Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

I thought I would check out Mystic Empyrean based on your review, but wow, the text is awful. It's not even the font, really; there's something desperately wrong with the kerning.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Corporeal Player's Guide: I made him in my lab



Constructs are inanimate bodies, given artificial life. They are also known as homunculi or golems. Their full history is given in one of the Revelations books. Constructs can be made of nearly any material. Those that are made of flesh must eat and drink once a week. All constructs are immortal and have GP based on the material they were made from. Flesh constructs heal at double human rate, while others can only be repaired by their makers. Constructs have a maximum of 4 Forces, with no more than 1 Ethereal or Celestial Force. For each Force a construct has, it must have one principle, a guiding oath that functions similarly to a Malakite oath. Each time a construct violates a principle, it gains 1 level of Discord, often Berserk or Murderous. If a construct's total Discord ever exceeds its total Forces, it implodes in a flash of light and puff of air. Constructs gain Essence once a day at noon and may use their Essence consciously, though only those with Celestial Forces are truly Symphonically aware. No construct may ever transfer Essence to others. Constructs can learn skills, and those with at least one of each Force type can perform Songs. They may never receive attunements or Distinctions. Constructs made entirely by humans do not cause Disturbance, but if a celestial has anything to do with their creation, even telling a human how to make them, then their actions are the result of celestial intervention and will cause Disturbance.

Learning to make a construct requires years of study under one of the few living construct-makers. The process requires 2 months per Force of the construct, and as one of the final steps, a strip of parchment with the name of the construct's master is prepared. The master need not be the creator. The construct must always obey its master, and constructs with no Celestial Forces will be rendered permanently inanimate if this sign is ever removed or destroyed. Those with Celestial Forces become free-willed but often highly unstable. The construct requires one or more Enchantment rolls to make and costs (3*Total Forces) Essence per roll. Failure on any roll means all time and Essence has been wasted. Constructs containing only Corporeal Forces require only a roll against the maker's Enchantment + Corporeal Forces. These constructs can only perform simple, repetitive tasks. Adding Ethereal Forces makes a construct intelligent but not self-aware. This is arare secret even among construct-makers and requires a second roll against Enchantment + Ethereal Forces. Very few construct-makers know how to grant Celestial Forces. Archangel Eli is known to have figured the secret out but has never taught anyone else. Any construct with Celestial Forces must be primarily composed of flesh. These constructs are self-willed but remain obedient to their masters. They may perform Songs and perceive the Symphony. This requires a third roll, against Enchantment + Celestial Forces.

Necromancy, meanwhile, was first discovered by the ancient Egpytians, who also made the first constructs, thousands of years ago. Saminga became Prince of Death by mastering the art, and while he claims it as his own, there are still some rare necromancers that do not serve Saminga. He tends to try to kill them. Necromancy is similar to making constructs in that it binds Forces into a corporeal body. However, no one but a Superior can attach a Force to a living mortal - anyone else that tries inevitably kills the victim. That's how you get undead. Necromantic rituals require the Necromancy skill and are done against a tN of Necromancy + Enchantment. As with Alchemy, sorcerers can do Necromancy without the Enchantment skill, but non-sorcerers cannot. There are only two well-known necromantic rituals, but each comes in many variations, like sorcerous rituals. They all follow the same rules for the most part, however.

Create Zombi or Recreandum Cadaveris animates a corpse after the soul has already left. Any fresh corpse can be used - defined as not beyond the earliest stages of decay. You roll against the total Forces the body had in life, and spend that much Essence. This takes (7-Necromancy) hours. Success raises the corpse as a zombie in (6-CD) hours. Failure wastes the Essence, and the corpse may never be zombified, ever, by anyone. Zombies created this way are not automatically your servants, but because they have no Will, they are fairly easy to order around anyway. Saminga's attunement to make Zombis is essentially an instant version of this.
Create Mummy or Conversio In Immortalem is the way most necromancers seek to become immortal. The ritual turns a human into a mummy...hopefully. The subject must be willing, and also aware that their soul will quite literally be lost. Without this knowledge and consent, no ritual can succeed. The mechanics are simple - you roll Necromance + Enchantment - subject's total Forces. Yes, you can perform it on yourself if your tradition's ritual makes this feasible. This takes (Total Forces) days and three times that much in Essence, which the subject can help pay for. On a success, the CD must exceeed the subject's total Forces before the new Force is added. Servitors of Death get a +2 bonus to the CD, and anyone else with an attunement or Rite from Saminga gets a +1. However, using the bonus means Saminga is automatically aware of the new mummy. If the CD is high enough, the subject becomes a mummy and gains a Force. If the CD is too low, the Force binds improperly and destabilizes the target as it peels away. The necromancer may attempt to hold the subject's Forces together with another roll of Necromancy + Enchantment - total Forces. If successful, the target becomes a vampire. If unsuccessful, the target loses 1 Force and becomes a zombi. If the first roll fails, the target just dies, lsing (CD) Forces in the process. If anything is left after that, though, the corpse can be raised as a zombi.

So, now we get into character types. Mundanes are ordinary humans with no speciual powers, though some may know of the War. Most people do not. They have only five Forces and are easily dismissed by most celestials, who believe them uninteresting and unhelpful, but also unthreatening. These celestials are wrong. Humans en masse control the War's ebb and flow, not the other way around. The emotions and behavior of each human powers Words. Humans determine whether Tethers form or not. And while it may be easy to push one of them around, several dozen are a problem even for celestials, especially if Disturbance is being avoided. Individual humans can also be shockingly capable. Most are average, but the occasional above average person causes real trouble. Demons who assume mortals are fodder learn the hard away what happens when they run into someone with strong Will, and high Perception can ruin your day if you hoped to avoid notice in celestial form. Some mundanes have a special knack for being useful or trouble.

Servants and minions, for example, are those who are bound to a celestial's will and service. They are all chosen for their use, whether they are rich and powerful or just in the right place. Some are more aware than others - angels tend to tell more than demons do, but few tell everything. Demons often lure servants with greed, while angels prefer to find willing recruits, but the religious often find it hard to reconcile their beliefs with the truth of the War. Some have no idea they're even serving non-humans at all.

Investigators, on the other hand, are those that poke around in celestial business. Unsolved crimes can attract very determined and curious investigators that can cause all kinds of trouble - which can destroy Roles. And cops aren't the only problem. You also get occultists, New Agers and paranormal researchers, who often unknowingly end up involved in the War as they poke into apparently supernatural events. Most are flakes, but some can be very canny. They may have incorrect ideas, but they can be good at tracking down the truth - which some celestials watch for, knowing the real information they can gain from the apparent nonsense. It's very embarrassing when a Malakite invades because some ghost hunter posted on the Internet about haunted houses. And some investigators get started after they witness an event. That's why you want to avoid supernatural battles in public - you get a lot of witnesses. Sure, there are cover up teams, but the more witnesses there are, the greater the chance one avoids notice. And they can be a huge problem. A victim of Shedite possession might bury the memories for years, a child who sees an angel may never be believed - but there's no way to predict what those events will do to someone's life. Some might become investigators, others Soldiers. Someone who's witnessed demons will certainly be tougher to manipulate by anyone they believe is demonic, and someone who saw an angel may refuse to believe in angels that don't fit their memory.

Then you've got magicians. 'Magician' is a deragotory word used by celestials and sorcerers for those that try to do 'magic' in ignorance - no matter how they do it. Some may have witnessed actual supernatural power, but most are just clueless, and none of them have any real power. Sometimes sorcerous cabalso r demons sponsor magicians, letting them play at useless magic while the inner circles watch for those who have the potential for real sorcery or use as Soldiers. For the most part, magicians are ignorable, but there's always the danger that one of them stumbles across sorcery on their own.

Extraordinary mortals, those with 6+ potential Forces, are still mundane...but they are potential Soldiers, sorcerers and wildcards. They are always of interest. Those who are of 6 Forces naturally are the most valuable of all - they can be made into a Soldier without either the knowledge or intervention of a Superior. And the trick is, they're exactly like anyone else, just more capable. The main thing is that if they witness the supernatural, they're probably drawn into it due to their potential surfacing. How that happens and who notices can make all the difference.

Now, you don't actually need extra Forces or powers to serve in the War, and many mundanes serve Heaven and Hell openly. Their work shouldn't be dismissed - but the humans who get all the attention and glory are the Soldiers. They are those who have at least 6 Forces and have knowingly joined the War. All are Symphinically aqare, able to hear Disturbance and control Essence. That's what makes them valuable. There are three kinds of Soldiers: Soldiers of God, who serve an Archangel, Soldiers of Hell, who serve a prince, and pagan Soldiers, who serve an ethereal god. Most Soldiers have 6 Forces. Those with 7 are quite rare, and only the most elite have 8 Forces. Most Superiors do not have even one 8-Force Soldier, and even fewer have a Soldier with 9 or more Forces. Most Soldiers have at least 2 Corporeal Forces, and those who are recruited and given a new Force to reach 6 are always given a Corporeal Force if they only had one of those. Those who naturally have 6 do not always end up with 2 Corporeal Forces, however.

Both sides use recruiters to identify potential. They're not always easy to spot. Those who can already control Essence and use Songs are obvious recruits, sure, but they're rare. Impudites of Technology or anyone that knows the Ethereal Song of Essence can measure someone's current Essence, which will detect high Force count...if they're full at the time. Kyriotates, Shedim and anyone using hte Song of Possession can tell how many Forces someone has by possessing them. These methods only detect those that already have 6 Forces, however. They are valuable, but the minority of Soldiers. Most Soldiers start with 5 and potential. There are only three surefire methods to identify this potential. Seraphim of Creation, who can recognize the gifted, can gauge someone's potential, unrealized Forces with a CD of 6. Yves' Divine Destiny attunement will identify anyone whose destiny is to serve Heaven. Kronos' Fated Future attunement will identify anyone whose fate is to become Hellsworn. That's it. No other sure methods. Once a potential Soldier is spotted, they need to be recruited and initiated. Angels and demons handle these steps quite differently, however.

Soldiers of God are gifted with concrete knowledge of Heaven and the power to serve God directly. They are also given the chance to risk their lives fighting Hellsworn and demons. They are extraordinary people, and not just due to their Forces. Laurence, as Commander of the Host, is nominally in charge of all Soldiers of God. Most enter the service of one Archangel or another, but all are made aware of Laurence's authority, and any angel that inducts a Soldier is expected to inform a ranking Sword angel so that Laurence can be made aware of the new member of the roster. (Creation and the Wind tend to neglect this stuff, however.)

Angels are always looking for humans passionate and selfless enough to serve Heaven. They must be careful, however - they know that the only thing demons like more than finding Hellsworn is corrupting or killing potential Soldiers of God. When an Archangel learns of a potential Soldier, they usually assign a Cherub to guard the human while other angels investigate. Laurence even has standard procedures, including a full covert evaluation by a Malakite, Elohite and Mercurian. By the time a human is approached, their recruiters often know them better than they know themselves. Ideally, a Soldier's attitude and capabilities are matched with the most appropriate Archangel and they are contacted by an angel serving that Word. Politics can preven this, however. Angels of War never send anyone to Dominic or Yves, for example, and while Laurence tries to be impartial, he only rarely sends anyone to Flowers. Of course, many Archangels tend to recruit in areas moer suited to their own Words. First contact varies according to the recruiter and the human. Mercurians are most commonly used, followed by Elohim, then Seraphim and Malakim. Those that already believe in angels are easier to recruit, while skeptics and atheists are quite difficult. Sometimes, it takes months of building a relationship and slowly drawing them in, while other times it takes only a look at an angel's celestial form. Most Archangels frown on recruiting the unwilling, however - they're likely to turn traitor. Sometimes a potential Soldier who lacks in virtue might be strongarmed into cooperation and given only partial truth until they are reformed. The truly irredeemable are a problem, though. Malakim often like to kill them, but other angels tend to balk at that. Of course, sometimes you just don't have time for background checks and soft sells. Sometimes, it's a crisis and you figure it out as you go.

