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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Tome of Salvation is a 2007 book, so it would be published after the Ogre book.

The poor records (and fact that the setting his been written about by dozens of authors for decades) explain why things change and get kind of wonky in the ancient history of the setting. There are a ton of different stories of exactly what went down during the Great Collapse, for instance.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 18:56 on Jul 27, 2018

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Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



New theory: it was noted that very early humans knew about Sotek, the god of the skinks. Maybe the early humans were fleeing some machination of the slaan or the lizardmen were starting to target the early humans?

NutritiousSnack
Jul 12, 2011


Mors Rattus posted:

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

That really comes across as bad still, with the whole paragraphs of the book left punching the Left's criticisms' of moderate rebel groups in Syria that the CIA and others support.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - What If Lithuania, But Demons

Curonia continues, even now, to be the poorer part of the Commonwealth, made mostly of marsh farms and small villages rather than large cities with excellent universities. It also has about half the population of Rzeczpospolita, but that was less important until the Golden Liberty, since a Curonian noble on the Sejm has just as much liberum veto as a Rzeplitan. Now, that's not true - the majority rules, and the majority is almost always Rzeplitan, which makes many Curonians rather upset. Ugne Urbone has proposed moving the capital to Curonia, which would at least mean Curonian voters not have to make such a long journey for each vote and Rzeplitans would have to pay a higher cost to vote, in effect. Unsurprisingly, most voters in Budorigum oppose the idea...and that means most active voters oppose it.

While Curonia may be poorer and more legally marginalized, its people tend to feel more united than Rzeplitans, largely due to their struggle to maintain their own cultural identity. Their language fell into disuse, their religion was overrun by the Vaticine and their culture was disfavored for Rzeplitan culture. This affected them, btu they have also resisted. In their own land, Curonians still speak their own tongue, burn offerings to their own gods and follow their own traditions, as do their neighbors, in an effort to preserve their ways against the Rzeplitan majority. Sarmatism has not penetrated strongly into Curonia as a style, but most still strongly feel a need for national unity, even if that means haggling with privileged, absurd Rzeplitans. Most pragmatically, this is required because General Winter is sitting on the border and many Curonians fear him and see quibbling over other issues as somewhat pointless.

From another perspective, they look at the Bialy/Czerwony fight dominating public discourse. Curonian Bialy and Czerwony exist, but the large majority of Curonians do not like either side much. Aleksy is an idealist and a pacifist, too oblivious to the threat of invasion and too busy being suspicious of Sanderis. Malgorzata is a domineering intellectual snob who wants to limit their franchise and only cares about her own people and power. Many Curonians have decided that they must be the responsible, calm people to keep the passionate Rzeplitans from doing anything stupid. Thus, they have formed the Jasny, 'clear' faction - a group of mainly Curonians who have made it their unofficial duty to force the Bialy and Czerwony to make compromised and de-escalate conflict. It is an open secret that many Curonians hope the political split allows election of a Curonian dark horse, probably Ugne Urbone, and even some Rzeplitans agree that if she wins, the conflict may fizzle out. However, many in Curonia and Rzeczpospolita also fear that if such a loudly pro-Curonian woman is elected, the tension between Curonian and Rzeplitan may become far more dangerous.

Saules Musis, in Ksestwo Czyz, is the oldest city in Curonia, and a testament both to the power of the dievai and the idiocy of trying to fight them directly. It was the Curonian capital until 1262, in the reign of Petras V. He made a series of Deals with a dievas whom he adored, now known as Saule after the city. She was very potent, as all dievai are, and so his rule was unquestioned. However, while Petras started as a wise king, Saule's influence made him more and more deluded until the summer equinox one year, when he declared that he would make the Seventh Deal with her, bring her into the world and marry her. On noon that day, Saule had vanished, and the entire city burned to the ground. No one has any idea what truly happened, but neither Petras nor Saule has been seen since. The days that followed are remembered as the time of the Fallen Inquisition. The Curonian Vaticine vowed to end all Sanderis Sorcery, to prevent such a disaster ever occurring again. In response, the county's losejai came together to form the Ratas, a network of alliances to ensure that the losejai were safe from those that would end them, and the world was safe from the losejai.

Today, the stone of Saules Musis remains, though all flammable material that once made it up is long gone. It is a skeleton of a city, overgrown with trees that grow a strange, unseasonal fruit. It is this fruit that terrifies the modern people. All trees, bushes, shoots and vines in the city bloom and bear fruit all year, even when frozen over. Anyone that eats of them will be forever sated...but the fruit is, indeed, unnatural. It was nicknamed faerie fruit by the Avalonian scholar Ambros DAvidson, and the name has stuck. People say the dievai plant it, and it surely is the best fruit that anyone has ever eaten. However, any that consume it become addicted, always craving more of it. And so, most who come to Saules Musis to avoid starvation stay there for the rest of their lives. This effect is well known, so most cautious (and privileged) people avoid the city, but it is a magnet for the starving, destitute, vagrant and otherwise poor. Others may sneer, but the people of Saules Musis answer with a question: Would you have fed us?

They may be playthings of a dievas, but at least they do not starve. There's even a sort of patriotism to them. They call themselves apple-eaters, and some write pamphlets advertising the wonders of the old city, only somewhat satirically. They've even formed their own branch of the Explorers to map the ruins, and have been officially recognized. They take pride in their city as a sanctuary. Criminals that get there and eat the fruit are rarely chased by law enforcement. Why bother? They're certainly not going to leave, so they're no danger to anyone outside the city, and the locals can take care of their own. Strange things happen in the city, however, more now than in past times. Sometimes people vanish, or new ones appear, or old ones return changed, with no memory of their alteration. They may have claws or be unable to feel cold, but they cannot recall why. When the fog rolls in, sometimes people hear screams, always just too far for the cause or source to be visible.

Housing is a problem - the old wood is all gone and no one wants to cut down the fruit trees. The city of Sperus has started shipping old pallets, broken or partially rotted, to Saules Musis in exchange for whatever valuables the locals can send down the river for them. It's been a godsend for building homes. Before the pallets, most of the locals survived the winter in the Great Stone Cathedral, the only large building in the city that had entirely been made of stone. Even with the pallets, the locals known as Traditionalists still do. They claim it lets them catch up with each other and build community, and that while the lack of privacy can be irritating, that's what summer is for. The pallet housers prefer privacy, and also tend to find the Cathedral frightening, due to its history. Originally, the place was Vaticine, but under Petras V's reign, it was reconsecrated to worship Saule, his dievas. Considering she burned the place down, it makes some people wary, as do the bloodstained altars. Those who stay in the Cathedral, however, seem to be far less likely to vanish during the winter than those in the pallet houses, though. All those who vanish do so alone or in pairs.

The Sanderas Forest is where you find wild dievai to make bargains with, according to legend. They are notorious for playing hard to get, however - they hide in bone houses and like to set impossible tasks, like gathering up all the poppy seeds in the soil nearby before sunrise. However, even today, this is still the best place to go to find a dievas that'll bargain. There is only one settlement anywhere near the Sanderas - Voruta, a city on the lightning-struck plain that is at the heart of the forest. The Ksiezna of Vortua is and has always been a member of the Ratas, and the organization runs the city and thus who can enter the Sanderas easily. Those that would use the woods must first pass the Ratas, who know that not everyone deserves to make deals with demons. However, the Sanderas is not just for people who want to meet a dievas. Non-losejai also enter for various reasons, as do those who have already made a deal. The only thing dievai enjoy more than tormenting humans, after all, is tormenting other dievai, and those in the woods are often happy to help sabotage one already latched onto someone. More than one losejas has learned a new Deal or a piece of a Name by pleasing the wild dievai of the Sanderas. The Ratas refers to such a journey into the Sandaras as Katabasis, and dedicated members attempt to perform it at least once every seven years, to learn more about their dievas.

Only two roads lead into the forest - one from Zlotogora, one from Sperus. These, built in the 13th century by the Ratas using magical rituals since lost, are the only parts of the forest that have been mapped. Paths show up at random and end at random, with bone houses changing places and compasses going haywire. The only beacons of any worth are the Fires of Gabija, eternal flames that appear irregularly yet frequently in the woods. The dievai say they were made by Gabija the Red, a potent dievas who slew her losejas after making the Seventh Deal. Ratas policy is to murder on sight any dievas who has manifested bodily, so they insist Gabija is not a dievas and that the dievai are lying. However, those that distrust the Ratas are certain this is itself a lie - they say the Ratas left Gabija alive out of pragmatism, for her pyres make the forest at all traversable, and she never appears outside the Sanderas. She always takes the form of a woman in a red dress, and she is scrupulously fair and generous with her pyres, as long as you obey her rules.

Anyone who enters the Sanderas with the blessing of the Ratas memorize the protocols for the pyres before they can enter. Any fire should be banked only with its own ashes, and must be extinguished only with clean stream water. There are many horror stories about losejai that tried to put them out by stamping on them. Salt thrown into the flames pleases Gabija, and nother angers her more than bloodshed in the light of a fire. Those that fight near the fires often get immolated. The flame's protection, she has decreed, is for all. Enemy losejai often end up having to share the same flame by nightfall - and you should use one, as wild animals and dievai avoid the flames. It is not uncommon for entire groups of losejai to gather around the pyres at sunset, exchanging stories from across Curonia.

Next time: Voruta proper

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



Cythereal posted:

New theory: it was noted that very early humans knew about Sotek, the god of the skinks. Maybe the early humans were fleeing some machination of the slaan or the lizardmen were starting to target the early humans?

Maybe humans originated in Lustria and fled through Naggaroth and the north to get away from such treatment, splintering and settling from east to west as they went?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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marshmallow creep posted:

Maybe humans originated in Lustria and fled through Naggaroth and the north to get away from such treatment, splintering and settling from east to west as they went?

Well, technically everything originated in Lustria. Old Ones, y'know.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


It's the kind of thing where it's good that they frame a mystery instead of a definitive answer, because there are a bunch of things it could have been and you're free to pick what you want. One of the annoying things about the End Times was not only did they answer all these questions, they picked the dumbest possible answer in almost every case.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


Speaking of Warhammer Fantasy. The new edition of the game is pseudo out here

By Pseudo out. It's because the rulebook which you can buy and download is not complete yet. it's missing a map, page refs and the index. Appearntly barring something going wrong it will be updated and completed within 2 weeks.

MonsterEnvy fucked around with this message at 22:33 on Jul 27, 2018

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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It's also quite good, or at least the parts I've read so far. I'm not totally sure what part of the timeline it's set in, but it's got playable Wood Elves now, including the Athel Loren ones due to a prophecy ten years ago that got the royals of Athel Loren to send out a bunch of warriors to go hunt foes.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I believe it's set like, about when Karl Franz is just becoming Emperor so they can avoid bothering with the Storm? That was the impression I got from early previews but that might've changed.

White Coke
May 29, 2015


marshmallow creep posted:

Maybe humans originated in Lustria and fled through Naggaroth and the north to get away from such treatment, splintering and settling from east to west as they went?

Mors Rattus posted:

Well, technically everything originated in Lustria. Old Ones, y'know.

There were already things living on the planet, like dragons, fimir, and dragon-ogres before the Old Ones arrived. And regardless of where they made the prototypes most of the races were intended to live in specific areas, like Ulthuan for the Elves, the World's Edge Mountains for the Dwarfs, or the Mountains of Mourn for the Sky Titans. Humans however don't have an established point of origin. It's possible they weren't supposed to stick to one spot. But they probably weren't originally from Lustria, maybe the Southlands though so they could expand out of it. That being said, humans getting forced to relocate by Lizardmen is something that has happened in the canon. The first time humans met a Slann he woke up long enough to say "They shouldn't be here" which his guards thought meant they needed to kill them all because they've left the Old World or whatever section of it they needed to stay in. The Lizardmen are also more proactive in killing races that aren't supposed to exist, or forcing them back into their natural habitats and send out expeditions of murder lizards.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Their definition of skaven as a 'cosmic mistake' is pretty dead on, mind.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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One big change in magic for 4e: there's a list of generic workhorse spells that every Lore gets access to, including Aethyric Armour, Blast, Bolt and Magic Shield. They also added dispelling as a thing. Also, Amber Wizards can cast without penalty in leather armor and Gold Wizards can do it in metal armor.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The Lesser Magics already did that in 2e, I think they just expanded the list of spells everyone can learn.

Also Lesser Magic was always overpriced since it was 1 advance per spell.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Night10194 posted:

The Lesser Magics already did that in 2e, I think they just expanded the list of spells everyone can learn.

Also Lesser Magic was always overpriced since it was 1 advance per spell.

Fair.

Oh hey I found the real power of the Lore of Beasts: whenever you cast a Lore of Beasts spell (which includes the non-Petty generic magics) you get Fear (1) for 1d10 rounds.

Fear gives -1 success level to all Tests to affect the source of Fear until you get its rating in Success Levels on a Cool test.

LaSquida
Nov 1, 2012

Just keep on walkin'.


Mors Rattus posted:

One big change in magic for 4e: there's a list of generic workhorse spells that every Lore gets access to, including Aethyric Armour, Blast, Bolt and Magic Shield. They also added dispelling as a thing. Also, Amber Wizards can cast without penalty in leather armor and Gold Wizards can do it in metal armor.

What's life look like for Hesge Wizards this edition?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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LeSquide posted:

What's life look like for Hesge Wizards this edition?

They get their own Lore! Hedgecraft has a lot of low-difficulty spells that do very useful small things, though they need to do a lot of foraging for ingredients. They get no special bonus when casting their spells but their spells are all super easy to cast. They do stuff like give a bonus to Fellowship tests plus disabling Animosity and Hatred, astral projection, memory alteration potions, healing potions and antimagic charms. The healing potion spell alone is worth keeping one around.

Witchcraft is also its own lore, focusing on curses and spoopiness.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG


Part 22a: Space Gods



A man hides from a zombie-like mob pushing its way through Buenos Aires. The mob is linked by a hive mind, and seeks him out with a hundred eyes. If they catch him, he will be forced to join the hive...and he will love them for it.

A gun runner shows a client a new type of weapon: a rifle that’s a fusion of technology and organic material. When the client picks it up, small tendrils extend from the weapon and merge into his flesh. He smiles, feeling the rush of the gun drawing power from him; this will turn the tables against the cartel his group is fighting.

A strange bug-like alien works in a lab, using advanced genetic engineering techniques to design a cure for a disease. Outside his lab, a Cyberpapal hit team prepares to stop the “heretic” before he disrupts the cyberpope’s long-term plan for the region.

A distress call was unknowingly sent, and has been answered by an alien race; a culture who have mastered psionics, biotechnology, and non-invasive reality technologies. But rather than coming to aid us, they came seeking our help to save them from a disease that is slowly corrupting the minds of their entire culture. Their arrival might be the turning point in the Possibility War...only to replace it with a worse threat.

Space Gods
Yup, aliens showed up.

You long-timers to the Torg review may or may not remember when I covered the Relics of Power adventures. At the end of the adventure series, after dealing with a lot of riddle BS a beam of light was shot into the heavens with a "you’ll find out what that means later on".

It’d be about a year before that reveal happened.

The Signal Fire (as that flare was known) was actually left by a race of Mezoamerican-looking aliens known as the Akashans. The Akashans are an ancient race, who long ago mastered such diverse technologies as biotechnology and reality mechanics. Their distant home is a region of space known as the Star Sphere, where they work closely with various "client races", using their knowledge to help as many people as they can.


Your government, inaction

The Star Sphere is a distant galaxy with over 500 known distinct races. The book refers to this as the Akashan "cosm", but they're in a different part of the Core Earth cosm so already we're running to problems. Regadless, the Akashans rule this entire part of space, and through their explorations left many Signal Fires on countless worlds. The Fires were intended to be a beacon to the Akashans; once a race advanced enough to understand what the Signal was and activate it, they were ready to join the Akashan's empire.

But as we saw, the Signal Fire on Earth was set off far too early.

The Akashans were surprised that humanity had advanced so quickly, but saw a chance for help. After all, if humanity was advanced enough to activate the Signal Fire, then they might be advanced enough to help find a cure for the plague.

They arrived at Machu Picchu, expecting to meet equals. Instead, they found themselves in the middle of a war.

They also unleashed the virus ravaging them on an unsuspecting world.

The Comaghaz Virus
It’s important to note that the Akashan "realm" doesn’t have a High Lord, nor is there a Darkness Device. The Akashan mindset and religion (which are based around the peaceful merging of ideas) aren’t exactly compatible with the Devices’ “break everything and smash the shards” goals. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a threat from within, however. In some ways, it’s even worse than the High Lords, and it’s all the fault of one person.

Several years ago, one of the client races' colonies was dealing with a very virulent plague that was infecting all their food sources and slowly killing them off. The High Council sent Sarila, one of their top geneticists to cure the plague. It was difficult, but Sarila managed to cure the virus, saving the colony and earning her a position on the High Council.

Which would have been nice, if she had actually cured the plague.


Sarila

Sarila couldn't figure out a cure, so she did the "next best thing": she altered the virus so that it would go dormant, then mutate into a much less severe form and make the crops appear safe to eat. Which it was...for about a year. After that, the weakened toxins would have built up enough in the population to render the population sterile.

When that ended up happening, nobody made the connection to the blight of the previous year.

quote:

She knew, of course, that the now undetectable blight posed in some ways a greater threat than the one she had been called upon to cure. But she had succeeded in confirming her theories regarding viral genetic mutations, and the eventual collapse of the colony was ascribed to some heretofore unknown kind of cosmic radiation acting upon the inhabitants.
Now on the High Council, Sarila began eyeing control of the Council itself. But due to how the Akashan culture was set up with their religion (which we'll get to later), she was incapable of attaining that position due to her religious caste. Then she hit on the idea: if curing a virus got her on the Council, then curing a larger plague would give her even more power.

Once she had the basic idea, the plan was simple: create a disease that would spread quickly, have a lot of obvious symptoms, and be eventually deadly. Then unleash it on the Akashan home world, wait for everyone to realize how bad the infection was, then come in with a "miracle cure".

After making sure she was immune her own creation, she unleashed her creation on her people. It wasn't long before it started to become an epidemic, but to Sarila's surprise, her creation had a very unexpected side effect: she could hear the thoughts of the infected. At first, the thoughts seemed to beg her for direction, but it wasn't long before she heard another, more alluring voice beneath them. The microorganisms she created had achieved sentience, and had created a linked group mind with their hosts.

Fortunately for Sarila, her self-treatment allowed her to connect to the hive mind without being taken over. At first, she tried to create a cure before the truth of what was happening came to light. The virus, with the sense of self-preservation that comes with sentience, had altered itself to resist her cure. This left Sarila in a very bad position; she couldn't cure the disease as originally planned, but she also couldn't go to the Council for help without raising some hard questions.

Over time, Sarila learned how to differentiate between the minds of Comaghaz victims, and eventually to supplant their thoughts with her own. The tenets of her religion forbade the idea of control, but in her twisted mind she wasn't dominating people, just...offering suggestions. She also convinced herself that the virus was no longer lethal, despite the evidence to the contrary.

"Comaghaz", by the way, is the Akashan word for "domination".

As the Akashans became more desperate to find a cure and deal with the hivemind infected who were attempting to spread the disease, the Signal Fire was received. After much deliberation, it was decided that if Earth had advenced enough to activate the signal, then they might be advanced enough to help cure the plague. The Akashans wasted no time heading into a war they didn't even know existed.

Sarila originally didn't want to come to Earth, fearing that her virus might actually be cured, but shortly after the Akashans arrived a Storm Knight was infected with the Comaghaz. Instantly, Sarila learned of the Possibility Wars, and is currently seeking to infect more Stormers to learn more about these other realities. She doesn't know about becoming the Torg (yet), but the idea of spreading her mind across other cosms is very, very appealing.

Reality Trees and the Akashan "Realm"
As stated previously, the Akashans have mastered "non-invasive reality technologies". This means that they have biotechnological devices capable of mixing two realities without the need for stelae boundaries, Darkness Devices, or the syphoning of Possibility energy from Ords.

Instead, the Akashans have developed a unique “technology” known as Reality Trees. These trees generate a mixed zone around themselves between the native reality and another based on the tree itself.

Well, sort of. For a reality tree to work, a living, sentient being from the realm in question must be fused with the tree itself. When a reality tree is planted (which requires the casting of a few miracles), the surface turns semi-fluid to allow someone to willingly enter the tree and bond with it. After nine months (assuming nothing happens to the tree) the person is released and the tree creates a mixed zone with a 160 km (100 mile) radius, as well as seeds that can be planted to make it easier to create new reality trees elsewhere.

For reference, that’s an area of 31,315.9 square miles. That’s about half the size of New England.


Looks comfy and not creepy at all.

When the Akashans arrived, they started setting up reality trees along the western coast of South America. This has turned a sizeable chunk of the continent into a Core Earth/Akashan mixed zone. While there haven’t been the usual problems of an invasion (widespread transformations, reality storms, and so on), it’s obviously thrown several countries into turmoil.


The Akashan "realm", about a year after their arrival.

It’s also obvious that reality trees could be a valuable weapon against the High Lords, because planting them in existing stelae zones and creating permanent mixed zones would allow the stelae to be taken down without killing all the Ords in the region. Of course, they could also be weapons for the High Lords, and as such they’ve become valuable targets for all sides.

Axioms and World Laws
The Akashans stand out amongst the other realities due to having very high axioms. As such, Akashan culture is a bit on the complex side as well as allowing access to new abilities such as bioengineering and psionics.

Oh, did I not mention psionics? Because this book adds psionic powers. I suppose that would have been implied by the nature of the Comaghaz virus, but for now you just need to know that they exist.
The Akashan axioms are:
  • Magic: 7 - This is the only “low” axiom here, just below Core Earth’s. Magic is known to exist, but it’s high effort for little payoff and seen more as a strange pastime than anything else.
  • Social: 27 - The high Social axiom allows for their rather unique form of government. There is the High Council that is in control, but they have representatives of thousands of worlds in a sort of Starfleet situation. The Akashans run things, but they must listen to all the other cultures they work with. The high Social axiom also allows for the existence of psionics; in fact about half of the Akashan population has some form of psychic ability.
  • Spiritual: 13 The Akashans believe that every religion is just a reflection of Aperios (the cosmic force of creation) or the Nameless One (the cosmic force of destruction). As such, there's no one "correct" religion, including their own. Or, to put it another way, all religions are correct, just looking at the "actual" gods from different angles. This belief will heavily influence one of the World Laws.
  • Techonological: 30 This is not only the highest Tech axiom in the game, it's almost the highest axiom level possible. Akashan technology is focused on biotechnology; they do have access to more "traditional" technology but find it aestheically unpleasant. As such, almost all their tech is organic, up to and including their spaceships.

The World Laws revolve around the high social axiom and the Akashan belief that all cultures and belief systems are valid.

The first is The Law of Religious Compatibility. As I explained above, this law states that there is no such thing as a “correct religion”. People of different faiths can assist with casting ritual miracles without penalty, and performing a miracle on someone of a different faith won’t have a chance of converting the target to your faith.

The second is Law of Acceptance, which is probably the most important world law.

quote:

Unlike most cultures, as Akashan culture evolved, it did so on the basis of first accepting the unknown, and then coming to understand it. Few cultures have been so able to assimilate others' beliefs into their own structure. This belief is tied into the philosophy of Zinatt and is so ingrained into every Akashans' psyche that it has become a world law. Even Sarila, in her mad desire for conquest, accepts this world law. She accepts the ways of others and then perverts them for her own ends.
The Law of Acceptance states that when someone is in an Akashan zone, they are subject to the Akashan world laws as per normal, as well at those of their home realm, regardless of what reality they’re from. More importantly, using another reality’s world laws in an Akashan zone does not cause a contradiction. This doesn’t mean that you can’t cause a contradiction if you do something not supported by local axioms, however.

A side effect of this law is that any Akashan zone will either pure or mixed. There’s no such thing as a dominant Akashan zone.

The final law is more of a philosophy than an actual “law”, but this philosophy/religion is so pervasive in Akashan society it’s evolved into a world law. It’s called The Way of Zinatt, and it affects every way of life in the Akashan reality. Every Akashan seeks enlightenment through two of these stances, with the third being the final balance of the first two.

Zinatt consists of three philosophical "stances":
  • Aka is the belief that wisdom is found by looking within, via introspection and meditation. Aka followers tend to look after themselves first, and are very individualistic. This is the belief Sarila belongs to, although she's filtered it through her control of the Comaghaz hivemind.
  • Coar is the belief that wisdom comes from asserting your will onto the world. Followers of Coar put the group over the individual; the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Note that doesn't necessarily mean putting the good needs into operation. Many Akashans see Coar as the path to power.
  • Zinatt is the balance of aka and coar, and is the ultimate goal of enlightenment. When you achieve a state of Zinatt, your every action brings harmony and benefits all those around you. Very few Akashans have achieved this level of understanding, but those who do tend to become leaders of the Council.
Like the Ayslish Honor/Corruption system, your "alignment" can give you bonuses to skills or access to special abilities. Furthermore, every person in the Akashan realm belongs to one of these alignments, even Storm Knights from other realms. There's a list of the various established religions and belief systems in the game, and which of the three branches they map to. Characters will gain the bonuses for their alignment while in the realm.

This sudden infusion of these rules and axioms has created a very dangerous situation in an already dangerous war. New weapons are being spread among Core Earth cartels and invaders' forces. Despite their philosophy of acceptance, the Akashans have inserted themselves into a bad situation and are causing more problems than they've solved. They've started spreading their reality through several countries without seeing how the governments would feel about it. And while the reality trees might be able to save thousands of Ords, they could become dangerous weapons in the hands of the High Lords.

And that's all not even taking into account the Comaghaz virus. Sarila sees the Possibility War as a way to expand her hivemind out through the maelstrom bridges and into other realities. She could become a being of comparable power to the Torg, a single mind spread out through every possible reality.

Of course, no reality would survive the process. But isn't the possibility of living forever in the mind of a goddess honor enough?

---
Bet you didn't see that coming, did you?


NEXT TIME: We are all made of stars

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





While in some ways I guess it might take away from the gimmick of the High Lords, honestly as written here Sarila seems like a great villain in addition to the usual suspects with something else to offer aside from giant robot sphinxes or subtle corporate takeovers.

BinaryDoubts
Jun 6, 2013

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


Love that Core Earth becomes more and more of a 27-car pileup with every new book.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




How did they develop these reality-mixing trees and poo poo in the first place when they only learned of the Possiblity Wars and the other realities invading their own, way way off away from their home planet, after arriving at Earth?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - The City In Demon Forest

Voruta sits at the center of Sanderas Forest, in a place where no trees grow. It is a plain that is often peppered by lightning, and the land has a surface vein of bituminous marble, mixed with red and white coral. The city was constructed by the Ratas to assist in Katabasis. It is a safe haven, and significantly larger than it needs to be at present. this is because until 1266, it was the capital of Curonia due to a Grand Ksiaze that wanted to encourage people to destroy dievai. Today, much of the city is empty, its basilicas and ballrooms unused yet standing. The daylight never quite appears right. It is bluish-white and cold, with the only warmth coming from the night lamps when they are lit, despite the bright sunlight in the forest proper.

At any given time, about a seventh of its population are either losejai or potential losejai gathering the nerve to enter the Sanderas. The rest of the city works as an industry to serve them and boost their morale. Thus, despite the unnerving cold light of the sun, the city is beautiful, with many businesses and monuments encouraging serenity, sometimes in odd ways. Most famously, loseija will visit the black marble dome, which is set with lanterns so as to rsemble stars. Within, sound is muffled and people lie on mats, listening to music and watching the false stars move along the dome in a warm, predictable night that never ends. Then you have the poetry brothels, which honestly have far less sex happening than you might guess. Rather, many losejai pay to be given warm milk and tucked into bed, or to have their favorite poetry read aloud, or even just to be massaged and given wine. They pay to clam their nerves, for you never want to enter the Sanderas while agitated. Others prefer the museum in which the heads of slain dievai are kept, recalling the triumphs of the Ratas against dievai who have appeared bodily in the world.

And then there's the Scholomance, the world's finest school of Sanderis. And its only one. It is built deep into a black marble quarry, and in its basement is a massive labyrinth full of handbound books, and a card catalog of various descriptors. This is where you can look up what is known about your dievas. A losejas at the Scholomance often look for sketches or matching descriptions of their dievas in the files of ages past, detailing the Katabasis and Deals of others who have had the same demon. The Ratas cross-collates these descriptions and have managed to succesfully name, manifest and destroy nearly a hundred dievai, though it is unknown how many remain. Besides the library, the school is also a functioning university, though Szablewo certainly doesn't respect it. It focuses on practical knowledge rather than theoretical - its rhetoric classes, for instance, are taught via a series of debates, allowing dirty tactics and bad discourse. The Scholomance's assumption is that any student intends to be a losejas, and therefore should not be coddled or allowed to keep their hands clean, and when the pious declare it a school of dark magic, this is often what they mean.

Katabasis is a pilgrimage in the belief that, deep in the Sanderas, there are secrets that can assist you against your dievas. Many believe that the forest contains a way to destroy your demon without either killing yourself or making the Seventh Deal. The Ratas does not condone that particular idea, but it never stops the Katabasis. The story goes that once every seven years, a dievas bound to a human is weakened. Somehow, their bond to the mortal world leaves them vulnerable. And if, in that time, a losejas can find the dievas' origin in the forest, they can kill it. Few know where the legend comes from, and no one knows anyone that's succeeded at it, but the story persists. Losejai often come to seek it via Katabasis, though few gather the nerve. Those who do always return changed somehow. Many see the act itself as a form of self-discovery and affirmation, and those who perform Katabasis tend to take up the pilgrimage again once every seven years, believing the legend must be so.

Those who return from Katabasis always do so at sunrise. No one knows why. Every dawn, people gather atop Voruta's walls, for it isn't just losejai who come - their family and friends often do as well, waiting for them to return. They mount their vigil before sunrise, waiting until past noon. Typically, a person will wait on the wall for seven days. In those seven days, 90% of losejai return. The other 10% are usually just...gone, though not always. Stories tell of losejai returning from the woods years later, sometimes even with their sanity intact. Sometimes, when a losejas is gone for over a week, family, friends or lovers may enter the woods to fetch them. It even works sometimes, though rarely enough that the Ratas tries to discourage it.

The permanent residents of Voruta call themselves the Remainders. In some ways, it's self-deprecating. They run on a service economy, making their money wokring to help losejai, and when the questers and heroes leave, they are those that are left. However, the other meaning to it is the importance of their staying. They live in the center of the most dangerous place in the entire commonwealth. When the questers leave, they stay. Many are poor, but they stay. Voruta is actually quite a popular destination for those in poverty looking to avoid rent, what with all the empty palaces and galleries. Ugne Urbone has begun experimentinting with giving longterm squatters deeds to the properties on the condition that they repair and beautify them. Of all the things the Remainders fear, none is stronger than hunger. Nothing grows on the plain outside the city, so all food must be shipped in from outside. When an ice storm briefly prevented the import of beets from Zlotogora, food prices went up so fast that the city went into a panic. The current voivode governor focuses on ensuring this never happens again. She's been spending from the city's coffers on nonperishable food, like rice, dried peas, salt, booze and vinegar. The Remainders, meanwhile, have been starting up rooftop gardens, fisheries in flood quarries, chicken coops, cellar mushrooms and even beekeeping, as it seems that the Sanderas has no ill effects on the bees or their honey.

On the Ussuran border, you can find Zlotogora, in Ksiestwo Szczupak. It is often called Little Ussura, as it is full of immigrants, many of whom have not chosen to assimilate entirely. It is a city built on nostalgia, with onion domes and bathhouses and matryoshka dolls, often more elaborate and with spicier chay than Ussura ever actually has, which makes it a favorite spot for tourists or for scholars looking to study Ussuran crafting traditions. Still, some thing sget weird. The baths, for example. In Ussura, bathhouses are not modest but they also are rarely sexual. In the Commonwealth, however, nudity brings sexuality with it to most locals, surprising some Ussuran immigrants, and a subgenre of erotic bathhouses have appeared, dimly lit and appropriate for sex, hosting jennys and discreet herbalists. Normal, non-erotic bathhouses also exist. They tend to be less of a tourist draw. The normal bathhouses are painted turquoise, while the erotic ones are red. Outdoor hot springs are considered to default to turquoise, and locals usually sneer at tourists that make too many jokes about sex baths, though it isn't that rare for a local to try out a red bathhouse on occasion.

The plaza at the center of town is paved in mirrored mosaic tiles, due to an eccentric Ksiezna who loved to see her own face. Torches light the square at night, creating a perpetual twilight of reflected light, in which the mosaic looks very similar to water. Many of the Ussuran immigrants miss the easy and constant hospitality of thier homeland, in which houses are open at night and food is not often paid for. Thus, in Zlotogora, that is not how things are done. A trencher table is always set up in the Mirrored Plaza, with fruit, meat and cheese that anyone may eat at any time. Residents are expected to donate to the table, and each year a 'chef' is chosne to ensure the table stays fresh. The plaza is also home to Bartok, a bear that is the unofficial mascot of the city. He was brought in by an immigrant a century ago, but he never seems to age or die. He eats from the trencher table, sleeps in the square and sometimes takes a liking or disliking to a tourist, who will then receive either respect or derision, respectively. The locals believe he's probably a Leshy and think he's good luck. In winter, the plaza and the roads that lead to it have often frozen over, so the locals have decided that, rather than fight it, they'll just ice skate along the roads, and this marks a big difference between them and the tourists. A devastating ice storm two years sparked debate on whether the roads should be preemptively sanded. Last year, the roads were left unsanded until Primus, when bucket-wielding vigilantes began to sand roads at midnight, much to the chagrin of local skaters.

That terrible ice storm slew many, including Ksiezna Szczupak and her daughter - her only child. Her nearest heir is her distant niece, and no one has any idea where that girl is. Instead, the city's been run by an informal council of rich locals. Consensus is that it should not be permanent, but no one can agree on what should replace them. The Ksiezna's niece was last seen in Eisen. Should she be sought? Should another noble be chosen? Should they try to elect someone? It certainly doesn't help that General Winter of Ussura has been eyeing the border and gathering there since the storm. The Ussurans say he can control the weather, and many local conspiracy theorists claim he caused the storm.

Next time: Memel, the City of Radical Pacifism

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Zereth posted:

How did they develop these reality-mixing trees and poo poo in the first place when they only learned of the Possiblity Wars and the other realities invading their own, way way off away from their home planet, after arriving at Earth?
They knew about the existence of other realities, just not the War itself. Technically speaking, they're from another reality. The book just does a terrible job explaining all this.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - Your Demon And You

A lot about Sanderis is kept secret. The Ratas go out of their way to hide information on their magic from the wider world. However, Curonians are in general quite familiar with the concept of the dievai and their stories. Mothers tell them to scare children. The truth, though, is much darker. The dievai are both very real and very potent, able to perform feats of immense destruction. They are always honest, but they twist words, turning simple requests into something darker. This has led to many disasters in Sarmatian history, but the stories of such events, like the fall of Saules Musis, get twisted, probably due to the dievas influence. Many believe these creatures are just wild, needing only a firm hand to commanbd them. This leads them to do dangerous, often evil things in the effort of taming them.

Unlike other sorcerers, who typically must either earn their power or be bonr with it, anyone in the Commonwealth can become losejas. Anyone can be approached by a dievas, and simply accepting their offered deal grants terrible power, placing you under the constant eyes of the creature. Among losejai, the only unifier is that first Deal, and the terms are all unique. There has never been and never will be a way to learn Sanderis without a contract. These contracts form either by the dievas convincing someone to take them, or a potential losejas seeking out a dievas to gain its power. No matter how it is formed, the first Deal is always about what you want more than anything else, and the cost is always high - often the death of a loved one or someone under your protection. Not always, of ocurse. The dievai play a long game, and sometimes the cost of that first Deal seems comically small. In two years, a man named Piotr will come to you and ask a question. Tell him yes. Seems innocent, until Piotr appears in two years and demands your daughter's hand in marriage.

Most losejai are tempted into that first Deal by the dievas. Who is chosen and why is a mystery - only the dievai are certain of their motives. Sarmatians who would never consider seeking out a Deal get targeted, those who yearn for the power are often ignored. Most often, the target doesn't even realize they're being tempted until it's too late. The dievas hides their nature as they grow close, for they can take on a human appearance if they desire. They cannot physically interact with anything in the world, but can speak to their targets. The perceptive may noptice that their new friend never touches them, picks things up, talks to anyone else, or seems to come and go like magic. Many don't notice such things, especially because some dievai are potent enough to make the illusion of touch, or even go so far as to convince a losejas that they are lovers. The pursuit of a dievas often takes days, sometimes weeks or months. In this time, they gain the target's trust and learn their desires. They seem the perfect new friend, lover or ally. It's all a game, a way to make the Deal more likely to be accepted. Once they feel their target is enthralled, they reveal their true form and offer the Deal. Many so strongly want what is offered that only those with the verystrongest of wills can reject the offer.

It is considerably rarer for a Sarmatian to seek out a dievas rather than be sought, though it's possible. There are many folk tales about ways to summon a dievas, and while many are just stories, some do have inklings of truth. One legend goes that if you gather certain items and bury them at the crossroads, a dievas must appear to offer you a Deal. It is wrong - it's not always going to happen. However, it does work sometimes. Only the dievai know why they choose some calls to answer and not others. The Ratas wonder why so many losejai are approached rather than doing the approaching, and their best theory is currently that, for the dievas, the act of enticing an unknowing target is more worthwhile, that they consider that aspect to be fun, and so those that approach them are less interesting. There is one exception: the zynys, or Curonian priesthood, are much more likely to make contact with the dievai. They serve as spiritual guides for the Curonians and make it a point to understand and study the pomp and ritual of the dievai. This seems to attract dievai, and no one is sure why. Some think the dievai mistake it for worship and like the attention.

The Ratas are the larger organization of losejai, and they are unique among sorcerers for claiming dominion over all of their kind. New losejai are often approached within days of making their Deal, and are informed of their new allegiance. You aren't allowed to say no. Ratas members make that clear - you must join or die. Answer immediately. If you do not agree, they will attack without remorse and do anything they can to destroy you. On joining, each member takes on a new name to be called by other losejai, a tradition that dates back to the ealy days of the Ratas. Even then, they knew that the DEal was empowered by knowing the true Name of the dievai, and so they believed that all names had power, and didn't trust each other with their names. This has since been proven not to actually matter, but the tradition still stands. There is no formal rule for how the name should be chosen. Often it is an animal name - Sokol, the Falcon, say - or a title from before the Deal, like Kowal, the Blacksmith. A losejas can take any name they want, but should keep ind mind that it will be used exclusively when dealing with other Ratas members in any context. Using the birth name of a losejas is considered an extreme taboo among the Ratas.

Experience or age are unimportant. On joining, you are a full member, a Czlonek, with all rights granted by that. There is no shame in maintaining this rank forever, and most do. Some choose to dedicate more of their time to the Ratas, however, and with time and effort, you can join the Rada, the Inner Council, who make decisions for the group, or jopin the Valytuvas, who enforce their will. The leader of the group, called the Mistrz, sits above it all. Currently, the Mistrz is a woman named Wiedzma, the Witch, who has commanded the Ratas for as long as any can recall. Even the eldest remember her being quite entrenched in the job when they first joined, and she has always been young and beautiful. Many believe this is due to the nature of her Deal, but no one is clear on the specifics. There are a number of factions within the Ratas, each in theory loyal to the organization but rivals with each other. The Listeners gather secrets, while the Circle of Storms is a militant group that wants to have the Ratas gain more temporal power. Infighting between factions is common and keeps any from taking over the group. Other major factions include the Red Eyes, who wish to reduce oversight on the use of Deals, the Order of the Question, who wish to utterly remove the dievai from the world entirely, and the Puppet Masters, who wish to take control of the dievai and command them rather than bargaining.

The Valytuvas serve as enforcers for the Ratas, who very closely watch their membership, for every losejas is capable of terrible destruction through their Deal. Howeve,r their ethical code is...somewhat abstract. Evil, even horrific murder, is beyond their remit, if done by normal means. As long as you don't use Sanderis to perform evil, they aren't going to do a drat thing to you. They also are happy to overlook small uses of your power, whose repercussions are typically not that big a deal. Larger acts, however, are fully investigated. If they find you have invoked a Deal for more than a minor act, they will send the Valytuvas to investigate why, and depending on what is learned, the Valytuvas may just take a statement or they may require you to stand trial before the Mistrz. In the most extreme cases, such as using Sanderis to kill without cause, the penalty is death. They may give other punishments for lesser crimes, but the final verdict belongs to the Mistrz. As for how they determine when you use your powers improperly, that is a mystery to most losejai. Sometimes it may seem obvious - there's only so many people who can plunge a city in darkness on a whim - but other uses of Sanderis are subtle. The fact that these are still often discovered by the Ratas leads many to believe that they use Deals to discover the information.

When a losejas is found to have given into the dievas' evil nature, the Valytuvas are dispatched again - this time, to embody their title: Purifier. They seek out the rogue and kill them before they can cause too much damage. They give these targets only one chance to repent. If they are rejected, they strike with full force. A losejas with no conscience can and will use the full power of their Deal, so the Valytuvas are given the special right to use Sanderis freely without fear of special permission. This opens the concern that they may abuse their power during missions and use their magic for petty gain. There are, the Ratas say, safeguards that prevent this. They refuse to say what those are.

Joining the Valytuvas is a more complex process than simple promotion. First, you must find a member of the group to be your mentor, demonstrating your worth to them by solving some task they set for you. The mentor is the sole determiner of what you must do, and so if you have a good relationship it may be little more than a formality, while if you don't, it may be a dangerous quest. Once the task is done to the Valytuvas' satisfaction, you are taken on as an apprentice. You follow them, learning combat, stealth, tracking, research, investigation and practical ways to use Sanderis to help with any and all of those. These skills are important, of course, but the training also allows them to tlel if you are worth giving the freedom to use Sanderis at will, with no repercussions. Abuse of that power reflects on your mentor, too. Once it's been decided you should join, they are sent to one final test under the Mistrz, which takes place in the Wymagnine, a hall in the Ratas HQ that only the Mistrz may use, and only to test new Valytuvas. You must enter the room, empty of all but the Mistrz and an archway, which you must walk under.

It is said that walking through the archway forces you to face your greatest fear in your mind. those who can face it walk through successfully and become Valytuvas. Those who cannot back out of the arch and are dismissed as apprentices. They are not punished, but they may never become Valytuvas. Ever. You only get one shot. No one knows if the arch actually does what it's said to do, though even if it doesn't, the thought of having to face your fears makes many back out without ever really trying. Those who do go through refuse to speak of what they experienced.

Next time: Making the Seventh Deal.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


Kult: Divinity Lost

Gonna keep rolling with this loving content warning because Jesus Christ this is getting grosser by the minute



BEYOND PASSION


Brace for more censored images than usual, clickthroughs for the hilarious NSFW originals

So yeah, this is the boner magic chapter. Original Kult had this, too, because it emphasized that all extremes of human emotion and experience could allow you to see through the Illusion, so an exceptional orgy or an experimental drug high were just as likely to propel you to Metropolis as being tortured at a CIA black site was to catapult you to Inferno. Let me be frank and say that this version is worse, simply because of how it's written if nothing else, and the loving art. It's like... it's just a step back. Look at what I just loving censored, there was nothing like that in the original Kult. There didn't need to be! And there certainly didn't need to be in this version either!

The intro to this chapter goes on about how Humanity Classic was genderless(or any gender it wanted to be, really) and effortlessly shapeshifting, so even shackling us to two genders is part of the Demiurge's plan, and stuff like piercings and bodymods are part of our attempt to escape our "wrong-feeling" static bodies. A bunch of crimes related to being sexually repressed(stoning adulterers, marrying off young children, etc.) are listed which feel like a pointed stereotype of conservative muslims, and combined with some of the earlier stuff from the Archons and Death Angels, and the whole EUROPE IS THE CENTER OF ENLIGHTENMENT-thing, makes me wonder if the Kult authors might not be slightly right of center, politically.

Kult posted:

Lifestyle blogs have become our new Bibles and models and celebrities our new saints and gods. We covet them, want to be them, want to gently caress them – but this is not true desire.

And of course we can't go half a page without mentioning THE INTERNET.

Kult posted:

Passion can be something slowly sprouting within you, eating away like a cancer. It is the painful, perverse desire for a person you dare not approach, who rejects you, or appears unattainable. It is situations where you feel powerless and inadequate, such as your first teenage crush, lust for your married coworker, dreams of the hot looking boy bands, or illicit cravings for your teacher. Your inner life is consumed by your fantasies. You misinterpret every remark, and read hidden messages and innuendo into gestures, glances, text messages, and words. Here, in this suffering, there are insights to be gained too, no matter how painful they may be.

So if you're someone's creepy Incel stalker, you're more enlightened than they are! What the hell, Kult guys. This is like some of the strangest poo poo to connect to TRUE ENLIGHTENMENT imaginable.

God I'm gonna be quoting a shitload of this chapter in full because what the gently caress is this unholy prose?

Kult posted:

We are bound by society’s sexual norms, but these increasingly disintegrate as we begin to emerge from captivity. We live in a world where sex and self-expressive experimentation are constantly available. With one click, you can find an infinity of free pornography online, where can you browse among films attempting to surpass each other in their extremes. It is a smorgasbord of flesh, desire, fear, vulnerability, body fluids, ecstasy, and humiliation offered up to an insatiable audience. Those who find their way onto the Internet’s non-indexed wilderness easily find hidden forums and streaming sites, where they can take part in forbidden pleasures. They can caress themselves while watching torture, vivisection, snuff films, and other, darker things. In this place, they vicariously experience the thrill of life and death.

In the hunt for experiences and pleasure, we can engage in our own experimentation. Power exchange, humiliation, roleplaying, and other kinks allow us to touch the edges of Passion. Some devote themselves to sadism, while others explore their masochistic desires. Behind our perfect façades, we relish the hidden bruises and lacerations on our bodies, mementos of giving ourselves completely over to another human being. The temptations of transition and death inspire us to be suffocated during the sensual act until we hover in the borderlands of death.

However, desire may also be found in the inexplicable attraction to something you also find repulsive – so alien it frightens or disgusts you, but which you cannot resist. Perhaps, this yearning is for something nonhuman: the desire for ragged or rotting bodies, someone who is covered in rustling skin flakes, slimy tongues, mechanical parts, or sharpened feathers. These shameful enticements keep escalating. You admonish yourself for these cravings, but are continuously dragged deeper into them. The curious abomination the housewife keeps in her bathroom. The wrinkled woman living in the school’s attic, who whispers secrets to the children in exchange for kisses. The sweaty, hairy man with his stinking breath, but possessed of a voice so smooth and warm that you forget all else. The rusty machine in the industrial hall, which appears in recurring dreams. The alien being with chattering teeth, wild gaze, and orifices aplenty. Our appetites are warm, vicious, and alluring. They distort our thoughts, make our hearts pound, and our genitals swell, but they also unshackle us.

This is all just bad.

Kult posted:

At the end of the day, what constitutes a transcendental experience depends on the individual. Some subordinate themselves completely to another’s power and strive to become totally broken and objectified in order to attain ecstasy and truth in their utter vulnerability. Some inject heroin from filthy syringes in the slums of Johannesburg, while others rape minors in a luxurious hotel room in Bangkok. There are those who achieve insight as they mutilate their genitals in front of a webcam. Others carry out ritualized sex magic in sacred temples.

Two paragraphs with weird pedophilia in a row. Just. I think we believe that you're edgy now, Kult. We get it. You can knock it off.


Thank goodness for angles that give me less censoring work

We get two Passion-themed Cults. The first one, Coq Rouge, is a creepy child abuse conspiracy. The second, Urban Elite, is a creepy child abuse conspiracy that also does a lot of cocaine because they're rich! Like, again, the loving original Kult even did this better. Like, yeah, there were gross "let's abuse our way to enlightenment"-conspiracies, but there were also like... more imaginative and, frankly, more believable cults in it. What would you even use these for? They're not involved in anything except loving a bunch of children and prostitutes because they're weirdos. Yeah, you could have them show up as villains and... then what? The protags hear they're violating children, then bust in and leave a nuclear warhead in their HQ or stare them deeply in the eyes while carefully carving apart their brains.



These things are humanity's old Realdolls, more or less. These days the Archons used them, in disguise, of course, to distract humans who are too close to figuring out something important or unravelling a conspiracy, but who can't just be killed. Which is actually a reasonably interesting use for these. They're not combat monsters or anything, but that new guy or girl that's been distracting your source, keeping them out of reach seemingly by coincidence with dates and whispering in their ear that they should get a job rather than helping you translate ancient Babylonian texts about demons, could actually be part of the conspiracy. It's the sort of thing that could increase someone's paranoia. Or it's the sort of thing that could prompt a heavily-breathing, furiously sweating GM to describe every wrinkle of their monstrous penis in painful detail.

Kult posted:

A darthea is an entity of dreams and madness, which has been created out of humanity’s desire for sex. It is an uninhibited abomination of bodily perversions, dripping genitals, twisted limbs, and slick bodily openings. It lives in the borderlands between dream and reality, and seeks out those with the darkest appetites – or alternatively the most innocent, in order to corrupt them. It arrives in dreams and settles like a seed deep within the victim. In contrast to most other possessing creatures, darthea do not suppress the consciousness of its victim.

...

Flickering cam shows, streamed porno clips, thumbed sex novels, and forbidden fantasies provide nourishment to the being. Stained mattresses in filthy brothels, incestuous assaults in the home, and violent sex in the lavatory booths of nightclubs are its birthplace. In time, a metamorphosis occurs and the creature is drawn from Limbo into Elysium’s reality. In an obscene tearing and ripping splash of intestines, the darthea is born of the human who nourished it. The darthea has transformed into becoming a libith – a creature wholly and completely existing in Elysium.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but what's the point of having all these evils of the world be caused by the Archons, Death Angels or supernatural creatures? What room is left for humans to have some sort of agency or moral/ethical character? What's actually left for humans to be or do if all these things are just evil supernatural monstrosities having a laugh by invading us with their thousand dripping dream dicks and making us be rapists? It feels like it cheapens a lot of these things.

Anyway, then some Libiths are described. Anyone remember Dogma? And the Golgothan? The demon made of evil poop? That's the first Libith. It's a poop demon that comes out of your toilet at night and injects you with dream heroin. Then you get addicted to secretly loving the poop demon until you die. I swear I'm not making this garbage up and I will loving quote it if I have to. I'll take screenshots. Then there's a Libith that doesn't do anything except domestic abuse, which is kind of amazingly hosed up and why would your game even feature that. Then there's an evil porn star Libith, whose followers tend to commit suicide a lot for no apparent reason except that she's apparently the superhottest superhot thing. Next there's a Libith who turns into a BAD BOY who seduces girls and bones them and them drops them because he's bad and mean and a sexhaver or something.

Kult posted:

He is invariably beautiful and there is something wistful, dark, and alluring about him. He seeks out teenage girls who do not feel validated and allows them to be close to him, soon having them wrapped around his little finger. One moment he may be romantic, but he is cold and reclusive the next. There is something shattered about him and the girls dearly want to mend his broken heart. They are increasingly torn asunder as his mood swings escalate. He makes them abandon their friends and spite their families, and even start fights with other girls who crave his attention. Only when his victim is completely destroyed, driven down into the darkest depths of anxiety, on the verge of suicide, does he abandon them and move on to the next unfortunate.

I mean I know it's vague but it's just got this weird tang of the whole "GIRLS JUST WANT A BAD BOY EVEN THOUGH HE'LL BREAK THEIR HEARTS"-thing. I may be over-analyzing it after all the other poo poo, though. Anyway, as the last Libith there is, of course, a spooky little girl/boy Libith who hunts down pedophiles that haven't yet given in to their broken desires and encourages them to gently caress children. This, of course, is also the only of these Libiths that's statted. Because this game desperately needed more loving child rape and child abuse, right guys. What the gently caress.

It also turns out that while they have the creatures related to a certain part of the fluff in that section, they sequestered all the magic at the very back and they removed all of the funny and interesting parts of it. So I guess in KDL we can't gently caress a toaster to create a new superior species with our magic powers. There also aren't, it turns out, any actual rules for how any of this poo poo lets us be enlightened, I guess that's just up to the GM to improvise.

On the bright side of it, that should be most of the censoring I need to do until we get to the angel dicks.

U.T. Raptor
May 11, 2010

Are you a pack of imbeciles!?



ProfessorProf posted:

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.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uwbqr2UjeSg
:colbert:

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




The penis-head in the ballgag...oh god...how could no one notice how loving stupid it looks.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Why are every single one of these "edgy" RPGs always so loving BORING? Are they so laser focused on pandering to the "Scare the normies" type of GM that they forget to make the rest of the game work?

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

This is the Marilyn Manson going door to door to shock people of RPGs.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - You Probably Don't Want To Do This Until The End Of The Game

So, what actually happens when you make the Seventh Deal? Well, first, the dievas is able to fully leave its own world and enter Terra. It becomes fully physically embodied, and can actually physically interact with things. Prior to this, the dievas must act indirectly - it can ask you to do stuff as the cost of a Deal, but it cannot physically interact with anything in the actual world. The Seventh Deal changes that entirely. You make that final contract, and once the dievas gives you whatever it was you asked for it, it permanently manifests. All previous Deals are forfeit, and the losejas loses their Sanderis powers. Further, the cost of making the Seventh Deal is always a sacrifice - andn ot a physical thing. They won't take your hand. They're going to take part of your soul.

To perform the Seventh Deal, you might be asked to give up your joy or your dreams. These are not metaphors. If you give up your joy, you are now no longer capable of feeling joy. Ever. That part of you is just...gone. The dievas uses it to fuel their corporeality. However, this isn't all bad for you. The dievas is certainly empowered by being able to enter the world, but they also receive a new and extremely significant weakness: they can die. A death while corporeal is permanent for a dievas. Any action that'd be taken against it within its own world does nothing helpful, but in the physical world? It can be cut.

Now, yes, you've given up all your Sorcery. The Seventh Deal isn't for everyone, and the book makes a point of saying that yes, if you pursue this, you explicitly are going to lose all your Sorcery powers and pay a huge narrative cost. You can in fact just sit on having six Deals and be perfectly happy. The Seventh Deal is something you should probably save for the end of a campaign. Once you take it, however, you do gain some powers. They don't make up for what you lost. But you get them. Firstly, you can spend a Hero Point to learn the current location of your dievas in the form of its distance from you and in what direction. You may spend a Hero Point to turn off one of your dievas' Monster Qualities for the rest of the round, once per round. When you are directly interacting with your dievas, you get (Resolve) bonus dice to all rolls. You do not have to spend Hero Points to take actions against your dievas while Helpless. They can still try to murder you while you're Helpless, but you can keep fighting until the very bitter end.

The death of a dievas in our world cannot be cheated. As long as whoever deals it the final Dramatic Wound does so with the conscious decision to kill it, it dies. Period. Regardless of any circumstances surrounding that death, you never gain Corruption for killing a dievas. Even an utterly helpless dievas can be slain in good conscience, for they are completely evil. You can still gain Corruption from other acts taken during the process if they're sufficiently hosed up, but not the act of killing the dievas. However, when it dies, you do not regain the part of yourself that you sacrificed to grant it form. That's gone. Forever. Nothing you can do about it.

You know what's happier than that? Dueling! The declaration of Golden Liberty has given everyone the power to make chivalric orders of knighthood. While they'd always gathered to talk politics, generally speaking their voices went unheard before this, regardless of what was discussed in the basement of the church or at the tables of the beerhall. Disagreements would arise, and these would generally be taken to the local nobles to solve. Now, they are often solved with duels. In order to maintain civility, the works of 12th century philosopher Lech Kosciuszko have been revived, which centered on chivalry and civil discourse. These ideas have become extremely popular, with many pamphlets made explaining them in such a way that even the new nobles have begun to quote them from memory. The chivalric orders have begun to spread, groups of idealists that serve as examples of chivalric virtue, religious ideas or whatever they decide to swear on. It's also given them a good place to practice fencing without problems,

The core tenets of chivalry, as set forth in Unanimity in Throes of Discord by Kosciuszko, are:
1. Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
2. Thou shalt love the country in which thou wast born.
3. Thou shalt never recoil before thine enemy.
4. Thou shalt make war against the wicked without cessation and without mercy.
5. Thou shalt perform scrupulosuly thy duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of Theus.
6. Thou shalt never lie, and shalt remain faithful to thy pledged word.
7. Thou shalt be generous, and give largesse to everyone.
8. Thou shalt be the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.

The tenets of chivalry have come to be deeply associated with dueling as a means of settling issues, and duels are seen as tests of skill and intellect. A chivalrus Sarmatian offers mercy, and accepts the mercy of a superior foe. Duels are rarely to the death, and instead promote a sense of solidarity. Sarmatian Duelists tend to be very formal when proposing or accepting duels, as chivalry demands respect. Showing disrespect typically means getting beaten up worse before mercy is offered. Aspiring Duelists often head to Budorigum, to serve as champions for the Senat or the new nobles in order to earn fame and notoriety. Chivalric Orders rise and fall constantly, with powerful citizens giving out badges of honor, knighthoods and various trade titles as a kind of currency of fame.

One notable dueling order is the Rightful Order of the Cherry Blossom, built out of a small farming community called Kwiat Wisni. Three local men founded it in honor of the local Cherry Blossom Festival. Tomas Petrikonis, Jan Kamionka and Luigi Paglianite all came together, vowing to protect the community. Luigi, while ethnically Vodacce, is a born and raised Sarmatian, whose family breeds dogs - a small toy breed called the Pom-pon, popular with the social elite in the Commonwealth and Montaigne. Jan is a barkeep, short but charismatic, brave and sharp-witted, able to get past anyone's stoic guard. Tomasz is a Curonian and a good leader, with a generally even temper. Luigi's kennels have fueled the construction of the Order's meeting hall, and the group defends Kwiat Wisni, both locally and in the Sejm. All members are skilled Duelists, with Tomasz and Luigi practicing Sabat style, and Jan using Valroux, which he learned while studying wine in Montaigne as a young man.

The greatest warriors of Sarmatia are the winged hussars, horseback fighters who wield terrifying lances in great charges and whose armor strikes fear in the foe. The bond between hussar and steed is unbreakable. However, a hussar named Kyra Mikita realized that not all situations allowed for the horse to actually be used in combat, and so she developed Szybowanie, a fighting style that relies not on what you wield but on your ability to establish advantage in the battlefield. Specifically, it focuses on fighting from above, which can be used while on a horse easily, but any height advantage will work, allowing the fencer to perform the powerful Eagle's Dive as long as they can position themselves advantageously. Whenever you fight from an advantageous height, you can spend a Hero Point to perform the Eagle's Dive Maneuver, leaping down onto your foe. You deal (Weaponry+Ride) Wounds, and can use this only once per round.

Next time: Legends of the Commonwealth

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





I'm reminded of how effective Pornomancy came off as in Unknown Armies because it was so rote. It had to be done a certain way, reenacting certain scenes from a handful of movies and that was the only way to do it ever. Any digression? Poof, you lose all your power until you do it the 'right' way again.

Kult is just... puerile. Maybe UA was too, but now that I'm seeing it in comparison it's a paragon of boundless taste.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Dawgstar posted:

I'm reminded of how effective Pornomancy came off as in Unknown Armies because it was so rote. It had to be done a certain way, reenacting certain scenes from a handful of movies and that was the only way to do it ever. Any digression? Poof, you lose all your power until you do it the 'right' way again.

Kult is just... puerile. Maybe UA was too, but now that I'm seeing it in comparison it's a paragon of boundless taste.

UA Pornomancy wasn't puerile because it was operating in a context of a 90s in which 'sex magick' was a thing people actually talked about, like, a lot in occultist circles. UA took this idea nad wnet 'okay, so sex magic exists, but what if it was utterly horrifying and unhappy for everyone involved', to the point that any kind of sex for pleasure or, indeed, any purpose but this rote, mind-numbing magic drawn from, (often explicitly degrading, and always extremely impersonal) sex acts performed by the woman who would become the Naked Goddess would make the magic stop working.

It was taking a thing from the 90s and giving it an examination and twist that was meant to make it both horrifying and utterly, completely passionless.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Yeah, UA's stuff could often come off as wacky or goofy (the pornomancer or dipsomancer are good examples) but are often quite well thought out bits of personal horror under examination.

Of course, that's the stuff that was in the books...for whatever reason with UA fans the willingness to create an original Adept/Avatar is inversely proportionate to both good taste and understanding of the source material. The fan-made character material for UA is just plain dire.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





PurpleXVI posted:

Kult: Divinity Lost




Clicked on the link and cracked the gently caress up. It's just so silly.

The Deleter
May 22, 2010


Midjack posted:

Clicked on the link and cracked the gently caress up. It's just so silly.

This was drawn by someone who has either never seen male genitalia or chose some weird refrences, and either way I'm worried.

RedSnapper
Nov 22, 2016


IIRC there were like three pedophilia references in the 1st ed. book and one of those was a "don't play a pedophile" sidebar.

PurpleXVI posted:

Then you get addicted to secretly loving the poop demon until you die. I swear I'm not making this garbage up and I will loving quote it if I have to. I'll take screenshots.
Oh please do :allears:

PurpleXVI posted:

Like, yeah, there were gross "let's abuse our way to enlightenment"-conspiracies, but there were also like... more imaginative and, frankly, more believable cults in it.
There was the one that posed as a help/ care group and preyed on the most innocent members to shock them with weird sex stuff until they saw to the other side and then and steal that experience.

All in all it seems like the weird disjointed mess that was the original Kult went WAY offroad. Maybe I wasn't playing it right because I can't recall ever using the sex stuff in any of my games? I mean, I DID get one PC magically pregnant (shortly after that the PLAYER revealed that she's actually expecting and we had to have a serious talk) but 90% of the time I stick to the regular "you wake up dead" stuff.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





oriongates posted:

Yeah, UA's stuff could often come off as wacky or goofy (the pornomancer or dipsomancer are good examples) but are often quite well thought out bits of personal horror under examination.

Of course, that's the stuff that was in the books...for whatever reason with UA fans the willingness to create an original Adept/Avatar is inversely proportionate to both good taste and understanding of the source material. The fan-made character material for UA is just plain dire.
There were a bunch I saw on DTRPG which were like "Burned food" and "video games"

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!


RedSnapper posted:

Oh please do :allears:

Kult posted:

The Abomination: Soggy, porous, and slimy. The creature stinks of sewage water and rancid fat. It approaches its victim carefully, crawling up through floor drains or toilets when the victim is asleep. It drags itself across the floor, leaving a trail of sewer water and wads of hair, dirt, and fetid waste before crawling into bed to tuck itself in with the dormant victim. In the morning, the bed is soaking wet and the stench nauseating, but the dreams are warm and alluring. The victim is filled with ecstasy, as if someone had injected them with heroin during the night. They develop a physical yearning to experience it once more. The Abomination reveals itself more and more until it becomes an integral part of the victim’s life. In spite of its despicable stench and grotesque appearance, the victim’s desire lingers and the pair make love repeatedly against the tile walls of the bathroom. The victim’s life is increasingly consumed by the Abomination, as they must devote more and more effort to keep it clandestine from friends, family, and work mates.



Please stop daring me to do things, I'm physically unable to refuse. :v:

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Yeah, I'm not surprised that the fan content for UA was as bad as oVampire or Palladium, to be honest.

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Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

PurpleXVI posted:



Please stop daring me to do things, I'm physically unable to refuse. :v:

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