's like, why I'm writing the review and why I love the setting so much. It's basically a bunch of independently interesting settings that ram into one another and fight, and have interesting interactions between them.

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