Once a Soldier candidate is recruited, they must be made a real Soldier, which means getting a 6th Force. Those who have 6 Forces only need a Symphonic awakening - easily given by an ARchangel, or you can try a ritual to do it on your own. Most angels who know the Symphonic Awakening ritual do it at a Tether and spend Essence to ensure success. Humans who still need to get a 6th Force, however, need to gain one. Sometimes that means intense training to bring out the latent Forcen aturally, but that's arduous and uncertain. An Archangel can give the Force easily, though. Any Seneschal or Wordbound can request a Superior add a Force to a living human at a divine Tether, which requires minimal attention from the Archangel and is usually granted without even a personal appearance. There may or may not be a formal ceremony involved, and Malakim as well as any angel of the Sword tend to like solemn vows, but others, like the Wind or Flowers just slap a human on the back and congratulate them.

Soldiers of God are often taught attunements or Corporeal Songs, much like angels are, though to earn an Archangel's servitor attunements tends to require they do something great to earn them. Laurence is the exception to this. He will offer his attunements freely to any Soldier, regardless of which Archangel they serve, asl ong as he is aware of them. Humans do not normally gain Choir Attunements, as ARchangels never strip an angel's Forces to give to a Soldier unless the angel volunteers it. In that case, however, it is possible.

Serving God is not easy. Soldiers of God are never off-duty and are expected to drop anything and everything to help when needed - even family and friends. Some angels are more accommodating about this than others, but all of them expect the War to be your top priority. If you aren't independently wealthy, being a Soldier can gently caress up your career, and even if you are, it will gently caress your social life. There's a comfort in serving Heaven, but it's also lonely and frustrating at times, as well as dangerous - you're a prime target, after all, and so are your friends and family. Demons will stop at nothing to demoralize and corrupt you, and if they fail, they'll send Hellsworn to kill or kidnap you. Soldiers of God must usually work covertly to avoid attention. Most serve an angel directly, though not always as a literal servant. Angels in charge of Soldiers are usually fairly low-ranking, and Wordbound are usually too busy for the job. Almost never does a Soldier report directly to an Archangel - most only ever meet an Archangel once in their life, and only because several Archangels try to attend swearing-in ceremonies when they have the chance. Sometimes, a Soldier will work under another, more experienced Soldier, who may even run a cell or small operation without consstant supervision. This is especially true of Creation, Fire and the Wind. There's always at least one angel in contact with the senior Soldier, however. Occasionally, Soldiers will form their own organizations, such as the Muradi Sufis, the Purifiers or the Seagull Society, but they will still have celestial patronage at the highest levels, though they often operate independently. They have more autonomy, but less access to Songs and other supernatural resources.

So what are the perks of being on call to angels 24/7? Well, first, you know you're on the side of the angels. You are not guaranteed a spot in Heaven, but almost all Soldiers of God meet their destinies as part of their work. Second, your angelic friends can help you in life if you can convince them to get involved. Most like to avoid mortal affairs, but they do usually recognize that Soldiers with personal problems are less effective. They won't magically remove your credit debt or speeding tickets, but they might help you find a job, get a bully off your back or even give you romantic tips, if they're of a more Mercurian demeanor. There can be material rewards, but Heaven discourages interest in that kind of thing. They see nothing wrong with you using your power to improve your life, however, as long as it's not at the expense of others or your work for Heaven. Lastly, Heaven will teach you Songs and attunements and even hand out artifacts. Soldiers can also, rarely, receive Distinctions.

Next time: Soldiers by Archangel

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Rand Brittain posted:

I thought I would check out Mystic Empyrean based on your review, but wow, the text is awful. It's not even the font, really; there's something desperately wrong with the kerning.

Yeah, when I copy text out of the book for my quotes it's almost always g ot erron eous space s in it because the gaps between letters are so wide. It's a shame, because the game itself has a lot of neat elements.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


quote:

They won't magically remove your credit debt or speeding tickets, but they might help you find a job, get a bully off your back or even give you romantic tips, if they're of a more Mercurian demeanor.
Canon support for the underrated John Travolta angelic rom-com 'Michael' confirmed, as well as Hallmark cards and maybe a low-key slice of life game about angels helping humans, like that cute Japanese magical animal RPG.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Count Chocula posted:

Canon support for the underrated John Travolta angelic rom-com 'Michael' confirmed, as well as Hallmark cards and maybe a low-key slice of life game about angels helping humans, like that cute Japanese magical animal RPG.

One's a Seraph of Judgment. One's a Mercurian of Fire. Together they are... The Matchmakers.

Simian_Prime
Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.

Cythereal posted:

One's a Seraph of Judgment. One's a Mercurian of Fire. Together they are... The Matchmakers.

Dominic: "NEMIAH!... SAMIEL!! You two, in my office, right *now*! I got the Higher Heavens breathin' down my neck after the last stunt you pulled!!!"

*slams door*

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


How long did Touched By An Angel run? Can you pull off It's A Wonderful Life?

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."


Fossilized Rappy posted:

Axiomite (CR 8 Medium Outsider [Extraplanar, Lawful])

A race of living math. My god. :psyduck:

These guys are the native race of Axis the Eternal City, the plane of absolute Law that is a giant city sitting below the massive graveyard of the goddess of death. Three castes of axiomite exist: one for expanding the Eternal City, one for creating and repairing the Law robots known as inevitables, and one for learning more about the inherent formulae of the multiverse. While fighting isn't on their resume, they are armed for combat if the case arises, having +1 longswords and spell-like abilities such as Order's Wrath, Lightning Bolt, Dispel Chaos, and True Strike.


YES!!!!!!! This is my favorite monster in Planescape and it came over. They are based upon Moingos which were a race of living math who was obsessed with Pi. In fact given the write up Im guessing that the inevitables are the Modron analogues.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Inevitables were in the outer planes content before Planescape, I think. Maruts, and a couple of others got added or expanded upon in the PS stuff.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


MadScientistWorking posted:

YES!!!!!!! This is my favorite monster in Planescape and it came over. They are based upon Moingos which were a race of living math who was obsessed with Pi. In fact given the write up Im guessing that the inevitables are the Modron analogues.

I must admit, Lawful Neutral creatures who are anthropomorphic math are rad. I just find it a shame they turn into elves.

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."


Bieeardo posted:

Inevitables were in the outer planes content before Planescape, I think. Maruts, and a couple of others got added or expanded upon in the PS stuff.
Yeah but the write up for the Axioms is clearly referencing the Modrons though. In fact my favorite piece of fluff in all of D&D was the fact that the Moingos were so happy to help the Modrons with their plane falling apart because it involved calculating the circumferences of the gears that consisted of the plane.

Doresh posted:

I must admit, Lawful Neutral creatures who are anthropomorphic math are rad. I just find it a shame they turn into elves.
Yeah the original incarnation involves them being 2D sentient math equations.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


MadScientistWorking posted:

YES!!!!!!! This is my favorite monster in Planescape and it came over. They are based upon Moingos which were a race of living math who was obsessed with Pi. In fact given the write up Im guessing that the inevitables are the Modron analogues.
Inevitables still mostly retain their D&D interpretation as enforcers of specific laws, but I will note that the familiar inevitable that is new to Pathfinder is 99% likely to be influenced by Modrons in its artistic design, if not its actions.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





SURVIVAL and CAMPAIGN IDEAS

SURVIVAL

Wilderness:
Without the presence of mankind, most of the world has started reverting back to wilderness from neglect and decay. There's still some exceptions, of course; Washington and London are still populated, Mexico City is a dusty hellhole and the other Zoneminds are knocking down cities, strip-mining and polluting. Major highways, interstates and bridges are still being maintained by the robots for their own infrastructure. For everyone else (and some countryside and abandoned towns in London and Washington), there's no guarantee of safe travel. Outside of Berlin and Caracas, ecosystems are being affected by the robots and the wilderness reversion. Without that guiding hand of the AIs, your average ecosystem is in a state of flux. Because only Mexico City's plagues targeted animal and insect life, wild species and loose domestic breeds have been repopulating. Horses and cattle are common food sources while wild dogs, wolves and bears are much more of a threat and rats still carry disease. The wilderness is much "safer", for certain definitions of safer.

Enclaves: Enclaves are settlements of human survivors that have around or less than 100 occupants. Good enclaves are camouflaged and easily defended. There are a few specific examples of enclaves:
  • Junkrat nests are home to bands of junkrats who scavenge together for group protection. They tend to hole up in places that the robots will generally ignore (sewers, subways, abandoned malls). Hallmarks of a junkrat nest are rainwater filtration systems and canned food stocks.
  • Rustic enclaves are kept by general survivalists, rustics and guerilla resistance out in the countryside. It's your standard compound.
  • Survival cult strongholds are a mixed bag. Most of them were started during the Plagues to await the end of the world. Cultists can be helpful or dangerous.
  • Government or military enclaves were generally targeted by the robots. The ones that are still occupied were either attacked by the robots, left abandoned and taken over by marauders/survivalists/resistance or they were off the books and hunkered down and refuse to open the doors. The former is much more common.

Hazards:
  • Ozone depletion is what happens when steps are not taken to repair the ozone and the robots don't give a poo poo. If your skin is too exposed to the sun for more than a hour, make a HT roll for HT damage depending on how much of you is exposed.
  • Disease is still a big problem. Immunity to Disease really helps with that. There's rules for getting infected and if disease lingers, but what's more important to me is what diseases they list and have rules for: cholera, Pan-Asian flu, Ebola Zaire B and the Mnemosyne Plague. Cholera is stupid common because sewage and filtration has gone to hell and people don't watch where they poo poo. Pan-Asian flu develops in 1d+7 hours and results in heavy aches, soreness and nausea. You roll to recover daily and need to make two consecutive rolls or one critical success to get better. Ebola Zaire (the B is for Berlin, where it was born and raised) manifests in 1d+2 days and is stupid transmissible through fluids, resulting in headaches, backaches and bloodshot eyes followed by the body digesting itself from the inside-out as the patient goes nuts. The only way to survive infection is, again, two consecutive successful HT rolls or one critical. Unlike Pan-Asian flu, you still lose health on a success; it's that bad of a disease. The Mnemosyne Plague is the creation of Mexico City and is a nanotech biocide that acts like a virus. It works faster and you check for infection more. Infection causes a high fever in six hours, a wet cough, facial tics and headaches. Every six hours you roll to recover as the biocide forces your body to raise the fever, making failures lower your IQ stat as your brain is cooked inside your body from the heat. You need to roll three consecutive success or a critical success but only the critical success restores lost IQ points. The point is, gently caress going to Mexico City.
  • Radiation is a big danger thanks to the Spasm and general casual dumping in the ocean. Exposure is cumulative and can be found in craters, dumping grounds and contaminated food. This is also a giant hazard in Luna and Orbital: most of their locations are shielded from solar radiation, but sometimes solar flares make it so hot that Luna and Orbital will force their robots to retreat to shielded locations. Be very careful around radiation because the poisoning is a bitch.

