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Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Alien Rope Burn posted:

I'm not convinced Synnibarr is more complicated than AD&D. I mean, seriously.

Maybe not, but Palladium/RIFTS is literally AD&D with more clutter.

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Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Young Freud posted:

Maybe not, but Palladium/RIFTS is literally AD&D with more clutter.
I think producing combat flowcharts for RIFTS or Palladium Fantasy or whatever like those AD&D ones include several boxes that are just "????".

Communist Zombie
Nov 1, 2011


Alien Rope Burn posted:

I'm not convinced Synnibarr is more complicated than AD&D. I mean, seriously.

Is there a chart for grappling rules? Because those are always wonderful no matter the system, and I cant wait to see what Synnibarr does for it.

Comrade Koba
Jul 2, 2007





Asimo posted:

Rolemaster then?

Rolemaster isn't complicated, it's just...very thorough and tedious. The basic mechanic (roll 1d00+modifiers, high is good) is pretty much the same throughout, if I'm not mistaken. Compared to AD&D with all the unintelligble clutter it's a goddamn shining example of clarity.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Comrade Koba posted:

Rolemaster isn't complicated, it's just...very thorough and tedious. The basic mechanic (roll 1d00+modifiers, high is good) is pretty much the same throughout, if I'm not mistaken. Compared to AD&D with all the unintelligble clutter it's a goddamn shining example of clarity.

Having read through RM, I have to agree with this. You need to reference a lot of charts, but the procedures themselves aren't that difficult to understand. I'm pretty sure the grappling rules are still just d100+stat+skill with a chart lookup that grants basic success at 100

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Alien Rope Burn posted:

I'm not convinced Synnibarr is more complicated than AD&D. I mean, seriously.

I can see why retroclones skip these.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Liber Canticorum: I Sing Hosanna, Hosanna, In A Calm And Lucid Manner

One note on choruses: if anyone rolls an Intervention, it affects everyone. Relics can't be used for a chorus unless everyone is using identical relics and the GM allows it. And Kyriotates can't chorus with themselves as they can't do multiple celestial actions per turn. Anyway! Moving on.

Songs do not get invented. They are discovered. Every chord in the Symphony exists already, and discovering new Songs is finding new ways to play them. However, as there are nearly infinite chords, neither the Council nor Lucifer has discovered all the ways to play them, or even all the chords. Thus, new Songs are sometimes discovered, accidentally or deliberately. The GM can invent their own Songs as they see fit. They can also forbid that players can discover Songs, as most are discovered by long periods of experimentation that aren't interesting for PCs to do. However, there are rules to discover Songs you already know exist - though even then, it's not easy. There are also rough guidelines for discovering new Songs.

For a new Song, you first decide what it does, and the GM approves it or writes it up or whatever. If the GM allows the Song to exist in some form or if you didn't have to make it up, you then have to go looking for it. The base time to find a new, unknown Song is a year, assuming 24 hour a day research with no significant other activities except traveling between the planes. Obviously, PCs can't generally do that. The base time increases based on how much time is not spent looking for the Song. You roll at the end of each duration - so if you can only research an average of 2 hours each day, it's 12 years before your first roll. (The GM may reduce this period if they see fit, but the game suggests that this is a bad idea, for reasons.) The base TN of the Song research roll is 0, and cannot be modified by Essence. However! The following modifiers are applied.

First, you get +1 for each realm in which you have 6 Forces. You get a further +1 for each Song you know all three versions of. You get +1 if you know another version of the Song in another realm, or +2 if you know two other versions. You get another +1 if you have Singing 6. You get +2 if you are a Songmaster. You get +1 if you are looking for a Song affiliated with either your Word or your resonance. You get -2 if you are researching a Celestial Song and can't go to the celestial plane, or an Ethereal Song and you can't consciously travel to the ethereal plane. You get -4 if you can't perform the Song you're researching. Then, any other modifiers the GM feels is appropriate. Then you roll. Failure means you wasted your time. Success means you found a close chord to the one you want, but will need to study and experiment to get the Song at level 1, with the period of study based on the CD, with 1 meaning several years and 6 meaning mere weeks. You learn only one realm of the Song at level 1, unless you get a favorable Intervention, in which case you either find the right chord immediately or discover the chords for all three versions and can learn them all after the appropriate period of study. On an unfavorable intervention, the GM is encouraged to be devious and cruel. Sometimes, you not only know a Song exists, but also know its performance ritual. Trying to reconstruct a Song from this is essentially the same process...but much easier. The base time period is a month, not a year, and the base TN is your Forces in the appropriate realm. This makes it possible, but difficult, for mortals to acquire new Songs on their own from a base of a ritual.

Let's see - sotto voce! Sotto voce is the power to evoke lesser effects from a Song without any use of Essence, also known as humming a Song. You must know the Song at level 4 or more. At level 4, you need 6 Forces in the Song's realm, and at 5 you need 5 Forces in it. At level 6, no Force minimum. Songs with a base Essence cost greater than 1 cannot be performed sotto voce. Sotto voce peformance is done as per a regular Song use, but the level of the Song is reduced by 3 for the roll, meaning that at level 4 it takes hand motions and voice, and even at 6 it takes one or the other, or will take effect the round after. Sotto voce Songs do not cause Disturbance, but the TN for their use is equal only to the Song's level, improvable by time or Essence as normal. Some skills can aid sotto voce Songs, but they require a round of use before the Song is invoked. If the skill roll is successful, the CD is added to the Song's TN. If not, you can either use the Song without a bonus or wait for (CD) rounds to try again. Dancing is the skill for Corporeal Songs, but you have to use physical rituals in the performance. Meditation boosts Ethereal Songs and takes complete concentration. Singing boosts Celestial Songs and requires a vocal performance. Sotto voce Songs are much weaker than normal. Their duration is always equal to (CD) rounds no matter what the Song's normal duration is, unless it's measured in rounds, in which case they last a single round. Any time the Song would use the performer's skill level, Forces or CD, except duration, use a 1. Whenever the Song uses Essence spent, use 0. Songs with a range of 0 as a result can be done sotto voce, but require physical contact or else do not extend beyond your body.

Themes! Most Songs have an immediate effect, but Themes do not. Once, they were sung every day, to help the world form. The universe is largely self-sustaining now, but there are a few places where you can still hear the echoes of Themes, maintaining one part of reality in a special state. Demons have also made use of Themes on a smaller scale since the Fall. A Theme is a special chorus that must be performed continuously. Some Themes are based on normal Songs, but others are based solely on qualities of the performers. Anyone who doesn't have the prerequisites for a Theme cannot help in it. Themes takes days, months or even years of continuous use to have effects. They are mostly performed by celestial spirits as a result. The GM rolls for Theme usage, but it's done differently than a normal Song. First, you determine how many performers are helping, as per a chorus. There is no bonus for spending extra time on a Theme. At the end of the minimum time requirement, the GM rolls once for the group, no Singing or individual rolls needed. If the roll succeeds, the Theme lasts for as long as they keep going. Failure means you wasted your time and Essence and must start again. Themes last as long as they have Essence fueling them, and performers can leave or join the group, but each change requires a new roll and a recalculation of the Theme's effects based on the number of performers an the check digit. Failure means you have to start over.

Each Theme has special traits. The TN is the Song of other quality the GM rolls against. For a Song, the TN is the lowest among any member of the group. Each performer must spend the same amount of Essence, expended over the course of the listed time increment. You can do anything else you want as long as you are still performing the Song - which means no talking if vocal performance is required - as long as you all remain in range of each other. However, you cannot spend Essence on anything but the Theme. Themes cause Disturbance equal to the total number of performersp lus the total Essence spent over the course of each increment. This Disturbance is continuous as it is performed, but causes no echoes until the Theme ends. Once someone can hear a Theme's Disturbance, they continue to hear it until they move out of perception range.





Variations! Using the same Song the same way is fairly predictable...but there's a lot of variations in how you can use a Song. Most produce no effect at all and result from failed rolls. However, sometimes, a variation does a thing, usually quite similar to the base Song. The variations are effectively new Songs that vary only slightly from the original, and they can be recognized as a variation of the original Song even from their Disturbance. Variations are a good way to customize Song effects. For example, a Thunder variant might produce a different sound with the same mechanical effects, a variant Corporeal Light might have a different color, a variant Numinous Corpus: Claws might produce mechanically identical crab pincers, while a variant NC: Acid might produce mechanically identical but much grosser phlegm. A variant Possession might let you take over only part of the victim's body, leaving them in control of everything else and you in your own body, but making that body part mimic your own movements.

Virtuosos! Most Songs have strict limits on their range and duration and so on. However, virtuosos can surpass those limits. To be a virtuoso with a Song, you must know it at level 6 and all other versions of it at level 3 or higher. You must have at least 6 Forces in the Song's realm, minus 1 for each alternate version you know at level 6. (Numinous Corpus are a special case - all of them are alternate versions of each other.) Virtuosos may increase the effects of their Song taking a penalty to the roll - for each -1 to the TN, they can increase any one factor the Song cares about by 1, such as the CD, Essence spent or total Forces. Virtuosos can also perform more subtly than normal, taking a -1 penalty for each -1 to Disturbance caused, though you can't reduce Disturbance to 0 or reduce the amount caused by Essence spent. Virtuosos may also attempt to improvise new Song variations on the fly at a -4 penalty, or -2 if they've witnessed the variationb before.

New attunements! We've seen Celestial and Ethereal Connections before. But Songmaster is an attunement normally found among powerful Wordbound, though rumopr says that some potent Ethereals also hold it. Any Superior can grant it, but it gives the power to grant Songs, so only the most trusted get it, and most aren't going to be in PC positions, but teaching ones. A Songmaster can teach any Song they know to anyone capable of learning it, requiring only one performance. The student makes a roll, TN equal to your skill at the Song plus their Forces in its realm. Success means they get the Song at level 1; failure means they can't try again for (CD) days for that particular Song. You cannot use this to give someone more skill at a Song they already know. Further, if you perceive a Disturbance, you automatically know if it was a Song. If it was a Song you know, you add your skill with that Song to the CD of a successful roll.

Now, the Songs themselves! The Songs of Affinity are also known as the Songs of Contagion. They can trace a subject through the Sympony, so long as you have a part of the subject or something they made. You do not need them to be present when the Song is used, however, and the Song will tell you if they're on a different plane. Each lasts (CD+Essence Spent) hours. The Corporeal Song uses a part of an object to find the whole, causing the held piece to pull towards the whole. This does not work on the living, but will work on corpses and the undead. The Ethereal Song tracks a person by part of their body, as long as the bdoy part has not been ritually severed or cleaned. It otherwise acts as per the Corporeal Song. The Celestial Song can find someone by something htey made. If the item is an artifact, the Song traces its current owner and gets a bonus equal to the Artifact's level. Lilim may also use the Celestial Song to track anyone they have a Geas-hook on, with a bonus equal to the level of the Geas. In all cases, this takes at least 2 Essence and causes (CD) Disturbance.



The Songs of Artifacts speed the creation of artifacts. A successful use of the appropriate realm's Song divides the amount of time required for artifact creation by (1+CD), while a failed use adds (CD) hours to the time required. Angels of Creation are specially attuned to the use of these Songs. They cost 1 Essence and cause (CD+artifact's level) Disturbance.

The Songs of Attraction are in the core, but we do get special attunements. Cherubim and Djinn are attuned to the Celestial Song, and Habbalah to the Ethereal Song.

The Songs of Cacophony generate chaos. The Corporeal Song causes random noise that drowns out all other sound in (Corporeal Forces*Essence Spent) yards, lasting (Corporeal Forces+CD) minutes. You can roll at -2 to create a specific noise, such as somone's voice - or more ,for something very complex, like a multi-person conversation or an orchestra. Listeners must roll Perception with the Song's level as a penalty to detect the illusion. The Ethereal Song, or Song of Babel, creates a zone in which all speech is unintelligible. Those within the area hear only their own speech normally, hearing all others as incoherent babble. This covers a radius of (Ethereal Forces + Essence Sopent) yards, lasting (10*CD) minutes. Each person in the area when the Song is performed or who enters the area after can roll Perception at a penalty of its level to negate the effects, with a bonus equal to the level of the Corporeal Song of Tongues if that's active. The Celestial Song creates a very, very loud Disturbance, equal to (Celestial Forces*Essence Spent*CD), drowning out all other Disturbance and making Song use difficult. As long as the echoes last, all other Song use is at -1 per 10 points of Disturbance or fraction thereof. These cost at least 1 Essence and cause (CD) Disturbance, except the Celestial Song.

The Songs of Calling issue a non-compelling summons. You must have met whoever you're calling or otherwise establish a connection via the Songs of Affinity or know their true name. On a success, the target feels a tug in your direction, and if they know you, they know it's from you. For (CD*appropriate realm's Forces) minutes, the target can unerringly follow the tug towards you. They can shut it off with a Will roll. The Corporeal Song can reach someone anywhere on the corporeal plane, and if they are a celestial and you are on the celestial plane, it allows them to ascend to your location. The Ethereal Song can be used only on the ethereal plane, and can reach anywhere on that plane that is not in an individual dreamscape. If used in a dreamscape, it can call to anyone else in the dreamscape, including the dreamer. The Celestial Song can reach someone in one of Heaven or Hell, chosen when performed. If you're on Earth or the opposite realm, the target may descend to your location. These Songs cost 2 Essence and cause (CD+Total Forces) Disturbance.

The Songs of Darkness, depending on who you ask, either draw on the power of darkness to eclipse light or return the Symphony to its natural state of darkness. They cast shadows on the Symphony, causing blindness and fear, and are more commonly known by demons. Their range is (Song level+Essence spent) yards. The Corporeal Song drains all light from a radius of (2*Corporeal Forces) yards, causing your choice of either absolute dakrness, the darkness of a moonless night or mere shadows. Mundane illumination cannot brighten the area, but the Corporeal Song of Light can. This lasts for (CD) minutes. The Ethereal Song intensifies fears of the dark and unknown, affecting anyone in range, with a -1 penalty per target beyond the first. Directed at someone in darkness, it inflicts a temporary Fear (Darkness) Discord at a level of (CD). Alternatively, it can cause fear of anything unknown, causing a reaction penalty of (CD) to any strangers, new ideas or anything else the GM feels might apply. This lasts for (Etherea ForceS) hours either way and can be resisted by Will, plus Celestial Forces for celestials. The Celestial Song inflicts blindness on any one target for (CD) rounds, resisted by Perception, plus Celestial Forces for celestials. Demons of Nightmares have an affinity for the Ethereal Song. These cost at least 1 Essence and cause no base Disturbance.

The Songs of Direction can map objects and places. The Corporeal Song allows you to touch someone or something, making them a beacon to any Symphonic tacking method, including the Cherub and Djinn resonances, the Celestial Song of Attraction, the Songs of Affinity and any Perception rolls to detect Disturbances caused by the target. All of these add your Corporeal Forces plus any Essence spent to the TN of any roll to find the subject for the next (CD) hours. The Ethereal Song gives you perfect knowledge of your location for (CD) hours, allowing you to unerringly retrace your path to any place you visit while the Song is active. You get precise knowledge of corporeal longitude, latitude and altidude, and of location in the Marches. Celestials, even without Hearts, can also use this to repeat an ealier ascent to the celestial plane, asl ong as both visits take place during the duration of the same Song and they leave from the same location, making a Perception roll as if following someone. The Celestial Song allows you to sense locations as an Ofanite might, adding the CD to a single use of the Area Knowledge skill. Ofanim have an affinity for the Ethereal and Celestial Songs. These cost at least 1 Essence and cause (CD) Disturbance, plus Corporeal Forces for the Corporeal Song.

Next time: We continue the letter D

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Young Freud posted:

Maybe not, but Palladium/RIFTS is literally AD&D with more clutter.

Nah, Palladium is actually a lot simpler, especially if you're going to put Palladium RPG vs. AD&D. The big issue with Palladium isn't that the rules are complicated, but that they're often missing, contradictory, spread across a lot of books, or any combination of the above. But determining attack order and resolution in Palladium is a breeze compared to AD&D, for example. Character creation is a real hassle compared to AD&D, mind, but combat itself is a lot easier.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Yeah, Palladium/Rifts stacks a bunch of complicated and badly thought out stuff on top of D&D, not AD&D.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!






Windriders of the Jagged Cliffs
Part 3: Halfling Life


We open with another wonderful bit of formatting:



You may notice that the text on the sidebar is so tight that they sometimes manage only a single word per line. You may also notice from the interaction presented at the start of the chapter that life in Rhul-Thaun civilization would be brutally annoying to roleplay.

The rhul-thaun use ritualized ceremonies and practices for every sort of interaction. major events such as weddings, legal disputes or political activities can take ages just from the layers of formality involved. Even minor interactions involve extremely specific protocols.

Life-shaped creations especially involve rituals, not just making or caring for them, but every aspect of using them as well. Some of these rituals are half-forgotten techniques for the proper care and maintenance of a particular life-shaped creature...but many are pure nonsense (or even worse might shorten the lifespan of a life-shaped creature).

Other than ritual the main thing that separates rhul-thaun life from other cultures in Athas is the vertical orientation of their life and architecture. Since they insist on clinging to the cliff-sides horizontal space is at a premium so most Rhul-thaun cities are built largely vertically on giant ledges or along the rim of the cliffs. Climbing is an essential skill and professional climbers and windriders fill the role of cowboys in rhul-thaun culture: exploring unknown areas, hunting dangerous prey or gathering essential resources from remote areas of the cliffs.

Like a cyberpunk dystopia "height" in a city is also associated with wealth and value. The elite and wealthy live higher up in the city with the lower classes living near the base. The combination of vertical orientation and heavy fogs that rise up from the base of the cliffs means that the halflings are used to dealing with things at relatively short distances and to them they consider things to be farther away than most other species (much like normal humans consider a 20 foot walk a trivial distance but 20 feet in the air quite high).


Life Sciences

The halflings have a life philosophy similar to Athasian dwarves (although less specific and obsessive), believing that life is pointless without a purpose. Just as an ecosystem is formed of many creatures who take specific roles: the plants gather energy and water from the sun and soil, the insect helps the plants to breed, the herbivores eat the plant and in turn serve as food for the carnivores, who then die and serve as fertilizer for plants. Of course, on Athas plants, insects and animals all pretty much life by killing and eating one another.

But to the rhul-thaun society is like an ecosystem and its important for each person to know their place in it. Without a role, or a purpose there is no point in living. Each individual seeks to understand what they contribute to their city and each city has a method by which it contributes to halfling society as a whole.


Be a Shoe

This is one of the reasons they're still clinging to the return of the High Lord. With the end of the Blue Age the rhul-thaun no longer knew what their purpose as a people was in the new world and when the High Lord left he promised that he would return with information on the changed world and would give his people their new purpose. Without him they are left adrift with no larger role in the world.

Finally, the last important element of rhul-thaun philosophy is respect for life. Although they'll eat meat, shape living things for tools and homes they still see themselves as caretakers of life rather than masters. They believe that life should never be ended without purpose and so things like hunting for pleasure or using animals for entertainment such as pit-fights would be abhorrent to them. Even killing "vermin" like insects or rats are done only if absolutely necessary and special "life-taking" rituals must be performed before and after killing a living thing.

This respect for life is one of the reasons that the rhul-thaun don't have much respect for psionics or elemental magic: they consider the forces of life the most powerful things in the world and thus life-shaped technology must be the highest achievement (ignoring of course that magic and psionics are actually quite a bit stronger in most cases).

More on halfling life coming later.

oriongates fucked around with this message at 23:35 on Mar 13, 2016

Tsilkani
Jul 28, 2013



Phoenix Command minus clutter

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Maxwell Lord posted:

I do remember a specific wave in RPG publishing where a lot of books were like that- lots of white empty space for no adequately explained reason.

(Ironically, right in the middle of that trend we got D&D 3rd edition which went the exact opposite direction.)

I know part of John Wick's rambling "review" of D&D 3rd Edition was castigating it for the lines that they kept drawing around the text:


although in my opinion the layout, print and grammar-readability was a quantum leap forward compared to TSR-era D&D

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





That flowchart can't be right, no reference was made to THIS:

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I never understood how that table was supposed to work.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012





Chapter 4: the Lands of Yrth, Part 1 – Megalos
After being built up since the introduction, we finally get to dive headfirst into learning about the Megalan Empire. The banners of Megalos bear a great dragon upon them, which is meant to signify their power and status but is just as easily turned around to poke fun at their greed and sloth.


Geography
The climate and habitats of most of Megalos line up with that of western Europe. Wow, isn't that just convenient? There are a fair amount of rivers criss-crossing its length, as well as the huge Lake Styx and Lake Acheron, the two of which are the main barriers between Megalos and the Northlands. The fertile east and south and the dry but liveable west are all heavily populated, but central and northern Megalos are frontier wilderness that the empire technically owns but doesn't control in the slightest.


History
A lot of the history of the Megalan Empire was covered in the introductory chapter, but we get a refresher anyway. Simon Menelaus founded the city of Megalos and the Empire in 1200 AD with the explicit goal of world domination, easily gobbling up a lot of the Banestorm immigrants stuck in distress and disarray. The only two obstacles that seemed to be of any concern were the goblins, who were absorbed througha religious takeover, and the Knights Hospitallers in their citadel of New Jerusalem. Warlord Octavius Magnus convinced the Hospitallers that the savage Mohammedans to the south were a greater threat than the Megalan Empire could ever be, and a union of the two forced followed by the First Ytarrian Crusade began as a result. The Muslim tribes, in turn, threw down their plowshares and took up the sword, unifying their tribes into the three nations of al-Haz, al-Wazif, and al-Kard.

As the Crusades waged on, al-Kard fell to the invaders and the other two Muslim nations were pushed back into holding their existing territory rather than gaining ground. Things seemed to be all sunshine and roses for Megalos for over a century. Then came the war against Thulin's Folk, the dwarves of Zarak. Not only did the dwarves prove more than capable of defending themselves, but the nobles of Megalos were too embroiled in a fight over who would get the dwarven territories and treasure once the war was over to notice that their greed was alienating the Knights Hospitaller. Realizing that this was a war for money rather than a holy war, the Hospitallers declared that they were taking their ball and going home, at which point the dwarves utterly smashed in the last remaining invaders. To make things even worse, the Northmen had been keeping an eye on all the events playing out in Megalos, and decided that it would be a great time to make raids in its northern reaches. The massive Hadrian's Emperor's Wall was built to keep the barbarians at bay and the northern Megalan settlements safe.

In the time since then, Megalos gained the island territory of Araterre, gained and then proceeded to lose the western land of Caithness, and lost Cardiel. Two more Crusades were attempted, both of which failed, and centuries of political infighting have no real end in sight. Emperor Diophrates XII is engaging in Caligula levels of indulgence and savagery, to the point that the Church is getting ready to excommunicate him, but he seems to have no care for their wishes or matters of rule. This has allowed various nobles to engage in tyrannical local rules or begin plotting the Emperor's downfall and their own rise to power, while the Empire goes to poo poo around them without anyone in power who seems to care.


Society
Megalan society is ruled by a feudal system beneath the autocratic rule of the Emperor. Its nobles are petty and vain, seeing the former territories of Caithness and Cardiel as lovely backwaters that they totally didn't need anyway – Cardiens even allow Muslim citizens and female warriors, how absolutely yokel of them. In game terms, this means that Caithnesser and Cardien nobles receive Reputation -1 (Too Tolerant of Inferiors) when dealing with Megalan nobles.

Social Status
The caste you were born in is probably the one you'll die in. Even great feats of valor usually won't bat an eye in Megalan society, though giving the nobility obscene shitloads of money can propel you into being an aristocrat. The social strata of the Megalan people has beggars and slaves at the bottom, serfs and urban rogues above them, villeins and townsmen above the last set, craftsmen, merchants, ship captains, and squires above that, governors, mayors, guildmasters/guildmistresses, and unlanded knights/dames above that, landed knights/dames and lesser barons/baronesses above that, viscounts/viscountesses and senior barons/baronesses above that, earls, counts/countesses, and marquesses/marchionesses above that, dukes/duchesses and princes/princesses above that, imperial consorts or heirs to the throne above that, and the Emperor at the top.

Nonhumans
One of the few areas where the Megalan Empire hasn't dropped the ball, most nonhuman races aren't discriminated against or unwelcome. Goblins and halflings are both common in Megalos, the former in the city and the latter out in the country, and there are a handful of elves where there are still untamed forests. Dwarves, though, have the memories of elephants and the grudge-bearing capacity of a hundred teenagers, and will never forget or forgive the unprovoked attack on Thulin's Folk. If dwarves are even willing to trade merchandise with Megalans, it is always of stock built to subpar standards (which still means pretty decently-made when it comes to dwarven standards, but still).

Magic
Megalos is wizard country. Even tiny villages have them, and at the top of the social ladder you have aristocracy that are either wizards, directly advised by wizards, or dead because they weren't smart enough to hire a wizard to keep them from wizard-induced death. Many of the nation's Emperors have also been powerful wizards, and Mage's Guilds hold a lot of political clout in the Megalan nobility.

The Legions
Megalos's Imperial Legions are the largest standing army in all of Ytarria. Each legion is made up of a mass of professionally-trained soldiers, commoners, and freed slaves that have all been trained in use of polearms, longspears, and crossbows. The fact that the Imperial Legions even allow serfs and slaves a chance at a free life makes the whole affair an enticing proposition in spite of the danger involved, and it is not uncommon for particularly driven commoners and former slaves to rise in the ranks and become officers that are below only their commander and the Emperor in military rank. The commander of a legion can be either a soldier or a nobleman's son whose family had enough money to get him the position, the former tending to be vastly more effective on the battlefield for obvious reasons, and in times of war each legion is assigned a group of knight cavalry and a corps of battle mages to augment their infantry. Particularly influential noble lords have their own private legions that they will sometimes fight each other with when they are having yet another squabble. This is technically illegal, but most of the time the governing forces turn a blind eye to private legion vs. private legion death matches.

The Law
Slavery, torture, and death are the most popular capital punishments in Megalos. If you're rich enough, you can bribe yourself out of pretty much anything short of treason.

Slavery
While it's technically prohibited for a Christian to enslave another Christian, that can be wiped clean with a convenient excommunication. As a result, many criminals, prisoners of war, and people who are politically inconvenient to someone in the nobility create a wealth of slavery that is widespread across the Empire. Most slaves are either owned by nobles for whatever whims they desire or toil in labor camps for mining, logging, or farming. It is illegal to free a slave without the express permission of the Imperial nobility, which is almost impossible unless you gut your way through the gladiator games or happen to have a lot of creative or magical talent.

Megalan Arenas
These are fairly common due to Simon Menelaus's whole Rome fetish. For the nobility, either hosting gladiatoral games or having your own sponsored gladiator is not just recommended, it's practically required to avoid being seen as socially inept. They tend to do all the bloody things that Roman gladiatorial games did, plus magic duels.

Names in Megalos
Human commoners have names that are typically either Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, or Norman in origin, with an epithet based on place of birth, occupation, or a physical or personality trait rather than a surname – some examples given include John o' the Lake, Merid Redlocks, Carre Half-Elven, and Adolph Ear-Puller. Goblin commoners still use goblin names, one of the only remnants of their heritage they have kept. Nobles of both species use Latin names with their fiefdom acting as their last name.


The Ministry of Serendipity
Because of course these assholes get a whole segment dedicated to them. You might recall that the Ministry of Serendipity is the group of fanatical jack-booted thugs who stomp down any attempts to introduce technology they don't like to Ytarria. While this is a fact, it's a fact that only the people oppressed by them and the nobility actually know. The Ministry's official purposes it to defend Megalos from extradimensional threats, and its actions and even the identity of its members are strictly on the down low.

The Offices
The Ministry is run by the Chancellor of Serendipity, under which there are three Captains of Serendipity. All four of these guys have their positions for life, unless they want to retire (and probably get put under suspicion by the very organization they once aided). The three Captains head the three specific offices of the Ministry. The Office of Acquisition is the Ministry's customs inspection wing who track down and take anything that happens to come through a new Banestorm when one pops up, the Office of Truths are the propagandists and brainwashers, and the Office of Records holds a vast library of all the knowledge that the Ministry suppresses.

Dark Secrets
The "dark secret" in this paragraph is that the Ministry is insanely paranoid and not actually all that loyal to the Emperor, which seems less like a dark secret and more really obvious.

Serendipitous Games
You can play members of the Ministry if you really want to, but for obvious reasons they are intended to be a villain for your campaign.

"Ministries" of Other Lands
The Ministry of Serendipity isn't the only group to check out weird things that pop out of Banestorms. There are also the Silver Hand in Caithness, the Chaplaincy of St. Andrew in Cardiel, the Office of Harmony and Thunder in Sahud, the Roving Inspectors in al-Wazif, and an unnammed shadowy group in al-Haz. This aside is probably more noteworthy for the fact that it actively addresses the whole "everyone is against guns" thing again, but this time doesn't point its fingers at the wizards. Instead, it suggests that there is a greater conspiracy afoot, one bigger than any of the separate nations. Different underground engineers have different opinions on who the conspiracy is; depending on who you ask, it's either some ethnic minority group, the Jesuits, the djinn, or the dragons.



Megalos, Capital of the Empire
The seat of the nation and empire of Megalos is the city of the same name (which I'll refer to as Megalos City to avoid more confusion than need be). It is a bustling port city of 400,000 people, with a wide variety of human races and species all intermingling. It's also filled with all sorts of action:

GURPS Banestorm posted:

Megalos has never been peaceful. As the capital, it is plagued by conflict between court factions. Assassinations are commonplace, and the knights and men-at-arms of opposing nobles fight duels and brawls in the city’s streets. Corruption extends from the top to the bottom; the alleys hold cutthroats who would kill their mothers for two coppers.
Sounds like a lovely place, doesn't it?

History
Since it was founded by Simon Menelaus himself as the first stepping stone in his path to empire, Megalos City's history goes back all the way to 1200. It was a pretty big deal back in the day, with extensive sewers and city walls created by Menelaus II in 1290 AD and massive towers, marble architectures, and paved stone streets by the 1400s. Other big events in its history include the establishment of the Order of the Archangel Michael and purging of all non-Christians from the city in 1412, the design of a new palace in 1630 by Titus II, and the construction of a new city wall five miles past the original one by Metellus IV in the late 1800s.

Layout and Architecture
As noted before, Megalos City is a port city, with its heart surrounding the mouth of New River Jordan as it meets the Megalan Ocean. The area between the original city wall and its new wall host most of the well-to-do nobility, the Great Arena, and barracks for the First and Second Imperial Legions, while the areas within the old wall and either just inside or outside the new wall are where all the unsightly poor people and workers' guilds are pushed to.

Government
The Emperor is a hereditary monarch whose word is absolute, and all decisions come from either him or his retinue of high-ranking nobles and church leaders known as the Assembly. There is no local government beyond some civil service workers pulled from the Church and lower ranked nobles. Defense of the city is mostly in the hands of the city watch, who are decently paid but ultimately crushed by the nature of the city. Watchmen are kiss-asses to the nobles and accept any bribe because they know that to not do so would be flirting with the hangman's noose, and likewise are typically abusive to commoners as a way of letting off steam. Criminal investigations are handled by the Order of the Archangel Michael, and people who are indicted by them typically don't see the light of day ever again.

The Emperor's personal guard is made up of reptile men dubbed the True Dragons. This rather odd arrangement is due to an event centuries ago when a shrewd Emperor freed a thousand reptile man slaves and told them to have their way with an island that the Imperial Legions had been unable to conquer on their own. Grateful for the seeming act of benevolence, the reptile men of that island have had members of their people loyally serve the Emperor as his guard ever since. The True Dragons are unwaveringly loyal to the Emperor, inured to bribery (and are allowed to eat people who attempt to bribe them!), and are baptized Catholics. The current leader of the True Dragons is Captain Ah'ziranthl Dgansis Rextlyin, a strong and scarred warrior who's been on the job for two decades at this point.

Finally, there's the Emperor himself, Diophrates XII. Or at least that's who he looks like, but looks can be deceiving. Sixteen years ago, Grandmaster Jordan Siegebraker of the Knights Templar and an unnamed but influential Jesuit arranged to have Diophrates murdered by a demon. The demon, named Xuvutruobacaoly, turned out to be ridiculously powerful and also capable of transmuting himself and others. Xuvu took the form of the Emperor and reshaped the Emperor into his own demonic visage, killed him, and then framed the Emperor's head court wizard for the demon summoning. As a result, the official story of the whole event is that the duplicitous court wizard attempted a bid at power, but was stopped by Jordan Siegebreaker's valiant slaying of the demon in order to save Diophrates XII. Xuvu is an incredibly lovely ruler and hedonistic to a fault, but apparently the real Diophrates XII was garbage enough that nobody other than Captain Rextlyin finds anything odd about it.

Factions
While the Emperor is theoretically the most powerful man in Megalos City and the Megalan Empire in general, his power base is actually small and getting smaller by the year. An archbishop by the name of Sosius has been gathering up clergy who feel that it's probably a good idea to just axe "Diophrates" before he does even more damage with his thoughtless hedonism than he already has, while Diophrate's son Prince Miltiades and a large group of nobles who have pooled around him plan on doing the same thing for similar reasons. Jordan Siegebreaker and his Templars are the only people who aren't actively gunning for Xuvu's head, instead working to cover up the whole affair and keep the perceptions of the Emperor outside of Megalos City far brighter than they actually are.

Citizenry
Half of the population of Megalos City is human, and another 40% is a mixture of goblins and halflings. That final 10% is a clusterfuck of every other sapient race, and I do mean every one: even medusas, minotaurs, ogres, and orcs can be found in Megalos City. Almost everyone in the city is of the Catholic Christian persuasion, with anyone otherwise being either a visitor to the port or quietly keeping to themselves.

Places of Interest
Like politics? There's three spots you can head off to on your tour. The current Imperial Palace is a mishmash of architecture that looks aesthetically hideous, the Assembly Hall is a Gothic wonder, and the original palace of Menelaus is an aging and patched-over shadow of its former glory that acts as the headquarters of groups less important than the True Dragons, Emperor, and Assembly. If books are more your thing and you aren't a villein or lower on the social ladder, the well-crafted Imperial Library is decorated with unicorn and griffon statues and houses so many scrolls, maps, and books that you need help from a librarian to find most things. Sports fans can see the Great Arena, the Megalan knockoff of the Colosseum of Rome, which holds various gladiatorial spectacles and a biannual event called the Grand Elimination that involves 160 prisoners fighting to the death. Finally, while not exactly somewhere you probably want to go yourself, there are miles and miles of sewers beneath the city.


The Midlands
Hidelban
Hidelban is a duchy littered with streams and creeks, as well as the clean and clear River Bressel. It provides a fair amount of the agriculture that feeds the Empire, but it has a darker side in that its Duke, a young man named Cuin, seems to have an insatiable appetite for more land and power that seems to be spurred on by his advisor, Lord Claudius Maskill. The truth is that Maskill is a 299 year old vampire mage that has made Cuin into his puppet. While once trapped away in the 1700s when a knight trapped him in a crypt surrounded by a stream, one drought and a curious girl breaking into his tomb was all it took to get him back into the game of being a monstrous schemer who plans on taking on the Emperor. Maskill suspects that the Emperor is a demon, because "evil knows evil" according to the text, and he might actually be able to pull it off; while only the first character with an actual stat block so far, he is one of the strongest overall, with 525 points to his name.

Hunt Tower and the Emperor's Forest
As the private hunting grounds of the Emperor and the traditional fiefdom of the princes of Megalos (since it's hard to raise a rebellious army when you don't have any sapient subjects in your land), the Emperor's Forest is a place where poaching is punishable by death and wildlife thrives. Hunt Tower is a five story tall stone tower that acts as both a hunting lodge and feasting hall where nobles get to feed on rare magical beasts. Hunt Tower is lead by the Imperial Huntsman, Marquis Honore Bourmont, who is probably the best unstatted NPC we've been told about so far because he has helping with Prince Miltaides's plans for usurping the throne by capturing and training monsters to attack the Emperor.

Mehan
The duchy of Mehan has grown rich on the trade and fishing from Lake Acheron, which it almost exclusively holds land around. Copper ore from the Whitehood Mountains, grains and mustard from fertile farms, and sheep's wool augment this already lucractive land. The city of Mehan itself also has the distinction of being the location of the elaborately-crafted St. Paul's Cathedral, where the Curia meets for its conclaves and various Catholics make pilgrimages to. Unfortunately for the pious folk, the heresy of the Manites has been quickly gaining hold in Mehan, which has the Mehanese archbishop Vittius in a fit of rage.


The Northern Marches
Leaving the cities and farming towns in the northern reaches of Megalos is a horrible idea, because nature has it in for you. Vast moors and pine forests are home to bears, boars, nightstalkers (giant nocturnal bears), treetippers (a fantasy name for the Pleistocene giant ground sloth Megatherium), and wolves, while its icy waters are home to sea monsters such as krakens.

Azer
A port city on the eastern island of Dyecastle, Azer is home of the Templar College of Battle Magic, where wizards of the Knightly Orders and the Imperial Legions are trained in the art of magical combat. There is also a large Jesuit mission on the college grounds, which was created as an attempt to learn of any weird magical traditions the Jesuits might have but ended up failing to open up their lips on such subjects.

Kethalos
The county of Kethalos is up in the northwest corners of Megalos and is built along the Johns River. The city of Kethalos probabl wouldn't look too out of place in Skyrim, with numerous timber buildings supplemented by a handful of stone ones and a large fishing fleet. Count Darius is a skilled knight who is famed for having driven back Northmen raiders in the 1990s, but is far better at fighting and hunting than he is at actually ruling. His lack of managerial skills have only emboldened the Northmen, who have begun to engage in more and more raids of towns on the northern fringe of the county.

Myrdec
This city is at the edge of the Yrth equivalent of the Arctic Circle and relies heavily on trade with the Nomad Lands and Sahud for its livelihood. Former merchant's guild leader Baron Walsham Markant has helped Myrdec become the prosperous hub of trade that it is, and under his benevolent leadership the largest population of Sahudese people outside of Sahud has grown up within the snow-flecked walls of the city. Unfortunately, some particularly racist Megalan merchants have become angry that a lot of business goes through the Sahud parts of town before their own, which has lead to increasing tensions:

GURPS Banestorm posted:

Attempts to intimidate the Sahudese traders verbally are met with feigned if polite incomprehension. The few instances of actual violence have been repelled by stunningly effective martial arts and occasional magic. The situation is on the verge of deteriorating into outright war.

Teridar
Teridar is a city known for hosting one of the few Thomasite hospitals in Ytarria, having mild winters thanks to its location nestled within a river valley flanked by a cove, and also having lots of slaves. Earl Sigmund Bonus uses his large slave population to both work one of the largest lumber operations in Megalos and host some of the most elaborate gladiatorial games outside Megalos City. The slaves are now plotting revolt, as the Earl's requests for freeing slaves that win in his gladiatorial games are being mysteriously refused by the Emperor time and time again.

The City of the Dead
Legends say that there is an island city of necromancers and undead monstrosities somewhere in the vast waters of Lake Styx. Does it really exist? Nobody knows, because no one ever comes back with proof and the only supposedly reliable records of the city are kept by the Ministry of Serendipity.


The Southlands
The Southlands enjoy a pleasant Mediterranean climate and fertile fields that allow cotton, grapes, and olives to grow easily. The Southlands also enjoy a lot of settled land and few dangerous predators. Basically, the Southlands are everything the Northern Marches aren't.

Dekamera
Yet another big, important port city, Dekamera enjoys trade with other parts of the Empire, Cardiel, and al-Wazif. That last one is rather surprising, as it is stated that the late Earl Gavin Magnus loved throwing his fleet of privateers right into Wazifi towns. His son, Taveon, was captured during one of these raids, and Magnus died before he was released. As a result, in spite of being treated as a guest rather than a prisoner by the Wazifi people and returned home after the Frontier Wars, Taveon hates the Wazifis and plans on starting the privateer raids back up again.

Ekhans
While the duchy of Ekhans has been made rich on cattle ranches, plantations, and vineyards, it has fallen on an unexpected blight in recent days. At least five dragons make raids on the vast cattle grazing grounds in the dead of night, stealing away the most healthy and valuable members of the herds. No one knows why they are doing this or even where their lair is, so it seems that the raids will continue for the foreseeable future.

Min
At the very bottom of the mainland holdings of Megalos, Min has the misfortune of being situated in rocky land that isn't conducive to farming and bordered by shallow ocean that cannot harbor large merchant ships. Its people struggle to survive on fishing, clam diving, and ranches that raise milkfish (manatees and dugongs). Min has also become a haven for pirates, as it is both a key staging point for raids of major shipping lanes and a convenient place to spend coin at the end of the day. Baron Martignac of Min allows the pirates to keep doing what they do because of the fact that their revelrous spending is helping his city and barony keep afloat far better than the nearly nonexistent aid from his Empire has.

Serrun
The hold of Archbishop Nikolai of Serrun, this city thrives thanks to its wildly successful vineyards and cotton plantations. The fact that is on a rocky cliff face means that its trade is mostly done overland rather than by sea. The greatest difficulty for Serrun is that Nikolai, for all his benevolence and devotion to the people, is currently heavily caught up in the politics of the Church over his hold. While the Archbishop's thoughts are elsewhere, the people's minds have been turned against Nikolai by Count Sergius of Shambray, a scheming power-hungry lord who seeks to take over much of the Southlands through subterfuge. Nikolai knows of Sergius's deceptive ways, however, and it is likely that the conniving lord will overreach his boundries sooner or later and be sent crashing down from the social ladder he's so desparately trying to reach the top of.

Sho'joor
Sho'joor was once a thriving port for anyone traveling through the southern sea between Megalos and the two Muslim nations, piracy has all but wrecked the livelihood of the city. The goblin duke Yivirrl of Sho'joor recently managed to acquire a minimum amount of aid from the Imperial Navy, but it's very much a case of too little and too late. All it would take to plunge the city into total poverty would be either one particularly huge pirate raid or the Emperor recalling the handful of ships guarding Sho'joor back to Megalos City.

Zehan
Like Sho'joor, Zehan is dying by a thousand cuts of piracy. The difference is that Count Aloysius has no faith in the Emperor and is instead appealing to sea elves, merfolk, and the proud sea warriors of Araterre in an attempt to find and crush the pirate strongholds once and for all. It is likely that if Aloysius manages to succeed in his hunt, Zehan's return to prosperity as a trade port will come with the side-effect of war with an angry Min.



Western Megalos
Past Lake Acheron, the Megalan territories become less fertile, mild grassland and meadows and more a mixture of dry prairie and savannah. American bison, African antelope species, wild horses, and zebras all roam free on the great grasslands, and farmers rely on pecans, peaches, and wheat as their staple crops.

Arvey
Arvey sits in the foothills of the great Bronze Mountains, making it a key location for trade with the dwarves of Zarak. It is a city of stone and stairwells for streets, with lots of hills and steep inclines.

Craine
The wondrous marble and granite buildings of Craine are symbols of its opulence, a city built on trade with Caithness, the bounty of the River Conn, and massive ranches of bison, cattle, and sheep. The fiefdom that Craine sits upon is also the largest in western Megalos. Unfortunately, this also means that it was the easiest place to throw Megalan soldiers at al-Wazif, and the duchy has been sieged or even taken by Wazifi forces more than once in its long history. The warmongering Duke Bran of Craine is certain that al-Wazif will strike again, and wishes to instead strike first, but he is currently stalled by his own indecision over whether he should declare western Megalos its own nation and rule it as king or attempt to take over the position of Emperor and thus have all of Megalos under his thumb.

Hyrnan
Hyrnan was once a small duchy settled between the Blackwoods and Keyhole Bay. That is long in the past, however, as the fact that the Blackwoods have been actively growing threw it into being the staging grounds for discovering the mystery of the great forest's expansion. From the 1980s onward, attempts were made to cut through the great wilderness and find out what the hell was going on, but each time the Legions sent in would fall to disease, mysterious disappearances, and strange night terrors. It wasn't until two Legions with five times the normal amount of battle mages in tow entered the Blackwoods in 2002 that the problem would be solved. While they were struck by inexplicably fevers, voices in the night, and giant woodland beasts, they were simply too large to be overcome, and eventually found a huge elven village that had been deserted very recently. The village was burned and the trek back to Hyrnan was a peaceful one.

This was proof that the dark elves had survived the first Banestorm and hid in the Blackwoods, but the truth of its ominous transformation is a bit more complicated. Even the dark elves are not sure of what the massive slime-drenched tree that grows in the Blackwoods' center is. It is alive, extremely powerful in its magic, and hateful of all living things, capable of fleshwarping and mind-tampering the native wildlife as its toxic influence spreads outward and increases the size of its dark forest. Of course, seeing as the dark elves are xenophobic assholes, nobody would probably believe them if they told anyone, so everyone thinks that the Blackwoods dilemna is their fault. The citizens of Hyrnan have become spiteful towards all elves regardless of their allegiance, and Duke Tunstall Dubhagain has continued to fortify the city with soldiers and mages to ward off attacks from the forest.

New Jerusalem
The Knights Hospitaller run this city, and under their rulership it has remained one of the most autonomous regions of Megalos. New Jerusalem may pay taxes to the Empire, but the Hospitallers only come when they are called if it is convenient of them, and they have technically never sworn fealty to the Emperor at all. Being a Hospitaller city, New Jerusalem isn't tolerant of anyone who uses magic, isn't human, or isn't a particularly conservative Catholic. Grandmaster Geoffrey Freeman wants to cave in some Wazifi skulls again in the near future, but he also realizes that it would probably go sour if he can't get an army together and the Hospitallers went in alone, so for now he whips up fervor in other Megalan regions while keeping his knights from jumping the gun.

Quartedec
This fiefdom is run by Earl Hadrian of Quartedec and is found in the far north of western Megalos. It is a land of marshes, pine forests, and icy mountains, right at the doorstep of both Zarak and the Nomad Lands. The Baran River, flowing out of the Bronze Mountains down to Lake Styx, was the sight of a major gold rush when humans of Quartedec learned of its rich panning potential in the 1980s. So much gold was taken that prices plummeted and the dwarves of Zarak were angered, complaining that the gold flowed from their mountains and was thus theirs. The dwarves have repeatedly attempt to buy the river from Earl Hadrian, to no avail, but mysteriously stopped in late 2004. They have instead begun to ask questions about Earth. Is it a coincidence that these questions started after they began digging heavily at the headwaters of the Baran River up in the Bronze Mountains? Probably not, but who knows.

Raphael
Raphael is an archdiocese that was only created in 1855 as part of the official border demarcation between the Empire and al-Wazif. As a result, many of its residents are of Muslim descent, and a few even keep to their religion and defend a handful of mosques that weren't torn down during the Christianization of the city. Most of the lifeblood of Raphael is through breeding and selling horses to Megalan knights and nobles or trading with al-Wazif, and the majority of the Empire ultimately ignores the city.



Yibyorak, the Goblin City
History
Five goblin clans settled at the mouth of the River Yvosek shortly after the first Banestorm. This settlement eventually became a town, then a city, and then the capital of an entire kingdom known as Yibyorak by 1175. This kingdom became a duchy of the Empire in 1229, and has since become a place of prosperity...most of the time. Every war with al-Wazif has seen Yibyorak's port being blockaded, and its people have taken to stockpiling their gains in order to avoid suffering too much during these conflicts.

Layout and Architecture
Yibyorak covers the two shores of the mouth of River Yvosek and the entirety of the rocky Memanjik Island. While humans have tried to force Yibyorak to fit the mold of Megalos City, its goblin architecture of adobe, brick and granite in labyrinthine patterns that twist and turn through narrow streets and disparate city walls refuse to give way so easily. The two greatest feats of architecture in Yibyorak are the immense Bajik Bridge, said to be able to hold a hundred full ox carts without so much as a stone quivering, and the Ekmekyk Channel, which was built in the 1990s to supplement already burgeoning ship traffic up to Lake Acheron.

Government
The duke of the Yibyorak duchy appoints a governor to rule the city, and under the governor is a set of five lieutenants. Each lieutenant oversees a section of the city referred to as a demesne, with the five sections being named after and corresponding to Clans Bojich, Bricik, Kurnjaych, Memanjik, and Saratlik, the five goblin clans that founded Yibyorak. A merchant guild known as the Yibyorak Merchant's Council also has a fair amount of sway in the government. It costs five Megalan pounds a year to have a seat on the Council.

People of Yibyorak
Yibyorak is 60% goblin and 30% human, with the rest of the population being primarily halflings and dwarves. It is also one of the few places in Megalos where there is a large Muslim population, most being merchants or descendents of merchants. Thanks to the goblins' love of magic, there are numerous practicing mages in the city, from street performers with minor tricks to extremely powerful wizards.

Places of Interest
The Ducal Tower of Yibyorak literally stands head and shoulders above the rest of the city's architecture, being an eye-popping twenty stories tall and hewn from gray stone in a combination of traditional goblin and Gothic artistic styles. While the duke's private residency is at the top of the tower, its lower floors have everything from shops and restaurants to civil offices and residential apartments. Another major landmark is Covik Park, a large swath of greenery in the middle of Memanjik Island that was created as a memorial to residents that died to a vast fire in 1864. Finally, there's the grand Yibyorak Market, split up into the Common Market and the Goods Market. The Common Market is a maze of streets choked with shops and stalls selling all manner of goods, while the Goods Market is effectively the first (and so far only) case of a stock market cropping up in Ytarria.

The Brothers of Mercury
While it may seem wondrous and about as perfect a city you can find in Megalos, Yibyorak has its flaws as well. The largest is the brothers of Mercury, a thieves' guild and cult to the Roman gods that ruthlessly runs the underworld of the city. Members of the Brothers carry a copper coin with the caduceus of Hermes/Mercury etched into one side, used as a symbol of their bond and loyalty. A goblin wizard name Shuuv'kopekk rules over the Brothers of Mercury and uses his powerful magic to provide boons in the name of the guild's god. Brothers are kept loyal both through the riches they earn and the fact that traitors are murdered in particularly gruesome and creative ways.



Next Time in GURPS Banestorm: Island life with Araterre and company.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Liber Canticorum: Sing A Song of Sixpence

The Songs of Draining allow you to siphon power from other things and people. They were discovered by Valefor and are most often taught by him and Haagenti, though some angels also know them. The Corporeal Song allows you to touch a person an drain away HP eqla to (CD + additional Essence on top of the base cost). If the victim is helpless, one use of the Song will let you keep drainining for (Corporeal Forces) rounds, draining that same amount each time. If draining a mortal, this still causes Disturbance. The victim can roll Will each round to end the drain and negate the damage. You can go over your max HP, and if you do, they are lost the next time you recover your daily Essence. The Ethereal Song steals a specific memory from a target within (Song's level) feet and gives it to you. The CD determines how detailed the memory is - a low CD steals only fine details and gives you only superficial memories, while a high CD can give you most or all details and rid the victim of progressively more. For highly specific memories, any success gives all the knowledge, such as 'your wife's appearance,' 'the network password' or 'what you had for breakfast.' You retain this memory for (Etheral Forces) hours. The victim resists with Intelligence, and can roll Intelligence mius the CD each day to recover the memory. Celestials add Celestial Forces to resistance but not recovery. This Song cannot steal skills or abilities. The Celestial Song turns a circle with diameter up to (Celestial Forces) yards into an Essence trap. Anyone who spends Essence in the area, including you, must roll Will or have the Essence instead transferred to you. (If you were trying to spend Essence, it just aborts your action.) The Song lasts for (CD+Essence spent) hours, and any excess Essence you can't hold is lost. All Essence drained, no matter what, causes a Disturbance. You must be within the circle to gain the Essence, or it just vanishes. Demons of Theft and all Impudites have an affinity for the Songs of Draining. These Songs cost 2 Essence, and no more than 5 can be spent on the Corporeal Song. They cause Disturbance equal to (CD+Total Forces).

The Songs of Dreams are in the core, but they get an affinity for angels of Dreams and demons of Nightmares.

The Songs of Empathy allow you to sense emotions within (Song's level+Essence spent) yards. All last for (CD+appropriate realm Forces) minutes, during which you can sense emotions from anyone in range, but only one person at a time. They are not especially good at mixed feelings. The Corporeal Song can sense physical sensations - heat, cold, pain, pressure and so on, as well as emoptions associated with physical changes in the body, like anger, fear, hunger and lust. The Ethereal Song senses mental drives, such as greed, envy, pride, love or hate. The Celestial Song can sense if someone is acting from selfish or unselfish moments - but only in the moment, not as a general tendency or inclination. Elohim and Habbalah have an affinity for these Songs. They cost at least 1 Essence, and cause no base Disturbance.

The Songs of Entropy are in the core, but get an affinity for Calabim.

The Songs of Essence allow greater control over Essence expenditure. They are highly coveted as rewards for good service. The Corporeal Song allows you to store Essence in an object as a temporary reliquary. You must spend 2 Essence, plus whatever you want to store, which can't be higher than the Song's level. The Essence remains for (CD) days or until the objecti s destroyed, after which it all bleeds off at once and creates Disturbance. Objects used to store Essence are not detectable as artifacts, though other means can detect them. Only you can remove the Essence from them. The Ethereal Song allows you to sense how much Essence is within a person or object within (Song's level) yards. You can do this for (CD) minutes or (CD) items and individuals, whichever comes first. The Celestial Song lets you combine Essence from two or more sources into one action. You must use this while either giving Essence to someone or receiving it. Everyon must be in sight, and you can't affect more than (CD) people. You must contribute at least 1 Essence yourself on top of the Song's base cost. All Essence must be given on the same round the Song is used, and the action it is to boost must happen within one round after, or the Essence is all wasted. These Songs cost 2 Essence and cause (CD+Total Forces) Disturbance.

The Songs of Fire call on the power of both literal and metaphorical fire. Their range is (Song's level+Essence spent) yards. The Corporeal Song creates fire in an area up to (Corporeal Forces) square yards. The fire burns without fuel for (CD+Essence spent) rounds, dealing 1d6 damage per round to anyone or anything in it. After that, it will continue to burn if it catches anything flammable. The Ethereal Song sparks the imagination. If the target is facing a problem of some kind, they get inspired to a new approach, getting a bonus to any relevant rolls eqla to (ESsence spent) for the next (CD) days. Only one such problem can be affected by a single Song use. The Celestial Song turns fire into celestial fire, making it supernaturally entrancing. It can affect a fire up to (Celestial Forces) square yards in size and lasts until the fire goes out. Anyone staring into the flames must roll Will minus the CD or be entranced for (failed CD) minutes. They often see glimpses of the celestial or, more rarely, ethereal plane. Most later shake these off and forget them, but the GM may allow these visions to have a lasting effect on mortals. Celestials add their Celestial Forces to resist. Demons of Fire have an affinity for the Corporeal and Celestial Songs, while angels of Fire have an affinity to all versions. Menunim have an affinity for the Ethereal Song. These Songs cost 1 Essence and cause (CD) Disturbance.

The Songs of Forbidding prevent action. The Corporeal Song is used on a portal of some kind or an enclosed area with diameter no more than (Song's level) yards, which must have a clearly marked or physical boundary. When the Song is used, you invoke a specific target, whom you must be attuned to somehow or be able to see. The target rolls Will minus the CD in order to physically enter the enclosed area or pass through the portal. If they succeed, they must still roll each time to re-cross the boundary. On a failure, they cannot try again for a full day. If inside the area, they will be trapped. Beings in celestial form are still affected. The subject can be physically forces across the boundary, or someone else can destroy the boundary. The Song lasts for (Corporeal Forces) days. The Ethereal Song lets you target someone who can hear you. If they fail a Will roll to resist, you may forbid any one specific action for the next (CD) hours, which they will try to rationalize. They may try once to perform the action by spending a point of Essence and making a Will roll. They can do it once, if they succeed, but must do this again each additional time. The Celestial Song targets an ethereal or celestial vessel, temporarily giving it the Bound Discord at a level of (Celestial Forces). The target must be in (Song's level) feet, and the Discord lasts for (CD) minutes. These Songs cost 1 Essence and cause (CD) Disturbance.

The Songs of Form are in the core, but angels of Creation get an affinity for the Celestial Song.

The Songs of Harmony are in the core, but angels of Flowers get an affinity for them, and all Mercurians get an affinity for the Ethereal Song.

The Songs of Ice have a range of (Song's level) yards. The Corporeal Song causes sub-zero temperatures on one person or thing. Inanimate objects must be entirely frozen or not at all. The Song will freeze (10*Corporeal Forces + 30*Essence Spent) pounds of matter. Liquids are frozen solid, and metal is so cold flesh will stick to it. Frozen matter becomes brittle, and add the CD to any damage dealt to an object after subtracting its Protection. The freezing is instant, and it takes (CD) minutes to thaw. Living beings take (CD+Essence spent) damage which ignores Protection but can be reduced by a strong heat source, at the GM's whim. The Ethereal Song numbs the mind. If the victim doesn't resist with Will, they may only act every other combat round for (CD) minutes, possibly reduced by proximity to a heat source. The Celestial Song conjures ice, which can cover an area of up to (Celestial Forces+Essence spent) square yards. It is (CD) inches thick. Pedestrians moving across it may have to roll Agility to do so at the GMs whim. It takes one round to solidify, so it can't trap a resisting target unless they are helpless. They may break out with a Strength roll minus the thickness of the shell in inches, rolling once per round. The ice lasts as long as it naturally would. Angels of the Waters would have an affinity for the Celestial Song, were any left. The Songs cost 1 Essence and cause (CD) Disturbance.

The Songs of Location are rare and powerful Songs. They are similar to the Celestial Song of motion, but on a larger scale, and rather than causing motion, they temporarily brdige two locations, allowing instant travel between them. There is no theoretical range limit, but the Song must be used at both locations to form the bridge, lasting for (lowest of two CDs) hours. The ends need not be made at the same time, but the first end will only last for (CD) hours before vanishing. Once the second end is made, subtract the waiting period from the duration the entire bridge lasts. Once used, the Song makes a Disturbance at both ends any time something passes through the brdige, equal to the Forces that cross (or 1 per 50 pounds of inanimate matter). The Corporeal Song anchors an endpoint on Earth. The Ethereal Song anchors an endpoint in the Marches. The Celestial Sogn anchors an endpoint in Heaven or Hell. (The Superior who controls the Cathedral or Principality where it is used automatically knows it has been used.) The Song costs 6 Essence and causes (CD*Essence spent) Disturbance.

The Songs of Machines were discovered by one of Jean or Vapula, who both claim credit. They are usabler on any artifical construct, even simple tools, but not any kind of artifact. Their range is any machine you can see. The Corporeal Song heals damage to the machine, healing (CD*Song level) damage and causing the target to function at peak performance for (CD*Essence Spent) hours, as well as causing it to be perfectly tuned until it wears down naturally. This translates to about 20% increased efficiency, but no increased weapon damage. Simple tools gain little benefit beyound instant sharpening, oiling and cleaning. The Ethereal Song temporarily grants life but not will to a mahcine. It gains (Essence spent) Intelligence - so 1 for about as bright as a dog, 2 for complex commands and 3 for any conditional statements. The machine obeys you for (CD) minutes and understands speech, the Songs of Tongues and any transmissions it is equipped to receive. The Celestial Song primes a machine for a specific task, like shooting a specific person or jumping a chasm. You define the task, as specifically or generally as you like, and don't have to be the one to do it, but it must be resolvable in a single roll. The TN for that task gets a bonus of (Essence spent), which must be used within (CD) hours. For the duration, or until the bonus is used, the machine requires no fuel or power and can be taken between planes. If it is on the ethereal or celestial plane when the Song ends, it will return to its last earthly location, causing Disturbance equivalent to an artifact being summoned. Angels of Lightning have an affinity for all of the Songs, while demons of Technology for the Corporeal and Ethereal Songs. These Songs cost at least 1 Essence and cause (CD) Disturbance.

The Songs of Memory allow you to pick out strains of memory from the Symphony. The Corporeal Song can be used on inanimate objects and plants, as long as they have no mind. You may read impressions off the object, based on your skill level and Corporeal Forces: at level 1, (Corporeal Forces) hours. At 2, days. At 3, months. At 4, years. At 5, decades. At 6, centuries. The CD determines how much informaiton you get, with 1 being vague impressions, 3 giving specific details on significant or relevant things, and 6 giving either the object's entire history in broad overview or a full visual (but silent) impression of any one scene the object was present for. The Ethereal Song lets you or a person you touch gain total recall, allowing the target to remember all experiences perfectly for (CD) minutes. This does not recover any memories lost to celestial intervention, but will affect normal amnesia, though their amnesia returns once the Song ends. The Celestial Song picks up on minute traces of past Disturbance, allowing a Perception roll to detect the most recent Disturbance that could possibly have been heard from that spot, using the normal Disturbance rules, save that you can look back up to (CD) days. You will know when a Disturbance happened to within a day, and with a second Perception roll, to within 2 hours. Additional uses of the Song will continue to detect each successive previous Disturbance. These Songs cost 2 Essence and cause no base Disturbance.

The Songs of Might increase a target's raw power. The range is within (Song's level) yards and the duration is (CD*appropriate realm Forces) minutes. All damage bonuses apply only to melee attacks or their equivalent, not any ability to deal damage at a distance. The Corporeal Song increases the Power of the target's melee attacks by (Essence spent). The Ethereal Song gives a bonus to all damage dealt in ethereal combat equal to (Essence spent). The Celestial Song is the same for celestial combat. These Songs cost at least 1 Essence and cause (CD+appropriate realm Forces) Disturbance.

The Songs of Motion are in the core, but Ofanim have an affinity for them.

The Songs of Nemesis detect hostile forces in the Symphony. They have a range of (Song's level*Essence spent) feet. The Corporeal Song identifies physical threats, which can be objects or living things. On a success, it reveals information aobut the physical hazard the subject poses, and can identify concealed danger, but only if it is direct - if someone has a weapon or is strong, but not if they know Songs or martial arts. The CD determinesh ow detailed the information is. The Ethereal Song detects hostile intent, so can only be applied to beings capable of having intent. On a success, you know if the subject is hostile to you, with higher CDs giving more information on how hostile they are and, at 5-6, perhaps why or what their plans for you are. The Celestial Song gives you a sixth sense for immediate danger, giving you an indication of the direction, approximate distance and general intensity of the danger, but not details on its nature. This lasts for (CD*Celestial Forces) minutes. These Songs cost 1 Essence and cause no base Disturbance.

The Songs of Nightmares were discovered by Beleth after her Fall, and turn someone's fears against them. They all have range of (Song's level+Essence spent) feet, or in the Marches, one dreamscape. The Corporeal Song causes a physiological fear response. The victim resists with Will, plus Celestial Forces for celestials (and doubled for Malakim), but subtracting the highest of any Cowardly or Fear Discord. If the victim fails, they become nervous, jumpy and so on for (CD) minutes, with exact game terms determined by the GM. Elohim will not gain dissonance unless they allow the fear response to alter their actions. The Ethereal Song sense the target's hidden fears. The subject can roll Will minus the CD to negate, but otherwise you know their greatest fea,r inclding Fear Discords. If a demon of Nightmares can use that fear against the victim, any Will rolls to resist are at a penalty of (CD) for (Ethereal Forces) days. The Celestial Song lets you create a fear in dreams that will affect the target in the waking world. You must first learn something they had a nightmare about, then use it within (Ethereal Forces) days of that nightmare. The subject must not have had a peaceful dream within that period, however. If used successfully, the victim feels a strong, irrational fear of whatever nightmare subject you chose. This might be a person, a thing, a place or a situation. The victim may connect the nightmare and fear, but it will not make it less intense. This lasts for (CD) days and can be resisted by Will. Ethereals and celestials, who do not dream, are immune to this Song. Demons of Nightmares have an affinity for these Songs. They cost at least 1 Essence and cause (CD) Disturbance.

The Songs of Nimbus create auras, or 'halos' around the user. All last for (CD+appropriate realm Forces) minutes. The Corporeal Song makes you glow, with bright colors for divine users and dark colors for infernal ones. Pagan Soldiers, ethereals an other unaligned groups glow gray if truly neutral or with a clarity and color according to their leaning in either direction. Halos cannot be faked, and even mundanes instinctively recognize their meaning. The other side finds it uncomfortable to look on an enemy halo and painful to touch them, thouygh non-damaging. If they have less than 6 Forces, they must make a Will roll minus the Essence spent or be unable to confront or attack you for (failed CD) minutes. The Ethereal Song is invisible, but anyone within (Song's level*Essence spent) yards is aware of your presence at all times and cannot ignore you. Most perceive an aura of authority from you, and the GM determines how they react to that. The Celestial Song wreathes you in celestial flames, which for celestials take the appearance of their celestial form. This halo cannot be faked by any means. If you take celestial form, you add (Essence spent) to your Celestial Forces to determine the ease of perceiving you, and Kyriotates and Shedim become more shocking. These Songs cost at least 1 Essence and cause (CD+appropriate realm Forces) Disturbance.





Next time: More Numinous Corpus

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?




PEOPLE, PART 2



The Late Con artist
Name: Seamus Meahan
Possible role: Alternate perspective on 1894/1940 events

Innocent
Meahan is long dead, but may enter the story through his biography, Prince of Lies: The Strange Life of Seamus Meahan. Born to a poor Irish-American family, he ran away from home at age 17, stole a rich man's suitcase, and manufactured a mysterious nobleman persona named Count Rozhenko. Hinting that he had supernatural powers, he conned or duped half of Europe before an unknown traumatic event sent him fleeing to Romania where he became a priest. After 40 years of selfless service to a poor. he died of pneumonia in 1944.



Meahan wasn't directly connected to the events of Operation Edom, but he was in London at the same time as Dracula, and his diaries mention several of the original hunters. Going through his notes, diaries and memoirs will require Bullshit Detector to tell when he's lying and when he's telling the truth.

Asset
The truth diverges from the published story around when he stole the rich man's suitcase - what actually happened was that he was detained in London for theft, but caught Edom's eye. He was recruited to follow Dracula as a foreign spy, but saw something so horrifying that he fled Edom to join the Catholic Church. If he knew anything, and if the Church had a vampire unit, they may have debriefed him.

Minion
After Meahan became a priest, Dracula found him again. The "late" con artist isn't late at all - he's now running a branch of Heal the Children under an assumed name, but he's also called upon to masquerade as many other roles in his master's service.

Alternate Names
Sergie Rozhenko, Mathias Kirke, Marie Limner

Alternate Descriptions
  • Bristling mustache, wild hair, impressive top hat
  • Indeterminate age, quiet confidence, quick to smile, forgettable features
  • Mid-30s, long dark hair, dazzlingly dressed, declaims everything dramatically

Defining Quirks
  • Accent changes depending on who he's talking to
  • Mirrors body language of other party
  • Opens up to fellow Americans

quote:

Investigative Abilities: Vampirology, all Interperseonal abilities other than Bullshit Detector
General Abilities: Disguise 12
Alertness Modifier: +1
Stealth Modifier: +0



The Neo-Nazi
Name: Helmut Kreider
Possilbe Role: Historian of Nazi vampire project

Innocent
Kreider runs a neo-Nazi website, hosted in the US to avoid Austrian law, and gauleiter of the newo-Nazi VAPO in Gratz, Austria. He lives on disability pension and online occult-political manifestos, and visits right-wing rallies all over eastern Europe. He wrote a book, Mein Wirken, where he describes a meeting with an 'ageless figure' he calls "der Obergruppenführer" in 1968 - speculation is that he was Hans Kammler. According to the book, Der Obergruppenführer revealed various mystical truths to Kreider - most of it is nonsense, some of it connects back to the Dossier.

Kreider's father was also SS, and was on the staff of Reich Security chief Ernst Kaltenbrunner. A spend on History or Research confirms that Kreider senior could have had access to the files on the German vampire program; he committed suicide in 1968.

Asset
Edom bought Kreider in the 1970s, and at some point since then he's come to believe the bullshit he peddles. As a result, the vampire secrets he may share with teh Agents are a very visible dead end, possibly leading into an Edom death trap. 3 points of Forgery or Vampirology identifies the documents as faked.

Minion
Kreider can be bought, and not just by Edom. Accounting and Digital Intrusion will reveal the regular infusion of cash into his account, every St. George's Day, exactly tracking the price of gold. He's loyal to Dracula for the gold and for the promise of becoming a true Aryan superman. If the agents approach Kreider, he arranges an isolated meeting, then tells the Conspiracy about it.

Alternate Names
Heinrich Wegmann, Albert Steindl, Elsa Nadler

Alternate Description
  • Late 40s, grossly fat, wears large pectoral cross on a chain, blue eyes
  • Early 50s, mountain climbing fitness buff, dresses in black, iron gray hair and Hitler mustache
  • Late 50s, bleached blond hair, sparkling blue eyes (tinted contacts), casual jeans and hand-knit sweater

Defining Quirks
  • Tilts head up attentively
  • Always eating pastries
  • Puts emphasis on words seemingly at random

quote:

Investigative Abilities: Forgery, Occult Studies, Vampirology (if Asset or Minion)
General Abilities: Network 8, Shooting 4
Alertness Modifier: +0
Stealth Modifier: +1, +1 if fit, -1 if fat



The Pensioner
Name: Elisabeta Freza
Possible Role: Source for Romanian government secrets

Innocent
Daughter of a deputy in the Romanian Interior Ministry. Her father was Iron Guard, and managed to get himself and his family into Germany in 1941. Turned Romanian secrets over to the Communists, was attached to the Ministry of Justice until he died in 1977.

By the 70s, Elisabeta was a translator working with the Foreign Ministry, but she was demoted and transferred to the Ministry of Tourism after her father's death, where she now works selling 'Dracula tourism' to Westerners. She may know about, in descending order of likelihood: Edom's role in the 1941 Iron Guard revolt, something about the '77 mole hunt, something about the location of Castle Dracula, something about the German vampire project.

Asset
Freza senior worked for Edom in German from '45 to '47, maybe even before then. Elisabeta became an Edom asset through MI6, and did some work covering tracks from the mole hunt. She has enough contacts and leverage to pull the agents out of Romanian prison, if need be.

Minion
Rather than being a direct minion, the more fun route is if her family's long history of maneuvering for their own survival has left her inside Dracula's web without knowing it. If she's a full-on minion, she loves Dracula and her homeland, and serves both completely loyally. Maybe she's a Renfield, maybe she's mortal but cruel and resourceful beyond her years.

Alternate Names
Priha Optsprezeche, Ionela Rosu, Leonhard Farkas

Alternate Descriptions
  • Early 80s, birdlike movements, bright-colored print dress, clutch purse always kept nearby
  • Late 70s, blue-rinsed hair, somber features, large watery eyes, dresses in black
  • Late 70s but looks early 60s, well-colored brunette hair, faded Joan-Collins-style beauty, Paris-made blouse and skirt, mildly flirtatious manner

Defining Quirks
  • Strong Oxbridge-accented English
  • Knits while she talks
  • Seems nearsighted but doesn't wear glasses

quote:

Investigative Abilities: Archaeology (Romanian castles), History, Human Terrain, Notice, Languages (English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian), Tradecraft (if Asset), Cryptography (if Asset)
General Abilities (if Asset or Minion): Conceal 5, Filch 8, Network 10, Surveillance 5, Weapons 8 (knitting needles)
Alertness Modifier: +1
Stealth Modifier: +2



"Van Sloan"
Name: Cedric Rovere
Possible Role: SOE old-timer

Innocent
Retired in Wales, visits London by train once in a while. Has a cozy cottage, with wild roses growing on stakes and trellises all around it. The easier the Director makes VS to find, the less actionable his intel should be - if he's easy to hunt down, he only know about the 1940 mission. If he's hard to find, he knows about the German vampire program, or maybe the location of Castle Dracula, and may have his own ace in the hole of some sort.



Asset
Van Sloan is on Edom's books, and has rose-tinted his own memories of the 1940 mission into a heroic triumph. May have been a Duke of Edom in the 50s. The best way to get his secrets out of him is to pretend to be Edom - if they're anti-Edom, he plays along and then reports to Edom as soon as they leave.

Minion
Nuclear option - this means every note Van Sloan left in the Dossier is misinformation. Dracula turned him personally, and he's one of the strongest Renfields, as the stats below will suggest. He retired from Edom during the 1977 mole hunt.

Alternate Names
Cole Novello, Edward West, Gabriel Landsdale, Gabrielle Landsdale

Alternate Descriptions
  • Late 90s, tall, pomaded gray hair, aristocratic bearing, aquiline nose, sneer at the youth these days
  • Early 90s, short but fit with a very strong grip, short white hair, lambent purple track suit, thick spectacles
  • Early 70s, zaftig figure, bright red wig, smokes American cigarettes - inherited the original VS's cottage an secrets when he died in 2011

Defining Quirks
  • Fusses with his pipe and antique silver lighter
  • Stops to listen for something every so often
  • Voice starts soft and weak but gets stronger and more resonant the longer he talks

quote:

Investigative Abilities: Cryptography, Human Terrain, Military Science, Notice, Outdoor Survival, Tradecraft, Vampirology
General Abilities (human): Athletics 5, Cover 4, Disguise 2, Driving 3, Explosive Devices 3, Hand-to-Hand 3, Health 5, Network 15, Piloting 2, Shooting 8, Surveillance 4, Weapons 3
General Abilities (renfield): Aberrance 13, Cover 4, Disguise 2, Driving 3, Explosive Devices 3, Hand-to-Hand 13, Health 13, Network 15, Piloting 2, Shooting 8, Surveillance 13, Weapons 8
Alertness Modifier: +1/+3 (Renfield)
Stealth Modifier: +0/+2 (Renfield)

Next: 1977!

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





CHAPTER THREE: THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY
PART THREE

Prescience:
The game describes having Prescience powers as being "a living nightmare" so there's that. The majority of precogs who aren't working for the cops end up becoming hermits or cult-leaders or con men. A licensed psychic can in fact make money off of prescience and they're not liable for their predictions not coming true unless they out-and-out lied to the customers. It's a lot safer and a lot more financially stable to just join Oracle and become a weatherman.

Precogs have no special rules but it's not uncommon for them to need some sort of focus for the powers they have control over (and a lot of their powers they can't control). Some of the more nasty drawbacks are related to Prescience though and the game says it's pretty common for long-lived precogs to develop ennui, nihilism or dementia.

I would make a joke but this is just feels exploitative.
LEVEL ONE
  • Flashes (single, touch, passive): The precog has no control over this power. Poke someone, get a premonition in the form of a flash, an emotion or a few words. Touching people with high Corruption forces a control check.
  • Premonition (self, self, passive): Get one or two premonitions per session whenever the GM feels like. The precog has no control over this and really bad premonitions force a control check.
  • Sixth Sense (self, self, passive): +1 to Initiative, any surprise attacks against you automatically miss before proper combat, any attacks against you while you're asleep will wake you or make you toss to make it miss.
LEVEL TWO
  • Awareness (self, self, passive): On its own, you always know when you're being watched. Alternately, the precog can focus for a minute and beat a Will 16 DC to pinpoint where the watcher is within Willx50 feet. This can also be used to detect undead.
  • Portent (one topic, self, thought): Trance for five minutes after picking a subject then make a control check. If you succeed, you get a good or bad feeling about the topic. The precog can then make a DC 16 Wit roll to try and glean a little more information.
  • Uncontrolled Vision (one topic, self, passive): The GM can force you to view visions without warning. They are generally vague and distracting and the precog may see something completely unrelated to what they're currently doing. The precog can make a control check to try and shut down the vision if they don't want to see it (or if the GM is a dick and hit them with a vision in the middle of combat).

Put your keyboard on the floor. Put it down as flat as you can. That's good. Now I will move your keyboard by power of my will alone!
LEVEL THREE
  • Augury (self, self, maintained): Trance for a hour and make a control check to gain a vision on a topic of choice. It's like Uncontrolled Vision but you're actually seeking the vision.
  • Future Sight (self, self, thought): Make a control check. If it succeeds, the GM will narrate the most likely events of the next five minutes. This can be changed or altered by the precog's actions or the info might be wrong or misleading.
  • Guided Hand (self, self, maintained): Turn the power on a pick a skill then get one free reroll per failed roll for that skill as long as it's maintained. I don't see anything saying you can't pick a combat skill.
LEVEL FOUR
  • Pathfinder (self, self, maintained): The precog can enter a waking trance that will allow them to fulfill something the player describes to the GM. This can be something like "find a secret exit", "pick the right wire to cut" or "walk me through the slums without getting mugged". The precog moves like a sleepwalker while it's active, gains +3 to Leaping and Climbing , is immune from outright harm due to GM fiat and will sidestep or wait out hazards like Mr. Magoo. The trance automatically ends when the goal is achieved or they can try to roll out of it.
  • Preternatural Reflexes (self, self, maintained): While the power is active, the precog can dodge and parry BOTH melee and ranged attacks, reroll their Initiative or get one free reroll per failed Coordination roll. How do you parry a ranged attack? I imagine you grab something with a flick of the wrist like Jackie Chan would.
  • Retrocognition (self, self, maintained): Focus on a person, place or thing to gain information. This works better if you've touched it/them, met them or been there or if they're present/you're at them. The info is vague or incomplete and there's a lot to sort through, but you will get urgent/immediate/powerful info quickly. Also don't use this power on someone with a high Corruption unless you want to witness their personal history of atrocities.

LEVEL FIVE
  • Dreamshaper (group, Willx3 mile radius, thought): The precog mass-broadcast a psychic vision to people around them in that radius. The normal version only targets other precogs but you can eat 1 IP to target EVERYONE. The precog also automatically passes down any huge visions they receive to every lesser precog around them, but only in facets or broken pieces.
  • Fate Weaver (self/self/thought): The precog can use their own Second Chances and Devil's Luck for any dice roll or any situation or for another character's benefit. This is a reference to a mechanic I don't like from the whole game: you get Second Chances for certain rerolls equal to your highest Corruption rating, and you can use Devil's Luck to increase your Corruption by 1 if you're out of chances and you're up poo poo creek. It's a badly implemented knock-off of Warhammer's Fate Points and they exist because your characters are all inherently corrupt and Byronic hero etc. etc. I sincerely apologize that the description for this power ended up becoming a rehashing of the mechanics because I sincerely didn't remember how they worked.
  • Prophecy (one topic, self, thought): Visions forever whenever without needing to trance. The precog's visions are still incapacitating but if you keep using the power on the same topic, you'll get pretty much the same vision to allow yourself to get more details and a more clear image. Using this power costs 1 IP point.

Thoughts on Prescience: A lot of the passive powers are unreliable and uncontrollable and that's kind of not fun, especially when the GM is in control of whenever you get visions. There's also the fact that you can still use minor powers when you have a higher level, so you're still beholden to GM visions whenever. Prescience also doesn't seem like an Instability intensive set of powers, but failing control checks gains IP and there's a lot of control checks you have to make to shut the visions off. Force of Will is mandatory for IP management for precogs. Aside from that, I like some of the powers that aren't just "get vision". The precog can be an effective fighter or a skill monkey whenever you need them to be and I appreciate the versatility beyond just seeing the future. The capstones aren't very good. Dreamshaper is nice from a RP perspective but it's just going to get you in trouble, Prophecy is okay and Fate Weaver gives you rerolls for anything but oh man is that a limited pool of dice you don't want to increase.

Telepathy: Victorian telepaths are people with trust issues because they know what you're thinking and it ain't always pretty. Most telepaths keep to themselves or to their own kind, most work for private clubs or clients or the police. The aristocracy tends to stay the hell away from telepaths because pretty much every bloodline is host to horrible secrets and bizarre pasts, so telepaths are generally not allowed in higher society. They live quiet lives of silence and work and really stand out as a result, even considering the nature of Neo-Victorian London. On the plus side, you can totally use your powers for money as a courier or with the authorities, just don't steal info on your own.

Telepathy has some extra rules. First, using them on anyone with a Chronic Mental Disorder or Corruption 4+ gets you 1 IP. Second, telepaths are immune to the powers of other telepaths who are lower than them in power (unless they permit them to use them). Third, touching someone you're using your powers on gives you +2 to the roll. However, touching people is risky. It forces a Will save where a failure is 1 IP and a success is brief flash of what the other person is thinking. You can automatically pass this roll with Silence but you won't get that flash of vision, so opt out of that when you need to. Otherwise, Silence is a handy class ability to have.

I don't think you need be able to read his mind to know he wants you to stop touching him.
LEVEL ONE
  • Distraction (single, Willx5 feet+LOS, maintained): Contested Will roll where failure is 1 IP and a success lets you distract the subject with some kind of phantom stimuli. This can be something out of the corner of their eye, the urge to go to the bathroom or a whisper in their ear but nothing that shuts down a sense completely. The victim can't add Concentration to Will rolls and gets -1 to Perception rolls; the telepath can maintain this as long as they want without line of sight once it's on.
  • Silent Voice (single, Willx5 feet+LOS, thought): Broadcast ten words or a simple image to someone's head. The words can be heard aloud in their head. The subject can resist the message, which forces a Will roll where success gets it across and failure gives the telepath 1 IP.
  • Thought Reader (single, Willx5 feet+LOS, maintained): Skim the mind of a target but you can't go any deeper than that. Requires a Will contest, 1 IP vs. success. This can also be used on ghosts but the telepath always gets 1 IP. As long as it's maintained it doesn't need to be line of sight and the telepath gets +1 to Charm and Psychology against the target. Should the target attack, the telepath gets +2 to dodging or parrying their attacks. That's a nice little bonus.
LEVEL TWO
  • Mind Scan (group, Willx10 feet radius, maintained): Mass Thought Reader, has most of the same rules. However, should the telepath not have Silence, they will gain 1 IP for every minute it's active. They can only focus on one mind's thoughts at a time but switch to another mind for free, plus the telepath can feel where people are if they can't see them. Will contest of the telepath vs. everyone where failure just means the telepath can't read that person.
  • Pain Induction (single, Willx10 feet+LOS, maintained): Wrack the target with excruciating pain that does no lasting damage. Will contest, success vs. 1 IP. Success inflicts -2 to Attribute, Initiative and Skill rolls as long as the telepath maintains it.
  • Thought Transfer (single, Willx10 feet+LOS, maintained): Speak/send messages remotely back and forth between the telepath and the subject. Doesn't allow mind reading or thought viewing, just whatever is sent. It can be used on ghosts at the cost of 1 IP. Should the subject move out of range, the link is broken.

Oh hey Professor X.
LEVEL THREE
  • Conduit (group, Willx15 foot radius+LOS, maintained): Group Thought Transfer with maximum participants equal to the telepath's Will.
  • Memory Suppression (single, Willx10 feet+LOS, thought): First, the telepath must contact the target's mind (use Thought Reader at the very least, Mind Scan, Cognivore, Omniscience or Thought Reader work too). The telepath can then make a contested Will roll, success vs. 1 IP. If successful, the telepath can edit or remove the details of up to one minute of their memory. This can be hella illegal and abused so don't do that, I guess.
  • Psychosomnia (single, Willx15+LOS, maintained): Will contest, success or 1 IP. A success means the target is put into a deep sleep and can't be woken until the power is no longer maintained. If the power is cut off, the target sleeps normally for 1d10 minutes and will then awaken. The book notes that Psychosomnia can be used instead of anesthesia for medicine which I would imagine would be really handy for gutter surgery.
LEVEL FOUR
  • Cognivore (single, Willx5 feet+LOS, maintained): Will contest, success vs. 1 IP. On a success, the telepath can dig through the mind of the target to bring up specific memories. If the target resists, the experience is painful and terrifying and causes -2 to Wit, Intellect and Skill rolls while it's active and for a hour after. The experience will often cause the target to try to fight back or escape, so restrain them first. If the target allows it to happen, the experience feels weird but there's no pain or downsides. The power lasts as long as it's maintained, and it may take a while to find the memory you're looking for depending on how old it is.
  • Overmind (single, Willx10 feet+LOS, maintained): Will contest, save vs. 1 IP. If successful, the telepath will forcibly take control of the target and control their body. The target can be forced to take the actions the telepath wants (double their Will for the resistance if the actions are suicidal/dangerous), the telepath can shut off the target's senses, the telepath can make the target experience vivid/realistic hallucinations or they can make the target do something the target knows how to do. The target has -3 to all Attribute and Will rolls while controlled, so they can't do everything.
  • Psychogenesis (single, Willx10 feet+LOS, maintained): Hooboy. Psychogenesis requires the telepath to fully map out the mind of a subject for no less than 8 hours using Cognivore. Everything this power does will most likely be permanent and depends on what the telepath wants to do and requires a Will contest (success vs. 1 IP) when it begins. Psychogenesis can be used to: cloud/bury memories (in the form of lost time/amnesiac episodes), manipulate/create new/delete memories (which can be linked to a trigger to make them remember/forget but deleted memories are gone), implant commands, mental stabilization/destabilization (which can also be linked to triggers) or implant a secret message (requires a trigger for them to get it). This power has the potential for abuse or it can be used to get people back into a safe state of mind.

?????
LEVEL FIVE
  • Mind Slave (single, touch, maintained): Will contest, where no matter what the telepath gets 1 IP. Mind Slave shunts the personality and consciousness into the target's body and leaves the telepath's body in a coma. While in the body of the target, they are suppressed and can't stop themselves from following the telepath's commands. When ridden, the body uses the telepath's Wit, Intellect and Will, the body's Vitality and Coordination and an average of their Charm. People may notice the body is acting odd and Clairvoyants can see two auras in the same body. If the telepath loses concentration, sleeps, is made unconscious or if either body dies, the target regains control.
  • Omniscience (group, Willx200 feet, passive): The telepath starts to influence people who spend long periods of time around them, knowing when people leave or enter the radius. They will pick up small traits of the telepath and the telepath can use Thought Reader on them at will or borrow their senses or use other powers on them as if they could see them.
  • Puppet Master (group, Willx50 feet, maintained): The telepath can use Mass Pain Induction, Psychosomnia or Overmind. This targets everyone around them, including allies, unless the telepath can see them and makes a control check.

Heck yeah.

Thoughts on Telepathy: Telepathy is a nice grab bag of powers that can pretty easily fall into uncomfortable territory unless the players take action to not go there. The whole set is a good mixture of investigative powers, debuffs and group communication abilities. The capstone powers continue to not be totally good/worth it. Mind Slave is a really good way to impersonate someone for a little while, but it's a borderline abominable act. Omniscience would be a lot better if it didn't have the caveat that the personality of the telepath bleeds into the minds of people around them. Puppet Master is by far the best because it's very versatile for group control; the sleep ability is an excellent way to shut down enemies or problems, group Pain Induction is a nice debuff and while it probably wouldn't work to command everyone to kill themselves, it's a lot easier to tell them to shoot each other. Telekinesis is a very IP-intensive power set, so management is important; pump up the Will and Concentration.

We have officially moved past the predominantly investigative/social psychic powers, which means that NEXT TIME, we move onto the three Psychokinetic power sets: Electrokinesis (Shocking Grasp), Pyrokinesis (Burning Hands) and Telekinesis (Bigby's Magic Hand).

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Hey guys, here's the big System Mastery offering for the week. It's The Great War of Magellan, the only RPG written by the guy that played Captain Apollo on Battlestar Galactica as far as I care to know.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




theironjef posted:

Hey guys, here's the big System Mastery offering for the week. It's The Great War of Magellan, the only RPG written by the guy that played Captain Apollo on Battlestar Galactica as far as I care to know.



?Unfortunately? the Great War of Magellan web site is full of dead links and doesn't really mention the RPG. ?Fortunately? you can still catch the interminably early-2000's 2:46 trailer on their Facebook page!(???)

(Edit: You can also watch an 18-minute behind the scenes featurette about GWOM here if you're a loving idiot.)

(Edit 2: The only other person who seems to have ever given a poo poo about this is "SciFi Ranter Girl" whose blog has a Second Life slave girl tiled graphic background and said

quote:

The Great War of Magellan is a project by Richard Hatch and MerlinQuest Entertainment.

I found out about this when I read the Kate Mulgrew whine session.

Anyhoo...

and then you know exactly more than you needed to. System Mastery is already in the top 20 Google links for this poo poo.)

(Edit 3, the last, I swear: Signed copy on eBay.)

I haven't actually listened to the episode yet, so as my last thought I'll just mention that Richard Hatch said that the BSG reboot making Starbuck a woman was ridiculous until they gave him a role. I hope this kind of attitude shines through in his ?licensed? ?RPG? ?book?.

That Old Tree fucked around with this message at 06:07 on Mar 15, 2016

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



That Old Tree posted:

I haven't actually listened to the episode yet, so as my last thought I'll just mention that Richard Hatch said that the BSG reboot making Starbuck a woman was ridiculous until they gave him a role. I hope this kind of attitude shines through in his ?licensed? ?RPG? ?book?.

Heh, our copy is also signed by Hatch, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that most of them are. There's also an RPGnet review of the book by Ashok Desai out there, which is sorta neat. Desai wrote one of our rare good books, Vanishing Point. As for Hatch's sexism shining through, the game has a bizarre misogynist streak running through it, yeah. The slang section is more than half terms for women, and there's a spell that can be cast that makes members of the opposite sex fall in love with you, with it noted that it's gross if men do it, but super sexy when women cast it.

Godzillion
Feb 28, 2016


Hatch is kind of an egomaniac. He paid from his own funds to make a trailer for a Galactica sequel that the hoped would get a studio to pick it up and has never gotten past that rejection. He is almost Anthony Daniels bad about needing to be the center of attention at public appearances.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


As crossover from the bad kickstarter thread, apparently Hatch is also starring in Axanar and that whole debacle.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Liber Canticorum: Sing Sing





The Songs of Opening create opportunities. They all have a range of (Song's level+Essence spent) feet. The Corporeal Song can open any locks, physical or electronic, within range, for 1 Essence per lock. It automatically bypasses security devices, but unconnected devices like a camera watching a vault are not affected. Failure with CD 6 will set off any alarms, traps or triggers tied to the locks, however. The Ethereal Song makes people more receptive to you words. You can target additional people at -1 to the TN per target past the first. Targets resist with Will. Any who fail to resist treat you as having (CD) additional Charisma for (Ethereal Forces) minutes. The Celestial Song erases hostility towards a person or idea. Each use causes the taarget to reevaluate a negative opinion of someone or something, no matter how negative, as if encountering it for the first time. It will not automatically ensure positive reaction, however. Multiple targets can be affected, at -1 TN per target past the first, but the object to be reevaluated must be the same for all. Targets resist with Will. Demons of Theft and angels of the Wind have an affinity for the Corporeal Song. These Songs cost at least 1 Essence and cause (number of targets) Disturbance.

The Songs of Plagues inflict Biblical plagues, not disease or illness. They have a duration of (CD) days and a range of (Song's level*Essence spent) yards, targeting a person or an area of a radius up to the Song's range. No resistance roll is ever allowed. In addition to the overt effects, the Plagues cause a cumulative penalty to Will equal to the number of days the victim has been suffering, starting at -1 on the first day. If the victim succeeds at a Will roll despite this, the penalty vanished for the rest of the day but returns, increased as normal, the next day. Celestials may subtract (Celestial Forces) from the penalty, due to their increased tolerance for weird. If the plague targets an area, the penalty applies to anyone who stays in the area for more than an hour per day, but the penalty applies only while in the area. The Corporeal Song summons unnatural phenomena, most commonly a plague of animals native to the area, which follow victims around or infest the area. Rains of frog, blood or summer sleet are also possible when cursing an area, or other strange and unnatural events. The user can determine the effects toa limited extent and should be encouraged to come up with appropriate Fortean weirdness. The Ethereal Song causes a recurring sound, phrase or event to follow the victims. The thing itself is not inherently troubling, but the victim notices constantly, until convinced the world is trying to drive him mad. For example, 'It's a Small World' might play repetitively, along with the phrase 'small world' showing up all over, or images of a cartoon character, or whatever. Others will not notice unless the Song is targeted on an area, in which case it plagues everyone in the area as long as they remain there. The Celestial Song marks the target with an invisible brand, causing anyone they meet to instantly and unreasonably dislike them. Anyone who comes in contact with them, even family and friends, must make a reaction roll at a penalty of (Celestial Forces), and any negative reaction persists until the Song ends, at which point those who already know the victim will revert to their original attitude, perhaps apologizing. Those who did not know the victim will likely retain their negative opinions until the victim does something to change them. The Celestial Song does not, however, create the cumulative Will penalty. Celestials are also less affected by the mark, subtracting (Celestial Forces) from the reaction penalty. They must still, however, make the roll, even with someone they know. Celestials can perceive the mark with a Perception roll at a penalty of (Song's level), and while this doesn't prevent the effect, they will know why it's happening. If the Song is targeted on an area, all meetings in the area are affected and all parties invovled must make a reaction roll. The effects vanish when they leave the area, but hostility generated by it may not. The effects return if they come back. These Songs cost at least 3 Essence and cause (CD+appropriate realm Forces) Disturbance.

The Song of Possession is in the core, but Kyriotates and Shedim get an affinity for it.

The Songs of Revulsion cause forces to repel each other. They last for (Song's level*Essence spent) hours. The Corporeal Song causes two objects to push away from each other. You must touch both when performing hte Song, and neither can be living. Afterwards, each object will resist proximity of the other with an effective (CD) Strength. This is the amount neededl to hold them still or together. Otherwise, they automatically move apart until at least (CD) yards from each other. If an object repels the ground, it loses (10*CD) pounds of effective weight, and will float if this is less than 0. The Ethereal Song causes deep disgust in one person to any one person or object of your choice, which you must be able to see. The target must be within (Ethereal Forces) feet. They can negate this with a Will roll at a penalty of (CD), but if they fail, they will avoid the person or object's presence for the Song's duration, and will avoid looking at or pseaking to them if they can't. Physical contact may cause a violent or nauseous reaction. The Celestial Song temporarily severs attunements, including the Cherub or Djinn resonance, the Celestial Song of Attraction, the Songs of Affinity or the bond between an artifact and its owner. This is treated as a contest, and the Song's CD must equal or exceed the CD of the attunement or Song it is severing, or the level of the artifact. You must touch the object of attunement, though you need not know it has any attunements on it - but you also won't know if any attunements were negated. Habbalah have an affinity for the Ethereal Song. These Songs cost at least 1 Essence and cause (CD) Disturbance.

The Songs of Sanctity help establish and maintain Tethers. The Corporeal Song temporarily stabilizes a 'wild' Tether. IT must be used at the Tether's corporeal endpoint and must be performed constantly to maintain control. You concentrate on holding the Tether and can do nothing else without ending the Song. The Song lasts (CD*Essence spent*10) minutes, and Disturbance occurs only when the Song ends. If more than one group attempts to use this Song to control the upper locus, it becomes a contest between Songs, with the higher CD maintaining control for the duration. If the Tether is anchored and a new Song seizes control, the upper end will immediately jump somewhere, though not necessarily to the domain of the new singer. The Ethereal Song sends a call for help, but can only be used in a Tether. Within (Ethereal Forces*Essence spent), all celestials of the side the Tether belongs to will feel a draw but not a compulsion to the location. Anyone who has experienced this before will recognize its nature, and a Perception roll with a bonus of (CD) will give an exact distance to the Tether. Celestials of the Superior that controls the Tether will also know it's their Tether with that same roll. The Celestial Song boosts a Tether's divine or infernal nature. It affects only the Tether in which it is used, and within that Tether, any celestial of the opposite side suffers discomfort, getting a penalty of (Essence spent) to all TNs, which can be ignored with a Will roll, but only for (CD) minutes. The Song lasts (10*CD) minutes. These Songs cost at least 1 Essence. The Corporeal Song causes (CD) Disturbance, and the other two cause (CD+appropriate realm Forces) Disturbance.

The Songs of Seals affect barriers. They were discovered by the Archangel Zadkiel. All have a range of (Song's level )yards and duration of (CD+appropriate realm Forces) minutes. The Corporeal Song locks a door, window or container, or anything else that can be opened or closed. While it lasts, the item cannot be opened by any means short of destroying it, and the Song adds (CD) to the object's Protection. The Ethereal Song places a barrier around a person's mind, blocking all Will-based intrusion, such as the resonances of Kyriotates, Balseraphs, Habbalah, Shedim and the charm part of Impudites. However, the subject also cannot use those abilities on others. Unwilling subjects can negate this with a Will roll. If used on a sleeping human, it also locks off the border of their dreamscape, making it impossible to see in, enter or affect anything inside, and those inside cannot leave. The dreamer cannot wake until the Song ends. The Celestial Song creates a celestial barrier enclosing an area definedb y some kind of physical barrier, such as walls or a fence. The barrier cannot be crossed in celestial form, though it allows all physical movement. Anyone completely contained by the barrier cannot ascend to the celestial realm, or leave it if performed in the celestial realm. This also blocks the Celestial Song of Motion and the Songs of Location, provided the barrier is a complete closed loop. The maximum volume it can cenclose is a diameter of (Celestial Forces) yards. Angels of Protection have an affinity for these Songs. They cost 2 or more Essence and cause (CD) Disturbance.

The Songs of Sensation share experiences. Both Andrealphus and Eli are credited with their invention. All have a range of (Song's level+Essence spent) yards and a duration of (CD) minutes. The Corporeal and Ethereal versions each have a common variant that allow you to cause them to experience another's sensations rather than projecting your own. The Corporeal Song allows you to project any physical sensation you have ever felt onto someone else - pain, hunger, suffocation, orgasm, the works. They may resist with Will, but on a failure, they feel the sensation for the duration of the Song, though they suffer no actual damage even if they feel like they're having a cardiac arrest. The Ethereal Song allows you to force your emotions onto someone. They can resist with Will, and if they fail, they experience whatever you are feeling for the duration, though they are not compelled to act on it. If the GM agrees you are singing (mundanely) in a way that reinforces the emotions, a successful Singing roll will reinforce those emotions for (CD) minutes, at which point you roll again, until you fail. While singing, you may use the Song multiple times, targeting different people each time, and they will all continue to feel the Song's effects for as long as you keep singing, with the (CD) minute duration starting only when you stop. The Celestial Song allows you to tap into the local Symphony to generate a montage of emotions, impressions and memories. The target can resist with Will, or else they experience emotions and sensations with each sense, related to the immediate environment. A child's bedroom could, for example, contain the joy of hours of play, or the terror of years of abuse. For as long as the Song lasts, the target is entranced either way, and must roll Perception to notice anything going on, and Will to take any action. Habbalah have an affinity for the Ethereal Song. These Songs cost 2 or more Essence and cause (CD) Disturbance.

The Songs of Shadows control shadows. The Corporeal Song calls shadows to wrap around you in any shadowed area, making you hard to see. Add (Song's level) to any Move Silently TNs while in shadow, and you become invisible while motionless in shadow, requiring a Perception roll with a penalty of (Song's level) to spot at all. As soong as you move, you return to visibility. The Song lasts (Corporeal Forces+CD) minutes. The Ethereal Song lets you animate shadows in any shape you want, though they remain insubstantial and banished by bright light. The range is (Song's level) yards, and you control any and all shadows in that range for (CD+Ethereal Forces) minutes. On the ethereal plane, this Song can create and animate substantial shadows, which can be used to make ethereal attacks on either others in the Marches or on the occupants of a dreamscape. The attack is rolled against (Intelligence+Song's level), doing damage as normal for ethereal combat, and they act independently of you. The shadows can attack only one person per round, and they are immune to all ethereal attacks, though a clever dreamshaper can banish them from a dreamscape by making it too bright for them to exist, though this would take a CD of 5+ on a dreamshaping roll. The Celestial Song makes celestial forms harder to spot on the corporeal plane. For (CD) hours, your Celestial Forces are reduced by (Song's level) for purposes of spotting your celestial form, and you can go into the negatives. The duration does not change or stop when you are in corporeal form. These Songs cost 1 Essence and cause no base Disturbance.

The Songs of Shattering are pure destructive blasts. They have a range of (Song's level*appopriate realm Forces) yards. The Corporeal Song generates a sonic blast which deals (CD*Essence spent) damage to inaimate objects and (CD+Essence spent) to living bodies, which ignore protection. Nothing outside the line of fire can hear the blast. The Ethereal Song fires an ultrasonic shriek which only affects the living. They may resist with Will. If they fail, their ears ring and they suffer a headache for (failed CD) hours, reducing their Intelligence and Precision by (Ethereal ForceS+Essence spent). If this drops Intelligence to 0, the victim is crippled by migraines. The victim can roll Will to ignore the effects for (CD) rounds, but on a failure they can't try again for (CD) rounds. The Celestial Song disrupts the target's Forces, causing them to bleed Essence or take soul damage if they run out. The target can resist with (Will+Celestial Forces). IF they fail, they lose Essence equal to the amount spent on the Song, taking any remainder in soul damage. This Song cannot strip a Force, however. Lost Essence is dispersed and creates a Disturbance equal to its amount. Relics and reliquaries can also be effected, resisting with a TN of (2*artifact level), and can be destroyed by the soul damage. Demons of Hardcore have an affinity for these Songs. These Songs cost 1-3 Essence and cause (CD+appropriate realm Forces) Disturbance.

The Songs of Shields are in the core, but angels of Protection get an affinity for them.

The Songs of Sight grant vision beyond limits. Each lasts for (10*CD) minutes. The Corporeal Song gives perfect night vision and adds (Essence spent) to the TN of all visual Perception rolls for the duration. The Ethereal Song amplifies your visual magnification by (Ethereal Forces*Song's level*Essence spent) times. The Celestial Song allows you to ignore barriers to your vision, seeing through all objects out to (Song's level*Essence spent) yards as long as they are no thicker than (Celestial Forces) feet. These Songs cost 1 or more Essence and cause no base Disturbance.

The Songs of Silence quiet the Symphony. They all last for (CD) minutes. The Corporeal Song affects an area up to (Song's level*Essence spent) yards, rendering it totally silent. No physical noise may enter or exit, though Disturbance remains perceptible. This renders vocal rituals for Songs impossible, and will silence the Song of Thunder but not prevent its stunning or Disturbance-masking effects. The Ethereal Song renders a target temporarily mute. It has a range of (Song's level*Essence spent) feet, and as with the Corporeal Song, it only prevents the target from using verbal rituals for Songs, not Songs in general. The victim can resist with Will. The Celestial Song creates a pocket of Symphonic quiet in an area up to (Song's level*Essence spent) yards. For the duration, no one in that area will hear any Disturbance, though Disturbances created within can be heard outside it. Normal sound is unaffected. These Songs cost at least 1 Essence and cause no base Disturbance.

The Songs of Sleep have a range of (Song's level+Essence spent) yards, and can affect multiple targets at a penalty of -1 per target. The Corporeal Song prevents the target from falling asleep for (CD*Essence spent) hours. The subject can ignore all missed sleep for the duration, but suffers 1 mental damage per use of the Song, which can only be restored by a full 8 hours of sleep per pont of damage - not even the Ethereal Song of Healing will heal this. Any mortal awake long enough to hit 0 Mind HP will enter a coma from which they never awaken. For the duration, any target must subtract (Essence spent) from the TN of any Will roll to deliberately fall asleep, as well. The Ethereal Song makes the target tired, forcing a Will roll to remain conscious, -2 if the target is already bored or sleepy. If the target fails, they sleep normally until awakened or (CD) hours pass. The target automatically goes to the singer's side of the Marches - or the Far Marches, for an ethereal or pagan unaligned with Beleth. Celestials add (Ethereal Forces) to the TN to resist, and if they fail, the duration is merely minutes, as sleep is unnatural for them. The Celestial Song enhances the soothing rest of sleep. It can only be used on someone already asleep, and they must remain so at least eight hours to get the benefits. They heal Body and Mind HP as if they had slept an extra (CD) days. This does affect celestials, and additionally will speed the recovery from Trauma by (CD) days. Angels of Dreams have an affinity for all three Songs, while demons of Nightmares have an affinity for the Corporeal and Ethereal. These Songs cost at least 2 Essence and cause (number of people who attempt to resist) Disturbance.

The Songs of Solace bring temporary peace and comfort to the suffering. They last (CD) hours and require you to touch the target. The Corporeal Song eases physical pain, inuring the target to physical trauma and preventing them from being stunned for the duration. The Ethereal Song eases mental and emotional pain, granting a sense of peace and calm in place of fear, guilt or other anguish, and giving a bonus of (Ethereal Forces) to any rolls to resist the effects of other Songs or attunements that cause painful emotions. The Celestial Song restores victims of celestial damage ot their previous state temporarily, such as Remnants. Anyone who has lost Ethereal or Celestial Forces will perform mentally as if their Forces were whole, though they will regain no lost powers. They will, however, regain any lost memory or personality. This can also affect mortals suffering from equivalent effects due to drugs, brain damage or deterioration such as Alzheimer's. It will not affect anyone born mentally deficient nor any undead at all. Angels of Protection have an affinity for these Songs. They cost at least 1 Essence and cause (CD) Disturbance.

The Songs of Storms control the weather. Each can affect an area up to (CD+Song's level) miles in diameter, and all last for (appropriate realm Forces) hours. Different versions canafect the same area, but multiple uses of the same version are not cumulative. Once they end, the weather rapidly returns to normal. The scale of alteration depends on how much Essence is spent on top of the base cost. The Corporeal Song can cause or prevent precipitation appropriate to the climate. 1 Essence will cause minor changes, while 3 can stop it entirely or cause the heaviest natural possible for the area. More can call down unheard-of amounts, and 6 could bring a blizzard otthe Sahara. Summoning precipitation when there are no clouds costs 1 extra Essence. The Ethereal Song causes or suppresses wind, with 1 Essence causing or weakening a slight breeze, 3 causing strong wind or stopping anything short of a storm, and 6 causing or stopping hurricane-force winds. The Celestial Song affects temperature. 1 Essence can cause slight warming or cooling, 3 can cause normal extremes for the season, 7 can cause the arctic to become moderately warm, make a desert unlivable, cause the arctic to become unearthly cold or freeze a desert at noon. The change is not instant, but occurs over the course of an hour. Angels of the Wind have an affinity for these Songs. They cost at least 2 Essence nad cause (CD*total Forces) Disturbance.

The Songs of Succor conjure sustenance. The Corporeal Song creates manna, the perfect food. It is nutritionally balanced, filling, tastes good no matter what you like and is low in fat. It does not keep well and will dissipate within an hour. Each use provides enough to feed (CD*Essence spent) mortals, animals or plants. Haagenti will not eat manna, as a note. The Ethereal Song restores consciousness. Anyone who is asleep, comatose or knocked out may roll Will with a bonus of (CD) to instantly awaken. This does not remove foreign influences - someone passed out drunk remains drunk - but will give a Shedite's host an extra Perception roll to realize the Shedite is in control. The range is (Song's level+Essence spent) yards. The Celestial Song requires no Essence to use, and instead gives the user one point of Essence, calling on sunrise, sunset or midnight somewhere in the world. However, you do not receive your usual Essence when you hit local sunrise/sunset/midnight. This Song can be used only once every 24 hours. Those with Celestial Discord must have a CD that equals or beats their Discord's level, however. Demons of the Game gain only 1 Essence this way and still lose all Essence gains from sunset. The Corporeal and Ethereal Songs cost at least 1 Essence and all three cause (CD) Disturbance.

The Songs of Symphony answer questions. They are rarely taught, however. The realm used determines what questions can be asked, the CD determines how precise the answer is and how complex the question can be and still get a helpful answer. The GM rolls the dice secretly for this, however. Some questions are beyond the Songs entirely - mostly things involving direct intervention of God or Lucifer, or anything that would require knowing the mind of a Superior. The GM can also rule it doesn't work on questions that would spoil secrets they don't want spoiled. The Corporeal Song asks questions about earthly matters. It can only ask about the present, only about subjects on Earth and it cannot ask anything about ethereals or celestials. If asked about a Role or someone you don't know is a celestial, it either gives an answer appropriate to the celestial's corporeal existence, a vague answer, or just fails. The Ethereal Song can answer about the past or future, but only the future that would occur absent celestial intervention. It cannot ask questions about celestials, either. The Celestial Song can answer questions of past, present or future, but only about ethereals and celestials, and its answers will not take into account the presence or actions of mortals. Angels of Destiny and demons of Fate have an affinity for these Songs. They cost 4 Essence and cause (CD*2) Disturbance.



Next time: Secret Songs

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



THE SONG OF DONGS

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Ratoslov posted:

THE SONG OF DONGS
HLUGHAHLUGHALHUGHALUGHBLUGHALUGHGALUH
                        /

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

theironjef posted:

Hey guys, here's the big System Mastery offering for the week. It's The Great War of Magellan, the only RPG written by the guy that played Captain Apollo on Battlestar Galactica as far as I care to know.

I cannot imagine this game as anything other than an epic intergalactic trading and agriculture game where you are opposed by clones of Chris Kattan

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Liber Canticorum: Kidz Bop

The Songs of Transferral allow you to perform a second Song while touching someone or something else, and rather than that Song affecting you, it affects the thing you touch. This lets you use normally personal-only Songs on other people. Your Transferral must be of the same realm as the other Song, and you have (CD) rounds in which to use the other Song. If you have enough time, you can transfer more htan one Song, but not the same Song more than once unless the other Song specifically says it can stack. The subject has control over the effects of the Song as if they used it, and can roll Wil lat any time to prevent or terminate its use. These Songs cost 2 Essence and cause (level of Song transferred) Disturbance on top of that Song's Disturbance.

The Song of Transfiguration can be used by anyone possessing another body - mostly Kyriotates, Shedim and anyone with the Song of Possession. It temporarily removes your host from the corporeal, taking them along when you go celestial. The host is treated as any other corporeal object when you enter celestial form, save that it doesn't oval office against your maximum weight allowance - though any clothing is. Each use costs (host's Corporeal Forces) Essence. Kyriotates can use the Song multiple times for multiple hosts. The Song lasts (CD) hours, or until your possession ends, whichever comes first. For the duration, you can go celestial and rematerialize with the chosen host as much as you want, as long as you obey all other rules of taking on celestial form. Should the Song end in celestial form, the host rematerializes wherever your celestial form is, if on Earth, or at oyur last location before leaving hte corporeal, if elsewhere. The Song is considered a Celestial Song. It costs at least 3 Essence and causes (host's total Forces) Disturbance when used, which is also added to any Disturbance made by entering or leaving the corporeal plane.

The Songs of Truth touch on truth. The Corporeal Song reveals corporeal disguises and illusions. It can affect anyone you can see, and used on a person, it shows their true form, stripped of physical disguises, makeup or even the Corporeal Song of Form, but will not reveal a celestial vessel or possessed host. On an object, it reveals hidden compartments, concealed functions, secret doors and so on. It only detects features intended to obscure an object's true nature, however - it can't detect a fake ID because the ID is what it is, it just is intended for use in deception. For 1 Essence, only you can see the truth, and you may look at up to (CD) subjects or for up to (CD) minutes, whichever comes first. For 2 Essence, you target only one thing, but for (CD) minutes, everyone sees the truth. The Ethereal Song detects lies. It has a range of (Song's level) yards and a duration of (CD+Ethereal Forces) minutes. The target can resist by Will, and you only learn if the subject believes what they're saying, so it's useless against Balseraphs. The Celestial Song compels truth from the target. It has a range of (Song's level) yards and is resisted by Will. The victim may roll Will to keep silent rather than answer a question. Whatever they sa for (CD+Celestial Forces) minutes will be true to the best of their knowledge, however. Those experienced with the Song can attempt misleading evasion, much as Seraphim can, and Balseraphs can attempt to use their resonance on themselves to lie, but must contest the Song with their resonance and win. Failure automatically causes dissonance. Seraphim have an affinity for these Songs. They cost at least 1 Essence and cause no base Disturbance for the Corporeal and Ethereal, (CD) for the Celestial.

The Songs of Unity join things together. The Corporeal Song permanently joins two or more objects. You must be touching all of them and they must be touching one another. For the base cost, two objects are joined, with each additional object costing 1 more. A permanent bond is made along all points of contact, treated as an invisible join with Body HP equal to (CD) and Protection equal to (Corporeal Forces). This cannot be used on living things without a particularly nasty variant Song. The Ethereal Song allows skills (though nothing else) to be shared among a group for (CD+Ethereal Forces) minutes. All members must be willing and touching each other. This costs 1 Essence per person, but you don't count for the cost. While it lasts, any member can use the skills of any other, at the highest level of any member of the group. TNs are calculated normally with the borrowed skill. Everyone instinctively knows what skills are available. The Celestial Song links the minds of a group into a mass gestalt entity, similar to a temporary Kyriotate. Each member has access to everyone else's skills, Songs, resonances and attunements. Any mind damage delat to any one member can be redistributed as the gestalt sees fit. All Essence possessed is pooled and available to all members. Only one member can be in celestial form on Earth at a time, and their appearance will bear traces of all others. All participants must be willing and touching when the Song is used, and it costs 1 Essence per member, not including you. It lasts for (CD+Celestial Forces) minutes. However, if members disagree on courses of action, the gestalt mind may hesitate and do nothing. The group mind can be controlled by a contest of Wills among members. When the Song ends, the individuals retain only a little memory of the gestalt's actions, with an Intelligence roll to determine how much they remember if needed. Angels of Stone have an affinity for these Songs, and get an additional bonus to the Corporeal Song if all objects to be joined are made of stone. These Songs cost at least 1 Essence and cause (CD+people or objects affected) Disturbance.

So, Secret Songs! Most Superiors have a small selection of Songs that they guard and teach only to their favored servitors. Not all Superior knows every Secret Song, and some are even unknown to exist by most. Any servant that goes to the other side and knows a Secret Song will be hunted down viciously.

The Songs of Banishing are also known as the Songs of Exorcism. No one knows who first made them. Uriel and Jordi are both candidates - Uriel because he used them a lot and Jordi because he discovered how to create vessels. Each Superior who knows them tries to keep them secret, but there have been leaks, and a few ethereals have been known to use the Ethereal Song. The Corporeal Song drives a celestial or ethereal from their body, whether host or vessel. It has a range of (Song's level) feet, and may be resisted by Will, plus any levels of Bound. If this fails, the target is driven out of any host and treated as if they failed the possession in the first place, while those in a vessel are sent to the ethereal plane if ethereals or forces into celestial form if celestial, with the vessel unable to be used for (failed CD) minutes. Celestials need not pay Essence, but do cause Disturbance and are subject to normal time limits. Against a mortal, the Song does nothing. The Ethereal Song can banish intruders from the ethereal plane. You must be able to see the target, and they can resist with Will. If they fail, they are sent back to their vessel on Earth or to the celestial plane, depending on how they entered the Marches. Nothing stops immediate return, however. The Song can also banish an outisder from a dreamscape, and if this works, the target can't re-enter until the next time the mortal sleeps. The Celestial Song can be used against those in celestial form. It has a range of (Song's level) yards, and on a success, the subject must resist with Will or be forced back to the celestial plane, unable to return for (failed CD) minutes. This can be used to send an angel in Hell back to Heaven or a demon in Heaven back to Hell. Asmodeus, Beleth, Blandine, Jordi and Laurence know these Songs. They cost 3 Essence and cause (CD+target's total Forces) Disturbance.

The Songs of Battle were discovered by Laurence in an attempt to turn the Host into a drilled and united body. He kept them secret from all but the other militant Archangels, but there are rumors that demons of the War have been using them lately. They create unity between disparate forces. They can affect any number of targets, but have -1 TN for each. All must be visible when the Song is used, but can move after, and all must be willing. They will not affect the unwilling, and anyone can end being part of one with Will. They do not work on inanimate objects. The Corporeal Song grants you awareness of the exact location of all targets for (CD*Corporeal Forces) minutes, appearing as an icon in your imagination that shows location, speed and heading relative to you. It instantly loses anyone that transfers to another plane or dies. The Ethereal Song gives a telepathic connection to all targets for (CD*Ethereal Forces) minutes. All communication is only what each target chooses to broadcast. You can send your thoughts to each target selectively, while all targets can either send them to you alone or to everyone. The Celestial Song allows a common spirit of the group to share in epiphany. All members may take a 5 minute timeout in which all action is suspended, in which they may work together to plan, strategize and debate, even mid-action. The GM should then apply a bonus of (CD) to any action taken immediately afterward as a direct result of this gestalt decision-making. This bonus lasts for (CElestial Forces) combat rounds. Angels of the Sword, angels of War and demons of the War have an affinity for these Songs. Baal, David, Janus, Laurence and Michael know them. These cost 2 Essence, or 3 for the Celestial Song, and cause (CD+number of targets, including you) Disturbance.

The Songs of Beasts are Jordi's. They last (CD) hours. The Corporeal Song allows you to communicate with any animal via sound and gestures, understanding and being understood by up to (Song level) animals at any one time. This grants no special intellect to the animals, however. The Ethereal Song temporarily enhances an animal's mental abilities. You must see the target, and it gains (Essence spent) Intelligence. This grants it no special communicative abilities or understanding of English, and does not change its natural instincts. The Celestial Song lets you turn into any animal you have personally seen, costing 1 Essence per 20% decrease in mass, or 1 Essence per added ton or fraction thereof of mass. You gain any natural abilities the animal has. Angels of Animals have an affinity with these Songs, and only Jordi knows them. They cost at least 1 Essence and cause (CD+number of targets) Disturbance.

The Song of Binding holds a celestial or ethereal in their current host. It can affect Kyriotates, Shedim or anyone using the Song of Possession. It also prevents changing vessels or assuming celestial form. The range is (Song's level) yards, negated by Will. If this fails, the victim is trapped in their current form for (CD*Essence spent) minutes. This is considered a Celestial Song. Asmodeus and Dominic know it, it costs 2 or more Essence and it causes (CD+target's total Forces) Disturbance.

The Songs of Blades sharpen the Symphony. Laurence's angels discovered them, and they were traded to Michael for some of War's Songs. The Corporeal Song turns any object into a weapon, sharpening their surfaces. For (CD+Corporeal Forces) minutes, the objecth as (Essence spent) Power and counts as a blade for Laurence's Blade Blessing, which is cumulative with it. Objects that are already weapons do not add Power - use only the highest value. The Accuracy is decided by the GM. This can turn your appendages or those of a willing target into blades as well. Thge Ethereal Song creates an ethereal weapon in any form you want, allowing you to roll attacks with the higher of (Ethereal Forces+Intelligence) or (weapon skill+Intelligence). Each attack with the weapon adds (Essence spent) to its damage. On the corporeal plane, it appears as an illusory, flickering image which can still inflict ethereal damage, but with TN of (Ethereal Forces+Intelligence) and damage only equal to (attack roll CD). The weapon lasts for (CD+Ethereal Forces) minutes. The Celestial Song summons blades wielded by the Symphony itself. They hang in the air over a radius of (Song's level+Essence spent) feet. You can define a fixed area or have them follow you around. You can also define anyone you want them to ignore. Anyone else who comes in range is automatically struck by them, doing (Celestial Forces+1d6) damage per round. They can't be dodged, but Protection helps as normal. If you assume celestial form, so do the blades, causing Soul damage instead of Body damage. On the ethereal plane, they do Mind damage. The Song lasts (Celestial Forces*CD) rounds. Angels of the Sword have an affinity for these Songs, and Laurence and Michael know them. They cost at least 2 Essence and cause (CD+appropriate realm Forces) Disturbance.

The Songs of Concealment are believed to have been discovered by Valefor, but they haven't been used or taught in centuries. The Celestial Song is believed lost. Only a few know that any object concealed by these Songs are always visible in their true form in reflection. The Corporeal Song can make any single small item appear to be any other item of similar size, which fools all senses and tests except a mirror reflection, but does not actually change it. This lasts (CD) days and can affect nothing larger than (Corporeal Forces+Essence spent) pounds. It can alter an artifact's appearance but not keep it from being detected as an artifact. You must touch the object. The Ethereal Song conceals your true feelings and thoughts, instead emoting as you choose for (Ethereal Forces) hours. All resonances that would read mood, intention or character, the Ethereal Song of Tongues or similar aiblities will read whatever you choose to broadcast unless their CD beats that of your Song. (Seraphim win on ties.) The exception is if they resonate your reflection, which gets the truth. The Celestial Song, if discovered, would disguise your celestial form or the true nature of an artifact for (10+CD-Celestial Forces) minutes, but would be foiled by mirrors and counts as a lie for Seraphic resonance. Valefor knows these Songs, and Asmodeus and Janus might know them. They cost at least 2 Essence and cause no base Disturbance.

The Songs of Correspondence takes advantage of similar patterns in the Symphony. It is known by most older Superiors but rarely taught. This allows you to use nearly any celestial ability at a great distance, as long as you can establish a correspondence with the target. If you can do it, then the appropriate realm's Song will let you affect them for (CD) minutes with any other Song, resonance or attunement, even if you don't know where they are. With the Celestial Song of Motion, you can bring a target yto you if they are in range. The cost is (target's total Forces) Essence to use these Songs, and you have to guess at what that number is. If you spend enough, it works, and any excess is lost. If you don't, it fails. You can't aaffect anyone with more Forces than you. (Objects and locations require 3 Essence.) The Corporeal Song affects corporeal objects, mortals, corporeal vessels and places on Earth. The Ethereal Song affects ethereals, celestials in the Marches and locations on the ethereal plane. The Celestial Song affects celestial forms or locations on the celestial plane. Only the newest Superiors, like Haagenti and Nybbas, do not know these Songs. They cost at least 3 Essence and cause (total Forces) Disturbance.



The Song of Daydreams is an Ethereal Song with no known other versions. It is known to Dreams, but Blandine claims she didn't discover it, but rather that it was learned from humans who invoked it in great crisis. It only works on mortals who have, at some point in their lives, desperately dreamed of being someone else or having other abilities. When used, it only affects those who are either daydreaming about or remember those fantasies. Otherwise, it fails. You do not need to know if it will work when you use it, at least. If it works, then for (Ethereal Forces*CD) minutes, the target gains all the mundane abilities they longed for in the person they wanted to be. They get any appropriate skills, stats and so on at a level of (Essence spent). They remain themselves, but have all the mannerisms and attitude of their idol and will feel as if they are living out their fantasies, giving it all a dreamlike quality after. This does not grant any supernatural abilities, however. Angels of Dreams have an affinity for this Song, and it is known to Blandine and Yves. It costs 1 or more Essence and and causes (CD) Disturbance.

The Songs of Deception were devised by Alaemon, though they have been sold to Lilith by one of his Barons. The Corporeal Song allows you to fool the Symphony into believing you are a natural part of it. For (Corporeal ForceS) minutes, you are treated as having a Role of level (CD), which covers all actions you might cause Disturbance for - but only for Disturbance purposes and nothing else. If you already have a Role, add (CD) to its effective level for actions that Role would normally cover. When used by mortals, it will mask Disturbance caused by supernatural abilities. The Ethereal Song makes anything you do or say seem plausible, like the Balseraph resonance. Add (CD) to the TN of any Lying or Fast-Talk or deceptive use of Emote. This lasts for (Ethereal Forces) minutes. The Celestial Song changes the apparent origin of any Disturbance you cause. You choose a person, place or object you are touching when you use the Song. Thy appear to be the source of all of your Disturbance, except if the Perception roll has a CD of 6. When this ends after (CD+Celestial Forces) minutes, any remaining echos point to you. Demons of Secrets and all Balseraphs have an affinity for these Songs. Alaemon and Lilith know them, and they cost 2 or more Essence, causing (CD) Disturbance, but only when the Songs end.

The Songs of Disjunction were discovered by Malphas. They tear things apart. All have a range of (Song's level) yards. The Corporeal Song disassembles objects into their component pieces, working on anything that can be taken apart without damaging the integrity of the parts. This can't work on living things. Each use deals ((Corporeal Forces+CD)*Essence Spent) Body damage, ignoring Protection...but it's all or nothing. Either the object hits 0, or it takes no damage. The Ethereal Song seperates the mind from the body. The target can resist with Will, plus Celestial Forces for celestials. Otherwise, they are sent to the Marches and their body enters a coma. The duration is (CD) minutes for mortals or (CD) rounds for celestials. Only the Ethereal Song of Healing will return the mind sooner - and then only if it beats the CD. On Kyriotates, however, the victim's manifestation is instead separated from the rest of their Forces for (CD) hours. They remain aware of all manifestations and can control them, but cannot bring the Forces affected back to any other Forces, nor send Forces to the location of the disjointed Forces. The Celestial Song sunders the target's Forces. Victims resist with Will, plus Celestial Forces for celestials. If they fail, they remain outwardly intact but for (CD) minutes, they can use only one of their three realms at a time. While using any skill or ability or activity requiring one type of Force, their stats and Forces in the other two are treated as 0. This means that they cannot move or think at the same time! They can make Perception rolls, but need another realm to process what they see. Any Song or attunement using multiple stats or taking multiple types of Force into account can't be used. Resonances can be, but use a value of - for any non-Celestial stats or Forces. Demons of Factions have an affinity for these Songs, and Calabim have an affinity for the Corporeal Song. Only Malphas definitely knows these, but any other Superior might. This costs 1 or more Essence for the Corporeal Song and 3 or more for the other two. They cause (CD+appropriate realm Forces) Disturbance.

The Songs of Ecstasy cause pleasure. Their range is (Song's level+Essence spent) yards, and can target multiple people at -1 TN per person beyond the first. The Corporeal Song makes any physical sensation pleasurable, exactly per the Balseraph of Lust attunement, but for (CD) minutes. If the subject becomes permanently conditioned, a reverse application can undo it. It can also undo the attunement. The Ethereal Song causes profound joy for (CD) minutes, resisted by Will. This negates the Angry and Fear Discords for the duration, and also resists the Fury, Sadness or Emptiness effects of the Habbalite resonance. It will also allow a Will roll for a dreamer to move to Blandine's Marches. The Celestial Song empowers a celestial's Word, as a morale booster. For (CD) hours, they gain 1 extra Essence from any Rite used, as well as from sunrise/sunset, if it happens in the duration. Further, they add an extra die on any dissonance rolls, arranging them in any configuration of three dice they like an getting unfavorable Intervention only if all four dice are identical. Any celestial with dissonance, or any Outcast or Renegade, does not get the bonus Essence, but does get the bonus die. Angels of Creation have an affinity for these Songs, and demons of Lust for the Corporeal Song. Andrealphus, Eli and Novalis know these Songs. They cost 2 or more Essence and cause (CD) Disturbance.

The Songs of Enslavement were discovered by Andrealphus. They all require prolonged intimate contact with the victim in which you are increasingly dominant. At level 1, it requires a full night of sex, while at level 6, it equires only a brief makeout session. Andre himself can use it with a kiss. The Corporeal Song forces a Will roll at a penalty of (Corporeal Forces) to avoid slavish obedience to all orders, up to and including suicide, taking pleasure in doing so. This lasts for (CD) days and you must gently caress the victim at least once per day or it ends at sunrise. The Ethereal Song makes the target obsessed with pleasing you, similar to an addiction, and they become dull and depressed except when serving you. This lasts (CD) days, after which the victim enters withdrawal. This can be resisted by Will. The Celestial Song gives a temporary Need Discord at a level of (CD), with the Need being to see you once per day. While in effect, the victim has an effective Will 1 against anything you want to do to them. This lasts (Celestial Forces) days, during which time shackles are visible on the target's celestial form. They may resist by Will. Demons of Lust get an affinity for these Songs, and only Andrealphus knows them. They cost 4 Essence and cause (Total Forces) Disturbance.

The Songs of Freedom were discovered by Lilith and are rarely shared. The Corporeal Song acts as instant success with the Escape skill against up to (CD) restraints. They just fall away. This includes someone's grasp. Even at only level 1, it can be used silently and mentally, taking effect after two rounds. The Ethereal Song temporarily stops a Geas. The CD must equal or beat the Geas's level, but the target is freed from its effects for (Celestial Forces) hours. This also works against the Bound discord. You must touch the target. The Celestial Song works as the Corporeal Song, but for the celestial form. Any attempt to confine the celestial form must have a CD higher than the Song to work, though this does nothing to the Bound Discord. Anyone using Lilith's Rites and dissonance has an affinity for these Songs, and only Lilith knows them. They cost 1 Essence and cause no base Disturbance.

The Songs of Fruition aid in reproduction. Since the casting out of the Grigori, the Celestial and Ethereal Songs have been kept secret and are illegal to know for angels. The Corporeal Song is not. The Corporeal Song allows mortals to be fruitful. For (CD) hours, any coupling between male and female humans or animals within (Essence spent) yards of you automatically results in conception, even if the couple is normally infertile or is using contraceptives. The Ethereal Song allows ethereals to interbreed with humans...but on CD 5-6, produces a Gorgon. The Celestial Song allows it for celestials. On CD 5-6, angels produce Nephilim. Demons do so on CD 3+. Calbim halve their Celestial Forces, rounding up, when calculating TN to use this Song. Angels of Creation have an affinity for these Songs, and angels of Flowers for the Corporeal Song. All Superiors know them, but few will teach them. This costs 1 Essence for the Corporeal, 3 for the other two, and causes 10 Disturbance at the moment of conception, except for the Corporeal Song, which has no base Disturbance.

Next time: More Secrecy

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


oriongates posted:

Preservers and Defilers was probably one of the worst offenders because unlike Windriders it wasn't as easy to ignore, since it was all about wizardry in general. Some of the wizard kits were pretty bad/crazy. I think the Cerulean wizard may have been one of the worst...but that was also because the Cerulean storm in general was dumb.

Generally, my opinion is that most of the later Dark Sun stuff that acknowledged the existence of the novels was absolute trash(though some of them added some decent new spells and rules for elemental clerics), the setting never needed stuff like Avangions. If something was going to make Dark Sun a brighter setting, it should be a bunch of grizzled, scarred badasses from the wastelands staving in a Sorcerer-King's skull with a rock, not a bunch of heroes coming in from the left field of a novel or a superpowered Lawful Good ultrawizardangel having a fireball duel with him.

The life-shaping and setting background prior to the Sorcerer-Kings, for instance, isn't fundamentally bad. Badly handled in places, definitely, but life-shaped mutants/mutations go well with the whole general fuckedness of Athas, and getting vital services and benefits from mutant lizards goes pretty well with the general resource-poorness of Dark Sun.

On the other hand, most of the expanded background isn't really necessary, and relies on introducing horrible ideas like the Pyreen. Most of it could easily be left ambiguous, for individual GM's to decide exactly what happened to create Rajaat and his Champions(in part because the actual mechanical benefits for being a Champion, which they list in one of the books, are pretty hilariously wimpy and pointless unless you REALLY intend to spend the rest of your character's existence hunting Elves or Halflings.).

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




theironjef posted:

Heh, our copy is also signed by Hatch, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that most of them are. There's also an RPGnet review of the book by Ashok Desai out there, which is sorta neat. Desai wrote one of our rare good books, Vanishing Point. As for Hatch's sexism shining through, the game has a bizarre misogynist streak running through it, yeah. The slang section is more than half terms for women, and there's a spell that can be cast that makes members of the opposite sex fall in love with you, with it noted that it's gross if men do it, but super sexy when women cast it.
I'm mildly surprised that Hatch apparently did any real writing on the book at all. From your descriptions, it has all the signs of an author handing off his setting for someone else to turn into a game, using the bloated blob of house rules they've been nurturing for years.

Fred Brooks coined the term "second-system effect" to describe how the second system a software engineer designs is likely to be their worst, because they'll want to include everything they couldn't fit into their first big project, and the product becomes a bloated mess. You see this in indie RPGs all the time. Someone finally publishes their game and they include every house rule they've cooked up for every game they've ever played. The ruleset ends up being a more-or-less universal system with things like a huge list of skills, precise measurements of how much PCs can lift and how fast they can jog, tables of modifiers for everything from sailing to farming, and complicated combat with lists of dozens of swords and guns…even if it’s expressly the kind of game where you shouldn’t be agonizing over any of that crap.

This is probably why Magellan includes pages of rules for farming and storygamish rules for "callings" and a bunch of other bloat. Magellan actually reminds me a lot of Wraeththu, a game based on a series of post-apoc fantasy books. The story is that someone who knew the author said "Hey, I have this universal system I've been working on since college. I could make a Wraeththu RPG!" Which is why a game about yaoi hermaphrodites with New Agey magic has detailed rules for martial arts and fencing.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 15:49 on Mar 16, 2016

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Halloween Jack posted:

This is probably why Magellan includes pages of rules for farming and storygamish rules for "callings" and a bunch of other bloat. Magellan actually reminds me a lot of Wraeththu, a game based on a series of post-apoc fantasy books. The story is that someone who knew the author said "Hey, I have this universal system I've been working on since college. I could make a Wraeththu RPG!" Which is why a game about yaoi hermaphrodites with New Agey magic has detailed rules for martial arts and fencing.
Wraeththu's designers also talked about all the exciting places they were going to take the Wraeththu system, such as already testing rules for giant mecha robots and such.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Yeah GWOM is the same way. Hardly a chapter goes by where they don't mention another book that is totally coming soon. "Secrets of the Juke" coming to stores near you.

At least with palladium you know it'll happen just twelve years later.

Also I tried to look up the other author and got nothing. Robert Bjork. All I know is that he wasn't in the Supreme Court.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Alright, it's time for more Ironclaw, Squaring the Circle!

It's time to go over how to actually fight someone! To do this, we'll have to briefly touch on equipment, explain damage, and go over why the game is both exactly as lethal as it looks and way less so.

First, gear and damage. Gear is an important part of combat, just, there's like dozens of weapons and a ton of armor. The weapons all at least fulfill different mechanical roles (aside from a few that are just variants on 'Damage+2, does nothing else' as basic maces, axes, and hand weapons) but the list is staggering. The important thing to note about a weapon is that they do their damage rating, plus however many of your attack dice beat the enemy's highest defense die. So say I take a swing at a guy with a basic longsword and get 1 success. I do 3 damage. Instead of hit-points, you have damage states and soak dice. If you take 0 damage from a blow, you're sent Reeling (knocked off balance) but nothing else happens. If you take 1, you're Hurt and take +1 damage from all future hits. If you take 2, you're Hurt and Afraid, meaning you can't strike back on your turn until you either back off and recover or an ally rallies you. If you take 3, you're Injured (+2 to damage taken) and Afraid. If you take 4, you're mortally wounded and drop to the floor to check if you start bleeding out. 5, and you're dead on the spot. 6+ and you die so violently that it makes things look like Berserk for a second and all allies who are in the same melee or standing next to the guy who was just bisected become Afraid. Resisting this damage is Soak. You get Soak dice for your Body stat and your armor, plus your Will if you have the Gift of Resolve (which basically all serious fighters will). Every soak die that rolls a 4+ negates 1 point of damage. Most characters will have cheap leather armor at worst, which adds a d6 to Soak, which is 50-50 odds of stopping a point of damage. A character with average Will, Body, and armor and Resolve has about 12.5% odds of deflecting all three damage from a basic hit from a longsword but much better odds of turning it into a less serious blow. Some weapons have Critical. This means they do more damage on a good roll; they do +3 damage per 2 successes rolled, so 1, then 2, then 1, then 2. Some are Slaying. They do +2 damage flat per success rolled but tend to only have average base damages. These represent really unpredictable but crazy lethal weapons like guns. Some armor protects with multiple dice and it's possible to wear multiple layers of armor, but it will slow you in combat. A character can also get Armored Fighter as a Gift, which will increase the size of all their armor dice by 1. A knight in good plate armor with a quilted gambeson underneath and training in his armor would get Armor Dice of d12+2d6 plus his Will and Body; stacking armor to avoid damage is very possible and taking on a really well equipped dude who can afford that kind of gear is tough.

Fights start by rolling initiative, but this doesn't determine turn order. Initiative determines who is able to draw down and who is ready for a fight at the start, using your Speed and Mind dice, +d12 for Danger Sense if you have it. Actual turn order is determined by narrative, generally by who started the fight. You roll your Initiative versus a number determined by circumstance; a fight that starts out close and between two people who were arguing has a target number of 2 for initiative dice, while being ambushed by an assassin who snuck up on you gives you a TN of 6. If you get one success, you can draw your weapon and start out ready to fight, as well as re position a little. If you get 2 successes or more, you not only draw and start out ready, you start out Focused, giving you the ability to either interrupt an enemy action or get 3 actions instead of 2 on your turn. If you get a tie, you can choose to draw your weapon immediately but also get knocked off balance; you'll have it out and ready to parry but be at a disadvantage from your awkward start. If you fail, you start out with your weapon not ready but don't suffer any actual penalties. If you botch, you not only don't draw, you're also knocked off balance and Reeling. IC is a fairly player-favoring game, so in cases where it's not clear who started the fight, the player side should go first.

When your turn begins, you have 2 actions available. You MAY NOT take the same action twice, so no matter how many actions you have you cannot attack twice without some exhaustible Gift that lets you do so. You then get the choice to act this turn or Focus. If you Focus, you bank a single action to interrupt enemies with OR get a Focused turn your next turn, gaining 3 actions instead. If you go Reeling for any reason, your turn immediately ends, as well. You can aim at a target with a melee or ranged attack for +d8 (+d12 if you have Veteran) to your next attack, Guard for +d8 to all defenses (+d12 if you have Veteran), Attack a target, Ready a weapon, Reload a weapon, spend an action to Refresh an exhaustible Gift (like a spell or a special attack), Dash 1/2 your Speed die's maximum roll in paces+1 if you're carrying a light load, Stride a pace (or more if you're faster), Rally an ally who is Afraid, Reeling, or some other mental status effect using Will+Leadership vs. TN 3, Recover from Reeling (which you must do as your first action if Reeling. Basically, being sent Reeling renders you vulnerable and takes 1 of your actions when your turn comes around), Sprint by rolling your Speed die and adding or subtracting your Stride value, or take a big Stunt that sends you Reeling. Stunts are things like running flat out for a full turn, trying to climb or swim in a fight without being great at either, making big leaps, swinging on chandeliers, scaring the piss out of enemies with massive feats of strength, etc. Using Focus to Interrupt is a big deal, as it lets you respond to someone trying to murder you by hitting them first, or scampering out of range of their blow. The actions are pretty basic but there's enough room (and Gifts add enough extra actions and ideas) to get meaningful decisions out of a fight.

When you try to hit someone in melee, they have 3 options: Dodge, Block, or Counter. A Dodge is always available. It's Speed+Dodge Skill+Cover. A Shield will grant d8 Cover (d12 if you have a Gift for shield use), as will any actual cover like, say, hiding behind castle battlements from a crossbow shot. Dodge has the distinction of being usable against ranged attacks; the other defenses can't be except in special circumstances. If you Block, you roll Melee Combat (Or Brawling if you have Brawling Fighter)+Body (or another stat if you have the Gift for it)+Cover versus their attack. If you succeed, you block it. If you tie, you only get the Block if you choose to retreat 1 pace (which they can follow up or not. This can be bad news if they were using a reach weapon and fended you off). If you fail, you get hit. Dodges can also choose to retreat to win ties, same as Block. If you Counter, you attack back against the enemy and give up any Cover. Countering is risky; you don't get to use a shield or any intervening objects to defend yourself, and you have to be in range and threatening the enemy to pull it off. If you hit, they miss you and take a hit instead. If you tie, both combatants inflict a hit on one another, with successes equal to how many dice tied (so say you roll 7, 7, 6 and they roll 7, 7, 7, you take a 3 success hit and they take a 2). If you Counter, *SOMEONE* is getting hosed up on this roll, one way or another. Some attacks are made against a Resistance rather than a defense (this includes grenades, fireballs, and MIND WIZARDS). In this case, both sides roll their dice (determined by the special attack) against a TN of 3. Whoever gets the most successes wins the attack.

Now, this sounds like a game where you're always on the verge of getting hosed by one bad roll, and while combat is dangerous, it's important to keep a couple things in perspective. One: PCs all have at least Combat Save, which lets them negate the first 4, 5, or 6 damage result against them per Big Scene. Two, most enemies are well below a seriously combat specced PC. An average foe will be rolling 2d6 if they don't have time to aim or guard. As we saw from the example PCs I built, Captain Otto laughs at that kind of attack dice. The game is also very clear that fights should *generally* be slightly in the PCs' favor, because again, fighting is actually pretty dangerous and IC is gritty but not grimdark. You're still supposed to be the heroes. Some enemy types can be mean as hell, but we'll get into that when we get to the basics of how to build minor characters. Fighting in IC is much more lethal for the poor mooks coming at you than the heroes, and you can grab even more ways to stop a deathblow as you level up. I can run an example combat if people would like to see all this crunch in motion.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


theironjef posted:

Also I tried to look up the other author and got nothing. Robert Bjork. All I know is that he wasn't in the Supreme Court.

I hate to say but that's probably because you might be looking for Jonathan Bjork, who's apparently worked mainly on card games, but for whom Magellan is his only RPG.

Sometimes it can be tough to remember things with all the evil angels possessing people these days, tho.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



That would explain it, yes.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




That reminds me. You've gotta stop calling Ed Greenwood "Bruce." I don't know if you're confusing him with Bruce Cordell, Bruce Baugh, Bruce Nesmith, Bruce Heard, or the guy who played Admiral Pike.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Ed Greenwood? You mean that guy who wrote material for AD&D 2nd Edition in the 2000s?

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.

Halloween Jack posted:

That reminds me. You've gotta stop calling Ed Greenwood "Bruce." I don't know if you're confusing him with Bruce Cordell, Bruce Baugh, Bruce Nesmith, Bruce Heard, or the guy who played Admiral Pike.

Turns out he's confusing him with Nigel Bruce, and thinks Ed Greenwood starred as Doctor Watson opposite Elminster disguised as Basil Rathbone playing Sherlock Holmes.

...Actually full disclosure I now want a "Lord Darcy Investigates" RPG about wizard detectives.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



On it. You guys will be pleased to learn i'm literally at Kaiser psychiatry right now for my crappy attention so look forward to a dully robotic but generally more accurate system mastery coming soon.

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


That die range system has to be the worst, though. Did Magellan list any playtesters? It feels like a game that never actually touched a tabletop.

Also, can there possibly be a worse start for a transmedia empire than a TRPG? I mean, the only things I can think of that came close are Forgotten Realms and Battletech, and even so they have pretty spotty records. You might be be better starting off with something more lucrative like a live puppet show.

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