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LeSquide
Nov 1, 2012

Eat.
At.
Ed'sTM.



Fuuuuuuck Kult.

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The Deleter
May 22, 2010


On a serious note it looks like my earlier comment about bad 90's game meets misunderstanding of PtbA holds true. Holy poo poo.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Oh, the writers are scumbag pieces of poo poo, I see. That explains a lot about what we've seen of Kult.

Setting that unpleasantness aside, AW also has GM moves, and they can be helpful. It's a list of "what kinds of dramatic twists tend to happen in fiction of this type."

As an example, Apocalypse World's list includes "separate them," since in a post-apoc setting having Bob get pulled off the wartruck Alice is driving can be a dangerous and thrilling thing to suddenly have happen. See: that literal thing happening like 4 times in Fury Road.

But Monsterhearts doesn't have that one; instead it has "put them together." MH is about Twlight-style teenage angst, so the thrilling twist is "you realize your kinda-sorta-boyfriend is here, watching you kiss this other guy." Pulling people apart doesn't fit the genre quite as well.

That said, the moves aren't meant as shackles, they're more like a list for you to look at when you, as the GM, need to have something occur and it's not clear what would be cool. If you're playing MH and it seems appropriate to separate people, you still can. You just don't want to make a habit of it like you do in AW.

That said I assume Kult's list is copied almost wholesale from AW's, because of course the genre conventions of dramatic post-apoc action movies work perfectly for grim occult psychological horror.

megane fucked around with this message at 15:57 on Jul 24, 2018

Thuryl
Mar 14, 2007

My postillion has been struck by lightning.


PurpleXVI posted:

Generally this chapter is mostly GM'ing advice that's either painfully obvious to anyone who could ever even hope to be a good GM, or stuff that I mildly disagree with, but there's one section I feel every game should have:


Like, I think this entire chunk here is probably one of the most important pieces of GM'ing advice ever, and I eagerly encourage everyone to take it to heart.

That section you liked is lifted pretty much directly from Apocalypse World, by the way, just rephrased a bit and with the example changed. Compare:

quote:

The worst way there is to make a character’s life more interesting is to take away the things that made the character cool to begin with. The gunlugger’s guns, but also the gunlugger’s collection of ancient photographs — what makes the character match our expectations and also what makes the character rise above them. Don’t take those away.

The other worst way is to deny the character success when the character’s fought for it and won it. Always give the characters what they work for! No, the way to make a character’s success interesting is to make it consequential. When a character accomplishes something, have all of your NPCs respond. Reevaluate all those PC–NPC–PC triangles you’ve been creating. Whose needs change? Whose opinions change? Who was an enemy, but now is afraid; who was an enemy, but now sees better opportunities as an ally? Let the characters’ successes make waves outward, let them topple the already unstable situation. There are no status quos in Apocalypse World! Even life doesn’t always suck.

So yeah, the parts that are good are not original, and the parts that original are not good.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Halloween Jack posted:

"Ninja" is just the classic example of something that can do anything if you let it be a skill. The meme probably existed before any role-as-skill games did. I remember reading people complain on forums that they have a player in a Shadowrun, Conspiracy X, or other game with a martial arts subsystem who keeps arguing that he should be able to substitute his Martial Arts (Ninjutsu) skill for everything.

Doesn't help if you've watched a little too much anime that the Japanese apparently outright agree on that. Or the other way around, any art and craft (and arts and crafts) sufficiently pursued becomes indistinguishable from ninjutsu.

That sounds like a way better RPG.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.




How about Royalty as a role? Of course I can challenge a demon to a drinking contest!

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Thuryl posted:

That section you liked is lifted pretty much directly from Apocalypse World, by the way, just rephrased a bit and with the example changed. Compare:


So yeah, the parts that are good are not original, and the parts that original are not good.
FATAL and Friends '16-'18: The parts that are good are not original, and the parts that original are not good.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




MonsieurChoc posted:

How about Royalty as a role? Of course I can challenge a demon to a drinking contest!

Being a Furious Idiot is far too broad.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




wiegieman posted:

Being a Furious Idiot is far too broad.

Don't you crush my life goals.

Alt: your mom is a furious idiot who's far too broad

LeSquide
Nov 1, 2012

Eat.
At.
Ed'sTM.



Ghost Leviathan posted:

Don't you crush my life goals.

Alt: your mom is a furious idiot who's far too broad

Your mom is a broad who's a furious idiot.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




LeSquide posted:

Your mom is a broad who's a furious idiot.

Touche. Also checks out.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - Magic Forests

Angenehme Wald is a haven from the normally horror-filled forests of Eisen. It covers much of northeastern Eisen, and a lot of it is so thick that you can't even get through it all the time. If not for the three main roads through it to Ussura, you might never go there...but it is beautiful. The name means 'pleasant,' and it is a place of wonder. It's practically a fairytale forest, with flowers and animals and huge trees. The birds sing all the time, the firs are strong and you can see all kinds of critters. The roads stay in nearly perfect condition all year, though they get no maintenance. Those who live near it have a saying: Der Wald dauert fort, the forest will go on. Those who stay outside watch it with a mix of suspicion and wonder, and those who live inside never leave, though many travelers go through it and get to Ussura. The magical protection of the forest has existed for as long as any can recall, and stories of hiding from evil there are very old, always ending happily, with the heroes settling in the forest ever after. Many deserters from the War tried to get there and got caught and killed, but a few made it, finding small hamlet communities where they were welcomed, as did refugees from the Horrors. All are told the same thing: Perchta, witch of the woods, protects the Angenehme, and anyone that upsets the peace must answer to her. Oh, and once you decide to live there, you cannot leave.

Neither Posen nor Freiburg claims the forest, though it falls in both. Rather, it is the domain of Perchta, who lives in a small cottage in the forest heart alongside a number of happy women and children. She appears alternatively as an aged crone or a beautiful young woman, and makes no effort to hide her inhuman nature or her power. She's been the protector of the wood since its existence began and she hates anyone that speaks out against magic. She claims to have been there before Eisen was, though now she must concentrate her power in just one forest, keeping it in a forever spring and protecting it. Many are attracted to the forest paradise, and there are only two rules. One, anything taken must be repaid. Every deal made there must be completed, all firewood must somehow return to the forest. Second, no one leaves without her express approval. Anyone breaking the rules faces deadly consequences at the hands of the forest itself, their bones left on the side of the road as a warning.

Perchta herself is a great negotiator, and she demands a favor of anyone that wishes to do more in the woods than just travel to Ussura. If you want to stay temporarily, you trade her favors. The better the deal is for her, the longer you can stay. She is more potent as an ally than nearly anyone else in Eisen, given her knowledge of the past, though she is limited in what she can do outside the forest. Anyone who lives there that wants to leave must negotiate for freedom, and the price is often very steep indeed. The forest is home to plants and animals unseen in such numbers elsewhere, thriving. Rare plants and ingredients for hexenwork abound, and rumors of caches of Syrneth relics happen, particularly in a set of caves to the north said to hold an underground labyrinth with a river that leads to magical lands. All kinds of strange, magical beings are drawn to the woods, called by Perchta's power. It is unclear if they are real or just projections of her power. She is also currently covertly backing Rosamund Roth to take over the country, as she thinks Roth is the best choice for magic.

Because anyone using the roads of the forest must pay a toll or tribute, a small town has grown up at the crossroads just on the western border. It is Kreuzweg, where travelers can resupply and prepare for the trip. The inn called the Skipping Stone is at the town's heart, offering a warm and pleasant rest for travelers, often Ussuran merchants or people heading between Posen and Freiburg, or explorers looking for Syrneth relics and ruins. The town also keeps records of folks who, finding the magic of the forest disturbing, do some stupid poo poo. During the War of the Cross, Vaticine armies attacked the forest, for example, and got torn to shreds by the trees themselves. One of the survivors, a former captain named Jakob Berlitz, refused to lead the charge on penalty of death, and before he could be hanged, escaped into the woods with the few other soldiers that refused the order. He remains the mayor of Kreuzweg to this day. He and the other locals have remained quiet when dealing with the Eisenfursten, sending their emissaries on to Perchta. Whatever those emissaries saw, it intrigued Niklas Trague enough for him to visit personally, and rumor has it the roads are currently so totally safe because of an understanding they reached.

Burg Wachesherz, the Castle of the Vigilant Heart, sits at the foot of Tiefstrabe Mountain, deep in the Dracheneisens. It has long fallen into disrepair, and its history is mostly forgotten. Legend claims it was made by ancient sorcerers to study the drachen, but that may just be a story. By the time the place was rediscovered in the tail end of the War, it was half collapsed, with only the outer walls still standing properly. Rosamund Roth led her unit there to seek refuge from a storm, discovering it overrun by Horrors. The Horrors killed many soldiers before Roth could seal the lower levels that they came from, and the survivors fled the castle when the weather cleared...but not until Rosamund swore to come back and clean it out. Her work in the lower levels had changed her, as if she had seen something terrible yet wonderful. It took years for her to return, but when she did, it was at the head of the newly formed Drachenblut. They had decided to rebuild the castle as their headquarters, and their first major battle was clearing out the monsters beneath. When they were done, they raised their flag on the ramparts and set about rebuilding.

Now, the Burg is a true fortress, accessible only by a narrow pass watched over by its massive walls and guarded on two sides by immense mountain cliffs. The forces within are small but well trained and equipped, served by civilians who have trekked out to help them. They used to be more secretive about what happened within, but after the recent accusations of blood rituals, Rosamund has opened the castle to the public in exchange for small donations of time or money, to show they have nothing to hide. Trustworthy visitors may even get to see their strategy academy, where their young recruits are trained in tactics and history as well as martial skill. Their greatest treasure is probably the growing library they maintain, helped by a defrocked former priest named Diego Monsancino. They have books on everything from history to magic, dating back to the start of Eisen. Any who wish to join must first go out with the Drachenblut and prove themselves. Survivors are named Blutgeschwister, blood-siblings, and may stay at the castle, where the Drachenblut live in communal halls. Roth eats and sleeps with the rest, under the grand banner of the golden drachen. That said, reaching the castle is itself a challenge, given the Horrors in the mountains and the ambushes by enemies of the Drachenblut.

There are various rumors and stories about what lies in the Iron Caves below the castle and their role in Drachenblut initiation ritual. Stories speak of hooded rites involving a goblet full of drachen blood to drink. Most do not believe they have any real drachen blood, of course, as there have been no drachen in a thousand years...but many wonder if some dark secret lies under the castle. If there is, indeed, a drachen down there, no one is admitting to it. The castle is supported by the village Wachesherz, which sits just outside the walls. It is mostly home to artisans and craftsmen that work to support the Drachenblut, making deals with those uninterested in actually joining the group and living in the castle. Their most lucrative trade is parts for Hexenwork, and rumor has it you can get stuff there that's found nowhere else. The nominal mayor and chief civilian is Kiva Hollitz, who sympathizes with hexe and many other sorcerers, actively working to protect and hide them from those who hunt them. The castle also often has noble guests, whom the Drachenblut court for donations to pay for the renovations. Recently, an inn called the Drachen's Jewel has opened to service them, run by a Vesten couple named Gertrude and Sigrun Jarlsmann, who are associates of the Vendel League. An anonymous donor recently gave the Drachenblut a large supply of dracheneisen arms, and many blame Niklas Trague, but he denies it vigorously.

Starkbrunn sits on the border with Castille, and it has actually been revitalized following the War. It was overrun early on, suffering Castillian occupation for much of the War until it was retaken in the Imperator's final push, which cost nearly a thousand lives. Thus, the city's fields are known as the Crown's Graveyard, where many soldiers died, or die Heulenden Ebenen, the Howling Ground, for all the blood spilled there. It was here that the ceasefire was negotiated, and Castille returned the city as a gesture of goodwill. The veterans tried to rebuild it, but it fell into disrepair quickly. The land around it is blighted and full of some of the worst Horrors in Eisen. They brazenly attack travelers from the crags, and the last few miles to the city involve a mad dash for its safe walls and garrisons. Deaths used to be common, but the rise of a new generation has reduced them.

When the old commander of the garrison, Bruno Elkhardt, died fighting ghouls to save a caravan, his daughter and second in command, Elmina, put out a call across Eisen for warriors to face off against monsters. Soon, a group of young Eisen arrived, too young to have fought in the War but experienced fighting Horrors. These scrappers took up the task of protecting Starkbrunn, turning it into the best military base in the nation. These people and their commander Elmina are known now as the Junges Blut, the Young Bloods, a breed of monster hunters ready to fight and die to protect their families. There are tensions between them and the old guard, but overall they work well together and are a major power in the region, with many families sending their children to serve as Junges Blut to learn what it means to be Eisen. It surprised everyone when the city declared itself part of Fischler rather than Hainzl, as Falk Fischler had been the only Eisenfurst to actually send troops and supplies to help them out, against the advice of his advisors. When Elmina sent her thanks, he actually came to meet her personally. While he isn't generally known for it, he charmed her and the Junges Blut with his support and paying tribute to the fallen, and the city is now fanatically devoted to him. It has been rebuilt and is now fairly modern, with new fortifications built over the old. They don't tend to like Castillians much, though.

A new class of monster hunter has recently come forth in Starkbrunn, which is now a haven for warriors looking for a cause. They are the ungetumjager, specialists in killing Horrors, and they work out of Jagerviertel, the Hunter's Quarter. Anyone with a specialized Horror problem can go to the taverns there, as the innkeepers keep rosters of the hunters in the city that want work. The local Himmel Licht Hospital is also world-renowned for its ability to treat the odd afflictions that often come from monster attacks. Its head research, Doctor Yedidya Neiman, specializes in magical diseases, continuing the research of his Yachidi parents. He works closely with his husband, Samir al-Rabbah, to network with other Yachidi scholars and expand knowledge of monstrous anatomy and beneficial use of Hexe.

Starkbrunn is one of the lead centers for trade in Hexenwork components. Most warriors there are more than happy to accept the magic, because it works, and many shopkeepers sell components in secret, while local guards pretend not to notice. Unlike the shops in Wachesharz, whose components are as often fake as not, Starkbrunn's are fresh and reasonably priced. If they don't have what you need, they know where a monster can be found that you can harvest for it. The town also serves as a major stopping point on routes that smuggle sorcerers out of persecution. Many hexe, seeking to avoid getting onto Elsa Posen's list, live in the city. No one has an exact count, but they're not hard to find when you need them. It's also pretty much an open secret that the best local seamstress, Donatella Rossi, is a Fate Witch that works with the Junges Blut. It's said she knows where all the hidden sorcerers of the city live, but since she's survived three assassination attempts so far and has never talked, well, it's unlikely she'd reveal it. Each time, her attackers were found mysteriously outside the city after dark, where they were killed by Horrors.

Next time: Swamps.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Kult is an edgy little thing, isn't it?

Anyone planning on reviewing Sigmata?

BinaryDoubts
Jun 6, 2013

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


All I want on this earth is a review of Stigmata, and of Monte Cook's BLACK CUBE

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

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


BinaryDoubts posted:

All I want on this earth is a review of Stigmata, and of Monte Cook's BLACK CUBE
I mean, it's a Monte Cooke production, so just imagine D&D 3.x but with an unconscionable amount of cards.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Kavak posted:

Anyone planning on reviewing Sigmata?
Hi I'm Hostile V, you might know me from being lazy and for also being the dumbest motherfucker in the room.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Re: Sigmata: Even if I had a copy, I doubt I could review it without posting videos of Zizek yelling "PURE IDEOLOGY!" for every page of the book.

Re: Kult: The problematic content is made worse by Kult's inveterate problem of being a great big pile of edgy splatterpunk that doesn't cohere into anything. It's one thing to make a game where war, crime, or other difficult social issues are depicted without a strong authorial stance, but you absolutely can't get away with that when it comes to, like, babies in the microwave. When you go that far out of your way to present a gruesome scenario, you can't back away and pretend you're presenting it "neutrally" when called out.

(If you think Kult is tryhard to the point of being gross or downright deranged, and your morbid curiosity knows no bounds, look around for some of the fanzines that were published for it.)

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - Vampire Island Vacation Homes

The Ausgeglichene Platz ruins are very old, but until recently, no one knew they existed. They are deep in the horrible Salzsumpf swamps, thick with mud and Horrors and sirens. Before the War, people avoided it for the sirens and swampland, and recently, there's been a geological shift. Strange noises have come from the ground under the mud, there have been earthquakes, and the land has shifted. A complex set of ruins have emerged, scattered across several miles. Explorers were shocked when they realized this was only the top of some tall buildings, too, with great towers under the mud still buried. Via the openings, though, the towers have been able to be explored. They are immense, full of beautiful (if waterlogged) mosaics and carvings, plus various Syrneth relics and crystals. The name means 'the Balanced Place' because the structures are buried at a weird angle and in strange configurations, making it easy to get lost, though that's never stopped the Explorers or fortune-seeking relic hunters. Elsa Posen has started levying a small treasure tax on them, there's so many. Of course, the ruins are full of undead monsters, like much of Eisen.

We now head to Wirsche and to Rucken Island, once a depot for Vesten ships and a resupply point for the League. The infrastructure was all destroyed in the War of the Cross, and the Vesten abandoned it. Pirates took the island, then Castille drove them away, then Roswitha von Wirsche drove them away with her best Iron Guard. After the war, she planned to use it as a home for the landless peoples of Eisen. The Rucken Endeavor, as it was called, offered free land to anyone that settled the Horror-free island. Five hundred families and nearly two hundred orphans, most of them Vaticine, traveled to the island...and found it barren, wind-blasted, barely arable and open to attack from all directions. They wanted to leave. Unfortunately, the boats had already abandoned them, and so they sought shelter in the abandoned Vesten town Gottkirchen, and they might have all died, had it not been for the pact they made with the only remaining inhabitants of the islands - the blood drinkers.

The Rucken Endeavor was proposed because Roswitha just wanted to get rid of the refugees and displaced people. She, plus the Eisenfursten of Sieger, Posen and Hainzl, promised support and Iron Guard troops to help the settlers. Most had no idea of the vulnerabilities of the island. When they learned how bad it was, all of them swore to help rebuild Gottkirchen. However, it broke down almost immediately. Hainzl and Sieger withdrew most of their funding and supplies, and Wirsche's Iron Guard left after barely three months, leaving no weapons for the locals. Once they pulled out, coastal raids began from the north, and Wirsche sent no aid. And yet, families kept coming, unaware of what had become of the Endeavor. They tried to grow crops, but they grew poorly. And then, drawn by the people, Horrors began appearing. Gottkirchen became the only safe place, and even the most stubborn farmers had to go behind the ruined walls.

If not for Magistrate Salomon Zeller, Rucken's people would have died within the year. Zeller had been chosen by Wirsche to manage the island and quickly became the de facto mayor, commander and chief administrator. One day, he returned from a Horror hunt, the only survivor and covered in blood. He promised the people they had no more need to fear the Horrors, thanks to new protectors. Many were suspicious...but the attacks did, in fact, stop. Gottkirchen re-emerged as a fishing and trading village, a refuge from Horrors. No attacks happened in the city, and even criminal activity was nearly nonexistent after a few nights of criminals being slaughtered in the night. People were unsure who these overzealous protectors were, but Zeller would not say.

One year later, a carriage arrived from a small manor house on the far side of the island. Zeller went to it, escorting his brother, who was sick and near death. His brother went into the carriage and was not seen again alive. His body was delivered back three days later. Zeller then explained the deal he'd made and, after long debate, the town accepted the blood pact. It has been fifteen years since then, and Gottkirchen is still protected by the blood drinkers. They kill any other Horrors that show up on the island of Rucken, and hunt criminals by night. No one is sure how many live in the manor, and no one has gone to challenge them ever returns. Only Zeller speaks to them, and he tells no one about them. The villagers warn merchants about the brutal law enforcement and low crime rates, and most traders know not to visit on the summer solstice, when the yearly sacrifice occurs. During the funeral for the sacrifice, the next year's victim volunteers. So far, there's always been a volunteer, who spends a year as an honored hero whose every whim is catered to until they enter the carriage. Their family is then cared for as long as they live. This makes volunteering to die an attractive option for the poor, sick and lost. Everyone knows they've made a deal with Horrors...but, well, what's the alternative?

Not that everyone agrees. The leaders of those who oppose the blood pact are led by Father Alonzo Gonzalez, a Castillian priest who settled to reopen Saint Eugenia's Church on the island. He believes they must fight the Horrors themselves and root out the blood drinkers, but he knows the town's only alive thanks to the willing sacrifice of the villagers. He maintains a stone memorial obelisk, which contains on it only the names of each sacrificial victim. Perhaps because of his sermons, fewer and fewer have been volunteering for the 'honor' of death by vampire, and there has been grumbling about overthrowing Zeller and driving the monsters out. The Resistance, as they call themselves, have recently started looking for help on the mainland. Of course, without the vampiric defense, raiders would again have easy access to the island, as the town has no real walls or militia. What it has is people in lovely houses, and lots of them. Even the church is a half-collapsed relic, and the marketplace is ramshackle and lashed together from ruined wood. There's no money for infrastructure, no warriors and no help. The Resistance needs to find allies before they can even think about breaking the pact.

Heimstatt, east of Freiburg, sits near the Ussuran border. It was once a farming village, but has been growing in wild leaps and bounds after the road to Ussura was expanded and headed past it. Traders and travelers have been passing through in droves, and it has become a shockingly cosmopolitan stopover on the trade route to Ussura and Vesten. In the War, it was a medical refuge, with an army hospital made out of several outskirt farms. The locals at first resented the land seizure, but soon began to pitch in on caring for veterans, helping to save thousands of soldiers. The Imperator officially named the town 'home of heroes' and promised a budget to expand the hospital into a permanent facility. When he died, the promise would have been forgotten if not for Niklas Trage. He, Posen and Fischler worked to fund Heimstatt, growing it into a full city with an excellent training hospital and the small Eisengeist-Universitat. The town is now bustling and productive, with few Horror attacks. Some say it is the proximity to Ussura that provides this safety. Whatever the case, it means that some of Eisen's best medical and scientific minds flock to the growing city, and its lands are still lush and full of growth. This vision of what Eisen could be, without the Horrors, provides a lot of hope for the people.

Despite its massive increase in size over the past 50 years, Heimstatt retains a charming small-town appeal as it grows around the university and hospital. The hospital, Heiligherz-Krankenhaus, is not only capable of handling mass trauma, but also trains the world's best field medics. Their surgical wing is unsurpassed, and they've gotten aid and grants from medical institutes across the continent for their library. The Vaticine has helped fund them, bringing in doctors from Vodacce and Castille to help out on the teaching staff. There is also a large Yachidi community, who arrived around a decade ago for trade and study. Since their arrival, their population has exploded massively, and the neighborhood of Lodz is almost entirely Yachidi now. The locals weren't sure at first what to think of them, but have grown to embrace the Yachidi dedication to bettering the community. The Chavra, a Yachidi organization, was instrumental in bringing Crescent medical supplies to fight a plague a few years ago, and the Yachidi have helped bolster the reputation of both Heiligherz-Krankenhaus and Eisengeist-Universitat as areas where magic and science are studied together. Their radical approach of joint magical and scientific study has not made the Inquisition happy, however, and the Inquisitors have recently released public statements condemning Heimstatt. The locals expelled certain priests for nearly getting into fistfights with the faculty, and tensions have been high for a while. It's only a matter of time before things come to a head.

Next time: Hexenwerk. Apparently it's been spelled with an e this entire time and I have somehow not noticed.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Halloween Jack posted:

(If you think Kult is tryhard to the point of being gross or downright deranged, and your morbid curiosity knows no bounds, look around for some of the fanzines that were published for it.)

...oh, my. I will not and you can't make me.

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Its worth noting that a lot of the things you have problems with are actually really good in AW games that aren't just changing things for apparently no reason (like making it 2d10 instead of 2d6??). The ask the players whether they deserve extra XP is fine because you're not playing with assholes who go "give me 3 xp even though we all know we didn't do the thing" because they have to justify it and everyone has to agree you did actually earn it. Uneven XP earning is also fine in good AW games because each individual "level" isn't super crazy power growth like in DnD or something, its more about options and each character has different options anyway. Which is also why its good that most of them have a cap on +3 as a stat, to force you to not rely on the same tool every single time. Yeah you made a Punch Guy, but Superman is boring when all he does is punch. Sure, punch a lot and be good at it, but also do other things.

AW itself has the dares thing, except you highlight a stat to use rather than give a specific task to complete, so yeah, you give the gun guy xp if he uses +Weird which encourages him to step outside his comfort zone and make interesting choices. He can still earn XP from the regular channels, there's just also incentive to not do the same thing over and over.

Apocalypse World is a really good system that Kult has just hosed up. Apparently they're a bunch of people that thinks rules aren't necessary anyway and just freeform everything and just went with PbtA as a system frame because its popular at the moment.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Also, PbtA is, regardless of the underlying strength or weakness of the system, really easy to throw out a shovelware 'hack' for, it seems like. For every Monsterhearts there's three of whatever that dumb dragon game Mors reviewed was or Kult 2e.

A surface-simple rules system with 'roll 2d6, add or subtract modifiers, write fiction around result' is the kind of thing that looks really easy to design for even when it isn't, which is going to draw people like Kult's authors who would like a way around having to do any game design.

E: To clarify, I don't mean that it's actually easy to design a PbtA game from everything I've seen of the system. I mean it's easy for a poor designer to throw together a lovely facsimile of one.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 21:31 on Jul 24, 2018

Getsuya
Oct 2, 2013


One of the things to come out of the Japanese roleplaying community is a series known as the 'Mixed Bag Collections', which were magazines published every year in the 90's for a big tabletop gaming convention there. Each year indie designers would submit original TRPG systems that were super streamlined (usually only a handful of pages long) and meant for one-shot convention play (which most Japanese TRPGs are). They run for about $30 a pop used and you need to be in Japan or have a rerouting service up because they're only available through auctions or Amazon.co.jp sellers who won't ship to the US directly.

Most of the games are made with roleplaying a specific genre of movie/game/TV show/anime in mind, and some are even more specific. So you have ones that let you play Power Rangers, or magical girls, and more specific ones that let you do a game based on Die Hard (yes, specifically), Sailor Moon, Saint Seiya or Lupin the 3rd.

But there's one edition I really, really want to get. It's the edition that has the Die Hard game, but that's not why I want it. No I want it because it includes PiyoPurun Story. The way this game was explained to me was:

The party used to be a single hero, but thanks to the curse of an evil wizard the hero's body parts were separated and turned into low-level slime monsters. It is up to the party to fight their way through the dungeon until they find the evil wizard and break the curse.

The problem is: none of the blobs can speak, aside from strange, unique vocalizations such as 'piyon' and 'purun'. It is intended to be the antithesis of communication-centric tabletop RPGs. The players can only communicate with each other through intonation and variation of their random unique vocalization. Movement through the dungeon is determined by random dice rolls, and the GM basically just leads them through to the end, describing enemy actions and character health using phrases to indicate how damaged a character is that are unique to each character.

It sounds like a fun party RPG for a one-shot, but I was thinking if I house ruled it a little bit to allow for physical descriptions (so you can write what your character is doing but not why) as well as their vocalizations, it could actually make for a pretty fun PbP.

'Janice the Ocre Jelly jiggles an appendage toward the ledge. "Purun!" She stretches up, then condenses, jiggling again toward the ledge. "Pu... run."'

Just Dan Again
Dec 16, 2012

Adventure!


PiyoPurun Story sounds like a hell of a trip. Kind of reminds me of the co-op card game Consentacle, where one of the first steps of play is deciding where on the spectrum of communication you'll play between "completely open and verbal" and "no speech, no expressions, no body language."

Comrade Koba
Jul 2, 2007





Kult has always been about edgy bullshit at its core. The first edition was what sparked our own local “satanic panic” in the early 90’s and was the reason all major toy stores in the country (AFAIK) stopped selling RPGs.

Fun fact: I checked it out, and it turns out the company that publishes the current edition basically consists of people from my old gaming group.

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 10: A Monthly Crate of Random Rules

The rest of Chapter 3, which so far has been finishing character creation and combat rules, is a complete grab bag of content with no real rhyme or placement to it. Normally in a game you’d put all the mini-systems into a single chapter but not Obsidian, oh no. We’ll figure out how disease work here, in another chapter find drugs, and in another how to set up our corporation. A particularly glaring example here in this chapter is that the rules on radiation don’t note how you can cure it, which is buried in another chapter in item descriptions.

The first thing we learn now is rules for driving and equipping weapons to vehicles. Everything is done in “Marks” which are just 10 mile per hour increments making the term Mark so redundant that the books own authors regularly just refer to speeds in MPH. Weapon mounting implies a massively more complicated combat system than the one we just read about including features like partial cover, weapon’s degree of swivel, and turning radius of vehicles.

The last thing I want to call out is a complete failure of natural language ”When an object collides with a vehicle, the amount of damage (which negates soft armor) that occurs to the vehicle is 1d8/Mark of speed.[...]The passengers receive an amount of damage equal to half the vehicles damage[...]” You know what is an “object” in the game? A cell-phone. Hit that indestructible juggernaut of an object going 60 in your armored battle tank and kiss your characters goodby when all of you take 6d8 damage.


Does this look infected?

Next is radiation which we can’t cure until many pages later than now and comes in six tiers. Well, really five tiers because the people writing this book apparently don’t know how to process sequential events. Once you’re dosed with radiation, any subsequent dose of smaller or equal size bumps you up to the next size. Tier 5 radiation says everyone around you gets a Tier 3 dose which in turn says everyone around you gets a Tier 1 dose, which pushes the Tier 5 person to Tier 6 (instant death) and then pushes all the Tier 3s to the next tier which causes them to all redose each other until they hit Tier 6 and die as well.

After that it is three straight pages of diseases, including how they’re contracted, how difficult they are to cure, and what they’re effects are. Basically all of them are some variation of “re-roll your character” or “gently caress you” ranging from “you die in horrible agony in an hour” to “your character goes blind, there is no cure, and even if you install cyber-eyes you have permanent visual hallucinations”

I’d like to pause to reflect on the name for one of the diseases - Ebola Extreme

After that is “Forms of the Spirit”. Do you vaguely remember how we had to roll Spirit points at character creation? This is one of their two uses and boy is it both useless and sure to grind your game session to a halt. Suddenly, despite there being literally 28 pages of story and setting detail we’re told that there is now an entire realm of spirits where people do spirit battle. This has never, ever come up before and the name of this dimension is TERRADAENIME and is written exactly like that with the bold and all caps.

TERRADAENIME in addition to sounding like “Earths Big Anime” is where your spirit is free to wander around if you cut it loose or if you die. This section just haphazardly notes that Heaven is real since your soul goes there after going to TERRADAENIME so what in the blue-blazes are the 8 circles and Sheol and all that junk? This sort of derails the entire setting and then Obsidian further notes that the Hells need souls from this dimension to cross over their followers even though the current setting exists because they already did that.


TERRADAENIME

Ok, fine, so what do we get for interacting with TERRADAENIME? Not a whole lot as it turns out. First, to even go to it you either need to die or specialize your character to specifically interacting with it, which means unless you had a total party wipe to something most of your table will be sitting around twiddling their thumbs while one person does stuff there. You can travel freely through walls and see… nothing really the game notes everything is blurry and distorted. You can also talk to other wandering spirits here but you need 4 ranks or more in specific skills to even be able to talk to them and interpreting it can require, other, different skills.

Even better, despite being allowed to, rather easily, build a character intended to do this at character creation the game explicitly notes that your characters shouldn’t know this exists at all unless they have again, high ranks in another different skill. That’s right, you can build a character to do exactly one thing in the game and then be told you can’t do it all due to game fiat of your character not knowing that they can, despite having the skills to do so. It gets even worse, because Spirit is a random roll at chargen so even if you build a character explicitly to do this one game mechanic, you could be terrible at it since you rolled poorly.

Oh I lied, no this is the worse part, if you die in spirit form you die forever. Every hour in spirit form takes one point of spirit, going to 0 kills you. Corporations have technology to scan for and spot Spirits to prevent corporate espionage this way. Spirit combat is crazy deadly only for player characters*. Your spirit glows brilliant and bright while in TERRADAENIME and all demons and evil spirits can see it from everywhere else in the world and target you.

With Spirit score being a total disappointment we move onto that Humanity score from character creation. This system isn’t anywhere near as terrible, but there isn’t much reason to ever interact with it. The only thing that lowers your humanity rating are cybernetic parts, and you don’t have any penalties as long as you stay about 15 humanity, which is more than enough to install most useful cybernetics. This is really good because the first penalty you take is a 1 rank loss to mind and a 1 point loss in Spirit which unless you invested in the Mind Attribute is instant death for 1/3rd of all characters at character creation due to Spirit loss.


There are no brick buildings in this setting, so where is this?

Abruptly we shift over to the Portals of Hell, which is mostly just flavor and justification for how demons summon more demons to Earth to provide specific, ambient, boss chamber locations. Every portal has to have a guardian or it collapses, every portal can only be initially opened by a different special type of demon. Portals require constant maintenance so you need a set location to have it in. The rules for this are extremely specific and detailed, you could run an entire campaign playing Demon Portal Actuary and balancing your spirits and sacrifices checkbook.

After that it’s Terror Ratings, which we already covered with Lilith Kapital although I found out if your humanity is low enough you become flat out immune to them. Good thing for Lilith the only people who can survive to that depth of humanity score don’t exist as written in the game since it requires a PC specifically geared up to do it without dying due to Spirit loss and, even if they survive to that level, they explicitly can’t form memories and are in constant catatonic fugue devoid of human thought processes so she can just wait for them to starve or forget to breathe.

If you thought this chapter was surely done by now, look at how wrong you are. Instead it closes out with four paragraphs, each on how to install different parts into cars, buildings, and people and the general rules for that. Why this isn’t in the section about those items which is two chapters away from here is probably because Obsidian really wants you to enjoy the time you spend flipping pages in a book desperately looking for the information you need.

Next Time: Spell is not a Synonym for Inhabitant

*Your spirit score is both your health and your damage output. You can’t get spirit armor, but enemies can. You may note this means if you get hit once by an enemy you enter into a near-immediate death spiral where you can’t even harm your remaining foes and have permanently lost character points and that’s for a max score character

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Barudak posted:

After that it’s Terror Ratings, which we already covered with Lilith Kapital although I found out if your humanity is low enough you become flat out immune to them. Good thing for Lilith the only people who can survive to that depth of humanity score don’t exist as written in the game since it requires a PC specifically geared up to do it without dying due to Spirit loss and, even if they survive to that level, they explicitly can’t form memories and are in constant catatonic fugue devoid of human thought processes so she can just wait for them to starve or forget to breathe.

I'd like to think she'd hunt them all down and kill them individually. It's the human touch that really matters in this business.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cults: Chroniclers, pt. 2



Degenesis Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 3: Cults


Generation++

Chroniclers used to have difficulties recruiting new members, as they looked “too weird and too far removed from reality,” which is... an apt description of some Darth Vader-looking motherfucker that tries to squeeze in as much unnecessary tech lingo as they can into their conversations. Then again, you'd think the kids would be all over that poo poo.

Then they found a life hack via their cooperation with Spitalians:

Generation++ posted:

The Cult takes in the children that doctors deem autistic and all youths who’ve fallen through the cracks due to their physical shortcomings. In the wasteland, strength and endurance are crucial. Children with a great deal of imagination and interests in Bygone writings are usually not good at working the land and thus cost more than they earn. If the Chroniclers want them, all the better. They feed them and give them a chance to survive.

Well, at least they're doing good with their recruitment criteria?

The potential recruits have to pass logic tests. If they do, they're assigned a mentor and given a barcode tattoo. They also receive a cell in the cluster to live in. Once they prove worthy of an Update, they receive new responsibilities and new security clearance. It's understood that leveling up crystalizes what the person is best in and directs them that way.

Life in the Cluster

Life in the Cluster posted:

In the Cluster, there are only Chroniclers. They speak the same techno-language and share a dream of fully reactivating the Stream, so that it can reach the whole world and fertilize it with knowledge. The air in the Cluster seems to shiver with excitement. Everyone considers himself part of a great, sublime endeavor.

Yes, I'm sure everyone wants to get the Stream back online, just so we could have Burn-bros advocating for Burn legalization, futa art of Hybrispanian Pregnoticists, countless posts about how “Hybrispania did nothing wrong,” PUAs discussing what alpha males the Pheromancers are and YouTube comment sections filled with weird Balkhani arguments in broken Borcan.

The barcode is probably the most important form of identification, as machines scan it in order to give access. It's also tied into the whole “score” thing.

Ya see, Chroniclers don't believe in coincindence; in fact, they believe that a man's fate can be determined by a formula, a formula they apparently use to predict the fate of one of their members. They believe they could predict the fate of anyone and everyone, if they had enough data! Not evben Wisconsin could withstand their wrath then!

Life in the Cluster posted:

Communication between Chroniclers is very focused on information, free of phrases and full of ancient computer commands. Words are chosen carefully. A Chronicler prefers to speak slowly and deliberately, avoiding any slips of the tongue. Syntax errors are considered brain malfunctions. The brain is considered a machine; the mind its operating system. Only constant updates make it possible to adapt to an ever-changing world.

This seems... very stiffling. Maybe it's the influx of non-neurotypical folks, maybe it's cargo-culting computers which require precise code not gently caress up. Anyways, it runs counter to what you would usually expect out of tech fetishists and people driven ADD by being extremely online: a rapid pace of speaking.

Maybe Chroniclers are secretly preparing for making deals with the Devil and want to get this whole “exact meanings” thing down.

Chronicler Drafts

Side section! This one is quite stupid. So, the Chroniclers in the exchanges could print out endless cash and crash the economy. But they don't, since the printers have a set number of money they can print, after which they shut down. Only high ranking Chroniclers – Streamers – can reset it.

Beyond the Stream

What, there's life outside of internet? No way!

Everyone in Justitian knows the Chroniclers and the white chalk barcodes they use to mark their territory. It's kinda odd how the book states that everyone knows that Tech Central wouldn't exist without Chroniclers: why, yes, the central hub of actitivites that Chroniclers established wouldn't exist without the cogboys (chipboys?).

But while everyone has seen a Chronicler out an about, their cosplay elevates them above the regular rabble and they appear like mysterious, powerful figures. It goes to their heads sometimes, considering that the whole outward appearance is to make them look cooler than they are.

Beyond the Stream posted:

Everything Bygone makes them hyperventilate, the Scrappers say. Mostly harmless.

Knowing contempory “Chroniclers,” I'd say you can add “stairs” and “women” to the list of stuff that makes them hyperventilate.

However, they're not some Moon-Moon worshipping savages, and the Chroniclers are more than happy to use the tech they find. Their Clusters apparently dig into the ground to expand unseen. Meanwhile, the Chroniclers themselves are lviing out the fantasy of every put-upon nerd to have ever expressed regret that those who had worse grades than them at school get to rule the world:

Beyond the Stream posted:

Thus, the Chroniclers have long since pulled the strings from behind the curtain. In powerful city states like Justitian, they wield true power from behind the throne, preserving society by keeping the peace or bringing war with nothing more than information.

This explains that one story of Chroniclers organizing the attack on that Neolybian expedition into Balkhan.

2 to the power of 16

Side-section! So when the asteroids fell, they hosed up the physical infrastructure of the internet Stream. However, the network had started dying days before the Eschaton. Some singature (no clue wthat that is supposed to be) marked with “2 to the power of 16” startered srpreading trough the web, propagating itself and crashing the Stream.

The two theories the book puts forward are “birth of an AI” and “internet immunity system kicksing in to prevent the birth of an AI” - both of them seem crazy. Anyways, the Chroniclers are scared that once they put the internet back together, “2 to the power of 16” will brick it again.

Data Stream: Needle Tower Disaster

A side section that's fuckhueg! Back in 2563, 16 Fragments, high ranking chroniclers that had gained access to the deepest secrets of the Cluster, were sent across the Reaper's Blow. 8 of them survived the passage, proving that being a turbo nerd does not a great survivalist make, and that there's a reason why you send expendable underlings on such expeditions.

They were to establish a network similar to the West Borcan network (no idea what that is). Their first goal was to reconnect East Borca's Needle Towers, which I assume to be Bygone telecomunication towers that somehow survived 500 years of neglect. Sure enough, the mega geeks did that.

Then they “surrounded themselves with an army of whores and mercenaries,” which is definitely what a redditor would do if given free reign. They also ceased communication with the Cluster. All info on them is secret. However, the names of four of them are household names for Chroniclers – so much for the secrecy.

Chromium and Iridium founded their own cities, using the shiny-ness of the towers to impress savages. Promethium was supposed to construct a relay station near Osman. Instead, like any good techpriest, he started tunneling and reached a great Osman library (not mentioned before this point). Cobalt is supposedly leading a savage clan near Praha – maybe he's pretending to be a mini-Chernobog?

The identities of the other four are either classified or deleted, the writing is unclear. However, this lead to Fragments activating Shutters and Fusers – elite thieves and commandos that have their own mirror net (?) and a social score of zero. Barely anyone knows they exist and fewer have their control codes. Shutters and Fusers are the cyberninjas that other nerds wish they were.

So yeah, not much more information than the time needle towers were mention in the Borca writeup, but now we know that there are assassin nerds out there!

Next time: the kind of smugness you can only get by posting on the internet.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010



Lipstick Apathy

Halloween Jack posted:

Re: Sigmata: Even if I had a copy, I doubt I could review it without posting videos of Zizek yelling "PURE IDEOLOGY!" for every page of the book.

it's my understanding that SIGMATA's problem isn't one of being too ideological, but rather that it isn't.

this is based from what we know from the Kickstarter, but the players are supposed to balance four factions within the Resistance: evangelicals, libertarians, right-wing militiamen, and tankies

now, the enemy is very explicitly made out to be (neo-)Nazis, but to think that the first three factions would become part of the Resistance is completely incoherent - not only does it represent a misunderstanding of what leads to Nazism in the first place, it effectively cedes all ideological ground to the Resistance anyway. If Pat Robertson stans, Silicon Valley techbros, and Duck Dynasty/Doomsday preppers are all fighting The Government, just what is it that The Government does that's so objectionable? It's obviously not a left-wing government either, both because the game explicitly invokes Nazi imagery, and because the Bolsheviks are part of the Resistance anyway.

an F&F would be useful to examine things like the book organization and the actual mechanics of the game, but premise-wise, SIGMATA lost the plot really early on

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




"Right-wing militamen" not being on the side of the nazis?

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




gradenko_2000 posted:

it's my understanding that SIGMATA's problem isn't one of being too ideological, but rather that it isn't.

this is based from what we know from the Kickstarter, but the players are supposed to balance four factions within the Resistance: evangelicals, libertarians, right-wing militiamen, and tankies

now, the enemy is very explicitly made out to be (neo-)Nazis, but to think that the first three factions would become part of the Resistance is completely incoherent - not only does it represent a misunderstanding of what leads to Nazism in the first place, it effectively cedes all ideological ground to the Resistance anyway. If Pat Robertson stans, Silicon Valley techbros, and Duck Dynasty/Doomsday preppers are all fighting The Government, just what is it that The Government does that's so objectionable? It's obviously not a left-wing government either, both because the game explicitly invokes Nazi imagery, and because the Bolsheviks are part of the Resistance anyway.

an F&F would be useful to examine things like the book organization and the actual mechanics of the game, but premise-wise, SIGMATA lost the plot really early on

It's a game by and for Sensible Centrists. For a more self-aware version, the maker of Liberal Crime Squad is working on Neoliberal Crime Squad. The revolution will come out of your trust fund.

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!


Kult: Divinity Lost



Okay. With all that weird rapey poo poo over with(I loving hope. I browsed the rest of the book real quick and didn't see anything quite as egregrious, though there is certainly some weird poo poo left), maybe we can continue reviewing this hot garbage.

The remainder of the GM'ing specific section which isn't the straight-up lore-and-bad-guys third book is mostly just full of sage advice like "have the characters meet up," "prepare some dramatic reveals" and "have their Dark Secrets be related if you can." Mostly it's only there for if you're a first-time GM and somehow get past the "have your characters raped"-advice without throwing the book on a loving bonfire or reformatting your HDD to purge it permanently from your collection.


It does have some neat art, though.



Though, why did these weird creatures(which I think are actually never statted up or described anywhere) have to have perfectly human tits(click through if you need/want to see the uncensored version)? Like, come on. Come on. Also I think it's "charming" that they're replicating a flaw from the original books, which is that while the GM section has a section called "opponents," that only has one example enemy and then the elements for clapping your own bad guys together from parts. While all the pre-made monstrosities and potential enemies are scattered throughout the lore chapters at the back in the lore section/region where they'd appropriately be encountered, making it a bitch to track them down.

Also, they're actually something even worse than the original Kult there. Original Kult statted up almost every creature it mentioned in any sort of detail, but Divinity Lost leaves something like half of the enemies/creatures/NPC's described just as a vague sketch that the GM has to fill out by himself if he wants to use them for anything. Shoddy, lazy loving work.

There's also some strange bits in the GM'ing advice sections that I suspect are once again copied at least partially from whatever PbtA template they were cribbing half their poo poo.

Kult posted:

A final desperate firefight against the mafia family who murdered the PC’s family.

A tragic suicide in the PC’s apartment.

A mad experiment where the PC is launched into an alternate dimension.

The sealing of a demonic pact, which ensures the PC’s promotion to CEO of their company.

These are supposed to be ways to end the game's story or a characters' personal story. The first two sound entirely too mundane to be the apex of a game where your characters are aware, from chargen, that reality is at least mildly fucky(you can also play "Sleepers" who are entirely unaware at game start, but the game more or less advises against you actually doing this). Kult "demons" also aren't classic demons in most senses of the term, this again just feels completely out of whack with the game, plus playing a game where your character's greatest goal is to become a CEO feels... uninspiring? At least if it's not a setting like Shadowrun or something where you can accomplish this with mercenaries and high explosives. And being launched into another dimension sounds like the start of a story, not the end of one.

In fact, for Kult, all these sound like where a story should start. You fight the mafia goons, you come out on top... and realize their leader wasn't human at all. You commit suicide in your apartment, but somehow survive and see beyond the Illusion. You're launched into an alternate world, and must find your way back. You seal a demonic pact of power... and now the rest of the campaign is trying to avoid the consequences/costs of the pact.

But, you know what, let's just pretend this chapter doesn't exist. Because we're about to hit the last third of the book...

THE TRUTH

I.e. where we actually get all the lore and locations that totally aren't copypasted from the original Kult with more rape and better art. Oh wait did I say that out loud? Good. Because I mean it.

So anyway, we've been over the basics before: Humanity were Gods, humanity were dickhead Gods, the Demiurge(who may have been a less dickhead human, a more dickhead human or something else entirely) decided to lock humanity up in the Illusion so we couldn't gently caress up the universe constantly(our prison is called Elysium, that's basically the real world), with the help of his ten Archons and Astaroth's ten Death Angels. Each of them representing something that would help keep us locked up and running in circles within Elysium.

Then one day, the Demiurge suddenly vanishes, so rapidly and completely that even his servants can't properly remember him. The Archons fight among themselves, destroying or toppling several. The tenth Archon, Malkuth, rebels against the others and devotes herself to breaking humanity free of the Illusion. So now all of the divine cops and guardians are off balance, old monsters and alternate dimensions are seeping back in. And that's where the game starts.

But, now, let's just start off with the fact that this is entirely incoherent. Yes, the Archons enforce normality and keep our focus away from personal growth in favour of community, ideals, greed and lust essentially. But the Death Angels are actively dangerous to the Illusion. They work for concepts that cause suffering and terror... and the entire point of the sanity track is that when it drops low enough, caused by suffering and terror, we get a bonus to See Through The Illusion, or otherwise risk suffering supernatural poo poo.

Anyway, the Archons are named after the aspects of the Qabbalistic Sefirot(I'm sure I mangled some of that spelling, bear with me, please).



The broken gears are the Archons who are either destroyed utterly(Chesed, Hod) or have been severely reduced in strength during infighting(Chokmah, Yesod). We're also informed, in the classic fashion, that almost all bad things are caused more or less directly by the Archons and their servants. Suicide bombers with religious causes? Fanatics fighting for Chokmah and his servants. Feudalism and kings abusing their authority to rule autocratically? Kether's work(though, apparently, ruined by communism). If you like Communism or your family, though, you're actually doing Binah's work(also while the Roma are mentioned nowhere else in the book far as I can tell, here they're specifically namedropped as Binah's worshippers)! Nationalism is her doing, too. The only nice one was Chesed, who gave humans stuff and whose servants helped cure diseases and alleviate hunger, without any apparent sinister motive behind doing so(the Red Cross is his creation, it seems, or his servants' at least). So of course he got blown up during the Demiurge's disappearance and the Archons' infighting. Trashy videogames, lingerie and lovely romance novels are all created by Tiphareth to distract us from the Illusion. If you've got any countries out to conquer others, or "create a new caliphate," then it's Netzach's fault.

Hod is all about the poisonous influence of inflexible personal "honour" and... well... does this feel a bit racist to anyone else?

Kult, Hod posted:

Duels at dawn, large-scale wars, the murder of one’s sons and daughters, century-long blood feuds, and ritual suicide are just a sliver of what one might do in response to a dishonorable act.

...

Hod’s suffocating influence has faded from large parts of the west, but in the Middle East and large parts of Africa and Asia, his will still corrupts the minds of mankind.

Maybe I'm just on a bit of a hair trigger after all the other weird poo poo. Also note that Malkuth, the Archon of Enlightenment and seeing the truth(formerly Conformity) is strongest in Europe and basically nowhere else, because of course that's where people are good at seeing the truth and being rebels against THE MAN. Of course it is. Anyway did you know that the World Trade Center was a phylactery for Yesod, the Archon of Greed? True story. Having it blown up almost killed him, and severely reduced him in power. Also speaking of power, I wish the game was better at articulating what it meant. When it speaks of the Archons' power ebbing and waning with their portfolio, it's hard to tell if that's in the straightforward sense of political power and number of mortal servants, or if they get some sort of supernatural power from their portfolio's expansion, too. Because gently caress telling people what's actually going on, I guess.

South America also totally vanishes when they're talking about spheres of influence. North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, all mentioned repeatedly. South America? Just once.



So basically the Death Angels are all dumb edgelords responsible for everything really bad. Dictators? Thaumiel. Child porn and children being beaten? Chagidiel. Suicide? Sathariel. Racism and anti-vaxxers? Gamichicoth. Torture and snuff porn? Golab. Revenge and hatred? Hareb-Serap(who is, of course, strongest in Africa and the Middle East. Because of course he is.). Internet porn and snuff films(again?)? Gamaliel. Being a Captain Planet villain? Nahemoth.

Also rest assured that I'm sparing you oodles of lovely prose about how an archon's symbol is a cracked coffee cup full of menstrual blood or how a death angel represents all that we try to shamefully purge from our browser histories, how one of them is primarily served by the results of generations of incest and etc. etc. etc. Because if I wanted to share all of that I'd be copypasting this loving chapter in full. Just imagine the edgiest poo poo you can think of, then double it, and you'll be where the book is at.

I honestly hate it when all the evils of the world are placed at the feet of creatures like the Archons and Death Angels. On the one hand it pisses me off because it trivializes a lot of these things and stops us asking questions about why we're doing it, because the answer is "SUPER SATAN MADE ME." And on top of that, it just seems to make everything too simple. Like... this is a shittier version of the Technocracy, really. The Technocracy gives us a bunch of nice stuff but, based on the fluff, is also holding us back from our full potential because they're worried we'll use it to snap reality in half. So it gives us kind of a gray-zone scenario where you can wonder about what's actually the 100% correct path to take, and argue about it, and there's some shades of gray and humanity still matters. Like, here, what even is humanity's character once we're past the Archons and Death Angels?

Spoiler: We're galactic-scale awful dickheads when we're divine, or at least we were, so I'm not sure why we needed the Archons and Death Angels to encourage it at all.

Also speaking of the lovely prose, apparently the archons control our loving DNA, too? What?



Kult posted:

The Illusion is our entire reality, ranging from the terrifyingly grandiose to the mind-numbingly ordinary. There is nothing the Principles are not concerned with. We are caught in a world of fast food, lattes, sex, and mortgages. We are distracted by imaginary enemies, violence on TV, acts of terrorism, invasions, carcinogens in our food, and the menace of genetically-modified crops. All the while, we drown in fashion, advertising, innumerable ideologies, and unattainable aesthetic ideals. We buy and sell each other every day. Digital currencies are paid for humiliating occupations, sugar daddies fleeced, and black market work accepted. We all lie on the meat counter, offered up to consumers. We are all bought and paid for. We are all guilty.

Everywhere there are false truths and alternative facts. If you’re unhappy with one version of the truth, there is always a new angle, truth, or conspiracy theory a single click away. Choose the worldview you want and you will be served whatever supports your belief.

Our jailers hope these oceans of information will drown us and distract us from the Truth. They create this incessant static to be so pervasive that we do not stop to look around and think about our existence. The world’s endless complexity is paralysing.

Oh and the Demiurge is also responsible for the fact that we have genders and ethnicities, just so you know. Because this wasn't IDA enough.

Kult posted:

Our jailers fear us. They dread what will happen if we break free of our shackles. When the Illusion crumbles, we see, just for a moment, what is around us. For every new life, for every new reincarnation, we become that much more difficult to manage and manipulate. To our jailers, this is an eternal crisis of keeping us distracted, weaving new and different lies for us. They must keep the Illusion’s machinery alive, even with thousands upon thousands of different parts, all of which are slowly breaking down. The shadows of our former tyranny continually haunt their worlds. Horrors we once inflicted still spread death and terror, and all the suffering we created lingers on as frail echoes. There are anxious whispers of the fantastic terrors we will bring after tearing the veil from our eyes. In this, the Archons and the Death Angels are united. Neither side wishes to risk our awakening. For them, and for all of Creation, it would be disastrous.

See here's another of the core problems of Kult. We're meant to feel sorry for poor, imprisoned humanity, to fight the Lictors and Razides, the Nepharites and monsters, the Archons and Death Angels, to try and get free and... for what? So we can resume our old roles as time-travelling, space-conquering loving war criminals? Like, legitimately. With this game's proposed concept, the PC's should be the ones maintaining the Illusion, if we want to be loving protagonists. It's extremely hard to see any human as a sympathetic main character since it's stated outright that we will be dickheads again if we break loose. I mean, maybe if they entertained the idea that some, if not most, humans had been reformed by having to spend eons being reincarnated as fragile mortals, the kind of creatures they once bullied and abused. That maybe that was the point of it all, to teach us the ability to empathize with the weak by showing us the terrors the weak have to endure.

But anyway, enough of me complaining about this. Because I'll have plenty of complaining to go. Now the game starts telling us about the alternate dimensions of the world, of which there are basically four: Metropolis, Interno, the Underworld and Gaia. Metropolis is our old realm from when we were Gods, and in fact us building cities has destabilized the Illusion in this direction, since all major cities are reflections of Metropolis, which make it easier to slip in there. Inferno is where souls are given the old wash-and-clean with brimstone between incarnations, and where people get tortured for the Nepharites' entertainment, usually that's accessible through places where really lovely things happened or are happening. The Underworld is what leads to total oblivion, yet there are civilizations down there, mostly consisting of those who survived our divine genocides and are still hiding out and dreaming of revenge or just of rebuilding. Gaia, lastly, is the primordial wilderness that Malkuth stole a chunk of to build Elysium(i.e. the "real" world) from.

Also if you use the Internet(specifically THE DARK NET) you can fall into Limbo, i.e. the dream realm just by being thoroughly distracted by hyperlinks.

Kult posted:

Many times, tears in the Illusion are connected to specific individuals; a homeless person ridden by insanity, a confused young girl who bears a family curse, a captured soldier being tortured, or the YouTube celebrity struggling against his repressed addictions. Indeed, it might be anyone.

Seriously, though, they mention the internet so much and so aggressively that it really feels like they want to remind people that this isn't 90's Kult any longer, this is 10's Kult. It's kind of hilarious and a little bit sad.

PurpleXVI fucked around with this message at 11:48 on Jul 25, 2018

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Ghost Leviathan posted:

It's a game by and for Sensible Centrists. For a more self-aware version, the maker of Liberal Crime Squad is working on Neoliberal Crime Squad. The revolution will come out of your trust fund.

I've actually just spent a fairly long discussion with the guy who wrote it and he's a decent dude, at least. Dangerously naïve, definitely thinks he's way more leftist than he comes off in the text, but is willing to cop to the fact that he overfocused on parts of the game that made him come off badly and did not spend nearly enough time on the PCs, who are meant to be the marginalized groups. But hey, props to him for listening to me tell him he was a poo poo writer, not getting mad, and telling me that I was free to go on saying so to anyone that'd listen and that he copped to ending up alienating a lot of the people he'd meant to appeal to.

Apparently the original context he'd written it for was the Arab Spring, which is why he put in right-wing religious folks - he failed to realize that in transplanting it to America and releasing it in 2018, he was no longer talking about fundamentalist Muslim clerics and their followers, but about Pat Robertson, among other things.

Subjunctive
Sep 12, 2006

sparkle and shine



Mors Rattus posted:

I've actually just spent a fairly long discussion with the guy who wrote it and he's a decent dude, at least. Dangerously naïve, definitely thinks he's way more leftist than he comes off in the text, but is willing to cop to the fact that he overfocused on parts of the game that made him come off badly and did not spend nearly enough time on the PCs, who are meant to be the marginalized groups. But hey, props to him for listening to me tell him he was a poo poo writer, not getting mad, and telling me that I was free to go on saying so to anyone that'd listen and that he copped to ending up alienating a lot of the people he'd meant to appeal to.

Apparently the original context he'd written it for was the Arab Spring, which is why he put in right-wing religious folks - he failed to realize that in transplanting it to America and releasing it in 2018, he was no longer talking about fundamentalist Muslim clerics and their followers, but about Pat Robertson, among other things.

That’s really encouraging, actually.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




That...makes a lot of sense. The Arab Spring is something that American liberals just flatten into a conflict between liberal democracy and religious conservatism, and claim was made possible by social media.

But for gently caress's sake, "What if the Arab Spring but in the US" is totally incoherent. That's a blanket term for several very different conflicts happening in different countries.

It would make slightly more sense if he'd modeled it on Syria, because then you'd have all these factions fighting each other. You'd still have to answer the question of how right-wing militiamen are a separate faction from the religious conservatives and not their paramilitary wing, how both of those things are a different faction from Neo-Nazis (because the word "overlap" is insufficient to describe the connections there), and how Silicon valley libertarians have any military power.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 13:10 on Jul 25, 2018

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



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

Eisen folklore's great heroes were people in magic armor. Sadly, that doesn't actually exist. Reality is, instead, a place of loss and heartbreak and monsters. No one can say exactly where Hexenwerk came from - each legend of its beginnings is just a story, a rumor, and they are united only in that they begin in heartbreak and sadness, and end in blight. One tale is about a hexe who used Unguents to enchant weapons and armor, only for them to reanimate any dead body that touched them. The hexe then repurposed the Unguents to fight the new threat, creating modern Hexenwerk. Another is of a witch whose land was stolen by an invading army that came through her woods, and to punish them, she called down dark spirits, which then stuck around to ravage the land after. Another says that during the War of the Cross, Eisen forces needed food and reinforcements, and the generals discovered a sorcerous means to revive dead troops, but it left these undead monsters uncontrollable and rampaging.

Hexenwerk is grotesque, designed to wield the undead against themselves. Eating undead hearts or mashing up eyes is gross. Many who use it do so for good, to help Eisen. However, it is absolutely a magic born of desperation. The War drained Eisen, and they use what they have left to fight. Most cannot stomach the disgusting things a hexe must do to themselves, and other Eisen often fear and respect them, though it often alienates them from their friends and loved ones. Hexe often accept this as the price for saving Eisen. Almost all hexe learn from a mentor - self-teaching just doesn't work very well for this sorcery. It is often shunned and sometimes illegal, though, which means finding such a mentor can be hard. Most teachers insist that their students also learn the skills needed to fight undead, which is one reason novices without a mentor usually fare poorly. The training is often difficult and dangerous, and if your stomach is not readied and trained, an Unguent can kill you.

To prepare for that, hexe train by eating meat that is days old, eventually moving up to weeks old, then months, until they can eat meat that's been rotten for years without too much trouble. That's just to eat the Unguents - getting their measures right takes months of practice, too. Every hexe has their own variant on a blend that is personal to them and has to be learned by experimentation, as their bodies each react differently to the components. This is part of why the stomach training is so vital. Mentors tend to also look for national pride in their students, and ambition. You need ambition to be willing to stomach the repugnant tasks of the hexe, and pride to use the power for Eisen. A common training task is to find an animal corpse and properly dispose of it without any tools, which means removing all organs, destroying them, then burning the rest. Completeing destroying a corpse is vital to hexe, and doing it without tools teaches the student to handle grossness and bad smells.

Recently, Elsa Posen has founded a group within her Iron Guard called the Hexenjager, the Witch Hunters. She has them in order to find and register hexe, so they can be tracked and used properly for the military. Any of her Iron Guard with an ounce of magical talent is trained to be a Hexenjager, then given a sword and a registry book. Its 26 pages must each be filled with information on a hexe, then returned to Elsa, who then either returns them to normal duty or gives them another book. If a hexe will not register, the hexenjager must banish or kill them, as they say that only an enemy of Eisen would not register. Many hexe deeply distrust Elsa's list (which is fair, given the idea was given to her by an Inquisitor) and fear that she has something terrible planned. (She doesn't, but said inquisitor probably does.) They may even flee Eisen to avoid getting on it. A hexenjager that finds a hiding hexe will brand them with the symbol of a circle with an X inside, marking them as Apostat. Any Apostat discovered using sorcery in Eisen is hunted and killed by the hexenjagers.

Hexe outside Eisen often struggle to find a way to use their sorcery, which is focused on fighting the undead. These exist outside Eisen, but in far smaller numbers. Thus, while safe, their skills languish unless they can modify them to deal with living monsters. The techniques of the Apostat are similar to normal hexe, but instead of undead human flesh, they use the flesh of monstrous beasts. It's dangerous, though - monsters can be poison sometimes, and it's also a lot easier to self-justify than eating human bits, making it easy to become complacent. Monsters typically taste better, but can cause illness or madness. To be able to contact each other for training and discussion, the Apostaten have found a way to communicate: the X-in-circle symbol. They use it creatively to mark territory, offer or ask for aid or just let people know they exist. Some carve it in trees or get it tattooed. This can help find a mentor. However, it can also be dangerous, and the symbol's been used before to lure people into traps, either by witch hunters, Inquisitors or even intelligent monsters.

The Hexenwerk of an Apostat is identical to that of a normal hexe in most ways. Each Sorcery purchase still gives one Major and two Minor Unguents, chosen either from the normal or Apostat lists, and all prep time and costs are identical. The main thing is the ingredients differ. Some of the Unguents in the core can be used as normal, just requiring a change in ingredients to deal with non-undead - monster blood, say, rather than corpse blood. The GM and player work out what changes might be needed there. However, the game also provides a handful of new Major Unguents that are specific to Apostat monster hunting.

Major Unguents
Anosmia Oil: Take a clump of monster fur and a drop of monster urine, boil them in herbs, essential oils and acid, then reduce the mix to an oily paste. Rub this on the body, and you become impossible for any monsters to track by scent for one Scene. For them to find you, they must spend an extra Raise.
Ferocious Mobility: Take a monster's tooth, a dried frog and a crow's feather, grind them to powder, and mix them with milk. Swallow it, and you can run and jump like a wild animal, allowing you to perform a single normally impossible athletic task, such as jumping a 20-foot crevasse, that the monster whose tooth you use would have been able to do. (I am fairly certain you do so automatically, at that, with no Risk involved.)
Fugue Powder: Take a demon's horn, mushrooms and bone meal, cook them dry, grind them to a powder and mix them with tea. When drunk, this causes someone to forget everything that happened in the past day. You need a decently large amount of tea for this to work, of course, and demon horns aren't exactly common.
Wild Sight: Take a sharpened blackwood branch, burn it, then roll it in berries, mud and a piece of the monster you want to hunt, such as fur or blood. If you use the branch to scratch someone, they take 1 Dramatic Wound and go into a trance, sharing the monster's vision. The connection is lost if the monster sleeps or takes a Wound, or if the person having the vision takes a Wound. It lasts for one Scene otherwise. While in the trance state, you can spend a Hero Point to make a Notice Risk to get additional information about the monster.

Next time: Fencing.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Halloween Jack posted:

That...makes a lot of sense. The Arab Spring is something that American liberals just flatten into a conflict between liberal democracy and religious conservatism, and claim was made possible by social media.

But for gently caress's sake, "What if the Arab Spring but in the US" is totally incoherent. That's a blanket term for several very different conflicts happening in different countries.

It would make slightly more sense if he'd modeled it on Syria, because then you'd have all these factions fighting each other. You'd still have to answer the question of how right-wing militiamen are a separate faction from the religious conservatives and not their paramilitary wing, how both of those things are a different faction from Neo-Nazis (because the word "overlap" is insufficient to describe the connections there), and how Silicon valley libertarians have any military power.

Don't get me wrong, I still think he's a bad writer who wrote a bad game.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?




Panic at the Dojo: The Basics



So, we've got all those rules down, but it's time to combine them into a detailed play flow! This involves understanding all of the building blocks of the game: Forms, Archetypes, Styles, Abilities, Actions, and Stances.

Forms


Forms are the basis of combat - there are twelve in total, and each PC picks three of them to build their Stances. Your Stance's Form determines what dice you roll for it, and how many. Beneath that, it lists an Ability, a passive bonus that you have as long as you're in a Stance that uses that form. The green box is one to three Unique Actions that you can use your Action Dice for as long as you're in that Form, and the orange box is a Skill you have if any of your Stances use that form. Skills are for out of combat, we'll talk more about them later.

You may notice that there are several alternative names listed after the main name - this is a fluff thing, so you can make the names of your Stances sound cooler.

Archetypes


Archetypes are sort of like character classes, but a lot looser. The first word of the name will be one of Focused, Fused or Frantic, which are three different versions of each Archetype power (more on that later). At chargen, you pick between one and three Archetypes, and you gain abilities from all of them. Sort of. We'll get back to these in chargen.

Styles


Styles are twists you put on Forms in order to create Stances. Your Archetypes determine which Styles you have access to, and then you pick three of them and combine them with your Forms in order to build your three Stances. Like Forms, they grant Abilities and Unique Actions, but instead of determining your Action Dice, they determine the Range of anything that says "within range" in its description. Each one also comes with a few paragraphs of text explaining its general theme and some Forms or Abilities that it pairs well with.

Form + Style = Stance. The names are combined in the form of "Style Form", so if you used the Vigilance Form in conjunction with the Pressure Style, then you'd create the Pressure Vigilance Stance.

Range


While movement distinguishes straight and diagonal movement, range does not. For whether or not something is in range, go by 4e rules.

Actions
We've seen a few of these, but here's some more details on those! We've seen basic actions, and a few examples of more complex actions by now, and there are a bunch of different types to look out for.

Simple Actions: If you have a die that beats the Cost number: Spend the die, do the action. There are a lot of these, and they're the easiest to use.


Choice Actions: Some actions will list several things the action can do, then ask you to choose one or two of them.


Tiered Actions: These can be a bit tricky to read at first, but they don't choose one of the things based on your roll; instead, you do everything in the action until you reach a number in the text that your spent die isn't high enough for. So, if you spent a 5 on Stand Strong, then you would heal two allies you can see and heal yourself twice. Some Tiered Actions are also Choice Actions, for extra fun and confusion.


Token Actions: No action dice required! Instead, you spend a certain number of Tokens of specific types to do the action.


X Actions: You spend any action die to use the ability, then wherever X appears in the description, replace it with the value of the die.

Next: Time to dig into Forms!

ZeroCount
Aug 12, 2013




I guess Kult wants to be more about the PC's gaining personal liberation from the world? Setting everyone free sounds like an awful idea.

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.

So the Apostat are feared and loathed by the population but still fight to protect them from monsters, and use an x in a circle as a symbol?

They're the Hex-men.

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Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Mors Rattus posted:

I've actually just spent a fairly long discussion with the guy who wrote it and he's a decent dude, at least. Dangerously naïve, definitely thinks he's way more leftist than he comes off in the text, but is willing to cop to the fact that he overfocused on parts of the game that made him come off badly and did not spend nearly enough time on the PCs, who are meant to be the marginalized groups. But hey, props to him for listening to me tell him he was a poo poo writer, not getting mad, and telling me that I was free to go on saying so to anyone that'd listen and that he copped to ending up alienating a lot of the people he'd meant to appeal to.

Apparently the original context he'd written it for was the Arab Spring, which is why he put in right-wing religious folks - he failed to realize that in transplanting it to America and releasing it in 2018, he was no longer talking about fundamentalist Muslim clerics and their followers, but about Pat Robertson, among other things.

That makes a lot of sense. The American political landscape has shifted almost unrecognisably in a few short years and a lot of things taken for granted have turned out to be fairy tales, after all.

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