Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - Serious Time: Continued CW for Domestic Abuse, But Less So - The Details Are Mostly Done

Domenica Vespucci is a Fate Witch, twin sister to Ennio Vespucci. Her father Carlo planned for Ennio to inherit his shipping company, with Domenica supporting and aiding him with her magic so he could marry someone besides a witch. There was just one problem: Domenica had the ambitions, and Ennio did not, and from an early age they cared way more about each other's wants than their father's. Domenica joined Sophia's Daughters young, and Ennio helped her by teaching her to read in secret. She studied the Rilasciare philosophy while her brother practiced dueling and bought her books so she'd help him cheat at other lessons. She worked under the code name 'cielo gallo' - yellow sky - and helped run the Vodacce side of a smuggling operation into the Commonwealth. Her opposite was an agent code named 'tripe soup,' and they often wrote to discuss logistics and, in time, other things - philosophy, personal anecdotes with the serial numbers filed off, that kind of thing. For three years, she had no idea she was dealing with Prince Aleksy, until he came to Vodacce looking for a wife. At that point, his writings began to imply he was at least a servant of the Prince with intimate knowledge of his courtships, a trusted confidant that looked to Domenica for advice on suitors.

At that point, Domenica had a hunch of who he was and went for broke - she wrote back one sentence: 'You should marry me.' Her father was a mere second-tier shipping magnate, no fit political match, but Vespucci knew the man she'd been writing to, knew his impulses towards contrarianism, and knew she was at least somewhat in love with him. She had a hunch he was, too, towards her. It paid off - Aleksy took her offer of engagement and sailed with her (and Ennio) back to the Commonwealth. Their first face-to-face meeting, merely days before the Golden Liberty was inspired by her writings on Uppman, would have been perfect if not for the attempted coup by Marcen Sabat, Ksiaze Kazimierz. In the aftermath of the attempt, though, Domenica was warmly welcomed thanks to saving the lives of both Aleksy and Stanislaw. She is a plain woman, neither beautiful nor ugly, and easy to ignore in a crowd. She stands back and allows Aleksy to work the room, stepping in to use her fierce intellect at key moments. She enjoys having people underestimate her, and publicly plays up being a dim foreign girl who struggles with the language; privately, she has no accent at all and has a bitingly keen wit. She is deeply cunning and adores the Commonwealth far more than she ever liked Vodacce. She wields her magic on behalf of Aleksy, but not much beyond that. She wants to be the epitome of Uppman's philosophy and only uses her power when it is absolutely necessary.

Landon Cross grew up in Baelig, a town in the midst of Avalon's Siochain Forest. It is said there that his mothers, both trappers, made a trade with the Sidhe - a child in exchange for protection of Sidhe animals. These rumors remain unverified, but Cross does have a very Sidhe-like appearance. In truth, he was just adopted from a Carleon orphanage as an infant, with the only signs of his heritage being a small gold pendant, silver hair and pale skin. He learned hunting from his moms, and had a knack for dealing with all kinds of animals, even magic ones. However, he was always bothered by not knowing where he came from, despite his happy youth. When the Sidhe returned, he went to speak with them, and they told him they didn't know his parentage, though he probably had Sidhe ancestry somewhere. Unsatisfied with this vague answer, Cross pressed further. Instead of answers, they gave him a job. Daniele told him that it'd be hard work to learn his ancestry, and he'd have to do something outside Avalon for them to do it. Within a week, he had a ship and a writ from Elaine, going first to Montaigne, where he brought what appeared a blank paper to a forest hermit, who signed it and thanked him. Then he was sent to Ussura, to track down the Leshy Vir'ava. While doing so, he and his crew of privateers helped some local Ushkuiniks soothe a violent vodyanoi, and they offered him aid in crossing the Maw. Now, he's been sent to the Commonwealth to find a specific dievas in the Sanderas Forest. He's not sure why, but he's certain there's a reason. Alternatively, Daniele just enjoys sending him to weird, dangerous places. Landon's appearance is clearly abnormal - his skin is practically translucent, so he wears many layers of reflective clothes to prevent people from noticing, and a broad hat to hide his silver hair. When he grins, his elongated canines poke over his lip. He's a clever, somewhat mischevious man who rarely approaches things in the way people expect. He's a skilled hunter and a decent swordsman, though better with a bow and gun.

Rugile Savicke was the caretaker for Stanislaw before he was the king, several times. First, in a field hospital run by Mociutes Skara, primarily used to house refugees blinded by quicklime. She met Stanislaw Gracjan there after he was wounded in battle, noticing his habit of quoting texts during his fever dreams. Before the war, she'd been a bookseller, a Yachidi Curonian and autodidact who read every single text she ever carried. This fellow bibliophile fascinated her, and they became fast friends. She noticed he was going blind and, due to her experience both with books and the quicklime-blinded, he asked her to come back with him to be his reader and book collector, because the written word was what kept him sane. She agreed. The two fell in love, though Rugile and Malgorzata ended up warily orbiting each other for years. Rugile also tutored the royal son, Aleksy, and taught him to hide in the kitchen to avoid his mother. When she finally struck the queen, it was a long time coming, but also treason. In prison, the queen forbade her access to any books, but a fellow prisoner slipped her the Rilasciare texts - Uppman's notebooks. She read them, as she read everything.

Rugile didn't find Uppman's philosophies or call to end royal rule strange. After all, had she not just learned that even when the best possible man was a king, the world would still be unfair? She felt betrayed by the man she loved, because of the unfair and arbitrary rules of royalty. Maybe killing royals was too harsh, but nobility definitely had to go away as an idea. When Stanislaw had her released, she read the journals to him, daring him to tell her not to, to have the journals seized and burned. He never stopped her, and when she asked if she could show them to Aleksy, he merely told her that he trusted her. She showed the journals to the boy, and the pair spoke no more of it. When Golden Liberty was conceived, and Stanislaw signed it into law, Rugile had to stop herself from asking if he'd been inspired by the notes. She looks much younger than she is, due to her wide eyes and round face, and she's only just starting to gray, despite being at least as old as Stanislaw himself. She is always by his side, book in hand. At diplomatic functions she is deferent, if perhaps overprotective, and in private she is an energetic teacher that is eager to share what she's learned lately. She still loves Stanislaw, but a decade of having to deal with Malgorzata and her time in prison have left her emotionally scarred. Domenica and Aleksy want to engineer a reconciliation between the pair, but it's not going to be easy, especially given Rugile's common origins and being a Yachidi, ant the fact that Stanislaw is still legally married to Malgorzata. As a side note, Rugile is now a member of the Rilasciare, and works tirelessly to fight Malgorzata's attempt to gain the throne and control of the Sejm.

Malgorzata Domagala is Queen Consort and Ksiezna Drajewicz. She is the eldest daughter of House Drajewicz, and she took her title at the young age of sixteen. She grew up immersed in Sejm politicking, and she's always worked for what's best for the nation. (Mostly, anyway.) Her marriage was one of convenience, putting her in a position to do the most good, for herself and for the Commonwealth. And that's what makes her so angry. She was a good queen. The country prospered under her, she kept the wealth flowing, she set up a network to move Castillian refugees safely away from the Inquisition. It worked. So why, she asks, should her being a domestic abuser matter? The country never suffered, only her family. And if they hadn't wanted to suffer, well. Stanislaw, clearly, could have been her partner and worked with her, instead of hiding in depression and letting her run things alone. Clearly. This certainly isn't an obvious and hollow self-justification of monstrosity. Even before the Golden Liberty, though, Malgorzata knew the Sejm was a mistake. She wants more centralized control, similar to Elaine in Avalon, and she considers the Golden Liberty a disaster, a mob rule by the uneducated and illiterate. It may, she says, work in times of peace, but it can't handle stress.

Because of this belief, she has come up with a plan. She knows that the Ussuran General Winter plans to invade the Commonwealth, and she has allied with him. He has promised her the throne in exchange for control of a warm-water port and access to the River Sejm. What he does not know is that Malgorzata intends to betray him. She will be no puppet queen for Ussura, nor let her nation be a vassal state. Thus, once Winter's invasion impresses the citizenry with the need for her strong leadership, she intends step forward and take the throne by virtue of defeating the Ussurans. Her pride is brittle but immense, and she refuses to admit to wrongdoing in any capacity. She is a dramatic beauty, moreso now than when she was younger, thanks to the severe, austere lines on her face. She is haughty yet impassive, refusing to show emotion, and her resting expression is dismissive. Her skin and hair are practically translucent, and while her fingers tremble slightly, it's practically imperceptible. She is an extremely competent administrator, and demands the same from her allies. If an enemy proves competent, she attempts to talk them around to her side. She genuinely fears mob rule, and will even swallow her pride to win. Her tremendous, cruel temper is shown only in private, and her verbal and physical abuses are reserved solely for those who are under her power. She genuinely does oppose the Inquisition and their goals, finding the idea of a nation purging its intelligentsia to be utterly horrific. This is probably her only positive quality.

Ugne Urbone, Ksiezna Janusz, is purestrain Curonian, one of the few on the Sejm. She is generally exasperated with their petty concerns, very sarcastic, and prone to peppering her speech with Curonian provincial idioms. She is extremely pragmatic in her voting, and has no patience for semantics - or for petty etiquette. Curonians in general admire her irreverence and tendency to puncture Rzeplitan pretension, and she is a national hero for her defense of Curonian interests, to the point that she's argued the capital should be moved to Curonia. She is also a dedicated, active member of the Ratas, who has assisted in the capture of more rogue losejai than any other person alive. She is neither Bialy nor Czerwony, being both largely unconcerned with the Golden Liberty, a huge defender of Sanderis, and a believer in a strong military to defend against Ussuran threats. Her name has become synonymous with skepticism of both factions, and to her chagrin, she become an icon for those who feel the same, particularly Curonians, who will do pretty much anything she asks of them. This means that she could easily be the deciding factor in any royal election...or could throw her own hat in the ring. She is neither as popular as Malgorzata nor Aleksy, as Curonia is only half the size of Rzeczpospolita, but the vote will be a hotbed of politics. The Senat is currently the only group that legally vote in the election, but many are pushing to expand that right to the lower house, which could tip the vote - especially if Ugne runs, as many Bialy and Czerwony would rather see her rule than their enemy faction. For her own part, though, Ugne is most concerned about the potential for war with Ussura, which she believes is inevitable, and preventing the internal political strife from escalating. That said, if she somehow did become queen, she'd be a pretty good one. She is a larger-than-life woman in attitude, if not necessarily, size, and in the Senat, she actively puts on a show of being a burping, swearing Curonian that plays up her accent and idioms. In the Ratas or her Kziestwo, she shows more of the substance beneath that. She stays up late, working with a terrifying intensity. In her own home, she is extremely welcoming, a strong proponent of old Curonian hospitality, and maker of famously excellent cepelinai. She feigns boredom and anger if asked to deal with anything outside her sphere of influence. Her husband took his own life three years ago, and she has bound herself to the dievas that convinced him to do so, as part of a longterm plan to destroy it. However, she has yet to find a good way, as the dievai of the Sanderas fear her dievas and refuse to tell her anything while it shares her senses.

Azucena Esquival is a Castillian who fled the Inquisition in a ship chartered by Malgorzata. By the time she arrived, though, intending to offer the queen her services, she discovered the king had banished her. In hopes of learning why, she became a guard at the Palace. She asked questions, which brought her to young Aleksy's attention. He asked her a lot of stuff, then convinced her to teach him how to fence. She was sure he'd be an excellent king - he takes his responsibilities seriously and wanted to make things better, after all. She hated the Sejm and their obstructionism of the king, but she doesn't like the Golden Liberty. She feels it will devolve into mob rule, after all, and that the king and his son - both excellent rulers - have made themselves powerless. They have far more faith in human nature than she does, as she grew up around Inquisitors. As a member of Los Vagabundos, she helped protect Aleksy during Marcen Sabat's coup, and supported the reformation of the royal guard, the slachta, becoming their leader. Even in this job, however, she is conflicted enough to think about going to work for Malgorzata. It is not entirely clear how much Azucena actually knows about the queen's private monstrosity - she has some idea, but I prefer to read this as not having a clear view and absolutely no personal experience with that kind of thing, because otherwise Azucena comes off as a monster herself and that's pretty clearly not intended. Basically, she believes that while Malgorzata isn't a great person, she was a good ruler, and that'll be needed because the Golden Liberty is clearly going to gently caress itself. She prefers to remain quiet and in the background. When she speaks on topics she cares about, she becomes loud and passionate, but finds this very embarrassing and prefers to avoid doing it and not discussing her own views, for fear of conflict.

