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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Note that one of the points of the Skalds is that they're a mixture of a bohemian artists' collective and the guys who would normally be the PCs in a character action game, so being a bunch of weirdos pushing in every direction actually works about half the time.

The other half of the time they die hilariously.

Aelfir are just delightful and my players are really excited to fight them.

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Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk








Chapter 7: Places of Interest - The Americas part 2






The Cascade Mountains
The Hook(s):
1. After Alaska, Seattle is the site of the Order of St. Gregory's biggest base of operations in the continental US.
2. The first well publicized sightings of UFOs in the US occurred in 1947 near Mt. Rainier. Also, Mt. Rainier is a dormant super volcano and if it ever erupted it'd likely wipe a large portion of Washington and Oregon off the map.
3. In the Cascade mountains east of Seattle, the Hoffman Institute maintains their private academy for developing human psychic potential, dubbed the Psi Academy. The private villa doesn't appear on any HI records and only agents with psionic potential are ever eligible to get an invitation. The Headmistress is Miranda Escovera, an elderly, hispanic, psychic woman that has personally trained every psychic operative that has been employed by HI. The Academy doesn't accept more than 4 students at a time, and the training regimen can take up to 6 years to fully master.
4. Deeper in the Cascade range, HI also maintains Temple Cascadia, an ultra top secret training facility that houses 32 elite Sasquatch warriors. HI "acquired" the Sasquatch embryos from Grey gene banks and has since raised them to act as their Tier 1 Operator Black Ops squad. This place is even more secret than the Psi Academy, which makes me wonder why HI would choose to place both of these groups in such close proximity (or not just combine them into a single facility). If you want to let your players have a Sasquatch on their team, this is the location that you can use as their base of operations.
My Take: It seems like both the Psi Academy and Temple Cascadia should have way more exposition/importance than they do, since these locations serves as the base of operations for any HI team that wants to include Mind Walkers or Sasquatch, respectively. Maybe they would have been expanded upon, had the Alternity brand not died on the vine when WotC bought out TSR, but as is they're little more than important footnotes that the GM would have to spend a non-trivial amount of time re-working into something usable.

Cheyenne Mountain
The Hook: Arguably the most secure military installation in the US, Cheyenne Mountain is home to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the US Space Commad, and the Air Force Space Command. The base itself has literally been carved out of the mountain and is supposedly capable of withstanding a direct hit from a 10KT nuclear warhead. This site is also one of several emergency locations that members of the US govt could retreat to in the event of a catastrophic national emergency (nuclear war, zombie plague, etc) and the site supposedly has enough fuel and supplies on hand to be self-sufficient for over a month.
My Take: This is another Sphinx as far as I'm concerned; although the book doesn't explicitly say "Nothing interesting is happening here" the level of security in place means that PCs aren't ever going to randomly drop in and explore. Either the GM decides that this location is central to his/her campaign, or else the place might as well not exist. Yawn.

Chicago
The Hook(s):
1. For unknown reasons, the global rise in dark matter levels hasn't actually had much of a direct impact on the geographic space that Chicago occupies. Because of this, HI has established the Chicago Specimen Collection and stores some of the most dangerous Stranger/alien/occult objects there. The low background levels of dark matter have actually caused several items to cease functioning or otherwise revert to a non-harmful state, so the site is under heavy surveillance lest any of these items spontaneously become dangerous again; certainly anything done to raise the ambient dark matter levels in Chicago could make this location exponentially more fatal to visit. Oh also HI has managed to keep the finer details of what happens at the CSC a secret from the local and national government, and they'd be extremely keen to raid the place if they knew what HI actually has stored there.
2. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery is haunted! The most famous ghost is the White Lady! It's just another location where the entire hook is G-G-G-GHOSTS.
3. Lower Wacker Drive is home to a fairly large commune of mole-people. Mostly they're hard to distinguish from regular homeless folks and they purposely lead unremarkable lives to better stay out of the public (human) eye. This particular commune is also the home of the self-appointed Mole King, a charismatic mole-person that believes that the mole-people are the next step in human evolution and that it's their destiny to inherit the world above ground and to turn surface dwellers into their slaves and etc. So far, none of the other inhabitants of the commune have cottoned to his schtick, but it's possible that his delusions of grandeur could lead to a direct conflict with the surface world.
My Take: The CSC is a cool idea and I can see staging a campaign just using HI agents that are stationed to work there. The Mole King is a little too pulp sci-fi to fit the general tone of Dark*Matter, but if your players wanted to have a less serious adventure with lower stakes, here you go. G-G-G-GHOSTS is getting long in the tooth now.

