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By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




The Gears of Defiance Kickstarter had launched and it sounds cool, but I have no experience with the systems which inspired it, anyone feels like commenting?

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Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

The Gears of Defiance Kickstarter had launched and it sounds cool, but I have no experience with the systems which inspired it, anyone feels like commenting?
As I read the first paragraphs of the Kickstarter pitch I thought that it combined steampunk and the zeitgeist of structural defiance against the norms, and I anticipated surely that it would make its wordwrights thousandaires and receive adoration and the people's ovation. But as my eyes slid down further I noticed signs and signifiers - no, not in the Microscope-inspired definition of the setting; for that, at least, was a logical way to cultivate the catharsis of the setting, to evoke the images that work and even to provide crossover to those who will seek to be struggling against Political Correctness.

But I felt that there was a horror hiding within this, some dark uncertainty that lurked behind the veil. Down struck the pgdn button, down drew my eyes, moving ever downwards. I braced myself for wordage on the value of the Traditional Family but it did not come, and as I too have been touched by the modern Internet I in turn found myself wondering at what commentary would come from this, a cycle of posting without end - but this cycle, you see, was normal, a part of these spheres.

I saw it! The harsh grid - the ancient lore, split once more and gussied up with a few additional lines and a different set of labeling, but the damnable THING shone clear and full! Baleful glare, barely lidded!



THE WORLD'S SMALLEST POLITICAL QUIZ - and it would be the advancement system!

Blessed oblivion came in that moment, rising like a swiftly-surging wave. Perhaps I would never wake again, or perhaps I would discover myself woke.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




As far as I've read the alignment system defines your social standing rather than your personality.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Nessus posted:

As I read the first paragraphs of the Kickstarter pitch I thought that it combined steampunk and the zeitgeist of structural defiance against the norms, and I anticipated surely that it would make its wordwrights thousandaires and receive adoration and the people's ovation. But as my eyes slid down further I noticed signs and signifiers - no, not in the Microscope-inspired definition of the setting; for that, at least, was a logical way to cultivate the catharsis of the setting, to evoke the images that work and even to provide crossover to those who will seek to be struggling against Political Correctness.

But I felt that there was a horror hiding within this, some dark uncertainty that lurked behind the veil. Down struck the pgdn button, down drew my eyes, moving ever downwards. I braced myself for wordage on the value of the Traditional Family but it did not come, and as I too have been touched by the modern Internet I in turn found myself wondering at what commentary would come from this, a cycle of posting without end - but this cycle, you see, was normal, a part of these spheres.

I saw it! The harsh grid - the ancient lore, split once more and gussied up with a few additional lines and a different set of labeling, but the damnable THING shone clear and full! Baleful glare, barely lidded!



THE WORLD'S SMALLEST POLITICAL QUIZ - and it would be the advancement system!

Blessed oblivion came in that moment, rising like a swiftly-surging wave. Perhaps I would never wake again, or perhaps I would discover myself woke.

The fact that their primary image of the Empire's leadership is a Lenin analog instead of, say, Rococo-styled French aristocrats, Victorian-era British gentry or "Boss" Tweed American fatcats, tells me everything I need to know.

Marx was a steampunk.

JackMann
Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.


Fallen Rib

When casting Commune, there is a 10% chance that instead of contacting their deity, the cleric will instead contact

The Deck of Encounters Set One Errata: The Deck of Missed Connections

Dallbun posted:

304: Boarish Behavior

I can’t… find it in the deck. :( Probably there would have been a wereboar? Does anyone else have the deck and the copious amounts of free time needed to comb through it? Failing that, just give me your best wereboar encounter.

Edit: Bieeardo tried to find it in their copy of the deck and couldn't either, so maybe it accidentally wasn't printed?

Dallbun posted:

310: In the Clutches

Can’t find this one either. :(

I just received a copy of Deck of Encounters, and guess which cards I was able to find...

304: Boarish Behavior

This takes place just off the road in a light forest, while the PCs are either searching for a campsite or riding for a nearby inn. They hear someone calling for help off the path. If they investigate (and they will, let's be honest here) they find two teenaged boys in a tree surrounded by three boars and a boar-man (all four are wereboars). The tree won't hold for long.

The wereboars will immediately turn to the party if their attack, and will run as soon as two of them are killed. If the players talk, they find out the boys tried to spear one of the wereboars, so they're trying to spear the boys. They don't want to leave without the boys (or a fight) unless the party can make it clear they're a lot tougher than they are.

If the PCs beat the wereboars, the boys will be grateful, and it turns out their parents own the local inn. The party can stay there for free. If the party kills the wereboars, the'll find a couple of potions.

Not a bad encounter. It gives the wereboars some motivation for fighting with the party and vice versa, and at least suggests a non-violent resolution. I'd say keep.

310: In the Clutches

This is a desert encounter. The party is resting at an oasis presumably in the small shed helpfully provided. Not a huge fan of "the party does X" as a set-up, but it's at least a little more reasonable than some of the other set-ups in the deck. While resting, they hear clicking from either side of the shelter as two groups of three thri-kreen approach.

If the players try to leave, the thri-kreen tell them in rough common that they own the oasis--including the PC's gear and any elves in the party. Then the leader of the other group says that it's actually their oasis, gear, and elves. It's possible to play them against each other, getting them to fight each other before the party cleans up the survivors. Otherwise, it's a fight against all six thri-kreen.

Playing them against each other is a nice option, but it otherwise feels a bit thin. Jury?

The Chad Jihad
Feb 24, 2007




I guess I generally endorse anything involving thri-kreen. I would put emphasis on the claims part and try to encourage the players to play but attorney

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Scion: Hero
"WELL ACTUALLY IT'S MORE OF A PANENTHEI-" "shut up, gary"

Before we get into the pantheons proper, some basics need covering. First, yes, the term pantheon is Greek-derived, and the other gods don't like that much, but what can you do? A pantheon is a group or family of gods from a common culture. Gods rarely last long alone, not with Titans around, and nearly every Scion or supernatural denizen of the World is tied to one...though exceptions do exist for solitary deities, like Zalmoxis, the god of the Geto-Dacians and, according to some accountings, the god of vampires. Most pantheons settle in Godsrealms in the Overworld, though they're also often associated with specific places and peoples. While only ten are covered by Hero, the book, they note that others exist - they namedrop the Yazatas of Persia, the Palas of Buddhist myth and the Nemetondevos, the gods of the Gauls, whom Julius Caesar destroyed as part of a successful bid to become the god Divis Iulius.

Gods can have multiple identities. This is because the Deeds of a god or Scion form a Fate around them, altering their relationships and nature. Your past is past, but it is also your shield in the present and your chains in the future. As you develop your Deeds and Legend, you form a Mantle around yourself. At the apex of a Demigod's power, they must die, shedding their mortality somehow, and then, if their Deeds are worthy enough and their divine identity strong enough, the god awakens as the mortal dies. It's rarely pleasant for you as it happens, of course. These divine identities are Mantles, and they persist even when the god that fills them Incarnates and makes a new one, as Ares did with Mars and Lakshmi and Durga did with Kali. Other Scions may grow into these Mantles, or shed them and give them to descendants, or be defeated and have them stolen in battle. Gods who have multiple Mantles can easily swap between them, birthing Scions from any of them. If the god dies, the Mantle persists beyond them, to be filled by a Scion who follows the right path. Aphrodite, for example, was born from the severed genitals of Uranus, but was also the daughter of Zeus and Dione who apotheosized. Aphrodite will not even show her expression if asked if her predecessor died or passed on the Mantle, and Venus will give only a withering glare. It is possible to destroy a Mantle, but it's not easy. Harder than killing a god. You must destroy the mythological links and identities within the Mantle while it is held by no one, sundering its ties to Fate and leaving it adrift from human consciousness. These gods fade from memory, leaving only fragments behind. All that's left are old, now empty shrines, abandoned Terra Incognitae, faded spirits that claim to former greatness.

Then you have the Titans. Titans can belong to pantheons and conform to myths. Like gods, Titans have Virtues, but theirs are mainly expressions based on their purviews. Any Titan only has one Purview, of course. The four potential Virtues of a Titan are:
Fecundity, an expression of creative capacity. Fecundity expresses the desire to spread the Titan's Purview and its energies.
Rapacity, an expression of destructive capacity. This is the desire to let the Purview grow and consume all.
Submission, an expression of creative union. This is the desire to subsume the World into their own essence and that of the Primordials.
Dominance, an expression of destructive union. This is the desire to corrupt influences and spread Titanic energies across the World.
Titans all possess one creative and one destructive Virtue, no matter what. However, a Titan that becomes a civilized part of the pantheon structure, as Helios did with the Theoi or Bres with the Tuatha, or...well, a lot of Shen, they can exchange one of their Titanic Virtues for one of the Pantheon's Virtues.

The Deva, Theoi and Teotl are the most aggressive seekers of Titanomachy, the aggressive destruction of the Titans' cults and continued jailing of them forever. They want to be done with cold war and go hot. The Deva decided, entirely on their own, that they were in charge of the alliance. They respect the Teotl and are patronizing towards the Theoi, possibly due to the strong Titanic blood among the Greek gods. Durga, Indra and Karttikeya are the most hawkish of them all, while Ganesha actually has probably averted more international divine incidents than any other god by getting to conflict zones first and telling everyone to smile and nod at them until they go away instead of taking the bait. The Aesir, Netjer, Shen, Yazatas and Tuatha are more mixed. The Aesir love to fight, sure, but the Deva are obnoxious and suspicious of them, and they have Jotnar in their own ranks, which means it's more complicated for them. The Netjer hate some Titans, but are friends with others and protect them. The Shen are down for fighting Titans, but then they keep on hiring them once they're defeated, which confuses the Deva a lot. The Yazatas like the idea, but as far as they were concerned, the Deva were the worst Titans, and now they're very confused. The Tuatha claim to be totally fine with it, but more than any other pantheon, the lines are quite blurred between them and their Titans. The Manitou and Orisha are more doves. The Manitou treat violence against the Titans as a last resort, playing defense and helping others only in extreme cases. The Orisha and Loa reject the label of Titan entirely, with the exception of King Oduduwa, who uses the word to mean, roughly, 'jerk.' Most of the others view the entire idea of Titanomachy as racist warmongering.

Now, let's talk Aesir. The Aesir and Jotnar were forged in fire and ice, and they have always been foes. It is how things had to be. They were born in an empty world, with no land. Odin and his brothers tore Ymir apart, and from his corpse they created Midgardr. The only two surviving giants were Bergelmir and his wife, the ancestors of all future giants. They fled to the world of Jotunheimr, a wild place of beasts and dark forests, and had to choose - live and mix with the Aesir, or exist to torment them until the worlds ended. The Aesir settled in Asgard, a civilized land of laws, and built a great wall. Eventually, a second tribe of gods came, the Vanir of Vanaheim, a land of sacred halls and wilderness. The two tribes coexisted for a time, until it was found that the Vanir had the power of seidr, a great magic, which Odin sought to take by force. The war proved only that both sides could fight well, but neither could truly defeat the other, and after much bloodshed, the Titanic foes of both groups devastated them. The Aesir absorbed the rival Vanir, preserving both in these difficult times. The Aesir now are a product of the mixing of Germanic and Nordic faiths, and their dichotomy between those two groups still shows. However, the Aesir are more at ease these days and do not look to the past. Rather, they prepare for the dreadful future they know is coming.

Odin is the God of Wisdom, the Dead and Magic. He is also called Alfadir, Harbard, Vak, Valtaid, Wodun, Wotan and Ygg. He is the ancient, wise and imposing leader of the Aesir, the All-Father who sends Valkyries to collect half of all souls that die in battle, to bring them to the halls of Valhalla, to wait for Ragnarok. He seeks wisdom, hanging himself for nine days from Yggdrasil to suffer and learn the runes' secrets. He unmanned himself, that he might learn seidr, the magic used only by women. He went so far as to tear out his own eye to give to the Well of Mimir. To see the world, he gained two ravens, Huginn and Muninn - thought and memory. He is born to lead, all-seeing and all-knowing. He is not, however, a good father. Never has been. He appears as a haggard, aged man with a full beard, no matter what job he takes on. He has been a telecom magnate, a con man, a master of the rookeries. He drinks and he seduces, but is never drunk or seduced. He is always thinking of the oncoming Ragnarok. Rarely, he will appear as a golden eagle or a ferryman. No matter the form, he has no left eye, and he is never indecisive. He is a traveler, seer and warrior, and he expects his Scions to be likewise, willing to do anything for knowledge and wary of those that would stop Odin or themselves. No sacrifice is too much. Odin is a cryptic god, speaking to his Scions via Guides and granting them Birthrights with strings attached. He has high expectations, and does not ever explain himself - he expects you to be wise enough to understand. His Callings are Leader, Sage and Trickster, and his Purviews are Fortune, Journeys, War, Artistry (Poetry), Death, Deception and Epic Stamina.

Thor is the God of Thunder, Rain and Crops. He is also called Donar and Thundr. Thor is Odin's right hand, strongest of the Aesir. He is brave and brash, shaking the foundations of the world. Thor Odinson is a protector of Asgard and Midgardr, wielding the hammer Mjolnir, which is flawed by Loki's mischief, with a shortened handle. Despite this, it is the strongest weapon ever made, and Thor must wear the iron gauntlets called Jarngreipr to wield it safely. His belt increases his already terrifying strength, giving him might enough to lift even the disguised World Serpent. He is accompanied by Thjalfi, the best runner and scout in the Nine Worlds, and he travels the sky in a cart drawn by two gigantic golden goats. He is a bold warrior, dangerous to his allies and enemies alike. He never complains, and leads the charge against the Jotnar when they assault Asgard each winter. He knows his role and does it gladly, not attempting to change his fate. He has red hair and blue eyes, and is quite imposing, though he prefers to remain in the background until required. He spends his downtime avoiding battle, taking on Incarnations such as a garage mechanic for antique cars, rock musician or sound engineer. Sometimes he can be found in the boxing or MMA ring, usually in a small or rundown gym. Thunderclouds follow him, and he is always associated somehow with the color red. He is always imposing, with calloused fingers, dirty fingernails and a crooked nose. He expects his Scions to fight for the underdog and protect people from bullies. His passion is in his blood. His Callings are Guardian, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Stamina, Fertility and Sky.

Frigg is the Goddess of Marriage and Destiny. She is also called Frigga, Freja and Frige. Frigg is Odin's wife, and sees many things, but says little. She grants solace to women in childbirth, for she is always mother, wife and protector. When her son Baldr told her of his prophetic nightmares of death, she traveled to every living creature and asked they not harm her son. She knows many magics. Her falcon skin can transform anyone without risking them being lost to the animal's spirit, and she is an incomparable fortuneteller. Some claim she is a Titan, or a mortal sorceress who takes power from the World's ancient energies, but Frigg guards her many secrets and rare failures carefully. Today, she usually appears a matronly woman with kind blue eyes. No matter what, she wears jewelery that hints of mistletoe, and is always accompanied by three maidens, one of whom carries a cigar-box purse made of ash wood. Frigg is always very concerned, and she prefers roles that let her do diplomacy or tell the future, such as War College tutor, marriage counselor, diplomat or financial planner. She can also be found as a NICU nurse or doula. Frigg always sees the big picture, but sometimes misses the fine details before her. She expects her Scions, who are mostly female, to focus on what she does not see. She also considers oaths vastly important in this relationship, and demands all her Scions swear an oath never to harm Baldr...which more than a few have died regretting. Her Scions often feel her presence, and tend to be slower to act than many, taking time to logically attack their problems, as their mother does. Her callings are Sage, Guardian and Lover, and her Purviews are Beasts (Falcons), Fortune, Order and Wild.

Hel is the Goddess of the Realm of the Dead. She is also called Hela and Hell. She is a fierce, unforgiving goddess, and a hideous one. To reach her hall, she had to travel the Helveg road, and the journey was so terrible she had to wear the Helskor, or Hel Shoes, to do it. It took nine days and nine nights. Her hall is a grand place called Elvinder, and she is attended by the servants Idleness and Sloth, who serve only one dish, called Hunger. Her bed is Sorrow and her land is Ruin. However, Helheim is not so lonely as you'd think. Hel is surrounded by the souls of those slain by sickness or old age. She is a quiet, patient goddess who is half flesh and half rotten. She prefers the late hours, just before the dawn, and enjoys solitude, to better hear the ghosts speak. She wears black, and speaks softly, with a voice full of cigarettes and whiskey. She is cold, and that is found equally in her Incarnations. She prefers roles that place her near the dying or those that require judgment. She is a chief doctor at the ICU, the administrator at a senior care facility, the groundskeeper of a prison for death row inmates. Her Scions are often associated with the dying, and often Chosen. She speaks to them mostly via the dead, and she expects them to attend to the souls that belong to her. Her callings are Liminal, Guardian and Judge, and her Purviews are Death, Frost, Forge, Passion (Fear, Disgust) and Health.

Baldr is the God of Love, Beauty and Peace. He is also called Baldur. He is the favorite son of Odin and Frigg, and none are loved as much as he. He is not just beautiful, but cheerful and kind, bold and brave. He glows when he smiles, and so loved was he that every creature and plant save one swore not to harm him. He once became distraught with nightmares of his own death at Ragnarok, yet he allowed the gods to hurl things at him to ease their minds and prove his impenetrability. Loki took advantage, convincing the blind god Hod to shoot an arrow of mistletoe, the one thing that Frigg passed by. Baldr died, becoming trapped in Helheim to keep Hel company for all time. When his brother, Hermod, asked Hel for his release, she demanded that all creatures weep for him. They all did, save for one jotun named Thokk, who is said to perhaps have been Loki in disguise. Baldr was released when the deception was revealed, but he worries that Loki will try again. Even Surtr, Fenris, Hel, Hadi, Skoll and Jormundgand wept for Baldr when they thought him dead. In the modern era, he is always handsome, impeccably (if modestly) dressed and often found helping those in need, sometimes at an orphanage, sometimes wandering the streets feeding the homeless. Baldr is not always peaceful. He is passionate, caring and meticulous, and his agility and strength are great. When he must do violence, he can. He expects his Scions to be as passionate as he is, in whatever role they choose. He is very invested in their lives as well as guarding his own, and he sometimes forgets his limitations. His Scions typically must endure his guidance a lot. His Callings are Guardian, Liminal and Lover, and his Purviews are Beauty, Passion (Love, Peace), Health, Epic Stamina and Sun.

Heimdall is the God of Perception. He was born from nine mothers of the sea, and is very fair. He has golden teeth, sight beyond sight and great hearing, and he guards the bridge Bifrost with his senses, which can hear the grass grow on all Nine Worlds. He turned Thor away, forcing the god of thunder to wade in the waters beneath the bridge. He carries the Gjallarhorn, to alert the gods of intruders. When he has free time, he likes to drink mead in his home, Himinbiorg. Heimdall is destined to die at Loki's hands, but also destined to simultaneously destroy Loki, for he is the only god that can pierce Loki's tricks. Knowing this, he has no fear for the trickster. Heimdall is Father of Mankind, watching over them vigilantly. He is often a tall, broad-shouldered man with large ears and long, dark hair. He speaks only when necessary and wastes no time listening to useless things. He expects his Scions to also be direct and to the point. His Incarnations have been cybersecurity agents, investigators, submariners and codebreakers. He sleeps less than a bird, and rarely understands why others keep daytime hours. Fortunately, most of his Scions can withstand 24-48 hours of sleeplessness without need for coffee. Heimdall uses them to further his all-seeing ways, manipulating them to maintain a solid security network. It is practically impossible to keep a secret from him, and he often meddles in his children's careers. His Callings are Creator, Guardian and Hunter, and his Purviews are Artistry (Horns), Beauty, Epic Stamina and Journeys.

Next time: Sif, Loki, Tyr, Freya, Freyr, Skadi, Njordr.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Scion: Hero
RAG NA ROK

Sif is the Goddess of the Harvest. She is Thor's wife, the only one who can balance his stormy temper and great power. She is a considerate, compassionate goddess who can endure anything. Often, she is the peacemaker of the Aesir, even when Loki is involved. When Loki cut her beautiful golden hair, Thor threatened to behead Loki with his hammer. Loki quickly promised recompense and hired dwarves to make a golden wig. (The metal, this time.) Sif suffers in the same way when the harvest is plucked, and so it is: with action and renewal and working metal, the harvest will grow again. Sif is actually one of the more ancient gods, associated with the earth and warmth. She defends against blight and vermin with grace and assurance, and her sharp nose and great intelligence allow he to control most conversations. In more modern times, Sif takes on many roles, as do her Scions. She is a mediator, a celebrity chef with a focus on local and fresh ingredients, a cattle magnate. She is always fair and level-headed, but quick to remind her children of the harsher side of life. Crops suffer because of pollution, wildlife, insects, and only the strongest harvest with the best workers survives. Scions of Sif are typically passionate, Type-A personalities with busy schedules. Like Sif, they are competitive but make it looks easy. Her Callings are Creator, Guardian and Lover, and her Purviews are Earth, Fertility and Order.

Loki is the God of Trickery and Fire. They are also called Logi. They are the trickster, the shapeshifter, always pretty and never trustworthy. They are surely cunning and often in trouble, but their wit saves them each time. They are blood-brother to Odin, child of giants and father of monsters - Fenrir, Jormungandr, possibly Hel - and mother of Sleipnir, Odin's steed. It is said they will be bound in a cavern, with poison dripping into their eyes for all the betrayals they commit, and that they will side with the Titans come Ragnarok. However, while Loki is often in trouble and endangering the Aesir, they are currently loyal to the tribe. Logi was the true God of Fire and bested Loki in an eating contest by burning the food as he ate, but Loki became enraged and stole Logi's Mantle and even his wife, Glod. Loki is careful, occasionally cowardly, but always sly and charismatic. They appear as spies, politicians and seductresses, and with their passion, Loki can do anything they put a mind to. In the modern day, Loki appears equally as a handsome man with fiery red hair or an imposing woman, or something in between or other. No matter what, Loki has a devilish smile, twinkling eyes and a tendency to impart both lessons and humility - even to their Scions. These lessons are without prejudice but often dangerous, given to anyone, at any time. Double-crossing comes naturally to Loki, but if their children earn their loyalty, Loki will guide them for as long as they serve Loki's needs. (Loki is genderfluid and prefers the 'they' pronoun.) Loki's Callings are Liminal, Lover and Trickster, and their Purviews are Deception, Chaos, Fire and Epic Strength. (Loki is still a giant, see.)

Tyr is the God of Courage and Justice. He is the only god that compare to Thor in power. When the wolf Fenrir grew large, the gods decided to bind him with dwarf-forged chains. Fenrir sensed a trick, and would only agree to be bound if one would put a hand in his mouth. Tyr was the only god brave enough, and once the wolf was bound, he bit off Tyr's right hand. All the gods laughed, except Tyr. He did not complain, however, and never does. It is believed that he may once have led the Aesir, before Odin rose to prominence, but he will not speak of it and is not especially concerned with his loss of limb or station. All of Tyr's Incarnations lack a right hand, but he never accepts a prosthesis. Tyr is strong and capable, typically short and with fierce eyes and salt-and-pepper hair. He is always smirking. He can be found as a veterinarian dealing with difficult animals, a blogger on national security, a military judge or a one-handed telephone line repairman. He believes in courage, and will not accept cowardice or weakness in his Scions - or anyone else. He is a fierce warrior who tolerates no oathbreaking, no matter what reason, for he does not swear oaths casually and is a careful observer of justice. His Scions are always punctual and typically just as committed to justice. He encourages them to never back down despite any odds, to be brave and unflinching. Tyr only steps in to help if he thinks it is dangerous enough that even he is threatened, for true bravery can only be demonstrated when one is endangered and afraid. Tyr's Callings are Judge, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Epic Stamina, Order, Passion (Courage) and War.

Freya is the Goddess of Fertility, Love, Lust and War. She is also called Frau and Freyja. Like Odin, she collects the souls of those slain in battle. She gets first pick, in fact, as leader of the Valkyries. She is both covetous and cruel yet forgiving and merciful. She loves battle, but also quiet. She collects the worthiest, and she always takes an equal number to the All-Father's. Her chosen go to the hall Sessrumnir, which is also a great ship stranded on the field of Folkvangr. Her chosen train constantly to prepare for a great offensive, rather than just feasting and slaying. When she weeps for them, her tears are amber, enriching those for whom they fall. She once met Odin in the guise of a wise woman, and she is very skilled in seidr. She is extremely horny, but she never takes a lover who isn't ready for her. She inspires shieldmaidens across the World, who pray to her for skill and protection in battle. Freya is one of the Vanir, a clear-skinned woman with red hair and clear eyes. She is matronly, older, but gorgeous. She is a feminist, encouraging self-awareness, self-worth and beauty in women, and while she respects boundaries, she dislikes them. Her Incarnations usually run some kind of establishment, anything from a Krav Maga studio to jewelery store to a bakery. She always leads and her product is always worthy. Her Scions are full of passion, devoted to being well-rounded and as diverse as Freya herself, fighters, lovers and magicians. Sometimes, they can learn seidr from her. Freya's Scions can expect her to be invested in them, and sometimes she will leave them a gift of flashy jewelery. Not wearing such gifts is an insult. Her Callings are Lover, Guardian and Sage, and her Purviews are Epic Stamina, Death, Fertility, Beauty, Fortune, Passion (Love, Lust) and War.

Freyr is the God of Fertility and Prosperity. He is also called Frey. He is the son of Njordr and brother of Freya, and he once became so consumed with desire for the jotun Gerdr that he stopped eating. He sent his servant Skirnir to convince Gerdr to marry him, and she agreed...if she could have his sword, a magic weapon that can fight on its own. He agreed without hesitation, and the pair were married nine days later. Without his sword, Freyr cannot defeat Surtr at Ragnarok, but he does not care - love is more important. He is the Battle-Bold, once facing an army while armed only with a stag's antler, and he conquered Sweden and founded its first dynasty. Freyr is the most fertile of all the Norse gods, and he watches over both mortals and plant life. He is beautiful, charming and lively. His light overcomes sorrow, as he wanders the World with his ship and his pet boar, spreading seeds both literal and metaphorical. He is built like a linebacker, and his Incarnations can be found volunteering to suicide aid charities, starring in porn or spending billions to aid the less fortunate. He is always the best-dressed in any room, and he wants his Scions to be like him - leaders, but willing to listen to those that hurt. He works to give them opportunities no matter what they want, and he stresses that they must work to make a difference in Midgardr over other worlds, that they must always be aware of their own influence on others. His Callings are Lover, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Beauty, Fertility, Order, War and Wild.

Skadi is the Goddess of Winter. She is also called Skaldi. Skadi is a frost giant and ruler of the winter wilds, ruler of cold and snow. She is a huntress and archer. When she came to seek weregild for her father's death, Odin was so afraid of her ferocity that he agreed to pay the blood price, on the condition that she choose her husband from among the Aesir by looking only at their feet. She picked the most beautiful of feet, but it turned out they belonged to Njordr. Their vastly different lifestyles had them spend nine nights in the mountains for Skadi and nine nights by the see for Njordr. They were both miserable, and quickly and amicably divorced. Together, they actually are excellent patrons of those that seek amicable divorce. Skadi also married Odin at one point, producing many Scions with him, and had an affair with Loki. When Loki proclaimed this to the gods, she grew enraged and has, at times, placed a serpent on their head to drip venom in their eyes. Skadi is humorless and passionless except when dealing with the deeds and people she shares a bond with - primarily, hunting, skiing, those who do not feel at home in their skin, and Loki. Her Incarnations in the modern day spend much of their time in snowy lands in the role of a winter park caretaker or hunting ranger, often dealing with her fellow frost giants. She also loves to ski and snowboard. If forced outside her niche, Skadi rapidly grows bored and impatient, even to her own Scions, who often show their giant heritage, her warrior nature and her love of the hunt. Her Callings are Warrior, Hunter and Judge, and her Purviews are Earth, Epic Dexterity, Journeys, Order and Frost.

Njordr is the God of the Sea and the Winds. He is also called Njord, Njor and Niord. When the Vanir sent hostages to the Aesir, Njord was among them, and he was briefly the husband of Skadi until their divorce noted above. Despite their separation, the pair remain close friends. It is known that Loki is wary of Njordr, who can calm fire and tame it. His name was featured in many viking prayers. Njord is father to Freyr and Freya, and he is the eldest of the Vanir, though he never speaks of the sister-wife that mothered those two. He led the Vanir in battle against the Aesir to many victories, but these days he prefers peaceful days on the ocean. His Incarnations are often lighthouse keepers or fishermen or young bachelors that bring lovers to seaside mansions. No matter what, he always smells faintly of sea salt and always longs for greater life, love and women. He is wealthy and lively, bringing light to communities and to lost ships. He is a fertility god with many children, whom he loves well if distantly, and he serves as an example of leadership in harsh conditions. He teaches his Scions that over time, cruel realities and harsh times, combined with doing what is needed, will result in a stronger society, like smooth sand on a rough shoreline. His Callings are Creator, Hunter and Liminal, and his Purviews are Fertility, Fire, Journeys, Prosperity, Sky and Water.

In Aesir cosmology, the World is Midgardr, centered around the ash tree Yggdrasil, which connects it to the other eight worlds. The Nornir, Urdr, Verdandi and Skuld, care for the tree. A great eagle perches at the top, and the serpent Nidhogg gnaws at the roots. Ratatosk the squirrel runs up and down the tree, carrying insults between the eagle and the serpent. Asgard rests in the high branches, home to the Aesir. Migardr rests below, connected to Asgard by Bifrost. Jotunheimr surrounds Midgardr, home to chaos and wild things. Vanaheim has been long abandoned by the Vanir, and rumor says squatters have taken up residence in its fertile fields. Alfheim is home to the light elves, and is said to once have been ruled by Freyr. Nidavellir was home to the dwarves, who made many artifacts for the gods. Helheim is Hel's realm, the home of the dead who did not fall in battle. Niflheim is the home of ice and frost, the Primordial realm that has existed as long as Muspellheim. Muspelheim is another Primordial realm, which has always existed, and is home to the fire giant, Surtr.

The Norse gods have several underworlds. Many Norse faithful today are claimed by one of four gods, taken to rest in their halls after death, though the favored of other gods sometimes get homes there too - Freyr looks after the Ydalir, or Yew-Dales. Valhalla is the most prominent of these, yes, but not the only. Those that die in battle go to Valhalla or Sessrumnir, those that die of disease or old age go to Helheim, and everyone else goes to Helgafjell. Helheim is the largest of the four, across a dangerous road and turbulent sea, through which one must travel in darkness for nine days and nights to reach the river Gjoll, spanned by the bridge Gjallerbru, which is guarded by the jotun woman Modgudr, who allows the dead to pass if they state their name and business. From there, in the north there is Elvinder, surrounded by a gate guarded by the bloody hound Garmr, and the place lies in the shadow of Helgafjell. In Elvinder, Hel rules from her cold throne, and she is the only goddess here. Death reduces the souls here to less than nothing, and it is an unpleasant place, though Hel always sets a feast for Baldr's return, and the dead may eat freely. Despite the cold and dark, the dead here are free of that which destroyed them in life, and may feast, carouse, sleep or do magic as they will. Still, faced with terminal illness, many Norse faithful will seek a valiant death or even a dignified suicide, fearful of Helheim.

Valhalla, the Hall of the Fallen, is thatched with gold shields and spears. It stands before the tree Glasir, and is where Odin's chosen battle-fallen go. Here, the dead fight and train with both modern and ancient weapons, then eat the meat of the resurrecting Saehrimnir and mead from the udder of Heidrun, drinking until the end of days. Odin rarely visits, having no need to watch over his chosen. Heimdall sometimes takes the best of them to aid in fights against the Jotnar, but these souls are commanded to be silent and never speak to the living. Sessrumnir, the Hall of Seats, is Freya's hall on the plain Folkvangr, where her chosen go - as do women of noble birth or those that die in service to causes Freya likes. Seats appear for every soul that arrives, and as in Valhalla, they fight and drink and train - not only in weapons, but in rhetoric and philosophy and strategy. It is a fair, open place of golden walls that reflect the light, to banish any shadow. Helgafjell, the Holy Mountain, is where everyone else goes - those that die of anything that isn't disease, old age or in righteous battle (or Freya's other exceptions). It's a misty mountain covered in homes, which cannot be looked upon by the living and extends far into the sky. There are no feasts, though food is plentiful, because this is a place of rest rather than true happiness. The Norse believe in reincarnation, kind of, and the gods will allow those on Helgafjell to leave the mountain and be reborn within their family line. Scars become birthmarks, attitudes typically follow. Often, the reborn are named for their elders, giving them a legacy to live up to.

Giants, dragons and troll are all Titanspawn that plague the Aesir, and their greatest foe is the fire giant Surtr, who will bring forth the flames that end the world. This Titan is bound within his Primordial-self, Muspelheim, of which he is a potent Emanation of malice. The Aesir fear that killing him would destroy the Primordial, so they've settled for sealing and aggressively hunting lesser fire giants. Nidhoggr and his spawn are also a problem, seeking to end the world by destroying civilization and the roots of the World Tree. They often appear as dragons or snakes, and their venom is terrible. The Vargar are great titanspawn wolves, destructive beasts that follow the legacy of Fenrir and Hati Hrodvitnisson, the wolves that will eat the sun and moon. Most are referred to as Fenrirspawn as well, and they hunger for Scion hearts, which allow them to grow stronger. Most jotnar are Titanspawn, but the cruel and malicious ones (rather than the generally indifferent ones) are known as Thurs, or thorn. They are the smaller relatives of the Jotnar Titans, born of ice or fire, who spread woe and trouble, destroying order and beauty, either in the form of big people or, if they are able, their natural giant forms. It depends on how subtle they want to be.

Next time: Laukr, Ymir and other pantheons.

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 18:32 on Mar 21, 2018

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Dark Heresy: Part 16

The Black Cathedral

The Acolytes are met by an antisocial ex-special forces Guardsman serving as one of the chief guards for the colony at Stern Hope, and quickly frisked before being allowed into the settlement. The only industry the settlement has had for years is the construction of the cathedral, as well as serving as a watering place for nomadic herders. It has very little involvement with the main industry of the planet, the Ghostfire pollen, and it has a very monastic and religious feel to it. The few hundred people who live and work on the cathedral are a mixture of military vets who've settled down from the mercenary work and wars, offworld pilgrims drawn by the abbot, and converts from among the local Ashleen. The place has been here long enough for the people to put down roots and start families, and the community is both nervous about the weird phenomena and ecstatic that their years of labor are almost complete and the Cathedral is due to be sanctified soon. The PCs are then met by another ex-Guardsman monk, Brother Lamark, and he'll be their local buddy for the rest of this adventure. He's an honest, friendly, open man who has found peace in his religion and he'll happily serve as a guide and help out however he can while they're in Stern Hope. He says the Abbot is busy seeing to a sick local and her family, and leads the party to the inn to rest for now. Aristarchus retires to rest, and warns the PCs against going out at night: Icanthos has no moons and the nights are very, very dark.

In the morning, the PCs find Aristarchus looking like hell, though he brushes it off as just poor sleep, and then the Abbot Skae finally see them. Skae is a minor noble from Scintilla who has spent decades trying to build a real, official Cathedral for Icanthos, and who has finally seen success here. He insinuates he partly got funding by blackmailing his noble house, plus from donations from the pious in hopes of building a monument to Drusus on another world he conquered. He admits to the troubles, the signs and portents that have brought the Acolytes, but does his best to direct attention to the hills and away from the cathedral (Scrutiny -20 check to notice this, because PCs will easily make that, right?). He emphasizes all kinds of awful stuff in the hills, all but begging the PCs to go out there and waste a day. He will get cross with the PCs if they try to press any of these issues, but beyond that he tries to appear helpful and in good humor. Aristarchus continues to worsen, leaving the investigation to PCs as he retires to rest. If they check on him, he'll have gone to a 'private audience' with the Abbot and will not be seen for the rest of the day.

So obviously the abbot is both suspicious and trying to direct the PCs' attention to a specific area far from town. As per usual, you can use Inquiry/Charm (at +10) to get some rumors from the locals around town if you ask around, with a basic success telling them nothing they don't already know. One degree of success or better starts mentioning stuff like 'This valley supposedly contained some stuff related to the old Ashleen religion before the Imperium' or 'One of the other warlords who is also an Imperial fanatic claims this cathedral and region are cursed and has threatened to attack'. Or reports of people hearing strange, soothing voices in the cathedral. If the PCs go out to the hills, they get non-functional Toughness-10 tests to see how miserable the hike is, then get attacked by a big, scary alien monster that is made way less dangerous by the Primitive rule (I have no idea how Primitive ever got past playtesting) if they have any kind of armor, while finding absolutely nothing of use because the hills were a red herring. There is no chance to investigate the Cathedral itself, apparently, despite the fact that I'd assume players who have picked up on the hints would try to do so.

We then get a diversion to talk about the other NPCs. Abbot Skae is on track to become Bishop of Icanthos for his very real efforts at spreading the faith among the Ashleen and the warrior-tribes. He has spent decades making slow, painstaking progress with little aid from the Ecclesiarchy until fairly recently. His pride and ambition made him vulnerable to the whispers of Tsyiak, the Dancer at the Threshold, a demon long since defeated in this valley, and his attention was pulled to this site to build his cathedral. Skae believes the visions he's seen are legitimate visions of St. Drusus and that he is working to return the Saint to the living. Lamark is exactly who he appears to be: A decent man who means only well for the people around him, and who will do his best to protect his community and help the Acolytes against evil. Severus, the special-forces guy from entering town, never actually does anything in the adventure despite having a write-up here, which is basically 'he was an elite sniper, now he is a quiet man who is Skae's bodyguard'. We haven't met Esha Raine yet, but she is a local priestess from the Ashleen tribes, who is both a native shaman and a genuine believer in the Emperor. She has encouraged people to convert in hopes of improving life for the Ashleen, because she thinks the Ecclesiarchy would be a good friend to have. Warlord Kos'ke is the local Ashleen potentate, and he and his warriors will be showing up occasionally but not doing much unless the PCs pick a fight (and probably die). He's a smart man from a hard background. He protects Raine because he thinks she'll be helpful, but also because he agrees that the Ecclesiarchy would be a good friend for his clan. His soldiers also keep the other raiders from going after Stern Hope, so far.

The next day sees the planned consecration of the cathedral. Anyone with psy has an Awareness+20 test to feel that the Warp is shuddering and drawing close that morning. As they have breakfast, they hear cries and ululations from the town, signaling the arrival of Warlord Kos'ke and his soldiers. They have come to attend the consecration, and an Inquiry+10 test gives the PCs an impression the locals see him as an ally. Kos'ke and his six warriors are escorting an old woman, Esha Raine, and it is clear that many of the Ashleen locals regard her as holy. Aristarchus wakes late, worried about the readings on his cards, and mentions he won't attend the ceremony on account of illness. The PCs have about an hour to conduct last minute interviews, introduce themselves to Kos'ke, try to find out who Raine is, etc before the ceremony. However, as the ceremony begins, gunfire erupts at the settlement walls. Raiders have arrived and battle is upon Stern Hope, as fanatical religious soldiers from the army of Seth the Voice (the aforementioned other fanatic pro-Imperial warlord who thinks this place is cursed) have arrived to make a suicidal, mad attack on the town! The PCs get a taste of battle against the screaming mad-max madmen, who wear no body armor and are fairly chumpish soldiers at 25 skill each, with relatively poor equipment. There are a bunch of different places they can assist, from dueling a slightly more powerful Voicer officer to preventing a bombing to defending the non-combatants of the town, and the fights are pretty well-balanced for a rookie party. It's very likely the PCs will come out looking like heroes. If they do, the people will trust them completely for the rest of the adventure.

When the battle is over, the locals note that the Voicers are fanatics, but would never attack in so few numbers and with such poor equipment normally. One of the Voicers is captured, and he is speaking in tongues and showing signs of demonic influence. The abbot wants to finish the ceremony, while Raine cautions that this has to be investigated and is a sign of a dark curse on the region. Before they can argue further, Aristarchus pulls his laspistol and shoots the prisoner in the head. He then screams that Raine is a heretic who is trying to disrupt the ceremony and generally has an uncharacteristic fit. She tells Kos'ke this place is being led to ruin and that there may be no saving it, and asks him to get her the hell out of here before anyone is crazy enough to start shooting. The Abbot returns to his ceremony, everyone shaken by the argument. If the PCs were heroes in the battle, they can get medical treatment and are given gifts by the locals; nothing serious, but enough to show them that they are appreciated. Aristarchus has calmed down and will rationalize his actions as a fit of temper in the face of evil. Lamark was wounded in the battle and cannot help tears over the lives lost. He will mention to the PCs that there is a strange secrecy to the Abbot and Aristarchus, and that they and Severus visit the temple in the deep of the night to 'protect it from evil'.

Then the Abbot comes stumbling out of the temple, bleeding, claiming a manifestation of a woman, a witch, shaped like Esha Raine wounded and attacked him. Aristarchus tells the PCs she is a heretic and a witch and demands that as Acolytes, they go out and kill her, or bring her back as a prisoner. At this point, PCs should both realize something is really wrong here, and also realize Raine knows more about it than they do. A smart party sets off to go and ask her what the hell she was talking about earlier about this region being accursed and 'these people led to ruin'. A stupid party goes 'BURN THE WITCH!' and sets out to lose the adventure.

Next Time: Oh, Crows.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Scion: Hero
Rune Power

Ymir, the Father of the Jotnar, is believed to be a dead Primordial. Odin and his brothers used Ymir's corpse, after killing him, to make the world. If Ymir still survives, he has never manifested. It is also theorized that Niflheim is a Primordial, for until Muspellheim (and Surtr's fiery sword) came, there was only darkness and ice. Muspellheim is definitely a Primordial, of which the Titan Surtr is an emanation.

The modern religion of the Aesir is Laukr. Worship of the Aesir used to be highly personal, then later unified and partially codified by great warlords. As the Scandinavian people have spread, it's gone back to those personal roots, though contact with monotheism definitely changed it. The Norse rune laukr roughly means water, or leek, or to bend, and so it is used to show how the faith of the Aesir focuses on the ebb and flow of life, and how to shape your life to fit your circumstances. Yes, the Nornir have already woven the tapestry of your life, but cloth and twine bend - and so should you. While seers and fortunetellers are to be valued, you must also have caution - too much looking to fate will burden you. Priests of Laukr are known as gothi when male and gytha when female, and those who care for the stave temples are hofgothi. In the past, Norse religion was led by the great jarls known as the fylkir, but the last of them died centuries ago and no Hero has yet chosen to replace them. Modern Laukr involves certain codified texts on behavior, such as the nine noble virtues of the Poetic Eddas - most notably the Sigrdrifumal and the Havamal - but is still heavily focused on public sacrifice and feats of daring. Practitioners are usually quite vocal about their faith, wearing arm rings and torcs or tattoos of Norse mythic scenes, making their sacrifices and pledges of victory obvious. Even the more quiet of them will proudly answer if asked to whom they're pledging a victory - Odin for exams, Bragi for rap battles, Tyr for court, the Vaettir ('wights') for luck. Vaettir are nature spirits, including elves, dwarves and giants. Laukr faithful typically inscribe runes on their belongings and jewelery to invoke protection or esoteric effects, and often choose to pledge themselves to a specific deity.

Laukr holds numbers or collections of things in those numbers to be especially significant, particularly 3 and 9, but also 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 18 or 27. Sacrifices are offered to the gods - pledged victories, sure, but Loki likes cookies, Thor likes mead and Odin likes books, among other physical sacrifices. The gods challenge their faithful to strive for ever greater justice and stability in their communities and lives, but also emphasizes personal honor and rights. Family and nation are important, but injustice against one person is a cause for action, even for vengeance against an entire community. Sacrifices bind the community together via great ceremonies, called blots, where beasts and wealth are given to the gods, and the blood of the sacrifices is sprinkled over the assembled. They are followed by great feasts and drinking in honor of the gods and the dead. In ancient times, holy people of other faiths were sacrificed, but in the modern era human sacrifice is frowned on and generally illegal. Still, the deaths of titanspawn and titan cult leaders are known to bring blessings from the Aesir.

Laukr cultic spaces are typically sacred groves, lakes or mountaintops, but the stave temples of the gods can even be built in cities, and are not that uncommon to be found between skyscrapers. The temple at Uppsala is host to many festivals, including May Eve, which marks the final night Odin hung upon Yggdrasil. Midsummer, the longest day of the year, is a time of great rejoicing, and winter brings the Wild Hunt, which begins with a sacrifice performed by the greatest or highest rank political leader present. Yule is a time of reflection, as the days grow short and the Wild Hunt reaches its peak in the nights.

Seidr is a form of clairvoyant ritual magic, typically performed by women, which can call on the great powers of the world to bless or curse in dramatic and poetic manner. Of course, true acts of jarteign, the power change Fate, are rather too obvious these days, and are quite rare. Most of the jarteign done today are smaller curses and blessings that can mimic modern life. Seidr also connects the user to the Nornir, allowing control of their loom for a brief time, such as by allowing control of a raging fire or forcing someone to give a speech that compels a crowd. By seeing something, the user may manipulate it, but that locks the event into being. Despite (or possibly because of) the gendered association of seidr, men, agender and genderfluid practitioners can use it, but must adopt a feminine presentation to do so, regardless of their true feelings. More traditionalist Laukr faithful find this unnatural. Galdr is the magic incantation of runes in a falsetto voice, using a special meter called the galdralag. This runic magic takes the form of charms or purpose-made miracles, spoken or sung aloud. Most are harmless and powerless, of course, but a few can invoke the power of the gods and their Purviews. Many of the marvels of Aesir Scions are performed via galdr.

Birthrights of the Aesir may include Creatures such as Gramr, the bloody hound of Helheim, which can become mist and shadow, or its spawn, or the horses bred of Sleipnir, Loki's eight-legged horse son, whose children inherit the legs, speed and ability to cross realms. Followers might include berserkers, who could be from any modern military or bodyguard group - including Fenris Arms, which runs a side business as a PMC in order to provide berserkers with work and give them access to young Scions. Berserkers come in three varieties, the bear warriors who are powerful and tough, the wolf warriors who are skilled and quick, and the boar warriors who are stealthy masters of terrain. All three can enter the battle-rage. Draugar may also serve - undead who were not properly laid to rest. They swell to the size of an ox and are dark blue, commonly found guarding treasure and tormenting the living, though they are mildly intelligent, can shapeshift and do some magic. Or you might have Dvergar, dwarves - skilled craftsmen who live in fortified homes these days, as mountains aren't so popular any more. Many work as civil engineers or construction workers, but they're generally willing to help a Norse Scion that will pay their ruinously high prices. Guides could include Disir, largely invisible female spirits that protect families or clans, Mylings, child spirits used by Hel as messengers or assassins, Hrafn, the watcher-birds of Odin, Ratatoskr, the titanspawn squirrel of Yggdrasil that spreads spiteful rumors, or Skogkatt, Freya's giant, 14-pound cats that deliver messages and cuddle. Relics might include Thor's Bridal Veil, which disguises the wearer from Jotnar, the Gun of Tyrfing, which never rusts or misses and which works underwater, a Thread of Loki, used to sew Loki's mouth shut and now able to sew anything together, or the Mead of Poetry, made from the blood of Kvasir, which grants inspiration.

Thor and Zeus are rivals in various contests, most often eagle fighting. In winter, Skadi will hunt with anyone who takes up her challenge, and Loki and Set have a friendly rivalry. Thor and Jormungandr are the eternal rivalry of man and nature, and only at Ragnarok can they destroy each other. In general, for other pantheons, the Aesir and Tuatha get along quite well. odin spent years with Ogma studying runes, which is revealed by the similarities between the Futhark and Ogham. They aren't close to many others. They find the Deva frustrating to talk to, as that pantheon seems unable to tell Aesir from Jotnar, and the Netjer confuse them - why would anyone keep their treasure so close? They also don't get the massive Netjer underworld or why you'd keep organs in jars.

The great weakness of the Aesir is that they're human. More human than most gods. They are kind, courageous, loyal, proud, cruel and deceptive. They can age and wither. They rely heavily on their golden apples to remain young and healthy, and they live in a world born of darkness, clutching at what light they can. Their constant knowledge of fate, and particularly their own, is both their great pride and their great weakness.

Their Virtues are Fatalism and Audacity. The Aesir are bound, knowing the significance of every encounter to come - so say the Nornir. Odin willingly gave up his own eye to see the future's story. He hung from Yggdrasil for nine days and nights to learn the magic of the runes. Fatalism, to the Aesir, is the understanding and acceptance of events. They know they will not live beyond the time allotted them by the Nornir. Nothing can change that. They know that all actions are predestined. However, Audacity is the virtue of valiant and bold action. It is the courage to go beyond the whims of the Nornir, to force a jarteign by your courage. To go against Audacity is to declare yourself a Nidr, a coward - and there can be no greater insult.

The Signature Purview of the Aesir is Wyrd. The Wyrd fixates on the things that are perceived by the Nornir, as they sit and spin the tapestry of fate. They force destined encounters. When the gods chained Fenrir, hurled Jormungandr into the sea and gave Helheim to Hel, they accepted their fates. They can no longer deny Ragnarok. Gods will die, giants will die, and the end of days will come - and new days will exist beyond. Wyrd accepts this fate, and in acceptance, controls it.

Next time: Rejoice! The Deva!

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Dark Heresy: Part 17

Multiple 20% checks in quick succession doesn't spell gently caress you, does it?

The PCs can get a truck, but have to make a Drive+0 check or it breaks down and they hoof it anyway. Hoofing it or taking the truck has no bearing on the adventure. When they arrive, Kos'ke and his men are armed and ready, but not hostile. Raine obviously refuses to come back with them, because she knows some spooky evil is going on in Stern Hope and she doesn't want to be at ground zero. If they try to arrest her and do as Aristarchus said, not only will they get into a gunfight with six experienced, dangerous Ashleen soldiers (and their surprisingly nasty mounts) they'll almost certainly fail the scenario anyway since despite all the possible investigating they could do earlier the whole plot is getting dumped on them by Raine here. Which brings up one of the big problems with this adventure: It doesn't account for any chance the PCs actually solve the mystery early, they can't go and investigate the cathedral at any point despite there being a bunch of hints they should, etc. There's very little room for them to actually investigate, so much as they get led around through a bunch of set pieces.

If they're willing to talk at all, Raine is ready to plot dump like hundreds of lives depended on it. Before that, though, spooky crows show up! Two flocks of the native shale crows attack the PCs and Kos'ke and they're a complete joke of an enemy because they do d10+3 Primitive. They take half damage from anything not a shotgun, flamethrower, or grenade, but A: Your PCs probably have one of those, especially as they could loot shotguns off the dead Voicers from the battle and B: They have Kos'ke with them and he's got a shotgun, and the crows aren't that tough even if they're taking half damage. This is, amusingly, the easiest fight in the module despite being a big horror event (the Fear 1 is probably the most dangerous part of the encounter). They also take -10 to BS for spooky storms and lights and howling laughter, as if it wasn't obvious enough a demon is trying to kill them. The book acts like the Ashleen, who again, would've been a rough fight for the entire PC party, will have been badly injured and shaken by sudden birb attack.

Raine then goes and tells the PCs the plot, but only if they have some obscure skills they aren't likely to have, otherwise they get a vastly abridged version. They'll still get enough information to maybe win the final encounter, but goddamn. She gives them a book that, if they have High Gothic, Literacy, or Forbidden Knowledge (Warp) they can try to read at -20. -10 if they have two skills. -0 if they have all three. There's something in the hills and valleys, an ancient monster that Drusus' army fought and defeated that used to delight in making the Ashleen prey on one another. The Crow Father, Tsiyak, the Dancer at the Threshold, absolutely loves messing with and tempting the proud and the desperate. She tells them about Tsiyak if they fail the test, but not the bit about Drusus fighting it which might come up later. The book will also tell PCs that the highest ceremonies only occur at dusk after a day when people were forced to battle their coreligionists to survive. Gee, those obviously-insane Voicers attacked yesterday, didn't they? And acted like they were being controlled by something? It should be clear now that the PCs need to get back to Stern Hope as soon as possible. If the PCs seem willing to face a demon or resolve the problem, Raine drops one more plot-essential hint: The Crow Father is said to fear the torment he inflicts on others.

When they return, Stern Hope is a mess. There are a dozen dead by suicide, and a few survivors huddling in their homes, babbling in terror. The rest of the congregation has gone to the temple, drawn by demonic power to await the pleasure of the monster that is planning to consume their community. If the PCs search Aristarchus' belongings in their inn before they go, they can unlock his space i-pad (Search+20 to find it, then Tech Use+10 to open it) and find him babbling about how the Abbot showed him St. Drusus in the cathedral and how he's been chosen to be the vessel of his ancestor's rebirth. Him being a Psyker, and them knowing what they know now, this is a Very Bad Thing. A demon can stabilize itself in reality indefinitely if it possesses a reasonably powerful psyker like Aristarchus. At the foot of the priory they find Brother Severus and a few other security clerics dead, their eyes torn out. This is a very important detail to remember. Lamark is there, as well, badly wounded and dying, and he tries to tell them a little about what happened and pleads with them to save the people of Stern Hope, in the name of the Emperor. If they have the Medicae skill, a Medicae-20 test (Or, I'd rule, a Psyker using Healer) can actually stabilize him and save his life, which is a nice touch. Even if he dies, his soul is still protected; the demon could find no purchase against an honest and decent man.

Now the unending torrent of bullshit begins. First, the cathedral is full of insane energy and is extremely spooky, requiring a Fear-10 test to even go inside. Inside, the enraptured congregation is watching as Aristarchus floats above an altar strewn with Ghostfire flowers, amidst his swirling tarot cards, while a mad, distorted Abbot Skae has become a minor daemonhost and a terrible swirling mass of darkness is slowly pouring into the psyker from up in the domed ceiling. It is safe to say that things have gotten pretty bad! If they open fire on Aristarchus, he is protected by a shield of impenetrable magic, and then the Abbot-monster attacks immediately. Otherwise, the Abbot-thing greets them, gloats about how easy it was to blind these people with their visions of the saint, and then forces a WP save at +0 for each PC. If they fail, they drop their weapons, walk up to the Abbot, and present themselves for murder. If a PC with 'a religious background' succeeds the first WP test, they can call out prayers that let the others retest WP. How generous.

Now the PCs are under attack by a minor daemonhost, and their only chances are A: Plot killing it and B: That they have a little time because it has Primitive weapons. It is also 'only' Fear 2, but still has the -10 WP test aura (Oh, right, this also would've affected the previous mind control tests! gently caress you, WP rules), so the PCs also need to make a -20 WP test effectively to be sure they can act fully, and plenty of fear results will give them -10 to everything 'for the remainder of the encounter'. Keep that in mind when we get to what they have to do. There are two options: One, if a PC manages to 'roleplay just right' to try to reach out to the remains of Aristarchus' soul, you can make a -10 Charm or Intimidate test and if they succeed, he realizes he's been played and explodes himself, banishing the demon and thwarting it. This is by far the best option. Second: PCs have to realize the Crow Father really likes eyes. This means it hates blinding. This means called shots to its eyes. At *-30%* BS or -20% WS. Both eyes have to be hit separately, and while each has no DR, each also has 6 wounds. If both eyes are destroyed (requiring 2 hits at what is likely 10-20% at-best chances) the demon is destroyed and sent back into the Warp. The book smugly declares there's a good chance that the PCs will figure out what they have to do, then fail to do it because the rolls are hard, because 'this is a full daemonic manifestation, after all!' and suggests that if that happens, you start a new adventure about looking into what happened to the last PCs. gently caress you, book. The climax has cool imagery and a cool concept, but 'I make a -10, then a -10, then a -20, then a -10' is just absolute bullshit in a system where you have 30-40% base chances. The worst part is, this is the best odds they get. This is them KNOWING WHAT TO DO. The game is obsessed with this being 'hard' and equates that with 'roll low'. There's no way to even the odds, which you'd expect to be a constant in a system with low base chances (You know, 30-50 is what you get if you blunder in unprepared, while lore and investigation can give you, say, 50-70 or 70-90; that sort of thing would've been helpful).

If they succeed somehow (liberal use of Fate, good luck), they will at least manage to save the congregation and defeat the Demon. The Ashleen do not lose their faith in the Emperor, and the Inquisition will follow up, but thankfully isn't written as killing everyone in Stern Hope just to be sure. Lamark can live if they saved him. The PCs become heroes to the Ashleen people, especially if they were brave in the Voicer fight, and they recover only a single, weirdly altered Tarot card from Aristarchus' deck. They can now follow up on how and why it was corrupt, and Tsiyak is likely to become a recurring enemy because you can only Banish demons, and it is extremely mad that they managed to thwart it.

The book suggests 50-200 EXP per game session during this Adventure (God, I can't imagine how mad my players would be if I gave them 50 EXP for a 3-4 hour session), +100 if they win, +50 if they figured out the plot some before the plot dump, and a single Fate point but ONLY for the PC that struck the killing blow or made the Charm test to win, everyone else gets hosed.

So, I wanted to cover this in detail because you can see the flaws and the strengths of the game clearly in this very adventure. There's some cool imagery and neat moments, the atmosphere is pretty good, the scale of action feels significant but small enough to be personal, the PCs have a chance to do some real good, and it has that feeling of being in over your head but having to soldier on through a gothic nightmare that the game is at its best with. At the same time, the use of the skill system is broken as hell, the final confrontation is a torrent of unending bullshit mechanically, and there's this ludicrous obsession with 'well it has to be Hard, that's how it'd be in fluff', not to mention surprisingly little chance to meaningfully investigate.

If I were to do the final conflict of this, I'd have it so that if the PCs know what they're facing, they've had time to steel themselves and don't have to make the Fear test to enter the cathedral. I'd have put an old Ashleen charm or something somewhere in the plot that they can find that will protect them from the mind-influence WP test, since that's a save or die, basically. Have that be the reward for being heroic to Raine or the locals. Then I'd have the -10 Charm/Intimidate be the 'base' test to talk Aristarchus down, with significant bonuses if they found out he considers himself an heir to Drusus and had more tailored arguments from investigating. I'd also just give them significant combat bonuses against the boss for knowing they need to target the eyes, maybe give it a toned down and more easily defeated profile if they declare its weak point. Basically, I'd actually go through and give them better odds for each step of progress in their investigation. I'd also insert a possibility they figure out what's going on and prevent the manifestation because why the hell are they even investigating if they're not allowed to figure out the contours of the truth early? The book has a sidebar about the possibility, but it's all about reminding them they have no chance against a superior officer in the Inquisition and blah blah so just walk right into what they see coming.

Next Time: Conclusion of Heresy.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Oh, yeah, something else I should point out. They give stats and all for the Skae-Thing daemonhost and destroying it by killing its eyes will win the adventure, so one could assume that defeating it normally by taking out its 37 Wounds might do the same. It's DR 10 (5 if you somehow have a Holy weapon or psy power) and does d5+10 Primitive with its fists, with no Psy powers of its own, 2 attacks, and 48 WS. Believe it or not, it is trivial to kill for a prepared party, even at low level: They just need to have noticed the power of Greatswords and embraced their inner Berserk.

See, an average PC with a Greatsword does 2d10+2-4 depending on their SB. This means two chances to Fury per hit, and potentially a lot of damage that goes over that 10 DR. More, if your PCs are Outnumbering the Skae Thing by 3-1 they all get +20 to hit. Plus they can Aim and Attack. So your PCs are hitting it on 60-70%, swinging swords that have a good chance to critical and that break through its DR. A team in guard flak carrying great weapons could outright just kill the Skae Thing and win that way, and that kind of stuff is hardly unattainable even for starting characters.

This is why they never should have added in multiple dice weapons.

Similarly, if you're fighting it the 'right' way you'll want to form the stab-circle for the same reason, since outnumbering it enough will negate the -20 for aiming for the eyes, or at least it should.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Scion: Hero
Big Dogs On Campus

The Deva, more than any other pantheon, have great temporal power. They have over a billion mortals worshipping them among many faiths, they possess many artifacts - including some of the most devastating divine superweapons ever made, they have immense diplomatic influence over the other faiths and gods in or near India, and no matter who you are or where you're from, sooner or later, you have to deal with them. There are hundreds of Deva, with infinite variety in their names, Mantles and avatars, as they call their Incarnations. The original Deva declared themselves a sort of noble caste to an older group of beings, the asuras, whom they drifted from over the years, often violently. The first generation included Agni (the flame), Surya (the sun), Yamaraja (the king of death), the original chief Varuna (the sea) and Indra (the storm-hero). The more recent rise of Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Shaktism have granted greater power to Vishnu the Preserver, Shiva the Destroyer and Durga, the Mother of Feminine Power. Shiva's sons, Ganesh and Karttikeya, also ascended to godhood long ago. Besides Durga, the feminine power Shakti subdivides into a number of other goddesses, such as Lakshmi, Parvati, Sarasvati and Kali. They can split and fuse with each others' identities and Mantles with an ease only the Orisha caminos can match.

Agni, the Sacrificial Flame of Knowledge, is also known as Aggi, Jataveda, Kravyada, Abhimani, Atithi and Vaisvanara. When humans first discovered fire, he was there. He might be the Primordial Brahma's eldest son, exhaled from the mouth of the Primordial Purusha, or he might be the child of Law and Light, or the sage Angira. He has red skin, black hair, black eyes, two heads, seven hands and three legs, and he rides a ram into battle, wielding his massive quarterstaff. He is fire and heat and sacrifice and knowledge, identified with the divine word which ignited the cosmos at the start of this age. He devours the sacrificial oblation with heat, giving it to the Deva. Once, Agni fled, with Varuna and Soma, to the side of the asura Vritra. Indra, who slew Vritra, was Agni's own twin who also emerged from Purusha's mouth, and Indra convinced him to join the Deva. Agni is the priest, the shepherd, the firefighter, the laborer and the forester. As others of his generation grow dimmer, Agni remains, strong as ever. His wife, Svaha, is the goddess of the offering, and bore his children - the purifying flame of electricity, friction and the sun. He fathers many Scions, encouraging them to work with other pantheons and to forge relationships. He knows they will link the next generation of gods to humanity, as sacrificial fire links the human and divine. His Callings are Guardian, Liminal and Sage. His Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Fire, Journeys, Prosperity and Water.

Durga, the Mother of Victory, is also called Adi Parashakti, Devi and Mahamaya. She is the mother of power, whose victory brings peace. The Primordial Shakti, the feminine power, manifests as the ultimate warrior, Durga. Some say she created Brahma and Vishnu, or that she took form to defeat the Aurochs Asura when Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva crossed the streams of light that emerge from their enraged faces. The Aurochs Asura had gained a boon from Brahma, that no man could defeat him, and he thought no woman, even Durga, would be strong enough. Yet she rode her great cat, blowing a conch shell, and struck him dead with her trident, chakram, mace, bow, longsword and thunderbolt. Simultaneously. Today, she is honored in a 10-day prayer festival. Her Incarnations include the nine forms of the Navadurga, including the mountain princess Parvati, who has become her own goddess. She also shares essence with Kali, Lakshmi, Sarasvati and, of course, Parvati, who are all emanations of Shakti. Only Karttikeya can match Durga's mastery of fighting, and hers are all weapons. She is the pure warrior impulse, the noble rationale for battle, for she defends what matters. She has no rage, only purpose. This puts her at odds with the gods that exalt battle, like King Shango of the Orisha, or those who have uncontrollable wrath, like Maudjee-Kawiss of the Manitou. Durga is the most zealous supporter of Titanomachy, demanding that her Scions identify and slay asuras and their spawn quickly and efficiently. She has no patience for anything but bravery and unyielding defense against the asuras. When the Yazatas and Aesir, who are probably asuras anyway, dare question the Devas, they must contend with Durga first among them. Her Callings are Guardian, Hunter and Warrior. Her Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Deception, Fertility and War.

Ganesha, the Lord of Obstacles, is also called Ganapati, Pillaiyar, Maha Peinne, Phra Phikanet, Kangiten and many other names. The Smrti, Buddhists and Jains all honor him. Some say he was Parvati's creation, or the son of Shiva and Parvati, or the son of the elephant goddess Malini after she drank Parvati's bathwater. Some say he is older than Karttikeya, some younger. Some say he was born with his elephant head, others that Shiva put it there after accidentally decapitating him. He has 32 avatars, and his many symbols include musical instruments, weapons, the serpent Vasuki worn as a belt and his own broken tusk, but his favorites are sweet fruits and candies. He rides a mouse and has no spouse. He is greatly popular, honored by every caste. The Smriti honor him alongside Durga, Surya, Vishnu and Shiva, while the Ganapatyas identify him with Godhead. He is friend to all, and only a truly wicked demon could ever make him angry. He is offered far too many invitations by other pantheons and gods to ever accept. He is a placer and remover of obstacles, believing that challenges are good, like a tough course outside your major, but those that do not strengthen, like standardized tests, are bad. He often personally mentors Scions, his own and those of other gods, as he believes them to be key to successful diplomacy with other pantheons. He is the olive branch to Indra's aggression to the asuras and other pantheons, for he believes in faith towards all who stand for truth and righteousness - even asuras. His Callings are Guardian, Liminal and Sage. His Purviews are Artistry (Dance, Writing), Beasts (Elephants), Chaos, Fortune, Journeys and Prosperity.

Indra, the Storm King, is also called Inthiran, Indera, Vrishan, Vritrahan, Devaraja, Vajrapani, Shakra, Sakka, Phra In, Dishitian and Taishakuten. He is chief of the gods, and in the beginning, the cosmic man called Purusha sacrificed himself to himself. From his mouth emerged Agni and Indra. His thunderbolt wounded Prince Arjuna, when Arjuna and Lord Krishna set Agni loose upon Indra's Khandava Forest. Indri defeated the monsters Vritra and Puloman, rescuing and marrying Puloman's daughter Shachi, the goddess of jealousy and wrath. Indra is the proudest Deva, and he took control of the pantheon from Varuna at the beginning of time, and regardless of what any say, he has still not technically given that rule to Vishnu. He is commander of horses and chariots and villagers and cattle, and he annoys the Theoi because he has decided he's in charge of them by analogy with Zeus, which is an analogy only he makes. His habit of acting like he and all other chief deities are old friends confuses many, though at least Huangdi of the Shen is too polite to give him any grief over it. Indra's elephant, Cloudbinder, has five heads, his dog, Sarama, is the foremother of all dogs, and his horse, Long-Ears, has seven heads - far better than a mere eight legs, like Sleipnir. He is also guardian god of the Buddha and the teaching-gods of the Jains, for he is infinitely generous (and likes to show off). Indra is very proud of his Scions, for all that belong to him are the best of the best. He frequently appears at their greatest battles to watch, applaud and boast of his part in their birth and taught them everything they know, even if neither is actually true. His Callings are Guardian, Leader and Warrior, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Beasts (Cattle), Fertility, Order, Wild, Sky and War.

Kali, the Dark Mother, is also called Bhavatarini, Chamunda and Kaalrati. She stands atop the corpse of Shiva, guarding it from jackals. Even the gods do not truly understand her origins. Some say Parvati took on her form to defeat the asura Andakha, while others say she emerged from the forehead of Sarasvati, as her anger made manifest. Some say Queen Sita took on her Mantle to end Thousand-Bodied Ravana, or that Durga brought her forth as Shiva's companion, or that she was always there, the Primordial Night from which the gods arise. Kali wears the Girdle of Human Hands, for no action may touch her. She wears the 50 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet on severed heads about her neck, for no language can truly describe her. She is skeletal, and she is voluptuous. She is terrifying and she is alluring. She stands between asura and Deva, a bit too much for comfort. She does not care what others think, and she is sister-self and defender of Lakshmi and Durga, as they are to her. She rarely Incarnates directly. Sometimes she manifests to her Chosen, but often she works via omen and proxy - people in the right place at the right time. When Scions of Lakshmi or Durga need her, she helps them, as she helped Lakshmi's Incarnation Sita when she fought Ravana. Her Scions tend to be fervent iconoclasts, and have included wanderign ascetics, reformers who fought the caste system, and serial killers. In traditional stories, they often clash with each other, each believing themselves right. Kali, as goddess of Freedom and Liberation, does not judge. She is the End of All Things, and all will come back to her in time. Her Callings are Guardian, Liminal and Warrior. Her Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Artistry (Dance), Chaos, Darkness, Death, Deception and Fire.

Karttikeya, Field Marshal of the Gods, is also called Murugan, Skanda, Tamill Kadavull, Subrahmanya and Kataragama Deviyo. Some say he was born to Shiva and Parvata due to some misadventure of Agni's, and that his birth saved the world from fire. Some say he is the son of Agni and Svaha, or the Ganges River, and that he was raised by the Krittika stars. His skill alone prevented the world's destruction by Tarakasura, and he alone is equal in martial prowess to Durga. He is both Aryan and Dravidian, united. His avatars are always generals among generals, arrived at the moment of great urgency - the village attacked by warlords, the street kid beset by bullies, there he can be found in one of six faces. His favored form carries all his mastered weapons at once - the bow, chakram, javelin, mace, sword and Parvati's spear, which he favors over all. He rides upon a peacock, and he is simultaneously the divine bachelor Kumaraswami and the husband of Devasena and Valli. Karttikeya is honored most in northern and eastern India, and among Tamil across the world. However, despite his popularity, he and his Scions tread lightly among outsider pantheons, for they are living rumors of war. Durga is defense and security, but Karttikeya is conquest, whether he wants to be or not. If the Devas ever go to war on other gods, he and his will lead the charge. His Callings are Leader, Sage and Warrior, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Beauty, Stars and War.

Lakshmi is the Goddess of Fortune. She is also called Shri, Thirumagal, Vasudhara, Sita, Rukmini and Kisshoten. She rides the owl and is goddess of three worlds. All wealth, beauty and fortune flow from her, both physical and spiritual. Her consort is Vishn, and she rules over the realm Vaikuntha, and the Ocean of Milk from which she was born. She knows that material wealth has meaning to all, no mere luxury but a defense against hunger, disease and exposure. She watches out for the health and safety of the masses when others are blinded by high ideals. As Queen Sita, she endured many indignities, was kidnapped by Ravana and was ultimately doubted and rejected by Vishnu's own avatar, Prince Rama, but she never lost her grace, composure or courage. As Rukmini, she had a great romance with Krishna. Her avatars include the prudent farmer, the investor, the elephant keeper, the pediatrician, the sports manager and the economics professor. She often discusses economics and fashion with Oshun of the Orisha, and they sometimes trade outfits of gold. She ignores no prayer, for all are worthy of her notice. Her Scions balance budgets and make sure there is always enough to keep the world in nectar and ambrosia. They never forget the common folk, at their mother's command - yes, their great power can vanquish foes, but they can also aid vast populations. Her Callings are Judge, Lover and Leader, and her Purviews are Epic Strength, Beauty, Earth, Fertility, Fortune, Order, Passion (Joy, Love), Prosperity and Wild.

Parvati is the Goddess of Love and Fertility. She is known also as Uma, Lalita, Sati and thousands of other names. She rules over love and devotion, and she is sister to the Ganges River, daughter of the king of mountain snows and granddaughter of Mount Meru itself. She carries all things that grow, a crown, a bell, and no weapon but the elephant goad. She has the strength of an ox and the peace within a cow. She has boundless compassion, allowing her to even stand up to Shiva's extremes of anger or self-denial. The epic Kumarasambhavan tells of her courtship of Shiva, after the self-immolation of his first wife, Queen Sati, who reincarnated as Parvati. Shiva hid in grief, but the God of Love shot him, though he knew Shiva would destroy him for it with Shiva's great third eye. Parvati undertook punishing austerities, eventually winning over Shiva with her infinite devotion. Their marriage brought forth Ganesha and Karttikeya. Parvati's avatars are often found in the mountains of India, New Mexico and Switzerland. She is mother to all growing things, and she offers refuge from war and extremism. Her Scions, like her, offer much emotional labor for little reward, and she encourages them to be the emotional center for those around them, promoting mercy and temperance even if their allies are violent and extreme. Their love serves as counterbalance, moderation rather than opposition. Her Callings are Creator, Lover and Trickster, and her Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Stamina, Artistry (Dance), Beauty, Earth, Fertility, Frost and Passion (Devotion, Love).

Sarasvati is the Goddess of Arts and Letters. She is also called Thurathadi, Benzaiten and Biancaitian. She is a river goddess and one of learning, whose words are as Soma to the scholar. She rides upon a pure white peacock or swan, and her truth washes away all lies. When the asuras threaten, she wields the trident, chakram or bow, never afraid. She is wife of Brahma, and she has no need to exalt herself, for all know of her greatness. She would rather be a music teacher to children than a rock star, a librarian rather than a best-selling author. Her fame is not sought, yet it extends across the world, and has spread to Shinto, Jainism and Buddhism. She is honored by those who fear deadlines or tests. From her Scions, Sarasvati demands purity of conduct and great achievement in scholarship or art, and so she is admired by Confucius, Obatala and Athena. She gives her children great gifts, encouraging them to confront problems creatively and artistically. Any Scion might wrestle a dragon, but it is Sarasvati's who charm them with a song. Her Callings are Creator, Healer and Sage. Her Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Artistry, Health and Water.

Next time: Shiva, Surya, Varuna, Vishnu, Yamaraja.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Dark Heresy: Part Final

So where does this leave us?

Dark Heresy is a broken mess of a game. It's full of holes, and I strain to think of a single major change from the system it was derived from that worked for the better. It's set in a setting full of fascist apologia, has the players working for the secret police of a genocidal lunatic regime, and the sub-setting given has very little of interest going on. If I had to give a recommendation now, I would say to skip the game, because the amount of work you'll have to put in to fill in the holes in both narrative and mechanics mean the game isn't worth you 40-50 bucks, since that's work the designers should have been doing for you. The damage mechanics probably doomed the line's balance and combat system from the start. Fear is a broken mess that makes Imperials, who are facing these monsters with much more powerful tools, look like absolute cowards next to the chaps in puffy sleeves with halberds from Fantasy. The game has a lot of 'I will generate difficulty by giving you only a 10-20% chance to succeed' design, which isn't really difficulty so much as tedium.

When I bought DH as a birthday present for myself nearly 10 years ago, I was a fan of Warhammer 40k. I liked Relic's Dawn of War series a lot. I'd written and run my own somewhat silly 40k RPG with its own mess of a system the year before. I was also a hell of a lot more forgiving of needing to fix the games I bought. I will always regard the game a little fondly because again, it got me the RPG group I still play with today. And there's some real good there: I consider DH the best of the 40k Roleplaying games. It's the only one with an actual sense of progression; you gain power in most of the others, sure, but you always feel like you end where you start, just with higher numbers. In DH, you go from an unknown to an able and competent agent, to possibly an Inquisitor or other potentate of the Imperium. There's a real sense of escalation and progression, and a great atmosphere of being in over your head. One of the greatest and most terrible truths you get to find out working for the Inquisition is how fallible and weak the Inquisition really can be.

One of the best parts of DH is that it wasn't what fans wanted. Fans originally wanted to play as an Inquisitor, and instead they got put into the shoes of a bunch of nobodies who do the footwork of the Inquisition. I don't think I would remember DH fondly if you played an Inquisitor. An Inquisitor is tremendously insulated from the events around them; yes, you can write one who goes and does everything personally, you can have stories about them, but at the end of the day they're still a person with unlimited authority and tremendous power. In DH, you are a representative of one of the most powerful organs of a galaxy spanning fascist state and yet you may be forbidden from even overtly proclaiming your association, let alone trying to wield its authority. You are the small people that prop up the Overman wannabe giving you orders. In a setting so usually focused on the exploits of the supposedly great and powerful, playing as the smaller folk who make everything work is surprisingly compelling. Similarly, you avoid one player being overtly in charge according to the game fluff, which I know is not a problem for many groups but I've seen cause trouble in the past.

Similarly, the sort of gothic nightmare atmosphere can be fun, especially for a horror game. Being among all this pointless grandeur in a dying Empire is, in itself, a sort of compelling look. The techno-feudal fallen Empire is full of powerful images as a concept, I'd just prefer those images weren't also quite so gleefully fascistic. Which is why I say a lot of people write their own techno-feudal setting, put some elements from 40k into it, and then tell themselves that's 40k and so they have to keep more of the bad in with the good, if that makes sense. You already have to make up so much of your own material for 40k games, I simply see no reason to remain strapped to the setting. Keep post-human manufactured heroes, keep an insane inquisition, keep the strange sense where the individual is all and yet everything crushes the individual, just remove whatever you don't like because you've been doing all the legwork all along anyway. I am no longer a fan of Warhammer 40k, in its canonical and present state. Especially not with the whole 'The Imperium just needed a powerful enough man of Will to get it all moving again!' direction it's taken of late. There are ideas in it worth salvaging, but they are worth salvaging from a fresh start, without a world ruled by potato men in massive shoulderpads. Next time, we shall examine the surprising fun you can get out of the aforementioned potato men, if you'll join me for Deathwatch and concurrently, its add-on book Rites of Battle.

You have to include Rites of Battle, after all, or you miss the most fun part of character creation: Making a Marine Chapter of your own so you don't have to bother with the canon losers.

Next Time: Plan Your Game Assuming PCs Will Win Every Fight; The Interesting Part Is Which Fights They Have: Deathwatch.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Excellent mechanical dissection, thanks for taking the time to cover Dark Heresy. Understanding what doesn't work makes me appreciate Ham Fantasy that much more. I'm in the same boat with you IRT 40k being insufferable and annoying the older I get and I'm glad that Fantasy continues to quietly shine despite everything else that's done to it. Looking forward to spehss muhreens as well.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Deathwatch is going to be weird because it exacerbates every flaw from DH, but at the same time it can be really fun to play, partly because you can, in fact, assume a baseline of competence from every PC and everyone in the party is a total badass. It is also probably one of the most fun ways to play a Space Marine because it takes them all out of their Chapter and dumps them in a team with a bunch of other Marines from totally different Chapters who do everything weird and they gotta learn to shape up and be a proper multicolored sentai team together.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
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Scion: Hero
Beloved By The World

Shiva, the Destroyer, is also called Lingam, Maheshvara, Nataraja and...well, a ton of other names. He lives with Parvata, Ganesha and Karttikeya as an ascetic in a small house on top of Mount Kailasha, which cannot be climbed by those who are not without sin. The river Ganges flows from his dreadlocks, and he is a master of yoga. His dance ends and begins the world. In the Vedic era, he was Rudra, the Roarer, terrifying as the storm. He is the greatest god to the Shaivists. He is known by his third eye, which can incinerate even gods when he is angry, and by the serpent-king Vasuki that is either coiled around his neck or worn as a belt by Ganesha. He wields the trident and the two-headed drum. His Incarnations are not often seen, as he prefers to meditate in dangerous locales - plague-ridden slums, or mountains during storms. Hanuman is his avatar, the lord of monkeys and mightiest follower of Rama. His Scions have a lot to live up to. Ganesha and Karttikeya are the greatest of them, who are gods now. However, there are multitudes within Shiva. He is esoteric, he is amorous, he is devoted to service, he is balance and stability, he is rampant destruction, he is self-indulgence, he is self-denial. He has been all these things. It is unsurprising, then, when two of his Scions meet and have very different ideas about who and what their father is. His Callings are Hunter, Lover and Sage, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Artistry (Dance), Beasts (Monkeys), Chaos, Death, Deception, Fertility, Fire, Moon and Sky.

Surya, the Vivifying Sun, is also called Ravi, Bhanu and Savitr. Every morning all the Deva salute him. His daughter-rays are the seven horses that draw his chariot, marching to the beat of the seven meters of prosody, and his son-rays are fluttering banners. He is the purifying gaze of Varuna on the sacrifice, the light of Agni and the banisher of ill health. Jains and Buddhists name him as a representation of understanding triumphing over ignorance and good triumphing over evil. His temples tower over the land, and his image is found in the fanes of other gods, for he is their eternal comrade. Surya fathered King Karna of Anga with Princess Kunthi, and he was the most honorable warrior of the Mahabharata, inheriting Surya's love of friendship, despite his mixed-caste parentage, and he remained forever true to the villainous Prince Duryodhana even at his worst. Even the mighty Arjuna had to use dishonorable means to defeat Karna. Surya appears as race car drivers, doctors in times of great need, UN Blue Helmets in warzones, teachers in neglected schools and more. He is the hope of the sun...but he's not the most supportive parent to his Scions. He tutored Hanuman only after lots of supplication, and he did not grant Karna any understanding of his nature. Rather, Karna had to rely on his own strength and honor, as Surya does. Surya's Callings are Healer, Leader and Sage, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Fire, Health, Journeys, Stars and Sun.

Varuna, the Face of the Waters, is also called Baruna and Suiten. He is the Emperor of Order, riding a great amphibian called a makara, and he was one of the first to set himself above the asuras. He sends the rivers to the sea, and his lasso binds fear and anguish, as well as thieves and debt. He was the first king of the Devas before surrendering his throne to Indra, and he remains present even now, ready to face down liars. He measured the distance between earth and sky, but he would not honor Rama's call to part the seas until threatened, and then he revealed he had been enslaved by Ravana. Varuna has great humility now, and some say he is humiliated, but he stands as a symbol of a time past, a simpler era, when the Deva had only to corral the primal forces. His avatars are rarely employed - they are huge, dripping wet men staggering from waterways, usually. He encourages his Scions to act with the lordly grace of his history, vanquishing lies and standing as if they are still the kings of kings. His Callings are Guardian, Judge and Leader, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Darkness, Fertility, Order, Sky, Sun and Water.

Vishnu, the Preserver, is also called Jagannatha, Gorakh, Bichu-ten, and many other names. He is the lord of the world, who preserves all life past, present and future. He emerged from the mouth of Purusha at the beginning of time, ascending to supreme godhood. He is consort to Lakshmi, and he blows the conch that foretells the doom of foes, fighting with his mace and chakram. He is the highest god to the Vaishnavas, the most numerous Hindu faith. He rules the time that is, where Brahma rules the time before and Shiva the time to come. Vishnu has been the fish Matsya, the turtle Kurma, the boar Varaha, the lion Narasimha, the dwarf Vamana, the martial artist Parashurama, and the Buddha. (Buddhists tend to fight over that particular one.) His best known and most beloved avatars, however, are Rama and Krishna. Prince Rama is the hero of the Ramayana, whose evil stepmother exiled his wife, Sita, into the forest, where Ravana, the Demon King, kidnapped her. Rama's rescue of Sita forged his friendship with Hanuman and slew Ravana and his reign of Lanka, but his suspicion of Sita's virtue - which was indisputable, of course, but that's hardly the point - drove a wedge between Vishnu and Lakshmi that has never really been fully resolved. Krishna was of the knight caste, named for his dark blue skin. He is famous for his four arms, for stealing butter as a youth, and for defeating serpents and demons. He was a great lover and swordsman, who once became 100 Krishnas to dance or possibly have sex with 100 cowgirls at once. As an adult, he was the charioteer for Prince Arjuna during the Kurkshetra War. He often appears as a rickshaw driver, a pilot or a cowboy rancher. His Callings are Guardian, Lover and Trickster, and his Purviews are Epic Strength, Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Artistry (Dance, Wind Instruments), Beauty, Deception, Order and Passion.

Yamaraja, the King of Death, is also called Imra, Yanluowang, Enma Dai-o, Yeomna Daewang and Shinje. He is King Yama, the first mortal to die, who blazed the trail into the underworld. He was the son of Surya, grandson to the demiurge Vishvakarman, and he answers to special poems, inviting the dead to Naraka to be judged. His four-eyed guard dogs keep the gates, and his Yamaduta messengers guide the dead past horrific ghouls and demons. He is close to Agni, who burns the dead so their souls may pass on. His most devoted secretary is Lord Chitragupta, who keeps the records of all who die. His emblems are the noose and stick, and he rides the buffalo. Yamaraja, as ruler of the shared underworld Naraka, is as much Shen, Kami and Pala as Deva. Of all gods in all pantheons, he is perhaps the most stressed and busy because of this. He possesses the pantheon Purviews of Yoga, Tianming, Yidam and Yaoyorozu-no-Kamigami equally, and even his beloved Scions must make appointments with Chitragupta to meet with him. He has no avatars - that would take too much of his time. He is the king of law, and he points his Scions at the work that even the mighty fear - paperwork, caring for the dying, more paperwork. (His pantheons generate a lot of paperwork.) The Scions of Yamaraja shine in times of chaos, where they thrive as those who bring grace to that which all others fear. Yamaraja's Callings are Judge, Leader and Liminal, and his Purviews are Epic Dexterity, Epic Stamina, Darkness, Death, Journeys and Order.

The Deva define time in cycles of four epochs, the yugas. During the 4800-year Satya Yuga, there is great virtue and humans are huge and long-lived. Each of the next three, the Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga, humans become nastier, more brutish and shorter. Ours is the Kali Yuga, which will eventually end the world and begin the cycle anew. All of existence, they hold, is a towering stack of lokas, a word meaning 'planes' or 'levels'. The lowest level, just above the Garbhodaka Sea, is Naraka, the realm of King Yama and the many hells he watches over. Above that are the Patala Underworlds - the Serpent Level, Rasatala, Mahatala, Talatala, Sutala, Vitala and Atala. Our world, Prthvi, is above these, divided into the Bhu (or earth) and Bhuvar (sky) levels. Above that is the Svarga Levels - Svarga Level, Mahar Level, Jana Level, Tapa Level and Satya Level. The highest of these is reserved for the greatest of gods, though given the differing opinions on who that is, there's a bunch of places vying for the top, including Krishna's Cow Level and Durga's Mani Continent. The center of the cosmos is Mount Meru, a gigameter tall and with five peaks. It is the axis upon which the World turns, and its top is the Deva Level, home of the creator, Brahma. The terraces below are home to serpents, raptors, dwarves and nature spirits. Meru can be reached by various mythic locations it has been sighted at, including the cosmic ocean and the Pamir Mountains. Climbing it is beyond the reach of mortals, but any who reaches the top is worthy of Heaven.

Brahma, the Creator, is a Primordial. He is first of the Trimurti, perhaps self-born, born of Vishnu's navel, or born of Shiva and Parvati. He may be Prajapati or Purusha. His four mouths spoke the Vedas into existence, and he has red skin, white beard, white clothing and a white waterfowl mount. He doesn't particularly care about worship, and he receives little, with only a handful of temples. He is also a Buddhist guardian god, and he urged the Tathagata to share enlightenment with the world. He is husband to Sarasvati, whose harmony balances his lust for knowledge.

Naraka serves as the Deva underworld. Yama and his nine judges assign souls to a Svarga level or a hell, after which it is punished or rewarded, then reborn. Naraka handles Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, traditional Chinese and Shinto souls. Each has specific needs and expectations - Hindu souls undergo torments appropriate to their sins until they are purged and reborn, Buddhism doesn't really deal in souls but still sends very, very bad people to the darkness beneath, and so on. On top of its many torments, Naraka has a huge necropolis for the monsters and spirits of four different pantheons to live in and aid Yama in his work. Lord Chitragupta manages a great citadel where all the records are kept, guarded by demons that watch out for any intruder trying to break in and erase their names from the book of those who die. (Especially monkeys, now, but that ship's probably sailed.)

Lanka rises from the sea 1300 kilometers southwest of Kerala, and it is the island kingdom of devils. The island was built by Vishvakarman, but then the rakshasa took it over. It fell into many hands over the centuries, always monstrous or demonic, and most famously was the land of Ravana, the Demon King. As the Battle of Lanka grew close, Hanuman, son of the wind god Vayu and avatar of Shiva, torched Ravana's castle, and Prince Rama, avatar of Vishnu, exploited a loophole in his invulnerability to kill him. Lanka has had no ruler since, and most people assumed it would just fade into obscurity. However, in 2009, it was rediscovered by the Sri Lankan navy in the aftermath of the Sri Lankan Civil War, though the locals drove them off. The city of Lankapura has been rebuilt, and now covers most of the island. It is not as great as once it was, but now it is an anarchist haven for monsters, mostly inhabited by rakshasas, yakshas and serpents, though the past century has seen monsters from across the world take refuge there, including rusalkas, manananggals, trolls and others who have no safe place to go. The Deva, on hearing of this, immediately gathered a war party, but were stopped by a protest on their way there. When the Shen Guanshiyin Pusa personally interceded to beg for peace and mercy, they relented, and Lanka was allowed to remain, for now. The question of who will rule it remains. The inhabitants rebuilt Ravana's golden palace between the Trikuta Mountain peaks, and every few years someone tries to be King of Lanka, but the squabbling gangs inevitably band together and toss them out. One day, it is said, Ravana or one of his Scions may come again. Rumor has it that one of his daughters fought on the LTTE side of the Sri Lankan Civil War, but she has not returned to Lanka.

Ravana, the Demon King of Lanka, was the greatest Titan of the Deva. Once, he was the most devoted worshipper of Shiva, granted the boon of invulnerability to anyone but a mortal. In his uncountable hands he could wield any weapon, and in his ten heads he had perfect knowledge of the Vedas. Legend says, however, that power corrupted Ravana, transforming him into an evil tyrant. He lusted for Prince Rama's wife, Sita, abducting her and causing the Battle of Lanka, which eventually saw him die at Rama's hands. Or, at least, that's the popular story. Ravana's been dead for a long, long time, and the growing rakshasa welfare movement rallies around him as a martyr by citing a much less known South Indian version of the Ramayana in which Ravana is the hero, utterly clashing with the more popular versions. 'Ravana reborn' is a rallying cry for modern rakshasas, who believe that a new Incarnation or Scion of Ravana will come to lead them again. Ravana's Purview was either Artistry or Epic Stamina, but no one is really sure which it was. His Virtues were Dominance and Rapacity.

Next time: The Hinduisms

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




I'm surprised you're not going to go over Ascension, since it's the Big Continuation Book for DH1.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





It's silly, but I would love the old WW-style 'Roleplaying Hints' when it came to the various gods.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Deathwatch and Rites of Battle: Part 1

SPESS MAHREENS!

Here we go, with the iconic shoulder-pad enthusiasts and potato men of the 41st Millennium. These are the Space Marines, the Adeptus Astartes, the giant men (and only men, which poses a problem for a modern RPG published in 2010) who stand astride 40k and mostly don't accomplish anything, like every other force in the setting. The book immediately starts with the comparison, for those uninitiated, that you're going to be playing something akin to a knight of the round table, but in space. Your character begins Deathwatch as a veteran hero, or an extremely promising prodigy. Someone whose chapter sent them to join the Deathwatch, which has been weirdly shifted from being the general alien-hunting commando units for the Ordo Xenos to being its own specific warrior brotherhood located in the Jericho Reach, still technically affiliated with the Ordo Xenos but no longer really its chamber militant because Marines are never allowed to stay subordinated to anyone who isn't another Marine for very long in 40k Fluff. The intro blurb is very clear that this is going to be a game where you kick an enormous amount of rear end, and the mechanics are going to back this up this time. You're not a lowly S4 T4 WS4 BS4 TT TacMarine. You're a Fluff Marine. The ones who can bring down tanks with their pistols, punch through a bunker bare-handed, and take on hundreds of enemies per mission. We then get a usual 'what is a roleplaying game' spiel because why not, but there's nothing in it we haven't seen a thousand times.

We then get into a very congratulatory run-down of what makes a Space Marine, which proclaims them to be the single most important and most powerful weapon in all of the Imperium. A 1000 Marine Chapter is described as a fully self-sufficient army, with its own space-fleet, its own vehicles, its own support staff, its own command staff, its own right to operate independently, etc. All their gear is the best gear the Imperium can build and is maintained to the highest standard. They are heavily trained, experienced, every single one has its own glorious history of which all its members are fiercely proud, every Marine is a genetically enhanced killing machine, etc etc etc. Massive and powerful, yet so agile and skillful, etc etc.

There are roughly 1000 Chapters, and most of them descend from the original 18 Legions. Legions were created to provide an army for each of the 20 Primarchs, the sons of the Emperor, though 2 of them were lost because back in the day GW wanted you to be able to develop your own First Founding chapters and ideas and stuff so long as it kept you buying models. A Primarch is a hyper-marine supposedly worth about 100 other Marines, and their actions directly led to both the original expansion of the Imperium of Man and its current status of being totally hosed. They split off into 9 loyalists and 9 rebels during the course of their enormous crusade across the galaxy, with Horus, the Emperor's favored son, leading a bunch of his brothers into rebellion in the name of Chaos. The Horus Heresy is an awful lot more relevant to Marines than DH PCs, because they tend to know what happened, since it was sort of Marines' faults. The Legions had been unstoppable and the Imperium was terrified of another Horus, so Guilleman, one of the Primarchs who had survived the initial Heresy, recommended splitting the Marines into 1000 soldier Chapters and using them as special forces rather than risking an individual warlord being able to fall as catastrophically as Horus did.

Guilleman is also responsible for the doctrine that the standard chapter follows, the Codex Astartes, which is full of helpful tips like 'pin people down with an HMG and then jump on them with rocket boots'. The Codex also recommends a long period of indoctrination and direct ideological training for young Marines during their implantation with magical gene-seed taken from their older forebearers, to ensure they learn every tradition of their Chapter and will fit in with its culture while they grow into a giant posthuman. He also decreed that a Chapter should produce its own gene-seed and stock, and that there should be no mixing of these blueprints for posthumans. This means every Chapter has quirks in their training, quirks in their genetics, and quirks in their culture that let them distinguish themselves a little more than just the different colors on their frowny-faced armor. The Adeptus Terra has taken direct control of the genetic blueprints for Marines, and uses it to maintain some degree of control over the Astartes (I'm going to use Marine and Astartes interchangeably during this review because the book does the same thing and writing Marine that much would make me go crazy); they can declare the creation and founding of new chapters from excess geneseed (each Marine produces 2 Marines worth of seed at all times, to be harvested when they die) or declare a chapter a traitor and destroy its stocks of genetic material.

Some chapters rigidly follow the Codex and the rules. Some do not. The ones who do not tend to be directly related to the original Legions, especially ones that didn't like Guilleman much. They tend to have some reason or excuse for avoiding the normal, standard organization of Marine forces. While the Adeptus Terra does not try to enforce the Codex, it should be noted that they have always favored Codex chapters above divergent ones, especially when it is time to create new Chapters. Guilleman's original Chapter, the Ultramarines, have the most descendant Chapters and are usually held up better in Imperial propaganda to try to encourage people to be more like them, because anything that makes Marines more predictable is really helpful for the people who are going to try to herd these cats into combat.

Marine Chapters tend to have a world or set of worlds that they select their Initiates from. They favor feral and feudal worlds, preferring lower tech warriors where young child soldiers are more common, though you'll find Marines recruiting from almost any kind of planet available if you want to be different. They also tend to have recruiting trials that kill shitloads of children to select the 'best' base warriors to turn into posthuman supersoldiers, because Grimdark. A Marine recruiting world will be ferociously defended by the Chapter that claims it, whether they rule it directly or not, because they need that supply of brutalized children to make soldiers out of. The chapter also funds itself by the exports and produce of its recruiting worlds and the rewards granted by other Imperial forces they assist. A young Marine Neophyte is then taken to be implanted and surgically modified, then heavily indoctrinated into the chapter culture. Neophytes them serve as scouts and auxiliaries to their fellows in the field, usually serving under a veteran who assists and instructs them, until they are taken for a full Marine and given their power armor. A young Tactical Marine has usually seen several campaigns and years of war as an Initiate before they ever put on the power armor. Marines are canonically permitted to do little but fight and prepare to fight. Glory is the one pleasure generally allowed to them.

There's also a bunch of total bullshit about how much smarter Marines are, because of their tremendous mental training. I say bullshit because reading 40k fluff, Marines are absolutely not smarter than average for humans. Game stats wise, you'll have a higher Int compared to an equivalent Acolyte, but the Adeptus Astartes are hardly any wiser than humans. We also get a ton about the nineteen magic implants Marines have and god help me I'm not listing all of those. They mostly don't do that much in game terms. If you really want to know, the most important one is probably the one where Marines can eat brains and discover thoughts.

In a Codex chapter, after their time as a Scout, a Marine will be appointed to the Devastator squads. These are the heavy and support weapons handlers for the Chapter, and a young Marine will carry ammo, learn from the rest of the squad, support them, and learn how to use heavy weapons. Scouting taught them how to read a fight, Devastator duty is designed to keep them back a little from the front lines and learn how to direct fire. After that, the Marine will be given a jetpack, a chainsaw, and told to jump into concentrations of enemy fire to take ground and silence them as an Assault Marine, trying to teach them initiative and the value of opportunity. The humble Tactical Marine rifle trooper is actually the 'final' stage of a Marine's training, unless they showed enormous aptitude for one of the prior roles, because a TacMarine is expected to be able to fill in in any of the other jobs. Elites get put in even blockier Terminator armor or formed up into Veteran squads to bodyguard Captains and other officers, or get appointed Sargent and lead a squad of their own. Some Marines draw specialist jobs like medic (Apothecary) or vehicle crew.

The Chapter Master of a Chapter is the overall commander and director of the army. They are theoretically the strongest, most experienced, smartest, and best. In reality, this isn't always the case. Almost every Marine aspires to be a Chapter Master or part of their honor guard some day, because advancing within the chapter is one of the few ambitions that is still encouraged in a Marine.

Next Time: Creating a Chapter, and a Marine.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Dawgstar posted:

It's silly, but I would love the old WW-style 'Roleplaying Hints' when it came to the various gods.

oh wow that would be so...bad.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Please post the random roll table for your marine's personality if you don't feel like coming up with one, thanks.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





MollyMetroid posted:

oh wow that would be so...bad.

Well, I don't mean go full out Chicago by Night, but some guidelines would be nice. They do it for some deities, but not all.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

What happened in Chicago by Night?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Dawgstar posted:

Well, I don't mean go full out Chicago by Night, but some guidelines would be nice. They do it for some deities, but not all.

A lot of the vagaries in the Deva is because those guys are actively worshiped irl and in many cases their myths are multiple choice. Hence all the ‘some say’ stuff.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


wiegieman posted:

I'm surprised you're not going to go over Ascension, since it's the Big Continuation Book for DH1.

I've mentioned it before but I don't actually own Ascension. Also, from what I can see, very little material in either the rest of the DH1e books I have or the rest of the line references it much.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Looking forward to the OC chapter of Space Marines, the Fire & Fury Marines that recruit from the planet Sitzfleisch.

Lurks With Wolves
Jan 14, 2013

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


Night10194 posted:

I've mentioned it before but I don't actually own Ascension. Also, from what I can see, very little material in either the rest of the DH1e books I have or the rest of the line references it much.

Ascension came out pretty late in Dark Heresy 1e's lifetime, and it kind of escalates the system to a point where it kind of falls apart. It's interesting as part of FFG's 40k line and how it grew in scale over time, but it's not a lynchpin of the line. (At least, iirc. It's been a while since I looked at it.)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Also given you mentioned you hated the skill system and all from that adventure, am I to take it you actually played it? If so, how badly did your group die in the final confrontation? I'd be curious to hear from anyone who actually played out the example adventure.

Lurks With Wolves
Jan 14, 2013

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


Night10194 posted:

Also given you mentioned you hated the skill system and all from that adventure, am I to take it you actually played it? If so, how badly did your group die in the final confrontation? I'd be curious to hear from anyone who actually played out the example adventure.

I tried to run it as a pbp once. I'm pretty sure my players read the adventure beforehand, though, because they saw the shadowy figure, went "well that's hosed up" and kept driving. (I let them, because come on.)

Anyway, it's less personal experience and more that that adventure just typifies so many of the things that made me stop caring about FFG's 40k line by the time Black Crusade came out.

Hunt11
Jul 24, 2013



Grimey Drawer

Night10194 posted:

This is why they never should have added in multiple dice weapons.

So how would you handle the more lethal weapons for 40k?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I'm not entirely sure you can do it while keeping the same wound system from WHFRP2e. It's one of those cases where I see why they did what they did; they needed more room to vary the weapons since they had to cover multiple tiers of equipment. Just it doesn't end up working in practice, especially with crits and things being tied to damage rolls. Similar for the Pen system. I don't actually have a better solution to their problem, I just know their solution didn't work well in practice and only got worse in the later games.

Rocket tag makes slightly more sense with actual rockets, though, I suppose.

E: We're going to see an interesting dynamic in Deathwatch where they start giving serious monsters 300 HP but PCs still 'only' have 18+d5 and wounds are more expensive than ever to buy. It's a weird kind of dissonance between PC and NPC stats.

Good old Lascannon Classic will still pulp a Marine PC in one hit, as will most really serious monsters.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 23:40 on Mar 22, 2018

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



Give armor ablative Wounds?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


One of the core problems with the later 40kRP games is the increasing cost of Wounds relative to anything else. You pay quite a bit for Wounds in later games and no-one really has a buffed of 'cheap' Sound Constitution (the Talent that gives +1 Wounds) the way most DH characters did. Plus, you start to run into situations where, since you're high level, you're facing enemies who do, say, 2d10+25 Pen6 reasonably often and +1 Wounds isn't much next to 27-45 damage. You'd have to pay so much to get an appreciable number of them.

Also, the later Career System games, Rogue Trader and Deathwatch, slow down your rate of Rank advancement *immensely*. Ranks have a homogenized EXP cost rather than, say, Ranks 1-3 being done in like 2-3 sessions in DH1e, so if you've got a couple Sound Con accesses per Rank you're going to be waiting a long time to buy more. A Marine, for instance, can buy about 8 guaranteed ranks of Sound Con or so, by Rank 8. This is pretty useless against the firepower coming in on a Marine; if it was serious enough to punch your armor and TB, it is going to blow through your 19-23 starting wounds and whatever piddly extra HP you've bought.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 12:56 on Mar 23, 2018

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Scion: Hero
One Billion, With A B

The Hinduisms is the term that collectively refers to all the myriad faiths that worship the Deva. Taken together, there are over a billion mortals that adhere to one of them. Hinduism is actually a British term, but it's been adopted by the Hindu unitarian movements, and it covers a huge spectrum - Vaishnavists, Shaivists, Shaktists and more. Indonesian Hinduism is vastly different than most South Asian Hinduism, at that - they believe all of the Deva are encompassed as aspects of a single god, Acintya, who is the Godhead. There are Hindus all over the world, and their different traditions can be treated as related but separate dialects. They may share vocabulary, script or ideas, but they are only partly intelligible to each other, which makes it very hard to generalize. Still, most Hindu faiths emphasize prayer, devotion, art and sometimes dietary restrictions, such as vegetarianism or not eating certain sacred animals. Once, a professional scholar-priest caste called the Brahmins oversaw the Hindu faiths and their sacrifices, and the religions also feature ascetics fairly heavily. It's also worth noting Buddhism here. According to the Deva, Siddhartha Gautama was one of Vishnu's avatars, achieving enlightenment by meditation and establishing a new religion, which emphasized nonviolence and decried the animal sacrifice common to many Hindu faiths. Even before the Deva realized the Buddha was Vishnu's avatar (which is very strongly denied by actual Buddhists), many of them were fascinated with the Buddha's teachings and the intellectual and spiritual challenges he represented. Many of them were present at the Buddha's later sermons, including the one at Vulture Peak that was attended by 4% of the World's entire population at the time. Even now, many Hindus and even the Deva are mindful of the Buddhist viewpoint's contrasts.

Common Creatures and Followers for Deva Scions including Animals, generally talking ones. They are largely serpents (which have been both enemy and ally to mankind), monkeys (symbols of Hanuman, and particularly the vanaras, who are a sort of human-monkey mix that serve Hanuman directly), sentient bears (who fought alongside the vanaras at the Battle of Lanka) and raptors (the greatest of whom is the garuda, Krishna's mount and great enemy of serpents). Some of them can take on human form, as well. Guides could include a bodhisattva - as mentioned, the Deva are quite interested in Buddhism, and many study under arhats or bodhisattvas when they have philosophical or moral questions. There's also great immortal gurus, like Preceptor Drona, who was the martial arts master that taught the Kauravas and Pandavas, and who founded the city of Gurgaon in Haryana. He still runs a military academy there, amidst the office complexes and factories. Relics are where it gets nasty, though. The astras are common in myths of the Deva - the most devastating divine superweapons ever to exist, designed to vaporize armies in a single strike. Most are missiles, thrown or fired from a bow, and traditional Indian warfare considers use of them against common soldiers a war crime, though not using them against rathi or Scions. There's also Soma, Indra's favored drink, which is also a god. A soma relic would be a leafy green plant you can milk, then mix that sap up to create the drink that grants divine vitality.

Everyone that understands the power of the astras fears the Deva. An astra that misses, or which hits a target unworthy of its power, is like a nuke a going off. It destroys entire cities. Hypothetically, a non-Indian divine weapon, such as the Spear of Lugh or the Mixcoatl, could block or counter an astra if wielded by a worthy Hero, but no one's ever tested that, and no one really wants to be the first person to try it. For the Devas, the Titanomachy has always been the top priority. See, they date back, originally, to a divine schism between two factions. In Sanskrit, those are the Devas and the Asuras. In Avestan, the Daevas and the Ahuras. These two groups fought over territory, religion and ideology, with the Deva winning on the Indian subcontinent and the Asuras in and around Iran. Each pantheon's word for Titan, in fact, is just the name of the other. Titanomachy is inseperable from the Deva identity, at this point. They exist because they oppose the Asuras and their degenerate values. Abandoning that fight - which they excel at, anyway - would be giving up.

As should be obvious, the greatest enemy pantheon of the Deva is the Yazatas. Yes, the war between them went cold a long time ago, because despite the great influence of the Deva, every other pantheon recognizes the Yazatas as gods, rather than Titans. Even the most aggressive of the Deva would never encourage their Indian faithful to persecute the Parsis, either - there's enough prejudice as it stands. However, they still think of the Yazatas as asuras, jumped-up Titans with good PR, and they've said before that the Aesir are probably Titans, too, given the jotnar in their ranks. Keeping Thor and Indra from ever meeting and, inevitably, murdering each other is an important job for both pantheons. They got on fairly well with other aggressive pantheons, at least, particularly the Teotl. The Theoi haven't really forgotten about the time the Pandavas conquered Greece and Rome out of boredom, then left without bothering to even set up an empire. The Deva and their patronizing encouragement of the Theoi, like they're kids from the wrong part of town made good, doesn't help. The Orisha and Loa, on the other hand, are always unfailingly polite to the Deva, but vocally and loudly oppose their attitude toward Titanomachy. They use the Deva/Yazata conflict as a perfect example of the use of the word Titan as a slur on one's enemies. The closest allies of the Deva are probably the Shen and the Kami. Originally, it was just proximity and shared interested in Buddhism, but now, the gods of all three pantheons frequently visit or even Mantle into each other. Yamaraja runs Hell for all of them, for example. Each group knows how to operate in large, messy families, complex bureaucracies and systems of devotion in which different areas emphasize entirely different parts of the faith, even within the same country.

The great weakness of the Deva is that they're a huge target, thanks to their strong position in the World. They oversee the largest of any pantheons' religions, and they possess the most terrifying arsenal anyone is aware of. They're the most obvious foe for any Titan with nothing to lose and a desire to prove themselves against someone huge and (to a Titan) oppressive. It doesn't really help that the Deva attitude toward this can best be described as 'if you come at the king, you best not miss' - especially when you're one of the Scions who has to be out there on the front lines.

The Virtues of the Deva are Conscience and Duty. Consider - after years of fighting the Kauravas, Prince Arjuna of the Pandavas looks down at the enemy force - his own relatives, manipulated into this battle by the selfish and evil Prince Duryodhana, who will do anything to fulfill his own destiny of death in battle. Arjuna knows that going to war with his own relatives is wrong, so he throws down his bow, Gandiva, and speaks of his problems to his charioteeer, Lord Krishna. Krishna explains the divine truth of Arjuna's duties as a knight, the duties of his caste and destiny. This explanation, the Bhagavad Gita, defines many Hindu religions, and is the articulation of a struggle that gods and mortals alike have always had. What do you do when your duty is one thing, but you're pretty sure that thing is wrong or evil? In the end, the Pandavas obey Krishna's ruthless advice, and use treachery to defeat King Karna and Prince Duryodhana. However, Duryodhana still manages a knightly death, and he mocks the Pandavas from heaven. Modern Scions are going to face similar issues, where their conscience conflicts with the rules of their faith or pantheon. There's a part in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad that explains how to coerce a woman into sex, for example, and the Indian caste system, while officially abolished, has been taking forever to actually dismantle. Then there's the whole Rama/Sita thing. There's always going to be times when you're faced with the decision to do your duty and fulfill your destiny, or give up your honor to do what's right, even if the whole world falls apart after. You have to make a choice.

The signature Purview of the Deva is Yoga. Yoga in this context is a set or system of religious exercises and activities designed to unmake the ego and elevate the self to divinity. Its ultimate reward is union with the Godhead and escape from the cycle of death and rebirth. Some practice karma yoga, the yoga of selfless action, which helps purify the self of hope for gain in order to help others more perfectly. Others practice jnana yoga, the yoga of selfless meditation, to dissociate from their own mind's pain and misery. Some practice bhakti yoga, the yoga of ecstatic love and devotion to divinity, as expressed via art, sex or other things. Some will practice two or even all three.

Next time: Ten Thousand Kami

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

The worst thing is we didn't get Vanara or sapient bear supernatural paths written up.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




I do like the idea of Buddhism as a spiritual pursuit that actual gods find appealing. Maybe because South Park's God is a Buddhist. (I mean, who's he going to worship?)

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Scion: Hero
Hidden Fractures

To outsiders, Japan and its Kami have always come off as homogenous and united. What most never realize is that the islands have long, long history of internal conflict. They don't know about the Ainu, or the Ages of War, or the divisions between the earthly and heavenly kami, or the invasion by Buddhist bodhisattvas who then became Kami. Yes, Amaterasu has ruled all things for, practically, forever. But that's never stopped there being war. There are plenty of divisions - it's just that, when confronted by outsiders, the Kami circle the wagons and unite as one. Even the Titans of Japan will come aid the Kami when outsiders threaten the islands. The Kami descended from the Heavenly Plane to rule Japan approximately 2500 years ago, and around 600 BCE, they decided that Ninigi-no-Mikoto, grandson of Amaterasu, should travel the Central Land of the Reed Plains (or, for modern people, the Kansai region) and rule as Emperor. His grandmother gave him three gifts: her string of magatama jewels, the mirror that drew her from the cave, and the Kusanagi blade.

The path of Ninigi-no-Mikoto was blocked by Sarutahiko, the king of the Kunitsukami, or Earthly Kami. The Heavenly Kami had long ignored them as lowly, brushing off their leaders, and the Earthly Kami saw Ninigi as an interloper and invader. Sarutahiko was ready to fight, but was struck by the laughter and beauty of Ama-no-Uzume, who had joined Ninigi as an advisor. She spoke kindly to him, and had Ninigo show him the heirlooms. Sarutahiko agreed to stand down and join the Imperial Party, thanks to her charms, and so Ninigo won the right to rule all Japan bloodlessly. Uniting it would be harder, but they managed it, and the Kami power structure has largely remained in place ever since. When foreign gods arrived, they were shown their place in the structure and worshipped. This view, called shinbutsu-shugo, or synchronistic viewpoint, has prevented a lot of Japanese religious strife. Not all of it - Buddhism brought huge changes that threatened to destroy Shinto belief, but it was eventually saved by this view and the Buddhist Fortunes accepting roles as Kami...which created a third major political faction among the Kami, which the Fortunes are happy to use to their own advantage. Still, today, Japan is one of the most religiously integrated and pluralistic societies out there.

Technically, everything is a Kami. They're the largest pantheon on the planet, and their more liberal members argue that literally every god or supernatural creature could find a place in the Kannagara, the order of things. However, they do have leaders, and typically those leadership figures are the only ones able to create Scions; when others can, their kids are often adopted by the leaders anyway, or even outsider Scions. The only stricture the Kami place is that a Scion prove themselves worthy, which can be simple or extremely deadly, depending on the Kami in question.

Amaterasu is the Amatsukami of the Sun and the Ruler of Heaven. She is also called Omikami, Tensho Daijin, Ohirume-no-muchi-no-kami. She is the Queen of Heaven, grandmother of the imperial family, and the firstborn of the three kami born of the Primordials Izanami and Izanagi, who named her queen of all. Her early rule was not easy, but in the struggle she learned wisdom. Her younger brother, Susano-O, rampaged across Heaven, destroying much and killing many, which drove her to rage and had her hide in a cave, plunging all the world to darkness. The other Kami, via the cunning use of a mirror and the bold dance of Ama-no-Uzume, tricked her out, and she recognized the danger she had caused. She banished her brother and retook Heaven. In the modern day, she continues to advise the Emperors, though they had some rocky times during the Pacific War, and she learned much from that experience. She realized she needed to bring her wisdom to all who sought her guidance, not just her own family. While she still appears in the Imperial Court as a long-haired woman with a quiet voice and amazing poise, she also appears a motherly advising figure to others, and as a personal advisor to corporate leaders who shows them how to deal with bureaucracy efficiently and discreetly while remaining humble and honest. Her Scions understand the value of hard-earned wisdom and advising those in power, and she often visits them to give advice, whether desired or not. While her children can be haughty, they also tend to be altruists who care for others befoer thinking of themselves. Amaterasu's Callings are Leader, Judge and Sage, and her Purviews are Epic Strength, Fertility, Order, Prosperity and Sun.

Tsukiyomi is the Amatsukami of the Moon. He is also called Tsukiyomi-no-Mikoto. He is the middle child of Amaterasu, himself and Susano-O, and he largely does his own thing. He's not seen his sister in ages, and he says he prefers it that way. (It is wise not to mention that she banished him from her sight; he still feels justified in killing Uke Mochi, the Kami of Food, for spitting in his meal. Amaterasu says she'll rescind his sentence when he accepts the justice of it.) Because of his banishment, Tsukiyomi has had far more freedom to travel than other Kami, and he knows many things about history and current gossip. When not traveling, he spends most of his time in Tokyo's nightlife, which keeps him away from his sister, who prefers Kyoto. He often incarnates as a food critic or as a patron of various nightclubs and other fun places of the night. Some Kami consider him an insufferable gossip, but his taste is impeccable. His Scions, likewise, are always in the know. Their father shares gossip, because information is no good if kept to yourself, and they often share his cutting edge taste. Tsukiyomi's Callings are Liminal, Judge and Healer, and his Purviews are Artistry, Darkness, Moon and Order.

Susano-O is the Amatsukami of the Sea, Death and Storms. He is also called Susanoo-no-Mikoto. He is the youngest of the three siblings that rule the Kami, and...well, it shows. He cried for Izanami, demanding to see her even though she died and went to Yomi. He challenged Amaterasu to see who could have the best kids, and a combination of his luck, talent and his sister's politeness led him to declare himself the winner. His subsequent celebration destroyed much of Heaven and killed many, until Amaterasu put an end to it and banished him from Heaven, ordering him to watch over Yomi-no-kuni's entrance in Izuno. To win back her favor, Susano-O undertook epic quests, discovering sea plants, defeating a great dragon by trickery and even pulling a sword from its tail - the mighty Kusanagi, which he gave to Amaterasu. She did forgive him, but wouldn't let him quit his job. Eventually, one his Scions, Okuninushi, was frustrated that the living and dead were separated, snuck into Yomi and, over a few days, tricked his father and stole from him several times. Instead of being angry, Susano-O was delighted to be bested, and promoted his son to being a Kami, and even gave him his great hall - Susano-O has never wanted it. Then he opened the passage from Izumo to Yomi so that honored ancestors could speak to their descendants. He now spends as little time as possible doing his job. Technically, he rules the dead and the seas, but he'd much rather be surfing, hunting dragons or heli-snowboarding with his kids while looking for snow monsters. His Scions tend to crave adventure and challenge, much as he does, and party just as hard. They wreck hotel rooms, sure, but they'll always pay the bill and leave a great tip. Susano-O's Callings are Creator, Trickster and Warrior. His Purviews are Artistry (Poetry), Chaos, Death, Epic Strength, Forge (Metallurgy), Sky and Water.

Hachiman is the Amatsukami of Warriors, Archery and Culture. He is also called Daibosatsu, Emperor Ojin and Yahata-no-kami. He is one of the most popular Kami, after Inari, being the Kami of warriors and Japanese culture. His signs are the eight banners and the dove and, of course, his symbol, the mitsudomoe, or three teardrops in a vortex. It symbolizes flexbility and willingness to change to succeed. His is the wisdom of the new and unexpected, of necessary change. He guided the warriors of Japan via bushido and even incarnated as Emperor once to help them succeed. Hachiman seeks victory in all things, not just the military, so he understands war by other means. He appreciates Amaterasu's passion for helping others, but knows she won't ever focus on large groups - so he does. He knows that a war is won on logistics, organizations and training, not singular deeds. He loves Japan and its people, wants to see them prosper, and he thinks the best way to do that is to help them work together. In modern times, he is often found as an interim CEO or a military reformer with new ideas. He is also often a mentor to a team of new and eager leaders, telling them of his past successes and failures in order to teach them. His Scions have been military leaders, corporate presidents, anime or film producers, teachers, mentors - anyone who can promote the positive parts of Japanese culture. They are all zealous and hard workers, and also extremely enthusiastic and loud. Hachiman's Callings are Leader, Sage and Warrior, and his Purviews are Artistry, Beasts (Dove), Order, Prosperity and War.

Inari is the Kunitsukami of Rice, Fertility and Foxes. They are also called Inari Okami, Oinari, Inari Daimyojin and Dakiniten. Inari is Kami both of granting wishes and growing rice, and is extremely popular. They always have been. They have many forms - an old man with sheaves of rice, a young family man and farmer with advice on what people need, a nine-tailed kitsune, a beautiful maiden. Inari tends to see gender as just another kind of appearance and refuses to adopt one permanently. Inari's popularity gives the Kunitsukami a lot of political sway - Inari has over 32,000 attended shrines dedicated to them, a full third of all Japan's shrines cared for by people, and if you counted roadside shrines, Inari could overwhelm everyone else combined. They are sometimes overworked answering prayers, but fortunately, their foxes are protected by law in Japan and their Kitsune friends often help out. Inari often appears as a reproductive specialist, a family planner or an agricultural engineer, and they and their foxes try to answer as many prayers as possible from those who are pure of heart and sincere. Scions of Inari often work in areas Inari cares about, as Inari is quite busy and often drafts them to help. Inari also is the most prolific adopter of Scions in all the Kami, choosing those who are compassionate and want to help. Their genderfluid nature also attracts many trans Scions who want to be adopted, and Inari always welcomes them if they're willing to work. Inari's Callings are Creator, Healer and Liminal, and their Purviews are Beasts (Fox), Fertility, Fortune, Journeys, Prosperity and Health.

Ama-no-Uzume is the Amatsukami of Dawn, Revelry and Mirth, and the wife of Sarutahiko. She is also called Otafuku and Okame. She is the Kami of fresh starts, simple joys and parties. She's never been one for tradition or propriety - when Amaterasu was in the cave, Ama-no-Uzume showed her breasts and belly to remind her elder goddess of her duty to nourish life. If some big monster gets in her way, she tells them off. She is a Kami of action and always speaks her mind. When Sea Cucumber insulted the Emperor, and wouldn't stop when she told him off, she slit his mouth. It's best not to get her angry. No matter what form she takes, she is always enthusiastic. Her other name, Otafuku, means 'good fortune', and she loves it. She's not just jokes and parties, though - her biggest passion is spreading joy, whether by food, sex or just a nice backrub. No job is too big or too small. She married Sarutahiko, and they get along great. She says it's because he's got a huge cock, and that's true, but they're also both really assertive and just like to spend time together. She may not be the prettist Kami, and some even say she prefers more homely forms - and that her husband's not a looker, either. They don't care - they're having too much fun. Her Scions are similar. They're the life of the party, usually have no real sense of shame, and they love to help everyone out. They don't care much about glory, and neither does their mother - it's just about having a good time and making sure the work gets done. Ama-no-Uzume's Callings are Lover, Liminal and Trickster, and her Callings are Artistry (Dance, Singing), Deception, and Passion (Mirth, Lust).

Sarutahiko is the Kunitsukami of Martial Arts and Monkeys, King of the Kunitsukami and the husband of Ama-no-Uzume. He is also called Dosojin and Kojin. He blocked the path of Ninigi-no-Mikoto, the future emperor. It was unclear how they would defeat or even get past him until Ama-no-Uzume stepped forward, told him of their journey and told him off for being rude. He fell in love - no one had ever dared harangue him before, given his might. And so he joined the Imperial party and said he'd even help subdue Japan - and then he'd marry Ama-no-Uzume. Impressed by his forthright declaration, she agreed, and so Japan could be conquered even faster than expected, because of Sarutahiko's strength and knowledge. These days, he's more concerned with taking trips with his wife, improving his skills in aikido and combat, and hanging out with monkeys. When he decides to help people, he is best at showing them all their options. Amaterasu or Tsukiyomi will tell you what's proper, or what's best for you, but all Sarutahiko cares about is that you're happy with your choice, even if it was a bad one. Sometimes he will appear as a literal sign to make your choices clear, or if he's annoyed, as a monkey to mess with you. When feeling sage, he will appear as a silent scarecrow pointing the way, an understanding sensei or teacher, or even a stranger giving directions. He has many Scions, both Kami and human. It's no secret that he has a giant penis - in fact, large phallus effigies are often left at his roadside shrines as offerings, and he'll have sex with anyone that catches his eye, if Ama-no-Uzume is not available for some reason. (Yes, they're married, but it's a very open relationship.) He doesn't really care what his kids do, as long as they do it with gusto. Want to be an otaku in Mom's basement? Be the best drat otaku there ever was. If you want to do something with monkeys, martial arts or traveling, even better. He'll love it and help out more often. Combine all three, perhaps as a zoologist studying how monkeys across the world fight, and that'd be just the best. Sarutahiko's Callings are Liminal, Lover, Sage and Warrior. (Wait, how he'd get four? I'd probably drop Liminal or Sage.) His Purviews are Beasts (Monkeys), Earth and Journeys.

Next time: Takemikazuchi, Ebisu, Okuninushi, Bishamon, Benzaiten, Fukurokujin, Kisshoten, Hotei.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Inescapable Duck posted:

I do like the idea of Buddhism as a spiritual pursuit that actual gods find appealing. Maybe because South Park's God is a Buddhist. (I mean, who's he going to worship?)

It's a pretty neat idea, and kind of reminds me of how in Islam, Jesus is considered a Prophet and a good man - just not the son of god - where there's respect towards an important figure of another religion, but is fundamentally wrong in the viewpoint of the other religion.

Robindaybird fucked around with this message at 15:07 on Mar 23, 2018

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Deathwatch and Rites of Battle: Part 2

Roll For Singular Personality Trait

We have a couple cans of worms to get through this time. First, as requested, yes, there is a table for rolling for a singular personality trait for your PC. This would be fine and ignorable if you already had an idea in mind, except that it has a mechanical effect in a half-baked subsystem. Get used to half-baked subsystems, they're a staple of the FFG 40kRP games! You have a Chapter Demeanor and then a personal one. If you roleplay out and invoke your demeanor once per session, you can claim a Fate Point benefit for doing so. If you did it 'well' according to your GM and fellow players, you double the bonus you'd have gotten. You roll a d10 for Calculating, Gregarious, Hot-Blooded (clearly the best), Studious, Taciturn, Pious, Stoic, Ambitious, Scornful, or Proud. You are permitted to make your own or change your personal demeanor as the game goes on, but chapter demeanor remains the same forever. Gameplay benefits linked to subjective judgment of how well someone's RP moment went are a sin, but the basic idea of 'I'm Proud, so I can get a bonus to a test in a challenge to prove my honor once per session' or whatever isn't terrible.

Marines have the same stat set as humans, but all their stats start at 30+2d10 instead of 20+2d10, and they get Unnatural Strength (x2) and Unnatural Toughness (x2). Their Chapter also gives them further stat buffs, and only buffs. They take no penalties from Chapter because Marine chapters aren't allowed to have actual weaknesses in the official fluff. If you think I'm kidding, one of the add-on books has a section on the White Scars (mongol space bikers) where within the same paragraph it talks about how they are hot-headed, reckless, and prone to fast action without planning, before going on to describe them as wise and masterful strategists who always carefully consider their battles. You get the same bad 'reroll one stat you don't like, keep the new result even if it's worse' mechanic from DH. You then pick your Chapter, pick what kind of Marine you are (Tactical, Devastator, Apothecary, Assault, Librarian, Techmarine), roll d5+18 for Wounds, get your 3-5 Fate points (Marines have a hell of a lot of luck), and then encounter one of the stupidest things in all the line.

You see, somewhere along the line someone at FFG had the idea that since the systems are all using the same system they're all compatible for cross-splat play, which is technically true. They then decided that they'd assign a huge starting EXP total to characters in Rogue Trader and Deathwatch, so that a Dark Heresy PC with that level of EXP would be equal to a starting character from the other line. The problem with this is, say, a 14000 EXP Dark Heresy character doesn't have all the random bullshit Marines get, can't use Marine weapons (which we'll see are CRAZY POWERFUL), and also the EXP costs of stats, skills, and talents changed between lines. You cannot 'balance' the lines by equivalent EXP because an EXP point actually buys more for a DH character, and they try to use that to make up for the higher base stats and powerful starting packages for the other games. It's silly and just makes the EXP tables for the other games more annoying.

You also get your standard issue. Marines all have Power Armor (which has AV 10 Chest, AV 8 everywhere else, and gives +20 Str that isn't multiplied by Unnatural for Strength Bonus), all kinds of special chainswords, jet packs, big HMGs, etc based on what class you took, and all of it is vastly superior to human gear. We'll get into it further in the Gear table, but suffice to say most Astartes weapons add +d10 damage over the human version, making an Astartes Boltgun superior per-shot to a human Heavy Bolter. It was so crazy that there's a sweeping modified errata weapons table designed to tone down the massive number of d10 damage dice you'll be flinging around.

Gender and Appearance notes all Marines are male. The book will talk about this in detail, and FFG's message boards were full of trouble about this back in the day, because this is an RPG published in 2010 that demands you play a male PC. I know the whole issue is a stupid nerd can of worms. To me, it's totally irrelevant and I was happy to just allow the women in my gaming group to play female Marines if they wanted because if there's one thing that should be obvious it's that I don't give much of a drat about the sanctity of 40k Canon. The book suggestion of 'let them play a Canoness Sister or a female Inquisitor' just...doesn't really work for such a combat heavy game, when Marines have so many inherent advantages for combat. Besides, this is the game about playing as Space Marines!

You can also roll d5 for your backstory based on chapter if you're boring. Then you get a couple questions about 'what was your homeworld like' and 'what do you love and hate in the world' and 'what does your assignment to the Deathwatch mean to you' and they're reasonably good for fleshing out your PC. You can also roll on a table for some naming suggestions based on chapter. We then get a hilarious aside about how you are very serious angelic heroic warrior knights who don't use contractions and should speak with dignity, but also some other important stuff to consider: How would your Marine react to dealing with ordinary people? What do they think of civilians? Where do they diverge from their Chapter? Why are they in the Deathwatch, even if they don't know the reason? They might have been sent because they're officer material, to learn to work with other forces and fight a variety of foes. They might have been exiled in an 'honorable' posting because of chapter politics. They might be expected not to return. There's a lot of good hooks you can come up with for why your soldier was sent to join a multi-chapter fighting force to work with the Inquisition.

Then we get the Baseline of Competence for Marines, by which I mean the skills, talents, and traits you begin with (and a description of what each of your magic organs does, though these are mostly minor and emphasize the Marine is mostly immune to environmental hazards) and holy hell are Marines competent compared to an Acolyte. I mean, obviously. You can use every single weapon with Astartes in its name without further weapons training talents. Marines know how to be stealthy (if outside their power armor, anyway), they can drive, they're trained in tactics and demolitions and maintenance of their gear, they're hard to pin, they're good soldiers, and as Deathwatch soldiers, they've been so well trained in fighting Xenos that against any Alien enemy they auto-confirm Righteous Fury (I forgot to mention, crits in 40k are RIGHTEOUS FURY instead of ULRIC'S FURY and RIGHTEOUS FURY! sounds fun and cool to declare when someone scores one) without needing to recheck their attack roll. Every single Marine in your party is a massive badass and they're only going to get better at killing things. In a lot of ways, this is one of the fun parts of the game. The game knows you're going into huge gunfights and melees, it makes everyone really good at them and able to contribute at baseline, and then you pick classes and chapters to both determine what you can do on top of killing, but also the cool ways you're even better at killing. It is nearly impossible to make a 'weak' Marine PC.

There are also references to Solo Mode and Squad Mode and oh god no please no no no (I will get to them later but you remember what I said about half-baked subsystems? There's one in every fully FFG 40k game and they're always integral to the game, too. Like space-ship design in Rogue Trader, and here it's a system for teamwork and unit cohesion that is hilariously unnecessary when the baseline PCs are this powerful).

Next Time: The Canon Chapters

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