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Glagha
Oct 13, 2008

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAaaAAAaaAAaAA
AAAAAAAaAAAAAaaAAA
AAAA
AaAAaaA
AAaaAAAAaaaAAAAAAA
AaaAaaAAAaaaaaAA



I'm kind of amused there's a whole category of monster who are just a bunch of dudes yelling feeeeeemaaaaaaaaaleeeeeeeeesssss

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


PurpleXVI posted:

Considering that Black Crusade is about both Chaos Marines and non-potato Heretics, does it have any support for playing a member of a particular Chaos Marine chapter? Or do you just grab the advances that seem most appropriate to being, say, an Alpha Marine, and then declare that's what you are?

I'll actually probably go through and cover all the Advanced Archetypes in the next update as part of putting stuff from the extra books in where it would fit in the main review, I think. But yes, you can play a Khorne Berserker, an Alpha Legionaire, etc.

You can also play a radical pirate king who is determined to be the most radical man in this radical land, or a drug-addled hyper-mercenary, or someone who can make Space-Marine-Alikes. Or Double Space Marines.

Battle Mad Ronin
Aug 26, 2017


Glagha posted:

I'm kind of amused there's a whole category of monster who are just a bunch of dudes yelling feeeeeemaaaaaaaaaleeeeeeeeesssss

Well yes, incels have been around for years now.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



potatocubed posted:

b]PONTIFF[/b]
Pontiffs are a range of weird-looking quasi-humanoid creatures who hate female gods and female priests. Male worshippers of male gods are fine, though. Naturally, they have a perfect ability to discern people's religion -- and, apparently, character class and gender, although that's not mentioned in the text.

They don't talk or communicate, which makes them at least 50% less interesting than they could be.

Acolyte
Low-level pontiffs (1 HD). They go peacefully about their business until they see a FEMALE PRIEST or an any-gendered priest of a FEMALE GODDESS. Then they go berserk and try to kill the offender.

Their alignment is Lawful Neutral!

What exactly is their business when they aren't enforcing the patriarchy?

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Mors Rattus posted:

What exactly is their business when they aren't enforcing the patriarchy?

Presumably their business is searching for those dastardly to unleash the power of on.

If you're going to use that monster you DEFINITELY need to ignore the thing about not talking and instead have them constantly ramble MRA poo poo.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Feinne posted:

If you're going to use that monster you DEFINITELY need to ignore the thing about not talking and instead have them constantly ramble MRA poo poo.

Except for the hierophants, who constantly ramble more coherent Jordan Peterson poo poo.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Black Crusade

Additional Heresy: Khorne Flavored

So, I found my extra books at last and thus will be detouring to cover the additional starting PC types that you can play as based upon the books of the Gods. One thing I dislike: All of these classes are markedly more powerful than the base classes and designed to represent a sort of 'advanced start' or prestige class in a system that doesn't actually have strict classes. This power comes in the form of higher base stats (which, recall, means their maxed out stats will be higher), better starting skills and talents, and having an average of 2 Special Abilities instead of one, with those special abilities usually being more powerful than the base classes and more specialized. This is not the kind of advantage you can truly make up for by just granting extra EXP to PCs who wanted to play normal classes and while everyone will be hilariously overpowered eventually, it's sort of unfair that the person who wants to play a Forsaken is going to be worse than the Alpha Legionnaire.

I don't know WHY they went that route, as it is. It would have been fine to just have variant abilities on the various special classes but balance them against the normal base classes. The specialist classes all start with extra Corruption, true, but also with extra Infamy.

The Khorne Berserker is a Space Marine, likely from the World Eaters legion, who likes killing things to a degree that makes other Space Marines uncomfortable. The Berserker is even better in melee than a standard Marine, and can come with a Chain Axe instead of Chain Sword if they wish. They get a big +5 to Str and WS, +9 Infamy, +15 Corruption, 16+d5 Wounds, and start Aligned to Khorne. If they ever lose this alignment, they lose all class abilities and -8 to all stats as Khorne pitches a fit. Their special abilities let them spend Infamy to make all enemies make a -10 WP test or suffer -20 to shoot at the Berserker for a turn, or the ability to spend Infamy to make a Str test to negate an enemy Parry OR ignore being murdered. The Khorne Berserker can just make a Toughness test and spend an Infamy Point to say 'I am too angry to be murdered' and continue as they were. There isn't really much to be said for them fluff-wise. They're angry murderers whose only passion in life is murder. If you looked up Khornate in a dictionary these guys would be the picture.

The Night Lords Space Marine is from the terrorist batman Legion of edgy 90s grimdark comic characters. They also like wearing stupid bat-hats. They get a boost of 5 to Strength and Willpower, 15 Corruption, 9 Infamy, 16+d5 Wounds, and some infiltration and intimidation skills on top of normal Marine stuff. They're also good with jet-packs but don't actually start with one, confusingly. They increase the bonuses to Stealth checks or penalties to shoot at them based on visual distortion (like smoke grenades or attacking at night) by 20. They can also spend time being spooky and preparing an enemy for the inevitable spooky assault of the Night Lord. If they do, they spend 2 Infamy and 2 days prep time per point of Fear they want to give their entire party, then make an Intimidate-20 test against the group they're trying to scare. If successful, they grant the whole party a Fear rating against that enemy. Their legion was run by a guy who was also violence batman and now they spend all their time hanging people from lighting fixtures and leaving them for the others to find, then popping out of the shadows and being scary. They are Unaligned.

The Xurant Frost Father is warrior-shaman of Khorne from a specific feral world within the Vortex. They are known as great war-leaders and hunters of mighty beasts, and the best go to the stars to continue to serve Baphtar (their name for Khorne) once they can no longer find challenges on their homeworld of Xur. They get +5 WS and Str, +3 Fel and WP, and +9 Infamy and +15 Corruption, plus 11+d5 Wounds. They're exceptional athletes, survivors, and melee fighters, as you'd expect. They also get a giant crab-lizard to ride. Also noted: Despite the name they can be men or women. Their specials are that they get bonuses to the Command skill after they accomplish mighty deeds (tests of -20 difficulty or harder) and gain a bonus Infamy point to spend like Fate if they do so without using Infamy. They can also spend Infamy to go berserk with the Frenzy talent (which doesn't suck like in Fantasy, it only gives bonuses now) and do so at an extra +5 WS, T, S, and WP. They have to slay a worthy opponent every now and then or they take penalties to Int, Fel, and Per. The opponent must be someone who can actually put up a fight; no slaughtering the weak for these warriors. They're aligned to Khorne, obviously.

The Chem Hunter of Messia is a crazy warboy from a post-apocalyptic hell planet hopped up on a variety of crazy pollutants from their homeland. They get +5 WS OR BS, +5 Str OR Tough, and +5 Per, plus the customary +9 Infamy +15 Corruption, and have 12+d5 Wounds. They're a lot like the Renegade in that they're the sort of professional dirty fighter archetype with a lot of skill to back it up; they know all sorts of streetfighting tricks but lack the wide range of weapon proficiency from Renegade. Their starting gear also sucks; just an assault rifle or lasgun and a chain weapon, with no armor. They make up for this by getting extra bonuses out of using combat drugs; any drug that provides a skill bonus provides them an extra +10, any that improves a stat provides an extra +1 Unnatural, but they take a -10 to tests against Addiction because we gotta have addiction rules for drugs, it's tradition. They can also make their own unique combat drug mixture (easy to get, 1 hour to prepare each dose) to remind them of home, and when inhaled the pollutants give +1 Unnatural Str and Toughness per dose taken for 2d10 minutes. If two doses are taken, it also grants them Frenzy and a +20 Toughness test to avoid taking d10 damage (reduced by TB but not armor). They can take as many doses at once as they like; each additional one makes the Tough test -10 harder. The drug mix also poisons the hell out of non-Chem-Hunters, inflicting 2d10 damage and Toxic 3 (Tough at -30 or take d10 unreducable damage) if they inhale it.

Next: Slaaneshi and the Power of Rock

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


The Pontifs seem like they were writen while screaming "gently caress you, Catholic mom" and/or high on Wiccan "witch-hunts were about suppressing the mother goddess!"

Also, post pictures.

Ultiville
Jan 14, 2005

The law protects no one unless it binds everyone, binds no one unless it protects everyone.



JcDent posted:

The Pontifs seem like they were writen while screaming "gently caress you, Catholic mom" and/or high on Wiccan "witch-hunts were about suppressing the mother goddess!"

Also, post pictures.

Given the general tone of the book I was more inclined towards ďI want to punish people for playing characters I donít likeĒ for those. Kind of like how lots of people use the paladin code not to challenge the paladin player but to punish them.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





JcDent posted:

Also, post pictures.

I want to see the scorpion drawn by someone who doesn't know what a scorpion should look like.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


JcDent posted:

The Pontifs seem like they were writen while screaming "gently caress you, Catholic mom" and/or high on Wiccan "witch-hunts were about suppressing the mother goddess!"

There definitely seems to be a correlation between some monsters and more extreme / regressive forms of Christianity. Whether this is intentional or otherwise is unclear. And does that mean god goes around making lobsters that hate people who curse or whatever the monsters are that punish infidelity and the like? If so, dick move, God.

Of course, squaring this with all the feminine aspects to the monsters you're supposed to stab the hell out of or those monsters just that specifically target women... is an exercise for the reader, I suppose.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Alien Rope Burn posted:

There definitely seems to be a correlation between some monsters and more extreme / regressive forms of Christianity. Whether this is intentional or otherwise is unclear. And does that mean god goes around making lobsters that hate people who curse or whatever the monsters are that punish infidelity and the like? If so, dick move, God.

Of course, squaring this with all the feminine aspects to the monsters you're supposed to stab the hell out of or those monsters just that specifically target women... is an exercise for the reader, I suppose.

Naturally, the reader has perfect tits.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Black Crusade

Additional Heresy, Slaaneshi Edition

Before I get into the Slaaneshi classes, I'd like to point out something about the Slaanesh book, Tome of Excess: There is basically no sexual menace or violence anywhere in the book. There's some creepy Hellraiser stuff about the love of all sensation, including pain, but there's no dwelling on or implication of rape and sexual menace. There's maybe an implication Slaaneshi like to gently caress in addition to the other stuff they get up to in a 'sex drugs and rock n' roll' way, but it's never dwelled on nor given any sort of game rules. The focus of the Tome of Excess is on new ways to use your unseemly high Fellowship to screw with people by embarrassing them in dance/insult fights in front of the court of darkness, new magic drugs to get crazy bonuses from, new styles of groupies who can fix your ego when you're feeling down after losing an insult fight, and ways to explode people with the power of rock.

So yes, Fantasy Flight Games wrote a Slaaneshi book full of rules you can actually use at a normal gaming table. There's still creepy devil stuff but it's more in line with "Slaanesh is the devil. Like, the one who buys souls in return for granting wishes." rather than "Rape Monsters." They made it possible to play a Slaaneshi without being creepy as hell and this is one of the reasons that I still regard them as a good developer despite all the glaring mechanical faults.

Noise Marines like it loud. These demonic rockers literally melt faces with solos played on massive amps and 'sonic cannons' that look like giant electric guitars. Marines don't feel many of the normal desires that humans do, or at least not in the ways humans do, so Slaaneshi Marines tend to go all in on the extremes of sensation instead. These Marines have exceptionally powerful senses, but are so inured to most things that only the most powerful metal stirs their hearts any longer. They get +5 Perception, +5 Ballistic Skill, and I'm going to stop listing the +9 Infamy/+15 Corruption because every Advanced Class has it, plus d5+16 Wounds. They're great shots and trained with their exotic Sonic Blasters, and have exceptional sensory abilities even for a Marine. Sadly, they only get the basic Sonic Blaster, which is pretty much a Bolter But With Full Auto, and will need to acquire the much cooler multi-mode Blastmaster (it can do HMG or explosive rocket launcher type stuff depending on if you're strumming fast or going for an explosive chord) or the doom-siren sound-flamer later to trick out their rig. They get +2 to Toughness, Fear, and Pinning tests (tests, not the stat) for every combatant in a battle (up to 12) as the noise makes it much better for them. They also get an inherent +20 to any test involving hearing. Finally, they can spend an Infamy point once per battle to either cause everyone within 50m to make a WP-20 save or gain d5 Fatigue, get Stunned for 2 rounds, or suffer Fear 2. Alternatively, they can spend it to increase the Pen and Damage of any Sonic weapon by their Perception bonus as they play the best goddamn solo they can muster. They are, naturally, Slaaneshi.

The Dark Apostle doesn't have anything to do with Slaanesh directly, outside of the fact that these Word Bearer Space Marines worship all 4 Gods of Chaos and use a lot of social rules for what they do. These are the true believers, the missionaries and leaders of Chaos who turn to the masses and tell them to rise up and offer themselves before the Eight Pointed Star. They are truly, genuinely loyal to Chaos, believing it to be the truth of the universe and believing Demonic Ascension to be the only worthwhile goal of existence. They get +5 Fellowship and Willpower, and their skills are much more socially oriented than most Marines, with lots of Charm and Command. They also come equipped wholly for demagoguery and missionary work in their talents; none of their class-specific talents are combat related, all are about moving big crowds of people. They have the special ability to convert people who are already favorable disposed to them to their flock, making them much more loyal, and they can use Interaction skills on much larger crowds than most characters with a single test. They can also consecrate ground in the name of the Gods, making ritual sites and unholy, corrupted places that aid in performing the most powerful of rites for an Infamy point and some time and tests spent to build the shrine. They're Unaligned, and honestly with their fluff it might get a little awkward if they Aligned.

The Pirate Prince of the Ragged Helix is our first Slaaneshi Human and they are evil(er) rogue traders who are even more extravagant and vain. These are the kings and queens of the pirates who via with one another in a constant competition to be the most radical man (woman) in this radical land. Any and all Pirate Princes have access to their own starship. Most of them worship Slaanesh because Slaanesh rewards outlandish showiness and vanity, and also because Slaanesh understands their constant desire for more wealth when they're already richer than anyone would ever need to be. They get +5 Intelligence, Fellowship, and Agility, d5+10 Wounds, and their skills and talents are basically what a Rogue Trader's should have been to get across what Rogue Traders were supposed to be: They can swashbuckle, charm, pilot their ship, shoot reasonably well, and talk their way out of danger. When making a Prince (or Princess) you choose something that is your specialty: Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, or Operate (Any One). Any time you spend an Infamy point for +10 to a test involving that specialty, you get an extra +10, for +20. However, if you fail, you make a WP-20 test or else you *must try again* as soon as possible. If you cannot try again or cannot succeed, you suffer -10 to Willpower and should complain about how it wasn't fair and they cheated or whatever until the end of the session. Princes are also better able to acquire Good or Best items, and have their own starship, which they get +10 to tests with; the party won't need to barter for transport, they can go in style aboard the Prince's flying space hell cathedral of luxury! They are aligned to Slaanesh.

The Flesh Shaper of Melancholia is *broken as hell*. These people come from a grey world of utter boredom where the servants of Slaanesh use this boredom to spur the locals to incredible desire. Some of them want things so much that they gain the ability to reshape their own flesh and that of others in order to seek some kind of excitement, and these gifted Shapers are taken up to orbit to begin initiation into the ways of Slaanesh. They seek to form for themselves and others bodies that no longer have limits, bodies that can change into whatever they need or want at the moment. They get a massive +10 Intelligence, +5 Fellowship, and +5 perception and 10+d5 Wounds, and skills relating to medicine, biology, evil occult knowledge, and interrogation. They're also surprisingly resilient with their Talents, having things like stun resistance or easier healing. Their special abilities and the Rite of Fleshmoulding are where they get nuts. A Flesh Shaper can spend Infamy and make a Medicae-10 test. If they succeed, for every DoS on the test they can grant themselves 1 point of an Unnatural stat (up to 4), Natural Armor, deadly natural weapons, and all kinds of other monster abilities. This lasts for an hour and then after that they have to make WP tests to avoid turning back to 'human'. They can also perform surgery on their minions to change their stats around.

The Rite of Fleshmoulding is the big one, though. They get some sacrificial victims and a subject (they can be their own subject) and then make a -20 Medicae or -0 Occult test over several hours. If they succeed, the subject gains from a variety of useful monster abilities like Regeneration or Unnatural Stats. Unnatural Stats or stats like Natural Armor gain a value equal to the DoS on the ritual test (up to 6, the holy number of Slaanesh). For each sacrificial victim used for the grafting and surgery, the subject gets one trait, up to 6 victims. So, sacrifice 6 cultists, roll high, and now you've got Unnatural Str and Toughness and Agility 6, 6 Natural Armor, Regeneration 6, and oh, why not, Unnatural Ballistic Skill or Size 6 or something. You can take a man or Marine and make them into an angry god, and this is *permanent*. If you fail the test the subject suffers a d10 +1 per DoF Rending critical effect and probably dies. But think of the power!

So yes, these are the guys who can take a person and make them into a better-than-space-marine or take a Marine and make them 50% more Space Marine than before. All it takes is a couple dead cultists and really, this is Chaos, those are a renewable resource. Oh, and they can still shapeshift after doing that to themselves.

Next Time: Tzeentch and a tricky race of space marines who like to steal

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Gently shove a rat, a Space Marine and an Ogryn into a teleporter and just keep hitting "send" until satisfied.

Speleothing
May 6, 2008

Spare batteries are pretty key.

Does nobody ever comment on how the Emperor's Children still call themselves that? Like what a dig at him, to be vain ultra-hedonists devoted to sensation and still say that they're his children

Edit: "I may be all about personal perfection, but have you any idea how vain that dude was?"

Speleothing fucked around with this message at 18:30 on Apr 26, 2018

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


Night10194 posted:

The Chem Hunter of Messia is a crazy warboy from a post-apocalyptic hell planet hopped up on a variety of crazy pollutants from their homeland.

...

The drug mix also poisons the hell out of non-Chem-Hunters, inflicting 2d10 damage and Toxic 3 (Tough at -30 or take d10 unreducable damage) if they inhale it.

So wait, you're saying I can make a Chaos Drug Lord who kills people with the fumes from his bong? That's kind of hilarious and amazing.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


PurpleXVI posted:

So wait, you're saying I can make a Chaos Drug Lord who kills people with the fumes from his bong? That's kind of hilarious and amazing.

Yes. You will also be from space mad max land, where warrior convoys of bikers and converted civilian vehicles fight great wars over massive drilling rigs and clean water.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Speleothing posted:

Does nobody ever comment on how the Emperor's Children still call themselves that? Like what a dig at him, to be vain ultra-hedonists devoted to sensation and still say that they're his children

Edit: "I may be all about personal perfection, but have you any idea how vain that dude was?"

They're being ironic, I think. Indeed, the Emperor's Children are Chaos' hipsters.

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


Ratoslov posted:

Except for the hierophants, who constantly ramble more coherent Jordan Peterson poo poo.
Peterson puts together prettier sounding sentences but on any further examination they make no more sense in either factual or even grammatical terms than the usual MRA bullshit.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Comrade Gorbash posted:

Peterson puts together prettier sounding sentences but on any further examination they make no more sense in either factual or even grammatical terms than the usual MRA bullshit.

Oh, yes, and that's why he's perfect for posh, leaderly MRA bullshit.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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






Have you ever heard of Ron Edwards? Heís kind of a big deal. Author of the games Sorcerer and Trollbabe, among others, and co-founder of The Forge, where he published the infamous essays System Does Matter, Fantasy Heartbreakers, and More Fantasy Heartbreakers. Among others. If youíre not familiar with the concept of a Fantasy Heartbreaker, well, this is the F&F thread. Wait another page or two and itíll come up.

It turns out that the whole time Edwards was discussing fantasy heartbreakers, he had a long-forgotten D&D homebrew, called Gray Magick, just sitting there in a manila folder. So he started a little project called the Heartbreaker Redemption Project on the Adept Press website, where he encouraged people to dust off their own heartbreakers and develop them. In 2014, Gray Magick was Kickstarted into Circle of Hands.

Edwards lists a lot of inspirations throughout the acknowledgements and first chapter, far too many to repeat here. Suffice to say that his influences within the hobby run from old school (The Fantasy Trip) to groundbreaking (Prince Valiant) to indie narrative (The Shadow of Yesterday) and even OSR (Lamentations of the Flame Princess). Literary influences include Moorcock, Poul Anderson, Sienkiewicz, and Karl Edward Wagner. He also recommends some philosophy, namely Wittgenstein and Nietzsche, and notes his inspirations from 70s prog rock (the title is a Uriah Heep song). Thatís not really my scene, but I promise Iíll write as much of this as I can while stoned to the gills and listening to Sleep.

Okay Just Tell Me What Itís About You Pedantic rear end in a top hat

Right.

Circle of Hands is set in a fantasy realm called the Crescent Land, an isolated region which forms the coast of a large bay to the east. Its people call themselves the Iron Folk. Their society is pre-medieval: primitive, poor, and violent. Culture is brutal and stagnant, not least because of the eternal war between black magic and white magic.

Black magic, called Rbaja (ur-bah-juh), is the force of chaos and pestilence. It maims and kills, inflames human passions to run out of control, raises vile undead, and summons insane demons. Left unchecked, Rbaja creates blasted wastelands full of rot and disease.

White magic, called Amboriyon, is the force of sterile purity. It heals and protects, quenches passion, summoning ruthless avatars and transcendent eidolons. Left unchecked, it creates idyllic cloud-citadels that call the people and lands below into a blinding light from which they will never return.

Most people are inclined to favour white magic over black magic, for obvious pragmatic reasons. But both are abstract cosmic forces that are ultimately incompatible with human life. Look at it this way: If wizards of Rbaja are Charles Manson, wizards of Amboriyon are Jim Jones.

Where You Come In

In the craggy coastal region of Rolke, something new is happening. A young king has seized power in the wake of decades of terrible magical wars, advised by an aged wizard who has somehow been practicing both kinds of magic without serving either side. The king has purged the land of wizards and declared a new strategy: use both kinds of magic, tactically, to oppose both Amboriyon and Rbaja.

A group of exceptional individuals has gathered around the king in Rolke. They are some of the best fighters in the Crescent Land, and they all know a mix of white and black magic. They are the Circle. Your PCs are knights of the Circle.



Sessions of Circle of Hands take the form of Ventures carried out by knights of the Circle. That means that a few Circle knights, that is you, heard about some problem or opportunity and rode off together to deal with it. Ventures are successful by default, usually; the game is about the impact it has on your characters and how they develop. The game is not about the political situation in Rolke. The king and his court are never depicted, and there are no rules concerning factions or domains.

Style and Content

Edwardsí voice and style in this book is unique, and I like it a great deal. Heís conversational, and sometimes he just drops references to help you visualize the world--ďI was thinking of Seven Samurai when I wrote this,Ē etc. The layout is sometimes a bit rambling, because he likes to include things like sidebars with a playtesterís take on his ideas, or give a broad overview before getting into details. Case in point, the first chapter starts with an Rundown (PDF) that lays out the game, its setting, and its rules in a couple pages.

Letís get this out of the way before we go any further: This game is set in a brutal pre-medieval society, and the background material frankly discusses injustices such as cold-blooded murder, rape, and torture.

Edwards insists that ďCircle of Hands is about survivorship, not victimhood.Ē He states that heís disgusted by the way that mass media harvests stories of trauma and commodifies them, and wants this game to be about confronting trauma, rather than exploiting it, via stories about hard people making hard choices. Later in the book are detailed procedures for setting boundaries and developing a consensus at the table on how to deal with these issues, if at all.


Chapter 1: Original Metal

This is Dark Age fantasy. Historians donít use that term anymore, but it applies. The landscape is beautiful but sparse, and action concerns monsters, magic, and combat.

Fantasy of this sort is often called Viking Age or Anglo-Saxon, but this isnít ancient Scandinavia or Britain with the serial numbers filed off. (Edwards says at itís closer to the 10th century Baltic, of which I know nothing.) Thereís no equivalent to the Roman Empire, as a touchstone for past glories, and no guarantee that this is all leading to chivalry or the Renaissance. If you want progress, you can start by killing that wizard over there.

I think the biggest buy-in for players of this game is that the institutions of the high medieval era, and whic you expect of a typical D&D campaign setting, simply havenít developed at all. Thereís no feudalism--no lord, no serfs, no manor. Thereís no monolithic religion--neither a Catholic Church nor the quasi-Roman ecumenical paganism of many fantasy campaign settings. The cutting edge of military technology, no pun intended, is mail hauberks and steel swords. Thereís no settlement big enough to be called a city. There isnít even any money!

So what do you have instead? Government is entirely local. Economy and society are managed by norms and customs, with hierarchies forming based on personal histories and relationships. Does this system, if it can even be called that, leave a lot of room for disagreement, jealousy, resentment, bullying, and simple misunderstanding? Isnít it under constant threat of breaking down into violence and terror? You bet. When the game isnít about bloody struggle, itís about the Circle knights dealing with a lot of scared and vulnerable people, most of them just trying to get by and get along.

GMing this Beast

It wouldnít be a Ron Edwards joint if there werenít prescribed methods for how to structure play, with diagrams.


GOTO sword

This is how Circle of Hands establishes setting. The backdrop is what the book gives you in the way of what a typical RPG calls its setting chapter, plus whatever details you fill in. The situation is what the group has prepared for play: the details of the latest Venture that the GM has prepared for this session, and the PCs that the players have created, with their history from previous sessions. The scene is where play actually happens.

Edwards makes these distinctions not only for the sake of organization, but to help establish the social contract at the table. Ron is responsible for the gameís backdrop. Everyone (but especially the GM) is responsible for the situation. Everyone is definitely responsible for how they play out scenes. He distinguishes two styles of dealing with controversial content, called No One Gets Hurt and I Will Not Abandon You. In the former, limits are made explicit from the beginning, and avoided in setting up situations and in play. In the latter, the players make each other aware of their feelings and are expected to respect one another, but not to outright avoid difficult issues. Circle of Hands is built around the latter.

Two specific techniques for handling content are Lines and Veils. Simply put: a Line means that you donít want something in the fiction, at all. A Veil means that you donít want it depicted directly. That is, it can be part of the backdrop or the situation, but not depicted in scenes of actual play.

(At this point I just want to say that I feel like Iím overselling the Mature Content a little. You can easily play this game without anybody getting raped or crucified. There are no rape monsters or whatever in this game, just frank reminders that oppression in the Middle Ages could be horrifying.)

Edwards even says ďIím butting into your game and establishing some Lines of my own, because I canít imagine running Circle of Hands without them.Ē He simply calls them Plot Armor. These are:

1. Circle knights donít die of infection. They theoretically could in this setting, but gently caress that.
2. Sex doesnít happen without the player initiating it.
3. Circle knights donít get pregnant unless itís the playerís idea.
4. Circle knights donít get raped. They theoretically could in this setting, but gently caress that a million times.

So why even propose dealing with this content in play at all? Edwardsí justification is that he wants to tell fantasy stories that are about the messiness and complexity of people and their lives, instead of one where going on an ďadventure,Ē slaying monsters, and getting treasures is just a procedural. Amboriyon and Rbaja both claim that theyíre good and evil, respectively, but both are abstract cosmic forces that are literally incompatible with the reality that humans live in. The Circle dealing with these forces while opposing them is basically symbolic of the need to create ethics and do some good in the world, against ideologies that are just imposed by force.

Why This Game?

Edwards wrote the game for the same reason anybody writes yet another fantasy game: You look at everything you can find, but feel thereís something you want thatís still missing. All of that got crammed into Circle of Hands, including some big ideals and a lot of little things. He wanted a game where combat felt desperate, damage feels like it hurts, and the value of a knife vs. a battleaxe was relevant to the situation. He wanted wizards to be crazy and weird and for magic to be alien and terrifying. He wanted to care about the characters, and for them to have real reasons for struggling and fighting. He wanted cosmic forces opposing each other without the PCs feeling like pawns.

Okay, enough pontificating. Next time Iíll talk about mountains and horses and axes and stuff. Iíll be trading off updates with Vampire, which will be getting back on track soon.


Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 14:02 on Apr 27, 2018

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Like all of Ron's work, I expect this to be enlightening and interesting, but ultimately something I don't want to play.

Impermanent
Apr 1, 2010








Looks good, tbh. Wouldn't mind HBO's D&D.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Circle of Mr. Hands.

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


Ratoslov posted:

Like all of Ron's work, I expect this to be enlightening and interesting, but ultimately something I don't want to play.

I agree. I don't think I and my players are in a state that we are strong or wise enough to play a game that is focused I Will Not Abandon You, but Ron's insight on game design is always welcome.

JackMann
Aug 11, 2010

Secure. Contain. Protect.


Fallen Rib

I figure I owe a real F&F to the thread. This won't be as interesting as Eldoru, but I think it'll be fairly useful.



Introduction to the Introduction:

Savage Worlds is a universal system developed by Pinnacle Entertainment Group, particularly Shane Hensley of Deadlands fame. Indeed, the system is in many ways a descendant of Deadlands by way of The Great Rail Wars.

It's a fairly simple, fast-paced RPG, though it's not without its flaws. I'm fairly partial to it; I had some good games with friends, and most of my professional RPG work has been in Savage Worlds.

Pinnacle has published a number of settings in this system, including Deadlands Reloaded, Slipstream, 50 Fathoms, and Weird Wars, as well as licensed games like Lankhmar, The Goon, RIFTS, Flash Gordon, and Solomon Kane.

While it's not published under an open license, they're very open to other publishers using their system, leading to many third-party settings like Accursed, Shaintar, Frostburn, Thin Blue Line, and Low Life. These vary in quality, but they give a lot of variety in the sorts of games you can run with the system.

Broadly speaking, Savage Worlds does well with pulpy, action-based games. It's more on the crunchy, tactical side of things.

I'm reviewing Savage Worlds Deluxe, which is the current edition of the game (at least until Savage Worlds Black comes out in a few months).

As a side note, I broke two of my fingers this week, and as a dedicated homerow typist, this is causing me all kinds of grief. While it's a nice, relatively light system, this might take a while.

Introduction

quote:

In barbaric worlds of fantasy and far-flung galaxies, great heroes battle for gold, glory, justice, or mere survival. Some wear mithril armor and wield massive swords glowing with magical energy. Others are commandos in the latest ballistic vests spraying lead from their submachine guns. Some arenít even human.

The book starts off by talking about the sort of adventures you can run with the system. It promises to focus more on action than bookkeeping. It also mentions the Setting Rules from later in the book that let you focus the game for a specific setting.

It also talks about what's changed in the current edition. Refreshingly, it has designer notes scattered throughout the book explaining the reasoning behind certain decisions.

It then tells you what you need to play the game: Dice, the action deck (a regular deck of playing cards with two jokers), a setting (either published or one you make yourself), and optionally, an adventure deck and miniatures.

Next it talks a bit about settings and plot point campaigns. Plot point campaigns are essentialy the Savage Worlds answer to Pathfinder's Adventure Paths. Instead of being fairly rigid, linear adventures, a plot point campaign is a series of related adventures that take characters through the main "plot" of the setting, but with lots of gaps where GMs can insert other adventures, called Savage Tales, or adventures the GM develops. When done well, PPCs give GMs a structure to follow while keeping things relatively loose to allow players to decide their own routes and plans.

Finally, it plugs the Pinnacle website, letting you know you can get settings, companions (genre books), adventures, accessories, and help on their forums. This is followed by full-page ads for various settings, like Deadlands, Weird Wars 2, Rippers, etc.

Next up is Character Creation.

gourdcaptain
Nov 16, 2012



Savage Worlds. Decent system, godawful layout and organization. Seriously, why is character creation before what any of it means? And equipment is very early for some reason too. And just... agh, it takes forever to find anything in Deluxe edition.

Comrade Koba
Jul 2, 2007





gourdcaptain posted:

Savage Worlds. Decent system, godawful layout and organization. Seriously, why is character creation before what any of it means? And equipment is very early for some reason too. And just... agh, it takes forever to find anything in Deluxe edition.

The paperback Explorers Edition isnít much better, but at least you can pick up a copy for whatís basically pocket change.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Good mechanics, good editing and layout, high production values... it's rare enough to have just one, let alone two or three.

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Alright, time to wrap up


CONTENT WARNING: misogyny, dead children, torture

JcDent posted:

Should have made a counter of monsters with snakes/tentacles instead of arms.

3 with tentacles instead of arms, and another 3 with snakes/tentacles growing from their shoulders.

By comparison there are 2-4 monsters with crotch-tentacles, depending on your definition of 'crotch' and 'tentacles'.

JcDent posted:

Also, post pictures.

I'll add the scorpion ('scorpion') picture here later, when I'm on a computer with the pdf.

JcDent posted:

The Pontifs seem like they were writen while screaming "gently caress you, Catholic mom" and/or high on Wiccan "witch-hunts were about suppressing the mother goddess!"

This is one of the recurring oddities of the Teratic Tome -- of the 116 monsters in the book, 9 have a weird 'punish the unbeliever' religious bent to them. It's only 7.75% but whenever religion or spirituality is brought up in this book it always comes with this 'and they really loving hate people who do religion wrong!' rider, which just makes me feel like the author is grinding some kind of axe here.

Likewise, there's only one monster in their which specifically punishes those who dissolve marriages, and another 3-4 (I forget exactly) who punish the adulterous, and while that's not a high number, it's a lot higher than (what I think is) the average number of adultery-focused monsters in an RPG bestiary.

And talking about adultery is the perfect lead-in to talking about the misogyny pervasive throughout this book. If you take unique female NPCs out of the picture you're left with ~13% of the monsters in this book being female for no good reason. That's about 1 in 8. There are 0 'always male' monsters apart from a handful of uniques.

Why does the ash ghast, an undead pyromaniac, take the form of a woman? Why does the eremite have a woman's body when the rest of it is monstrous? It's not difficult to write a bestiary entry that allows for creatures of both genders: even AD&D posited the existence of male sphinxes to go with the female one that already existed, and I know 3.x had maedar as male equivalents of medusae.

And that's not even counting the pontiffs, which -- as people have pointed out -- are MRA monsters. Or the way the adultery-punishers -- especially Eriophora -- disproportionately target women who were nearby when the adultery happened.

And of course, all those female monsters have their tits out in the art. (Well, all but one, plus all but one of the unique female NPCs.) And those tits are always, always perfect and unblemished, no matter how ruined or twisted the body they're attached to. Even the monsters with deadly crotch-tentacles have perfect tits. It's loving ridiculous.

The Teratic Tome credits 11 artists. Either the author wrote 'tits out, tits unblemished' in the art brief for every piece, or he failed to rein in the artists who just couldn't help but slap boobs on anything described as specifically female. These are both failures.

poo poo like this is why the OSR has a bad reputation! "Hey ladies, we see you primarily as monsters to slay but also we'd prefer it if you were hot."

Uggggggh.

Anyway, the dragons were p. cool and I like the clay thing which grows into a copy of someone, so dredging through this book wasn't a total loss.

STATS
Monsters: 116
Female Monsters: 14 (I'm deliberately skipping unique female NPCs for this count)
Female Monsters With Their Tits Out: 16 (I'm including unique female NPCs in this one though.)
Anti-Theist Monsters: 9
Worm Monsters: 4

I would be really interested in seeing similar stats for other bestiaries, if people have e.g. a Pathfinder bestiary to hand and feel like flipping through it. There might be something interesting in the numbers that come out.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!





The peninsular region known as the Seven Cities today was shaped by the old elven empire, its human vassals intentionally divided by the elves exploiting rivalries and grudges. The Great Retreat was a time of turmoil for the now-independent humans, and saw all manner of would-be emperors and warlords seeking a claim as rightful ruler. The larger cities managed to gain a level of security, but generations of war soon became a way of life for the Septimes (name for the people living in this region). But these are not viewed as dark times; on the contrary, just about every citizen looks on with pride that few other places in Midgard are more famed for its warriors.

METAPLOT: The big changes are listed right up front. The oracles of Hecate managed to find a way to imprison the sea god Nethus whose very form was shackled in his temple. 8 years ago he was freed, brainwashed into thinking that she was his wife instead of his true beloved. Mnemosyne. The latter goddess is imprisoned in the very same temple which held her husband, and whose tears sustain the sea gods' heart. Illyria has been conquered by the Mharoti Empire, causing the Septime city-states to consider an alliance among each other as well as foreign groups against the dragons. Nethus aided the fleets of Capleon, Kammae, and Triolo along with Nurian Theurges to destroy the main Mharoti armada in the Battle of the Golden Wave. The Shadowy Fey attached a section of the Stross Library to the Great Library of Friula, causing all manner of supernatural woes to occur. The former Mharoti Sultana is a guest of Emperor Loki in Valera, her political knowledge of the dragon empire a useful tool in gathering together a Septime Alliance. Mharoti soldiers landed troops on Kyprion, and Kammae attacked Capleon due to factions among the latter city having years of financial relationships with the Mharoti. The Black Strangles spread to Trombei's cavalry.

We have an outline on the city-states and their unique military and economic strengths, as well as some cultural notes which we will cover in their entries proper. Amusingly there would be eight cities, nine if we count the isle of Kyprion which is part of the region: Capleon, Friula, Illyria, Kammae, Melana, Triolo, Trombei, and Valera. Even when Illyria still stood in the 2012 guide it was still known as the Seven Cities. Melana is described as technically not part of the region proper due to its proximity to the Wasted West, and Kyprion is a vassal of Triolo. The latter explanations make sense, but you have to read the appropriate sections to suss it out.

The Season of War


We cannot cover the Seven Cities without an overview of their distinct military culture. Mavros the war god is the most popular deity and patron of every city save Kammae, where Hecate reigns supreme. Warfare can be conducted for a variety of reasons, but there are divinely-set rules and guidelines for proper conduct. First off, there are five traditional reasons a city must claim to commit war and be made public, there are clear designations between enemy soldiers and noncombatant civilians (who are not to be harmed save in self-defense), government soldiers and free companies alike must wear clear uniforms to denote allegiance, the campaigning season ends at the winter months, and diplomatic lines to negotiation between warring cities must be always remain open. This last part is important, as the financial profit motive for war is taken into account: razing a city and/or committing genocide against a population not only falls under a war crime in Mavros' teachings, it also robs a conquering city-state from potential new resources and tax revenue. Payment of tribute, ransoms generated from prisoner exchanges, and Condottieri-style mercenary companies prioritize monetary and tactical advantages of war over bloodlust and vengeance. Unfortunately the Mharoti Empire has no sense of adhering to these ancient traditions, which gives them an advantage due to lack of scruples but more or less earns them the enmity of just about every Septime.

METAPLOT: There were traditionally five legitimate reasons to call for war: to seize territory to which one has a proper claim, to secure Mavros' blessing, to avenge an insult against a ruler or people, to force payment of tribute, or to support an ally. Now with the fall of Illyria, punishing a city for supporting the Mharoti is now a sixth cause.

The Republic of Valera is our first stop. Although not the richest it is the most devout, and it's common for poor families to give their sons to be trained among the priests of Mavros. An empire in name only, its government is divided between an Emperor and the Senate, although a military coup moved almost all the power into the former's hands. Emperor Loki V (not the god) is popular among the people, although the Senators are ones to hold a grudge. He hosts ambassadors from the Wind Lords and Nuria Natal along with the deposed Sultana in the eventual goal of repelling the Mharoti invaders. The Sultana is doing this in hopes of gaining enough allies from abroad so that she can reclaim her former throne. All these political dealings take place in the Adelian Palace, a remnant of elven architecture. The Palace contains magical features from ambient lighting, hidden shadow portals, and secret tunnels which exit out into various smaller areas around the city. There's also a growing movement of elf-worshiping cults who believe the shadowy fey's return is a herald to lost glory days. They are easily manipulated by their would-be gods into performing dangerous acts and are one of Valera's growing dangers.

The Theocracy of Kammae Straboli, or Kammae for short, is a theocratic city-state undergoing a spot of nationalist fervor. The aid of Nethus' sea-titans and supernatural animals known as ghost-boars enhance their army's already respectable legions of warriors and divine spellcasters. Now that not one, but two gods are on their side and walk among the populace, it seems that Kammae Straboli has nowhere to go but up. But one of its social ills are requiem dens, addictive drugs which allow imbibers to speak to the ghosts of long-departed people. Even mages and priests use it to their advantage to commune with wise spirits from history, but the drug takes a potentially fatal toll on a person's mind and body. The Halls of the Oracle is a magnificent religious building, and the re-purposed High Sanctuary of the Waves sees the arrival of Nethus himself to bless an adoring faithful two to three times a year. In addition to divine services the oracles sell a magic drink called the Tears of Memory which invoke obscure lore, and there's a waiting queue of rich clients and more than a few would-be thieves with their eyes on discovering its secrets.

METAPLOT: 25 years ago Hecate and her greatest oracle managed to imprison the sea god Nethus in one of his temples in Kammae. They also robbed his Mnemosyne of any memories of her husband, and gave the couples' newborn daughter to be raised by said oracle. Hecate sought to find a way to add Nethus' faithful to hers, and via a backers-only adventure obtained as a stretch goal for one of Kobold Press' KickStarters, she tricked several bands of adventurers into gathering Nethus' divine spark in the belief it would free him. Instead it removed Nethus' heart, allowing him to fully fall under Hecate's sway. He now believes that the goddess was his true wife all along, and that his "captivity" was him being nursed back to health after a grievous assault from the Mharoti dragon gods. Dalyora Podella, Nethus' daughter, has now been raised into the role of the city's warleader for an eventual campaign against the Mharoti. Now Mnemosyne is the imprisoned one, her never-ending flow of tears sustaining Nethus' heart and also used by the priesthood of Hecate for fueling powerful divination spells.

We have a list of other sites near Kammae, from small towns to adventuring locations such as a volcanic mountain teeming with monsters and a legendary island with a ghost-haunted palace. The Ringwood hosts several isolated towns responsible for training elite units of Hecate as well as the creation of the ghost-boars, monsters imbued with the powers of Charon the god of death.



The Barony of Capleon is the southernmost of the Seven Cities and once counted Cindass and Roshgazi among its territories. Its ruling Baron Cazagoza sought to court favors with the Mharoti Empire...

METAPLOT: ...which bit him right in the rear end, causing a significant portion of his own population and people from the other city-states to call for his removal. It's no longer safe for dragonkin merchants to visit after violent hate crimes from "so-called patriots." This angered the Mharoti, viewing the Baron as a ruler who can't seem to keep his own populace in check. Cazagoza's few remaining allies are the City Council and some merchant families who rely upon his navy for protection.

Capleon's ironically-named City of Peace is home to some of the largest banking institutions in Midgard. The Salt and Spice Bank in particular is a veritable bazaar where speculative markets see the rise and fall of fortunes. The Southern Quarter is home to ethnic neighborhoods comprised of immigrants from Nuria Natal and Cindass. There's a gang problem of violent skirmishes which are kept in check by heavy fines for civil disruption and property damage...which implies that gangsters care about the rule of law. In regards to the seedier elements of the city, Lion's Rock is the Baron's secret prison of dissidents and a patriotic Guild of Poisoners use their talents to slay all manner of threats to the city-state. The Tumbles are the ruined Temple of Seoggotan, now hosting a floating tent-city and series of tunnels home to smugglers and desperate faithful huddling out of society's view. The priests of Seggotan were accused by Nethus of aiding Mharoti soldiers, and pronounced his judgment by demolishing the place. Finally there's a Roman-style colosseum known as the Blood of the Sea Arena whose proximity to the waterfront allows the building to host mock naval skirmishes at high tide.

The Canton of Melana is in the far north of the peninsula and as such controls much of the overland trade between themselves and the Crossroads. Its system of government elects a pair of Censors (traditionally a dwarf and human) to leadership, although the most recent elections propped up candidates of radically different ideologies: one is an expansionist named Seppo Voller who has support among dwarven monarchists who seek to "liberate" the Ironcrags, while the human Jacopo Massaro is more isolationist military-wise and seeks only to keep trade relations with neighbors open. The city-state's significant dwarven population lives in the Undercity, comprised of Ironcrag refugees who resisted the region's transition to a more democratic form of government. The book also points out that the Monarchists are gender-egalitarian in comparison to their Ironcrag cousins, who "cloister their women" and do not let them choose occupations based on merit and capability.* There's also a hidden tomb of the last dwarven monarchists. A collection of notes written by the last King's oracle sister contain many prophetic insights; these publications were banned by Malena's censors yet still circulate.

METAPLOT: Instead of a dwarf, the last Censor in the 2012 sourcebook was the kobold Vinzlo, who ushered in a new era of rights and respect for his people in the Undercity. After his term, he is now the leader of the Warren Guild, a group of kobold spies, couriers, trapmakers, and assassins.

Some other interesting sites around Melana include the warlock of the Scarlet Citadel and his private army who sells his talents to the highest bidder. There's also the abandoned Sinkhole Mine, whose bottom levels literally fell off into a huge bottomless pit many believe to lead to the other side of Midgard.


*I know that I pointed out earlier with Perunalia that Midgard is overall a patriarchal world, but the book doesn't exactly do a good job of showing this save in exceptions like the one above; the Ironcrags section of the Crossroads makes no mention of "cloistered women," so we have to find out about an important social aspect of their culture several chapters later in the book. Other gendered social norms in the setting are referenced in small snippets, like "giving a son" to Mavros' mostly-male priesthood or how Kariv women "drink and whore and gamble as much as the men do." This persists in several of Midgard's supplemeents, like how the aforementioned Kariv women are frequent targets of sexual assault from outsiders in Dwarves of the Ironcrags; or how in the Midgard Legends sourcebook there's a tale of how the gnoll scholar Calm-Tongue demonstrated to the people of the Northlands the value of women warriors. One of my pet peeves with Midgard is not that it has a patriarchal social system at all, but doesn't make this setting element obvious enough for prospective players and GMs. It's a major difference from otherwise-egalitarian settings out there, because a PC's gender in certain races or regions can be a significant hurdle socially if not mechanically. It would be like failing to mention that a certain nation in your setting is incapable of producing clerics, but said reference is buried under entries to an unrelated group later on in the book.



Friula, City of Secrets is no stranger to war, but that is not its strong suit. As the inherited legacy of a surviving monastery of a long-gone mystic order, Friula houses one of Midgard's greatest collections of books, scrolls, and records. Only the Magocracy of Allain and the Nurian temples of Thoth-Hermes can be count as its competitors. They even permitted Mharoti refugees and Arbonesse elves to donate their findings, much to the chagrin of other city-states. Friula's natural defenses include hills filled with basilisks so this is not a significant problem for them yet. The city's government is ruled over by the bibliotori, a council of 12 whose means of entry are by how much lore they can contribute to the city. They do not have control over the Great Library, which is presided over by the Keeper Lynnean Verdia...

METAPLOT: ...who is in fact a disguised silver dragon defector from the Mharoti Empire! There's an uprising of fear among the populace, as the Great Library's vaunted halls seem to grow in size into endlessly twisting dark corridors. More than a few visitors and scholars mysteriously vanished, and the bibliotori fiercely debate how to handle this problem. The bibliotori's newest member is Primus Balack Giolan, whose alliance with the hags of Ghostlight Reef granted him an endless supply of artifacts to donate. He is in favor of using adventurers to save the problems of the Great Library, but finds himself blocked by the Keeper and his peers in this regard. The Bibliotor Uthan Bianco's family lives under a curse where a demon will claim a newborn child unless the parents can answer its riddle. When he could not answer it on the eve of his daughter's birth he agreed to serve in her stead. Now the demon manipulates Uthan to vote against issues which would help solve the problems plaguing the Great Library.

The Great Library was a magical place even before the corruption. Living illusions, simulacrums of historical events, and eldritch guardians could be found within its halls along with a series of magical portals containing varying levels of danger. But two years ago the emergence of a portal to the Stross Family Library within the Plane of Shadow appeared. Its storehouses contained tomes believed not to exist or did not survive ancient cataclysms, such as Ankeshel vril technical manuals, a private diary of Baba Yaga, and tablets of the Southlands Titans. But the tradeoff is that one of the senior staff members is now enthralled to a demon, and a growing number of scholars and visitors are being killed and corrupted into shadowy thralls. Lynnean Verdia's fighting a desperate struggle, but even a dragon's power may not be enough...

There is not much in the way of interesting surrounding sites near Friula besides Ghostlight Reef, which reaches deep into the earth and is believed to lead to other planar worlds.

The Republic of Trombei is an economically powerful city-state with fertile farms and flanked by impassible marshes as natural defenses. The Republic's ruled by a council of landholders known as the Commune who elect a First Speaker to serve as a main administrator. Trombei's famed cavalry and centaur soldiers were a sight to behold in many campaigns, but the Black Strangles may cripple this great advantage. A dust goblin from the Wasted West perfected an alchemical compound to halt the process in horses, but with a 50% chance of killing the horse outright. As there are not enough clerics to eradicate the plague and those who do exist charge a pretty penny, the goblin's "miracle tonics" are the preferred option. Unfortunately the goblin's alchemy comes from moss scrapings of a Lovecraftian Waste Walker, and some of his racial brethren seek to kill him for this great heresy. The nearby settlement of Carpere is home to the annual Trombei Horse Fair, which sees tens of thousands of horses from mundane varieties to supernatural ones such as fey walkers and sleipnirs.

Other troubles facing Trombei include centaurs in an old elven fortress closing theirs doors after the appearance of the Black Strangles. There's also a renegade section of Ceres worshipers known as the Reapers who use vandalism along with poisoned sickles and scythes to strike out at merchants who reap the bounty of the harvests instead of the farmers. A crumbling former castle known as the Wreck is occupied by a coven of hag cannibals who seek to construct a golem out of flesh and bones. They hope to house the avatar of their evil god in this when the time is right.

The Republic of Triolo is home to corsairs famed across the western seas. The occupation of Illyria has hit the people hardest due to their proximity to said, and the Triolans are united in the goal of driving the Mharoti back. Its government is a complex system of two dozen merchant families, but the people who really get things done are its naval admirals: they include First Duke-Admiral Cadua, a minotaur who embarked on a voyage across Midgard where he sacrificed a horn, an eye, and a hand in exchange for peerless wisdom and a divine connection to Mavros. This earned him great acclaim when he returned to the city. Duke-Admiral Andreos Galatino is also a respected man, even as he spends most of his time in bed due to old age. Finally there's Commander Raniero Daliato, who heads Triolo's magical forces and elite units. Although Triolo is seeking alliances with the other city-states, there is worry among the leadership over the real reasons for Nethus' return which are only suspected, and Cadua is conflicted over when to send aid to Kyprion. For when he does, the dragons will attack Triolo directly.

Triolo's harbor city is home to a large amount of Illyrian refugees. They joined the military forces and naval occupations in vast numbers for the eventual hope of freeing their homeland, and a fortified island known as the Sphinix holds large trade fairs. The neighborhood of Spada Quays is home to many taverns, gambling halls, informal duels, and all matter of entertainment. The minotaurs live in a labyrinth-like Minotaur Quarter where they more or less rule themselves. The invasion of Kyprion has caused fierce debates among them over whether to protect Triolo first, or join their kin on the isles to fight the dragons. The Illyrian Quarter is a sprawling tent-city, and the Stews of Triolo are home to the city's artisans and well-educated sex workers who supplement their income with divination, mapmaking, and alliances with corsairs and merchants.

Factions near Triolo include Raguza, a city of pirates containing both licensed privateers and illegal scalawags; the griffon-mounted Sky Riders of Illyria who supplement Triolo with aerial scouting; the priesthood of Archae (one of Rava's masks) whose head oracle is magically frozen in sleep; and the secluded harbor of Turtle Cove, home to diabolist pirates unwelcome in Spada Quays and the rest of Triolo. One of Nethus' sea-titans, the Living Colossus, guards the habor of Raguza and single-handedly destroyed several enemy fleets.



The Serene Isle of Kyprion is not so serene anymore. Long the homeland of the minotaurs after the fall of their Moon Kingdom, Kyprion is a vassal of Triolo leaving its people without a true home of their own. Queen Kitane puts on a good public face as a serene priestess, but is privately angered over Triolo's refusal to send military aid. Although aware of the political realities of the dragons attacking Triolo in such a situation, this does little to alleviate feelings of betrayal.

Kyprion's capital is Vespra, a lush and well-maintained settlement whose inhabitants greatly value music. Queen Kitane invites guests to her Palace to sleep in her labyrinthine halls, but every night bloody screams can be heard. This lead to rumors that both enemies and friends are invited but only the latter survive the visit. A Great Labyrinth surrounds the palace as a defensive region, home to many ancestral shrines and temples to Hecate. At night its many beasts and traps activate, and several times a year a great hunt of convicted criminals is held throughout the maze as a festival. Vespra's other "blood sports" location is the the Dancer's Courtyard arena. The Courtyard hosts ritual combat, duels to solve disputes, and ritual sacrifices of prisoners of war and criminals to the gods. Petitioners seeking justice, mercy, or revenge can be granted by the Queen if the person can sing a good melody.

METAPLOT: Chamiras was once a modest settlement whose fine rope was crucial to the island's sailors and maritime trade. It also held a necropolis believed to hold a literal portal to the underworld. But as of the publishing of this Worldbook, it was invaded by a Mharoti Legion two months ago. They gained a foothold via magically created fog and invisibility spells, and most of the city's defenders were put to death. Now its inhabitants are press-ganged into working on defensive trenches and walls. The Legion leader Aarush Vedula wants to invade more of the island but her superiors want her to hold out for now, much to her consternation.

METAPLOT: The city of Gramvar is a ruined realm, home to undead and demonic forces let loose after its binders were slain by an aerial assault of fire dragons. A small detachment of guards have their hands full in containing the monstrosities.

Other locations include Longezza, whose population of Rava-worshiping weavers are exclusively women, and Spintarra whose great ironworks and mines supply Kyprion with its tools of war. There are Mharoti spies in the latter, and attempts to land Legions here have failed against the city's strong defenses.

Thoughts so far: I really, really like the Seven Cities. The region has a diversity of locations and adventure material. Get your hands on the Tears of Memory in Kammae and possibly discover the dark secret behind Nethus' subservience. Go delving in a haunted library in Friula one day, then hunt criminals for sport in Kyprion's maze the next. Put a stop to shadow fey cultists up to no good in Valera and free dissidents from Capleon's secret prison. And that's not including the region's potential for soldiers of fortune to profit from military campaigns and sieges!

Join us next time as we endure a trek across the Wasted West, the spellscarred ruins of demonic magocracies!

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 00:36 on Apr 28, 2018

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


Okay, there's something I've got to get off my chest: While I don't own every FFG 40krp book, I went through the ones I did have and only found one piece of art showing a person of color. And that is a 100% improvement over GW itself, where the only models and art that don't show pasty white people are the Salamanders, who, for those that don't know, are Space Marines with a geneseed defect that gives them blackface.

So I have to conclude that the Imperium of Man is a whites-only club, and anyone with different skin pigmentation is dealt with the same way mutants are.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





SirPhoebos posted:

Okay, there's something I've got to get off my chest: While I don't own every FFG 40krp book, I went through the ones I did have and only found one piece of art showing a person of color. And that is a 100% improvement over GW itself, where the only models and art that don't show pasty white people are the Salamanders, who, for those that don't know, are Space Marines with a geneseed defect that gives them blackface.

So I have to conclude that the Imperium of Man is a whites-only club, and anyone with different skin pigmentation is dealt with the same way mutants are.
Searching this topic led me to a reddit thread from 2012, and that's something that shouldn't happen to anyone. It did reveal that apparently the Salamanders chapter went from "dark brown skin tone, but like, normal for a human person" to "literally charcoal black" in an edition shift, which is charming.

Given the time scales of the setting, it would make complete sense to have a wide variety of appearances, doubtless including ones which don't pop up much nowadays but are entirely within the realm of human potential, like Cheddar man's skin/eye combo.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Doesn't help that most modern 40k art is almost all Ultramarines or Cadians, since there's nonwhite Imperial Guard regiments (the Tallarn Desert Raiders are a mix of both sides in the British-Arab wars, and there's one army that's oddly enough likewise both sides of British-Zulu Wars, black guys in British Colonial uniforms) and the White Scars are generally shown as Asian, but they don't get much major canon focus compared to the anglocentric or even alien sides.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.




I still find it funny that the homeworld of the Ultramarines is the same as the name of a local garage chain.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Ghost Leviathan posted:

Doesn't help that most modern 40k art is almost all Ultramarines or Cadians, since there's nonwhite Imperial Guard regiments (the Tallarn Desert Raiders are a mix of both sides in the British-Arab wars, and there's one army that's oddly enough likewise both sides of British-Zulu Wars, black guys in British Colonial uniforms) and the White Scars are generally shown as Asian, but they don't get much major canon focus compared to the anglocentric or even alien sides.

The Only war books actually have a lot of variety in the art for all the different Guard regiments. It does a great job of selling that this really is a pan-galactic megaculture.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Basically while the Space Marines have vague, cartoonish trappings resembling various historical empires and militaries, the Imperial Guard definitely goes all-out on the cultural inspirations to the point of clearly aiming for crossover appeal to the historical wargaming crowd. IIRC, one of the more recent Guard regiments, the Arkhan Confederates, are analogues to the CSA with gray uniforms and racist overtones. (which just opens another can of worms, though I don't know anything about the context. And I'm pretty sure the Civil War is popular among wargamers and historical re-enactors)

This can get a bit weird when you have different factions in the same setting that are different takes on the same real-life country/culture. IIRC there's three or four Guard regiments based on different periods of Russian history, and possibly some overlap between Space Marines and Imperial Guard themes, all having developed independently on unrelated planets. Kinda weird that, despite the Ultramarines apparently having their own mini-empire of worlds that's very well-run by all indications (helps that Ultramarines are vaguely Roman themed and their main gimmick is organisation and logistics) we don't see much of the presumably well-run and well equipped non-Marine forces that defend it.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


SirPhoebos posted:

Okay, there's something I've got to get off my chest: While I don't own every FFG 40krp book, I went through the ones I did have and only found one piece of art showing a person of color. And that is a 100% improvement over GW itself, where the only models and art that don't show pasty white people are the Salamanders, who, for those that don't know, are Space Marines with a geneseed defect that gives them blackface.

So I have to conclude that the Imperium of Man is a whites-only club, and anyone with different skin pigmentation is dealt with the same way mutants are.

This steadily changes over the line with FFG's art direction and is another thing they deserve some credit for; there are a lot more women and people of color in Only War than the prior books. Also they start making it explicit that as far as their writing is concerned, the Guard especially don't give a drat what gender you are as long as you can hold a lasgun (then throw it in the bin and use a useful weapon since you're a PC). It's a process, but it does get better.

Also their art of the Salamanders makes clear they're not in blackface or any poo poo like that.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 04:57 on Apr 28, 2018

White Coke
May 29, 2015


The thing is, pretty much every Space Marine can be black since they have an organ that rapidly adjusts the pigment in their skin to protect them from environmental factors, the Salamanders just have one that's always on thanks to mutations. The Raven Guard are all albinos because theirs is broken in a different way.

I think one of the Ultramarines's captains is black, and there are black Space Wolves but because the darker skinned population lives closer to the equator which is more geologically stable they don't produce as many candidates since they don't have to constantly fight each other over scraps of land that are constantly being created and destroyed by volcanic activity, so they're underrepresented.

Homosexuality is also tolerated, but it'd vary from planet to planet and there's the constant pressure to do your duty for the God Emperor and produce another platoon from your loins.

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marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

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



White Coke posted:

Homosexuality is also tolerated, but it'd vary from planet to planet and there's the constant pressure to do your duty for the God Emperor and produce another platoon from your loins.

Do you mean the Imperium in general or do the gigantic post humans actually get out of their power armor long enough to gently caress?

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