Greenland
The Hook(s):
1. The inhospitable interior of Greenland is buried under kilometers of glacial ice, but its covering untold Stranger dangers that are better left undisturbed. Unfortunately, the recent uptick in global warming is causing these ice sheets to melt, and it's only a matter of time before some kind of ancient horror is unleashed to plague humanity again. Denmark is nominally responsible for dictating Greenland politics, and it's implied that a few people in their government are aware that bad poo poo is buried under the ice and that's why they try to discourage anybody from prospecting around Greenland's interior.
2. One of the many strange things buried under the ice of Greenland is a functional Grey scout ship (the Vidunas). Supposedly lost since the final days of Atlantis, the generators, computers and internal machinery are still operational, awaiting the day that someone unearths it. The original crew has long since perished and the Greys have known that the ship is buried there for the last several thousand years, but they figured it wasn't worth the effort to recover (and then got very busy with all their machinations to turn Homo sapiens into a client species).
3. There's rumors that a Sasquatch commune exists somewhere within Greenland's interior. Skeptics point to the serious lack of food that would be required to support the nutritional requirements of a gang of huge carnivores, but maybe they've found other ways to feed themselves.
4. A meteorite crashed into Greenland's interior back in 1997, splitting into four distinct fragments. Rumors speculate that the meteor was actually a wayward alien spacecraft that malfunctioned and smashed back to earth. The Danish government launched the Tycho Brahe expedition to investigate the situation, and the official expedition reports are heavily edited. Whatever they did or did not find, someone in the Danish government has a vested interest in keeping the results of the expedition a secret.
5. The spear of Destiny may or may not be buried in a long forgotten Viking burial tomb somewhere along Greenland's multitude coastal cliffs. If the legends are true, it's guarded by some kind of serpent wizard and it carries an ancient curse, but it also triples a wielder's innate magical power. Various groups have sought it out over time (notably, the Nazis) but so far nobody's actually been able to lay claim to it.
My Take: It feels like they're trying to go for "What if the Mountains of Madness but on the North Pole" here. The buried Grey craft is the most detailed hook so that's probably the easiest one to work into a story (especially considering that HI has contact with several Grey conspiracies). It's all just a bunch of ice and snow and unremarkable tundra though so I'm having a hard time getting excited about it.


LOW/NO EFFORT HOOKS ABOUT G-G-G-GHOSTS: 5
SPHINX LOCATIONS/RED HERRINGS: 3


NEXT TIME: Even more stories about America!

White Coke
May 29, 2015


So is commonly known that two members of The Council aren’t Aelfir?

BinaryDoubts
Jun 6, 2013

Looking at it now, it really is disgusting. The flesh is transparent. From the start, I had no idea if it would even make a clapping sound. So I diligently reproduced everything about human hands, the bones, joints, and muscles, and then made them slap each other pretty hard.


White Coke posted:

So is commonly known that two members of The Council aren’t Aelfir?

Yes, although the drow member is essentially there as a token gesture and has no actual power, and the human has been suborned by the Intelligence (a cult of crystal-brain-implanting quasi-hivemind weirdos).

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Though the human's description notes he's taken to trying to get totally smashed to drown out the brain crystal.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Zomborgon posted:

The last one is so super-extra secret that it can only be found in a total, but not an enumeration.

They added a couple more that they weren't sure even existed but wanted to cover their bases.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Night10194 posted:

Though the human's description notes he's taken to trying to get totally smashed to drown out the brain crystal.

When I'm hosed up, that's the real me

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cultures: Purgare



Degenesis Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 2: Cultures


Chosen

When Anabaptists went out to search Europe for edenic rivers, they found out that the Adriatic sea had dried out. A glacial river, pure and blue, now connected Alps to the Mediterranean. Adriatic lowlands had quickly become the most fertile land in Purgare - must be all the dead fish providing fertilizer!

Anabaptists immediately decided that this was one of the four edenic rivers, and the Demiurge's army (in the form of Psychokinetics) was gathering to assault it.

Chosen posted:

It was so obvious. Right here in Purgare, the final battle for humanity’s destiny would be fought.

I thought the last battle was supposed to be fought in Briton!

Foul Paradise

My God, that title

But the Purgans weren't the only ones in the Adriatic valley. Balkhan was on the other side, which meant that some Balkhani tribes were getting in on the action. Seeing how troublesome those gits are, the first real war erupted in 2201.

The Purgans pushed the Balkhani back to their side of the river, but were destroyed in turn.

Foul Paradise posted:

The war began. For 300 years, the fortified camps defied the incendiary projectiles. Their wooden beams are blackened and hard as stone, the tin roofs worn out from hails of stone. Boats and rafts lie broken in the reed, swords gather rust in the mud at the banks. Moldy boots and belt buckles tell of desperate attacks and rearguard battles. Bombings with burning oil barrels have singed swathes into the fertile land.

Writers have no sense of (time) scale!

The Purgans mark their land with broken crosses to show their Anabaptist allegiance. The Balkhani answer with stylized ram's heads, as they have apparently forgotten their hatred of Jehammedans. On the other hand, the book states that the Balkhani do this in reference to Aries (some sort of Jehammedan god, I think, who at this point looks to be 100% a Bygone cyborg), who helped them in the fight against Purgans.

However, by the time the game begins, peace is found for the first time in hundreds of years, so Purgan/Anabaptist player characters won't get immediately murked when crossing to Balkhan.

Two Sides

The Apennines bisect Purgare in two from North to South. The mountains keeps the bad poo poo on the west side of the peninsula. The east side is where Purgans and Anabaptists live side by side and ready for war against Psychokinetics.

Bergamo

Bergamo, the city at the foothills of the Alps, remained isolated by “pyroclastic current” and poisonous vapors for years. That changed at some point, as the scouts from the Lombardi family who discovered Bergamo found it to be lush and green, and full of Bygone buildings and art stuff.

The Lombardi settled in Bergamo. They became rich when the Hellvetics built a fortress in Val Brembana – about 15 miles away, what is this Imperial bullshit in my Euro game - and created a route for people traveling to Reaper's Blow. The city is also bolstered by renegade and exiled Hellvetics. Apparently, the Apocalypse Swiss don't execute their traitors or war criminals.

Bergamo refused Anabaptists no matter what they said – or what gifts they brought. The truth came to light when the city started sheltering some Jehammedans. Now, Cathedral City forbids any Anabaptist to cross the Bergamo city gates.

Veneto

With Bergamo lost to poorly defined quasi-Islamic religious sect, Anabaptists turn to the Veneto region and the Catalanos that control them (they featured in the opening vignette). The family tree is big, yet it struggles to avoid entanglements (incest?) as most people in the region are intermarried.

Veneto posted:

The Catalanos cannot marry into the Lombardi family who they consider cursed and lost (which is partially due to the Anabaptists). The Sforza with their weaponry are their nemesis. Glowing embers are unwanted on a corn field, once and for all! The Modica think they are the cat’s whiskers and will soon be gone, while the Capodieci and the De Paulo are out of the question, being from southern Purgare. So the Catalanos stay among themselves.

Well, when you put it that way, Shelbyville, it seems perfectly reasonable to marry your cousin!

Many of the locals work the fields that feed Purgare (drat, that's some trade network!) and they view Anabaptists as lost brothers. The local superstitions have been replaced by the new faith, so yay, I guess.

Venice is also a part of the Catalanos domain. I guess the water level is much lower now, but the locals still don't dare to go there. There are rumors of a monstrosity that lives there, something that was snacking on Purgans even before the pacification of Cathedral City (I guess the meaning is "for a long time"). Of course, Anabaptists don't give a gently caress and go exploring. Most of them return.

Veneto posted:

But the Catalanos are not that sure, because who counts the gains and losses?

Still not sure what that means.

Santiago and Cruces

Santiago and Cruces are Spitalier hospital cities on the Adriatic coast catering to “those who have fought on the wrong side of the saber,” which I assume to mean “caught the wrong end of the sword” but could also be interpreted to mean “warcrime victims.”

These services are offered as a gift to Purgans and Anabaptists. However, it's a part of a Spitalian ploy to gain a beachhead in the Balkhans. Traveling through Pollen is troublesome, as they'd have to cross Pest, full of Dushani – and Spitaliers haven't yet bisected enough of them to get that sweet damage bonus. The area is also full of clanners on the move – infiltrating them is hard work – and there's also Chernobog to contend with.

Anabaptists and Jehammedans (who have many relatives in Justitian that depend on the goodness of Spitalians) help smuggle them across the Adriatic. Many are captured “before they get the chance to cut their first Dushani into ribbons with their Splayers.”

Santiago and Cruces posted:

As long as the Clans do not leave the land and step away from the spore fields, the Spital is not free to act. In the end, it is always the Purgans who have to cut the dams.

Again, not really sure what that means, unless the Purgans have Dwarf Fortress-like lava dams

The Maw

...is not the weird of god of WHFB ogres. Rather, it's the most approachable part of the Reaper's Blow.

The Maw posted:

A tri-angular bit of the continental shelf cuts deeply into the sea of vaporizing basalt. The air is dry and hot, ash flakes whirr across the plateau and swirl against stone altars on the wayside. Flags with broken crosses, riddled with burn holes, fly in the wind. Some are ancient: faded tatters, embroidered with family crests. Others have been put up only a few years or even days ago.

Metal

This is a favorite holiday destination of Anabaptists, who come here to push Psychonaut corpses over the edge and back into the hellish pit they came from. You see, according to their legend, humanity will only vanquish the Demiurge when it will be able to cross the Reaper's Blow on the bones of Psychonauts.

OK, now I want to play an Anabaptist.

Of course, the Maw has been eating those corpses for centuries and anybody can see that it's not filling up that much. Most Anabaptists consider the whole corpse-pushing thing a pilgrimage that connects them to their community.

Next time: more

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Note: this has nothing to do with actual anabaptists

E: seriously why steal the name describing the goddamn Amish and Menninites, it’s like calling a group in your game the Catholics but having nothing to do with actual Catholics

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 10:30 on May 30, 2018

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Mors Rattus posted:

Note: this has nothing to do with actual anabaptists

E: seriously why steal the name describing the goddamn Amish and Menninites, it’s like calling a group in your game the Catholics but having nothing to do with actual Catholics

IIRC, those were rather violent, at least the radical ones. And Anabaptists probably mean a lot to a German, especially one that had to learn about them in a history class, than some American cultists.

I remember one of the Neal Asher's books dunking on postapoc Anabaptists they were drowining people, but Neal Asher isn't a fan of religion in general, sooo...

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Uh

Please don’t call a bunch of generally quite nice people cultists, when the Amish and Mennonites are assholes it’s generally for the same reasons as anyone else, not inherently their faith

Also Mennonites make up the vast majority of today’s Anabaptists

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


I meant "cult" in that they're not really a major religious force out there, not for us Europeans, but I understand my choice of wording was off.

Anyways, I think they wanted to have the clash of religions going with references to real life, but not too close to real life, that's why we have not!Menonites and I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Islam.

There are the Annubites in Africa, but aren't going to hear much about them in the African section. However, let me remind you that Cultures is a 90 page chapter, while Cults is 190

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I have to wonder how you're supposed to keep track of the sheer amount of ideas thrown at the wall in Degenesis. Obviously you can simplify it by breaking it down regionally, but it feels like the kind of game with so much scope creep. It'd be much more effective if you narrowed it down to one region and really just worked with that, leaving the rest a mystery, but as it is it seems like just lacks any sort of coherency or focus as a game.

I imagine the main use of it is just to have a bunch of weird coffee table books, but as a game it seems remarkably overwrought.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Yeah, they could have just started with Borca for ze German market (gotta claw some of that back from The Dark Eye), and then fleshed it out with region books, but maybe they wanted the book to have appeal in other European countries, too.

Incidentally, the "DLCs" do expand on regions more.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





The specific thing Degenesis keeps making me think of is DotA fluff -- character backstories and so on. That is, it's got tons of zany ideas and evocative imagery, but they're just floating disconnected. This guy's from a city built hanging upside down inside the mouth of a gigantic fish monster? Awesome! How do they- uh, oh. You're literally not going to so much as refer to it outside of this sentence. I guess that's cool too.

That's fine for DotA since it's just background fluff that has nothing to do with the game and there's no need for it to fit together. You don't need any more info about Fish Mouth City; it's just supposed to be a cool mental image. But it makes for a really hollow and fragmented RPG setting. What if your players want to go there?

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Well, I guess the idea is that players can go to The Maw and other places, it's just that we don't yet know how a visit to Corpse would work mechanically.

Me, I'm waiting to see what sepsis mechanics we get for spore field attacks/exploration.

Speleothing
May 6, 2008

Spare batteries are pretty key.

Degenesis seems to be very old-school in that you're supposed to ignore everything you don't personally need this instant. It also seems insufferable.

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!


JcDent posted:

I meant "cult" in that they're not really a major religious force out there, not for us Europeans, but I understand my choice of wording was off.

I'd suggest "sect" rather than "cult," in the sense that they're an offshoot of a major religion that hasn't really become big enough to be its own.

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


Cult is one of those words that has obtained an extremely negative connotation. Like doomsday.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


DalaranJ posted:

Cult is one of those words that has obtained an extremely negative connotation. Like doomsday.

<insert hellworld joke>

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



My question about Degensis is a common complaint about these games: so what are the PCs supposed to be doing, exactly?

Mythenders, for all that I think it tries way too hard, at least has a crystal clear understanding of who the PCs are supposed to be and what they're supposed to be doing.

Spire isn't as laser focused, but sticks to a theme of bringing down the Man and provides lots of wrinkles and ways to go about it.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Save the world, duh. Primer is the overarching threat, but you can deal with individual spore fields, Ziggurats, Burn smugglers and so on. You can strike at the clans or fuckers like Chernobog. You can even try smoothing out local conflicts.

Maybe it will become clearer once we get to the rules. However, I started with the fluff because it's what gets me invested in a game. I don't have the analytical mindset to get into the mechanical side, so I'm never really excited about that stuff.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Black Crusade

God I am just done with the Imperium of Man

You know, one of the worst parts about 40k is how you can't escape the goddamn Imperium. Even the game that isn't supposed to revolve around them ends up devoting a hell of a lot of its page space to them and originally assumed your main goal was to go and invade them some day. I mention this because our setting section starts with yet another long description of all the various organs of the Imperium and having seen these things time after time after time in every book in this goddamn line, I am loving sick of the Administratum, the Arbites, etc. I suspect half the reason that BC ended up being 'let's stay in hell and have rad adventures' is just to get away from the smothering, all-consuming pervasiveness of the Imperium in this goddamn setting and gameline.

I'm gonna go off on a bit of a tangent here: One of 40k's problems has always been that it has a main character. Half of the armies in the setting are Imperials. *All* of the game books for the RPG are either about Imperials, or ostensibly are about fighting Imperials. Every alien race, every enemy, all of them are all assumed to constantly revolve around the Imperium. For a setting that's supposed to be so goddamn big and full of 'do whatever you want in 40k!' it sure seems like 'whatever you want' better include the fascist super-space empire at some point or another or you're not going to have much support for it. Even Chaos, usually a writer's pet in its own right, is generally defined entirely in opposition to and contrast to the Imperium of Man. Look at this gameline: Of the 6 mainline games (DH, RT, DW, OW, BC, and DH2e) five are entirely about Imperials and the sixth was originally designed to be about fighting them.

So rather than go over a slightly modified description of 80 different fictional brutal bureaucratic nightmares again, why don't I just assume that by this point you all know more than any of us could ever want to know about the loving Imperium and we get right to space hell?

Oh, right, you also get some little sections on using BC to cross-over/play in the other settings, but every 40kRP game is juuuuust different enough mechanically from the ones before it that actually doing crossplay is a huge pain in the rear end and generally not worth it. The big changes to how Unnaturals and fire rates and the entire melee system work in BC also makes it hard to make BC PCs into 'main villains' for the other lines like you could do with Tome of Corruption Chaos Lords in Fantasy.

We also get a short section on how the Eldar accidentally caused Slaanesh by being way too into high elven torture opera way back in the day, but we've already been over that old story, too.

Now, then, on to the Screaming Vortex, where you'll be doing most of your crazy guitar solos and head explosions. The Vortex is a spatial anomaly and warp-hell that has been around for at least 10,000 years. It exists so that we don't need to use the Eye of Terror and can make up our own space hell instead of having to tie together 80 badly written Black Library tie-in novels or however many of them actually talk about the Eye. Ages ago, this section of space was unusually full of paradise worlds; the whole region was cultivated by the Eldar as a crucible to produce child-species in for their own amusement. However, after awhile, the Eldar left the region and the surviving child-species who had migrated into the area were thrown into plague and war. Most of them fled along with their masters, but those who didn't began a long, painstaking process of slowly rebuilding their ancient heaven. Right on the cusp of succeeding, Slaanesh was born due to events far from the region that would be the Vortex and everything exploded, ruining all the hard work of generations. All the various non-human child species were annihilated in an instant, and the Screaming part of the Vortex is their endless psychic agony at what a contrived grimdark dick move this whole mess had turned out to be.

The screaming is literal, by the way. Everyone in the Vortex learns to tune it out eventually, but there is no escaping a low-level, constant screaming in the back of your mind the whole time you're there.

Later on, people would find it or worlds on the edge would slip into it when a cult managed to perform the correct rites to 'ascend' their planet and instead got it pulled into a lovely hell realm, because again: No-one wins with canon Chaos. No-one has ever been able to penetrate the true center of the Vortex and ensure that all the many non-human species have been properly written out of the setting to give more time to the humans. The Vortex is full of chaos and demon worlds, though, and it has the potential to be as great a threat as the Eye of Terror, should it ever gain a warlord as powerful and cunning as Abbadon the Despoiler.

Those of you familiar with the setting are now laughing, because by God is that a low bar. Abbadon is pretty famous for his model's inability to keep its arms on, his idiot topknot, and being a screaming saturday morning cartoon villain.

Next Time: Worlds and Peoples of the Vortex

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


JcDent posted:

Maybe it will become clearer once we get to the rules. However, I started with the fluff because it's what gets me invested in a game. I don't have the analytical mindset to get into the mechanical side, so I'm never really excited about that stuff.

It's not really mechanical so much as practical, or "Why people love Wraith: the Oblivion or Unknown Armies but almost never play them." There are a lot of great game settings that fail to approach the question of what you actually do in the game, which is a big problem with games with fascinating settings but that just approach them from a worldbuilding standpoint and not a structural standpoint. That's not to say you can't make those games work - you absolutely can. But they make you do the hard work of coming up with a premise and a focus, which more often than not leads to you ignoring the grand majority of the worldbuilding to fill those two needs.

Playing games like this is like spending 36 hours cramming for a test and finding out only 4 hours of that cramming was relevant when you sit down to take it. Granted, maybe that's 32 extra hours of really fascinating material. But it's not on the test.

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



I think the thing about Mythender that most rubs me the wrong way is the whole “mind controlling innocents into worshipping you, whether you want it or not.” It feels out of place. Maybe it feels too close to Beast’s heroes.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


It's an attempt to add some cheap depth to a silly power fantasy game that just comes off as even more mean-spirited and pointlessly grimdark.

Pointless grimdark to try (and fail) to add depth is a long-cherished nerd tradition.

Shart Carbuncle
Aug 4, 2004

Star Trek:
The Motion Picture


Alien Rope Burn posted:

It's not really mechanical so much as practical, or "Why people love Wraith: the Oblivion or Unknown Armies but almost never play them." There are a lot of great game settings that fail to approach the question of what you actually do in the game, which is a big problem with games with fascinating settings but that just approach them from a worldbuilding standpoint and not a structural standpoint. That's not to say you can't make those games work - you absolutely can. But they make you do the hard work of coming up with a premise and a focus, which more often than not leads to you ignoring the grand majority of the worldbuilding to fill those two needs.

Playing games like this is like spending 36 hours cramming for a test and finding out only 4 hours of that cramming was relevant when you sit down to take it. Granted, maybe that's 32 extra hours of really fascinating material. But it's not on the test.

This causes me so much anxiety. Thanks for putting it succinctly, because I've never known how to describe it, but I've felt this about a lot of games. I find it a lot with big, open-ended science fiction games, like Transhuman Space.

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

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


PurpleXVI posted:

I'd suggest "sect" rather than "cult," in the sense that they're an offshoot of a major religion that hasn't really become big enough to be its own.
This, and I would actually go further - cult isn't just negative but pejorative in the English usage.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


For a good example of why I've gotten so goddamn sick of 40k in the process of these reviews, look at the hook they just throw away in the Vortex. A fallen heaven full of the wondrous, surviving child-races of a mighty stellar empire could be so cool, but they just obliterate them all instantly and then have Imperial Humans bumble in and fall to evil and squat in the place instead, so it can be more standard 40k Human stuff.

For such a big setting that's supposed to be so rich and able to do 'anything' it sure does come back to the same old catholic space nazis all the goddamn time, doesn't it?

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Comrade Gorbash posted:

This, and I would actually go further - cult isn't just negative but pejorative in the English usage.

yeah, outside of discussing mystery cults in the hellenistic period, when someone says cult - one immediately think of Jim Jones or Tom Cruise's religion.

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


Werewolf game designers: “What word is best for describing a magic ritual focus object? Oh, I know! Fetish!”

senrath
Nov 3, 2009

Look Professor, a destruct switch!




DalaranJ posted:

Werewolf game designers: “What word is best for describing a magic ritual focus object? Oh, I know! Fetish!”

I mean, it makes perfect sense to me.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



DalaranJ posted:

Werewolf game designers: “What word is best for describing a magic ritual focus object? Oh, I know! Fetish!”

I mean it was a legit term for those things, in fact that's where the sexual term came from. But really, if you didn't think oWoD wasn't catering to the transformation/furry/zoo fetishists after the first splatbook, you are just fooling yourself.

Zomborgon
Feb 19, 2014

I don't even want to see what happens if you gain CHIM outside of a pre-coded system.





Mythender Part 9: The Tutorial Battle

I’m doing this part of the writeup way out of order, or rather, the book is misordered. This tutorial appears earlier in the book than the actual combat rules, which is odd because the page on “how to use this tutorial” states the assumption that at least one person has read those later rules. Bah, no matter.

If there’s even one player who’s new, the book constantly pushes the tutorial battle. It outlines the processes for Actions, Weapon and Blight charges, how Blights are created and destroyed, how Wounds work, and gaining power and Corruption.

There’s a lot of bits that I’ll skip over, since we’ve already seen the combat rules and it does a pretty comprehensive rules explanation, save for most of the Gifts. For those, there’s a handout with the Gift list that can substitute. There are some other rules with edge cases that it notes as getting passed over, but largely you could learn the combat part of the game just from the tutorial. I wouldn’t recommend it, but you could.

For some reason, we then get a whole page of GM endorsements and advice regarding the tutorial. The author may be getting a bit defensive.

Now we get to the fun bit of this writeup: there’s a good chunk of the tutorial that is given to the Mythmaster to read verbatim, all in italics. I’ll be heavily cherrypicking these, particularly stuff regarding Wounds and Corruption- most of the rules explanation is just fine. The first is a notification that occasional dice-cheating will occur so that rules can be shown adequately, like rotating dice so you get at least one success, and that you should explain what you're up to when cheating needs to occur. Fine.

In the first round, the Myth and the party just make Legendary actions, with the Myth using a Relic weapon so that the charges act more predictably. You’re encouraged to get people to use just one weapon throughout the fight, with each type represented so all of the rules come into play.

quote:

Thunder is how you generate more Lightning, but it’s also how you stay alive when some Myth tries to kill you…which we’ll get to as soon as the rules let me.

When you’re delivering lines like “as soon as the rules let me Wound you,” try to do so with a sense of devilish playfulness. Don’t come off like you’re a jerk.

As we shall continue to see, our GM is a bit bloodthirsty. And a bit pompous. Here’s how the Mythender turns start off:

quote:

Note that in a normal battle, if you cannot decide who’s turn it is because of arguing or indecision, and you bicker about it, your turns are all over and the next round begins. But don’t worry; I totally trust that you will be awesome and ready for action.

After they take their turns, we get the second Myth action, ending with creation of a Blight this time (stealing extra Lightning tokens if needed). Afterwards, the Mythenders will make actions of the next scale up, Mythic:

quote:

We’ve seen how a Legendary action works. Now we’ll do the next scale up, a Mythic action. This means you’ll roll the Mythic die! The Mythic die is pretty awesome, because you get extra stuff for it, all for the low, low price of corrupting your mortal soul! No biggie.

(After the roll and other rules…): So you’ve rolled the Mythic die! Congratulations! You’ve taken one step toward becoming a totally awesome god that your friends will probably End, if they survive this adventure. And for that, you get sweet stuff! But now we have to deal with Mythic Corruption and risking a piece of your mortal nature…

(if they had to progress Fate): Awesome! Not only did you push your Corruption, you’ve lost a piece of your mortality! That’s great!

Bloodthirsty, and REALLY happy to corrupt people. It gets a bit offputting. Then on the third Myth action:

quote:

Now we get to explore the fun of getting Wounded! Woo! And this round, we’ll talk about those Gifts you have... Now we’re going to explore the joys of being Wounded!

At least it doesn’t get overly exultant if people die, though if there’s no fatalities than you are supposed to ask for a volunteer. I think you can choose to die to any wound, actually, which can be useful in some cases.

If a player died, they also get in on the silly speeches:

quote:

Player: tell the Mythmaster that you’re going to survive this death. Feel free to add whatever wit or profanity you feel is appropriate. It’s not every day you get killed and then get to say “Actually, no I don’t.”

For the third Mythender round, we get at least one Titanic action, Mythic for the rest. For the one doing Titanic, the Mythmaster is directed to try to help them up the ante with the following:

quote:

Saying “Oh, is that all?” or similar may help, if the table has a sense of esprit de corps.

What was that you were saying earlier about saying “You know what would be more awesome?” That it invalidates people’s ideas? Take your own advice, game. At least it’s asking for further buildup rather than straight-up saying “that's not good enough,” but it's still disappointing.

If the Myth ends up dead midway through the round, it gets to live and retrieve one Thunder die just to make sure everyone gets to take their actions. If for any reason it ends up alive at the end of the round, the Mythmaster just says “meh, you’d have gotten it next round anyway” and declare it dead. Tutorial over, move along.

So, that was... fun, but it certainly wasn’t the end of the odd tone direction the game wants the Mythmaster to follow. Prepare for even more quotes; I cannot make this poo poo up.

Next time: Being a massive weirdo Mythmaster

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Oh boy. Whatever wit *or* profanity they choose? How epic.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Wow, what a great way to sell me on playing basically any other game.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Nothing makes me feel awesome and defiant like being instructed to swear.

Shart Carbuncle
Aug 4, 2004

Star Trek:
The Motion Picture


I felt embarrassed reading that stuff to myself. Reading it aloud for a group of people would make my soul leave my body.

In place of said soul, my earthly vessel would be filled only with sweat.

BinaryDoubts
Jun 6, 2013

Looking at it now, it really is disgusting. The flesh is transparent. From the start, I had no idea if it would even make a clapping sound. So I diligently reproduced everything about human hands, the bones, joints, and muscles, and then made them slap each other pretty hard.


Wikipedia Brown posted:

I felt embarrassed reading that stuff to myself. Reading it aloud for a group of people would make my soul leave my body.

In place of said soul, my earthly vessel would be filled only with sweat.

And I thought the ritual at the start of Ten Candles would make me cringe to explain. This is worse. So, so much worse.

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Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Wikipedia Brown posted:

This causes me so much anxiety. Thanks for putting it succinctly, because I've never known how to describe it, but I've felt this about a lot of games. I find it a lot with big, open-ended science fiction games, like Transhuman Space.

Yeah, it can definitely create this issue where you think you need to know all of Glorantha to run Glorantha or you'll be getting it wrong. When I ran games like Marvel Heroic I had to reassure my players in running the pregenerated characters that I didn't care if they got the character wrong or even know their continuity - "Just read the description that goes with the character and you'll be fine, you'll know more than some professional comics writers and whatever your interpretation is, it's perfectly valid."

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