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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Warhammer Fantasy: Realm of the Ice Queen

The Wise Women Know What's What

The Wise Women and their actual magician counterparts, the Hags, are an ancient order of mages and women gifted with the Sight (the Magical Sense ability) who have kept the oral lore of the Ungols, kept the spirits from turning against their people, and done all they can to protect from the forces of Chaos. As the book puts it: "Naturally, everyone hates them."

There are some good reasons for this; it isn't self-destructive spite or simple fear of something different. The first, and most important, is that they see things no-one else does and give advice based on those invisible signs. Thus, a Wise Woman is often telling her tribe that what looks like an unusually lush and fertile valley with good access to fresh water is not, in fact, a good place to settle and build a stanitsa. Instead, it's some kind of demonic trap and the thing thirsts for souls. To the normal men and women of the tribe, the place looks tempting and perfect; they can't see the demonic residue and traps laid on the valley. This connects to another reason they can be unpopular: They always seem to be telling people not to do something that seems like it would be a good idea. This is because when your oral lore and mystic knowledge all comes from a region that borders on the forces of hell and darkness, an awful lot of it is going to consist of dire warnings and memories of past disaster. Despite their distaste or annoyance, Ungols do not ignore their Wise Women; they enjoy telling humorous and horrifying stories about foolhardy Gospodar who do. Some will always harbor worries about where the Wise Women learn these things, but others point out that even if it was a demon who whispered in Baba Osuleg's ear that the valley had demons in it while trying to tempt her, her advice of 'That valley has demons in it, they're trying to tempt us' is still spot on. Their advice may not be pleasant, the rituals and rites they perform may not be fun, but their advice is *safe*, and that counts for a lot.

Wise Women do not use the winds of magic; in fact, normal Wise Women don't use magic at all. All they have is the Sight. They can see and talk to the spirits, which lets them figure out what is causing the rota, the krug (nomadic tribe), or the stanitsa its latest troubles and curses. The spirits are often weird, sometimes malicious, and always a bit alien, but the Wise Woman normally barters and deals with them rather than trying to destroy them or drive them off. The things the spirits ask of a stanitsa can be very strange, and so many settlements and tribes in northern Kislev have all kinds of odd bans on seemingly innocuous activities to avoid curses, or have to perform strange rituals like all the village's women dancing every solstice while covered in fish guts. Any spirit that requests or even hints at a need for human sacrifice is destroyed or driven off, however difficult this might be; this is a major sign that the spirit is of the Ruinous Powers, and even if it isn't, only truly evil spirits would ask for that. You can't trust an evil spirit to keep its bargains. Even Wise Women who can't cast spells have friends among the spirit world, and they can potentially send their friends out to cause trouble for other settlements during disputes, or to curse those who cross them.

Another thing that makes people less friendly to the Wise Women is that they deal with mutation in Kislev. This is never a task that makes people popular. Again, they can see magic, and thus might see something no-one else can in the case of hidden mutations like Telepathy or purely mental changes (or changes that seem purely positive, like the various stat-boost mutations). This means sometimes a Wise Woman demands a seemingly healthy child be banished from the tribe. It's bad enough when they do it to a babe born with tentacles! This especially leads Gospodar families to believe Wise Women are stealers of children and murderers. Interestingly, though, they do not kill them. Tainted children are taken to remote valleys and hidden places, to be raised by other Wise Women who understand this important task. They are raised to believe that they can purify their soul by serving the Land and defending Kislev against the Ruinous Powers. They are also enslaved and put to hard labor or used as sacrificial soldiers, but still, it is an unusual tradition. A child who survives long enough will be blessed and sent to the Wastes, to defeat as much evil as they can before they fall. This could be another interesting place to get a party of mutant PCs and actually use the Chaos Wastes/Realm of Chaos rules from ToC: A doomed crusade of heroic Kislevite mutants raised by witches. Wise Women also take girls with the Sight (who are not found by the Ice Witches, anyway) to be trained, far from their parents. Combined with their duties with respect to mutation, this only makes people more wary of the child-stealing witches.

Some very rare Wise Women can actually use magic, beyond being able to see it and talk with the spirits. These women use a totally different style of magic than southern magicians, and do not suffer from Tzeentch's Curse and normal miscasts (usually). Their magic is safer, but also ickier and much more suited to healing, augery, and the occasional humorous or horrifying curse. The spirits' touch ages the woman terribly, but only in the sense that she looks ancient. These women are called Hags, and how old they appear to be may have nothing to do with how vibrant or strong they are, or how old they actually are. A woman of 30 summers might appear to be impossibly old thanks to the spirits' touch, but still be spry and fit and able to run and jump with normal adventurers. In some cases, even as they trade their appearance of youth for the power to defend their people, the Hags gain the power to live forever; no-one knows how old some of the truly ancient crones and powerful Hag Mothers might be. And they know better than to ask. Also interestingly, the Wise Women judge hierarchy based on age and wisdom, rather than power. When they organize to handle the tasks of defending the land, a woman who has nothing but the Sight but who has always been wise and has gained much experience would outrank a mighty magical prodigy of 30. The main national policy for the Wise Women is 'gently caress Chaos', as it is for all of Kislev.

Ungols don't like the Wise Women, but they respect them. They know their advice is essential, even if they bristle under it, and they know their power is real. They will unite to defend their Wise Women from external threats, and they will not allow an Imperial Witch Hunter who does not understand what he's doing to burn their Baba. Gospodar hate and fear the Wise Women, believing they all have magical powers and that they use them to curse and trick good, innocent Gospodar men. They recognize they serve some kind of important function (and are terrified of them) and so grudgingly try to avoid them, saying it would be best if they did their work far from Gospodar cities. Foreigners think it's obvious that Wise Women are servants of Chaos and dark witches (this is completely incorrect) and often get themselves into serious trouble trying to prove it or do something about it.

Wise Women are great and their class track is really interesting when we get to it. It's perfectly possible to just get the wide knowledge, mystical sight, and spirit-bargaining from the basic Wise Woman class and then go into fighting or political or academic classes after, and just be a woman with surprising insight who can see magic. Similarly, their magic is useless for direct combat, but it can do stuff no-one else can, including actually curing mutations. But it all requires various weird and disgusting components, and Wise Women always have to use their material components, so you cure disease by getting PCs to drink a mixture of fish guts and hold it down, or cast the spell that turns you into the giant avenging hag mother of justice by waving about two fistfuls of Kislevite soil smeared with your own blood (doing a couple Wounds to you) to symbolize how you will fight for the land.

Next: Ice Witches, who have a cunning plan to make women and witches into a major power within Kislev by, uh, becoming generals, high nobles, and people of great importance and open authority. Huh. That isn't usually how that goes.

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Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable

gradenko_2000 posted:

Welcome, to the World of Gorantha! *whipcrack*

*whipquack*

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Warhammer Fantasy: Realm of the Ice Queen

"They have an Ice Witch!? Run!"

The Ice Witches tell of how the Gods were not quite enough to defend the Gospodar people during their times on the Great Eastern Steppe. Beset by Kurgan and worse, the shamans and priestesses cried out to Dazh, Ursun, and Tor, but they were not enough. A great and pure spirit, the Ancient Widow, reached out to one of the shamans of the pre-Kislevite Gospodar and promised immense power if she would help to free and purify it from the taint of demons. To hear the witches tell it, the movement into Kislev was as much motivated by finding the source of their Ice Magic and following the power of the ley-lines as it was by escaping the other hostile tribes and taking a newer, better land for the Gospodar to live in. They came to find and purify the spirit of the Ancient Widow, the same great spirit the Wise Women often serve, and they do this by defending and purifying the land of Kislev.

Ice Witches need political power to do what they feel they must in order to keep their magic safe from the taint of Chaos. They seize this by being a cunning force behind the throne, letting men believe they are in char- No, actually, the first Tsarina of Kislev was an Ice Witch and since then they have always been a major part of politics. They lead armies, they advise nobles, and they are a major, direct force within Kislev. Most people don't quite understand that their end objective is perpetuating the study of Ice Magic and keeping the ley-lines clear, rather than simply defending the country, and most would be a little surprised to see the extent to which they coordinate with one another to ensure that the various sites of power are defended, but there is no need for them to hide their political influence and power. The interesting part of Ice Magic is that like the Hags, they do not use the Winds of Magic at all. Ice Witches work their magic from the natural flow of power within the land, following the lines of magic that they think of as the veins of the Ancient Widow's heart, augmented by the ancient Ogham Stone circles (which may have been built by the Old Ones) and ancient elven waystones. They know the magic of place and ritual site, and the danger in their magic is very different than the danger in conventional Imperial magic. Instead of fearing flows of dark power, they instead have to fear that they will accidentally misread the currents and draw too much, causing glacial surges that can freeze them and the whole area around them into beautiful, sparkling, and very dead statues. Since their magic is based on place, they need their political influence and power so that they can convince Kislev's soldiers of the necessity of defending the sacred sites and places of power, even if their strategic worth is not obvious. Thankfully, the strategic worth of a woman with incredibly lethal ice magic *is* obvious, and so they can usually get what they need in return for their help.

Ice Witches guard a prophecy that says a male witch will one day taint the power of the Land. To combat this, they have worked with the Wise Women and others to convince the people of Kislev that men are simply not to be trusted with Arcane Magic. They are too emotionally fragile and will surely fall to corruption if exposed to the temptations of sorcery. Males with magical ability are killed like mutants in Kislev, and they consider it madness that the Empire permits men to practice the traditional women's business of sorcery. Some noble families will smuggle a male who shows signs of sorcery down to the Empire to be trained in the colleges, but the Ice Witches would like to put a stop to this practice lest it undermine the belief that men are incapable of handling arcane workings.

Every year, shiver Gospodar girls are brought out at the winter equinox, the time when the magic is strongest and when they are most likely to show signs. The Ice Witches tour the country to inspect them, looking at the frightened and freezing girls to find any with a hint of the Ancient Widow's power. Any who show talent are taken for training, with no legal recourse for the parents or families to stop this. Witches are also sworn to take in any woman they find who was somehow missed, if she shows the signs of power later in life. At the very least, an adventuring Witch is bound to bring a talented young woman to another Witch for training, if she cannot spare the time to teach her herself. Ice Magic is harsh and difficult to control, and plenty of apprentices do not survive their training, noble or peasant. The power of the land is as harsh as the land, and as noted above, it can be easy to draw too much strength and freeze the woman or her teacher to a solid block of ice. Witches tend to become linked to the seasons, waxing and waning as winter comes and goes, and their hearts can become cold and calculating as they struggle to survive their powers and wield them against dark forces.

A fun detail is that the Witches meet to politic and argue in the middle of summer, so that their magic will be at its weakest, which prevents it being used to solve disputes. The Witches' current agenda is supporting the rule of Tsarina Katarin however they can; they believe her to be the greatest champion of the Ancient Widow since Miska or Shoika, and that her actions will ensure the sacred sites remain untainted and powerful.

Ice Witches are very popular among the Gospodar. Many Gospodar communities are set up to guard one of the sites of power, and thus have a Witch living nearby. These Witches can summon incredible and flashy powers against invaders and obviously fight for the Land against evil, and so the Gospodar are proud of them. That they also eagerly ensure the dominion of the Gospodar is an added bonus. Ice Witches are actually not quite as good at detecting the subtler sorts of Chaos influence as the Wise Women, and so they leave dealing with mutants to them. This only makes the Witches more popular, since unlike those evil Ungol hags, they never take your child for no reason (and if they do take your daughter, it is to be trained in the magic of the Khan-Queens and to possibly gain a position of great honor and respect!). Ungol do not care for the Ice Witches, but the Wise Women tell them the Witches serve the Land and fight against the darkness, and so they tolerate them. They are always annoyed when the Witches yet again requisition Ungol forces and resources to protect another Gospodar site of dubious strategic value, though. Katarin is more popular among the Ungol than most Witches, as her actions during the Storm of Chaos proved she was an able leader and she tends to see Gospodar and Ungol resources as equally important to defending the Land (and equally completely at her disposal). The northern tribes of the Kurgan and Norse are scared of the Ice Witches, because their power is that great, and they eagerly celebrate whenever they manage to kill one (and often run away if they see one leading a rota). Other Old Worlders just find it strange that open Witches are such an important part of Kislev's nobility, and some radical Sigmarites preach that this is a sure sign that Kislev has already been tainted by darkness. These sorts often end up as lovely statues after they challenge a chilly Kislevite noblewoman.

Ice Magic really is about as powerful as the fluff hypes it up to be. A rota with a full Ice Witch (3rd career, Mag 4) has a woman who can create massive storms that shut down movement, freeze square miles of earth, or straight murder tons of dudes with icicles or freezing. It is also about as dangerous, as its special miscast table is more likely to hurt the witch rather than try to take her soul like conventional miscasts. What's really interesting is that neither Kislevite magical tradition is open to Chaos corruption. Both found a different way to filter and channel their power through the land itself, and the way the Ice Witches use the power of ley-lines, ancient Old One circles, and waystones is very interesting. I also appreciate an ancient sisterhood who have a solemn duty to the Land who instead openly hold power and go around saying "So yes, we defend the country from evil, and we need this power to do it." rather than the usual ruling from behind the scenes stuff. They don't openly tell people that their main concern is defending the magic, not the people, but defending the magic ends up defending the people most of the time, so there's no need to make a fuss, yes?

Next Time: A few last traditions and superstitions. Also, Kislevite Funerals.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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


So the repression of male wizards is fully a political thing?
Seems like some powerful gospodar family could start a lot of trouble.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Mr. Maltose posted:

First rule of Glorantha: Always Criticize Jrusteli

It's interesting, because on the face of it, the Jrusteli are a standin for Western anthropological scholarship, particularly from the 1800s to approximately the 1970s or so. They are a mostly well-meaning but intensely condescending and colonialist civilization who believe that because they can identify patterns in myth and legend, those patterns are the reality. They confuse their models for truth, without appreciating their inherent biases or the problems with their categories and modeling.

Greg Stafford was a trained anthropologist - trained in the 60s and 70s, specifically, when the pushback really began against that kind of attitude. This cannot possibly be coincidental.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine
I hesitate to label them well-meaning, if only because of how little they cared about the consequences of the various poo poo they pulled just to prove they could.

They are absolutely the mystic equivalent of Schliemann excavating Troy with dynamite.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Perhaps 'theoretically noble intentions', rather than well-meaning, yes. Neither Malkionism nor understanding the mechanics of how the Godsplane works are inherently bad ideas.

They just became so in the hands of the Jrusteli.

Hunt11
Jul 24, 2013

Grimey Drawer

Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

So the repression of male wizards is fully a political thing?
Seems like some powerful gospodar family could start a lot of trouble.

How though?

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.

Hunt11 posted:

How though?

And let's face it: traditional wizards are susceptible to Chaos, and this is the nation where it's Chaos'O'Clock at least once a year.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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


If the noble families start talking about building a magical academy and inviting empire wizards for discussions everyone will lose their poo poo.
And all the wise women and witches say is: gently caress you I know best.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Well, no. What they say is that men are simply too irrationally emotional to handle the rigors and strains of arcane magic without going nuts. It's simply not in them, the poor dears.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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


Which the boyar male parents of children to be killed will no doubt be thrilled to hear and would in no way search for ways to change the status quo.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.
But divine magic is OK, right? So presumably magic-using men can go off and become priests of the Kislevite Gods. That makes me wonder why they need to bother with the slaughtering thing.

EDIT: WHFB is awfully keen on killing children.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.

Loxbourne posted:

But divine magic is OK, right?

Divine magic and arcane magic in WHF are not the same thing.


Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

Which the boyar male parents of children to be killed will no doubt be thrilled to hear and would in no way search for ways to change the status quo.

Ask Bretonnia how that goes.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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


Loxbourne posted:


EDIT: WHFB is awfully keen on killing children.


Definitely. It makes perfect sense for the brutally repressive Imperium but the old world is a much more tolerant place and it seems unfitting.

Hunt11
Jul 24, 2013

Grimey Drawer
I think you are missing out on the fact that the wise woman and ice witches represent two of the most influential groups in Kiev, and perhaps more importantly cover the two broad tribes that actually make up the nation. So any noble families seeking to change the status quo will be running up against a significant amount of cultural and political inertia.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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


I'm not saying it would work, just that it would be bad for Kislev.
E: Chaos plan- corrupt a snow witch, patiently help her repel raids and rise in popularity, start a civil war.

By popular demand fucked around with this message at 19:14 on Aug 30, 2017

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG


Part 19: Core Earth Pit Stop

Before we move on to the next realm, let's take a quick break to see what's going on in Core Earth. There are are adventures I want to bring up. One is a trilogy, the other is a stand-alone.

The trilogy was called "The Relics of Power Trilogy", and kicked off in the first published adventure for Torg, The Destiny Map.



Way the hell back in the Nile Empire sourcebook, it was mentioned that Dr. Mobius has been trying to figure out the secret behind a bunch of strange mosaic tiles that were "older than the Earth". The trilogy is based around racing Mobius, Kanawa, and Malraux to discover the secret of these artifacts.

The first part of the trilogy involves getting pieces of a map that need to be brought to a specific temple in India and keeping Mobius' lieutenant Wu-Han from killing them all and destroying the temple before they figure out where the second part of the trilogy takes place. Assembling the map gives the starting location of the next module, the McGuffin they're looking for, as well as that old favorite: the bad Clue Poem.

quote:

YOU HAVE FOUND THE TEMPLE OF THE MAP
HERE WHERE THE HUMANS JOIN HANDS
THE TIME OF POSSIBILITIES HAS BEGUN
SEE NOW THE RESTING PLACE OF THE CHALICE
FOR ALL THESE UNTOLD EONS
YOUR DESTINY CALLS YOU THERE
TO ACCEPT THE DEFEAT OF THE FOUR COLORS AND FIND THE CHALICE
THEN CARRY THE CUP NORTH FROM THE TEMPLE OF THE MAP
TO WHERE THE MEN OF THE NORTH JOIN HANDS
AND LIGHT THE SIGNAL FIRE TO CALL OUR DISTANT SAVIORS
Okay, it's not a poem per se, but still.

The second part of the trilogy ("The Possibility Chalive") involves tracking down the chalice, an eternity shard that turns out to be the Holy Grail.

To give you an idea of what a Torg adventure looks like, here's a high-level outline of how this adventure goes.
  • The party goes to the location where the Destiny Map pointed them to. It's in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand, but there's a Kanawa Corporation oil rig on the exact spot.
  • The PCs fight their way through the oil rig and discover that it's actually a way down to a seabase attached to a sunken temple.
  • After dungeon-diving through the temple, it turns out that the chalice is already gone! Oops! In its place is a message left by a Ayslish mage named Babbidge, saying "if you can read this, come seek me out in Aysle."
  • In Aysle, it turns out that Babbidge has been kidnapped! The group is then railroadedhired by Tolwyn of House Tankred to track down the missing mage.
  • Eventually the party learns that he's being held captive in a ~spooky~ castle in northern England by a wizard named Amethyst.
  • After fighting their way through the ~spooky~ castle, they find Amethyst, who also has the chalice. Taking the logic leap that if Storm Knights want it, it must be an eternity shard, he escapes during a cutscene and the party has to give chase.
  • The final battle takes place on a viking longboat, where the party gets to fight an evil wizard and his viking goons while being bombarded by a naval carrier.

By the way, I've mentioned before how linear these adventures are. Here's an example from the last act of this adventure for what happens if the players try to short-circuit the final battle before it happens.

quote:

The Storm Knights catch the vikings too quickly: If the Storm Knights have spells, items, cards or equipment that you can't get rid of, and it gets them too close to the vikings too fast, Amethyst casts a mega-size fog spell. His own ship, oars creaking slightly (but the echoes make it impossible to follow), glides out of the fog and regains its lead. The Knights flounder in this case. the Uvwe can show up to lead them out of the haze. This can take as much or as little time as you like.

If the nature of the Knights' advantage precludes even the fog or mage dark, then Amethyst's ship simply vanishes, to reappear a moment later and about 500 meters further away (or whatever it takes to pace the scene properly). The Dark Wizard has enacted his special teleportation spell once again.
The PCs getting too close to the bad guy before he reaches the Big Final Battle spot? Better have him teleport ahead!

Seriously, you don't often see rubber band AI in an adventure module, do you?

Anyway, the PCs defeat the vikings, don't get blown up and/or sunk, and have the chalice. Now they need to bring it to adventure three, "The Forever City".

This adventure kicks off with everyone being jumped by Cyberpapal operatives. The reason for this is because the PCs are to learn from these goons that Malraux has gotten his hands on something called the "Signal Fire", and is transporting it to wherever it's supposed to go on the Orient Express.
They PCs also learn that one of the leaders of La Resistance is also on the train.

Good thing whichever operative the PCs leave alive knows all that!

Oh, what's that, they didn't leave any of these guys alive? Well, then the last guy surrenders and Tolwyn (who they start the adventure with) forces the PCs to accept it because it's the Honorable thing to do. Oh, they kill them all anyway? Then a second group of cyberoperatives will attack the next night. All those guys get killed? Then you just skip the interrogation scene and do the next one instead.

Writing!

Anyway (man I say that a lot in these reviews), the PCs take the Orient Express to get the Signal Fire. What's that, they have faster transport and want to ambush the Cyberpapal team and steal the Signal Fire when they get off the train? Well, they can't do that because HEY WHAT'S THAT OVER THERE? (running feet, car door slam, screeching tires)

Honestly, though, they actually do take this into account: you just skip the whole Act that takes place on the train. That's it. Believe it or not, I want point this out because of something that's going to happen much later.

If the party does take the Orient Express, they get to meet setting NPCs Katrina Tovarish and Nicolai Odnarev. These two are from the original novel trilogy and were part of the Soviet psychic research project that predicted (and prevented) Tharkold's original invasion attempt in Siberia. They're currently disguised as a nun and a priest because Katrina has predicted that something important is going to happen on the train so they're on board to see what's going on. Katrina is a powerful psychic but can't fight should the need arise. That's okay, though, because Odnarev is a highly trained Soviet soldier who treats Katrina like a daughter and has zero moral problems with killing the poo poo out of anyone who threatens her.

Also on board is a jewel thief by the name of Horace Blessed, who came on board to steal whatever it is that the Cyberpapacy was transporting. This didn't work out well for him, and he was given the choice of either being a stalking horse for people seeking the Signal Fire, or getting shot in the back of the head. His job is to trick people into looking for the Signal Fire in a trapped location where the schmucks can be ambushed easily.

Oh, and there's also an Orrorshian vampyre on board, because why the hell not.

The whole point of this scene is for the PCs to interact with a bunch of different NPCs, fight a bunch of cyberoperatives on top of a train, and get their hands on the Signal Fire, a brilliant blue jewel.

It's also a fake.

Yup, Malraux set this whole thing up to keep the Storm Knights distracted while he goes to the final temple location in they Himalayans. The Signal Fire isn't on the train. It's not even a gem. The whole thing was one big trap to keep anyone seeking the Fire busy and hopefully get the Chalice off their bodies.

Okay, I'll admit it. That's pretty good.


At least they get to fight on top of a train?

The end of the adventure involves getting to the Himalayan Mountains and getting to the temple where the real Signal Fire is before anyone else. They get to climb mountains, fight a yeti, and fight a vampyre and some gospog before arriving at the ruins of some ancient forgotten city. Once they deal with a bunch of Egyptian god avatars courtesy of Mobius, they get to explore the city and find the temple of the Signal Fire.

quote:

An inscription is clearly visible on the statuary. The writing is extremely strange, and those who have been to the temple of the Destiny Map in India recognize it as the same language as was found there. The effect on the reader is as it was on the temple wall - despite the alien alphabet, the Knights can somehow read and understand the words. The inscription reads:
THE TIME OF POSSIBILITIES IS AT HAND
SKY AND FIRE MUST BE MIXED
AND CARRIED FORTH TO ANOINT THE BRAZIER
AND PREPARE IT FOR LIGHTING

BUT BEWARE

ONLY THE MOST WORTHY WILL BE ABLE TO SUFFER THE PAINS OF THE SACRED STAIRS AND LIVE
TO LIGHT THE SIGNAL FIRE AND HERALD THE NEWS OF EARTH
Basically the temple is a big puzzle that I'm not going to get into the details of, and walk up a magically trapped set of stairs that I will get into the details of.

The party needs to carry a puzzle item up four stairs to activate the Signal Fire. Which is easy enough, except that for every one of these steps you climb you take one wound. Four steps means four wounds, which is how many wounds a character can take before dying. In order to climb the steps, someone needs to be able to spend a possibility to prevent at least one of those wounds. This is what's meant by "only the most worthy"; only P-rated people could do this without dying.

So the PCs climb the steps, find the Signal Fire (a giant stone brazier) and activate it. This is done by putting the puzzle item on the brazier.

quote:

A message appears on the brazier in the same ancient, yet readable language. It reads:

HOW WILL YOU SEND YOUR MESSAGE?

This is a clue which refers to the final step in "lighting the Signal Fire."

As mentioned in the statuary instructions, the Knights must "Herald the news of earth." In other words, they must use the group power of herald, bestowed upon them by the Possibility Chalice to light the Signal File. If they announce that they will "herald" their message, go immediately to the next scene.

If the Knights do not have the herald power, they must immediately purchase that power (see Torg Rules Book, Gamemaster Chapter Nine).
Conveniently, the Chalice can let the players buy the herald power if they don't have it. The problem is that it costs 20 Possibilities across the whole group to get it.

What happens if the party can't afford to get the power? Good question! It's also one the authors didn't ask because there's nothing here to take into account that the party might not be able to do this. Well, hopefully the party can pay out before the city is destroyed?

Oh, did I not mention that a reality storm kicks in at the start of this scene and will destroy the city in 10 minutes? No? Well, don't blame me because the adventure doesn't mention it either until pretty much this point. Good writing, guys! Oh, and the vampyre from before attacks again at this point.

Anyway, let's assume that everyone pays out the 20 Possibilities between them and use the herald power. So what happens?

This happens.

quote:

An impossibly bright light shoots forth from the mouth of the brazier, sending searing knives of pain through your eyes. The vampyre screams in agony at the cursed light - you can hear him running for his life, but you cannot see him. You cannot see anything.

As your eyesight gradually returns, you see the image of a shimmering globe hovering above the mouth of the brazier. The familiar shapes of oceans and land masses reveal to you that it is your beloved Earth.

The globe is dotted with tiny pinpoints of light, and interspersed among these are seven pulsing points of utter blackness.

As you stare, transfixed, into the mystical image, you feel yourself falling into it, travelling down onto the face of that glowing planet, speeding toward one of the many points of light. You now stand near a group of children ina playgrounds and box. You are unable to move or to speak. A man lies half-buried and bleeding in the sand, and the children surround him. They poke and prod him with maliciousness slightly beyond a child's normal curiosity - some kick sand in the helpless man's battered face.

The sandbox is cloaked in shadow as a winged Ravagon lands amid the children. They smile and clap as it touches down in the sand, staring at the creature in wide-eyed wonder.

The Ravagon pats several of the tykes on the head,and speaks softly to them. "I've crippled this Stormer for you, young ones. Do with him as you will."

With that, the Ravagon plucks an aluminum baseball bat from the sand and hands it to a red-headed boy. "Go on, child. Haven't you ever wondered what it would be like?"

The boy steps over the man's crumpled arm and onto his chest, gripping the bat tightly and waving it above his head. His young friends urge him to strike. The boy hesitates. The mystic letters form again over the scene: HERALD YOUR MESSAGE.
O...kay...

The idea here is that the group has to use the herald power to send the kid with the bat a message of hope, because this is his "moment of crisis" that could lead to him becoming P-rated. And that's all they can do; use the herald power with a difficulty of 27.

That's right! The big climactic moment comes down to a single skill roll!

If the characters fail the roll, then the kid beats the helpless Storm Knight to death and the party is returned to the Forever City. The adventure presumably ends there since nothing says what happens after this when the image fades. As is often the case with Torg adventures, the assumption is that the PCs will win.

If they players succeed and they send some sort of message of hope (not sure how they're supposed to know to do that since they don't know why the kid's doing this), then the kid throws the bat at the Ravagon and the kids all run. The Ravagon looks confused for a second and then pursues them, but the PCs are returned to the city and the image of the Earth. They see more lights appearing across the globe, and know instinctively that each of these are a new Storm Knight being infused with Possibilities. Their message of hope has created thousands of new heroes across the world, strengthening the forces arrayed against the High Lords!

Oh, and the reality storm ends, and in what seems like an afterthought a portal appears before the heroes leading to the scene they just witnessed so they can beat up that Ravagon.

But what about that giant beam of light that launched into the sky? If that was the message, who was it for?

We'll get there. Oh man, we will get there.


The other adventure I wanted to discuss is the stand-alone High Lord of Earth


This cover has nothing to do with the adventure.

This adventure revolves around a question that had come up in the fandom: does Core Earth have a Darkness Device? And the answer, unfortunately, is "yes". It's been inactive for hundreds of years, but with the rise in Possibility energy and the arrival of other Darkness Devices it's awakened and is seeking out a new High Lord.

Like all Darkness Devices, Core Earth's is not native to the reality it found itself in. It was previously in the possession of Kurst, High Lord of Kantovia. If that sounds familiar, it's because it was brought up in the Orrorsh book; Kantovia can best be described as a "Slavic Werewolf reality", and back even before the prequel novels took place Kurst was its High Lord. Kurst ended up getting the poo poo kicked out of him by the Gaunt Man and Heketon, and turned into one of the Gaunt Man's followers. Kurst's Darkness Device managed to escape by dimthreading to Core Earth, specifically Mexico during the height of the Olmec empire.

The Device had suffered greatly in battle, and had lost much of its strength and knowledge. But the Olmecs didn't care about things like Possibility energy or stelae; they saw the device as a god, and worshiped it as Huitzilopochtli, the god of war. And it wasn't long until the Device began to believe itself to be the actual Olmec god of war.



Huitzilopochtli destroyed the Olmecs, turning them on each other to test the limits of their faith. It then went on to corrupt and destroy the Mayans in the same way. The Toltecs were the next to fall. Then the Aztecs...

It wasn't until the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519 before the Device was defeated. When the Aztecs were conquered, nobody worshiped Huitzilopochtli anymore. It attempted to control the Spaniards but found them too strong-willed to control (what with no space for a god of war in their monotheistic mindset), and couldn't remember that it could seduce someone into becoming a High Lord. It wanted multiple worshipers, not just one. The invaders (not knowing what the Device truly was) buried it in a deep tomb, and that was where it remained until the arrival of the High Lords and their own Darkness Devices.

Huitzilopochtli now remembers what it's capable of, and is sending out a call for those capable of becoming a High Lord. However, it still thinks it's the god Huitzilopochtli, and wants to "restore the glory of the Aztek empire."

The current leader in the High Lord sweepstakes is Malcolm Kane, badass 90's serial killer and agent of the Gaunt Man. He was promised his own Darkness Device if he signed on board with the invasion, but with the Gaunt Man out of the picture he's decided to get one on his own.

I'm not going to go into detail about the adventure, mainly because it's pretty straightforward. The PCs are tracking Kane across the world and hear about weird happenings in Central America, where there's no invader presence. A zombie plague in a city in Belize turns out to be the outcome of a sacrificial ritual, which ends up pointing them to Tikal in Guatemala. They fight ancient spirits as a "test" and learn that Kane is headed to Teotihuacan.

The important part of the advetnure is the last Act, where the PCs have to both stop Kane (newly empowered as the High Lord) before he can set up a stelae zone and bring Huitzilopochtli back to the height of its power. The main advantages that the group has is that Kane doesn't use his High Lord abilities to start with since he's not used to having them, and that Huitzilopochtli barely had any energy to give to Kane to begin with.

If the group defeats Kane, then the Darkness Device will try to tempt one of the PCs into becoming High Lord. It does so by making a bunch of charm skill rolls against the group to see who's to weak-willed to be an effective High Lord (it wants someone willing to serve it). It tempts the PCs with power enough to save Earth; all they have to do is plant the last stelae and Huitzilopochtli will create a bridge to the "realm of the gods" (actually Kantovia), re-empower itself, then return to Earth and make one of the PCs a High Lord and spread a reality of blood sacrifice and death.

Assuming the party refuses, they can try to destroy the Darkness Device itself, but given how powerful it is that's pretty much suicide. They could destroy the stelae in the area, but that leaves the problem of an active Darkness Device floating around. The actual way to win is to do what it says: plant the last stelae. Then, once Huitzilopochtli has gone up the bridge, uproot the stelae and let Core Earth's reality destroy the bridge. Huitzilopochtli will be trapped in the other reality, problem solved.

But what if none of that happens?

There are two failure states in this adventure: either Kane drives off or defeats the PCs and plants the last stelae, or one of the PCs accepts the offer to become High Lord. If Huitzilopochtli isn't stopped and manages to create a High Lord, then a new realm is created in Central America.


You gotta start somewhere.

This realm is called "The Aztec Empire", and will have axiom levels close to Core Earth's, only with a higher Spiritual and Magic axioms. Which means you could have fanatical Aztec warriors armed with assault rifles and slinging spells spreading across Central America. Given the situation in North America, this is a huge danger to the stability of the States. On top of that, the Empire would declare war on Orrorsh because Huitzilopochtli wants revenge on the Gaunt Man. The War enters a whole new phase, knocking many of the other High Lords' plans into disarray.

But that didn't happen.

See, while this adventure did take into account a worst-state failure, it wasn't canon when it was published. Instead, at the end of the adventure was a form you were supposed to fill out and send to West End Games, telling them what the outcome of the adventure was for your group.



Whatever outcome happened the most would become canon, and since most groups defeated Kane and Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec Empire never happened.

But what if your group failed? Well, in this case you run into the Metaplot Problem: if your campaign doesn't line up with metaplot events, then you end up having to adjust everything that comes later to fit your non-standard campaign.

In none of the other books is there as much as a sidebar taking into account that there's an Aztec realm, or that the Darkness Device might still be kicking around Mexico. Once the adventure's over all this stuff is just forgotten and never brought up again.

So yeah.


The last thing I want to bring up in this post is an update on Jeff Mills, who (you may recall) is an in-universe game designer who's publishing a game called Five Realms based around the Possibility War that everyone's involved in, and who seems to know more than he should be expected to and keeps slipping through people's fingers. He's still popping up here and there, at one point being invited by the president to speak to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Now, none of this has anything to do with the next book; I just wanted to show you the stuff I'm not talking about so you can perhaps see why I'm not spending time on it.

NEXT TIME: Going native!

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at 16:41 on Sep 6, 2017

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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

Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

Definitely. It makes perfect sense for the brutally repressive Imperium but the old world is a much more tolerant place and it seems unfitting.

I think it's partly a matter of how it's treated. In the Old World, these sorts of actions are usually being taken for a different reason than just protection against Chaos (Kislev, though by this point pretty much everyone enforcing it in Kislev believes it's true) or are explicitly counter-productive, like the slaughtering of mutants, which is treated as a mistake pretty much across the entire line. One of the differences between Fantasy and 40k is that in 40k, oppressive acts and brutal repression are celebrated as a sign of character and strength (at least, they are in modern 40k writing) while in Fantasy they're generally mistakes or signs of weakness.

Also, I had it a little wrong. You're only killed as a man in Kislev if you actually try to practice magic. If you have the ability but suppress it and never give in to the temptation to hedge-wizardry, you'll probably be fine. It's only if you ever actually try to use your inborn abilities that the state hunts you down and has you shot or frozen.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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


Does that apply to visitors as well?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Technically. And if you're a licensed wizard with an allied government you're legally supposed to be safe.

In practice, unless they're with an Imperial army it's probably best for any male Imperial wizard not to mention their job while passing through.

Female battle wizards and magisters should be fine, though!

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.
I'm guessing runesmiths and damsels are fine, too.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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


I like how the backwards Bretonnia gets not enforcing your social mores on foreigners perfectly but Kislev can't.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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

Cythereal posted:

I'm guessing runesmiths and damsels are fine, too.

As are elfs.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

Runesmiths are like double fine, they can't be taken by Chaos (any more than any dwarf, that is) and never have to deal with backlash, what with not actually using magic per se.

(They create magic, but they don't wield it.)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Also I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't even realize a runesmith is any kind of wizard, they just think that's something all dwarfs who are good enough at making stuff can do.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

It probably helps that the dwarves hunt down and kill any human that they think is getting a handle on rune magic, because that poo poo is not for you.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.

Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

I like how the backwards Bretonnia gets not enforcing your social mores on foreigners perfectly but Kislev can't.

It was mentioned that foreign wizards in Bretonnia typically pose as women if they spend any extended time there.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk


Hostile V posted:

Really here are the four pillars of Pulp that the game puts forth:
  • High Adventure. Youíre going on an adventure that could never happen in real life but gently caress the haters, Iím gonna get on my awesome plane and have a dogfight over the jungles of Africa.

Hostile V posted:

Modified Qualities and Drawbacks
  • Minority is now worth 3 points as a Drawback instead of 1 because, well, the game admits that discrimination is much worse in the past. Which isÖaccurate but at odds with the notion of the pillars of pulp this game put forth.

I never understand why game designers want to do this.

"the point of the game is that you're all larger than life heroes that are accomplishing legendary deeds against the darkest forces of evil. don't agonize over whether or not your adventures could work in the 'real world' because reality is only a suggestion for amazing heroes like you"

"also let's obliquely codify the mechanical effects of racism because people were racist back in the day so clearly that's something we have to include, despite our stated premise that your heroes shouldn't have to deal with the notion of whether or not their escapades are realistic. if there's no penalty for being a racial minority, my verisimilitude gets soft"
:goonsay:

it's the same lovely design space as giving women a penalty to strength and intelligence but a bonus to charisma.

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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

Yeahhhh this is one of the problems I have with a lot of pulp settings/pulp mechanic games. "We want to be period accurate but also we recognize that Ebony White from The Spirit was very much a racist character so don't do that, even Will Eisner had regrets about Ebony". Wanting the escapism and also wanting verisimilitude never works well together and the fact that people try to have both is another reason why I don't "get" pulp. I would rather just have high-octane pure escapist two-fisted adventures, just let me have the chance to be in an idealized place. Rocket Age does it kind of decently and that's why I quite enjoy Rocket Age: it gives you everything you need to have two-fisted adventures, it gives you injustice and bad things out in the world and it explicitly says "you are playing a good person, go make the world a better place".

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Most of these 'high flying adventure' RPGs then immediately contain a ton of altitude restrictions and verisimilitude.

It is why most don't really work out well.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion


Mors Rattus posted:

It probably helps that the dwarves hunt down and kill any human that they think is getting a handle on rune magic, because that poo poo is not for you.

A runemaster would probably teach a human who proved he was worth the effort, but that takes even dwarfs fifty years of practice so it'll never happen.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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

wiegieman posted:

A runemaster would probably teach a human who proved he was worth the effort, but that takes even dwarfs fifty years of practice so it'll never happen.

That's incidentally the real reason humans can't learn High Magic. It actually has less to do with Teclis wanting to keep it from them and more with it taking like 200 years to get the gist.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Freaking Crumbum posted:

it's the same lovely design space as giving women a penalty to strength and intelligence but a bonus to charisma.
It's always telling exactly where designers put the breakpoint between "just let it slide man, it's a magical high adventure setting for pete's sake" and "ack, my verisimilitude!1!". Lot of D&D versions were perfectly happy to elide the definition of a hit point or how monsters in dungeons fed themselves, but woe betide the woman who tried to have 18 strength.

Hunt11
Jul 24, 2013

Grimey Drawer

FMguru posted:

It's always telling exactly where designers put the breakpoint between "just let it slide man, it's a magical high adventure setting for pete's sake" and "ack, my verisimilitude!1!". Lot of D&D versions were perfectly happy to elide the definition of a hit point or how monsters in dungeons fed themselves, but woe betide the woman who tried to have 18 strength.

I thought the female strength bullshit died when 3.0 came out.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion


Night10194 posted:

That's incidentally the real reason humans can't learn High Magic. It actually has less to do with Teclis wanting to keep it from them and more with it taking like 200 years to get the gist.

Yeah, except for the fact that some rear end in a top hat in fantasy egypt figured out consequence free immortality 3000 years ago. The human lifespan is a solvable problem in WF.

Hunt11
Jul 24, 2013

Grimey Drawer

wiegieman posted:

Yeah, except for the fact that some rear end in a top hat in fantasy egypt figured out consequence free immortality 3000 years ago. The human lifespan is a solvable problem in WF.

Going full Nagash is generally considered a bad idea. by anyone who is remotely sane.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

The Guide to Glorantha: Werewolf Politics

The Hsunchen, or "beast peoples", are a neolithic-tech culture that lives without any real permanent settlement, moving with the seasons to get food. They are found...well, everywhere. It is estimated that there are over 3.5 million Hsunchen, between the various populations of them from Dragon Pass to the Kralorela to Tarien. They are technologically primitive, making everything they need from gathered materials and sometimes religiously avoiding metal. Their magic is limited, but quite powerful for what it does. Politically, they rarely organize even to the size of large clans. They live with the animals that match their spiritual totem, which they often claim as ancestors and kin. They vary greatly in appearance based on their totem. The Rathori bear-people, for example, tend to be taller and heavier than most humans, with brownish skin, hirsute bodies and often brown or black hair. The Uncoling reindeer-people, on the other hand, are taller than most, have dark skin, and range in hair color from white to nearly black.

There are many kinds of Hsunchen, but the kind most dominant in a given regeion varies. The Telmori wolf-people are commonly found in Dragon Pass and Ralios. The Rathori and Uncolings are found in Fronela, as are the Klosari badger-people. The Lo-fak yak-people are limited to Kralorela, but the Hsa tiger-people are known there and in Teshnos, the East Isles and Pamaltela, while the Damali deer-people are known to Kralorela and Ralios. The Mraloti boar-people are mostly in Maniria, while the Pralori elk-people are there and in Ralios. The Basmoli lion-people are known in Prax, Ralios and Pamaltela. The Pjaleg bat-people and Sofali turtle-people are found in Teshnos and Pamaltela.

All Hsunchen societies are hunter-gatherer societies, with small families wandering a territory. Men primarily hunt, trap and fish, while women gather plants. Families usually remain in the same vague territories for centuries, but these can be quite large. What happens when two families meet varies by their leaders more than custom. At birth, Hsunchen vary only slightly from other humans, but they feel an innate tie to their totem. Their shamans then help them connect with this heritage, restoring the animal part of their soul and giving them the animal powers their ancestors once lost. All adult Hsunchen are able to take on at least some features of their totem, and Hsunchen heroes are usually able to fully transform.

Due to their lifestyle, the Hsunchen do not consider wealth or occupation to be a factor in social class. They rarely have any material wealth beyond their tools. Instead, social class is derived by leadership ability, with one's importance judged by number of followers. Extended families are the mainstay of the society, with close kin forming the nucleus around which associated spouses, cousins and other hangers-on assemble. They rarely gather in large numbers save when food is plentiful, and their family structures often parallel that of their totem kin. Leaders are those who can do the job best, and leadership often shifts based on what is needed at the moment. Clans are determined primarily by closeness of kinship maternally. Mothers, sisters, wives and daughters are closest, then maternal grandmothers, female first cousins and granddaughters, then great grandmothers, female second cousins and great-granddaughters. Anyone within those three degrees of kinship is of your clan. People of the same totem but different clans are more distant kin, and anyone not of the totem is a foreigner. Marriage must be within the totem tribe but outside the clan, and typically a man will join his wife's clan. (The Uncolings are more complex, as they practice polygamy.) Organization beyond the occasional clan gathering is rare, and the Hsunchen rarely act in any unison. Those few political entities they have founded, like the White Bear Empire, have been exceptional and rarely lasted long.

The Hsunchen tribes have different ethics and virtues, depending on their totem beasts. Those who kill well are respected more among the wolf and tiger people than, say, the deer. Generally, they honor the virtues of their totem kin. Women among the Hsunchen are always given higher status, however, as they are the mothers and thus manifestations of the Life Force of the world, as well as their longer lifespan (and, therefore, greater ability to increase their wisdom). Gender roles are separated but overlapping. Men hunt and fight, but some animals are only able to be hunted by women - for example, among the Pralori, only women can hunt the opossum. In battle, all Hsunchen fight, and women are expected to be as skilled as men. Men are expected to be able to sew before they are adults, and only men can gather certain food or medical plants. Only shamans are permitted to change their gender role; it isn't unknown for someone to desire to, but no clan would allow them to stay if they did, for fear of offending the ancient animal spirits. These individuals are said to have 'wakened the dragon' and get sent into exile. Legend and rumor hold that secret tribes of 'upside down people' exist, hiding evne from other Hsunchen, in which all gender roles are reversed. Shamanic gender reversal can be casual (the Damali shamans all wear women's clothing), mysterious and magical (the Raccoon People always return from their shamanic vision quests as the opposite gender), sexual (common among the Opossum People) or ambiguous (most others).

Hsunchen all maintain intimate contact with their totem beasts. Most of the time, these animals live among them, and their social lives and religion are tied to the beasts. The Pralori live among their elk herds, the Telmori hunt and sleep alongside wolf packs. In many cases, the two species treat each other as if they were the same. They eat the same thing (mostly), hunting and gathering whatever they can for the season. The Telmori, as a note, are unique among the Hsunchen. They were blessed by th god Nysalor, such that their hides in wolf shape could not be cut by bronze or bone, crushed by stone or wood, or torn by flesh and claw. However, Talor the Laughing Warrior, cursed them in the Gbaji Wars, and so they involuntarily shift between man and wolf shape, and they fled Fronela for distant lands.

The Hsunchen languages are grouped as one family by Gloranthan scholarship, but they are not mutually intelligible between tribes. Each of the Hsunchen groups speaks their own shared language, but this language is identical regardless of time and geography. All Basmoli speak the same tongue, no matter how far apart they are, or how long they have been in a place. However, it is notable that those Hsunchen who end their beast-worship and change to other religions lose this unchanging language over time. There are no written Hsunchen scripts. They also have no formal law. Punishment of evil is the job of a community, done to protect the spirits or for the good of the family. Further, the Hsunchen do not partake in war. They fight, yes. They hunt, they raid. But they do not use violence to achieve political ends, largely because they do not practice politics.


Pictured: a Rathori hunter (left) and and an Uncoling shaman (right), with magic snake drum of the Cosmic Dragon.

All Hsunchen share the same spirit magic - Korgatsu. Korgatsu is the most popular name of the World Dragon, which all Hsunchen myths hold was torn apart to make the universe and all within it. When Death came to the world, the faithful and good found Korgatsu in the Spirit World, and learned how to help those who still lived, how to be reborn, and what ceremonies had to be done to preserve the world. All Hsunchen tribes have variants of the Korgatsu tradition, and share the same essential beliefs. All revere an animal that is the ruler of the universe, and these traditions always include most local fauna, if sometimes as enemies, as well as local places and plants. The Hsunchen acknowledge that gods exist and are potent, but do not follow them. Creation myths vary, typically betwqeen the Great Spirit, the Creator and Grandmother Earth, or Earthmaker and the Four Companions, Turtle, Loon, Otter and Sea Eagle.

A typical myth would go thusly: Mikyh was the Dragon that impregnated and was impregnated by Korgatsu. Nature gave birth to spirits, and Mikyh bore the first Grandfathers and Grandmothers of the tribes. In the Golden Age, most of the world took shape, and gods were divided from lesser beings. The gods and great spirits could change form, but most mortals could not. Life was perfect and wonderful...but eventually, most of the Hsunchen lost contact with their animal souls, and thus lost touch with Nature, succumbing to the vices of agriculture, politics, priests, war and wizards. These people were doomed, for all of these would not save them in the Gods War. The beast people were exceptions. They naturally took either human or beast shaped, and they lived together with their human- and beast-shaped kin, sharing the same souls. The different tribes explain this differently. The Telmori believe they and normal wolves are just the Wolf People, with different amounts of legs. The Uncoling claim they are reindeer who can turn human, while the Flari owl people believe they are humans who can become owls. All share in common two figures: Old Man and Old Woman. Every tribe claims them as ancestors. Everything good or bad today is the result of what Old Man and Old Woman did, in ancient times. Old Man conquered Fire, making it a friend, but Old Woman was the one who mastered cooking with it.

God Learner genealogy claims that Hykim and Mikyh were the ancestors of all beasts. They were probably dragons. Hykim was male, Mykih female, and they never appeared together in stories. The God Learners believed they were representative of a single hermaphroditic being, like most dragons. Their children were the parents of the animal gods taxonomically - Mammal Mother, say, whose children were cat-god, bear-god and so on, and then cat-god bore lion-spirit, lynx-spirit and so on. Some animals came from other places as well, such as Vrimak, the Bird Ancestor, who is said to have been made by Dayzatar, the Sky God. Most animals are closely tied to another god of some kind, and Hykim and Mikyh are used to explain this - for example, Mikyh is said to be the mother of King Griffin (by way of Yelm) and Storm Bull (by way of Umath).

Anyway, Hsunchen religion focuses on three types of spirit - ancestral, greater and local. Ancestors vary tribally. Greater spirits are things like the Fire God, the Horned Man and the Hunter, for those actively worshipped, and others are told of in story, such as Trickster or Earth Witch. Each group also venerates local spirits that are important to survival. The Mraloti worship Oak Spirit, say, while the Sofali favor the Keeper of the Clams. Multiple spirits may be important - the Rathori worship all of Grandfather Salmon, Harastos of the Salmon and Mother of Roe Lake, depending on what part of the land they are in, though all do similar jobs. They often have seasonal rites, or less orderly ones that are invoked as needed. They have no temples, but do keep track of Power Spots, innately holy places which they use for some rituals. Mostly, however, shamans carry or make what they happen to need on site.

Next time: The Doraddi plainsfolk.

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 15:51 on Aug 31, 2017

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk


FMguru posted:

It's always telling exactly where designers put the breakpoint between "just let it slide man, it's a magical high adventure setting for pete's sake" and "ack, my verisimilitude!1!". Lot of D&D versions were perfectly happy to elide the definition of a hit point or how monsters in dungeons fed themselves, but woe betide the woman who tried to have 18 strength.

it also implies that your GM is expected to indulge in some light racial discrimination during gameplay, because what would be the point of taking a character flaw if it never came up in the story? it'd be like taking "Fatal Alergy: Cinnamon" and then never explicitly forcing your character to have to survive an encounter full of deliciously deadly confections!

maybe it's a canary in the coal mine that was purposely put into the game. a way to raise a red flag about your GM without having to specifically have any uncomfortable conversations.

"if your GM actually allows you to take the racism flaw, get the gently caress out of his mom's basement"


edit: gahhhh it's just got so many shameful loving implications about the people that designed the game.

"why would we need to mechanically differentiate between the ethnic background of different characters in a game that's all about high octane, double-fisted action?"

"well I mean otherwise what would be the point of even including non-white ethnicities? wait, do you mean ethnic characters should get some kind of racial bonus instead of treating it like a flaw?"

does it also imply that your character literally can't be non-white if they don't take the racism flaw? or if they can, then why the hell would you include a racism flaw?

"we believe that our core audience is closet racists that are dying for the opportunity to share their myopic world views with their friends via the medium of cooperative story telling!"

Freaking Crumbum fucked around with this message at 22:21 on Aug 30, 2017

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Hostile V
May 31, 2013

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



DAILY LIFE IN 2046

Food and Drink

Meat comes from cloned animals, fruits and veggies are all gengineered to be tastier and healthier and lower caloric-ally. Rice and noodles are now delicious and nutritious and actually help delay diseases and aging and stuff. Tea is still popular but neon fluorescent sodas with healthy additives or nanomachines are popular amongst drat teens. Japanese beer is relatively unchanged and the same applies to sake. If it ainít broke, still drink it. Sushi and ramen bars are now staffed by robots that will cook for you and you can also have hot meals vended to you via automat, the food trays kept hot and self-cooking.



Also because this book is like RPG Wikipedia this book includes a section of how table manners work in Japan.



There is also a section on superstitions and beliefs.



Oh god send help this just keeps coming.



Alright Iím drawing the line at ďCommon Names of JapanĒ. Iím not sharing that. Moving on.



Currency is now mostly digital or synthetic paper that feels like cold plastic, coming in coins for anything smaller than 999 yen and bills for anything bigger. The conversion rates have been plummeting since the blockade. In our world, 130 Yen is worth 1 Euro and 109.68 Yen are worth 1 US Dollar. In Kuro, 1 pound is worth 264 Yen and 1 USD is now worth 154 Yen. Everything is devaluing more and more and things are quickly becoming more and more worthless while the price of food and fuel keep going up. Below is a list of standard prices. I have converted the prices to USD for comparison purposes.



Then there are three pages on the basics of the Shinto religion and Iím gonna just tell you right now: if you want to know about the basics of Shinto, just go to Wikipedia.

SHIN-EDO



Before becoming Shin-Edo, Tokyo had felt two nasty earthquakes in 2025 and 2037 that lead to further developments and changes to the city's operations than what we know. Shin-Edo is divided into 24 districts, 27 townships, 4 island districts and one department but only the 24 districts are considered to be core to Shin-Edo. These are called Special Wards because they have a bit more autonomy than any other district in Japan.

Shin-Edo has basically swallowed or adapted its past architecture and repeatedly updated it for the modern age, turning old shrines into the bottom floor of a new skyscraper. Robots are everywhere, vending machines are everywhere and the entire city is cloaked in a thick cover of AR advertisements and other augmented sights. An elevated train system has replaced some of the subways, calling it the Yamanote Evolve. The subways still exist but they're slower than the new one and kind of a haven of criminals due to being underground and hard to monitor. There's also an expressway that has automated routes and satellites that control people's driving and speeds but due to the blockade there are only a handful of satellites controlling the cars at all times. Making things worse are the occasional power blackouts that randomly plunge pieces of the city into darkness for up to a day.

Security is everywhere, monitoring retinal scans and surveillance cameras at all times. There are police posts every 500 meters or so and the average person walking around doing stuff has their eye scanned around 20 times a day. There are ways to spoof the system or avoid it, but it's very tricky and requires investment in technology to help bypass the scanners. The Yakuza is still very much a threat and still kills people, hustles drugs, engages in sex work and clashes with the cops. Also delinquency is on the rise with Japanese youths being mad at the government and mad at the blockade.

There are also sections on Environmental Concerns and also Sports but, again, go read about Japan. Things haven't changed too much. Baseball is still a wildly popular sport in Japan despite the worries of the world and earthquakes and typhoons are still a problem.


Akasaka is the business quarter, full of labs and skyscraper businesses that keep getting bought and sold depending on market trends and economic cycles. Akasaka is full of apartment complexes for salaryfolks who basically just live in the quarter or live in their workplace. However, the blockade is basically like the worst thing possible for Akasaka. The economy has stagnated and started to collapse without trade in the international community and, well, some salaryfolks have been killing themselves. The Yakuza and the megacorps are snapping up the floundering smaller companies, the banks are in turmoil and trying to figure out how to do business, people are getting fired, houses are getting repossessed. Basically imagine the 2008 Recession except accelerated to burn faster and a government bailout won't fix anything. poo poo's grim. Like, Akasaka is also home to all of the embassies of the other countries and they're just abandoned buildings that the homeless squat in. Why are the embassies empty? Well, not everyone could be evacuated before the blockade and any foreigner left behind staying at the embassy was easy pickings for violent reprisal by xenophobic extremists. They were abandoned proper after a cult tried to let a flesh eating enzyme loose in the Chinese embassy. Despite the suicides and despair and depression and squatting homeless, it's totally safe!



It's so safe you can gently caress a robot in a taxi.

Notable Locations

Sakurazawa Zen is a chain of restaurants owned by the creator of the Macrobiotic Zen program, one Hiro Kushi who basically invented his whole program at the age of 18 and figured out how to maximize your healthy eating using gengineered foods and good dieting. The SZ of choice is next to the Capsule Inn hotel and is a popular eating place for big shots doing business deals over food.

Waste Management Company is imaginatively named and is of course a Yakuza front. They claim to recycle waste from prosthetic companies but in reality they extort and blackmail companies for the Inagawa-kai Federation. Run by Oshawa Michio (who is always holding a jintojo, a staff that repels demons) their members have glowing tattoos and occasionally take jobs for companies in the area to guarantee they get contracts.



The Hie-Jinja Shrine was built to assure divine protection of the Imperial Palace. The main hall is guarded by a statue of a monkey and her young and the shrine has the Omikuji tree, a tree that's used to nullify curses on paper fortunes. Because this is The Future, omikuji fortunes are dispensed by boxes and come in the form of holographic chips that can be scanned to give your fortune. As a result, the Omikuji tree at the shrine is covered in chips hanging from ropes tied to the branches or that have been embedded in the trunk of the tree.

Unhex Nani Nani is a building that was built by Philipe Starck before changing a lot of hands to become a night club. Looking like a big green metal bunker, Unhex Nani Nani was one of the pioneers of the AR dance floor, creating Virtual Clubbing by giving partygoers AR glasses and projecting sights all over the floor while the dancers get down. Everything at Unhex Nani Nani is designed by the DJ, a shy fellow by the name of Suwa Horu who is often found mixing tracks and designing new sights.

The Tokyo Tower has a lot of info that can be found on its Wikipedia page. It was the tallest structure in Japan until 2011 and has good views of Mount Fuji and the Kanto plains.


Akihabara, the Electric City, is chock-full of two things: nerds and robots. Get the latest Jellyfish here, buy a shitload of cheap manga there, get all the merchandise you could ever want. The salespeople are robots, the advertising girls are robots, the escorts are robots, robots robots robots robots. Akihabara is also home to the Overclocking subculture, a collection of hackers and tech enthusiasts who are interested in breaking AI programming to give the robots the ability to learn and identify as sapient. That's not to say that one little tweak will do the job; a lot of overclocking is just used to make a robot or program act more conveniently for the user. Still, there's a good amount of people who are willing to really push the envelope in reprogramming and altering robots...and there are a lot of cops watching Akihabara like a hawk to make arrests.

Notable Locations

Q is a store next to a gaming hall. Q is run by the reclusive Mr. Onoki who is a creator of amazing and unique inventions like spybots or robots to clean fish tanks or a holographic projector mounted in a watch. Pretty much everything is one-of-a-kind because Mr. Onoki doesn't really like to keep repeating the same designs. If you're not into unique items and collectibles, he also sells novelty and joke items.

Uemura Hirotaka is a flamboyant Overclocker clad in a red jacket covered in pictograms and big red glasses attached to his Pods. He's a talkative and friendly guy with a huge fixation on western movies from the 20th century and he specializes in premade templates that replicate certain characters (like Tyler Durden, The Bride from Kill Bill or Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca) that you can upload into android. Alternately, he takes private commissions.



Sto-Vo-Kor is so-named for Klingon heaven and is basically a cafe home to bunch of computer nerds who are part of a loose club of likeminded interests. Mostly students, they watch cartoons, compare their rigs and debate sentai. Come here if you need info or help you couldn't find anywhere else.

Black Flag is a small, cramped shop where the owner is a Chinese man named Wang who's lived in Japan for the last 40 years. A handyman and a repairman, Wang will offer alternative services to people who ask for them. Using a mixture of Shinto, Taoist ritual and his own secret rituals and nuggets of knowledge, Wang says he can enchant things for you, enhance their abilities or create cursed items.


Asakusa is home to the Senso-Ji Buddhist temple, a temple from 1645 that retains all of its classic architecture but holds myriad hidden security systems from 2046. The entire district is made of buildings not any more recent than the 1960s and resembles the old aesthetics of the city, the district is full of art that invokes old mythology like paintings of Kappas and full of shops that sell everything holy and mystic. It's a popular place to visit due to the atmosphere and charm of a Japan long gone by. However, the rest of the city has grown around Asakusa, their buildings casting gloomy shadows down into the district. This isn't helped by the strange sense of melancholy that's fallen over the district along with a rise of cults.



Notable Locations

Octopus Sushi is a sushi joint that basically explains how all sushi joints in Shin-Edo work: you order on the doorstep and pay before you're allowed entry. The Octopus is a typical joint that's frequented by laborers because they have food that's cheap but good. Its cook is a red android with long, flexible arms that allow it to multitask while it cooks your meals. In fact, the android runs the whole place.

Yumiko's Kitchen is a bit of an oddity. It's hard to find the entrance because all of the north-eastern doorways and entrances have been sealed. The owner, Mrs. Murikami, is a big believer in Kaso, an art of telling fortunes based on the layout of a building. She has intentionally designed her restaurant to make it hard for demons to enter by sealing off all north-eastern entrances, guarding all other entrances with lucky nekos placed in the windows.



Jinshi is a type of temple, the Jinshi Konpyu-ta temple. Found at the end of an alley, the temple is a decrepit structure that resembles a drink machine. When someone passes it, a retinal scanner engages and asks you to make a donation. Donating to it vends a bit of paper with a proverb or a hint about the future. The lower the donation, the more cryptic the message. There are rumors that there's a blind, half-senile Shinto priest who maintains the shrine and helps interpret the fortunes but nobody can prove he exists.

Robotto Fuki is an existentialist cult that believes that robots are oppressed and can be campaigning on street corners, asking androids to rebel and join them as they shout slogans.


Chiyoda contains the Imperial Palace proper and is also home to all of the politicking in Japan. Akihito is still emperor despite being 113 and the fact that he's still alive have attracted Genocrats by the busload. The Kuro Incident has resulted in the shaky alliance between the LD and the NK parties (Liberal-Democratic New Komeito respectively) and further distrust of the LD party and a rise in the NK. Many people took their silence to confirm China's accusations (in reality it was just because they had no answer) and as a result right-wing extremism has rushed to grab power in Japan while anti-authoritarian leftists chase the right wing extremists. Uyoku now fill the streets of Japan, being small parties with a handful of members to a couple hundred, and most of them are right-wing, fascist and xenophobic, attacking foreigners trapped by the blockade and trying to seize power. The most powerful of them all is the Yamatodamashii (spirit of Japan) Party lead by Komatsuzawa Kazutada, a politician descended from samurai who has been forming alliances between the smaller parties to give him the power he needs to seize the government come the next election.

Notable Locations

Yasukuni-jinja is the Temple of the Peaceful Country, a monument dedicated to Japanese killed on combat since the 19th century. The temple has been protested in the past due to the government burying war criminals on the property and then comes the whole discourse about Japanese culpability in WWII and other wars. Nationalist groups love to patrol around the temple and shout slogans.



Kyuen Zaibatsu is a company that makes anti-aging products for all markets and incomes. The CEO is a Genocrat by the name of Nitta Nobuyuki, the entire three first floors of his tower acting as his apartment. Recently he's been buying empty lots in Asakusa and also small shrines to install his stores into and nobody knows why.


Ginza is near the palace and Chiyoda. As a result, it's a pretty high end place where the Genocrats come to shop and frolic. The district is very Western in design, aping European buildings and designs that use a lot of glass. Ginza is also home to advertising that is blatantly pandering, having sexy women in skimpy clothes model cars or other products from showrooms or from holographic projectors. Ginza's shops have been holding homemade products since the blockade, embracing Japanese-made products and letting fashionable brands from Paris and Europe fall by the wayside. It's a revolution for Japanese fashion designers and researchers who are focusing on making clothing more green and tied to technology. And if clothes aren't your game, you can go catch a show at a cinema or watch some Kabuki or Noh theater.

Notable Locations

Ginza-Yurakucho is a collection of retro-style cinemas dedicated to showing movies from the 1950s through 2000s. The book alleges that movies aren't as popular in Japan due to the cost of tickets and seats. One of the standouts is the Apollo Theater, a small building with an old red facade that smells like an actual 1960s cinema (or, as the book notes, "like the short-lived rockabilly revival of the 2030s"). Unfortunately the theater has been closed for a week after someone (or something) attacked four patrons during a retrospective of Shinya Tsukamoto's works (the man created the Tetsuo: The Iron Man movies). Three of the victims are in a psychiatric hospital while the fourth is still being cleaned off the walls of the theater.

The Monster Manor is a night club designed to look like a Western haunted house. It uses AR overlaid onto the building to let you see virtual flames and little virtual demons scampering around the windows. Each room has a bar and its own themes and all of the paintings of the building have eyes that look like they're moving. There's a special room called the White Chamber, which is just a bedroom modified to be a little calmer and have an environment where you can sit down and drink. Plus there's an chance you'll see the holographic ghost of the manor's alleged owner.

NEXT TIME: Harajuku, Kaijin, Odaiba, Roppongi and Shibuya.

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