Next time: Lawyers, Thieves and Secret Societies

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


Night10194 posted:

Of course, the reason there's the constant refrain of 'Oh man that premise is so good but everything else about it is terrible' is that coming up with the premise/high concept of a story is the absolute easiest part. Everything else about execution is much harder.

It's the easiest part, but frankly also the most important part, and one that's regularly hosed up by plenty of games. I mean, we've seen a decent few games here that have decent or decent-ish systems at their core, but you look at them and, because of their writing, which is born from a shoddy or half-considered "high concept," you shrug and go: "Why would I even want to play that? What's the purpose?" Because the high concept decides whether the whole thing works or not. For instance, right now, with Kult, the high concept means that it's hard to figure out what to do and who to root for, and a victory for either side either means perpetuating a lame status quo or ushering in a new era of interdimensional war crimes.

But let's revisit the core concept. Let's say, that yes, humans were space war criminals once. And let's say that yes, the Demiurge did flimflam us, with the help of the Archons(who are both charged with distracting us and educating us), into being blind to our divinity. How about the "Awakened" and "Enlightened" souls aren't the ones who've reconquered their divinity and taken to being space monsters again(or on the path to doing so), but are instead the ones who've developed a deep sense of empathy and duty, and an ability to care about others.These are then tested by the Archons and Lictors, and if they're close to realizing something's up with reality, they're given a choice to be recruited as guardians of true reality, as well as the sleeping masses.

To the rest of the world, normal mortals, with normal lives. In reality, they fight a secret war against the rear end in a top hat humans who're close to, or have, broken free of the Illusion with the help of Astaroth and the Death Angels, who're like unholy war profiteers, who somehow benefited from the misery and murder humanity wrought across reality aeons ago, and are trying to keep us remembering our jackass urges and awaken us at the same time.

So you are, essentially, the supernatural FBI, hunting down reality criminals. Which can mean trying to get info and support from creatures and gods/demigods that have legitimate, millennia long grudges against humanity, travelling through weird dimensions, trying to keep your mind intact as you deal with things that mortal humanity wasn't meant to experience, confronting the crimes that you might have committed in the past in your original incarnation, etc. while also trying to not blow the whole secret open for everyone else. And best of all, you can do it without quite as much rape as Kult has!

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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



Jesus Christ the art in this game.

quote:

3+: Secure

3+: Contain

6+: Protect

groan

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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


It's definitely a low-budget game - the kickstarter barely scraped by its goal. The art isn't great, and a lot of the good pieces get re-used a few times throughout the book.

But hey, the mechanics are cool.

RedSnapper
Nov 22, 2016


Full disclosure. I love Kult. It's one of my favorite settings in all of RPG (stay with me!)
I first got into the CCG in high school because the esthetics appealed to the depressive, satanist edgelord that I was at 16 and somehow it stayed with me into adulthood. I spent an unreasonable amount of time the now dead, aptly named, Last Cycle forums - a place for people who talked about the game more than they actually played it, where you could read an entire treatise on the nature of Archons from a guy who couldn't recall an actual rule from the game with a gun to his head and where a sentence like:

PurpleXVI posted:

[...]Let's say, that yes, humans were space war criminals once. And let's say that yes, the Demiurge did flimflam us[...]

was considered to contain at least three bold assumptions (humans as plural, Demirge even existing and being a separate being from human(s), humans being evil and the entire gamebook not being a part of Lictor propaganda).

In short, I have terrible blind spot as far as Kult is concerned... But drat, talk about the inverse of maturing with its audience..

Night10194 posted:

The sad thing is I can think of a lot I could do with the premise

That's why the sollution is to just trim off the excess parts and keep what you want. It can be a bit like wading through poo poo in search of gems but, looking back to my time on the LC, half of the forum activity was exactly that..

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


At that point, why bother saying you're a fan of Kult? Why not say 'I'm a fan of the one sentence elevator pitch of Kult, then wrote my own urban horror setting around it?'

I think we give too much credit to a lot of these games and settings when the only part we're using is the very basic idea and we're often doing much of the work ourselves. If very little of the actual official setting material is useful and you're inventing almost everything past 'Man, I'd love to work with the idea of a horror setting where we were the alien plague and the consequences are hitting us despite us not remembering it' isn't it mostly your own thing at that point anyway?

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 15:40 on Jul 26, 2018

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cepelinai and suicide? Curonia is more Lithuanian than Lithuania!

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


Night10194 posted:

Of course, the reason there's the constant refrain of 'Oh man that premise is so good but everything else about it is terrible' is that coming up with the premise/high concept of a story is the absolute easiest part. Everything else about execution is much harder.

I’m just an ideas guy.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


More Horror RPGs should be inspired by Eternal Darkness, by the way. Sprawling story across the generations where most of your PCs die but all get to accomplish some key bit of a plan that will eventually culminate in a dramatic eldritch confrontation at the year 2000 or whatever? Hell yeah, that'd be a great structure for a horror game and a good way to deal with PC mortality to boot.

RedSnapper
Nov 22, 2016


Night10194 posted:

At that point, why bother saying you're a fan of Kult? Why not say 'I'm a fan of the one sentence elevator pitch of Kult, then wrote my own urban horror setting around it?'

Yeah, you're probably right.

I'm just glad I decided not to support them at kickstarter. I expected it to go the route of Unknown Armies and would've been pretty annoyed at discovering I paid for Fatal.

Subjunctive
Sep 12, 2006

sparkle and shine



Kult really makes you wade through a lot of poo poo for that writing prompt.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk








Chapter 8: Xenoforms - Armodont thru Elohim






Chapter 8 is the monster manual for Dark*Matter. It opens with some flavor about the nature of monsters, speculations on their various points of origin, and musings about whether the similarities between different alien species necessarily imply the guiding hand of intelligent design. Anyway, that's all empty word count with no impact on the actual game, so let's cut to the heat of the meat. Each entry follows a fairly formulaic D&D format (Description / Encounter / Habitat) which should be familiar to anyone that's ever played a TTRPG in the last four decades. They also include a stat block which is fairly impenetrable (even if you're familiar with the system) because the idea of "monsters on an index card" hadn't become widely popular and the concept that monsters didn't have to be built by the exact same rules as PCs hadn't quite caught on (at least for TSR/WotC). I'll do my best to summarize the fluff and then give a more accurate idea of how threatening the monster would actually be for a group of players.




ARMODONT
Description: What if you shaved a grizzly bear and then grafted a Grey's head onto the body? This horrible amalgam is a beast specifically bred by the Greys to hunt down rogue Greys (or any other prey that has psionic abilities). The creatures are extremely resistant to psionic powers and can shrug off superficial wounds with ease, but paradoxically they can be put down for good after only a single serious injury (there's no justification given for why this is, it's just how they are). Given that these things are the Grey's primary hunting companions and that they only originate from embryos grown within Grey gene banks, you'd think they would spend two minutes to work this kink out of the Armodont system, but inexplicably they haven't.
My Take: These things have a jacked-up durability track (18 stun points, 18 wound points, only 3 mortal wound points) so that they can function in-game like they do in the fluff - it'll take forever to bring one down with minor wounds, but one lucky attack that deals mortal damage will very likely kill it. Most weapons only deal mortal damage on an amazing success, but your average investigator is probably rolling an amazing success 1 time in 5 rolls, so it's possible for a team of investigators to destroy it in a single round of combat. It can claw and bite and the danger here is that it automatically grabs on a successful claw attack and the rules say it absolutely will not let go unless it dies or its prey dies and there's no mechanical way for a player to escape this grab, so if this thing latches on combat becomes a very quick race to see whether it or its prey dies first. This thing could eliminate PCs pretty quickly if it can ambush them in melee, but if they can fight it at range it's mostly harmless. Also, it has a very high resistance to psionic powers specifically, but not blanket immunity to all supernatural powers, and it has no other supernatural powers of its own. Basically this thing really does what the description says - it'll gently caress up other Greys like nobody's business, but it's not a major threat outside that very specific role.




DEMON (Bearing)
Description: Demons of all flavors seem to originate from some shared alternate dimension. This particular class of demon gets named Bearing Demons because apparently they were first observed emerging from an active Doorway somewhere along the Bearing Strait, but the status are broadly applicable for an "average" demon of any type that players might encounter; these demons are also among the most common types that Diabolists will summon or traffic with. They're your stock standard legions of hell, divided into three broad power levels (Least, Lesser, and Greater) and reveling in human misery and torment and trading in corruption of the innocent and dominion over the weak and yada yada. If you've ever encountered the contemporary Christian concept of a demon in fiction before, you know exactly what you're dealing with here.

Least Demons - Obnoxious imps with leathery wings and a stench like brimstone. They're dumb and cowardly but they can follow simple commands and they prefer to overwhelm foes by attacking in swarms. A Least demon that's clearly outmatched will flee 100% of the time because they value their own survival above all else.

Lesser Demons - Roughly humanoid in size and shape (although there's countless variation among them) and more capable in combat than Least demons. These things are more clever than your average human and are quite capable of making bargains or pacts and traffic in human souls. Obviously they're treacherous and any deal they offer will never benefit you more than it benefits them. They still prefer to work through subterfuge and lies to accomplish their goals, but they could reasonably stand their ground in combat if the situation called for it. They can command Least demons and frequently have a network of them around their lairs to perform menial tasks or delay intruders or whatever.

Greater Demons - Also called Demon Princes or Dukes of Hell, they don't have a standard size or shape or form because they're each a unique entity and they sit at the top of the Infernal hierarchy and command legions of both Least and Lesser demons. Greater Demons are significantly more powerful than your average human (both mentally and martially) and have likely mastered more than one school of magic (although they have always mastered Diabolism) and can actually possess human beings against their will or teach them magic in return for a service. They've got a bevy of supernatural powers that go beyond spells (ex: if they speak to any human for at least one minute without interruption, they can force everyone listening to do whatever they're told unless the listener can succeed at a Willpower resistance test); basically they're the power players from the demon home dimension, the antagonists that an entire campaign can be built around. Players are rarely (if ever) expected to engage a Greater demon in open combat and survive the encounter.
My Take: All three types of demon are extremely durable with very high stun, wound, and mortal wound scores - for example, the Least demons have a baseline durability score that exceeds the setting maximum for humans, and the Lesser and Greater demons only go higher from there.

Least Demons have pretty poo poo action scores, although they have an insane movement rate due to their wings and even though they only attack with their claws, their claws can incapacitate an average investigator in 2-3 hits; fortunately their attack rolls are at least pretty poo poo too.

Lesser Demons are even more durable, but their action score is still pretty bad and they lose the insane flying movement speed. However, they're much more intelligent, so they can attack with weapons and spells in addition to their claws which makes them a much more difficult threat to counter (in theory you can pick off Least demons from a distance if you know where they are, Lesser demons can now return fire).

