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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 1 - The Worst Dude

Amanda de la Rosa was an orphan in San Cristobal who, from a young age, dedicated her life to fencing. She studied on her own and learned from te various guards around San Cristobal, singlemindedly focusing on mastering whatever new form, stance or thrust they might show her. While her fellow orphans ofted mocked her, they could never beat her. She eventually grew up and tried to go to university, but found it difficult for her - she would focus on a single subject at a time and fail the rest of her classes. She tried to join a dueling school, but her lack of title kept her out. At last, she joined the city guard, and she rose quickly, eventually earning a place on the royal guard protecting the young king. Her tendency to avoid large groups allowed her to discover the secret of the royal twins, as she noticed 'Amadeo' sneaking into a party she knew he'd already attended, and with slightly different hair and shirt. She quickly realized there were two children, and Rocio convinced her brother to bring Amanda into their confidence, making her their personal guard. When the Inquisition took Amadeo to Vaticine City, Amanda stayed with Rocio to keep her safe. She is a quiet, slightly shy woman who is quite tall but prefers to avoid noticed by sticking to the corners of rooms. She is an excellent fencer, but her single-minded nature means that she's got trouble dealing with multiple foes at once. She does, however, learn from her mistakes, and can't be tricked the same way twice. She is deeply loyal to the crown of Castille and is dedicated to helping Rocio rescue Amadeo and bring him back to San Cristobal, once she figures out a way to do it.

Cardinel Esteban Verdugo does not discuss his childhood in Ciudad de Zepeda. He dislikes even thinking of his time there. He was a member of an immense hidalgo family whose petty quarrels tore themselves apart, escalating even to accusations of heresy. These eventually led the Inquisition to arrest everyone in the family except Esteban himself, sentence them to life in galley slavery. Esteban took from this the lesson that has defined him: only in unity is survival certain. The Church relocated him to an orphanage, where he excelled as a student and, by 20, was a doctor of Vaticine law. He could've gotten tenure anywhere, but he instead chose to remain with the Church, rising to the rank of Cardinel and joining the Inquisition, eventually becoming its leader. He transformed the Inquisition from an investigative and judicial body to a political and military one, replacing its ideologies with his own dogma. (And therefore Theus'. The man does truly believe he's doing Theus' work.) Verdugo's Inquisition appeals to the lowest common denominator, spreading fear of sorcery, Crescents and heresy, and promising to protect the people from these things. He pushes Castille into the War of the Cross by arguing Objectionism as an anti-Theus philosophy that had to be eradicated, and his enemies suspect he allowed Castille to lose so he could blame the monarchy for his failure and gain more control. Certainly, he robbed the tercios of their pay to prevent them from being wealthy and powerful enough to threaten the Inquisition.

Despite all this, however, Verdugo has weaknesses. Firstly, he's old. He needs to find a successor, but he trusts so few people, and even fewer of them young, that he's having a lot of trouble finding a candidate that meets his exacting standards. Secondly, despite the Inquisition's uncompromising rhetoric, he is willing to make concessions to get what he wants, as long as no one finds out. He encourages certain ranking, hand-picked Inquisitors to offer secret plea bargains to their targets if they'll give up fellow heretics that are more valuable. Lastly, despite his impressive mind, decades of single-minded pursuit of his goals have left him with weakened lateral thinking skills. He's still very dangerous, but he's no longer as good at expecting the unexpected as he used to be. He has, however, dedicated his entire being to pusuit of the Inquisition's ends. Even his longtime lover, a senior Vaticine Seminary lecturer, keeps track of dissent on his behalf. The two are not married because neither man has the time or inclination to adopt children. All of Verdugo's emotional dispalys are calculated - he doesn't go into murderous rages, he fakes them, but only his closest associates can tell.

Don Jentar Soldano de Gallegos is one of the many cousins of the Soldano Grande. He isn't high ranking and owns no land, but he is a prominent courtier who, in youth, studied philosophy at Maxentine Seminary and physics at the University of Rioja, as well as training in Aldana fencing. Now, he lives in the port of San Gustavo. His fellow nobles believe him a layabout with too much time on his hands - an idea he encourages, though it is far from true. He is the leader of the Mesta, a social club of noble ranchers with a political agenda. While their membership isn't secret, Jentar tries to keep his role in them quiet. Their goal is to increase Castille's prosperity, and while they move goods, they also move secrets - in Jentar's case, banned books and educational material. Most of the Mesta have no idea that their organization now aids and conceals the Invisible College, and Jentar prefers to keep it that way. When he isn't organizing shipments, he spends his time experimenting in his apothecary's lab. He is a skilled Boticario (yes, apothecary) and spends a lot of time on it, importing books and information to keep safe from the Inquisitors. He takes students, but only once they prove to him they aren't Inquisition spies. He has impeccable style and taste, but most of his money actually goes to his research on alchemy - just enough i spent on his wardrobe to hide his work's ink stains and scorch marks. He is a keen intellectual that pretends to be a lazy nobleman, and once he finds a problem, he never stops thinking about it until he solves it.

Zoraida Cortinas de Luzuriaga is the daugher of a Montaigne knight and a Soldanensa chaplain whom said knight took hostage during a naval battle, then fell in love with and deserted her post for. The two adopted new identities as a musician and dancer, but when the Inquisition came after them on suspicion of harboring fugitives, they gave their daughter to a passing pirate captain, who raised her as a cabin girl in the Atabean Sea on a Brotherhood ship. After a sea monster swallowed both Zoraida and her captain, carrying them back to Theah, she joined the Knights of the Rose & Cross to fight monsters, help people and rescue (and fall in love with) various nobles and diplomats. She was even a tercio in the army against the Montaigne invasion, eventually locating her parents in an Inquisitorial prison and winning their freedom by revealing new evidence and speaking on their behalf in court. She now lives with them and her former squire, now her spouse, in San Teodoro, where she supports herself by writing novels. Her best known creation is te Baronesa Berezi Batista, a thinly-veiled version of herself that becomes an intense, passionate anti-hero; originally she'd planned to just do herself, but she found she preferred to write about a darker world, where the good must do bad things to survive. Her work has been controversial and certainly not accurate to her own life, and the actions of the Baronesa BAtista have been the focal point of philosophical discussion and moral debate in all parts of society. They argue the ethics of the character, and of Zoraida herself for imagining such a morally dubious main character. Some of her fans have become fanatical, believing that the novels represent the true Castille, and have taken to performing vigilante justice while disguised as the Baronesa or other characters, murdering Inquisitors, burning courthouses and exposing secrets. Zoraida is an excellent writer, but she chose to exaggerate the misfortunes and sorrow of her nation. Her books are good enough that they will be read and studied in the coming centuries, at least. She is a retired adventurer and while happy to tell her stories to those who ask, she just wants to spend time with her family and write. She would, however, quite like if someone could talk her fans out of the pessimistic, nasty worldview they've taken up. (Not beat them up; that'd just validate them.)

Andre Miguel de Fonte was the son of a hidalgo and a sailor in San Felipe. He never much cared for the hidalgo title, finding it easier to live as a peasant than a disgraced poor noble. Also his family disowned him by his teenage years due to his knack for getting into trouble. He's been on many ships' crews since, sometimes honest, sometimes pirate, and gained a reputation as a pirate for hire. He eventually ended up aboard the Lady's Grace, a privateer working for the Grande of Odiseo, Uxia Serafin. It was during one of the ship's courier missions for the Grande that Fonte met her, charming her and becoming her lover. She isn't his only one, but she is the most important, especially because she keeps his crew employed and the government off their backs. When he learned that the Inquisition planned to murder her, he had to act. He turned to Los Vagabundos, and was given a mask. Taking it up, he saved his lover at the last moment. Since then, he has worn the mask two more times, each time to save good nobles and leaders. He is a flirtatious man just shy of 30, with long hair in a ponytail. He's quick-witted and polite when he must be, but he's always mischevious.

Now, let's talk about El Concilio de la Razon, the council of the King. Eight cardinals set on it - one from each ducado, one from the 'Ducade de Ultramar', as the Castillian colonies in the New World are called, one from the Sandoval family, and one representing the Vaticine City. Not all of them are evil, but enough are that they're trouble. El Cardenal de Ciudad Vaticinia is Nagore Loyola, who was mentored by Verdugo's lover and is the closest he has to a protege. She replaced him as the Vaticine representative after the Hierophant's death. Her primary weakness is that she genuinely likes King Sandoval, and doesn't just make decisions for him. She works to ensure that he understands what she's doing and why. It's only a matter of time before someone reports her actions to her mentors, and she knows it, so she's working to gather allies. El Cardenal del Ducado de Ultramar is Itzamatul of Tzak K'an, who represents the New World's many countries. He is an ardent convert, talented writer, and extremely popular among the people. They genuinely like him, opening up to him easily. On the rare occasions the Inquisition needs diplomacy and grace, they try to call on Itzamatul, if he can find the time in his busy schedule.

El Cardenal del Ducado de Torres is Emilio Crespo de Torres, the youngest member of the council and the head of the Inquisition's new campaign to syncretize pagain figures with Vaticine saints. When Ducado de Torres resisted the Inquisition efforts to wipe out Castillian paganism, Crespo decided to go for a softer approach, convincing his fellow Torrenos that the old gods and their favored saints were, in fact, the same entity. It's slow work, but Emilio enjoys traveling and looking for converts. El Cardenal del Ducado de Zepeda is Jafet Moreno de Zepeda, the most violent and extreme of the Inquisitors. He's a reformed pirate that led the Prophet's Sword, the Inquisition's militant branch, in raids against their enemies until he lost use of his legs in abttle against a bruja. He is a quiet, glowering man who rarely blinks and is quick to remind people that the only sure way to get rid of a threat is to see it dead. He is very firmly a villain.

El Cardenal del Ducado de Aldana is Pastora Losa de Aldana, a respected judge in the Prophet's Hourglass who has a tendency to sentence heretics to far harsher punishments than they actually deserve. She intends to retire within the year, with Verdugo's blessing. She's been a faithful Inquisitor for seventy years and wants to spend the rest of her time with her grandchildren and her hobby of painting pewter soldiers. She has the seniority to appoint anyone she wants to her seat, but has no one in mind - she's holding out for the right bribe. El Cardenal del Ducado de Soldano is Patricia Abana de Soldano, and the most concerned with temporal matters. She's from a family that's run the same hacienda since the beginning of Castillian history, and is one of the few council members that isn't an Inquisitor. Verdugo hates this, but won't remove her because of her popular she is with her people. She believes the best way to keep the people loyal is to make the Church indispensable to them, usually by distributing food and medical care.

El Cardenal del Ducado de Gallegos is Fatima Campos de Gallegos, the most recently appointed. She was a Bishop who was handpicked by Verdugo, despite outrage from the Gallegos archbishops. He wanted her mostly as a spy, as she'd working for King Aldana. It's done very little to placate the already volatile ducado, and Fatima has to walk a very fine line with her home officials. She never trusts anyone, which hasn't worked out very well in politics - she hasn't been good at making connections or reaching across the aisle in the politics of Vaticine City. She does, however, have secret dossiers on all other council members, just in case. She isn't very sympathetic to King Sandoval, but she's loyal to him, and would be a potent ally against the Inquisition if given the motivation. El Cardenal de Familia Sandoval is Modesto Mejia de Sandoval, an eccentric man from the Sandoval Forest with a very rustic manner and a very shrublike hairdo. He was once a member of an obscure, small religious order and joined the Inquisition after it disbanded - or, at least, that's what he likes to claim. The truth is he is a busgosu, a goat man, and his messy hair hides two short horns, while his robes hide goat legs. Like many busgosus, he liked to play cruel pranks, and te last of them was to dress up as a priest and preach a false gospel to Vaticines. He was shocked to discover he was a prodigy at sermons, inadvertantly converting not only many humans, but himself as well. He is a well-liked Inquisitor, though more a speaker than a writer. He is terrified that someone will notice his nature and would happily abdicate if someone could help him escape unnoticed.

El Concilio de la Razon are theoretically just advisors to the king, appointed by him and approved by the Hierophant. They are separate from the Council of Cardinals, and made as a way to prevent Vodacce influence over Castillian affairs. The only member that has served on both councils is Verdugo himself. In recent years, Verdugo has warped the Concilio's purpose to control Castille. They may disagree with him, even argue over points, but in the end most members of the council will obey him. Members typically serve until death, though a few have retired. Under Verdugo, they can only retire with his blessing - otherwise he has them killed. Some of the Cardinals are sympathetic to the King, but all of them believe that they are better positioned to serve the nation while he's still a boy. Individually the members may be personable and temperate, buit togather they are a formidable threat to anyone trying to fight the Inquisition. While Layola may care for the king, she's still Verdugo's protege. Mejia may have a secret, but that just means he obeys orders to prevent suspicion. Campos may not trust anyone - but that means she probaly won't trust PCs without good cause, either. You can find allies among them, but they will be in grave danger themselves. Some may like the idea of deposing Verdugo, but they are surrounded by danger, betrayal and, of course, daring deeds.

Next time: The Grandes

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Hattie Masters
Aug 29, 2012

COMICS CRIMINAL


Grimey Drawer

I always found it a bit strange that Avalon, being pretty explicitly the most magical of countries, is the only place where there is a defined, limited number of potential sorcerors, seeing as how each Mystical Knight has precisely one person using their powers at any given time. Almost every other magical system in the setting that I can think of has no limit to the number of practitioners, except for the super magical one.

And I also hated the goat man being a member of the council of reason, entirely because of my own personal biases. I never find the whole magical creature side of things terribly interesting, being far more invested in the assorted human dickbags trying to do things for the PCs to put a stop to. Although that might just be because I find it a lot easier to have a plot focused around villains scheming and plotting than about monsters doing monster things

(which of course meant my players decided to be monster hunters when i ran my game)

Azran
Sep 3, 2012

I am the real hero here.




I like how the Inquisition leader's surname is "executioner" in Spanish.

White Coke
May 29, 2015


Terrible Opinions posted:

To be significantly less fair the Christmas haters were also responsible for attempted genocide of the Irish and several years of theocratic dictatorship in England.

Should we all smoke cigarettes because the Nazis were anti-smoking?

Night10194 posted:

Similarly, there are a few rules a smith needs to follow. Form has to follow function. Substances used in Runic Magic have to be 'hard' and 'resilient'; bone and wood count, but paper and leather don't. An item can't have more than one of the same type of Rune on it; no stacking Runes of Striking for a +30% to-hit sword. You also can't put more than 3 Runes on one item; there isn't enough room for more magic after a point. Master Runes, the big and super powerful Runes only available to 3rd tier and better Runesmiths, have to be the only Rune on an item or else adding them fails. No stacking Master Runes or putting two normal Runes and one Master on an item. When we get to the Master Runes it will make sense that you can't have more than one. A Runesmith needs to spend at least 4 hours a day working on an item for the day to count, and if they leave an item for more than a month without spending a day to touch it up, the magic fails. Finally, the most confusing rule: A Runesmith can't make the same exact item twice. The reason this is confusing is, how is this defined? Do Temporary items count, since they lose their Runic status when they're used up? How does it deal with, say, a dwarf making a Runed axe AND a Runed sword with the same Rune? Is this permissible since they're 'different' items even though in game terms they're both Hand Weapons? These questions aren't even considered in the book. The Temporary question is especially pressing, since it's going to decide how often it's useful to have your Runesmith do a short crafting montage in order to remain relevant.

The rules for crafting runes are brought over from the war-game, and its interesting to see how they changed them. Three runes maximum is the same, but you can stack the same lesser rune on an item. Master Runes can coexist with lesser runes on an item, but you can only have one of any particular Master Rune in your army, so the smaller scale is why they'd make them more restrictive. And the no duplicates rule is interesting because there's no magical reason for it, Runesmiths just don't like having to make the same runes over and over again since that's apprentice work. So apprentice and journeyman Runesmiths should be able to make the same item over and over again. And there are no rules for temporary rune items in the war-game, so it could go either way. I'd say temporary runes shouldn't count, since they're much less labor intensive and allow a Runesmith to practice his work before making the real deal.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



You'd think Dwarves would favor weapons with nice broad surfaces that are easy to inscribe on. Like cinquedea.

Barudak
May 7, 2007




Obsidian: The Age of Judgement is a roleplaying game by Apophis Consortium published first in 1999, and this review uses the 2nd Edition from 2001. Written by Micah Skaritka, Dav Harnish, and Frank Nolan. Obsidian is a post-apocalyptic anarchist corporatist literal hell on earth secret knowledge crunchy dice-pool game. It is purchasable online here if you’d like to support the authors of this work.

Part 6: Who Needs to Know What +2 Visionary Ritual Points Means

With Chapter 1 behind us we can jump into Chapter 2, called “Elements of the Story.” This title is, as almost everything in Obsidian is, extremely misleading as only 2 of the 20 pages of this chapter focus on “The Story” as the game keeps calling any campaign in their setting. The remaining pages are character creation rules that for some reason aren’t in the next chapter, which is the chapter theoretically all about character creation rules. This is going to be a really bad layout idea as you’ll see in a moment.

Before we even get to jump into any of that though, the game has another fluff piece it wants us to read. This page and a half long story introduces setting information that has never come up before like Candles of Transcendence* but honestly mostly exists to brutally torture a woman. Seriously, this story is half “rich guy who is in cahoots with demon talk about their upcoming job” and half the interspersed description of a bound, naked woman in the back of the room getting tortured and pleading for help while this guy does his boring pre-planning with the demon before she gets murdered at the end for no reason because none of what happens to her has any established purpose in the setting section we just read. Oh, and somehow in this future last city of mankind nobody seems to notice or care that some people appear to be animated skeletons even though 100% of animated skeletons in this universe are incahoots with the armies that plan to kill all humans.

After that wonderful bit of narrative, the game does what every RPG does, clumsily try to introduce how to roleplay good. Firstly, though, it confirms that we aren’t evil by roleplaying or making a pact with the devil which is frankly unexpected for this game which takes itself so seriously. The game’s actual suggestions for how to run a campaign start good with lots of nods to “read your players’ character sheets” and “talk with them before starting the game to determine the kind of story they want” and then run headlong into the idea that the Story Master/Game Master/Dungeon Master (here called The Narrator) is basically writing a story for the players to play through and the players are on rails. The book doesn’t do much to mesh these two ideas together, but from the suggestions you can tell the authors expect you to tweak your story as appropriate for what the players want to do but it is never written out that way.


I bet she knows that Nebuchadnezzar once went by the name Esarhaddon before Cyraxes son Astyages took his lands in 570 BC

Before we move onto the character creation, I have to call out two things in this section. The first is the authors wrote the following sentence about how to come up with story hooks,”[...]the Narrator needs to come up with a plot that the Characters need to resolve. This should be easy, considering nearly every sentence within this book contains an idea that could be exploited”. We’re not particularly far into the book at this point so if you take this at face value it means your campaign mostly be about people trying to pass a history exam. The second is the example Story and its hooks that the book provides to give you an idea of how this should all come together is entirely about murdering hobos hobos. It starts with a dying hobo escaping from a hobo massacre leading to finding a group of murdered hobos with each new step in the story involving more and more dead hobos until it finally culminates in this:

”Maybe the key has nothing to do with Society, but the characters keep stumbling among the massacres of bums[...]

The section then ends with a list of Story ideas and basically every single one is some variation on “Corporation wants [x], and hire you to do it” with suggestions that possibly the corporation betray you once you do [x] because they’re evil. The best one is the one that runs literally counter to their advice from earlier and requires you to have a mixed party of good people and evil ones where one player works to sabotage the good players efforts and that certainly will be a fun campaign to run, won’t it, you Chaotic-Neutral alignment assholes reading this?

With that wrapped up, we get hurled into character creation, and I mean hurled. Theres no real transition, just two intro paragraphs outlining the process, one of which offhand mentions that players may also play NPCs which makes no sense and doesn’t come up ever again, and then it is time to start building your character. The process is listed as follows; Design Character Concept, Choose One Ethos, Choose Primary and Secondary Socials, Four Character Rolls, Spend 20 Generation Points, Assign Motiviations.

Did you read that? Good, now just go ahead and throw “Design Character Concept”, “Assign Motivations”, and most of the “Four Character Rolls” right out the window because your Ethos and Socials basically define your character mechanically and in fluff so don’t waste your time with any of that. In the case of Motivations this is extremely literal, each of the “Ethos” you select has a bolded headline saying what that Ethos’s motivation is.


Casting magic requires a surprising amount of stabbing in Obsidian

So what are Ethos and Socials? They’re basically the same thing with Ethos being a little more “how does your character ideologically view the world” and Socials being “what is your character’s job” but you’ll notice thats a fluff-only difference. What they actually are is packages of skills and stat buffs that you apply to your character, and since what random chance controls has almost no bearing on your character can do, this is really where you build your character. Further invalidating any concepts you may have had, what Ethos you select also determines what Socials you’re allowed to choose from, so you know what, there are basically only 6 characters in the game despite it being a theoretical template and point-buy system.

You may notice that we are barely started with this system and to build a character we already have a mess of character templates, random rolls, and point buy to deal with. Good thing it gets even more confusing because at this point we have absolutely no frame of reference for what absolutely any of the stuff we are choosing even means because all of that information is in the next chapter. Ethos and Socials include benefits like, “They start with a +2D Bonus to the Mind Attribute” and “+2 Visionary Ritual Points” which are absolutely not self-explanatory, Obsidian. The worst to even try to parse is one of the the packages for casters which results in getting the following block of stats “Kultists start with 1D Call, access to 1 Kult, and 20 Kult Points to spend on Call, Convokations, and Spiritual Solidarty. They also start with a Kult blade and a number of Spirit Points equal to their Call Rating”. I get a 1D Call? Perfect, my character can finally let his mom know he's ok.


A young Marshall Mathers dreams of an aged version of himself arguing with James Spader

These packages also aren’t particularly balanced, either, with the assumption that you’ll take some of these purely on the fluff description not the mechanics. There is no reason, for instance to select “Enigmatic” as your secondary Social as all it does is make you pay twice as much to open your first bank bank account. If instead you chose “Scavanger” as your secondary you’d get a stat boost and enough money to buy a gun that reliably kill just about any on-foot foe in the game you shoot at in a single turn. Further compounding this, Socials are basically non-choices unless you plan to make a bad character. There is only one Social per major Stat and certain starting classes get special Socials designed just for them that only they have access to which provide tailored benefits. The system basically just points you at the optimal Social choices for your Ethos and sort of shrugs its shoulders at you if you want to pick outside of that.

We’ll get into the rest of the the character creation rules next time, but for now give me your edgiest 90s occult corporate raiders and I’ll build a few characters** and then possibly get them addicted to drugs or chopped up into cyborgs later.

Next Time: Experience Points as Luck Tokens, Random Rolls, and You

*This is defined 45 pages later in the middle of a single paragraph describing the mechanics for a system that is never referenced until that moment and has no fluff around it until that page.
**These characters except probably will not be built optimally because that seems boring

White Coke
May 29, 2015


Ratoslov posted:

You'd think Dwarves would favor weapons with nice broad surfaces that are easy to inscribe on. Like cinquedea.

Swords of any kind are to thin and weak for any proper Dwarf. Runelords almost never make the runeswords they're commissioned for and leave it to the apprentices. Axes, hammers, and picks are proper Dwarfen weapons.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 1 - Kuso Grande

The term Grande technically refers to any landed noble, but more colloquially, it's the leaders of the ducados. For a very long time, they were the de facto rulers of their lands, and their people still tend to treat them that way. They live in palatial estates, dictating law for their people as long as it doesn't interfere with the King's orders or the Inquisition's plans. There are five of them - Torres in the northwest, Soldano in the northeast, Zepeda in the east, Aldana in the south, and Gallegos, more often called Odiseo, in the south and southeast. Odiseo is basically Not Portugal.

Almudena Oquendo de Sandoval, the mother of the King and his sister, controls the Ducado de Aldana. She is a Sandoval by birth, but her husband was an Aldana. The Sandovals descend from Lord Roman Sandoval, also called Rimun ibn Basiti al-Sayyid, a minor noble of mixed Castillian and Crescent descent who fought on both the Blazing Blade and Crescent sides during the Moonshadow War. His complicated history isn't understood much and is a subject of frequent historical debate. The Sandovals have often been on the Castillian throne, shoring up their weaker position via aggressive political marriages to everyone else. Almudena still wears the mourning clothes from her husband, King Salvador's death four years ago. She is a shy, polite and ferocious politician, possibly the best in Castille. Her subtle maneuvers have ensured her son's survival and his retention of some power. Currently, she has retired to the family compound in Ciudad de Aldana to draw off the Inquisition's agents from her children.

Colonel Bihotz Arrigorriagakoa de Torres is an elderly woman who can claim total responsibility for her family's survival to the present. She was the third daughter, destined for the military, who spent her entire life preparing for it. Her ruthless pragmatism is why the Castillian army's fighting retreat through Torres was seen both as an ugly, evil sacrifice and the only reason Castille survived. She has seen all of her family's possessions burn around her, but she still has a sense of humor. She spends most of her time now traveling the country, asking other Grandes for troops, in case l'Empereur decides to come back. Diego Ruiz de Soldano has profited with the fall of Ducado de Torres. He controls the best vineyard and olive plantations in Castille, and Ducado de Torres has lost much of its fertile land, so his products are in high demand. Now, his old rival Bihotz, who once had no time for him, begs him for aid. The Soldano family, long contemptious of the Torres, may well do nothing to help her.

Llorenc grec de Zepeda is currently in a holding cell, after being arrested last week. After a long chase through Ciudad de Zepeda, the Inquisition found El Vagabundo hiding in Llorenc's own manor. Llorenc denied all knowledge of this, of course, but he was dragged in his bedclothes to the jail, despite being the eldest of all the Grandes. El Vagabundo escaped using a cloud of bats in the attic, so now it is all Llorenc's word against the vigilante's presence. It is unclear if he was framed. There is no ruler of Ducado de Gallegos in practice; its Grande is not recognized by the crown. The King appointed Governor Carlos Perez as ruler in an attempt to end the independence movement. It did impact things in the short term, but most residents still ignore Perez's rule entirely. He can't even make them stop calling themselves Odiseans, let alone abide by his laws. The real power lies with the former Grande, Uxia Serafin, who continues to push against Castillian rule despite her reduced status.

Secret societies! The Knights of the Rose & Cross have too many knights and not nearly enough benefactors. Many former tercios have wanted to join up to fight, and established Knights often hire them as squires, aides or bodyguards. However, the entire order has a precarious position, as all of the Castillian factions want thier help. The leaders of the order have directed Knights to be careful not to publically endorse any faction over another, which is complicated by many individual Knights have extremely strong opinions, as do their benefactors. Angry letters threatening to cut off financial support if the Knights back Odisean indpenence, oppose it, help the Inquisition from hunting Ecliposes, stop the Inquistion hunting Eclipses and more are common. The Knights grant 6 Favor to any member who finds a suitable Benefactor in Castille, simply because it's so loving hard. Die Kreuzritter came because, like all wars, the Castille-Montaigne war attracted monsters like a wound attracts maggots. Ghosts, wights and ghouls are common in the wake of war, as are werewolves. Both sides hired Kreuzritter agents to keep their camps safe from the undead, and both sides pledged not to target those agents, though a few still died when soldiers failed to distinguish who they were. The armies have left, but many of the monsters have not.

The Inquisitio Aquila know that the Inquisition have one of the best, most dedicated intelligence networks and staffs in the world, yet use them for evil ends, enforcing a party line remade in the Third Prophet's image. However, the Third Prophet did not, in truth, invent them - there has always been an Inquisition. The First Prophet's people lacked the modern power and privilege of the Hieros, and they were hunted and persecuted, infiltrated by spies and agitators seeking to betray them. Priests who named themselves Inquisitors were the guards and detectives that protected against those threats. As the Vaticine grew and temporal authoirty became more invested in them, the Inquisition became less necessary. After a mid-12th century Inquisitor aboused his authoirty to seize the city of Stern, the Inquisition lost all support, until the Third Prophet came and, in researching Church history, ediscovered them and decided that the Church needed a single, indivisible truth that they would protect from heresy.

They know this because Inquisitor Octavio Mazabi found those records, too, and vowed to return the Inquisition to its original purpose - hunting down true monsters, evil wizards and others that would hide their evil within the Church. He sought out aid from die Kreuzritter, and through them he realized he couldn't bring back the original IOnquisition without first destroying Verdugo's version. Die Krezuritter offered him training and support, and the Inquisitio Aquila was formed as a subsidiary of die Kreuzritter, hoping to reform the Inquisition from within. They are both within the Vaticine and Inquisitorial structure, and also in the lay population. They recruit sympathizers aywhere they can, and their safehouses are hidden across Castille in caves, hidden catacombs and more. The Dark Inquisitors, as they call themsevles, use them to plan or to hide people and books from the Inquisition. Several have been found and torched, but the Inquisitors currently blame them on the Invisible College. It's only a matter of time, however, before they discover a Dark Inquisitor at work. As with the convention Inquisitors, the Inquisitio Aquila work to dispose of those deemed a threat to the Church, seeking out information and secrets on the mainstream Inquisition to derail their plans and convert what members they can. They must act with caution, to keep Verdugo from discovering them and destroying them before they can act.

Unlike die Kreuzritter, the Inquisitio Aquila has a hard time finding evil, corrupt or monstrous people within their own ranks. It's a big job, but a delicate one. They don't like killing people, but rmeoving an Inquisitor from office or causing a popular rebellion against one is completely okay by them. Gathering information on Inquisition movements is worth 3 Favor, if the Inquisition doesn't learn you were doing it. Removing an important Inquisitor, convincing one to abdicate or replacing one with a Dark Inquisitor is worth 5 Favor. For 2 Favor, you can get a hiding place in one of the society's strongholds, especially if the person you're hiding is targeted by the Inquisition. Getting aid from a Dark Inquisitor costs 3 FAvor. Dark Inquisitors are all skilled fighters, Strength 8, and have the Ordained advantage and either the University or Miracle Worker Advantage.

The Explorer's Society was ofunded in Odiseo and remaisn very popular in Castille. The Inquisition doesn't like their open support of science, education and anthropology, but generally has bigger problems to deal with. Several of the members are war veterans focused on preserving archaeological sites in Torres before more fighting starts. The Invisible College love Castille - great universities, alchemy...and legions of Inquisitors. They have a lot to do there, but it's also very dangerous for them. They work to copy, hide and save heretical texts in the Vaticine libraries, but they most move carefully, evading the Inquisition, as the penalty for their activity is death. Los Vagabundos are on their home turf in Castille...but so are the Inquisitors. They play cat and mouse with each other, as Los Vagabundos are always a step ahead, leaving just enough clues to keep the Inquisitors chasing them over, say, Eclipses. The risk of capture, though, has made many question if they should move their base of power - or perhaps support Odisean independence to have a hiding place from the Inquisitors.

Mociutes Skara have come as relief workers for the populace. The Church has welcomed their aid in food, medicine and clothing distribution for the needy. The Church does not know, however, that they have worked with the Tamatama, nomadic groups from far to the east that are traditionally either al-Din or other obscure Eastern faiths, to establish a network of safehouses and sympathizers, which the Shawl uses to move Inquisition targets to safety abroad. Helping to smuggle mraginalized groups out of Castille is worth 4 Favor, whether they are ethnic or religious minorities, sorcerers from other nations, or any other group targeted by the Inquisition.

The Rliasciare and Sophia's Daughters are essentially the same organization in Castille, and they spend most of their time in small numbers to avoid suspcion. Those that remain work with their Vodacce 'sisters' heavily, as Castille is easy to get to by ship from Vodacce and so is a common destination for renegade FAte Witches, especially as their normal clothes resemble Castillian mourning garb. The Merchant Princes Vestini and Lucani, who have lost the most Witches to the Daughters, have signed an agreement to find out how to stop them, and have begun working with Castillian Inquisitors to screen Vodacce travelers for Witches.

Next time: Places.

shades of eternity
Nov 9, 2013

Where kitties raise dragons in the world's largest mall.

LongDarkNight posted:

Traditionally you just ask someone. Then later you threaten to sue them.

PurpleXVI posted:

Depends on your motives for getting it reviewed, really.

If you want to show it off, maybe get some attention, and don't mind getting ribbed over any goofy bits. If you consider it more or less a finished game, go ahead and PM someone, if you have someone specific in mind, and ask them to review it.

On the other hand, if it's in the works, and you want constructive critique, there are probably better threads for it.

Okay then

I'm officially requesting a review and a rib of the following product

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/C_N_Constantin_Dark_Revelation_The_Role_Playing_Ga?id=gX-7BQAAQBAJ

This is our original bargin basement/bootleg edition of our original product from a "few" years ago.

Our last major review of our books that urked us the most and inspired us to continue writing was that it was "too long."

We hope to get a more enjoy able response from you fine folk here.

Happy heckling.

P.S. there's a lot of it. :p

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012





We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams; —
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

Ode, Arthur O'Shaughnessy


1: GO

quote:

Unknown Armies is an occult game about broken people conspiring to fix the world.

It’s a game about people who want things very, very badly. Social justice, a fair shake, redemption for their myriad sins, or just a bigger slice of the pie, they want it. But no one is just going to hand it to them. No one else, frankly, gives a poo poo. Shits only begin to be given when their pursuit of their agenda inconveniences somebody — the folks benefiting from injustice and unfair shakes, or the people who were on the receiving end of those myriad sins, or the pie-eaters who placidly argue that sharing is for bitches and poor people.

This is the 3rd Edition of Unknown Armies. Nobody remembers the first edition, and most know the 2nd because it essentially is 1st but with better rules and copy-writing. 2nd Edition Unknown Armies ran off of a slightly janky rework of the BRP system of Call of Cthulhu. It also had major tone problems that lead it to aging very very poorly. It is, for all its positive qualities, Painfully 90’s. Not only in the setting, and mechanics, but in the very construction of the game. In the 1990s it was a new and shiny thing like nothing else. Unknown Armies 2e is still like nothing else, but its archaic design, lack of guidance and unifying purpose, and failure to answer the “What is this game about?” and “What do you do in this game?” questions holds it back.

3rd Edition does not have this problem. Better to show than to simple ramble on. This is Book One: Play. This is the book meant for Players, and teaches the basic rules of the game, and player facing information. It is followed by Book Two: Run, which is the GM book. We will cover it after Play. Many things will be unexplained here, because they are not meant to be seperate. Trust and all will be revealed in time.

quote:

There are a lot of games out there which feature heroes, saviors, champions… people who right wrongs, defend the weak, and slay the monster. Those games are great. This one’s different. Instead of stopping the cultists or killing the beast or protecting the status quo, you are the cultist, the beast, the threat to tradition.

Without you, the world ticks on as it always has. Your job is to create a character for whom that is intolerable.

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

Looking forward to the writeup, unknown armies 3 does some cool stuff. Centering the sanity system as the core part of your character was a brilliant idea.

I definitely feel like unknown armies is less a horror game than a black comedy with horror elements, but it works either way, really.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





To my knowledge, Unknown Armies is the only game that ever gave me nightmares. (Being chased in the Sleepers' hedge maze by the Lucifuge.) I'm also interested to see what 3E is like because I do love some second.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


A friend of mine has wanted me to run UA for years. I had no idea there was a 3e and I'll be very excited to see it.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



shades of eternity posted:

Okay then

I'm officially requesting a review and a rib of the following product

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/C_N_Constantin_Dark_Revelation_The_Role_Playing_Ga?id=gX-7BQAAQBAJ

This is our original bargin basement/bootleg edition of our original product from a "few" years ago.

Our last major review of our books that urked us the most and inspired us to continue writing was that it was "too long."

We hope to get a more enjoy able response from you fine folk here.

Happy heckling.

P.S. there's a lot of it. :p

If nobody else does it before I wrap up obsidian, I'm happy to do it if you're ok with that.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 1 - Inside The Spanish Vatican

Vaticine Island, home of the Vaticine City, has been inhabited since well before the Numanari invasion of Castille during the First Empire. Its coast is mostly cliff, with a few harbors, making it easy to defend. The Numnari, Crescents, Castillians and Vodacce all controlled it over the years, until the Third Prophet settled it during the Moonshadow War. It proved to be a tactically choice area to start a war from. The tribes living there mainly raised sheap, wheat and a few other crops, making sheep's milk cheeses to sell at high prices in Castille, Vodacce and Ifri.

Meanwhile, Fabio Dimas de Bello was descended from a group that fled from Zepeda to northern Vodacce in the early days of the Crescent Empire. The family gathered power for 500 years, but never reached the level of Merchant Princes. Fabio, who would become the Third Prophet, started a fire in the hearts of the Vaticine, accusing the nobility of Theah of corruption, diabolism and witchcraft. The pirer Church that he promised, with no toelerance for imperfection and a clear path provided for salvation, attracted a huge following among the Vodacce, who seized control of the Church from the primarily aristocratic cardinals. They seized the resources of the Merchant Princes, ignoring their authority, and the Princes exiled Fabio to the Vaticine Island in hopes of ridding themselves of extremism.

From the island, the Third Prophet's army, the Blazing Blade, began the Moonshadow War to drive non-Vaticine out of Castille and remake it as a paradise for the faithful. From this, the island has grown in wealth and power. The Hieros, the entirety of the Church, looks to it for direction. Its fortifications are always manned, and the Church ensures it's always self-sufficient in case of war. It also sells wine, cheese, olive oil and similar luxury goods. The City has grown in layers atop itself. At the center is the Heriophantic Basilica, a maze of churches and cathedrals built on top of each other, with the Hierophant's Office at their peak, high in the air. The Basilica is rather disturbing from afar, given its patchwork of styles and geometries from generations of architects, which makes it look like a surrealist painting of a quartz crystal.

The Basilica is host to most the Church's business, sacred and otherwise. Residential and commercial buildings radiate out from its base, housing the workers that keep the place running, and also the national embassies. On the eastern and western edges are the fortified High Chancery of the Inquisition and the Maxentine Seminary. Every nation and Theah, and a few from outside, have embassies within Vaticine City, though positioned as far from each other as possible. The largest and best are the Vodacce embassy, the old Rzeczpospolita embassy (now serving the entire Sarmatian Commonwealth), the Crescent Empire, and Montaigne's. That said, the Montaigne Embassy is currently a very weird place, home to a large expat community of religious Montaigne nobles who didn't feel safe at home. L'Empereur has ignored the embassy, feeling no desire to keep up relations after the excommunication.

The Hierophant's Office was constructed by a now-defenct order dedicated to devotional architecture. The Office has two floors. The lower area contains offices, apartments, kitchens and all the other things necessary for the Hierophant to live, work and pray without having to leave the Office, which many Hierophants have done near the end of their lives. The upper area is a grand panopticon of crystal glass, to allow the Hierophant to observe the island from above. The Cathedral Hierophantic is the name for this area, a throne for the Hierophant during official functions. It is a comfortable leather chair set into a mechanized armillary sphere, which represents the traditional Terran cosmology as imagined by ancient Vaticine scientists. The mechanisms include speaking tubes and spyglasses, to allow the Hierophant to see and speak to distant parts of the city. It rises and falls smoothly and noisly on an elevator that can lift it to the top of the Office, or lower it to any floor of the BAsilica. Currently, the King of Castille and his household have spent the past year living in the Office as prisoners, under guard by the Prophet's Sword, ostensibly for his own good.

The Maxentine Seminary is one of Theah's largest universities, taking students from across the world. The youngest are only twelve, and there are a number of feeder schools on the grounds to prepare students for admission. Given they operate right under the Inquisition's gaze, you'd expect them to produce obedient priests - but they do not. Because it was founded in the spirit of widespread theological debate by Hierophant Maxentius, it has always loved an argument, and the students and faculty have always been prone to arguing a wide range of both theological and political views on any number of subjects. The Seminary's faculty are often some of the most vocal critics of the Inquisition, as their commitment to diversity of views keeps them safe from Verdugo's wrath, much to his frustration. Stereotypically, a student at Seminary will be an extremist version of the views they will later settle into, becoming more moderate over time...unless they become a professor.

The Church frowns on bloodshed in the streets of the city, as it scares the pilgrims. Thus, all dueling academies on the island must lie outside the city, on small farmsteads. The agriculatural labor strengthens the students, and the wilderness is a gorgeous setting to fight in. Most major Thean schools are represented, including the signature Rossini style of the Vaticine, which uses heavy polearms, particularly the halberd. Rossini duelists learn to fight in formation, and also wield the Numanari gladius to fight those who get in close. The current head of the school is Gabriela Rossini, retired captain of the Hierophant's Guard and head of the Rossini family, which has run the school since its foundation in ninth-century Vodacce. Rossini is deeply troubled by the assassination of the Hierophant, as it happened under the watch of some of her best students, all of whom also died with the Hierophant, presumably in her defense. Habriela's age and responsibilities keep her form investigating personally, but she pays very well for any information on the Hierophant's murder.

The Hall of Orders is a walled enclave at the edge of the city, and is the liaison between the Hierophantic Basilica and the many sects of the Vaticine. It is formally seperate from the organizational pyramid of the Vaticine. Monks and nuns may stay in its dormitories and use it as needed. Each order maintains its own idiosyncratic organization, which may mirror the Church or may operate on an entirely different model. Typically, they are built around a small group of people whose devotion to Tehus takes the form of some special practice. The simplest are the cloistered orders, that live in monasteries and convents to avoid distraction from their devoations. Others are gyrovagues, wandering priests that apprentice to elders in their order and then head off to teach or heal others, surviving off donations. Artisan and artistic orders seek Theus by creation of various things. Many orders are restricted by gender. The Budorigan Order of Rzeczspospolita, for example, is known for its mighty warhorses, bred for the military orders and Inquisition, and it will only accept nonbinary members. Monks of the military orders live in fortresses known as commanderies, studying martial arts in order to defend the Church. The eldest of these that continues is les Paladins de Cluny, who date back to the ninth century and formed to defend Montaigne's cost from Vesten raiders. Many more were formed during the Moonshadow War, and it was a military order that developed into die Kreuzritter. The Orders in general disdain the politicso f the main Church, and the hones that have, historically, taken sides tend to lose funding and recruitment opportunities.

The High Chancery is, historically, the supreme court of Vaticine law. For the past four centuries, though, it has also been the home fortress of the Inquisitors. Early in Verdugo's tenure, he had the place rebuilt as a Vodacce-style star fort, which he then filled with extravagant decorations, priceless artwork and fine new suites. The fort's guns poiint in all directions - both at the City itself and out towards the sea. The Vaticine courts employed the original Inquisition as investigators to gather information, but their support was decimated by the Stern scandal that nearly destroyed die Kreuzritter. By 1157, they nearly didn't exist. The Third Prophet reformed them to focus on external threats and heresy, rather than monsters and internal misconduct. The Inquisitors were priests in the normal hierarchy, given special training and a mission to hunt down Crescent sympathizers, sorcerers and other threats. They answered in secret to a High Inquisitor hidden among the cardinals. After the mysterious death of the Third Prophet in 1268, the Inquisition continued to serve as the embodument of his theocratic will. In taking control of it, CArdinal Verdugo restructured it into three parts.

The Prophet's Staff gathers information and investigates crimes against religious law. They are the closest, at present, to the original Inquisition's mission statement, but Cerdugo also has them spying on nearly every political power on the continent. The Prophet's Sword is the smallest group, formed from the elite guards of Vaticine City. Traditionally they recruit from Western Eisen, and have been the enforcers for the Inquisition since the end of the Moonshadow War. They wear distinct orange and purple uniforms, and they primarily wield halberds. When arresting heretics, though, they prefer short swords, clubs and guns. Whule the other branches of the Inquisition are organized on priestly lines, the Sword is a military organization with military ranks. The Prophet's Hourglass are the judiciary of the Inquisition, often referred to just as the High Chancery. While the Church has always had an arm for jurisprudence to try its own criminals and offer legal opinions on actions, this group has also been given the power to process heretics. It has been expanded massively under Verdugo, and the Cardinal himself is the judge for the highest-profile crimes.

The Inquisition recruits professionals who demonstrate distinct skills, but at least half of its numbers are made of children it raises in-house. The Inquisitorial Academy is within the Chancery's walls, and while people can join it any year, often at the encouragement of a local priest, most of its students are orphans who made it to Vaticine Island. The life is full of rigorous study, secluded from the outside world. The Sword and the Hourglass are the most obvious and feared arms of the group, but the Staff is larger than both combined. They have the largest repository of information and records on the continent, and all of its resources are dedicated to collating and processing information to evaluate which threats to move on and what verdicts to reach. While their information is only meant to fight threats to the Church, they have far more diverse uses in practice. Verdugo excels at identifying threats with the aid of his many analysts, and also political fronts or movements that could obstruct the Inquisition or give them new opoortunities. By analyzing things like guard schedules, crop prices and folk songs, Verdugo has discovered love affairs, slave revolts and Sidhe activities, using that information against others and to aid his plans. He's very good at it.

Next time: So what are Eclipses, anyway.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Huh, the not-Vatican being on its own island is an interesting change.

shades of eternity
Nov 9, 2013

Where kitties raise dragons in the world's largest mall.

Barudak posted:

If nobody else does it before I wrap up obsidian, I'm happy to do it if you're ok with that.

Thank you kindly.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 1 - Ethinic Minorities Exist Now

So, what are Eclipses? The Vaticine are easily the most populous of Thean faiths, but not the only ones. The Yachidi and Dinists are probably the most notable of the others. The Yachidi predate even the First Prophet, and while they believe in Theus, they also recognize various forms of magic as not evil, and they view lesser spirits and gods as servants of Theus. The Yachidi can be found across the continent, but mostly in areas in near the Crescent Empire. The al-Din are closer to the Vaticine, and follow the Second Prophet, believing that the Third Prophet was a false prophet. They are largely from the Crescent Empire, but many either never converted in Castille or migrated to other parts of Theah. The Tamatama of the east are generally Dinists, though not all. Most nations accept these minority religions, though the Inquisition generally doesn't. The word 'Eclipse' is Castillian slang for all these minority groups, and indeed any marginalized group that may come under Inquisition suspicions.

The Inquisition may technically declare anyone a heretic for any sin, but their primary focus is on witches. Verdugo particularly hates the brujas, practitioners of a form of indigenous magic based on old Castillian paganism, which they've never been able to wipe out. Alquimia, also, is technically science rather than sorcery (despite using sorcery rules), but the Inquisition formally opposed scientific research right now. Boticarios must be wary about when and where they practice, especially because of Alquimia's association with the higher classes and the Crescents, who were both favored targets of the Third Prophet, which means many apothecaries are hanged as witches pretending to alchemy, regardless of the truth. Per the Inquisition, Objectionists are Vaticine but traitors, and despite the amount of rhetoric permitted within the Vaticine City universities, Objectionists off the island are likely to be targets.

A royal decree in 1385, exactly one year before the entire royal family died of mysterious plague, the Tachidi and al-Din faiths were decriminalized, and the populace generally feels a lot of sympathy for them due to their long presence in Castillian culture. However, Castillians also grant great prestige to families with the longest history of following the Third Prophet, and the typically way to get out of Inquisition trouble (grand, public acts of Vaticine faith) aren't really open to Yachidi or Dinists unless they convert. The Tamatama in particulary tend to convert in large numbers to avoid Inquisitors. Of course, it should be noted that Verdugo wields the Inquisition as a political tool as well as a religious one, and he's happy to attack any threat to his sovereignty. It doesn't actually matter how ideologically pure you are - Verdugo will happily invent heresies for you.

Let's talk saints. The Vaticine defines a saint as a historic figure who demonstrated devotion to Theus above and beyond the call of duty. Before 1257, saints largely came out of folklore and oral tradition aobut the followers of prophets, particularly martyrs or miarcle workers. The Third Prophet, however, ruled that only a council of cardinals could canonize a saint, and that direct adoration of specific saints was idolatry and thus not permitted. The difference between veneration and worship is still tricky, and the Vaticine encourages dedicating shrines ('aedicules') or churches to formally canonized saints...or informal saints so popular that they were grandfathered in. Most intersections in Vaticine City have an aedicule at the center, with impressive statues and sometimes a fountain. They're often used as landmarks.

The Vaticine's formal organization is a simple pyramid, with the Hierophant at the top, governing the Archbishops. Cardinals are Archbioshops assigned to special councils to advise people like the King of Castille or the Hierophant. Each Archbishop has an Archdiocese of ten Bishops, each with a Diocese of ten Monsignors, each with a Paris of ten High Priests, who oversee their church's priests. In practical terms, their political allegiances rarely have to do with geography or rank, and more to do with the theological, political and networking systems of the Church. There is an informal but large network of patrons and cluents, who typically link during education and maintain close correspondence even across national borders, which is only easier now that the printing press exists. Patrons and matrons have their elder patrons and matrons, and so it is a social hierarchy alongside the formal one. These networks allow reassigned priests to more easily transition into new duties, and can help a priest who is uncomfortable with their bosses or unsure of how to act seek guidance. However, they also often feature a lot of jockeying for favor, and pressure for more introverted priests to engage in unpleasant social duties. The rise of Objectionism has only stressed the system further, as the religious wars have often pitted patron and client against each other. This anxiety about the safety of the network caused a lot of early support for Mociutes Skara among the clergy.

It should not be a surprise that an influential patron with political opinions tends to turn their clients into a sort of political party. These ideas, especially in Maxentine Seminary, can cause a lot of problems for Inquisitorial agents trying to push Verdugo's party line. The four largest factions are the most likely to put forth a new candidate for Hierophant, and even Verdugo acknowledges that the job will eventually be filled. He can't leave his own post to take it, and his backing on the Vaticine Island is much weaker than in Castille proper. He can't stall the cardinals indefinitely - indeed, not even for more than year or so. It's time for the factions to get busy.

The Conservatives seek a return to the pre-reform Church. They like the opulent, old-school architecture and art, which they believe is both aesthetically superior and more authentic. They think the latest reforms of the Church dilute and damage its message. Their enemies suggest that they're in this for wealth and power over beauty and truth. The Reformers have led the Church in trying to reorganize and update in response to Objectionism. They are behind the shift in Church art and music towards propaganda, and in founding new orders meant to keep things accessible yet sinless. They have spearheaded a massive growth in religious orders, and their opposition to traditional Castillian dances tends to be a source of humor for everyone else, leading to people taunting them with dancing that leads to a surprising number of clerical brawls. Thge Reconcilers believe that the greatest threat to the modern Hieros is schism within the church. There's a lot of debate about which worshoppers are beyond help and which can be reincorporated into the Vaticine proper. Objectionists, Dinists and Orthodox followers of the First Prophet are often cited as lost sheep who can be returned to the fold. The Extremists are no longer called that because they're currently dominant. They follow an interpretation of ancient Numanari political theory that has them advocating for a monolithic church with a perfect, charismatic Hierophant, expressing a single, specific ideology from which there is no place for dissent. Verdugo is a variant Extremist - he is quite happy to have no Hierophant and to be essentially in charge.

Now, let's talk locations other than the Vaticine! Ducado de Soldano is the largest ducado and the heartland of Castillian agricultre. It was the last of the old Castillian kingdoms to surrender to Crescent control, and has always resisted Crescent influence. Many nobles from other parts of Castille resettled in northern Soldando and Torres until the Third Prophet came. The Blazing Blade took Soladno first, even though it was further away, because of the area's enthusiastic military support for the Prophet. This led to many families being ennobled, and four out of five Soldanensa are hidalgos today. The area is notable for being the origin of the hacienda, an expansive, self-sufficient agriculatural estate that produces olive oil, wine, cereals and livestock. Most also have a carpenter, blacksmith or other crafter on staff, and away from cities, they may well even have chapels, warehosues or mines. Vodacce influence on local architecture has also given rise to the atrio, an enclosed yard for herb gardens, decorative plants, fountains and parties (or duels).

It was in Soldano that the Montaigne advance was finally stopped. The Montaigne took heavy losses trying to cross the Sophie du Lac river, then wasted more resources fighting guerrillas in the forest. When l'Empereur called for a retreat, they had to flee to transport ships on the coast rather than go back through Torres. Soldano has become a symbol for the defense of Castille...which doesn't set well with many Torrena, who gave up so much in the fight. The proximity to Eisen also means that there's a lot of Objectionists there, at least for Castille. The local Grande, Diego Ruiz, has openly declared his opposition to them and his cooperation to the Inquisition in hunting them down. Practically, however, he's got neither the ability nor inclination to tell who's Objectionist and who isn't.

San Gustavo is the primary port of Soldano, where goods head out for Vaticine Island or to Vodacce. It is named for Gustavo a-Hamid, a corsair who, it is said, captured the Second Prophet, and who converted when the Prophet spoke a few lines of sacred poetry that so moved him that he dove into the sea to save the Prophet as he fell from the plank. The Cathedral of San Gustavo is the only row-in cathedral in Castille, though land access is also available. Pirates or sailors of the Vaticine gulf may visit for ceremonies, setting aside any quarrels while within the safety of the walls. Typically, a boat is rowed in to worship, then departs via the islands, getting a safe distance away before engaging in piracy again. Sailors often carve small wooden ships in the likeness of their own ships, which are hung from the ceiling to ask the saints for safety at sea. Pirates are hated by both the Church and crown, but they founded the city and are common pilgrims. The Inquisition cannot close the place to pirates without losing the city's greatest draw...but leaving the cathedral open allows criminals in. The cathedral is also home to Octavio Mzabi, head of the Inquisitio Aquila, who enjoys it because his office looks out over the city but is invisible from the ground. Also, he can easily send couriers through the heavy crowds in secret. Unrelated, a common group in Castille is the cofradia - a social club of lay Vaticines who share a craft. It's something like a club and like a religious order, but not quite either. The Mesta is a cofradia of ranchers, headquartered in San Gustavo, who work not only with Castille but also foreign goverments, to allow them to move herds safely even during war.

Meanwhile, off the coast are many pirate hideouts and fortresses. The eldest, Hamid's Prayer, which belongs to the Brotherhood of the Coast and is exactly halfway from San Gustavo to Five Sails by sea. It is run by Doctor Ainhoa Extandi, a galeno who joined the Brotherhood to avoid the Inquisition after the War of the Cross. They are a genius surgeon who is known to be able to regraft limbs, causing some locals to go without prosthetics in hopes of getting that. The island also operates a 'ship exchange' - a pirate can temporarily trade in a galley for a longer-range galleon if they need to, and a foreigner in a tall ship can trade in for a galley to do local business. Unfortunately, however, the island is no longer secret. Both the Castillian and Vodacce governments know exactly where it is, and each is trying to get the other to make the first move to clear it out. Neither wants to commit resources to doing it yet.

Next time: Ducado de Aldana

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Wait, so the elves have cats? Douse the fire, rescind the order, the Sidhe can stay.

How do you tell a Sidhe from fae? Like, the book mentions that Sidhe come in many forms, right?

The Sylkie do seem like the worst fae; less of a real magical person and more an inheritance line for Coat of Seal Form.

Glad to see Obsidian continues to be rank bullshit.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




IIRC, it's fairly old lore (or at least fantasy cliche) for the Sidhe to have/be animals with supernatural abilities, like the original Cait Sidhe and their canine counterparts.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 1 - Alcazar Is A Great Word

Ducado de Aldana was the ealiest settled region in Castille, and it is the central hub of the Castillian equestrian tradition, thanks to open terrain and good weather. It is also the most economically stable region. However, its horses are no longer in as much demand, largely because the rest of Castille can no longer afford them. The area has always had a large mix of Castillians, Crescents, Ifrians and Tamatama. The Tamatama originally were traveling entertainers from a subcontinent far to the southeast, and then spread through Crescent territory and into Theah over several centuries. They now make a fairly reliable living traveling between local festivals and noble courts, learning and performing many songs and dances.

San Cristobal is one of the oldest cities in all of Castille, let alone Aldana. When the Crescent Empire conquered the area, it was already a large fishing village with a busy harbor, a nearby river and lots of good farmland. Perfect for a capital. Of course, it's not in the most defensible area, which has always been a bit of a problem, so they built short stone walls to cover their infantry and cavalry, along with harbor battlements with cannons. At this point, only the most coordinated assault is likely to breach the defenses, and so most of Castille's fleet is kept there.

El Alcazar was, until last year, the royal palace of Good King Sandoval. It's a huge structure of Crescent design, originally built by the Amazigh architect Abd al-Majid al-Mzabi (ancestor of Inquisitor Mzabi, incidentally), who named it al-Qasr, after the castrum he built it on. It was heavily renovated throughout Crescent rule to decorate it and upgrade its fortifications, but after that, it hasn't been changed since 1257. It follows a fairly open plan, to allow a small number of guards to survey the entire building for threats. There's few corners to hide behind, and the building is built to echo sounds. While the king was in residence, scholars, performers and lecturers from across the world came through the Palace nightly. The King's sudden disappearance has made something of a power vacuum, and the local nobles have no desire to follow him to Vaticine City. Most of the performers and lecturers have, as a result, not bothered to alter their circuit schedules. The palace has become a social center, with many people vying for power and control over San Cristobal's social scene. It's not all great, though - the palace is full of crime lords alongside the merchants, plus Nahuacan and Amazigh traders who're probably sizing it up for takeover. The parties have gotten a lot less polite - and a lot more interesting and dangerous. The palace campus is also home to Castille's best military academy, and the best stables in Aldana. The local fencing school actually bases its dancing movements not human dances but the gait of Aldanensa horses, and practices a lot of mounted fencing.

When the Third Prophet retook San Cristobal from the Crescents, he often spoke of wrecking the Imperial Mosque. However, when his forces took the city and saw the Mosque, they stopped, for it was the most beautiful structure any had ever seen, with a beautiful geometric pattern and inlaid golden calligraphy. Even the window shapes were perfectly patterned on leaves, allowing light through to show off focal points in the art. In the end, the Mosque was left untouched, but reconsecrated to the Vaticine as the Basilica of Matamoros. It is currently staffed by a skeleton crew of priests, now that the Inquisition has retreated from the capital to Vaticine City, and all of that staff are Dark Inquisitors working for Mzabi, making it the only real semi-public headquarters of the Inquisitio Aquila. So far, they've just been using it to collate information and plan on how to convince the locals that they're scary people and not, in fact, the sympathetic heroes they actually are. Despite everything the Inquisition has done in the past, the Basilica remains a major Dinist pilgrimage site, and many Eclipses come by to worship in secret in the chaos that is the business of a Vaticine cathedral.

The market square of San Cristobal is immense, built in a giant forum constructed by the Crescents. It is notable for having anything you might want, as long as it's cheap and low quality. If you want something better, you need to get the merchant's attention and meet them at a more permanent location, as the good stuff needs to be kept safe from thieves. There are a ton of street performers, pickpockets, forgers and fences in the market, often formed into groups large enough to pay off the city guards. The are is also home to many great restaurants and dueling schools, which represent all major Thean dueling styles and a number of lesser-known ones. Public fencing matches are common.

Ducado de Torres is mountainous on the Montaigne border and the coast, with forest filling the rest of it. The locals used to have close cultural ties to Montaigne, until the War of the Cross and the Montaigne invasion devastated the area. Hastily built mountain forts were torn down, villages burned, battlefields salted with blood. Divided loyalties tore families apart, as some refused to fight the Montaigne they'd always seen as kin. The Grande's own family was decimated, with many of its youth sent into battle well before they were ready or able to fight. The area is a warzone for petty warlords, and a good place to go if you need to hide from the authorities.

Barcino was a mountain fortress constructed during the Moonshadow War as a fallback point. It saw little action, as the Crescents were wary of attacking a fortified location in the mountains, especially with an army made mostly of cavalry. It was largely abandoned after the war, forgotten by all but the local nobles and farmers. The War of the Cross disturbed these locals, who were almost all mixed-heritage Castillian and Montaigne. They attempted to avoid involvement while keeping their homes safe, and frequently failed, as the armies saw them as easy sources of food and plunder. The end of the war brought hope, but that was quickly smashed by the Montaigne invasion. L'Empereur ordered Marshal Eulalia Madariga to lead a force into the mountains, where she had grown up, and secure the area. She agreed, as long as her force was handpicked locals.

Marshal Madariga took her force to a largely empty Barcino, secured it, and then announced that she was defecting - but not to Castille. Barcino was to be an independent city-state. Madariga wrote an impassioned letter to l'Empereur declaring his war cruel and horrific, ignoring the history and feelings of the border people, and that Barcino would be a safe haven for all who hated the war for as long as it stood. It also outlined all possible avenues of attack on Barcino and made it clear that Madariga understood them all. It made it clear that yes, they would lose a siege...but only after a long and costly fight that would cost more resources than either Castille or Montaigne could afford. It is rumored that l'Empereur went into a week-long tantrum on reading the letter, which was fine because it allowed his officers to actually have command in that period and make progress in conquering the rest of Torres.

Barcino's primary material support is from the Atabean Trading Company, as President Rourke felt that independent Barcino was a symbol of his own political philosophy and a place he could spread his ideas. Company agents now use a secret tunnel route to funnel in food, water and Company-branded supplies. The city-state has attracted asylum seekers from across Castille and, indeed, much of Theah. Eclipses, Objectionists, pious Montaigne and anti-revolutionary Numanari are all present, as are criminals who need a place to hide out. Madariga disagrees with many of their causes, but she won't turn them away. No government is currently willing to attack Barcino; Eisen, Castille and Montaigne are all close enough but each wants one of the others to pay the cost. However, many governments have started going after the families of those hiding in Barcino, enraged at the embarrassment they represent. Madariga's own family had to flee the Altamira area that was their ancestral home to avoid Montaigne assassins. That said, many don't even know they have family in Barcino, as the city lacks much in the way of outside contact.

Not much of the land around Barcino is good for crops, but the land that is is extremely productive, and shortly after tobacco was brought back from the New World, the locals built an elaborate irrigation system and began raising tobacco. It used to be traded for food, and now all goes to the ATC in exchange for their supplies. The locals also raise sheep, cattle and goats. Research has shown that the underground tunnels around Barcino were not originally tied into a larger cave network, but the Syrneth altered that, sinking several tunnels and galleries into the mountains to connect areas for unknown reasons. The unnecessarily reinforced metal and ceramic roofs have led some to speculate that the tunnels were not for transport but for shelter against something. No one has any idea what.

If anyone would have known, it was probably the Xana Cult. In the middle of the War of the Cross, the Inquisition learned that a diabolic cult met regularly in the tunnels to worship a figure that may have been a devil, a god or a saint, but which had magical influence over fertility and weather. The most common term for this being was 'xana'. The Inquisitors launched a midnight raid that trapped hundreds in the tunnels, and many died in the fighting. Some of the cultists apparently did have either magic or at least alchemy, but the 'xana' was never discovered. However, the leader of the raid claimed to have seen a woman disappear into an ancient cave painting. This began a witch hunt through Torres that ended up ending 7000 lives, and the incident remains at the center of arguments over whether folk magic is pure evil or a positive part of Castillian culture. The flag of Barcino includes the painting into which the mystery woman is said to have disappeared.

Next time: Zepeda

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 1 - Freedom

Ducado de Zepeda doesn't look like much at first glance. Its northeastern islands are full of pirates, its mountainous heartland is barren, its southern swamps are swamps. However, the truth is those mountains are vital to Castille, as they are home to some of the continent's best iron short of dracheneisen itself. Zepeda is, as a result, one of the most modern and technologically advanced ducados, and it is full of Invisible College labs. An engineer from Zepeda can find work just about anywhere they like, and are known for their humor and knack for jury-rigging.

Rioja is a city atop a cliff, home to much clockwork and brass. It has some of the tallest buildings in Theah, constructed at the height of the Vaticine technological push. The advanced machines and engineering libraries, however, are now quiet, controlled by the Inquisition. Verdugo doesn't want anyone to use the advanced machines, but he is afraid to destroy them in case he ever needs to use them against an enemy force. The Inquisitors have not, however, been able to stop the disappearances of smaller devices each month, or prevent the mysterious reactivation of some of the large public machines, like clocks, for short and unexpected periods. The locals alternately blame ghosts and the Invisible College.

The University of Rioja is one of the oldest in Castille, originally founded as a Yachidi yeshiva. It isn't really a unified campus, but rather a series of towers throughout Rioja that were, at one point, connected by a series of cable cars. The science and engineering programs were the best in the nation, until the Inquisition came in and replaced the headmaster, shuttering the hard science departments and dismissing all of their students. Now, only Verdugo-approved theology, philosophy and criminal justice classes are taught. The old departments still exist, but must teach in secret rooms behind pubs or in basements, pretending to be parties and social clubs. Not all of these classes are Invisible College either - some of them are just, well, teachers who didn't want to stop teaching.

The most famous hidden lab in town is that of Professor Artemio Durante de Bessarion, a half-Vodacce inventor responsible for many of the wonderful machines of Rioja and Vaticine City. He was driven from his tenured position by an angry mob who were tired of his newer contraptions exploding all the time, and built his new lab somewhere in a half-flooded cave north of town, visible and accessible only by low tide. Within are more wonders, guarded by crossbow-armed automata. The contents include steam-powered galleys, water purification systems and submersible machinery.

Rioja is, lastly, notable for its cofradia Guild Houses. The best-known is the Cofradia of Bladesmiths, who specialize in folding, single-edge knives called navaja, suitable for the narrow streets of the city rather than the heavier blades favored elsewhere in Castille. Once a year, on the Feast of Saint Arabella of Rioja, each cofradia constructs a parade float for a grand march down Main Street, the only fully level street in the entire city. The guild that produces the best float receives a special appointment for that year to produce goods for el Concilio de la Razon.

Odiseo or Ducado de Gallegos, depending on who you ask, has always been different. The crown has always coveted its resources, its great forests and excellent coastline. While other ducados have been willing to subordinate their characters to the Castillian grand identity, Odiseo does not. It has the most robust seafaring tradition in Theah, and much of the place is coastline. It has always led Theah in naval technology, not least because they kept copying everyone else's innovations. All of their cities are ports, full of foreign goods and foreign people. Cathayan silk, Nahuacan feather crafts, Khemetic cotton - it's all there. Historically, while the other four kingdoms that would become the ducados resisted the Crescents, King Fulvio V of Odiseo married an Amazigh princess, Tajeddigt, and invited her to be his coruler. The people loved her and she was good at her job, and she and her successors built up so much goodwill that when the Third Prophet came to order the Odiseans to give over any who didn't believe in him, they refused and he had to leave emptyhanded.

The Odiseans are renowned as a cosmopolitan people, but they have never been able to fully achieve independence, and have always strained at the yoke, even in the periods of greatest unity. Castille's military power and access to iron means that Odiseo would lose any land war, especially after losing their Crescent alliance. During the War of the Cross, they argued against the increased taxes needed to pay for the army and fought to avoid having their ships commandeered. This kicked off another independence movement, which has advocating reaching out to Ifrian nations for support. Officially, the capital is Lisso, in the north, and that's where Governor Perez rules from, but few locals seem to have noticed. The true capital is San Felipe, and that's where the former Grande, Uxia Serafin, lives. She was removed from rule by the late King Aldana when the independence movement got too big, but everyone ignores the ruling governor, and with Verdugo centralizing power in the Inquisition, Serafin has become the most powerful regional leader in the area. She is a polyglot known for her wit and her essays, written in all kinds of languages, from Katabanic to Castillian to Odisean to even Numanari. She has many suitors from all over the Widow's Sea, and the current frontrunner appears to be Ihsan al-Ibadi of the Amazigh, heir to a North Ifrian emirate and professional adventurer.

San Felipe was the center of old Odiseo after the collapse of the Numanari Empire, and the only reason it fell to Castille was its lack of military resources, not lack of resistance. It has traditionally been a hotbed of dissent, and it still is now. There are Inquisitors in the city, but the locals seem to enjoy making their lives as difficult as possible as often as possible. Thus, the Inquisition views Odisean independence as a grave threat to its control of Castille. However, while the Prophet's Sword is tough, they're more police than an army, and the loss of the tercios has left Castille without the military threat that has traditionally kept Odiseo in line. The only relief for the Inquisitors is that the independence movement has no real central leadership, being a grassroots movement full of undirected but opinionated people. Grande Uxia Serafin is close, but at least until she gets married, she's busy with foreign affairs. The Inquisition has no leadership to strike at, but the movement stagnates without a head.

The Explorer's Society was founded in Lisso, but the San Felipe chapterhouse is much larger and busier. It overlooks the harbor and has an excellent museum showcasing a variety of impressive (replica) relics. It is run by Leandra Souza's son, Nelinho, who often heads to Lisso to meet with his mother, who founded the society and remains active at the ripe old age of 92. The chapterhouse's upper floors are meeting rooms, hotel rooms, and a combination library and bar. Technically, it's not allowed to drink near any important books or relics, but Explorers usually develop a habit of being careful and responsible with their drinks around books anyway.

The real seat of Odisean government is the Restaurante Salazar, founded centuries ago and never closed since. It kept operating even during the wars, and occupised all four corners of a major intersection, connected via skyways. Grande Serafin holds court from there, meeting with her spies and suitors. The political work that'd normally be the place of parties and balls happens at the bar and dancefloor, and has resulted in visiting nobles often having to deal with large numbers of ordinary people to get their political work done. The royal officers keep trying to force their way in to find out what Serafin is up to, but they never seem able to get a reservation and keep getting hassled by drunks. Nearby, San Felipe Harbor is the largest and most active on the continent. It has a gigantic shipyard, which employs over a third of the city's population, especially if you count the doctors and other business that serve the shipyard and harbor. It is also one of the cheapest places in the world to get ship repairs, which brings in a lot of money for the city from crews in drydock. The area is also home to the Flower Quarter, an expatriate community of New Worlders - mostly Rahuri and Nahuacan. It is run by Gonzala "Lalo" Terrazas, a Nahuacan merchant, and is surrounded by a Nahuacan-style wall. Its busiest area is the ball court, which rivals in size those in the New World. The local Ollamaztli team, the Jaguars, are the best on the continent, but some other Castillian teams are getting up there. On nights without a game, the court is home to markets, dances or wrestling matches. It is also one of the best areas in Castille for authentic Nahucan food, including candied insects carefully raised by the local chefs. The Nahuaca also have a reputation as lawyers, and Nahucan lawyers often find Castillian law refreshingly simple compared to law school back home. Lalo has been sending coded messages back home via unsuspecting trading vessels, though few realize it and fewer are sure what they're about.

San Felipe is also home to a number of dueling schools, including some from the New World or Ifri. The city is the modern home of the Siqueira style, a martial art that legend claims was developed by Odisean shepherds to fight wolves and bandits by use of clubs, quarterstaves, canes and other cudgels, using the versatility and range to handle multiple attackers. Siqueira duelists are expected to train in every possible position, even lying on their backs, while attacked from multiple sides. There is also an outpost of the Gallegos style, and a few New World ones, including the only present place on the continent to learn Jogo de Dentro, overseen by the elderly Mestre Gaviao, who spends most of his time at the Restaurante Salazar.

Next time: Alquimia, the Sweet Sorcery Science

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Ghost Leviathan posted:

IIRC, it's fairly old lore (or at least fantasy cliche) for the Sidhe to have/be animals with supernatural abilities, like the original Cait Sidhe and their canine counterparts.

The selkies are straight from Scottish myth, too. They were almost invariably women who could turn into seals (or perhaps seals who could turn into women), and almost every myth about them is a fisherman stumbling across a seal skin, stealing it, and shortly thereafter finding a beautiful, naked woman who he coerces into marrying him under threat of destroying her seal skin. But then at the first chance she gets, she'll steal her seal skin back and abandon her husband and children to return to the sea.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 1 - I Can't Believe It's Not Sorcery

Castille has no native tradition of Sorcery. (The folk magic of the brujas doesn't count because it's extremely location-based and definitely not a PC thing.) This is largely because of the Vaticine's influence, which has instead had many generations seeking knowledge and wisdom instead. However, some of that knowledge is secret, once considered only slightly inappropriate but now hunted by the Inquisition. It produces marvelous effects, like Sorcery, but it isn't Sorcery. It is Alquimia, born of reason, philosophy and experimentation. It can be dangerous, but it is still pursued today, in secret, by the Boticarios, as the practitioners are called. They work in an underground network to connect mentors and students, and to share their thousand years of knowledge.

The basic idea behind Alquimia is the idea of perfection. Boticarios have explained it differently over the centuries, but the idea is that every part of reality is ordered and interconnected in one continuous existence. Thus, by carefully studying the reactions that transform the simple into the complex, you may decipher the unseen ties between the imperfect and the perfected. The fundamental theoretical framework of this experimentation is that all things are composed of a combination of four basic qualities - hotness, coldness, dryness and moistness - which correspond to the four observable elements - fire, water, earth and air. These are balanced by the celestial aether, which exists only in minor quantity in Theah but serves an essential role in alchemical reactions.

Despite Alquimia being based in advanced experimental procedure, what truly separates it from other sciences is its mystical nature. While other sciences can teach you about the past or help solve problems, Alquimia is, in theory, a worldview that encompasses everything and also has practical application. Thus, even when a Boticario's goal may seem trivial or materialistic, it always entails a transformation that affects the self as much as anything else. The quest for perfection is both an objective and practical goal and a transcendantal one, sought both within the self and in the world. This aspect grew out of the Vaticine's sponsorship of study, and Boticarios tend to grow increasingly religious in their approach to their work, to the point that many texts state outright that the goal is to clear a path to Theus by developing a science that understands the self, the world and Theus simultaneously.

Boticario is, mechanically, a Sorcery and not a Sorcery. It is bought via the Sorcery advantage, but a Boticario is not considered a Sorcerer for any mechanical effect that cares about such things, like dracheneisen's extra damage. Each purchase of Sorcery, including the first, gives access to one of the five Juvenilia. Further, each purchase after the first improves your laboratorium, allowing you to bypass the requirements of specific effects. For each purchase after the first, you may select a single item or concoction from a Juvenilia you know; you may create it in your lab without any requirements.

The laboratorium is a safe, controlled environment in which to perform the often-dangerous experiments Alquimia requires. They are typically well-lit, ventilated underground facilities, with expensive and heavily modified equipment, materials and chemicals, along with many handwritten and often ciphered texts on the art and journals to record experimental results. To the uninitated, such labs appear disorganized, messy and chaotic, but this is by design. It is a layer of secrecy to protect one's work from prying eyes, ensuring that the untrained and unworthy can learn no useful secrets of the sacred science.

The goal of Alquimia is highly personal. These crowning achievements are known as the Opera, the Works, and are the most closely guarded secrets of the Order, a group of Boticarios that oversee most initiation and training of new apprentices. These mysteries cannot easily be duplicated without intensive training, and what they are depends on the Boticario. While Boticarios belong to the Order and follow a common method and philosophy, their findings cannot truly be understood even by each other. One may seek the secrets of immortality, while another wants to transmute lead to gold. The results of this mean that the science can only be discussed in a general sense, dividing things into the Juvenilia, or minor works, and the Magnum Opus, or major work.

Juvenilia are typically temporary effects, lasting perhaps a round or a scene. Each requires the expenditure of a Raise during a sequence to activate. Creating an alchemical item from a Juvenilia requires a Hero Point and the use of a laboratorium. Some effects will also require one or more Requirements, chosen by the GM. You may attempt to create an effect from Juvenilia you aren't trained in yet, but doing so always adds an extra Requirement. Most Requirements will require a Risk or a Story Step to acquire. The following is a list of common Requirements, which may not be called for more than once unless they explicitly say so.
  • A rare, hard-to-find ingredient. May be selected more than once.
  • The help of an assistant you have to hire. May be selected more than once.
  • A vast amount of raw materials, costing 1 Wealth.
  • Endangering you and your assistant(s).
  • The guide of a mentor.
  • Several failed attempts before it works, increasing the time required from minutes -> hours -> days -> weeks. May be selected more than once.
  • The process creates an unstable compound, requiring an extra Raise when used to function as intended.
You can store two alchemical items per Sorcery purchase in your lab, and may carry one alchemical item per Sorcery purchase on your person safely. If you carry more items than this, the GM may spend 1 Danger Point to create an appropriate convenience, such as one of them exploding or activating in an untimely way. Note that for all Juvenilia, you are free to invent more things you can make - you and the GM just have to work out what they do, and keep in mind that they're all temporary.

Wai Dan is the Juvenilia also called the External Elixir, focusing on purification of the body and spirit. This is primarily achieved by the consumption of various concoctions, called elixirs, which are made from various chemical substances for various purposes. Example elixirs include, but are not limited to:
Longevity: You can withstand damage that would kill any normal person by drinking this. Until the end of the scene, the drinker does not become Helpless at 4 Dramatic Wounds. Instead, at 4 Dramatic Wounds, Villains get 3 Bonus Dice against you rather than 2, and you gain an additional tier of Wounds, becoming Helpless at your 5th Dramatic Wound. This elixir needs 1 Requirement.
Memory: For one scene, the drinker can remember everything they see and hear in perfect detail, allowing for instant memorization of documents, faces and conversations. This elixir needs 1 Requirement.
Intelligence: The drinker gets +1 Wits for one scene, unlocking the potential of their mind. This elixir needs 2 Requirements.
Youthfulness: The drinker gains the adaptability of youth. They may immediately alter their Approach to a different one without any penalty. This elixir needs 1 Requirement.
Excellence of Luster: The drinker's inner beauty shines forth. They gain the Fascinate advantage for one Scene, and may activate it without paying a Hero Point.

Rasayana is the Path of Essence, the Juvenilia that focuses on the creation of essential salts, alloys, inks and powders. Its creations are generally referred to as compounds. Examples include, but are not limited to:
Light Without Heat Salt: You can make a compound that will produce enough light to illuminate a room for one Scene without any heat and/or combustion.
Unbreakable Alloy: You produce a compound that will render any inorganic object entirely unbreakable (except via magic) for one Scene. This compound needs 1 Requirement.
Soporific Ink: You create a special ink compound that puts a target into a deep sleep on contact, rendering them Helpless for one Scene or until they are awakened somehow, such as by vigorous shaking, taking Wounds or being near an explosion. This compound needs 2 Requirements.
Anesthetic Powder: You make a compound that causes a target to become immune to physical pain. Until the end of the Scene when it is ingested, the target may spend a Hero Point to ignore all negative consequences of Dramatic Wounds. This compound needs 1 Requirement.
Essential Lodestone Salt: You make a compound that creates a magnetic forcefield when poured onto something, deflecting all foreign objects and force for one Round. Anyone attempting to fire on the user must spend an additional Raise to overcome this magnetic field.

Chymystry is the Juvenilia focused on analysis, synthesis, transformation and production of material substances. Its creations are generally referred to as preparations. Examples include, but are not limited to:
Boticario's Cement: A preparation that can join two objects. Breaking the bond requires one more Raise than would be needed with normal glue; generally, this means 2 Raises rather than 1.
Light As A Feather: A preparation that reduces an inorganic object's weight by half, but preserving all other properties. Carrying such an object is easier and requires no additional Raises, but its accuracy is reduced if thrown, costing an additional Raise.
Water To Ice: A preparation that, in the span of one round, crystallizes 1000 cubic feet of water until an appropriate solvent is applied. This preparation needs 1 Requirement.
Positive Universal Solvent: A preparation of highly damaging acid. Any organic material that comes in contact with it suffers 1 Wound per action in contact. It takes an Action to remove it if it is thrown on you. This preparation needs 1 Requirement.
True Lead: A preparation involving lead mixtures that, when applied to an inorganic object, renders it immune to all Sorcery-related effects for a Scene by hampering the flow of magical energy.

Spagyrics is the most recently developed Juvenilia, focused on herbal medicine. Its products, called extracts, typically involve fermentation, distillation and extractions of mineral compounds from plants to treat disease. Examples include, but are not limited to:
Amaranth: An extract to treat blood diseases and prevent hemorrhage. Upon drinking it and spending a Hero Point, the target heals 1 Dramatic Wound.
Betony: An extract that produces unnatural strength. The target gets +1 Brawn for a Scene. This extract needs 2 Requirements.
Celandine: An extract that renders the drinker less aggressive. Until the end of the Scene, they are under Pressure if they attempt to perform any aggressive action, such as causing Wounds.
Euphorbia: An extract that prevents fear. The drinker is immune to Fear for the rest of the scene, and during that time any action using an Approach based on Intimidate needs 2 Raises to succeed against them. This extract needs 1 Requirement.
Sunflower: An extract that renders the drinker unable to lie for one Scene. This extract needs 1 Requirement.

Takwin is the Juvenilia focused on creating artifical life, typically via use of various mechanisms that imitate movement, sensory organs or other living functions. These devices function normally for one Scene unless otherwise noted, then require 1 Requirement to function again - or 2, if you don't know Takwin. Examples include, but are not limited to:
Long-Distance Amplifying Lens: A device that allows the wearer to perceive otherwise un-noticeable details. For as long as you have clear line of sight, you can see perfectly out to a mile's distance, and if you make a Risk that relies heavily on vision, you get a bonus die if using the device.
Underwater Breathing Apparatus: A device that mimics the function of gills, allowing you to breathe underwater as if it were air for one Scene.
Night Vision Detector: A device that imitates certain animal eyes, allowing you to detect solid objects in your vicinity out to 60 feet in every direction, no matter how much light is present.
Mechanical Arm: A device that functions as an arm. It straps to the body and can hold any one object indefinitely in its hand, which does not require a Raise to activate. It can do anything else an arm can. You may take a single action using the arm as if you had spent a Raise without actually spending one, but if you do, the arm ceases function afterwards. Preparing this decice needs 1 Requirement.
Simple Construct: A device that imitates the behavior and movements of one small creature. It can be commanded to attack, carry, defend, fetch, follow, guard, go to and seek. If it must do anything that'd require a Risk, it rolls 4 dice. If it takes 4 or more Wounds, it is damaged and must be repaired before it can function again. Preparing this device needs 2 Requirements.

The Magna Opera, meanwhile, are greater works. The Juvenilia are powerful, but they are diversions. The Magna Opera are the goals. To complete a Magnum Opus, you must make a five-Step Story, with the Reward depending on your vision for Alquimia. It can be any range of effects, but will supersede the power of the Juvenilia, such as making a reagent that can embody or violate a natural law, allow you to use a Juvenilia's effect freely without a Raise, make mixtures not subject to the normal carrying limits, make items that are permanent and need no ongoing maintenance, or even discover a new Juvenilia. Typical goals for Boticarios include Chrysopoeia, the conversion of lead to gold, which may have Stories ending with the discovery of a philosopher's stone that can only be used once, ever, or the discovery of a new alchemical material never before seen, or a secret that embraces reality as it is rather than changing it. Panacea, the preservation and extension of life, which might have a Story where you create a cure to many diseases at the cost of making an incurable disease by accident, the secret to unaging youth (which is now sought out by others that want to learn or steal it), or a cure to all disease and infirmity (that must now be kept out of the wrong hands). The last common goal is Alkahest, the universal solvent that can dissolve literally any substance and might reveal the prima materia, the origin of all material existence. This might result in Stories of terrible disfigurement but a potent solvent, a creation of the alkahest that gets stolen by a villainous apprentice, or a potent dissolvent that isn't quite the alkahest.

Next time: Castillian dueling.

Foglet
Jun 17, 2014

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


Cythereal posted:

The selkies are straight from Scottish myth, too. They were almost invariably women who could turn into seals (or perhaps seals who could turn into women), and almost every myth about them is a fisherman stumbling across a seal skin, stealing it, and shortly thereafter finding a beautiful, naked woman who he coerces into marrying him under threat of destroying her seal skin. But then at the first chance she gets, she'll steal her seal skin back and abandon her husband and children to return to the sea.
Everyone should go and watch the animated movie "Song of the Sea".

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Alquemia seems like something "peasant railgun" types and general smartasses would like to abuse. Of course, the real way to use it would be to team up with a Kreutzritter to become a two-man witcher team.

The lab seems like a complication. Even if you keep it on your Married-to-the-Sea boat, you might have adventures that spend more than one scene deep in-land.

Holy poo poo, a halberd fighting art? Sold.

DAD LOST MY IPOD
Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case




something I’m idly wondering is why the third prophet was such a dick. In 1e it’s because he was a mantis-man double agent, but this edition is mantismanless so I’m at a loss.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


DAD LOST MY IPOD posted:

something I’m idly wondering is why the third prophet was such a dick. In 1e it’s because he was a mantis-man double agent, but this edition is mantismanless so I’m at a loss.

Maybe he was just a charismatic dick without a greater plot or villainy behind it. That does happen sometimes.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Well, Verdugo seems to think that he's carrying out Theus' will, and he's a great rear end in a top hat.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 1 - The Dance

Dueling in Castille is a spectacle. Regardless of if it's sport or dispute, Castillian Duelists have a strong sense of showmanship, and every year, Castille holds el Festival de la Espada, the Festival of the Sword, though it is more commonly called el Baile, the Dance. It happens in Odiseo, at O Castelo no Penhasco, the Castle on the Cliff, which is an old castle along the coast that spends much of the year empty, save for the five festival days.

The first day is a day of gathering. There are no scheduled events, but most attendees make a point of heading out to meet others that seem interesting. All dueling on the first day is strictly forbidden, and breaking that rule results in expulsion from the festival. Travelers spend the day arriving and drinking fine wines. None of the shops are open yet, but the wine stores and eateries are. Many duelists use the time to boast about their skills and tell stories long into the night.

The second day resembles many festivals. Vendors and merchants set up all over the grounds, from Castille and beyond. They sell foods of all kinds, and some of the best swords ever made. Many duelists come to the festival to show off new styles, or to seek a student or trainer, and the second day is full of dueling exhibitions. Swordsmiths from across the land come to sell their wares, sometimes spending the entire year to make one masterpiece blade for el Baile. Many duelists come for the sole purpose of buying a weapon, and do not even participate in the dueling festivities on later days.

At the start of the third day, the former year's champion receives 19 favor tokens to distribute. The rest of the day is a grand exhibition of skill, and the champion may freely give the tokens to any duelist they choose. Receiving a token, however, means you must defend it. Anyone who has a token must answer any challenge as long as they have it, risking it in a duel to first blood. Whoever wins that duel gets the token, with all accompanying rules, and yes, sometimes people will deliberately lose a duel for the token to pass it on to a friend. At the end of the day, anyone holding a token is entered into the next day's tournament. Loss of a token isn't a total failure, however, as various other prizes are awarded on day 3 as well, including la Joven Promesa (best newcomer), el mas Bravo (most courageous), el mas Cortes (most gracious, for whoever shows greatest hospitality in victory or defeat, and el Noble (most knightly. for whoever most captures the crowd's heart with daring and coolness).

Day four is the tournament. The nineteen favor holders and the defending champion enter a highly structured dueling tournament, with the last one standing being named la Espada de Castille and earning the honor to be the one handing out favors the next year. They are carried by the crowd through a shower of many-colored rose petals to the castle's throne room, where they are crowned, and for the rest of the day, they are treated like royalty.

The final day is host to the unique ceremony, el Baile del Toro, the dance of the bull. While the rest of the tournament is primarily about swords, this is where the festival's unofficial name comes from. A bull is released in the courtyard, and three toreros (bull dancers) show their mastery, each armed with a vara and an ornate costume. The vara is a cylindrical stick about two feet long, heavily decorated and bejeweled. The toreros take turns using their vara to grab a horn of the bull and flip around it. This continues until either the bull is exhausted or the toreros are rendered unable to complete the dance. Many train all year for the event, though injuries are not uncommon anyway. If the bull defeats all the toreros, it earns its freedom. Otherwise, it is placed on a large pillow and feted with treats and affection in thanks, then taken to the local butcher for a feast at the end of the day. Legend has it that the bull's meat grants virility and long life to those that eat of it.

Toreros are traditionally trained in the Siqueira style to control the bull. Some say the style originated with shepherds fighting wolves and bulls, and it is traditionally practiced with the vara to control the target by enraging them. The duelist tries to anger the foe by poking them with the stick or even insulting them, then getting the target to charge. During the charge, the duelist moves aside and strikes the flank, then makes distance. The goal is to keep the foe away and force them to come to you, so you can control the duel. It can be used with just about any large stick, though, not just a vara. While armed with a quarterstaff or large cudgel, you can use the Tomar al Toro Por las Astas Maneuver. When you do this, you apply Pressure to the foe regarding any action other than dealing Wounds to you by any means available to them. If your target does choose to attack you, you automatically deal (Finesse) Wounds to them when they do. You may use this once per round.

Next time: Leyendas

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 1 - The Maestre

Just about everywhere in Castille, down to the smallest hamlet, has leyendas - the sheer diversity of the nation's people and the many invasion have spawned so many folktales that they're everywhere. One says that, long ago, a powerful warrior fought several wars to defend her Grande, and she was so great at this that she became known as Maestre de Campo, the Battlefield Master. Due to her loyal defense, her Grande grew strong and powerful. After many years, however, he died and his daughter succeeded him. She had always been jealous of the Maestre de Campo, and so her first edict was to strip the woman of her lands and titles, sending her into exile on pain of death if she ever returned. Many feared for the kingdom, but the Maestre behaved honorably - she left without protest. When news came, of course, the old Grande's enemies struck, and this time, there was no Battlefield Master to defend the land. The new Grande, having lost her husband and nearly died herself, offered a full pardon and great reward to the old Maestre if she would return. The Maestre did, but refused the reward, leaving again as soon as the lands were safe. To this day, the name of the Grande has been forgotten for her foolishness, but the deeds of the Battlefield Master are spoken of still as a cautionary tale.

The story is, of course, an inspiration to loyalty, honor and resolve - all great virtues of the Castillians. However, beyond this, there may be something magical behind it. Some tales speak of battles nearly lost, when a figure all in black appears, fighting with unmatchable grace and will. Others speak of a mysterious figure in black saving them from bandits or outlaws. Some whisper that El Vagabundo is, in fact, inspired by the Maestre de Campo's tradition, as a way to protect the people against those who would abuse their power.

Then there's the anjanas, spoken of wherever people live by water, especially rivers. These creatures dwell wherever pure water is found, and are described as slender, delicate and often walking or floating along forest paths or riverbanks. They are usually, but not always, described as female, though likely more because of how willowy they are than anything else, for all agree that they are not of this world. Others say they are tiny, winged beings the size of a flower. The tales of what they do are no less contradictory. Some speak of the anjanas rescuing them from danger, while others speak of being robbed by them or even having their children kidnapped. Others say they cannot be touched, while yet more say that they can, and indeed can have children with humans. Just about everyone knows someone who knows someone who's run into an anjanas, and the stories rarely match up in any way. The primary consensus is that anjanas are dangerous, worth avoiding, but are not always hostile. Some are foolish and even try to capture them, of course, but that's little spoken of.

The truth is...that they're all true, sort of. The word 'anjanas' actually refers to two types of being, you see - the anjanas and their foes, the ojancanas. The anjanas are responsible for all the tales of good fortune and help, saving mortals from drowning, helping those in need and even granting wealth. The ojancanas are the ones that cause problems and mischief, seeing mortals as playthings to abuse or kill if they feel like it. They don't consider this murder, for the ojancanas are descendants of anjanas that were, themselves, abused by mortals, and when an anjanas uses their magic to abuse others, they become an ojancanas. Most anjanas prefer to treat mortals fairly, but if a mortal tricks them into using their powers solely for his benefit, than the anjanas becomes corrupted into an ojancanas, which only bolsters their hateful and cruel natures. Anjanas are unlikely to attack people, but are Strength 5, Shapeshifting and Winged. Ojancanas are Strength 5, Fearsome and Winged.

The Estantigua, the Ancient Host, is a common belief in most of Castille. The stories differ by town and city, but some things are shared. The Ancient Host is said to be a procession of dead souls, possibly in torment, who cross a village at midnight, guided by a cursed (but living) man or woman. Many argue what the purpose is. Some say it helps the dead find rest, while others say they mark the houses of those who will join their ranks. When asked, the living leader of the Estantigua never remembers their nightly work. Some say that those who lead the Host too long become more dead than alive, turning pale and sickly. Others say the curse is only passed on to another living person while leading the dead, taking the form of a cauldron appearing in the new leader's bedroom.

One consequence of the Estantigua leyenda is that people in Castille rarely go out late at night, especially after midnight. Those forced to do so have several things they can do that, folklore says, will prevent the curse. For example, you might lay face down while the Estantigua pass, draw a protective circle in salt or chalk, or do various warding gestures, most famously the horns. (Yes, the metal ones.) The main issue with all this is that, besides the living leader, the Host is entirely invisible and inaudible, sensed only as a sudden chill or shudder as they pass, a sudden silence, or the sound of a bell tolling over dog barks. Thus, most who go out by night do so in numbers, avoiding lone figures. Those who are seen to lead the Estantigua are shunned, as are those marked by the procession. This mark is performed by the living leader circling a house three times, from west to east. The people within that house will be shunned until someone dies. The Estantigua, if fought, are a Strength 10 Unliving Monster Squad. Their leader is a normal person, kept enthralled by the group and moving under their direction. The leader will not respond to any stimuli until the night ends or the Host are destroyed.

Brujeria, or witchcraft, is often blamed for bad luck in Castille, and not always wrongly. By conventional wisdom, a bruja is a woman who has traded her virtue and soul for great power. The source varies by story and place, but all agree that brujas are to be feared and avoided. Thus, the people will shun any place identified as the home of a bruja or their gathering place, often at all costs. The powers of the bruja are broadly divided by leyendas into two types - mal de ojo, or curses, and amuletos, or blessings. Mal de ojo are performed by brewing potions, turning into animals, all the standard witch stuff. The most feared of these is the aojar, the evil eye - a curse laid on infants or children related to someone that angered a bruja. Thus, most children wear at least one piece of red clothing at any time, or wear their underwear inside out, or both - these practices are said to protect against most evil curses of the brujas. Amuleto or fetichismo is related to good brujeria, typically in the form of amulets or talismans made by a bruja to protect against brujeria. These objects are highly valued, extremely expensive and usually passed down in families. They can take any form - collars, earrings, weapons - and can only be used effectively either by the original recipient or by one who received it as a true gift from them.

Most women that live alone in modern Castille, especially old widows or the unmarried, are feared to be brujas. Most of these are just lonely people with tragic pasts and bad tempers, living in isolation and rarely going out. They have no powers and perform no wicked deeds. 90% of stories of brujas are just stories, in fact, to entertain or to teach children proper fear and respect. However, the other 10% are very real and very dangerous. Brujas do gain terrible power for service to an otherworldly being. What that service entails varies by what the master is, but all involve submission to the master's will. Real brujas know the folklore and profit off it, however. Typically, when people get accused of being bruja, the real bruja is among the accusers - especially if they are men. Brujeria is equally usable by both men and women - all you need to do is submit to the will and desire of something from beyond the world. Real bruja tend to be unnaturally long-lived, can turn into animals or other people, and tend to cause chaos. They are extremely formidable, but their real power lies not in their abilities, but in their extreme guile and subtlety.

A bruja avoids revealing themself at nearly any cost short of death. They will lie, trick and mislead if possible, and if that doesn't work, they will try to turn the community against their foes. Only when these fail will they turn to using their magic powers. Brujas are always Villains. Always. Period. They very in Strength, but always have Sorcery. Their powers can mimic such sorceries as Glamour, Dar Matushki or Sanderis most often, and they usually have monsters serving them from among their demonic allies, for a group of demonic minions with total Strength no more than twice their Influence.

But why, you ask, do the brujas go to such lengths to hide? The reason is that their ability to speak to and get power from their masters is bound to specific geography, called aquelarres, or covens. The term roughly means 'meadow of the male goat,' as the male goat is often associated with brujeria and the primordial forces the brujas serve. Aquelarre refers both to the gathering of brujas at a place of power and the place itself. While popular legend names many aquelarres, the truth is that they're rather rare, unholy places guarded by powerful magic, and so very difficult to locate. That's why most brujas hide their secrets so dearly - once revealed, they'd have to leave their home, and that would mean abandoning their place of power as well and needing to find a new place that they can communicate with their masters from, which usually means bargaining with or subordinating themselves to another bruja, for they are very jealous people by and large.

The Burlador, or Mocker, is a leyenda of a man who had no soul, and thus no care for morals or rules. Some say he was not of this world, others that he was the son of an evil creature. Most other Theans find the entire story ridiculous, but it is common knowledge in Castille. The tale goes that the Burlador enchants various people, forcing them to sin against each other, betray their vows and responsibilities and so on. All of these victims are believed to have been enchanted by brujeria, but the truth is that the actual Burlador had no magic - he was just very charismatic and a sociopath. It is said that the Burlador disturbed people with impunity for so long, that when confronted by a lord, he just smiled and said that only when Death came to dine with him would he ask her forgiveness. ...so she did. When Death came to him as a stony figure, demanding he pay, he first tried to seduce her. When this failed, he knew fear for the first time, trying to force her to leave. When this also failed, he knew he could not succeed at all, and at long last, he begged forgiveness for his wicked deeds, asking for time to atone. Death, at last, smiled - and denied him, taking him with her into the afterlife.

The morality tale this represents has become increasingly relevant to modern Castille. After decades of war, infighting and the Inquisition, most common folk believe that the time for payback is coming. This is why they endure so many difficulties with a tenacity few others ever dream of. They know that, sooner or later, Death comes for all, and she does not grant pardons. She just does her job, taking with her all sinners, judging them for their deeds. Most treat the story as mere folklore, but the elders caution against this, for the tale is old and true, even if it didn't really happen. The young tend to ignore them - at least until Death comes to claim them herself.

Next time: Montaigne

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012





THE RULES

Lets get some basic Rule Stuff out of the way before diving into character creation. Unknown Armies is a percentile system: Everything is percentile, a d100 is the only roll. Resolution is 1d100 roll under or equal to the percentage in whatever you’re rolling.

Matches are better, or worse, than non matching numbers. 00 is a Fumble with extra bad stuff happening, 01 is a Crit with extra good stuff happening. Easy peasy.

Flip-Flops are when you switch the ones and tens place. There’s lots of ways to flip-flop numbers, just know it’s a thing that happens.

Hunch Rolls are special: You roll the dice and keep that result. Next time you make a test, you use whatever you rolled for the Hunch Roll. You can get multiple hunch rolls, which you can then apply in any order you want. You can’t choose not to spend one though, and have to spend all your hunches before you can roll dice again.

2: CHARACTER

quote:

You’ve signed on to play a game that deals in 21st century existential mystic horror. The character you play has to fit in with that. If you pick someone who has nothing to do in the setting, it’s not the other players’ responsibility to drag you to the fun, nor the GM’s duty to handcraft a story that focuses on one character to the exclusion of the others. When you make your character, you’ll have ideas, and those are good. Pick someone about whom you can feel passionate, interested, and curious. Create a character who, if they were on TV, you’d be impatiently waiting for the next episode, if only to see her next crazy jack move.

But at the same time, don’t be selfish. You should make a character who’s your dreamboat, who enthralls you and entertains you even when they royally fail. But you also should make a character who supports the other PCs and who interests and compels the other players, including the GM.

If you’re completely selfish, consider that GMs hesitate to cavalierly slaughter characters who make their job easy and are fun to watch. The boring, safe, too-cool-to-care-about-anything character? A good GM has no compunction about letting that guy perish to show how this week’s monster works.

Actively seek reasons that your character would, if it came down to it, take a swing at a cop to protect one of the other PCs. Give her strong, compelling, non-debatable reasons to care about your group’s goals… and be willing to bend when you and your group are deciding your initial objective. The more people you can get on board with the premise of the game, the better it works for everyone.

This is the character sheet for Unknown Armies.



This chapter does not tell you how to fill this out. That is in Book 2, as in Unknown Armies character creation is a cooperative group effort between the players and GM. This chapter tells you what all of that stuff means.

WHAT YOU’VE SEEN: SHOCKS

Those familiar with 2nd Edition will remember the “Madness Meters” which measured your mental health state but did little else. For the time this was impressive! It was a significant improvement over Call of Cthulhu’s single “Sanity” gauge. But it’s not enough. It’s been accused of ableism, was sort of isolated from the rest of the BRP system, and just plain isn’t as evocative as it used to be. So welcome the New Hotness. The Shock Gauge.



The five stress tracks measure forms of mental stress. This is a mechanization of your emotional and mental experiences and traumas. When something bad happens to your character, you roll dice to see how it affects their Shock Gauge.

Each stress track has two types of notches: Hardened and Failed. Hardened are stress checks you’ve beaten, and failed are those you’ve… well you know.
Different stresses are ranked 1-10, called ranks. The higher the rank the rarer and more stressful the event is. If you have a hardened notch at the same level or higher that the stress, you don’t roll. You’ve seen and felt worse, so it just slides off of you. Failed notches don’t affect stress checks at all.

When you pass a stress check, you tick off the lowest unmarked hardened notch on that meter, if you fail, you mark the lowest unmarked fail and choose: Panic, Paralysis, or Frenzy.

THE VIOLENCE STRESS
This is one's instinctive dislike towards violence. There’s a reason we have to train soldiers to be able to kill another human, because we don’t like violence as a rule. It’s stressful to hurt people, to see people be hurt, and to be hurt yourself. Death and pain and violence and physical agony are the triggers for this category. The more brutal, personal, and painful the stressor, the higher the rank of the check.

Failed notches make you more stressed, more edgy, more alert to violence. You jump at sudden movements, shy away from sharp objects, avoid looking at blood and wounds. Even higher levels you become hyper aware of it, looking constantly for danger, imagining every possible way someone or something can be use to commit violence upon yourself or others.

Those Hardened to Violence are more casual about it, and less emotionally affected by it. You are more willing to use violence, are less disturbed by it, and see less wrong about it. You become callous to the suffering of yourself and others. At the extreme you become totally inured to it: death of yourself and others is fundamentally meaningless, empty, a preference not a necessity.

THE UNNATURAL STRESS
This is the closest to what CoC players will recognize as Sanity. This meter is checked when you experience things that don’t fit into your concept of the world. Magick, the Unnatural, the odd and impossible, it messes with people. Seeing the very rules you took for granted, the fabric of how the world works proven wrong can mess with your head. Not being told it’s wrong, but seeing with your own eyes definite proof that the world fundamentally doesn’t work how you’ve always thought.

Failed Unnatural checks start at simple superstition and escalate quickly into obsession. At first you may just take your horoscope more seriously than most, follow a few old superstitions, be preoccupied with luck and always on the lookout for coincidences. But with enough failed notches, you start hearing voices in white noise, seeing symbols and mystical congruences everywhere you look, attaching world-altering significance to random events and tiny details. You feel followed and watched, surrounded by unseen beings, following arcane rules and rituals that only exist within your head.

One hardened to the Unnatural takes it in stride. You may start simple accepting that things can be weird, that the occult and impossible exists, but soon enough you lose the ability to separate them in your mind. The Natural and Unnatural blend and become indistinguishable, nothing is bizarre or unusual anymore.

quote:

You are no longer surprised by violations of ordinary logic. Everything is normal to you — talking foliage, spontaneous combustion, and stigmata are as ordinary and reasonable as cars, dogs, and rain.

THE HELPLESSNESS STRESS
This represents feelings of loss of control, of powerlessness, and of insignificance. When bad things happen that you can’t control or effect, that triggers this stress. Failing at things you should have succeeded at, watching someone you love die, getting sent to jail, get fired from your job, humiliate yourself in public, and so on.

Failed Helplessness notches indicate an increasing distrust of the universe. You constantly try to prevent things going wrong, using obsessive coping mechanisms to try and control the universe, constantly watching out for “betrayal”. Yourself, your friends, the universe itself are untrustworthy and will fail and hurt you.

Hardened Helplessness notches indicate an increasing fatalism and acceptance of your powerlessness in the face of a random uncaring universe. Everything is the cruel whims of fate, nobody has agency and intent and accident are one and the same. You totally accept you have no control over anything, and that’s just how the world works.

THE ISOLATION STRESS

Isolation is a more subtle long-term stress. It’s about the isolation from society, from others. It’s about being alone and outcast and unwanted. Spending time alone is a relatively minor check, but things like being forcibly institutionalized, spending time in solitary confinement, meeting someone you know who’s acting like they don’t know you, being betrayed by a loved one or a close friend are all more extreme checks on this stress.

Failed isolation notches make you less and less able to handle solitude or loneliness. Panic attacks when alone or surrounded by strangers, talking to yourself constantly, requiring constant stimulation to keep calm, over eager to meet new people, excessive gratitude towards social interaction and so on.

Hardened isolation is the opposite. Instead of overbearing anxiety about socialization and a desperate need for company, you slowly stop caring about others. Ignoring social standards and niceties, becoming inconsiderate of others feelings, impatience with other people, difficulty speaking to people and so on. At max hardness you just can’t communicate with other people and don’t want to. You just can’t see the point of caring about anybody else but you.

THE SELF STRESS

quote:

This is the trickiest one. It’s your guilt and self-loathing, but it’s more than that. It’s conflicts between what you believe, and it’s damage to your ability to believe at all. A major stress is when you find out you’re not the person you thought you were, by breaking a promise you honestly meant to keep, or by standing idly by when your values, or what you thought were your values, are desecrated. It’s your sense of alienation from yourself that provides, perhaps, the deepest terror. If you can’t trust yourself, then nothing is true. That’s why people with heavy damage to Self are such good liars and bad students: they really can’t care what’s true or false anymore. Where other meters measure how traumatized you are by things that happen to you, Self measures how traumatized you are by your own reactions to those things. To put it another way, the only thing you can ever be 100% sure of is “I think, therefore I am.” The Self meter measures how uncertain you are about the “I” in that statement.

Failed self notches slowly mean you losing your connection to your personal identity. Your actions feel fake, forced, rehearsed. You feel disassociated, out of control of your own actions and behaviors. You feel like a stranger is controlling your body, or that it isn’t your body, or that you’re the stranger in a stranger's body.

Hardened isolation notches mean literally the destruction of you as a person. Your identity, the sense that you are a you is slowly whittled away until you essentially have no personality. You only care about the essentials of living, have no opinions, don’t feel a connection to other people and so on.



MENTAL TRAUMA

When you fail a stress check you mark a failed notch and choose one of three ways to freak out: panic, paralysis, or frenzy. Whatever has freaked you has bypassed your logical thinking mammal brain and sent you straight to Fight or Flight adrenaline spiking no thought blind panic attack.

If you panic, you run, as fast and as directly as possible, from whatever the stressor is. No other actions are allowed, you just physically get away from the stress as hard as you can. If you get stuck in a trap or blocked off you can’t do any other complex actions. You just blindly search for another way out or try to bust and tear through whatever is blocking your way.

Paralysis is the opposite: You stop dead and completely lock down. You might mutter and groan or scream or have twitches and spasms but you aren’t doing anything constructive to your situation, you just freeze up for as long as whatever freaked you out is happening.

And finally frenzy is the Fight in Fight or Flight. You rush at whatever messed with you and go primal apeshit on it. No dodging, no fancy moves, just blind screaming violence on whatever the gently caress it is that freaked you out. If whatever freaked you isn’t able to be attacked, you just try and smash and kill and assault whatever is at hand. Beat the walls, smash windows, attack a random bystander that looks sorta threatening, whatever makes sense.

These actions continue until the stressor is either gone, or enough time has passed for you to burn out and call down. One you pick an approach, there’s no changing it. You’re doing it until the stress is gone, or you’re incapacitated.

ONGOING MADNESS

When you get a full five failed notches on a meter congrats! You no longer have to make stress checks on that meter! Instead you just immediately go to fight, flee, or freeze no take backs no second chances! You also get to pick up a long-term permanent madness. You can get one per stress, and it should be related to the particular trauma that prompted that last failed notch.

There are of course a selection of possible conditions to have, with definitions and advice. The suggested options are: Phobia, Paranoia, Trauma bond (Phobia of things related to the trauma source, but not the trauma itself), Flashbacks, Blackouts, Addictive behaviors, Philia/Obsession, and Delusions. Dissociative Identity Disorder and Schizophrenia are both called out as inappropriate choices. DID is caused by early-life or childhood trauma and shouldn’t come up in games, and playing a character with DID is much more complicated and difficult than a more neurotypical character. Schizophrenia is for similar reasons: It’s genetic and not caused by trauma, and it’s more likely to make your character needlessly complicated rather than fun to play.

Your character can have either condition of course, but it would just be part of them and not a result of the mechanics, and is recommended against due to the added complications and difficulties that come along with them.

BOOZE AND PILLS
A bit out of place, but hey, there’s not really a better place to put the rules for drugs, so in the same bit with the rules for substance addiction makes sense to me! Instead of giant lists of drugs Unknown Armies splits everything into four categories:

Booze is the most common drug as it’s legal, popular, and very very available for anyone to get. You can get a drink and hour with no issues, but put down more alcohol than that, and you start getting stacking penalties for each additional drink to do pretty much anything.

Uppers are things like cocaine, meth, speed, and other things that make you feel top of the world. It gives you a penalty to any tasks requiring subtlety or concentration as well as Unnatural and Isolation stress checks, but you resist shocks to your Helplessness or Self better.

Downers are your heroin, barbiturates, and Benzos. Mild downers like weed can use the Alcohol rules, but the stronger stuff makes you act last in initiative order, take huge penalties to anything requiring any sort of concentration, and you lose your ability to use your passions. You do get a bonus to resisting any shocks though, as you’re too chilled out to freak out.

LSD, MDMA, ‘shrooms, and other Hallucinogens give you a bonus to resisting shocks to Self, Isolation and Unnatural, but a penalty on Violence and Helplessness. Worse, if you do fail a stress check you get two failed notches. Turns out hallucinating is not a good pair with traumatic experiences.

GETTING CALLOUS

quote:

Cops, coroners, and case workers know all about getting callous. When you’ve seen enough horror, it loses its power to horrify you. The more hardened notches you have on a single meter, the more it takes for that kind of stress to rip up your head. Once you have nine hardened notches on a meter you’re so jaded about it that only the most extreme and heinous incidents can endanger you.

This is not a good thing.

Getting too hardened causes issues: You’re so hardened that you’ve cut yourself off from your fundamental human connection. You get burned out. You lose the ability to use your passions, and if you’re an avatar you lose your access to your mystic powers. For those unfamiliar with Unknown Armies Adepts are a type of character you can play, I’ll go into more detail when we hit the Magick chapter. Passions we’ll cover later, but they’re basically your “Oh poo poo” buttons and losing them cripples your ability to handle bad rolls. You are burned out when you hit 25 combined hardened notches.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



Special Bonus: UA Has a Page Long content wording.

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

Making the core of a character their mental issues was a genius move, it's one of the best intersections of mechanics and narrative I've seen in a larger game.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


Man, that entire page of TRIGGER WARNING gives me In Dark Alleys flashbacks, because it feels less like "hey be careful with this game, because some of the potential content can unsettle people. Talk with your players before running it, about how you're gonna be running it," and more like "HEY MOTHERFUCKERS, THIS GAME IS EDGIER AND MORE MATURE THAN THOSE OTHER GAMES. YEAH. ARE YOU EDGY AND MATURE ENOUGH TO HANDLE THIS?" because it references other games(which more or less is always "we're better than these games at things") and goes on for an entire loving page when it could be done in one sentence.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

You're reading an awful lot into it because it's longer than what you'd like.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



I literally cannot picture Greg Stolze trying to be edgy.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





"If someone tells you they don't want X and you decide to give them extra X? Put this book down and get a therapist, you've got bad issues." This does not strike one as something written by an edgelord.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



"No rape for me, thanks" should be this thread's new title.

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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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2014-2018



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 1 - HELL FRANCE

Montaigne appears to outsiders as a hub of culture, art, fashion and high society. And, indeed, it is that. However, the courts of Montaigne are only a very small proportion of the nation's population. The rest, the dispossessed lesser nobles and the impoverished peasants, are its backbone, and they are crumbling. The nobles live the high life at their expense, using courtly intrigue and l'Empereur's favor to mark themselves as special, given that so many have no land or title. The peasants are exhausted by war, abused, excommunicated. They are on the verge of rebellion. Corruption is rampant, and the catastrophic failure of the Castillian invasion is constantly lauded as a great success. The number of young dead from the war will cause a population crisis within the decade. The people are at a breaking point, smuggling Vaticine symbols into their homes and looking at the Sarmatians enviously, and even the Eisen, who seem to need no leaders, and the Ussurans, who at least get to elect them.

The wars have ravaged the Montaigne people, and no one's even sure why l'Empereur decided to invade Castille. Some speculate that he has arms deals with the Vendel, getting a sizable kickback for weapons purchased, and certainly the League sold arms to both sides heavily. It'd also explain l'Empereur publically sending his son-in-law to Ussura to lead troops and the discussions of an Ussuran war. However, any profit made on the wars has not been matched for the nation's people. The corruption in the nobility is rampant, and even minor nobles are starting to sympathize with the common people. The poor are starving, making do with feeble leftovers, and the nobles are losing the labor that keeps up the land, with a generation lost to war. It is the wealthiest it's ever been, but that won't matter soon. L'Empereur has been offering incentives to join the military, giving noble title to any that serve for at least two years. The nobles are unsure how to deal with this as they watch their peasants give up toil to gain minor nobility. Without workers, they'll have to till their own fields to get food, and yet most nobles also seek glory, and so the fields have gone fallow.

Let's talk about Leon Alexandre XIV de Montaigne, l'Empereur du Monde, Roi de Montaigne, Soleil de Montaigne, the last male heir of his line, and king for the past fifty years. He's a narcissist, a decadent egotist, and a symbol of all of Montaigne's problems. When he isn't meeting with the Dukes or his ministers, he is constantly partying. He's become jaded, seeking constant gratification, but he's got no qualms about just ridding himself of anyone he dislikes, though he prefers exile to murder most of the time. He sometimes goes into rages for no reason, and then only his wife and daughters are safe. The nobles work to impress him without ever insulting or offending him, and the only pattern that is clear is that he has no patience for incompetence or disappointment. Some call him mad behind his back; he doesn't care, allowing them to underestimate him. Unpredictability and misdirection are tools for him. He considers none of his daughters to be a fitting successor, and while he cares for them, he wants another child soon, hoping that the next one will be a Porte sorcier, and thus fit to inherit the throne. His youngest daughter, Dominique, is easily his favorite. However, long ago, he promises his eldest, Louise, that she could have the throne if she'd marry a sorcier or have one as a child. So far, she has not done either, and Leon Alexandre is the last of his line to have the magic - which has been waning in him the past few years. The Empereur relies on delegation to handle most of Montaigne's day to day work, and when he sees a problem, he picks someone to solve it and gives them carte blanche to do whatever they need. The carte blanche is a thick, white parchment bearing his seal, signature and enough space to write in anything required. However, abuse of this power often leads to execution for the abuser.

L'Empereur's decisions are generally based on what is reported to him, so many Dukes have taken to omitting some problems in hopes of solving them before l'Empereur has to know they exist. Most recently, false reports of plague have been covering up a violent uprising among the peasants of Dechaine, though the king already knows that it's a lie, thanks to his spies. He wants to see how far the Duke of Dechaine will go to deal with it. His goals are simple - rule Montaigne and elevate it over all others. To do so, he must have control of every decision that affects the nation as a whole, and so he uses his spies to stay informed of anything that interests him. Once, he was a powerful Porte sorcier, but his power has weakened over the years. Marquise Jeannette de Claire is trying to win his favor by secretly feeding him the blood of other sorciers; the rest of the court is horrified (if intrigued) and no one dares speak up, but nearly everyon wants it to stop. Leon Alexandre is firmly a Villain, but one of many moods, jovial and threatening both. He loves to meet new people at parties, and is always looking for good problem solvers. He acts as a god among men, and rewards those that reinforce this feeling, who bow and scrape and worship. He socially destroys those that question that. It should be noted that he explicitly encourages the idea that he's a caricature and fool - it makes his enemies underestimate him. He's still an egotist and a narcissist, but he's not nearly as stupid as he appears at first.

Morella Alouse Giacinni is l'Empereur's third and current wife, a Vodacce Sorte strega. She is polite, sweet, sincere and proper, but few trust her due to her power and her subtle manipulations. She uses this fear for her own ends, playing the court without any fear of repercussions. She curses and poisons her husband's foes, when public shows of force are not appropriate, and she works to use fate to aid her husband and his proteges, granting luck to those with the king's favor. She is perfectly suited to be the wicked wife of the King, and while they each have affairs, they deeply love one another. Morella knows her husband intimately, and he her. They work in tandem, never competing and, indeed, barely needing to compare notes or even spend time together to know each other's moves. She spends much of her time resting in her cottage or gardens while he parties. Morella appears uninterested in intrigue, yet is always well-informed, and some say she has spies everywhere in the palace. If so, they are very loyal, as no one has ever claimed to be one or gotten caught in the act of spying. She and her husband exchange love letters each day, and while the Rilasciare and other groups have tried to decode the poems and double entendres within, they have always failed. This is because there is no code - the letters are, in fact, just exchanges of passion and adoration for each other. Morella speaks in vagaries and questions most of the time, which allows her to never actually lie. She is also, in secret, a Vodacce loyalist, who sends regular reports back to her family. These are encoded, and contain much information about Montaigne's hidden politics.

Dominique du Montaigne is the only child of Morella and l'Empereur, the youngest of his nine daughters. Like her sisters, she has no Porte magic, and therefore her father does not consider her a worthy heir. Women are not prevented from inheritance of land or title in Montaigne - he just really wants a sorcier on the throne. Most of Dominique's sisters are uninterested in rule anyway, having either settled in Castille, where their mother was from, or retired to manage their own estates, with the exception of Louise du Montaigne, who desperately wants to rule and will do just about anything to do so, including removing Dominique from the picture. Morella wants her daughter on the throne and actively works towards that end, but she refuses to act behind her husband's back and instead wants him to name Dominique as heir. Dominique's relationship with her father is rather strained; he has distanced himself from her and no longer seems to love her as he once did, which has broken her heart. She gets on quite well with her mother, though. In fact, Dominique, Morella and Dominique's husband, Montegue, are the only ones to know that while Dominique is no sorcier, she is a very skilled Sorte strega. Dominique is an intelligent and cunning woman...and, despite her parentage, very kind. She actually does care about the peasants as well as the nobles. She's as good at Montaigne politics as anyone, using her magic to secretly empower those she considers worthy and to curse those who overstep. While l'Empereur has worked to estrange her, she remains one of the few people able to really get under his skin and push him to action.

Next time: Less royal people.

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