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Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

Feanor did nothing wrong

e:no that doesn't count

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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

Falconier111 posted:

Inklesspen, whenever you have time to next update the archive, I expect to see all THREE of my reviews marked as completed :colbert:

Just for this, I have altered "GURPS Asparagus" to read "Abandoned", because I am a cruel and vengeful god.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


Oh no! She's going mad with power! Quick someone get some ink! Or a bladeless sword!

Kurieg fucked around with this message at 22:38 on Jan 10, 2018

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



theironjef posted:

Oh to be clear we though the claim was ridiculous.

Yeah, I left it at Appleseed since I remember it had stuff like power armor, cyborgs and such but also came out in the United States in late '80s. Going to Japanese anime and manga is like an easy target. I'm pretty sure there's an American-written, -drawn, and -published story that had those elements, too, and definitely a French comic. Actually, in pretty sure that Iron Man digital comic had that.

I mentioned this on the site, but it does beg the question "who is this for?". The review is the first time I even heard of the comic, let alone the game. I could think of other comics that had an audience, world building, etc. that would be more worthy of a game.

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

s/He/She/ thanks

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E


:argh:

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Inklesspen: How manual is the post-archiving process? I'm curious how much work you put into recording our dumb bullshit for posterity. :v:

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Kurieg posted:

Just ignore the times when the elves killed like, half a million of another race of elves. It only happened like... six times.
I think the only major elf-on-elf violence was the Kinslaying in Valinor, though there were sporadic moments here and there otherwise. Now, Feanor's bullshit certainly did cause a lot of wars which killed a lot of elves, although he also brought reinforcements to the tarriers in Middle Earth, so it's kind of a mixed bag.

Now was Feanor a centrist or not

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

I have a script which automatically triggers once an hour to see if there's any new posts on the thread, and if so, split apart the thread pages into individual posts and stick them in a to-be-processed database. (This means I have the entire contents of all four threads in my database; just FYI.)

Then, whenever I remember to do it, I go into the admin panel I built for this system. It's kinda barebones but it gets the job done. I have an area of the admin panel that basically replicates thread view, so I usually go down the thread with two tabs open; one on SA and one on my admin panel. For each post, I have a button that says Extract. It means 'this is gonna go in a writeup', so the site will download the image urls in the post and mirror them on my server (so I don't hotlink stuff). It then makes a copy of the post, with the new, mirrored image urls, in a holding zone. I usually do this for five or six thread pages at a time.

Then I go back to the main page and I see all the posts in the holding zone. Each one, I have to manually identify if it goes in a new writeup or an existing one. I choose the appropriate writeup from a dropdown menu, copy-paste something appropriate into the post title input box, and hit add. Sometimes at this point I remove irrelevant text at the top of posts, like if you reply to something unrelated to your writeup. I have an edit mode that lets me edit either via HTML or in a WYSIWYG editor view, but I don't use it much.

Then back to the main page to handle the next post in the holding zone. Probably takes about 30 seconds per post, and that could be reduced somewhat by having a post default to being in the last writeup by the same author, but I haven't gotten around to implementing that.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


RE: bringing a tank or artillery to fight Baba Yaga, I think a far bigger issue with allowing that approach than historical accuracy is it's rapidly leaving the 'horror' part of the game in the dust. I mean if that's the game you wanna play don't let me stop you, but that's not really the CoC experience. Also, it's entirely possible that whoever's driving your tank or aiming your howitzer will lose SAN and have a mental breakdown while they're trying to operate the machinery, so have fun with that.



THE DREAMLANDS EXPRESS – PART NINE

The Gulf of Nodens

The Gulf is shrouded in mist. The trainbeasts leap through it, parting the mist and revealing a monstrous roaring cataract below. Their leap continues and they soar into the abyss, where all is black and dying galaxies whirl overhead. In the distance, the Sorcerer is approaching with a wing of a shantaks.

This is it.

As Henri predicted, there is turbulence. The train comes under attack from the Vengeful Dead and the Sorcerer. The dreamers will have to help protect the Dreamlands Express for the 12 rounds that the onslaught continues.

The Vengeful Dead arrive first. They have come to stop Karakov from achieving peace. They are phantoms conjured by his subconscious, but as long as he believes they're right, they can get him. The first wave is an undead cavalry, shrieking ghosts mounted on spectral horses, each one with a pound sign stamped on its head. They ride through the carriage and go straight for Karakov. The next wave is a pair of ornate cannons dragged up from the deeps to fire at the carriages of the train. The third and final wave is a fearful black submarine that rises from below, also firing upon the train itself.

If the dreamers were carrying weapons in the Waking World, they have them here, though guns are transformed into antiquated equivalents of themselves – crossbows or swords that otherwise still work the same. However, only the Dreaming skill harms the phantasmal cavalry. The cannons can't really do any damage to a dreamer, but the damage they do to the carriages is felt by Henri, who takes damage every time one is destroyed. If he dies, all control of the train is lost. In addition, the nightgaunt stokers take to the sky to defend the train when it comes under attack, but that means the engine is unattended and the train slows down; someone will have to take their place feeding the engine. If no-one does, they'll never be able to outpace the submarine.

Throughout all of this, Karakov heads to the Baggage to retrieve his conscience and fling it from the train. If they help him, or if they push him off the train, the Vengeful Dead disappear – along with Karakov's conscience. Alternatively, did the dreamers reason with Karakov and help him see the error of his ways? This is their last chance to do it. If they can succeed on both a Persuade and Psychoanalysis roll, Karakov finally acknowledges his own guilt and the phantoms can no longer harm him or the train.



The Sorcerer and the Crone

The Sorcerer and his shantaks arrive on round 11. He will stop at nothing to get the Lover's Heart. Attacking the train directly risks angering Nodens too much, but getting the monstrous shantaks to prise apart the carriages is kind of a grey area. Two shantaks together are strong enough to separate the carriages, and any carriage that's cut off from the Engine veers off course. Clever dreamers who've seen the Engine will realise they can take control of a trainbeast by cutting holes in its back and sticking their arms in.

All the dreamers combined probably can't take down even one shantak, especially with the Sorcerer constantly trying to hypnotise someone every round. Their success here depends on the friendships they've forged during their journey on the train. Most of the passengers can help in this final battle. Since trying to actually roll for everyone who rocks up would be tedious, the book advises just deciding whether or not anyone involved succeeds on what they're doing. Each successful attack from an ally distracts a shantak for one round.

The Beings of Ib: Have the dreamers treated them with respect? If so, the Beings come to the aid of the dreamers.

The Cats of Ulthar: Did the dreamers find Blackjack's murderer? The cats repay their debt tenfold. Hundreds of cats swarm the dreamers' foes en masse. In addition, if someone has opened Karakov's trunk the cats deal with the rats.

Guillaume: Did the dreamers save him? He takes up a piece of broken carriage to use as a spear and calls the stokers to him. He leaps aboard one and bids a dreamer to ride the other one into battle. Viva la France! Viva la Morte! Dogfighting on a nightgaunt requires a successful Ride or Hard Dexterity roll every round, or else the dreamer falls and the nightgaunt stops fighting to catch them.

Mac Mackenzie: If he was persuaded to stay on board, Mac can't help in this fight. He tries to open his briefcase and empty it out, but the tide of papers soon overwhelms him. Left to himself it'll take 10 rounds to shovel all the papers out, at which point he tumbles into the abyss. Dreamers can help by doing something he'd never think to do and remove the briefcase from his arm. If they can't pick the lock or break the chain, chopping off his arm will do the trick.

Madman: The Madman doesn't help in the fight. He gnaws his way out of his bindings and laughs with delight as he throws his artefact then himself off the train. Here's hoping he finds peace and sanity in the Waking World.

Mironim-mer: Did the dreamers treat him justly? He begs them to help him out of his bonds, then assumes his true form and joins the fight.

Monsieur Karakov: Did the dreamers help him save his conscience? He's still a greedy opportunist, but now he's a grateful greedy opportunist. The dreamers have saved his soul, and he rushes to join them in battle.

Zsusza: If the dreamers did not persuade her otherwise, Zsusza walks the length of the train and drops first her artefact then herself into the abyss. Did they convince her to hold onto her dreams? She heads straight for the Sorcerer and starts bludgeoning him with her statue. He keeps trying to hypnotise her, but she is immune, and as long as she attacks him he does not hypnotise anyone else.

Madame Bruja: She cowers in her compartment until Zsusza or a female dreamer is attacked. When that happens, she crawls out onto the train and calls out to the Sorcerer, bearing her valise. The Sorcerer rushes to her and snatches the valise, only to find it empty. Cackling, Bruja becomes the Crone, rising into the air and tearing open her own ribcage. Inside her charred carcass, the Lover's Heart burns. (SAN 0/1D4) The Sorcerer screams and shields his eyes as the radiance of the stone burns him. The Crone tears the Heart out and hurls it, but her hand is knocked by the Sorcerer. The stone bounces across the roof of the carriage and lands at the feet of a dreamer.

If the dreamer picks up the stone, it burns like the sun in the darkness of the abyss. Its rays burn both the Sorcerer and the Crone; when the former is finally reduced to ash, the shantaks disappear and the attack on the train ends. If she's still alive, the Crone thanks the dreamers and drops into the abyss. As she falls, she cries out to them: 'Death is stronger than life! Hate is stronger than love!'

Next time: denouement!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



I like how if the dreamers have gone out of their way to be good and friendly people, the fight goes from 'an evil wizard and his horde of shantaks could kills us all' to 'a wizard gets hosed up repeatedly'

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Man those dying words are surprisingly depressing because I expected them to be way more uplifting and read them backwards at first.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

That was loving awesome.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Call of Cthulhu: Here comes the power of friendship and optimism, motherfuckers, plus an entire army of magic cats.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



It's a pity that all this asskicking and POWER OF FRIENDSHIP comes at the cost of never being able to ride the express again. :(

drunkencarp
Feb 14, 2012


Nessus posted:

I think the only major elf-on-elf violence was the Kinslaying in Valinor, though there were sporadic moments here and there otherwise. Now, Feanor's bullshit certainly did cause a lot of wars which killed a lot of elves, although he also brought reinforcements to the tarriers in Middle Earth, so it's kind of a mixed bag.

Now was Feanor a centrist or not

I guess the fall of Doriath and the razing of the Havens of Sirion don't count as "major" since Galadriel wasn't personally involved in either, okay, sure, man, I get you.

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

inklesspen posted:

I have an area of the admin panel that basically replicates thread view, so I usually go down the thread with two tabs open; one on SA and one on my admin panel. For each post, I have a button that says Extract. It means 'this is gonna go in a writeup', so the site will download the image urls in the post and mirror them on my server (so I don't hotlink stuff). It then makes a copy of the post, with the new, mirrored image urls, in a holding zone. I usually do this for five or six thread pages at a time.

I just wanna add: if I've missed a post or writeup of yours, this is why. I don't have the time or interest to fully read every post on this thread, so if while skimming the thread it's not obvious your post is part of a writeup, I can easily miss it. (This is one of the reasons I ask you to not reply to unrelated posts at the top of your writeup posts.)

DicktheCat
Feb 15, 2011



Jesus Christ, inklesspen, you're doing a mighty service. I really appreciate these writeups not being lost because they've all been so good. Hell, I really appreciate the writeups. I've had so much fun reading this thread, it's the kind of cool thing I joined for.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





BOOK FOUR: The Maleficium

Or

The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise


I swear I picked this subtitle for a reason.

It’s not illegal to know the spells of Demonology or Necromancy. It’s not corruptive to pick up a tome and study the contents. The problem is when one uses the spells. And even then, that’s not really that much of a problem. The Guild gives certain magicians license to know certain spells of the Maleficium and experiment with them for research purposes or legal use. If you understand the inner mechanics of the arts, you can leverage that knowledge to stop The Bad Magicians.

DEMONOLOGY

Demonology is broken down into two further categories: summoning devils/demons or casting invocations. The latter is simple, it’s just knowing a spell and firing it off with the right gestures and words. The former has rules and lots of info.

Go figure that it’s the easier application that is the better application.

Summoning takes hours of effort and requires the proper goods to invite the target into the realm of the living. It does matter what you’re invoking: Devils are previously Angels of Order who fell, Demons are just natural beings of Entropy. Summon a Devil and they’ll be glad to make contracts with you (that they will try to twist into making you suffer by their own terms). Summon a Demon and they’ll do the bare minimum of what you want them to do so you can release them and let them go back to doing their own thing. Either way you want to prep binding circles to contain the extraplanar being so they won’t just go Hulkamania on your rear end. Successful summoning requires a roll to negotiate the terms of the contract (Presence+Demonology vs. the beings’ Presence+Bull/Demonology) and for the summoner to hash out what is being given up for the services.

FYI you want to summon devils, not demons. Failing the rolls for negotiation results in a demon deciding “hey I don’t have to negotiate peacefully, if I ram my claws through your guts you can give me your soul to remove my claws”. Failed negotiations with demons generally result in the summoner getting mauled and the area getting trashed. If you fail negotiations with a devil, the devil will simply say “mmm I don’t think you’ve got the backbone for this, take five to get your bearings and try again” and will depart peacefully. When a devil completes a contract…that’s it, they just go home. A demon who has completed a contract will immediately decide to try and stick around by possessing someone or running amok until they run out of Quintessence and disperse.

You also don’t really want to break contracts if you want a good reputation. If either party (or both) can’t deliver on its promises, the contract is broken and the demon will try to continue to nominally pursue the summoner’s goals because the contract is the only thing keeping it on Earth. If the summoner alone breaks the contract, the demon is still forced to keep its end of the deal and will leave a negative Hellp review that influences all further summoning attempts. I don’t care about rules of possession, demons just need to possess people to stick around and if the host dies they get ejected from the corpse.

Meanwhile if you want to cast a spell from Demonology, you just. Do so. Speaking of spells!


  • Aether Ribbons gets us going strong on the note of bindings what sexually assault the person caught in them. Delightful. Also, gently caress you. Stick with Ectoplasmic Bonds because the bonds restrain for longer and are also not incredibly uncomfortably inappropriate.
  • Aethereal Cloak is pretty great, there’s good fun and use to be had in phasing through objects.
  • Curse of Entropy is…strange. It’s handy that it lasts for hours and the debuff is nice but it’s also incredibly unsubtle as opposed to Befuddle or other spells like that.
  • Demonic Dominion is pretty loving cruel. I’m not a fan of blasting people’s mental faculties away with that like you’re running a belt sander to their face.
  • Demonic Sigil is nice if you’re going to get into the summoning game.
  • Fade is nasty. It’s one of the few Save Or Die spells that exists in this game and it certainly doesn’t do anything by half measures.

  • The Lady’s Audience is absolutely useless. You’re never casting this to begin with due to the difficulty, let alone for the other dumb reasons it exists.
  • Protected Domain is also good for summoning preparations and that’s really it outside of warding off demons.
  • Quiet is good for getting rid of demons but I’m quite sure this is one of the few things Magnetists can do for cheaper and easier.
  • The Revelation of All is by far, hands down, the best spell a demonologist can know. Put enemies in a nonlethal coma for days, break combat with a single look and the enemy doesn’t even get a chance to save against it. Beautiful. This is, by far, the only spell a demonologist really needs to know and throw around when needed.
  • Stolen Decency is something to talk about later when I finish with Necromancy because it has a similar power.
  • Warding is again for summoning.
  • Whispering Colors is a less good Revelation because one can escape from it easier.


And now, without any real commentary, are the different tiers for summoning demons. To make my feelings on these known more clearly, they are as useful to any PC as it would be to gently caress around with any sufficiently depraved Cthulhu ritual. The RPG Carcossa's stupid ritual spells come to mind.



NECROMANCY

Necromancy is also summoning-focused but thankfully requires less depravity. Undead are either lesser or greater but all undead are spirits that just haven’t been able to pass on. Lesser undead are mindless or unintelligent who will follow the commands of their Necromancer, plucked from death and placed in a host body to reanimate the host. Greater undead are intelligent and come from exceptional dead and require a host body as well. They’ll obey but because they’re capable of thought they’re prone to becoming backstabbing and treacherous.



The big upside of summoning undead is that they stick around for a while. Undead will remain until their host bodies are broken but must remain subservient until the Necromancer dies. This is what makes greater undead dangerous: they’re capable of figuring out the latter point and hatching plots to kill their masters so they can run wild and free. You never run that risk from the lesser undead.

The other little quirk of Necromancy is that doing it at night or during certain phases of the moon will reduce difficulties. So, let’s take a look at the spells.


  • Anathema is…baffling. First of all it’s difficult to cast. Second of all it’s a strangely broad curse. I kind of like it for its flavor, but I would never use it.
  • Deadly Purity is the Necromancer equivalent of Stolen Decency and will be discussed later.
  • Death’s Cold Touch is a neat attack that is way too hard to cast.
  • Death’s Lingering Stench is a neat and handy poison attack that reminds me of good MMO attacks where a Necromancer pops a corpse to deal DOT AOE damage.
  • Dust is very handy considering that everything short of living flesh counts as inanimate matter according to it.

  • Geas is good for preparing to raise a greater undead without losing the occupying spirit.
  • Life Drain is just incredibly stupid. Like, I get it, you pickle the eyes so you can get the bonus Resolve for when you need to cast something like Anathema. The spell itself is just ridiculously stupidly ornate and hell it’s not even life drain, it’s more like Essence Theft. Misleadingly named.
  • Marsh Lights is a bafflingly dangerous Light spell.
  • Oracle of Night is a pretty handy way to see the future hindered by needing a shitload of rare crap. At least the skull has many uses once you get it.

  • Raise Greater Undead really doesn't need that Foul Failure where whoops you instantly die on a soul level and are now possessed forever. Like Greater Undead are really a gamble in and of themselves, why add that angle Victoriana? Either way...yeah ultimately I'm not a huge fan of Greater Undead.
  • Raise Lesser Undead is gonna be your bread and butter spell for making buddies. Also the rule about raising as much as you can mention is fine...if you have to do it in a pinch. Otherwise you can just act economically and repeatedly cast the spell over and over again over the course of a night during a full moon (when you get maximum penalty reduction). Act economically and raise an army for a more reasonable cost for the mana-conscious Necromancer, as outlined by tips and tricks in my new book entitled "Raise Your Finances from the Grave: Smart and Sensible Money Lessons for the Practical Necromancer". Only 19.99 plus shipping and handling!
  • Rest is fine and reasonable for telling ghosts to gently caress off because they have a penalty to disobeying.
  • Séance is the same as the Magnetist powers but now you go crazy eventually.

  • Seize Undead is an interesting idea and a good way to poach talent from the competition. You kind of don't want to enslave intelligent undead though. They're generally going to try to backstab you anyway, don't give them more of a reason to.
  • Skin exists and I don't know why. Is it to make undead last longer? 'cuz, uh, there are absolutely zero rules about if undead will ultimately stop working should they rot away into bones. Do zombies eventually turn into skeletons? I don't know. The book doesn't know and as a result what is the point of this spell asides from killing and impersonating someone.
  • Voice of Control goes into Bad Mind Control territory for reasons that aren't...apparent. Why do Necromancers get this and not Demonologists? Who knows. Again, Bad Questionable Mind Control Spells are disgustingly useful and the game implicitly agrees by saddling it with a slap-on-the-wrist difficulty and cost.
  • Warp Dead is a rad idea on paper but man, Difficulty 12? gently caress you. Plus the ritual takes long enough that you're not going to be able to imbue all the buddies you want in a single full moon night.

CORRUPTION

Corruption kind of works like how the Entropy/Order cogs work...inasmuch as it's just called Necromantic and Demonic Corruption Cogs. You only gain or lose Corruption based on spell use/cost and some other minor stuff. That's it. So let's take Revelation of All. ROA puts people in a coma. It costs 2 Quintessence per use, you gain 2 Corruption per use. Necromancy is a little bit different, as there are more specific applications, but every Lesser Undead you raise gives you +5 Corruption despite the spell only costing 2 Quintessence.

So what are the different levels of Corruption? Well. Welcome to Clownshoes Game Design.




Corruption will generally never be an active threat to the PCs because the game is too afraid to punish the players for being naughty. That's 3000 people put into a coma or an army of 1200 skeletons before things go entirely pear-shaped for them. If at any point you have allowed your players to raise an army of 1000+ skeletons, you are probably going to be playing a very different game than this one. Presence is not a stat that really matters to a caster. Fortitude is...but it's easy to build around that and also the game slaps you very weakly in that department. Who needs health in combat or likeability in Victorian society when you can render opponents comatose or bury them under a gleefully agitated pile of skeletons and zombies. There's also the fact that these things can be done across such a long period of time, the magician might just live their life normally and never succumb to total corruption. One person in a coma a day means it'll take a little over 8 years for you to turn into a full-blown demon. Five zombies raised a month means in 20 years you'll finally achieve lichdom or you can spend about 16 years dissolving a single cubic meter of inanimate matter a day. At any rate there's plenty of time for you to stop or be stopped. Succumbing to corruption is, fundamentally, not a problem unless you're just a full-bore fiend for magic...and even then there are limitations in place such as Quintessence limits.



And then there's the means by which one can reduce corruption. The Necromantic abstinence vow is actually one of the best things in the game because I can just imagine playfully pushing up against the limits of the vow and gently coercing your GM into letting you use Necromancy to fight Necromancy. Raise zombies to fight zombies! Steal skeletons and forcibly disarm a dangerous Necromancer! Now granted mechanically this is absolute nonsense but c'mon, some rules are meant to be bent, perhaps broken. And then there's the sacrificial options where you throw other practitioners under the bus for your own gain. I'm not a fan of these. Let's dissect why.
  • First, this is wildly tonally different from the rest of what the game has to offer and its existence isn't really justified considering how drat hard it is to accumulate enough Corruption to be A Real Problem. Yes the Maleficium has some bad weird dumb spells like the molesting restraints and the mind control. The ability to sacrifice people for material gain (outside of summoning) is a step far beyond questionable spells that a magician might know. The necessity of the spell for a long and storied career of a Demonologist or Necromancer is weird when you consider how little of the other spells are actually necessary. Like, flat-out, I do not consider the majority of the Summoning spells useful, not with the care that has to go into properly binding a Demon or Devil vs. what you actually receive and can use.
  • Second, any system that makes something like this the only way "out" (fully ignoring getting all pious all over a bunch of Necromancers) and making it readily available to the PCs is going to invite the most horrific player behavior possible. Because there is no way to easily gauge how Corrupted a magician is besides how they look (yikes, the loving subtext here) short of coming face-first with a lich or a demon, the players are actively invited to just perform a whole mess of sacrifice. I don't want to think badly of players but they work with the systems they have at their disposal. As a correlation to that point, there's the fact that the system is inherently rigged by the forces of Entropy to just cause a ruckus so it's a no-win game all around. The players buy into Sith backstabbing, powerful magicians rise and fall at the knives of their peers and their subordinates, the Demons keep whispering the information to new magicians and the GM has to contend with the game suddenly focusing on managing sacrificial resources. Then there's what I would consider to be the worst case scenario, where your players are actively seeding future time bombs to harvest. Find some amateur magician, teach them either a high-cost spell they'll fail repeatedly or a low-cost high-use spell, hunt them down in a month or two and then slaughter them. Turn your game about badly realized high-flying Victorian adventure into a resource management simulator.
  • Third is the fact that there is no ability to go all religious all over everyone's asses and fight Demons and poo poo to lower your Demonology corruption, giving Necromancy a pretty big mechanical advantage over Demonology. I don't have much to add to this point, it's just incredibly strange that you'd rewrite the fundamental existence of organized Abrahamic religion and not have a whole mess of repentant magical templars putting their ex-colleagues to the sword to atone for their sins.
  • Fourth and the second most important to me is the unintentional subtext that the British government is ritually executing prisoners, possibly without the knowledge of the general public. This requires a little explanation but it fundamentally boils down to the fact that Guild-sanctioned Demonologists and Necromancers are allowed to know how to perform the sacrificial ritual. They are systematically poking and prodding at the angles and workings of these forms of magic and their legal spells are somewhat limited and lacking...but they add up just as much as ROA and raising the dead. You work a six day work week and you're loving around with corruptive magic. You're an employee of a Guild with its ties deep in the British empire. You're in a trusted position. They will likely want to A: keep you on as long as they can and resort to human sacrifice to do so or B: let you do it if you're willing and able so you can keep working for them. Victorian Britain was, historically, a time of incredible prison overcrowding, so much so they kept them in boats in harbors in lieu of having to build new jails before they decided on the Australia plan. Why loving bother keeping the prisoners who have been prosecuted for performing dark magic alive? You've got a 45 year old middle management magician who has been working on industrial applications of turning poo poo into dust who you'd like to keep around for a while longer. Hell you've got a list of employees who need to have some Corruption shaved off of their mortal forms. Why even bother bringing them to jail at all, load them in the back of a cart and just deliver them to the office of anyone who needs a sacrifice.
  • Fifth is the fact that avoiding full-bore corruption is kinda pointless to a certain extent because even if you do become a lich or a demon there are no rules that say "you lose control of your character". Just, tadaa, you're undead now, this is probably a reasonable character goal for you because you spent so much time raising a zombie horde. Sure you have to possess someone to stick around as a demon or the police might not like having a lich out in public. You came this far and committed to the bit, you had some plan for this.
In conclusion, magic is a land of contrasts. Some of them have good and creative applications. A lot of it is neither good or creative. Assassinate the royal family or just put people into comas, it's all up to you. Either way, the magic system sucks unless you're looking for specific uses.

Now, that being said, I have finally gotten off my rear end and looked at the book that substantially expands the schools of magic, Liber Magica. Liber Magica includes new hermetic spells, conjuring spells, new sigil rules and also has rules for stuff like Alchemy or Shamanism or Magic Tattoos or the hot new forbidden magic of the Maleficium, Haemomancy. It is also pretty drat stupid. There are new rules requiring you to attune yourself to the signs of the Zodiac for bonuses, spells you'll never be able to cast, spells that are stupid and bizarre like being able to see in the dark by rubbing cat piss in your eyes and things that are actively incomplete.

Originally when I was planning out covering Victoriana, the idea was to segue into side books as needed. Liber Magica was going to be something I covered. Now it's optional. Let me know if you'd like me to continue going down the rabbit hole into stupid magic or if you'd just prefer if I'd get on with the core game.

Battle Mad Ronin
Aug 26, 2017


Why would anyone ever summon a demon if their only reason for existing is giving the GM a free “gently caress with this player” button? Deviloligist seems a better career option than demonoligist.

I think going on with the core rules would serve well to set the magic into perspective.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Well that's actually it for magic, all that remains is steampunk technology and relics. The relics are awful. The steampunk stuff is...okay, it's not much that's super special. After these sections it's just GM advice and the bestiary.

So the question really is just more magic or move on to the technology?

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Although Drow are chaotic and backstabbing jerks, they all respect the authority of

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 75: The Deck of Elementals and Elves

414: Wind and Woe

The party is flying by an old castle on a mountainside (A+ high level encounter already), and is attacked by the guardian air elemental in the form of a whirlwind. The mage that bound it is long-gone, and the elemental is quite frustrated. The focus controlling it is a “glyph-inscribed quartz crystal” embedded into the largest parapet. If you cast a successful dispel magic and beat the 19th-level original caster, you will then control the air elemental! I’m not sure why that makes sense, but okay!

Keep if I have a ruined castle dungeon on-hand.


415: The Heat of Revenge
Not to be confused with 366: Cold Revenge. This is, in fact, the complete opposite.

“The wife of a powerful and evil mage was killed last week” in a large, riverside town, so he summoned a fire elemental to set the place ablaze, as you do. If the PCs defeat it, they’ll get famous and get 5,000 gp. Being near river gives some options for improvisation, obviously.

Hmm, okay. I might like to know why the wife was killed, since it would only take a sentence and might make her less of a (evil) woman in a (evil) refrigerator. But as a random encounter, this is certainly random, an encounter, and leads into other plot threads. So keep.


416: Dark Raiders
Ten drow are attacking a village for slaves at the dead of night, and will add the PCs to their shopping list when they wander in.

That’s the encounter; the majority of the card is describing the drow politics at play. The drow are here on behalf of a drow noble who’s struggling to gain support in opposition to a social rival. One way to flaunt status and power is to capture slaves from aboveground, because that’s ridiculously expensive and inefficient.

That backstory is most likely to come into play when the PCs interrogate a captive. But is it relevant? Does it matter in the slightest? No, I don’t expect the PCs will care. I’ll still keep because I appreciate showing other parts of the world moving independently of the PCs, and so I can throw the noble who loses onto the surface as an exile at a later date.


417: Underworld Spies

Drow have come to the surface to spy, disguised as priests. They’ve moved into the local temple and suggestioned the lead priest into claiming that they’re brethren who have taken oaths to remain silent and hooded.

The card suggests that the PCs might notice these hooded priests going out in the city at night and acting suspicious, but that’s all the hook we get. The Religion proficiency can reveal that oaths of silence and veiling faces are not a thing in this priesthood, and the lead priest can’t actually explain where they came from, so some drow might be getting stabbed if the PCs latch on to this.

Keep. If the PCs don’t follow up, I’ll just shrug and escalate the situation the next time they come back.


418: War Party

The PCs are in the underdark doing PC things when they are “caught in the opening sallies of a revived drow/kuo-toa war.” But all that means in practice here is that a band of kuo-toa scouts attack them (seeing a band of adventurers as a “sign of their eventual victory” for some reason), and try to capture them as sacrifices.

If the PCs stick around in the underdark after that, there will be lots more kuo-toa and drow scouts. “This encounter may serve as a jumping-off point for a campaign, as the PCs, and anyone else they can convince of the danger, try to keep the underground war from erupting onto the surface world.”

I like the idea that a war could randomly break out that has nothing to do with the PCs but which might impact their plans. Keep. However, I’d give them an opportunity to notice and/or evade the larger kuo-toa party, if they’re being at all careful.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I just want to say that I'm still mad at Victoriana because the writers don't appear to know anything about late 19th century English society besides the clothes the rich people were wearing.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Halloween Jack posted:

I just want to say that I'm still mad at Victoriana because the writers don't appear to know anything about late 19th century English society besides the clothes the rich people were wearing.

Par for the course and genre, sadly. Cogservativism at its finest.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Battle Mad Ronin posted:

Why would anyone ever summon a demon if their only reason for existing is giving the GM a free “gently caress with this player” button? Deviloligist seems a better career option than demonoligist.

I think going on with the core rules would serve well to set the magic into perspective.

I kind of feel like they could be the right call if you're a Bad Magician trying to cause a bunch of chaos as a distraction or just because you do Bad Evil Stuff. At that point you're offering them a chance to do what they want to do anyway and also giving them something else in payment for it. Your best defense is them thinking you're kinda cool.

Battle Mad Ronin
Aug 26, 2017


Halloween Jack posted:

I just want to say that I'm still mad at Victoriana because the writers don't appear to know anything about late 19th century English society besides the clothes the rich people were wearing.

This is the recurrent problem with the genre.

When Micahel Moorcock wrote his 'A Nomad of the Time Streams' series he invented modern steampunk as a harsh criticism of imperialism and the conservatism of British society. Moorcock's steampunk world was less advanced than his own time, the steam engines and zeppelins were symbols of stagnation, not something to be celebrated. Gibson continued the tradition with 'The Difference Engine', which gives a decidedly unflattering portrayal of Victorian society and it's inherent hypocrisy.

But the modern steampunk fan don't care for that, no sir. They just want to wank over the British empire.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

It's like being in the SCA. There are remarkably few peasants running around.

I camped with a couple once. They were nice folks, and quite authentic. Also a weird reminder that the Society at large was not representative of history, no matter how good the costuming was.

I dunno. I get the clothing fetishism. Playing with anachronistic, weird toys is fun. But punk? No.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Victoriana is particularly egregious. If the game took a look at Victorian society from 30,000 feet and so made the game about elf lords and dwarf explorers, that would merely be unremarkable. But it actually gets into the weeds of what it means to me "middle class" in Victorian London, and what various political movements are, and it's wrong, wrong, wrong, "didn't check Wikipedia" levels of stupid and wrong about everything.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Hc Svnt White Man's Burden.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



Personally, I'd like to see more dumb magic.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Dallbun posted:

The party is flying by an old castle on a mountainside (A+ high level encounter already), and is attacked by the guardian air elemental in the form of a whirlwind. The mage that bound it is long-gone, and the elemental is quite frustrated. The focus controlling it is a “glyph-inscribed quartz crystal” embedded into the largest parapet. If you cast a successful dispel magic and beat the 19th-level original caster, you will then control the air elemental! I’m not sure why that makes sense, but okay!

Keep if I have a ruined castle dungeon on-hand.


415: The Heat of Revenge
Not to be confused with 366: Cold Revenge. This is, in fact, the complete opposite.

“The wife of a powerful and evil mage was killed last week” in a large, riverside town, so he summoned a fire elemental to set the place ablaze, as you do. If the PCs defeat it, they’ll get famous and get 5,000 gp. Being near river gives some options for improvisation, obviously.

Hmm, okay. I might like to know why the wife was killed, since it would only take a sentence and might make her less of a (evil) woman in a (evil) refrigerator. But as a random encounter, this is certainly random, an encounter, and leads into other plot threads. So keep.
dea that a war could randomly break out that has nothing to do with the PCs but which might impact their plans. Keep. However, I’d give them an opportunity to notice and/or evade the larger kuo-toa party, if they’re being at all careful.

I think the trick to all these "A powerful mage blah blah blah" cards is to make them all about the same guy. The PCs are just always one or two towns behind him as he moves in, starts dumping potions in the river or institutes a fireball festival, then moves out again.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Cultures pt.2: More Borca



Degenesis: Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 2: Cultures


Waystones

I forgot to mention this small insert when I was doing this many moons ago,. It talks about stacked piles of stones marking the routes between settlements. Outside of those marked bounds lurk the savages, some shadowing you in the grass, other stalking you through the broken windows of pre-apocalypse buildings (insert rant about the likelihood of modern architecture surviving 500 years of neglect). Sometimes, traders leave offerings (jewelry) at the stones to try and please the kind of people who think that drinking stale water from a puddle is better than living in a real city.

Right, back to the good stuff.

Old Grudges

And by the good stuff, I mean more savages! They have been fighting the forces of civilization for the longest time. However, when the Corroded (Chernobog) and his forces took Prague, the Clans felt a new wind blowing. Prague was impenetrable, even to Spitalians – I guess future Czechs stopped believing in medicine as well as God – but it still fell.

You know what other city is impenetrable to moon-worshiping savages? Justitian.

The savages are now attacking supply convoys and small settlements, killing Judges and displaying their corpses in a very Fallout raider fashion. It’s becoming apparent that they’re not just fighting for resources or sacred burial grounds (of children who died from preventable diseases). They want Justitian.

It’s becoming apparent to the cults, too, and they’re uniting in the defense of the city. Judges, Spitalians, Anabaptists, Chroniclers, Jehemedans – everyone (except for the ~~~drug Romani~~~ I guess). Hellvetics provide defense for the convoys, Scrapers scout the territory, people are preparing for war!

The Last Battle

The city of Wetzlar marks the southern border of Justitian’s realm and that’s where High Judge Rubeau is going to make a stand. He or she is accompanied with a lot of older judges who feel too old for political plays in the capital – but not too old to swing hammers and smash heads.

The Festering

But it’s not all savages in Borca! Where Menden used to be spawned a Mother Spore Field “more than a thousand paces in diameter” (762 meters?). It had a 15 pace/12 meter high outer wall.

What they’re saying is that the field became big enough for random wandering Spitalians to notice.

And for some reason that would only be understandable to Numenaran murderhobos, they detonated some pre-Eschaton ceramic cylinders (full of nanites) in it. The effect was somewhat unexpected:

quote:

Coralline carbon structures grew skywards, crystalline plant residues lifted their glass blades and leaves into the wind and refracted the light in a weird way. The blackness kept expanding with a crackle, ate into the spore field, infected the ruins and turned rats and insects into pure carbon structures.

What was spore field is now called The Festering and it’s slooowly expanding, generating symbols that are close – but not identical – to the Psychonaut Earth Chakra. Oooh, spooky!

The Spital

The naming convention that brought us The Ton hotel in Deus Ex and the Pitt DLC for Fallout 3 presents the Spitalier HQ, located near the Black Lung. It’s made up of several parts:

*The Appendix is where the sick people are examined, sent into sick quarters according to their pathogen and treated.

*Corpus is the inner circle, where warehouses and laboratories reside. It has no plans of expanding into space to have a love/hate relationship with space ninja and degenerate clone empires.

*The Spital is a concrete block surrounded by Bygone (pre-Eschaton) buildings and is the center of Spitalian activities.

But that’s not all! Arnsberg is a spooky place where rats and birbs rot on the street, and trees are just stumps. It’s apparently *tainted*. Arnberg is also the HQ of Spitalian Preservists, the warrior class caste of the organization. There’s also Newcrest farm nearby, where they grow horses.

Ferropol

Ferropol is not the secret Russian city where Stalin ran a secret cyborg program. Is actually the former capital of Steel Masters – whoever they are – who abandoned it for Justitian. Judges used this place as a Pitt-type prison, where they sent people and forgot them. Apocalyptic (drug Romani) named Apoc (that’s a top notch faction/name combo there) used to help Justinians run the place - now he installed himself as a ruler.

Ferropol now is a place where everything can be bought and sold - the scum and villainy manufacturing center of the region.

It also has Ferriters, palm-sized bugs (:gonk:) that eat iron to strengthen their carapace. Considering that Borca is 100% metal in the literal sense, Spitalians are worried.

Also, there are dunes that cover up blocks at a time or whatever.

Rain

I think this is their smart, post-apocalyptic way of renaming the Rhine. It’s a dried up river that still has water closer to the Alps, what with the melting glaciers, but it’s mostly dried out. The description makes it sound like the river level in Half-Life 2, but with wheat instead of sludge.

There is a lot of growth along the shores, with fields of wheat reaching Cathedral City. The wheat also covers the surrounding area “billabong by billabong” - I learned a new word today! And no, I don’t know why the wheat love the dried-out river bed so much.

You know who also likes the riverbed? Traders and travelers. However, with savages on the loose, trade routes are either closed or controlled by said Clans.

“Famous ruined city of Noret” is mentioned, but it’s not a city on Wikipedia, so it’s probably an adventure hook.

Cathedral City

Unlike the last time Anabaptists held sway over a German city, the Anabaptist capital isn’t an enclosed small-“a“ apocalyptic orgy. It’s actually full of aqueducts big and small. The bigger ones are supported by hollow pillars that house barracks and what not; the smaller are supported by tin beams, because metal is cheap in Borca.

quote:

If you approach via the old Rain riverbed, you’ll first see the Twin Towers’ silhouette in the haze. They are blackened with age, their stonework makes them look like scarred stakes. From up close, one can see gargoyles and statues in the facade, portals and towers, arched stained glass windows, everything rising skywards. This statuesque backdrop makes people seem small.
The city is surrounded by a wall with jutting release pillars and roofed battlements. Masonry at its foot shows larger-than-life Psychonauts and Anabaptists, engaged in deadly battle. In several places, heaps of debris or earthfilled ruins break the wall. Birches grow there with moss polishes their craggy sides’.

You enter Cathedral city through a guarded tunnel, but everyone (who isn’t an obvious Psychonaut or a Catholic, I guess) is welcome. The city is separated into blocks and is really tidy, as well as full of aqueducts. One part of the Great Aqueduct leads to the cathedral where pipes might link it to the choir, where eight Baptists and Council of Emanations (or Emanations Council, there’s a typo in the book) sit.

Exalt

Exalt used to be big… before it got owned in City Wars. Then, it was forgotten, in a very 40K way. When the Judges rediscovered it (a few months ago), it looked kinda… odd.

quote:

Vaulted roofs hang from twenty foot high pylons cover acre upon acre. Yellow light filters through the lichen-covered glass panes, increasing the feeling of another world and reality. Parts of the city are still covered in dust, but the Exalters soldier on with spade in hand, making room for those who return.
They uncover antechambers of a giant complex, each one large enough to hold Justitian’s Tech Central. The headhigh letters “RG” in a brilliant blue are freed of dust.

It seems they have uncovered some German VaulTec bunker! I can assume only good things and exploding nanobots will follow.

Liqua

When Exalt got owned super hard in the City Wars, some of the refugees settled around a reservoir to lick their wounds before moving on. Except the reservoir refused to run out of water, making it a pretty bitchin place to live. The refugees started a city there and called it Liqua.

The city is ruled by four waterlords, who sell water to the Protectorate and Cathedral city. Through some practical application of Crusader Kings II FAQs, the Anabaptists made it so that two of the waterlords would be of their kind.

When Exalt was rediscovered (“a few months ago” the book said in its the description), Liqua made diplomatic overtures that confused Cathedral City. When Exalters marched into Liqua to the cheering of the crowds, they understood what happened. However, Anabaptists had to retreat as they wanted to protect “the sources” (I think it’s a translation error – in Lithuanian, “spring” and “source” translate into the same word, and there might be something similar in German).

Noret

Barely a page later, we learn what Noret is! It’s an adventure hook. The city has been untouched for 500 years and there’s lush vegetation everywhere. It’s untouched because mysterious cowled robots patrol it and nobody who enters leaves!

Next time: yet more Borca

DicktheCat
Feb 15, 2011



Can someone put up another invite for the Trad Games discord chat? I didn't get to get into it because I was away from my computer while it was up.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I'm still really confused about what factions in DeGenesis are meant to be actually playable. Can you play insane fungus barbarians? (No Ork jokes.)

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Naw, I think you can only play Cults that come from Cultures and not Clans (who are just crazy, not necessarily infected with Cordyceps).

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Chapter 6: The Illuminati - The Leftovers






We're finally done with all of the conspiracy bloat within the U.S. Government! HOORAY! All of the following groups get a pretty short description, as they're included more for color, or to give your players a mystery-with-a-mystery if they get too hot on the tail of one of the major government players.


Center for Xenological Studies (CXS) - They're the final drain filter for all of the occult, supernatural, extraterrestrial, and unidentifiable specimens and relics that every other branch of the U.S. Govt recovers. While most other branches have their own team that will nominally review anything that looks valuable, 99% of everything recovered winds up being sent to the CXS for cataloguing and retention. The idea is, by having as many real samples of weird poo poo in the same place as possible, it's more likely that we can put these puzzle pieces together and figure out what they all mean.

And it's a good idea! The CXS actually has the most complete database of occult, supernatural, extraterrestrial, and unidentifiable objects in the world; however, nobody working there is aware of that, because they're criminally understaffed. The CXS has a skeleton crew of 8 full-time employees and 3 part-time assistants, and between the staff of 11 they barely have enough time in a day to label and categorize all of the junk they're sent, let alone open up any of the shipping containers and actually play with any of it. The problem is that the CXS is a black agency, not listed on any federal govt ledgers, so they have no funding and no actual authority; although the research lead Alexander Dumas begs his superiors for more staffing, thus far none of them have actually been able to justify increasing the manpower, due to a lack of any "verifiable breakthrough" on the part of the CXS. It's a perfect Catch 22 situation and it drives Alexander mad.


Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - In the Dark*Matter version of history, Reagan appoints Louis Giuffrida as agency director of FEMA in 1981 and he wastes no time turning into the "primary source of law and order in case of national emergency". Which sounds great, but the guy is an old 'Nam veteran, and he doesn't think very highly of civilians having free agency to act as they please. He trains all of the FEMA personnel in exercises that include population control and anti-subversion dragnets, and winds up being the most powerful (government) tool of the Aquarius conspiracy. He also has stand-by legislation drafted that would allow FEMA to "temporarily" suspend rule of law, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, in the event of a global crises, expecting that such a situation might arise from full-blown nuclear war, or following a mass invasion of an alien species.

Interestingly, FEMA is opposed by the UN and the NWO. See, they've already got plans in place that angle to have the NWO take over as a singular, global ruling body in the event of an aforementioned global crises, and they don't like the idea that a bunch of FEMA chumps have their own plans to the contrary. Evidently, this has lead to something of a cold war between FEMA and NWO intelligence agents; it hasn't even boiled over into open conflict yet, but they have apparently engaged in legendary games of cat-and-mouse espionage and counter-espionage in an attempt to thwart the plans of the other.

Oh yeah, FEMA also has detention facilities already built all over the place in remote regions of the U.S. and they're basically the death camps that your uncle always warned you that Obama was going to use. Supposedly they don't have many (if any) detainees currently; they're more of an early-preparation measure, so that when a global crises does break out and FEMA gets to subordinate the federal government, they've already got their death camps built and staffed.

Meh, pretty boring IMO. They didn't do anything unusual or unexpected with the preexisting conspiracy lore about FEMA. Their adversarial relationship with the NWO might be a way to set up an enemy-of-my-enemy encounter if your players are trying to subvert or escape FEMA, which is at least an adventure hook.


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - NASA has a lot of egg on their face because they have so far failed to predict or intercept or locate any of the alien or extraterrestrial species that have come to visit Earth. Most of the employees at NASA still don't even know that aliens already exist on Earth, or that they continue to visit us from beyond the stars. The higher ranking officials of NASA do, but they're (drum-roll) all members of the Freemasons, to a man! Yep, the Freemasons have infiltrated NASA because they thought they needed space rocks to fulfill their previously mentioned nefarious plan for world domination, but now that they've got them they've basically left NASA up to its own devices again. It's unclear whether the moon rocks were actually useful for the Mason's purposes or whether it was a wasted effort; my bet is that they were a McGuffin because the Masons don't literally control the world yet, buy your GM has the ultimate call.

NASA doesn't really get involved with any other Illuminati group or conspiracy network, so they're kind of a blank slate for your GM. It's hinted that most of the people that work for NASA really are the "I Want to Believe" type, so if the players were able to present them with irrefutable evidence that aliens exist and regularly visit our planet, they'd pretty quickly give you their unwavering loyalty. I'm not really sure what good that would do, but in the Dark*Matter timeline NASA still has nominal funding and still launches rockets, so if your players needed to invade a moon base or a Grey colony ship in low orbit, this might be the ticket.


Additional Federal Agencies - Most of these groups only get a sentence or two, but I'll include them for completion's sake.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) - In the Dark*Matter timeline, the disaster in Waco, TX that was caused by the ATF completely making GBS threads the bed is still fresh in everyone's minds. Any agent worth their salt that wasn't immediately implicated in the colossal Waco gently caress-up is trying to find a new source of employment ASAP, like rats abandoning a ship. The hook here is that the Hoffman Institute might see value in attempting to recruit a few of these agents, or least send the players to pose as interviewers and attempt to pump them for information. Any player that promises the exiting ATF agent immunity from potential criminal charges is likely to find them to be remarkably helpful (whether or not the player actually has the ability to provide said legal protection is another matter).

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) - Their main selling point is that they are the singular federal government entity that does not officially cooperate or collaborate with the CIA. While this doesn't make the FBI the Good Guys, FBI agents-turned-resources provide the players with an avenue of investigation that doesn't immediately divulge whatever was said back to a CIA contact. The flip side of the coin is that the FBI is extremely interested in maintaining legal propriety and following the rule of law, and any players that come to them that aren't squeaky clean, or that attempt to entice them into assisting with something that's not totally above board, may find their agent-turned-contact suddenly more interested in the player's own activities. The FBI has next to no institutional experience with occult, supernatural, extraterrestrial, or unidentifiable specimens or situations (outside whatever personal knowledge an agent brings to the table) and they're not well equipped to handle those kinds of encounters either, but if your players need assistance with something concerning human crime and the U.S. legal code, the FBI is an amazing resource.

Military Intelligence - Each branch of the military has a subordinate intelligence agency, and they've all got their own acronyms: Army intelligence is INSCOM, the Air Force maintains both AFI and OSI, and the Navy runs the ONI. There's not really any plot hooks offered here, but it is made pretty clear that you do not want to gently caress with these groups. They operate more-or-less as extraterritorial entities and they've got the weight of the U.S. Military behind them, and there's no amount of force that the Hoffman Institute is ever going to bring to bear that would be sufficient to survive hostile contact with them. Keep under their radar, and if you ever wind up interacting with one of them, just remember to always call them "Sir".


NEXT TIME: They Greys! These visitors from the stars get almost as big a write-up as the entire U.S. Government!

mcclay
Jul 8, 2013

Oh dear oh gosh oh darn


Soiled Meat

JcDent posted:

Naw, I think you can only play Cults that come from Cultures and not Clans (who are just crazy, not necessarily infected with Cordyceps).

You're kinda right. Most of the Cults come from the various cultures, but there is the I think 'Clanner' option that lets you play a clan person. A clan can be anything from a bunch of grass hut dwellers to a group of CK2 esque nobles who control a small Italian town. The cockroach tribes in Borca I thiiiiink are considered unplayable, but there are rules for them if you really wanna play the army of Chernoborg.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Good to know we'll have someone to check my stuff once we get to the rules and I start really misunderstanding stuff.

Also, I'd love to be a part of a FEMA conspiracy that believes that "emergency management" involves power armor and shooting aliens.

mcclay
Jul 8, 2013

Oh dear oh gosh oh darn


Soiled Meat

JcDent posted:

Good to know we'll have someone to check my stuff once we get to the rules and I start really misunderstanding stuff.

Also, I'd love to be a part of a FEMA conspiracy that believes that "emergency management" involves power armor and shooting aliens.

The rules are honestly just Shadowrun rules but both less complicated and kinda worse. Character creation also gives you way loving less points than you need to be anything interesting any of the cultures. I really like Degensis but its rules and parts of its setting (coughAfricacough) leave a lot to be desired. The game desperately needs splatbooks to fix some problems.

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Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.




THE DREAMLANDS EXPRESS – PART 10

Final Call

The Dreamlands Express lands softly on the other side of the abyss and immediately turns around to make the leap back over to the Gulf. I'd throw in one final heartfelt goodbye from Henri if there's any dreamers still on board. If they cast out their artefacts and leap into the abyss, they fall through endless nightmares, through rushing blackness and the end of the universe. Eons pass in a blink of an eye and galaxies fizzle into nothingness before the cycle of eternity. As the stars burst into bloom again, the dreamers hear the Crone's final words.

Death is stronger than life. Hate is stronger than love. Was she right?

The dreamers finally wake in their compartments aboard the Simplon Orient Express in the Waking World. They gain 1D6 SAN for saving the train and 1D4 SAN for saving Henri. In addition, one of them now carries the Lover's Heart.

The Lover's Heart

This is a magical artefact that looks like a blood red stone carving of two hearts joined together. Cthulhu Mythos identifies it as a symbol of the three-eyed Haunter of the Dark, one of the aspects of Nyarlathotep. He definitely did not intend for the investigators to get their hands on it, by the way. Using the Heart carries a hefty price.

As soon as someone picks up the heart, the final message of Madame Bruja fills their mind. They are filled with a bottomless hate and they will feel like everyone around them returns that hatred. It glows when held, but glows brighter in the dark. In absolute darkness or the gulf of space, it shines like the sun. Every round that the wielder bears it aloft, every undead creature in sight of the stone suffers 1D10 damage per round, ignoring all armour and magical protection. Its burning rays cause them first to smoke then to burst into flames. The damage of this attack is drastically reduced if there's any light present, and it does no damage at all in daylight. Using the Lover's Heart like this costs the user 5 POW and 1D3 SAN every round as they let more hate poison their soul.

The book suggests reducing the damage it deals or increasing the cost but the cost is already pretty harsh for what you're getting, especially since there's only one real encounter where the Lover's Heart is going to come in handy (you'll never guess what it is :drac:).

Happy Endings

Guillaume triumphs over his base instincts. He dies, but as a human.

If the dreamers didn't help Karakov, he dies in his sleep. If they did, he wakes up and spends his last few days rewriting his will so that his millions of dollars in war profits are donated to charity. They can learn about this from a newspaper in the Waking World. When asked why he changed his mind, he says it was all thanks to his friends on the train.

If Zsusza is lost, she dies of a drug overdose in Turkey. If she held onto her dream, she has a spectacular season in Turkey and goes on to sell out shows throughout the Balkans. Her fame lets her emigrate to America where she joins the Ziegield Follies and eventually becomes a star in the rising motion picture industry. She never forgets her friends on the train.

Mac returns to London and quietly retires to Inverness. He sets up with pencil and paper and begins writing. If he lost his burdens, he might even write something good one day.

Mironim-mer is tried in Ulthar but is spared a death sentence thanks to both his extenuating circumstances and the surprise appearance of Fortune, his feline companion, who appeals as a character witness. Mironim-mer enjoys a brief and cushy prison sentence before setting out on new adventures.

The cats of the Waking World are kin to those of Ulthar and know the great deeds the investigators have done for them. For the rest of their lives, the investigators find cats that are willing to help them in whatever way a cat can.

So that's The Dreamlands Express! It's good that we ended on a high note there. It's going to be the last one for quite a while.

Next time: Sofia!

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