Greater Demons are not to be hosed with. Even ignoring their unique ability to mind control any human that can hear their voice, they're monsters in combat. They've got the highest durability out of all the demons (beyond what a human could ever achieve) plus a flight speed that's even higher than Least demons and their action check score almost guarantees they will take three actions each round. They can attack with a variety of different weapons, plus their innate hellfire blasts are Good quality (which is a big deal in Alternity mechanics) and their attack rolls are extremely high so it's incredibly unlikely that they'll ever miss. They've also got innate Good quality armor which makes them even more indestructible, and on top of everything else they've mastered all known Diabolism FX spells. Greater demons are basically not a monster that a group of investigators would ever be expected to take down in open combat - they're the mastermind antagonist that manipulates events behind the scenes for an entire campaign, and defeating them would likely require the discovery of some specific weakness or blindspot that is unique to the Greater demon in question. More realistically the investigators would find some way to banish the Greater demon back through whatever Doorway spawned it, rather than try to reduce its durability to zero.



Yeah, the Comte de St. Germain is actually an Ekimmu! That's the big secret behind his supposed immortality.

EKIMMU
Description: Ekimmu are space vampires. They're hyperintelligent parasitic organisms that infect a human host and then methodically disable parts of the host's brain until they're fully insinuated and in control of the host and no trace of the original personality is left. Of course, the Ekimmu still has access to all of the host's old memories and they'll often do their best to imitate the host's regular pattern of behavior so that their possession goes unnoticed. Ekimmu infection also seems to perform some as yet not understood form of genetic modification (anyone infected gets a permanent +3 bonus to STR/DEX/CON) which greatly enhances the physical health of the victim, enabling them to live much longer than the average human's lifespan. The genetic modification does have unintended consequences however, the host body basically triples in density and they can no longer swim because they're too dense to be buoyant in water, the body ceases growing hair on the head (for both men a women), the eyes tend towards being bloodshot and the iris take on a yellow pallor, the skin becomes pale and their gums recede as their teeth grow inexplicably sharper. The Ekimmu/host amalgam has to eat copious amounts of raw meat and blood to survive and they tend to be solitary and experience lengthy periods of hibernation if they take too much damage. We get it Dark*Matter, you wanted to have vampires but needed to put a very thin Sci-fi veneer on the fiction to fit it into the setting. To that end, there's no known method to exorcise an Ekimmu from a host - once the transformation is complete the original personality ceases to exist and at that point your only remaining option is to just destroy the host body.
My Take: Despite all of the vampire flavor stuff, Ekimmu possessed humans aren't that much more dangerous than a regular person (by default). They don't morph into animals, they can't disperse themselves into a cloud of mist, they aren't immune to nearly every kind of damage, they can't enslave other people at a glance, etc. On the other hand, they also aren't bothered by sunlight, they have no reason to fear holy water or religious icons, they can enter your house without permission, and other than the avoidance of water, they don't really possess any stereotypical vampire weaknesses. They can't even create vampire spawn - since the Ekimmu is still a singular organism, it can infect a new host when it desires to do so, but that leaves the old body in a vegetative state, so there's no risk of a plague of vampires slowly overtaking the globe. Ekimmu don't naturally have any psionic powers but if they ever infect a host that does, they can take that knowledge of psionics with them and then use that to learn additional disciplines. Basically Ekimmu are dangerous because the ones the players tend to encounter have lived several human lifetimes and accumulated a huge pool of skills, but in theory any human could attain the same level of power if they had multiple lifetimes to learn and practice too.
Blatant shoehorning of a fantasy monster aside, my only real gripe with the Ekimmu is that they're basically unused in the extant meta plot and their entry here doesn't really give them any motivation or goal or reason for even being mentioned. They're solitary hunters that avoid other Ekimmu when they discover each other and otherwise just try to enjoy a life of extravagant wealth and human consumption. They exist, but there's no real reason given as to why, which makes the whole thing feel vestigial.




ELOHIM
Description: These things are an incredibly advanced alien species that just so happen to adopt a guise that would remind many humans of the stereotypical Christian concept of an Angel (androgynous flawless humanoids with an outer luminescence and fiery halos). Basically, as far as the Greys have advanced beyond human beings, the Elohim have advanced beyond Greys. Every single Elohim encountered/observed seems to have an innate and instinctual mastery of Doorways, they can perfectly communicate with any other intelligent being via telepathic broadcast directly to the recipients mind (and there appears to be no limit to the number of people they can "speak" to simultaneously) and they wield weapons and armor that outclass anything else found on Earth or developed by the Greys. Oh, and they HATE Arcane magic FX and its practitioners. Case in point, all of the Elohim encounters thus far documented have involved an Elohim either hunting down a specific Arcane magician for termination or else devising some kind of plan to "purify" an entire town because of a supposed Arcane taint. Basically the Elohim are space angels that hate wizards and have the technological superiority to eradicate them with impunity. Elohim rarely deign to speak with humans for any reason outside issuing broad commands, so there's very little knowledge of the Elohim home world, their internal structure, why they hate Arcane FX and go out of their way to purge it from Earth, etc. The Greys would love to forge some kind of alliance with the Elohim so that they could get a handle on the Elohim's superior technology, but thus far the Elohim has been just as disdainful of Greys as they have been of human beings.
My Take: Elohim baseline stats aren't outlandishly superior to a baseline human (although they do have a really good action check score, averaging 3 actions per round) but their primary advantage comes from the insane technology they can field. They have lightsabers and plasma rifles and they both deal Good damage, plus Good quality body armor and personal forcefields to boot. They've also got sufficient psionic skill to pull off their telepathy trick, which means they could likely possess other psionic disciplines if the story required it. Although they lack the raw, overpowered ability scores of a Greater Demon, their gear makes up the difference, and a group of Elohim could reasonably be expected to destroy a Greater Demon in combat. Honestly I have no idea how someone targeted by an Elohim for "purification" is supposed to survive the encounter, but I guess that gives them a decent enough hook as "Holy" terminators.


NEXT TIME: Super Ghosts and Ghouls

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - SERIOUS TIME IS OVER, NOW IS THE TIME OF LAWYERS

Jan Noreyko and Gintare Zilinske are lawyers. Back when the Sejm was just 16 people, knowing the law was for idiots - the law was what they said it was. If an ancient decree was inconvenient, it was ignored or overturned. Jan Noreyko, a young nephew of House Tokarz, found the law fascinating, but his obsession over it made him a pariah among the nobility. No one cared about his ability to cite obscure codes and laws, especially given what mattered was connections. Golden Liberty changed all that. Suddenly, the law mattered again, and knowing exactly what it said and where the loopholes lay, that gave you power. Noreyko became very popular, as every old noble who wanted some privilege consulted him on obscure laws. By the sixth month of Liberty, House Tokarz had bought him an expensive townhouse two blocks from the Sejm so he could be consulted at any time, and he was the first official Sarmatian lawyer. The peasants heard this and decided they needed one, too. It seemed prudent, even if they weren't all sure what a lawyer did. They found Gintare Zilinske, the only person in the city who could match Jan's knowledge and fervor. She was also his former archivist, assistant and lover. Her townhouse is now opposite his, and her library an exact mirror. Where Noreyko fights for the status quo, she fights for the new nobility.

When the peasants recruited her, Noreyko offered to pay for her townhouse himself. She refused, saying she could afford it, and then he started to not discuss cases with her. She didn't want to be rivals, but he seemed intent on it. She asked him to come help her make a better Commonwealth by helping the new nobility, but he refused - the Senat had set him up, their money paid for his home, and he'd be betraying his family. He accused her of betraying him, in fact, and was Golden Liberty even such a good idea? Zilinske's response was to hurl a mug of sipping chocolate at him and storm out. He went home and began finding precedents on repressive curfew laws for his uncle to cite, determined to show his ex she was fighting a lost cause. She felt bad about what she'd done at first...until she heard the arguments made by Jan's uncle to support his regressive policies, and saw it as a declaration of war. Now, both are dug in, rationalizing their anger with shows of self-righteousness. Neither speaks to the other directly, but both snipe at each other's clients and spy on each others' work, and are busier than ever before.

In public, Gintare carries herself with a fierce sort of scrapper's dignity. She is a mousy, agitated woman who's fought for all she has. In her office, however, when she thinks she's alone, she speaks to an imaginary Jan and imagines what he'd do in situations, predicting the arguments his clients might make. She practices her scowl in case she's asked about losejai, but if confronted on it unexpectedly she's just as likely to get flustered. This is because she's recently started consulting with losejai looking to make airtight deals with their dievai. She keeps it secret because her more superstitious clients would abandon her if it got out. Jan, meanwhile, is your typical absent-minded sort with ink on his hands and in his hair, and he's been having a lot of trouble keeping his books straight without Gintare around. If asked about her, he starts arguing with her as if she was present, then shakes his head if asked about that. If he is asked about losejai, he has a planned spiel on harm reduction and the dangers of bad contracts, but it's stiff - he's a bad actor. He's been consulting with losejai on making airtight contracts as well, but he keeps it secret so Gintare can't steal his clients.

Jedrzej Jerzy Maciejowksi was born to an old noble family which spent the last century losing favor with the Sejm. First they converted to Objectionism in a largely Vaticine nation, then argued against the War of the Cross in a nation of hawks. They eventually moved to Curonia to avoid blowback, not that long after Jedrzej's birth. His father's ideals of peace stuck with the man, and he still hates violence, seeing most warriors as bullies. He joined Mociutes Skara quite early in life, and traveled across the world to help those touched by war. This is where he met Lina, a losejas and fellow agent. He'd always been something of a womanizer, but she was different. She liked him, but he idealized her in a way that made her rather uncomfortable. She attempted to use her power to enchant him to see the bad parts of people along with the good, but her dievas twisted the magic into a curse to make him always find fault in those he might love. At that point, he started living alone to avoid heartbreak. He's grown to hate politics, believing that power corrupts and leads to violence. He works under the name Andrzej Kisiel, to disassociate himself from the Senat's politics, though ostensibly he holds a seat on it since the death of his father. He is torn about this prospect. On the one hand, he wants nothing to do with politics and their corrupting power, but on the other, having a Senat member on the side of the people could help things a lot. Jedrzej (or Andrzej) looks pretty much like the average Sarmatian - dark hair, blue eyes, easygoing until things get serious and he turns icy. He is a passionate man, given to laughter and helping those in need, but when angered he goes into a blind, cold rage. He is, fortunately, slow to anger and is one of the most trusted agents of the Shawl.

Estera Sabat, Ksiezna Kazimierz, is the daughter of Marcen Sabat, a Rzeplitan lord over a Curonian duchy who preferred the big city life and looked down on Curonians. She was raised on Budorigum rather than her home area, She took to wearing all black, stealing from the other noble kids she was fostered with, and climbing buildings, earning her the nickname Czarna Kotka - the Black Cat. It was always the goal to marry her to the prince, but even before he began seeking suitors, the two became friends, with Estera admiring Aleksy's charisma and he admiring her daring. The friendship was tasted when Marcen Sabat attempted to counter the Golden Liberty by murdering Aleksy and his father, and Estera betrayed her father in order to help stop the coup, which failed and left her father stripped of his titles, passing them on to Estera. While she now rules the city of Sperus and its surroundings, she's in some trouble - a growing movement wants to vote her out of power. The locals see her as a Rzeplitan, raised away from them, with a reputation for treachery and theft, the daughter of a traitor, and someone prone to climbing on rooftops. Which really isn't all that wrong, honestly. The only thing keeping her in power is that Aleksy likes her and endorses her wholeheartedly, and she is very much not happy about that situation. She still dresses all in black, carrying herself with the confidence of a cat - a confidence she doesn't truly feel. Her pose of relaxation is a lie, a desperate one, as she has no idea how to fix her problems. She's kept her cool by faking at confidence for years, hoping to become the mask. She has been a thieving villain for a long time, under her father's influence, and her change of heart during the coup has made her conflicted and deeply unsure of what course she should take in the future. It doesn't help that her first instincts are generally to do something underhanded.

Societies! There's not all that many ports in the Commonwealth, so the strongest Brotherhood presence is the Ushkuiniks, a group of Ussura-based river pirates who know the secret of hostile water monsters. They are the only people who can reliably sail through the Sanderas Forest unharmed to deliver food, and their prices are ruinously high. The rest of the Brotherhood operate out of Stroz Bay, kept off Sarmatian ships by hired privateers. The Sejm aren't very happy about that, but no better solution has yet been found. Many of those privateers are themselves Brotherhood, wielding their writs against Vodacce and Crescent ships. Die Kreuzritter have only a single known member in the entire country, a swamp hermit in Saules Musis, who appears from nowhere with a dracheneisen spear. Her name is Jadvyga Jasaitye, and she's probably nuts, but she's helping. She teaches the locals spear fighting if they ask, no matter who they are. Los Vagabundos and the slachta have a lot in common, such as both being commanded by Azucena Esquival, though the Vagabundos are typically sneakier and more quiet...though honestly, at this point, they're basically the shadow hand of the slachta, doing what the more public-facing guards cannot be seen to do.

The Explorer's Society has two branches in the nation, neither aware the other even exists. One operates out of Szablewo, spending most of its time in the caves under the city. Every Septimus, they are lent a room by the Collegium Maius to display the wonders of the caverns, and while the University attempts to ban student exploration of the caves with threats of expulsion, successful spelunkers are generally recruited by the Explorers after graduation, sought after for guest lecturing and allowed to use the Library as if they were full staff. Currently, they're trying to get together an expedition to the New World. The Curonian branch, on the other hand, is operated entirely by vagrants in the Saules Musis, trying to map it out and record the unnatural events there. They are destitute, operating on gifts of brushes, paper and ink from Odiseo, and have produced stunning results, if generally with very poor and untutored handwriting. They want supplies, but haven't gotten much so far. Mapping the caves is worth 3 Favor, or 4 if your map is particularly accurate or has a never-before-seen chamber on it. Bringing supplies to the Curonian Explorers is worth 4 Favor.

The Invisible College have been assisted for some time by Queen Malgorzata, and while she no longer runs the nation, her smuggling lanes remain. They consider themselves endebted to her, especially because she often pays to have them placed in the Szablewo universities if they impress her. She has saved the lives of, among others, Alvara Arciniega (inventor of the reflecting telescope), Iratze Eneko (discoverer of the placebo effect) and Annunciacion Valla, (a philologist attempting to disprove the provenance of certain writings attributed to the Third Prophet). Moving a persecuted academic from Castille to the Commonwealth is worth 5 Favor. Gaining an audience with Malgorzata costs 4 Favor. They may call on the Order of the Post to deliver off-route for 1-3 Favor, depending on distance and danger, or get access to Postal maps for 4 Favor. Mociutes Skara are, officially, based on the Sarmatian-Ussuran border. Even the great warlords of the War of the Cross loved them for cleanign up, tending the wounded and caring for people. Everyone adored (and infantilized) the 'Grandmothers,' which suited their needs - they're fine with being underestimated. Unofficially, their base is not actually on the border, though they keep offices there, but in Memel, where they work closely with the radical pacifist Anashid sect of heretical Dinists. This connection would damage their reputation for harmlessness if known, so they keep it very secret, and are right now working to hunt down the truth behind the rumors of General Winter's invasion plans. They suspect a noble is supporting him, but are unsure who.

There has always been a tradition of knights in the Commonwealth, and a few noble benefactors. When Golden Liberty made all noble, people clamored to join the Knights of the Rose and Cross, to prove their elevation was more than just convenience. At first, the Order tried to vet them rigorously and pair them with experienced Knights, but they ran out of veterans and had to begin turning away those who lacked money or extensive training, which means many skilled new nobility. They have more Knights than they have work to do, and few benefactors that actually help them. Their main goal is finding benefactors among the old nobles. They work closely with the Order of the Post, and can gain 4 Favor by delivering a parcel or package of letters, or 1-3 Favor for assisting a postman, depending on how significant the help was. The Rilasciare and Sophia's Daughters are united as one group in the Commonwealth, not least because the Golden Liberty was inspired by Domenica Vespucci's commentaries on Uppman. It'd be a scandal if that became public, of course, and the Bialy would love to be able to connect Domenica, Aleksy, the Liberty and the Rilasciare directly. However, the Rilasciare have declared both to be Uppman's Friend, not least for their work as part of the Daughters, and the Rilasciare were instrumental in the prevention of Sabat's coup.

The Most Noble and Ancient Order of the Post are an offshoot of the Knights of the Rose and Cross, and they're not old. At all. See, when the new nobles came to offer aid, they had little money to give the Rose and Cross. They had horses, though. The most popular horse breeds in the Commonwealth have abnormally long legs and are trained to handle difficult terrain, particularly marshes and swamps, earning them the nickname 'swimmers.' All of this particular group of would-be knights had swimmers, and after being turned away from the Order, they met up in Budorigum and decided that they should deliver messages. Under the right circumstances, after all, doing so was heroic, with all the frozen marshes and mountain passes, but only the rich could afford riders to deliver letters, and that was unfair. Thus, the Most Noble and Ancient Order of the Psot was founded. The name began as a joke, since none of them had been noble for more than a month, but the service was serious. They brought medicine to outlying towns, seed corn to snowed-out areas, heirlooms to distant relations, legal documents people would kill for. They became cartographers by necessity, for many of their routes began unmapped. They now have the best maps of the Commonwealth in the world, a technology worth killing over. They used to print massive amounts via woodcut on the cheap, but after one copy allowed a bandit gang to terrorize the Sarmatzyn River for a month, they've been keeping their new maps secret.

The Post also coordinate and organize other Knightly Orders, facilitating communication between them and helping villages do things like catch brigands, repair bridges, build roads and so on. It's seemed like most every village has had to have its own Order now, especially in rural Rzeczpospolita, where the Sarmatism craze really hit. The Curonians call them militia instead, not Knightly Orders, but they serve the same purpose. The Order of the Post exist to revive Sarmatian chivalry. Some do it by performing their duty as letter carriers with total respect for privacy and discretion, while others call out to the people to perform knightly service to the nation. Either way, their goal is prove that honor is alive and well. Delivering an important message in a timely manner is worth 3 Favor, especially if no one besides the sender and recipient learn the delivery happened. Helping a new Knightly Order or group of militia is worth 4 Favor, which might be helping them organize, formalize a code, secure a meeting hall or anything else that furthers their goals. Getting the aid of a Knight costs 3 Favor, and they're typically Strength 5 and have the Dueling Academy Advantage in any school you choose, plus one more for an additional 2 Favor. Getting access to a normally private message or letter costs 2 Favor; while normally the honor code is strict, sometimes the information is vital and honor demands acting on it. However, you may have to end up delivering the letter to preserve the honor of the original Postal carrier.

Next time: Places (in Rzeczpospolita)

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012




3: CONFLICT

COERCION
Before any physical conflict rules, we get rules for direct social conflict. Coercion is the mechanism by which Unknown Armies lets players make other people do things they don’t wanna do through social pressure. Or, because if they don’t do it precious Suzy is getting found in 17 pieces in a garbage dump in Hoboken, get me?

Coercion has a few steps, I’ll go through them and elaborate so everyone gets it:

1. Establish a credible threat. That means that you actually have to be able to convince the other person that you CAN do the thing you’re threatening to do. If they have no belief at all that what you’re doing is actually possible, then you’ve failed from step one and have to change tack or establish your credibility. Threatening someone with a magickal curse is pointless if they don’t believe magick exists, and a professional MMA fighter probably isn’t open to threats of violence unless you're a scary motherfucker yourself.

2. If the threat is credible, you get to roll whatever ability, identity, etc. that fits. Failure means they don’t believe the threat and whoops, try something new. Succeed and they believe the threat, and take it seriously.

3. If you succeeded that other person has a choice: Do what you want them to do, or they get a stress check to whatever shock gauge you targeted with your threat. The level of the check depends on several factors: How good your roll is, what passions you and your target has, etc. Basically it pays to know about the person you’re putting the squeeze on to make sure it’s a drat good threat.

And that’s it. Now, Coercion is basically an end-around most issues that social conflict systems engender: There’s no confusion about what the result is, no-one is MADE to do anything at all so everybody maintains their free choice and ability to refuse to do something, the mechanical consequences are clear, and it does allow for a depth of strategy and rewards preparation and knowledge.

Now, the book actually addresses an issue that may come up if players aren’t familiar with Unknown Armies: Why use coercion at all? One big reason is there’s little to no risk for doing it. Oh there are consequences certainly, but compared to actual physical violence to get what you want it’s nowhere near as bad. It’s important to note that total bluffs are just fine, the credibility is on your targets behalf not your own. As long as they believe you can follow through, then it will work. If you want to get something without resorting to violence or magick, then coercion works a treat.

What if coercion doesn’t work? No worries, it’s also not a permanent end. gently caress-up in a gunfight and somebody dies, gently caress-up magick and something a lot worse than just dying can happen. Someone doesn’t believe your threat, or shrugs off that stress? Fine, you can walk away and try again another day. Maybe you need to hit them somewhere else they’re more vulnerable, maybe you can actually follow through on the threat and not even need to coerce them again. Come back after actually leaving their prize poodle’s severed head on their pillow and they’ll probably just cave to your demands.

This is also a good tool for loving up peoples heads. If you now where to hit them, where they’re vulnerable, you might be able to push someone into burn-out or even madness. Stacking notches on their meters represents their mental health remember? Maybe the repeated death threats don’t make them cave, but when the Mayor suddenly starts acting, cold, distant, and uncaring, or gets pale and queasy at the sight of raw steak, that can be an end on its own.
Now, some advice on exactly how to target the different meters, because your normal RPG playing nerd probably isn’t used to planning how to destroy someone’s life and sanity for profit.

HELPLESSNESS
This is all about making someone feel small, weak, powerless, without agency. It’s that deep gut churning feeling when a cop pulls you over and asks if you know why, the knowledge that you have no control in this situation and you’re totally at the mercy of another person.

Helplessness coercion has to come from a place of authority, if not actual than perceived. You have to make them feel like you’re in control, and whatever threat you’re putting out is something they cannot avoid or stop, an inevitable consequence of ignoring your will.

ISOLATION
This is one of the trickier ones, but coercion from isolation involves words like “Outcast”, “Pariah”, “Ostracize”, and “Don’t ever talk to me again”. This is social pressure, threatening someone’s position in society and civilization. People with lots of open Isolation are generally social butterflies, plugged into friends, family, associates, and the general hustle and bustle of human life. The threat of losing all that can be crippling.

Isolation threats work best if you have something in common with the person, some shared society or social circle you move in. It’s easier to threaten a guy with getting kicked out of the Royal Order of the Water Buffalo if you also go bowling in funny hats once a week. Of course good old blackmail can work the same. See everytime someone uses “dirty pictures” as leverage in a crime story to get some rich patsy to do what they want.

SELF
Self is hard to coerce, but it’s also one of the most devastating places to hit someone. Self coercion works essentially by making whatever you want seem like something they want as well, and it would be a terrible thing for them to not do it. It will tear them apart inside. A good self coercion should be able to end with the words “...because it’s the right thing to do.”

Self coercion can also leverage guilt, wrongdoing, and the need for atonement. If you know they did something that they feel is “wrong”, and dangle the promise of redemption, or at least a clearer conscience, they’ll jump at it.

quote:

This is what you use to plead for your life! If someone’s pointing a gun at your face, you can beg them to look into their heart and just leave. After all, killing someone is widely regarded as, y’know, wrong and unethical. All it takes is a Knowledge roll to give that ice-hearted killer a Self stress check to worry about. Even if she knows she can easily soak the Violence check for painting the wall with your assorted head-juices.

VIOLENCE
This is your classic “Do what I say or I’ll blow your loving brains out!”, your Offer You Cannot Refuse, your big muscley guy with a baseball bat leering menacingly. Violence coercion is straightforward and simple: Make the other guy think you can and will hurt them, and they’ll either do what you want or spend sleepless nights in terror of you taking a ball peen hammer to their finger joints.

