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Oct 5, 2010

Lipstick Apathy

ProfessorProf posted:

2. Final Fantasy gameplay is only engaging because you're controlling 3-5 people at once - the things each one of them is doing are pretty boring.

This seems to happen to other TRPGs quite a bit as well!


Jan 7, 2015

Kobold eBooks posted:

And then it goes on to say non-human characters form a 'distinct minority' and that only Final Fantasy IX has more than one non-human in the party. Weird that a nerd group named The Returners, who show all the signs of 2008-fawning-over-FFVI-Final-Fantasy-Nerdism, would forget that FFVI had both a yeti AND a moogle in the party, but I digress.

Don't forget the half-blood and the weird mime who may or may not be human.

Monk E posted:

I'm impressed they managed to mess up tabletop Final Fantasy so much considering it seems like the only things you really need past standard d&dish game mechanics are a game that empathizes on high fantasy worldbuilding and plot with some staple classes and monsters thrown in. Seeing as every game more or less takes place in its own universe it seems like it should be the last series someone should get hung up on "legacy" with when converting to tabletop.

Even if the setting is the same, it actually isn't. FF12 and Final Fantasy Tactics feature several races that are nowhere to be found in the original Tactics (I suppose there was some ethnic cleansing involved?), and the Tactics Advance games are actually some kind of Neverending Story, with at least one race being noticably different from their FF12 counterpart.

ProfessorProf posted:

I've tried to homebrew a system that captures the FF game feel a few times, and what I've realized is that there's two immediate problems that needs to be overcome:

1. If you try to imitate canon mechanics, you end up spending huge amounts of effort on combat subsystems and having absolutely nothing for non-combat encounters.
2. Final Fantasy gameplay is only engaging because you're controlling 3-5 people at once - the things each one of them is doing are pretty boring.

Mmh, how about a game where each player controls an entire party?

Kobold eBooks posted:

What's funny is that early FF, especially 1, just outright takes its mechanics from early D&D. Even things like Fighters gaining extra attacks and Thieves being useless!

I find the best systems for shoehorning Final Fantasy into tend to be 4th ed D&D or 13th Age. I've been working with a friend on-and-off to capture the feel of Tactics in a tabletop game, but I'll bring that up when both of us are confident actually throwing it out there for people to see.

Don't forget the Vancian-style magic system that was at in the original releases of FF1-3 (and the remake of 3). And I would recommend Super Console if you want to embrace the sillyness of Console RPGs.

Robindaybird posted:

I sent a message to the creator's facebook to see if they knew about this. What's really funny is the Senshi makers actually have a drat good variety of stuff and they went with possibly the most vanilla options possible.

Just quoting that again because now I've really done it and tried it out myself. Fear the invincible metaplot NPC* of my secret project:

Imagine this looking a bit more like Schoolgirl DMC3 Dante. The doll maker didn't exactly have mantles, or sneakers. Oh, and cat ears. Couldn't find them either.

*) She actually sucks balls at everything she does.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 16:47 on Mar 18, 2016

Dec 29, 2010

Forums user TheLovablePlutonis ran a FF game in Strike that finished not long ago:

Dec 30, 2009

ProfessorProf posted:

I've tried to homebrew a system that captures the FF game feel a few times, and what I've realized is that there's two immediate problems that needs to be overcome:

1. If you try to imitate canon mechanics, you end up spending huge amounts of effort on combat subsystems and having absolutely nothing for non-combat encounters.
2. Final Fantasy gameplay is only engaging because you're controlling 3-5 people at once - the things each one of them is doing are pretty boring.
Somewhere on my hard drive I have a Final Fantasy homebrew (which might be the same thing as presented here) which has these exact problems. It's as if they didn't understand that random encounters in a video game are not even close to random encounters in tabletop.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.

Clapping Larry

GimpInBlack posted:

It's been far, far too long, but dammit I'm going to finish reviewing Beyond the Wall: Further Afield.

Previous Posts

All caught up? Good. Because we've passed beyond the wall, we've seen the wonders outside the village, and now it's time to go...

Filling the Map
When last we left off, we'd talked about how the group works together to establish major locations they wanted to see appear in the campaign. The next step is for the GM to take all those notes home and turn them into an actual campaign map.

Further Afield recommends doing this on a sheet of 1/4" hex paper, with each hex representing about 10 miles. The assumption is that characters on foot can manage about 20 miles a day, so that will give you a nice, steady average of two hexes per day of travel.

So, the GM takes all the notes about locations from the previous step and, starting from the characters' home village roughly in the center, places the major locations. The goal here is to have several interesting places to visit within a couple of days' travel, and most places they'll want to go being within a week's journey. This might also be a good time to rough in major features like forests, mountains, rivers, and roads.

Minor Locations
Now is the time for the GM to add some surprises to the map. Minor locations are things like small dungeons, monsters' lairs, or helpful hermits out in the woods; places that add color to the campaign world and might eat up a session or so. There's no real limit to how many of these you can make, but generally there's only one per hex at most. If you really dig making locations, you can make up one for every hex on the map, but it's probably more reasonable to make a half-dozen or so at first and add more later. You can even add them to hexes the players have already visited, since unless they made a point of searching every square inch of the hex it's easy to pass a minor location by.

We also get some advice on how to pace out minor locations: in the typical Beyond the Wall game, you'll want roughly an even mix of hostile, friendly, and neutral/could go either way minor locations, and a roughly two to one ratio of mundane places to magical ones. Naturally, these ratios can be skewed based on your group's tastes and/or the map itself: the area around the evil overlord's lair probably has a lot more hostile encounters, and if most of your major locations are mundane you might want to skew more heavily magical in the minor locations as a balance.

We'll get into Further Afield's resources for creating minor locations later, but suffice to say it has some pretty cool tables for quickly generating ideas.

Regions are a fair bit simpler, and pretty much exactly what you'd expect: forests, hills, river valleys, etc. They're not locations, but areas of the map that contain locations. Every region has a table of encounters, which can include meeting people and monsters, but it can also include environmental hazards, travel difficulties, and the like. The GM can design these herself, but again, there's a nice appendix full of common region types to help out. Encounters can generally be dealt with or avoided with a successful ability check, but some might be played out as a full scene, especially if the initial check fails.

Major Locations Again
Finally, it's time to revisit the major locations and flesh out whatever you expect you'll need within the first couple of sessions: dungeon maps, monster stats, NPCs, etc. If any of the PCs ended up with wrong information about a major location, now's the time to figure out what's really going on. There's not a whole lot of specific or unique advice here, but I am going to quote the last paragraph for posterity:

Wow, Bill Webb and John Wick would be furious with this game.

Next Time: Threat Packs! Big Bads in Boxes.

Beyond the Wall is just so cool.

Kobold eBooks
Mar 5, 2007


Doresh posted:

Even if the setting is the same, it actually isn't. FF12 and Final Fantasy Tactics feature several races that are nowhere to be found in the original Tactics (I suppose there was some ethnic cleansing involved?), and the Tactics Advance games are actually some kind of Neverending Story, with at least one race being noticably different from their FF12 counterpart.

Yeah, I don't wanna nerd out about Ivalice too much right now(I'll have PLENTY of time to do that later when we get to races and poo poo), but sometime between FF12 and FFT, all the nonhumans got wiped out because of some unexplained cataclysm. This makes me angry, because the Ivalice races are pretty interesting, but it's what happens when you make a prequel to your humans-only game that includes a ton of non-humans.

Jan 7, 2015

Kobold eBooks posted:

Yeah, I don't wanna nerd out about Ivalice too much right now(I'll have PLENTY of time to do that later when we get to races and poo poo), but sometime between FF12 and FFT, all the nonhumans got wiped out because of some unexplained cataclysm. This makes me angry, because the Ivalice races are pretty interesting, but it's what happens when you make a prequel to your humans-only game that includes a ton of non-humans.

Because when I think of a prequel to Final Game of Thrones, I think Star Wars with bunny girls.

NGDBSS posted:

Somewhere on my hard drive I have a Final Fantasy homebrew (which might be the same thing as presented here) which has these exact problems. It's as if they didn't understand that random encounters in a video game are not even close to random encounters in tabletop.

To promote it further, this is why Super Console has you go "Here are a few of our Brownie Points and a couple of our potions, lets assume we spend the last hour or so grinding our level up."

Dec 27, 2012

All I wanna do is make you bounce

Doresh posted:

To promote it further, this is why Super Console has you go "Here are a few of our Brownie Points and a couple of our potions, lets assume we spend the last hour or so grinding our level up."

Does it still have the similar feature where you can go find an item by spending those points and assuming that you went to GameFAQs?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

gradenko_2000 posted:

The Book of Iron Might, by Mike Mearls

And to cap off this section, I'll just share an excerpt of the "DM advice" that the book gives:

Ah, the good old "This isn't balanced, so, GMs, could you handle that for us? Yeahhh... that'd be great."

Jan 7, 2015

PantsOptional posted:

Does it still have the similar feature where you can go find an item by spending those points and assuming that you went to GameFAQs?

Kinda. You can spend those points to loot/search the crap out of whatever area or dungeon you're currently in.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 17:59 on Mar 18, 2016

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

ProfessorProf posted:

2. Final Fantasy gameplay is only engaging because you're controlling 3-5 people at once - the things each one of them is doing are pretty boring.

gradenko_2000 posted:

This seems to happen to other TRPGs quite a bit as well!
I noticed this when I played Pool of Radiance as a kid. A fighter in your party is vital, but you wouldn't want to be controlling just that guy.

Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.

Finally heard from the Dollmaker creator - from her response, while Sparks of Life credit DollDivine, they never sought permission before publishing.

Jan 7, 2015

Robindaybird posted:

Finally heard from the Dollmaker creator - from her response, while Sparks of Life credit DollDivine, they never sought permission before publishing.

That's some investigative reviewing I've ended up doing.

May 7, 2007

ProfessorProf posted:

I've tried to homebrew a system that captures the FF game feel a few times, and what I've realized is that there's two immediate problems that needs to be overcome:

1. If you try to imitate canon mechanics, you end up spending huge amounts of effort on combat subsystems and having absolutely nothing for non-combat encounters.
2. Final Fantasy gameplay is only engaging because you're controlling 3-5 people at once - the things each one of them is doing are pretty boring.

I had a thing written out mocking them for not just stealing the paradigm system from FF13 before I remembered this came out way before lightnings foot inside her shoe was ever rendered.

The paradigm system is perfect in so far as its team focused but each character has access to a bevy of non overlapping skills and you can swap your teams focus and skill list anytime you need to so fights can be much more puzzle like or fast changing which works best on tabletop where what's a trash mob in game is an hour at the table.

Barudak fucked around with this message at 18:54 on Mar 18, 2016

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ethereal Player's Guide: Enter Sandman

The world turns, far below.
The Astronomical Concepts are an elemental family commonly seen to include elements such as Sun, Moon and Stars. They give light, warmth and beauty, and have since the earliest dreams. They reign over seasons, tides and harvest. They are majestic, abstract concepts, and ethereals with these elements often consider themselves royalty. Sun in particular is the ruler of all and King of the sky. He is majestic and golden, driving out fear and darkness. Warmth is his specialty, but he also understands light and beauty. Many potent spirits are Sun-spirits. They appear radiant, larger than life. They seek to be grand, not elegant, and are as happy in gleaming armor as a lion skin and loincloth. Most prefer darker skinned vessels to pale ones, and some prefer golden hair. They are often very healthy and vigorous, though some of the nastier ones may have blemishes suggesting skin cancer. When traveling in the Marches, they favor shapes of noble animals - stags, hawks, unicorns, dolphins, great cats, bears. They fight deviously but are not treacherous, and see betrayal as beneath them. Their homes often resemble Hellenic or Japanese temples or shrines.

Sun Ethereals consider their nature a burden of responsibility as well as a gift. They are fueled by the fire of the life-father Sun, and must set an example for others. Whatever angels may say, they know they have a shining destiny. Sun-spirits are arrogant, vain, honest, valorous and honorable, and they seek to be remembered. The Sun is high above Earth in the sky, and events on Earth rarely impact it. Similarly, the events of the Marches rarely change a Sun-strange spirit's plans or opinions. Their thoughts are speculative, abstract, glorious. Reality rarely matters. In human society, their intensity and warmth can make humans feel special, and they have an excellent track record with humans. They often take the forms of salesmen, social workers, psychologists, HR managers, hostage negotiators and others that benefit from their charm, or leadership positions like executive, politician or union leader to reflect their superiority.

The Moon resembles the Sun, but is the sage and wise woman, the mother to the Sun's father. She unravels mysteries in the name of both the Sun's causes and her own, but she keeps her own secrets impenetrable and inviolate. The Stars, meanwhile, are the subject of a quest, the realization of hope. Othersm ust prove themselves worthy to claim the Stars or to get their help, but once earned, they do not fail. Common Dreads for the Astronomical Concepts include significant failure, losing control of an important situation, darkness, becoming lost in darkness, discovering one's own unimportance, acting dishonorably, acting cowardly, acting unjustly, undignified situations, cold or severe cold, abandoning a project, any failure, moonless nights, the full light of day, mist, or revelation of one's secrets. Sun-spirits often Dread the undead, Moon-spirits Balseraphic lies and Stars-spirits the work of Fate on Earth.

Astronomical-strand spirits often have Knowledges related to astronomy, astrology or great deeds, Lying, Savoir-Faire or Seduction. From their strand, they can learn the Ethereal Song of Attraction, the Corporeal Song of Entropy, the Songs of Healing and Light, the Corporeal Song of Motion, the Corporeal and Ethereal Songs of Projection, the Celestial Song of Spirit Speech, the Ethereal Song of Nightmares, the Ethereal Song of Nimbus or the Songs of Truth. Their Affinities arte commonly Divination, Glamour, Light, Luck, Obscurement or, for Moon-spirits, Deception.

Stereotypes posted:

Angels: Angels came, terrible and fearful things, to steal our place in the sky. What merit is there in their love if their love does not recognize our merit?
Demons: That treacherous and unseemly rabble! A time will come when we shall sweep them from our Marches and claim Beleth's Tower as our own.

Simple principles, in combination, create the world.
The Classical Elements include primarily Winds, Water, Flame and Rock. They use furious energy and passive strength to shape the world, fighting each other for supremacy, but they are united in the belief that their conflict gives rise to every event, everywhere. Wood and Metal are also classical elements, but seen primarily in Domains where Asian myths hold sway. The elements are rivals, not enemies, and they struggle in order to create reailty, their principles carving out history even in the absence of physical elements. Water, in particular, represernts change via flexibility, dedication and endless strength. Water-strand ethereals have a primal tie to flooding, rainstorms, rivers and oases. Some have long, clean bodies, while pthers have massive girth, like a lake or river. All are smooth and lithely graceful, instinctively taking the path of least resistance. Most are pale, but some are murkier. They travel in aquatic shapes, animals or rivers. They do not fight fairly and have many contingency plans. Their homes resemble lake or river beds, giant bowls, or clouds.

Spirits of the Classical Elements tend to take credit for creating the world they live in, and they are certainly good at making things or people useful or beautiful. Water spirits do so by cutting away the obstacles and detritus to reveal the purity within. They tend to be amoral, and will use whatever tool is needed to do the cutting. Their motivations vary wildly, but most look on their life in the big picture, focusing on setting goals and achieving them. Water-spirits are tricky, capable and creative. They find it hard to commit to a single plan, however, and usually hold their strength in reserve for emergencies that may never happen. Many Classical Element-strand spirits cultivate anonymity, hiding their true names and origins in favor of descriptive nicknames, thus allowing them to imagine themselves as local incarnations of the elements rather than weak spirits with a touch of an element inside them. In human society, humans instinctively recognize their primal nature, treating these spirits with respect but distance. Water-spirits seek Roles that allow their creativity - engineers, scientists, tacticians (both civilian and military), troubleshooters, marketers, painters and so on. They also often find themselves in atypical careers such as dogcatcher, model, translator or prostitute in pursuit of their agendas.

Flame-spirits are more destructive, aggressive and fierce. They do not cut their way to the hiden utility and beauty within, but burn it into shape. Winds are less fearsome. If their tools do not work, they scour the world for those that will...and God help anyone that gets in the way. Rock, meanwhile, shapes the world by infusing it with its own strength. Water would reform an addict by killing the local supplies. Flame would cause him pain until he reformed. Winds would search for someone else to work with. Rock would counsel the victim and try to resolve the problems that put them on drugs. Classical Element common Dreads include burning, immersion, suffocation, incarceration, powerlessness, stillness, exposure of one's true name, witnessing the physical destruction of one's element in quantity, failing to shape the world using their element's approach, having someone manipulate them into using the approach of an opposing element, losing ground on their current plans, running out of ideas, chaos or the void.

As pieces of a larger process, spirits with a Classical strand can access powers tied to any Classical element, though those from 'opposed' elements make them uncomfortable. They can leanr appropriate Knowledges from their strands, as well as the Corporeal and Celestial Songs of Form, the Songs of Healing, the Corporeal Song of Light, the Corporeal and Ethereal Songs of Motion, the Corporeal Song of Shields, the Song of Thunder, the Songs of Fire and Ice, or the Fins- or Plates-Numinous Corpus. Their affinities commonly include Air, Cold, Drowning, Fire, Minersals or Water.

Stereotypes posted:

Angels: In a place far from this world, fire, water, earth, and air met. By their meeting, they formed a God. So vain was He that He sent His children to kill the four who fathered Him. He shall learn better when they succeed, and He winks out like a dreamscape on a dreamer's waking.
Demons: They have no truth in them, no primal glory. The world does not welcome them. Still, they make good allies. Strong enemies. Unpleasant masters.

The world is a thin cloth of substance over a masonry of passion.
Emotion is a large family of elements, such as Fear, Hunger, Love, Lust and Pain. They drive bestial dreams and stir beneath the ornamentation of human ones. They are alive, primitive, ferocious. Fear commands respecti n the Marches, overpowering such other emotions as Fury, Lust, Love, Torment, Pride and even more. Fear inspires glory and infamy. Humans can spend their whole lives driven by one Fear. Beleth likes Fear-spirits. They are surrounded by an invisible but notable patina of terror. Even much stronger ethereals feel nervous in their presence. They must carefully monitor their emotions to keep this fear from influencing them. However, other than this, Fear-spirits can look like anything. They usually wear their natural shape when traveling, but also travel as clouds of ill intent, spinning mirrors or as Malakim - symbols of ethereal terror. In battle, they fight to inflict the maximum of pain and suffering. Their homes tend to resemble ordinary Earthly scenes or scenes average to a Domain.

Fear-strand spirits are intensely involved in their activities. They are built from emotion, and know passion that few others can match. It magnifies their ambitions and their Deads. They love to cause fear, of course, coming alive in its presence. However, they also seek to control others, to dominate them, as they are creatures of motivation. They seek power and rule, and if love works better than fear, they will use love with a fearful determination. Emotion spirits have notoriously poor impulse control - their passion gives them strength and fuels their intellects, but sometimes it overpowers them and derails even their most careful plans. In human society, Fear spirits make humans uncomfortable. Humans can control that fear rationally, but it remains there. The daring spirits take Roles where this is an advantage - athletes, lawyers, scientists, PIs, corporate raiders. More conservative spirits try to avoid attention by choosing Roles that make the fear natural - IRS agents, cops, military, gangsters, serial killers.

Traditional ethereal taxonomy identifies 33 major elemental emotions: Abhorrence, Adoration, Ambition, Amusement, Bewilderment, Bliss, Cheer, Despair, Devotion, Disgust, Dispassion, Exultation, Fear, Fervor, Fury, Gloom, Grief, Hope, Hunger, Jealousy, Loneliness, Love, Lust, Mindfulness, Mortification, Pain, Pride, Resentment, Selfishness, Selflessness, Sorrow, Stress and Torment. There are also more minor, rarer emotional elements. The varios strands radiate their natural emotion rather than fear, and bask in the presence of that emotion rather than fear. They adopt roles that justify or take advantage of their own particular nature. Otherwise, they resemble Fear-spirits. Common Dreads include watching an attempt to inspire an emotion backfire, extinguishing that emotion making its opposite, others escaping their control, suppressing their own emotional reaction in an important situation, working with computers, zombies, actuaries or other emotionless automata, allowing a dreamer to go to the 'wrong' side of the Marches for their emotion, or being without someone to inspire an emotion in. Some Emotion spirits have apparently unrelated Dreads, magnifying the worst fears they had pre-initiation, such as failing their godly superior, being shown by a rivel or confronting celestials.

Stereotypes posted:

Angels: Beasts! Monsters! Abominations! They stole from us. The Earth is our right! The Marches are our right! I spit on them. MAy their God reject them. May corruptin grow in their oh-so-pure souls. May Heaven fall and may the Earth be damned. Nothing else would punish them enough.
Demons: They have done us one favor. They have saved us from the wrath of Heaven. For this we must pay the Danegeld forever after. Or so they would have us believe.

Next time: Information's an element.

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 15:13 on Mar 19, 2016

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011


Rand Brittain posted:

Ethereals are so much more coherent than the rest of the setting that they almost want their own game line.

I'd play that in a heartbeat, though I guess it's Nobilis?


Not all Essence is drawn from worship, however. Some famous and popular Images receive Essence via the collective dreams of humanity, despite the lack of worship. Elvis, Santa, Darth Vader. Essence from ambient belief is divided randomly among all spirits with the appropriate Image. This is why Santa's not a modern god - there's so many Santas that no one of them has ever managed a solid singular power base. If one Santa could kill enough of the rest to become the 'true' Santa, they might become vastly potent...but murdering other Santas is very un-Santa. Because belief in Santa or love of Elvis is not the same as a deliberate attempt to send Essence by worship, the Essence it generates is very diffuses, thousands of times weaker than worship. It rarely generates more than a few points of Essence per night, sent randomly to spirits that share the Image. During peak periods, it might be multiplied many times over, however, like Christmas for Santa. Ethereal PCs that personify, say, the Easter Bunny or a specific Playboy centerfold might occasionally benefit from a stray point of Essence, possibly on a favorable Intervention...but it'd be more lucrative to go eliminate all the competitors.

Forget everything else in all these books and just let me play this supercharged version of Unknown Armies and I'll be happy. It's like a tier above Global, like the next step up from Godwalkers.
There's a whole bunch of interesting literature around the idea of the Elvis archtype - Greil Marcus' Dead Elvis and the graphic novel The King are good places to start.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Count Chocula posted:

I'd play that in a heartbeat, though I guess it's Nobilis?

Nah, Nobilis is all about being one of the most important people in the world, whether you're playing it as Game of Thrones or just doing an endless succession of magical tea parties. Ethereals are all about being on the ropes.

Jul 8, 2003

Mors Rattus posted:

Ethereal Player's Guide: Enter Sandman
From their stand, they can learn

Kobold eBooks
Mar 5, 2007


I'm coming down with some fierce congestion and some new video games came out, so FFRPG updates are going to slow down a bit. I'll try to get a new one out by Tuesday!

Barudak posted:

I had a thing written out mocking them for not just stealing the paradigm system from FF13 before I remembered this came out way before lightnings foot inside her shoe was ever rendered.

The paradigm system is perfect in so far as its team focused but each character has access to a bevy of non overlapping skills and you can swap your teams focus and skill list anytime you need to so fights can be much more puzzle like or fast changing which works best on tabletop where what's a trash mob in game is an hour at the table.

In a very early version of the system I've been helping with, it had totally swiped the paradigm system and it worked really well! Why was it scrapped? Well, the problem is that those players that really enjoyed it REALLY enjoyed it, but there were quite a few that just didn't get it and it turned out to be too polarizing.

It's a cool concept though, and I've been trying to work it into various systems with... Varying levels of success. I'm sure an actual established game designer could take the idea and twist it into something beautifully board-gamey without being too complex.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ethereal Player's Guide: Someday We'll Find It, That Rainbow Connection

The world is all and only those things that we believe to exist.
Mosdt elements are life's concepts of the world, but Information elements are life's concepts of life's concepts of the world. A human dream about a grandmother's dying invokes the element Death despite the fact that it's all mental...but a dream of knowing about your frandmother's dying involves the element of Knowledge. Information elements focus on those things unseen - the understanding of the world, the awareness of truths beyond the senses. Knowledge and Wisdom collect truth, Faith and Imagination collect false or unprovable ideas. Perspective and Perception embody half-truth. News stands out, however. It is information in motion, fact cut free of mind, traveling the world on its own. News-strand ethereals are Marches-heralds, spreading story and truth in the name of information's need to propagate itself. Most Domains welcome a News-spirit.

As with many Information ethereals, News-spirits seem only semi-visible in the Marches - not quite present, a bit more abstract. They like to wear 'traveling costume' - symbols of speed. Winged boots, trumpets, cheetah fur, hawks, sports cars, jet engines. They often travel as lengths of fiber-optic cable, ravens, wind or on horseback. They avoid battle, though many understand tactics deeply. They prefer mobile micro-Domains as homes, but will occasionally settle down in a home resembling abstract art or a public service building.

News-spirits tend to have a sort of friendly disdain for other ethereals. Spirits, to them, are uppity bits of information that don't get carried around like mail. True, they listen to the news, and some even generate news worth telling. For this, the News-spirits will forgive them their arrogance and folly. Still, it is presumptious for them to consider themselves equals to News. Ethereals with a strong element of News like to keep moving. They tend to assume a 'clean' world, where the unknown and unknowable play only a small role. Information spirits in general do this, and those that understand logistics and strategy make excellent military leaders...but those who know only strategy would never even think to ask if their plans are possible to implement. Humans fascinate News-spirits - they are walking piles of meat that can store a hundred million bits of information. They are worthy of long study, at least until the need to move on kicks in. News-spirits tend to appeal to humans, as well, given their tendency to gossip, tell stories and report on things. They prefer Roles as reporters, writers, librarians, teachers, hairdressers, scientists, policy analysts, mailmen, travelin salesmen, gurus or talent scouts.

Most other Information spirits are less full of wanderlust. Knowledge spirits instead collect things - both information and valuables. Wisdom spirits seek understanding, and Perception spirits crave experience. Faith spirits spread faith and hold deep capacity for it, searching for sacred mysteries to behold. They love questions without answers, like the Topasz Gates in the Far Marches, which sing the Theme of Time for no clear reason. Imagination spirits create, and while they can tell the truth, they love to create story, inspiration and lies. They love nothing more than a lie that teaches the victim more than the truth would. Perspective spirits tend more distinctly both towards empathy and selfishness, as they understand the internal worlds of others but are obsessed with their own. Most Information spirits are of these elements, but other, rarer types do exist. Common Dreads include forgetting something important, misunderstanding something important, yielding to a natural inferior, giving up on a mystery, failing a test of knowledge, failing a meaningful test of knowledge, losing a compendium of knowledge, silence, refusing to share non-confidential information, refusing to share any information, witnessing inexplicable events, permitting preventable destruction of information, discovering that a lie has taken one in or admitting a lack of knowledge. Some News-spirits dread personal involvement in the events they witness and report. Many Information spirits of the more abstract sort dread performing certain corporeal activities - perhaps dealing with excrement, perhaps violence.

Information strands can teach any non-secret Knowledge or Language, Artistry, Detect Lies or Lying. They can teach the Song of Celestial Attraction, the Song of Ethereal Light, the Song of Possession, the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Projection, the Songs of Tongues, the Songs of Direction, the Ethereal Song of Fire, the Ethereal Song of Memory or the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Truth. Common affinities include Books, Divination, Obscurement, Deception for Imagination or Faith spirits, or Speed for News spirits.

Stereotypes posted:

Angels: Creatures truly beyond our hegemony. The celestial is not, whatever they say, a "higher" realm than ours. The soul is not supreme over the mind. Yet the existence of peers so different from ourselves is fascinating. We do not understand them. Can we understand them? Can the mind comprehend the soul? Can the soul things to the mind?
Demons: Demons wish to be our friends, because demons hope to exploit us. History shows, many times over, that friends like the demons do more damage in the end than the vilest of enemies. This speaks only of demons as a group, of course; individuals vary.

The world is a test of our skill at survival.
The Life elements include Beasts and Plants. These feral elements do not accept the lies and pretenses of society, seeing only the savage garden. They lurk beneath the surface of the civilized, a mess of animal motives that drive apparent sophistication and elegance. In the Marches, they cast off the mask of culture and shine in all their glory. The only law is endure - no matter what. Human imagination has corrupted the Life elements. Beasts is the purer of the pair, but knowledge of domestication has tainted it, and some Beasts are even pleasant. Plants, however, has it far worse - under the weight of herbalism and medicine, it has warped into connotations of healing and utility. Life elements can manifest without actual plant or animal iconography, however - humans graphically displaying their bestial heritage and primitive behavior are Life as well. However, no Beasts-spirit ever looks tame. Even at their most charming, they have a touch of the wild about them. Some are predators, some prey, but in their manner, dress and habits, they all display a bestial focus on basic needs. Most identify with a specific type of animal and wear its shape when traveling. They approach battle with ferocity, not subtlety, and their homes tend to resemble dens, warrens, nests or hives. A few resemble modern buildings with nature creeping in - weeds among floor tiles, vines around water coolers and so on.

Beasts-spirits have no patience for superficiality or deception in others, though they're perfectly capable of cunning themselves. Their nature impels them to consider the underlying truths of any situation, as surface appearances conceal danger and opportunity. Perceiving the physical aspects as preeminent, they prefer treasure to currency, athletics to theatre and strength to cleverness. They live in the now. In human society, they prefer to take vessels at the peak of the food chain - bears, tigers, sharks and humans. As humans, they try to play by the rules in the interests of survival, but have no intuition for rules that make no sense to animals. Most can understand laws against murder, and many can grasp property law. Drug and traffic laws, however, often elude them. Few understand the logic behind politeness to inferiors, and none grasp fashion beyond simple displays to impress mates.

