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Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Can't have a 90s style RPG without gratuitous and inaccurate gun porn.

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JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Ghost Leviathan posted:

Can't have a 90s style RPG without gratuitous and inaccurate gun porn.

You can have a "well actually" about AK-47s inception being as a replacement for PPsh with SKS expected to be the rifle-rifle and Soviets just blundering into the whole "assault rifle" thing accidentally, which would make it a fun bit of trivia on the game's part... but I refuse to have it in the same category as an M60.

Rename the category to "Machineguns" and split it to "Sub-" and "Full" and we're good to go.

Though I don't know why a game that has the "two people in a room with a knife" has to have weapon granularity above "pistol" and "bigger stuff", unless you're bringing out the MG to deal with some spoopy ghosts or whatever.

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



psudonym55 posted:

To be honest at this moment in time it's kind of a mess.

<Wall of text removed>

Honestly feels like the copied and pasted some parts from the 2e book and then never updated it to their own terminology.

Oh dear. Thanks for that. That's a little disappointing but good to know before I dropped £45. Looks like sticking to second edition for the moment then.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



JcDent posted:


Though I don't know why a game that has the "two people in a room with a knife" has to have weapon granularity above "pistol" and "bigger stuff", unless you're bringing out the MG to deal with some spoopy ghosts or whatever.

Unknown Armies is a game about nutcases set in America, and a lot of American nutcases are heavily armed.

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!


Ratoslov posted:

Unknown Armies is a game about nutcases set in America, and a lot of American nutcases are heavily armed.

Gunnomancy, to everyone else, guns are just vaguely detailed "SMALL GUN, LARGE GUN, REALLY LARGE GUN THAT MAKES THINGS GO BOOM"

But the Gunnomancers get a hyper-detailed weapon subsystem that both means they can do hideously graphically detailed things to enemies, but likewise the same for what enemies can do to them.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Ratoslov posted:

Unknown Armies is a game about nutcases set in America, and a lot of American nutcases are heavily armed.

Well, libertarians and sovereign citizens do feel to outlandish to be true...

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





PurpleXVI posted:

Gunnomancy, to everyone else, guns are just vaguely detailed "SMALL GUN, LARGE GUN, REALLY LARGE GUN THAT MAKES THINGS GO BOOM"

But the Gunnomancers get a hyper-detailed weapon subsystem that both means they can do hideously graphically detailed things to enemies, but likewise the same for what enemies can do to them.
Yes please this.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Ratoslov posted:

Unknown Armies is a game about nutcases set in America, and a lot of American nutcases are heavily armed.

Yeah, there's that one anti-magic group in 2E that were hunkered down in a bunker on some private land that feel especially relevant today. They so vexed Alex Abel he'd ordered what amounted to a magical backhoe that ran on human blood to be constructed to dig them out of their bunker.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Dawgstar posted:

Yeah, there's that one anti-magic group in 2E that were hunkered down in a bunker on some private land that feel especially relevant today. They so vexed Alex Abel he'd ordered what amounted to a magical backhoe that ran on human blood to be constructed to dig them out of their bunker.

Yeah, but today, that group would be gunning metal concerts to stop magical music or whatever.

Kult would instead do a cult which pierces the unknown via the sublime transgression of shooting up a school, seeing hot bullets rip through the innocent flesh of the little ones, cutting life-lines full of potential in an explosive orgy of ballistic violence.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



PurpleXVI posted:

Gunnomancy, to everyone else, guns are just vaguely detailed "SMALL GUN, LARGE GUN, REALLY LARGE GUN THAT MAKES THINGS GO BOOM"

But the Gunnomancers get a hyper-detailed weapon subsystem that both means they can do hideously graphically detailed things to enemies, but likewise the same for what enemies can do to them.
Well there is Fulminaturgy but it's actually focused around not shooting guns at all.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Wapole Languray posted:

Well there is Fulminaturgy but it's actually focused around not shooting guns at all.

Of course not, that might damage the weapon.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


"This is my boomstick! Be impressed by it because oh God I can't shoot it"

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - The Old City

Rurik City is the seat of the provincial government and home to Archduke Alyosha and his family. It was constructed by Vesten settlers, and is still home to many Vesten expats, with a huge market that sells all kinds of Vesten-made goods or shares in Vendel merchant ventures. The Vendel League's Ussuran headquarters are just by the harbor, an immense new structure built to fit in with the ancient fortifications of the city. Before the ancient boyar Vsevolod of Somojez converted to Orthodoxy and became a pacifist, he fought a lot with Rurik City over who controlled the coast between St. Anderson and Rurik, and the two cities remain major rivals to this day, their fishing fleets often fighting over control of the best fishing spots.

Until a few years ago, Pavtlow was the capital, home to the most beautiful architecture, best-kept streets and most vibrant court in all the land. Now, it is an empty shell of itself, going through the motions of governance while all real power lies in Bashanta. Until Ketheryna left for the new city, the streltsy of Pavtlow were the Czar's elite guard, who kept order and fought fires in the city. Many streltsy families have served in the same unit for generations. Whenever angry boyars marched on Pavtlow to protest, the streltsy were there to receive them, armed to the teeth. They're probably the best infantry in all of Ussura, though Ketheryna's new Eisen mercenary guards and General Winter's snowmen rival them. Despite being elites, however, the Douma doesn't pay them very well, and many maintain side jobs as crafters. Rumor has it that the streltsy planned to revolt against Ketheryna before she relocated to Bashanta, and that's why they were left behind in Pavtlow. Several streltsy units consider Ketheryna's indifference to them the last straw from a government that has never paid them well. These units have left their barracks and set themselves up as petty crime lords, while others merely faded back into the peasantry. A few, largely the oldest guards, still occupy the barracks and answer to the concept of a Czar. (Side note: many of the Knias Douma refuse to set foot in either Pavtlow or Bashanta for fear of it being taken as a political statement, and the Douma have not met since the Czar's death.)

Few enter Bashanta uninvited, but the muzhiks have always crowded Pavtlow, often after losing their livelihood elsewhere. There are massive guilds of beggars, criminals, pickpockets and so on, who stake out and fight over turf. The sudden evacuation by the nobility has put them into an odd position. The rich, who they'd hoped to gain wealth from, are gone now...but they left a lot behind. Food is scarce, yes, but housing is cheap as hell because of all the empty homes. Some are torn down for parts or become guild halls for thieves and beggars. Now that reliable housing has been secured, the people are largely attempting to begin growing crops on the roofs of the mansions or otherwise creating their own new economies. The greatest abandonment is of the Czar's kremlin ('palace'), built centuries ago and renovated in various spurts since. Each side represents a different period and set of influences in Ussuran architecture, and the actual fortifications aren't impressive. The cannon towers aren't even all finished. However, the Old Guard, a few sections of veteran streltsy gunners, defend it as if the Czar still lived. They are few and can't defend the whole kremlin alone, but they hire neighborhood kids to run patrols and notify them of looters. Then they roll out their infamous mobile barricades and open fire to drive off the criminals. Their chief priority is the Musorga Hall, a royal art museum full of priceless treasures from Ussura and beyond. In the chaos of the court's departure, the Old Guard raided many abandoned mansions to seize artwork and stash it in the Hall. The dedicated old veterans are doing their best to defend these valuable works, but they can't last forever.

When the power vacuum opened up, several thieves' guilds vied for power. In the old days, they had fought endlessly, but the Sokolovskayas realized that there'd be more for everyone if they divided things up evenly, and they've grown to be the strongest game in town. They organized meetings and brokered deals. Now, one guild handles robberies, another assassinations, another corruption, another fraud. The Sokolovskayas take a cut of it all in service fees and provide administration. It's easily the safest, easiest work they've ever had. They know the Old Guard are holed up in Musorga Hall in the kremlin, and are plotting a massive multi-team assault and heist. If they can seize the art there and sell it, they will become rich beyond avarice...assuming they can keep their team from backstabbing each other in the process.

Veche Province is the second-largest, after Molhynia, but the least populous. Once it was larger, but its rulers have often spread themselves thinly, and Somojez invaded and took much of the territory along the Eisen border. Veche has a long history of border tensions with the Commonwealth, and many southern boyars have long wanted to expand southwards and seize land. They assume that, after Golden Liberty, it'll be easier to do, given the lack of strong noble leaders now. However, their own lack of organization has stopped any moves southward. General Winter has been based out of Veche for two years now, though he has an unsettling ability to show up just about anywhere in Ussura surprisingly quickly. Many say he travels with Leshiye magic. He seems to have ingratiated himself with the prince of Veche, or possibly vice versa, and the general has cracked down on several powerful border boyars, forcing them to swear fealty to him or die.

Siev is the government seat of Veche, built on a major road leading to the Sarmatian city of Stanislawiec and the Sejm River. It was once key to moving goods south and served as a diplomatic hub, with envoys from across the Commonwealth, Vodacce and the Crescent Empire. However, after General Winter set up east of Siev, he froze the Sejm. If he's not somehow convinced to relent, Veche's already precarious economy is going to get even worse. So far, no one has ever convinced General Winter to do anything. Siev has a reputation for being exceptionally boring, but it is also the capital of the Ussuran toymaking industry. Its craftsmen may be all business, but they are masters of pewter soldiers (painted or not), wooden dolls, dollhouses and chess sets, all of the highest quality and excellent price. The Rilasciare that supported Winter have also shown up, and while most of the city functions fairly normally (except for there being much less trade and diplomacy going on these days in favor of Bashanta or Sousdal), the outer edges of the city are largely Rilasciare-controlled and work as a democratic commune. The locals largely ignore Prince Bogdan and the other boyars of the area in favor of guiding themselves by communal vote. As long as General Winter is in the area, few are going to challenge them, though he's not particularly helpful in any other regard.

Bashanta was, only a few years ago, a small village, albeit one on a major river. The swampy terrain attracted vodyanoi and rusalki, and kept away most people besides the Ushkuiniks...until Ketheryna decided to make it her capital, draining the swamp and inviting thousands of artisans and engineers to construct one of the most advanced cities in the world. She paid Prince Bogdan heavily to built it within two years - an impossible timetable, and Bogdan worked thousands of muzhiks to death to keep to it, concealing the entire fiasco from Ketheryna. Now, Bashanta is beautiful, complex and, according to traditionalists, all just a big show, with no substance as anything but a proof of concept for visitors to see and decide Ussura's not backwards any more. These traditionalists mock it as Ketheryna's "clockwork onion."

Perhaps the most surprising of the new buildings is the Aztlani Observatory, a massive stepped pyramid at the town's highest point. The dome atop it is bigger than any other roof in the city, and it is staffed by a team of Tzak K'an astronomers who helped design it, with the aid of Alvara Arciniega, who invented the telescope it uses. The first floor is a public science museum with the second largest armillary sphere in Theah (they still haven't beaten the Hierophantic Cathedral's) and many technological marvels on display, many of which were made by Ketheryna herself. Above and below are labs for Ketheryna and her scientists. However, only a few days ago, a massive explosion in the night blew out a corner wall, which has not yet been repaired, though guards watch it constantly to ensure no one can see what happens inside. Rumor has it that either the Inquisition blew it up for anti-science reasons, or that a weapon was tested and accidentally detonated. Neither of these is a particularly happy possibility for the locals.

The Bashanta Kremlin is, like most kremlins, a fortified citadel inside the city proper. It sits on a hill below the Observatory, and the military labs under the Observatory have tunnels connecting them to the Kremlin. To impress people, Ketheryna had the place designed as a Vodacce star fort, even though the design offers very little advantage inside a city. Her elite Eisen mercenaries drill publically in the plaza every morning, then head back inside. Ketheryna's strangest and most advanced work, however, is not displayed like her guards and lesser inventions, but kept in training grounds that connect to the Observatory sub-basements. Of course, the things aren't totally her work. She hired experts on Ussuran folklore and mechanical engineering to assist on them. The things began as an experiment involving the domovoi, the tutelary house-spirits found in just about every Ussuran home. The same domovoi will remain inside the same house no matter how often it is torn down and rebuilt, so long as the stove it lives inside remains intact. If the family moves and brings the stove, the domovoi follows.

Therefore, Ketheryna's research teams took abandoned stoves and put them in increasingly outlandish locations. Churches, taverns, Tamatama-style caravans. As long as the domovoi continued to receive offerings of food and alcohol, they stayed and defended the home against misuse and neglect, even moving things to make noise or scare off vermin and intruders. The latest experiment has put a compact stove housing a domovoi inside the chest of a clockwork robot - a giant toy clockwork soldier, in essence. When exposed to a threat, such as a dangerous animal, the domovoi will animate the soldier and make it walk and fight to get rid of the threat. Ketheryna may, perhaps, have let her fascination with this development overwhelm her good sense, and considers using them as the future of soldiering or home defense. She has not yet revealed her giant robot nutcrackers to the public yet, but has installed them in various halls in the Imperial Palace. It is not yet known if the domovoi are willing to fight human intruders, however, or if they consider themselves trapped and enslaved by this.

The Imperial Palace, on the other side of the Observatory, is a comparatively humble building surrounded by blocks of opulent apartments. Ketheryna's own home connects to these dwellings in order to keep the political powerhouses close to her, and many of the outer halls of the apartments have glass windows - large, expensive and good for spying on neighbors, but not very good at keeping the cold out. They have, at least, made it through winter without being broken by hail. There are year-round balls, salons and other public entertainments in the palace and its surroundings, as Ketheryna knows that the spectacles she's made mean nothing if no one's talking about them. The Imperial Theater is nearby, and unlike most of Bashanta's amenities, it is designed for commoners to enjoy, too, using state-of-the-art machinery for trick entrances and exits, quick changes of backdrop and other such things.

Next time: Somojez

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




JcDent posted:

Well, libertarians and sovereign citizens do feel to outlandish to be true...
Sovereign citizen stuff is literally magick. The Canadian judge who wrote the definitive decision on OPCA scams was at a loss to explain their reasoning in any other way. (He even described it as a "demon-haunted shadow world.")

quote:

Henry also has worn a literal "magic hat!" In the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Henry v. Starwood Hotels, before Justice Shelley, Henry appeared wearing what is best described as ceremonial garb, with a robe and red fez, that he indicated had special significance. Subsequently, Henry has appeared in Chambers wearing what appeared to be a lawyer's robes. It seems that Moorish Law advocates place special weight on court dress, particularly since Henry appealed Justice Shelley's findings in part on the basis that he had garbed himself in a manner appropriate for the occasion, but she had not...

The "Moorish Law" sovereign citizens are a special treat, because they're appropriating a movement that originated with white supremacists and turning into a black nationalist thing.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




JcDent posted:

"This is my boomstick! Be impressed by it because oh God I can't shoot it"

It's not about using guns, it's about having guns. A "Real Man" doesn't have to pull the trigger.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Also you'd be arrested, and fulminaturgy is frequently about the soft social power of threatened violence than about actually using it and facing consequences for your actions.

It's possible that stand-your-ground laws making murder legal will do weird and ironic things to fulminaturgy.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Katherina's robot soldiers is just the kind of bullshit PCs pull that you'd hear about on 4chan.

She still has an abominable automaton gap in comparison to Winter, tho.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Halloween Jack posted:

Sovereign citizen stuff is literally magick. The Canadian judge who wrote the definitive decision on OPCA scams was at a loss to explain their reasoning in any other way. (He even described it as a "demon-haunted shadow world.")


The "Moorish Law" sovereign citizens are a special treat, because they're appropriating a movement that originated with white supremacists and turning into a black nationalist thing.

It's basically quack medicine's legal cousin.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Kult just feels like the Ministry cover band of RPGs.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - Veche Is Not In Veche

Somojez Province is most of northwest Ussura and controls most of the Eisen border. The actual city Somojez is on a far northern island, however. Somojez once controlled most of the north, until Novgorov conquests seized the Rurik area. Of course, while it has land in the mountains now, no one lives there, and Somojez city is far from the rest of the province, alternating between Ussuran and Vesten rule. Currently, the island is Vesten, and the Pscovs have better things to do than fight for it - they have religion to deal with. Most Ussurans practice a form of religion dating back to the First Prophet, known as Orthodoxy, and combine this with rituals to respect and honor the Leshiye and domovoi. Metropolitan Lyuba v'Pscov's reforms threaten to tear the province in half, as the middle and upper classes typically support them, as they centralize power in the cities and purge the Church of 'backwards' elements...which is to say, superstitious peasants and their beliefs. The muzhiks see the reforms as deeply classist and unneeded. The Schismatists threaten to spill over into the rest of Ussura now, as they send wandering priests out to gain support elsewhere. The traditionalist Orthodox have begun to do the same. Pavtlow seems largely sympathetic to the Orthodoxy, especially the streltsy corps, while Bashanta leans towards the Schismatists. Neither Czar candidate has made their position known.

Veche is the largest city in Somojez, once the capital of neighboring Veche until it was conquered by a once-minor boyar from Borovoi Forest, Vsevolod, who continued his conquest until he reached the northern monasteries and was converted to Orthodoxy. From there, he stopped fighting, working instead to protect the church. He did, however, refuse to give up his conquests, citing his duty to convert the locals (most of whom were already Orthodox, of course). Depending on who you ask, he was either a pious hero or a hypocritical tyrant. The city seems to attract strange people, and lies just south of Borovoi Forest. Legend (and poetry) says it was the home base of the most famous bogatyr of legend, Princess Nadzeya. The armored drachen that appears on the Somojez coat of arms is claimed to live in a lake nearby, and many of the city's people claim descent from Leshiye, goblins or other creatures.

St. Anderson is named for Toivo Anderson, a Vesten raider who converted to the Orthodoxy after landing in Ussura. He atoned for his sins as a raider by defending the Orthodox against aggression, and while modern stories attribute the aggression to Eisen, it likely also came from more eastern Ussurans as well. St. Anderson is a notable port for trade with Vendel and Posen, and shares its patron saint with southern St. Andresgorod, one of Vsevolod's conquests. St. Anderson was involved in the War of the Cross, when an Eisen expeditionary force attacked by command of the mercenary bandit Captain Regula Gerver, who sought to take the port for plunder under cover of war. The local boyar, Lady Yesfir, was enthusiastic in her defense but inexperienced and was quickly captured. Unwilling to ransom her, the people of St. Anderson fortified for a siege and got supplies from Ushkuinik blockade runners. When Grever proved unable to starve them out, the mercenary went home with Yesfir still captive. She has only finally escaped during a Horror attack, walking home to Ussura. The land has welcomed her, keeping her safe from weather, but the locals have not. She wants the town back, but they are unsure of her and confident in their ability to rule themselves.

Tebizond, in the east, is known as the holiest city in Ussura and is a major Orthodox pilgrimage site. It's the gateway into the mountains, which are home to many reliquaries and monasteries, many of which defy the laws of nature due to being built on top of Syrneth structures. Rumor has it the monks know far more about the Syrne than most, but keep it secret due to their religious oaths.

Borovoi Forest is north of Veche, and a ring of light, normal woods surrounds the dense core of extremely weird and complex ecosystem at the center, guarded by the local lumberjacks, hunters and trappers, who warn travelers of the dangers but never seem to be able to stop them from trying anyway. Some visitors are bogatyrs seeking adventure, others are explorers or treasure hunters, while others are merchants coming to trade with the goblins. Some are foes of Matushka, so desperate to escape her wrath that they seek refuge among the walking trees. Many of the eldest trees in the forest are awakened beings, able to pull up their roots and move about. Borovoi the Leshy is the forest's ruler, whose teeth and beard are moss and grass. He is the most alien of the Leshiye still active, easily mistaken for a tree when not moving. He is made of trunks and bark and vine wound together, his legs prehensile roots. His trunk is so wide that two men on either side could not wrap their arms around it and touch each other, and his dozens of branch-hands reach down with twiggy claws. Countless animals live inside him, and when he speaks, which is rare, his mouth is full of soil and loam and his voice is as trees creaking in wind. Borovoi is more than just a spirit of this forest. He is a spirit of every plant and fungus in Ussura, and he feels the growth and death of every blade of grass. In spring and summer, he is vibrant, even playful in his slow sort of way, and gives riddles or speaks happily of crops. In fall and winter, he is somber and serious. If you prove to him you are a friend of the growing things, he will tell you the secrets known only to plants. He can say which grasses bear the footprints of General Winter's army, which marsh reeds hide Lazavik of the Ushkuiniks, what oak hides the heart of the Deathless. He knows all these things.

The Borovoi Forest is one of two places in all of Ussura that is free of Matushka's power, the other being Vir'ava Forest. Were Matushka's chicken-legged hut to walk there or were she to fly in her magical mortar and pestle, the trees would rise up and repel her, lashing at her with thorns and vines and heavy branches until, at last, she fled. The Leshiye that live now in the Borovoi once roamed all of Ussura, but Matushka decided she wanted exclusive access to the people of Ussura. she fought and cursed and tricked the Leshiye until they fled to places they'd be safe from her. Borovoi rallied the plant-spirits, bringing them to his forest, where they could band together to resist the killing winter, and their influence is everywhere in the wood. The forest is full of odd plants, such as two species of identical-looking apple trees. One of them makes you grow a horn whenever you eat one of its apples, while the other makes you more beautiful whenever you eat an apple from it, and makes any such horns fall off. Another tree's apples can restore youth to the aged. Coffer-oaks grow beautiful treasure chests with elaborate natural carvings, binding them with branches and roots. As the trees age, they swallow up the chest, rendering it invisible to anyone that doesn't know exactly what to look for. This makes young coffer-oaks an excellent hiding place for things you don't want discovered, if you can find them just before they grow around the chest and stash them away forever.

The Borovoi Forest has two great secrets. First is a magical path that leads into Vir'ava Forest, across Ussura entirely.In the center of the wood, hidden in the wilds, there is a strange market. Magical creatures, mostly long-nosed goblin shapeshifters and wise but often cruelly tricky talking animals. Every night, one stall in the market - always different, always with a different and strange price - sells passage to Vir'ava. The other secret is that Borovoi Forest is not stationary. Slowly but surely, the trees walk. Only a few meters per month, yes, but they move. Every plant of the wood comes from somewhere else, and in times past, was forced to hide by Matushka. Borovoi still remembers, however. He remembers the time before Matushka ruled supreme, before the tectonic plates crashed together on the Molhynia border, when great magical forests covered Ussura. He desires that time's return. And so close to his wood, so tantalizing, is the city of Veche. One day, and for the trees it is one day soon, the forest will climb over the walls, reach their fingers through the windows of the city. They will bring the magic of the growing things back to a sterile city. And then, they will teach Matushka the lesson they have been saving for her for centuries: what you take from the trees, the trees will take back.

Gallenia Province is ruled by the Riasanovas, and while the province is small and has only one major city, it is the most active in terms of trade. While the Crescent and Cathayan merchants are not numerous by, say, Vodacce standards, they have been trading with Gallenia for as long as there's been a Gallenia. The province was settled by Crescents, and Western Ussurans came only after the Knias Douma was founded and outlawed battle between provinces. The province maintains a busy schedule of fairs and festivals, coinciding with the easiest times for merchants to come. The locals trade their honey and ore for silk, quality steel, herbs and other substances that are rare in the area. The borders are guarded by Cossack patrols, who hunt down smugglers and ensure trade stays on the taxed toll roads of the Czar. Lady Arzu would much prefer to open more supply roads, for if she could trade her vast mineral wealth unrestricted with the Curonians and Cathayans, she'd be very rich indeed, as would most of Gallenia.

The province is notable for being home to Matushka's chicken-leg hut, which wanders the western wastelands, though Matushka can of course cross all of Ussura in an instant in her flying mortar. There are no other Leshiye in Gallenia, for Matushka forbids them entirely. As the Leshiye rule the wood or the mountains or the rain, Matushka claims humans as her domain. In the old days, there were Leshiye everywhere, and you could make deals with them for powers similar to those Matushka can grant. However, she disliked this arrangement, as she was always being confounded by bogatyrs, sneaky princes and fools. She'd catch someone that deserved to be eaten, but he'd show that some animal had taught him how to become a falcon and fly away. She'd catch another, and that one would reveal how she'd beaten a three-headed drachen and earned the secret of Matushka's weakness, hidden away in an egg in a duck in a hare in a treasure chest. So Matushka began to chase off the other Leshiye, eating those she could catch and chasing the rest far from humanity. The message got around: if you make deals with humans, if you protect them from Matushka, if you do anything but scare them off, then Matushka will come and take what is rightly hers.

Sousdal is the only city in all of Gallenia, home of Lady Arzu and built at the base of a mountain pass that leads to the main ore mines. It's not nearly as isolated as it seems at first, for Curonia lies just south, across the Sousdal River, and the east has excellent passes into the Vir'ava Forest and from there to Cathay. The city is primarily a keep surrounded by shops and homes, but by Gallenian standards, it's a palace. Just about anyone passing through the area must stop in the city eventually, and it has a very large transient population. The locals primarily service the travelers, and it's one of the most open cities in Ussura, fusing Ussuran, Sarmatian, Cathayan and Crescent influences. The rural Gallenians tend to consider it a challenge to their way of life, however, seeing it as too metropolitan, and fearing that Lady Arzu intends to have Gallenia leave Ussura entirely. That won't stop them from visiting Sousdal to take part in the spring fairs, of course, or stop them selling their goods to foreigners.

Next time: Vir'ava Forest

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

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


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Kult just feels like the Ministry cover band of RPGs.
I'm honestly not sure who should be more insulted by that analogy.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Mors Rattus posted:

Of course not, that might damage the weapon.

wiegieman posted:

It's not about using guns, it's about having guns. A "Real Man" doesn't have to pull the trigger.
I don't think it's about either of those things.

Terrence McCoy in The Washington Post posted:

The gun Jim Cooley carries is the ATI Omni-Hybrid Maxx AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. It cost him $579.99. It weighs 6.25 pounds, is 35 inches long, and fires bullets as fast as the trigger can be pulled, and, as Jim has learned, fits nicely between the front seats of a white minivan with peeling paint on the front and a bumper sticker on the back that says, “I ♥ Law.”

Jim goes everywhere now with a gun — if not the AR-15, then his sidearm — and is so reliant on one being close by that it surprises him to think the majority of his life was lived otherwise. He was raised in a working-class family in Chicago, where he can’t imagine living now because of its strict gun laws. But they didn’t bother him then. He didn’t hunt. He didn’t fear for his safety. If his dad had a gun, no one knew. He grew up without a gun, went to church without a gun, married Maria without a gun, began raising two children without a gun, and settled into a life that felt as safe as it was dependable.

But then it began unraveling, starting when he was fired from a trucking job days after telling Maria, who was pregnant with their first child, to quit her job and focus on the baby, that he could support them both. Their first bankruptcy filing wasn’t far behind, then the second, and the third, and then they were moving to Florida, where Maria had family and where Jim got a job with a grocery chain. It transferred him to Winder, and he moved the family into a middle-class neighborhood struggling with crime and drugs.

Jim now steers past the house of a neighbor who sold him his first gun — a .380 semiautomatic for $100 — so he could protect his family from that crime, then past Winder’s only gun shop where he took his dad so he could buy a gun, too. He lights a cigarette, feels the breeze from an open window because the air conditioner is broken, and takes a sip of soda from a big mug that says Athens Regional Medical Center.

It’s a memento of sorts from the day in late 2008 when he emerged from that hospital with three stents in his heart, debts worth $41,052.51 and a dawning realization he was now disabled, broke and would never work again. After the heart attack, he lost most of the circulation in his legs, received three more stents and started using an electric scooter whenever he had to walk long distances.

He told Maria he was all used up, a drag on the family. She should think about leaving him. But she wouldn’t, even after the hospital sued him for unpaid medical bills, even after he was arrested when he carried his .380 outside a school board meeting, even after he came home one day with an AR-15. He shot it at a nearby firing range and, feeling a sense of control that had gone missing in his life, told Maria he could now keep the family safe.

She now sits at his side, as always, in the passenger seat. At first, she didn’t understand the changes she saw in the man she married 24 years ago. Why did he suddenly want a gun when he never mentioned one before? Why did he want her to get one, too? Why did he put two four-inch knives inside the car’s ¬passenger-side door? And why all the security cameras? Maria glances at a small screen beneath the rearview mirror: It shows feeds from surveillance cameras affixed inside the car that start recording when someone turns the ignition.

But Maria went along with all of it. She bought a .380 semi¬automatic and has gotten used to taking it with her wherever she goes. She got used to the cameras, too, including the seven Jim placed around the house’s perimeter. She began to understand why he was so concerned about crime, about terrorists, about the need to protect their family because they couldn’t count on the government to do it for them. Last year, when he showed her his new AR-15 and asked her to shoot it, she did, feeling intimidated afterward. But then she did it again. And when he started bringing the rifle not just to the range, but to Atlanta, to the airport, inside Walmart, she eventually went along with that, too.

So much of her life involves accommodating him now, including just before they left for Walmart and he asked her to send a Facebook message to a local deputy about his plans. “What do you want me to tell him?” Maria had asked.
Magick in UA always hinges on a paradox that can never be resolved--and the idea that "an armed society is a polite society," i.e. that we maintain peace by having everybody armed to the teeth, absolutely fits the bill.

But there's a more personal, psychological aspect to it: most people in developed countries are mystified by violence. You see a poo poo-ton of it on television, but rarely experience it. If you take up martial arts or other contact sports, that demystifies it a great deal. You get to experience violence in a controlled environment, realize you suck, and train to improve your physique, skills, and mental readiness for violence in a controlled way. And everyone in a boxing or MMA gym gets a general sense of where they stand in relation to everyone else.

But with guns, that never happens. You keep training, and reading, and collecting, and training for a moment that will probably never come. (Less charitably: you keep giving all your disposable income to the gun industry and fantasizing about shooting people.)

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Kult just feels like the Ministry cover band of RPGs.
You're thinking of Vampire.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 17:16 on Jul 30, 2018

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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




Panic at the Dojo: Archetypes - Angel, Cavalry, Cyborg



So, we've covered Forms. In order to build a Stance, you combine a Form with a Style to create a unique fighting technique. So, you'll be picking three Forms, then three Styles to attach to them. Styles are sorted into Archetypes - there are 13 of those, then each one has 5 Styles. Which ones you have access to is... a little complicated. OK, this took me a long time to figure out, because the book saves the actual Chargen rules until way later, so here's an explanation from further ahead in the book. When you make a character, you pick what kind of hero you're making - Focused, Fused, or Frantic.

Focused heroes pick one Archetype, and use only Styles within that one Archetype. This sounds like a losing proposition, but each Archetype also has its own special passive ability, and each Archetype Ability comes in three flavors. The Focused version is, generally speaking, the strongest and most dependable.

Fused heroes pick two Archetypes, and combine them together. Your Styles consist of two from one Archetype and one from the other. The Fused Archetype Abilities are the weakest type, but that's because you benefit from both Archetypes' Abilities at all times.

Frantic heroes pick three Archetypes, and get weirder from there. Your Style selection is two Styles from two of your selected Archetypes, then one Style that can be from any other Archetype, even one you don't have. Unlike Focused/Fused heroes, you don't even make Stances! Instead, at the start of your turn, you pick one Archetype, one Form, and one Style, and then you have access to the Abilities and Actions from the ones you picked. The catch: You can't use the same Archetype, Style or Form as you used last turn. Frantic Archetype Abilities are about on par with Focused Abilities, but they're sometimes tweaked slightly to work better as something you only sometimes have access to.

So. There you go. It's time to see what we're working with here.

ANGEL


Embodiments of law, purity and order. Angels are defenders and controllers, doing low damage but keeping themselves and their allies alive. They're the main tanking archetype, heavily using Challenge tokens and having Styles full of ways to stay alive while fighting large numbers of enemies.

Each Archetype lists a 'complexity' rating, from one to three stars, kind of like Overwatch. Angel's listed at two stars.

Abilitiy
Focused: At the start of your turn, Challenge an enemy you can see, then deal 1 damage to them, then heal 1. After you Challenge an enemy, deal 1 damage to them, then heal 1. The first half does trigger the second half, so the start-of-turn Challenge does 2 damage and heals 2, and any other Challenges deal 1 damage and heal 1.
Fused: Same as Focused, but without the second half.
Frantic: At the start of your turn, Challenge an enemy you can see, then deal 2 damage to them, then heal 2.

Halcyon Style
Range: 1-2
The invincible debuff manager. At the start of your turn, discard a token. If you discard tokens through Actions or Abilities, you turn them into Iron Tokens instead.

1+: Purify
Remove one token token from yourself or an ally within range.
3+: Remove two tokens from someone within range.
6+: Do 3+ again.

A nice thing the book does for Styles is give some rules clarifications and suggested Stances for each Style. For Halcyon, extra token removal can come from Vigilance Form or Song Form, Blaster Form can expand your Purify to remove up to 13 tokens at once, giving you 13 Iron Tokens for one die. Zen Form can guarantee you a 6+ Purify every turn.

Judgment Style
Range: 1
An aggressive Challenge tank, good at picking one enemy and keeping them from doing things other than fighting you. Whenever an enemy has a Challenge from you, they discard the lowest die from their Action Pool at the start of their turn.

5+: Denial
Teleport next to an enemy you can see, then Challenge them.

Good Stances: Judgment Power uses Denial to move and compensate for its low mobility. Judgment Iron/Reversal gets Armor to soak all the damage you're taking from Challenging people. Judgment Control combines Denial and Control Tokens to remove multiple actions to an enemy. Judgment Zen guarantees access to Denial every turn and lets enemies just break themselves against your shields.

Shining Style
Range: 1
A strange style where you grab allies, pull them next to you, then yell "Never talk to me or my son again". At the start of your turn, all obstacles and enemies adjacent to you are pushed one space. Enemies can't move into spaces adjacent to you.

1+: Beacon
Pull an ally up to 3 spaces. You and that ally heal 1.
4+: The ally heals.

Good stances: Shining Dance/Vigilance/Song create large zones of safety and mass healing. Shining Control/Blaster let you attack without getting into melee range of an enemy.

Singing Style
Range: 2-4
Our Shield tank. Gain a 2-point Shield at the start and end of your turn, and after each Action, increase the health of your active Shield by 1.

Symphony
A weird action - it's technically a Token Action, but instead of using tokens, you spend your active Shield, destroying it. Choose two: Pull an lly 3 spaces, an ally within range heals, Challenge an enemy within range, an enemy within range is pushed 3 spaces, destroy an obstacle within range.

Good stances: Snging Zen lets you hold multiple Shields at once, performing multiple Symphonies in a row. Singing Dance lets you stack powerful Shield boosts while moving and healing. Singing Shadow/Wild let you take huge numbers of Actions to boost your Shield strength.

Winged Style
Range: 1-2
Angels can fly, right? Go ahead and fly. Edges can't remove you from play, and you move two spaces at the end of every turn.

1+: As The Crow Flies
Teleport 3-4 spaces.

Good stances: Winged Power/One-Two can use the added mobility to get in someone's face to delivery those strong hits. Winged Reversal can use the off-turn movement to get into position for counter attacks. Winged Shadow can be basically anywhere at any time.

CAVALRY


The Cavalry's job is to get where they need to be, fast, and pick the team back up. They're built around support and team buffs, and are highly dependent on good positioning. Complexity: One star.

Ability
Focused: At the start and end of your turn, you and each ally adjacent to you gets a 2-point Shield. When you or an ally get their Shield broken, gain a Speed Token.
Fused: At the end of your turn, you and each adjacent ally get a 2-point Shield.
Focused: First half of the Focused ability.

Charging Style
Range: 1
Get the whole team moving, then get the whole team fighting at once. Whenever you or an ally starts their turn, they can move 2 spaces.

3+: Follow My Lead
Move one space, then deal 1 damage to an enemy within range. An ally you can see gets to do the same.

Good Stances: Charging One-Two Can trigger the extra hits off of Follow My Lead. Charging Blaster gives Follow My Lead an extra action for the attack AND for the bonus ally movement/attack. Charging Shadow potentially lets you use Follow My Lead a ton of times every turn. Charging Reversal uses Follow My Lead during enemy turns to help your allies slip into position more easily.

Heroic Style
Range: 1-2
A tank style that keeps your party alive at the cost of their own survival. Whenever an ally within range takes damage, you take half of it for them.

4+: Burning Heart
You gain 2 Iron Tokens, as does every ally within range.

Good stances: Heroic Iron/Reversal gives you Armor to survive the extra damage. Heroic Reversal/Shadow can get you into range to protect allies off of your turn. Heroic Zen lets you deal damage to enemies when they break your many shields. Heroic Control gives Burning Heart a range of 5.

Jumping Style
Range: 1
Cavalry has to be in the right place, and good lord, Jumping Style will get you there. At the start and end of your turn, teleport 1-3 spaces.

4+: Leap In
Teleport up to 3 spaces, deal 2 damage to an enemy in range.

Good stances: Jumping Power/One-Two increase the damage you can blitz onto an enemy with your leaps. Jumping Blaster helps you charge into groups of enemies and Shockwave them down. Jumping Wild is a chaotic panic stance. Jumping Vigilance Puts you in position to heal or debuff, then back out again.

Rallying Style
Range: 1
When the team is dying, this is the style to get them back on their feet. At the end of your turn, you and every ally in range heals. At the start of each ally's turn, if they're in your range, they heal.

2+: Group Up
Pull an ally up to 3 spaces.
3+: Pull an ally up to 4 spaces.
5+: Every pulled ally heals.

Good stances: Rallying Song/Vigilance maximizes healing strength. Rallying Iron keeps your healer alive. Rallying Blaster/Control increases your Range to make max use of the style's Ability.

Unbreakable Style
Range: 1-2
Buff allies indirectly by buffing yourself! After each Action, give an Iron Token to an ally within range. Allies within range can spend your Tokens directly as if they were theirs.

4+: Eyes Open
Gain 6 Iron Tokens and 1 Weakness Token.

Good stances: Unbreakable Control increases the range for allies using your tokens, and also lets allies play with your Control Tokens. Unbreakable Power/Iron produce large numbers of cool tokens for your allies to use. Unbreakable Shadow/Reversal Let you keep your Speed Tokens between turns, so that your allies can use them.

CYBORG


Cyborgs are a slightly strange archetype with a few different themes woven together. They start weak, but build power over time. They get a constant flow of basic tokens, then use them to fuel powerful Token Actions. They can adapt to any situation, becoming stronger, faster, or tougher as needed.

Focused Ability: At the start of your turn, gain four Basic Tokens of any one type.
Fused Ability: Same as Focused, but two instead of four.
Frantic Ability: Same as Focused.

Armored Style
Range: 1-2
A tanky cyborg that soaks damage and keeps enemies from getting away. Every time you spend any number of Iron Tokens, you heal 1.

2 Iron Tokens: You, Stay
Challenge an enemy within range. They discard three Speed Tokens. This does count as spending Iron Tokens for the passive ability.

Good stances: Armored Iron is an obvious tanky pick. Armored Shadow/Reversal Lets you stick to enemies as they move. Armored Vigilance is a very strong stance for keeping yourself alive. Armored Song gives you an insane number of Tokens of whatever type you want.

Incinerator Style
Range: 1-3
All burn. Whenever you spend Power Tokens to boost an attack, it also puts a Burning Token on them.

2 Power Tokens: Flamethrower
An enemy within range takes 1 damage, gains 1 Burning Token, and is pushed one space. If you spend a Power Token, it does get a second Burning Token stacked onto it.

Good stances: Incinerator Power lets you spend multiple Power Tokens on Incinerator. Incinerator One-Two/Blaster give you extra hits, and therefore extra chances to add tokens. Incincerator Song gives you many Power Tokens to play with.

Machine Style
Range: 1-2
The ultimate in versatility. While in this style, Basic Tokens are just Basic Tokens - you can spend any of them as if they were Power, Speed or Iron Tokens as you see fit.

1+: High Efficiency
Choose 3: Heal 1, gain an Iron Token, gain a Power Token, gain a Speed Token, deal 1 damage to an enemy within range.
4+ Do all five things instead.

Good stances: Machine Shadow/Reversal keep Speed Tokens between turns, which you can then spend as Iron/Power Tokens. Machine Shadow/Wild get lots of dice that can all be used for High Efficiency. Machine Song gives you more Tokens. All the Cyborg Styles do well with Song Form, honestly. Just make a kung fu vocaloid like you always wanted.

Rocket Style
Range: 1
A mobility style that's all about battlefield control. After you push anyone, you can teleport to any empty space adjacent to them.

2 Speed Tokens: Rocket Tackle
Push an adjacent enemy or ally two spaces.

Good stances: Rocket Dance lets you move people, teleport to them, then have tons of Speed Tokens left over. Rocket Shadow/Reversal let you Rocket Tackle during other people's turns. Rocket Song give token.

Syphon Style
Range: 1/2
Amasses power gradually over time, then does a huge amount of damage. At the end of your turn, choose a token you hold. Either replace it with a Power token, or gain a copy of it.

2+: Power Converter
Choose a token that you or someone within range is holding. Steal, replace it with a Power Token, or do both.
6+: In addition to affecting the target token, it also affects all other tokens of the same type that that character is holding.

Good stances: Syphon Power/Wild can use all those Power Tokens you're getting quickly and effectively. Syphon Blaster lets you steal a ton of different tokens at once - an Amplified 6+ Power Converter can steal five types tokens from anyone in range and give them to you as Power Tokens. Syphon Reversal can steal enemy Speed Tokens the instant they gain them. Syphon Zen can always do a 6+ Power Converter, every turn. Syphon Song do big tokens.

Next: Demon, Flametongue, Gunkata.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

The symbolic level of fulminaturgy is certainly that the weapon is a representation of an ideal (that the presence of a firearm enforces some kind of order on the world) and the whole thing is taken to a ritualistic level: the symbolic value of the gun is in the ritual of carrying it, and actually having to use the gun would be admitting that the ritual has failed. It also says something about the strength of your belief: to the rest of us the deterrent value of guns seems a bit like a thin excuse for shooting black people - to play an Open Carry mage you have to genuinely believe it's not about shooting people.

On a more Doylistic level, it's more like 2e Pornomancy. It takes something a lot of people are going to be interested in for banal reasons and deliberately twists it until all the banal fun has been wrung out. Yes, you can power your magic using sex but it has to be the mechanical, soulless sex of mass-media pornography. Yes, you can power your magic using guns but you don't get to shoot anyone.

(It seems almost spiteful, like John Tynes was tired of people using sex magic as an excuse for erotic roleplaying at his table and decided to show them all. I appreciate it though.)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I always thought it was more of an extension of UA's general theme that magic doesn't make anyone's life easier. You can have fun and live an emotionally healthy life, or you can have cosmic power. You don't really get both.

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



It's mostly all downhill from here, Ktonor was really the one noteworthily cool thing in the game. Now it's mostly just the lovely SUPER ENLIGHTENED ARCHETYPES section and the last of the DEEPEST LORE which does, thankfully, feature some cool art of cool angels.

METROPOLIS



So the problem with Metropolis is that it's meant to be like... humanity's ancestral realm and host to all this weird and cool stuff and... the problem is that no one you want to interact with resides there and it's haunted by the Archons and their servants probably more densely than any other place than Elysium, so it's a terrible idea to go there. Plus, an infinite abandoned cityscape of urban decay is probably one of the least exciting places I can imagine to go adventuring. It also has that issue where it has no established character beyond "URBAN" to make it have, well, character. Potentially you could raid it for cool futuretech since it has aspects of all cities that ever have or will exist, but at the same time the game has no stats for that cool futuretech or ideas for what you could actually use it for.

They also keep around the MACHINE CITY from the original Kult, a region of Metropolis full of inscrutable, still-active machinery that can do pretty much anything the story needs them to, and thus has no real character or mood attached, and the CITY OF THE DEAD which is just... gently caress-you-ville full of vague plot threads like before. Like, it contains those few humans who have died a True Death... but what is it and how does it work and where is it ever defined? NOWHERE, MOTHERFUCKER. It contains the tombs of gods... but wait, what's the difference between a divinely unleashed human and an actual god? Are they actually the same thing? WHO KNOWS, THIS GAME SURE DOESN'T. And of course, we still have the tomb of the Demiurge with its immortal guardian. What does it mean? What's inside this potentially cool plot location? NO ONE BOTHERED TO FIND OUT. Because it's much easier to just throw vague, spooky terms and plot threads around when you don't actually have to decide on what they actually mean. gently caress this game.

And then there are the Archons' Citadels which remain as places that no one could ever conceivably give a gently caress about, since entering one just means you'll be assaulted by a horde of undefeatable bad dudes that will inevitably bury you in murder, because the Archons don't like humanity existing outside of Elysium at all. Like, the Citadels don't actually serve a function, at least none that's described, except that they may be the Archons' actual bodies and thus bringing the nuke we started the game with there might make sense. It might also not. Like... if they were part of some celestial bureaucracy and we could fiddle with the files to misdirect the Archons' servants or give ourselves advantages, that would be cool. But there's none of that. We've also still got the Abyss, where the Demiurge's citadel once stood.... and it still contains a big ol' fuckload of nothing so there's no reason to go there.

On the bright side, it's probably the only place in Kult where no one's raping anyone, or at least not any children. Gotta take what we can get.


Azghouls used to be our slaves, now they mostly want revenge on us and they're smart enough to get it without arousing the Archons' suspicions a lot of the time

It's weird, I had decent memories of the Gynachide write-up in the original Kult, but here it just feels creepier and grosser. Possibly because they decided they needed art of the Gynachide's alien dongler. Like, the concept remains the same, they're only capable of reproducing by having human women carry their children to term, the kids then look human for a year or so, during which the Gynachide arrives to whisk them away to Metropolis and raise them as their own, leaving some sort of strange, but well-intentioned, gift for the baffled parents. Occasionally the Gynachide child then revisits its human parent(s) and any human siblings it had once it's grown up. It's implied that they have no real ill will towards us, even though we're responsible for the strange state of their reproduction, due to not being the brightest species around, and that they could just as easily be allies as enemies(since they explicitly hate and hunt angels, sometimes successfully).

Like... reading the original Kult book, I always went: "Whoah, yeah, you could have a mysterious disappearance and it turns out the returned Gynachide child is spiriting its human family away to Metropolis because it wants them around and etc. and you could unravel all the weird poo poo like the original missing kid and the left-behind artifacts and archon cover-ups and yeah!" But part of that was because it was kinda... vague on how Gynachides "implanted" a fetus in a human mother. Like. I had imagined it as being kind of surgical, or just a magic ritual or something.

But now we've got a great big fat weird sea cucumber-looking tentacle cock thing. That just makes it seem a whole lot more rapey.


Honestly not sure if I should be censoring this or not. So don't click the timg if you're unsure.

Lastly, there's a bit on the angels which is wonderfully insufficient for actually using them in the loving game. It doesn't stat any of them in any way, it doesn't outline their powers or abilities, or even their power level. Are they more dangerous than Lictors? Less dangerous than a Razide? Able to take an Azghoul in a fight? All we know is that Gynachides(also unstatted) can school them bare-handed, apparently. There's also a bunch of art of them, and here are my favourites.


I'm a sucker for the multi-wing thing


Spoiler: I'm not a fan of this one because it looks cool, but because why does this one particular angel need to have his dick out? For gently caress's sake, Kult dorks

INFERNO



As dumb and pointless as Metropolis is, Inferno is even worse. At least in Metropolis a GM who's willing to do all the hard work could potentially make it worth visiting for some reason. Inferno is like a box that only contains things you hate. There is no reason for anyone to ever go there. Ever. Like, not unless you want to be knee-deep in a mess made up of intestines, bile, blood, semen and vaginal discharge would crazy, skinless people weep at you and nepharites come chasing after you to drag you into torture. Like. This is just staggeringly meaningless to even really have in the game. It's like detailing the Eye of Terror for a game of Dark Heresy. Your characters will never want to go there, they have no reason to go there, and if they go there, they will die choking on their own intestines.

But at least it's a Hell that knows good customer service and are willing to provide the personal touch of creating your very own pit of specialized suffering intended to drive you, and only you, completely insane and over the edge into mindless oblivion so you can be reborn. Could be worse, I guess.

So then they start up on telling us about Astaroth and, again, they just manage to be vaguer and more pointless than Kult Classic. In the original, Astaroth had a bunch of detailed-and-statted incarnations that were loving around on the material plane, trying to set things up for either Total Doomsday or a takeover by his Death Angels and their legions. In this case we're just told that he has incarnations and that they're probably pretty spooky and then the authors shuffle us on to the next sideshow on the moron trip(and what little we're told about the incarnates is... terribly stupid. One of them is a loving MTV show, another is the severed head of John the Baptist, one is just a loving revolver and another is a prostitute. This is considerably less scary than the literal Antichrist or Randall Flagg from the original. I mean, yeah, it's not the actual Flagg, copyrights and all, but holy poo poo the inspiration felt really obvious way back when). We're told that Inferno wants to, as a whole, take over Elysium from the Archons but... we're never really told... why? What do they get out of it? Do they need/want worship? Are they just dickheads? Do they feel like they'd have a better shot at maintaining the Illusion(and thus not getting their asses deep-fried once Divine Humanity returns) than the Archons? Who the gently caress knows, these guys are less detailed in stats and motivation than child rapist cults. gently caress you, Kult.

Rather than angels, each Death Angel also has their own dumb "Clergy" which is a more varied institution made up of basically anyone who applied for a job and was really good at dressing like a lovely S&M cenobite. Dead gods, renegade angels, angry lictors, demons(which are undefined in any way), nepharites, humans, ghosts, probably someone's Golden Retriever who got his head stuck in a gimp mask and accidentally walked into the interview room. Because seriously they all look like incredibly edgy, tryhard morons even by this book's standards. Let me line them up for you, I'm sure you guys are gonna love this dumb poo poo.






As usual, clickthrough if you wanna see the NSFW garbage.

Then there's Inferno's bestiary which is just Creature That Tortures People, Guy Who Got Tortured And Had His Dick Chopped Off and One Hand Replaced With A Hook and Tortured Guy That Got Even Bigger Body Mods(Nepharite, Purgatide and Razide, in order). Like I'm not even gonna show you the art, because it's dumb and I'm pretty sure you guys can guess that yes, we see that the guy who had his dick chopped off actually had his dick chopped off. There's also a single paragraph on the actually interesting aspect of Inferno, which is that Metropolis is made out of plundered alien realms, pretty much, but Inferno is made out of the cosmic refuse from that. The spoil pile of humanity's strip mining. Like, why did you even need Edgelord Angels in there? Just have it be full of angry alien rebels like some of the residents of Ktonor. That'd actually give them a reason to want revenge on us, even at the risk of endangering the Illusion. It'd give them a motivation, you could have Ktonor as the "want to survive"-faction and Inferno as the "want revenge" -faction and it'd... it'd... it'd... oh I loving give up. gently caress this game.

And now we're just, thank God, one last loving post of my complaining away from being done with this dumb loving sack of trash game.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Night10194 posted:

I always thought it was more of an extension of UA's general theme that magic doesn't make anyone's life easier. You can have fun and live an emotionally healthy life, or you can have cosmic power. You don't really get both.

While The Freak has not aged well as a concept, they are probably the prime example of this being both a Godwalker and a high-level magic user. In Forgotten Realms, this makes you Elminster. In UA, it makes you unable to look in the mirror.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Still worth pointing out that an avatar of a stable role like the Merchant can be both happy and successful.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




wiegieman posted:

Still worth pointing out that an avatar of a stable role like the Merchant can be both happy and successful.

they could be happy, but my understanding is that the kind of person that becomes a powerful avatar of the Merchant isn't the kind of person that makes $1 million one time and then calls it quits. they're just as much of a power addict as other avatars / adepts, they've just managed to perform their idiosyncratic behavior in a way that's marginally compatible with regular society. the kind of person that's driven enough to actually begin to harness arcane power in pursuit of their goals isn't the kind of person that's going to be satisfied with conventional definitions of success.

also, fulminaturgy is hilarious if for no other reason that apparently a bunch of beta testers that had the broad idea described to them (wizard draws power from ownership of guns) thought "oh sick gun wizards imma john rambo up in this bitch" and then found out "no actually your wizard loses all of his power if he ever actually shoots his gun".

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



There are in fact two varieties of Fulminaturgy: One lets you shoot guns. This is explicitly noted as a thing to let players who really really wanna play a magic shootmans do it if they want but it's obviously an afterthought and doesn't mesh as well as the default taboo of No Shooting Guns.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

It'd frankly be just as UA to have a wizard who draws power from using guns to kill, because you have to be a really hosed-up person to use excessive and gratuitous force over the slightest triviality because it makes you feel strong...

...but it'd probably hit a bit too close to home and awkwardly run into how player characters, the Six Ways To Stop A Fight notwithstanding, will generally commit murder anyway. There'd be no downside, and the downsides are the entire point.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Freaking Crumbum posted:

they could be happy, but my understanding is that the kind of person that becomes a powerful avatar of the Merchant isn't the kind of person that makes $1 million one time and then calls it quits. they're just as much of a power addict as other avatars / adepts, they've just managed to perform their idiosyncratic behavior in a way that's marginally compatible with regular society. the kind of person that's driven enough to actually begin to harness arcane power in pursuit of their goals isn't the kind of person that's going to be satisfied with conventional definitions of success.
It's the "the price of being the best is being the best". Being the godwalker of whoever means that there's always a lot of people jockeying for your position because there can only be one godwalker per avatar.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Evil Mastermind posted:

It's the "the price of being the best is being the best". Being the godwalker of whoever means that there's always a lot of people jockeying for your position because there can only be one godwalker per avatar.

Yeah. For the Godwalker the hustle never ends.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



You can be a mid-level Avatar and just generally be happy, stable and so on.

But you'll always know you could have more power if you just, y'know, tried harder.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Yeah, even a high-level merchant isn't necessarily going to have a fluffy fun life, their conflicts just tend to run on a level that isn't as fun to play out. One thing to keep in mind is that Merchants can't be on the short end of a deal without busting taboo...they have to be constantly on the lookout, because not only do they have to worry about some hot-poo poo duke trying to pull a fast one on you...you've got to watch out for some clerk ringing up your order wrong and charging you for two fries when you only ordered one or if that rear end in a top hat at the car rental counter put the pre-paid gas on your bill without asking you. That sort of thing doesn't come into play on an RPG level very often, but inevitably the more you invest in your abilities the more your life becomes warped.

And of course, they've also kind of got the problem Cliomancers do: everyone knows that you need to watch out for Merchants, so an up-and-coming faustian bargainer might end up being targeted to try and keep them from becoming a powerhouse, and if they live long enough to make the really nice deals and start getting ridiculously buff and impressive then you've got to worry about other merchants...there's only so many people out there looking to make really interesting faustian deals and any high-level merchant is likely on the lookout for competitors.

And then of course, you've got to look out for the natural enemy of the Merchant...the ultimate "gently caress-you" avatar: The Trickster.

I know my former motto was "do not gently caress with the merchant" but the Trickster is on a whole other level once they hit 50%+

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



Time for the home stretch.

Gaia

In the original Kult book, Gaia was only vaguely detailed as a sort of counterforce to Metropolis. Infinite wilderness to oppose infinite urban-ness. Here she/it gets as much of a writeup as any of the other realms. Gaia, along with Achlys, are more or less the two Final Bosses of the setting, that no one's managed to put the smackdown on or circumvent so far. We avoid Achlys by staying the gently caress away from raw, unfiltered oblivion, and in Gaia's case we steal away chunks of her realm to build our own stuff with. They describe how Gaia is this vast and amazing nexus, filled with gateways to other worlds... and then forget that they've already described Limbo, Inferno, Metropolis, the Underworld or just having a mental illness in the same way. At this point, somewhere being rock-solid reality not peppered with tiny gaps that'd let you slide through time and space at the drop of a hat would be more staggering than this poo poo.

The only real contents of Gaia are raw, untamed wilderness which I guess is cool if your players are questing to hug the biggest tree they can find and then to get murdered by the feral maniacs dwelling in Gaia's wildernesses or Malkuth's lost angels that have also become feral in Gaia's wilderness. Everything here is feral and wild, if you hadn't guessed. Also, I haven't mentioned it much since the cacophony of stupid rape-related things, but every section has its own little lump of... story prompts, I guess? They're more like one-paragraph descriptions of a place the players encounter or something that happens to them. The ones in Gaia are the first ones, since all the rape-y ones, to catch my attention on grounds of being loving awful enough to notice.

Kult posted:

You feel strong, potent, and powerful. Wounds heal, tattoos fade, and your hair grows. You feel like a predator. Your sexual lust is strong, as is your will to dominate and make others obey you. You are now the leader of the pack.

...

It starts with a stabbing pain in the bowels. Your stomach slowly swells to an unnatural size. You break into a cold sweat, and your bowels and bladder empty just to make room. A grotesque, wormlike creature, as big as an arm, starts to push its way out through your rectal opening. It sings and hums with a hundred tiny mouths.

...

In a shallow pit lies something that looks like a meaty egg, big as a human head. It is surrounded by a swarm of foot-long spermatozoa that slithers in a slimy fluid, trying to penetrate the egg.

...

Your breasts swell up; soon thick, yellowish milk starts to flow from your nipples. There is a crawling sound from the underbrush, and small twisted creatures start to lick the milk from the ground with long pink tongues.

Just in case anyone had any suspicion that the game had stopped being loving creepy, there's loads more where this came from, including one where the player is made to inadvertently fist a tree's giant vagina.



Kult posted:

Iramin-Sul wanders through the borderland in order to find its twin, who ventured into Elysium. With the music and accolades, the god aspires to reach in through the Illusion and find its beloved sibling, awaken him from his obliviousness, and then lead him back to Gaia. The god is capricious, but if approached with respect and offerings, you can eat, drink, and sing with it for a night, as well as pose questions to it. Suitable gifts include objects removed from Elysium. The god studies these with fascination, turning them around in its clawed hands, trying to understand how they work and for what purpose they were made. Should you enrage the god, there is a considerable risk you will become its slave and be forced to follow along in its eternal dance.

So it's like... Gaia, right? Is this primordial realm full of ancient secrets and detritus from ancient civilizations. Inferno is a hellish realm full of ancient secrets and detritus from ancient civilizations. Metropolis is an urban realm full of ancient secrets and detritus from ancient civilizations. The Underworld is a cavernous, depressing realm full of ancient secrets and detritus from ancient civilizations. loving everything here is built on the paved-over battle machines and war crime evidence of the ancients. It's like the game is trying to tell us how special each of these worlds is for having these specific traits that all of the others also have. At this point the only really distinguishing traits between them is the color palette and whether we're in danger of being raped by worms, madmen, robots or demons with hooks for hands.

The fact that there isn't any more detail on Gaia, even, because seriously, it's a much shorter chapter than the rest, really enhances the feel of Divinity Lost being a "we bought the license for the name!!!!"-piece of fanfiction. These guys didn't have access to any unpublished cool poo poo from the original authors, they don't have any of their own ideas for the metaplot or the world. They just rewrote everything with, incredibly enough, a worse loving system(or, at least, a worse application of a a potentially decent system) and more rape! gently caress. These. Nerds.

PACTS AND MAGIC



So, pacts are loving stupid, following a really lame generic structure apparently no matter who you make a pact with. Every creature just wants murder and human sacrifices in exchange for whatever services. It's like, hey, yeah, I guess there's no room for any nuanced or interesting poo poo here. All these guys just want blood and murder and rape. Also, arbitrarily, when your pact buddy demands payment, you only have one game session to complete it. Never mind that a game session can encompass anywhere from a tense five minutes to several years' worth of actual game world time.

Then there's a list of MAGICAL ARTIFACTS like the BLACK ARMOR which if you put it on either makes a DEATH ANGEL show up and high-five you, giving you a magical bonus and offering to just do whatever you want because he's in a good mood, or he's gonna be really pissed and just haul you off to Inferno, no saves or do-overs, which is more or less instant death or eternal torment for any PC. There's a 999-piece puzzle that, when finished, opens a gate into someone's personal FLESH HELL which... contains... nothing interesting at all and is really just a death trap. There's a CURSED DVD, which if you watch it, turns out to be a recording of a mass rape. The GOOD result is that you get sucked in and can leave whenever you want. The BAD results range from being forced to rape someone, being raped yourself(and being permanently possessed by a rape demon), being mass raped by the other recorded participants or being eternally stuck in the rape DVD and presumably not spending forever playing Uno with the others when the TV is off. No, it's probably worse than Uno. THE BONE FLUTE that when played makes everyone in the area, player and allies included, have to make a literal save vs killing themselves. And... that's kind of it. Those are their ideas for magical artifacts. Better copyright those so no one tries to rip them off, guys!

Like in the original, Magic is tied to Madness, Time/Space, Death, Dreams or Passion. Unlike the original, we don't get an actual list of spells for each school of magic, or a description of how they work, really. We just get a vague list of things they can potentially do and how Passion magicians tend to be REAL SEXY. Like... they managed to make magic MORE boring and uninteresting than before. gently caress you guys. And with that the chapter just kind of, you know, ends, after reminding us that magicians are RARE AND MIGHTY people with abilities like OPENING PORTALS(in case you can't find a gateway to Inferno or Metropolis in your closet), leaving us with the last chapter.

THE AWAKENING

So way back during the dumb chargen chapters, I mentioned that we could spend XP to kill our own character. If we resist that temptation for long enough, though, we can upgrade to an ENLIGHTENED archetype rather than our previous, lame-o, AWARE archetypes. This means we can be stuff like a ghost/zombie, a hobo with claws, a pale guy who summons skeletons(and judging by his moustache probably fucks them, too) or someone who's sold their soul. Like, if we're rolling with the basic archetypes, those are literally our options. Because they only bothered to pre-stat Death Magician as an archetype, none of the others. They are also hilariously lame all of them. Like, we get the amazing power of COMMANDING VOICE with some. Which... more or less has the exact same disadvantages as normal diplomacy does, that people won't do anything that irrationally endangers them when we tell them to, no matter how well we roll. Totally worth becoming a ghost for. We can have NATURAL WEAPONS... which means trading in an arm for a tentacle or something to have all the destructive power of a gun except harder to hide and without the range. We can take UNNATURALLY STRONG... or HIGHER POWER which does the exact same thing except twice as well, also protects us like body armor and the only cost is we look like a bad special effect when we use it. But because this isn't loving oVamp we don't have to give a poo poo about the Masquerade and can just toss someone through a truck without thinking twice.

And that's kind of it. Like their amazing chapter on the NEXT STAGE OF GAMEPLAY is ten pages full of lovely advantages that we shouldn't really care about when we should just grab some bigger guns and more hobos instead.

Guess what, this stupid loving game is done and I'm through reviewing it. I apologize for leaving this thread devoid of poop rape until I find another long-awaited pile of garbage.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





EVERYTHING’S hosed IN THE USA

Or

No Cute Thing Here; Everything is hosed in the USA


This will cover the first 59 pages of the book which are roughly the history of America’s descent into fascism, the rise of the rebellion, the power of the Sigmata and life in 1986. The first whole non “what is this game?” chapter is also a series of interlocking vignettes showing life in America and a Resistance operation in action. The writing is okay. There is a lot of raw emotion behind it, especially this section entitled “The Rules are Simple” which is more or less a series of snippet sentences you’d hear interspersed with “the rules are simple” and “follow the rules”. Some of these sentences are things like “pledge allegiance” or “you look like a whore in that makeup” or “these illegals breed like rats”. The intent is pretty clearly to draw a direct line between our time and the game’s time to show how things aren’t so different and to ground us in their world despite the 32-year gap. It is a piece that is clearly written with emotion and it is a drat shame that it kind of comes off as middle of the road reactionary slam poetry.

First thing’s first: this game has content warnings and I can’t fault that decision. Let’s let it speak for itself:

Content Warning posted:

SIGMATA features some troubling concepts, images, and language. Some of the uncomfortable topics explored in this text include but are not limited to misogyny, homophobia, white supremacy, religious bigotry, systemic police brutality, paramilitary death squads, genocide, armed resistance against an authoritarian government, and the strategic calculus behind acts of political violence including terrorism, torture, and tyrannicide. Some or all of this content may be particularly difficult for players because of their own experiences. Prior to beginning play, it is imperative that everyone at the table talk about their level of comfort bringing these topics into the story space and agree on some content limits. If you are not already familiar with safety tools for tabletop gaming, now would be an excellent time to look up the X-Card by John Stavropoulos and utilize it at your table.

This may just be something sticking in my head recently but I find it weird to mention the X-Card and then put the onus of education on the audience. This might just be because I saw someone else include the text of what the X-Card is in their own stupid PBTA game about 2000s gamer webcomics and I thought “oh, that’s a good addition!” But yeah expect those issues to pop up going forward. If you’re not gonna want to read further, that’s cool, I appreciate you reading this far but you should probably bounce now.

There’s also a listing of the main design principles behind Sigmata which I find interesting. The four tenants are kind of overlapping a lot but the main emphasis is on team play and minimal prep time. Every scene will have something for someone to do, every player must work together if they want to get through their troubles, everyone is collaborating on the story and lastly the GM will be able to easily create jumping-off points for their players to tackle. I will say it does succeed in these design goals and we’ll get into that with mechanics.

The Divergence

I’m serious when I say this game is pretty light on the alternate-timeline shenanigans. It’s a little egregious but the background is relatively secondary to the main text of “fight the government through insurgency” so I can understand why it’s a hella soft alternate timeline. Case in point: the divergence point is that Senator Joe McCarthy is not censored in 1954 and gains a stronger populist following because he’s not stopped. McCarthy runs for office in 1960, beats Nixon in the primary for the Republican party and then beats JFK in the general election. So as wildly implausible as it would be, McCarthy is the 35th president of the United States of America.

He does not get a second term.

It turns out when you’re a psychotic populist who is paranoid about Communism you’re not necessarily a good presidential candidate. McCarthy’s term as president is a shameful period of disaster and military blunders. Repeated international military interventions result in countless deaths of soldiers. Repeated failures of diplomacy that lead to skirmishes against Soviet proxy states lead to wars and future seeds of conflict that will later bloom in the late 60s, the 70s, even the 80s. The only successful thing McCarthy does is shift the Overton Window in American politics and introduces the concept of the Interior Threat. "It’s not the fault of bad leadership/bad policies/bad diplomacy/fundamental misunderstandings about the changing world, it’s the evil machinations of a Soviet/LGBTQIA/immigrant/Jewish conspiracy!" And like in the real world, the Republicans took the chance to run as far right as they possibly could with the Democrats continually trying to be increasingly right centrist.

Interestingly it’s not said if the Civil Rights movement still happens and is successful because LBJ probably never becomes President. This is what I mean: there are trucks you can drive through the alternate history but then again this never intended to have sound alt-history grounding. You don’t even know who the president of 1986 is, they’re just always referred to as The President because the Resistance doesn’t want to give them the luxury of a name or identity.

Anyway, here’s what we conclusively know happen because of the focus on the Interior Threat. First amendment rights are trampled and any journalists critical of the government are labeled foreign agitators and are imprisoned or bullied into silence by mobs. School curriculum is rewritten to focus less on world history and other countries and is replaced with propaganda about American exceptionalism and how to be a good civic participant in the glorious American system. Leftist influence is methodically crushed and discredited. The big project of the late 1970s and 1980s is systematic mass incarceration and deportation of “criminals”, immigrants and prospective immigrants. Anyone trying to come to America in 1986 isn’t even sent back like how Australia (those shameful human-rights violating motherfuckers) tries to do and is instead forced into an overcrowded internment camp for indefinite detention (like how Australia tends to do in execution). The railroads and interstates are full of trains and trucks carrying people to detention camps for use as slave labor.

The biggest project that wasn’t a gigantic human rights violation was nullifying the Posse Comitatus Act to repopulate the wildly diminished military. The US’ armed forces were completely merged with police across the nation and revisions to Title 10 of the US Code lead to expanded powers for the newly minted Freedom Fist. This was the final straw for a lot of military veterans, active soldiers, gun nuts and militiamen who were previously supportive of (or at the very least apathetic towards) past atrocities. This was, of course, way too late for them to make a difference and yet they still tried to resist. The first armed uprising against the Regime was lead by armed insurgents...and was pretty easily put down by the Freedom Fist. Those who renounced their ways became officers in the FF and the rest were killed, save for a handful who escaped capture completely. Some of those people would isolate themselves and go into hiding, slowly evolving into the Resistance faction of The Old Men. The rest hid amidst the victims of the regime and began to help them craft the heart of the Resistance proper, promising to help right the wrongs they were complicit in and empower the oppressed and downtrodden with methods of resistance.

The Regime

The Regime has no ideological nexus. It inherited the trappings of fascism and gladly wears them to ensure that all wealth and goods trickle upwards to the President and his cronies. Everything they promote is a means to that end and they're so open about its rampant corruption that governmental loyalists don’t care, not as long as the people they dehumanize and other can be punished in their eyes. Communists, immigrants, The Gays and liberals are enemies of the state who should be punished and cast out and The State is strong and powerful forever but constantly under attack.

Less than a third of the power of the government is held by Democrats. The Bill of Rights and Constitution still exist but nobody wants to punish the executive branch. Elections are generally only held in areas where loyalist interest is strong enough. Free speech is unequally enforced while laws for suffrage and women’s/POC’s rights only exist to punish people for breaking them. Even sodomy laws are still on the books. These laws are enforced by the Freedom Fist, state-occupying law soldiers equipped with automatic weapons, pistols, riot batons and riot shields. The Fist wields helicopter-mounted guns, APCs, security checkpoints and sheer numbers to enforce the law but their biggest weapon is their mask. All officers of the Fist wear skull-shaped masks to protect their faces from attacks but will more often protect them from identification. The Fist is generally focused on detaining individuals who meet certain criteria/break the law and then imprison them for indefinite detention at an internment camp.

Because the Fist is already pretty overextended what with covering all of America, the Regime has propped up the dying railroad industry and the less-dying shipping and trucking industry with lucrative government contracts tasking them with transporting prisoners. Trucks have two armed drivers trading off shifts and they never know their final destination. All they know is which truck stop to drive to next where their cargo will be inspected and assigned a new destination. The final destination is one of three euphemistically named “processing centers”: Justice East in NY, Justice South in Texas or Justice West in California.

A processing center is a gigantic Fist-run internment camp set in what was a regular military camp that holds up to half a million prisoners at any given time. Said prisoners are kept in squalor in tent cities or makeshift shanty-towns, exposed to the elements and copious amounts of waste and pollution and guarded on all sides by armed Fist officers and barbed wire. The book doesn’t explicitly say if the final processing for a prisoner is extermination but it does say that the major purpose the camps have are to provide sources of slave labor. The American manufacturing industry is in shambles due to many stupid decisions so the Fist’s beloved APCs are made by prisoner labor as are many supplies vital to the nation.

The Resistance

The seeds of the resistance had been sown for a while since 1964 but they were scattered and disorganized. Political machinations of the Regime kept them discredited and kept them from interacting as much as they could have. While the militias drilled and the fundamentalists prepared for the End of Days, Marxists protested and capitalists started manipulating. Off doing its own thing were unaffiliated resistance movements made of marginalized people running smuggling rings, community defense groups and mutual aid agreements. But they stood relatively distant from each other, isolated and insular interest groups unable to brace themselves for a big push.

That changed as illegal experiments perpetuated by the Regime began to get out of hand. While the Resistance was starting to get its footing in the 1980s, the Regime was covering up a series of “freak accidents”, “gas leaks” and “natural disasters” at government-run military labs. Rather than let the stories be broken by the press, the Regime instead used friendly media sources to claim that the attacks were the result of Soviet super-soldiers smuggled in for use in terrorist activities. “We’ve killed all the cybernetic super-soldiers and here are gruesome autopsy photos, god bless America, stay the course, oppress foreigners to ensure this doesn’t happen again, etc.” The Regime turned all radio stations into national assets and made home broadcasting illegal while continuing to blame the Kremlin.

The Signal was clearly created by the USA. Nobody is sure how exactly but there are some whispering in the USSR of rebellions and uprisings that had happened in proxy states that matched the US’ general reports. It’s likely the initial purpose of the Signal was to destabilize enemy states the same way they later found themselves reeling from the rise of the Receivers and the Resistance. But even this wasn’t the proper impetus behind the rise of the Resistance. That falls to the Military Parade of 1985 and the First Receiver.

What is known: in 1985 a massive military parade was being performed by the Freedom Fist as a show of strength for a crowd of loyalist citizens.

What is claimed: a gigantic juggernaut of chrome of and flesh burst through the loyalist lines waving an American flag. This being, dubbed the First Receiver by the press, body-slammed through the Fist forces with the flag on his shoulder. He threw tanks and helicopters around like they were nothing, shrugged off bullets and baton blows and systematically beat every single Fist officer in hand-to-hand combat before the Signal was neutralized and he was beat to death by the battered remains of the forces.

What really happened: the person who broke through the line was a brown-skinned teenage immigrant with a toy American flag. The leader of the procession waited until the skinny youth was close enough before beating his him to death with his baton for the cheering crowd. The officer was unaware that a soldier behind him had removed his mask and drawn his sidearm, shooting the officer in the head before he could react and in full view of the loyalists. What followed was a massive riot of infighting as Fist soldiers removed their masks and start attacking each other in a blind panic with batons, firearms and tear gas.

In response to this show of weakness and the way the Regime was trying to spin the narrative to be about another Soviet super-soldier, the Resistance launched its first major operation: coordinated attacks on all three internment camps across the USA. Hundreds of thousands of detainees were liberated and provided weapons, shelter and nourishment as the Resistance fortified positions in the cities to cause further damage to the Regime. But it only took two weeks for two of the cities to be retaken by the Fist, the Regime working overtime to spin the narrative and mislead the populace.

The final step to solidifying the Resistance was when a lone gunman took the mayhem as a sign and proceeded to storm a radio station, take a DJ hostage and broadcast the Signal across national airwaves for the first time. For 30 minutes he held the broadcasting booth against the Fist as a handful of people were transformed into Receivers and went on a rampage against the Fist while the Signal was live. While he was being gunned down and the Receivers were being beat back, his home computer was broadcasting his manifesto on how to propagate the Signal and making it open-source.

What Is the Signal?

Okay so I’m not great at technobabble or pseudo-technical terms but I’ll explain it as best as I can. The Signal is a string of numbers that is continually spitting out more and more numbers. When it’s modulated and broadcast over the airwaves, it has a transformative effect on people who are just able to naturally demodulate the white noise. These people are permanently transformed into cyborgs. The flesh is hardened and polished into a protective shell, prominent veins become circuitry and seams form to segment digits and limbs and allow flexibility. A Receiver never needs nourishment, air or protection from the elements ever again. Other Receivers instinctively know where they are once they transformed and will try to take them in at all costs to protect them.

So, what makes someone candidate for being a Receiver? Good question. There’s no apparent rhyme or reason, it just depends on two criteria regardless of what numbers the Signal are currently broadcasting. If the Signal has never been broadcast in an area before, it’ll automatically create new Receivers. If the Signal has been broadcast before then you have to wait a sufficient period of time to broadcast again, generally because the previous Signal has been killed and this is a new Seed.

What’s a Seed? Well. Here’s the part I really don’t get. You can’t keep broadcasting the Signal forever because even if you do the best possible job to defend a radio broadcaster the Regime will just bomb it. The safest way to broadcast the Signal is to pump it out of a deep Resistance location and keep it playing locally before engaging a series of repeaters to pick it up and carry it to where it needs to go. You can’t just record the Signal and loop it, it must be broadcast and played over FM radio. But that’s not efficient and if that was the only way to go about it then the Signal would have been wiped out a while ago.

Here’s where Seeds come in. A Seed is made by recording a live Signal and running it through a program to demodulate the noise back into waves on a hard drive. You can then use the program to predict what the waves will look like in the future and can then copy the predicted Signal onto a floppy disc or just transmit it through a modem. If you play that predicted copy (the Seed), it’s a properly functioning Signal if you play it within 24 hours of its expiration date and can be used to start a new Signal proper. Depending on the type of media it’s stored on, a Seed can be used up to a minimum of 24 hours in the future or up to three weeks. This is tied into something I frankly don’t understand called a “deadline instant”.