UNNATURAL

quote:

What changes people most of all, perhaps, is learning that
the way they assumed the world works is all just bunk.
Instead of a tidy world of physics and politics — or even
an unruly world of Heisenberg physics and crooked Jersey
politics — they’re living in the weirdly fair representative
cosmology of a Dirk Allen novel. But even if they don’t learn
of the Invisible Clergy and have no idea what a threat the
House of Renunciation is, finding out that there are invisible
entities who hate you? Kind of a shock. Therefore, the ability
for coercing someone's Unnatural meter is Secrecy. Roll it to
seem plausibly satisfied that you have the hidden answers.
You can, after all, explain what they can’t.

Like violence, this one is pretty self-explanatory: Show someone some spooky stuff, or at least make them think something spooky is happening, and they’ll go along with anything that promises they aren’t going to get eaten by a chupacabra or have their ex-wife’s murdered ghost start haunting them.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Tome of Salvation

More the Empire book than the Actual Empire Book

This is one of the biggest books in the game-line, only a slight bit shorter than the Tome of Corruption (which I believe holds the record for size). It covers everything you'd ever want to know about the orthodox religions of the Empire and its neighbors, with tons of rules options for priests, clerical workers, and templars. Want to play an owl-knight of Verena? You'll find multiple orders with their own talent and skill adjustments to the Knight class just like the adjustments Priests get based on whatever God they worship. Want to bring in marks of the Gods to show how faith and divine magic shape a priest? The system for those is actually much more consistently designed than the similar Arcane Mark system back in Realms of Sorcery. This book is a 2007 publication, late in the line's life, and it shows. More of the material is friendlier to the players and the writing is generally more coherent and organized.

As you've probably come to expect in these Warhams books, there's a huge amount of fluff on the theology, history, and organization of the cults within the Empire. There's even a surprising amount dedicated to the pre-history of the Empire, talking about what little is known in-setting and how it's known, and setting up the possibility of Temples paying your adventurers to scamper off into the Beastman haunted forests to find old holy sites and try to reconstruct the pre-Sigmarite religions of the ancient Reik Basin. Do you want to play as 17th century german Indiana Jones? According to this book, the Empire is just beginning to understand the scholastic value of ancient sites and artifacts in something approaching an archeological sense. The fluff is a little less dense than the 100+ pages of solid history of magic that we got in Realms of Sorcery, but the initial history portion is also written entirely in-universe, as a treatise being written by a Sigmarite priest to the Emperor. The idea is meant to be that the Tome of Corruption was written in-character by a friend of his, and thus the priest in question is trying to recover his own reputation and show he is still orthodox despite being associated with a now-deceased heretic.

The framing device is useful primarily because this section isn't as long as the Realms of Sorcery history; if it had been things would have worn much thinner. As it is, having some idea of what a learned scholar in-setting would know, and how he would know it, is surprisingly useful information. We also get plenty of asides from primary sources and pre-historic relics that could be translated; I will be including some of these because some of the terminology and ideas in them are particularly interesting. Like terming the Chaos Gods 'rebels' who had to be sealed behind the Great Gate, or the way early peoples appear to have contextualized Taal as the King of the Gods. There's even mention that Sotek, the God of the Skinks, was (according to some ancient Reiklanders) a friend and member of Taal's court, which would mean ancient humans in the Reik Basin knew who Sotek was. There are an awful lot of little hints and references to the Old Ones in many of these books.

Much of the knowledge of the Pre-Imperial period comes from the dwarfs, who were busy trying not to die during the period (for context that isn't in the books, this time period is about when the dwarfs had recently defeated the elven colonies in the Grudge War and then had a fat frog half a world away blow up much of their empire because he decided continental drift was bullshit) and who had not had very much contact with the humans prior. The humans mostly came from the east, apparently fleeing some kind of calamity from across the World's Edge mountains. The first record of humans entering the the Reik Basin comes from the chronicle of a High King roughly 1500 years prior to the Empire. The Imperial scholar writing the account was given access to this source because of the long-standing friendship between the Cult of Sigmar and the dwarfs, which has been invaluable for scholarship into the Pre-Imperial period. The early humans were apparently primarily hunter-gatherers and scavengers, who fled in fear from a dwarven war party that was hunting greenskins. Their tools were so primitive their existence offended the dwarfs (as did their cowardice in fleeing when the dwarfs had no hostile intention), and so they were labeled as 'Umgi', after the dwarf word 'Umgak', meaning poorly made. To this day, the dwarf word for humans means 'people who make things badly or hastily'. Dwarfs being dwarfs, they recorded everything from the camp out of pique because they felt they'd been insulted, and so modern scholars have a record of the early fertility idols of pre-historic humans. The author mentions these early carvings were 'suggestive' and not suitable for a modern audience, so I'd imagine they found fairly normal fertility carvings of the female form, apparently dedicated to a primitive form of Rhya. Similar findings appear in multiple dwarven accounts, and it seems the humans were extremely skittish and easily frightened at the time. Whatever they'd been running from had scarred entire peoples very badly.

Much information also comes from 'antiquarians', something of a new profession dedicated to cataloguing ancient sites. It has become a pious fashion among the Empire's elite to sponsor groups of scholars and freebooters to make their way into the dangerous forests and ancient places, there to record everything they find and recover artifacts for public display in museums. These are, of course, sometimes mere tomb robbers looking for a quick profit, but even those unveil genuine discoveries from time to time. After all, much of the treasure you find in an ancient tomb is more easily sold to a temple; if you find a collection of thirteen ancient stone tablets with funny writing on them, as a group of tomb robbers did in Talabecland, who else is going to pay for them? These 'Talastein Carvings' represent one of the best depictions of pre-proto-Imperial faith (as in, this was the faith of the natives of the Reik Basin before the descendants of the modern Empire moved into the area) known in the modern Empire. Humans originally centered their holy places around the ancient Waystone network and those standing Ogham stones we've talked about in past books; likely those with a slight gift of magic could sense that these were powerful and safe places. Humans also apparently worshiped various nature spirits and followed a druidic faith based around natural cycles and the worship of a great Mother. Some of the carvings hint that there was occasional human sacrifice and model approximations of demons, but it's unclear if that was a legitimate part of the Old Faith or a proscription against it.

Modern Gods were unknown to the original natives; while they had the Mother, they did not have a concept of personified Gods in the same way as modern Old World religion. That came with the immigrants from the east, the tribes that would eventually become the pre-Imperial tribes, as well as the ancestors of the Bretonni. Apparently, at first, all of these tribes and peoples were in a great confederation, solely focused on getting away from whatever had driven them west, but they split and settled once they passed the World's Edge Mountains. Norse Dwarf records also show the Ungols and Ropsmenn of pre-Kislev making their own migration into the northern lands at this time. I have no idea what scared all these people so badly and pushed them into the western parts of the Old World. There isn't a mention of great hordes of Chaos, like there is with the later migration of the Gospodars in Kislev. Nagash is far south of the regions where any of this was happening. It's left to the reader; a pre-historic game about fleeing into the Reik Basin would be cool some day. The author also mentions there are plenty of disputes and contradictions in the exact timing of these great migrations, because there were no human written records back then and scholars have to rely entirely on artifacts and dwarven chronicles; elves won't let them see any of their own history books about the time (probably because they'd just gotten their asses handed to them and are still sore about it in the modern day).

Interestingly, modern Rhya appears to have been the patron goddess of the Bretonni, while the Ropsmenn brought Tor and the Ungols Dazh. Teutogens were the first worshipers of Ulric, and killed many of the pre-Imperial natives in his name. The original Gods seem to have been mostly tribal patrons, binding together various clans of tribal groups around a powerful deity they felt represented them. There were also plenty of Gods from this time that did not survive into the modern day, like Soll (sun god), Ahalt (harvest) and Lupus (wolves). In particular, it seems that Ulric's aspect as a wolf may have come out of victorious Teutogens synchronizing their patron God with the patron God of a defeated tribe that followed Lupus, claiming the wolf power for Ulric as a victorious king. Of the many Gods of this time, the great powers of tribal life elevated Morr, Taal, Rhya, Ulric, and Manaan, all of whom have survived into the modern day partly by virtue of being the patrons of especially powerful tribes. These Gods also represented what were considered the most important parts of tribal life: Nature, Death, War, and Life.

With no system of writing, modern scholars have to rely on pictograms and outside observers' records to determine how these 'Elder Gods' were worshiped. There were no organized cults, and a tribe's king would generally be its chief emissary to its Gods. A tribe's patron would usually be depicted as the king of the Gods, according to that tribe, but they acknowledged that there were many Gods to worship. Ceremonies were highly sacrificial and centered around the cycles of nature, much like the peoples these migrants displaced. Oh, also, when the ancestors of the modern Old World came into the region, they defeated the previous humans and their druidic representatives in warfare, enslaving or displacing them deep into the woods where the migrants could not follow. Thus, the history of the original inhabitants of the Old World ended due to the migration of the followers of these Elder Gods. I doubt it was much comfort to them that the hordes that came from the East didn't worship Chaos.

Organized religion and the idea of a specialized priest died with the original druidic faith, and would not be reborn until contact with the people of the sunny south of the Old World, the proto-Tileans. They will change everything when they bring a new innovation to the proto-Imperials: Writing.

Next Time: When in doubt, claim the idea originated in Tilea. Not only is it likely to be true, it angers the Imperial you're debating to no end.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





The two former lover lawyer rivals, who are also the only two lawyers and who are both working to help witches make better pacts with demons is extremely my poo poo.

Hot drat that's good.

I don't even want to play with that content, I want a 4 season long television show off it so I can buy the box set.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



My personal theory about the human migration in WHF is that the humans were fleeing the titans, or were possibly part of titan civilization as it fell.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Cythereal posted:

My personal theory about the human migration in WHF is that the humans were fleeing the titans, or were possibly part of titan civilization as it fell.

My personal guess from how scared they are of dwarfs at first and where they came from is they were running like hell from the newly converted Chorfs.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




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.

"Ninja" is actually such a good example that it's my default for whenever I need to explain systems like PDQ and the idea of setting the dials for a game with player-determined abilities. Pointing out how one person's ninja is just a dude who knows how to blend in and keep their eyes open, while another's is an acrobatic assassin with an infinite supply of throwing stars in their bright red onesie. Both interpretations are absolutely fine, but you've got to make it clear which one is acceptable in the game you're running at the moment.

White Coke
May 29, 2015


Cythereal posted:

My personal theory about the human migration in WHF is that the humans were fleeing the titans, or were possibly part of titan civilization as it fell.

Maybe, but they had been driven out of the Mountains of Mourn over a thousand years before humans came to the Reik basin.

Night10194 posted:

My personal guess from how scared they are of dwarfs at first and where they came from is they were running like hell from the newly converted Chorfs.

The Chorfs (great name) had already converted, but they might have driven humans out during an expansion push.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


One thing I really like about WHF is that no-one actually has a solid answer for most of these ancient questions. The elfs and dwarfs don't have perfect records even when they share, lots of stuff is happening in places Imperials aren't familiar with like Lustria, and there's a lot of space on the map and in the setting's history where you know a broad outline but have a lot of room to write the contours. Also, when I go through these books, they have a lot of important or local NPCs but they're all framed in ways for the PCs to interact with, rather than as the big protagonists of their own story off to the left. For the most part, the setting is open for your PCs the same way it used to be open for you to make your own Lords and Generals in the wargame.

Also, lots of characters are actually interested in learning the answers to these questions, so there are plenty of people who will pay a rat-catcher, an amateur archeologist, an apprentice wizard, and their recently-discharged state trooper buddy to go into an old hole and try to figure out some of the setting's mysteries.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


Night10194 posted:

One thing I really like about WHF is that no-one actually has a solid answer for most of these ancient questions. The elfs and dwarfs don't have perfect records even when they share, lots of stuff is happening in places Imperials aren't familiar with like Lustria, and there's a lot of space on the map and in the setting's history where you know a broad outline but have a lot of room to write the contours. Also, when I go through these books, they have a lot of important or local NPCs but they're all framed in ways for the PCs to interact with, rather than as the big protagonists of their own story off to the left. For the most part, the setting is open for your PCs the same way it used to be open for you to make your own Lords and Generals in the wargame.

Also, lots of characters are actually interested in learning the answers to these questions, so there are plenty of people who will pay a rat-catcher, an amateur archeologist, an apprentice wizard, and their recently-discharged state trooper buddy to go into an old hole and try to figure out some of the setting's mysteries.

The Dwarfs also have the bad habit of ignoring and erasing parts of history that they think makes them look bad. Which by extension means they tend to repeat those mistakes.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




RedSnapper posted:

was considered to contain at least three bold assumptions (humans as plural, Demirge even existing and being a separate being from human(s), humans being evil and the entire gamebook not being a part of Lictor propaganda).
I mean, at this point are you even still talking about the game?

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Could the humans been fleeing ogres and the great maw?

WH should have stayed FB and expanded on the non-Asian nations instead of going AoS to give Sigmarines and Undersea Dark Eldar.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cults: Chroniclers, pt. 4



Degenesis Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 3: Cults


RANKS CHRONICLERS

And thus we are unceremoniously dumped into an another section describing the ranks. Like with Spitalians, this should have been done a lot earlier.



1. Bit

You're so new, your barcode tattoo is still bleeding. You start with zero score (the book calls it “virginal”), but this doesn't get you killed like those who have their score drop to zero.

The Bit has to then “beat the sensoria” (probably a computer interface), find a mentor and beg convince them to share technical data and maybe send some bitcoins score their way. Then they get promoted to Agent in a few weeks.

Bit posted:

The imminent danger for its life is over. Welcome to the Chroniclers!

Ugh, what danger? It's not like they can catch an infection a la Spitalian newbies!

2. Agent

Agents take care of the everyday maintenance of the cluster. They know some stuff about electrical engineering, so they repair beaten sensoria, jammed locks and the like. They don't go outside unless the security scanners are broken.

So they're basically Space Station 13 Assistants.

3a. Mediator

When you become a Mediator, you get to be sent outside! Thus, they become the human form of IpoAC, working with image walls, delivering messages to other clusters, and so on. “Score++” is dropped as a single sentence, indicating that this menial work is good for advancement process.

And you'll want to advance. As a Mediator, you will have been given the chance to dip into the Stream, which both increases your knowledge and makes you hungrier for more of it.

4a. Streamer

You're not afraid to tell the truth about women and Je- wait, not, that's in real life. Anyways, a Streamer might be just a rank above a Mediator, but they're supposedly loaded with blackmail material on the leaders of Justitian and Cathedral city. However, they don't use that info for eeevil, so they're considered to be discrete and sent out as advisors and emissaries.

5a. Fragment

Supposedly, little is known about these high-ranking dudes. They mostly stay in their mom's basement at the center of the Cluster and don't interact with the lower ranks much. “Their knowledge must be immense,” states the book.

5b. Paradigma

So if a Fragment is a Streamer who turned into an enigmatic shut-in for some reason, Paradigmas are Chads extremely outgoing. Well, at least they like to go out and pose as gods to clanners. That's basically all that they do.

3b. Shutter

If an Agent understands that being a Chronicler in the Cluster is a slow transformation into some pale poster worm that wouldn't survive outside, he or she might become a Shutter. They get alcove and image wall jobs just like mediators, but they're armed with deadly weapons, so they go out to gently caress poo poo up.

Wait, didn't the book say they have zerp score and exist as pretend-outcasts...?

4b.Fuse

A Fuse is a successful Shutter. They keep the threats away from the more limp-wristed members of the cult. The book doesn't state if “blowing a Fuse” is an euphemist for advancement through sex

Fuses get implanted with transponders that grant them access to special areas of the cluster and cashes in the wasteland. However, the Neddle Tower Disaster has not been forgotten and those transponders are more than just transmitters!

5c. Scalar

A Scalar is basically a Johnson: at this point, they're controlling the operations of Shutters and Fuses in exchange for a percentage of score and draft. They're the only ones who can keep a concise picture of the secretive operations of the assassin nerds.

0. Zero

So, if your score falls down to zero, you are removed from the ranks of Chroniclers. However, the nerds still don't know how to revoke passwords and mod priviledges, so Zeros can still use the Chronicler resources. This is why Fragments issue extermination order on Zeros.

This is massively stupid.

X. Needle

A Zero that manages to capitalize on the tech-cults inability to remove user priviledges from their networks can become a Needle, growing a tiny cult around them.

Needle posted:

Their followers protect them against the Fuses while they expand the knowledge of the Stream and build an arsenal of sanctioned and Free Spirit equipment.

drat heretek magos! Wait, what's “Free Spirit” equipment.



Two in the pink, one in the Clanner

STEREOTYPES

Stereotypes posted:

Anabaptists: Fragment Modus on unknown mission in Cathedral City, potential access to data core. Diffuse conflict, halt embargo. Relay compromising information to Jehammedans only after payment.

Anubians: Africans. Probably of Egyptian origin. Mostly mystic worldview referring to the wheel of life. Comparison to Indian mythology to be done. No opinions.

Apocalyptics: Communication problems. Their agenda is indecipherable. Assumption: meaningless structures and confusing way of life. Potentially mad.

Clanners: Uncivilized clans see technological artifacts as signs of their gods. They are harvestable resources. High risk, refuse Corporation. Paradigmas sent.

Hellvetics: Accusation: stemming the flow of information. Refuse access to the data cores of the Fortress, get in the way of our goals. Must weigh future approach extremely carefully.

Jehammedans: Sect. Attention: extreme threat potential. There is no common ground, intermediaries should work on an interface. They deserve support as a counterpart to the Anabaptists.

Judges: Lawful organization protected and civilized by us. Give us safe room for efforts in Borca.

Neolibyans: They are a virus in the system, conjuring conflict of resources. They are bad for the Cluster. Countermeasures are implemented.

Palers: Guard high-ranking pre-eschatological supplies as guardians of the Sleepers. Mostly degenerated, thus, only limited possibilities of trade. Infiltration attempts have so far been repulsed. Continued recruitment of outcasts.

Scourgers: Amazingly advanced with psychology, probably pre-eschatological. Questioning to be done when possible. Attention: dangerous individuals, warrior background.

Scrappers: Their swarm intelligence enables them to perfectly check the ruins. Every successful drone brings us closer to the Stream.

Spitalians: Fascist organization claiming to save the world. Primer threat recognized. Worthy of support. They give us time to reactivate the Stream.

EJECT



Culture: Borca
Concept: The Conqueror
Cult: Chonicler (Needle)

One of the original eight Fragments that hosed off to do their own thing during the Needle Tower Disaster. He runs the Chromium (I thought there was a Fragment by that name?) city in Eastern Borca and has clanners hunt down anyone who knows how to use tech to protect himself.

OUTLOOK



Culture: Borca
Concept: The Adventurer
Cult: Chronicler (Streamer)
OK, this guy made me realize that the folks mentioned after stereotypes aren't the example members of the cults – they're prefab anatagonists. Why? Because Eject is a Streamer sent to Aquitaine to increase artifact excavation rates – but he skims some of the relics to trade them with Apocalyptics in exchange for “young boys to sate his carnal desires.”

And once again: how are Apocalyptics a playable faction?

NAIKE



Culture: Borca
Concept: anime waifu The Martyr
Cult: Chronicler (Fuse)

She used to live in the Cluster until some audio feedback tore her eardrums. Since deafness apparently made her useless to Chroniclers... because you can't post if you can't hear?... she was cast out in the wasteland where survives by doing dirty deeds for the cult.

Somehow, a deaf person is a better assassin than computer nerd.

Output: Conclusion

I probably would not want to play Chroniclers. They have nice visuals and the “wants to rebuild the internet” is a fun take on the Guard-of-Lost-Technology trope. However, between those two points are sandwiched the worst dweebs to ever be considered a player faction. If I wasn't sure that Degenesis is 100% sincere, I'd think the faction is a parody of internet nerd culture. Yet I think we're supposed to believe that Chroniclers are smart, secretive and inlfuential, which is which feels like smug and tiresome fantasy of someone who spends too much time online.

Next time: this is my rifle, this is my cuckoo clock

RedSnapper
Nov 22, 2016


Zereth posted:

I mean, at this point are you even still talking about the game?

That bolded part was just a forum joke.


JcDent posted:

WH should have stayed FB and expanded on the non-Asian nations instead of going AoS to give Sigmarines and Undersea Dark Eldar.

Oh God, yes. Do we even get any info on those lands, aside from seeing Cathay, Nippon an Ind on the worldmap?

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




RedSnapper posted:

That bolded part was just a forum joke.


Oh God, yes. Do we even get any info on those lands, aside from seeing Cathay, Nippon an Ind on the worldmap?

Cathay is apparently ruled by a literal dragon.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





Well it might be, but dragon emperor may also just be a title. Though it is possible that it's just a title AND the throne has been occupied by a literal dragon at some point.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Do the chroniclers have hovering heads they can use to indoctrinate and arm Brutals? If not, why not?

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Nessus posted:

Do the chroniclers have hovering heads they can use to indoctrinate and arm Brutals? If not, why not?

Chronicler opinions on whether the penis is good are, sadly, unknown.

Ghost Leviathan posted:

Cathay is apparently ruled by a literal dragon.

And the trouble with that is...? No dragon to rule Nippon?

I just realized that Fantasy China would have been an amazing way to expand the game if it had a write-up as cool as the Empire. gently caress AoS.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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



The extent to which I hate this font can't be overstated.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


RedSnapper posted:

Oh God, yes. Do we even get any info on those lands, aside from seeing Cathay, Nippon an Ind on the worldmap?

Not in the RPG, sadly. We know that people trade with them but not much more. I would have liked seeing the people who did RPG Bretonnia handle fantasy china, I think they could've done it.

marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

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



Night10194 posted:

I would have liked seeing the people who did RPG Bretonnia handle fantasy china, I think they could've done it.

Do we know where those people went on to?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I'm not sure, but I know the lead author on Bretonnia apparently worked on Ars Magica before writing in Knights of the Grail.

Crossover of talent with Ars Magica actually makes a lot of both Bretonnia and Tome of Salvation make more sense to me.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - The Joy of Z

That neither Rzeczpospolita nor Curonia has never actually violently rebelled against their united nature is somewhat remarkable, given that they still speak different languages (although a century ago, the Sejm mandated that all nobles must learn both, even if few ever use much Curonian). It is not entirely clear how that order will play out now that everyone's noble, either. However, conventional wisdom has it that the Curonians are more likely than the Rzeczpospolitans to want to break the union, for several valid reasons. First, the king who united the two, Dominykas Dega, very famously favored the Rzeplitans over the Curonians, and was extremely tactless about it. He forced Curonia into Rzeplitan-style Ksieztwa, and gave them names in Rzeplitan rather than Curonian. He mandates that Rzeplitan be the official language of government, education and the Sejm. Dega knew that Curonia lacked money, and believed it'd pacify them. The pragmatic Curonian nobles, rather than take offense, merely took their place in the Sejm and passed a bunch of bills appropriating Rzeplitan funds to build up Curonian infrastructure that it had, prior to then, been unable to afford. Dega ended his reign with no funds, having had them all poured into Curonia.

However, powerful patriotism has arisen following the Golden Liberty, and that may keep the tensions between Curonia and Rzeczpospolita from getting too ugly. While Budorigum itself remains stubborn, many Rzeplitans outside the capital have spoken in favor of moving or at least rotating the location of the Sejm, and followers of Sarmatism have thrown their weight behind the proposal. What began as a trend has led to serious talk about national unity, and some of the Izba Poselska even speak of conducting all votes by mail, trusting the Order of the Post or the Rose & Cross to be hired to carry it. Rzeczpospolita still holds the nation's capital, has trade borders with Ussura and Vodacce, the biggest universities in the nation and the largest stretches of fertile, arable land. However, it also feels the first impacts of war, and its Ksiestwa have larger debts as a result.

Szablewo, of the Ksiestwo Drajewicz, is sometimes called the First City. It is said that it was built in the time of the Numanari Empire, lasting beyond its fall, and the Commonwealth rose up around it. Others name it the Endless City or the Crystal City for the maze of underground caves below it, white limestone and crystal full of geodes and hollows. Most, however, know it as the University City. It contains no less than forty-three colleges, and all Senat members are alumni of at least one of these. The Senat and their family are admitted before all others, and after them, the children of the wealthy. Occasional scholarships do exist, but they don't go out of their way to seek out brilliant students; the Domagala family have always said that they create brilliance. The city is under the control of Queen-Consort Malgorzata Domagala, the Ksiezna Drajewicz, and most of its citizens are loyal to her. As Stanislaw's proxy, she pushed through the University Tithe law. Ten percent of all royal revenue is earmarked for spending on higher education. Before the Tithe, the University struggled under debts, but now all 43 colleges are in the black, and thanks to the Queen's work with the Invisible College, Castillian scholars have been immigrating to the city en masse.

The collective colleges are known colloquially as the University. They are built in bright white limestone, in a mix of Numanari and Gothic styles, and inside, they're even more impressive. Between them there are no less than six observatories, plus a full to-scale orrery depicting the six known planets and their positions around the sun, and the largest library in eastern Theah. Because of their dependence on the University Tithe, the colleges have the most to lose under the Golden Liberty. The Sejm is already in talks about eliminating or repurposing the Tithe, often to the Church or the Order of the Post. Many who dislike Malgorzata say, and not entirely wrongly, that she forced the bill through the Sejm with no regard even for the democracy of the pre-Liberty days. Further, many of the louder voices of the lower house have made it clear that they see the University as a place of privilege, and want to tear it apart. This has pushed most of Szablewo's citizenry away from the Czerwony as a whole, and it has become popular opinion in the city that University attendance should be restricted to non-criminals who are already literate, to keep these loudmouths out.

The group most upset about the growing hostility to the University are the immigrant Castillians, who have seen this anti-intellectualism before under Verdugo, whose agents excel at presenting their work as populism, raising mobs and turning people against the privileged elite. All that's needed to make things even worse is the idea that intellectualism is somehow ungodly and anti-Vaticine - and there's plenty of fuel for that in the rivalry between the University and the Three Sisters schools of Budorigum, plus the rumor that the queen is a losejas. Szablewo has never been much of a fortress, and many of the citizenry are afraid that's going to have to change.

Under the city are the Crystal Caves. No one has ever fully mapped them, because they change far too quickly in frequent underground earthquakes that never seem to hit the surface, leaving behind only ruins and new corridors. The caves are largely reflective white limestone, which are often full of ethereal illumination from light bouncing between corridors via the entrance shafts. The larger caverns have soda lakes, bitter to the taste and containing only strange silver fish that are seen in no other location. The caves hold the remnants of hidden churches, dating back to the days of Numanari persecution, pre-Vaticine shrines and mystery cult altars, and the occasional skin-eating sarcophagus trapping a bejeweled skeleton within. Amethysts line the caves like thistles, climbing the walls and descending from the stalactites. The colleges forbid student exploration, as the caves are very dangerous, but they spelunk anyway, hoping to find things no one has seen before. They've even started leaving evidence they were there, in the hopes that other spelunkers will find it. Most stable areas are full of small graffiti markings declaring a student's name or symbol, and every so often a newly unearthed room contains such marks, as the chamber is lost and then resurfaces again. The Explorers provide a rough map of known sites, frequently updated but never finished, and advises spelunkers not to steal semi-precious stones or jewels from skeletons. New sites are to be reported ASAP, as anyone who discovers one receives official credit as discoverer and gets amnesty from the University.

Once, the University was not the sole industry, though. The Cloth Hall was home to tailors, spinners and weavers of all sorts, everything in the cloth trade but dyers. Szablewo's always preferred to bleach clothes with lime. They sold what they made at high prices, and in the nearby Guild Houses, workers trained and packed the cloth for export, stamping them in white wax with the twelve-pointed star to show excellence. That is, until disaster struck. First, the linen-makers started experimenting with fungally assisted retting. It seemed a good idea - it meant they didn't have to stink up the river - but it made linen that, after wear, was shown to be of poor quality. They decided to sell it anyway, believing that their reputation could take the hit briefly. In any other year, it might have. However, that year was the year counterfeiters forged the Szablewo stamp and added it to their own low-quality cloth, flooding the market and destroying the Szablewo reputation. The textile industry has still not recovered, and the Guild Houses are but a shadow of their former selves. Few apprentices come to get Szablewo certification any more, and most of the clothiers have left for other cities. The Cloth Hall itself is being considered for sale to one of the colleges. The remaining clothiers resent the University now, and particularly the University Tithe, seeing no benefits to anyone else in the city from it. The tendency of the colleges to tell them they brought it on themselves is definitely not helpful, either.

Next time: Budorigum

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - Brick By Bloody Brick

Before it was the capital, Budorigum was known for its red clay, perfect for bricks, on the edge of the river. The first brickmakers were Crescent immigrants, brought in en masse by Ksiasz Cieslewicz in 1333, and their influence has given the city a distinct Crescent feel, both in appearance and culture. Except for the bricks, of course, which were used for everything, even the mosques. Besides bricks, the city also became known for its glass, after a group of converts discovered that the sand along the Sejm banks could be mixed with clay to produce glass in many amazing colors. Even now, most windows in the city have some form of stained glass in them as a point of local pride. It was made the capital in 1442, and the Sejm was built over the course of six weeks, along with townhouses for nobles and a series of aqueducts and drainage canals. Before then, the locals had collected water in brick cisterns and dumped trash in the river. The nobles flaunted their wealth with parks, public squares and elaborate brickwork fountains, and even a massive horse track that can seat 100,000 people. To this day, it has never hit full capacity. The city has seen a second influx of new citizens with the Golden Liberty, as many come to be near the Sejm. The real estate prices have skyrocketed, and there are debates about what, if anything, to do about that.

The original Sejm was a squat, ugly rectangle, and various improvements and renovations have done little for its aesthetic beauty, with one exception - in 1593, seven corridors were made to attach it to the racing stadium. This was originally for efficiency in making announcements to the public, but has gained a new purpose with Golden Liberty. The stadium, whose horse races had failed as a business, was declared the meeting place of the Izba Poselska. The Senat still decides when votes happen, but limitations have been put on this power. First, the two houses must vote simultaneously, to prevent the Senat from scheduling votes when people couldn't or wouldn't show up, such as public holidays. Second, a member of the Senat must announce from the stadium floor when the vote will happen, with at least four hours of notice before then. In theory, this allows at least the Budorigum-based members time to arrive. After the Senat announced two votes at midnight to an empty stadium, a 24-hour watch started being posted in the stands by volunteer town criers. Because the Commonwealth has a population surpassing 100,000 people, it is entirely possible that, one day, the stadium will fill beyond capacity. In case this happens, a protocol has been set up for the creation of polling stations, and a bill was passed to disallow the Senat from ending a vote until 12 hours after its call to begin. The stadium has never been overfilled, but the Izba Poselska prefers to be prepared.

Duelist's Square is...well, a public square for duelists, surrounded by fencing schools. It was set up by Ennio Vespucci, brother of the Princess Consort, and represents all well-known styles of fencing, though his favorite school of Ambrogia has the best buildings. The center of the square is a mosaic of two fencers clashing in a circle, designed to be the perfect size for an exhibition match. Every Sunday, at least one school puts on a show. The swordmasters are mostly imported, subsidized by Ennio, and in the city, 'getting Ennio's attention' is a phrase that has come to mean 'being a brilliant duelist.' Those swordmasters unlucky enough not to have a school in the square set up nearby in the hopes that they or their students catch Ennio's eye. The Duelist's Guild also has its offices in the square. The rise of fencing and dueling culture has brought with it certain downsides, however. Pre-Liberty, most folks were fairly relaxed about honor, and it has now been recast as a matter of personal pride to be willing to spill blood over points of honor and insults or disputes, with young people fighting over even the most trivial matters. The Guild has been trying to stop this, but so far, none of its well-meaning pamphlets discouraging frivolous dueling has had any impact whatsoever.

The nobles who came to Budorigum when it was made the capital built many parks, and even before then, there were attempts to beautify the place. The Crescent immigrants in particular made many rooftop gardens, with tall grass, lush facades and shrubberies, small trees and vines. Thus, the brick buildings have a certain element of wildness to them, with vines shading the streets and trees growing in disused alleys. The nobles merely expanded on this aesthetic, turning old clay beds into lakes and swimming holes surrounded by ferns and trees, knit together by quarry tunnels and bordered by houses. These are known as pocket parks. New arrivals challenge their existence, though, unaware of how to treat them respectfully. The city's cleaning crews can mostly handle the litter, but vandals have been pulling up plants to write out political messages, and then you have the hordes of people who are willing to camp out in the parks for the chance to vote. A heated debate is now raging over whether the parks should be fenced off or guarded. This might curb some of the damage, but a fence kind of misses the point of the parks, and as for a guard to wake up sleepers...well, who hasn't had a nice nap in the park once in a while? Complicating things, there's also a group of real estate developers that have been pressuring the Sejm to let them buy up parkland to construct housing on top of it for all the new arrivals.

Where Szablewo has 42 colleges, educates the upper class and so on, Budorigum has three: the Three Sisters. Szablewo has always seen them as second-rate - accurately, until now. Szablewo's education is largely secular, due to its mix of Yachidi, Dinist, Vaticine and Old Faith scholars, and it's always tried to maintain a certain neutrality of religion. In 1446, the priest Alicja Lis took exception to this policy and moved her teaching practice to Budorigum, founding the trio of colleges now called Three Sisters. (Informally, they are named Jadwiga, Bona and Wanda.) They are specifically Vaticine in their bent, and while Szablewo has always treated them as backwards, they have existed for 200 years. Stereotypically, their students are either devout Vaticine and want a Vaticine education, or they're neither well-bred nor wealthy. Post-Liberty, a third stereotype has been added - Czerwony insufficiently subtle to attend a Szablewo school, either being expelled or bullied into transfer. The Sisters administrators are actually quite happy about the Czerwony/Bialy feud, as it has provided them a number of skilled professors pushed out by partisan infighting in Szablewo, and has massively improved their quality of education as a result.

Lottan Mosque, with three domes, glazed brickwork and each brick varnished in a different hue, plus stained glass windows, is the most beautiful and amazing piece of mixed Crescent-Commonwealth architecture in the city, even moreso for the fact that it was made by poor migrants whose entire daylight work time was spent making bricks. Sometimes it is called the Night Mosque, as legend has it the migrants were only able to build it at night. Its current Imam, Rabia Saliah, is the most prestigious Dinist leader in the nation, and when she first met King Stanislaw, she gave him the deed to the adjacent and told him to build a Cathedral there. Budorigum has many Vaticine churches, almost as many as it has mosques. It even has two basilicas, funded by Three Sisters graduates. However, its last Cathedral was blown apart during a storm, and its tower collapsed a mere month before the Queen's banishment. Since then, the Cardinal of Budorigum has had to live out of a church.

Now, Stanislaw's Cathedral is half-built, right next to Lottan Mosque. Archbishop Andrzej Radziwill often gives sermons out of it on sunny days, and sometimes even on rainy ones. After all, he says, Theus' house is ever under construction, so who is he to complain about an unfinished ceiling? He and the Imam have become excellent friends, to the amusement of all. Finishing the Cathedral has been on the list of budgetary votes for the Sejm for several months, but it's been extremely hard for the Senat to approve the budget, because the Izba Poselska did so in record time.