Plants-spirits tend to focus on growth and competition, locked in an endless race with all foes to claim resources. The tallest plants seize the sun, and their nearest rivals die. As roots seek water, so do Plants-spirits seek allies and treasures to support their endless competition and growth. As leaves absorb the sun, so they take without question or worry. Their ambition, ruthlessness and greed vary, of course. Many just want to survive or gain personal power. However, as plants were the firsth uman medicine, many Plants-spirits seek ultimately to build or heal. Many of these are even pacifists. They gather powers and crush foes socially, though some Plants-spirits are quite violent instead. This power makes them feel safe and effective in pursuit of benevolence. Common Dreads for Life spirits include risking one's life, riskine one's life for anything but a loved one, ending life, wasting time on the superficial, sacrificing present pleasure for future gain, spending 24 hours in an urban area, going without food or water though spirits normally need not bother with them, showing mercy, showing weakness, failing to repel invasions of territory, pointless cruelty, pointless self-sacrifice, failing to advance the interests of the animal species one identifies with, being trapped or being hunted. Some plants Dread physical violence or causing physical violence personally.

The Life strands share one essence, and both Plants and Beasts get access to healing and combat power. Commonly, they learn appropraite Knowledges, Climbing, Dodge, Escape, Fighting, Move Silently, Running, Survival, Swimming and Tracking. They can learn the Songs of Healing, Thunder or Numinous Corpus (Claws, Fangs, Feet, Horns, Tails, Wings, Eyes, Fins, Legs, Plates, Spines or Tentacles), the Ethereal Song of Cacophony, the Ethereal or Celestial Songs of Nemesis or the Corporeal Song of Sight. Common affinities include Animals, Fertility, Hunger, Obscurement, Plants or Speed.

Stereotypes posted:

Angels: They killed without cause and without reason. That is not wildness. That is sickness. They are not sane and should be culled.
Demons: They resemble human developers. They haven o interest in destroying the wilds. In damaging the Marches. In killing spirits. Not even in bending spirits to their will. They do these things merely as a byproduct of their blind concerns - marking their Prince's territory.

The world is what you see.
Senses is a large elemental family. The Sight elements include Light, Color and Darkness. Hearing includes Sound, Silence and Euphony. The other senses have their own, all relatively common. They concern themselves primarily with the visible, superficial properties of things. They witness, not understand. They love instinctive reactions and things that cause them - beautiful faces, hideous bodies and terrifying images. These affect reactions directly, without thought. Light, in particular, illuminates. It is the ability to see. It casts beauty and horror in stark relief. Light hates the hidden. It judges truth on appearances alone, but it hates not knowing the truth, and will do anything to find it. Looking at Light-spirits, it is hard to imagine that they do not have any virtue they desire. If they are proud of a skill, they look like masters, even when bungling. However, it's all looks - it doesn't extend to knowledge or speech. They often travel the MArches as will-o'-wisps or beams of light. They fight with flash but little skill most of the time, but most avoid violence. Their homes are fully illuminated.

Light-strand spirits are very ambitious, in many ways. Many dream of greatness, eithers of villainy, wealth, power, honor or even coolness. They are exceptionally vain and try to be attractive and attention-drawing in their chosen path. For most, the opinions others have of them matters more than their success. Those who want to be heroes are showy about it, villains cultivate dark reputations, the wealth-seekers want to appear wealthy rather than be it. Deceiving them tends to be easy and manipulating them trivial. Senses ethereals just tend not to be very clever...but capable of great reserves of insight and creativity in preventing humiliation. Light-spirits tend to choose Roles that let them make an environment match their expectations. They love having sycophants. Many take Roles in vairous arts, while the rest treat their lives and careers as arts, building them to match a dreamed-of design.

Colors-spirits resemble Light, but rather than trying to illuminate, they want to leave their mark. Life without influence terrifies them. Often they identify with a single color that features heavily in their style and symbolic associations. Darkness-spirits seek mystery and obscurity, concealing their flaws...and often their virtues, as well. The other Senses have equivalent natures. The Touch elements, Sharp, Prickle and Soft, enjoy touching, even if they leave no obvious mark. Hearing must be heard - Music, Cacophony, Middle-C. Taste - Salty, Bitter, Sweet and Sour - tend to be chefs or food critics, or haunt the dreams of such humans. Common Sense Dreads include social invisibility, public exposure of flaws or failings, humiliation, failing to uncover a truth, failing to leave one's mark, failing to produce a reaction, blindness, sight, violation of one's projected persona, looking too far past appearances, absolute darkness, absolute silence, being shown up, research, witnessing the destruction of beauty, witnessing the destruction of hideousness, displaying emotional or intellectual depth, using physical force or not reacting as a living thing would to a strong visual stimulus. Light-spirits sometimes Dread things that traditionally oppose the persona they portray themsevles as, while Colors-spirits sometimes Dread things conceptually opposed to the symbolism of their favored color.

Senses strands can teach appropriate Knowledges, Artistry, Emote, Move Silently, Singing or Tracking. They teach the Ethereal or Celestial Songs of Form, the Songs of Light, the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Projection, the Celestial Song of Shields, the Song of Thunder, the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Cacophony, the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Darkness, the Celestial Song of Fire, the Ethereal Song of Shattering, the Songs of Sight, or the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Silence. Common affinities include Deception, Entrancement, Glamour, Light, Luck or Obscurement.

Stereotypes posted:

Angels: Glorious creatures! Naturally they kill only evil spirits. Well, and other spirits they mistakenly think are evil. Angels make an awful lot of mistakes. Best to be careful.
Demons: Magnificent villains! At least, many are. The remainder seem somewhat sordid. Soiled. Their unimportant, petty malignity is an embarrassment to Hell.

Next time: Society, Structures and Struggle

Oct 21, 2012

Witch Girls Adventures: Respelled: Part 7: More Magic

Here is the rest of the thrilling spell effects lists. As you can probably tell, this entire chapter is low effort stream-of-consciousness gibberish that only exists to get words on pages. I don’t think there’s anything I can do to make it any more interesting. I wish I could just post pictures of the pages. It really just speaks for itself.

Rank 1: Clean and/or sanitize someone, heal 1 HP per rank, repair a simple object with no moving or electrical parts, purify food and water, and stabilize targets.
Rank 2: Heal 2 HP per rank, repair mechanical objects, remove the effects of poisons, diseases, and mental illnesses for a time, and make a person "looks their best possible self".
Rank 3: Illuminate and repel undead creatures with pure light, heal 5 HP per rank, repair electrical objects, completely cure mundane diseases and poisons, and restore transformed people and animals.
Rank 4: Regrow limbs and organs, heal 10 HP per rank, repair minor magical items, completely cure magical diseases and poisons, and revive people who have recently died from electrocution or drowning.
Rank 5: Fire a beam of light that damages undead and shadow creatures, heal 20 HP per rank, remove mind control effects, and repair "powerful" magical items.
Rank 6: Make people immune to mundane poisons, damage multiple undead and shadow creatures, and revive people who have recently died from spells.
Rank 7: Grant full immunity to mundane diseases and revive people who have recently died from mundane causes.
Rank 8: Make people completely immune to magical maladies and full heal the dead instead of just stabilizing them at 1 Life.
Rank 9: Grant eternal youth and revive dead people while curing them of whatever killed them.

Rank 1: Can create annoying auditory, olfactory, and visual illusions, can make sounds and smells appear to come from somewhere else.
Rank 2: Create a single "realistic" visual illusion, continuous and realistic sounds, smells, and tastes, and destroy illusions and "illusion like" creations.
Rank 3: Create a small illusion that affects two senses, make illusions that are indistinguishable from their real counterparts and make them move, and turn someone invisible to one sense.
Rank 4: Create illusions that affect multiple senses, people and animals that act like real ones on their own, make multiple people invisible to a single sense, and create illusionary wounds that do damage.
Rank 5: Create multiple illusions, magical and "special senses" (e.g. infrared) ones, and ones that affect all of the non-magical senses.
Rank 6: Can remove a single sense from a target, place illusions on an area, project images into a target's mind, and make an area or multiple people invisible.
Rank 7: Create illusions of time changing, that can do damage, and can be solid for half of their duration.
Rank 8: Create illusions that are solid.
Rank 9: Create illusions over a large area as well as illusionary worlds "a target's mind".

Rank 1: Lower or raise the next skill roll of a target by one, can find minds within a range, levitate up to 10 pounds per rank, raise their Mind die by 1 per rank, and instantly learn a language.
Rank 2: Levitate items up to 20 pounds per rank, "Non Physical Mentalism effect spirits", block mind effecting abilities and magic, fly at 25 mph per rank, make targets sleep or wake up, and read surface thoughts. (What does flying have to do with Mentalism? Is it like levitating? If so, then based on the other abilities, that shouldn't be possible at this rank.)
Rank 3: Levitate objects up to 50 pounds per rank, read someone's mind to know what they did that day, push objects up to 5 feet per rank, make targets do anything that doesn't harm them or is against their moral code, and remove the effect of a psychic or Mentalism effect.
Rank 4: Alter people's minds when they're awake or dreaming, make people do things that go against their morals, change a person's personality, "Levitate, Push and relate movement powers now affects maximum MTR targets", and link two minds together.
Rank 5: Switch two people's minds, astrally project, and erase a person's mind for a "standard duration".
Rank 6: Alter or erase everyone within MTR range's thoughts, levitate up to 100 pounds per rank and do damage, make people hurt themselves when they're mind controlled, and completely change a person's personality, memories, and skills.
Rank 7: Direct mental attacks do damage, and the caster can send a person's mind into the spirit world.
Rank 8: Can use Mentalism abilities on minds in the spirit world.
Rank 9: Can levitate up to 1,000 pounds per rank.

Rank 1: Make open wounds heal at half the normal rate, play dead, damage spirits and shadow creatures for 1 damage per rank, prevent spirits from going into an area, and see and speak to spirits.
Rank 2: Damage spirits for 2 damage per rank, call the spirits of someone whose name they know, raise animals as zombies, and send spirits to the afterlife.
Rank 3: Raise people as zombies, make spirits summoned answer all questions truthfully, trap spirits in items, and turn oneself into a spirit.
Rank 4: Can make spirits appear in the real world, can suck out people's lifeforce, fire a bolt of shadow that does standard damage, and make spirits do things that go against their moral code.
Rank 5: All spirits and undead can be made to hurt themselves without the chance to resist, spirits and undead can be destroyed with a single spell, characters can possess dead bodies and raise them as zombies, and can pull people's spirits out of their bodies, turning them into ghosts.
Rank 6: Characters can strike a living target dead with a spell while turning their body into dust or severing their soul, can turn people into vampires, and zombies created have a +1 to Body, a point of armor, and normal speed.
Rank 7: Can turn vampires human and summon Rank 5-6 shadow creatures.
Rank 8: Can turn targets into a nebulous creature of shadow that can only be destroyed by pure light.
Rank 9: Characters can completely destroy a target's spirit.

Rank 1: Stagger targets, do 2 points of damage, knock things out of character's hands, and remove a point of armor.
Rank 2: Do standard MTR damage, make inanimate mundane objects with less than 5 HP explode and damage everyone around them.
Rank 3: "Spells that do one or two points per offense rank can be made either unstoppable (always doing one point of damageor do damage to ghosts, spirits and shadow stuff creatures", crush targets, and give -1 to a target's Body.
Rank 4: Drain a target of one zap, give -1 to all rolls per rank in exchange for half damage... or something to that effect.
Rank 5: Can drain 2 points of zap, "spells can do half damage but continue doing damage once a combat round for 1 round per rank of Offense. The effect causes the target to be obliterated and die die."
Rank 6: Can drain 3 points of zap, "spells that do damage can be made to do half damage each round for the spells duration".
Rank 7: Link four spells together and alter Offense spells to be resisted by Body.
Rank 8: make a spell do double damage at the cost of 2 zap.
Rank 9: Make spells do triple damage.
Rank 10: Blow up the world. This isn't on the list, but it is mentioned at the top of the chapter.

Rank 1: Double the HP of an inanimate object, grant a target a point of armor, Resist Magic, or willpower, which doesn't exist.
Rank 2: Increase armor to MTR defense, "attacks up to 2 points per rank pf Protection can be reflected back at the attacker".
Rank 3: Give 1 person "per up to the Protection maximum MTR target" armor, reflect spells back at the caster, and "the effect causes people not to notice what's going on in the area or even noticing the area is there."
Rank 4: Put up a 5 by 5 foot per rank barrier and put different effects on it.
Rank 5: Put up a 5 by 5 foot per rank barrier that reflects attacks.
Rank 6: Create a nearly unbreakable shield with 100 life points and standard defense around the caster that makes them immune to pretty much everything for a minute.
Rank 7: Place up to 4 effects on a single shield. "Unbreakable Shield Defenses is now standard duration."
Rank 8: Place up to 5 effects on a single shield. Characters can also make themselves immune to all physical damage.
Rank 9: "Cast a spell rendering immune to all but one common type of attack".

(Jesus, what a terrible list…)

Time and Space:
Rank 1: Warp space inside a container so that it's bigger on the inside, reduce the time it takes to travel somewhere by half, see a minute into the past per rank.
Rank 2: Perform an extra action in a combat round by stopping time and get a +5 bonus to do it, perform skills in half the time, double the distance between two points, and see up to an hour into the past.
Rank 3: See up to a day into the past, teleport within MTR range, turn invisible (by stepping out of time and space), and shrink or flatten yourself.
Rank 4: See up to a month into the past (or a day depending on which sentence you go by); teleport with "extreme" MTR range; and shrink, flatten, and turn other people invisible.
Rank 5: See up to a year into the past (or a month depending on yadda yadda yadda); teleport to any place you have been to; teleport multiple people at a time.
Rank 6: See up to a decade into the past, time travel up to a day either forwards or backwards, make a time travel portal, make a singularity, and teleport to other dimensions.
Ranks 7 through 9 (and presumably 10): "Unknown or Erased fro existence [sic]" because Harris got bored and wanted to get this chapter done.

Part of nearly $9,000 went into writing this.

There isn’t even any new pictures that I can show you. gently caress.

Next: Equipment, and hopefully something more interesting

May 25, 2012

Oh yeah, I have a review to do

Stone and a Hard Place


Pinnacle’s Plot Point campaigns work like this. There is the main campaign, which follows the standard format for a rpg adventure. Stone and a Hard Place has 8 ‘Plot Points’. The book also provides small, encounter-level scenarios called Savage Tales. The idea is you will use Savage Tales or your own scenarios, as setup for the campaign or to drop in between Plot Points. The Plot Point campaign provides an overarching story that you can customize to your needs.

Now onto the adventure…

Part 1: Shot Down at the OK Corral

The date is October 25, 1881 and the party finds themselves in Tombstone, Arizona. Tombstone is on edge due to the conflict between an outlaw group called the Cowboys and the Earp family. This conflict is drawn from history and will color the first part of the adventure quite heavily.

The first scene opens in the Oriental Saloon. The saloon is very busy, with a crowd of miners and ranchers. Also present are Wyatt and Virgil Earp. The players overhear a conversation between the Earp brothers about two members of the Cowboys gang who just arrived in town. The two brothers finish their conversation and leave the saloon. The adventure states they leave too quickly for players to follow.

Shortly after the Earps leave, one of the ranch hands, Bixler Tate, begins to to denigrate the Earps, calling them “high-toned city slickers”. Tate eventually moves onto the player characters for some reason. He will continue to throw insults until the players start a fight. If that fails, he’ll start the fight himself. A frantic bar brawl starts immediately.

After the fight is sorted out, the players leave that Tate was a member of the Cowboys due to a hidden red scarf. Wyatt Earp returns and the bartender tells him of the player’s role in the fight. If the players stood up for the Earps, Wyatt gives them free cigars at the Oriental for perpetuity, which can’t be good business given how often the adventure makes it seem that fights are breaking out. Wyatt implies that the situation in Tombstone is worsening, but won’t go into specifics. Players searching for gossip find that the Cowboy’s leader, Ike Clanton, threatened Doc Holiday.

The next day, the players are found by the Earps at the Oriental. Ike Clanton is wandering the streets drunk with a rifle (quite the master plan). The Earps ask the players to disarm Clanton and deputize any players who say yes. The players can search for Clanton and apprehend him. The Earps drag Clanton off to the courthouse and the players can follow. The adventure does not describe anything of note happening.

At this point, tension in Tombstone is at an all time high and ready to burst. The sheriff informs the Earps that a group of Cowboys are gathering at the OK Corral and need to be disarmed. The Earps, and the players I guess, head out and confront the Cowboys. This leads to the famous Shootout at the OK Corral.

End of Part 1.

This adventure is not off to a good start. It starts with a lot of assumptions, mostly that your group of cowpokes will be friendly to the Earps’ cause. At least the adventure states that assumption right up front.

After that, the adventure is really more the Earp Show than the players. Adventures that have patron give out instructions are fine. But this one isn’t. The Earps drive the action and the players tag along. Even the encounter with Ike Clanton, where the Earps are not present, isn’t given any love. It’s one man against a group of players, described in a tiny paragraph. No standoff, no speech addressing the players, nothing. There’s more text of the Earps talking than that encounter.

Overall, this is starting out pretty poor. There’s zero player agency and reads like historical fan-fiction. Hoping that Earp-sempai will notice you is not fun.

Next time: Thank god there weren’t too many GMPCs in this chapter, cause here comes Stone!

jadarx fucked around with this message at 13:18 on Mar 20, 2016

Black August
Sep 28, 2003

I forgot Rebecca had changed her name. But yeah. Ethereal Player's Guide.

Now you see why I want to run a game that only contains Blandine, Beleth, and this entire other megaworld that exists of all these dreams and domains and spirits and broken gods. EPG is fantastic stuff, and one of the last books written outside of a Book of Ghosts, I believe. It shows in quality.

I came up with an ok idea for allowing players to play AS Superiors once, by having a campaign seed where something happens in the Place Beyond The Farthest Marches (the ethereal equivalent of the Higher Heavens / Lower Hells) that demands Superior intervention, Legion War style. Only going out that far basically stretches them out to barest resources, leaving them PC level in point with some handful of advantages. Then the players could have their little Superiors play plot, and see how badly they annihilate the campaign with the massive power shifts that result from their choices in the plot and who dies. Kind of an excuse for a fun score card. Also, there could be game potential in being back on earth and trying to pull something off while nearly all the Superior are gone to handle this crisis.

EPG could factor into that as a side plot reaaal well.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ethereal Player's Guide: Money For Nothing

Your world is nothing more than the people who matter to you.
Society elements include Culture, Nations, the Family, the Pack and the Tribe. All are invisible nets of social pressure, punishment and reward, surrounding all living minds, even animals. The Society spirits wield this invisible network, masters of interpersonal relations, charismatic and manipulative. Family operates on a small, local scale, but its bonds are powerful and enduring. Family-spirits work in small groups bound to a common cause. The Family connects people on a level deeper than most conflicts, and Family=spirits, while more limited, try to smooth over conflict and eliminate it. Some help the group reach consensus, while others enforce the will of the leader or become leaders. They have a pleasant demeanor. Young Family-spirits favor neutral shapes - bland, featureless, almost blobby. As they age, they assume shapes closer to composites of those they care about, or may adopt shapes to reflect their company. They quickly establish rapport with others and mutual kinship. When traveling, they often adopt the shapes of pack animals. They do not fight fair, and every blow they make is underhanded and below the belt. They prefer comfortable homes, often full of captured pet figments.

Family-spirits seek to form family groups. Their nature as ethereal spirits means they have no blood ties, however, and they must adopt a family, and convince that family to adopt each other. Spirtis capble of forming this familial bond are somewhat unusual, so it's not easy. Family=spirits themselves are intensely able to bond with their family grfoups, however. Outsiders will face only the sharp edge of their charm and social skill. Society-spirits in general tend to put social needs first, and most will risk death to protect their social position. Most Family-spirits will also risk their family's deaths to protect their family members' social position, too. Their natural charm can rub certain humans the wrong way - those hurt by family members, most often - but most humans respond positively to them by instinct. They rarely adopt living humans as family, however - they're too short-lived, though dream-shades are possible. As a result, on Earth they tend to advance the interests of their ethereal kin, though some adopt a lineage as 'ancestor spirits' - these tend to get hunted down by angels.

Pack- and Tribe-spirits identify with larger groups than Family-spirits. They do not focus so much on the survival and advancement of each member of the group, but rather on the important members, values and goals of the group. Culture- and Nations-spirits take this even further. They deducate themselves to entire Domains, pantheons or causes, caring about individuals only when they are immediately relevant. Common Society Dreads include harm to an important member of one's society, rejection by an important member of one's society, isolation, being cast out, losing status, failure with CD 6 on an important social roll, failure to settle an important conflict in one's society, placing other needs short of immediate survival above social needs, disobeying one's societal leader, violation the principles of one's society, succumbing to the charms of an outsider, witnessing the breakup of a family, falling behind in trends, or the failure of a project that one's society supports as a whole.

Society strands can teach appropriate Knowledges, Detect Lies, Emote, Fast-Talk, Lying Savoir-Faire and Seduction. They can teach the Ethereal or Celestial Songs of Attraction, the Songs of Charm, the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Harmony, the Song of Possession, the Songs of Tongues, the Ethereal Song of Affinity, the Ethereal or Celestial Songs of Opening, the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Solace or the Ethereal Song of Unity. Common affinities include Deception, Entrancement, Glamour, Motherhood and, for Pack or Tribe spirits, Animals.

Stereotypes posted:

Angels: Their social pattern - uniting around a single individual, God - provides great protection against disorder and disloyalty. One might question its efficiency, however, given Hell's spreading influence on Earth.
Demons: Anarchy and disloyalty poisons their society. NAturally, this produces treacherous, deceitful, and thoroughly unpleasant demons.

The world sheathes the living, providing a setting for their lives.
Structures elements include Homes and Buildings. Before humans, they represented hives, lairs, territories. Now, however, the dominant Structures are offices, service establishments and houses. Artificial, created things that are precursors to Tech and cousins to Terrain, the Structures elements represent control over the environment. Some are warmly reassuring, while others are oppressive. Homes represent the quality in a structure that allows the heart to reside within. A sense of comfort surrounds them, the knowledge that you are in your own territory. Even when no physical structure exists, an effort invested to claim a place makes it a home. On the other hand, the most elaborate dream-house will not be a home if you know no one lives there. On the surface level, most Structures spirits look made. Some are wooden golems, others robots, a few resemble living three-ring binders. On average, they tend to be quite large. Homes-spirits are similar to most, but add an aura of conviviality and comfort - gentle giants, rather than immense monsters. Most of these shapes are well-suited to travel. In battle, sometimes 'frills' such as cannons or spikes are added, though this doesn't actually improve the strength of attacks. Homes-spirits typically build micro-Domains or residences that match their Image. Some favor a giant version of themselves or some other favored shape - a walking colossus or a hollow statue, often.

Homes-strand spirits nurture and shelter others, but they are not altruists. They identify deeply with possessions and associates, much as objects and residents become part of a home. The darkest are domineering and overprotective, going to any length to control the lives of those that associate with them. Brighter ones are prudent and restrained in their meddling and can be loving friends, who radiate genuine warmth rather than mere comfort. Even so, they are meddlers. It is rare for a Homes-spirit to lack a passion for order, and rarer yet to find one that does not consider itself the 'owner' of its people. Homes-spirits are legendarily stubborn, both as friends and enemies. Once they befriend someone, it takes a grand or ongoing treachery to lose them. Once lost, however, their confidence is never regained. They divide the worldi nto outside and inside - and one who is outside can never go home again. Humans instinctively relax around Homes-spirits, and many of them exploit this, seeking Roles as diplomats, salesmen, interrogators or police. Their favored business, however, is construction. They find building new structures to be very uplifting, followed by real esate and construction lobbying.

Buildings-spirits are harsher than Homes, due to the impressions animals have of the structures humans build. In addition to utility, progress and wealth, the Buildings strand is about human conquest, environmental havoc and death. Buildings-spirits do not bond - they dominate. Other strands include the Nest or the Hive. They resemble Homes in many ways, but their shapes more often reflect animals. Humans feel less comfortable around them, and animals more. Common Structures Dreads include losing one's home, losing any fixture of one's life, spending an hour out of sight of a developed Domain or area, inability to control or influence one's environment, failing to crush rebellion by one's people, entering a chaotic environment, not trying to force order upon a chaotic environment, immolation, witnessing demolition, witnessing a demonstrate of nature's superiority over human creation, suffering entropic effects, making last-minute changes to plans, choosing not to protect of one of one's people or possessions, turning one's back on a friend, or making peace with an enemy.

The Structures strands can teach any Knowledge related to construction, buildings or architecture. They teach the Celestial Song of Attraction, the Corporeal Song of Form, the Songs of Harmony, the Ethereal or Celestial Songs of Motion, the Song of Possession, the Songs of Shields, the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Affinity, the Corporeal Song of Forbidding, the Corporeal Song of Opening or the Songs of Seals. Common affinities include Artifice, Drowning, Glamour, Minerals or Motherhood. (Drowning represents suffocation/smothering.)

Stereotypes posted:

Angels: Once, they came down into the Marches like a fiery wind, a murderous primal force that swept away everything in its path. We must build a wall, metaphorically and literally, against that wind. Otherwise, it will come again.
Demons: Water seeping into our foundations. They erode that which makes us who we are.

The world is whatever joy you can rip out of it in bloody chunks.
Struggle elements include Battle, Duels, the Hunt and Warfare. They represent raw, bloody conflict between beings. Even formal war and honorable duels are Struggle, unless so ceremonial that there is no blood. The Hunt, particularly, ties together hunger and fear of death - both common in animal dreams. Uriel's purge attracted the primal spirits of the Hunt like heroin for an addict, and many of them died. before then, the Hunt had a strong primal representation in the Marches. MNow, however, most have other elements that mitigate their violent natures. Most Hunt-spirits are hunters, not prey, as predators are the more active part of the Hunt. They tend to be lean and rugged, whether human-like, animalistic or alien. They are always fierce and hungry, and appear dangerous. They are fast when they must be, and patient when required. They do not blink. When traveling, they favor shapes like wolves, sharks, great cats, ferrets, hawks or water moccasins, the sleeker the better. When they fight, they are aggressive and usually unarmed. They make their homes in places that resemble burrows, hives or caves, but often just stake a claim on an undeveloped area in the Marches or a Domain and wander it freely.

Hunt-strand spirits tend to classify others as either companions, rivals, or prey. They are polite to rivals, if they do not cross boundaries, but they are still rivals. They know how to pursue prey subtly and stalk them without breaking Domain laws, but the target is still prey. Few predators are more relentless. Few defend their territory more carefully. Few companions care more about their fellows than Hunt-spirits, as well. They find each possession and victory more precious if it is first pursued. They don't enjoy easy triumph and will usually focus on goals just barely within their reach. Humans automatically identify them as dangerous and brutal. Their body language, unless very well-hidden, is a constant warning signal. Even in vessels that appear weak or pretty, they receive more attention from cops and authorities. They often take Roles as gangsters, enforcers, corporate sharks or vigilantes. None are vegetarians save as a disguise to get closer to the prey, and most enjoy leather or fur clothing.

Battle-spirits exceed even the Hunt in aggression. They use violence for nearly any purpose - dominance, taking what they want, destroying threats. Battle-strand ethereals often struggle to contain this violence rather than indulging it all the time, however. Duels- and Warfare-spritis seek more purposeful fights. Duels-spirits like to use combat to measure themselves, either against foes or some personal standard. Warfare-spirits understand the uses and purposes of violence, and tend to use it for all problems, but they do so out of calculation, not emotion. If peaceful approaches seem smarter, they will use them, leaving the threat of violence as a mere background element. Common Struggle Dreads include encountering 'prey' that will neither flee nor back down, fighting a foe that won't fight back, failing to 'measure up' as a hunter, duelist or warrior, failing an ally, failing an ally out of military weakness, abandoning a hunt or military action unfinished, limiting one's ambition, the triumph of their foes or rivals, or the more non-cowardly Dreads of Life strands.

Struggle strands can teach Dodge, Fighting, Move Silently, Tactics, Tracking or Weapons. They teach the Ethereal or Celestial Songs of Entropy, the Song of Thunder, Numinous Corpus (Acid, Claws, Fangs, Feet, Horns, Tail, Tongue, Barbs or Spines), the Celestial Song of Forbidding, the Songs of Might, Nemesis or Nightmares, or the Corporeal Song of Sight. Common Affinities include Destruction, Filth, Hunger, Puissance or Speed.

Stereotypes posted:

Angels: Why exactly did they come to the Marches? Don't they have their own world? If they wanted to live among us, that would be different - but they've tried to push us aorund since the moment they arrived. I refuse to accept their rule, and I do not acknowledge their right to hunt in this territory.
Demons: Angels with a different name, really. The only difference is that the angels want human souls in Heaven and the demons want those souls in Hell. Look! This is me not caring.

Next time: Tech, Terrain, Wealth, Weather

Nov 11, 2008

Fantaji Universal RPG Part 3: Example of Play

The setup for the example is the PC's entering a dark cave and being confronted with a Minotaur. There are multiple ways this could go down, but rather than playing the party off as heroes here to save the day, the GM sets up three Theme tiles to set the mood to a slightly darker tone: Horror Unseen, Flight From the Dark, and Flashes of Flesh. Everyone, including the Minotaur, can play to any of these three themes, although how they're interpreted is up to the person playing to it. The GM doesn't just say what each Theme means and force the players to go along with that.

The Minotaur tile is also placed on the table, with four Drama tokens right from the beginning. So any direct attacks against the Minotaur right now would be a terrible idea, and it sets up the monster as a very serious threat that is already charging towards the PC's. But all of the players get one free “reaction round” to make checks to gain a bit of momentum before the fight proper starts. Which means each player gets to make a single Check to either gain Drama or create a Condition.

The first player decides to turn up his lantern, so it gives off more light as the Minotaur gets closer. Rather than being a mostly useless action, or just getting rid of any darkness penalties or whatever, he plays to the Flight From the Dark Theme, and gets a success against an easy target number of 3 on his d10. While he could use the success to make the increased light matter in the scene by creating a condition, instead the player just uses it to gain a Drama token for later rolls.

The second player decides to do something daring, and plays to her Smooth Like Silk Trait by running towards the Minotaur and jumping up and rolling over it's shoulders, ending up behind the beast. She also succeeds at her Check, and uses it to create a “Alandra is behind the charging bull” condition. The book then mentions that just because Alandra jumped on top of the Minotaur doesn't make the roll a Challenge with the Minotaur defending. The action didn't involve harming the Minotaur or directly interfering with it, so it's only a Check. Finally “Brostar the Mighty”, who clearly did not know what kind of game this was going to be before naming his character, tries to leap dramatically over the lantern, but fails the Check. Instead of saying he fell on his face or anything like that, the group decides that the Minotaur just didn't pay any attention to his flashy entrance.

Mostly because the Minotaur is really pissed that someone just rolled over him like he was a sports car, and immediately reacted to Alandra's brief contact with it's skin by turning around and trying to smash her against the wall. And since the “Alandra is behind the charging bull” Condition from earlier would hamper such an attack, the Minotaur loses one Drama token. This is still a bad situation for Alandra, however, as the monster has played to it's Hulking Brute trait, the Flashes of Flesh Theme from referencing the brief contact with Alandra's skin, and the Flight From the Dark theme by turning away from the lantern's light. Combined with the three Drama tokens it has left, the Minotaur gets to roll six dice.

Alandra, meanwhile, decides to jump off it's back while the beast is still turning around. She plays to the same two Themes, both from reacting to the Minotaur starting to turn around while she was still rolling over it, and from going even further away from the light. Combined with a die from her Style Over Substance trait, that's still only three dice. Alandra gets a 1, 2, and 7, while the Minotaur gets a 2, 4, 5, 8, 8, and a 10, getting three successes since three of it's dice rolled higher than the player's 7. While it could use one or more successes to create a Condition, or to eliminate the “Alandra is behind the charging bull” Condition (Conditions do not go away until the end of the scene or until someone uses a success from a Check or Challenge to remove it), it's more likely that Alandra is in for a world of hurt. This is also where the example of play ends, so we don't get to find out what happens to someone who thought rolling over a charging Minotaur was the best idea (it's still a great idea, she managed to remove a Drama token before getting smashed).

Next part is all about Combat Tiles, which also gives a lot of example Obstacle tiles, which is where I first actually got interested in this system. Including a single obstacle tile that sets up a scene where the players have to use hang gliders to land on an airship.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011


Black August posted:

I forgot Rebecca had changed her name. But yeah. Ethereal Player's Guide.

Now you see why I want to run a game that only contains Blandine, Beleth, and this entire other megaworld that exists of all these dreams and domains and spirits and broken gods. EPG is fantastic stuff, and one of the last books written outside of a Book of Ghosts, I believe. It shows in quality.

I came up with an ok idea for allowing players to play AS Superiors once, by having a campaign seed where something happens in the Place Beyond The Farthest Marches (the ethereal equivalent of the Higher Heavens / Lower Hells) that demands Superior intervention, Legion War style. Only going out that far basically stretches them out to barest resources, leaving them PC level in point with some handful of advantages. Then the players could have their little Superiors play plot, and see how badly they annihilate the campaign with the massive power shifts that result from their choices in the plot and who dies. Kind of an excuse for a fun score card. Also, there could be game potential in being back on earth and trying to pull something off while nearly all the Superior are gone to handle this crisis.

EPG could factor into that as a side plot reaaal well.

No offense to the other writers, but the EPG seems way better written than the rest of the line. Even the Stereotypes sections are good.

Black August
Sep 28, 2003

Count Chocula posted:

No offense to the other writers, but the EPG seems way better written than the rest of the line. Even the Stereotypes sections are good.

No, yes, I agree absolutely. She is the best the line ever had - the EPG was also shadow-co-written by some of her friends and Beth over the years. It shows her flavor of Nobilis-peak weird design genius and polish where even if the mechanics aren't much to write about (fault of the core system mostly) there's a lot of new interesting STUFF and life breathed back into the setting with something that makes me wish In Nomine had had this writing quality since 1995. I'd hail Satan with a Force tossed to Hell to be able to write as well as she does. But she turns the Ethereal into its own true third side in a setting that has long had interesting ideas about all the parts and pieces shelved hard to focus overly on World of Darkness copycat with all-encompassing angels and demons while every other 'race' or 'faction' basically sat to watch or get tore apart between.

In my own writing bias it also validates me having really liked and worked on my own with how Blandine and Beleth essentially fight an entirely separate War, just them alone, over this entire other subcon world. I guess the best thing I can say about the EPG is that it gives 'size' to the setting that it was dying to stretch out into after so many disaster splats.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ethereal Player's Guide: Because The Night

Make the world what you want it to be.
Tech is a newcomer among the elemental families. Only one spirit openly claims to be a primal Tech spirit - any others are keeping it secret. Their history is also quite small, but technology's had a huge impact on the waking world, and in time it will probably dominate the Marches as well. Right now, however, it does not. Most dreams of renegade machines are Fear, most dreams of starships are Winds and Battle, most dreams of computer dystopias are Nations. Only dreams in which the technology itself is as important as the things the technology does produce Tech elements. The most prominent of these are Vehicles, Computers and Machines, but none are common and there's plenty of others. Vehicles focuses on the that, by building physical hulks of steel, humans have stolen the power of the wind, gaining the power to cross countries as easily as a wolf crosses a forest. The power of Vehicles is not strength or form, but the combination of these. With mind, hands and will, humans have tamed distance and enslaved travel. Motion and freedom stir within Vehicles-spirits. They move with power and inevitability, not grace, and the never stop. They are immense, cold and inhuman. They are geometric, symmetrical, like machines. Vehicles-spirits naturally choose the shapes of human vehicles of all kinds when traveling. In combat, they are direct and brutal. Many are expert tacticians of maneuvering. Some build homes resembling airports or garages, while others create microplanet miniature Domains, to better travel great distances and crush tiny buildings.

Vehicles-spirits tend to think in terms of power, not subtlety. They love freedom and speed, and hate confinement, of themselves or others. They are tools for travel as much as travelers, after all. Humans do not necessarily like them, but they uplift humans. Their very presence reminds the humans emotionally that nothing is beyond the reach of human ambition. Knowing this, they can achieve more. As their luck turns, they vaguely understand why, and think of these spirits as lucky charms. Tech spirits in general naturally drift to the center of human groups, becoming the vital force powering these groups. They often have a very strong attachment to human society and a desire to serve it, at least indirectly. Thus, they validate their worth as tools of human advancement.

Computers-spirits are still changing and discovering their natures. They represent human control of information and education, turning ordinary people into scholars and allowing many to understand text and math in a way that was once limited to only a few. On the other hand, many fear computers as animate, wicked and hostile, and that becomes real in the Marches. Some Computers-spirits are rigorous, intellectual and rational, friendly to humans, while others are chaotic, sneaky and hostile. It's too early to tell which way that divide will go - or if it might split into two opposed strands. Machines-spirits tend to be generalists, as long as tools are involved. They aspire to control everything around them and master every skill. Common Tech Dreads include witnessing a human's disempowerment, blackouts, harming human society, harming humans, failing to perform one's function, showing emotion, demonstrating unreliability, running out of Essence, certain Structures Dreads, or loss of mobility, for Vehicles, loss of data, for Computers or loss of effectiveness, for Machines.

Tech strands can teach any modern scientific or technical Knowledge, Chemistry, Computer Operation, Driving, Electronics, Engineering and any weapons-based skill. They can teach the Songs of Artifacts and Machines. Common affinities include Artifice, Divination, Lightning, Puissance or Speed.

Stereotypes posted:

Angels: They lack up-to-dateness. In the modern world, faith is obsolete.
Demons: Similarly, evil is passe. When the world actualizes the promise of technology and scarcity no longer drives the economy, society's interests and the interests of each person will align. Evil will become foolish rather than profitable.

We are the substance of the world.
Terrain elements include Mountains, Beaches, Forests, Plains, Tundra and Sea. These elements create the solid world, surrounding and supporting everything. They watch over the affairs of the land, making it possible for life to exist, but they are neither kind nor gentle. They don't exist for life, and don't care about life. They make it possible for lesser things to live only as a side effect of their own nature. They are majestic, fulfilling their purpose by mere existence. Mountains contains within itself snow, rock, forest and wind. The strand radiates starkness, majesty, height and power. Mountains are the gates to the world, the peaks between that which is seen and that which is not. Mountains-spirits are grizzeled, tall, white-capped and thick. They have great presence and seem indestructible. Even when beaten and bloody, they look ready to fight and win. They are implacable, determined and strong. When traveling, Terrain spirits prefer forms such as bears, whales, tanks or mecha, but anything large will do. A few, despite the incongruity, assume the form of house-sized mountains and just glide along. Mountains-spirits fight with cunning,m ferocity and pride. Many do not have homes, preferring to keep nothing they cannot carry. Those that live in Domainds tend to take whatever is offered and make no modifications.

Mountains-spirits tie their mass to their power. Heavy, potent forms and vessels connect them to the vastness of true mountains. Their immutability depends on that physical greatness, and so their spiritual mass increases their will to endure. They value raw might, in fists, minds or reputation. They tend to develop unevenly, focusing on their strengths and ignoring any areas of weakness entirely. They also have a bit of climber in them. Faced with unopposable might such as they seek to develop, they try to conquer it, to find some way to overcome it and wind up on top. They are both Edmund Hillary and Everest. They transcend humanity, as the Mountains strand has existed since the earliest animal dreams. Humans do not impress them, and most humans don't like them. Common Roles for them allow them to spend time bonding with nature - forest rangers, hermits, mountaineers and anyone who might live among mountain ranges.

Terrain spirits manifest the characteristics of their terrain type and those humans who love it. Sea-spirits tend to be cruel, passionate and mysterious, and also adventurous in the manner of sailors. They are strong because they cover so much - they try to ensure there is nowhere they cannot reach. Desert-spirits are arid, stark and stoci, while Woods-spirits are mysterious and cool, and Islands-spirits tend to be remote and either forbidding or alluring. Common Terrain Dreads include defeat, defeat at the hands of a human or animal, adopting a shape that does not evoke the power of one's terrain, spending six hours indoors, lacking a key trait associated with one's terrain type, putting customs or manners ahead of immediate needs, shrinking from a challenge, shrinking from a terrain-appropriate challenge, failing to work against a preventable ecological disaster, failing to prevent an ecological disaster, or showing remorse.

Terrain strands can teach appropriate Knowledges, Survival and Tracking. They teach the Corporeal or Celestial Songs of Form, the Ethereal or Celestial Songs of Motion, the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Projection, the Songs of Shields, the Song of Thunder, the Ethereal or Celestial Songs of Direction, the Ethereal Song of Location, the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Might or the Ethereal Song of Sight. Common affinities include Drowning, Filth, Minerals, Plants or Terrain.

Stereotypes posted:

Angels: If they had hammered out the mountains, I would see the dust of mountains on their brow. If they had poured out the sea, I would smell the salt on their skin. They claim arrogantly to have shaped the world, but their claim doesn ot withstand the testing.
Demons: The Archangel of Light stood before his host and said, "I loathe God for his lies, and his uncaring heart, and his destructive ways, and his cruelty, for his temptations to vice, the corruption in his soul, and the way he uses us for his pleasure." So moving was his speech that all his armies became those things he hated most. Thus were the demons born.

Who cares about the world, baby? You have me.
Wealth elements include Gold, Silver, Jewels and Money. A single piece of gold contains the essence of all it can by, but more than that, it is everything that can be bought - possessions, labor, virtue, vice. A gold coin can buy almost anything. Most Wealth spirits are venal and shallow, but they can be admirable. Everything high and noble is within Wealth, if someone cares for it and money can buy it. Of course, so is everything ignoble. Jewels spirits extend the concept of Wealth with echoes of the tangible form of gems and jewelry. They are sparkling and resplendent, able to bear the greatest steady stress, but sharp shocks shatter their composure. They catch everyone's eye, but they think small. They rarely build great nets of influence. They are usually small and brightly colored. In humanoid forms or vessels, they prefer bright colors like canary, crimson, emerald or silver. Most are under five feet. They ahve perfect teeth, hair and skin. Common nonhuman shapes include golems 'powered' by glowing gems, crystal statues borne by translucent tentacles or spinning and flying sapphires. Their favored form for travel is a human merchant and peddler with a figment-drawn cart, selling small miracles. They avoid fighting, and aren't good at it. They design their homes to display their possessions, including themselves.

In their natural state, most Jewels-spirits are entirely amoral. Their knowledge of their own value corrupts their judgment. On Earth, they live superficially, in dissipated lifestyles. In the Marches, many die. Fortunately, few remain in their natural state. As creatures of Wealth, they refelct the things those around them tend to value. If they spend a long time serving an evil overlord, they become loyal and competent lieutenants. If they spend a year among angels, they might become virtuous. Some are exceptions, however, seeking to justify their natural appeal rather than reveling in it. Others draw on the lore of hidden gems, concealing their worth behind a facade of laziness. In human society, Jewels-spirits have a good sense for bargains and finance. They appraise property, trade and speculate, manage accounts or work in fields like art restoration or diamond cutting - anything to add value to merchandise.

Gold-spirits tend to be glowing, effulgent and quietly glorious, adding value to all they touch. They tend to feel a bond to Sun-spirits, and many traits mirror the Sun. Silver-spirits, pale and lambent, are closer to Moon and Stars. Money-spirits are classless and vulgar by the standards of other Wealth strands. They lack beauty and grace, but they consider themselves superior, as they are intimately and deeply acquainted with the idea of value. Other Wealth strands do play prominent roles, but none as great as Gold, Silver, Money or Jewels. Still, Food and Toys are quite important in some dreams. Common Dreads include becoming less valuable, losing a significant portion of one's net worth, losing any portion of one's net worth, discovering that something is definitely not for sale, failing to cause desire, failing to convince someone to value what one values, making a financial error, undignified situations, appearing in public not at one's best, spending long periods of time with someone without expressing the traits they value, having someone outshine one, admitting one's own value, or not admitting one's own value.

Wealth strands can teach appropriate Knowledges, Emote, Savoir-Faire or Seduction. They teach the Ethereal or Celestial songs of Attraction, the Songs of Charm, the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Light, the Song of Possession, the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Tongues, the Ethereal or Celestial Songs of Empathy, the Ethereal or Celestial Songs of Opening or the Ethereal Song of Solace. Common affinities include Entrancement, Filth, Glamour, Minerals or Wealth.

Stereotypes posted:

Angels: Rumor has it that certain powerful spirits survived the Purity Crusade by paying angels for "protection." How comforting, if true!
Demons: Every demon has a price. This makes demons our slaves, though they know it not.

Make the world tremble with your footsteps. Break it with your rage.
All forms of Weather have a presence in the Marches - Rain, Snow, Storms, Clear Skies and more. They express the sky's moods, pouring forth emotion. Snow represents dispassion and pure intent. Sheltered by inner quiet and cold heart, Snow-spirits move through life with a calm rivaling Elohim. They don't feel pain or anger. Legend says that if they love, they die, melted by its fire. They tend to be pale, diffuse and light, with gray or piebald color left to the rarer Slush-spirits. Snow-spirits tend to havel ong reach, even for their often great height, and some prefer transparent forms full of falling snow. Their most common travel forms include arctic animals, puffs of snow or ice monsters. In battle, they keep a cool head and work to shape things to their advantage. MAny live in mobile clouds or ice palaces, while others live in snow-covered Earth settings.

Weather spirits tend to understand chaos. They enjoy travel and spreading disorder, forcing their will on the world. They actively dislike stability and order, and can throw a curve into even the best plan. Even Snow, distant by nature, feels these drives. Weather spirits are like Emotion spirits in the scope of their passions, and Snow is not an exception. The cold they feel is not an absence of emotion, but a passion of its own - a chilly depression, a bleak refusal to care that is as potent as any flame. A wall of ice separates them from the world and brings peace. They seek to snuff out the cares of others by the sheer weight of callousness. Snow-spirits often take jobs as mercenaries, serving the goals of other spirits on Earth. They are neither compassionate nor cruel and work for anyone with equal efficiency. When pursuing their own goal of ending passions, they take any Role that seems useful. They don't care about being good at it - inspiring others with great deeds does not serve their purpose.

Weather spirits all feel a potent drive, as strong as Snow's reserve and usually more blatant. They can withstand anything, make any sacrifice, do any atrocity or compassionate act in the name of their passions. Storms-spirits, driven, by anger, will do anything to get revenge. Sunny Days-spirits will endure any torture just to prove that hope exists. Common Weather Dreads include losing one's freedom, failure to undermine order, falling into routine, showing too much respect for tradition, allowing circumstances to keep one from following one's heart, failing to impose one's emotional perspective when attempting to, failing to impose one's emotional perspective on others regularly, hiding one's passion, spending an hour outside on Earth in the wrong kind of weather, staying in one area for too long, frustration or having someone successfully predict one's actions.

Weather strands can teach appropriate Knowledges, Artistry, Emote or Fast-Talk. They teach the Ethereal Song of Attraction, the Ethereal or Celestial Songs of Entropy, the Celestial Song of Form, the Songs of Motion, the Corporeal or Celestial Songs of Shields, the Song of Thunder, the Corporeal or Ethereal Songs of Empathy or the Celestial Song of Ice. Common Affinities include Air, Cold. Destruction, Emotions, Fertility, Lightning or Weather.

Stereotypes posted:

Angels: Are they not like us? Making ,breaking, going where they will - they do not acknowledge the kinship beytween us, but we, ah, we cannot do otherwise. Fiercely devoted to their God, insistent that others share their ruling passion, children of the sky, sowers of chaos in our land... Are they not like us?
Demons: In my own person, I am no greater than a demon, and less than some. Yet I am more than my own person. The strands of my being spread throughout the Marches. I am not merely a spirit. I am Weather. In this light, demons are petty tyrants, strutting fiercely but ultimately irrelevant.

Next time: Initiation

Smiling Knight
May 31, 2011

What really stands out to me in the EPG is the number of plot hooks. Every one of those little vignettes looks like it could be a fun and unique session.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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


A warning: the following write-up is all about surgeries and treatments in Neo-Victorian asylums and sanitariums. It handles them as well as you would expect them to (in true lazy horror fashion) and people who are sensitive to these topics should pass this section over. You're sincerely not missing much, just a lot of tables.


To make a long story short, the lobotomy was invented in 1888 then the Plague happened and lobotomies never really went out of style. Psychosurgery in Unhallowed Metropolis/Necropolis is explicitly cutting into the patient's skull to access the brain to tinker with it to fix the patient's ailments. This is essentially the pinnacle of mental health treatment in London and has been for two centuries now; therapy is available but instead of medication or pharmacology, psychosurgery is used for the majority of all treatments.

This is definitely on the more extreme end of things but hey, you chose to include this in your book.
Psychosurgery breaks down into three separate fields: corrective surgery, lobotomies and psychic induction. This all ties into my main problem with the Alienist: there are rules for letting the players do all of these procedures. The game treats corrective brain surgery the same way it treats creating Thrope serums, reanimating the dead Herbert West-style and genetically engineering new life. The Doctor class, the scientist-of-all-trades class, can get by perfectly well without ever needing to delve into making monsters or creating new life. Psychosurgery is essentially half of what the Alienist can do, and there's enough here to make a group incredibly uncomfortable or delve into bad territories. It feels cheap and exploitive and not fun because you're giving the players direct access to taking advantage of/controlling NPCs with the power of authority and "medicine" and ~horror~. I personally would not make any of what follows a part of any game I would run in this universe.

Corrective surgery involves trepanning the skull for access to the brain for corrective alterations. "Though such procedures were initially quite haphazard, Neo-Victorian medicine has advanced to the point at which minute and seemingly harmless alterations to the psyche are not only possible but the expected outcome of such treatments." uggggggggh. Corrective surgery can be used to remove psychic powers (whether the psychic wants them to or not), Mental Disorders and some Mental Impediments. These rules apply to both PCs and NPCs so I suppose you could, in theory, pick up a bunch of Disadvantages in generation then immediately turn to the party's Alienist and say "crack me open and fix me" but as you will see, that's not such a good idea. First the patient has to be diagnosed with a Psychology roll (vs. DC of patient's Will+10) to identify the conditions and level of psychic power. The patient should be strapped down ("or" sedated, the game seriously doesn't expect both), the psychosurgery kit should be prepped and surgery can begin once the doctor states the conditions they want to attempt to fix. Key word: attempt.

Each condition takes a hour to treat and requires a skill roll of Medicine vs. DC 11+patient's Wit+patient's Will. You can only attempt to treat that condition once per procedure, but the doctor can attempt to treat more than one different condition per procedure. The doctor can take care and double the length of the operation for +2 to the rolls (do this) or rush it and try in half the time for -2 (do not do this). The doctor can also make a really big hole in the skull for +1 to treatment or not sterilize their poo poo/use the wrong tool for -2. Aftercare requires someone with Medicine 2 to give the patient a half hour of treatment a day for a week or else they'll get an infection and slowly die. I would provide an example of an operation but A: I really don't want to come up with something like this myself and B: the book provides for me. A doctor takes 6 hours to treat a man's chronic OCD, night terrors and narcolepsy and over the course of the operation removes the man's OCD, doesn't cure the night terrors and instead makes the man prone to melancholic fits and accidentally makes the narcolepsy chronic. Whenever you fail a Medicine roll for Psychosurgery, the GM rolls on the Failed Psychosurgery Table to see what happened to the patient (in this case, he still has night terrors and he now sleeps more so that's awful).

Lobotomies are a lot faster because it's using a hammer to shove an ice pick into the patient's brain through their tear ducts. All it takes is a DC 14 Medicine roll and lobotomies are popular with asylums because A: they automatically shut off all psychic powers and B: they reduce the patient's Wit to 1, reduces their Will/Charm by 1 point and makes the patient docile and compliant. If Will/Charm is reduced to 0, the patient is in a vegetative state. If the patient is a PC, they can regain their stats with experience but can never have a Wit higher than 2 or a Will/Charm higher than 4. That's pretty much it for lobotomies; they're an awful medical practice favored by doctors because they're cheaper and faster than sedatives/psi-inhibitors and if the Medicine roll is failed then the GM rolls on the Failed Psychosurgery Table.

  • 2: The patient accidentally becomes psychic and gains a Latent Insanity and one power at level one.
  • 3: Permanent vegetative state.
  • 4: Reduce the patient's Will by 1.
  • 5: Neurological damage: roll 1d10 where 1-4 means the patient goes blind, 5-7 means they go deaf and 8-10 means they become mute. Wonderful. Great.
  • 6: The patient gains epilepsy and seizures. If this is rolled again/they already had that, nothing happens.
  • 7: Amnesia.
  • 8: Patient gains a weird vacant stare and monotone and -1 to all non-Intimidation Charm rolls when speaking to someone without a mental disorder.
  • 9: Gives the patient a new mental disorder or exacerbates the one being treated into becoming chronic.
  • 10: Partial success with a complication. Mental impediments/minor disorders are removed, chronic become minor, the lobotomy didn't work and just gave the patient a black eye. Roll again but reroll any results of Death, Partial Success or Partial with complications.
  • 11: Partial success: same as above but without needing to roll again.
  • 12: Partial success with complication.
  • 13: Patient becomes sickened and loses certain physical qualities.
  • 14: Patient becomes illiterate.
  • 15: Patient becomes melancholic.
  • 16: Patient loses muscle control and gains -2 to Prowess.
  • 17: Patient gains Uncontrollable Temper.
  • 18: -1 to Coordination; if lowered to 0, patient becomes a paraplegic.
  • 19: Brain damage reduces the patient's Intellect to 1; previous Academic skills aren't lowered/lost but new ones are limited. Intellect can never recover past 3.
  • 20: Death from brain damage.

PSYCHIC INDUCTION: Induction comes in three forms. There's natural psychic induction, which is when a person experiences something so terrible and horrific the trauma permanently puts their mind off-kilter and gives them a Latent Insanity and one level in a power (but can't develop anything from the Psychic class). This can just happen naturally over the course of play and is by far the "best" way to get powers outside of playing a Psychic.

Hypnotic Induction is the safest kind, but it's temporary. Someone with Hypnosis 4 and Parapsychology 3 can spend a half hour walking a living subject through a trance to unlock their potential (Hypnosis vs. Subject's will, where success for the hypnotist manifests a power). The hypnotist can attempt to make the subject manifest specific powers (DC 20) or direct the subject to use their power (DC 11+Will). Failures result in uncontrolled/unwanted powers and critical failures/success means they're way more powerful than they should be. If the subject wakes up, the powers disappear. Hypnotic Induction really just exists to look cool or show off the hypnotist's skills at putting people under; in the long run, it's incredibly inefficient.

Which leads us to the hard way: Medically-Induced Psychic Induction. This kind of psychic induction is illegal, incredibly dangerous and undeniably immoral. At its core, it's systematic abuse of the patient with the intent of breaking their will. Anyone involved in the procedure must have Medicine 3, Parapsychology 3 and Psychology 3 and the subject can only see those people for the duration of the procedure. If there's more than one person involved, one has to be designated the head physician who is the one who determines how this progresses. There is no nice/gentle/good way to do this, considering it's breaking a living being's will and intentionally destabilizing their mind; the game recommends that the procedure have appropriate equipment such as an operating room, torture chamber, isolation room or psychoactive drugs. The patient will need two hours of care daily from anyone in the project, requires 24/7 monitoring and the head physician has to monitor and perform on the patient for six hours a day. At the end of the week, the head physician makes two rolls: Medicine vs. DC 16-Subject's Vitality and Will vs. Will. For the former, failure reduces the subject's Vitality by 1 (at 0 they die). For the latter, the doctor adds their Torture, Medicine or Psychology skill to the roll and success lowers the patient's Will by 1. The experiment is done when the subject's Will hits 0, so depending on how rolls go this entire thing can run around a month/six weeks. The subject regains Vitality/Will 1 point per week after the experiment.

So what happens when the experiment is done? The GM rolls 2d10+subject's base Will to determine what happened on the Psychic Apotheosis Table. Yeah, the doctor's stats don't really do anything or add anything, it just comes down to a blind loving roll after all of that nonsense. The results should be secret until the patient is full examined.

Keep this guy the hell away from my skull.
  • 8 or less: patient dies.
  • 9-10: Total failure, roll three times on the Psychic Induction Side Effect Table. Patient can be used again after recovery is complete but you did just break their minds and those effects might be permanent so good job there.
  • 11-14: Failure, roll once on the table. Can be used again after they recover.
  • 15-16: The patient is instead made Psi-Null.
  • 17-18: The patient gains one power at level one and a latent insanity at the cost of tremendous damage done (three rolls on the side effects table).
  • 19-20: Partial success; one roll on the side effects, one power at level one and one latent insanity.
  • 21-22: Flawed apotheosis; the patient gains one power at level three, a latent insanity and three rolls on the side effects table. Considering what most psychics can do at level three, most of them turn on their tormentors immediately.
  • 23-24: Success; one power at level 3, one roll on the side effects table, one latent insanity.
  • 25+: True apotheosis: the patient gets one power at level four, one side effect and latent insanity.
  • 2: Patient gains Photographic Memory, Savant and Synaesthesia qualities from the sundering of their mind. No effects if this is rolled again.
  • 3: -1 to Vitality and Coordination from treatment of procedure, is cumulative if rolled repeatedly. Death at 0 of either.
  • 4: Amnesia, a blessing of sorts. No effects if rolled again.
  • 5: Patient gains the Fits Impediment and becomes prone to seizures/epilepsy. No effects if rolled again.
  • 6: The pain suffered is reflected through the patient's eyes, giving them the Evil Eye impediment and a creepy look. No effects if rolled again.
  • 7: Psychological scars in the form of Night Terrors. No effects if rolled again.
  • 8: Hypersensitivity impediment. No effects if rolled again.
  • 9: Melancholy impediment. No effects if rolled again.
  • 10: Mental damage, reducing Wit/Intellect by 1. Cumulative, lowers skills too, 0 in either is coma/vegetative state.
  • 11: -1 to Will, cumulative, 0 means the patient just can't respond to any stimulus anymore and will live the rest of their life in a fugue.
  • 12: Uncontrollable Temper. No effects if rolled again.
  • 13: -1 to Charm, same as Will if reduced to 0, cumulative.
  • 14: Patient goes blind. No effects if rolled again.
  • 15: Patient becomes mute. No effects if rolled again.
  • 16: Patient goes deaf. No effects if rolled again.
  • 17: Patient becomes Lame. No effects if rolled again.
  • 18: Permanent -2 on all Mental Disorder control checks.
  • 19: Patient gains Accelerated Decrepitude. No effects if rolled again.
  • 20: Eye of the Abyss: the patient undergoes a mental transformation that renders them completely immune to Telepathy or Empathy, can never develop either and forces control checks of those powers around them.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON CHAPTER 3: Thank god it's over. The information on psychic powers overwhelms a substantial chunk of this book that's supposed to be about ghosts. I feel like I went too in depth into the powers. This whole last bit is just wholly unnecessary for play and for player interaction and I feel like I can't make my opinions on it any more clear. At least Reign of Steel said "hey, if the PCs end up in a Zonemind's death camp, it should be to further the plot and you really shouldn't just do bad stuff to the characters". There's this kind of implication to Unhallowed Necropolis with psychosurgery; it feels like it's offering up the rules for lobotomies to say "if you wanted the PCs to get thrown into an asylum and operated on, here's mechanics for that" in the same breath it endorses letting the PCs perform brain surgery. Psychic induction is just awful mechanically and narratively speaking; if you do it, you have to commit to it for at least a month and the side effects are bad. There's also the fact that powers gained that way don't get anything from the Psychic class' abilities. The Psychic class is just a better deal overall and I can't think of any narrative reason you'd make a psychic besides needing to for some contrived reason. It's all just awful and I'm glad I can move on with it.

NEXT TIME: Chapter Four, Ghosts'n'Stuff

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 21:04 on Mar 21, 2016

Nov 8, 2009

Smiling Knight posted:

What really stands out to me in the EPG is the number of plot hooks. Every one of those little vignettes looks like it could be a fun and unique session.

EPG to me feels like a different game entirely. Well-written, but not what I'm looking at In Nomine for.

Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.

Afterthought 28 - Car Vore has become live and ready. I think the intro might be tuned a little high, so watch your headphones. Otherwise this is a fun one, for some reason the questions were really just clicking for us.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006

theironjef posted:

Afterthought 28 - Car Vore has become live and ready. I think the intro might be tuned a little high, so watch your headphones. Otherwise this is a fun one, for some reason the questions were really just clicking for us.

Hahaha, I just started it up right now and that intro just took me by surprise.

Kobold eBooks
Mar 5, 2007


Just a brief update on FFRPG: I've been writing it at work, but work is extremely busy today. I'll try to squeeze out an update at some point and, worst comes to worst, I'll get one out tonight or tomorrow. Sorry for the delays!

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG

Part 14c: Victims

This is the second half of the "Realm of Fear" chapter, and is a discussion of the various people that now inhabit the region and the organizations that drive Victorian society.

And, well...we gotta get something out of the way first.


Besides the creatures of the night that the Gaunt Man has brought down the maelstrom bridge, there are several groups of people who have travelled down the bridges of their own volition. They have come to Earth either to war with the Gaunt Man so as to prevent his gaining more power, or to escape the terrors of Victoria and forge new lives for themselves on the relatively safer world of Earth. These groups are the Victorians, the Gypsies, and the Swamis. Although each group means well to the people of Earth, the fact that they are from a different world with a different history and reality often leads them to make mistakes when dealing with people from Earth. Sometimes these mistakes only lead to bad feelings between groups. Other times they lead to blood.
Yeah. We're in "magical gypsies" territory. Sorry, folks.

But before we get there, we start by discussing the Victorians themselves.

We've already gotten a pretty good broad view of the Victorians and their culture. Their society is pretty much based around the idea of "inherent superiority", and this mindset has driven them for centuries even before the Gaunt Man showed up. This tends to manifest in what can best be described as proper behavior. All Victorian citizens take everything in their lives very seriously. From speech to clothing to day-to-day action, everything must be done with dignity and decorum and utmost seriousness. To do less is to let down the Empire.

One of the main reasons for this is the Sacellum, the religion of the Victorian empire. The Sacellum shares some similarities with Evangelical Christianity, but...more so.


As Mr. G. M. Young writes: "Nor can it escape the notice of men that the virtues of a Sacellum model are easily exchangeable with the virtues of a successful merchant or a rising manufacturer. To be serious, to redeem the time, to abstain from gambling, to remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy, to limit the gratification of the senses to the pleasures of a table lawfully earned and the embraces of a wife lawfully wedded, are virtues for which the reward is not laid up in Heaven only."
We'll get back to the Sacellum in a bit, but basically the Sacellum's righteousness is what allowed the Victorians to create their world-spanning empire in the first place. It's also the only thing protecting them from utterly falling to despair in the face of the Gaunt Man's forces.

Unfortunately, that same righteousness also colors their dealings with other races. The Victorians see, well...non-whites as "primitive peoples", and as such it is their moral duty to "introduce civilization into their lives", generally at gunpoint. Even members of other races that have acclimated into Victorian society at large are treated terribly.

Not that life for the domestic lower classes is a lot better. The working classes live in squalor and poverty, working 12+ hour days, six days a week to barely feed themselves. The slowly encroaching industrial revolution has begun putting small tradesmen out of business, and working conditions are worsening. And thanks to the Gaunt Man's control, the Social axiom of Gaea is just shy of the point where people would be able to come up with the idea of unionization.

Next, we learn about The Victorian Majestic Charter. The Charter was hastily created shortly after the Victorians went over their bridge, both as a means of controlling this new colony and as a desperate attempt to get the Victorian economy moving again (since there's no way for them to get any kind of external resources back home).

The Charter was created and is managed by a consortium of 112 investors, very few of whom actually live in Majestic. The real control is by a board of 12 investors, and they're the ones who are plotting out the expansion and exploitation of the colony.

One board member of note is Samuel Benford. Benford is one of the few members of the consortium who actually lives in the colony. He's also pretty much the only one who who's figured out that the Indonesians are more advanced than the Victorians. As stated previously, the Victorians think that all the advanced tech and buildings and roads and whatnot were left behind by white settlers and subsequently stolen by the "natives". As a result, he's become something of an obstacle not only for the rest of the investors (who just want to profit by any means they can), but also for the military (since he's keeping a record of every infraction and war crime they commit). The only reason he hasn't met an unfortunate "accident" is that he's one of the primary money people in the consortium.

The military arm of Majestic is run by Governor Robert Ashton, a violent man who's gotten very close with General Avery Willington. Ashton has been experimenting with the occult, and has been completely corrupted. He's not a horror yet, but when killed his soul will be heading straight for a Waiting Village so he can step up to the big leagues.

Below Ashton is the expected military structure. The book (once again) goes into unnecessary detail about this, so I'll just summarize.

There are only a few hundred regiments assigned throughout the Majestic colony, and they're having an uphill battle. Victorian military units tend to be smaller than their Core Earth equivalents due to the one-on-one nature of battling Horrors. Regiments tend to be split between taking new territory and defending existing cities from attacks by Horrors. For the most part, the regimental commanders haven't been corrupted yet...but given that they all answer to Ashton it's probably only a matter of time before the rot spreads through the whole army.

You have to watch the working classes like a hawk.

One interesting thing about Victorian society is that there's little to no leisure activities, or really any sort of "release valve" on people's emotional needs. The culture is morally and socially strict to the point where tablecloths are required to be long enough to completely hide the table's legs, lest the sight of something even resembling a woman's leg send a man into a spiral of depravity that damns his very soul. And according to the Sacellum, the moral failing of one soul would spell doom for the whole culture.


To obtain a pure spiritual community the Sacellum discourages certain ideas: free thought, free expression, art that encourages free thought, art that encourages free expression, anything to do with the notion of sex, anything to do with religion that does not reflect the accepted dogma of the Sacellum (that is, anything that does not present a male, white god ruling the people of earth through his chosen male white representatives), anything to do with magic or any element of the imagination (for it is believed that the slightest thought of anything but the true Sacellum will lead everyone to worship the evil Gaunt Man), and so on.
The thing is, the Sacellum hasn't learned one thing that even Friend Computer figured out: the more you forbid something from happening, the more people will want to check it out to see what the fuss is.

In Victorian society, this has resulted in the birth of many secret societies dedicated to exploring such dangerous ideas such as philosophy, studying other cultures, or creative writing. Oh, and the secrets of the occult, of course.

Oh sure, the majority of the secret societies are ultimately harmless. They revolve around things like reciting poetry, or discussing scientific ideas, or learning to draw nudes because that's how you actually get better at drawing people. But there are some that are focused on studying the monstrosities of the world, either to fight them or to tap into their power. But as far as the Sacellum (and, therefore, society at large) is concerned, there's no moral difference between a society dedicated to learning how to bargain with demons and a society dedicated reciting poetry about flowers. So every society has to meet in utter secrecy, with the associated call signs and handshakes.

Three sample societies are given in the book:
  • The Sanctum is focused on the study and cataloguing of knowledge. Not just occult knowledge, but any form of scientific thought not accepted by the Sacellum. The members always wear full-body robes when they meet, meaning they're one of the few societies that allow woman to join (since nobody knows they're women).
  • The Sign of Six is a heavily militant society that actively fights the horrors of Orrorsh. They work very heavily in isolation, so that if one of their members falls to the Power of Corruption he won't bring the rest of them down with him.
  • The Order of the Purple Eyes is a straight up horror-worshiping cult. Its sole purpose is to increase the power of its members by dark means.

Occult conspiracy, or creative writing circle?

Finally, we get to The Sacellum itself.

The Sacellum was originally a variant of Catholicism, discovered by the Victorians when they took over the Roman Empire and discovered the apostles therein. The Victorians quickly adopted the religion for their own use, adjusting things here and there to match their own mandate-from-heaven mindset.

Even in the beginning, the Sacellum was a very rigid theology. The church was not to be questioned at all, and nobody was allowed to question the faith or its methods. It should come as no surprise that non-supernatural corruption was rampant throughout the power structure of the Sacellum for centuries.

That said, in the 16th century, there was almost change in the church...and then the Gaunt Man showed up.


This religious institution began crumbling in Gaea's sixteenth century when a German monk, Thomas Moss,
demanded reforms within the church that gave greater power to the people. Moss' reform movement began slowly, but soon had a steady, firm momentum.

What might have been an even more successful version of Earth's Protestant movement was derailed by the
arrival of the Gaunt Man. He saw the reformation movement as chance to make a corrupt institution more corrupt than it was before. When the people of the Victorian Empire began to panic as strange creatures were spotted around the globe and horrible murders were committed without any explanation, a cry went up from the people for a religion that could save them from the influence of the devil.

Bishop Gyre Todd, a member of the religious reformation, was working in the colonies of North America when the invasion was just beginning. A sincere but harsh man, he began adopting cruel tactics to keep his followers on a spiritually pure path. Slowly the Power of Corruption seduced him. Eventually the Gaunt Man himself appeared before Todd in the guise of an angel and declared him the new chosen prophet of god. The Gaunt Man then gave Bishop Todd a manuscript written in Greek that appeared to be written on ancient vellum. The angel told Todd that is was a more accurate translation of the New Testament than that which the Victorians had used for the last sixteen centuries.
This translation became known as the "Book of Power", and was a slight mangling of Christ's message. Instead of preaching forgiveness and understanding, this version of Jesus demanded that people should always fear God as an angry father who is waiting to punish them for the slightest mistep, yet favored a "chosen few" (i.e., white people) over the rest of the world. This Jesus performed very few miracles, and those he did perform were acts of harsh, violent revenge.

Bishop Todd preached this gospel across the empire, stating that the influx of demons and horrors was a punishment from God for misunderstanding His message. Desprate for anything that might stop the flow of monsters, the people flocked behind the new gospel, and it was worked into the reform movement. Soon the new Bible was officially accepted by the church, and was preached to the people.

Which, of course, is what the Gaunt Man wanted. While the Sacellum does offer a glimmer of hope to the Victorians, it's a false, stifling hope. It's a sort of spiritual bureaucracy, forcing people into rigid lines of thinking and reinforcing the idea that its members should just follow rigidly-defined behavioral procedures to be saved, as opposed to performing good works or considering the nature of their souls.

Not helping matters is the fact that despite the moral inflexibility, the Sacellum doesn't have a consitent overall structure. There's no central papal figure; instead the the church is run at the top level by numerous bishops, each with varying levels of power. On top of that, the church itself is split into hundreds of diocese, each of varying size and none really reporting to any of the others. Without any sort of central authority, the "official" solution to the problems that arise is "just do what we did yesterday", even though yesterday didn't fix anything either. Each diocese ends up having to deal with problems on their own without guidance from a central figure, so every diocese ends up being just different enough to make working together difficult.

What this all means that the Sacellum is a strange mix of moral inflexibility and organizational splintering. The Sacellum is pretty much incapable of real change for a lot of reasons, not least of which is because they're terrified of God's wrath should they try to change.

False hope may be better than no hope, but not by much.

Repent, O Ye Sinners!

And now...this part.


The Gypsies of Gaea come from Rumostria, a nation of undead located in Europe. To sate their need for blood and flesh, the undead inhabitants raise humans like cattle. The Gypsies are those humans who have managed to escape the pens. They are scattered throughout the world of Gaea, hunted by monsters but shunned by the Victorians. When the bridges opened up from Gaea to Earth the Gypsies took flight, hoping to find safer lands. While Earth's Southeast Asia is safer than Gaea, the Gypsies are still locked in conflict with the terrors of the Gaunt Man.
I think we all know the drill here. Tribes of wanderers, wooden caravans, "fond of bright clothes, gold and silver", powerful spirit mediums, fortune-tellers and brewers of magic potions.


They have a great many songs celebrating the life of motion that they lead. They are also a people given to telling stories and fantastic tales.
It's like they had a checklist to get through or something. In fact, there's barely a page of information about Gaean Gypsies and I've hit pretty much all the major points apart from their spirit medium ability, which we'll get to once we cover the rules.

As a palette cleanser, here's a ninja fighting a werewolf.

The last part of this chapter is about swamis, and here they mean Gaean swamis. Gaean swamis are the holy men of the Findaru religion, which is based around the concept of escaping a repeating cycle of reincarnation through meditation (gessa), adherence to the Tov scriptures, and devotion to a swami.


The Tov scriptures are the holy writings of the Findaru faith. They describe the universe as being made up of one god, Harat, though this god has divided itself into many parts. Because of this it is possible to worship certain specific parts of god at a given time. A faithful Findaru, for example, might ask aid from the creative portion of Harat, or the destructive portion, or the portion that is in charge of prosperity and good fortune.

The holy writings state that all living beings are reborn again and again through reincarnation. What a living being is reborn as depends upon what sort of life the creature led. The better the life lived, the farther advanced the reincarnation. The ultimate goal is to leave the cycle of life and become one one with Harat. Since Harat is the god of "all knowledge" the path to joining him is to master the truths of the universe. Primary among these truths is the fact that all beings are already part of Harat - it is only a self-deception, an illusion, that any living beings are separate from Harat. To understand this one must practice gessa, adhere to the Tov, and study with a teacher who is well on his way to pulling aside the illusion of separateness.
Because of the nature of their faith, swami were able to see through the illusions of the invading horrors and cut through the lies of the Gaunt Man. This has forced the swami to break their usual stance of non-interference to aid the many victims of the invasion.

Because they know the nature of the beasts, as it were, they claim that horrors are not part of Harat. In fact, only living beings born of Gaea or those who convert are considered part of Harat; anyone else is an outsider. That said, they are very welcoming to anyone who is willing to convert. They're even accepting of the Victorians, who consider them backwards heathens.


But the Findarus do not hold a grudge against the Victorians. To the Swami's eyes the typical Victorian still has an infinite number of reincarnations to go, and is someone to be pitied.
Just because you turn the other cheek doesn't mean you have to be nice about it.


Man, that was all way too much goddamn setting. I had to split this chapter into two posts just because it was getting so huge.

This chapter is just all over the place. It talks about the Gaunt Man himself, his council, assorted bad guys, the Ecology of Horror and the world laws, and everything you could possibly know about everyone.

There just comes this point where the information becomes white noise, and Torg's never had a problem crossing that line over and over again. Like, do I really need to know the exact breakdown of the military structure to the point where I know how many people of what rank are in a company versus a regiment? Does the church's history really need a page and a half of backstory? Knowing where stuff comes from is useful, but what's more useful is what it's like now.

NEXT TIME: Feeding the vicious cycle.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Ethereal Player's Guide: Can You Picture That

While a character can have any number of strands, initiation makes one primary and another secondary. A strand's traits usually inform a spirit's personality, but there are exceptions - most spirits do not fully fit the stereotype of their strands, and each strand in a family is a differnet take on its ideas. Even then, if none of the ones listed work for you, you can make your own, or even your own elemental families, as long as the GM approves of what they get access to. So, what is initiation? Some ethereals feel a strong connection with the most important elements of their spirit. Some have so many different strands that they can't identify with anything. A few can't even tell instinctually what makes them up. Those who want a stronger connection to their elemental nature will undergo a rite of initiation, which awakens and strengthens elemental strands.

These rites involve a journey of self-discovery, and they make you more than your Image. You are no longer just the Manticore of Southbridge - you're also Mountains and the Hunt. They are an active part of your identity. Some spirits initiate spontaneously during dramatic situations, like when facing threats to your life or when learning hidden truths. Usually, however, initiations require something like a vision quest. Use of ethereal poisons or great meditative skill allow for entry into a hallucinatory state in search of truth, or an instinctual trip into the Far Marches may be used. These quests are full of vision and portent, helping the spirit understand its weaknesses and its nature. Spirits discussing these initiations often liken it to shamanic rites of passage, while celestials often view them as fledging. Other analogies include 'becoming an adult,' 'understanding yourself for the first time' or 'seeing the dawn for the first time'. Spirits who have not initiated often see these things as mass insanity or self-crippling via atavistic mysticism, however.

Initiation has both concrete and subjective effects. The player selects the primary and secondary elements to initiate. Some primal spirits have only one element, however, and therefore have no secondary. While it is possible to awaken more than two strands, only the first two have mechanical effects. Note that a strand is like a Word - all spirits of a given element are of the same element. These aren't discrete chunks, but a single strand that weaves through all of them. As they learn, initiates imprint parts of themselves on the strand. Thus, initiates have an easier time learning the skills and Songs that others of their element have studied before. By meditating on the strand, spirits can learn Songs or skills without a teacher, provided that many others of the strand have learned that thing before. The experience is more like 'remembering' than 'learning,' for the character, but it costs the same XP. Besides the various things discussed prior, all strands also have access to the Songs of Dreams and a variant Song of Celestial Draining. Initiates also receive a Dread from their primary element. The points received for this Dread are spent on resources from initiated primary and secondary strands. This includes affinities, but unlike skills and Songs, the list of affinities a strand can provide isn't fixed - anything the GM deems appropriate. Further, initiates get 5 bonus CP on top of any gained from the Dread.

An ethereal can initiate before or during play. In chargen, the player would pick a Dread and divide the Dread CP and 5 bonus CP appropriately. The Dread's level is always equal to (Ethereal Forces). This is standard and most PCs will be pre-initiated. If the GM wants PCs to start uninitiated, however, the game suggests canceling the five CP bonus for initiation before play. Note that spirits can have strong, even very strong elemental influences pre-initiation. Once the game starts, a PC may attempt initiation at any time, but the GM decides when they succeed and get the benefits.

Affinities are taken at chargen, though with GM permission they can be later modified. They are similar to attunements, but more flexible and less powerful. They are typically related to an ethereal's elements, its Image, the event that generated its self-awareness, or all of the above. Ethereals need not be initiated to have affinities. Every affinity of at least moderate level grants a Rite associated with the affinity, and each affinity also comes with a list of suggested powers. Any spirit with moderate affinity or higher can use any power from the list with an affinity roll and spending of any needed Essence. Unless noted, this takes neither time nor concentration. The GM may allow additional abilities from the affinity. As a rule, the more potent the effect, the more Essence it costs, and it will rarely beat out an attunement or Song in power. Affinity rolls are made against a TN of (Intelligence+any necessary Essence). Moderate affinity gives +2 to the TN, strong gives +4, and primal adds (Ethereal Forces*2), raising the tN to a minimum of 10 even if that bonus would not be enough to reach it. Some powers do not require a roll. Some affinities have powers exclusively usable by primal spirits. Affinities can also grant an...well, an affinity for certain Songs, much as a Word might, to spirits with strong or primal affinities. They may not necessarily have access to these Songs, though.

Air affinity grants a bonus to creating wind or aerial imagery. The Rite is to spend an entire night exposed to open air. It has the following powers:
  • 1 Essence: Create light breezes, strong enough to move paper around, requiring a Precision roll to push a light object in the direction you want.
  • 1 Essence: Create enough air for one person to breathe for an hour.
  • 2 Essence: Create stronger puffs of wind, effective (CD) Strength, which can make a contest to knock someone over or tear things from someone's hand. A Precision roll is required to direct it with any finesse.
  • 1 Essence: Float along on the wind, or just hover gently without wind, for (CD) minutes.
  • 3 Essence/person: Fly at a speed of (CD*Essence spent) yards per round for (Ethereal Forces) minutes.
  • Primal: The spirit may create gaseous vessels. For purposes of moving objects by pushing, has Strength equal to (equivalent size in Forces). Any kind of fine manipulation will require a Precision roll. Gaseous vessels may freely ride the wind as per above without roll or cost, or drift along at half normal running speed. These vessels are immune to physical harm, but can suffer ethereal or celestial damage. Obviously, no roll is required to use this power.

Animals affinity gives an affinity for the Songs of Beasts or the Songs of Healing when used exclusively on animals. It also grants a bonus to bring animals into a dream or control their behavior. The Rite is to spend all night in animal form, either in a dream or corporeal vessel.
  • The spirit may create animal vessels larger than its Forces would allow as long as its Image is that of the animal. Spirits with insect Images may form insect vessels, and primal-affinity spirits with insect Images can form insect swarm vessels. This requires no roll, obviously.
  • 1 Essence: Add (Etheral Forces) to reaction rolls from animals, including spirits with animal Images. No cost if you have an animal Image and are using it on the same sort of animal.
  • 1 Essence: Communicate with animals for (CD) minutes. Same cost exception as above.
  • 2 Essence: Summon (CD) animals of a type of your choice. On Earth, the nearest animals come by any means available as long as any exist within an hour's travel. On the ethereal, it creates figments of 1 Ethereal Force each, which behave like any other figments, with Images of normal animals. The summoned animals do not automatically obey you. Animals that'd apply the above discounts reduce the cost of this by 1.
  • 2 Essence: Charm any animal, making it obedient as if it were a servant of (CD) level until it leaves your presence. Same discount as above.
  • 5 Essence, Primal: Bless animals, but not humans, with fecundity or curse them with barrenness. (Ethereal Forces) animals will be unusually fertile for (CD) weeks. Any conception that might be successful will be, and the offspring will be healthy. A curse of low fertility will prevent all attempts at conception for the same duration.

Artifice grants an affinity for Songs of Artifacts, or to the Songs of Machines either for either primal spirits or use on an appropriate category of machine as listed below. It also gives a bonus to making items within that purview in dreams. The Rite is to create or repair something.
  • The spirit may create a vessel as an inanimate object. No roll needed.
  • Choose one narrow category of things. (Examples: Pots, Swords, Motors, Clocks, Rings, Dresses, Furniture, Ships, Paintings) The spirit gets +1 to any skill roll to make or repair that kind of item. No roll needed.
  • 1 Essence: Add (Ethereal Forces) to any roll to create or repair any mundane item. No roll needed if it's part of your chosen category.
  • 2-3 Essence: Add (Ethereal Forces) to any Enchantment roll. 2 Essence for talismans, 3 for celestial artifacts. -1 discount for items of your chosen category.
  • Primal: Choose a broader category of things. (Examples: Weapons, Metal, Clothing, Machines, Art) You get the bonus as for the narrow category above.

Books gives a bonus to create or alter books in a dream. The Rite is to read or write a book.
  • 1 Essence: Gain the ability to read a book no matter what its language, lasting until you finish or put down the book.
  • 1 Essence: Alter the contents of any book. Each use affects 1 page and lasts for (CD) days.
  • 2 Essence, Primal: Pick up any book and cause it to become any book that's ever been written, for as long as you're reading it. The book must, however, have actually been written, not just hypothetical, dreamed of or in Yves' Library. You must also know the title of the book you want.

Cold gives an affinity for the Songs of Ice. It gives a bonus to turn any dreamscape colder, or to introduce ice or snow. The Rite is to spend all night in sub-freezing temperatures.
  • 1 Essence/pound: Conjure ice from the air, shaped as you like, within line of sight, which will last for (CD) minutes unless heat is directly applied, then melt as normal for the temperature.
  • 1 Essence: Lower the temperature to freezing or by (10*CD) degrees if already freezing, for an area of (Ethereal forces) yards around you, lasting for (10*CD) minutes.
  • 1 Essence: Grant immunity to cold for (CD) hours to yourself, +1 Essence to give to another.
  • Primal: Permanent immunity to cold temperatures as above, self-only, for free, with no roll.

Deception grants an affinity for the Songs of Concealment and Deception. Gives a bonus to making things appear other than they are in a dream, including your own appearance. The Rite is to fool someone, either by a trick, simple deception or lie. A grand deception, determined by the GM, earns 2 Essence.
  • 2 Essence: Give a penalty to any roll to see through one of your deceptions, equal to (CD). This includes Detect Lies or Perception rolls, but only if the deception is not so obvious that no roll would be needed to see through it. It does not stack with any supernatural power, and does not interfere with supernatural detection.
  • 2 Essence, Primal: Within the restrictions noted above, you can lie with almost Balseraphic skill, and even transparent deceptions require a roll to see through.

Destruction grants an affinity for the Songs of Entropy. Gives a bonus to destroying dream-images or introducing scenes of destruction in a dream. The Rite is to destroy something with at least 1 Force or 4 HP beyond repair.
  • 1 Essence: Inflict (CD) damage on anything you can see. In the Marches, it can deal ethereal or celestial damage. This cannot be Dodged, but Protection works normally.
  • 2 Essence: Weaken the structure of an object, aging it (CD) years. This can affect anything you can see, even a mountain, but obviously a mountain can handle that easily.
  • 2 Essence: Weaken a living organism, reducing their Strength of the target by (CD), but only for resistance rolls. It recovers at a rate of 1 point per hour.

Divination grants an affinity for the Songs of Symphony. Gives a bonus to shaping prophetic or clairvoyant dreams - though the believed scenes need not be true. Some spirits can only use this affinity with one sense or otherwise be limited by another affinity. If so, they may spy on Earth from the Marches and vice versa. Otherwise, same plane only. The Rite is to successfully predict a future event, earned when the prediction comes true.
  • 1 or 3 Essence: Receive a vision, snatch of conversation, or some impression from a distant event that is relevant to you. The CD determines the relevance and length of the vision. 1 Essence covers one sense, 3 covers all senses. A vision of the future adds 1 Essence to the costs.
  • 2 or 4 Essence: Spy on any location you've been to before for (CD) minutes. 2 Essence for one sense, 4 for all.

Drowning/Suffocation give a bonus to putting dreamers in a situation where drowning or suffocation is possible. The Rite is to drown or suffocate someone, either corporeally or in a dream.
  • 2 Essence: Make someone feel like they're drowning or suffocating. The victim resists with Strength (or Intelligence or Dreaming in the Marches), or else they begin to lose 1 Strength per turn (on Earth) or Intelligence (in the Marches) until it hits 0, at which point they either black out or are expelled from the Marches. On awakening or somehow ending the attack, the victim suffers no real damage. Destroying you or sending you to another plane ends the attack.
  • 4 Essence: As a bove, but the suffocation or drowning is real unless resisted. When the Strength or Intelligence hits 0, they take 1d6 corporeal damage on Earth or are expelled from the Marches and gain a Discord as if they hit 0 Mind HP.
  • Primal: If you drown or suffocate someone, it causes no Disturbance with an affinity roll, no Essence cost.

Emotions is actually a category of affinities, one for each emotion. Love gives an affinity for the the Ethereal Song of Attraction, Joy for the Songs of Laughter, Fear for the Songs of Nightmares, Hatred for the Ethereal Song of Revulsion, and all for the Ethereal Song of Sensation. Gives a bonus to influence the moods of a dream towards that emotion. The Rite is to cause the appropriate emotion.
  • Detect all individuals in sight (but not via any media) who feel the emotion strongly, with a Perception roll, adding the level of any appropriate Discord. No cost or affinity roll needed.
  • 2 Essence: Cause someone to feel the emotion, as if they had a Discord with a level of (CD). If there is no appropriate Discord, the target feels it strongly and must roll Will minus the 'level' to behave otherwise. The victim may resist with Will. In a dreamscape, the victim's Will can be reduced by the CD of a Dreaming check. This lasts until they wake up, or transport themselves to the appropriate opposite side of the Marches for the emotion. In the corporeal, it lasts 24 hours or until they sleep and enter the appropriate opposite side of the Marches, whichever comes first.

Next time: Affinities

Dec 24, 2007

Evil Mastermind posted:

Next, we learn about The Victorian Majestic Charter. The Charter was hastily created shortly after the Victorians went over their bridge, both as a means of controlling this new colony and as a desperate attempt to get the Victorian economy moving again (since there's no way for them to get any kind of external resources back home).

The Charter was created and is managed by a consortium of 112 investors, very few of whom actually live in Majestic. The real control is by a board of 12 investors, and they're the ones who are plotting out the expansion and exploitation of the colony.

Majestic Twelve, cute.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011



As Mr. G. M. Young writes: "Nor can it escape the notice of men that the virtues of a Sacellum model are easily exchangeable with the virtues of a successful merchant or a rising manufacturer. To be serious, to redeem the time, to abstain from gambling, to remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy, to limit the gratification of the senses to the pleasures of a table lawfully earned and the embraces of a wife lawfully wedded, are virtues for which the reward is not laid up in Heaven only."

Max Weber's 'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism'. Nice.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Count Chocula posted:

Max Weber's 'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism'. Nice.
It's interesting; after the history of Gaea name-dropped all these people who the writer just assumed I'd be familiar with the major players of the Salem Witch Trials, I tried to look up the names in this chapter to see if they were based on real people. Turns out the people weren't, but the text was.

Which is another problem I have with this stuff. They drop these historical names and chunks of important text, but next say "oh by the way, this is based on our real-life %THING", but they always present it like I'm just supposed to get these references. I mean, this was 1992! Google didn't exist yet! Hell, if I didn't just search for the Salem names on a whim, I never would have known those were real-life historical figures.


Oct 4, 2006
Lord of Sarcasm

I liked the bit where the monsters are equally trapped in the cycle the Gaunt Man created and when one figures that out the Gaunt Man just laughs.

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