A Receiver deprived of Signal only has one active ability besides their immunities. That ability is called the Gift of the Stranger. It’s an active weirdness filter that will kick on and make people see what they want to see: a regular everyday person. This is also an oral ability because the Receiver can speak with impunity but force people to hear what they want them to hear. Everyone who looks upon a Receiver with an active GotS sees and hears what they want to hear, like seeing a soccer mom gossip in whispers or a bored-looking day trader ramble with financial jargon they don’t understand. These benefits also expand to digital media like security camera feeds or photographs. They also have access to the Sigmata BBS, a bulletin board system hidden in the depths of the phone network that’s only accessible to Receivers who wish to access it. Run by an anonymous being known as the SysOp, the BBS is where Receivers name themselves, giving themselves “true names” they can change whenever they want that will allow people to see through their Gift of the Stranger. Unfortunately, all these names tend to be stupid leet names even if the Receiver has never used a BBS before. Sample names include: “b0lt-thr0w3r,” “d4rk4rt,” “s4tyr,” “@ombomb,” “cathode_god,” “di0de,” “d0m1n0,“ “j0hhnyha$h,” “sykl0ps,” “p1ndr0pp3r,” “s1r3n,” and “z1pp3r”.

Does the Regime have their own Receivers? Yes, unfortunately. Not all Receivers join the Resistance. Some run screaming to the arms of the Regime and become indoctrinated into fighting special forces shock troops with their own Signal empowering them. Others just go into isolation and slowly lose the ability to use Gift of the Stranger, transforming into strange biomechanical monsters with stronger abilities.

1986

Things you need to know about 1986:
  • VHS, AM/FM radio, portable televisions with two-hour batteries, tape-decks in your car, portable tape players and boomboxes are standard. Cell phones are in their infancy and are five-pound bricks, you’re more likely to have a pager and a landline with an answering machine or know where a public phone is. 64 KB of RAM is standard for a home computer along with a 10 MB hard drive and 256 color graphics on a 13-inch desktop screen. The modem is the big invention that’s taking off in the tech world and the BBS exists with the internet not yet in its infancy.
  • Sedans are the car of the masses and still come from Detroit. Conversion vans are big, minivans are taking off, only poor people use public transport, etc.
  • There’s a whole guide on how a detective in the 1980s would do their job and it mostly amounts to going to city hall to check records and going to the library for public news archives while using contacts and phone books.
  • Malls are still the place to be, there’s a lot of punny names for clothing stores (Vogue Scholar for cutting edge fashion, Rube Icon for MAGA CHUD ‘Merica duds like rebel flag patches, Yuppie Mill for, well, yuppie clothes) and for parallel existing games you’d find in an arcade (Plumber Jumper, Mrs. CramMan, Triple Tiamat, MiG Hunter.
Okay. That sure was a lot of explanation. Let’s get down to brass tacks.

THOUGHTS

The central notion of how America slips into fascism isn’t bad, but the main issue is the fact that it plays too loose with the alternate timeline stuff. There’s a distressing number of things that would not have gone down if JFK wasn’t president. The main reason LBJ pushed for civil rights and certain reforms was because he wanted to have accomplished something with his presidency despite setting events in motion caused by making the Republicans mad. I legitimately don’t know, like, who else could have been elected and shot for it. Did Kennedy get elected in 1964 because he wasn’t assassinated? I don’t know. Do we still go to the moon? I don’t know. Do we still fight and lose in Vietnam? I guess that’s somewhat implied we do, we just fight more wars than Vietnam. It’s a lot of transporting modern-day fears and experiences back to 1986 and pretending it’s a quaint thing and throwing in some death camps.

See here’s the thing about a soft alternate timeline that is just there for flavor: you really need to sit down and explicitly say “these things I’m telling you here are the main divergences, pretend nothing else changed outside of that”. Which…I’m not saying it’s a great solution, but it makes sense to admit that this is soft fiction and you should relax and roll with it. So y’know say that.

In lieu of saying that there’s a weird focus on internally consistent technobabble. I get it, the author has a huge tech background and that has influenced his previous works. It still feels like an enormous misstep to not really consider what you’ve left unsaid in your worldbuilding and then share a certain degree of too much to explain why the PCs are cyborgs. It still just strikes me as an enormous misstep in all these pages because I kinda quick-read a lot of the historical stuff and then got hung up on tech specs.

I think that’s really all I have to say on the matter so join me NEXT TIME when we focus on game mechanics. They’re interesting and have a neat focus on guerilla mechanics but let me just level with you right now: I keep wanting to play Demon the Descent. The fact that you’re a cyborg saboteur and Resistance agent in disguise and granted techno magic when you blow your cover and pop the Signal just makes me want to rub my face up against some good ol’ ChronDark. And I feel like that would be the right move because I handle the mechanics for that a lot better than I do for this.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





New Kult is, wow, that's incredibly bad and makes original Kult worse by the comparison.

It does make me want, like, a game about Gnostic urban exploration, though. Take Elysium and Gaia and Inferno and make it explicit - all of them are built on the ruins of a universal war of conquest by the divine powers humans once were, and give rules and systems for stumbling around that wreckage. Take out all the demons, or at least most of them. Make the universe mostly empty after humanity was restrained, and the Demiurge has hidden.

Vistas of emptiness with alien angels floating high above, as you sift through the ruins for gnostic understanding, in the hopes of reawakening Humanity, and perhaps redeeming us. Something quieter and less edgy, about cosmic sin and the graveyards of the apocalypse, which all their static cyclopean art implies (and all their actual writing denies).

Ryuutama in the cosmic wasteland would be so much better than this.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - Don't ask me how the apostrophe is pronounced.

Once, long ago, Matushka went to eat a young girl, as she does with some frequency. The girl fled to the east, chased by Matushka's flying mortar and pestle, but she had a trick prepared. She had a magic towel and comb that a cat had given her. When she threw down the towel, a river sprung up that magically blocked the mortar, and so Matushka had to fetch her oxen to drink up the river so she could cross. Then the girl hurled down the comb, and a great forest sprung up. While Matushka tried to gnaw through it with her iron teeth, she failed. This is Vir'ava Forest. Where the Borovoi is dense and overgrown, the Vir'ava is like an illustration from a storybook. Paths fill it, each wide enough for two to walk abreast, hand in hand. They lead through flowered glades, and while the trees are not mobile here, the animals are very strange. Here, they are people.

A bear may have a prosthetic paw, which he attached when a woodcutter chopped the original off, later eating the man out of spite. A spider may be a knight, weaving webs to catch evil mosquitoes and flies with the aid of his friends, the tricky crickets and beetles. A cat and a sparrow may live as simple woodcutters, but will help any that oppose Matushka. Vir'ava is the girl of legend, and she is the mother of the forest, living at its heart in a small garden. While she is physically small, unlike her 'husband' Borovoi, she is no less powerful. From a distance, she appears human, but up closer you realize that her hair is the black-and-gold fuzz of a bee, and that she has two long antennae on her forehead. Two of her wings are those of a butterfly, though mismatched, and the other two are a fly's stabilizers, mere sticks with balls on the end. A tough carapace protects her upper torso, and her lower body has a long abdomen and stinger. She has four arms, not two. She is ever attended by a court of pollinators - flies, bees, butterflies, hummingbirds. They move with her moods. When she is happy, the butterflies alight on those she likes. When she is angry, the bees rise to fight. While Vir'ava deeply frustrates Matushka, the old witch dares not antagonize her, for if she is the true soul of the pollinators, her death would doom Ussura. The Swan Maiden is also found in the forest, second only to Vir'ava in power. She is a tall woman, her limbs and neck just a little longer than those of a human her size. She's lean muscle, covered in downy white feathers, and her arms extend out to long wings, which she may use to summon crafters to make anything she likes. She may or may not be Vir'ava's daughter; few see her often enough to ask.

Vir'ava and her forest stand against Matushka. While Matushka is certainly potent, able to give all the gifts that make up the Dar Matushki, she is not the only source of such power. Many other Leshiye could, if they chose, give one or two of those gifts, just not all of them. They just don't do it, for fear of Matushka's wrath. Those brave or foolish enough to break Matushka's rule and make their own deals may flee to Vir'ava Forest for safety. All humans and Leshiye in the forest must kneel to Vir'ava, of course, paying her homage with gifts and praise and obeying her laws. However, those who do find the forest a safe haven, one of the few places an Ussuran shapeshifter whose power is not of Matushka may live and train in relative peace. Vir'ava is also willing to welcome those touched by Matushka, so long as they follow the rules and are properly respectful. Only Matushka is barred. She has sent her spies, of course, but they've found no weaknesses so far. Some claim Vir'ava has no secrets, that her court of beasts and shapechangers is all loyal and strong. Others do not return. Any successful attack on Vir'ava would have to lure her or the Swan Maiden out of their place of power.

Molhynia Province is the largest and strangest, made of the windswept steppes. Its largest permanent city is Breslau, high in the northern steppes and surrounded by walls. At its highest point is the kremlin of Koshchei, and no one of the city below may enter or leave it. Secret underground passages link it to the outside, but only Koshchei or his 'brides' may ever use them. All of the population is expected to serve as the city's militia, maintaining the strong fortifications and manning the walls against invaders or bandits, a tradition that dates back to the city's birth as a mining town. The mines produce demantoid gemstones, gold, copper, diamonds and some iron, which keep Breslau rich as long as trade south or east continues. The mines are run on a worker-run commune, an idea dating back to the early Orthodoxy, which was far less hierarchical and authoritarian than it presently is. Koshchei collects a portion of the profits as tax, but otherwise lets the miners do as they please. The main issue with this is that it's technically illegal. A few centuries back, the boyars pressured the Czar to outlaw communes after a number of muzhik revolts replaced their boyars with Breslau's system. When visitors from other lands come, Koshchei comes out of the castle and has the administrators dress up all fancy so everyone can pretend that boyars run the mines. Sadly, it's only a matter of time before the truth gets out, and some boyars would love a chance to sweep in and seize the mines. Others fear or hate Koshchei and would like to act against him. Worst, their attention may clue in the outsider to Koshchei's big old scheme of protecting the abused.

Saranbaatar is the largest Khazari city, and like most Khazari settlements, it has no permanent location. Three to five times each year, the entire city is broken down in a process that takes less than a day, then rides to its next location and sets up there just as fast. Scouts move ahead of it to identify threats and send information back to the tribal elders, who decide on the new site. Sometimes it is chosen based on enemy movements, the spirits and premonitions about the weather, sometimes because a resource surplus moves them to trade with an another place. As in every Khazari town, animals well outnumber humans. Each family has enough riding and pack beasts, generally horses, camels or yaks, to move them, their ger and any possessions. They will also have at least one bankhar, a large and study dog of extreme fluffiness, to guard the family and be a pet. Bankhars aren't really a breed at this point, but a naturally adapted type of a dog that has thrived for thousands of years in Ussura and served to watch over kids and sheep. Many flocks of sheep or goats also travel with the city, and the hunters keep raptors, most of them golden eagles, to help hunt. