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Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.

Just call it Thule, imo.

I'd probably go with something like "Thule is a land in the midst of transition and change. Though Thule was converted by Vaticine missionaries centuries ago, much of Thule sided with the Objectionists and faith in the old ways remains undiminished in the hinterlands. Though Queen Christina Hannah has been dubbed the Leopard of the North by many for her brilliant military skill in conflicts with Sarmatia, Eisen, and the Vesten, her unconventional lifestyle has left her reign unsettled. And in the northern and eastern hinterlands of Thule where the old ways are still strong, so too are Horrors not unlike those plaguing Eisen."

Cythereal fucked around with this message at 21:06 on Jun 20, 2018

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
I'm really looking forward to seeing the Vesten and Ussurans, because man did 'Russia is basically still using axes and shieldwalls!' and 'Actually just vikings' stand out as weird as hell in the 1st version of the setting.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion


The Vesten/Vendel conflict between tradition, progress, respect, and freedom was one of the more engaging parts of 7s1e.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers posted:

Warning!

... hey, kids!

Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers posted:

Violence and the Supernatural

... are totally awesome!

Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers posted:

The fictional World of Riftsģ is violent, deadly, and filled with supernatural monsters, mutants, and stranger powers. Other dimensional beings, often referred to as "demons", torment, stal, and prey on humans. Other aliens, monsters, villains, gods and demigods, as well as magic, psychic powers, super abilities, insanity, and war are all elements in this book.

... to the extreme!

Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers posted:

Some parents may find the violence/magic and supernatural elements of the game inappropriate for young readers/players. We suggest parental discretion.

... NOT!





Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers, Part 1: "Johnny Z is a realist (not to mention an all-around great guy), so he had agreed early on to let me fill in the blanks and fine tune things as an co-author on the book."

So, time for a story: John Zeleznik turns in a draft, it's not good enough, Siembieda takes over and re-writes the whole thing- well, it's a familiar routine for Palladium fans. The twist ending this time is that Zeleznik is fine with this, from all accounts, being more of an artist than an author. So, like Wormwood was a showcase for the ideas of Timothy Truman and Flint Henry, this Dimension Book is basically a vehicle for Zeleznik's art. Zeleznik is an artist who at this point had done cover pieces for a variety of game lines, including Shadowrun and GURPS. He's also done work for novels, toys, magazines - and is still putting out covers on Palladium Books even recently.

However, this is a clawhammered book by any stretch. Despite attempts to tie it in, it doesn't really have any strong connection to the Rifts line - even less than Wormwood did. It's really more like a book for the Heroes Unlimited game, and is even marketed as a Rifts / Heroes Unlimited book. But the idea of dimensional portals and the basic interdimensionality of Rifts is seriously downplayed. It's basically its own thing, and probably would have been better off as a Heroes Unlimited setting book or its own game. As it is, it's a forgotten corner of the Rifts setting, and so I won't be giving it a lot of time. Sorry, Zeleznik. In addition, I'm going to have to do that just because it's dense. Even though it's 160 pages, Palladium clearly put it down to a smaller font (9 point) than usual, meaning there's a lot of :words: for me to process.



BIFF! POW! BARF!

Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers posted:

John spent most of his spare (and not so spare) time in 1995 working on the "Scrayper" project (later changed to "Skraypers" with a "k" because John though it looked more exotic and made for a better logo design.

Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers posted:

Some Words from John

+4 to strike, +2 to parry & dodge, +10% to save vs. coma/death?? Yikes!! I'm exhausted!

I've been painting covers for RPGs for nine or ten years and not until now have I realized the monumental effort and creativity required to make the inside of one of these drat things.

Well, let's get... let's get started. You may wonder what the hell a "Skrayper" is. Well. Get ready to wait, because first we're going to talk about the bad guys of this setting...


The Tarlok Empire

Dino-people from a dino-world, the Tarlok struggled for survival in a very harsh biosphere full of massive packs of not-quite-velociraptors. When they were enslaved by the larger sentient species of their world, the Lonara, they gained the protection they needed to multiply and forge civilization. Eventually they would overcome and succeed the Lonara not through revolution, but through through the slow erosion of population growth and civilization. The Lonara are now gone, while the Tarlok live on. Which is kind of a neat backstory. If only the Tarlok themselves maintained that sort of clever nuance. But no. The more I found out about them, the less interesting they became.

See, the raptor-eat-dinoman world of the Tarlok made them hyperaggressive. Once they developed spaceships roughly a millennium ago, they set out to conquer. Mind, they've had fifty millennia since they threw off the yoke of constant war and struggle, so you'd think they'd have developed somewhat. But no, not so. They're still hung up on fighting for the glory of their empire, gladiatorial games, and wrestling for the last raptor nugg. They're a strict stratocracy (that's rule by the military) with class being based on their length of military service and medals, with those not in the military serving as a minority underclass. We get a long line of titles from Emperor to BloodChief to Lokdog. Bloodchief. That could easily have been a Rob Liefeld comic, I'm pretty sure.



More spikes means more evil. That's a bonefact.

Supposedly they're highly honed kickassers thanks to the evolution on their world, and live up to to 300+ years today, and we get a lot of :words: on their biology, like:

Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers posted:

The fin and/or spine-like projections that crown the head, and protrude from the chin, jaw and eyebrows protect the face in a similar manner to the fins along the spine. The wildly biting jaws of swarming carnosaurs were much more likley to gran these hard protrusions rather than the (comparatively) soft issue of the face or eyes. To prevent the eyes from being torn out of their sockets, they are small, recessed, and protected by thick eyebrow ridges, eyebrow spines, and high, bony cheekbones.

I, okay, this is a lot of head detail-

Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers posted:

The Tarlok's thick skulls and dense bone structure affords them tremendous physical protection. A single powerful or repeated blows to, or severe shaking of, the human head will cause the brain to slam in to the skull casing and cause the brain to swell and even hemorrhage (resulting in concussion or worse), but not so with the Tarlok, for even their skull and brain cavity are designed for combat. The head-fins, spines, bony ridges and outcroppings often deflect the force of strikes to the th head. Their thick-hard skull is one inch thick at its thinnest, and 4-6 inches are ridges and areas built up with bone.

Okay I think we got the skinny on their skulls-

Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers posted:

This affords them great protection in and of itself, but the skull is shaped in such a way that it absorbs impact and disperses trauma. However, the most impressive defense against brain injury is the fact that the Tarlok brain is encased in a mucous membrance filled with a dozen small air sacks that cushion it from impact, not unlike the air-bag in an automobile.

We have the breakdown on their bones-

Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers posted:

Combat Note: The hard, bony fins, spines, and spike on head and face can be used to butt, jab, and even gore an opponent. Being on the receiving end of a Tarlok head butt feels like getting hit by a sledgehammer (equal to supernatural punch damage +1d6).

This concludes the very good reasons why I'll get to skip over enormous chunks of this book.

Dear Siembieda: don't you dare complain about not having enough space to fit something in a book ever again, because I've got four or so paragraphs on the healing properties of Tarlok saliva I never needed or wanted, but there it is. Including how they sometimes pump their own spit through their armor so they can- no, no, we're skipping. We're skipping the spit.



In space, nobody can see your rad spikes.

And since we're doing machodinos, time for some :biotruths: about how female Tarlok are banned from battle because "they are only 15% smaller and weaker than the males" and relegated to the "great honor and respect" of being housewives with 100-200 children. Wait, really? By themselves? Pretty sure anybody who can raise 200 children is going to be the more terrifying, badass gender, but that's just my view. Apparently that number comes from their long age and being relegated to being brood mares from the ages of 20 to 200. Such "great honor and respect" to remove all choice from the lives and reduce them to baby farms, I'm sure. We're told 75% of children are male, as if that makes any sense at all. Women over 200 years of age can join the military in purely support and clerical roles. As long as we're covering inequality, those with birth defects are generally killed by the mother and eaten by the father. "Man, I'm hungry, are you sure he doesn't look a little... off? His head's a little nommy, isn't it?" In the modern age sometimes they impose genetic alteration on those with obvious "faults" to become badass superwarriors, but traditionally it's bad babies get in daddy's tum-tum. Well, I guess they are bad guys.

Next: How to play a baby-eating misogynist dinosaur.


Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers posted:

Appearance: A thick, craned neck tapers to a small, squat head. One or two large fins crowd the head, while a number of small fins, spines, and spikes adorn the head in a wide variety of shapes.
A very good joke, indeed ó an excellent jest.

Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers posted:

S.D.C. or M.D.C. by Location:
Main Head Fin (1) - Equal to 20% of the main body.
Secondary Fins and Spikes (many) - Equal to 15% of the main body.
Head - Equal to 30% of the main body.
But is it not getting late? Will not they be awaiting us at the Detroit game center? Let us be gone.

Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers posted:

The fins that run from the top of the head, down the neck and long the spine evolved as a natural defense against small carnosaurs who swarm their prey and strike at the spine, neck, and joints to incapacitate their prey. The fins also serve...

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SIEMBIEDA!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
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wiegieman posted:

The Vesten/Vendel conflict between tradition, progress, respect, and freedom was one of the more engaging parts of 7s1e.

I have some bad news for you in a while.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion


Mors Rattus posted:

I have some bad news for you in a while.

Hence the qualifier at the end. I don't want to step on the review.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012

Halloween Jack posted:

It really does seem to have been designed by someone neuroatypical or with social anxiety issues as their ideal society.

Is it even possible to collect Albedo Anthropomorphics? It's strange to me that the RPG is pretty well known, but I don't see TPBs of the actual comics for sale anywhere.

If you're really curious, Steve Gallacci has been posting his old Erma Felna comics online for a couple years now.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk



my brain can't parse the title as anything but "sky rapers" and i know that's actually in indictment of my own mind etc. but seriously they should have picked a different title or spelling of the title for this

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

7th Sea 2: A Land Without A Future?

Ussura is seen as a backwards hinterland by most Theans, with a backwards faith and uneducated populace, whose nobles are barely noble at all. And yet, they say this with no small measure of fear, because the forests of Ussura have ears. Families in Ussura gather in the winter nights to tell stories of the Leshiye, the ancient spirits who give blessings and curses, and of the greatest of them all: Matushka, Mother Winter, who walks the woods with broom in hand to sweep children back to their homes...or to steal them and cook them if they do not show proper respect. Ussura is not kind or gentle, but its people are, and they are forged tougher than steel. The land is frozen almost all year, and when it isn't, it is coated in mud. They do not have working roads, dams or other modern infrastructure, and their hovels are primitive even by peasant standards.

If you actually talk to Ussurans, though, they are well fed. The place is not the wasteland it appears to be. The land produces crops almost impossibly, the people have luck with their traps, the fisherman gather hauls that'd make Avalon weep in envy. And yet, to those not born of Ussura, the land can seem actively malicious. Outsiders rarely find game, pick poison berries and mushrooms, lose track of landmarks. And yet the Ussurans wander through it all, wondering why everyone tells them Ussura is so harsh and inhospitable. Matushka provides all you need, does she not? If she is harsh, it is only to make them strong. The Ussurans are a short, broad people, and the nobles with the gift of sorcery can be told by the emerald green eyes that mark the favor of Matushka. (This is a change in 2e; in 1e, Matushka didn't exclusively grant her power to nobles.) Men typically wear long hair and beards, while women pull their hair back, and married women cover it with a babushka. They say that they care for the land, and so it cares for them. That's not to say the trees bear fruit on command or anything so silly - farming is still hard, but the good are rewarded and the bad punished. An Ussuran farmer that works hard through the year and puts his duty before his desire can expect a good harvest, even in a bad year. And no invasion of Ussura has ever gotten past the first river. Cathay's barbarian hordes died of plague and hunger, Eisen's General Johann von der Velde led an army into a deadly ice storm in the 500s...in midsummer. The Ussurans just accept this with practicality and good humor - it works. Why change it?

Ussura has two classes - muzhik and boyar. Muzhik are the peasantry, and they respect size and strength. Rural villages often hold contests of strength of all kinds, from arm wrestling to races to tug of war. Women are allowed to participate freely, but they tend to favor games where their greater stamina lets them make up for their lesser brawn. Boyars are the landowners, who collect a tax of crops in return for land usage. Their status is more to do with how much land they own, and while they sometimes take part in the games of strength, their power will never be as much if they have little land and great strength than if they are weak but wealthy. The greatest of the boyars are the royal family, whose head is known as the Czar or Czarina, a title taken from the Old Republic of Numa. While the title is usually inherited, the family that holds it can change if power shifts enough. All classes wear the same sorts of clothing - the long, warm clothes they call caftan. Boyars generally mark themselves by dying their clothing in bright reds and oranges, and active boyars that manage land favor bright red boots.

Muzhik eat a lot of bread, cabbage, bread, turnips, bread, cucumbers, bread, jam and bread, most popularly an unleavened bread called khleb. They eat eggs and milk more often than meat, which is usually taken only from the hunt. They also eat mushrooms, which they preserve as delicacies in winter. Their customs are dictated by the long winters and short summers. They work like madmen over the summer to get the crops harvested before first frost, and in winter, they spend most of their time in the home, near the stove, drinking and partying to make the isolation pass faster. Important talking is done over chay, a spiced tea, and is done at the kitchen table. Almost all families have a pechka, a central wood-burning stove, and guests are usually asked to sleep near or even on top of it for their comfort. On the last day of each week, the muzhiks take two hours out of their day to offer prayers of thanks to Matushka and the First Prophet at the village altar, typically led by the most educated man of the village. Most villages cannot actually afford a priest, see. Their most important day is Rebirth Day, third day of Corantine, which celebrates the eve of their bargain with Matushka. Every Ussuran, even children, pricks their left thumb with a needle and spills a drop of blood on the soil to nourish her, and the day is spent in song and prayer. In winter, families stay indoors and relax by telling stories, visiting neighbors, drinking and gaming. The game Squares has become extremely popular recently, as it takes several hours to play.

Because Ussura is so large and cold, no Ussuran would dare refuse hospitality to a visitor except under extreme circumstances. It's pretty much the same as murder to refuse them food and shelter, after all. Thus, they have a reputation for generosity. They have a relaxed attitude toward both table manners and casual nudity, and often partake in communal steam baths. After bathing in the steam as long as they can stand, bathers rub themselves down with snow or go swimming in a cold stream, then dry and redress. Foreigners are often shocked by the display - both out of scandal and awe at the ability to handle such brutal extremes. Ussuran carpentry is famous, especially their miniatures, and they are known to spend days on a single doll no bigger than a man's thumb. The work is often extremely detailed and precise, so much so that the seams are entirely invisible for foreigners. Every year, the town of Siev holds a great contest and woodcarvers come from across Ussura to compete, with prizes donated by attending boyars, varying wildly by year. Last year, the winner got a wonderful sleigh pulled by four fine dogs, and the year before that was 20 acres of land and the rank of minor boyar. Ussuran music is, by contrast, loud, boisterous and not entirely on-key. Most of the songs are deeply spiritual praises of the land, or fairy tales such as the legend of the first head of the Riasanovas, who earned the power to become the firebird. (It is unclear if this is a true story or not.)

The official faith of Ussura is the Ussuran Orthodox Church, which combines the teachings of the First Prophet with the native reverance for the leshiye - and most of all, Matushka. Matushka appears as an ancient matron with iron teeth and nails. Children must be polite to her, or she will eat them. However, she generously rewards respect. Ussurans hold that nature serves as a guide to behavior, and visitors that cannot understand this are often utterly baffled by Ussuran custom. The Orthodoxy ignores the Second and Third Prophets entirely, as they feel their messages go against the First's teachings and intent. Why change what works?

The Leshiye, on the other hand, are the nature spirits. They are ancient, powerful creatures that roam Ussura's wilds, blessing and cursing those they meet. All Leshiye are dangerous, even if usually beneficent. They are known to reward wisdom and punish disrespect, and they are no longer quite seen as gods. They are...something. Something other. The Orthodox Church has syncretized them into the faith in a way that most outsiders see as bizarre but Ussurans cannot deny. There are countless Leshiye, but some are greater than others. Matushka, of course, the Grandmother Winter, who is both cruel and giving. Children are taught to call all old women 'Little Grandmother' if met on the road, and always to treat them with respect and dignity, to avoid Matushka's wrath. Her counterpart is Chernobog, the Shadow on the Mountain, who is wicked and cruel and only curses those who disturb him. It is said he lives atop the mountains, hurling lightning at people. He doesn't reward the worthy or tolerate tricks, and his wrath is sudden and pitiless. Borovoi, the Forest Walker, is a huge, thick creature with grass for beard and teeth, and he helps lost travelers at times, and at others he leads them deeper into the woods, depending on how they treat him. Vir'ava, Mother of the Wood, is possibly Matushka's sister or possibly her daughter - it depends on the story. Maybe she's both. While she is never seen with Borovoi, they may be married. She is charitable but when offended she is known to lead people into the caves of napping bears.

The Czar, Keeper of the Knias Council, is the absolute ruler of Ussura. Some say Matushka will not allow a Czar she disapproves of to rule, and when the Czar dies, the Council mourns briefly and then rushes to fill the vacuum. His children may inherit, but they may not, if they cannot prove their strength and leadership. Right now, Ussura is in the midst of a succession struggle. The old Czar was a widower who disowned his eldest son, Ilya Sladivgorod Nikolovich, and remarried the young Eisen princess Ketheryna Fischler Dimitritova in the hopes of getting a new heir. However, he ended up dying mysteriously, and now both Ilya and Ketheryna vie for the throne. (This is a huge change from 1e.)

The Knias Douma is, technically, the Czar's council of advisors, and in most circumstances, were the power behind the throne. Now, however, all is in flux and no one can say who has true power. The boyars are, at least, usually good at manipulating the Czar. There are five Douma seats, each held by a specific family. First are the Novgorovs, rulers of the province Rurik, who control the northwestern trade routes with the Vendel League. Their symbol is the Great Wolf, the king of wolves, and the seat always belongs to a descendant of Arch-Duke Novgorov, who created the Knias Douma. The Novgorovs have the eternal right to cast their vote last in all issues, and their region is most populous of all. The current holder is Prince Aleksi Pavtlow Markov v'Novgorov, whose lack of ambition and mood swings mean that, unlike most Novgorovs, he does not lead the Douma. (This is another change from 1e, where he was very ambitious indeed.) The second seat is the Vladimirovich seat, rulers of Veche, whose sigil is Grandfather Bear, the largest of all bears. Theirs is the second-largest province but the least populated, though its capital, Siev, is a trade hub. Both they and Somojez sometimes trade with the Crescents, and see each other as rivals.

Somojev is ruled by the third family, the Pscovs. They hold the Eisen border but have great influence throughout Ussura, and they've adopted some Eisen culture. Their sigil is the armored drachen, and their province is home to beautiful monasteries and reliquaries, mostly within the Sorivdgrastov mountains, which they guard fiercely. The Pscovs descend from Grand Duke Vsevolod, who was sainted by the Church, and so they are called Tabularius, Guardians of the Faith. Their land is a bastion of the Orthodoxy. Fourth are the Riasanovas of Gallenia, who hold southeastern Ussura and sometimes trade with the Cathayans. Their sigil is Firebird, the burning hawk, and while their family is smaller than the other four, they are known for their ferocity. Last of them are the Pietrovs of Molhynia, who control the north and do only a small amount of trading. Their leader is the disturbing man called Koshchei, whose flesh is as waxen as a corpse and who, rumor has it, has held the seat for centuries - among other wild rumors. Their sigil is the raven before the setting sun.

Ussura primarily exports furs, honey and beeswax, bringing in spices, alcohol and steel. The boyars oversee the trade and have grown wealthy on it, even more than the hardest-working muzhiks might dream. Of course, most internal commerce is barter-based, as Ussura has no centralized coin. The Guilder is making some inroads, but unscrupulous merchants often misrepresent its value, which has made Ussurans somewhat distrustful of currency. You can't eat money, they say. Ussura has no standing army because it has never needed one. Every attempted invasion of Ussura, from the Crescents to the Eisen, have failed because of the land itself. Most boyars maintain home guards, of course, and the Czar has stelets, but that's about it. They do not have a navy, either, unless you count the fishing fleet in Grumfather Bay.

Despite their practicality and strong intellect, the Ussurans are extremely superstitious and have many ways to remove bad "blessings" or other problems. These are simple cures, for the most part, and often causes other nations to ridicule them. You must always plant a tree when a child is born, and so long as the tree flourishes, so will the child. If the child dies, legend has it, so will the tree. In Somojez, children must throw their baby teeth onto the roof and ask Matushka for an iron tooth in exchange. Flowers in even numbers are only given for deaths and tragedies, while odd numbers are used at all other times - and so, the Thean tradition of the dozen roses for a lady would likely be seen as a threat to her life. Every home, the Ussurans say, has its own domovoi, a gentle guardian spirit and a prankster, which lives inside the pechka oven. It will cause minor problems, steal socks, lose the knife and otherwise make mischief, but it is generally friendly.

quote:

Avalon: The Ussurans think the Avalons are great fun to have around. Their tricks delight like few other things. Of course, an Avalon who uses his abilities to rob or cheat an Ussuran is liable to gain a more persistent enemy than he anticipated. Ussurans have long memories.
Castille: "Although you Castillians are somewhat pig-headed, you have your hearts in the right place," a minor boyar once said to a visiting Castillian Bishop. It sums up the Ussuran opinion of the Castillians quite nicely.
Eisen: "There is something wrong with the land," is the general consensus among Ussurans on Eisen. Since they tend to equate a people's land with the people themselves, the Ussurans keep a careful watch on any Eisen they meet, half-convinced that he could go mad.
Montaigne: Ussurans have nothing but contempt for the Montaigne nobles. The use of Porte near an Ussuran causes him physical pain, and the Montaignes' callous disregard for others disgusts him.
Pirate Nations: Ussurans are unbothered by pirates. The only fleet Ussura has is a fishing fleet that sails on the Bay.
Sarmatian Commonwealth: A dangerous, backward, progressive, superstitious, overly pious gathering of conflicting ideals. Best to avoid them. Anyone clever enough to trick a demon is clever enough to trick you.
Vestenmennavenjar: The Ussurans are very pleased with their relationship with the Vendel League. Through their interactions with the League, they have been able to acquire so many new things, such as steel and spices.
Vodacce: Vodacce is a confusing and dangerous place for an Ussuran to find himself, and the Fate Witches are not to be trifled with.

The biggest changes here are a mix. Matushka's pantheon of Leshiye are cool; her favoritism for nobles now is less so. I liked her sorcery for being more egalitarian. Ivan and Ketheryna used to be married, and are now rivals for the throne, which is actually really cool. We get few details on the major NPCs, and only one named leader on the Knias Douma. He used to be a major, ambitious villain; now he appears to be very different. The Ussurans are presented as less backward and more suspicious of outside influences that don't provide obvious benefit - they're quite smart, they just have no patience for, say, currency that they can't get use out of.

Next time: Vesten.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
My first 7th Sea PC was an Ussuran peasant hero who came out to Western Theah to break a family curse, with his strong back and holy shapechanging magic.

It is a little sad to see they moved the Ussuran goddess to favoring the Nobility so.

DAD LOST MY IPOD
Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case


7th sea is stocking up a lot of goodwill from me just for nuking the Syrneth stuff. Also Iíve read through Sarmatian magic and itís cool as hell

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements



DAD LOST MY IPOD posted:

7th sea is stocking up a lot of goodwill from me just for nuking the Syrneth stuff. Also Iíve read through Sarmatian magic and itís cool as hell

Was that in the review? I think I missed it somehow, was that with the Golden Liberty setting info?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Try playing it with a GM in high school who starts out with just the core book and some extra material printed out from a website, then gets really excited about the game and buys all the supplemental material, then tries to follow it faithfully.

Our game suddenly went from 'heroic swashbuckling wizard-pirates' to 'Oh actually all those Inquisitors were right and now you're fighting devil locust aliens' and immediately ended when we were all like 'well that isn't the game we signed up for' and the GM got mad.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Joe Slowboat posted:

Was that in the review? I think I missed it somehow, was that with the Golden Liberty setting info?

It's to do with the Dievai. Basically, Sanderis is their sorcery and they make demonic pacts...but not for power. A Sanderis sorcerer is a demon's jailer, making deals for power as needed but searching for a way to kill the devil..

e: Sorcery is its own dang chapter and will be a bit before we get into details. It doesn't suck any more!

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.

DAD LOST MY IPOD posted:

7th sea is stocking up a lot of goodwill from me just for nuking the Syrneth stuff. Also Iíve read through Sarmatian magic and itís cool as hell

I liked the Syrneth as long as they were very, very dead and gone. The one game of 7th Sea I played in had a lot of fun with Renaissance-era Indiana Jones adventures through Syrneth ruins. I played a member of Die Kreuzritter who kept telling everyone the absolute truth as far as she knew about the Syrneth and the Bargainers, but no one ever believed a drat word she said, thinking she was just one of those Eisen who'd gone broken in the head.

I don't care for the changes to Ussura. I thought the dynamic of "What if Ivan the Terrible and Catherine the Great were married?" was interesting and fun, and I liked Matushka more when she cared much more about the peasants than the nobles.

Young Freud
Nov 26, 2006

Freaking Crumbum posted:

my brain can't parse the title as anything but "sky rapers" and i know that's actually in indictment of my own mind etc. but seriously they should have picked a different title or spelling of the title for this

Nope, that's how I'm reading it, too. It doesn't help that the "k' breaks the word and that added "y" basically guides you phonetically into "raper". If it wasn't there, it would just be "scraper" or "scrapper"

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Most of the time you don't read the individual letters of a word. Instead you look at a sample of the letters, the shape, etc. What happens with a word like "skraypers" is that your mind tries to find a good fit for the word shape and the letters, and naturally settles on either "(sky)scrapers" or "sky rapers" because those are the words it recognizes as looking like "skraypers". It's not really your fault for making the association, it's just how brains work.

Rand Brittain
Mar 25, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."
I mean, sorcery does kind of suck, insofar as it's nowhere near as powerful or useful as the game tries to imply, but it does have the advantage of being super rad.

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool

Toilet Rascal


Rulequest: The basic systems
When I read an explanation of the gameís basic systems that starts with a discussion of how Time works in both the game and the setting, I admit my eyes glaze over a bit, but thereís a few important things that should be a little later in the book. Iím pretty sure they already mentioned how skill rolls work but this is pretty bad for a reference.

  • Campaign Time: The game generally assumes youíll be doing an adventure a season, with the remaining time dedicated to your day job, religious services, community life and stitching your leg back on. There are 5 seasons in a year corresponding to the proper elements (The usual ones but with a rainy period after winter) and Sacred Time, where important rituals are done and you look at whatís coming up for your tribe. Weíll get to that later.
  • Real Time: Some things take as long for your adventurers as it does for your players, like talking.
  • Narrative Time: This is when the GM says several days pass, and they do. I donít know why you need to tell me this, Runequest.
  • Full Turn: 5 minutes or 25 melee rounds. I think this is mostly used for recovery stuff and some spell durations, although youíll rarely do anything that gets to this long and it isnít really a game where strict timekeeping is important, since the only game where it is is OD&D and nobody did it there.
  • Melee Round: A melee round is 12 seconds long and is the basic unit of time for combat. 12 seconds is oddly specific, and Iíll be discussing it more in the actual combat section
Thereís a list of how long it generally takes to do skills thatís mostly self-evident. The next section, before actually breaking down how skills work, is about the days of the week, and the different phases of the Red Moon that influence their magics. It doesnít mention what these do yet.

After going over the concept of Time, the Game System chapter starts discussing the Game System. It mentions that simple tasks should be an automatic success and not rolled, and checks should be saved for anything interesting or relevant. At itís most basic, your base chance to succeed at a skill is your rank in it, and you roll under it on percentile dice to succeed. You automatically succeed on a 1-5 and always fail on 96-100. Sometimes youíll want to test your raw attribute, so when you test those, you multiply the stat by a number depending on the taskís relative difficulty and try to roll under that on percentiles. Mostly these are used for opposed checks, but sometimes you need to cross a rickety bridge or something.

Thereís a little bit more granularity than just a pass/fail on the checks. You can get a Critical Success if you roll 5% or less of the target, which gives you an extra effect, a Special Success on 20% or less on the check that has some effects in combat and opposed checks but no extra effect, and Fumbles, where your seasoned hero stabs themselves if they roll 5% of the chance of failure. The system makes a lot of use of Opposed Checks, where two people roll at the same time and the winner is decided by the highest tier of success, so a special success defeats a regular one, and a crit beats that. The system uses these in some interesting ways, like doing opposed checks between runes and passions to handle internal character conflicts quickly. Thereís a short section about handling scores higher than 100%: Subtract from the score until itís at 100, then subtract the same amount from the opposing skill. You always fail 1/20th of the time, no matter what.

The book then finally explains Augments, which are probably my favourite part of the system. You can use your skills, runes and passions to give a bonus to whatever youíre trying to roll. Theyíre simple to use, you roll the augmenting skill beforehand, and the tier of success gives a percentage bonus to the main roll. A standard success gives you a 20% boost, which is a big deal. You are limited to only 1 augment per roll and you can only use each augmenting source once per session, but itís a flexible and easy way to add character, pull off cool stunts, patch up important skills or have intense narrative beats. Augmenting another playerís check is up to the GMís discretion for whatever reason, and it explicitly disallows augmenting other playerís checks with your own passions and runes.

Thereís also Resistance Rolls, which are kind of like opposed rolls but against a static target. The formula for achieving these is
code:
success = 50% + (active ◊ 5%) minus (passive ◊ 5%)
which isnít so bad if you have the stat times five written down somewhere, although they really should have been converted to percentages from the start and treated like skills, rather than use the different multipliers for checks. The only reason to have them in the 3d6 is for a couple of resources like Hit Points or Mana. Thereís a table you can use for the roll, at the very least.


It's worth mentioning the art in the book is very good

Next time: Damage and Conditions

Wrestlepig fucked around with this message at 00:49 on Jun 22, 2018

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: Ex-Vikings

Once upon a time, the Vestenmennavenjar were the msot terrifying pirates in the north. They came down with sword and fire, taking what they wanted. However, things are different now. See, while the class of ruling nobles, the jarls, controlled the nation, during the 1400s they ran low on money. They were, like many nobles, rich in land but poor in cash. Meanwhile, the merchant class, the carls, needed protection from banditry and piracy. The carls banded together to create an informal organization to protect their shipments, based out of the trade port Vendel. The local jarl, Eindridi Utterstrom, saw potential. He was already one of the most powerful and famous jarls, but he'd lost all three of his sons to battle the previous year and had become depressed. When the merchants came to ask for his help and offer him money, his advisor, Inger Holmstrom, spent three days convincing him to accept. It was money for nothing - no violence, but pay anyway. Utterstrom had always been a supporter of art, which is the main reason the carls picked him and his town in the first place, so he eventually agreed.

It's been 200 years since then, and the investment has paid off in ways no one could ever have guessed. The titles of carl and jarl remain, but they mean something different. No longer do the jarls rule the carls from above. They are equals in rank, and their land is an economic empire. They are one of the greatest economic powers in the world, if not the very top. The jarls sponsor, the carls organize, and the Guilder makes it go. The Vendel League was the most important thing to ever happen in Vesten history. It is a conglomeration of merchants and crafters not only in Vendel, but now across all of Theah. Almost every nation accepts the Guilder, which is the League's currency, and so they are a world power. They still raid the foreigners, but rather than fire and sword, now it's with smile and handshake.

Vestenmennavenjar has had no true Mjotuūr in at least 200 years - no high king. Various nobles have claimed the title over the years, but none held it long. It is the Vendel League that control the land now. The jarls still exist, serving as the Vesten military and maintaining peace on the border. They're rather like the sheriffs of Avalon, but with a lot more social distinction. The cultural change has merged warrior and merchant together into one person - two sides of one coin. And that is why the Guilder has a sword on one side and a wheel on the other.

The key element to understanding Vesten culture is wyrd. It means a lot, but in essence it is your destiny or your fate. The Vesten King of Gods, the Allfather, saw a glimpse of the future and knew - it was set, unchanging. This concept, that your life is predetermined, is extremely powerful among the Vesten. Wyrd is why they still have their caste system of jarl and carl. You are born to your role and do it to your best ability. If you avoid it, you will be punished by the wyrd. Merchants were born to be merchants, nobles to be nobles. That is how it is. There is no dishonor in either caste - dishonor has nothing to do with what you are, but in not respecting your wyrd.

Officially, the jarls still rule over the land parcels. They collect the taxes, command the armed forces, appoint officials, perform justice. The carls run the economy. They both rule, in different ways. Traditional authority lies with the jarls, while power often lies with the League, and thus the carls. The line where those end is often blurry, and much of it depends on the local authorities and their relationships. The League assigns a representative to each jarl, officially to advise and unofficially to keep them in line with what Vesten needs. Most of the jarl's authority is from tradition, while the carl's is from need. The jarl has the right to tax, but the carl determines how it is spent. The jarl's wyrd is to protect the land and its people from physical danger. The carl's is to make lives worth living. Jarls are warriors, and carls are providers. Without the jarl, the people would be slain. Without the carl, the people would starve, in mind and body. Both are essential roles, necessary roles for life. Every region thus is ruled by both a jarl and a carl. The jarl protects and serves as political liaison, while the carl is his exchequer and treasurer. The relationship between the two varies by region, and while the jarl has ultimate authority, these days, using it without the carl's blessing is seen as challenging his wyrd and disrespecting the carl's.

The Vesten name four virtues: courage, loyalty, honesty and luck. Courage is valor in the face of danger - but blind courage is just stupidity. Loyalty to family is first of all loyalties, for the land is dark and snowy most of the year and you must rely on family or die. Honesty is with yourself and your family first - you cannot be courageous if you lie to yourself and you cannot honor your family if you lie to them. And luck? Everyone is born with a measure of it. Some have more, some less, some none. Some just have the wrong kind. The Vesten also have a strong belief in the mystical relationship between mead and good stories. Both make you light-headed, both make you believe you can do things you didn't think were possible. And both can get you into a lot of trouble.

Vesten heavily favor warm clothes - long pants, furs, coats. They live near the polar circle, after all. It gets cold. Men usually wear a long shirt, a knee length leather tunic and linen or wool pants tied with a leather belt. They wear tall, pointed leather hats and leather or fur boots. Women just replace the shirt with a floor-length chemise and are otherwise similar. How ornate it is is up to the person wearing it. Lately, they've been incorporating foreign styles into traditional wear - primarily, they take from the Montaigne fashions and adapt it to Vesten traditional outfits. They have also recently invented the top hat, based on the Avalon flat cap, and it's quite popular within Vesten. Not anywhere else, yet.

Vesten's coin is the Guilder, which has transformed the continental economy. Merchants have to use only one currency, never worrying about exchange rates, and the Guilds declared that its value would be set and never change. Many national leaders were slow to realize the effects of this, but the merchants loved it. Guild houses will take Guilders or their nation's coin, but hte Guilder is so easy to use that all the merchants were eager to exchange for it, even at the 5% exchange rate they charged. Merchants could now track prices across nations, and so captains began to be hired to transport goods like fresh fruit, leather, spice. The Guilder is the most popular currency now, having made a world market economy, and as a result, visitors to Vesten are treated like nobles, no matter who or what they are. Vesten is a service economy, the first ever to exist, and business is booming. Tourism is their stock in trade.

The Vesten mainly eat fish, though they also like game meat, like rabbit or venison. They also import a lot of foreign delicacies along their trade routes - Vodacce wines, Castillian fruits, Montaigne bread, Avalon veal. The most important piece of literature they have is the Grumfather Cycle, a collection of epic poetry that describes the creation of the world, the rise and fall of gods and men, and the destruction of the universe in a final batttle. The people that remember and tell it are called skalds, keeping the memory alive, for they hold that a man's soul lives only if the living remember his name. Vesten music sounds primitive to most Theans, with a lot of percussion and lutes, and that music isn't for fun - it's for rituals. VEsten art is heavily invested in sculpture, painting and carving, and some of the most beautiful in the world deck the halls of the guildhouses, as artists seek prestige and patronage. Only Montaigne is their equal there.

The League Guild House is the largest building in VEndel, home to the nine Chairs and 91 Seats that control the Vendel economy. The League takes only Guilders at their auctions - they'll accept foreign coin in foreign lands, but at home, no other currency. The men and women in the Chairs bought their positions when the League was formed. A Chair cannot be bought - just inherited, and the men and women who invented the Guilder four years ago hold all nine Chairs. The Merchant's guild is led by Sigvald Gunnisen, known by most Theans as Master Val Mokk, his trade name. The Carpenter's Guild is Joris Braakenjorsen, called Master Joris Brak. The Blacksmith's Guild Chair is Slema Colbjorsdatter, called Mistress Sela Cole. The Jenny's Guild Chair is Madame Lorraine Weller of Avalon. The Brewer's Guild Chair is Jorgan Skaadalsen, called Master George Skard. The Miner's Guild Chair is Master Eladio Ballesteros of Castille. And, of course, there's Joseph Volker, butler and representative of the late Imperator Riefenstahl of Eisen.

The Vestenmennavenjar do not debate religion as other nations do. Their belief in their gods and their ancestors is not faith - it is fact. The priests can see the ancestors and call on their power, after all. Their rune magic is not magic at all - it is a miracle, gifted by the gods. The Vesten hold that a great hall awaits them after death, but only for those that die in battle. There, they await the coming of a great serpent that will, if they do not fight it, devour the world. The Vesten religion is a living myth, a spirit world that surrounds and interacts with the world. The spirits of ancestors live on, and by naming places for the dead, their myths live on as well. As long as their names are spoken, their souls remain in the afterlife. Those who master the runic arts are called the Ypperste Prest, the high priests. They can see the living myth around them at all times. The Vesten do have some sympathy for Objectionist doctrine and have allowed them into the nation, even sponsoring some cathedrals and universities of beautiful design. Indeed, they've recently begun a three-decade plan to build the tallest and most beautiful cathedral in the world, even greater than those of Montaigne.

The Vesten legal code is simple, but seems backwards to other Theans. It focues on the impromptu courts known as things, which heard arguments from both sides, then decided on a punishment, if required. They convened only when families couldn't resolve things themelves, and the decision had to be enforced by the family involved, which left weak families with little justice. The rise of carls to power changed all that. Now, the things are formal, and the jarl has a duty to enforce their decisions, generally via fines. Besides for murder, the Vesten have no corporal punishment - just fines. For murder, the murderer is branded on the forehead and exiled. If he returns, he is given the Death Brand and exiled again. He will not return again - death will find him. There is no High King and hasn't been for centuries. The Vendel found it wasn't necessary, and in fact believe the place has been running much better without one. Local jarls manage their lands, the League keeps the coins flowing, and when land disputes happen, a thing is called and the jarls stand in judgment, with the League enforcing the decision.

The Vesten army is made from both native soldiers and mercenaries. Their fleets are local navies and hired privateers. What they couldn't get from themselves, they hire, and their military has become one of the best in Theah. The Vendel Irregulars, as the mercenaries are known, are mainly highly paid Eisen, Avalons, Inish and Highlanders. There's been a lot of speculation about why the Sea Dogs don't like to attack Vesten pirates that terrorize the north - and some say it is due to a secret treaty between Elaine and some Chairs of the League. Despite their sophistication, the Vesten remain pirates at heart, and many rumors claim each jarl has their own privateer navy, though the Vendel League denies any knowledge of this.

quote:

Avalon: When Queen Elaine took the throne, she needed allies, and the Vendel League was in the right place at the right time. Both have put high stock in their privateers, but have kept to raiding the less scrupulous nobles and merchants - the Vodacce. A great deal of commerce, trade and communication go back and forth between Avalon and Vestenmennavenjar. The two are close allies...for now.
Castille: Suspicion has made Castille reluctant to adopt the Guilder into her economy despite Vesten assurances of neutrality, and the Vaticine Church has found many of its ships under fire from Vestenmennavenjar privateers lately. Needless to say, Castillians are highly suspicious of the pagan Northmen, but the Vendel League needes Castillian support if they wish to remove Vodacce from the international picture.
Eisen: Eisen is an opportunity that the Vendel League has not overlooked. The Eisen economy has collapsed and four of her Eisenfursten have already accepted the Guilder in lieu of the near-worthless Eisen mark.
Montaigne: No two Nations could be more chummy than Montaigne and Vestenmennavenjar. The two have used each other to make themselves very, very wealthy. However, the carls are very aware of l'Empereur's treatment of his subjects and do not approve. Many have called to cut off relations with Montaigne, but the steady flow of income currently has the vote.
Pirate Nations: The Vestenmennavenjar see piracy as a useful tool, but one they should control. They nver complain about the Vesten Raiders or Sea Dogs. And while they engage their own Buccaneer privateers, they despise freebooting pirates - Buccaneers and Brotherhood alike; "They are nothing more than lazy criminals perpetuating their lives of luxury and vice through violence."
Sarmatian Commonwealth: Many of the Vestenmennavenjar are impressed with this "Golden Liberty" Sarmatia has put forward. And with their forward-thinking Prince poised to take the throne, perhaps that backward little country can finally make a profit.
Ussura: As far as the Vendel League are concerned, Ussura is a large kingdom with limited potential. Ussuran crops are always plentiful, but when the League tries to exchange currency for produce, the farmers reply, "You expect me to feed my family with paper?" The current dispute for Czar means conflict and conflict always leads to profit, but some within the League want to help settle the dispute without violence. "Bloodshed costs more than coins."
Vodacce: If the Vodacce see the Vestenmennavenjar as usurpers, the League looks upon the Vodacce as cranky old men who refuse to look progress in the eye - even if it's holding a gun to their heads. But the Vodacce are still dangerous. Very dangerous. So long as they keep pointing that danger at each other, the League will continue to flourish.

The big thing here? The conflict is gone. In 1e, tradition and innovation were essentially at civil war with each other, as the Vendel gave up the old ways in pursuit of profit. What we have here is more organic and real-feeling, as they mix old tradition with new ideas. However, the conflict between Vesten and Vendel was also an extremely vibrant one in which both sides had some good points. Here, well...it feels like they lost something. I do like New Vesten, but I feel that in losing that internal conflict, they needed to replace it with one and didn't, at least in this book. Also, rune magic isn't in this book - it's in one of the Nation books. Whoops.

Next time: Vodacce.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.
If I were in charge, I probably would have kept Vendel and the Vesten separate and in conflict with each other, like they were originally. Move the more settled and complex internal conflict and shifts to that hypothetical Thule as not-Sweden.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Between that and a PLC that somehow isn't surrounded on all sides by enemies and bullshit, this is getting weird.

Barudak
May 7, 2007

Freaking Crumbum posted:

my brain can't parse the title as anything but "sky rapers" and i know that's actually in indictment of my own mind etc. but seriously they should have picked a different title or spelling of the title for this

Im in the exact same boat and honestly Ill just save everyone time and start pushing myself off into the sea on this here icefloe now.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!
Love how they straight up lifted Lithuanian words for Curronian (I think it's an extinct tribe of Balts). "Dievai" literally means "gods" and "sanderis" means "deal" - both words are very much in use today.

Know, I don't know Russian, but Chernobog could be literally translated to "black god," no?

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.

JcDent posted:

Love how they straight up lifted Lithuanian words for Curronian (I think it's an extinct tribe of Balts). "Dievai" literally means "gods" and "sanderis" means "deal" - both words are very much in use today.

Know, I don't know Russian, but Chernobog could be literally translated to "black god," no?

It can indeed. Chernobog is an actual, historical Slavic deity, albeit one we don't know a whole lot about.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

Mors Rattus posted:

e: Sorcery is its own dang chapter and will be a bit before we get into details. It doesn't suck any more!

Is it still inherently evil and using it helps destroy the world?

Foglet
Jun 17, 2014

Reality is an illusion.
The universe is a hologram.
Buy gold.

The Lone Badger posted:

Is it still inherently evil and using it helps destroy the world?
As far as I know, the whole "back in the Ancient Numa, the Syrneth gave magic to selected persons who eventually became progenitors of current noble lineages of Montaigne, Eisen, Castille and Vodacce; Ussuran shapeshifting, Vesten's runes and Avalon's glamour aren't even related to the single ancestor source of those four" (correct me if I'm wrong) premise has been axed completely.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Porte's still hard to use ethically if you aren't down for self-harm, Hexenwork is creepy and weird, and Sanderis involves, y'know, deals with demons.

But the whole Bargainers plotline appears to be gone for now, yes.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: The rear end in a top hat Country

Vodacce is a place of paranoid rules. Always check both shoulders, never meet a woman's eyes unless you know you can outfight her husband, and never turn your back on a challenge - you won't get a second chance to turn around. It is a dangerous, dangerous place for the reckless or stupid. Most of it is either swampy or mountainous along its mainland, with lots of mining but not a ton of farmland. It is divided into territories ruled by seven Merchant Princes, each of whom guards their resources closely. Treachery is common, even among family. It was once the seat of the Old Empire, but it's been centuries since that fell, and the capital lies empty. The Princes have rejected it and its promises of republic and debate in favor of spies and plots, turning their cities into miniature kingdoms rather than sharing an empire. Each Prince controls part of the nation's economy and exports - wine, craftwork, Syrneth artifacts, Crescent trade routes. Vodacce is a pretty sexist place - men fight and run things, with hot tempers and fast blades. Women are expected to be cold, calculating. Only the women of Vodacce possess sorcery, the Sorte Strega - fate witches. They are expected to aid their husbands by manipulating destiny itself.

Vodacce men are expected to have affairs and fall in love; respectable women do not. Married couples rarely meet before their wedding, though husbands are expected to send poetry and gifts once the engagement is finalized. However, most romance is directed instead at courtesans, who exist separate from other Vodacce women. Respectable women are illiterate, as the men fear it would make them too powerful. Courtesans, on the other hand, are expected to be highly educated, to better please their clients with discussion. The art and architecture of Vodacce, in general, is extremely open and jovial and intellectual - all a grand stage to play out the treachery upon. The cities build tall, making the best use of every possible bit of space and connecting the high buildings with treacherous bridges. It's beautiful but highly fragile - the entire thing could, with bad luck, fall into the sea. But hey, it's better than the politics. The Princes are all ruthless, but have reluctantly come together to fight a trade war with the Vendel. The problem is that each is watching for a chance to betray the others for personal gain, as well - after all, there haven't always been seven Princes. Once, there were as many as twelve...and once, as few as three.

Vodacce pride is strong, and Vodacce tempers hot. A man is judged by what he will fight over, by how much wealth he has, and by how he spends it. A proper man has enough money to spend it freely and without care, but only a fool is taken advantage of. The women, of course, must act differently. They rarely act publically, supporting their husbands by craftwork and magic, especially among the nobles. The divide in social class is stronger here than anywhere but Montaigne, but at least the peasant life isn't so harsh. The peasants work long hours, spending most of the day until noon farming, then take up to two hours for lunch, then nap. They wake again at four, working into the night. Once the chores are done, they eat dinner and sleep. That's their entire lives, really, outside of festivals and feast days. Above them are the middle class - artisans and merchants. Vodacce craftsmen are renowned for their skill, and bartering is the national pastime. A bargaining session can take hours, because a man who can't get a good deal is no man, and a woman who cannot shop properly for her household is worthless. In all cases, the wealthier and more powerful the urban people are, the further from the water they live. The poor live on the water or lower levels, while the middle class can afford higher floors, often on top of the roofs of the poor. Nobles and the very rich live in high, narrow buildings made with elaborate suspension, careful architecture and, often, a hint of magic.

The nobles of Vodacce descend from the Senatorial families of the Old Republic. The Merchant Princes, called signore, are not so extravagant as Montaigne nobles, but neither are they as dignified as Avalon. It is said that a Vodacce noble has two hearts - one that beats for duty, the other for love. The Princes take their titles deadly seriously, and their pride and wealth are both immense. They rarely gather together except on policy matters or extremely formal occasions, like weddings and funerals. Policy meetings are only ever held on neutral ground, to avoid bickering and tactical disadvantage. After all, they don't trust each other at all. They have, as a result, little chance to show off their wealth to each other, so they've found other methods to do it. They take turns holding elaborate feasts for the lesser nobles, who travel through the year, telling stories of the excesses of their hosts - all in the understanding that the current host will go out of their way to outdo the last. Some say that Vodacce spends too much on wine and finery, to the detriment of her Princes, but for Vodacce, wealth is the tool of pride, not the end goal.

The courtesans are a social class to themselves - professional prostitutes of extreme skill and education. To Vodacce men, romance is a virtue, and a man is expected to court women even after marriage. Marriage is politics, not love. Women of good breeding must be modest and shy, so they make poor targets for romance - and so the courtesans exist. A man can talk to a courtesan about things he'd never say to his wife, can take her places where proper women cannot go, and when he is done praising her as a goddess of love, he can move on. Vodacce courtesans are renowned for their knowledge of etiquette, music, the arts and scholarship. The job is often handed down from mother to daughter, and they are allowed to break most Vodacce rules on the roles of women. They can read, attend university, act in public - anywhere their clients choose to be, in fact. However, there are disadvantages. Vodacce noblewomen are highly limited, but they are kept very safe and secure, while a courtesan must survive on her wits, trying to curry favor with nobles who will defend her if she has problems. It's easy to spot a courtesan - they are the women in bright colors, covered in jewels and libertine styles of dress, who always wear decorative masks in public, usually patterned on animals and covering only parts of the face. (In theory, this is to add an element of excitement to their image; in practice, it is also to protect their identities from wives.)

Noblewomen, on the other hand, tend to be among the least educated women in Theah. Those born with Sorte are never taught to read - an act only vulgar women do, anyway. Church scholars have, in the past, often said that this is an ideal example of the price mortals pay for sorcery. Enlightenment, you see, comes from knowledge - and if a soul is forbidden knowledge, how can they know grace? Sorte, the power to see the strands of fate and manipulate them, is possessed only by women - a fact that enraged the men who first bargained for the power from mysterious forces, and so they made the traditions that still hold sway over women today. Women with the gift are expected to serve their father until they marry, when they then serve their husbands. They wear modest black dresses and thick veils, so that their eyes can never meet those of any man not their husband.

The ultimate sin for a Vodacce man is to show cowardice. Duels among the Vodacce are extremely common, over even minor slights. Dishonor is not in picking fights, you see, but in declining them. These duels aren't usually fatal, but instead to the scarring - whoever can scar the opponent worse wins. Sometimes, they're to first blood. Vodacce men are also expected to keep their promises. Breaking your word is shameful to you and your family, and your family's patriarch will punish you for it. Of course, openly doubting the word of your social superiors is cause for a duel to the death. Vodacce men, like courtesans, wear their wealth openly and opulently, favoring brocades, velvet and leather in dark shades. Women wear simpler clothes, and neither sex wears faceted gems or mirrors - it is bad luck to see your own reflection in more than one place at a time. Noblemen wear baggy, loose trousers, linen shirts with loose sleeves and flared cuffs, and heavy embroidery. They usually wear knee-high boots when out and about, and frock coats that flair under the waist. Sleeves are usually removed when dueling, but a vest is kept to hide extra weapons in.

Vodacce food is mainly rice, pasta (having been imported as an idea from Cathay) and seafood, with a wide variety of fish, crab and lobster. They grow some citrus and vegetables, but import most of it. The middle class and nobles also import beef and venison, and oysters are considered a delicacy, though they aren't rare in Vodacce. (Just everywhere else.) For the Vodacce, high or lowborn, family is important. Your profession is probably hereditary, and your father's reputation is as or even more important than yours. If your father was the best fisherman ever, that is your pride too, and will get you more business. Another noted custom is that the dead are given absolute respect. No matter how much you hated a man in life, you never speak ill of the dead.

The Vodacce are master craftsmen, and their art reflects this. They have some painters, but tend to instead favor weaving, goldwork, cuisine and other arts that involve the making of physical objects. They are hedonists, after all, who love physical experiences. While they appreciate grand operas and productions, they tend to prefer romantic and dramatic music, especially the songs of troubadours. Men are expected to know how to sing and play an instrument, and most ballads are either romantic, witty or both. Women also sing love sings, but only ever in private, either for other women or their husbands. In public, they rarely sing except for historical or familial ballads.

Vodacce faith is...strange. They are devoutly Vaticine, yet they have many witches and adulterers. The Vodacce Church has spent a lot of time defining what is and is not sin, and it is said that the most decadent men are clergymen - though if so, it's never been proven. Inquisitors are not welcome in Vodacce. For the people, religion is a political tool. The nobles and Church have always been close, and they control five of the ten Archdiocese seats of the Vaticine. In practice, for any policy to be made official, favors must be traded with the "Vodacce Five", and even the Hierophant cannot easily disrespect their authority and expect to get anything done. The Princes have used this many times, even after the Church's seat moved to Castille. The key difference between Vodacce views on sin and those elsewhere is that Vodacce sin is primarily defined by inaction, rather than action. Sloth is the most reviled, of course. Envy, they say, is a sin because you should not seek to be your neighbor's equal, but to become grand and be envied by others. Greed, they say, is wanting what you have no right to. If you can earn what you want, you are a fool not to do so. Lust, to the Vodacce, is not about the wanting - it is about not acting on it. If you have feelings for a woman, pursue her. Sin is allowing your desire to become a spiritual impotence. Vanity is a sin not in taking pride in your appearance, but in taking unwarranted pride in it. Know yourself, and know what you really look like. Wrath...well, if you're mad, challenge someone. Sin is cowering in your home and raging impotently, not addressing the harm done to you. Gluttony? That's consuming more than you should. They just define 'how much you should consume' more liberally.

Each of the Merchant Princes controls a different part of the economy and a different region. Each wants to rule all of Vodacce, but right now only three have the power to really make a go of it - Bernoulli, Falisci and Villanova, who all want to manipulate their weaker cousins into supporting them. (Yes, they're all technically related.) The Bernoulli family has always been a strong supporter of the Vaticine Church, and as a reward, when the Crescent general contact with the world ended in the 1200s, they were given sole rights to trade with the Crescent Empire, and they've prospered greatly by it. They donate heavily to the Church, and the patriarch, Gespucci Bernoulli, is very devout. He's in his early sixties, and his sons are becoming more active in his business, frequently heading to the Crescent lands for pleasure as well as trade. The Faliscis make wine, and Donello Falisci sees no reason to change that. Falisci wine is worth as much as small estates, sometimes, and the Faliscis control the most fertile parts of the mainland. As for the Villanovas, they are the oldest and most powerful family, known for the deadly treachery. Giovanni Villanova took control of the family when his father, Allegro, died in an unlucky fall at the age of 32. His brother Giam stepped in to advise the 10-year-old Giovanni, but became ill soon after, dying after two years of terrible pain. Funny, that.

The Lucanis have only had their territory for around a century. Before that, it was Villanova land, but the patriarch awarded it to the Lucanis as payment for some loyalty or service. They've been struggling to keep it since. The Mondavi are the agricultural barons of Vodacce - but not by wine, like the Faliscis. Rather, they grow rice in the marshes of Vodacce, and while that's not the most lucrative export, it is a very stable income. They're happy to maintain the status quo. The Vestini family control the creation and export of domestic luxury goods, having paid many craftsmen heavily to move to their lands. It was, at the time, a maneuver to bolster themselves, as they had plenty of power to fight off the other families - even murdering a Prince's youngest son for challenging them. And last are the Caligaris, led by the very elderly Vincenzo Caligari. He's obsessed with tradition, and his home is modeled on the old senate of the Old Republic, and his advisors wear medallions that resemble senatorial seals. He practically lives in a museum of the old Empire, full of ancient tomes, scrolls and Syrne artifacts. He's obsessed with finding these things, ever since his father's lingering death, for he believes that the correct combination of tools will keep him safe from aging and sickness.

Vodacce continues to use the coinage of the Old Republic - a bronze coin called a republic, divided into ten smaller coins called sedilo, or seats. They refuse to accept the Guilder, and the Vendel refuse to accept their currency. There is no exchange rate. Likewise, Vodacce lacks a standing army. Each Prince instead keeps a house guard and a small set of young men to garrison the traffic checkpoints to the Crescent Empire. However, pretty much every nobleman in Vodacce can fence, a tradition that dates back to the fall of the Old Republic. There isn't an official navy, either, but most Vodacce merchant ships carry cannons and crews of well-armed mercenary marines to repel pirates, and the merchant fleet could, if needed, be used as a fairly respectable naval force.

quote:

Avalon: Officially, the Vodacce want nothing to do with Avalon, and vice versa. However, there are rumors that the two countries are carrying on trade in secret using the Sea Dogs as an intermediary.
Castille: Vodacce's relation with Castille is strained at times, almost the way feelings between siblings sometimes run hot. The two nations are more similar to each other than to any other country, but they often butt heads, mostly regarding their shared religion.
Eisen: The Vodacce keep a careful eye on the Eisen. With the country in such dire shape, the Vodacce fear a desperate mob of Eisen may attempt an invasion to avenge themselves for the War of the Cross.
Montaigne: The Montaigne people are Vodacce's largest market for luxury goods, and the two peoples have a lot in common with one another. This makes for very good relations between the two countries.
Pirate Nations: Thanks to the predictions of the Vodacce Fate Witches, the merchants of Vodacce suffer from less piracy than might be thought. They still keep a close watch for pirates, and hang any they capture, but it isn't as much of a concern as it could be.
Sarmatian Commonwealth: The Commonwealth Prince, Stanislaw II, has a Vodacce wife. That makes him a cousin of sorts. He has been crafty dealing with the Merchant Princes, playing one off the other. So far they respect his skills, but only for so long. And as for this "Golden Liberty" idea? That sort of nonsense had best not come across the border to Vodacce.
Ussura: The Fate Witches are afraid of the Ussurans, warning of a dark shadow that looms over them protectively. This has made the rest of Vodacce very cautious around them. They are very careful not to do anything that might insult or upset them, or their mysterious protector.
Vestenmennavenjar: The situation with Vesten is strained. The two nations are already engaged in a trade war that could quickly become a shooting war. In the last few years, there have been several instances of a Vodacce Prince sending a trade group too far north. More than one of these groups were politely returned home in chests. The main reason that no serious action has been taken by the Vodacce is that no single Prince has sufficient power alone to attack the Vesten. Besides, if he did, he'd have to explain his actions to his cousins, and admit to them that he'd attempted to trade outside his borders and behind their backs, as well.

Not much has actually changed here. Same names, same plots.

Next time: boats.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk


Mors Rattus posted:

7th Sea 2: Ex-Vikings

if i ran this i would call them lennys and carls because otherwise the single letter difference would get too confusing and also i am a huge manchild and i love me a simpsons reference

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Realms of Sorcery

Adversaries

We start the section on Witch Hunting with a bit on the difference between a Hedge Wizard, a Witch, and a Warlock, but it's kind of redundant. We've been over all this already; Hedge Wizards are self taught and ideally will be brought in and apprenticed to a proper College. Witches are a little dicier, as they might be older and may have already started using Dark Magic without realizing they're doing so. They can be harder to fashion into proper Collegiate Magisters, though from a mechanical standpoint someone who has done the Witch career is going to blow through Apprentice Wizard and Journeyman Wizard very quickly (and will still have their old tricks from Witchcraft to fall back on) if they go legit. Warlocks aren't actually very good at magic (only getting Mag 2) but they get an actual Dark Lore, and Warlocks are very much a 'shoot on sight' sort of problem for the Empire. There's no going back once you get into Warlocking. They also usually vastly overestimate their abilities; their entry in the big career compendium (which I won't be covering because it would be insanely hard to get everything across) is full of common Warlock theories about how easily they can master the 'primitive' spirits that superstitious townsfolk mistake for religious 'demons', or how Necromancy was only forbidden because elves feared how superior humans would become if you paired the human ability to learn quickly with an elven life span (they're actually not entirely wrong on that one).

We get actual mechanics for the Witch and Warlock! Witch is an interesting sort of 2nd tier. It isn't very long and doesn't have huge stat advances, but because of how Witchcraft works (spend 200 EXP to learn any one spell from any Color or Dark Lore that is CN 15 or less, roll an extra d10 for Tzeentch's Curse on this spell until you have Arcane Language (Magic) and a Lore) you could be in Witch for awhile. Note that a Witch who becomes a Collegiate wizard later does not lose their Witchcraft tricks. A Witch who 'goes legit' is one of the only ways to have spells from multiple Lores as an Imperial Wizard, though you should probably be careful who you use those powers in front of. Still, it's a cool option if you're either in a long campaign or a campaign with an advanced start. Witches learn a mishmash of survival, medical, and practical knowledge skills in addition to the basics of magic and gaining Mag 2 over the Hedge Mage's Mag 1.

The Warlock strikes me a being intended for a mid-level wizard enemy rather than a serious PC type. It doesn't have any good routes of advancement unless you're going to become a straight Chaos Sorcerer from Tome of Corruption, and you can take Dark Lores as a Black Magister (fallen Collegiate wizard) if you wanted to go that route while having a path to Mag 3 and Mag 4 in Master Wizard and Wizard Lord even if you're an outcast. You have to promote out of Witch first to become a Warlock, but aside from an official Dark Lore and more formal magical training (which will also stabilize the ex-Witch's Witchcraft spells) it isn't much of an upgrade.

The Witch Hunters are covered in more detail in this book than they were in Tome of Corruption. The common folk of the Empire are terrified of the Hexenjaeger; if one of them is around, it means they suspect something in your village. Even if they turn out to be one of the professionals who investigates carefully and only goes for the guilty, it still means they suspect the presence of a witch, necromancer, warlock, vampire, or something awful in your community. Even the noblest Hunter is a sign that something is seriously wrong and who knows who will get caught up in the crossfire when the brace of pistols comes out? There are many kinds of Hunters, but almost all of them are grim. Their work is harsh and they are exposed to some of the most dangerous enemies in the Empire, with many falling to paranoia and beginning to see conspiracy and Chaos all around them. Some scholars theorize (from a safe distance) that the brutal madness that overtakes some Hunters may be a subtle form of Chaos corruption. After all, if it can make a man or woman slaughter the innocent in hopes of killing Chaos, it can facilitate its spread among the surviving victims as they seek vengeance.

Hunters technically have no right to investigate and deal with non-magical threats to the Empire. A Hunter who finds mundane sedition or crime may feel obligated to report it to the Watch or a local noble, but their mandate only deals with unnatural threats. Hunters are trained killers to a man (or woman); one of the requirements for being a members of their various Orders and agencies. The Hunters like to promote their own reputation, and to suggest that there is a single, centrally organized agency of Witch Hunters who all operate in unison against the forces of darkness. This isn't true, but it makes their work much easier if the people of the Empire think they can all share notes at the drop of a (wide-brimmed) hat and it helps keep people properly respectful towards the office. In truth, there are many sources for the Hunters.

Some Hunters are sanctioned, paid agents of the state, or of a local noble. Putting up the money to hire a grim-faced ex-adventurer with experience tracking and putting down Chaos cults is a good investment for a burgomeister or a baron, and these Hunters have the most clearly limited authority. They will be responsible for the area that chartered their hire, and they will have well-defined legal limits to their power to investigate and dispense justice. No-one is going to complain if the State Hunter stumbles upon a cult and has to engage in aggressive self defense, but otherwise these Hunters are bound to trial and evidence. Many of these 'mercenary' Hunters are more corruptible than their colleagues. They are often ex-adventurers and the money is one of the reasons they do the job, which means a local baron can hire one to 'find' evidence of witchery in convenient places that allow him to seize property he couldn't buy, or that removes certain political threats. They can also be bribed by their targets, though most of the time this is more innocent than you'd think; accepting gold to overlook a lost license or leave a village healer-witch alone, rather than outright ignoring obvious signs of Chaos magic or vampirism. These Hunters are also less dogmatic, and more likely to have been in the military at some point. Of all Hunters, they are the most likely to seek out a legitimate Magister and ask for assistance on a particularly dangerous case. After all, if it was good enough for Magnus the Pious, why shouldn't a sanctioned servant of the Empire seek to fight fire with fire, too?

Devout Hunters represent the common view of Witch Hunters as pious, severe men and women who kill monsters in the name of Sigmar (and sometimes other Gods). The Templars of Sigmar, particularly the Order of the Silver Hammer, dominate the popular imagination. They are the original trend-setters who made the wide-brimmed hat and long overcoat what they are in the mind of the Empire's people. These zealous crusaders will fight any Chaotic or Necromantic threat, and tend to be much more dogmatic and suspicious than the State Hunters. They also used to bully other religious cults before Magnus put a leash on these fanatics and began to calm them down. Grand Theoganist Volkmar the Grim continued Magnus' work, until his death at the hands of the forces of Chaos during the Storm. While he has returned, seemingly returned to life, his replacement is still technically Grand Theoganist. Johan Esmer, the current Grand Theoganist, is not quite so conscientious and would very much like to be able to use the Hexenjaeger as a sort of personal religious police.

Devout Hunters used to have no requirements of evidence or trial until Emperor Magnus. Now, they must show evidence and give a fair trial, but the Templars of Sigmar (and the few other Templar-Hunters of the other cults) have the right to arrest any Imperial citizen for trial on suspicions of Witchcraft and Chaos corruption. The standards of evidence can vary widely depending on the personal power and popularity of the person the Hunter accuses. In theory, Magnus' decrees limit them to a 'fair' trial, but many of the people serving on these trial juries and many of the magistrates deciding the cases know very little of Chaos, and Hunters have a reputation as experts. Also, in the Empire, a confession is still the queen of legal proofs, and many Hunters are very good at extracting confessions if they are convinced of the guilt of their target. While some Orders of Hunters carefully watch over and monitor their numbers for abuse, others have taken advantage of the chaos in the north to license and send out mobs of Witch Hunter fanatics, swelling their numbers and influence and risking going out of control. Most Devout Hunters only grudgingly accept that they cannot burn a licensed Magister, and many of them still think the Colleges are going to turn out to be a massive Chaotic trap.

The Seekers of Truth and Justice go beyond anything sanctioned by the standards of the Devout Hunters. These are the personal project of Theoganist Esmer, a way to cement his power within the Empire. Most Hunters are content to wait and see if the Colleges turn out to be servants of Chaos; they have plenty of other foes to face while they glare warily at the wizarding schools. The Seekers are not willing to wait. Esmer seems to fear the growing political influence of the Colleges might threaten the political authority of the Grand Theoganist; it seems reasonable to think he may want them leashed or gone after the recent attempt to give the Supreme Patriarch an Electoral Vote the same as the cults of Sigmar and Ulric. Thus, he has cultivated and covertly funded this group of fanatics to cause trouble. The Seekers actively try to grab Apprentices and Journeymen, torturing them to learn more about their Colleges and to force confessions of some crime that can be used to justify burning them. They appear to be designed to provoke a counter-attack by the Magisters of the Colleges, in that Esmer seems to hope that overt action by the Colleges against a Sigmarite organization that acts on the legal pretext of legitimate Witch Hunting will provoke a conflict that could be used to marginalize, or even disband, the Colleges. These guys are obviously here for your Wizard PCs to fight, oppose, and expose, because who doesn't like fighting brutal religious police who are working for an evil political climber?

On that note, there are other varieties of Renegade Hunter. Most of the Empire won't ask too many questions when they see a grim-faced warrior in a wide-brimmed hat with a brace of pistols and a small passel of assistants. There is no single central agency of Witch Hunters and only powerful burgomeisters, nobles, military officers, and watch captains will usually ask a Hunter to show them their license before letting them work. These Renegades are completely unbound by the need for trial and often use the brutal legends of the Hexenjaeger to explain why they claim such 'unlimited' authority, terrorizing towns and zealously pursuing imagined enemies. They are a grave threat to the security of the Empire and impersonating a 'real' Witch Hunter is a capital offense.

Next Time: Oh my god, this book has GAME MECHANICS!?

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time


that sure is a lot of words about prostitutes huh

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Voddace is Wick's baby, it would make sense that it would change the least.

It's an entire country of doomed highborn manchildren, after all. I'm not surprised he'd fall off the wagon on Not-Italy.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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7th Sea 2: Seas, They're Seven

There's seven seas around Theah. The first is the Trade Sea, between Avalon and Vesten. It's got shallow water, and its only real danger is that the tides often make the reefs appear to move, so even experienced captains can lose their bearings and run aground on the reefs. The second is the Widow's Sea near Avalon and Montaigne, so called for all the sailors lost to pirate attacks and, more recently, the War of the Cross. The Widow's Sea is full of sharks, sirens, fog banks that come from nowhere and the "sea mirage" phenomenon, where ships appear on the horizon but vanish as you get closer. The third sea is La Boca del Cielo off the coast of Castille, also called the Vaticine Gulf, which is a whale breeding ground guarded by the leviathans, whales triple their normal size which are unnaturally aggressive. The waters are deep and cold, and the place is a favorite of the Brotherhood of the Coast. There are also rumors of an immense sea serpent called Estallio, which eats leviathans, but there's never been a confirmed sighting.

The fourth sea is the Numanari Approach, named for the Numanari islands of the south. It lies between Vodacce and the Crescents, and until recently the Church maintained garrisons there to prevent access. Numa recently declared independence, however, and has now declared the sea open to all, so trade with the Crescent Empire has begun once more - as has piracy. The fifth sea is the Maw, between Vesten and Eisen. It is so called because the Vesten sailors thought their island looked like a dragon's head when they saw it on maps, and it is heavily guarded, as the Vendel League hires a lot of mercenaries - mostly ex-pirates set to hunting their compatriots. The sixth sea is the Avalon Strait (or the Montaigne Strait, depending on who you ask). The Sea Dogs guard it heavily, and while it is the fastest route from the southern waters to the northern, Avalon's ships demand a "tax" from all travelers. Going around the Glamour Isles takes days, though, and puts you in the sights of Avalon and Vesten pirates.

As for the seventh sea - it's a legend. Sailors speak of a place where the sun and moon share the sky, where stars go backward and the water is silver. Scholars debate what this means, where the seventh sea truly lies. Sailors have reached it, sailed for days, lost, only for the sky and water to return to normal and the ship to be thousands of miles off course. A recent archaeological discovery, the alchemical compass, may hold the key to it - the Explorer's Guild believe the Syrneth used the device to sail the Seventh Sea's strange waters.

We then get a section on court life. The most active international courts are in Avalon, Vesten and Montaigne; Castillian courts are smaller, more open and more community-based, while Eisen and Ussuran courts are small, insular affairs, and Vodacce courts are full of intrigue and are somewhat more exclusive. Sarmatian courts tend to be debate halls on issues of state, not parties. Court is tiring - it takes hours for most to get dressed for it, several servants, tracking all the fashion and rumors and trends...it's exhausting. Currently, the fashion is to carry a book to read - even if you're illiterate. (You hire a servant to read it to you.) Some are normal books, others quartos used to make picture books. Courts are mainly used for power brokerage, marriage arrangement and favor trading, but also entertainment. People love a party.

Dueling has been a big controversy in the past 50 years, and some nations were looking to ban it entirely. However, in 1644, three owners of fencing academies got together and signed a blood pact. They then approached their nations' rulers, gaining their approval, and the Duelist's Guild was formed. Now, to be a duelist, you must join the Guild. The law is complex, but boils down to this: only a duelist may challenge someone to a duel. So, if you want a duel, you must either be or hire a duelist. If you aren't, you can be arrested for challenging, and if you are challenged by a non-duelist, you can have them arrested. Duelists can, of course, easily be hired to make the challenge and oversee the duel...though many continue to duel illegally, in the shadows. The Duelists don't like that, though. They've got Guildhouses across Theah, and most duels happen in those Guildhouses, in front of witnesses and seconds. While the Guild denies permitting illegal duels behind their closed doors, for the right price, you can make arrangements. Duels sanctioned by the Guild are either to first blood or the death, and death duels are rare. While a Duelist may be hired to fight for you, you can also pay them the same price to make the challenge and then let you fight for yourself, which most Duelists are more than happy to do. It's less risk, after all.

Modern Thean ideas of honor mostly derive from old ideals of chivalry, drawn from a lot of stories - mostly Avalonian stories. The ideals are dying, and those who cling to them are known as gentles or romantics. The fall of chivalry really began in the 1460s with a Montaigne knight named Bastion. He was the peak of chivalry, loved by all, and he died when a peasant armed with an arquebus shot him in the back and he drowned in his own blood. He was a man of honor and all it got him was a horrible death. The average Thean looks out for themselves first, then their family, and no one else. Not that they're all schemers or plotters - they just keep themselves to themselves. Chivalry is a game for rich people and dreamers. However, the gentles are not all gone yet, and some still admire them for their honor.

A gentle will never break their word - period. They are usually quite particular about giving it out, as a result, and while no honorable person would hold them to a promise made while drunk, they'd probably try to keep it anyway. They would die before betraying their bond, after all. Anyone who claims to be a gentle and does so will see their reputation utterly ruined, and reputation is vital. They will go to extreme lengths to avoid sullying it, and anyone who insults their reputation should expect a challenge, while public disgrace often provokes a death duel.

We also get a side note on the Thean calendar - it is a seven day week, 24 hour days. The days are Soldi, Veldi, Amordi, Terdi, Guerdi, Redi and Voltadi. The original calendar was 10 360 day months, but is now 12 30 day months, as two months were added to honor the Old Empire hires Imperator Corantine and Julius Caius. Now, the months are Primus, Secundus, Tertius, Quartus, Quintus, Sextus, Julius, Corantine, Septimus, Octavus, Nonus and Decimus. Each season is three months long, and at the end of the year, the extra days make up the Prophets' Mass, a 5-6 day celebration.

Next time: The Vaticine.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!
Skyrapers is amazing; like, sure, it's good when artist has an explanation to what the spiky bits are for, but this waaay too detailed.

The saliva bit is extra stupid. I doubt they salivate enough for a full body armor system, or if the spit is that better than actual pharmaceuticals. Why did you make Saliva Elites, Sambieda?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: Vaticine Apparently Means Prophet

The Reformed Vaticine Church is easily one of the most potent and influential groups in Theah, with their power taken from the many commoners and somewhat fewer nobles that support them. They began in the time of the First Prophet, in the Old Empire, and they built their own army, education system and, indeed, were the cause of most technological and philosophical progress on the continent for many centuries. However, they are now being harshly criticized over corruption and greed, and many are beginning to doubt their authority and doctrine. The Objectionist Movement, begun a hundred years ago in Eisen, has altered the Church forever - almost a third of the flock has become Objectionist. It's not an easy time for the Church right now, though many within it believe that it all could've been avoided it the Cardinals had listened to warnings.

The Vaticine message is simple: the Creator made the world as a riddle to be solved. The closer humanity comes to that, the closer they are to understanding the mind of God. (This is a rather more Gnostic take on religion than Actual Catholicism, which the game acknowledges. Knowledge, not faith, is the cornerstone of the Vaticine.) The Church's credo was developed under orders from Imperator Corantine of the Old Empire, after his conversion, and it was put together in the year 325 AV ('Anno Veritas') at the Corantinian Convention. It consists of six articles of faith, which all Vaticine believers take as true. These are memorized and recited before Mass.

Article One: We believe in one true God, the Creator Almighty, Maker of Paradise and the World, and of all things visible and invisible. The only god that exists is Theus, the Maker of the Universe. Those who belong to the Faith may not believe in any other gods or powers, and must not use sorcery, which the Church teaches came from Legion, the Great Adversary. See, use of sorcery is acceptance of powers other than the Creator, which is heretical and can be ended only by death and cremation.

Article Two: We believe in one holy and prophetic Church. If there is only one God, then there can be only one Church, the Vaticine. Only the rites taught by the Prophets are ordained by them, and therefore the Creator. Those that follow these beliefs and rituals stand as the army of the Prophets when the world ends. All other churches are false, deceitful lies that will lead believers only to the Abyss and not Paradise.

Article Three: And in its Prophet, who spoke the Creator's message for man and his salvation; who foretold the coming of three further Prophets; who delivered himself unto his enemies; and who was martyred for us in the days of Augustin Lauren. The First Prophet is the key to the entire credo, for it was he whom the Creator used to speak His message and spread the word of the three yet to come and their wonders. He gathered the first saints to be his followers, those who had achieved enlightenment by reason, and preached that only by acceptance of others, even those tainted by magic, could salvation be attained. And it was he whom corrupt sorcerers and the rulers they advised put to the flame.

Article Four: And in the Second Prophet, who bore a staff, who spoke the Creator's message, and delivered men from evil; and who was betrayed by the unfaithful and was martyred for us. The Second Prophet came from the Empire of the Crescent Moon (now considered infidels), claiming to be sent by Theus. He was doubted, for he looked different than other men of Theah and he spoke such claims, but all those who opposed him were struck dumb, and all sorcerers he met were made powerless. It was he who, claiming his flock were slaves to their homeland, led them through the desert, where he was then betrayed and murdered by his own brothers.

Article Five: And in the Third Prophet, who bore a sword of pure flame; who spoke the Creator's message; divided the righteous from the unrighteous; and made the way clear for him who shall follow. The Third Prophet was born into chaos, and he was neither understanding nor tolerant. He was of noble blood, and he declared a war on nobles, igniting a war of faith. It was he who shifted the Church from Vodacce to Castille and he who disrupted the harmony of the Church by changing how many thought in a single decisive act.

Article Six: And in the Fourth Prophet, who shall bear a balanced hourglass; who shall be announced by trumpets; and the dead shall awaken and he shall reign in the visible and invisible world forevermore. The Fourth Prophet shall bring Armageddon, beginning the cosmic battle for all human souls. His kiss will breathe life to the globe, and his army will be the dead. He will lead them into a new age of truth and glory, where all will command their own destiny and live in beautiful service to Theus for all time.

All administrative divisions are based on the number ten at each tier, and religious divisions in each nation need not conform to political districts. At the lowest level is the church. Any region that recognizes the Prophets will have churches, and as per the Third Prophet's Declaration of Deference in 1267, "any fellowship without the blessing of a place of worship to the Creator shall be considered without the blessing of His Church." As such, the church is generally the first thing built in any new town. It serves as a community center, a court for magistrates, a town hall and the focus of any number of festivals and holidays. It is a refuge for the needy, a hospital for the sick and a sanctuary for the penitent. A church is run by its most senior priest. Within the church, the priests and congregation will elect one priest to be High Priest and represent them on the Parish Council.

The Parish is the smallest district of administration, made of ten churches in close proximity. The Parish is governed by a Monsignor, who represents it on the Diocese Council, elected from among the High Priests of the Parish. The Diocese is the next level up, made of ten Parishes. The Diocese is governed by a Bishop, elected from the Monsignors. The Archdiocese is next, the second highest and most powerful district. Each is quite large, made of ten Dioceses, and governed by an Archbishop that represents them on the Hieros Council. The Archbishops choose ten of their number to serve as Cardinals, each representing an Archdiocese and also maintaining a Rectory in Vaticine City. The highest rank is the Hieros, who sits just under the Prophets in rank and power. The Hierophant is selected by the Cardinals from among the Archbishops, and serves for life. The Hierophant lives in Vaticine City, which has been in Castille since the 1200s. It's not an easy or stress-free job, and so the Cardinals serve as the advisors of the Hierophant, and traditionally the Hierophant visits a court of a Vaticine monarch every other year for the summer - generally, Castille or one of the Vodacce princes. The Vaticine City was in Vodacce until the Third Prophet, and until the 13th century most Hierophants were Vodacce. At present, there is no Hierophant - she was murdered by an unknown assailant some time ago. All Church positions are held for life or until you retire. Retired officials become normal priests in the local church they first began in. The Vaticine holds that all are created equal, and that the sexes are equal. Priest is gender-neutral - there are male and female priests.

The three most common of the many, many rituals of the Church are Mass, Baptism, Marriage and Ordainment. The Mass is the gathering of the faithful in a church to pray. Most Mass is held in Old Thean, the trade tongue and common language of the Old Empire. However, Eisen and Avalon have translated the hymns into their own languages. Baptism occurs at the age of ten. A child receives an oral exam of scripture, and failure grants a one year grace period, called deferment, to allow the child to study again until they succeed. Ordainment also requires an oral exam - a rather more difficult one, and deferment lasts three years for it. A student that fails twice is not given another deferment - they simply cannot try again. Marriage, under Vaticine belief, is a social contract before Theus. A wedded couple agrees to uphold the tenets of the Church and ensure that the next generation also does. Priests can marry, provided their prospective mate is baptized and Vaticine. The primary holy books of the faith are the Book of Common Hymns, which lays out religious etiquette, procedures, rituals and hymns, and the Book of the Prophets, which consists of four Vigils - one for each Prophet, including the one yet to come, with the Fourth Vigil being delivered by the Third Prophet and supposedly documenting the end of the world.

Because the primary sacrament of the Vaticine is knowledge, not faith, they actually are generally unconcered with your faith and belief, but rather with what you have learned. Philosophical debates are the primary occupation of the Vaticine establishment when they have nothing else to do, and currently two major issues focus much of their philosophical attention. The first is the question of free will. Determinism is the theory, at this point in time, that all decisions made by humanity are predetermined by Theus, and it's the dominant paradigm. However, many scholars have begun to argue that mankind must have choice - not because determinism is illogical, but because of the importance of choice. If there is no choice, they say, then nature is impersonal and uncaring, and Theus cannot have the character the Church teaches that He does. It is unlikely this heated debate will be resolved any time soon.

The other is love. See, the Church recognizes love as a concept, but not in the way poets do. You must love your neighbor, no matter who they are. You must love your spouse, no matter who they are. Love is universal, for all mankind, not for just one person. The love of romantics, the Church has always argued, is base lust. However, the romantics now sing of a new kind of love, a love between two people that no others can experience, share or understand, an eternal fire without reason. The question of whether True Love exists, and if so, if anyone has truly felt it, is a more minor diversion for the Church, but one they find quite fascinating.

The biggest change here is in the detail, focus, and admission that these dudes are Gnostic as gently caress.

Next time: The Inquisition

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 21:02 on Jun 21, 2018

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts Dimension Book 4: Skraypers, Part 2: "This saliva-like fluid is called Sleg, and gives the appearance of an unsightly, uncontrolled body function, i.e. drooling or frothing at the mouth like a mad dog when a Tarlok is injured and angry, and during lengthy combat."

Finally you can play a Covenant Elite Turian Tarlok! (This book predates those games by a good while, to be honest.) However, "baby biting bib" is not included on their equipment list, for some reason.

Some general facts: Tarloks are superior to humans in every respect except intelligence (equal) and affinity and beauty (lower). They also get a special aging system where their Endurance (both types), Prowess, Speed, Strength, and M.D.C. increase slowly with age up to 270, then decrease slowly. In addition, they all have a natural "Healing Factor" power, supernatural strength, a surprisingly high horror factor (14) for something the PCs will be fighting all the time, and a tremendous set of built-in martial arts combat bonuses that increase as they level. However, they can't develop or learn magic, and can only gain psionics through some specialized classes they have.


Wildly impractical weapons are the true mark of a warrior race.

Male Tarlok have to choose a military or combat O.C.C., while female Tarlok get seriously reduced combat bonuses and can only take adventurer O.C.C.s. There's no tradeoff there; female Tarlok are just weaker. Any Tarlok player characters are presumed to be traitors to the Empire, and the Tarlok have a special means of branding such if caught. Of course, it notes PCs could be undercover agents pretending to be traitors as well, but doesn't really discuss the implications thereof. Either you're playing a character with a betrayal expiration date with the PC group, or you become a traitor for reals, but there's not much other way to resolve that sort of problematic concept.


Torture nerds and cyber-nerds.

With that out of the way, let's get to their class list. Unlike human classes, they have no stat requirements, so anybody can play any type of Tarlok. Their new ones are:

  • Tarlok Warrior R.C.C.: Just their flat racial trait list; you select a military (male) or adventurer (female) O.C.C. to go along with this, or one of the following classes. For the record, you can only play a young one, so all the power-upping they get as they age is likely something PCs will never see.
  • Tarbull R.C.C. (Infantry Elite): These are the special super elite space marines of the Tarlok military, and make lots of babies because they're lifting bros that gently caress bunches. They prefer to fight like real mens unarmored with melee weapons, though they'll use guns if they gotta. They're stronger than other Tarloks and also get some simple psionics (mind block, psi-sword, psi-shield) for unclear reasons, they say it's a gift from their ancestors for being alpha males, bruh.
  • Shertar R.C.C.: The Shertar are beta liberal cucks, by contrast, the intellectual wimps who are like "maybe we should think about poo poo" like babies. For a short time they took over the empire, introducing a rennassaiance of cultural growth before the rest of the Tarlok decided that were smart people were scary and kicked them down into just being a subculture. They shave off their fins and like to meditate and sometimes they're Doctor Mengeles and love to torture because... uh... because! Well, everybody needs a hobby. They even have torture competitions! I wonder if that would have been a better reason for them to get overthrown...? Anyway, they have heightened mental attributes and reduced physical attributes, and a much more technical education. They also get a basic Genetic Engineering skill, but given it starts at 20%, I can only imagine they mostly create horrible failed monstrosities and bemoan why they played God.
  • Teklok Cyborg R.C.C.: Through bionics are generally frowned upon by Tarlok as nerd stuff for wusses (between games of punch-for-punch, no doubt), sometimes they seek out bionic conversion either due to severe war injuries or by being weirdos (like if they're part of the Shertar subculture). Many are filled with generic self-loathing and shout "I'm a monster! Ahhhh!" before jumping into combat with a self-loathing rage. They generally work like normal cyborgs already do, only with the special Tarlok martial art and a "multi-weapon appendage" that gives them blades, tentacles, and their choice of several standard cyborg weapons in one arm.
  • Dreadlors R.C.C.: So, sometimes rather than eat "flawed" offspring, the Tarlok parents volunteer them to become Dreadlors, which is a genetic enhancement process which makes the child into an avatistic throwback and then they give them random superpowers (since they haven't worked out how to give them specific ones). Man, what a good combination. "Let's make people like super-powered cavemen! Nothing can go wrong!" They're savage hunters who are attached to a "Dreadmaster" that psionically bonds with them to render them controllable. However, if the Dreadmaster dies, they usually go completely insane. Whee! In any case, they're dumb but much tougher and stronger than normal Tarloks like you'd expect, get better combat bonuses, can track by scent, and get a 50/50 shot at having modest superpowers (usually only two minor ones, or one major power). We'll get into superpowers later.
  • Dreadmaster R.C.C.: The rare Tarloks with psionic potential are trained as "Dreadmasters" to command the Dreadlors... and mostly there are a lot of :words: about the Dreadmaster-Dreadlor relationship, but not much on the Dreadmasters themselves. They get reduced combat bonuses but higher mental bonuses, and get a variety of mentally-themed psionic powers. As they level up, they can choose from a broader variety of psionic abilities. And... that's that.

Captain Caveman and Major Management.

There are no real guidelines as to whether or not some Tarlok might or might not be playable; the Dreadlors would seem to have real problems as PCs, being dumb and/or insane without a Dreadmaster to keep them in line. For all the detail we get, the Tarlok are mainly a one-note warrior race, with the only exceptions being the evil, sadistic, and deeply generic mad scientists of the Shertar. I guess as baddies they don't have to be too nuanced, but, you know. They eat babies.

Next: The non-baby-eating peoples of the baby-eater empire.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 21:28 on Jun 21, 2018

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009

We shall dive down through black abysses... and in that lair of the Deep Ones we shall dwell amidst wonder and glory forever.



So...

The numbers for the Vatacine church seem kind of weird to me. Because every level of administration adds a 0.

There's 1 Hierophant. Who is elected by 10 cardinals. Who are elected by 100 archbishops. Who are elected by 1,000 bishops. Who are elected by 10,000 monsignors. Who are elected by 100,000 priests. Add on to all of those, I guess, a little note saying "at least" depending on how you interpret things. (e.g. do you lose your prior status when you're elected higher? The fact that if you retire, you return to your original church would make that sound not true, but that has weird implications that some random village in Castille doesn't have a priest for 40 years because their priest is off being Not Pope. )

So that means there are, bare minimum to function, 100,000 Vatacine churches. (I'm assuming there can be more because otherwise you'd have to like get rid of old churches when you built new ones and that's very silly.) For reference, according to this totally reliable random source I googled, there 223,128 parishes in the modern Catholic Church (keeping in mind that the number for churches in a parish is more like 3, unlike the game, but also consider the number of continents Catholicism is on is slightly higher than the Vatacine's one).

That number seems a bit weird but I can't put my finger on why I feel that way.

This also means that there are (at least) 111,111 total priests which is just a fun number to know.

Anyway, this has been me just having some fun with the implied math of a silly fantasy setting for funsies.

Thanks again, Mors! Loving the write up!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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

7th Sea 2: HELLFIRE

The Inquisition are a clandestine order in the Church, made by the Third Prophet after he rose to power and charged to seek out and destroy sorcery. They answered only to the Hierophant and had a lot of authority over Church procedure, with Vaticines being expected to aid them in any way they required. Because of their efforts, sorcerers had to remain hidden for centuries. However, the Hierophant always kept them in check, with each one keeping an eye on them, limiting their membership and quietly removing any too-ambitious Inquisitors that might step beyond the bounds of their power. This kept them focused on their duties rather than taking over the Church. However, over the centuries, the Church grew more conservative and gave the Inquisition more leeway in how they worked. This reached a head when the Hierophant was murdered. Now, the Inquisitors answer to no one until a new Hierophant is chosen, and Cardinal Esteban Verdugo has moved to seize power, expand the goals of the Inquisition and fill its ranks with fanatics. They've declared war on the universities, burning books and killing professors that oppose them. They kidnap their foes and execute them as heretics, and many that oppose them are too sacred to act. Within a single decade, they have come to control much of the Vaticine Church.

The Inquisition is built around a small core of High Inquisitors, priests and Bishops that are charged to carry out the Third Prophet's edicts. They answer directly to Cardinal Verdugo and command a massive network of assistants and lackeys, controlled by faith, fear or blackmail. Those of the network who willingly involve themselves in the Inquisition may claim the title Inquisitor, as well. Because the Inquisition is, in theory, secret, all Inquisitors and High Inquisitors hold normal positions in the church, pretending to be ordinary priests and lay agents. They target scholars, sorcerers, Objectionists and anyone that questions Church policy. When they gather sufficient evidence, they strike without warning, relying on surprise and terror as their weapons. They attack by night, always ensuring the local authorities are distracted. They hang their victims oin sight, or burn them if they have time, along with any experiments, books or notes. They then vanish, leaving only cryptic warnings.

The Inquisition is only able to move openly in Castille, so far. In all other nations, they must use more subtle means. In Montaigne, they hide among the Vaticine peasntry, while in the chaos of Eisen, they merely avoid the Eisenfursten and their troops. Vodacce's political infighting makes for excellent cover as well. Avalon, the Commonwealth, Ussura and Vesten are their hardest targets - these nations do not approve of Vaticine zealots. Currently, two main forces oppose the Inquisitors. The first is the secret society called the Invisible College, and the other is the masked vigilante El Vagabundo. Between them, they've stopped Verdugo's worst crimes...but without a new Hierophant, they can do little but slow him.

The Objectionists, meanwhile, began in 1517, when a youngish monk walked up to his Bishop's door and nailed a piece of paper to it, alongside many other pieces of paper that the monks wanted to discuss. The author of this particular paper was Mattias Lieber, a name that would, within five years, be known across the world. It was a list of questions that challenged all Church authority and called for a fundamental and sweeping reform of the entire Church philosophy. Lieber denounces his fellow monks to the Hierophant, demanding an explanation for, quote, "the Church's inexcusable crimes and decadence." He was excommunicated and set to die, but he was smuggled out of Castille by King Franz II, returning to Eisen. There, he used the newly invented printing press to spread his ideas, as well as translating the Book of the Prophets into Low Eisen and distributing both. His efforts started the Objectionist movement that spread first in Eisen, then across the continent.

Objectionism resembles the Vaticine faith in many ways, but with key differences. First, the Church is no longer the arbitrator between Theus and man - no one can interpose or filter the Creator's teachings. Theus is everywhere and needs no interpreter. Priests may not absolve sin - only Theus. The Church cannot make miracles - only Theus. Thus, humans should appeal directly to Theus, not rely on the Church to do it for them. They can do this by reading the Book of the Prophets and acting on its teachings, expressing faith by charity, hard work and helping the needy, for all creatures have a measure of Theus' grace, which must be used to further His works. The Church can facilitate, but has no claim to absolute authority.

While Objectionism is roughly structured on the Vaticine model, it has fewer ranks and those have less authority. Individual priests, called chaplains, oversee a church. Deacons are senior chaplains that coordinate 20 churches. Above them are the Apostles, who coordinate across entire provinces or nations.That's as high as you go, and currently there's 25 Apostles, none of whom has any authority over any other. They are elected by the deacons, who can also remove them by vote of no confidence. There are no dioceses, Bishops or Hierophant. Chaplains may not absolve sin or declare heresy. Fasting, pilgrimage and miracles are not required. Baptism is at age seven, with no exam. Chaplains have only limited official duties - they hold mass, oversee marriage and conduct funerals - but they're also expected to be examples to the congregation. When not proselytizing, they are expected to work in universities or hospitals to better lives. The Vaticines, obviously, do not like them. Tensions rose in the century following the Objectionists' formation, until they exploded into the 30-year War of the Cross. Finally, with that over, the continent has decided, as a whole, that both faiths will have to exist alongside each other.

Avalon technically also has its own church - in 1554, the King refused to accept a Castillian Hierophant and formed the Church of Avalon, which Elaine has taken as her own as well. Elaine is, as part of this Church, equal to the Hierophant in all spiritual matters. (So yeah, the Not Anglicans do exist, they just got a poor writeup in the Avalon section that barely mentioned them.) Inismore and the Highlands feature mostly Vaticine and Objectionist churches, and of course the Old Faith is in all three. Castille is steadfastly Vaticine, and pretty much every Castillian attends Mass at least once a week. Any Objectionists there are very quiet about it. Eisen is pretty much Objectionist at this point, largely because the Vaticine Eisen have mostly left the nation. Montaigne's peasants are devout Vaticines; its nobles are very much not. The entire nation was excommunicated by the Hierophant before her death, but many churches still operate there to serve the peasants. The Sarmatians are a mixture of Vaticine teachings and pagan beliefs, in large part because the dievai manifestly exist. Ussura follows the Ussuran Orthodox Church, of course, which accepts only the First Prophet. (The Vaticine has essentially given up on them and decided to "allow" them to be "backwards" barbarians.) The Vesten are largely still adherents of their own pagan faith, though the Vaticine have some footholds - not a lot. The Vesten also donate heavily to Objectionist missions and cathedrals, but no one is entirely sure why. Vodacce, of course, is Vaticine and always will be,

Due in large part to the Vaticine Church, Theah is somewhat ahead of the actual mid-1600s on Earth. Their last ten years have seen the invention of the microscope, reflecting telescope, discovery of human anatomy, plus major advances in astronomy, physics ands chemistry. With the rise of the Inquisition, however, those advancements are threatened. The Inquisitors believe that the time of knowledge is over - the end of the world is coming, and all must prepare rather than dabble in useless curiosity. Archaeology is still limited to shovels, brushes, notes and investigation. Theans are growing to understand things slowly, but important artifacts are often destoryed by accident or stolen by private collectors as art pieces. Architecutre is quite advanced - not, perhaps, on the level of suspension bridges or skyscrapers, but they can build 400 foot cathedrals, and while they lack mass production infrastructure, Theans know how to make concrete on a small scale. Roads are typically cobbles, roofs are covered by tin, and windows in the bigger cities are usually glass.

Theans know that the planet Terra is a sphere that orbits the sun Solas, and is orbited by a moon. They know of five other planets that also orbit the sun; their telescopes are too primitive to see more than that. They know the size of Terra within a 1% margin of error, and may predict both solar and lunar eclipses. Telescopes have been around for a century, but it was only a few months ago that Alvara Arciniega invented the first reflecting telescope, which the Invisible College has spread to the scientific community in the hopes of further refinement. Chemistry has recently emerged from alchemy with the publication of Jeremy Cook's The Rational Chemist in 1661, and now only a few still practice alchemy. In 1662, Cook invented the first air pump that should have proven the existence of air, but he was shot for his research by the Inquisition, and it only survived due to the Invisible College.

Mathematicians understand algebra, trigonometry, geometry and the zero. They lack calculus as yet but it should be along soon. Probability is not rigorous as a mathematical discipline. Medicine is significantly more advanced than our world was at the time. Humor theory was denounced by Franz Deleboe in 1661, and while he was kidnapped by the Inquisition, his theories leaked and have been expanded on. Hygiene is understood as impacting survival rate in operations, but the reasons are not. They know bullets must be removed from gunshot wounds before stitching, that bandages need occasional changes and should be boiled to ensure cleanliness, and they know sick people spread disease, but have discovered neither viruses nor bacteria. The microscope has been around in Vesten since 1608, used to view blood corpuscles, insects and small plants. It has greatly advanced medicine, biology, botany and entomology.

Physics has seen a number of breakthroughs despite the Inquisition's best efforts. Static electricity was harnessed in 1662 with a rotating globe of sulphur, invented by Maria Alvarado as a practical demonstration of her studies. At the time, the Inquisitors were too weak to stop a prominent and respected scientist, though they did come close to wiping out the evidence (and life) of Alvara Arciniega's discovery of the light spectrum via handmade prisms. Fortunately, he was a good enough swordsman to kill three Inquisitors and flee to the countryside, where he made his telescope. Theans do have magnetic compasses and astrolabes, but lack a chronometer accurate enough and resistant enough to moisture to easily measure longitude. The Montaigne know how to do it, but their method involves using Porte to teleport home and look at a clock. It's not used all that often, but it means they have the best maps in the world.

The musket is the weapon of choice for warfare, usually with pike support. Rifles do not yet exist, so accuracy isn't great. Cannons have been developed, but they lack the ballistics to make mortars. The Montaigne have developed primitive and highly unreliable grenades; their peasant grenadiers have an average lifespan of three battles. In duels, rapiers are most common, with sabers reserved for cavalry.

All of this is broadly where it was in 1e, with the note that 1e had a dude in Ussura who'd invented a single rifle, and also there was primitive blood transfusion, which doesn't appear to have made it.

Next time: Pirates!

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The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

The Vodacce post talks about Syrneth artifacts and the Bargainers
I thought those were gone?

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