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Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


Lucas Archer posted:

I figured as much. Since the computer console requires a gray card, I can't imagine anyone making it there first. I didn't know this was the adventure that introduced vegepygmies/russet mold. That makes this trap a bit deadlier, I think.

It sure was; the original concept between the russet mold is that it was an alien sample that turned out to be an infestation hazard.

Edit: There are actually at least a couple other (non-robot) monsters that were introduced in Barrier Peaks that made it into later editions and settings, and if you'd like I can point them out as they're brought up. As you mentioned, they're sometimes a little more dangerous than they otherwise would be simply because they're new and unknown.

Prism fucked around with this message at 18:54 on Mar 17, 2018

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Lucas Archer
Dec 1, 2007
Falling...

Prism posted:

It sure was; the original concept between the russet mold is that it was an alien sample that turned out to be an infestation hazard.

Edit: There are actually at least a couple other (non-robot) monsters that were introduced in Barrier Peaks that made it into later editions and settings, and if you'd like I can point them out as they're brought up. As you mentioned, they're sometimes a little more dangerous than they otherwise would be simply because they're new and unknown.

Go for it! I love learning that kind of info, and it gives me greater context for the module.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Dark Heresy: Part 13

Bloody Calixis

Calixis is a bad sub-setting within a setting that is already going to be awkward for RPGs. I'd argue it isn't very good if you're a 40k fan, either. No iconic Guard regiments (nor any especially interesting or fun custom ones for the setting), few Sisters, a single Marine chapter (albeit a pretty okay one, the Storm Wardens aren't bad as far as Marines go), few major warzones, no Eldar presence, no Tyranids. If you like the iconic stuff from 40k, almost none of it is here. If you just want a good RPG setting, Calixis is a very lifeless place, with surprisingly little conflict. There's a lot of stuff described, but not a lot of actual plot hooks or characters.

Calixis is meant to be a large and populated sector, seemingly stable, out in the hinterlands of the Imperium. It's meant to be a bit lacking in overt conflict because this is a game about Inquisitorial Acolytes, so you're supposed to get up to intrigues. Now, possibly some of the eventual add-on campaigns and stuff add some life to the sector, but the core book sure as hell doesn't. Calixis was founded by a large crusade thousands of years ago, led by a man without a personality who we're assured was very impressive and very important called Saint Drusus. His main personality trait was winning battles and the fact that he almost died once, but didn't. Well, until you get to the Radical's handbook and it's strongly implied that he was an idiot social general who was killed and then reanimated as a controlled Daemonhost, but that's neither here nor there. The main source of conflict is meant to be the aforementioned Scarystar (I'm sorry, the DREAD HERETICUS TENEBRAE, KOMUS, THE TYRANT STAR), except that again we don't even get enough detail to start a mystery with it. When we get to the example Inquisitors, every single one of them has a completely different theory about what it is and not a single one of them has a scrap of evidence or observation to suggest whether or not they're right. So that's a wash from the start; any plot you write about Scarystar is going to be your own creation because there's nothing on it here, besides the fact that 2-3 months before it shows up the rate of psychic awakening ramps up and weird runes appear all over the place.

We start off with Scintilla, the capital and the biggest Hive World (big arcology/manufacturing planet of relatively high tech) in the Sector. Scintilla's description spends a lot of time to get to its very simple plot thread: It's a planet about nobles being jerks and wearing powdered wigs and having gothic space victoriana. There's lots of proper nouns and local terms thrown about but they come down to 'This is a pretty generic hive world but also Victorian'. And here we get to the primary problem I'm going to come back to over and over again: There's a lot of description of the local sights, but there's nothing about what to *do* on Scintilla's hives. No personalities, no adventure hooks, no 'here are some of the possible seething heresies and conflicts you might get up to'. There are no people and nothing to really hang an adventure on. Again, anything I put here to have my players deal with, I'm going to have to put here, and when that's the case, I'd rather write my own hive. There's a pretty walking hive on top of an archeotech moving machine. That's sort of neat, but again, there's nothing to DO there.

At least Icanthos has a conflict. It's a planet in a constant state of mad max craziness where the Imperium runs barter-town for a planet of 5 billion mercenaries, killers, religious fanatics, and nutjobs who all fight each other to collect ghostfire pollen, a local planet used in creating very handy bullet-time inducing combat drugs. The Imperial presence is literally just the spaceport run by a few Sisters Hospitaller, the local adepts, and enough forces to keep the raider tribes from getting ideas. The tribes then go and fight it out over who can collect and steal enough pollen to trade to the Imperium for supplies, lasguns, and fuel. The locals are totally dependent on Imperial offworld shipments for advanced technology, and so they mostly go along with the arrangement. Out in the wastes you've got a bunch of mercenary gangs and the great 'king' Skull, the most successful warlord, plus a weirdly successful disgruntled office worker turned fanatic preacher who is challenging him. There's actually stuff PCs could do here. Take out warlords who are getting too big for their britches, investigate dissent, etc. The main Sisters of Battle abbey is in Icanthos, and they mention there are only 50 or so fully trained Battle Sisters in the sector, and that they're regarded as the finest troops sector wide. This may make having a Battle Sister PC a little awkward.

Sephiris Secundus is Sadness And Grimdark: The Planet. It's a brutal mining world where the feudal order will not allow the miners any real tools and the cruel nobles enjoy whipping serfs to death and gosh isn't there just so much suffering. It's a primitive, inefficient world that is thus on purpose, so the people can be kept in place by the brutal stamping force of tradition and also lasguns. It's pretty much nothing but misery porn about how whole families have grown up working the same rock face for generations, terrified to step outside their station and on and on and on. The only minor hook is that the old queen is starting to realize that maaaaaybe she's killing millions of people while rendering her world mostly unproductive and that maybe she's been kind of stupid, as have her ancestors. Again, it's mostly just descriptions of how awful the place is and no real hooks for what to do. I'm sure you can come up with plenty, but still.

Then we get the Misericord, a big Chartist ship. Chartists travel at a very slow pace of FTL along well known routes in immense cargo ships, plying scheduled routes that won't require them to use an actual Navigator on board. The Misericord is a full, functioning community with its own zany customs and ridiculous mannerisms, plus a brutal caste system because this is 40k. They cut the ear off everyone born to work the engines! The ship's soldiers wear animal masks! Two guilds fight over who gets to change the lightbulbs! How zany and fun. The ship treats newly impressed crew better, because they don't want to run into massive inbreeding and they tell dark legends of the 'age of six toes'. Passengers and visitors are invited to watch the zany court goings-on of the bridge, and again, there's nothing to actually DO here as a PC. It's all flavor, but no plot hooks.

Which brings me to my point. You can run a campaign in Calixis. There'll be more stuff added in later books. But there's almost nothing there. What you run is going to be stuff you mostly wrote and added yourself. It's sort of the setting equivalent of 'Well rule zero will fix it'. And this is purely a matter of taste, but what's there isn't even interesting. It's just 'Victoriana in gothic sci-fantasy', 'zany ship', 'sadness planet', and 'generic mad max fighting'. None of this jumps out or inspires. Even if you like 40k's iconic imagery, there's almost none of it in Calixis. There's a reason I just went and wrote my own sector when I was running the game, and the fact that I had to is kind of an indictment of the setting that exists in this one.

Next Time: The Power Groups of Calixis

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Night10194 posted:

Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Dark Heresy: Part 13

The ship's soldiers wear animal masks!

Hotline Miami in space?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


potatocubed posted:

Hotline Miami in space?

I wish. At least it'd be something to do on the drat boat.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





I remember really liking the Only War setting, but then that's by design chock full of iconic 40K stuff.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Basically the setting design is better in every other book in the line.

This is also the only setting designed and written by Dan Abnett, and I've got to say while I have no idea how his novels are since I never bothered to read any, he is a terrible RPG setting writer.

E: Well, Rogue Trader's isn't great, but the game at least comes with a bunch of tools and ideas for making up your own planets to explore/colonize, and it's intentionally a mostly blank map because it's the frontier. From Deathwatch on, the actual subsectors and sectors and wars the games take place in are actually quite good and significantly better than GW's standard of fluff.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 01:24 on Mar 18, 2018

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, Part 11: "Writer 'Flat Fee' Payment: Roughly ten dollars ($10.00) per "printed" typeset page of text (that's roughly 2 to 2 1/2 single spaced computer pages at 10-11 point size; see, we're even too cheap and lazy to figure out a per word rate)."

Okay, we're done with Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape, but there's one last thing I wanted to cover inside these pages, and that's the first advertisement for The Rifter, Palladium's house magazine they would launch shortly after the publication of this book. And I could quote the highlights of this ad, but I felt like that wasn't enough. This is pretty much Siembieda doing his best Midwestern Stan Lee, at his most grandiose and folksy, and left even me completely flabbergasted. So I decided to read it aloud. My reading is clumsy, no doubt, but hopefully that only helps demonstrate the clumsiness of the text itself. The music used is "No Rocking in the Jazzhands Zone" by Peter Gresser.

Download the Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape audio bonus here.

Also, just to round things out, here's the image included with the advertisement. It raises a number of its own questions, which I'll leave to you to ask.



And that's that! Finally, the missing gap in the World Book run is filled, but at a price. Much of this book is a grab bag as a result, and much of it feels like overflow from Rifts World Book 16: Federation of Magic. Seeing psychics get an O.C.C. expansion is welcome considering the short shrift they've generally gotten, but it makes the meandering monster and D-Bee section stand out all the more. As such, Psyscape is a bit forgotten, without any strong focus once it does its big class dump is over. It's not particularly bad or good, but mostly just feels like an uninspired gap filled in a publication schedule. Similarly, I'm not inspired to say that much more on it. That's that!

THE END. :toot:

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


Night10194 posted:

This is also the only setting designed and written by Dan Abnett, and I've got to say while I have no idea how his novels are since I never bothered to read any, he is a terrible RPG setting writer.

Dan Abnett's novels are pretty good, by 40k novel standards. They're not humorous like the Caiphus Cain stuff but they're similar in their general treatment of the setting. It's fairly obvious why they chose him to do the fluff for this book, since two of his series are about inquisitors (And he actually makes them interesting, sympathetic, and fairly nuanced (mostly by treating them like WHF Witch Hunters, admittedly) and gives a pretty good analysis of why even an unusually sane, grounded inquisitor can wind up going radical.). That said, he tends to do a lot of ground level humans vs. non-CSM Chaos, so I can somewhat understand how his setting stuff here winds up like it does.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Scion: Hero
God's Army

It can be tempting to think of Heroes as the bottom of some divine chain of command, since they serve as representatives of the gods and must deal with divine obligations in the world of mere mortals. However, that's usually not the case. Heroes are free in a way gods and even demigods are not. Fate has only tied them weakly, and so they may still revel in their gifts. They fight for the gods usually when the cold war between god and Titan intensifies, handling the tactical concerns while gods deal in grand strategy. When titanspawn or other monsters emerge, Heroes are the ones to deal with it first. They may not have a clear idea of what's going on, but it gives them a chance for mighty deeds, undiluted by divine politics or cynicism.

Titanspawn come in all shapes and sizes, and so do monsters that people just assume are titanspawn, even if they're not. The simplest times are when Heroes must deal with cunning but nonintelligent beasts, more about instinct than intellect. Usually, that's, if not an easy job, then an easily understood one - find monster, kill monster. Of course, in the modern day, mortals tend to believe that animalistic monsters deserve some compassion or even rights. Not that animal cruelty laws usually apply to flying serpents that drip with poison, but mortals often expect them to be captured and then released into what they assume must surely exist - a divine nature preserve far, far away. It's even more complex if the monster can talk. Courts have largely not made any decisions on if intelligent nonhumans have human rights. In most places, things with no human ancestry can be assaulted and killed legally. Often this includes most giants, house elves, knockers, goblins and so on, but that doesn't mean the public will go for it. On the other hand, some monsters are just evil, and everyone knows it.

But while Heroes often fight monsters with no idea of their broader significance, they can try to learn. They can interrogate Titanic servants and cultists, uproot dangerous cults (though that can risk trampling on religious freedom laws) or seek ancient prophecies. That means they can have some sway over the gods and demigods, who hate being kept out of the loop. Crushing a monster infestation is great, but figuring out why they were there at all is often a bigger question. Even gods said to see all can't do that all the time, and so they need Heroes to investigate and report. Typically, Titanic plots are ultimately designed to free them from their prisons. Generally, that means weakening their jailers - so any harm to Tyr, for example, is good for Fenris. When a Titan's purview manifests in strange ways, it is often a sign that the Titans are testing their prisons.

It's not all Titans, though. Sometimes, you have to deal with other gods and your fellow Heroes. Digital communication and world travel mean these interactions are more common than they have ever been before. The gods are rarely bigots, but they tend to have a keen understanding of their own Legends and how myth interacts...in their own culture. When pantheons start to cross-pollinate, gods are often out of their depths. When Scions of the kami and the Theoi face off with frost giants, the gods have no idea how to respond. They don't know those songs, those legends, which are yet to be written. Thus, every member of a band that crosses pantheons is, at some point, in the unenviable job serving as their pantheon's ambassador to other gods, who are often quite suspicious of their loyalties. Old history can get in the way, too. Still, when these bands perform great deeds, it helps strengthen cross-pantheon ties. Sometimes, the gods will even gamble on whether a band can perform some great deed asked of them. Even enemy gods love a wager.

And enemy gods are there, make no mistake. Even within the same pantheon, Hera despised Herakles and tried to have him killed from the moment of his birth. Now, Hera's cult claims she wasn't behind the torments of Zeus' son, but that's not true at all. Poseidon trapped Odysseus at sea for ten years. There's no rivalry quite like family rivalry, no grudge like an old one. Most pantheons, though, discourage direct action against rivals. Rather, enemy gods will go after those that a Hero values, and will often leave hints as to their responsibility. They want you to know, after all. They may even hint at how to make amends...though that's not always possible, as with Herakles, whose mere existence was the issue.

What about monotheist gods? Surely they're enemy gods! Well, no, not usually. Monotheism exists, and it mostly works...with some twists. Sometimes the gods themselves subscribe to it, as in the case of the Orishas. The Abrahamic faiths typically hold that the gods are not truly divine, if they acknowledge them at all. They are things which the Creator allows to exist, and despite myths, they had no true part in creating the world. They use their stories to justify power over mortals. Their Purviews do not grant true miracles, and when the dead go to Underworlds, it is because gods use their natural powers to force them to do so. Otherworld realms are extraordinary, but no more divine than the ability to make a house. The Orisha agree with most of these statements - they believe there's only one god, and they serve that god, rather than being actual deities themselves. Many other faiths hold that the gods and Titans are aspects of a greater deity, which are incapable of knowing the full nature of the whole. This is a common stance in lands known to the Devas historically, and one which several Devas agree with. They posit that while the Devas (and similar beings) are partially divine, mortals alone can pursue union with the Absolute, attaining a spiritual liberation unknown to gods.

Atheists also exist. They may not believe in the gods, or may acknowledge them but think them unworthy of worship. At Origin level, it's not as hard to deny the gods' existences, as the gods take a rather dim view of scientific attempts to prove or disprove them, and largely interact via omens and mysteries. Well, that and their Scions. Faith, after all, is precious, and can bind people together better than fact. Still, even some Scions believe the gods are unworthy of any worship, even as they become worshipped themselves as their power grows. The book acknowledges that all this is far too complex for a sidebar, as they have had millenia to develop these arguments in the World. Scion takes the position that the gods are, if not divine, at least sacred, and should be treated with as much respect and grace as their myths give them. Most mortals simply choose not to engage with theological argumentation - as in the real world, millions go to Church on Sunday and then come home and do other things on other days, or go to the other Church some other day. It's all about cultural tradition that determines which you go to for marriage and which to pray for vengeance or favors. Purists, intellectuals or eccentrics may be different, but most folks just sense the way of things and act accordingly.

Gods tend to raise their Heroes with a sort of sink-or-swim philosophy. They do break it, from time to time, when things become too tough for a Hero to handle, but constant intervention would interfere with a Hero's rise and even, potentially, influence the god involved negatively. Thus, after the Visitation, most gods stay rather hands-off. Still, they are family and a new society to be part of, and they will advise and give social support when they can and feel like it. Typically, a Hero's mentors will come from their own pantheon, but not always. If the gods never really wanted that Scion, they must find their own teachers. Prometheus and Mimir stand outside their pantheons, but are both well known for wisdom. They might be drawn to a Hero by Fate, sensing that the youth needs them. Sometimes Heroes will seek a specific god for advice, planting the seeds of a good relationship. Mentors will also spur Heroes to act, in payment for their advice or because they know a Hero must do great things to meet their full Fate - even if that Fate isn't always pleasant.

And sometimes, well, the gods do call on Heroes to be their soldiers. It's rare, saved for when truly needed, but it does happen. Typically, these grand tasks are left to Heroes to avoid the Fatebinding and twisting of Legend that greater Scions might cause. The gods may force disparate Heroes together for this with threats and bribes, but that's extremely rare. After all, it's rather a bluff in most cases. Gods are limited to lesser Incarnations in the mortal world and are prone to Fatebinding, so they cannot usually just order their offspring about. Besides, what god wants to be seen by Heroes and Demigods to be nothing more than a bully rather than a moral leader with the innate wisdom of creation?

While many gods (Hi, Zeus!) are terrible parents, that's not all of them. Still, intervention is hard for them, as noted. Heroes must be strong, not reliant on their parents all the time. That can cause a lot of emotional issues, though. That's not just for new kids, either. Reincarnated Scions often feel a familial bond with figures from their old life or lives, for good or bad. The Visitation is, no matter its context or glory, a very intimate occasion, in which a god shares some of their essential selfhood with the Hero, even if that Hero is something they made or chose rather than sired. Cynical gods may try to manipulate Scions desperate for approval - the PCs, or NPC Heroes. Mortal parents often don't approve of the divine progenitor - sometimes even when they, too, serve the god loyally. Family sometimes beats faith. Gods have been known to bribe or murder to get their way, and when a Hero finds out you've done that to their family...well, things can get rough.

Next time: Dealing with people.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





OvermanXAN posted:

Dan Abnett's novels are pretty good, by 40k novel standards. They're not humorous like the Caiphus Cain stuff but they're similar in their general treatment of the setting. It's fairly obvious why they chose him to do the fluff for this book, since two of his series are about inquisitors (And he actually makes them interesting, sympathetic, and fairly nuanced (mostly by treating them like WHF Witch Hunters, admittedly) and gives a pretty good analysis of why even an unusually sane, grounded inquisitor can wind up going radical.). That said, he tends to do a lot of ground level humans vs. non-CSM Chaos, so I can somewhat understand how his setting stuff here winds up like it does.

I feel like we have Abnett to blame (for a relative value of blame which might even venture into praise) for making the 40K universe a place to gad about in thanks to his Inquisition novels and the Gaunt's Ghosts thing.

Admittedly when Abnett writes versus Traitor Marines, it can come off as a bit silly with them fighting off a determined attack by World Eaters or something and I've seen people get really spun out over that sort of thing. I can kinda see their point, I just don't care that much. Apparently he also doesn't know how a boltgun is air quotes supposed to work and things it just fires bullets or something which I've seen make people even angrier.

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Dawgstar posted:

I feel like we have Abnett to blame (for a relative value of blame which might even venture into praise) for making the 40K universe a place to gad about in thanks to his Inquisition novels and the Gaunt's Ghosts thing.

Admittedly when Abnett writes versus Traitor Marines, it can come off as a bit silly with them fighting off a determined attack by World Eaters or something and I've seen people get really spun out over that sort of thing. I can kinda see their point, I just don't care that much. Apparently he also doesn't know how a boltgun is air quotes supposed to work and things it just fires bullets or something which I've seen make people even angrier.

When I tried to read his books, I got annoyed at how often he had a tiny defending force more down thousands of enemies, climbing over mountains of their dead. It's a pretty small thing, it busy felt really lazy and boring. And I say that as someone who doesn't mind the Ciaphas Cain books all using the same lines over and over

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!


SenZar



Chargen For The Next Millennium

So, I had to rewrite this entire thing, because I changed my mind while doing so, I realized that, jackass intro aside, I don't really have any particular issue with SenZar. Sure, they have some editing errors(one in particular perplexed the gently caress out of me while trying to figure out attribute costs), they put chargen before everything else(which I hate, BUT, they actually toss in enough rules info during chargen that you have a decent understanding of what your choices mean, plus the rules are... reasonably simple so far! In a good way that makes them easy to understand!), their "unprofessional" writing is a bit grating at times(please stop it with the asides whispering things to the players and calling them BILLY BADASS) and I'm 99% sure that the promised list of COOL WEAPONS(tm) that they're gushing about is going to contain at the very least one katana.

But it feels like they actually want you to have fun with their game. Like, primarily what they focus on is how powerful you can get, what neat things you can do with that power and how the GM should try to further your fun. They recommend the GM and player getting together to work out characters in ways that are interesting and will fit into the game. They encourage the GM to not be overly stingy with rewards, especially when the players really accomplish something neat or take a big risk(and come on, what other game has a pre-set point reward for SAVING THE UNIVERSE? That's kind of rad). Whenever they chime in with "this is a good way to run the game," the reasoning is more or less always "you'll probably have more fun doing it this way," which I can respect.

You can really tell how fumingly annoyed they were with old school D&D at points, though, like when they blow half a paragraph pointing out that finding money or magic items isn't worth any XP, and even add them into their "misc. scenario rewards" table with big zeroes for their XP rewards.

The game is a bit amateurish so far, but it definitely feels like it has heart.

Now just wait for my opinion to change.

In any case, chargen is relatively simple. You pick a race, you pick a class, you spend bonus points to hit your class stat minimums(without going over your race stat maximums), you earn Fate Points from "karmas" and "codes" so you can spend more points on Nifty Cool Stuff, buy gear and then any leftover Fate Points are carried into play as Save Your rear end or Do Cool poo poo points. There are ten stats, and you roll a D20 trying to hit or exceed(Your Stat - 21) as a generic check to do things or not have things done to you, even for opposed stuff. Reasonably simple so far.

Then we've got races. We're told that we can play Really Cool Things(tm), so what really cool things can we play? Note that I mostly skip their descriptions here because there isn't all that much interesting detail in them, mostly about when they were kidnapped by/created by/fought the Death Horde and a few details about their societies which mostly tend to boil down to "if you play one of these who isn't a wacky dude that's acting at a 90-degree angle to the rest of their society, they're completely useless as a PC."

Akir! Eight-foot tall half-giant vikings that hit things hammers.


Azaar! Four-armed jungle-dwelling chamelon-dude pit fighters.

Demonians! Real evil dudes who are servants of THE DEATH HORDE. Their aesthetic seems to mostly be "jRPG yard sale weaponry."


Drakkans! Dragon guys. Yeah that's really it, just dragon guys.

Goblins! That you'd call "ogres" in any other fantasy setting because they're at minimum six feet tall. Also their most defining characteristic is that they all stink, apparently.

Golgothans! They're... okay they're loving Yautja/Predators, Jesus Christ. There's the art, where the dude looks like one and is holding a human skull. They've also got super stealth skills and can see body heat. Oh and they like hot and humid climates, you know, like we established in Predator 2.


G'rru! In case you want to be a furry wolf dude who's posing mostly naked in front of not one, but two full moons.


Human! So far the only species capable of being less than six feet tall. Also painfully average in all stats. Also at this point I have to admit that I am thoroughly baffled by the quotes accompanying every species, the human one appears to be something about giant crabs killing and eating people. The Goblin one was simply "POO!" If this book was more recent I'd have assumed it was literally what Kickstarter backers paid to get into the book at a certain backer reward tier.

Khazak! Dwarves.

Khobolds! Greedy wizard dwarves.

K'ryl! Humanoid plant-folk that look suspiciously like classic Greys with a camo pattern.

Mokarr! If you want to play a demon-worshipping clone with a ponytail.


Nazar Ethan! If you want to be a God's weird Aryan ubermensch pet creation.

Saurans! Lizard dudes who are mostly described in terms of how incredibly boring their home regions are and how desperate they are to to get the hell away to a place that isn't just sand and more lizards.

Sidhe! Since they're shapeshifting spirits, of course the creators decided that they should be drawn as sexy elf ladies wearing basically nothing. They can shift to any size between an inch and seven feet tall, and retain all of their physical stats while doing so. Including strength, which defines carrying capacity. Sadly, once they've shifted into one mortal form, they're stuck with it forever. But I'd totally make a one-inch-tall physical powerhouse character. Especially when they can start with the necessary strength score to lift something approximating two-thousand metric tons.


Silestion! Glowing rebel fighty people who have incredibly poor taste in tattoos judging by the race art.


Solarr! Winged bird dudes who lay eggs and therefore hate snakes and anything else that eats eggs a lot.

Starin! Elf Classic with terrible taste in boots.


Tauran! Polygamous minotaurs with harems that have to bang people of other races/species to actually produce kids.


T'leel! Sea elves with, uh. The picture speaks for itself more or less. Jesus Christ.


Tygor! Cat people!

Okay, so the races are a combination of furries(with a bit of a fetish thing from the Taurans), edgelords from the 90's(like the DEMONIANS), misc. ripoffs(Golgothans) and generic fantasy options(dwarves, elves and humans). Not off to a super strong start here, SenZar. I mean, you gotta really hit me up with something that makes me want to continue into the next chapter, to really validate my claim that you've got hea-



Oh, good point. A quick look at the classes chapter shows me that it's got more absurd hair than the 80's, more softcore porn shots than the 90's internet and in general enough ridiculous character art that it's going to be hilarious even aside from the TEXT

Next time: CLASSES

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



The Azaar btw are straight stolen from Talislanta (The Ahazu) right down to the four arms and often being used as gladiators.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



PurpleXVI posted:

Silestion! Glowing rebel fighty people who have incredibly poor taste in tattoos judging by the race art.


Can't tell if this is supposed to be Starfire from Teen Titans or Meggan from Excalibur doing their best Wolverine impression.

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable




Someone call a doctor. This woman's torso is hosed up.

Communist Zombie
Nov 1, 2011


Mors Rattus posted:

The Abrahamic faiths typically hold that the gods are not truly divine, if they acknowledge them at all. They are things which the Creator allows to exist, and despite myths, they had no true part in creating the world. They use their stories to justify power over mortals. Their Purviews do not grant true miracles, and when the dead go to Underworlds, it is because gods use their natural powers to force them to do so. Otherworld realms are extraordinary, but no more divine than the ability to make a house.

In Scion Judaism should have probably not grown/evolved out of their older henotheistic stance, where they acknowledge that other gods exist but only worship Yaweh. But Im not at all a Jewish theologian so I cant say what would happen instead when the Second Temple was destroyed since that was what propeled the move to monotheism, unless its still standing/rebuilt? Christianity and Islam can still be monotheist though.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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This is chalked up to 'we want the world to be recognizable and may be devoting a book to monotheists in the future.'

Communist Zombie
Nov 1, 2011


How dare Onyx Path not work through the ramifications of their urban fantasy setting. :colbert:

Serious question though, will the major branches of Christianity all share the same 'pantheon' or will they have different ones? Cause for example, saints, which could be used to fill a psuedo pantheon, explicitly arent a thing with Protestants. Maybe theyll use angels instead?

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





I see no problem with just saying Protestants don't get powers. :colbert:

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Communist Zombie posted:

How dare Onyx Path not work through the ramifications of their urban fantasy setting. :colbert:

Serious question though, will the major branches of Christianity all share the same 'pantheon' or will they have different ones? Cause for example, saints, which could be used to fill a psuedo pantheon, explicitly arent a thing with Protestants. Maybe theyll use angels instead?
"The Bible" is probably a powerful quasi-God if we're extending this theory forwards, an entity of reverence greater than Jimmy C. or Jehovy.

To be honest I'm actually totally fine with Scion just being "it's the modern day, more or less, but with god magic around the edges" and not having an involved bestiary of regional Protestant folkways.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Green Intern posted:

Someone call a doctor. This woman's torso is hosed up.

I'm still trying to work out the fact that A) somebody else had to have dressed her with all those buckles and yet B) they let her go out looking like that.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Scion: Hero
The World Is More Than Enough

The World, and the mortals in it, matter. A lot. Mortals give meaning to the lives of the gods. Heroes, of all Scions, deal with these people the most. They often still have mortal families and friends. They went to school, had jobs before their Visitation. Hell, some of them still have education to deal with and jobs to go to - while most Heroes can easily find a cult of their parents to pay their way, some don't like doing that. And some don't want to just work doing the job of their parents - a Scion of Areas may be a tactical genius but still want that MFA in Creative Writing, or a Scion of a crafting god wants to become a hero of the working class and never misses his shift. Legally speaking, being a Scion doesn't get you out of the education requirements of the law or society, or the need to socialize with same-age peers, or the emotional turmoil of high school. Sure, some cults use their influence and funding to get homeschooling or distance learning, but mortal families, cult elders or even your divine parents might favor sending the kid to public or boarding school - and some cults interfere to arrange for multuple Scions at the same school. At college level, some Greek societies even waive pledge requirements for Heroes. Which is to say: you can absolutely run a school game, if that's your bag.

The average government takes a hands-off policy when it comes to Scions, and generally they expect that in return, as long as you keep the place safe from mythic threats. Heroes walk the line between subtly helping and meddling more than most divine beings. Cops and politicians sometimes quietly call in Heroic aid - for the sake of their careers, to solve problems they can't find a good way to handle, or to deal with mythic weirdness that is above their pay grade. Some are even just political figures in cults that figure their piety should get rewarded by Heroic favors. And, of course, a politically proactive Hero doesn't wait to be asked. They use their power to solve crimes, defend the rights of people they care about, pursue patriotic or subversive acts. It's not a big deal for most people if a Hero does this by their words and actions, but mortals often resent Heroes who blatantly use their magical abilities to do these things. Telling your cult to hold fast against the cops is one thing - it's another to use your divine power to get the cops to run away and lay down their guns. When that sort of things happens, governments tend to crack down on associated cults and even charge Heroes with crimes...though no one really wants to put a Hero through the courts, given the difficulties involved. Rather, they more often will quietly contact other members of a Hero's band or pantheon to try and get them to step back. If that doesn't work, well, there's always other cults, who have their own Scions to call on.

In western Europe and North America, Scions have no special legal status, except possibly recognition as religious figures. Some agencies do informally track them, but it's not discussed publically as it might be seen as a form of religious persecution. In countries more deeply tied to a pantheon via national identity, state bodies may require registry of identity and role. Until the fall of the Qing Dynasty, the Shen were officialy registered with the government, in accordance with both mortal and Shen policy. The chaos that followed and the growing belief that these policies were part of an oppressive traditional culture ended this until after the Cultural Revolution, when the system was revived and integrated into the state's security apparatus. (The Shen still don't entirely agree, given their differences with the Communist government.) Governmental registration systems tend to break down, anyway, when Scions cross borders. It'd offend a lot of cults to detain Heroes, though some organizations are quite interested in their movements. Typically, a disruptive Hero won't get in trouble for refusing to declare their divine nature, but might be deported for other reasons.

Most Heroes don't really need to work - cult ties and their innate abilities mean they can usually find a good meal and a good bed. Some, however, cultivate LEgend by work - steel-driving men, women that beat Nazis one rivet at a time, ruthless business leaders. Heroes with the right talents can excel in these fields, and sometimes cults run businesses - a good enough reason for a lot of Heroes to help out. These businesses don't really give direct access to, say, Hephaestian craft, but you can spot the names, logos and connected industries if you look. As with governments, mortals don't really like it when Scions become major economic actors, but Heroes have mouths to feed like anyone else. This means many end up working for business interests, either short-term or long-term, to solve problems or earn money. The big multinationals prefer Scions not screw with them, but their rather flexible ethics and long-term goals mean that they're happy to hire on Heroic mercenaries as executives, marketers or spies at times - or as muscle to rescue workers from riots, warzones or other hazards. Corporate gigs mean not having to care about ministering to a flock, just earning pay, and most corporations big enough know where to find Heroes for special jobs, usually under wraps. Of course, the more secretive the job, the more likely it'll be ethically dubious and come with some long-term consequences.

So, about cults. In Scion, 'cult' is just any cultural religion that honors a pantheon. They aren't any more likely to be sinister, fanatical or secretive than anyone else - on average. Sure, some are, but your average cult runs a day-care center for kids that can't take part in services, ministers to normal people and is full of folks trying to have a good life. Sometimes, sure, cults love a Scion too much, acting like screaming groupies. Sometimes they think their worship entitles them to control a Hero. Heroes can't just ignore them, though - as far as most pantheons are concerned, supporting cults is one of the main jobs of a Hero, especially if they were given power for their piety. Heroes visit the flock and remind them that the divine is real and potent. They listen to prayers and either answer them or send them up the chain. Sometimes, that's even a formal process (and, with the Shen, involves a lot of complex paperwork). This can be a burden because it empowers mortals to expect a proper answer, should they submit the request correctly. Either way, though, answering prayers is usually in your best interest, as it builds your Legend. In return, you can expect a cult to support you materially and provide people for anything you need to do, as long as it's consistent with their theology. It's not an unlimited right to abuse funds or people, mind, and cult treasurers can get quite testy about greed, but a Hero can always at least expect room, board and trivial expenses if they're in good standing. This gives the ST plenty of room to elide boring financial concerns but focus on interesting financial concerns if they want, such as a Hero's enemies attack their cult connections financially to get at the Hero.

Titans also have cults, but they rarely work out that well. Titans don't really care about worship, in general, so their followers are usually a bit more faithful but less numerous, since they can't actually expect a return on their faith. These cults either honor the Titans as creators, or try to beg them not to hurt people, or at least delay their calamities for a time. Titanspawn usually only call on these cults for immediate practical reasons, and give only token rewards to keep things going. They might need muscle, or go-betweens, or just food and shelter. Once the job's done, they leave or, sometimes, kill the cult to tie up loose ends. Some Titans do favor their cults, of course, and not all titanspawn are that selfish. Some work to prepare the cult for doomsday, while others support a select group not for love but because they appreaciate the Titan's purview - artists, naturalists or explorers that open themselves to the raw power of nature, untempered by humanity. Prometheus cults, for example, tend to be of this type.

Covens are the most distrusted, secretive and dangerous form of cult, because a coven exists not to honor the gods, but to harness their power. They usually treat worship as a technique or social maneuver, rather than a way to gain divine guidance. They do the rite, the Scion or whatever tool or proxy does the job. That's not to say they're less devout - often they have an internal theology that frames worship as a transaction. Holy, yes, but they want results. Covens have poor reptuations, as some sell their services or demand divine intervention for malicious and venal goals. Thus, covens may often get treated as (anthropological) witches - that is, those who use magic to harm others. On the other hand, some covens have bargains to heal the sick and aid the weak. Some Scions even like covens, since they tend to have clear-cut and explainable expectations, and they can make excellent agents when a third party wants help.

The example coven is the Weird Sisters. A thousand years ago (give or take), three sisters became widows due to the actions of the warlords Duncan and Mac-Bethad as they engaged in a series of petty wars in Scotland. The sisters called on the Morrigan for aid. They wanted to end both lines, but thought it might take them generations. However, the Morrigan agreed to help only female, property-owning descendants - a typical trick by the Morrigan to ensure the sisters either lost her favor or joined with the kind of men they hated. She didn't think they'd remarry, then promptly murder their husbands and selectively commit infanticide to keep the bargain, nor that they'd produce disciplined enough daughters to continue the process, at least until more liberal social mores and better reproductive medicine made it less harsh (a little, anyway). To this day, the Morrigan's Scions are bound to aid the sisters' three eldest female descendants, provided they own some land. The Weird Sisters mainly use this work to keep themselves rich and fund initiatives supporting women's financial autonomy. The warlords, well, Shakespeare wrote a play about them.

Guilds are a form of cult that have existed for as long as the gods have favored certain jobs. They are warrior societies, religious smithies, sacred sex workers and, these days, programmers, engineers and analysts. Many guilds can claim an ancient pedigree, though some of these have changed the profession they serve or turned into social clubs. Others arise new and without heritage, though Scions rarely acknowledge them until their profession has proven it'll last - no one wants to bind their power to something that'll become obsolete. Guilds often serve as professional networks for their members, and may even be formally recognized authorities in their trade, though in those cases the religious aspect is officially optional...even if everyone knows you can't make it anywhere as a Greek steelworker without paying respects to Hephaestus. Scions with purviews related to mortal trades often form guilds entirely by accident, simply due to their natural aptitude bringing such people together.

The example guild is IBIS - the Institute for Business Information Sites. It's a recognized leader in network security standards, specializing in air-gapping and courier-facilitated data transfer protocols. They began as a joint project between a number of Thoth-worshipping librarian and archivist groups, but have become wealther than all of them. The facilities they design combine Faraday cages and biometric security with ancient techniques for defeating intruders that go back to the pyramids and their secret chambers. As an act of devotion, they build their own facilities to preserve human knowledge, which clearly belongs to Thoth, after all, and protect it against future idsaster. These facilities also serve as good boltholes in case of trouble, as long as you can squeeze between etched granite slabs.

Family traditions are what it sounds like - families close the gods, with their own ways of honoring them. Some were founded by Scions or family of Scions. Sometimes a god gave them a revelation or even a relic to keep, or they're descended from priest-kings. Whatever the origin, they are both clan and cult. Their reunions are religious rites, their estates are temples. Most are highly idiosyncratic and evolved behind closed doors. Some keep the oldest secrets of the gods, while others have distorted into horrors driven by a belief in their own holy privilege making morality obsolete. Because they don't need unrelated worshipers, even the gods can lose track of them and their actions. Civilizations collapse, the priests vanish, the gods move on and never notice that a clan became refugees, bringing their faith with them. Rediscovering them is usually a happy occasion, if they've kept the faith. Some of them can be convinced to share their faith, but it risks offending the family, who have earned their place over generations.

The Grandchildren are the example cult. See, Ogun has a lot of kids, and some of them have a lot of kids. The Grandchildren (or omo, in Yoruba) follow the ethos of their ancestors and protect their communities with wisdom and strength. Individual lines have their own customs, but when their branches meet, they follow rules similar to the Yoruba Ogboni, fraternal groups. These use subtle symbols, shibboleths and handsigns to confirm membership. The Grandchildren protect themselves from persecution by fouynding self-defense initiatives wherever they are, and they tend to be quite fit and good fighters.

Next time: Historians, Mystery Societies, Reliquarians, Social Clubs and Temples

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Purple: can you please list the artists who worked on SenZar? I hope they're credited in the book because I think I recognize some telltale calling card design inclusions on some of them.

Subjunctive
Sep 12, 2006

sparkle and shine



Hostile V posted:

Purple: can you please list the artists who worked on SenZar? I hope they're credited in the book because I think I recognize some telltale calling card design inclusions on some of them.

It’s more fun if you guess first!

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!


Hostile V posted:

Purple: can you please list the artists who worked on SenZar? I hope they're credited in the book because I think I recognize some telltale calling card design inclusions on some of them.

Here's the full list of artists, written out straight from inside the book's cover.

"Interior Illustrations: Roland Paris, MONKEY BOY STUDIOS, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Wade Rico, Manon Williams, The Brüne, Tammy Bruner, Yorbath Splee, Todd King, Joe Toler & last, but not least, Mean Mildred (Aww-Eee-Aww)

Graphic Design & Art: Dave Catoire

Cover Art: Roland Paris"

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



The art isn't actually all that bad in terms of quality for someone's 90s dnd heartbreaker.

Content, though, ehhhhh.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Senzar is different from most Heartbreakers in that usually the AD&D-plus-more-better rule set is built around some nerd's idea of "realism" or "verisimilitude", whereas Senzar is actively trying to crank up the heroic badass level.

So it's already doing better than 90% of Heartbreakers right out of the gate.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



PurpleXVI posted:

Here's the full list of artists, written out straight from inside the book's cover.

"Interior Illustrations: Roland Paris, MONKEY BOY STUDIOS, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Wade Rico, Manon Williams, The Brüne, Tammy Bruner, Yorbath Splee, Todd King, Joe Toler & last, but not least, Mean Mildred (Aww-Eee-Aww)

Graphic Design & Art: Dave Catoire

Cover Art: Roland Paris"
Alright then, I'm wrong with my guesses. To my eyes, whoever drew the Sidhe was either a big fan of/inspired by adult illustration artist James LeMay or decided to just trace and reuse pornographic comic art Greg Land-style.

Won't lie though I'm digging the Predator/Klingon hybrid.

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


Lucas Archer posted:

Go for it! I love learning that kind of info, and it gives me greater context for the module.

Will do then.

I've never actually read Barrier Peaks front to back, and we certainly didn't find everything when I played it, so there might even be more recurring monsters than I'm aware of.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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



I AM SAD

PurpleXVI posted:

SenZar
Tygor! Cat people!

:effort:

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017






Indeed. 'Tygor' goes to show they put in roughly the same amount of effort into naming things as the creators of the Masters of the Universe line did.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Scion: Hero
Cult Classic

Historian cults exist to maintain historical traditions. They tend to serve pantheons with ancient and storied pedigrees, and some of them date back to the BronzE Age...though not most. A lot of historian cults are reconstructionists, studying the past in order to discover the "true" religion of the ancients so they can practice it now. It seem redundant, given the ageless gods who still exist and prosper, but religions evolve and the oldest gods are rarely very accessible people. Thus, many reconstructionists are a sort of fundamentalist, who seek a pure age of faith to emulate. Sometimes, this means they offend modern values, but often it just means they're weird. Sure, some priests won't marry two men - but they're outnumbered by the ones who don't give a poo poo about that, just what the proper dowry would be. Historian cults take a lot of research - enough, in fact, that worship can become a secondary concern. Many historian cultists don't actually like modern Scions, and some even try to tell them the "proper" way to do things...which some gods actually appreciate, as they share those older values. Still, this is the kind of cult that knows the old rites and the ancient tales, and they can help you if you need answers from the past.

The example cult is New Arcadia, a small commune on an island off the coast of Washington State. Its native flora have been replaced by Mediterranean plantlife, and it survives via primitive fishing boats. The residents came here to live as the ancient Greeks did, 3000 years ago. Mortals don't know a ton about that era, and the Theoi have been profoundly unhelpful in filling in the gaps, so a hundred and two worshippers decided this was a test and that they should live as the ancients did, that the gods might reward their dedication. It worked out. Several Scions have visited New Arcadia, and at least once a Scion helped the residents learn better Achaean and how to read Linear A. The exclusive knowledge the community possesses accounts for about half of the money they need to survive due to university consultations, and the other half comes out of Theoi cults donating to them to support the experiment. New Arcadians have almost no modern technology, except for radios for emergencies and guns to drive off unwanted guests.

Mystery Societies...well, they come in a few types. In some cultures, everyone joins one, where they learn the secret knowledge of their gender, or their family, or their trade. Others are real secret societies, using special knowledge and gestures to confirm membership and serving as Masonic-style groups, organized crime syndicates or, sometimes, just people that want to not talk about their faith with outsiders. Some mystery cults are in between, sharing low-level knowledge freely but hiding the most sacred from those that do not put in their service. There's a lot of mystery cults out there. When the gods decided to interact with the World more subtly, so did many worshippers, hiding away what once was public. However, quite a few predate the change. These groups were entrusted with secrets, all kinds of secrets, and they still keep them. Titan cults are often mystery cults as well, refusing to acknowledge their true masters until you reach the inner circle.

The example cult is The Order of the Mule. To the general public, they're idiot frat boys shouting about Set as they do stupid, stupid things. They recruit from college campuses, competing with the Greek societies (who have denied them any official recognition). Would-be members must undertake a week of booze-fueled antics while wearing donkey masks, earning the right to use the bottom floor of their clubhouses and get free beer. The minority of these who avoid the parties after entering are singled out for further initiations. Their intelligence, survival skills and ambitions are all tested, and they are offered many temptations, threats and generalized harassment. Each ordeal, you see, brings them closer to the true purpose of the cult, the service of Set as moral leaders and sometimes soldiers.

We get a sidebar on Heroes serving as ordained clergy for cults. Governments rarely recognize Heroes as objects of worship, but often allow them the perks of priesthood, such as tax-exempt status or professional recognition from law enforcement or cultural adminstrations, as well as the right to privileged conversation with the flock. However, clergy are also often encouraged to refrain from some forms of political speech and may have restrictions on how they can use their tax-free incomes. They must demonstrate they're attending to the needs of their followers, above and beyond killing monsters. Mostly, this route appeals to Heroes that like personal relationships with their followers and have little interest in business or politics. When ordained Heroes fail to perform their clerical duties, though, it can risk their legitimacy as priests or even their cults' legal status.

Reliquarians are cults formed to protect holy objects. They keep them, do holy rituals for them and so on. Some of these possess only a representation or facsimile of a true holy object, but believe their worship passes through the symbol to the genuine article. Often this is a belief of necessity, when a Scion comes to claim their relic as a Birthright, or a thief steals it. However, many also possess true artifacts - body parts of Scions or monsters, even Relics of power. Sometimes, worship shifts from the gods to the objects, and some may accuse the reliquarians of being idolaters with no true faith, but typically their beliefs have answers to this accusation. When the 'true master' of the relic shows up for it, things can sometimes get messy. A Scion might have to make a show of just borrowing the item, returning it to its sacred place whenever possible, or might have to pass a series of tests to prove their worthiness. And, of course, a Scion that loses the relic will have a lot of unhappy cultists, though they might be willing to wade through Hell to help get it back.

The example cult is the House of Caladbolg, who possess Excalibur. ...one of them. Caladbolg is the name of the sword in Middle Welsh, and the cult collects potential Excaliburs for safekeeping. They were first commanded to do this a thousand years ago by the Scion Fergus mac Roich, who lost the first Caladbolg, and faked his own death to seek the blade...until he found it, or a twin of it, in the hands of Pendragon the Bastard, as the House knows Arthur. They refuse to acknowledge his kingship or his given name and do not especially like the Welsh pantheon. Fergus told the descendants of his old warband to keep up his quest, and they have. The House of Caladbolg are loyal to the Tuatha de Danann, hoarding supernatural weapons they believe belong to the Irish gods by right. Modern members are also happy to trade in other antique weapons, and will happily trade foreign relics for cash or favors.

Social Clubs are similar to guilds, but without the professional focus. They promote some kind of activity, generally recreational, and treat the gods as their patrons. They drink and have feasts, they play sports, they debate, they go camping, they host orgies. Typically, they follow gods of compatible Purview, but may defy that expectation out of longstanding traditio, such as their founders all loving a particular god, or because they developed out of some other type of cult. For example, the Lycoctonus Club was once a society of hunters in service to Apollo, but now their only woodland pursuit is a 72-hour game of tag on the club's private island. Social clubs usually love their rituals, but are rarely especially devoted. Still, they are proud of their traditions and would be deeply embarrassed if their gods came to harm. They often have unusual knowledge and a wealth of shared resources when pressed, and they're certainly fun to be around.

The example cult is the Corinthian Society. After World War 1, the Corinthian Club of New York avoided the general decline of gentleman's clubs by redefining themselves as a benevolent works society, open to any. Of course, not all members were created equal, and while anyone (including women, since the 60s) may join by paying the steep initiation fee, descendants of 19th century members and their select invitees benefit from slightly better service and a network of private estates, so long as they honor Poseidon. The society offers its estates as homes for Poseidon's Scions and servants, who receive free elite membership. To the public, though, they are most famous for promoting the Corinthian ideal of amateur sport. Every few years they fundraise by holding the Isthmian Games, an Olympics-like event limited only to people who have not competed since age 16, if ever. The Games feature a certain degree of clumsiness that amuses the public but irritates Poseidon, as the original Isthmian Games were held in his honor. However, he does appreciate the work of the Corinthian Society, which funds horse rescue charities, support for earthquake victims and gives his kids a good meal and a nice place to sleep whenever they ask for it.

Temples are cults organized around a place of worship, whether that's a rented church hall, a corner of a strip mall or the Parthenon restored. (They even got the Elgin Marbles back, mostly, though tourists are still more common than cultists in Athena's great temple.) Due to the required infrastructure, temple cults are the groups most likely to have fulltime priests and caretakers. Maintaining sacred sites costs money and time, so these groups typically are efficient fundraisers or, at the very least, have wealthy patrons. Some Scions take it on themselves to fund their pantheon's temples. While this dedicated space is useful, it can also be a target for enemies of the cult, and temples to more belligerent or maligned gods and pantheons often have safe rooms, emergency supplies or even small arsenals, kept hidden from the public. However, in some cases, the best protection is the public itself. You go after the Parthenon, and millions of Greeks will despise you, even if they're not fans of Athena. Temples often double as soup kitchens, emergency shelters, food banks or other charitable ventures.

The example cult is Ishtar Gate, USA, a temple in northern Mississippi that was founded by a small but wealthy cult of worshippers of the Babylonian gods. They intend to create a perfect duplicate of Babylon's Ishtar Gate, using nothing but period construction techniques (except for the use of contemporary computer modelling to ensure they get it totally right, and modern shipping to bring in the materials). The Gate is currently only half-done and is in the middle of some nondescript swampy land, but it is open to the public and draws a small number of tourists yearly. The company owns enough land to recreate the entire city of Babylon, but they haven't figured out a decent business plan. Marduk's Scions have made it very clear that unless the end result is an economically viable community, it will dishonor the city god.

It should be noted that most cultists are just people. They worship as part of their routines, coming to the temple after work to ask for help in meeting deadlines or getting clients. They bring the kids by every Tuesday after karate class to visit the sacred grove, or set aside a week each year to head to Uppsala for the Aesir temple there. Sometimes their phones ring during services to Zeus or they fall asleep as the Epic of Gilgamesh is recited. They aren't false believers for that. It's just easy to take the gods for granted, a little. Cults are, fundamentally, communities, even when social networking isn't their primary purpose. You ask around your cult for advice on finding a dentist, or to raise money when your house burns down. Cults use phone trees, email lists and social media to mobilize people when needed. They're gossip-laden community organizations. Of course, when a Scion shows up, they're usually allowed to take charge and as they like...as long as it fits cult doctrine, is practical and doesn't annoy the cultist leaders too much. Of course, they're rarely defied openly, but cultists can often focus on what a Scion "really" meant, delay things, and pray to the gods to do something about their wayward child. Ultimately, power still rests in the hands of whoever organizes things and maintains cult assets. Usually, those people are elected by the cult's members, and in some places that's legally required. The USA defines most cults as Traditional Religions Operating as Private Endowments, or TROPEs. They are tax-exempt and have special rules on governance and financial reporting. Only the largest cults have full-time staff, and not all have formal priesthoods. Aesir godi are usually volunteers, elected for their public accomplishments, while the Shen have dozens of kinds of priest, who may be full- or part-time. Typically, priests run the cults' religious functions and set goals, but the practical matters are handled by lay officers most of the time.

Not all spiritual matters take full ceremony, and not all of them need the full cult congregation. Many cults have a small number of people that do rituals outside of the main mass of cultists, specializing in more practical services. These are your soothsayers, ascetics, cunning folk and exorcists, who you visit when you want to know where grandpa hid the money or if your marriage is destined to fail. They rarely perform social rituals like weddings, though they may do funerals, especially those designed to keep the dead quiet. Cunning folk are often part-timers, but not all work for free. However, in many jurisdictions, pretending to offer supernatural aid is a crime, and false soothsayers can be fined or imprisoned. If they can prove they really did see the future in the entrails, though, there's no case - and it's a defense that has a reputation for success.

Next time: Deifans, corporate cults and the mythic underground.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Dark Heresy: Part 14

Do you work for the idiot or the lunatic?

I'll be honest, the organizations of Calixis bit has some actual plot hooks (the farmers are strange feudal world people who have wicker men and are slowly monopolizing sector food production, multiple evil banks) but I'd rather just get on to the Example Inquisitors, because they're more interesting.

These are your official 'we investigate the Scarystar' folk, who your PCs are expected to be working for unless you make your own. They're meant to run a bit of a gamut of the Imperium's various Inquisitor styles. They do a good job of hammering home that you are relatively unlikely to have a good boss as an Acolyte. Every single one has an assumption about what Scarystar is and naturally for every single one it's based entirely on their area of expertise with no actual evidence.

Inquisitor Lord Zerbe is the highest ranker in the group and a man who spends all his time sitting on a throne in gilded armor with a golden mask and powdered wig. No, I'm serious, that's in his description. As leader of the Cabal, he believes his role is to spend all his time ensuring his Inquisitors are at one another's throats and that none of them triumph over or kill the others. To this end, his Acolytes are employed to provoke, hinder, or assist the other Inquisitors. Note pictured: Him or his doing any actual work on the Scarystar issue. He is also noted as a powerful space wizard, something the other Inquisitors don't know.

Inquisitor Rykehuss is a violent idiot. His strategy is to hear there's a suggestion of heresy in a region, then descend upon it with his men and start demanding people undergo trials by ordeal while he executes massive numbers of people in an auto-de-fe. He is portrayed as more cunning than this makes him look, because you see, he calculates his mass random murders based on hearsay and rumor so that they will remind Imperials that witches exist and that people should fear both witches and the man running around in power armor covered in I symbols. Not pictured: Any actual progress on Scarystar, which he assumes is the work of witches. Dude hates those witches.

Daemonhunter Ahzammi is a crotchety old man who has decided over his 300 years of service that Chaos is probably going to win. He is deeply depressed, has fallen into Radicalism occasionally to try to understand if there's any embers of hope left in the galaxy, and he has come here specifically to see if Scarystar is the final blow against humanity for some reason. One would think he'd want to be closer to Cadia or the Eye of Terror if he wants to 'bask' in the eventual doom of humanity. He is torn between just letting himself die, or holding out that he will find a worthy cause to 'mount his mobile battle pulpit' against once again. The only thing he cares for in his acolytes is their courage against demons, even though he thinks all is lost in the long run and that the Imperium is a cruel joke about how the human race can't accept its fate. I could see PCs getting Ahzammi to mount up and go down fighting rather than sitting and waiting for death.

Inquisitor Astrid Skane used to be an Arbitrator and is still a tough cop who plays by her own rules. She is probably the sanest Radical you will ever meet, as her Radicalism extends to thinking the Imperium needs extensive legal reform because her time as a space cop showed her that a noble title or Inquisitorial rosette lets too many people skirt the law entirely, and that the law is often too harsh on those it can reach to compensate. She uses her Rosette to send her Acolytes and her own investigations against corrupt officials, failing Arbitrators, and other agents of lawlessness that hide behind the unjust laws of the Imperium. Most players would probably be pretty down with working for Skane. She thinks the most logical conclusion for the Scarystar is that it's probably a big cult working some kind of big magic ritual, and she'd like to investigate more to confirm or deny, making her the first Inquisitor at least interested in doing any Scarystar related work.

Inquisitor Van Vuygens is an Ordo Xenos fanatic, convinced that the Scarystar is a sign of the leading edge of a Tyranid Hive Fleet. He is a disciple and former Acolyte of the famous Inquisitor Kryptmann, who decided that the best way to deal with the all-devouring bug aliens was to divert them into the fungal soccer hooligans. A scientist at heart, he has his Acolytes running around trying to piece together just what the deal was with the various species the Imperium exterminated when it first took over the Calixis sector, to see if the Scarystar has any roots in these pre-imperial races. If you like poking around the cyclopean bones of mass extinctions, he could be fun to investigate for.

Inquisitor Globus Varaak is a Baron Harkonnen lookin' fellow who lost his legs and is now a fat old man sitting in a mobile chicken-walker pope throne. He is a dedicated Amalthian, a Puritan faction that believes the Imperium is the best of all possible governments and that hoping for anything better is foolish. He pushes his Acolytes to avoid declaring they work with the Inquisition so as to avoid stepping on the rest of the Imperium's machinery, and is noted as a mentor and relatively caring master who has realized he will have far more influence if he helps to raise the next generation of the Inquisition. He has no idea what Scarystar is, but the fact that it causes dissent has made him join the hunt for it so he can stomp it out, presumably with his silly little robot chicken legs.

Lady Olianthe Rathbone is a psychopath. She is an elegant victorian noblewoman who follows the Radical creed of the Istvannians. Istvaan is where the Horus Heresy started. Istvaanians believe that the Horus Heresy was super great and that it is actually very good to have massive strife, civil war, disaster, and deprivation because it will 'make you strong' and 'purge the weak'. To this end, she employs plenty of Acolytes, sends them off to commit acts of terror and spark civil conflict, then burns and betrays them to avoid being traced to the treason she had them commit. If you want your Inquisitor to turn out to be your main villain, Rathbone is your lady. She genuinely thinks this helps the political stability and prosperity of the Imperium, because she is dumb as all hell. She also believes the Scarystar sounds awesome, but does no actual work on it.

Inquisitor Soldevan isn't a psychopath, he's a lunatic. Also the token black guy! He is a powerful psyker who has gotten really into the idea that if mankind can just harness the energy of the warp in a controllable fashion, this totally won't end in daemonhosts and fire this time. He is completely obsessed with this end, and has his Acolytes running around finding him more blasphemous tomes and evil rites so he can compel more demons to make deals with him. At no point in any of this has he considered that this may be unwise; an Overman like an Inquisitor never makes mistakes! He thinks the Scarystar may be the key to communion with the Warp.

Inquisitor Kaede should just have 'Inquisitor Cliched Novel Protagonist' written all over him. He's an irrepressible rogue who bucks authority and always fights the good fight and he's a philosopher and a swordsman and a wizard and he's so nice and cool and great folks, really. He spends all his time messing with Rykehuss and believes that there's an optimistic future waiting where all of humanity is psychic, like him. He named his goddamn psyker sword the 'slight jest', for god's sake. He thinks Scarystar sounds like a fun adventure.

Finally, we have Inquisitor Al-Subaai, who believes literally everything that happens is an alien conspiracy because everything is loving space aliens, man! He believes all non-human life is a galactic defense mechanism against the amazing superiority and purity of humankind. He is a crazy conspiracy lunatic, but that's certainly a new one for the setting. He spends his time sending his Acolytes out to kill people who try to talk with, study, or deal with aliens, because they could sap our vital essence if he does not. He assumes the Scarystar is an evil alien mind control device or something.

So yeah, those are our Inquisitors. Most of them are more concerned with various personal obsessions than their nominal Scarystar mess, none of them have any real evidence or inkling of what it could be beyond assuming it's got to be their Thing, and most of them sound rather awkward to work for.

We also get a bunch of short paragraph blurbs on a few other worlds, but not much of substance. The chapter I was dreading is now done, and Calixis can be safely ignored in the future.

Next Time: Ill Considered Stats

darthbob88
Oct 13, 2011

YOSPOS


Night10194 posted:

Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Dark Heresy: Part 14

Do you work for the idiot or the lunatic?

Inquisitor Van Vuygens is an Ordo Xenos fanatic, convinced that the Scarystar is a sign of the leading edge of a Tyranid Hive Fleet. He is a disciple and former Acolyte of the famous Inquisitor Kryptmann, who decided that the best way to deal with the all-devouring bug aliens was to divert them into the fungal soccer hooligans. A scientist at heart, he has his Acolytes running around trying to piece together just what the deal was with the various species the Imperium exterminated when it first took over the Calixis sector, to see if the Scarystar has any roots in these pre-imperial races. If you like poking around the cyclopean bones of mass extinctions, he could be fun to investigate for.

That was Kryptman's second plan to deal with the Tyranids. His first plan was to just burn a giant cordon in their path, ordering Exterminatus across half a sector in order to deny the Tyranids that biomass. After he got the Inquisitorial boot for the largest act of genocide ever, then he diverted the Hive Fleet into the Orks, hoping to leave them in an endless war and give the Imperium time to prepare. Of course, if the war ever does end, the Imperium will have to contend with either a Hive Fleet fattened off an empire's worth of Orks, or an army of Ork veterans honed by their endless war.

Given that this man taught van Vuygens, I can't help thinking that Calixis Sector will wind up on fire and/or eaten.

marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

I've been sitting here for 5 mins trying to think of a joke to make but I just realised the animators of Mass Effect already did it for me



So how much in the way of Inquisitor on Inquisitor violence are you expected or allowed to get into? If we work for the crazy heretic radical, find out our Inquisitor is a terrorist mastermind and turn to the super cop with proof, what can we expect to happen?

marshmallow creep fucked around with this message at 19:52 on Mar 19, 2018

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


marshmallow creep posted:

So how much in the way of Inquisitor on Inquisitor violence are you expected or allowed to get into? If we work for the crazy heretic radical, find out our Inquisitor is a terrorist mastermind and turn to the super cop with proof, what can we expect to happen?

Someone's walking out of that Excommunicatus Traitorus, and/or eating a bolt shell in the back of the head and then reported 'missing in action'.

One of the ongoing, subtle jokes of the Inqusition is that the main threat they usually end up thwarting is, uh, other Inquisitors.

E: Basically, you have a fairly high chance that your campaign's final boss might be another Inquisitor, your Inquisitor, a fallen Inquisitor, etc. Fallen Inquisitors are also a problem because Inquisitors are, you know, intel agents with huge networks and a lot of support, who often operate independently and off the grid for a long time anyway. It can be hard to get word out that, say, Inquisitor Rozea is trying to birth a 5th Chaos God to fight the other ones and absolutely should not be trusted under any circumstances, especially as it would entail admitting that that Inquisitor had previously been working on 'Is it possible there could be more Chaos Gods' under Inquisitorial mandate prior to that. (Rozea was a Black Crusade PC in one of the two Black Crusade games I ran for my in-person groups).

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 20:00 on Mar 19, 2018

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Scion: Hero
Tags: Slash, Zeus, Thor, Dubcon, H/C, Fluff

Deifans are a new subculture, and they've kind of turned the whole cult organization thing on its head. The mass media, see, can create new myths without real gods being involved. It used to be that elders of the pantheons would manage legends by telling them to trusted poets and scribes. Sure, there wasn't a way to completely control the creativity of folks like Homer or Vyasa, and they could introduce biases or omit information or even lie...but overall, the old tales unfolded as the gods wanted. Mass literacy, the printing press and the new media took that tool away, so the gods gave up on their most blatant forms of influence. They gave up on the storytellers as the storytellers became truly numerous, which probably ended up encouraging mortal creativity, as they were not forced just to document legend but could invent it, without the shadow of authority looming over them. And...well, broadly speaking, that's how fandom came to be in Scion's World. The gods left a vacuum to be filled by amateur storytellers. When the small press, webcasts and websites came up with every possible variation on media franchises, a few fans decided it was time to write speculative fiction about real people. Real people like celebrities...and gods.

Deifans are not traditional worshippers at all. To them, the gods are the ultimate stars, fodder for fanfic and gossip. They wrote love stories about cross-pantheon pairings that are usually wildly out of character, they report on their interactions with Scions in online communities. Some cross the line between gossip and fiction, reporting things they wish happened as if they were real. Everyone's read stories about sex with gods, and most of them are fake. Most. The best writers sometimes even get published, but tradition demands that they fictionalize the names. See, the gods are real, so Deifans often have to invent new ones for their stories, to disguise the identities of Scions and their adventures - real or fictional. Generally, this is just disguised enough to invite speculation about who the characters are meant to be, but not so obvious as to count as a legend that might cause Fatebinding. Deifans love interacting with Scions and are often eager to help...but you never really know what they'll write about it, or if they're smart enough to change up your name so that Fate doesn't grab their story and start trying to force it onto you. Assuming it gets popular enough for that, anyway. Fatebinding is...weird.

Because few gods want excessive attention, few openly support any cult embedded in a government or major corporation. Everyone knows that small corner stores or even smaller chains support one or another pantheon, but if mortals though Scions controlled large multinationals, they'd probably not just suspect them of undue influence but demand the gods act against it. Similarly, while civic faiths can gather politicians for prayer breakfasts or memorials, the public does not want presidental blots. In countries with strong national pantheons, governments make sure to tightly control the framing of ceremonies to ensure it's clear that they represent the traditional relationships with what the gods represent, not with the gods as people. It's a thin line, and sometimes it gets crossed, but for example, even in Japan, civic Shinto rituals actively avoid including Scions most of the time. Some Scions attend anyway and try to go for the big multinational or government power, but they try to not get caught at it. Sure, maybe Anubis' Scions have cornered the market on funerary goods - but they're not doing it under a name like Pyramid Corp. Smaller firms, like IBIS or Fenris Arms, can get away with it with a little winking and nudging, but both mortals and gods watch them for any sign of exerting undue influence.

Governments and business do have to deal with the supernatural sometimes, though. Companies dig up old ruins, local surveyors find monster lairs. It's fairly common for these organizations to quietly ask their staff about cult affiliations, using them to build relationships with Scions willing to help with these problems. Rewards for this work are usually vaguely worded honors, charitable contributions to things the cult supports or special considerations in zoning bylaws, customer rewards programs or other minor elements that the local government or business can control without implying a deep relationship.

Fenris Arms is a good example here. They are known for making weapons stamped with the Tiwaz rune, primarily very durable pistols, rifles and military-grade arms for militaries, cops and private security forces. All of their firearms are ambidextrous, and the firm is a pioneer in the field of assistive technology for users with physical disabilities. Fenris was founded by an incarnation of Tyr, and Tyr continues to serve as its CEO via a number of identities. The board and a good chunk of the employees are either Tyr's cultists or Aesir Scions, but Tyr works to keep the company small and priced out of reach of hobbyists. Fenris Arms weaponry is typically found only in the hands of elite military and police forces, or owned by people with disabilities, who get steep discounts. The Fenris head office is in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Switzerland, just down the street from the (much larger) HQ of Swiss Arms. Tyr can only rarely be found there, though - he located the company there for political reasons but doesn't actually like the country all that much.

Modern gods don't really want their kids disrupting society, which actually makes crime a fairly relaxing pursuit for Scions. They're already breaking the rules, so why not do it a bit more? Many cults tolerate minor crimes like tax evasion, labor exploitation or shady business deals ending with a prayer to, say, Hades. It doesn't take much to shift from that to organized crime. The cops know this and maintain files on criminal cults, but they're tough to crack - even before you get into Scion crime lords, you've got extreme loyalty and the use of cult shibboleths to detect outsiders. Cultic syndicates have mystery cult methods to draw on to maintain secrecy and chain of command, using secret signs and initiations. Heroes tend to be naturally inclined to lead them, but sometimes they develop on their own, and may even resent a Hero trying to take over or change their methodology. On the other hand, cults can also be victims of crime - hate crimes, titanspawn gang attacks, rival Scions. Maybe the local cultists just live in a bad part of town or are part of a discriminated group. This can drive Heroes to fight crime...and the cops don't usually like that kind of vigilantism. It brings them dangerously close to mythic issues, makes them look bad and often makes them have to clean up whatever mess the Hero leaves in their wake. Maybe a Hero jsut turned one easily handled syndicate into a chaotic mass of warring gangs. Maybe a Scion broke a mob boss's legs before handing them to the cops, which makes prosecution iffier, to say the least.

Still, the cops shy away from actually arresting Heroes. They get treated with great lenience, like action movie heroes. A poorly-supported self-defense claim justifying a ton of bodies will lead to questioning, sure, but if the Heroes are (mostly) in the right, they'll usually just get grilled and then told to leave town for a while - if they've got a rep for benevolence, anyway. When they're in the wrong or too disruptive to tolerate, generally officials will use alternative forms of pressure. The gods usually don't like Scions making too much trouble for mortals and may intervene when notified via their cults to make it known the matter's being dealt with. If all else fails, rival Scions might get called in as deputies and an arrest might get made. Cops hate this because it pits Scion on Scion on mortal turf, but if they have to, the police will give over credentials to ensure Titanic or otherwise mythic problems get handled.

Beyond cults, there's also the general mythic underground. They're not quite cultists, not quite criminals. They're the people who get interested in the mythic, who really dig down and become caught between the mundane and the legendary. This isn't a coherent group, but a collection of subcultures, obsessive cliques or even Scion groupies. You go to your cult for worship, gifts, connection to the gods. You go the underground when you want to sell a bit of kraken tentacle, meet a titanspawn on neutral ground or make fire sculpture for an audience, either for art's sake or cash. It's also a good place for a Scion to get some casual sex, since it's kind of shady, morally, to go for cultists, interband relationships can be so much trouble and...well, some folks just love Heroes, or the idea of sleeping with one. Some just want sex and gossip, some want something deeper - you just have to find the right people. The underground cliques can often hazily merge with actual cults, criminal gangs or cultural movers. More orthodox cults hate these guys, which tend to be extremely multicultural, because they embrace the mythic as a whole rather than parts dedicated to specific theologies. There's also a good deal of crossover with the inhabitants of Terra Incognitae - the mythic emigres often feel more at home among these people, and members of the mythic scene often yearn to move somewhere wondrous.

Collectors are pretty common - both themselves and the networks of dealers that service them. Many collectors are anonymous, and they all want divine artifacts, legendary critter bits - really, anything that seems divine and cool. It's a good way for a Hero to get some extra cash. The dealers usually refuse to name buyers or sellers, and may keep some supernaturally gifted security on hand...but if you can get past discretion and force, most do keep a client list for emergencies, which can be pretty useful.

Cultclubs are the bars, nightclubs and parties of the mythic underground. Organizers invite Scions or Titanspawn. Some of these guests believe in a code against fighting at the club, but not everyone respects that. Clubgoers revel in the presence of Heroes, but only the newest are rude enough to just walk up to them. Custom is, unless you know someone well, you wait for an invitation. Scions that like to perform for crowds indulge themselves at cultclubs, and despite the name, most of these places are financed by folks with a general interest in the mythic rather than dedicated cultists...though a few major venues are sponsored by the cults of the more recreational deities.

Deifans we've discussed. They write fic about Scions and share it. Occasionally, they cross into gossip and journalism. The deifan community is mostly an online thing, and may never involve face-to-face contact. Some of their work, known as deific (pronounced 'dayfic') is embarrassing and offensive in its depictions of Heroes...but some Heroes embrace their deifans, using deific to build Legend or relay messages.

Godbloggers and Godcasters are the successors to the old G-Zines. They're citizen-journalists who report on Scion activity and weird events, generally to very small but devoted audiences. Some cross into deifan territory with their speculations and bias, but many are professionals, in ethos if not fact, and try to use reliable sources and consider the fallout of their scoops before throwing them out there. Some godcasts are pure cultic propaganda, of course. Heroes listen and read for the news...and to make sure secrets they'd like to stay secret don't get out.

Mythopoetic Societies are the academics interested in the gods, Terra Incognitae and legends. They want to know the how of it, how the epics compare to history. They aren't regarded all that highly in academic circles, but being a mythopoeticist isn't quite a career-ender. Even if no one would ever say it, most scholars have a bias against questioning or annoying the gods. Mythopoeticists try to interview Heroes, publish embarrassing revelations of history, and sometimes even unearth dangers that even the gods forgot about or never knew.

Next time: Friends and foes.

Bendigeidfran
Dec 17, 2013

Wait a minute...


Mors Rattus posted:

Generally, this is just disguised enough to invite speculation about who the characters are meant to be, but not so obvious as to count as a legend that might cause Fatebinding. Deifans love interacting with Scions and are often eager to help...but you never really know what they'll write about it, or if they're smart enough to change up your name so that Fate doesn't grab their story and start trying to force it onto you. Assuming it gets popular enough for that, anyway. Fatebinding is...weird.



"Imagine Fifty Shades of Grey, but it actively inflicts its narrative on reality." The world can only hope that Fate has good taste in fiction.

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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!


SenZar



Continuing Chargen(Classes)

Okay, so, the races were a bit underwhelming, or hilarious, and the classes are off to a strong start by having an Alchemist that looks like something off a Marvel Comics cover, but they're also off to a strong start in terms of loving up. Read the following.

SenZar posted:

All Professions are "balanced," with no one Profession enjoying a particular advantage, either in combat or in spellcasting, over another.

...

All Professions, even the ones with both Combat and Spellcasting abilities, progress the same on the Experience Point chart. The "balance" for this seeming advantage, besides the obvious GenMin increases, is the fact that the majority of the "dual-classed" Professions must adhere to a specific set of unwritten rules, or codes.

Okay, so firstly, sometime around when RPG's first decided to dabble in "pick disadvantages for more chargen points" and half of them inevitably turned out to be "roleplaying" disadvantages, everyone with half a brain realized that these were more or less just free points in most cases. But, then, check this next quote.

SenZar, literally half a loving page later posted:

Nothing is set in stone, and the Creator should feel free to "tweak" a Professon to suit his own campaign.

...

Who knows: perhaps, in your campaign, there might be a Shy'R Martial Arts-based cult of Assassins(who may serve a more "neutral" or even "good" cause)

"So our balancing depends on roleplaying limitations on some of the classes, but here we are, encouraging you to scrap them to your heart's content!"

Anyway, that minor screw-up aside, lets get into the classes themselves. Mechanically they seem to make a decent amount of sense right out of the gate. We've got a unified XP chart for all classes, we've got unified HP gain(modified only by our Constitution), and only two separate tracks for combat and magic advancement. So anyway, what can we play as? Does it sound more exciting than the race options? Let's find out.

Alchemist



Alchemists are wizards who also come with a shitload of crafting skills. Everything from scribing through smithing and making poison. Also, for some reason, also astrology. All their "spellcasting" more or less takes the form of hand grenades in some way or another, lobbing alchemical reagents at people's faces, or crafted items. If you like war crimes, this is the class for you. Alchemists are really limited in their spell supply only by how much they can craft and carry, and can use their stuff instantly, but need to prepare it before hand. At high levels, Alchemists also get to make stuff like cloning vats or novel life forms.

Assassin



If you're an assassin, you have to be evil and can never break your vow of assassin silence, lest your guild hunt you down and stab you in the brain. Unless the GM says otherwise, as noted earlier. You also get BLACK WYRM martial arts, which I scrolled ahead to read about. Basically they're underground(in the literal sense of being made by subterranean evil guys) martial arts that "bear a resemblance to the Terran art of Ninjutsu."

Astromancer



You're a Star Cleric who casts his spells by drawing Zodiacal signs in the air in front of him, which is kind of cool, and handily enough also silent, and your powers will also be stronger during the one month of the year where your Zodiacal sign is ascendant(The SenZar calender is handily more or less like ours, at least similar enough that their year is 364 days long). All their powers are themed around the sky, stars and planets, with the occasional foray into stuff that makes their astrological work easier. They can also summon their own sun in case they need to deal with vampires or anything else similarly vulnerable to proper sunlight, and just carry it with them to incinerate bad stuff. Oh and their peak powers involve creating literal Black Holes. That's pretty Exalted.

Battlemages

Battlemages are wizards with swords who are, for some reason, during training, brainwashed into prioritizing enemy Battlemages over all others. I'm not sure why you'd program them like that, but I guess it's just what you do when you teach a guy to throw fireballs with his off hand while wielding a sword with his main hand, you tell him how he should chump on anyone else who looks too much like himself. Their magic is mostly generic elemental effects focused around blowing up bad guys and defending good guys. Though they also get time magic. Yeah, for some reason these guys' useful haste spells(which cap out at 100x speed for the caster) are capped off with "you can go anywhere in time, have fun kiddo."

Dragonslayer

Dragonslayers are noble, valiant, morally upright and super strong nazis. Yeah you think I'm exaggerating but it says they're all part of a 99.9% human order that plans to purge all non-humans from their ranks soon enough. They've got a Paladin-esque code but, as the game says, there's no actual penalty for ignoring it. Considering that they point out how nothing will arbitrarily strip away your powers for breaking your code, I suspect someone had a traumatic experience playing a D&D Paladin at some point. I read ahead and there's a slightly interesting story to the Dragonslayers, though. Apparently their patron deity is Rel, the only deity that started out as a bog standard human, and thus the deity of choice for most humans. Apparently prior to ascending, he provided his followers with tons of advice and guidelines on how to love and serve each other in the best ways. His followers nodded, compiled it all into a big volume, and then started killing non-believers and non-humans. Rel was unprepared for this, and since his flock of followers turned out to be raging psychopaths, somehow that infected his divine mind and he, too, is now more or less as much of a jackass as they are.

Enchanter



In more or less any other game they'd have gone ahead and called these guys "Bards," they're trained in creating illusions, they're acrobats, they play instruments and they know how to sing. Oh and they can steal your wallet. This is also the sort of art you should expect for pretty much every female class picture. More or less anything you can find under the D&D wizardry school of Illusion, you're going to find here, as well as charming spells and almost anything that'd be handy to a thief. Their 10th-level capstone spell is a magic fog that turns any illusion it touches into permanent reality. That's incredibly abuseable, and I love it.

Harlequin



You're Agent #47 as performed by the Joker with uncomfortably tight pants, that's more or less the short version of this one.

SenZar posted:

The Harlequin is a True Loon: a specially trained Assassin/Enchanter with a decidedly strange passion for theatrical skills.

When the situation calls for an assassination to be made as boldly, as insanely, as possible, then the traditional Assassin, who traditionally operates in a clandestine fashion, is passed upon and the Harlequin is loosed.

...

The Harlequin begins his training as an Assassin -- but is "weeded out" of the normal training process once the true lunatic nature of his personality surfaces.

"Well, once we found out he was a total fuckup and a danger to all of us, we trained him wrong as a joke." The Harlequin also has a skill called "Poisons & Radiations." The Assassin and the Alchemist have it, too, but for some reason I didn't notice it there. "Poisons & Radiations." I really hope that it literally lets you mix up a bottle of ionizing radiation and toss it at someone, or make your dagger radioactive. That'd be too great.

Inquisitor

This is the nerdy Nazi to the Dragonslayer's jock Nazi. Oh and they're psychic. Psychic powers in SenZar are referred to as being the spell school "Mysticism," which allows you to mind control people, explode their brains, do some minor scrying, disintegrate things, create matter ex nihilo, shoot mind bullets, teleport and incinerate people's souls.

Martial Artist

You start off knowing how to kick someone so hard their kidneys come out of their rear end in a top hat, that's about it.

Mystic



In case you want to have mind bullets without being a Nazi, play this guy.

Mystic Assassin



The normal Assassin will stab you and then kick your head off. The Harlequin will set up some sort of ridiculous Rube Goldberg machine and eventually you'll want to kill yourself from his terrible puns. The Mystic Assassin trips and stabs out her own liver with the ridiculous crossbar on her sword because she isn't wearing any armor covering her abdomen. If that doesn't happen, though, she's a psychic assassin.

Mystic Warrior

So now we've got a Psychic Assassin, a Psychic Nazi, a Psychic Psychic and here's a Psychic Martial Artist to round it out. Also while the Nazi Paladins don't lose their powers for violating their ostensible code, the Mystic Warriors will in fact forget how to use their brains to kill people if they bring dishonour upon themselves.

Necromancer



With the Necromancer, we're up to 6 out of 13 classes so far who are only available to evil, psychopathic or profoundly nihilistic characters unless the GM grants special dispensation for you to play a good murderer for hire. Necromancers are kind of cool, though, their ultimate goal is to become either a lich or a demon. They accomplish this by duelling undead or demonic creatures, respectively, and whenever he defeats one, he gets to steal one of its skills, attributes or abilities. This is almost certainly profoundly broken, but somewhat novel. Their spells are an even mix of demon stuff, undead stuff and soul-manipulating stuff. I particularly dig how they can use soulstones to trap enemies in, at which point he can then tap their abilities, attributes, special skills and even their mana pool for his own use. So you could have a high-level Necromancer wearing soul-filled jewelry that lets him more or less duplicate demons' physical capabilities(those he hasn't already absorbed from duelling them), dragons' breath weapons and just tapping their power rather than bothering to resort to his own mana.

Priests

They are, predictably, divine spellcasters. Interestingly, though, they have a bonus way to earn XP that no other character has, which is conversion. If they can manage to convert an enemy to their faith, said enemy is worth twice the usual XP. I have to admit this is probably the first time I've actually seen a fantasy RPG where clerics or their equivalent are encouraged to proselytize and convert. Their Divine Magic is pretty standard Cleric stuff, healing, harming and warding, with an array of "help god plz I need you to bail my rear end out of the dumpster fire I have gotten myself into."

Ranger

Forest Cops.

Rogue

The only noteworthy thing about this class is that this is when I noticed that rather than having a "Bluff" skill, SenZar has "BS." I.e. "bullshitting." Also that they're the only class with the "Party On!" skill which, at first, seems ridiculous. All it says it does is that it allows you to resist the effects of "any intoxicating substances." But then I realized that does have some interesting applications for a thief. After all, you can dose the same water or food that everyone's eating with drugs, consume what everyone else does with no ill effects, and then rob them blind, without risking getting dosed by something you can't handle or having to somehow charm your way out of having a drink when everyone else is having one.

Sentinel

We had Nazi paladins before, now we have anti-Paladins. Similarly to the Priest, they get double XP for converting enemies to their cause, in this case always evil. Aaaaalways evil.

Shy'R Warrior

If you want to be a good fighter guy rather than some variant of evil fighter guy, without investing in any sort of magic or psychic powers, you play a Shy'R Warrior. The only cost is that you have to get a terrible dragon tattoo sprayed across your chest.

Sorcerer



Ha ha holy poo poo the Sorcerer. What the gently caress do I even need to say? Look at his loving art, it's a loving hoverthrone with missiles on it. Basically, think Dr. Doom, they learn both magic and science. Their magic starts off as more or less just flying and throwing energy bolts, but then they learn how to turn enemies into mutants or irradiate them to death, and how to forcibly trigger beneficial mutations in allies. His capstone abilities involve more or less making gravity his bitch and, you know those powerful Prismatic [Noun] spells from D&D? He forges one of those into a suit of armor and a weapon and then goes to town with it.

Spellsinger



Unlike the Enchanter and the Harlequin, this is our true bard, armed with his own unique magic skill, Spellsinging, which only his class gets access to. They have a roleplaying weakness which compels them to accept any music or singing challenge. So if some random guy insists you take up his banjo challenge, you have to accept it. The loser has to leave, while the winner gets to "stake his claim to the best bars and locales." This is actually kind of awesome, I love that you've got these battle bards who more or less live to go around having musical duels to determine who gets to perform here.They get about five different variations on the idea of "Power Chord: Kill" as well as the ability to sing eulogies so touching that the gods go: "okay, this dude was pretty righteous, he gets to go to heaven." There's also a spell of Permanent Coolness(tm) that translates to looking like you're always wearing new, black clothes, having your face be forgotten by anyone who tries to remember you or even see what you look like, and leaving no footprints. They also get to do the Blue Mage thing where they can literally steal and learn any spell cast within range of them, at the risk of eating the full effect with no save.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.Stalker

A grab-bag of combat, martial arts and stealth abilities intended for kidnapping people, more or less. A Stalker could probably get employed by the Forest Cops or something, to bring in criminals, but it's implied that they're more or less kidnapping people for crime syndicates most of the time.

Warrior



In case you want to start with a ridiculous belt buckle and six different weapons, like some sort of hoarder with an infinite inventory. Also appears to be the only class who gets to start with boxing or wrestling as a skill.

Witch



Male witches are also called witches, not warlocks, is what this class description told me. Also apparently witches are either True Neutral, evil or good, depending on who you ask. Because no one, apparently not even witches themselves, know why they do what they do. Except it may be good, or bad, or neither. Their spell selection is a bit odd, but mostly focuses around minor curses that can only be resisted by literal gods or other witches. Disappointingly uncool, SenZar. A capstone spell that can be paraphrased as "create a sacred grove where you get some bonuses" isn't going to cut it.

Witch Hunter

Witch hunters are psychic vigilantes who hunt, in order from least to most wanted, violators of the innocent, persecutors of the weak and hypocrites. They're also grim and brooding.

Wizard

Like pretty much every other class, the book goes on about how useful and powerful they are, but doesn't really describe what sets wizardry aside from, say, the Sorcerer's Techno-Magic(aside from worldview) or Witchcraft(aside from the wizard having less babbling nonsense in his class description), until you flick to the chapter that contains the actual spells. Like most of the other "traditional" spellcasters, Wizards get to fly. They also get style points for having a basic attack spell that can be summarized as "you point at someone and want them to die, and they take damage from that." About the only really impressive thing they get, though, is that they can create unstable wormholes that, if left unattended for too long, will start growing uncontrollably and just gobbling up landscape and objects and drawing them back to the point of origin. It honestly seems more useful as a poo poo-starting spell than a transport spell.

Okay, so, honestly? I'm pleasantly surprised. With the power scale already established as going up to "create a black hole to ruin people's day" without even needing to break into the Immortal ruleset, they're certainly delivering on giving players power and agency. System so far seems simple. Some of the classes are actually kind of charming, like having Rogues with drug-related superpowers and Spellsingers that have to accept any sort of musical duel or challenge. They've got an interesting take on Necromancers, and the Sorcerer's air-to-air combat throne is loving rad.

Next up, though, is going to be the skills and combat. That's where things could seriously break down, both system-wise and sanity-wise.

I almost kind of hope it does, I mean, so far SenZar is really failing to live up to the negahype, and is instead feeling like something I might run one day to see how well it works.

Next up: How the game actually works. Exciting!

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