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Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

Part 6: Skills and Feats
A few skills work differently in Ravenloft, and we get an entire new skill to boot!
Alchemy can be used to make gunpowder (DC 15) for 5 silver pieces and ounce. You can make a huge batch at once (DC 20), but if you fail your check by more than 5 it explodes.
Animal Empathy: When under the influence of a Darklord, the Darklord's Charisma bonus is added to the DC.
Bluff can be used for Fortune-Telling or Seduction, as well as it's usual uses from the base game. They're basically just different sorts of lies.
Craft gets two new specializations: clockmaking and gunsmithing. If you have 5 ranks or more of Craft: Clockmaking, you get a +2 bonus when dealing with wheel-lock firearms.
Knowledge gets three new fields of study: Monster Lore (each type of monster is a specific subskill), Ravenloft (a specialized for of Knowledge: Planes dedicated to Ravenloft, only held by Darklords and a few scholars) and Lore skills, which are basically folklore.
The new skill is Hypnosis, it uses Charisma and is trained only. It's a weaker version of the hypnosis spell.

And that's it for Skills Onward to Feats!

Back to the Wall
When cornered, you fight harder! It requires a BAB of +2, and gives a +2 to AC and Attack Rolls when at a quarter of less of Max HP.

Cold One
You're cold. Can only be taken when you've had at least one level drained from you. Undead tend to think you're one of them (intelligent ones can make a DC 13 Wisdom roll to notice) and you die slower when under 0 hp, but heal naturally slower.

A straight +4 bonus to Fear saves. No pre-requisites.

Dead man Walking
You accept that you're doomed and are living on borrowed time. You need to have failed at least one Horror check or been reduced to -1 HP to take this feat. After the first Fear or Horror save, you receive a +2 bonus to all saves and skill checks for the rest of the encounter. You just go "Yep, time to die."

Ethereal Empathy
You can sense the emotions imbued within an ethereal resonance (stuff like ghosts or the sinkholes of evil that keep getting mentionned). You need to have at least 13 Wisdom to take it. The stronger the emotion, the easer the check from DC 20 down to 0 depending on the case).

You can see ghosts and other creatures that live on the Ethereal plane. They can see you too, though. Only characters that have been under 0 HP or have died and been brought back can take this.

The ghost of someone close to you is following you to help (mostly through spotting stuff you missed). The pre-requisite is, obviously enoguh, that someone close to your character has died.

Same as Courage, but for Horror saves.

You are affected by the moon, kinda like the Vistani (). Only Chaotic characters can take this. It's a variable bonus to stuff (+1 when the moon is gibbous, +2 during the Full moon, -2 during the New Moon), inverted for Will saves. Seems pointless to me.

Open Mind
Same as Jaded and Courage, but for Madness checks.

Folklore says redheads are touched by the fey. Somehow this gives you magic powers. Requires red hair and a Wisdom stat of 11+. Gives you one lvl-1 and two lvl-0 Druid spells. Can only be taken at character creation.

You have some vague memories of your past life. You have one more class skill (your choice) and gain a +2 bonus to Charisma checks with a specific person in the world (your "soulmate"). Can only be taken at character creation.

Voice of Wrath
You gain a +4 bonus when trying to curse people. Since this is usually when you get unfairly murdered, I fail to see the usefulness.

In fact, a lot of these Feats are extremely situational. Same with Skills.

One last thing, a sidebar addresses the Leadership feat and how it is changed by Ravenloft: the one-step-away restriction on alignments applies only to Ethical (Law/Chaos) Alignment and not to Moral (Good/Evil).

And that's it, a relatively small and boring update. Next, we'll go over Religions, a much better subject!


Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

In Nomine Game Master's Guide: Thou Shalt Not

Humans generate Essence via faith - it's what makes them special and what angels believe sets them apart. Humans who worship God, particularly via monotheism, generate Essence for Heaven. Some flows into divine Tethers, some feeds an Archangel's Word. Belief in pagan spirits feeds and can create ethereals. Thus, Heaven defines religions as either divine or pagan in a different way than humans: pagan religions are those faiths that feed ethereals. Monotheism never creates ethereals, even if the adherents pray more to certain icons than directly to God. There are no ethereal versions of Jesus, Mary or Muhammad, though a spirit can pretend to be them - they just won't be sustained by prayer. Further, some pagan deities have been 'killed' by losing their worshippers to a monotheistic faith. Brigid, for example, was a potent Celtic goddess, but when she was made a saint, her Essence flow dried up as it went to Heaven instead, and the pagan spirit of Brigid faded to nothing, with no ethereal Saint Brigid replacing her. Dominic sees this as proof of the divinity of Abrahamic faiths, and it's why many pagan gods hate monotheists.

However, the Essence from worship is diffuse, hard to track. Even Superiors can only estimate what beliefs and actions feed them with Essence via fluctuations in Earhtly supply based on events. They can't connect any one human's prayers to any being with an identifiable bit of Essence going anywhere - though Rites are a whole different matter. Thus, not all religions are easily defined as divine or pagan. For example: Taoism and Buddhism. They have huge followings, and some sects believe in entire pantheons, yet none of these sects have ever created Ethereals and there's definitely no ethereal Buddhas. Some angels believe it is because Eastern monism is divine - it may not recognize God, but these religions teach Heavenly values, and certainly Taoists and Buddhists can and do go to Heaven or Hell. Of course, so do atheists and pagans. Dominic and Laurence believe the Essence from Buddhism and similar religions goes somewhere, perhaps not to any pagan god that they can detect, but it's also not going to Heaven, they're fairly sure. Some Archanels are pretty sure they get Essence from non-monotheists, but not everyone is convinced.

Hinduism and certain other polytheistic religions, like those of the Australian aborigines or some Native American tribes, complicate things. Hindus and some polytheists simultaneously believe in an all-powerful Creator and a pantheon of lesser deities. these believers have created divine Tethers, strengthened Words and served as Soldiers of God...but they've also created ethereal Tethers, strengthened pagan gods and served as pagan Soldiers. Thus, the only unambiguous religions are pure monotheism and polytheism - and even then, of the latter, it's believed they can generate divine or infernal Essence under the right conditions, on top of ethereal Essence.

Dominic, for his part, hates this blurry line. Non-monotheistic beliefs are heretical in Heaven, and collaborating with ethereals ias a crime, but some angels do try to syncretize monotheism with Buddhism or Taoism or other faiths. Dominic does not appreciate this but he can't actually ban it. There's Buddhists and Hindus in Heaven, after all. Most angels do not follow any particular religion and indeed find their trappings superfluous. What matters is belief in God - language of prayer or following scripture or ritual clothes are all cosmetic. Some angels do have a specific faith, however. Most Angels of the Sword are Christian, and of those, most are Catholic. Angels of Faith tend to be Muslim. Even they do not care about the extraneous doctrines and rituals, however - they know what's important and what isn't. Angels tend to be much more tolerant of other religions than humans, though they do still get into debates, even heated ones.

Most demons believe God exists and is an rear end in a top hat. Beyond that, religion is just a way to control humans. Still, some uniquely diabolical beliefs have developed i Hell, ranging from predictable maltheists to strange Habbalite cults or creative twists on human religions. Most Princes don't care what you believe as long as you do your job, but too much religion does draw Game attention. Hell's Princes would lvoe to get in on religious Essence flow, and they love to corrupt divine religions and gain infernal Tethers from the misdeeds of the religious. However, no religion has ever reliably fueled Hell, as most human religions are either based on selfless principles or directly worship pagan gods. Essence can be diverted, but it's hard to keep humans totally focused on intentional selfishness. Not many religions explicitly endorse evil, and the few that do rarely attract stable followings. Baal and Belial, among others, were worshipped as gods in ancient times, but none of them have managed it in the modern era. Andrealphus and Nybbas are known to be collaborating on a postmodern media-driven religion of carnal self-indulgence. The rest of Hell is both interested and fearful. If it succeeds, it'll prove that faith can be turned to pure selfishness...but it might also make Andrealphus and Nybbas the most potent of Hell's Princes.

So, specific religions! First up, Judaism. Jews have much in common with Christians and Muslims, and Jewish scripture influenced both. However, modern Judaism is as much culture as religion, and many who identify as Jews do not practice the Jewish faith. You can be an atheist Jew. Anti-semitism has often been a problem with relations with non-Jews. From the Jewish perspective, Christianity is an odd, Greek-influenced pagan offshoot of Judaism - a view that several angels agree with, and even those that now favor Christianity respect the Jews as the first mortals to serve God.

By 2000 BC, many pagan gods were benefiting from human religion, and some even rivaled Archangels in sheer Forces. It was feared that some might even be able to contest for Words. Yves proposed monotheism as a solution. So it was that the tribal chieftain Abram was led from Mesopotamia to Canaan in the 19th century BC. I nexchange for serving God, the newly named Abraham was promised prosperity for his people. Abraham's grandson, Jacob, sired the Twelve Patriarchs, and the tribes of Israel conquered their neighbors with the aid of David and Michael. Worship of Yahweh became much stronger than worship of the Canaanite gods, and Heaven was pleased. The Israelites were not at that point true monotheists - they believed there were other gods, of which Yahweh was supreme and the only one worthy of worship. Ethereals mark this as the point of first hostility with heaven, and also claim that Yahweh was simply a war god who got lucky and that all celestial memories predating this were implanted by Yahweh.

The evolution to true monotheism took over a thousand years, in which the Israelites repeatedly fell back into pagan worship despite warnings by their prophets, so Michael and David stood by while they were enslaved by Egypt, conquered by Babylon, then Assyria, then Persia, then Greece, then Rome. But when the Jews were loyal, David often sent his servants to help, as in the Maccabean revolt of 167 BC or the siege of Masada in 73 AD, which turned the Zealots' fortress into a Tether to Stone. By the 5th century AD, Rabbinical scholars compiled the Talmurd, a book of commentaries on the Hebrew Bible. More than anything, this unified the Jews as monotheists. Over the next few centuries, the Diaspora continued, spreading Jews from China to sub-Saharan Africa or England. Often, they were insular communities within larger socities. In Europe they were persecuted both for their beleifs and as moneylenders, as usury was forbidden to Christians. They were unpopular with the nobles, who often found pogroms or exile of Jews as a way to avoid paying loans. However, their role in European trade earned Marc's favor. Until quite recently, they also found more hospitality in Muslim lands, where they were hated less and often received high positions in government, especially as doctors or scholars.

The Hebrews were not scattered in almost invisible enclaves in the west, and no single Archangel took special interest in them, as the Christians and Muslims spread monotheism more now than the Jews did. The Holocaust took everyone by surprise and created immense guilt in Heaven. It seemed like it must have been a diabolical plot to wipe out God's chosen people, but even after it became clear that any demonic involvement was just opportunistic, and the attempted genocide of both the Jews and many others was a human evil, the angels felt deep shame that no patron had been watching out for the Jews. So far, no Archangel has stepped forward to be the patron of Judaism as Laurence is for Christianity or Khalid for Islam. (Half a century is not a very long time for an Archangel to think about that kind of thing, after all.) Michael and David are both known to support modern Israel...but Valefor and Malphas both championed its creation as well. Dominic has recruited increasingly from Orthodox Rabbis, both for Saints and Soldiers, Eli has been spotted in many Reform synagogues, and Janus is believed to have some interest in the Reconstructionist movement. Certainly, Heaven is no longer forgetting about the Jews.

Ethnically, modern Jews divide primarily into the Ashkenazi and Sephardic groups, with a few other offshots like the Yemeni Jews, Ethiopian Jews and Asian Jews. The Ashkenazi descend from Eastern Europe, and speak Yiddish, a creole of Hebrew, German and Russian. Sephardic Jews descend from Spain, Portugal and the Middle East, and their language, Ladino, was msotly destroyed in the Holocaust. Both branches now speak Hebrew, but with different accents. The Sephardics did more to integrate into local culture than the Ashkenazi, and the Ashkenazi spawned more movements, but in practice there is little modern difference between the two groups.

Early Jewish history has several sects - the Samaritans, the Pharisees, the Essenes, the Sadducees and the Zealots, among others. All but the Pharisees were destroyed under Rome, and the Jews became almost homogeneous until medieval times. Almost all modern Jews trace their history back to the Rabbinical Talmudic tradition, and modern sects, like the Hasidim and Mitnaggedim, developed in the 1700s in Eastern Europe. Theologically, the main movements among the Jews today are the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. A newer movement, the Reconstructionists, are small but vocal in the US. Orthodox Jews believe the Torah is the literal and inerrant word of God. The Reform believe the Torah was written by humans, and thus may be flawed in places and not need to be interpreted literally. Conservatives are in between, seeing the Torah as divinely inspired by human-authored.

The most basic tenet of Jewish faith is that there's one God, and only one God. All Orthodox Jews also believe the Torah is the literal word of God, from which not one word could be added or taken away. Reform and Conservative Jews consider the Torah sacred but not necessarily perfect. Jews await the coming of the Messiah, whom they believe will someday come to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and transfigure the world. In the meantime, they honor Saturday as their Sabbath, a holy day. The Torah is a lawbook, and the Orthodox try to obey all 613 laws, but since no two Rabbis can even agree on what each means, even the Orthodox don't all follow in the same way. Most of modern Jewish orthodoxy was developed by Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, aka Maimonides, a 12-century Spanish physicaian who emigrated to Egypt and served Saladin. His book, A Guide for the Perplexed, was meant to make Judaism accessible to the common man. He argued against anthropomorphizing God and codified the Jewish creed into 13 articles. Dominic regards the Creed of Maimonides as one of the best and most succinct statements of orthodoxy ever made by a mortal, and he reccommends it for angels as well. Jews hold that prayer, penitence and charity (including good works) are needed to gain entry to Heaven, and many hold that good deeds alone are sufficient, as God will forgive a lack of prayer. Thus, anyone can get into Heaven, not just Jews.

The Hebrews have identified themselves as God's chosen people since the earliest...but it isn't an exalted state. It doesn't make them superior. It just means they have a special covenant with God, and must honor the terms of that agreement or suffer God's wrath. Non-Jews are not held to the same standard, but are not supposed to be seen as inferior. Meanwhile, there's Zionism. It's a political movement started in the 1800s by Jews seeking a Jewish homeland. The early Zionists believed Jews would never be truly free or united until they had a nation of their own, and they selected Palestine out of ancient ties to the land and in the belief that they could coexist with the Arabs already living there. While Zionism had religious overtones, it was primarily a secular movement, and was originally opposed by the Orthodox. Today, as with the state of Israel, Zionism remains divisive among both Jews and non-Jews. Some believe Malphas was responsible for Zionism, but David supported them, and Baal opposed them out of a desire to keep his ancient foes disunited and unarmed.

Next time: Christianity

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011



Essence can be diverted, but it's hard to keep humans totally focused on intentional selfishness.

This is the least realistic statement in any RPG.

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

Bill Webb's Book of Dirty Tricks

I'm always on the look-out for GM-ing advice-type books, so when this showed up on my radar, I had to try it. I did not like it.

I'd like to preface my read-through with that. I'm going to be uncharitable, and some of this is going to come down to my own personal style clashing with this person's and probably me calling it badwrongfun, but I can't help it, that's just the way I feel.

To start us off, the cover art itself shows us someone, ostensibly the GM, rolling a d20 and gleefully crushing a pair of what I can only assume are player-characters. That, plus the opening to the introduction, sets the tone:


Welcome to Bill Webb’s Book of Dirty Tricks. This fun little tome is a GM utility for use during regular play when either too many good things happen to the players due to luck or just whenever the GM feels they need a little push to remind them that success is fleeting.

He says that these "tricks" are usually lifted from all sorts of media, but he doesn't do it verbatim, because otherwise his "victims" might already be familiar with them.

As further background, Bill Webb himself is the CEO of Frog God Games, the publisher of Original D&D retroclone Swords & Wizardry (and also Pathfinder-compatible equivalents), and especially the Rappan Athuk megadungeon, which is purportedly inspired by Gygaxian classics like the Tomb of Horrors.

That should give you an idea of what we're in for: cutting the legs out from under your players, and referring to them as victims. Great.

The book is divided into multiple parts:

Part 1: Bill Webb's House Rules


This is a series of house rules that have been used in the Lost Lands for more than 35 years. If applied, these rules significantly decrease the power level of play and make the game much more difficult.

The real key here is that advancement in my campaign is slow. Characters and monsters, even high level ones, are vulnerable and can be killed. Players in my game who have reached 6th- or 7th-level are proud of their accomplishment.

This just sets off all sorts of red flags in my head. Make the characters weaker and make them earn their fun.

Part 2: The Players Got Too Much Treasure


This series of tricks is designed to “take away” some of the players’ ill-gotten gains based on circumstances outside of the main game. These can be used for several reasons. First, if the players simply got a little too lucky and gathered a few too many gold pieces last adventure, the GM may need to take back some of that loot without appearing capricious. Second, the dirty tricks can be used to provide impetus for the players to “get going already.” Nothing spurs a group of greedy players out the door more than financial hardship. Last, it offers a sense of realism. I mean, really, who among us has not gotten a bonus at work, just to have the car break down or that tuition payment be due all in the same week? The GM giveth, and the GM taketh away … that is just the reality of the game.

So, you're the GM, right? You're the ultimate arbiter of what gets dropped in the dungeon. How is it possible that you're going to give the players "too much" treasure? If you hand-selected your treasure, it couldn't possibly be too much, because you made it that way! If you randomly rolled it, how about biting your tongue and deleting one line of the roll results before awarding to the players rather than dicking around with them?

The last bit about the car breaking down after getting a bonus is also very God complex-y. Unless I'm maybe playing a game of Red Markets where economic horror is the self-advertised name of the game, I really don't need to experience capitalistic "poverty trap" mechanics in my game of reality-escapism.

Part 3: Situational Advantage (Environment)

This one is not so bad. It talks about how you can make tunnels slippery, or dungeon rooms have stinky air, or battlefields have mud and rubble, to add an extra layer of difficulty so that you can keep monsters simple while driving up the challenge.

Part 4: Time Wasters


Specific situations where this GM has used some of these include the “all-elf party” where secret door detection became laughable (also known as “the reason Bill hates elves”), as well as one instance where I found that my players started casting defensive spells every time my favor text got heavy.

Whenever the players are set-up to succeed at something, dick with them a bit to show them what for.

Part 5: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing


These tricks are used to remove the predictability of what seems a safe or easy situation. Just because it’s a goblin does not mean it has fewer than 8 hp and that your fghters get multiple attacks against it.

More of what I'd consider bad GMing advice: deliberately withhold information from the players, then use it against them.

Part 6: Sheep in Wolf's Clothing


More fun for the GM and less dangerous for the players are the sheep that appear to be wolves. It always brings back memories of The Wizard of Oz for me. It’s a blast to have the players waste spells and magic items to completely obliterate that 1 hp bad guy. Sometimes it’s dangerous to do so (remember your frst gas spore?), but most of the time it’s just paranoia followed by massive overkill. These tricks are particularly effective when used deep in a
dungeon, right after a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing encounter, or in another way where the players are expecting the worst. It’s quite entertaining to see if you can get the 10th-level party to negotiate a truce with the 1 HD goblin because he “scares the hell out of them.”

Again, if you drop a lede on the players to elicit a specific reaction, then you point at them and laugh for taking that reaction, you're an rear end in a top hat.

Part 7: Trickery

This is more of the same - things to "keep players on their toes" or "teach them how play more carefully"

Part 8: Greed is Bad!


Often, players get greedy. They simply are not satisfed with some random boon or thing that they have found, and seek to exploit it. I am often reminded of the Once-ler from Dr. Suess’ [sic] “The Lorax” when I am motivated to use tricks like these. Having found a “good thing,” the players may try to get “too much of a good thing.” This, of course, must be punished.

And I think we've hit antagonistic GM bingo here, with the author referring to punishing the players.

Next: The Battle of Agincourt

Aug 23, 2009

I miss John Wick already.

Also is that supposed to be him on the cover? How has he not been murdered or at least assaulted yet?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

So, to sum up, the book is "good GMing is exemplified by being needlessly antagonistic and massively passive-aggressive?"

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011


Kavak posted:

I miss John Wick already.

Also is that supposed to be him on the cover? How has he not been murdered or at least assaulted yet?

I saw that cover and assumed it was Unknown Armies art at first.

Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten

Count Chocula posted:

I saw that cover and assumed it was Unknown Armies art at first.

What channels does the "rear end in a top hat GM" avatar path give you?

Jul 24, 2013

Grimey Drawer

I feel that the whole wolf in sheep's clothing and visa versa could be quite good tools to be used once or twice to keep your party on their toes. As long as you give the party hints that the scenario will be more then meets the eye then it should be fine.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Does he actually talk about any games other than D&D and its non-union equivalents, anyway?

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011

There have been 82631 posts made by sexpig by night, an average of 24.08 posts per day

The Democrats!

I think I said it when the Wick book came up but I genuinely don't understand the 'GM advice' that boils down to 'just fuckin lie'.

Like...yea man, you can just lie. That's the relationship here, you're making this bullshit elfworld up, nothing we're talking about is real, you're in control here. Why not just tell GMs to give the Big Bad a magic sword that lets him go back in time and shove everyone's mom down a flight of stairs because gently caress it? It's not like you have to set rules when you're just lying to people. Why go half assed with 'muaha no the goblin has TEN HP, not EIGHT! YOU IDIOT! YOU LOOK SO loving STUPID RIGHT NOW!!!!'? Why not just give the goblin a loving dragon mount that was invisible up till now?

Feb 13, 2012

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

It's because it was how it was first done to them and by god the cycle of abuse is going to continue, I find.

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

Kavak posted:

Also is that supposed to be him on the cover? How has he not been murdered or at least assaulted yet?

Alien Rope Burn posted:

So, to sum up, the book is "good GMing is exemplified by being needlessly antagonistic and massively passive-aggressive?"
Pretty much.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Does he actually talk about any games other than D&D and its non-union equivalents, anyway?

Tatum Girlparts posted:

I think I said it when the Wick book came up but I genuinely don't understand the 'GM advice' that boils down to 'just fuckin lie'.

Like...yea man, you can just lie. That's the relationship here, you're making this bullshit elfworld up, nothing we're talking about is real, you're in control here. Why not just tell GMs to give the Big Bad a magic sword that lets him go back in time and shove everyone's mom down a flight of stairs because gently caress it? It's not like you have to set rules when you're just lying to people. Why go half assed with 'muaha no the goblin has TEN HP, not EIGHT! YOU IDIOT! YOU LOOK SO loving STUPID RIGHT NOW!!!!'? Why not just give the goblin a loving dragon mount that was invisible up till now?
Because these books are trying to solve problems that aren't there. It's not an issue with the game, it's an issue with the person. If you think to yourself "Ah-ha! He didn't say he lit a torch! Take 1-6 damage because you fall in the dark!" you do not need advice on how to DM. You need advice on how to get your needs met in an appropriate way in life.

Jul 19, 2012

Chapter 1 Pt.1:Lore of the Wyrm
After the intro, it's time for some backstory, and by "some" I mean "A lot".

Back when the world wasn't completely hosed up, and the Wyrm wasn't corruption incarnate. The Wyrm, Weaver, and Wyld existed in harmony. The Wyld is creation incarnate, generating matter and energy in an endless profusion. The Weaver is order and stasis, imposing form on the Wylds creations to prevent them from being an endless mutating multitude. The Wyrm, was the balancer between the two. It hedged in the other two if they ever grew too powerful, preventing creation or stasis from taking over the world. Thus the entirety of existence continued for a nameless eternity.
Of course, something had to change eventually. Somehow, for some reason, the Weaver became self-aware. It looked at the entirety of creation and saw no meaning in its structures. It wanted more, but that pesky Wyrm kept on destroying what it created. So it snared the Wyrm in its webs. Trapped, and unable to maintain balance between the Wyld and the increasingly ambitious Weaver, the Wyrm went mad. It lashed out in an orgy of random destruction, but even in this the Wyrm was limited. Since it couldn't just flat out consume anything anymore, it learned to use its prison in its work. Pulling at the strings, twisting the Weavers creations so that they would destroy those around them, and eventually themselves. The Wyrm had found Corruption. The Wyrm had become corruption.
Entropy, death, and destruction weren't anything new, they're a part of the cosmos and have been occuring for as long as the dance of the triat had been going. But Corruption was new, and with it came new tricks. Parasites, autoimmune diseases, and cancer all became more virulent than they had previously been. Toxins that could rend the fabric of the umbra itself and affect spirits came into being. The Wyrm also created corruption incarnate, radiation.

Which... radiation is just a thing that happens when elements decay. So as long as elements have existed there should have been radiation. But it's a conceit that's been with Werewolf with the beginning so just go with it.

The Triatic Wyrm
As the Wyrm struggled in the pattern web, the strands pulled tighter cutting it to pieces. Which tore each other into other, smaller pieces. These pieces gained their own desires, and became aware on their own. The Garou call these pieces the Hydra, and one of the first acts of the trapped Wyrm was to use the Hydra's many heads to make contact with potential allies, leading them to where the Wyrm was imprisoned, the corrupted realm of Malfeas.
Every creature acting in the Wyrm's service actually serves one of the Hydras three heads. But what the Garou do not know is that the heads of the Hydra is a separate entity, connected to the others only through the bulk of the Wyrm itself. They don't communicate, and often end up in conflict as each tries to do the job of destroying reality in their own way. The savvier Garou have managed to engineer these situations, making sure that none of them actually get their way.

Beast-of-War: The Calamity Wyrm
The Beast-of-War is a corrupted reflection of the Wyld. In every way that the Wyld is a force of creation the Calamity Wyrm is a force of destruction. In it’s purest form it is absolute devastation without possibility of regrowth or healing. It is also the manifestation of the Wyrm’s desire to be free of the Weaver. A mindless beast motivated by an unrestrained appetite for violence and an unending hunger for destruction. The Silver Fangs have a legend of a time in the ancient past when they prevented the Beast-of-War from manifesting, though this appears to have been it’s only attempt.
That’s mostly because it doesn’t have to. Every war feeds it, every time a member of the Changing Breeds gives in to Rage it gets a little stronger. When battle lines are drawn and you can’t tell friend from foe it is the Beast-of-War you have to blame.

Eater-of-Souls: The Consuming Wyrm
Eater-of-Souls is a mockery of the Weaver. Mindlessly consuming everything in a vain effort to free the Wyrm. It is greed and obsession, it is that voice in the hearts of jealous lovers who kill their partners rather than see them be happy with anyone else.
Physically it manifests itself in cancerous tumors and wasting diseases like HIV. It is also the most active of the Hydra in that it seeks to satisfy its hunger. In the sixteenth century A.D. it even attempted to manifest in the physical world, and it took the sacrifice of an entire Garou tribe to stop it.

The Defiler Wyrm
The Defiler Wyrm is the Wyrm’s twisted reflection of itself. It is manifested self loathing turned outward in an effort to bring everyone else down with it. It is insidious and powerful, seducing and tempting people into all manner of self destructive actions. Suicide, addiction, self-mutilation. It is the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. It’s also the only Wyrm who lacks a Maeljin servant and has not tried to manifest physically. It probably thinks it beneath itself.

Urge Wyrms
Trapped in the Web and unable to act, the Wyrm yearned for release. These desires fed on its desperation and panic until they became separate entities unto themselves. The Garou call them the Urge Wyrms. Urge Wyrms are emotions taken to a pathological and self destructive extreme. Someone touched by the Urge Wyrm of Despair not only has all his feelings of despair magnified, they seep into him for weeks and months, eventually becoming a constant part of him, finally consuming him utterly.
They are the most active of the Hydra’s heads, but as creatures of pure emotion they lack a physical form. A fight against an Urge Wyrm is a personal one, fought in your mind and heart. This means the Garou are ill equipped to fight them directly, though there are rare and powerful rituals that can shield people from their influence such things are usually the endpoint of a lifetime of searching.

The Maeljin Incarna
Not being able to manifest physically doesn’t stop them from having representatives, though. The Maeljin Incarna, or more simply the “Dark Lords”, were all once human. But posessed by an Urge Wyrm to such a great degree that it transformed them into an avatar of spiritual corruption and malfeasance. Though as a part of the Wyrm’s body, they too are more driven to fight against each other than cooperate.

Each Maeljin serves in their position until it either fails in its duties or a more powerful avatar replaces it. They can be killed but such acts of transgression are usually so vile that their murderer immediately becomes their replacement. Even barring that a new avatar would eventually arise, but the world might be free of their influence for a year to a decade.

According to the legends, each Maeljin has a unique weakness. Someone who knows this weakness could destroy a Dark Lord and prevent it from rising for over a century - if they don’t destroy it outright. Destroying a Maeljin Incarna also weakens the associated head of the Hydra, and until it gains a new avatar its influence in the world would be weakened. Though actually exploiting such a weakness would be difficult to exploit. Not to mention that killing a Maeljin in such a way would probably be a great undertaking. Doubly not mentioning that discovering such a weakness may be just this side of impossible.

Humans wishing to serve the Wyrm often approach one of the Incarna and pledge loyalty to them. Black Spirals prefer working through their totems as they find the Maeljin Incarna too prone to infighting. And Pentex hates the Maeljin Incarna because they’re at roughly the same level in the Wyrm’s power structure. Smart employees will pledge their service to the board of directors. Very smart employees will game an Incarna to replace the board of directors.

Foebok, the Urge of Fear
If the legends are to be believed, the first Urge Wyrm. Born of the Wyrm’s terror at its captivity, it magnifies fear into mindless panic and all consuming dread. Since it is such a primal emotion it lacks a Maeljin Incarna. The Black Spirals are able to call upon its power through their totem Hakaken, the Heart of Fear.

Vorus, the Urge of Greed
Born of the Wyrm’s scrabbling at everything in reach. The grasping for anything avaliable became Vorus. Victims of this urge find that everything they obtain just inflames their desire for more. Conspicuous consumption and the drive of the ultra-wealthy to increase their worth are both the hand of Vorus at play. He has no Incarna, because sharing consciousness with another entity is just as antithetical to it as any other form of sharing.
If you need further inspiration

this guy.
Though in fairness, Vorus did come first

Mahsstrac, the Urge of Power
Mahsstrac is the desire for dominance and control, not as a means to an end but as an end in themselves. Under Mahsstrac’s gaze they lose sight of their original goals and become obsessed with expanding their power and retaining what they have. It has no Maeljin since it lives in the heart of everyone who selfishly serves the Wyrm. The Black Spirals can call upon it’s strength through the Green Dragon.

Karnala, the Urge of Desire
Karnal is untamed desire. It can attach itself to any goal, but once attained its victims quickly find something else that they must pursue. It feeds on yearning, not attainment. They are also blinded to anything beyond their desires, especially long term consequences. In many ways it is the opposite of Vorus. A Gambler in Vorus’ thrall would not risk anything unless they were assured of a win. One under Karnala would risk anything just for the next thrill.

The Countess Desire, Empress Aliara
Rumored to have originally been a popular courtesan during Caliph Haroun al-Raschid’s reign, she has a profound understanding of peoples innermost desires and spurs them to act on them with reckless abandon. She appears as the ideal object of desire to whomever she speaks. An incarnation of wanton sexuality, maternal nurturing care, or the most loving child imaginable. When she wishes, everyone she deals with sees her differently. And while everyone desires her, she sees others as nothing more than disposable tools.
Destruction: Aliara can only be destroyed by someone she desires. They must be under her influence, temporarily resist her charms, and while seemingly captivated by her, declare fealty. Then they must steal a weapon from her collection and use it to deliver a killing blow. The major problem being that the influence and fealty are both true. They are in service to the Wyrm, and failing in their task means that they are bound to her for eternity. Aliara has a ever growing collection of would-be assassins.

Abhorra, the Urge of Hatred
Born of the Wyrm’s hatred for the Weaver. It is pure and potent loathing in search of a target. In its grip dislike and discomfort turn into disgust and rage. Every action taken by the object of their loathing is a threat worthy of retaliation, and so Abhorra spreads.

The Duke of Hate, Lord Steel
The current Lord Steel was once a conquistador who sacked the natives of Central and South America, eternally clad in black armor and a contorted mask of black steel. He thrives on all forms of hatred, but especially that directed at large groups of people. His devotees offer him sacrifices of burnt flesh in hopes of gaining vengeance on their rivals. He cares nothing for the political maneuverings of the other Maeljin, lost amid a sea of his own ever shifting hatreds. He leaves his throne only to lead his Bane armies in war.
Destruction: Some believe that only an Innocent challenging Lord Steel to battle can defeat him, but an Innocent would merely die. Others believe that only one filled with Hatred for Lord Steel can defeat him, but such divine hatred would merely replace him. The only thing that can defeat Lord Steel is himself.
A would-be Assassin must remove his black mask, weakening him by revealing the rather ordinary looking human face within. Then he must be captured and brought to a well-lit chamber with mirrors in all directions, forcing him to always look at his own face- the shock of which will keep him contained. After a full lunar month imprisoned in such a fashion he will rip himself apart in self-loathing, dying in the process. Of course his aforementioned bane army will be tracking him during said lunar month.

Angu, the Urge of Cruelty
Believed to the be the foul offspring of Abhorra, Angu seeks to inflict the Wyrm’s pain on others. Its touch erodes sympathy and compassion. Victims first try to justify the suffering they cause but eventually even that falls away in their enjoyment of suffering for suffering’s sake.
The Caliph of Pain, Lady Aife
Aife was once a torturer for the Spanish Inquisition. She cares only for inflicting as much suffering as possible, sometimes seeking advice from the Countess of Desire to find out what her victims care about most. She threatens to destroy these objects to both torture her victims, and to force them to torture others lest their desires crumble. She appears as a beautiful woman who sends shards of glass flying every time she tosses her flaming read hair. She rides a steed made of rusted metal and wields a pair of jagged glass whips.
Destruction:Only something that is aware of pain but entirely indifferent to it can kill her. A pattern spider, or the Nameless Angel of Despair are two examples, but actually motivating such an entity to kill her is almost impossible.

Ba’ashkai, the Urge of Violence
Second only to Foebuck in its relation to primal emotion, Ba’ashkai begins as a drive to use excessive violence in some situations and becomes a desire to use violence as the first and only answer to all problems. Unlike Abhorra, it is not motivated by hate, nor by Angu’s suffering, it is violence for violence’s sake because a problem can’t bother you if it’s dead.
Chieftan of Rage, General of the Armies of the Wyrm and Patron of Abuse, Hellbringer.
As an incarnation of brutality, this Maeljin serves both Ba’ashkai and the Beast-of-War. Hellbringer is the general of the armies of the Wyrm and the patron of abuse. Anyone struck by a bolt from his crossbow attacks whoever is nearest. He has never been defeated in battle and were one to try, they would surely replace him.
hellbringer has another face, that of Malik Harjaq, the Master of Mayhem - a Viking berserker with a dozen arms each wielding a different weapon.
Destruction:Obviously you can’t kill these guys in battle. Hellbringer must find himself in a situation where he is entirely alone and compelled to stab himself with his own crossbow bolt. Thus enticed to kill himself he must be provided with a weapon sufficiently powerful to do the deed. But everything must be by his own hand. No one else can wield the weapon or engineer the bolt’s path.
Malik Harjaq periodically sates himself in a post-battle revelry, where he must be killed by a potent Wyld-poison, the recipe of which is a well-guarded secret for reasons.

Khaaloobh, the Urge of Consumption
The most mysterious of the Urge Wyrms, it goes by names such as Consumption, Indulgence, and Decay. In all ways though it is a breakdown of order, in the mind, will, emotions, or body. This progressive collapse has brought about the downfall of many of the Wyrm’s minions as well as its foes.

Knight Entropy, the Wyrm’s Spawn
The Knight Entropy’s gaze rots its target and its touch turns people and targets to duch. It never negotiates, even with its fellow Maeljin, and it’s impossible to coerce and control. Instead, anything or anyone pure, honorable, or perfect attracts its deadly gaze. It appears as a fearl human of indeterminate gender wearing the tattered remains of a crusader’s amor.
Destruction:The only thing that can destroy Lord Entropy is the pure and creative energies of the Wyld. Directly exposing it to the Flux realm would instantly Kill it. Alternately some of the changing breeds could figure out a way to channel several Caerns into a single powerful site. If he tries to drain such a Caern of its power, as he has so many others, it would surely obliterate him.

Pseulak, the Urge of Lies
Lying for gain, convenience, or the enjoyment of deceit feeds Pseulak. It always starts out small, a few lies of convenience that lead to a habit, and eventually a web of falsehoods so complex and cloying that the victims only choice is more lying. The spiral of hypocrisy causing them to lie to everyone, even themselves. The only falsehoods that do not serve Pseulak are the deceptions inherent in the natural world - Camouflage and feints used by hunting animals.
Corruption’s Advocate, the Chamberlain of LIes, the Honorable Main duBois, Esquire
The most accomplished liar in any realm. He most often operates by convincing others to act for him, especially previously innocent politicians and bureaucrats. He dresses in an old fashioned suit that is tattered and drenched in slime, and he is constantly followed by a fluttering storm of paper and papyrus.
Destruction:Profiting at his expense when negotating a contract with duBois is merely a way to take his place. To destroy him someone must make him sign a contract that requires him to forfeit his title if he fails to uphold his end of the bargain. Beyond that no one else can profit from either his success or failure. If he cannot uphold his end of the bargain he instantly ceases to exist.

Sykora, the Urge of Paranoia
Allied with the urges of Fear and Hatred, Sykora causes personal failure and random misfortune to appear to have malevolent causes. Some retreat from the world, but Sykora encourages those who lash out at phantom enemies. The lack of trust and narcisistic view that the victim is the center of a vast conspiracy are like sweet wine to her.
The Archbishop of Madness, Doge Klypse
A short and pudgy man with a round hairless head and sunken mad eyes. He is dressed in black robes threaded with a hypnotic purple pattern, and forces his victims to kiss a ring made of a shiny purple tumor. Said kiss drives them insane. The Doge also becomes lost in bouts of madness where he kills everyone around him.
Destruction:Rumor has it that, somewhere in Malfeas, there exists a small box that contains the name and memory of the last person Doge Klypse trusted before he became an Incarna. If this box is found and opened the memory will return to the Doge rendering him temporarily incapable of being Sykora’s representative. Suddenly mortal he must perform an hour-long ritual to purge the memory into a new box, during this ritual he is vulnerable.

Gree, the Urge of Dispair
Gree devours its victims’ will, destroying their desire to act or take control of their lives in even the smallest ways. The most common result of possession is Suicide, either through deliberate action or passive neglect.
The Nameless Angel of Despair
The patron of suicides, it can manifest in many places at once and feeds on sadness. It cannot speak, communicating only in the negative emotions it projects, and has the innate ability to appear wherever its presence would push someone over the edge. It takes no part in Maeljin politics but all the Wyrms servant fear its gray robes and the cold, dark despair that comes with it.
Destruction:The Nameless Angel is the source of the Harano that sometimes grip the Garou, but this Harano is also its weakness. To destroy the Nameless Angel the Garou once created a legendary ritual to fill themselves with hope and rage. This rite can only work at a Concolation, a grand moot of Garou from far and wide. Garou from three different septs must simultaneously work part of the ritual at their caerns. At the end of this ritual they howl their rage at the Wyrm in one terrible instant. This surge of emotion is the Nameless Angel’s undoing. Unfortunately the details of this ritual are lost to time - and once the ritual occurs the Angel will know exactly what is happening and work to stop it.

Lethargg, the Urge of Apathy
The child of Gree replaces will with a growing loss of feeling. Its victims grow indifferent to the lives and suffering of others and then stop caring about their own lives. The most fully possessed lose themselves to catatonia or fall into comas. Today, Lethargg causes the masses of humanity to ignore the horrors and injustices of everyday life. Better to ignore anything beyond the immediate scope of your life, nothing you can do will improve the world.
Unsurprisingly, Lethargg is one of the more successful Urge Wyrms.
The Master of Stagnation, Lord of Disease, Thurifuge
Devoted to plagues, stagnation, and water pollution, Thurifuge has devoted himself both to Lethargg and the Eater-of-Souls. He both fosters illness and pollution and encourages those around him to ignore it. He appears as a tall, lean man with corpse-like skin that has an oily shine, and a fetid pool of slime surrounds him even in the cleanest of places.
Destruction:Somewhere in the world at a powerful caern there exists the spring of the purest healing water in the world. Splashing a few drops of this on Thurifuge will weaken him enough for an attacker to drown him in the springs waters. But they only have once chance, if he does not drown when immersed in the spring he will pollute it, forever destroying both it and the Caern.

Elemental Wyrms
As the Triatic Wyrm is a corrupted reflection of the Triat, the Elemental Wyrms are hideous mockeries of the four sacred elements. The Maeljin of the elements were never human, but are elevated from the strongest elementals of their type.

Hoga, the Essence of Smog
Hoga is corrupted air. Noxious fumes that corrupt or poison all who breathe it. It manifests in the physical world in exhaust from cars and factories, and the foul smoke from burning refuse. Limited exposure produces shortness of breath and muddled thoughts, while larger amounts cause breathing disorders like asthma and fatal lung diseases.

The Master of Smog, Lord Choke
Lord Choke enjoys both the metaphorical smothering of a person’s freedom as well as the literal smothering of, you know, choking. He commands his servants to clog the air with smog and smoke, and he delights equally in stalled rush hour traffic and burning oil wells.
Destruction:Only the four most powerful air elementals working together can disperse Lord Choke. Of course they all hate each other, and Lord Choke can defeat any one of them singularly.

Furmas, the Essence of Balefire
Balefire is both the corruption of fire and the spiritual representation of radioactivity. It is the Wyrm’s blood and it twists whatever it touches, it’s also found naturally in isolated pockets deep within the earth’s crust. Unsurprisingly this is the Black Spiral Dancer’s favorite element.
The Master of Hellfire, Lord Kerne
Kerne has grown fat on the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. Although his spirit form seems cadaverous and frail, he is composed of tainted lava and his breath is atomic fire.
Destruction:To destroy Lord Kerne he must first be frozen solid, and then his frozen form must be encased in lead. Such encasement must be complete and finished within an hour, or he will melt his prison. Even once defeated if anyone breaches his prison he will spring back to life, so have a good hiding place in mind.

As an aside, i do appreciate that the lord of radiation can only be contained and remains a danger even after defeat, since this is a real problem that we’re trying to find a solution to How do you communicate to future civilizations that you’re hiding something actively dangerous and not delicious delicious treasure?

H’rugg, the Essense of Sludge
The corrupted earth, H’rugg represents the solid portions of the Wyrm’s body. It lives in the toxic dumps and landfills, and it’s nature turns everything it touches into more sludge. And it… “Makes victims cling to their beliefs even when presented with clear evidence that disproves them” ..what?
The Master of Sludge, Lord Collum
Collum is a creature of raw sewage, his influence extends throughout the sewers of all cities allowing him to gather a great number of secrets. It tries to corrupt all the dwellers of the sewers, including the Ratkin, Nosferatu, and..well.. whatever else is there. He is the consort of Lady Yul, fertilizing her toxic eggs and adopting some of her darker children. He appears as a roughly humanoid figure made of raw sewage.
DestructionYou must find the seeds of five rare magical plants that posess a supernatural ability to purify toxins, then plant them within lord Collum’s body. Over three days he is slowly transformed from a sewage to a plant elemental. But if sludge elementals can capture him they can reverse the transformation because that’s what sludge does.

Wakshaa, the Essence Toxin
Toxin is corrupted water, as well as the remnants of the not-blood liquids in the Wyrm’s body. It physically manifests as a brightly colored chemical poison. And can be found in any number of industrial chemicals and corrupted street drugs. In large doses it kills instantly, in smaller doses it causes mental and physical instability.
The Mistress of Toxins, Lady Yul
The Maeljin of Toxins in all forms, from drugs to poison and acid. As in literal acids. She’s a veritable database of genetics and biochemistry so agents of the Wyrm sometimes ask her to create custom organisms for them, sometimes in such specific ways as to create an organism that breathes carbon monoxide instead of oxygen. And she always has enough eggs in her to birth a small army if needed.
Destruction:Legends hold that there’s an herb known as Moly that is an antidote to all poisons, and could cure Lady Yul. But it exists now only within the deep umbral realm of Pangaea. The Mokolé or Nuwisha might be able to help find it, but harvesting it is as dangerous a task as any visit to a realm populated by dragons and gryphons would be. And she has to eat it. So good luck.

The Wyrm In the Umbra
Though the Wyrm may be bound in Malfeas, it’s influence is long reaching in the umbra and Penumbra.
Blights are umbral manifestations of human misery and suffering. They appear in locations where people live in dehumanizing conditions, like the worst housing projects, slums, labor camps, and prisons. Their suffering shapes the umbra, turning it into a featureless arid land devoid of life beyond a few banes. Most buildings don’t have umbral reflections, and those that do appear as large featureless blocks. The ones that do resemble their physical counterparts are foci of extreme negative emotions, meth labs, crack houses, brothels where the hookers are enslaved by pimps, etc. Their umbral reflections are twisted and malevolent, burned, broken at the very least. They are filled with banes that feed on the suffering within and encourage more to perpetuate the cycle.

Sometimes a building associated with a positive emotion will show up in a blight, like a church or a popular community center. Banes steer clear of these places and they can be refuges for those trapped in the Umbra. Creating more beacons of hope in a Blight can shrink or destroy it, the reverse is usually more common. If Wyrm spawn destroy the umbral reflection, it’s physical counterpart will usually fall out of favor in the community. It is in the Garou’s best interests to keep that from happening.

These are the reflections of toxic waste dumps, nuclear testing ranges, and the sites of industrial accidents. They were once blessedly rare but they’re becoming increasingly common. In the Umbra they appear as scorched deserts where the cracked rocky ground allows subterranean toxins to boil up from toxic pits. Others appear as tar pits, stagnant lakes, or oily mud flats. The remains of dead animals and trees litter the landscape even though no earthly creature could leave them. In some hellholes the sky is lit by burning gases in others the sun is replaced with a ball of banefire. Either way any nature spirits that wander into a hellhole are quickly killed or corrupted into banes. Banes are attracted to Hellholes even more than blights, particularly elemental banes, and each Hellhole is unofficially consecrated by one of the Elemental Maeljin, depending on its earthly composition. As with Blights, it’s possible to cleanse a Hellhole either from the Umbra or the Material realm, but it can be the work of a lifetime, if not longer.

Calumns: Wyrm Domains
Calumns don’t correspond to physical locations, instead they represent strong ties to one of the Urge Wyrms. They manifest in the near umbra and anyone who stays there too long finds the emotion becoming increasingly prevalent, if not becoming entirely tainted by that particular Urge Wyrm. Powerful Banes rule most Calumns, and the entire domain’s landscape warps to better suit the emotion represented by the Calumn. Most Calumns are bland dreary affairs, with the ones that aren’t being riots of color to entice would be victims.

Far Calumns: Anchorheads to Malfeas
Far Calumns are places where the Wrym’s corruption reigns unchecked, and a direct path to Malfeas for anyone dumb enough to want to follow them. Their appearance is similar to whichever part of Malfeas it is linked to as the corruption from the other side seeps through. Most are found near the border between the Near and Deep umbra, but a few are in other realms, especially the Atrocity Realm and the Scar. Anyone who wants to find them only has to follow the trail of banes going to and from the Calumn.

The Abyss
The Black Spirals revere the Abyss as the Wyrm’s all consuming Maw, and they’re mostly correct. Anything that descends into the Depths of the Abyss is never to be seen again. But there is a path to Malfeas hidden within. A short way down from the Abyss’ vast entrance, there are rocky outcroppings that lead into a complex of caves and tunnels. Banes and other Wyrm creatures stalk these tunnels looking for the few slaves that manage to escape from Malfeas.
The Spirals have marked a few pathways with their own corrupted Pictish runes, marking the way to Malfeas to anyone able to read them. Eventually the paths will open up onto a pit that looks like a Miniature Abyss, and anyone willing to throw themselves into the pit will find themselves in the Dungeons of Castle Cthonus.

The Atrocity Realm
There are more Calumns here than can be meaningfully described, but the most well trod one sits in a copse of dead and blackened trees that the Atrocity Realm’s denizens use as Gibbets. It leads directly to the duchy of the Hellbringer who often visits the Atrocity Realm to partake of the suffering found here.

The Scar
While escaping from the Scar to the rest of the Near Umbra can be difficult, traveling to Malfeas is horrifyingly easy. A dark mockery of a Train Station exists known as the Last Junction, and most spirits in the Scar avoid it judiciously. A black train traveling to and from Malfeas arrives here regularly. It comes empty but it always leaves full- of prisoners, fetishes, and building materials. Powerful banes man the Black Train and they’re more than capable of capturing all but the most powerful Garou.

The Wyrm Reaches
The Wyrm Reaches are a mockery of Umbral Outer space, full of warped and dying stars, thick clouds of toxic stellar dust, dead planets, pitted asteroids, and strange and alien banes that will open a path to Malfeas for the right price. Balefire elementals also offer a path to Malfeas, but they just eat anyone dumb enough to follow them.

Wyrm Caerns
When claimed by the Black Spiral Dancers, these places are known as “pits”, they relate to places in the Physical world so filled with corruption that they become focuses for unclean energies. In most other respects they are identical to their Gaean counterparts, with different focuses and strengths, but stepping sideways always results in a blight or hellhole instead of a thriving umbral glade. The most powerful Wyrm Caerns lie deep under the earth’s surface, filled with corrupt microbial slimes that feed on deadly acids, or toxic volcanic gasses, or near veins of radioactive ore. They are known only to Banes and the Black Spirals who tend to them.

Jul 19, 2012

Chapter 1 Pt. 2: Malfeas
The Wyrm’s Home Turf, if the Wyrm can exist in a single place, it is here. This is where the Weaver captured the Wyrm long ago, and it’s foundation are the ragged remains of the Wyrm’s body. Malfeas is a disparate collection of partial realms that fit together in ways mortals were not meant to comprehend. Drawing a map of Malfeas is a hopeless task, as the result would look like the scribblings of a lunatic that would drive anyone who reads them mad. Even though it exists only in the Deep Umbra, it is horrifyingly easy to reach.

Above all, Malfeas is a realm of corruption and degradation. Spending time here warps victims in mind and body, such mutation is a result of the background radiation present in Malfeas itself and will occur even to willing visitors free from the torments that rulers inflict on their captives. Anyone who stays in Malfeas longer than a day begins hearing foul whispers, he can see patches of his skin or fur turn grey and sickly. If he escapes before his body finishes warping, he will heal within a week or two. However while he remains in Malfeas there is no force that can quiet the whispers or heal the degraded flesh. Should they remain longer than three months, the whispers will accompany them long after their departure. their skin and fur becomes gray and withered looking, and the transformation does not heal when they leave. Only powerful healing rites can cure these taints.

The overlords of Malfeas are the Wyrm’s most powerful servitors, including the Maeljin Incarna. They rule their domains with brutal discipline and only a very lucky visitor can escape their notice. Important prisoners captured by the Wyrm usually end their lives in Malfeas.

The Warring Hydra
Of course the various factions of the Wyrm don’t get along, so internecine conflict is common. The Maeljin lords know full well that their peers will simply be replaced if killed. But a newcomer is more likely to be an ally or an unwitting dupe due to their inexperience. That said most of the Lords stay far away from the front lines of conflict- so most of the warring is over resources, territory, or prisoners and manpower.

The Central Duchy
Most Moon Bridges that lead to Malfeas end up in the Central Duchy’s courtyard. A large circular stone inscribed with a spiral sits in the middle of the large, irregularly shaped area. It’s surrounded by massive, elaborately menacing buildings each more than a mile high. One such building is the Grand Cathedral, with a massive stained glass window depicting the heads of the Hydra bursting forth from the earth. It is dedicated to all of the heads of the Hydra and welcomes anyone loyal to any of the heads. The Ruler of the Central Duchy, known only as Number Two, regularly holds services here. During each service the most powerful and important captives are sacrificed. Hundreds of black iron cages located halfway up the walls of the Cathedral hold the decaying bodies of sacrificed captives, as well as those left to die of exposure rather than sacrifice, or those who haven’t been sacrificed yet, it’s usually tough to tell the difference.

Castle Cthonus
Located across from the Cathedral, the Castle is the tallest structure in Malfeas. It is a black twisted tower mounted by barbed crenelations, and its surface is slippery and viscous like living crude oil. It engulfs and devours anything that would try to climb it, limbs of would-be climbers jut out of the otherwise smooth surface. But even these protrusions drip with the same oil. The only visible entrance leads to a seemingly endless spiral staircase and three groaning, rickety elevators.

It is the home of Malfeas’ ruler, Number Two. And it’s both the tallest and deepest structure in Malfeas, its basements are filled with a multitude of dungeons and torture chambers. Slaves spread rumors that the bottom level is just a maw of the Eater of Souls, but very few who have ventured sufficiently deep have returned. These escapees speak of caverns on the edge of a dark pit that lead out of Malfeas into the Abyss. Destroying Castle Cthonus would badly weaken the Wyrm and plunge Malfeas into a turmoil that would last several years. But the only way to do this is to ascend to the upper reaches of the castle without Number Two’s knowledge and enact a lost rite.

Number Two
She was once a Black Spiral Dancer that served the Wyrm so well that all of the heads of the Wyrm united to elevate her into an Incarna. A popular legend goes that she was the first Garou to walk the spiral. Her original name is allegedly lost to time, even that she does not recall it. As befits the leader of Malfeas she is a brutal tyrant who fears having her power usurped, and kills anyone who she suspects is plotting against her. Her guards consist of a dozen of the most powerful Spirals, aided by 7 of the most powerful Banes, all magically bound to take damage in her stead, leaving her unharmed. She avoids the Politicking of the Maeljin Incarna, instead sending intermediaries to deal with them. After all they really only want her power. She can appear in any number of forms, but most often as a hideously scarred and blood-caked Glabro.
Destruction:Anyone who learns her Original Name can shout it in her presence, removing the enchantment that protects her against damage and leaving her vulnerable. But they must work quickly because Number Two knows a magical phrase that can purge her name from the memory and records of anyone who hears it. If she can whisper it to everyone who knows her name, her protections return. This phrase is a terrifying truth about the nature of the universe and corruption’s role in all that is, and hearing it would drive all but the strongest of wills mad. Killing her would set off a civil war that would distract the Hydra and the Maeljin for years.

The Temple Obscura
On the outskirts of the Central Duchy but within sight of the Grand Cathedral lies the most sacred site to the Black Spirals. The strangely discordant exterior made of green veined marble conceals the entrance to the Black Spiral Labyrinth itself. The interior of the Temple consists of 9 rooms in sequence, with the final room consisting of blank walls, a bloodstained altar, and the entrance to the Labyrinth in the rear wall. Any of the Changing Breeds can spend time in the first 8 rooms and gain valuable insight into the nature of the Black Spirals, but also become mentally tainted. In the last room the urge to walk the spiral is almost impossible to resist. Those who have stood in its presence and survived tell of thoughts filling their mind of how they could win great victory by entering the Labyrinth and destroying it from within, no one has actually succeeded at this and all who attempt it have been lost. The Labyrinth contains aspects of all of the Hydra’s heads. It permanently and irredeemably corrupts anyone who traverses even a single circle. Any werewolf is capable of surviving it if they accept corruption into their soul, others who attempt the feat die horribly partway through the first circle. Sometimes Spirals bring their captives to the mouth of the spiral, and give them the choice of either walking it or being sacrificed upon the altar as a meal to those who will.

The Labyrinth is eternal, but the temple is not. Destroying it would demoralize the Spirals, and a proper demolition might render it inaccessible, forcing the Spirals to find a new way to create more of their kind.

The Wyld Founts
Just off of the central courtyard exists the largest of Several Wyld Founts. This structure consists of a vast sphere, 60 yards in diameter, a six story tall scaffold raises it above the ground. It is transparent and filled with shifting multicolored light, it contains a portal to the Wyld-Dominated realm of Flux. The scaffolding contains a stairway that leads up to a large airlock style door in the side of the Sphere. Occasionally dead victims are thrown into the airlock to dispose of them, and sometimes the Black Spiral Dancers travel to the Flux to capture Englings to drain for power or torture for other reasons. The airlock exists to prevent any direct contact between the Flux and Malfeas. Destroying the Sphere or forcing the airlock open would cause raw chaos to smash into Malfeas, seriously damaging it.

That isn’t to say that the Wyrm would do away with this if it could, the Wyrm cannot create on its own, it needs these Wyld energies. They pump energy out of the sphere through a pair of slender pipes, each no more than a foot across, into a pool at the structure’s base. A series of corruptive filters poison the energy so it properly resonates with Malfeas. That Pool is the Wellspring, a torrent of foul water fountains almost 100 yards into the air, banes and other creatures slowly form out of the mist at the fountains edge, and the rest of the liquid flows either into the great river that ends in the Duchy of Toxin, or is diverted into the various factories throughout Malfeas.

The Nightmare Garden
One of the ornate gates from the central courtyard leads into this large and terrible garden. The first part seems exceedingly well kept, but venturing deeper reveals disorder and sickness. All of the plants have sickly and unnatural colors and smell of rotting meat. Many have long barbed thorns. Banes and Spirals dangle victims over carnivorous plants, hanging them from thorns and then torturing them. The many plants are fertilized with their blood and corpses. Few denizens of Malfeas venture deep into the garden because the deeper portions aren’t entirely inside of Malfeas. The paths have a powerful magic that separates travellers who aren’t holding hands or otherwise physically connected. The deeper paths turn even narrower, bushes given way to trees until each visitor is wandering through their own dark wood, unable to find their way back to the garden.

The Dark Wood is a portal to the Dream Zone specifically a corrupted region that is home to nightmares. Any who wander this area find clearings full of their personal nightmares. A lone wandering might suffer the death of their friends, betrayal of loved ones, or find themselves thrown back to their childhoods to suffer the torrent of abuse they feared their parents might unleash. It’s possible, though tricky, to change the course of these nightmares. But since the Garden links directly to Malfeas only violent and debased acts like slaying children, torturing innocents, or foul and forbidden magic can change the course of these visions. The Gardens cannot corrupt a visitor but the actions they’re forced to take to escape will have them questioning their motivations. Once they’ve left the garden and found their way into Nightmare they are free from the enchantment that separates them, a skilled umbral navigator can find their friends and eventually find their way into the Dream Zone proper.

Reason and Unreason
In an easily overlooked corner of the Courtyard sit a pair of small, unguarded doors. Beyond them lie a pair of tiny conjoined realms. Reason lies beyond a white door covered in precise but complex black linear patterns. Unreason lies behind a room of several shifting colors patterns that move constantly across the door. Both lead into single large rectangular rooms.

Reason is a large, well organized library containing books, databases, and any other form of information storage that the occupant might be familiar with. All of them contain useful advice for planning and executing military campaigns, commando raids, hostile corporate takeovers, and similar hostile maneuvers. As befits the Wyrm’s realm, all of these plans are exceedingly vicious in their damage to the victim, and quite ruthless. Executing one of these plans always requires betraying allies, killing or impoverishing third parties, turning trusted comrades over to their mortal enemies or similar atrocities. Anyone who carries out a plan concocted in Reason begins dreaming of either Hellbringer or Maine duBois, as the dark energies of the place begin to corrupt their minds. In addition to that the Realm of Reason allows for an escape from Malfeas, a Moon Bridge opened in the realm of Reason transports to one of the largest and densest webs in the Near Umbra.

Unreason is more akin to a bizarre art gallery with shifting walls and strange tricks of perspective. Focusing on any of the pieces of art can provide insight to a particular mistery that the character is hoping to solve. The price for this insight is madness. The longer they remain in Unreason the more disoriented they become. Common objects appear strange and distorted, and she no longer understands how to perform simple tasks such as typing, driving a car, or even brushing her teeth. She believes she still possesses the knowledge but performs the steps out of order that produce useless or dangerous results. It takes a few days to relearn but from then on they suffer no loss of ability.

But in that brief bout of madness a link is formed between them and Doge Klypse. In addition to being mentally tainted, the next time they enter Frenzy Doge Klypse can ask them to perform a relatively brief task and they will do it. Anyone who opens a Moon Bridge in Unreason travels to a large wyldling in the Near Umbra.

Dark Satanic Mills
That’s a hell of a title heading.
Malfeas is full of Factories, and several of the Maeljin have ordered their servants to construct more. The largest is a mile long and half as high, and each is hideously unique. Some are made of brass and black steel mirroring victorian workhouses, others appear organic with organs pumping deadly fluids, and others still are combinations of the two. All of them use slave labor, either humans or werewolves captured by agents of the Wyrm and given the option of death by torture or death by work. Others are servants of the Urge Wyrms who have been commanded to come and serve.

A few factories exist only for the pleasure of their Maeljin, their only “product” being the suffering of those employed there. Few slaves survive more than a year, requiring a steady supply of replacements. Other factories refine raw materials shipped in from the Elemental Duchys or the waters of the Wellspring. Many produce the concentrated corruption that nourishes the banes and formor, while others create the contaminated industrial food for the slaves, or exotic chemicals that mutate and transform the living into terrifying and useful horrors.

A growing number of factories have begun creating product for export to earth. Either the highly concentrated additives that Pentex needs for food and medicine, or materials that Pentex can’t create themselves on earth. Working conditions are macabre and horrific, slaves risk life and limb to service large living machines. The majority of workers are effectively living zombies. Some have parasites attached to their necks making them stupid and obedient to the point of self destruction. Long IV Drip lines render others placid and compliant. Conditions in Malfean factories are “somewhat worse” than the most appalling factories on earth where those who make consumer electronics become seriously ill or commit suicide due to their working conditions. The major difference being that death is not an escape in Malfeas.

A few slaves serve as testbeds for the additives or esoteric sigils or mind-eroding sound effects that Pentex places in their advertisements. Although the food and medicines sold by Pentex contain only a small amount of these additives and their advertisements contain only a second or two of the subliminal content, the rulers of Malfeas wish to learn what their product can do in ideal conditions. Most slaves die but some become unique and monstrous formori. The Overlords long for the day they can unleash the full force of their industry on earth without the Garou’s notice.

The Maeljin Duchies
The Central Duchy is surrounded by a massive wall made of stone and fossilized bone. And the domains of each of the Maeljin abut this wall, surrounding it on all sides. There are treacherous razor sharp spikes on top, regularly decorated with the bodies of anyone who has particularly displeases that domain’s master.

A huge gateway of black iron connects each of the Maeljin Duchies to the Central Duchy, and warriors employed by both sides guard these gateways. The Maeljin also possess hidden portals into the Central Duchy, these don’t need to obey any kind of geometry and tend to go from a nondescript building in the Central Duchy to the center of the maeljin domain. The paranoid Number Two has done what she can to find these portals, but she cannot close them permanently and many remain lost.

Duchy Aliara
At first glance this appears to be the most Luxurious and beautiful portion of Malfeas, which should give you reason to be suspicious. The entirety of Ailara is a vast pleasure palace filled with a mixture of massive halls, small private rooms, open gardens, and an abundance of people. The walls are covered in baroque carvings of people engaged in, and dying from, various kinds of excess. And the heavily perfumed smoke is used to hide the scent of rot and decay.

It is a realm of pleasure, but the pleasure is devoid of Joy. Its denizens pursue a single vice with mindless and obsessive dedication, continuing to eat, drink, gently caress, or shoot up because they are literally incapable of stopping. Every possible source of pleasure is available in the Duchy and each is highly addictive. Visitors find that their previous addictions are increasingly difficult to satisfy within Aliara’s walls, driving them to find more intense and extreme forms of “pleasure”.

The Maeljin Aliara and her most favored servants derive great pleasure from preventing visitors from indulging their addictions and then either watching them beg, or promising them access to their vice once they’ve performed a simple task. A few Changing Breeds who visited Malfeas now work for Aliara, doing anything she asks just for a few hours of access to their addiction.

Her servants, including some of her addicts, kidnap humans and bring them to her Duchy for a few days of pleasure, returning them to Earth with a promise that if they perform various useful tasks they may return. A special reward is offered for anyone who kidnaps a Kinfolk, because that’s an avenue to corrupt the Garou. Her Seneschal is currently working on a plan to bring humans to her domain in their dreams, and gain their service through addiction to sleeping pleasures.

Duchy Dubois
This entire Duchy consists of a single massive modern office building, with countless floors, mazelike corridors, and elevators that start and stop at random. It contains the offices of a multitude of clerks, lawyers, researchers, PR execs, and similar individuals. These offices are home to Maine DuBois and have links to the headquarters of Pentex’s senior legal and advertising execs.

DuBois’ minions create advertising campaigns for Pentex and defeat their legal detractors. They also negotiate deals with spirits and finalize contracts and alliances between the Maeljin Incarana and other personae in Malfeas. Some of their contracts bind ancient Banes and other powerful entities. The Duchy is open to all visitors as long as they come seeking its services. Anyone who needs the perfect contract to betray an ally or destroy a rival, anyone who needs a speech to sway listeners or a means of bending the law to their whim can come here. But only a fool thinks they can get away with offering duBois simple money.

The workers are more than happy to satisfy any request that directly aids the Wyrm, and don’t really mind any other request that doesn’t harm the Wyrm’s interests so long as the appropriate price is paid. They do twist any requests that aid the Wyrm’s enemies or directly harm its interests, so that they satisfy the letter of the clients request but further the Wyrm’s ends more than they could ever harm it. The clients are overjoyed to receive exactly what they ask for, only to watch in horror as everything falls down around them.

Anyone coming seeking a specific service finds the office they require after no more than a half an hour of walking and elevators. Anyone unhappy with previous service finds themselves lost in weeks of bureaucratic hell- forms filled in triplicate and countersigned by an undersecretary - just to get directions to the office that has the paperwork they need to request a meeting to get the permission to find the forms needed to file a complaint. The more hostile the plaintiff the more bureaucracy they have to navigate. But even the most hostile visitor finds an office that can solve their problem - for another contract. Even someone seeking to kill duBois can find an office that can help, for a price.

Duchy Aife
In addition to the main gate(which is rarely used) one may access Duchy Aife via doors leading directly from the lower levels of most of the other Duchies, and even some of the worst Blights and Hellholes. In the basement levels next to these back doors Aife’s denizens perform every torture imaginable with pervasive glee. Lady Aife watches the most intense torments when she isn’t busy doing it herself. All the torturers know that terrible magics make certain that their victims survive regardless of the horrors inflicted on them.
Almost all visitors who willingly venture to the Duchy bring a captive to interrogate. The torturers here pride themselves on their ability to both obtain useful information and enact exquisite suffering. They are even willing to admit Gaian Garou who bring a Black Spiral Dancer to interrogate. Of course, visitors must witness, and possibly take part in, all of their captive’s torments. Those who would seek information in such a manner are usually well on their way to falling to the Wyrm anyway.

Duchy Klypse
Duchy Klypse is a giant maze made of brich and stone corridors twisting at impossible angles. Even gravity shifts at a whim and perspectives are not fixed. The corridors contain elements from every nightmare about getting lost or searching for a location that’s impossible to find. Sliding panels and secret doors exist to make the Duchy even more confusing, as do the shadows and half-seen threats that sneak up on anyone who stands still for more than a few minutes. Of course it’s all pointless, as all paths eventually lead to the center and to Doge Klypse himself. Only those who have his permission can ever find their way out. Klypse amuses himself by making certain that some visitors that come to slay him spend decades or centuries wandering his halls, never finding what they seek. Most go mad and set upon anything they see, becoming yet another part of Klypse’s defense system.

Duchy Thurifuge
This Duchy is an enormous sprawling city, most of which is part of a single giant complex that is both hospital and factory. Here, duke Thurifuge engages in research that results in more terrible drugs for Pentex. Insane and monstrous researchers perform experiments on slaves and prisoners, observing the progress of diseases and attempting to create new and more terrible ones. A surprising number of researchers are Ratkin who have fallen to the Wyrm, and some of them offer the services of the Duchy to others of their breed who seek to bring the Apocalypse with a deadly plague - without disclosing their employer, of course. Most come to this realm in search of a disease or to sell slaves, but a few come to thrill at the suffering of the diseased. Fewer still come to free a test subject.

Duchy Hell
The Hellbringer’s realm is a war-torn landscape surrounding a blasted city. Here slaves and captives battle for their freedom. They must defend areas against the armies of the Hellbringer. If they succeed for at least three days they go free. Of course almost all of them die in the attempt, and those few who win sacrifice so much that, left warped by the experience, they willingly join the Hellbringer’s armies. Duchy Hell contains portals to most of the other Duchies, as well as the Atrocity realm. When captives are in short supply, or occasionally to provide a diversion, the Hellbringer attacks the central Duchy. So far he has never succeeded. And even if he did he would simply become the new Number Two, and cause a new Hellbringer to appear.

The “Border Duchies”
There are two Duchies that aren’t really a part of the greater politics of Malfeas. The larger of the two is a massive desert that lies between the Maeljin Duchies and the outer four elemental realms. Here a hot black sun in a curdled violet sky dominates the days, and the freezing nights are almost completely devoid of light. This is the realm of the Nameless Angel of Despair, and legend states that each grain of sand is a soul who ended their life by their own hand.

The other realm are the fetid swamps that fill the space between the Maeljin duchies. They are all connected through dark paths somehow, and they seem to be growing larger despite the fact that the Duchies remain roughly the same size. The swamps house deformed and twisted formori who fled other portions of Malfeas to live here. It’s also home to Banes who have displeased their masters. Each group lives in small isolated bands that prey upon each other and any visitors they can capture. Knight Entropy claims these swamps as his own, and stables his horse in one, though never the same one twice.

The Earth Pit
The Earth Pit is a Canyon between the swamps and nameless desert. It’s a wide region that duplicates the overall features of many of Earth’s most pristine and thriving landscapes but as toxic parodies. The Great Barrier reef is an open sewer filled with dead fish and cancerous coral. A duplicate of a vast African veldt is a radioactive wasteland filled with dying mutant animals, and instead of pristine wilderness, this version of Africa is awash in a hungry living oil.

The greatest danger is that any moon bridge opened in a Blight or Hellhole will often open up in the Earth Pit. A shapeshifter battling minions of the Wyrm may try to escape only to find themselves trapped somewhere far worse. To the natives of Malfeas the Earth Pit is a dream come true, whereas the Garou see it as a visceral reminder of failure.

The Elemental Duchies
The outermost edge of Malfeas is ringed by the four elemental duchies. The palaces of their Incarnae sit at the center of each Duchy, destroying these castles of corruption might weaken the element, particularly if they also destroy the Maeljin Incarna

The Duchy of Smog is covered by billowing toxic clouds. Without special senses, vision is limited to five yards in any direction. Only creatures that are immune to poison can breathe for any length of time in the Duchy. Choke lives in a huge archaic looking factory of black iron that belches forth the fog that fills the realm, and he is attended by eyeless banes and strange mechanical servants that are powered by engines that make still more Smog.

The Duchy of Balefire glows with the blue glow of Cherenkov radiation. The center of the Duchy is a large balefire volcano that spews rivers of radioactive lava. Hideous formori wander the realm, the remnants of human captives chained in cages until the Balefire did its work, and they live only to serve Duke Kern. After seven years of service they become especially monstrous banes that Kerne sells to other Duchies. His Kastle sits embedded in the side of the volcano, and from foundation to ceiling is filled with veins of plutonium.

The Duchy of Sluge if a frigid realm filled with mountains of frost rimed debris and glaciers of frozen sewage. The largest glacier at the center of the realm is topped with Collum’s Castle, carved out of polluted ice. The castle consists of an endless array of winding tunnels inhabited by Banes that resemble many armed worms that can tunnel through the ice and attempt to devour all visitors not under Collum’s direct protection.

The Duchy of Toxin is a vast warm sea filled with multi-colored toxin, swiming with great and terrible aquatic banes and occasionally wyrmspawn from Gaia’s oceans, like giant Lamprey and mutated squid. Near the center of the realm is a huge Archipelago inhabited by lady Yul’s mutated brood. The largest island is a huge laboratory complex filled with her most deadly experiments.

Up next: Pentex

May 27, 2013
Can't post for 29 days!

ProfessorProf posted:

It only came out a few months ago and nobody knows it exists, so odds are extremely low.

If I can give some potentially pretenious advice, have you tried giving review copies out to potentially interested game blogs? Reviews can really help push copies. Turnout can be low on review copies, but an unbiased review can help people take the plunge.

Also, the link to the chapter preview on your dtrpg page doesn't work. Dtrpg doesn't like embedded hot links on new accounts. You might be better off giving the link openly. Had the same problem with my products.

Also, $25 is pretty steep price for a pdf for a smaller name. Shadowrun or other big titles can push those prices with brand equity, but most businesses really can't because people consider the investment too high for an unknown variable. Risk aversion and all that. Generally, $5-$15 is the range for pdfs with $10 being the average price.

Also, lots of forums have places to advertise games. You could even make a topic in this subforum about discussing your game as a subtle ad and no one would think less of you for it.

Sorry if any of that came out rude. Didn't mean it too.

Anyway, I've always wondered this: is the wyrm from werewolf a giant worm, an evil dragon (wyrm), or an abstract force of corruption?

Covok fucked around with this message at 09:48 on Feb 15, 2016

Jul 19, 2012

Covok posted:

Anyway, I've always wondered this: is the wyrm from werewolf a giant worm, an evil dragon (wyrm), or an abstract force of corruption?

Mostly the third, and also sort of the second. It's symbol in the language of Glyphs is a spiraling oroboros and it's represented as a large scaled serpent(no limbs or wings). In most of their mythology. No sane person has seen the Wyrm and lived to tell the tale, though.

Dec 22, 2003

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

Covok posted:

Anyway, I've always wondered this: is the wyrm from werewolf a giant worm, an evil dragon (wyrm), or an abstract force of corruption?
Ancient dragons were strongly associated with wormlike bodies so #1 and #2 are pretty cognate. As for #3...

The best way I put it is that the Wyrm is a cosmic force, but since Werewolf is fundamentally an animistic setting, that means there is in fact a literally real "The Wyrm" in the Umbra somewhere, if perhaps one that isn't readily accessible what with being surrounded by evil spirits and industrial waste. This is actually brought up in Mage, since some of the Nephandi (quite logically) follow the Wyrm, and I recall a sidebar somewhere basically saying "The question on whether the Wyrm is Literally A Thing That Is Real, or a metaphorical structure placed on a cosmological concept, depends on whether you're playing a Werewolf game which includes mages, or a Mage game that includes werewolves."

There was also a note in the Nephandi guide saying that the Satan-worshiping and Inexplicable Horror-worshiping Nephandi both sort of look down on "Malfean" Nephandi as being converts to werewolf religion.

Jul 19, 2012

Another way to look at it is that the Garou (and we by extension) are able to perceive the Maeljin Incarnae, but not the Urge Wyrms. And the Wyrm itself is another two levels abstracted from even them. It "Exists" in some form somewhere, but Malfeas is as close as any mortal (and most spirits) can get.

PMush Perfect
Sep 30, 2009

Another way to look at it is that it's WoD metaplot, so the best answer is "however the writer of the current splat book decides to dick with interpret it".

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011



Which... radiation is just a thing that happens when elements decay. So as long as elements have existed there should have been radiation. But it's a conceit that's been with Werewolf with the beginning so just go with it.

Those processes may have happened, but they weren't named Radiation- with all its attendant associations - until recently. That's what the Wyrm represents, I guess. That naming and that transformation. I don't like the anti-nuclear stigma/propaganda, but it fits the setting.

This whole thing is bringing back pleasant memories of a poetry workshop I did around radiation and garbage - I got to visit a nuclear research lab, a garbage dump and a sewage treatment plant. It also reminds me so much of Dark Souls.

Jul 12, 2011

ProfessorProf posted:

Valor was literally designed from the ground up to create fight scenes that hit all those story beats.

Disclaimer: I wrote Valor, so I'm not an unbiased viewpoint here.

Covok posted:

If I can give some potentially pretenious advice, have you tried giving review copies out to potentially interested game blogs? Reviews can really help push copies. Turnout can be low on review copies, but an unbiased review can help people take the plunge.

Also, the link to the chapter preview on your dtrpg page doesn't work. Dtrpg doesn't like embedded hot links on new accounts. You might be better off giving the link openly. Had the same problem with my products.

I'm honestly extremely interested in this, but with that price tag I want to know more about the system before I drive in.

I assume it'd be great for running a One Piece or Gundam game with action actually being fun, but I have no idea how the system works.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011



Dark Satanic Mills
That’s a hell of a title heading.

It's from William Blake, who imagined things that make this game look like... something cheerful.

Is there an illustration of 'the Great Barrier Reef is filled with dead fish and cancerous coral'? It might make a good political cartoon, since the government just approved dredging and dumping sludge there.

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

Bill Webb's Book of Dirty Tricks

Part 1: Bill's House Rules

Experience Points

The first house rule is with regards to experience points. Most of it is standard D&D fare: The whole 1 GP = 1 XP conversion doesn't count until the money's spent. Specifically, Fighters and Thieves have to spend it on "wine, women and song", while Clerics, Druids, Monks, Paladins and Rangers have to donate it to charity. Wizards have to spend it on magical research.

There's also a note about simplifying monster XP: 1 XP per hit point, times the monster's Hit Dice (as an equivalent to the monster's level). So if you killed a 7 HP monster that had 2 HD, you'd gain 14 XP. This is, of course, very low, but most of the XP in an old-school D&D game is supposed to come from treasure anyway, but at least this method is easier to compute.

He also doesn't award XP for finding magical items, but arguably that's okay, since the value of a magical item should come from the increased power that a Sword +1 gives you to begin with. Fine.

He even mentions handing out "quest XP" for completing objectives, at the DM's own judgement.

Where it gets ugly is when he talks about how these methods should come together to determine how fast the characters should level up. If you've played World of Warcraft at all in the last couple of years, you may have seen hand-wringing about how the "instant boost to level 90" feature would produce players that didn't know how to play their characters, because they didn't learn by leveling up. This is sort of like that, in tabletop form:


This method of XP distributions sets up for a slow level-gain campaign. I take pride in building player skill, not character skill, in my game. Slow advancement means players learn new tricks. Life is precious, and players take a higher level of care than they do if advancement is fast. Again, this method is not for everyone, but I do find it works well for me and my players.

A great example of this for all you grognards out there relates to a piece I wrote in Crusader Journal a few years back. Advancement in 3.X is so rapid that it made me think about the differences in player skill at mid to high levels. In the old days, it took years to advance to say, 10th-level. It took hundreds of hours of play and lots of wits to survive that long. In later versions of the game, one could advance a level in 2 to 3 gaming sessions.

Putting this in context is a module like Tomb of Horrors. Imagine a player who has 500 hours invested in learning to play his character; he knows his skills and abilities inside and out. He values and holds dear the life of his character as if it were his own. Now take a player who has maybe 50 hours of play with the same power. Now put them both in Gary’s Tomb. The second guy is in for a short adventure.

And with a follow-up sidebar for how this translates to Pathfinder:


A similar rule of thumb for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game system would be to award 1 XP per monster hit point x its CR rating. Or use the slow advancement track for XPs. To truly replicate Bill’s home flavor, double the slow track!

So what I'm getting here is that he has his very own particular way of running a Swords & Wizardry game, and he's going to make it take forever for you to get to level 2 because that's going to teach you, over time, how to adapt to his particular style of GM-ing.

Instead of, you know, talking to you and informing you about genre tropes that you need to watch out for, it'll be by trial-and-error. It's like there's a platonic ideal of how to crawl through a dungeon and he expects you to learn it by osmosis. I'm a little flabbergasted because if I was, for example, playing WoW and the Hunter player next to me isn't pulling off their "rotation" correctly, my hands are tied beyond trying to teach him because that's just how the game works.

If, on the other hand, I was playing a tabletop game, whose enforcement of rules are completely up to me as the GM, and the player is about to do something that sounds like it's going to be a stupid course of action, it's not like I'm obliged to let him go through with it, especially when I'm partially responsible for not giving the player enough working information to make an intelligent choice in the first place. How was he supposed to know?

Attributes and Bonuses

The first part is again, standard fare: if the attribute is 13 or higher, the character gets a +1 bonus to relevant rolls and a 5% XP bonus. If it's lower than 8, it's a -1 penalty instead. It plays well with his own rule that character stats are 3d6-in-order, since it doesn't matter if you roll like crap if there's no huge bonus to miss out on.

And then it turns ugly again:


Even players using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game could try this approach. It would take some getting used to, but I encourage you to give it a try and see how the players adapt. Try the 3d6 method, too. Players used to all high scores may complain at first, but after a while they get used to it and start using their heads instead of their stats to make characters legendary. The single highest level player character ever to play in my Lost Lands campaign (Flail the Great) had a 17 wisdom and nothing else above 9.

It's incredibly ignorant of game design and mechanics to just turn around and recommend you play a Pathfinder character with 3d6-down-the-line stats, especially when you also expect them to make up the difference via "player skill", when you're also not going to teach them anything! And on top of all that, you're also supposed to use the Slow XP Advancement track and make it twice as slow!

Table Dice Rolls


One simple rule — no cheating. To easily enforce this without incident, I require all, including myself, to roll dice only when it is their turn (or when asked), and to roll all dice that do not require secrecy (things that players cannot know the success or failure of, like disarming a trap or finding a secret door) on the table in front of everyone. The benefit of this is that it builds team spirit as players cheer one another to “Roll that 20!” and even complex combats retain order.

A note here, this style of dice rolling makes a game extremely lethal as the GM cannot cheat the dice to save lives. I have rarely seen a GM cheat to kill a player, although I have seen dozens cheat to save them. My players know I don’t, and this adds to the fairness and enjoyment of the game in my opinion. Success is earned by luck and skill, and not under false tenets.

Okay, the first half is pretty reasonable. It's just a particular way of handling table manners, whatever floats their boat, that's as good an approach as any.

The second half again makes a reference to "player skill" as something that matters. Like, when you're playing a game that's as open-ended as OD&D, maybe you can earn a +2 AC bonus from "hiding behind the bar", but because there's no rules to cover it, the GM has to tell you what's possible. If they were playing a game as regimented and procedural as Pathfinder or 4th Edition D&D, then maybe you'd have a leg to stand on because the players could always be aware of the myriad mechanics that interact with the game, but otherwise you're just pulling their leg when you don't tell them that they could have slowed down the skeletons by throwing up tables and chairs in front of them but they didn't, and now they're dead.

Damage Rolls and the Value of Magic Weapons

This is probably the least objectionable part of this chapter. He just says that everything deals 1d6 damage, except smaller weapons get a -1, two-handers get a +1, and natural 20s and 1s are just plain hits and plain misses.

Hit Points and Rolls to Hit


Of all my house rules, this one creates the most controversy. Here goes: All creatures and characters need an 18 to hit AC 0, except monsters and pure fighters (not rangers or paladins) which need a 17. This never improves except by magic and strength bonuses (and dexterity bonuses for missiles). Thus, a 10th-level fighter and a 1st-level fighter need the same roll to hit.

OK, has everyone finished spraying the Mountain Dew out of their noses yet?

The idea here is that adding a bonus to hit along with extra hit points is double dipping. Higher-level characters not only hit easier, but can take more punishment than low-level guys. That just does not seem right. It is still hard to bust through that plate armor, even if you have 70 hp. It’s commonly misunderstood that at the Battle of Agincourt, the French knights were not actually slain by arrows (although their unbarded horses were), but instead by bowmen with daggers who killed them while incapacitated by falling wounds or mud. Armor is hard to penetrate for anyone. Arrows (or even bullets) still bounce off plate steel.

The idea here [yes, he says this twice] is that an attack dealing a slaying blow really only does 1d6 damage. Creatures with higher hit points just avoid that last 1d6 hit for a long time. The character skill is in the hit points, not the dice adds. A 10th-level fighter just avoids the first 9 attacks that would have killed him, only being slain when he is too weary or cut up to get out of the way. The 1st-level fighter lacks the skill (hit points) to dodge those first 9 blows.

To his credit, he does acknowledge that it's a controversial houserule, and maybe he's right about double-dipping, that you shouldn't also get a better chance-to-hit when you're already getting more HP, especially when to-hit and AC are going to have an escalating arms race anyway.

What doesn't sit well with me is that he has this heartbreaker's idea of how combat should work, complete with a reference to a historical event as how it should have worked realistically, and then he's projecting it onto this game instead of a new/different one.

Lamentations of a Flame Princess had the idea that only the Fighter should get a better to-hit, and that a Magic-User's to-hit never improves across the entire level range, but that was LOTFP as its own game. Swords and Wizardry already is its own game outside of OD&D, and then he's piling on this other system on top of it too.

Even worse is when he even recommends it for Pathfinder, because of course he does.

Up Next: Manipulating the gargoyle's buttocks

Dec 13, 2011

The next stage of evolution.

Count Chocula posted:

Is there an illustration of 'the Great Barrier Reef is filled with dead fish and cancerous coral'? It might make a good political cartoon, since the government just approved dredging and dumping sludge there.

Wtf, really? I know Australia's government can verge on cartoon villainy but that seems bad even for them.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011


Found this random link that should add spice to In Nomine.

Cthulhu Dreams
Dec 11, 2010

If I pretend to be Cthulhu no one will know I'm a baseball robot.

Recommending that fighters don't get a better to hit bonus in 3.X has to be the ultimate in gently caress you fighters. Does he then recommend wizards not get better spells? That poo poo is demented

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

Cthulhu Dreams posted:

Recommending that fighters don't get a better to hit bonus in 3.X has to be the ultimate in gently caress you fighters. Does he then recommend wizards not get better spells? That poo poo is demented

Actually, he says flat out that this makes spellcasters more useful, because Bless is one of the only ways to increase your to-hit rate, and Wizard offensive spells don't need an attack roll to hit!

Cthulhu Dreams
Dec 11, 2010

If I pretend to be Cthulhu no one will know I'm a baseball robot.

gradenko_2000 posted:

Actually, he says flat out that this makes spellcasters more useful, because Bless is one of the only ways to increase your to-hit rate, and Wizard offensive spells don't need an attack roll to hit!

Does he have any justification at all for making wizards better? If not this surely demonstrates his level of awareness of the systems he plays.

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

Bill Webb's Book of Dirty Tricks

Part 1: Bill's House Rules (continued)

Travel and Getting Lost

For every 5 miles traveled, roll a d6 to see if the party actually moves in the direction that they want to. A 1 means they get Lost in Plains or River terrain, with rougher terrain tupes increasing the chance of getting Lost, all the way up to Badlands and Swamps causing misdirection on a 1 through 4 on a d6.

Druids and Rangers act as cumulative +1 modifiers to the roll, as do high WIS characters, and GM fiat regarding familiarity with the area.

If the party becomes Lost, there's a d8 table to check which direction they randomly go off to.

Food and Water, or “Let Them Eat Cake”

Basically, a man needs 2 pounds of food and 1 gallon of water per day. Draft animals need more, and more hostile environments act as a multiplier on the amount of water needed. Couple this with the Lost rules, and the expectation is that you'll have to stock up on provisions, and have a buffer in case you get so lost that you spend additional days out in the wild.


If you need to live off the land, there's a d20 table with a base 45% chance of letting you successfully roll on the d100 Foraging Results table. Having Druids, Rangers and Thieves in the party grants bonuses when foraging.

Up until this point, the previous sections have been reasonable. Maaaybe the Lost rules are a little bit of "hidden GM information", but otherwise, as long as you have that conversation with your players that you're going to need to play out Fantasy Oregon Trail, it should be manageable.

And then we get to the Foraging Results table. It has a 90% chance of yielding something useful, a 5% chance of letting you unwittingly drink poisoned water, and a 5% chance of letting you unwittingly eat poisoned food. Both poisoned water and poisoned food are save-or-die effects.

But hey, look on the bright side: if you have a level 3+ Druid in your party, they're never affected by poison food and water, and:


can prevent the same if they inspect food and water before ingestion. Taint can be removed by use of a purify water spell. Poison food (e.g. toadstools) cannot be made nonpoisonous.

So how much are you willing to bet that it's considered part of "player skill" for the Druid to need to explicitly declare that they're inspecting the foraged food and water?

Surprise, Initiative, and Melee Order and Spellcasting in Combat

Surprise is simple: roll a d6, and the party is surprised on a 1 or 2. If they have a Ranger, only a 1 will result in surprise.

Player skill alert:


if the player characters are using light in a dark place, they cannot surprise a creature that does not need light if in an open space

As for initiative, you first declare your actions, THEN you roll a d6, then your declared actions are executed in initiative order, with higher Dexterity to break ties. There's a bit in here about how you must declare missile fire, spellcasting, and weapon swapping before initiative is rolled, but if you lose initiative and a monster runs up to you and you get hit, then your missile attack does not go off, or your spell is disrupted, or you're caught with the wrong weapon. I'm going to be charitable and not really call this out as the author being particularly vindictive, since that's a "natural" objective of every old-school initiative system anyway.

Hit Points, Death and Dying

This part goes back to being reasonable:

* Max HP at level 1, rolled HP for every succeeding level afterwards.
* 0 HP means unconsciousness
* Death comes at [negative of character level] HP
* He says he explicitly allows Raise Dead spells, so long as you can get the body to a Cleric at a temple

Doing Things Rather than Rolling Dice


When I added thieves to my game in 1978 or so, I allowed traps to be detected without a roll — but to disarm one, you still had to describe to me what you were doing and how. To be fair, characters with high disarm scores or with an ability to detect something (like elves with secret doors or dwarves with stone traps) were given more or better descriptive information, but everyone still had to interact with me as a GM rather than simply roll a die. The GM should give characters with better skills a better understanding of the effects of what they are doing could be. It should not be definite, but to tell the dwarf player “Based on your knowledge of stonework, it appears that the ceiling block may be triggered by moving the loose stone to the left” is reasonable (assuming you made the dice roll indicating he understood it). Likewise, telling the elf player “There appears to be a series of buttons along the edge of the wall. Two of them are slightly depressed and the other two protrude slightly from the wall” is a lot cooler than saying “Oh look, a secret door is present on the north wall.”

So, let's break this down:

First, you have to have the ability (or the narrative presence-of-mind) to detect a secret
Then, you have to roll to detect it
Then, you have to play 20 questions with the GM to get it disarmed

He even provides you with a handy table of trap mechanisms:

And then he does it with secret doors, too:

You must ... Slide up ... The gargoyle's buttocks ... Forcefully

Like, this is precisely why the Thief class was created! Does he also expect the Fighter's player to benchpress in front of him to gain a +1 to attack bonus? Maybe have the Wizard rub their belly while patting their head to cast a spell?

Up Next: A Europa Universalis reference

Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

Cthulhu Dreams posted:

Does he have any justification at all for making wizards better? If not this surely demonstrates his level of awareness of the systems he plays.

Not really? It's the thing that always happens in heartbreakers when someone comes up with an idea to make combat more "realistic", often at the expense of Fighters, and then never (or in this case, only barely) makes the connection that anything that makes Fighters worse makes Wizards indirectly better as a consequence.

Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

The only time I've ever seen someone house rule to make fighters better is with bows, because there's a certain class of older gamer that really likes that one Froissart quote about the English longbowmen hitting '12 aimed shots a minute' so they'd double or triple the attacks per round in AD&D to make it 'more realistic' for bow specialists.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Various points:
  • Trying to devise a D&D game as a roguelike that takes 5+ years isn't game design, it's a lifestyle choice. Holding it up as some kind of platonic ideal is pretty unrealistic for those not planning to dedicate their real lives to their virtual ones.
  • Even Gygax insisted against 3d6 down-the-line, and it's even worse with games intended to indefinite. Of course, there's always the traditional solution of having your characters fling themselves off of cliffs until the Perfect Adventurer shows up.
  • How much of a slog must his combats be? Against an AC 0 foe with 45 hp and assuming a four-player party of half fighters, it'll take 15+ rounds to finish a fight unless you're employing spells, which of course you will be, because it makes spellcasters singularly dominant. And that's assuming no party members fall in the meantime, of course.
It's amazing how somebody can run one game for decades without becoming aware of the basic tenets of its design, but I guess faking being an authority on D&D is his biggest "dirty trick".

Feb 15, 2011

Communism will help more white people than anyone else. Any equal measures unfairly provide less to minority populations just because there's less of them. Democracy is truly the tyranny of the mob.

I mean, the DM who owns his uppity players is the quintessential doesn't actually play guy. Who would play with that poo poo?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

The obvious solution is to have a wizard who casts fireball describe how they cast the spell. If it sounds legit make them roll to hit, if they fail roll on the scatter table to see how far it deviates.

If their description doesn't sound like bona-fide wizardry, it blows up in their face for max damage!

This "dirty GM" business seems easy, maybe I should write a book?

Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?

NutritiousSnack posted:

I'm honestly extremely interested in this, but with that price tag I want to know more about the system before I drive in.

I assume it'd be great for running a One Piece or Gundam game with action actually being fun, but I have no idea how the system works.

I wish this had come up when it was still deal of the day.

The quick rundown:

  • Tactical grid combat, most of the game's crunch is frontloaded into chargen.
  • Very light on built-in fluff to keep it setting agnostic - past, future, modern, anything's kosher as long as it's ridiculous and at least a little supernatural.
  • Mixed level/pointbuy system, where each time you level up you get more points and also get generally more powerful because what is anime without gradual power escalation.
  • As long as you focus on 2 or 3 stats to keep high, it's hard to build a character who isn't functional.
  • The big meat of chargen is Techniques, where you build your own 4e-style powers from the ground up - add a Core (Damage, Healing, Barrier, Boost, etc) to define what it does, modifiers (Ranged Technique, Blast Radius, Persistent Effect, Immobilizing Strike) to make it more fun, then Limits (Cooldown, lose Health, debuff self, require Valor) to reduce the cost.
  • Valor is a resource for all important characters that starts each scene at 0 and gradually builds over time / is doled out by the GM when you act properly dramatic and over the top. You can burn it 3 at a time to boost rolls or recover Health.
  • Get once-a-scene Ultimate Techniques every 5 levels that can either be big explodey super attacks or DBZ-style transformations.
  • Generic framework for non-combat scenes that makes them more involved than "roll a skill check a couple times", which I've seen used for infiltration missions, info gathering, social conflicts, iron chef cooking battles, and abstracted actual combat.

A friend of mine is prepping to run a One Piece game in it as we speak, it's more or less perfect for it. Gundam could work, although a lot of details would need to be abstracted (at least until we get our mecha splatbook out). People were talking about Pretty Cure / Sailor Moon earlier, also works great for that sort of thing.

I'd consider doing a writeup of it myself, but that seems kind of self-serving.

Nov 8, 2011

ProfessorProf posted:

I wish this had come up when it was still deal of the day.

The quick rundown:

  • Tactical grid combat, most of the game's crunch is frontloaded into chargen.
  • Very light on built-in fluff to keep it setting agnostic - past, future, modern, anything's kosher as long as it's ridiculous and at least a little supernatural.
  • Mixed level/pointbuy system, where each time you level up you get more points and also get generally more powerful because what is anime without gradual power escalation.
  • As long as you focus on 2 or 3 stats to keep high, it's hard to build a character who isn't functional.
  • The big meat of chargen is Techniques, where you build your own 4e-style powers from the ground up - add a Core (Damage, Healing, Barrier, Boost, etc) to define what it does, modifiers (Ranged Technique, Blast Radius, Persistent Effect, Immobilizing Strike) to make it more fun, then Limits (Cooldown, lose Health, debuff self, require Valor) to reduce the cost.
  • Valor is a resource for all important characters that starts each scene at 0 and gradually builds over time / is doled out by the GM when you act properly dramatic and over the top. You can burn it 3 at a time to boost rolls or recover Health.
  • Get once-a-scene Ultimate Techniques every 5 levels that can either be big explodey super attacks or DBZ-style transformations.
  • Generic framework for non-combat scenes that makes them more involved than "roll a skill check a couple times", which I've seen used for infiltration missions, info gathering, social conflicts, iron chef cooking battles, and abstracted actual combat.

A friend of mine is prepping to run a One Piece game in it as we speak, it's more or less perfect for it. Gundam could work, although a lot of details would need to be abstracted (at least until we get our mecha splatbook out). People were talking about Pretty Cure / Sailor Moon earlier, also works great for that sort of thing.

I'd consider doing a writeup of it myself, but that seems kind of self-serving.

Good sir/madam, you have made a sale.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

In Nomine Game Master's Guide: Jesus Fuckin' Christ

Christianity is the dominant religion of the West. Some credit it with widespread social reform and the evolution of Western intellectualism, but others hold it responsible for terrible wars and intolerance. Early Christian history is Jewish history, and Christians revere the patriarchs and prophets, but believe the laws given to the Hebrews are supplanted by a new covenant established by Jesus. Gabriel personally announced the birth of Jesus, and the other angels assumed he'd be some important new prophet, but Gabriel has to this day never explained or said Jesus was the Messiah - or contradicted it. Jesus did perfomr miracles - nothing the Old Testament prophets had never done, but impressive. By the time he became important enough for Dominic to pay attention, however, he was gone. Yves said that Jesus was important and encouraged other Archangels to support Christianity, and is also rumored to have obscured much of its early history, such that crucial events remain ineffable and unknown even to the resonance of the Seraph Archangels.

Michael, who had long patronized the Jews on Yves' recommendation, was put off by the sudden shift. He eventually decided Christianity was also worth supporting, but his suspicion of Yves grew into open hostility in this perod. Christianity spread and mutated rapdily. It is unclear at this point how much it was helped by Yves, Raphael and Gabriel, but they were early patrons. Pauline doctrines that contradicted Jewish law entirely and the Diaspora after the fall of the Temple in 70 AD ensured Christianity broke away from Judaism. Christian thought evolved in all directions, with many movements, but in 312 AD, Emperor Constantine converted and promoted it as the state religion of Rome. This led to the first Council of Nicea in 325, where the Nicene Creed was established. At this point, Dominic and Uriel both endorsed the religion. Dominic saw the Roman Church now as a better vehicle than Judaism to spread monotheism, and Uriel accepted the Nicene Creed on faith. His conversion may have led to 715 AD's Purity Crusade, to eliminate paganism, and some believe his next target would have been Islam.

After Uriel's recall in 745, Laurence was appointed in his place. Laurence was also a Roman Catholic, but where Uriel wanted to purify, Laurence wanted to unify. His patronage of Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire led to a renaissance of chivalry and the Christianization of western Europe. The split with the Byzantine east, however, in 1054 destroyed his hopes for a truly unified church. The next few centuries were bloody, and certainly not what Laurence intended. The Crusades had both active demons and angels as participants, and Dominic declared that angels were meddling too much in religious affairs, allowing pagans and demons to get away with too much. His angels adapted some of the methods used by the Divine Inquisition and taught them to agents of the which point they were shocked and dismayed to see the mundane Inquisition used for political purposes and spreading vastly out of control.

Malphas engineered the Great Schism of 1378, with the rise of two enemy Popes and Colleges of Cardinals denouncing each other...but it was the Protestant Reformation that sundered Christendom thoroughly, in 1617, and Martin Luther had been groomed by Laurence, not Malphas. As Christianity spread to the Americas, it warped into new forms, ranging from now mainstream beliefs with few real differences to radical fringe cults. Most Christian beliefs today would be shocking to early Christians, but in Heaven, where the angels can ignore dogma to get at Truth, Jesus is still himself something of a problem for osme angels.

There are today three main branches of Christianity, within which is immense diversity. The Roman Catholics are the largest denomination - nearly a billion members. 'Catholic' means universal, and they claim authority over all Christendom, saying that those who reject them are in error. There are many orders and movements within the Church, but all recognize Papal authority, and the Pope is said to follow an unbroken line of succession from the Apostle Peter himself. The Pope leads from the Vatican in Rome. For much of its history, it was effectively a world government, and while it remains a world power today, it tries not to overtly get involved in politics. It remains a highly formal religion.

The Orthodox Catholic Church, or Eastern Orthodox, is made of a number of autocephalous churches - essentially national branches, like hte Greek Orthodox or Russian Orthodox. Each church appoints its own leaders and bishops but accepts norminal order of precedence led by the patriarchate of Constantinople, based out of Istanbul. The Roman and Orthodox split was in 1054 AD, and Orthodox Catholicism is based on the first seven ecumenical councils of the original Church. They reject Papal authority, though in recent years there have been gestures of reconciliation - the Pope and the Patriarch no longer excommunicate each other, for example. Laurence still holds out hope for reunification.

The Protestants are third, and there have been many sects since the Reformation. Some, like the Anglicans or Episcopalians, are quite similar to the Catholics. Others are not, like the Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians. There are also many non-denominational Protestant churches, who may each differ only slightly from the mainstream or radically. All reject Papal authority and the veneration of saints, however. Three major Protestant movements have cross denominational lines in the last century. The Pentecostals emrged in 1901, and its followers, called Charismatics, are notable for their practice glossolalia and their belief that surrender to the Holy Spirit allows them to miracles, such as porphecy or healing. They are also the origin of the practice of being 'born again.' Fundamentalism came from 1895, a reaction to modernization in mainstream Christianity. They eventually spawned the Evangelicals, who tend to be somewhat more moderate and focused on study of Scripture, and also emphasize 'witnessing,' or missionary work. Some Protestant churchs are also so different mainstream that many Christians do not see them as Christian. Some are deeply mystical, others almost personaltiy cults. Only a few - the Christian Scientists, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, mainly - have remained stable in the long term. Angels usually find these to be odd branches of Christianity, but their iconoclasm and tendency to inspire intense devotion makes them popular with both sides as recruits, particularly if they want to do so without being noticed by Laurence.

There are two fundamental creeds to Christianity: the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed. The Catholics and Protestants believe in both, while the Orthodox do not include the Apostles' Creed and reject one clause in the Nicene: they omit 'and the Son' from the clause saying the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Apostle's Creed was, by tradition, composed by the 12 Apostles, but in truth was a set of baptismal creeds developed in the 1st and 2nd century. By the 7th, it had reached its final form and was an official Catholic doctrine, testifying that God is the Creator, Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus died, was resurrected and will return to judge humaniuty, as well as affirming the existence of hte Holy Spirit, saints, forgiveness of sins, resurrection and eternal life. The Nicene Creed, establish in 325 AD at the Council of Nicea, is more about particular. It established the Trinity, God's creation of the universe from nothing and Christ's nature as both God and man. It is now the most widespread definition of orthodox Christianity, and churches that do not follow it, such as the Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses, are often considered non-Christian by other churches.

All Christians, definitionally, believe in the divinity of Christ as the Son of God. They differ a lot on what that means, but usually, Christ is seen as a pefectly created human who was born, lived and died without sin. Early Church history had vital questions bout whether Jesus was God or man, and the most vital tenet of the Nicene Creed was that he was God made flesh, of the same substance as the Father. This also estalbished the existence of the Holy Spirit as the third equal part of the trinity. Almost all Christians accept this idea today. Angels, except those who are themselves Christian, mostly see it as an attempt to rationalize the ineffable. Original sin, meanwhile, is one of the most divisive issues of Christiantiy. All agree that mankind is tainted by it, and so can no longer enter the kingdom of God, as God cannot suffer imperfection in His presence. Christ was sent to save mankind of their sin. Most Christians, including Catholics, hold that Christ's intercession will allow anyone into Heaven, even unbelievers, but following Christ offers the best means of salvation. Many Protestants, especially Fundamentalists, however, state that only by explicit acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior allows entry to Heaven, and all others are damned. Celestials, of course, know that this is not so, so Laurence and Dominic attempt to soften this exclusionist attitude. Demons, however, find it an entertaining and useful tool.

Christian scripture was compiled into its final form around the 4th century, and the Christian Bible is the basic canon for most Chirstians. The New Testament was mostly written in the century after Christ's death, while the Old Testament is the Hebrew Bible. The most famous Protestant translation is the King James, while both Catholic Churches use a Greek version or a translation from the Greek for the Old Testament, including books most Protestants consider apocryphal. Different denominations treat Scripture differently. All give them great authority, equal to or superior to church tradition, but Fundamentalists regard the Bible as the literal and inerrant word of God.

Eschatology is a minor part of Christian doctrine, but of great interest to celestials. The eschaton is the end of world, or Armageddon. It is described in detail in the Book of Revelation, but inrepreting the visions of Saint John has been the job of many theologians for centuries. All Christians agree that Christ will someday return, an some believe it will be presaged by wars and cataclysm, while others hold that there will be a relatively shorty transformation of the world order before Christ begins his thousand year reign. Somewhere in the period, they gneerally hold that the faithfull will all be snatched to Heaven. Other works of Saint John mention the Anti-Christ leading the forces of evil and being crushed by God's forces during Armageddon. Some angels do believe a Messiah will return, but all are exasperated by humans trying to predict the time of return. Armageddon will come, they hold, only when God wills, and He will send a clear sign. Demons, likewsie, believe the apocalypse will happen...but they're going to choose how and when.

Now, Islam! Malphas and Nybbas have been running a smear campaign for most of the last century, but Islam has actually had more Heavenly support than the other Abrahamic faiths. Technically, anyway. See, in the 7th century, some angels were getting disappointed in monotheism. Sure, it was a good idea, but implementation wasn't going well. Jews were scattered, the Christians were using theology for political gain and paganism was as strong as ever. Maybe an angel would have to show them how to actually serve God, they muttered. In 610 AD, Gabriel appeared to a merchant from Mecca, a member of the Quraysh tribe known as Muhammad, and informed him that Gabriel was the messenger of God. For 23 years, he received revelations, which he commanded his followers to memorize and record. These, once compiled into a book in 650 AD, became the Quran. Yves claims he told Gabriel exactly what to tell Muhammad, and has declined to share whether the words of the Quran are his or God's. Dominic, however, compared the Heavenly Quran with the Earthly transcription and found discrepancies. He accused Gabriel of taking liberties and tried the Archangel for heresy. Before the trial ended, Gabriel stormed from Heaven and began the self-imposed exile that is still ongoing. She also began to take female form far more, which some have taken as a deliberate attempt to distance herself from Islam. Dominic still suspects Gabriel manufactured verses for her own ends, and Uriel certainly also believed this. Others believe gabriel added material that God revealed to her, for she is a prophet. Others say Muhammad added the lines himself, as a prophet. They claim that Yves might have chosen Gabriel as messenger to spark revelations that he could not deliver himself. Michael suspects Yves of darker motives, wondering why he is so mild in his defense and will not reveal the truth once and for all.

However it arrived to him, though, the Quran was Muhammad's mandate to lead his pagan kin to God, and Islam expanded faster than any previous religion. By his deathi n 632 AD, almost all of the Arabian peninsula followed Muhammad's religion. Within a century, most of the Middle East and North AFrica was Muslim. While mostly it was pagan gods who were threatened, Hell was also alarmed. Never before had Heaven acted so directly to create a new religion, so they had to oppose it. Malphas began to try and break apart the Muslim empire, while Baal and Belial (who both had local roots and deep hatred for Gabriel) also began to work against the Muslims. Uriel assigned Khalid, angel of Faith, to test if Islam was truly divine. Khalid follow the expansion oif Islam into Europe and saw their defeat at Poitiers against Charles Martel. He was more impressed by Muslims than Christians, and he is said to have been relieved when Uriel was recalled. The beginning of the golden age of Islam coincided with his elevantion to Archangel, and in 750 AD, Islam was no longer just an Arab religion - it embraced all people of all nations, with a flowering of arts and sciences. However, with this globalism came increased demonic pressure and divisions. Gabriel and Yves had both turned their attention away from religion, and Heaven seemed to no longer care. Khalid felt that he was being ignored as he tried to defend Islam...and then came the Crusades, where most ARchangels either stayed neutral or sided, with Laurence, against Islam.

After the Crusaders and the Mongols, Islam entered a darker age, and Khalid became bitter. Centuries later, in many respect,s Islam remains strong - it's the dominant religion in the Middle East and much of southeast Asia, and there are mosques in every nation. But Islam is no longer the dynamic force of social change it once was, and often fights amongst itself. Muslims, like Khalid, often feel surrounded by enemies, misunderstood and unable to adapt. However, Islam is not a lost cause. Today, while some ARab and Iranian Muslims remain fundamentalist fanatics, a growing number favor dialogue with the West, and many live in the West, spreading the message of Islam as a religion of piece. And there's certainly many Muslim Soldiers and Saints.

No single authority but the Quran is recognized by all Muslims. Khalid himself avoids divisions, but Islam does have them. The Sunni sect is the majority of Islam today, and it is literally the 'religion of the majority', focusing on popular consensus and social unity while suppressing minority doctrine. Sunni doctrine is based primarily on the Sunnah and hadiths that make up Muslim law, which Dominic himself respects. The Shi'a sect was founded in the 7th century to protest Ummayyad rule. Shiite legitimists supported the succession of Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, and today still commemorate the martyrdom of Ali's son, Hussein. They demanded the Caliphate be restored to the Prophet's family, and since then, they have developed a greatly differing theology from the Sunni majority. They hold that truth can come onlky from a divinely appointed Imam, a descendant of the Prophet. They believe, largely, that there were 12 Imams, the last of whom ascended in the 9th century. Shiite mujtahids claim to receive guidance from the Imam when interpreting doctrine. Shiites believe that at the end of time, the Imam shall return to transfigure the world. Shiism was once a major force of Islam, but now only Iran is ruled by Shittes, and they are a minority in other countries.

The Isma'ili sect was a subsect of Shi'a, formedi n the 8th century as a result of dispute over the successor to the 6th Imam. Most Shiites held it was Musa al-Kazim, but a minority supported his elder brother, Isma'il, becoming the Isma'ilis. They splut further into the Seveners, who held that Isma'iul was the final Imam and that his son would return at the end of time as the Mahdi, and the rest of the Isma'ilis, who held the line continued into the Fatimid dynasty in Egypt. The Isma;ilis were heavily infiltrated by celestials from the start, with Malphas originally being responsible. One group, led by Hassan-I Sabbbah, took control of the fortress Alamut in the 11th century, becoming the sect known as the Assassins. they were destroyed in the 13th century by the Mongols (whom some claim were supported by Asmodeus and/or Dominic), but their parent sect survived and millions of Isma'ilis still exist in India, Pakistan, Syria, Iran and parts of AFrica, under the leadership of a living Imam, the Aga Khan. A splinter group, the Druze, split off in the 11th century to become their own religion, now found in the hills of Lebanon, Israel and Syria.

There have been other sects, but only a few survive now. The most famous are the Sufis, mystics active since the earliest days of Islam, who began to form larger orders in the 12th century. Their missionaries are a deep contrast with more worldly Muslims, and at least one order, the Muradi Sufis, are actually a network of Soldiers of God. The Ahmadiyah were founded in India in the 19th cetury as a reaction to Christian missionaries, and their leader, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, tried to syncretize all religions and claimed to be an incarnation of Muhammad, Jesus and KJrishna. The Ahmadi are still active, but often persecuted by other Muslims. The Black Muslims or Nation of Islam are an American sect developed after WW2, led by Elijah Muhammad, who claimed to be a prophet and who mixed Islamic practices with black separatist politics. Malcolm X was their most famous spokesman, but was assassinated in 1965 after breaking with the Nation of Islam to follow more conventional Islam. They changed their name in mission in the 70s, but a splinter group led by Louis Farakkhan remains a political force in the US, based out of New York City. They bear little in common to mainstream Islam, but there is some interaction. Demons have prayed on their aggressive and separatist message, but angels of Stone have also found them to be strong communitarians and useful allies.

Islam's exact tenets vary between sects, but some are basic. First, the idea of separating Church and State is rather alien and irrational to Islam. It's not just a religion - it's a way of life. It is the most umcompromisingly monotheistic religion, allowing no other power but God. God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. Nothing happens but by God's will. There is a very strong sense of predestination, and free will remains a hot topic among Muslim philosophers. Sunni doctrine does not allow for free will, as that would imply thought and action can come from any source but God. Shiites and many liberal Muslims differ on this point. Because all comes from God, it is blasphemous to credit anyone bot God for anything - you don't thank someone for a service, you think God for causing His agent to help you. You never praise yourself or others for achievement, but God for making it possible. Obviously, not all Muslims follow this strictly. The idea of the Trinity is blasphemous to Islam.

Next time: More Religion

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

I can't remember, do they go over Zoroastrianism at some point?


Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

In a single paragraph in a sidebar, between Scientology and Mithraism.

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