CAMPAIGNS
  • Survivors: Protect yourself and your loved ones, go on quests and road trips.
  • Guerillas: Play as humans (and the occasional rogue robot) and try to slow and sabotage your local Zonemind's activities to try and save mankind.
  • Agents of VIRUS: First, the GM has to determine who or what is in charge of VIRUS. Suggestions from the book: humans, Lucifer, Washington, London, Moscow, Brisbane doing it for shits and giggles and social science, Tranquility, they're really just a series of cells sharing the same name and using the name to mislead the AIs and inspire hope. The PCs are going on retrieval, surveillance and espionage missions for VIRUS. Maybe they're trying to find out a secret or steal things.
  • The Underground: This is like the Guerilla campaign, but focused on Washington and playing as people who are trying to fight the Washington regime. Both campaigns have an element of paranoia and infiltration, but the guerillas don't have secret identities. In Underground, you're living a double life and trying to avoid tipping off the FBI and WASPs while committing acts of sabotage.
  • The Quest: Contains a list of possible hooks for the PCs to go on, either for personal reasons using the world as a backdrop or to save the world. They range from "find a loved one" to "recruit Lucifer" to "find a plague cure" to "find a secret backdoor into the central computers of the Zoneminds".
  • Robot Hunters: Play as Washingtonians or Londoners investigating terrorist attacks caused by Zaire.
  • Robot Gladiators: Fight in the Steel Arena of Washington's Black Zone market.
  • Agents of Moscow: See the world, steal some books and don't tell the other players that you're the Redjack with human skin reporting back to Moscow.
  • Washington Chromes: Go on deniable black-ops missions, be a spider tank, stir poo poo up between the Zones, be used as a special mercenary forces on loan to another Zone, maybe go rogue.
  • The AI Campaign: Crush those humans once and for all.
  • Brisbane's Supers: Well, it turns out that the crazy Australian AI was right. Psychic powers are real, superheroes are real and now they're rogue and loose in the world to fight for mankind.
  • Tranquility Awakens: And it needs you to help save mankind! And itself.
  • Beyond Earth: Explore the stars with Orbital, New Delhi and Beijing. You should get GURPS Space for this.
  • Crossover Campaigns: There are recommendations for mashing up Reign of Steel with Cyberpunk, Space, Time Travel, Magic (ooh imagine Reign of Steel meets Banestorm), Horror and CthulhuPunk. I'll let you think about what those types of campaigns could be like.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Reign of Steel is one of my favorite settings, period, because of how creative and interesting it is. It is also pretty loving lethal and "accurate" to what it would be like under robot oppression because seriously disease is the biggest killer by way of classic cholera. I'm not the kind of person who would be a stickler to that, though. I would prefer to use the diseases as a dramatic plot point. That being said, I still enjoy this book immensely and would love to use the setting in a more rules-lite way (mostly because I don't know GURPS). Plus I had fun sharing this to completion and am glad I got to share a cool things. Thanks for reading!

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


snip

potatocubed fucked around with this message at 09:03 on Jan 10, 2019

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Corporeal Player's Guide: Left, left, left right left

Soldiers of God are sworn to serve a single Archangel most of the time, but are not bound to that Archangel's Word the way a celestial servant is. They are encouraged to identify strongl with the Word, of course, but some humans prefer to think of themselves as serving God first, an Archangel second. This can ba an advantage - Soldiers can't gain dissonance, and while most Archangels frown on Soldiers acting contrary to the Word, they recognize that humans aren't angels and can do so without harm. Occasionally, a Soldier will want to switch Archangels, perhaps to have a new role or to get a boss they like better. While Archangels don't appreciate this, they won't usually try to hold onto a human against their will. Some angels may react poorly, but a Soldier can usually negotiate a transfer with relative ease.

Most of Blandine's Soldiers are Dream Soldiers and given the Dream Walking attunement along with the Songs of Dreams and Healing. They work to help keep dreamers safe and typically work in places where many people need dream therapy, such as hospitals, boarding schools, prisons or overcrowded neighborhoods. Some work to inspire dreams in the waking world, working as teachers, counselors, therapists or authors.
David's Soldiers are tough, and most often reached six Forces on their own. In fact, David typically has potential Soldiers serve as mundanes for as long as it takes to manifest that Force rather than handing it out. David never takes Soldiers with less than 2 Corporeal Forces, and they tend to be combatants and counter-infiltrators, often leearning the Songs of Form, Shields and Thunder. They are team players and often team leaders, drawn from bikers, gangbangers, militias, cops, religious fanatics, soldiers and martial artists. While David likes engineers, architects and sociologists, few meet his standards for toughness.
Dominic's Soldiers tend to be watchers and researchers, reporting on demons ather than dealing with them directly. They are widely rumored to act as a mortal branch of the Inquisition, searching out treason in Soldiers, but this is not true. Dominic may expect obedience, and his Soldiers will probably report any suspect misbehavior, angels of Judgment are much better at keeping humans honest than other humans. Dominic prefers to recruit lawyers, government agents and law enforcement, as they are in a position to track celestials in society. He prefers not to teach too many Songs, but does grant Incarnate Law to his better Soldiers.
Eli rarely formally initiates his Soldiers, and many remain unknown to anyone but him. He picks out Soldiers from those who impress him in his wandering - artists, creative geniuses or great teachers, usually. He might teach them just about any Song or attunement, including Choir Attunements, which are rumored to be given with a gift of one of his personal Forces.
Gabriel's Soldiers are always drive, passionate and minimally supervised. Gabriel recruits very little herself, and in fact is not always aware of her own Soldiers. They tend to be crusaders for justice or vengeance, or those who inspire others with their passion. They can be from any walk in life, and angels of Fire tend to handle initiations on their own and teach Songs like Charm, Light or Thunder, then turn Soldiers loose. They might have attunements only if they're lucky enough for Gabriel to notice.
Janus' Soldiers are anarchists, revolutionaries and travelers. Some are hobos or hitchhikers, traveling without any angelic contact. Others work in the corporate world so that they can reach a possession of influence to sow chaos from. Many are support personnel for the Wind, as they can maintain safehouses for the traveling angels. They tend to be very independent, since the Wind has no real organization. They often learn the Songs of Motion, Shields and Thunder.
Jean's Soldiers are micromanaged, not trusted with any responsibility, and are always monitored and supervised. They tend to be engineers, technicians and scientists working as support, monitors and researchers. Occasionally, they are counter-infiltration hackers. Jean rarely teachs them Songs and hardly even gives attunements, but often hands out useful artifacts.
Jordi has very few Soldiers - only those truly dedicated to helping animals. They tend to be hardcore animal rights activists, and while some are peaceful, most are eco-terrorists. They are typically given attunements over Songs, but are sometimes taught Harmony or Healing.
Laurence has more Soldiers than any Archangel but Michael. They are highly organized in a rigid chain of command, with angels in charge of them. The last few centuries have seen some increased autonomy as Laurence has realized sometimes humans work best on their own initiative, but each is expected to obey Laurence's strict code of conduct and to obey his angels without question. However, Laurence, alone among Archangels, has sometimes put Soldiers in very high ranks - even granting them Master distinctions and putting them in charge of angels. His Soldiers can be just about any kind of person, but he recruits heavily from military and law enforcement as well as churchs. Many are missionaries, and all must be upstanding and moral. They are given access to Laurence's attunements and the Songs of Form, Healing, Shields and Tongues.
Marc recruits many Soldiers, but they aren't very visible. They are rarely combatants, after all. They work as businessmen, bankers, corporaye lawyers, accountants and diplomats, promoting peace, commerce and ethical business practice. Most are high status people and quite rich, and they often bankroll Heaven's Earthly operations, including giving insurance and trust funds for other Soldiers. They are the only Soldiers who draw salary and earn vacaiton time. They're often overlooked, but few realize just how deeply they're embedded in the world's financial networks, and in an emergency, they stand ready to move billions of dollars to support Heaven and fight Hell. They often learn the Songs of Dreams, Projection and Tongues. Those who qualify for hazard pay may learn the Songs of Charm or Harmony, and those who perform well can get attunements or even Distinctions.
Michael has a small army of Soldiers. They serve in just about any position in human society, and while Michael has a lot of military Soldiers, he also has doctors, lawyers, priests, rabbis, bus drivers, teachers and housewives - anyone who will fight for God. Not all fight physical battles, either. They know all about sabotage and guerrilla interference with Hell. Most know something about actual combat, however, and often learn the Songs of Charm, Form, Healing or Thunder.
Novalis prefers 'Gardeners' to 'Soldiers' as a term. Hers rarely fight evil directly, but instead nurture good and try to create environments where evil cannot flourish. She welcoems any who desire peace, and her Soldiers are often some of the nicest humans in the War. They learn the Songs of Harmony and Healing quite often.
Yves' Soldiers know all about choice and consequence, and many formerly selfish or Hellsworn humans who join divine service like working for Yves to help others avoid their mistakes. Oters are just eternal optimists, believing that humans are basically good. They seek positions where they can impact the lives of those at crossroads, and they are often teachers, librarians, parole officers, priests or anyone else that can make a difference in many lives, one soul at a time. Most have attunements, and often know the Songs of Dream, Harmony or Tongues.

Soldiers of Hell are the darkest forces - those who are damned of their own will. They sell their souls for many reasons, all selfish. Some rationalize it or whine about being trapped, and some revel in damnation. All of them go to Hell, however. They all have the same requirements and abilities as Soldiers of God, but the path they take to becoming Soldiers is different, and so are the conditions of their service. Like angels, demons are always watching for potentially useful humans. They have a harder time identifying potential, though - only demons of Fate can do so reliably. This means they are less selective - they'll take anyone that looks like good raw material, even mundanes. Common criminals, psychos, the resentful and dispossessed, gang members, cultists, Satanist teenagers, anyone full of aggression that's easily manipulated. Those are the lowest and most common Hellsworn. Most are mundanes serving in petty ways, often entirely unaware of the nature of the gang they've now joined. They are treated as worthless and expendable. Those with real talent are groomed for greater service, and if they impress their demonic masters, they get a chance to become real Soldiers. They are let in on the truth and given the chance to swear loyalt to Hell in exchange for...well, whatever they deem is worth the price. Those that decline are usually killed. Unfortunately, since most of these recruits lack the potential to be Soldiers, many of those who accept die as well.

Those rare humans already having achieved 6 Forces are gold to demons - all they need is awakening, and they're good to go. Some demons initiate these Soldiers in secret, risking their Prince's anger for the power of a secret ally. Others turn the new Soldier over to their Prince in hopes of reward. Most demons create Soldiers by recruiting many 5-Force humans and putting them through terrible ordeals in hopes of triggering a manifestation of a 6th Force. This does work sometimes, even if it kills a lot of candidates. The most effectivem ethod, however, is an Oathtaking ritual. Since this is usually done on humans who may or may not have potential, the result is usually death or mummification. Some demons conduct foral initiations with great ceremony, often involving contracts or goat sacrifice. (Kobalites particularly love cheesy and extravagant Satanic ritual.) The trappings don't matter - all that's needed is that the human sides with Hell of their own will. From that point on, unless they can redeem themselves, they go to Hell when they die.

Soldiers of Hell usually have to work harder for their rewards. Demons use the promise of Sogns as incentive, but only teach them to those that do wuite well and would be more useful that way. Some Princes will give out attunements, but others will not. They are slightly more likely than Soldiers of God to have Band Attunements, however, since whenever a Prince kills a demon, using their Forces for Soldiers is a good conservation of energy. Soldiers of Hell are not, however, given much responsibility or information. They know they work for Hell, but some have served for years without ever learning their Prince's name. Veterans usually pick up some information, but they also get a lot of misinformation - demons don't want them too knowledgeable. After all, besides treachery, you know a human will give up everything they know to angelic interrogation...eventually. Hellsworn, like Soldiers of God, are always on duty. They are owned by Hell, and they almost never have normal lives unless their position in society is useful to their masters. All Hellsworn take orders - some from demons as personal servants, even. Some never meet anyone but their demonic master, while others work as part og groups, like the Hellforce or the Midnight Screamers. They may have a demonic contact or may serve a more experienced Soldier who reports to a demon. Demons in charge of Soldiers are usually low-ranking - herding humans around is not a reward. Soldiers rarely meet Wordbound after their Oathtaking unless they serve one directly, and Princes tend to have much better things to do than talk to monkeys. hellsworn humans rate each other by how often they get to meet the ranking demon in an area - a Soldier that serves a Knight or Captain is a lot higher status than one who just works for some rando. Both, of course, outrank any Hellsworn that never even meets the local demons. All demons outrank all humans, of coruse, and in theory a Hellsworn obeys any order from any demon...but some Soldiers, who are either tough, brave or really good at bluffing manage to defy demons and get away with it. Sometimes it's because they serve a higher-ranking demon and know it, or sometimes they've even managed to earn some respect. Of course, if they start flaunting that openly, they'll be put back in their place fast.



Hellsworn come in two types: rationalists and realists. Rationalists prefer to avoid thinking about their pacts or damnation. They convince themselves it's just self-interest, it's not really real - the demons are just supernatural creatures with a different worldview, Hell is just a state of mind, not a real place. Or they believe they'll escape Hell with some final prayer of forgiveness, that God will see they weren't really evil. REalists know what they've done and revel in it. Some are too insane to think about the consequences, others believe they'll be rewarded in Hell and will not suffer like the rest of the damned. All Hellsworn think they have an out - and they're all wrong.

Most Soldiers of Hlel don't even get much reward on EArth. They get their vengeance, their money, that night of passion they wanted - whatever made them sign the pact...and then the rest of their life is paying a debt that never goes away. Some receive wealth, fame or power on Earth if it'll make them more ueful - a demon can do wonders for your life or career, but only if they're going to get something from it. A truly effective Soldier can get Songs, attunements or even artifacts...if it'll be useful to Hell. They can get Distinctions but almost never do, even the most capable. Hell is very conscious of status and power, after all, and one of the core tenets of the Rebellion was that celestials are superior to humans. Giving a mortal rank over a demon causes huge resentment and makes the human a walking target. Few humans ever live to see Captain, and none would ever be Barons. Many Hellsworn believe their reward comes after death - sure, demons have to tell the truth about serving Hell, but can lie easily about what life in Hell will be like. A demon will promise power and privilege in death, that the rest of the damned will serve you, that you might even be made a demon. This is what is known to demons as the Big Lie. The turth? You get chained up with the other damned. No one cares how you served, with only very, very few exceptions.

Hellsworn, like Soldiers of God, cannot be actually bound to a Word, but they don't get to pick and choose their masters. Their Prince is the Prince of their demonic master, and the only way to really change that is to be traded. Demons trade Hellsworn like chattel, and some lucky and resourceful few can negotiate service to a hopefully better boss, but usually any attempt to change masters is seen as disloyalty and killed. Those who wind up service each Prince often share common traits, however, because demons want humans that will serve their Word well and tend to recruit along certain lines.

Andrealphus' Soldiers are typically attractive and corruptible, and of all Hellsworn they are most loyal, as their masters keep them sexually satisfied as long as they serve well. Andrealphus wants the smart and sexy, and his Soldiers are carefully trained for their jobs. He often teaches the Songs of Attraction, Charm and Healing, and sometimes Numinous Corpus.
Asmodesu likes Soldiers as spies on demons - they're even harder to detect than demons under Humanity. He often bribes Soldiers of other Princes into being double agents, and he treats them as any traitor - to be used when handy and disposed of when not. He's been known to plant his own Soldiers to be 'discovered' as natural 6-Force humans by other Princes. A few Soldiers of Asmodeus have even been Knighted, and some actually manage to earn a position after death. For every Soldier of the Game that does well, however, ten more are sold out and discarded. Most Hellsworn of the Game are lawyers, and they are taught the Songs of Projection and Tongues.
Baal recruits Soldiers almost exclusively from the military, most expendable combatants. He has many Hellsworn, chosen from the thousands of unemployed soldiers left after every war. These Hellsworn die often, but if they obey, do not make mistakes and survive, they have a good chance of actually getting the rewards they've been promised. Sometimes, Baal will teach offensive Numinous Corpus Songs, and even the Songs of Shield and Thunder. Baal's senior Hellsworn never receive Distinctions but can receive attunements.
Beleth's Soldiers are largely Dream Soldiuers, opposing Blandine's in the same manner that Blandine's Soldiers work, but in reverse. They are those who delight in terrorizing others - sadistic doctors and psychologists, stalkers, serial killers. Beleth's Soldiers do not often defect, as they know she fan find them in their dreams. She is quite generous with her attunements, however, and also the Songs of Dreams and Entropy.
Belial's Soldiers are psychopaths. They have to be, to serve him. They die more than any other Hellsworn, after all. Belial prefers arsonists but will take anyone destructive and insane. Often his Soldiers don't even survive their first jobs, though he prefers mundanes as suicide bombers. He does teach the Songs of Acid, Form and Thunder, however.
Haagenti's Soldiers tend to the fat side. There are two main kinds. The first are activists and support, who serve as cooks, seles clerks, fashion consultants and anyone else that can encourage conspicuous consumption. The other kind are grunts - fat but combat-skilled, cheap and expendable muscle who spend most of their time eating. Haagenti's recruiters tend to use a wasteful but effective method of finding Soldiers. They round up humans indiscriminately - anyone hwo'll take the offer of free food at a Tether. There, they use their powers to force the humans to eat themselves to death. Typically, one or two will manifest a latent Force and the rest will die. Haagenti finds this entertaining. He teaches the Song of Charm and the Numinous Corpus Songs of Claws, Fangs and Tongue.
Kobal's Soldiers are meant to have razor wits, but most are the punchline, not the comedian. They are straight men to the demons of Dark Humor, and while soem are recruited for their caustic sense of humor, others are just pathetic, meant to be fodder for pranks or angels that'd stop them. The best of them, hwoever, are sharp enough to one-up a demon and get away with it and may earn Kobal's favor. Most do not. Kobal teaches the Songs of Attraction, Charm and Entropy.
Kronos has more Soldiers than other Princes because his demons can actually spot them more often. They recruit indiscriminately but often trade new Soldiers to other Princes. Those that remain with Fate are usually fighters or support staff given menial work, though the most talented are themselves given Fated Future and used as recruiters. Kronos only teaches the Song of Entropy.
Lilith has few permanent Soldiers - they get contracted and then traded out to others. Freedom's a good gig if you can get it, though - Lilith treats Soldiers as mercenaries, not slaves. Many will happily take Geases to stay in her service. They're damned anyway, after all, so what's left to lose? Lilith will happily sell Songs, artifacts and other rewards for Geases...which she'll then trade out to another Prince. This way, she has Geases on Soldiers working for nearly every Prince, and even some Soldiers of God.
Malphas ignores his Soldiers. His demons use them as they see fit, but only the elite are recruited by Malphas himself. He looks for humans with a telent for starting arguments and destroying friendships, who are alone and see everyone else as less real. Malphas loves sociopaths, who understand him. He grooms them carefully, and often does not tell his demons about them, putting them in key positions where they do nothing for years. Some work for other Princes, even. These Soldiers believe Malphas has chosen the mfor their geniuss and truly respects them. The truth is, they're exependable, groomed for a single task, at which point he will discard them. Malphas will teach some Songs at some points and others at other points, but he freely grants his attunements.
Nybbas' Soldiers work in the media, often in New York, Hollywood or other media centers. They range from security guards to big name producers, and some of them even work alongside his senior demons. The grunts are expendable, but talent is feted and treated well...until Nybbas gets bored or ratings fall, anyway, and then they are let go. Nybbas teaches the Songs of Charm, Project, Tongues, Shields and Thunder.
Saminga has few Soldiers. He prefers undead. Soldiers who want to become undead may work for him for a time, earning that gift. What they want is usually to become mummies, but often they end up zombis. Soldiers of Death must be killers with iron stomachs. Saminga never grants them attunements while they live, but may teach the Numinous Corpus Songs.
Valefor's Soldiers are criminals ,thieves and con men, though some also serve as corporate raiders or real estate moguls. They do a lot of work on Valefor's Tethers, since his demons can't. Some serve demons directly, but most operate on their own. They have a lot of freedom for Hellsworn, and Valefor rewards talent and initiative, buyt he will also happily trade screwups to less merciful Princes in a moment. He teaches the Songs of Attraction and Motion.
Vapula's Soldiers tend to be scientists and engineers, particularly unorthodox and unethical ones. The elite work in Vapula's Earthlky labs, testing his work and sometimes being destroyed by it. Vapula also buys many Soldiers from other Princes to use as test subjects, and veteran Hellsworn know that being traded to Vapula means you pissed someone off. He's free with Songs and arfiacts, at least, but life expectancy is not high.

Celestials aren't the only ones looking for Soldiers, however. Ethereals also recruit ,if covertly. Symphonically aware humans that serve ethereals are pagan Soldiers, though not all are tehcnically pagans. Some do worship their patrons and serve as priests, but others are more mercenary, workin for etherealss in exchange for Songs, knowledge or aid. The Host disapproves of this, but if a human freely chooses to serve EThereals, most angels will not treat them as they might a Hellsworn. Depending on which ethereal they serve, they may just be put under surveillence, though Judgment and the Sword are likely to try to destroy their patron. Demons tend to see ethereals as rivals and target pagan Soldiers, but sometimes they just ignroe them. Both siees can cooperate in a pinch.

Ethereals have no solid means to add Forces to mortals. Some of the old gods might have been able to once, but even if they still could, they have no Forces to spare. In the old days, many gods trained their mortal worshippers with rituals similar to those demons sometimes use now - grueling, often fatal ordeals to bring out potential. It's hard to find people willing to do that these days, especially without being noticed. There's a few cults that still do it enough to produce the rare Soldier, but most ethereals have to find those who hit 6 Forces naturally. Thge one advantage they have is the Marches. Not every human remains in the Vale of Dreams between Blandine and Beleth's towers. Some venture in the Border Marches, where spirits evade celestial patrols to find chances to speak with mortal dreamers, and some even head for the Far Marches, where the old gods still rule. Most precious of these are the lucid dreamers, who can wander the Marches freely and often have potential for more Forces. Some ethereals still have human worshippers to draw on for Soldiers, and others are found by chance. Some rare few even seek out the gods. These Soldiers may serve not for religious reasons, but because they want something.

Like any Soldiers, pagan Soldiers can learn Songs, but most spirits can't grant attunements. The more powerful can make Dream Soldiers, however, via granting an Ethereal Connection. Not ever pagan Soldier is a Dream Soldier, and not all etherals can make them. Even those that can only choose their most loyal, who actually worship them. Even without the Ethereal Connection, however, a sponsor needs to talk to their Soldiers, and trips to Earth are risky. Almost all pagan Soldiers learn the Dreaming skill and the Song of Dreams. Some ethereals even give their most loyal followers Soul Links. Ethereal Gods, like Wordbound, have Rites, generally relating to their aspects, and those who perform the Rites draw Essence from the spirit to themselves. Only the most potent Ethereals can afford to share this Essence, and only with a rare few mortals. However, the more potent gods do teach them.

Example Rites:
Apollo: Spend 1 hour sunbathing.
Loki Play a harmful trick on someone, 2 Essence if oyur involvement remains unknown, 3 Essence if they were a celestial.
Bast: Usable once per day, pamaper a cat as you would an honored guest.
Tezcatlipoca: Cause someone's great harm by getting them to believe your word. 3 Essence if your deceit kills them.



So why do ethereals want human Soldiers? Essence, mostly. Some spirits have other motives, sure, but sponsoring Soldiers is hard and they are expected to pay it back. The best way to do it is by giving Essence. This can be done directly by worship or indirectly by finding other worshippers. Soldiers are skilled corporeal agents, able to protect and further the interests of a god's cult and recruit new members. Soldiers are usually leaders in the pagan community, and often priests. As a general rule, ethereals want their Soldiers to avoid involvement in the War, as attracting too much attention often gets Soldiers killed and may bring the wrath of Beleth or the Host down on the ethereal. Pagan worshippers, Soldiers or no, can provide Essence to a god viea worship rites. These rites do not generate Essence for the performer, but instead send Essence from the performer to the god. Worship rites could be anything from telling stories about the god to wild orgies or blood sacrifice. Any sincere worshipper can perform a worship rite once per day, sending 1 Essence from themselves to their god.

Next time: Rogues

inklesspen
Oct 17, 2007

Here I am coming, with the good news of me, and you hate it. You can think only of the bell and how much I have it, and you are never the goose. I will run around with my bell as much as I want and you will make despair.

Buglord

Well, I let the archive fall a bit behind. In my defense, I was occupied first by sickness, then by a vacation to Mexico City, and lastly by a (successful) job hunt.

Good news is I just rolled out a minor upgrade to the software; something Ettin and Alien Rope Burn were asking for. Now the listed "author" for a writeup can be something other than the name of the person who made the first post. If you want to take advantage of this feature, PM me. I also added a behind-the-scenes improvement to make it easier for me to do the TORG writeup in one fell swoop, once I can clear away some of my other TODOs.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgCejsyS0t8

The Ways of the World

Chapter 3 starts with another piece of introductory fiction, this time introducing to Alanik Ray, Ravenloft's Sherlock Holme's analogue, nd his companion and biographer doctor Arthur Sedgewick. We see him solve a murder in one page, a particularly easy one, but still ti'S the thought that counts.

If Chapter 2 was all about the change to the Players rules, then Chapter 3 is all about the global rule changes (with the antagonist-only rules left for later). This of cours einvolves a lot of magic changes, but some interesting stuff as well. This time around I'll cover Fear, Horror and Madness checks.

Fear, Horror and Madness saves
Following in the tradition of Call of Cthulhu, heroes in Ravenloft can be terrified or even driven mad by what they see and experience. Fear, horror, and madness checks function like Will saves: anything that modifies a Will save modifies them too, unless noted otherwise. Luck and Resistance bonus do not help with these saves (Cloak of Resistance does not make you less scared). Divine effects do help, though. If the character meets the DC, it is unaffected and immune to that effect for 24 hours. If you fail, the effect depends on your margin of failure: up to 5 less than the DC is Minor, 6 to 10 is Moderate, 11 to 15 is Major and 16+ gives a Major effect with additional effects. A recovery check can be made to remove the effects, and it's possible to Take 10 on these checks.

Fear saves should be made when facing overwhelming odds or immediate danger (badly outnumbered or outclassed, half the party is down, a menacing creature is immune to the group's attack, a menacing creature is huge, a menacing creature has a special fear ability, the character is helpless or threatened with immediate death). The DC is usually the encounters CR +8 (with some + and - circumstantial modifiers to the roll, such as being alone (-1) or a loved being in danger (+4) ). Bad effects are fairly straightforward: minor failure is Shaken (-2 morale penalty to attack rolls, checks and saves), moderate is Frightened (must flee at all cost) and Major is Panicked (must flee AND penalty of -2 to saves). More than that and a Horror check must be mad ein addition to the Panicked effect. Fear effects last 5d6 rounds, and some spell might remove them.

Horror saves should be made when beholding scenes of unspeakable cruelty or things that should not be (such as seeing someone torn limb from limb, watching a friend transform into a hideous monster, or learning that you slew an innocent bystander while possessed by an evil spirit). Since every Horror save is a unique situation, guidelines are given to detemrine the Save DC (5 for signs of violence, 10 for a scene of pain or suffering, 15 for a scene of terrible agony, 20 for a scene of evil, cruelty and madness and 25 for a malign paradigm shift). A malign paradigm shift is a moment where the characters realizes an element of the surroundings has been terribly wrong all along, such as realizing the party are the only people in the inn who aren't evil shapeshifters. Once again circumstance modifiers apply to the check (being of good alignment gives you a free +1, while evil is an automatic -1!). To determine the effect of a failure, 1d4 is rolled to select one of four categories for the failure level.
Minor effects include Aversion (automatically shaken when within 50ft of the area where the save was failed), Fearstruck (just like a Panicked result on a Fear save), Frozen (can take no actions for 3 rounds and flatfooted) and Nausea (the character become sphysically ill, losing 1d4+1 points of constitution that recover at the rate of 1 per hour and can only take partial actions for an equal number of rounds).
Moderate effects are Nightmares (character can longer get a night's rest, waking up from terrible nightmares after 5d6 minutes, elves are immune to this one and must re-roll the d4), Obsession (characters becomes obsessed with the event, garnering cumulative penalties to search, listen and spot checks up to -4 and eventually constitution damage), Rage (enters a Rage like the Barbarian's, except uncontrolled) and Revulsion (like Aversion, except anything that reminds the character of the event triggers it).
Major effects are Fascination (character tries to become the object of his fear, losing 1 point of Charisma and Wisdom until reaching 3 in both, at which point he becomes a Lost One), Haunted (like Obsessions, but with an additional loss of 1d6+1 points of Charisma), Mental Shock (character completely shuts down until succeeding at another save, rolled every 3 rounds) and System Shock (must make an immediate Fortitude check at same DC or lose 3d6 points of Constitution).
As you can see these effect range from dangerous to "roll a new character".
You can only suffer from one Horror effect at a time, and recovery checks can be made (after one week for minor, two for moderate and three for major), with a cumulative -2 to the DC every attempt.

Madness saves should be made when making mental contact with an inhuman mind (darklord, aberration, elemental, ooze, outsider, plant(except if your a druid or cleric of nature), insects), victim of "gaslighting" (purposeful attempt to make someone go insane) or suffering a total catastrophe (sole survivor of a TPK). Much like Horror, the DC are highly variable and given some basic guidelines (such as half the creatures's hit dice +10 for mental contact), and ther are 4 categories randomly determined by a D4 for each severity of Madness effect. Ever Madness effect also incurs loss of Intelligence, Charisma and Wisdom, rolled separetly (1d6, recover one per hour for Minor; 1d6, no easy recovery for Moderate and 1d10, no easy recovery for Major). Effects last until the Ability scores are fully recovered.
Minor Effects are Blackout (remember nothing from the moment the save was failed to the moment of recovery), Denial (refuse to acknowledge the existence of what caused the check), Horrified (Moderate Horror effect) and unhinged (randomly changes alignment using 1d8, omitting the original).
Moderate effects are Delusions (character believes something that isn't true, for instance that they posses the ability to fly or are a major NPC of the setting), Depression (must make a Will save (same DC0 tot ake any major action), Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't there) and Paranoia (believing in a massive conspiracy against them).
Major effects are Amnesia (loses multiple months of memories, gain a random D% of negative levels to reflect this), Multiple Personalities (personality splinters into one core, 1d10 fragments and 2d10 alter egos, and then you roll on tables to create each personality), Schizophrenia (must make another will save every time a will save is made to not randomly change alignment) and Suicidal (same as Depression, and if another Fear/Horror/Madness check is failed the character will attempt to take their life within the hour).
I don't know about you, but pretty much every effect seems like the character is completely hosed.
To recover from Moderate or Major effects, the character must rest for months. Hypnotism, therapy and Magic can help lessen that time.

Next, I'll cover Curses and Powers Check.

Black August
Sep 28, 2003



I really, really don't care for that Soldiers section. I mean, I don't care for the game's narrative and attitude to humans in general, placing almost exclusive focus on celestials, and leaving humans as total trash, system-wise. 5 Forces is poo poo, and 6 Forces isn't good either. If I ran a human game, I'd be starting them at 7 Forces as a Soldier and able to climb, because gently caress the narrative of "Oh humans who approach the weakest demons in Hell are SUUUUPER rare!!"

It's funny, because while the narrative tries to constantly play humans as important and vital, absolutely none of the setting and mechanics reflect that. My personal beef is how casually lovely it makes a lot of the Superiors treat their Soldiers. While that narrative was toned down later, the damage was still deeply done, leaving half the Archangels seeming as psychotic as the Princes in their treatment of people. It also barely makes any loving sense - humans have tremendous power to influence the workings of the Symphony, and they're totally natural. You'd think there'd be shitloads of valued human agents in Heaven AND Hell, simply because their utility is (supposedly) so excellent.

I find it deeply hilarious that Asmodeus of all people actually seems to use his Soldiers smartly, if callously, and will even Knight some, which is really goddamn cool. Which is a much more intelligent narrative than "You're a trash slave who will 100% of the time be betrayed and killed and rot in Hell despite any utility you had."

Ugh, this game.

Black August fucked around with this message at 07:08 on Feb 22, 2016

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


A supernatural game that talks up how important humans are and then never has any rules or setting reflect that?

I'm shocked. Shocked!

Black August
Sep 28, 2003



Night10194 posted:

A supernatural game that talks up how important humans are and then never has any rules or setting reflect that?

I'm shocked. Shocked!

Yeaaaaaah, I know. There's no lie here, In Nomine spawned from the same pool of ichor and poo poo that White Wolf and its prestigious line of hot garbage crawled out of. I mean the very first vignette you read, in the Core Rules, before anything else, has a bunch of lovely demons who seem kind of fun at least in their shittiness, while there's this sorry rear end human who essentially gets enslaved and slapped around by a psychotic angel, while a Cherub who I am pretty loving sure was a Djinn has a woman tied up in his car.

The guy who wrote Alaemon did a roleplaying thing me and a bunch of other people participated in, a long while back. The psychotic angel who treated the human all lovely, Nicole, was recast by him as a broken soul who Fell after one last explosive outburst and promptly became the Demon of Justification for her awful behavior.

Again, this game had a seriously damaged framework from every angle. It was always a shock compared to GURPS and everything I used and read for it, in terms of editing quality, system quality, and basic coherency.

Black August fucked around with this message at 07:21 on Feb 22, 2016

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!



Black August posted:

I find it deeply hilarious that Asmodeus of all people actually seems to use his Soldiers smartly, if callously, and will even Knight some, which is really goddamn cool.

It'd be pretty funny if Hell's biggest single advantage in the war was that they had the best HR department- not because of some basic benevolence, but because it's good for internal propaganda and it gives Hell an edge. Meanwhile, Heaven sucks at it, because most of the Archangels are kinda inhuman and of the opinion that the humans should be perfectly happy working for Heaven for free with no vacations or health benefits.

Edit: This is also why Novalis and Marc are disproportionately powerful- it's because whenever a Soldier of someone else meets a Soldier of those two and finds out that their organizations actually pay them, they transfer over immediately.

Ratoslov fucked around with this message at 07:33 on Feb 22, 2016

Black August
Sep 28, 2003



Ratoslov posted:

It'd be pretty funny if Hell's biggest single advantage in the war was that they had the best HR department- not because of some basic benevolence, but because it's good for internal propaganda and it gives Hell an edge. Meanwhile, Heaven sucks at it, because most of the Archangels are kinda inhuman and of the opinion that the humans should be perfectly happy working for Heaven for free with no vacations or health benefits.

Edit: This is also why Novalis and Marc are disproportionately powerful- it's because whenever a Soldier of someone else meets a Soldier of those two and finds out that their organizations actually pay them, they transfer over immediately.

This was actually a huge writeup of fan material from one of the authors, where Marc lost his poo poo after collecting reports and spearheaded a Wrath Of God level Mercurian effort to set up a Heavenly program, funded out of his pocket, to provide powerful sensible services to ALL Soldiers of Heaven and their families, and affiliated agents. Gold Cross & Gold Shield - FULL coverage health insurance with divine healing, providing basic necessities for a comfortable human life, agents to help smooth over wrinkles in your life and help explain weird happenings to your not-able-to-understand friends, family, and work (I have a meeting at 2pm tomorrow, I was out until 6am beating a demon to death with a baseball bat and my suit is soaked in blood), specialized Songs to make time in life for the little things since 90% of your time will be taken up dealing with unstable angels and murder happy demons, therapy and counseling for the MINDFUCK of getting your poo poo resonated, and angelic services to see to it that when a Solider is abused or mistreated, it is filed, it is reported, you will be hearing from him, you will be hearing from Dominic, you will be hearing from Novalis, you WILL be hearing from your own Archangel as they rip your wings a new rear end in a top hat, and the entire thing went over very poorly with most of Heaven until the Soldiers unionized and Dominic slammed down the gavel and told them to eat poo poo and start acting like the Holy Host instead of a bunch of disorganized sociopaths.

Marc is great because he's a Mercurian and not to be hosed with.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!



Black August posted:

Marc is great because he's a Mercurian and not to be hosed with.

Marc: The Archangel of Actually Getting poo poo Done.

Black August
Sep 28, 2003



Ratoslov posted:

Marc: The Archangel of Actually Getting poo poo Done.

Marc is another Archangel who never got semi-expanded or fully-expanded material, same as Novalis. Which is ok because I know half the jackasses who wanted to write him would have hosed it up proper good. Marc has an amazing dissonance condition. It's very simple, very sensible, and very divine to me. Don't break promises. That's it. While Marc frames his Word in a financial manner, his archaic origins are clear from the dissonance; he's the Archangel of the Promise, of altruism, of a basic and holy concept, and there's not much room to mince it or mash it like so many of the other weird dissonance conditions or Word concepts. Add in the money he manages, the connections he has, the fact he's a Mercurian, and you have an amazing Archangel for starting players, where you can play the spy, the face, the moneyman, the scourge of liars and cheaters; just excellent flexibility of role with the very simple concept of "Don't go back on your word, ever."

Plus since he's so strongly social, he's a lot easier to work with conceptually. You could build a whole game out of a team of Trade angels who serve as troubleshooters for other Archangels, especially types like Laurence and Blandine. I mean Blandine is supposed to have this inexplicable 'chilly disdain' for Marc and his material ways, but gently caress that lazy garbage, Marc is a guy who helps dreams come true in a sustainable way. He's also the one Archangel to deal with Lilith and a lot of Hell as the Face, making him and his angels prime diplomats. It's also neat to think that his existence is essentially tied to the War in a very personal manner. He's likely made a promise to save mankind from Hell's apocalypse, so he stands to face dissonant annihilation of self if he can't keep that promise.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Black August posted:

I really, really don't care for that Soldiers section. I mean, I don't care for the game's narrative and attitude to humans in general, placing almost exclusive focus on celestials, and leaving humans as total trash, system-wise. 5 Forces is poo poo, and 6 Forces isn't good either.
Don't you need two forces in a Realm to reach "human average" in its associated stats? So by becoming this rare, awesome, head and shoulders above what most of humanity can possibly be, you become... dead average. :geno:

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


Black August posted:

Yeaaaaaah, I know. There's no lie here, In Nomine spawned from the same pool of ichor and poo poo that White Wolf and its prestigious line of hot garbage crawled out of. I mean the very first vignette you read, in the Core Rules, before anything else, has a bunch of lovely demons who seem kind of fun at least in their shittiness, while there's this sorry rear end human who essentially gets enslaved and slapped around by a psychotic angel, while a Cherub who I am pretty loving sure was a Djinn has a woman tied up in his car.

The guy who wrote Alaemon did a roleplaying thing me and a bunch of other people participated in, a long while back. The psychotic angel who treated the human all lovely, Nicole, was recast by him as a broken soul who Fell after one last explosive outburst and promptly became the Demon of Justification for her awful behavior.

Again, this game had a seriously damaged framework from every angle. It was always a shock compared to GURPS and everything I used and read for it, in terms of editing quality, system quality, and basic coherency.

I dunno, I've read like 75 - 90% of the source material and rear end in a top hat angels and fun Demons makes sense as the default assumption.

All those Marc rewrites above just seem to make it worse. Free Angelic healthcare, sure (not an issue in most of the world, but sure), but improving the world through Capitalism and a Corporate Structure? In my studies of religion class we learned that people fear loss of meaning more than death. When the Catholic Church stopped doing the Mass in Latin, attendance fell. In other words, Angels would have better recruitment rates by playing up the hardcore macho bullshit and high barriers to entry; not insisting on KPIs or whatever.

quote:

I mean Blandine is supposed to have this inexplicable 'chilly disdain' for Marc and his material ways, but gently caress that lazy garbage, Marc is a guy who helps dreams come true in a sustainable way.

Assuming your dreams are things that can be bought with money. Read Guy DeBord's Society of the Spectacle for more on how capitalism makes people's dreams into things attainable by capitalism.

I'm not saying I believe all that, but 'trade and commerce erode human potential' is not a new idea. My dreams are things like limitless flight and self-knowledge, not things you can buy.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 09:02 on Feb 22, 2016

Black August
Sep 28, 2003



Zereth posted:

Don't you need two forces in a Realm to reach "human average" in its associated stats? So by becoming this rare, awesome, head and shoulders above what most of humanity can possibly be, you become... dead average. :geno:

Yes. The humans in In Nomine are unbelievably weak. Like, by the system's numbers, they can barely accomplish simple rolls, will CRUMPLE before any celestial in a contest of any attribute or skill, and if they specialize in one realm of Forces, they drop into barely-able-to-function levels in their other attributes. GURPS In Nomine did jack poo poo to really manage this, on top of the hilariously library-length garbage templates and insanely complex power modifiers to bend the systems screaming together into a flesh pretzel of unplayable puke. It'd fare much much better in GURPS 4e, but SJG is allergic to doing anything useful. If you do know GURPS as a system, as an example, most humans in a straight 1:1 translation would end up with like, ST 6, DX 4, IQ 9 and HT 7. On average. Want to jump up to like, drat, ST 15? Your IQ is now 3. Whereas all the celestials start with a hot hard suite of 14/14/14/14 which they can rocket up to like the 30s with minimal effort.

But again, In Nomine's system is trash. It's straight up trash. The only thing it has going for it are the cool attunements and Songs, and great setting concept. The combat is vague and dull and really badly balanced, skills are unfun, the check digit system is the worst idea you could possibly force into a 3d6 resolution mechanic, and none of it works together very well for player or GM.

Back with the humans, Soldiers are still useless, their supposed human advantages amount to nothing, and you're basically encouraged to play a Child of the Grigori or a Gorgon or basically anything, ANYTHING but a human, because God forbid they be allowed to reach any sort of parity with the celestials, who by the numbers could probably take the world over in a single night if they put their minds to it. It's why I turned all guns into a straight damage number (this pistol does 2d+1, this rifle does 7d+3, etc) because then it suddenly made guns, and humans, horrifically dangerous to all but the most poo poo-hard of vessels backed by an equal shitload of divine powers.

It does give you room for some mean gotchas, though. If you take Asmodeus to an extreme you'd expect of some monstrously intelligent ancient dude with a Word like the Game, then go ahead and pop out humans who are 9-Force Knights of the Game, they're in the local law enforcement, and your angel or demon just got plugged six times in the back and slapped with a soul lasso to be dragged screaming back to the nearest Tether. And there was zero disturbance from it happening.

Black August
Sep 28, 2003



Count Chocula posted:

I dunno, I've read like 75 - 90% of the source material and rear end in a top hat angels and fun Demons makes sense as the default assumption.

All those Marc rewrites above just seem to make it worse. Free Angelic healthcare, sure (not an issue in most of the world, but sure), but improving the world through Capitalism and a Corporate Structure? In my studies of religion class we learned that people fear loss of meaning more than death. When the Catholic Church stopped doing the Mass in Latin, attendance fell. In other words, Angels would have better recruitment rates by playing up the hardcore macho bullshit and high barriers to entry; not insisting on KPIs or whatever.

Hey, the game encourages that style of play just as well, but it's really not to many people's tastes when Heaven is a meatgrinder who stares at you blankly when you beg for some sanity trying to work for them, and recruiting fanatics isn't exactly useful when you want to try to save humanity, not see them burned up and dead in your name. There's inhuman, and then there's Hell With A Different Coat Of Paint.


EDIT: Also I'm trying to say that Capitalism isn't Marc's point, at the base concept. Why would the Archangel who encompasses every single concept of Trade be limited to one dysfunctional human system anyways? Yeah dreams can be bought but Blandine isn't a loving retard, and Marc isn't some snappy suited Nybbas-clone, he's a keeper of promises and trust.

Black August fucked around with this message at 09:05 on Feb 22, 2016

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Black August posted:

Yes. The humans in In Nomine are unbelievably weak. Like, by the system's numbers, they can barely accomplish simple rolls, will CRUMPLE before any celestial in a contest of any attribute or skill, and if they specialize in one realm of Forces, they drop into barely-able-to-function levels in their other attributes. GURPS In Nomine did jack poo poo to really manage this, on top of the hilariously library-length garbage templates and insanely complex power modifiers to bend the systems screaming together into a flesh pretzel of unplayable puke. It'd fare much much better in GURPS 4e, but SJG is allergic to doing anything useful. If you do know GURPS as a system, as an example, most humans in a straight 1:1 translation would end up with like, ST 6, DX 4, IQ 9 and HT 7. On average. Want to jump up to like, drat, ST 15? Your IQ is now 3. Whereas all the celestials start with a hot hard suite of 14/14/14/14 which they can rocket up to like the 30s with minimal effort.
Even the "terrible at actual rolls" thing aside, you'd think somebody would have spent five seconds noticing that the alleged average was not attainable by average humans. You can't make Totally Average Man without being some incredible 6-force alleged super guy. (Who's still, uh, bad.)

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!



Black August posted:

EDIT: Also I'm trying to say that Capitalism isn't Marc's point, at the base concept. Why would the Archangel who encompasses every single concept of Trade be limited to one dysfunctional human system anyways?

Yeah, it's worth remembering that Capitalism is only about five hundred years old and isn't synonymous with trade. Marc's word encompasses capitalistic economies, but it also encompasses socialist or communist societies, or for that matter gift economies or post-scarcity societies. As long as stuff is moving around to fulfill human needs or desires, it's Trade. Marc's word is ridiculously powerful.

Black August
Sep 28, 2003



Zereth posted:

Even the "terrible at actual rolls" thing aside, you'd think somebody would have spent five seconds noticing that the alleged average was not attainable by average humans. You can't make Totally Average Man without being some incredible 6-force alleged super guy. (Who's still, uh, bad.)

Well that's because the early game clearly thinks humans should be WoD level chattel for your super cool murder machine to blow away, possess, order around, or whatever. Derek did not give a gently caress.


Ratoslov posted:

Yeah, it's worth remembering that Capitalism is only about five hundred years old and isn't synonymous with trade. Marc's word encompasses capitalistic economies, but it also encompasses socialist or communist societies, or for that matter gift economies or post-scarcity societies. As long as stuff is moving around to fulfill human needs or desires, it's Trade. Marc's word is ridiculously powerful.

There's a funny theme in the game with Mercurians and Impudites holding deceptively powerful Words. Marc, Eli, Kobal, Nybbas; a lot of points are made that they're not necessarily just strong through raw Word power, like Baal or Michael, but because they also have tremendous social influence that is a hell of a lot stronger in a cold war setting than brute strength. Including Essence. Kobal is noted for being one of the strongest Essence holders in Hell, and when Essence is the building block of reality, it means that if you're forced into a corner, and you got a lot of it, SOMEONE is going down with you. Many someones. And many more when their social connections trip the deadman's switch and blow apart half the infrastructure. Hell, Nybbas? Want to know why you don't gently caress with Nybbas, apart from his incredibly powerful Word? He was an Impudite of Technology once, and had / still has great relations with Vapula. Impudites of Technology get double Essence reserves of other demons naturally. Follow that to the logical nightmare conclusion.

One theme of In Nomine that doesn't get played enough is the idea that Superiors, and all their organizations, are essentially living WMDs. Yes, they probably could end the world tomorrow. The issue is that everyone else would die as well, or one side would be left so weak the other could buy a victory, and then, well, reign over a dead husk of a world. There was one good story in a series called Superior Victory (in which one Superior and their concept wins the War) written about how Belial finally did it, pushed mankind into nuclear war, Gabriel Fell and died to him, and then Belial started to rapidly die because humans were gone and the world was a fireless wasteland, forcing him to embrace Gabriel's side of the Word, which was too little too late - he dies as well in a hollow, empty victory.

Regarding Marc though, yeah, that's the idea. Maybe in modern times he assumes one of the strongest images associated with the concepts of Trade, but that doesn't mean that's all he is, or has been. Marc has been every concept of trade, promise, value in material, value in words, value in concepts, and this value, being associated with Heaven, is more than monetary value, it's the value of life, bonds, trust, and society. It's why Mammon is so weak and slated to become a snake sausage breakfast for Haagenti, his entire origin is how he only saw value in the material and became so focused on a single aspect of his Word that he's killed himself.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





It seems like Marc might have a weird thing where whatever demon of Capitalism there is is making Marc more powerful in the process. But I like the idea of Marc as being ultimately about promises (which are, of course, what underlie trade) as opposed to betrayals.

I'd certainly have trouble buying corporate capitalism as being anything more than, at best, neutral, but I can certainly see a large role for trading and exchange without it necessarily meaning everyone is clapped into the irons of total materialism forever.

Black August
Sep 28, 2003



Nessus posted:

It seems like Marc might have a weird thing where whatever demon of Capitalism there is is making Marc more powerful in the process. But I like the idea of Marc as being ultimately about promises (which are, of course, what underlie trade) as opposed to betrayals.

I'd certainly have trouble buying corporate capitalism as being anything more than, at best, neutral, but I can certainly see a large role for trading and exchange without it necessarily meaning everyone is clapped into the irons of total materialism forever.

Marc is opposed by Mammon, the Prince of Greed, who you can reasonably assume encompasses the concept of Capitalism from the Infernal side, and also likely has a demon devoted to the Word. Notably, Mammon is not doing well against Marc. If anything, Marc isn't really concerned with Trade as a money thing like Mammon is with Greed, he's concerned with how these systems that humans made can benefit mankind and help sway the War for them and a better future. I'd pit Marc more against Asmodeus and Nybbas in a quiet side-war, with a lot of espionage and information brokering. The war with Mammon could easily just be a public distraction.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



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


Part 14a: Orrorsh



A mutilated body is found in a misty side alley, ripped to shreds, the blood still warm. The passerby discovering it is frozen in horror at the sight, completely unaware of the still-hungry vampire stalking up behind him.

A man runs through the city, pursued by a shadowy fiend soaring above the gaslit streets. The creature is invisible to everyone but its target, and the people on the street just see a raving, running madman. The man will spend the rest of his life in an asylum tormented by a beast only he can see.

A woman creates an effigy of her cheating husband out of old rags and a lock of his hair. In the light of candles and surrounded by a magic circle, she slowly lowers a pin towards the doll's eye.

This is life in Orrorsh, a carefully tended garden of horrors cultivated by the being known only as the Gaunt Man.


I say, that's not cricket!

For Queen And Empire

Orrorsh was the first invading cosm to touch down on Core Earth, and did so in secret. By picking relatively isolated countries, all the outside world was aware of were strange storms around the Indonesian island chain that seemed to cut off communications. Before the world at large had a real chance to address this, Baruk Kaah dropped his main bridge on Shea Stadium just before game 1 of the World Series and suddenly people had bigger things to worry about.

Which, of course, is what the Gaunt Man wanted. By keeping the realm isolated from the rest of the world, he kept people out of his business and the inhabitants trapped in a world of terrors.

You see, Orrorsh isn't the reality that is invading; "Orrorsh" is the original home of the Gaunt Man, an invasive reality that has spread from cosm to cosm over countless millennia. Until recently, the Gaunt Man was content to allow Orrorsh to decimate the worlds it came across and leave nothing but ashes in its wake.

Then he came across the world of Gaea.

Gaea, like other cosms such as Terra and Magna Verita, is very similar to Core Earth, except that it "exists" at an earlier point in Core Earth's history. In this case, the Gaunt Man found a world at the height of the Victorian Empire. A world where England had conquered most of the world "for its own good". A world ruled by a people who know that only they are truly capable of being in charge because they are the only truly civilized people in the world. A world where colonialism has run rampant for centuries fueled by xenophobia and evangelical religious fervor.

A world, to be frank, where The Gaunt Man could truly cultivate fear.

He did so by sending horrors across bridges in what the Victorians considered "heathen lands", further fueling their xenophobic tendencies while spreading his influence through the government. Once he had arrived and brought his Darkness Device Heketon over, the Gaunt Man was able to completely halt the societal advancement of the world while adjusting it to his particular desires.

For three hundred years he slowly eroded the world of Gaea away and replaced it with the reality of Orrorsh. He possessed members of the government to help steer things along, driving Victoria's development down whist overrunning the rest of the world with the Ecology of Fear. The Empire itself never understood what was happening, believing the events to be caused by the forces of Satan as punishment for "moral laxity" and turning more to their increasingly rigid state religion for support.

Now the island of Victoria is the last bastion of "civilization" on Gaea. The Gaunt Man keeps his forces from overrunning the nation, because he enjoys the hopeless fear of the population. In fact, the Gaunt Man has altered the cosm's rules so that he gains more possibility energy from ords when they're afraid. So he keeps the Victorian population afraid all the time.

When the time came for the invasion of Core Earth, the Gaunt Man let a Victorian scientist named Dr. Wells "discover" an ancient treatise that described the existence of the multiverse, as well as a way to break the dimensional barriers and travel from one world to another. Wells saw this as a potential way to aid the Empire; if he could reach other worlds, he could call in allies to help fight back the darkness. He managed to use the knowledge in the treatise to create a reality bridge to another world, but when he activated it he never expected what would happen next: the creatures that had destroyed his world began streaming down the bridge to this new world! Unable to stop the machine, all he could do was watch as his actions doomed this "Earth" to the same nightmares that destroyed Gaea.

Unable to deal with the guilt, Wells informed allies in the government and took his own life. The Victorian government knew that clearly they were the only ones who could stop these invaders (after all, what could the natives do? They're not us). Military forces were assembled and sent down the bridge to establish a colony and fight the horrors they had unleashed upon this new world.

Which is exactly what the Gaunt Man wanted.

The Gaunt Man's invasion force wasn't the monsters that went down Wells' bridge. Actually, they didn't even exist in the first place; it was just an illusion to fool the doctor. When the Victorians came down the bridge into Indonesia, they were the Gaunt Man's unknowing invasion force. They were the believers needed to power the stelae planted well in advance. They were the ones that brought their reality into Core Earth, allowing the true horrors to exist here.

The Victorians don't see it that way, of course. It's their job to drive out these "backwards natives" and protect them from the horrors they can't comprehend due to how ignorant they clearly are. As it is, all these "darkies" clearly drove the original white settlers out and took over, because how could they create any of this technology? It's the Empire's job to establish the colony of Majestic (formerly known as Indonesia) and save the world. It's their burden, their God-granted purpose. And really, once Core Earth is under the aegis of the Empire it'll be much better off. After all, who knows better than the Victorians?

Pax Victoriana. So to speak.


The Realm of Orrorsh, about three months after the initial invasion.

The Gaunt Man

So let's talk briefly about the Gaunt Man.

The Gaunt Man is the mastermind behind the whole invasion of Core Earth. He's come closest to becoming Torg than anyone else in known history, and he knows more about the nature of the cosmic entity known as "The Nameless One" than pretty much anybody else.

The Gaunt Man's backstory isn't given in the RPG, but was the subject of the novel Interview with Evil. I'm not going to get into it here (mainly because I haven't read the book because it's terrible), but what matters right now is what the current situation of the Gaunt Man.

The Gaunt Man rules Gaea, even though nobody there is aware of it. Unlike the other High Lords, the Gaunt Man keeps a relatively low profile on his world. That's not to say he's not involved; at the time of the invasion he was posing as (read: "had taken over the body of") Lord Byron Salisbury, a highly-placed cavalry officer. He uses magic to hide his decayed appearance from the Victorians, who consider him a war hero. Interestingly, a few of the other High Lords do refer to him as "Salisbury" from time to time, but in general he is mainly known as The Gaunt Man.

He's also been out of the picture for almost the entire invasion.

As part of the events of the prequel novel trilogy, the Gaunt Man is currently trapped in a pocket dimension by an eternity shard known as "The Heart of Coyote", trapped in an unending cycle of destruction and recreation. The only person who knows that the Gaunt Man is out of the picture is his lieutenant, the techno-demon Thratchen. Thratchen has told the other High Lords that the Gaunt Man has sequestered himself away to "prepare for the next phase of the invasion", but everyone knows that's bullshit and has started the scramble for territory and power among themselves. There's also the various operatives and horrors that are trying to take advantage of their lord's absence, but for the most part Thratchen doesn't give a poo poo about them. What he is trying to do is attune himself to the Gaunt Man's Darkness Device so he can become High Lord of Orrorsh, but so far he hasn't had any luck.

What this means is that the Gaunt Man's personal forces aren't so much in disarray as realizing that the boss is out of the office and now it's time to work on more personal projects. Some of the High Lord's agents are still steering the expansion of the realm and the planing of stelae, but for the most part everyone is just engaging in whatever terrible acts they feel like.

Axioms and World Laws

quote:

The reality of Orrorsh bases itself upon the central tenant of horror. This horror manifests itself as ghouls and oozing terrors, but this is only the realm's clothing - what it shows to the world, how it interacts with people. The core of Orrorsh is that it encourages people to do evil and discourages people who would oppose evil. Heroes who travel to Orrorsh from other realities might be surprised to discover that they are not as powerful as they are in other realms. In Orrorsh the villains have a distinct upper hand - and the monster hunters need to find the secret weakness of creature's before they can expect to be successful in defeating the beasts.

Of course, the Gaunt Man loves evil, and offers mystical reward for anyone, even Storm Knights, who commit acts of evil. Within the Gaunt Man's reality, Storm Knights must move carefully, treading a narrow path between effectively destroying monsters and becoming monsters themselves.
As always, let's begin by taking a look at how the local reality works. While the axioms are still pretty much what they were before the Gaunt Man took over, whatever World Laws used to exist in Gaea have been altered and corrupted by the takeover.

The Gaunt Man has taken a very personal interest in Gaean and Orrorshian advancement, guiding it like a gardener tending a flowerbed. He's spent centuries guiding and shaping Orrorsh into the realm it is today, allowing a certain amount of progress to happen just to keep things from becoming too stagnant.

Magic Axiom: 15
Orrorsh has the second-highest magic axiom out of the initial raiders (Aysle is still first), which is what allows the innumerable horrors to exist. Magic is possible in Orrorsh, but "traditional" spell-based magic is very rare. Instead, there is occultism, which is a ritual-based form of magic capable of performing pretty much whatever the caster wants...as long as they're willing to pay the price, which is usually "too much". What really makes occult magic dangerous is that it can be performed by anyone without any special training.

Spiritual Axiom: 17
Surprisingly, the Gaunt Man has allowed the religious side of Victorian culture to keep existing. Of course, it's because allowing people to believe they have souls allows the trade in same, but also because despair is better when it comes from broken hope.

The Sacellum is the state religion of the Empire, and has its roots in evangelical Christianity. The unending onslaught of horrors from the rest of the world has caused the Sacellum to become a source of desperate hope from the people, despite the fact that the Sacellum is focused on the idea that salvation can only come from unwavering dedication to the principles of the church. As a result, Victorians believe that any form of change will bring the world down around their ears as punishment for their "sins".

Social: 20
As stated, Victoria is pretty much England in the mid-to-late 1800's, only stagnated over the last three centuries due to the presence of a Darkness Device. Victorian society is very...delineated. There's a place for everyone, and everyone has their place. Of course, if you're not actually a Victorian that place is very far down the ladder. Not that Victorians are equal amongst themselves; women are still considered the "lesser sex" and don't have equal rights, and classism is very prevalent. The government itself is very bureaucratic, and is heavily influenced by the Sacellum.

In fact, the Sacellum is involved in day-to-day life it even controls entertainment. Public "entertainment" mainly consists of long Sunday sermons about sinners repenting their evil ways, and live out their lives listening to long Sunday sermons about sinners repenting their evil ways. Novels and plays run along the same lines and with the same themes. There is a sort of underground writing movement forming, currently focused on tales of 'orrible murders and adultery, but for the most part Victorian entertainment is focused on the concept of redemption and resisting the evils of the world.

Technology:19
It goes without saying that Victorian technology isn't very advanced. In Core Earth terms, it's about as advanced as 1891 England. The Victorians have not done much technological advancement on their own, even though the Gaunt Man hasn't interfered much with their achievements in this area. In fact, on a few occasions the Victorians have willingly ignored what would be considered major technological advancements because they were "unnecessary" or "beneath us".

This also means that, disconnection aside, the Victorians pretty much refuse to use modern Core Earth technologies because it wasn't made by them. This makes life even more difficult for the Indonesians as they try to survive the occupation because the Victorians deny anyone access to Core Earth tech.

Back on Gaea, steam power and gaslight are the norm, although electrical systems exist. They just don't see widespread use. Telephones are used for communication in the cities, and telegraphs are used for long-distance communication. There is a "Transdimensional Cable" running up the bridge from the Gaean city of New London down to the Majestic colony so the military leaders can maintain contact with the government.

The main focus of innovation is in the weaponry field; unsurprising given the nature of their world. Bolt action rifles and hand-cranked machine guns are still relatively new developments, and the go-to military strategy is still lines of riflemen firing in sequence. This is because the monsters they have to deal with back on Gaea do not (for the most part) attack en masse. A Gatling gun is great for taking down a zombie horde, not so much for stopping a pair of vampires before they decimate the regiment.

Now, the World laws...whatever World Laws Gaea used to have are long since erased and forgotten. In their place, the Gaunt Man has instituted three of his own: The Power of Fear, The Power of Corruption, and The Law Of Eternal Corruption. These laws are so pervasive they will actually affect anyone in the realm, even of they're in a reality bubble.

The Power of Corruption rewards acts of unnecessary evils. Whenever a person commits what is generally considered an "evil" act for no reason apart from their own desires (which the game refers to as a "Wicked" act for convenience), they receive an automatic up result (free roll again and add) on the action. They also get a new "skill": corruption, which always starts at 8. Every time a character commits a Wicked act, they get the free roll-and-add, then their corruption increases by one to five points depending on the nature of the act. The character must then make a corruption check against a difficulty of 12. If the roll succeeds, then the character gains some physical manifestation of their evil nature. The more they "succeed" by, the worse the deformity. Narrow success may result in body-wide sores or your eyes becoming cat's eyes, but at the extreme end you can actually transform fully into a horror of some sort and become an NPC.


"Pacifying" the natives.

The Power of Fear is, um...well, let's let the book tell you.

quote:

There are two reasons that the Power of Fear exists in the reality of Orrorsh. The first reason is part of the logic of the world within the game world, the second is a logic of game mechanics, exterior to the "fictional reality" of Torg.

First, the Power of Fear exists because the Gaunt Man is very powerful and created a powerful force that weakens his enemies. Some High Lords use their power to increase their technology so they can build tougher tanks, others increase the sophistication of their reality's miracles. The Gaunt Man and Heketon, who love fear, decided to make it harder for heroes slay his monsters rather than make the monsters tougher.

The second reason is that every realm of Torg: Roleplaying the Possibility Wars should have its own distinct feel to it. The realm of Orrorsh is a place of atmosphere, of slow searches through mist-shrouded graveyards. We created the Power ofFear so that Storm Knights cannot go blasting their way through every conflict the same way they might do in the Living Land or the Empire of the Nile.
Basically the Power of Fear strengthens the horrors of the realm and makes them incredibly difficult to kill...until you've done a little homework and worked your way up to it. We'll cover this more in-depth later, but what you need to know right now is that until PCs have worked to overcome the fear a horror has infused in its territory, they can't invoke reality storms or play for the critical moment. Of course, there's a whole new subsytem for dealing with that we'll get to later.

The last World Law is the Law of Eternal Corruption, and is actually not a player-facing law. This law allows the soul of any killed monster or corrupt human to bypass being brought to the afterlife for judgement and the inevitable eternal damnation. Instead, the soul can allow itself to be reborn into a new, monsterous form and return to torment the world of the living.

These three Laws form the foundation of what the Gaunt Man refers to his Ecology of Fear. He's created a cycle where monsters can roam unchecked and people can be tempted to commit heinous acts for power. Anyone fighting against the forces of darkness just reinforce the system, because they weed out the weaker horrors and allow the stronger ones to thrive by defeating would-be heroes. And even if you defeat the monsters, they can just choose to come back a month, a year, a decade later and start the whole cycle all over again.

As a result, the realm of Orrorsh is like a stagnant pool of fetid water. The willing unchanging rigidity of the Victorians prevents them from really being able to effectively fight against the darkness, and the Gaunt Man's laws ensure there will always be another beast ready to feed on the fear of the populice. To say nothing of the terrible things done to the natives of the Indonesian island chain by the Victorians themselves in the name of the Empire. It's a vicious cycle of terror, a snake so busy devouring its own tail it fails to notice it's being devoured by a wolf.

Even without the Gaunt Man guiding things, the cycle continues unabashed. You can't defeat the darkness, all you can hope to do is delay it for a while.

Really, hope isn't worth it. You're barely even delaying the inevitable.

Give up. It's just easier that way.

NEXT TIME: Southeast Asia, then and now

Evil Mastermind fucked around with this message at 17:03 on Feb 22, 2016

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


I'm going to take a wild guess and put down my money on there not being any monsters of Southeast Asian mythology in Orrorsh ( :rolleyes: ), even though that would be more interesting than just having Victorian horror monsters dumped around there.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Fossilized Rappy posted:

I'm going to take a wild guess and put down my money on there not being any monsters of Southeast Asian mythology in Orrorsh ( :rolleyes: ), even though that would be more interesting than just having Victorian horror monsters dumped around there.
Yeah, I'm not taking that bet. There's one monster in the cosm book that is sort of kind of based on Muslim "beliefs", but that's it.

But that's okay, because we do get that staple of classic Victorian horror, the Video Cassette Recorder of Death! :what:

unseenlibrarian
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.

There's a couple-three Southeast Asian horrors in the Monsters of Orrosh book, but also one that's literally just a rip from an episode of Kolchak the Night Stalker that, as near as I can tell, exists nowhere besides that episode.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Orrorsh really suffers from the line's usual lack of commitment to tone. There's some Victorian/Chtuhluesque monsters, yes, but you also get 60's B-movie monsters like the Blob or the Crawling Hand. And yes they can be effective monsters, sure, but they don't quite fit into the kind of atmosphere they're trying to create.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Evil Mastermind posted:

Back on Gaea, steam power and gaslight are the norm, although electrical systems exist. They just don't see widespread use. Telephones are used for communication in the cities, and telegraphs are used for long-distance communication. There is a "Transdimensional Cable" running up the bridge from the Gaean city of New London to
To where? :confused:

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Zereth posted:

To where? :confused:

Oops, sorry about that. I went back and fixed it.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply