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Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Zereth posted:

I believe starforce could gently caress up your CD drive. Because it's from back when you needed the CD in the drive to play games. And, you know, you GOT optical discs of the game instead of just a steam code in the box.

In recent years if you installed an older game with Starforce onto Windows 7/8/10, it freaks the gently caress out and interacts poorly with the OS to the point where the OS can't load properly, forcing you to do a clean install.

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By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




And if Paizo could have figured out a way to load a rootkit into your brain to stop piracy they totally would.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Nah, I don't necessarily think Paizo is wrong to try. Piracy is a big issue, particularly for small industries like this one. They're big fish for an RPG company, but you can't really compare a messy PDF file to the outright draconian practices of some videogame publishers. What I think they're wrong about is thinking trying to secure a PDF is doing to do much. Paizo already lets third-party sites copy most of their book's content for free, and while they don't have much choice, they do price their PDFs relatively cheaply. I can't imagine online sales is the big moneymaking side for them, but I could be wrong. It's like they're fighting for a slice of a slice.

A company that's actually really good at fighting piracy of their products probably isn't one you might expect - Pinnacle. And that's because they're constantly vigilant, watching the piracy community, and contacting sites and demanding files be taken down. It's never perfect, but they're easily better than 95% of the RPG industry at fighting piracy as far as I've seen. The thing is you need an actual human working tirelessly dealing with piracy, and very few companies are both aware enough of the pirate community and willing to have somebody put in serious work to counter them.

Well, there is one prove way to fight piracy that works extremely well, and that's to be so obscure or irrelevant that PDF pirates don't care about copying your books! But that's probably the worst position to be in. So, ironically, the last thing you want is to not be pirated at all.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Alien Rope Burn posted:

Yeah. In general the PDF structure of Paizo PDFs is real weird, I tried pulling them apart several ways to clean up the images but sometimes various parts of an image were separated between layers and sometimes not. So there are different types of extractions (that's why sometimes the text is visible in images on the review, and sometimes faded, depending on which extraction job worked better for a given chapter).There's nothing as ugly as the aliasing issues on earlier Pathfinder PDFs, but I don't know enough about PDF construction to know why they end up with what they do when most other RPG PDFs I see have a much more straightforward structure. At one point one of their PDFs just halted my computer; not my PDF reader. My computer.

As for piracy, it continues undeterred.

There are just so many reasons this can happen, but I think the reason it happened a lot more in the past and keeps happening to a lesser extent, is a legacy of "Who cares?" about PDF optimization from back when you didn't really sell big, art-heavy PDFs to your average customer. It doesn't matter if someone can pick out all the little art elements that made up a bigger element that you made in Illustrator in your final PDF, because only weird nerds like me an Mr Gone picked that poo poo apart out of character sheets in 2002. Regardless, InDesign has been fully capable, with hardly any work on the creator's part, of producing perfectly adequate "consumer-grade" final PDFs for about a decade, and there's definitely no excuse for anyone selling poo poo on DTRPG or the like in 2017.

Like, poo poo, as long as you think about it ahead of time with your paragraph styles, after initial setup (which should take, like, a couple minutes) you'll create PDFs that automatically have their bookmarks set up. PDFs with lovely or no bookmarks are infuriating because it's been so easy to do for so long. Hell, with the proper workflow your document can have really great cross-referencing with hyperlinks with very little effort.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




I just hate that it's been almost 25 years and we're still using the PDF format, but that is a battle I lost long ago.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


First, you must declare how many cards you intend to draw from

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 12: The Deck of Sahaugin, Satyrs, Social Norms, and Spells

76: Sea Food

There’s a paragraph of description of a ramshackle coastal town. It’s stormy. When the PCs enter the inn, they find 10 fishermen clutching spears, quite on edge but relieved to see that the visitors are (demi-)human(oid). The village has been getting attacked by sahaugin every time the weather turns stormy. The families are gathered in the inn for protection. Lightning strikes and the sahaugin start coming right about…. Now! (There are 25 of them.)

I’m a sucker for village defense scenarios, so normally I would keep this one even though it’s pretty bland, but, uh... let’s look at the next one, too.


77: Invasion

A village on the sea is being invaded by 15 sahaugin! Yep! Just like last encounter! These ones are renegades, tired of their priestesses always telling them to wait until “the stars are right” to attack the surface-dwellers. They’re just gonna DO it, and when they’re successful everyone will see that they were right.

The card is pretty vague on the details - the villagers will help, but are mostly 0-level NPCs, maybe a couple 1st-level fighters. The sahaugin have a lieutenant who, if killed, will force a morale check. The lieutenant has a pearl-encrusted necklace.

It’s okay. I wish there were one or two more interesting hooks. The only thing going on here other than “monsters attack!” is the sahaugin backstory that will probably not come up unless a PC retroactively decides that one of their bonus languages was sahaugin.

Now, I don’t need two “village is being attacked by sahaugin” cards. So the question is, is it more interesting to run an off-the-cuff attack on a fortified inn, or an off-the-cuff attack on a town where the PCs are going to need to run around more? Or don’t use either? I don’t know. Jury?


78: Satyr, Part 1 of 2

Satyr? I hardly even Okay, so the PCs are travelling in a forest when they hear some cheery piping. Six satyrs and assorted woodland creatures are “having a frolic.” If the PCs can contribute wine, good food, and/or music, they’ll be welcomed to join. Oh, and also they need to leave their weapons outside the clearing. The satyrs are friendly, good conversationalists, and will be “especially attentive to female PCs,” presumably because they were having plenty of male-on-male sex before the PCs arrived and are hoping for a change of pace.

After the night of partying, the card assumes the PCs are all going to drift off to sleep in the clearing. At which point...


79: Satyr, Part 2 of 2

...they wake up and all their weapons and stuff are missing. If they track down the satyrs (which is easy enough), they say they have no idea what happened to them. As the PCs get frustrated, they hear the giggling of the real perps, three fremlin. They come out and admit they took the stuff just to see if the PCs have a sense of humor. (When it comes to their equipment, I’m 100% certain they do not.) They’ll return the stuff for a bribe of food.

Works for me. It’s just a satyr party that could be a good character moment for some of the PCs. And if they’re careful with their equipment, I’d ignore this second part. Keep.


80: Local Taboos

This is just like Town Watch: a crime against random encounter cards. To paraphrase, it says that the PCs run afoul of some local custom of some kind, and get in trouble! Maybe they’ll be able to appeal their case to someone reasonable. Or maybe not? There are probably some punishments, like getting scolded... or perhaps getting killed!

Yes, thank you. That’s absolutely worthless to me as a random encounter card. It’s not even useful to me in adventure planning. It even has the gall to say “This is a card that can be used repeatedly, whenever the DM wants to get the PCs into a small bit of trouble.” I’m the DM - I don’t need your permission to introduce local customs! Unless they mean I can brandish this card like a cudgel and say “no, you totally just screwed up a local custom and are in big trouble. See? I drew this card that says so! :smug:Pass.


81: The Talking Tree

There’s some nice scenic description at the start of this card, ending in an old abandoned trail that used to lead into a forest, but is now overgrown past a certain point. Walk to the end of the trail, and the magic mouth spell on the tree there announces “This is the cursed forest of Arnjil the Doomed. Doom and despair are the lot of all who enter here. Turn back now, else abandon hope and die.” If you move away and come back, it’ll repeat the message - a 16th-level wizard blew a point of CON to permanency this. Odd - most wizards would have just burned down the forest if they had a problem with it.

That’s a plot hook, but now I have to make all kinds of forest-related decisions. :effort: Please understand, Deck of Encounters! I bought you to do the heavy lifting for me! Pass.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



Dallbun posted:

First, you must declare how many cards you intend to draw from

My box is volume two - do you have that and plan to cover it?

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Angrymog posted:

My box is volume two - do you have that and plan to cover it?

Not necessarily. This is the one that I owned and used as a kid, after all. Also, I'm a few hundred cards in to these reviews, and my will to live is waning.

Why, are you volunteering? :allears:

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



I think I like the second sahaugin encounter more than the first, but I definitely wouldn't use both.

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Conceptually, the second one is better. It's more open, and can lead to better traps/barricades that make town defense interesting. However, unless the card provides you with actual information on the layout of the town and the villagers, it's more work. In that case, I'd stick with the first one. A quick "fortified inn" map is easier to put together, and still leads to a decent defense system when you have to defend the noncombatants in the middle/upstairs.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Kaza42 posted:

Conceptually, the second one is better. It's more open, and can lead to better traps/barricades that make town defense interesting. However, unless the card provides you with actual information on the layout of the town and the villagers, it's more work. In that case, I'd stick with the first one. A quick "fortified inn" map is easier to put together, and still leads to a decent defense system when you have to defend the noncombatants in the middle/upstairs.

Yeah, good point. That was one of the strengths if the other "village attack" card so far, the Kobold Raiding Party. It gave you a good idea of the town layout and current situation. Lacking thst, it would be hard to make the town attack clear and engaging.

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005

I FORGOT TO HAIL KING TORG


Second one has the Priestess/Lieutenant dynamic going, which is very GM-only backstory-ish, but at least gives you some more to do with the encounter than just “horde of identical sharkmen”; an identifiable leader lets you and the players both play with strategy at the most basic level.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


That Old Tree posted:

Like, poo poo, as long as you think about it ahead of time with your paragraph styles, after initial setup (which should take, like, a couple minutes) you'll create PDFs that automatically have their bookmarks set up. PDFs with lovely or no bookmarks are infuriating because it's been so easy to do for so long. Hell, with the proper workflow your document can have really great cross-referencing with hyperlinks with very little effort.

Even I know how to set up some alright PDF bookmarks and I barely know layout at all. Granted, yes, most people will hardly notice if a PDF is put together elegantly... and given a perfect world, we'd have a far better format.

I found myself wondering recently who actually was the first to use PDF as an RPG book format? I'd presume it was Wizards back when they were scanning and offering old AD&D supplements on their site for free (under the now-humorous presumption that nobody'd pay for them...).

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



AmiYumi posted:

Second one has the Priestess/Lieutenant dynamic going, which is very GM-only backstory-ish, but at least gives you some more to do with the encounter than just “horde of identical sharkmen”; an identifiable leader lets you and the players both play with strategy at the most basic level.

Agreed. And if you do want to make Fish people a thing, two conflicting factions just adds to the potential entertainment.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



Dallbun posted:

Not necessarily. This is the one that I owned and used as a kid, after all. Also, I'm a few hundred cards in to these reviews, and my will to live is waning.

Why, are you volunteering? :allears:

Maybe, but my record on these things isn't very good.

MadDogMike
Apr 9, 2008

Can I come out and play?

Honestly I'd probably merge both sahaugin cards into one encounter; they're attacking because of the priestess disagreement, but the location/scenario is the inn for ease of setup. You could actually make the motivation a factor by having the priestess join the fight against the other sahaugin; she may want to kill everybody in the inn too but by DAGON she's gonna smash these punks who refuse to obey her first! Bonus points if she switches to trying to kill the innfolk off after a certain point herself because the "time became right" (or the sahaugin competitors who wouldn't obey her got killed off in the fighting).

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



MadDogMike posted:

Honestly I'd probably merge both sahaugin cards into one encounter; they're attacking because of the priestess disagreement, but the location/scenario is the inn for ease of setup. You could actually make the motivation a factor by having the priestess join the fight against the other sahaugin; she may want to kill everybody in the inn too but by DAGON she's gonna smash these punks who refuse to obey her first! Bonus points if she switches to trying to kill the innfolk off after a certain point herself because the "time became right" (or the sahaugin competitors who wouldn't obey her got killed off in the fighting).

I think if it was just a matter of hours before the time became right there wouldn't be a schism (although that would be a comedy option). But yeah, merging the two encounters seems to be the best thing to do.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




Betrayal at House on the Hill, 5

Insert pithy comment about more Haunts here.

Family Gathering
Trigger: Find the Madman in the Catacombs, Furnace Room, Gallery or Master Bedroom.

Whoever found the Madman? They're dead. See, the Madman has his family buried below the floorboards of the house, and thinks the new arrivals might make excellent new children for them. And they're not.. well.. quite buried..

The traitor gets to place Zombies across the map in rooms with Omen indicators, and from that point on, they just get to play the Zombies and the Madman. The Zombies, as usual, are tough but slow (Might 6 and Speed 3), while the Madman is a bit faster and only slightly weaker (Speed 3 Might 5) but doesn't lose trait points when he takes damage. He still has only 5 hit points, but they don't reduce his traits as he's hit. The Heroes aren't just stuck fighting, though: they can trap the zombies by luring them into particular rooms. Zombies are required to always move towards a Hero to attack them if they can see one, but if they enter one of six particular rooms which were "important to them in life", they have to make a Knowledge 4 check (and they're Knowledge 3, so that's a likely fail) or be lost in their memories and inactive for the rest of the game. One zombie per room. The heroes win if they trap all the zombies, regardless of the Madman being alive or dead.

I.. kinda like this one? Maybe? Certainly, the "the traitor PC is dead and they're just playing the monsters" is better than having them hanging around like a wet dog attacking other people for no good reason. It is, though, going to have the usual problem of trying to make a location dependent scenario when the map is randomized. The enemies being so slow is potentially a problem, too, if the PCs are fast or are far away at the start of the Haunt.

Let Them In
Trigger: Find the Madman on the Balcony, or in the Gymnasium or Junk Room.

There's spectral mist gathering outside the house. The Madman thinks it would be an excellent idea to let it in. The person who found him now agrees.

The entrance, and any location with an outside facing windows gets a Specter token. The traitor or Madman can give up a space of movement in any such room to let the Specter in, which then becomes a Speed 4 Sanity 6 monster who tries to kill the heroes. The Madman is really bad news - Speed 7 Might 7 - but until all the Specters are in, all he's allowed to do is to run for windows and open them. Unusually for a monster, he's allowed to explore new rooms in the search for rooms with windows, but doesn't get any cards when he does. Only once all the Specters are in can the Madman attack.

The Heroes have two choices. They can either kill the Spectres one by one with Sanity attacks (which they need the Ring to make, so only one person can do it) or they can.. do an exorcism. In fact, do exactly the same exorcism as in Wail of the Banshee. Either of these wins the scenario; again, they don't have to kill the Madman (and given his stats attempting to do so would be a very bad idea).

The rule about the Madman being required to open the windows is presumably to stop the traitor simply parking them in one of the 2 legal rooms for exorcisms, but doing the same with the Specters seems to be a pretty good idea, especially since - thanks to the fact you need the Ring to make Sanity attacks - only one person can ever fight them at a time. Also, the heroes really need to hope there's some starting windows that are a decent distance apart, because the Madman being able to explore rooms makes a pretty massive difference - namely, that he denies new cards to the heroes when he does. So he could easily run out the Item deck, which is pretty bad if the various anti-monster items haven't come up for them yet, especially if that includes the Ring.

Fleshwalkers
Trigger: Find the Crystal Ball in the Abandoned Room, Gymnasium or Servants' Quarters.

Evil twins! Ah, we all love evil twin scenarios. There's no specific traitor in this one. Instead, an evil version of every hero emerges from the Crystal Ball into the house entrance. They have the same stats as the character did at the start of the game, but can't carry items. They move as monsters (in other words they roll for movement instead of having a static value) and each one must mechanistically hunt down its corresponding hero and kill them. Once their good twin is dead, the player gets to play the evil twin and attack the other heroes with them.

So, this would seem to be kinda easy given that the heroes are just facing themselves without any buffs, but there's some additional shenanigans. Specifically, if you want to fight an evil twin, you have to have the Crystal Ball. If you don't have it, you can't kill any of them (only stun them), and if you even get into combat with your own twin you lose 1 point from every trait. You also can't kill anyone else's twin, even with the Crystal Ball, unless the good twin is dead. There is one piece of good news, in that the Crystal Ball holder is allowed to clobber evil twins after someone else has stunned them. But it's likely to involve an awful lot of passing the Crystal Ball around. As usual, god help any isolated characters.

So, it sounds good, but have you ever heard of the Panic Station problem? It's like someone laid a mantrap for game designers and over and over, even ones who should know much better walk into it. Once your good twin is dead, you can play your evil twin, but you have lost the game, so why bother attacking your friends? If you rule that the dead players can win if the evil twins win, then everyone should just sacrifice themselves to their own twin and then everyone wins. We can count this Haunt as yet another reason why you don't have games with continously variable opposed teams.

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


The sahaugin aren't allowed to go raiding during thunderstorms. Because the thunderstorm means the lightning-themed sea monster is out to eat some delicious fish-(people)-sticks. Needless to say that the sahaugin stop attacking the villagers when the sea monster appears. And then the priestesses shows up after.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk






Chapter 5: The History of the World - European Renaissance thru American Empire




For the record, I'm going off the dates and date ranges listed in the book verbatim, so if any of these dates aren't historically accurate, too loving bad, I'm not doing any extra homework to double check the information provided. All this poo poo is still just metaplot material that will likely never be player facing anyway.


470 to 1000 CE - Approximate period of time typically identified as the Dark Ages by contemporary historians. It turns out that contemporary historians terming this period the Dark Ages are more accurate than they know, because this also happened to be one of the most recent high tides of Dark Matter in the universe, and Europe in particular experienced frequent extra-dimensional visitors from doorways that would spontaneously activate. The Catholic Church is the primary political and religious leader of Europe at this point, and they're always on high alert to silence any and all heretical groups that might undermine their power. They justify their bloody pogroms against other religious groups (like the Cathars, Manicheists, Kabbalists, Druids, and countless other obscure cults) by branding these groups as Satanic. Many of these groups had only marginal knowledge of, or interest in, Christian dogma, so the idea that they were purposely worshiping Satan (as the Catholic Church was interpreting it) was largely specious. However, as many of these groups learned that the Catholic Church cared very little about their actual ritual and dogma, they found value in banding together under the banner of Satanic conspiracies - they could more easily coordinate meetings and support if their groups aligned their goals and practices and beliefs.

In essence, the Catholic Church created Satanists because they were murdering people for worshiping Satan and these people realized that adopting mutual-defense pacts (under the guise of Satanism) was the only real chance they had to survive the Catholic Church. In other words, any belief system that incorporates Christian mythology, without explicitly being members of the Catholic Church, is just an edgy "gently caress YOU DAD" fake religion without any actual merit or value of its own. The white, Christian male authorial bias bleeds through from subtext with zero self-awareness; stay classy Dark*Matter.


1231 to 1834 CE - The "Age of Religious Wars", including the Hundred Years War, all of the Crusades, and "other Great Wars of Religion" [sic]. The Catholic Church creates the Papal Inquisition in 1231, and the Spanish Inquisition is authorized in 1478 and runs all the way through 1834. In 1542, then-Pope Paul III creates a special sub-division of the Papal Inquisition to combat the spreading danger of Protestantism.

Apparently Strangers had nothing to do with any of this, or at least the book makes no effort to incorporate their contributions to humans slaughtering each other wholesale. I guess the Greys were busy loving over the Native Americans in South America during this period and there weren't enough of them to simultaneously get into murderous pissing matches with indigenous Europeans? I'm not even clear why Dark*Matter bothers to include the blurb on this section since it doesn't overlap with the rest of the metaplot anyway. Also, it kinda-sorta contradicts the next historical footnote re: The Greys.


1347 CE - Approximate date for the Black Death's entrance into Europe. Turns out that the plague didn't come from rats and/or mice that stowed away on Italian trade vessels returning from East Asia; instead the black plague is of extraterrestrial origin. An unnamed contingent of Catholic Crusaders manages to bungle their way through opening a dormant doorway and then stumbles through, finding a horrible mirror image version of Earth where nearly all cellular life has been extinguished. They book it back through the doorway post haste but it's too late because they're now the first humans to be infected with the plague that we know as the Black Death.

This ends up being a bigger deal in Dark*Matter even than it was IRL because it turns out the Black Death is the first Earthbound disease that is also lethal to the Greys. See, their genetic structure isn't based on DNA, it's based on TPA (teroic pseudo-nucleic acid) and up until the Black Death is discovered, they've been completely immune to all pathogens, viruses and diseases originating on Earth. With the existence of the Black Plague, the small population of Greys that have been in hiding, monitoring human endeavors across Europe, are driven to the brink of extinction and the Grey High Command loses its poo poo.

Turns out, the Black Plague is a curse from the Old Testament God. The mirror-Earth that the Crusaders found was a failed iteration of Earth in which human beings had completely rebelled against the Heavenly Host and so God scrubbed that entire Earth clean of all life. Then (I'm inferring, the book doesn't really connect the dots here) God went and rebooted the simulation to create our current Earth? With enough modifications to the registry for human beings such that we wouldn't try to actually make war against Heaven again? Apparently, the high tide of Dark Matter re-opened a doorway to extinction-Earth that God hadn't bothered to permanently shut. Whoops!

Anyway, the Grey High Command decides that they don't want a literal Biblical plague to cause an extinction event for them, so they use their future technology and science to creature a cure for the plague, and as an added bonus, they share it with humanity after only 2/3s of Europe is depopulated. During this entire time, the Heavenly Host apparently doesn't notice that an ancient plague from an extinct Earth managed to find its way over to the current Earth and destroy a significant portion of the world's population. :shrug: The cooperation between Greys and human beings over finding the cure for the Black Plague leads directly to:


Early 18th Century to Early 19th Century (?) CE - The Enlightenment / Age of Enlightenment / Age of Reason! The Free and Accepted Order of Masons are created sometime within this era (and whoo boy, do they end up being power players in Dark*Matter) and the book states they are the direct progenitors of a multitude of other occult or quasi-occult conspiracies, including the Theosophists, the Golden Dawn, and the Ordo Templi Orientis. Dark*Matter also decides that the creation of the entire United States of America is a long-con enacted by the Masons! See, a non-trivial number of our Founding Fathers were Masons, or Mason agents, and all of our original government buildings and institutions are actually symbolically significant to Masonry. It's even hinted at that George Washington was actually just a cover identity for Adam Weishaupt (one of the founders of the Masons) and that it was his mastermind plotting that ensured the creation of the United States, with him as the symbolic First King President!

In accordance with Chekov's Gun, this plot point will never be relevant to the metaplot again (really)!

What was the purpose for all of this effort? The book doesn't explain (yet)!

The French Revolution was another attempt by the Masons to mastermind the creation of another nation state for ill-defined and nefarious purposes. This time they were opposed in secret by the Rosicrucians (modern descendants of Kinori wizard-bros) and apparently the Masons lost, but because we don't yet know who the Rosicrucians are, what their goals are, what the Masons actual goals are, or any explanation for why the outcome of the French Revolution was a loss for the Masons, all we can do is smile and nod at this metaplot point.


NEXT TIME: If you can guess to which historical scientist the metaplot wants to give a big sloppy blowjob, you win a no-prize!
HINT: It rhymes with Nikolai Tesla because it's Nikolai Tesla, since apparently a non-trivial number of nerds with publishing contracts want him to be their Fantasy Science Daddy.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Contemporary historians (as in, actual historians) do not generally use the term Dark Ages anymore.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




Goddamnit, I thought we'd escape the curse of Tesla this time.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





hyphz posted:

the Panic Station problem

Haven't heard of this one. I looked it up and it's some Mafia-esque thing about zombies, but what's the problem you're referring to? By context, I assume you can lose and then be expected to keep playing despite having no actual reason to do so or goals to accomplish; am I close?

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Night10194 posted:

Contemporary historians (as in, actual historians) do not generally use the term Dark Ages anymore.

yeah, the book is from 1999, but i don't even know if it would have been an accurate statement when it was printed.

hence my disclaimer - i'm repeating pretty much every assertion from the book verbatim and not bothering to double check whether or not they still hold water, because i'm 100% sure everything said that isn't completely make-believe is flat wrong.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Time for another entry in Children of the Horned Rat

Chapter 4 is about the Under Empire and how the Skaven inhabit it. This chapter will be covered fairly swiftly in comparison to chapter 3. This is because a good portion of this chapter is lists. We’ll be getting through all this fairly quickly.

First, we talk about the Skaven Under Empire in general. The Skaven are not naturally inclined to travel under open skies, preferring roofs over their heads and relative darkness. They are also surprisingly industrious when they wish to be and have spent the last couple millennia tunneling extensively beneath the Old World. These tunnels and caverns, combined with natural cavern formations, underground rivers, and captured Dwarfen earthworks, have led to an enormous underground empire that is massive in scale and covers nearly the entirety of the Old World. Skaven settlements often tend to mirror the geography on the surface and for similar reasons. Skaven need fresh water, food, natural resources, and other such things just as much as any man or dwarf. This leads to nearly every human city having at least some manner of Skaven presence underneath it as the Skaven avail themselves of the surface city’s resources and discretely help themselves to the surface’s inhabitants. Human and dwarf tunnels and sewers are quickly incorporated into Skaven planning as they typically tap into it at discrete places to make use of it.

The climate in the tunnels and towns of the Skaven tends to be slightly humid, but fairly mild. The Skaven have roughly the same tolerance for climate as humans do and build their tunnels and cities in places that suit them. Typically, Skaven will travel from place to place through the tunnels via walking or marching. Due to their vast appetites and typical inclination to laziness, an individual Skaven does not typically go very far without good reason. Armies or work teams have good reason and with the proper application of whips and threats can move through these tunnels to their appointed tasks with surprising speed. In some routes, the typical walking trails have been replaced with a Clan Skryre built warprail route, where warpstone powered engines haul massive loads of skaven, slaves, raw materials, or manufactured goods at shocking speeds across the Old World. Of course, these will occasionally explode, leading to a massive loss of life as this inevitably causes the tunnel to collapse. Clan Skryre, not willing to shoulder that level of loss routinely keeps working to perfect the technology.

Skaven settlements are sorted into four categories. The largest are the great cities, holding potentially hundreds of thousands of Skaven from multiple clans. These nexuses of trade and industry supply much of Skavendom with manufactured goods and wealth and are the typical place where leaders from different clans will come together to hash out trade deals, collaborate on plots, or backstab one another. The smaller ones are called warrens, holding typically several thousand Skaven. These tend to be dominated by a single clan and are the heart of many a smaller Warlord Clan. These can get by comfortably with a modicum of trade to supply what goods and services they can’t get themselves. The smallest Skaven settlements are called nests. These hold several hundred Skaven and are typically closely associated with a nearby Skaven warren and tend to supply them with food, Skaven, or slaves in return for protection and goods. Last are Skaven strongholds. Not quite a warren or city, these places are heavily fortified Skaven citadels that sit upon strategic locations, used to lock down the surrounding portion of the Under Empire. They tend to be the capitals of clans and if the stronghold is not accompanied by a city or warren, it’ll be surrounded by a number of Nests that keep it supplied.

While the Skaven are good tunnellers, miners, and have some ability at engineering and management, they do not really care to put a lot of forethought into things when they think they can get away with it. This means that the buildings within any Skaven settlement tend to be extremely slapdash. Fires and collapses are common. With short lifespans and no huge incentive for planning for future generations, Skaven settlements are a shambles. What skill and durability that exists occurs when a human or dwarf slave craftsman goes and builds it in out of long habit or pride. Skaven aesthetics tend to rounded and curling tnnels and not many sharp edges. Doors are uncommon with entrances often left open save for important tunnels. With a lack of weather or sun, windows are nearly unheard of. The exception to this slovenliness are the temples to the Horned Rat, for which no expense is spared. These are typically built as thirteen story tall towers, topped with a great bell. Within these the Grey Seers and their servants create their own plans and hold their unholy rituals. Beneath the temple is a sacred labyrinth, filled with deadly traps and tricks. These labyrinths are often used as an initiation rite for Apprentice Grey Seers as well as a way to dispose of prisoners in a way that amuses the Seers.

Next we come to the first of the lists. This is a list of notable Skaven settlements. Each is given a name, location, population number, notable industries, what clans are predominant there, a description, and an adventure hook. I’ll type up the entirety of one of these as an example.

quote:

The City of Pillars

Location: Within the ruins of Karak Eight-Peaks in the southern Worlds Edge Mountains.
Population: 95000
Industries of Note: Clan mors mines the rich warpstone veins surrounding the City of Pillars. Using the proceeds to expand its military might. The clan also trains mercenary troops, which it offers to other clans at competitive prices.
Major Clan Affiliations: Mors

The City of Pillars is an impressive metropolis currently held by the Skaven of Clan Mors. In centuries past, the City of Pillars was the dwarf stronghold of Karak Eight-Peaks. The Dwarfs who lived and worked there were assaulted by both the Ratmen and Greenskin races, causing them to retreat from their fallen citadel. In the years since, the City of Pillars has changed hands from Clan to Clan. Clan Mors now occupies the city, which is known for its massive subterranean vaults with their expertly crafted pillars.

Adventure Hook: Clan Mors, in conjunction with a rogue Warlock Engineer, is working on a secret weapon. None are certain what Mors plans to use the weapon for, but Clan Skryre is desperate to gather more information. If possible, Skryre would also like to see the weapon stolen, or at least destroyed, along with the traitorous Warlock Engineer.

These is pretty representative. It tries to give you a basic, workable outline for a Skaven city, a little history, and the adventure hook that might draw in a normal Adventurer party or a Skaven party. The basic idea of ‘get into a Skaven city and do something about the superweapon and its designer’ works well enough as a starting point. And getting goodies from Clan Skryre to help you can also be fun.

The next portion goes over in detail of an example Skaven settlement called Under-Delberz, complete with map. This portion is… a little weak. Because it’s so painfully generic I can’t really imagine it being used. It’s a Skaven settlement beneath a random Imperial town called Delberz and it has no specific reason for Skaven or Adventurers to visit. It lists and describes places like the Breeding Pits, Master-Leader Nests, the main square called the Big Squeak, the Skaven equivalent of an inn, etc. It’s interesting in that it gives you some flavor you might translate to other places, but it is forgettable on its own.

Next, we get our first taste of actual mechanics in this book. First are the rules for Skaven Warbands. To create a Skaven army to threaten whatever town or fortress you want your PCs to defend, roll 1d10 times on a d100 table to create an army for them to try to foil. Alternately, roll on the d100 table once to make a random Skaven encounter for your party. Lets roll up a terrible army of Goonratten. Our d10 roll is 6. So 6 rolls on the table.

Clan Mors Sneaks: 1 Skaven Thief
Clan Eshin Assassination Team: 1 Assassin, 2 Gutter Runners, 3 Night Runners
Clan Pestilens Plague Priest and Entourage: 1 Plague Priest, 2 Plague Deacons, 2 Censor Bearers, 1 Plague Monk
Clan Eshin Scouts: 2 Gutter Runners, 3 Night Runners
Clan Moulder Heavy Assault Team: 2 Packmasters, 4 Rat Ogres, 1 Giant Rat
Clan Mors Sneaks: 7 Skaven Thieves

EDIT: In case you were wondering what these names actually mean in terms of stats and abilities that these things have, it's actually a little complicated. The first level, mook enemies have complete statblocks and everything... But they're in a separate book, the Old World Beastiary. Same for Rat Ogres. The higher level enemies like the Gutter Runners and Assassins? You have to make them out of the Skaven creation rules further on in the book. You can also create the low level enemies using those same rules. But that's a fair bit of effort to put together clanrats and Plague Monks.

Well, the rolls really liked given terrifying characters and monsters for the party to face, with extremely few normal mooks, with a fairly heavy focus on sneaky rats. Facing four rat ogres or an assassin and friends is a daunting fight, but probably doable for a party well into its second Career. Just… really don’t throw all this at a party at once. In general, the table is really swingy and not often suitable for throwing at a first Career party, so I wouldn’t recommend using it as is. Just pick one of the table entries that looks appropriate to your party and situation.

Next, we have rules to make your very own custom Skaven clan. Either pick from the tables or roll to create a custom Skaven Clan for your PCs to face or for your Skaven party to be from. It’s pretty fast to do. You roll to determine the size of the clan, then its influence, then the settlements it holds, and then what special trait that sets this clan apart. There are modifiers so that large clans tend to be more influential and hold more ground. Let’s quickly rolls up Clan Goonratten.

Clan Goonratten
Size: 900,000 Skaven
Influence: Low. It’s seen as a target of opportunity to rival clans with rivals plotting against it.
Settlements: None. Clan Goonratten holds no permanent settlements of any kind, being always on the move.
Trait: Berserker. All members of this clan have the Frenzy Talent.

As you can see, those modifiers don’t work quite as much as you’d think. So… we got an absolutely enormous clan of ill-liked Skaven madmen, wandering from place to place, leaving ruin in their wake.


I suppose it fits.

Next: Skaven warfare and weaponry, suitable for annihilating all your enemies and sometimes yourself!

kommy5 fucked around with this message at 12:17 on Oct 30, 2017

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


In general large swarms of mediocre or weak enemies are dangerous until you have heavy armor, since they get +20% for Outnumber (generally) and someone with like DR 6-7 isn't going to want to tank 2-3 Damage 3 hits in a turn.

Of course, once you have heavy armor and 2nd/3rd tier Toughness stats, you can just walk through Damage 3 enemies while laughing and killing one per hit.

The rat ogres are either going to be really dangerous or really terrible depending on how lucky they get; their thing is doing a lot of damage and having 3 attacks, but dogshit weapon skill. In practice, their lack of armor and terrible defensive ability usually just gets them slaughtered by competent parties. But they have the potential to luck out and do serious harm.

Also note an actual Assassin is a 3rd tier fighting character. A party of 2nd career characters encountering 2 second career fighters, a third career fighter, and their lovely mook backup might have a rough time with that Eshin assassination team.

Also, all of this would be easier to deal with if you get 'generic' rat assassin statblocks and stuff.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




megane posted:

Haven't heard of this one. I looked it up and it's some Mafia-esque thing about zombies, but what's the problem you're referring to? By context, I assume you can lose and then be expected to keep playing despite having no actual reason to do so or goals to accomplish; am I close?

It's a game that excellently demonstrated the same problem. Panic Station was supposed to be a "the Thing, on board a spaceship" game; the alien could transform others into aliens by passing them cards in secret exchanges.

Thing is, in the first version of the game rules, the aliens won if everyone was turned into an alien. So everyone won. Let's all go be aliens!

This was then changed to "if everyone is turned into an alien, only the original alien wins". That means that aliens other than the original had no motivation to help convert others, or to do anything at all.

This was then changed again to "if everyone is turned into an alien, the last person to be turned into an alien loses". That meant that people actually rushed to become an alien as fast as possible..

Basically any game with shifting teams of that kind is going to have a broken victory condition because there is, as far as I know, no functional one. I have once had someone tell me about their design for a board game where they said "there's zombies and humans and the zombies try to bite the humans and the humans try to cure the zombies and when everyone is zombies the zombies win, and when everyone is humans the humans win!" I still remember the shocked look he had when I responded with "Um, oh, so everyone wins no matter what?"

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



So does Dark*Matter acknowledge that Asia and southern Africa exist at any point?

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Rosicrucians versus the Golden Dawn is kind of a weird kind of division to make, but you do you, Dark*Matter.

Daeren
Aug 17, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED


hyphz posted:

It's a game that excellently demonstrated the same problem. Panic Station was supposed to be a "the Thing, on board a spaceship" game; the alien could transform others into aliens by passing them cards in secret exchanges.

Thing is, in the first version of the game rules, the aliens won if everyone was turned into an alien. So everyone won. Let's all go be aliens!

This was then changed to "if everyone is turned into an alien, only the original alien wins". That means that aliens other than the original had no motivation to help convert others, or to do anything at all.

This was then changed again to "if everyone is turned into an alien, the last person to be turned into an alien loses". That meant that people actually rushed to become an alien as fast as possible..

Basically any game with shifting teams of that kind is going to have a broken victory condition because there is, as far as I know, no functional one. I have once had someone tell me about their design for a board game where they said "there's zombies and humans and the zombies try to bite the humans and the humans try to cure the zombies and when everyone is zombies the zombies win, and when everyone is humans the humans win!" I still remember the shocked look he had when I responded with "Um, oh, so everyone wins no matter what?"

This is kind of why Revolution is a huge pain in the rear end play mode in Space Station 13! If a round is Rev, up to three non-Command players are picked to be Revolutionary Leaders, and their goal is to kill all the heads of staff. They have brainwashing devices that convert crew to their side, and give them the same objective. Revs win if the command staff is all dead, Station wins if the rev heads are all dead, and it used to be that these were the only victory conditions, leading to the time honored tradition of the Research Director or somebody hiding in a locker in the rear end end of maintenance for an hour or more real-time as people get progressively more bored and annoyed, hoping to win by sheer default while alt-tabbed out once everybody logged out or committed suicide.

This led to a 50 minute time limit being on the redone version of the game type before the entire station is nuked, because CentCom does not handle treachery very subtly. This doesn't do much except change the Locker Strats into a "gently caress you, nobody wins" move.

In theory, revolutionaries can be de-converted by beating them senseless, but in practice they just tend to be killed on the spot if they dont de-convert in a prompt manner because they might be rev heads. In addition, the rank and file of the station (non-Heads and non-Security) have no real reason to actually stop Revs from doing shenanigans in-game. The Barman isn't on their hit list, so why should the Barman give a poo poo if a dude walks through whistling a cheery tune while dragging the bloody, unconscious Captain into the kitchen to make Captainwiches? Because an arbitrary screen at the end of the round says "You Lose?" Hell, why not just walk up to a Rev Head, lie down, and get converted so you can have some actual fun?

Oh, right, because the Admins realize that makes the round type nonfunctional and will threaten/ban them if they do, despite turning a blind eye basically being the national pastime of Space Station 13. (Disclosure: I am an admin that hates Rev and has no idea why they brought it back.)

So, yeah, these sorts of games are innately just plain broken because players can inherently game the system to always win, if that's what they want to do, and if they don't care, they have no real reason to engage or give a poo poo about any of the loyalty mechanics beyond "force myself onto the team that's more entertaining to play." I have literally never seen one work out without just being a pivot back to being some flavor of Mafia.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

hyphz posted:

Basically any game with shifting teams of that kind is going to have a broken victory condition because there is, as far as I know, no functional one. I have once had someone tell me about their design for a board game where they said "there's zombies and humans and the zombies try to bite the humans and the humans try to cure the zombies and when everyone is zombies the zombies win, and when everyone is humans the humans win!" I still remember the shocked look he had when I responded with "Um, oh, so everyone wins no matter what?"

It's an interesting problem. One thing that came to mind was to separate "winning" from "destroying the opposition". For example, handing out Thing-points and Human-points for various actions, and the winner at the end of the game is whoever has the most points in whichever category they presently are. Or there's a rescue helicopter coming in to Outpost 31, and only the highest three scoring survivors can ride it out - everyone else freeze to death or die when the USAF napalm the base after realizing what's going on.

e: Each human could have various secret conditions that grant them extra points to determine if they win; McReady and Blair complete their objective if no Thing leaves on the helicopter, even if they themselves die. Someone loses outright if they're not on the helicopter. Clark gets points for every dog that he can release before the napalm strikes. Etc.

LatwPIAT fucked around with this message at 23:38 on Oct 29, 2017

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.




Leraika posted:

Rosicrucians versus the Golden Dawn is kind of a weird kind of division to make, but you do you, Dark*Matter.

Oh boy, I really want to know what Kenneth HIte would make of this.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




Daeren posted:

The Barman isn't on their hit list, so why should the Barman give a poo poo if a dude walks through whistling a cheery tune while dragging the bloody, unconscious Captain into the kitchen to make Captainwiches? Because an arbitrary screen at the end of the round says "You Lose?" Hell, why not just walk up to a Rev Head, lie down, and get converted so you can have some actual fun?

Oh god, I can only imagine how that works in a game where playing as the traitor is seen as a rare treat.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Night10194 posted:


Also note an actual Assassin is a 3rd tier fighting character. A party of 2nd career characters encountering 2 second career fighters, a third career fighter, and their lovely mook backup might have a rough time with that Eshin assassination team.

Also, all of this would be easier to deal with if you get 'generic' rat assassin statblocks and stuff.

I would say that the Assassin certainly shouldn't be generic, given you're implying they are effectively equivalent to the hero pick from WFB. They're the sort of opponent that you are pretty hot poo poo if you can beat. Also be glad that this is based on the later WFB edition that doesn't just give Assassins Weeping Blades as their default weapon.

Also since it came up earlier the god of the Sahuagin is Sekolah the Shark.

kommy5
Dec 6, 2016


Feinne posted:

I would say that the Assassin certainly shouldn't be generic, given you're implying they are effectively equivalent to the hero pick from WFB. They're the sort of opponent that you are pretty hot poo poo if you can beat. Also be glad that this is based on the later WFB edition that doesn't just give Assassins Weeping Blades as their default weapon.

Also since it came up earlier the god of the Sahuagin is Sekolah the Shark.

Sadly, there are no pre-made Assassins, Plague Priests, or Warlock Engineers. The DM has to make them. And this is especially problematic with Warlock Engineers which use several different parts of the book woven together. You need the Skaven character and Career rules, the Warlock Engineering rules, and (probably) the Skaven spell list. And you have to dive into these rules in depth to make a real Warlock Engineer.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The problem is mostly that making 3rd tier foes from scratch can take awhile.

I guess you could just give part of the Assassin advance scheme to a Clanrat's statblock.

E: Basically, they're the kind of enemy that needs to be built, yes, but that also makes them the kind of enemy I wouldn't want to roll up on a random encounter table.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 02:16 on Oct 30, 2017

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Mors Rattus posted:

So does Dark*Matter acknowledge that Asia and southern Africa exist at any point?

barely!

chapter 6 is an in-depth look at each of the more prominent factions in the campaign, and I think there's 1 in Africa (still along the Mediterranean) and 1 or 2 in Asia (China, because China's the only thing in Asia, right).

chapter 7 is a list of cool/interesting/weird places across the world where supernatural things may or may not have happened, and I think there's token entries for sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

chapter 8 is the setting mini-bestiary and i believe the entry for the Kinori gives a teeny tiny blurb about what's happening in Africa.

as mentioned, the monster manual for Dark*Matter is broken down by continent, so there's definitely some token entries for Africa and Asia and Australia.

but if you mean, do sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and Australia exist in the greater Dark*Matter metaplot, then the answer is no, not really. fwiw the rest of the entire planet outside of the U.S. stops existing the closer we get to "modern day" in the campaign timeline; even Europe and South America more or less disappear from the campaign setting unless your GM purposely decides to make stuff up that includes them.

Leraika posted:

Rosicrucians versus the Golden Dawn is kind of a weird kind of division to make, but you do you, Dark*Matter.

i think the game itself catches some of these inconsistencies once or twice in the metaplot, but it cops out with "oh well obviously these two groups aren't actually opposed, it's just rogue agents / false flag ops making it look like these groups are fighting each other. or maybe they are fighting because there's a bigger conspiracy going on that we haven't revealed, so you should buy the rest of our campaign line to figure out what's going on! no we swear this is all intentional wait where are you going"

Freaking Crumbum fucked around with this message at 03:22 on Oct 30, 2017

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



I suppose the lesson to be taken from this is that sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Australia are the true inheritors of undiluted human culture, uninfluenced by alien space conspiracy.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I've been slowed down a bit in reviewing by work and everything, but I kind of look forward to getting to the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Companion because it is straight up the first book in the line I've read where I haven't found a single thing I would actually use in a game.

It is real bad, in some ways that are unique in this gameline, and I'm not exactly sure what the purpose of it was besides publishing a bunch of random smaller house-rule modules that didn't fit in any of the good books.

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Barudak
May 7, 2007





Last Exodus the Interactive Story Arc of the Third and Last Dance is a roleplaying game from Synister Creative Systems published in 2001 and designed Sean and Joshua Jaffe. It’s a metaplot heavy, playing card deck using, religious themed urban grunge game. Unless I am otherwise notified it appears to be completely out of print with no digital versions available. Should this be incorrect I will update to include where it can be bought to give the original developers income.

Part 8: Stop Making Your Character and Sit Through Bible School

Finally, with a heavy, fetid sigh of relief and ignoring as much as the previous section as we possible can, we can come now to the part of the game where we can start building our characters. The first thing that we see is a literal 14 point checkli--, haha I lied! We actually have more rules hidden in fluff that should have come about 30 pages ago. These are mercifully short and basically just recount a bunch of things we've already learned from context clues already. The only new things we get here is that 1) miracles are an actual class of abilities we can learn at character creation and 2) if your character background isn't that you came from a single parent household, one of your parents got cucked by God*.

Ok, now we get to the 14 point checklist of how a character is built. I would offer to try and build a character in this system based on suggestions, but as you might have gathered from the only two available parent stories there isn't a lot of narrative leeway in character creation. I'll also be doing by best to avoid it, but rules in this section aren't so much as laid out as "strewn wildly wherever the authors could fit them" so for instance rules about things you can point buy and the rules for how points are spent and how many points you have are often 10+ pages apart, and not all point buy rules are near each other nor do they all follow the same rules. TLETISATTALD.


Step 13 has the same number of sentences here as it does in the section explaining it

The first step is unsurprisingly a good bit of advice and tells us to design a character concept that we’ll build throughout the process. This might work in a game where we have any idea what we’re supposed to be doing in it but here it is almost actively harmful because with character rules buried throughout this section if you have something in mind the first time you’ll miss the dozens of rules. Once we’ve done that, you pick if you are a spawn of Ahura Mazda or GODHEAD. You are thinking now thinking, wouldn’t this go disastrously if my player party were half Ahura Mazda and half GODHEAD players so we should talk about this beforehand so we know what kind of game everyone wants? Don’t worry, I’m not psychic**, it’s just obvious.

Remember now, and it’s ok if you don't because I barely do, that around 80 pages ago in this book they introduced the Millenium Religions? Well now you have to choose one of them to swear allegiance to. This isn’t optional, and this is the first time we’ve actually gotten a description of any of these. Each gets a two page long write up for a total of twenty-four pages and despite being smack-dab in the beginning of character creation contain 0 game rules other than the ritual your religion uses to travel between Eden and Earth. That ritual, by the way, is typically a one to two sentence description so it’s not even immediately obvious those rules are buried in the text. The Millenium Religions, as it turns out, barely even begin to qualify as religions, not the least of which is because the largest of them has 300 members total worldwide. Let’s do like the book and bring character creation to a halt and do rundown of all the religions because I promised it, shall we?


Look how happy the evil pig cop and evil death robot are. They look like fun dudes. Pig Cop and Death Bot, the funniest program in two dimensions returns this fall!
Art by: Kieran J. Yanner

Apostate Millenium Religions
  • The Alliance - This is Jedediah Bronson’s religion, he the white south african who has knowingly committed atrocities so I’m sure his organization will be on the up and- “The Alliance reasons that they will do what they must to prevent the Sanhedrin’s atrocities, and should they have to commit a few of their own to stop their enemies so be it”. As if that weren’t enough, the Alliance has started running prostitution and drug rings to “try edge out the GODHEAD on some of its own turf”. WHY ARE THESE GOOD GUYS?
    Cross to Eden By: Recounting a tale of horrendous personal trauma that they survived, and it has to be raw because you need the emotion of trauma to cross over. Do note it doesn’t need to be fighting for a good cause or anything morally upright, because I don’t think their membership could make that work.
    Song Choice: Veteran of the Psychic Wars by Blue Oyster Cult
  • The Chamber - This is Emily Vasquez, she of family so this group is all about listening to an unquestioned voice in your head that tells you to do things like eat the Triboro bridge. Yes, the Chamber is basically everyone who got rejected by society for being different and now lives in the sewers and talks to voices. Good news, because in a hilarious bit of hindsight is 20/20 the voices told the Chamber to rig the 2000 presidential election to elect George W. Bush. That’s right, Al Gore was a plot by GODHEAD and George W. Bush really does talk to God.
    Cross to Eden By: Having the voice tell them what to do. There are no rules or limitations other than they can’t cross until they complete what the voice tells them, so good luck eating that bridge.
    Song Choice: Criminal by Eminem
  • The Congregation - This belongs to Dragomir and is basically just generic religious types in a pile. It goes out of its way to call out things like wiccans and Rastafarians are among the ranks but remember, there are only 250 members. There aren’t Rastafarians, theres only Andrew. Anyway, their goal is to unite all the world’s religions but aren’t openly telling them about their ability to transport people to another plane of existence because I guess that would be too easy? Also, we find out Dragomir explicitly resents Ahura Mazda for not saving his wife so why is he here?
    Cross to Eden By: Praying really hard to God. It’s not clear due to nebulous use of plurals if all 250 members have to pray simultaneously to send someone to Eden, but it might. Ask your Director.
    Song Choice: One Child by Savatage
  • The Order - This is the ninja raver coder club run by Dexter. The requirements to be a member are both “be one of the 300 best hackers in the world” and “be an accomplished artist, preferably in music”. They actually throw raves to recruit hackers which means that I assume they are populated solely by Silicon Valley startup bros. Surprisingly, despite all being artists they detest Earth and none of their members reside here. Unsurprisingly they all plan to merge with the Omikoshi since they think Eden is a fraudulent heaven. Wait why are these Good Guys again?
    Cross to Eden By: Running an app on their PDA. Each app is custom to its one user and only works if they have that specific PDA, but again, transcending the plane of reality needs less than 512kb of ram.
    Song Choice: Kooler than Jesus by My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult
  • The Squad - This is Tane Jackson’s squad, and is in a way that tried very hard to be progressive for 2000 CE, a religion entirely of hip-hop artists and gang members. They are the platonic ideal of a street gang, however, in so far as they keep kids in school, reinvest in their communities, and don’t allow drugs which should put them in direct conflict the Alliance but that goes unmentioned. By the way, remember Blood-Nazi Evil Cop, Captain Stayne? The Squad has a truce with his religion so that they can play 5 man B-Ball tournaments against each other.
    Cross to Eden By: Getting really, really, really mad about injustice. TLE recommends yelling at random people about injustice so I think these dudes are honest to god literal Social Justice Warriors.
    Song Choice: Big Black Boots by Ice Cube
  • The Underground - Off the bat the game assigns this to the wrong person for that good old fashioned Gareth-Michael Skarka editing seal of quality. It is supposed to belong to Ursula Tango and this is the underground artist commune. They take all types of artists (gently caress The Order, stop stealing our DJs) and their goal is to disrupt GODHEAD through art which is frankly sad and very confusing in a setting where theoretically normal people don’t know the truth of the world. The game lists Kevin Smith as a member which I won’t dignify with a joke.
    Cross to Eden By: Creating an original artwork and channeling their creativity into it. If you realize that this takes considerably more time and effort than “I use an app on my phone” congrats, you aren’t a writer for TLE.
    Song Choice: Anybody Listening by Queensryche


Read the sentence fragment in the picture and then try to figure out how that paragraph started with a statement that the squad includes all races and, it’s words here, “sometimes whites”
Art by: Kieran J. Yanner

Sanhedrin Millenium Religions
  • The Chain - Belonging to Madison Vaughn, this religion is your generic “I want more power” religion where they push social order to forgive their crimes and transgressions. Stupidly, you have to murder a close personal friend, family member, or lover in cold blood to join. Intelligently, they’re the only group of people in this entire gameline whose goal is to kill Ahura Mazda and GODHEAD and replace them so I think they may be the actual heroes of the game. Their base of operations is the Luxxor Hotel which is frankly hilarious in a saturday morning cartoon villain way.
    Cross to Eden By: Killing something at the end of a personal occult ritual, which must last longer than thirty seconds. There are no specifics on what has to be killed, so I think antibacterial soap might work.
    Song Choice: Lucifer’s Flower by My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult***
  • The Crush - Run by Evan Powell, their tagline is literally “Kingdom Cum”. They try to play up that their scary murderers, rapists, and torturers who live on passion and demonize behaviors like homosexuality to make their perversions more powerful somehow but seriously, their tagline is “Kingdom Cum”
    Cross to Eden By: Must finish a “sex act”. The game notes it need not involve another person so presumably a lot of teenage boys can travel to Eden.
    Song Choice: I by Black Sabbath
  • The Firm - This is Franklin Talbot’s religion. In addition to being an insanely successful businessman, he also sells the secrets of reality and for $10 million he will tell you the game's backstory and how to safely transfer between Earth and his private section of Eden which is a super luxury vacation place. Franklin's financial system works across Ahura Mazda and GODHEAD realms, can convert from Eden currency to Earth currencies, and is so integrated with all finances and business he and most senior employees have diplomatic immunity from Ahura Mazda. They are unaligned with the GODHEAD or Ahura Mazda and their only interest is continuing to do business and employ more people so they can do more business. If you thought maybe they paid badly or worked employees to death, the game actually lists their entire benefits package and it’s fantastic. Heck, the game even calls out they donate large sums to charities, including those run by their supposed enemies the Apostate.
    Cross to Eden By: Calling the service number on the cell phone they get for being a member and instantly warping to Eden. It costs $150 bucks per person to use each time, so it’s literally the only thing in the game with a defined price. I need to point out that this power explicitly works for groups, even for those who aren’t members of Franklin’s religion, making it the only way to travel to Eden all at the same time and without tons of individual character roleplay vignettes.
    Song Choice: Step Right Up by Tom Waits. Franklin gets the best taste in music too, apparently
  • The Horde - Run by Virginia-Mae, the KKK member who can turn into a dragon this group is going to give racism a punchable fac--- GOD loving DAMMIT TLE. It turns out that The Horde in TLE is a mind-parasite that infects people and makes them ultra-racists and controls their actions to the level of preventing them from hurting each other even if they should want to. Remember what I said back at Pangea TLE? Here it is again: gently caress YOU!
    Cross to Eden By: You have to cut yourself and bleed from it. Don’t want to play a brain-parasite racist who self harms to try and kill God? Is it 2 Edgy 4 U, you baby?
    Song Choice: Down With the Sickness by Disturbed****
  • The Institute - Run by everyone’s favorite 40k Elves/RIFTS Power Armor Love Child, Dr. Stone, this is your crazed evil science cult. Except, in a game where you can clone god it’s not particularly that insane to want to figure out how, exactly, that works. They aren’t given any real “torture for no reason” quirks, they’re just portrayed as detached “science for science’s sake until we can clone god and/or kill god” labcoats. They, importantly, have proven some dogs go to Eden, but do not have enough evidence yet to confirm that all dogs go to Eden. The research continues.
    Cross to Eden By: Getting really, really, really high on drugs. It’s a unique cocktail for each member and you can only get it injected at an Institute run location, but it’s straight up ultra-drugs.
    Song Choice: Army of the Pharaohs by Jedi Mind Tricks
  • The Regime - This is Captain Stayne’s religion and again, we encounter some issues with these guys being evil. Yes, they absolutely are all about militarism and help train the armies of Hells***** to defeat Ahura Mazda. They are, however, also the police force and tolerate according to the game no racism, criminality, or excessive lust for power and explicitly, by name, hate ½ of the other Sanhedrin religions and will not work with them. Their closest allies are the Institute which supplies their technology and… the Squad. They have mandatory cross-team training programs and provide free, high-security housing for their members families. There is actually not a single mention of them committing atrocities or war crimes or brutality of any kind in this section, unlike the Alliance. WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE BAD GUYS?
    Cross to Eden By: Winning a fair contest of some kind of physical skill. You read that right, the big evil soldier guys can’t travel between Eden and Earth without community outreach, open and fair rules, and consent between parties. WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE BAD GUYS?
    Song Choice: War Ensemble by Slayer

Finally, we’re done with that and can actually build a character next time.

Next Time: One Stat to Rule Them All

*”Cucked by God” is just such a beautiful phrase.
**I can only read your mind
***I get it, you like MLWTKK, you like acronyms, we know.
****Frankly, there is nothing else it could have been
*****Not Earth, the other ones

Barudak fucked around with this message at 05:02 on Oct 30, 2017

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