Next time: Curonia

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Crystal caves and well meaning 'Frivolous Duelling Costs Lives!' pamphlets, I love this place already.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Tome of Salvation

It's all Tilean to me

I admit the author's 'book within a book' presentation gets a little annoying during the part on Tilea. The setting is never quite sure how disdainful the Empire is towards the other human nations, though it's always clear they consider themselves the main 'superpower' of the Old World and the elder state compared to other, smaller nations. Thus, the author belabors the point that the Tileans' claim to have derived the first known scripts from translating and studying elven writing in the ruins of the elven colonies more than he really needs to to get the point across: The Empire is really goddamn nettled that ancient proto-Tileans (Tilea and Estalia being not-Italy and not-Spain, respectively) invented the first human system of writing and thus have the oldest written records of any of the Old World civilizations. Thus, at every couple lines we get another aside about how you can't trust Tilean sources and they're probably making everything up, and it makes it unnecessarily harder to read the actual information contained in this section. I'd have gone a little lighter on the feigned indignation in the name of reading comprehension.

Anyway, the Tileans invented writing, supposedly from a mixture of studying the ruined elven colonies they settled in (much as the Bretonnians would do with places like L'Anguille about 700 years prior to Sigmar) and from divine revelation. Proto-Tilean religion, called herein Classical religion (The language, Classical, is the ancient first written language and serves a role much like Latin as the general 'scholastic' language of the setting), was much more focused on the divine as embodied virtues and concepts. They worshiped Wisdom as Verena and Mercy as Shallya, and Shallya and Verena primarily come from proto-Tilean influence. They also, curiously enough, worshiped a form of Khaine, the elven God of Murder, as well as a 'Guardian of Honor' known as Margileo, who is treated as a male form of Myrmidia and is one and the same with her in later interpretations. Ranald is also possibly a Classical God, but Ranaldans claim he was instead originally a mortal who managed to marry Shallya and then claim divinity in the divorce settlement after she couldn't stand him. It is very important to them for him to have tricked his way into divinity, and so they vociferously deny that he was ever a part of the Classical pantheon.

Interestingly, Morr does not actually come from the southern realms (though the name Morr is actually the southern name for him), despite being a very important God for the Classical religion. Rather, Morrite worship comes from their trading and contact with the northern tribes, which led to a great deal of cultural exchange between the 'Elder' and 'Classical' pantheons. Proto-Tileans adopted Morr as the husband of Verena and father of Shallya and Myrmidia, and brought back stories of Manaan as the lord of the sea and Taal and Rhya as divine parents. Interestingly, the Tilean equivalents of these Gods prior to the northern influence did have actual elven names, like Ishea for the mother-goddess. Isha is the elven Goddess of mercy. I think this actually subtly lends some evidence for the Tilean claim to have translated and derived their language from Eltharin, the language of the elfs. Also notable, Ulrican worship never translated to the south (though some very brave scholars will claim Ulric is a northern Khaine). The single most important import for the northerners, besides writing, myths, and the import of Verena and Shallya, was the idea of the priest. Classical priests bore a strong resemblance to modern priests; a religious specialist in the rites and rituals of a single God who can serve as emissary between the community and their God. The idea being there are too many Gods for one individual to handle all the complex rites needed to keep them all happy and blessing the community. Previously, with a more 'tribal patron' arrangement, the northern peoples had associated priesthood and kingship, as we've discussed. With the import of more Gods, more ideas about priesthood, the necessity of learning to read and write, and more of an obligation to keep multiple Gods happy, the proto-Tilean influence would decouple Kingship and Priesthood and create a professional class of religious specialists that persists to the modern Empire. This shift and split in temporal and spiritual leadership became almost complete around 300 years prior to the Age of Sigmar (The actual one, as in, with the actual Sigmar).

Shallya became one of the most popular Goddesses between both cultures, worshiped widely in the walled towns that served as major trading posts at the meeting point of the great rivers. Yes, Nuln and Altdorf (Reiksdorf, in the day, the Town of the Reik) were already very important international trade hubs even in the ancient era. Nuln was even one of the only Reik Basin strongholds to be built on the site of an elven ruin; southern lands and western lands had far more elven colonies and thus far more places for humans to poke at and build around. Shallyan worship actually preceded Verenan faith. Verena actually seems to have come to the north because she was the mother of the very popular Goddess of mercy and childbirth, after which point her people introduced writing and began to record history and records of the myths of the Elder gods. The recording of actual holy books also began to give rise to the idea of cultic orthodoxy. Worshipers and priests of the various Gods began to think of their ties to others who worshiped the same God as equally important to their ties their tribes and kings. Some degree of standardization of worship was finally possible.

Into this, Ulricans became the immense jackasses we know today. I would say the Teutogens actually practiced a henotheistic rather than polytheistic faith from the description of their conquests; meaning that they clearly acknowledged other Gods were real but also clearly only really worshiped Ulric. In Ulric's name, they butchered other peoples who would not convert and destroyed any faith that claimed to put any other God before Ulric, especially anyone who had anything to do with wolves, winter, or war. This is why Ulric is the sole dedicated war god of the Empire (Sigmar and Myrmidia have martial followings, but War isn't their primary domain) in the modern era: His followers killed anyone else. Curiously, the Talueten tribe did similar for Taal, eagerly trying to eliminate any other King of Nature and trying to claim Taal was actually King of the Gods. Meanwhile, Taal's wife, Rhya, never tried to enforce any sort of orthodoxy and simply said that the dozens of mother goddesses were different guises of Rhya.

Interestingly, many of the defeated Gods of lesser tribes that did not survive into the modern era were not destroyed, they were absorbed. See the Cult of Lupus; before Ulric's encounter with Lupos, Ulric was not worshiped as a God of Wolves. He took the portfolio when his followers destroyed and enslaved the people who worshiped the wolf-god. The discovery of this fact has led to a modest revival of Lupos worship in parts of Middenland, claiming that in the modern world Ulric 'stole' wolves from another more legitimate God of Wolves, and this could get messy given how Ulricans (and Middenlanders) respond to any kind of challenge. Some say this is the old Gods taking measures to be known again, even after they were subsumed into the larger and more successful patron-cults of the major tribal powers.

Of course, everything was going to get weird once the Empire stopped being the Proto-Empire and became the actual Empire, and so next time, we go into the Actual Age of Actual Sigmar.

Next Time: The Actual Age of Actual Sigmar

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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




Panic at the Dojo: Forms 2

Six down, six to go.

REVERSAL FORM
(a.k.a. Panic Form, Scorpion Form, Time Form, Tornado Form)
Action Dice: d8/d8/d6/d4
This is a weird one, but a cool one. Reversal Form means you can only take one Action per turn, but your Action Pool and Speed Tokens persist between turns and rounds. So, you only toke one Action per turn, but that includes the turns of your allies and the turns of your enemies. You take your turn slowly and steadily throughout the round. Also, for fun, you have Armor. Skill is Perfect Timing - you're always in the right place at the right time, and you can catch or stop anything thrown directly at you.

1+: Counter Attack
Teleport adjacent to an enemy within range who just attacked you, then use the die spent on this Action on another Action targeting them.

SHADOW FORM
(a.k.a. Moon Form, Silence Form, Silver Form, Snake Form)
Action Dice: d4/d4/d4/d4/d4/d4
Shadow Form is all about quick, slippery movement and tricks. In addition to having more dice than any other Form, you get 2 free Speed Tokens at the start and end of your turn. Your speed tokens aren't discarded at the end of a turn, so you can spread your movement all around the initiative tracker. Skill is Shadow Walker - if you don't want to draw attention to yourself, nobody will ever notice you sneaking around.

3 Speed Tokens: Stunt
Place a Fog, Copy or Trap in an adjacent space, then teleport two spaces. Remember that token-based Actions don't use up any action dice, so this is in addition to your other six actions, as long as you have the Speed Tokens for it.

SONG FORM
(a.k.a. Melody Form, Symphony Form, Remix Form, Wave Form)
Action Dice: d8/d6/d6/d4
Here comes the bard! This is a pure support Form, as one might expect. At the start of your turn, you pick a song: Iron, Power, or Speed. You get 3 of that kind of Basic Token, and every ally in range gets 1. Skill is Natural Charisma - anyone who isn't your enemy is your friend.

1+: Sing Along
Pick an ally you can see. Choose one: They remove one Token they're holding, they heal, or they gain 2 tokens from your current song.
4+: They also choose one from the same list.
6+: Add a 4 to their Action Pool - it must be used on an action immediately.

VIGILANCE FORM
(a.k.a. Bear Form, Eternity Form, Heart Form, Moment Form)
Action Dice: d6/d6/d6/d6
This is the ultimate defensive Form, keeping yourself healthy and debuffing enemies while healing allies. At the start of your turn, you either heal or discard one token. At the end of your turn, you give one Weakness Token to an enemy in range. Skill is Eyes Wide Open - you cannot be surprised, ever, by anything.

1+: Bow Down
Give a Weakness Token to one enemy within range.
4+: Give two Weakness Tokens to one enemy within range.

1+: Stand Strong
Heal yourself or an ally you can see.
4+: Heal yourself or a different ally you can see.

WILD FORM
(a.k.a. Beast Form, Platinum Form, Soul Form, Storm Form)
Action Dice: d10/d6/d6
The Wild Form thrives on having your back to the wall. At the start of your turn, add a d6 to your Action Pool if you're under half HP, someone on your team is Taken Out, or you're holding a non-Basic Token. These stack, for potentially up to d10/d6/d6/d6/d6/d6 if all three are true. Skill is Wind Runner - You can jump to anything you can see, run along walls, outrun cars, and even fly if you can justify how that works.

2 Basic Tokens: Fury
Deal 1 damage to an enemy within range. At the end of this turn, push that enemy 1 space. Can only be used 3 times per turn.

ZEN FORM
(a.k.a. Lotus Form, Mantis Form, Spiral Form, World Form)
Action Dice: 7/5/3/1
That's right, Zen Form doesn't roll any dice, ever. Instead, you get a pre-determined 7, 5, 3 and 1. For their mechanics, let's talk about Shields. A Shield is, effectively, a bonus health bar on top of your normal health bars. When you take damage, your Shield takes it instead. When the Shield reaches 0 HP, it breaks, and is gone. Unlike normal health bars, Shields can't be healed, and damage carries over if they get overkilled. You can only hold one Shield at a time.

That last bit isn't true for the Zen Form, though. You can hold multiple Shields at once. If one breaks, the next Shield doesn't activate until the end of the current turn. As an added bonus, whenever an enemy breaks your shield, you deal 1 damage to them. Skill is Peaceful Heart - your soothing voice can calm wild beasts, unruly mobs, and anyone acting out in anger.

3+: Focus
Gain a 2-point Shield, move 1 space.
7+: Gain a 4-point Shield, move 2 spaces. Yes, this means that if you use your 7 on Focus, you get two Shields.

That wraps it up for the Forms! Next up: Archetypes and Styles.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

White Coke
May 29, 2015


JcDent posted:

Could the humans been fleeing ogres and the great maw?

WH should have stayed FB and expanded on the non-Asian nations instead of going AoS to give Sigmarines and Undersea Dark Eldar.

The Great Maw landed over a thousand years before the -1500 migrations of humans into the Reik basin, but the Ogres didn't get a fleshed out background until their army book was published in 2005, so it might not have been canon when Tome of Salvation was published.

RedSnapper posted:

Oh God, yes. Do we even get any info on those lands, aside from seeing Cathay, Nippon an Ind on the worldmap?

Ind has very little mention other than that there are lots of gods there, and lots of Beastmen including Tigermen. Nippon is fantasy Japan but it doesn't have a lot of material about it. The biggest problem is that Cathay is not only fantasy China but acquired lots of fantasy Japan traits over time too so there's less room for features to make Nippon unique.

This page has pretty much everything canon about Cathay.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply