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Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

If you wouldn’t play SenZar get the gently caress out

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Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Didn't you miss two classes? That are very clearly marked "The GM is under no obligation to let you play one of these", which, uh, says something when that shows up in SenZar of all places.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Well, obviously it was gaming for the next millennium, that's why SenZar never took off in '96. They had to wait for this millennium for it to be played.

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


If your game lets you play Dr Doom, then it's gotta be a good game.

Could probably do without all the nazi-adjacent poo poo, but that's painfully standard in too many fantasy worlds.

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!


Zereth posted:

Didn't you miss two classes? That are very clearly marked "The GM is under no obligation to let you play one of these", which, uh, says something when that shows up in SenZar of all places.

Three, actually. But I figured I'd save them for next post, because the writing up is pretty fast to do, but having to scan, then rotate and trim all of the images until they're postable is surprisingly annoying.

Cassa posted:

If your game lets you play Dr Doom, then it's gotta be a good game.

Could probably do without all the nazi-adjacent poo poo, but that's painfully standard in too many fantasy worlds.

I'll point out that SenZar never tries to paint the Rellians(the local human superiority dorks) in even the faintest of sympathetic lights. It straight out goes: "these guys had a really nice deity who saved the world for them and then tried to give them a nice life, and it turned out they were all huge assholes so bad literally drove him insane. They're corrupt, they're dickheads, they're all about racial purity and they should probably be shot on sight." Like, the game might have Nazis in it, but they're totally not the good guys, and the game doesn't even try to make them cool with neat skull-themed armor and poo poo like that.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Night10194 posted:

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).

"Only the insane have strength enough to prosper. Only those who prosper may truly judge what is sane."

In other words, a stable well-adjusted person is unlikely to survive the Interrogator period intact. An all-driving obsession is more-or-less a requirement to survive in that environment.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The Lone Badger posted:

"Only the insane have strength enough to prosper. Only those who prosper may truly judge what is sane."

In other words, a stable well-adjusted person is unlikely to survive the Interrogator period intact. An all-driving obsession is more-or-less a requirement to survive in that environment.

Especially when there is absolutely no oversight and Inquisitors are appointed on whim.

Inquisitors are, like most things in the Imperium, a tremendously stupid idea that is mostly destroying the Imperium out of its all-consuming obsession with finding Great Men who will lead it.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Bendigeidfran posted:



"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.

I like to imagine they have adopted the Victorian pretense of Mr. Z___ and Miss A______ and so on.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Night10194 posted:

Especially when there is absolutely no oversight and Inquisitors are appointed on whim.

Inquisitors are, like most things in the Imperium, a tremendously stupid idea that is mostly destroying the Imperium out of its all-consuming obsession with finding Great Men who will lead it.

Though the fluff surrounding their inception is mildly interesting, in that they were conceived of as men and women who weren't consumed by the early Imperium's all-encompassing fascism and retained the ability to think for themselves. The first Inquisitors were mostly remembrancers who had seen and survived serious poo poo during the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, including the first true Imperial Saint.

Things... went a bit off the rails, as they are wont to do in this setting.

DisgruntledFerret
Aug 27, 2013


Yeah, SenZar seems alright. Like it's dumb, but it's the fun kind of dumb I'd sit down for. Give me a rocket chair.

Plus, at least it's equal-opportunity with the art -- both males and females get the ridiculous cheesecake treatment.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




There's only one unifying aspect among Inquisitors, and that is an absolutely unbelievable strength of will. Beyond the kind of skills and powers you acquire over the course of one of their careers, an Inquisitor can push themselves through sheer force of will to do almost anything - they're incredible people to a man, and just as incredibly difficult to stop. In DH2E, they even get all sorts of advances that let them just grimdark action hero their way through their problems.

Some, maybe lots, are crazy, but that doesn't change the fact that Inquisitors are people who make things happen.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


To me, the theme of the entire Imperium is that it is constantly looking for Great Men, because it believes a Great Man *almost* led it to total victory, despite the fact that the Emperor was mostly just the most successful and vicious and powerful warlord. Every single Great Man they've relied on has led them deeper into ruin, but their cultural mythology is so deeply focused on Great Man theory that everything in their culture is constantly trying to produce the grimdark 'one in billions' turbo-hero they're convinced will fix things that they've never noticed that pretty much every single one of those guys has overall made things worse.

They literally manufacture Great Men as their most celebrated armed force. They constantly exalt the triumph of Inquisitors' 'will', of the necessity of just attacking with enough 'will' to overcome any situation.

I think I'll cover Deathwatch next specifically because its entire background is about a shitlord general who is convinced 'will' and enthusiasm will win him wars, who replaced a more conservative one, split his forces into three to 'win faster' so he'd be celebrated as the greatest commander since Macharius, and has now set the Imperium on the path to losing decisively across an entire crusade.

E: I think some of my harshness towards the setting comes from the fact that the older I've gotten the less patience or charity I have for Nazi-Adjacent material.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 04:51 on Mar 20, 2018

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Night10194 posted:

E: I think some of my harshness towards the setting comes from the fact that the older I've gotten the less patience or charity I have for Nazi-Adjacent material.

Understandable. Recent political events has made this a very reasonable stance.

White Coke
May 29, 2015


Night10194 posted:

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.

Could you talk about it after you're done with Dark Heresy?

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017
Probation
Can't post for 2 hours!


SenZar seems like it was possibly actually ahead of its time, I can't help but wonder if it got a lot of flak at the time for being 'silly' or 'unrealistic' and giving players too many cool toys when obviously everyone needs to start as a shitfarmer. (I mean, minotaurs, inch-high pixies and dragon people as PC races? Sounding familiar...) Then again, also likely the RIFTS problem in that there's a lot of cool stuff in the book, but god help you once you actually try to play it.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Night10194 posted:

To me, the theme of the entire Imperium is that it is constantly looking for Great Men

See, that's where my attitude gets even harsher than yours. I don't think it's a "theme". I think the writers (or at least the editors) genuinely believe that.

Little of the thematic scepticism you describe actually appears in the fluff. Fans read it into the setting themselves.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Loxbourne posted:

See, that's where my attitude gets even harsher than yours. I don't think it's a "theme". I think the writers (or at least the editors) genuinely believe that.

Little of the thematic scepticism you describe actually appears in the fluff. Fans read it into the setting themselves.
Some of it is probably due to other elements in the setting. The Imperium is like, stupidly, preposterously enormous and also does not seem to have characteristic planets other than that one that has the unique super-tuff Guard regiment (and that's just a warzone; Caltia? something like that). While presumably there are innumerable social variations on these various planets, none of them actually are pushed forwards by a charismatic figure who sticks in people's imaginations.

Like the closest is probably Ciaphas Cain, who is just Harry Flashman in Space.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Inescapable Duck posted:

SenZar seems like it was possibly actually ahead of its time, I can't help but wonder if it got a lot of flak at the time for being 'silly' or 'unrealistic' and giving players too many cool toys when obviously everyone needs to start as a shitfarmer. (I mean, minotaurs, inch-high pixies and dragon people as PC races? Sounding familiar...) Then again, also likely the RIFTS problem in that there's a lot of cool stuff in the book, but god help you once you actually try to play it.

Most of its flak has more to do with its authors going bananas on rpgnet.

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


No lie, I really like that necromancer take.

Angry Salami
Jul 27, 2013

Don't trust the skull.


Loxbourne posted:

See, that's where my attitude gets even harsher than yours. I don't think it's a "theme". I think the writers (or at least the editors) genuinely believe that.

Little of the thematic scepticism you describe actually appears in the fluff. Fans read it into the setting themselves.

Eh, it's been a while since I closely followed 40K, but it is a setting that makes 'great man' ideas laughable. The whole concept of the Imperium is that it's a rotting edifice that cannot possibly be righted because it's too large and too entrenched to be reformed. The Emperor himself, a super-human ultra-psychic, didn't have the power to prevent his vision for humanity being overwhelmed by its own institutions, and now he's the symbol and tool of a religion he would have despised. The old intro about how "The universe is a big place, and whatever happens, you will not be missed" is basically emphasizing that, that an individual won't make a difference. Humanity in the aggregate isn't that much different from the Orks or the Tyrannids; swarms driven by evolutionary pressures to expand, consume, and eventually collapse.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


White Coke posted:

Could you talk about it after you're done with Dark Heresy?

I'll see if I can find my old notes, but a lot of them for the Toluca Sector were written in my old college notebooks rather than on my computer and I'm not sure I still have them.

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



I can only imagine the Harlequin was created because one of the game devs just would shut the gently caress up about playing The Joker in every game this group ran.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I feel like the Harlequin murder school developed some kind of Deadpool clause. "Yeah, we got one of those once, never again."

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!


Inescapable Duck posted:

(I mean, minotaurs, inch-high pixies and dragon people as PC races? Sounding familiar...)

Pixies, elves, dwarves, furry races, dragon-dudes, a combination of tech and magic classes, and an implication that even though medieval tech level is the average, there are space ships and spacefarers around as a semi-normal thing... mostly it just makes me think of Wizardry 7 and Wizardry 8. Which is a good thing to make me think of.

OutOfPrint
Apr 9, 2009



Fun Shoe

So far, knowing nothing else about it besides its reputation, SenZar sounds pretty loving cool. I'd play a Spellsinger in a heartbeat, especially with a magic electric B.C. Rich wannabe like the guy in the picture's rocking.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Deifans are pretty amusing. I assume the kinds of things they write are not like, about the gods wrapped in cling film, or slash fiction. There's that stuff in our world about actors already, and it's creepy af when they get angry when their ships of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman aren't carried out by like, the actual humans.

Or the brothers in Supernatural.

Yeah.

Anyway, that's fun stuff if it's more respectful, which I assume it is because gods don't bother with lawyers.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



I want the Gods to be living in utter terror of something like the Alphaverse becoming inexplicably popular.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



The way Neall explains it, Fatebinding works thusly:

1. People start believing something about a god.
2. The god has done something that is at least close to what they believe.

If these are both true, then Fate steps in and starts arranging circumstances to make it happen more.

So, let's say that Zeus at one point ate a worm, but no one found out about it.

Then someone writes a story about Zeus eating worms.

Then a bunch of people start believing that story.

Now Fate is going to make worms suddenly start jumping out of the earth and leaping into Zeus' salad, because he ate worms, and people believe he ate worms, so now he's the god who eats worms.

If Zeus never ate worms, nothing happens, because there's nothing for that belief to latch onto, and Fate just shrugs and moves on.

E: Which means the Theoi, if no one else, have to fear the Alphaverse.

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 15:20 on Mar 20, 2018

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Dark Heresy: Part 15

Heretical beasts and where to kill them.

Dark Heresy features a new wrinkle on the Talent/Skill system: Traits. Traits are exactly like Talents except they mostly represent inborn abilities. No longer would, say, Daemonic be a Talent. It's a Trait now. PCs don't usually get traits, until later in the line. Note that most natural weapons are primitive, which means non-primitive armor doubles against them, which means Guard Flak is like Power Armor if a giant dinosaur tries to bite you under this system. There are also actual size modifiers now, something that didn't exist in WHFRP. The bigger something is (or the smaller) the faster it can move and the easier it is to hit. I won't be going over all the Traits critters can have, and I already talked about Unnaturals, but I really need to emphasize how hosed Unnaturals were pre-Black Crusade. Unnatural stats doubling or tripling your stat bonus made them scale crazy, and for some reason it took them 4 games before they realized they could just replace the old multiplier with 'Unnatural X adds X directly to your stat bonus and doesn't scale up as you increase the stat'.

Another pair of important traits are Daemonic and Warp Weapons. Daemonic is for, well, demons and makes them double their Toughness Bonus (Triple, if they had Unnatural Toughness) against any attack that isn't psychic, demonic, or holy in nature. How do you get holy damage? There's no RAW way to do this in the core book. Similar, it notes 'force weapons' work to bypass this. There are no Force Weapons until Inquisitor's Handbook. Sure, it's easy enough to patch in 'You pay 200 thrones and a priest blesses your greatsword', which is exactly what we did, but the books are full of holes like this. Similarly, a Warp Weapon represents demonic weaponry that bypasses any physical armor unless it has been blessed (again, no way to do this RAW in the core book), is made of 'psychoactive material' (again, nothing in the Core Book), or you're protected by a Force Field (no Force Field rules in core!). Get to house-ruling. That's what you paid for, right?

This is also where we get the small mutation table available for this game, with all kinds of minor bonuses and penalties but also the small chance you get a major mutation that will be impossible to hide. The Major Mutations have lots of gameplay power, but you're an obvious mutant in the Imperium of Man. This is probably not going to go well for you. Major Mutations can get a PC Unnatural Stats, though. You have no control over what you'd get and you're unlikely to have many brushes with mutation, so trying to use them as superpowers is inadvisable. I also just can't be impressed with two small tables after the d1000 Tome of Corruption table.

We then get into the various basic NPC templates and enemies for PCs to face, and again, I can't list them all off. I'll point out some that really stand out, but on the whole, the average Imperial is weaker than a starting PC. Your usual Cult mook is just a character with 30s in most things and 25 in WS and BS. Even fairly elite human soldiers are only given BS 35 and WS 35; the lower stats on PCs are still generally higher than average for the various heretics they'll be gunning down. Most human enemies will be even more bumbling than the average starting Acolyte. Also notable: Very few things have more than 20-30 wounds at the upper level of power in the core book. Much of core seems balanced more towards the idea that players will be spending a lot of time with flak armor and autoguns.

Well, until you get to the Saurian Carnosaur, which is an angry t-rex. I just felt it merited mention that one of the alien monsters is just a T-Rex. A T-Rex with TB 10, SB 12, and 40 Wounds, whose bite does d10+14 Tearing (Thankfully, Primitive). I think that thing is more badass than any of the various demons they're going to trot out other than maybe the Unbound Daemonhost.

Demons are a weird mixed bag of disappointing and frustrating. On one hand, most of their gear is still Primitive unless it's Warp. Even the Budget Bloodthirster Knockoff they made up for this game, the Charnel Daemon, which is said to destroy entire populations to 'make the world more pleasing to the Blood God' has only a d10+10 Primitive Tearing attack (they forgot to label it Warp, I think). That T-Rex would wipe the floor with him. As would a shot or two from good old Lascannon. 30 Wounds, 10 TB if the Lascannon isn't blessed, 5 if it is, and no armor? Demons also cause Daemonic Presence, which gives -10% to WP for everyone within 25m of the demon. The Fear Rules are the demons' true weapon. Most of the mook demons will be in a weird place where the PCs are screaming and running in fear but at the same time the demon can't hurt a moderately well armored PC due to the poorly considered Primitive rules. d10+5 on a Daemonette's Crabclaw sure looks less impressive when it's hitting a PC in AV5 Carapace and suddenly they're DR 10+TB. What I'm trying to get across is that stats are kind of a mess and that Primitive was always a badly considered rule.

Finally, we get the Daemonhost. These beings are created by Inquisitors, cults, and accidents with Psykers and they're meant to be the big, apocalyptically scary demon threat for DH Core, being a powerful daemon who has managed to acquire a mortal frame, displace the soul, and use it to stabilize itself within reality. They roll for stats like a PC, and have tons of variation based on if they're Unbound, Once Bound, Twice Bound, or Thrice Bound. Bound Daemonhosts are still obeying their masters. Unbound Daemonhosts are not. The less binding, the more things can go wrong and the stronger the host is. Daemonhosts have all kinds of weird extra mutations you roll for and weird spooky happenings that they cause when nearby to warn players spooky stuff is going down. The mutations range from cosmetics, to things that give it significant stat buffs, to the ability to look completely human and normal. An Unbound Daemonhost seems scary enough when you see stuff like Strength 45+2d10 and Unnatural Strength x3, but then you notice its Psy Rating. Psy *8*. They also possess every minor Psy power and have a bunch more Discipline powers. This is the thing your Psyker can explode into at any moment. The sole saving grace is that aside from Daemonic, they don't have that much damage reduction. It is certainly possible to beat the things (God knows my various parties have killed plenty of Daemonhosts at high tiers), but as a low level party you'd be reeling from the Fear 4+Daemonic Presence and their offensive potential is explosive. Bring a lascannon and someone with Fearless.

Monster stats are all over the place in DH because it isn't sure, yet, how much it wants to let players fight vs. how much it wants to be Space Nazi Call of Cthulhu. The answer will be weighted much more towards the former than the latter later in the add-on books, but I won't be covering those in detail because there are tons of them and they aren't as interesting at Fantasy's. When we see the example adventure, we'll see things in full Space Nazi Cthulhu mode.

Next Time: Example Adventures, yay.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Is anyone else having trouble with Imgur? it's refusing my uploads and has been for the last 20 minutes or so.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Mors Rattus posted:

Most of its flak has more to do with its authors going bananas on rpgnet.
On USENET (rec.games.frp.misc) - this was from before web forums were a thing.

You can have some fun googling "rec.games.frp.misc senzar" like I just did (and ended up here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rec.games.frp.misc/ucvqF_aVi8s%5B1-25%5D ). But not too much fun - it all seems so very tame in our current era of people being killed by SWATting and Russian botnets. It's a measure of how small and generally quiescent to early RPG internet was that the Senzar goofs made such a splash on it - to the point where people who weren't even born when the Senzar event happened know about their hilariously pompous sockpuppet promotional campaign. That's a memetic triumph of sorts, I guess.

FMguru fucked around with this message at 17:05 on Mar 20, 2018

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Dark Heresy: Part 16

There have been reports of more obviously unnatural phenomena, like walls weeping blood.

The sample adventure is a good example of the kind of mission Acolytes find themselves tossed into when they start their careers. Their mission takes them to Icanthos, the planet where mad max people fight over beautiful flowers that are probably fed on suffering and death and that make awesome combat stimulants that the Imperium uses to force penal troops to fight to the death. They are to assist a more experienced psyker, Aristarchus, who is a favored Acolyte on the verge of becoming an Interrogator, in investigating strange goings on at the site of a new Imperial cathedral on world. The briefing notes that the locals have seen strange lights, a rise in animal attacks, unexplained deaths and other signs of malefic workings, and that the phenomena and hauntings are only becoming more severe as the cathedral nears completion. Something is wrong, and Icanthos is strategically important not just to Calixis but to the rest of Segmentum Obscura (the wider region Calixis sits in) because those combat drugs are essential to getting billions of terrified people to fight until they die. There are as of yet no signs this poses a serious threat to the whole planet, however, so sending a rookie team to back up an experienced Acolyte is standard procedure.

The players arrive aboard a regular freighter that brings in guns and finished goods and takes back tithes of ghostfire pollen. The time aboard the freighter is meant to give them a chance to get to know one another, ask the other passengers about the world they're going to (Charm or Inquiry +10, with varying rumors that are all useless) and generally piddle around a bit until a pointless Toughness+10 test to see if they throw up on the way down. They can get a sedative to help with the nausea of orbital drop, making it Tough+30 to not throw up, but also giving them a -10 to Intelligence for d5 hours. None of this affects the adventure or has any mechanical bearing. Down in PORT SUFFERING (oi), the only offworld port on all of Icanthos, they find a dusty little frontier town despite this place handling all commerce for a planet of 5 billion angry warriors. They get hassled by a customs official and his two toughs with shotguns, but there's no chance of violence unless the PCs actually make it so, as he has no authority over them and they're free to Intimidate him or whatever. Again, with no consequence and the official knows nothing of any of the goings on at the Cathedral, which is far off in the town of Stern Hope. They're then approached by one of the awful little lobotomized baby robot things the Imperium loves (more pointless suffering and edge, why not?) which tells them to come meet Aristarchus.

As they wander the port, the PCs will notice weird people in face-paint watching them as they go through the crowds. These are (if they succeed an Inquiry test) followers of 'the Old Ways', which the locals won't explain further. They are meant to be spooky. Next they run into a half-naked crazy person screaming about how doom is coming because of a CROW FATHER. If the PCs try to arrest him or anything, some locals attack them, equal to the Acolytes' numbers, +2. If you're freshly equipped and not kitted for combat, especially if your team skimped on armor, you might actually get into trouble here. Especially if the PCs draw guns, which attracts the local cops AND causes the locals to pull their own guns. The local cops will try to calm things down. If the PCs win without using guns at all (The enemy backs off after half their number are badly injured or killed) the local crowds cheer them on. If the cops show up and don't end up arresting the PCs (Charm or Intimidate +10) they'll mention the locals from outside town have been really riled up of late. The locals watching the PCs and causing trouble are Ashleen, the pre-Imperial inhabitants of the planet who were, being human, only enslaved and brutalized and not actually genocided by the Imperium when it conquered the world centuries ago.

Aristarchus is waiting at an actual (if small) Inquisitorial holding, where he sends for the PCs to be treated if they're injured (the book assumes the PCs got into a fight) and gets them food and drink to let them relax after their trip. Aristarchus is only really described as 'handsome' and then a lot about his various finery, and he is a noted seer and reader of the Emperor's tarot. He is also a Rank 5 Psyker with an actual Discipline, so he is well ahead of the PCs in power. Aristarchus is a distant descendant of St. Drusus, at least according to him, and he considers it a personal matter to see the great new cathedral constructed and constructed properly, without any more of this evil sorcery that's been going on. He dismisses the likely cause as an undiscovered psyker or possibly unusually active marauders drawn to the cathedral's possible wealth, but the party is still ordered to investigate and he will still accompany them. There's a big sidebar about how Aristarchus is being tricked by the abbot of the cathedral; he has given him a magic set of tarot cards and flattered his abilities as a seer, and the cards are tainted with warp-sorcery. There is some kind of dark demon slumbering beneath the Cathedral (as you probably guessed) and as you might imagine, it would really like a psyker to get into. The PCs are walking into a very nasty situation and have no hint at this time that the psyker they are meeting is already beginning his path towards being compromised.

Aristarchus is friendly and helpful, and has already prepared personal radios, food, and outdoor gear for the hike to Stern Hope. He also gives the PCs 100 thrones to share among them to go purchase necessities in the local market, where they can also ask around and get more mostly useless but sort of foreboding rumors about how Stern Hope scares the hell out of people. The book notes actual guns and advanced gear should be 'expensive' but doesn't give any further details, so I hope you brought your lasgun (or better, autogun) and any actual gear you're going to need before you arrived because you sure as hell won't get it on Icanthos.

On their way to Stern Hope, they don't encounter a single living thing in the barrens. During camp, Aristarchus will be fiddling with his tarot deck obsessively, and if the PCs notice this and ask about it, he'll grudgingly note it was a gift from Abbott Skae in Stern Hope. A very touching one; a family heirloom, given to a great seer for his aid. The game encourages you to make Aristarchus friendly and helpful, to try to encourage the PCs to see him as a bit of an older mentoring figure as he explains matters about being an Acolyte en-route, but also to let PCs notice that he's having a great deal of trouble sleeping and often seems a bit unwell. Then, at night, they see a robed figure standing out in the wastes. It will approach their camp, silently, whenever the PCs stop looking at it. Whenever they look, it will be closer, but stock still. If they approach or shout out to it, there is no response. If touched, the robes fall away and a body hits the floor; the robes contained a dead, decaying Ashleen man, who has been slashed collarbone to neck, and who seems to have been dead for several weeks. There is no sign of psychic disturbance on the body and no explanation for it walking.

Later, at the foothills of the mountains, PCs will spot a dark figure watching over them from an outcropping, and any psykers in the party will get a +30 Psychic sense test (Per) to see if they can feel that something very, very wrong happened at that outcropping at some point. If they have no psykers, fail, or don't try using Psyniscience, Aristarchus just does it for them so the test was pointless. He tells them to investigate. PCs need to make a Climb+10 check, or if they fail it, a Agi+20 check or take d5 damage (affected by TB but not Wounds) as they climb up to investigate, which is a very exciting use of the skill system trust me. They find no sign of the dark figure, but do find a pictogram of an eagle clutching a skull burned into the rock, which is still hot. A -20 Common Lore (Imperium) or a +0 Scholastic Lore (Legend) test tells them this is a rendering of the sign of St. Drusus. A success by 2 DoS or better points out the skull and starburst were the symbol of the 2nd Army Group, which conquered this planet. Aristrarchus will make the sign of the Aquila and mutter to himself a bit, but won't volunteer any of this information. If the PCs mention it, he says this is an 'age of miracles' and fingers his tarot deck nervously.

They then arrive at Stern Hope without further incident.

Next Time: Stern Hope.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
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2014-2018



Scion: Hero
Band vs Band

Heroes end up banding together for a lot of reasons, but the big one is that they're really the only ones who understand each other. Other Scions might be stronger, but Heroes have a unique role in all this. They aren't just the baby form of a Scion, they're a distinct position in the world, with a real purpose. And that's why Bands form. The Heroes' Band is a known institution. There's no forms or anything, but Scions and the more interested sort of mortal talk about bands, gossip about membership changes and argue about the famous ones and their merits or failures. Heroes form bands because Fate throws them all together, or to cement divine alliances, or for tradition, or just because they all became friends on a message board. It's said that the manner of a Band's origin affects its members' Legends, so Scions have been known to exaggerate their band origins, or even just pick a foolhardy and reckless first quest to get some recognition. Many bands go without formal names...but if you don't come up with one, other people will, and it may be worth feeling like you're really pretensious to avoid being stuck with something like 'Team Jerkface.'

There have always been cross-pantheon bands, but they've only become really common in the past century or two. Even the more conservative gods are resigned to it these days, and some pantheons even encourage it for diplomatic reasons. However, when these diplomatic ties become strained, Scions in mixed bands end up having to choose between their family and their friends...and yet, these tensions are often why the bands are a good idea, because they end up in the best position to view these conflicts from a balanced position (if one that may well involve heated arguments), investigate them and solve them.

Heroes within a pantheon will usually treat each other as family, either distant cousins or the group you really wish didn't get invited to the annual cookout. Some branches are closer than others. Theoi Heroes often feel kinship based on common descent - the generally abandoned kids of Zeus need to look out for each other. Some pantheons discriminate based on origin, with certain gods being looked down on or value more than others, or blood-relative Scions being favored over those who are chosen. No matter what, the gods bring baggage with their power. Heroes born from often vilified gods face discrimination from their parents' rivals and from members of the public who only know their bad rep. Some people shun Scions of Loki or Set, though it's rarely an overpowering or omnipresent problem. More considerate folks understand the difficulty of escaping your parent's shadow and can also understand the politics of the old myths. Loki still helps the other Aesir a lot, and Set was a god of kings as well as outsiders. It takes a lot of stubbornness not just to stereotype the gods but then also insist that their kids are also untrustworthy. Of course, Scions unfamilar with a foreign pantheon's mythology often do rely on the same biased sources as the general public, and might be rather standoffish anyway.

Heroes do share a common culture that crosses pantheons. Not all of them acknowledge it, but their common passions and needs often bring them together to fight common foes, pressure the gods into giving them more freedom or just share personal advice. Heroes that need to hide their mortal kin from foes might find others who've done it before, or even one who does it as a regular side job, for charity or cash. Of course, shared interests can also breed resentment...but even mutual hate creates a community bond. You don't have to like your band, or the shadier Heroes, but everyone understands the need for a common decorum. Heroes tend to develop local hangouts and customs stemming from their unique position as the Scions closest to the world. Often, Hero culture crosses over with the mythic underground, but they also have some exclusive spaces - private cultclub rooms, forbidden areas in mythopoetic libraries. Often, thanks to these habits, the gods and their limited numbers, Heroes have heard of each other before they've met. Unless they choose to hide, no Hero is ever really anonymous.

Not that the game's going to provide demographics. They give a sidebar on why, and the short form is because any stated ratio is going to bring up far, far too many questions and be 'unrealistic' to someone. While it's worth considering that the 1.2 billion people in Africa are probably going to produce a good, sizable amount of Heroes, they don't want you to 'have to' decide somewhere's run out of Heroes or has too many. There are enough Heroes for the story you need to tell, and no strict rules on it.

Most Heroes see themselves as human, made of flesh and blood, rather than a divine creature of the Overworld. Sure, the strange places are open to them more than most mortals, but they are not yet of those places, even if they were raised there. They know what lies behind the reverence and fear of mortals: the silent plea to protect and act as representatives for humanity to the gods. Shirking those duties harms your reputation and can harm your Legend. No one wants to be remembered as the coward hero - and the gods have ways of finding out about these things. However, generally the consequences of avoiding your duties are quiet contempt and shunning, acidic comments on social media and your Legend recording your deeds in the skein of Fate.

Heroes also have to remember that the Underworlds exist. Not all Pantheons keep a presence there, but it can't be ignored, thanks to the Cthonians, the dark Primordials of the dead lands, and of course shades and ghosts. When souls lose their way, it is often up to Heroes to take on the role of psychopomp and guide them to their proper place. Some of the dead didn't lose their way, either, but escaped or dread the journey, and the strongest of these may require a Hero to force them to go - not an easy task, given their power. Plus, sometimes you need to question the dead for their wisdom. While this is traditionally left to necromancers, Heroes can do it with less lore and more determination. While none of the underworld guides like casual visitors and all enforce the laws of life and death per their religions, they may allow shades to manifest in certain places if a Hero does the proper rites. Those that dwell in the deep places must be sought, in the way of Orpheus or Gilgamesh, and that kind of trip is almost always needed to gain audience with the gods of death, some of whom can be dour or even malevolent. Of course, not all - the Netjer, all of whom dwell in the underworld and are, to some extent, death gods, can be quite friendly.

For most Heroes, the Godsrealms are equally foreign - rather like the second generation of an immigrant family going to their ancestral nation for the first time. Sometimes, they feel a deep connection, but it rarely feels like home - not yet, anyway. They don't know these places like a native, and must rely on their guides and families. Some Heroes do get prepared for their Overworlds early, though, and may visit during their Visitation or before. These Heroes may feel like they are coming home, but the natives know they are no gods, and will not treat them with that level of respect. However, the strong ties Heroes have to the World gives them a special place in Overworlds. They bring important prayers and cult business, firsthand knowledge of the World from a perspective even Incarnate gods sorely need. Gods typically see things through the lens of their Legend and their Purviews. Yes, Tyr manages Fenris Arms, but he probably doesn't know a drat thing about mercenaries using his guns to suppress labor movements in Sudan. That's a thing for Heroes to handle - it's not his business. Framing this kind of news for the gods always takes some care, especially if you aren't even Aesir. Cross-pantheon bands are common enough that most Godsrealms have adapted to outsiders visiting without being hostile or gawking, but visitors remain ambassadors of their pantheon by default. Gods will demand answer for offenses, ask them to deliver messages or even suggest political marriages.

And then you've just the weird places, the mythic locations. These are places Heroes go a lot, to help people, because the average human can't handle them. (That said, there is a growing subculture of extreme exploration fans, the kind of people that do caving or solo rock climbing, heading into Terra Incognitae.) Heroes typically learn about all kinds of weird places when they settle in an area, and the troubles they cause. These places test them, but also let them cut loose against foes that can handle what they throw without worrying about bystanders being endangered. Of course, some Midrealms are inhabited, too - isolated settlements devoted to the pantheons. These range from a couple families to a self-sufficient community of thousands. Heroes often visit these places, called devout lands. Cult leaders sometimes live there, and the gods may send you there to check on them, while governments sometimes use heroes as mediators when these places cause problems. A few of these places are even designed to raise children as Heroes. New Arcadia's an example of a devout land, albeit in the World rather than a Midrealm, and also exceptional for being well known to the public.

Covenants are places used to reward or protect faithful mortals, often the oldest settlements - or the newest, though new ones are usually small. These places tend to require more attention, as the covenant will have obligations both for the inhabitants and the gods, such as promises that Scions will visit, prayers will be answered or that the gods will prevent certain problems, which Heroes are often sent to do.
Cradles of Heroes are places where gods get their offsprings raised just right. These settlements were founded to ensure that one or more Heroes got the precisely correct background. Some are made as needed, others are traditional homes of many Heroes. The ad-hoc ones tend to be short-lived, but some last, waiting generations for prophesied heroes. Some of these fall apart in shock when the heroes aren't quite what they expected.
Great Temples tend to grow up around significant holy sites. They may have gates to places for the people to live, or be in regions that can support the communuity. They're certainly the best known of the devout lands, possibly with regular traffic from the outside world - particularly from cultists looking for spiritual retreats.
Radical Faiths are colonies of particularly zealous cultists. Most of these settlements are in the World, though a rare few lean to cross into other places. They typically exist in harsh conditions and great isolation, and may rely on Heroes to help them...or may have to hide some shame or crime from the Heroes that visit.
Winter Palaces are areas in which the gods rule directly, either to provide a moral example, pursue a project, or just to enjoy ordering folks around. Powerful gods may create these places as spiritual fallout shelters in case their actual homelands get invaded or harmed. Living conditions in winter palace settlements vary wildly based on the god's leadership abilities and temperament.

Next time: Pantheons! First up, Aesir.

SpiritOfLenin
Apr 29, 2013

be happy :3




Inspired by the posts by Night, I might do a write up on the fluff of Dark Heresy 2nd edition later, because its bonkers in a pretty funny way. While it does have some problems with not giving enough named NPCs for example, the sector its set in and all the various planets in it are amazing in how completely over the top they are. For example, there's a map somewhere in the first edition books where Calixis and nearby sectors are pictured, and one of the sectors is just marked with a big ol' "ACCESS FORBIDDEN"-stamp.

Askellon sector, the setting of DH 2nd edition, is that sector.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Really, I'm actually kind of glad to end on the example adventure because it's a great example of the game's strengths and weaknesses in one place. It reminds me why I enjoyed playing the game years ago, but also of what's frustrating as hell about it sometimes.

Lurks With Wolves
Jan 14, 2013

At least I don't dance with them, right?


Night10194 posted:

Later, at the foothills of the mountains, PCs will spot a dark figure watching over them from an outcropping, and any psykers in the party will get a +30 Psychic sense test (Per) to see if they can feel that something very, very wrong happened at that outcropping at some point. If they have no psykers, fail, or don't try using Psyniscience, Aristarchus just does it for them so the test was pointless. He tells them to investigate. PCs need to make a Climb+10 check, or if they fail it, a Agi+20 check or take d5 damage (affected by TB but not Wounds) as they climb up to investigate, which is a very exciting use of the skill system trust me. They find no sign of the dark figure, but do find a pictogram of an eagle clutching a skull burned into the rock, which is still hot. A -20 Common Lore (Imperium) or a +0 Scholastic Lore (Legend) test tells them this is a rendering of the sign of St. Drusus. A success by 2 DoS or better points out the skull and starburst were the symbol of the 2nd Army Group, which conquered this planet. Aristrarchus will make the sign of the Aquila and mutter to himself a bit, but won't volunteer any of this information. If the PCs mention it, he says this is an 'age of miracles' and fingers his tarot deck nervously.

This is the skillcheck that made me hate how Dark Heresy adventures treat skills. A 50% chance to climb a hill without spraining your ankle to find a clue that's only a vaguely ominous bit of stock 40k iconography if your party can't make a check they have a 20-30% chance to succeed on if anyone even took one of the relevant skills in the first place. It's all just pointless.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Lurks With Wolves posted:

This is the skillcheck that made me hate how Dark Heresy adventures treat skills. A 50% chance to climb a hill without spraining your ankle to find a clue that's only a vaguely ominous bit of stock 40k iconography if your party can't make a check they have a 20-30% chance to succeed on if anyone even took one of the relevant skills in the first place. It's all just pointless.

Boy are you going to hate the climax of this adventure, then!

And yes, goddamn do I hate how DH does skills. It wasn't this bad in WHFRP2e, from my experience.

Lurks With Wolves
Jan 14, 2013

At least I don't dance with them, right?


Night10194 posted:

Boy are you going to hate the climax of this adventure, then!

Trust me, I already do.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




A good way to approach skill checks in general is "pass or take a penalty while still getting the thing" though. Like, if your assassin has a climbing kit there's no way they won't make that climb.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The problem with that is, while that's a good idea, that isn't how the game itself is written at all.

Which is why I keep harping on the holes, missing content, etc. WHFRP2e is a playable game out of the box that includes a bunch of modular add-ons later. DH is a broken game that is mostly playable but will require the GM to fill in a lot of details, tweak the system, and mostly write their own setting material. Which is probably a result of a mixture of a long and troubled development history and FFG's notorious lack of skill at editing stuff.

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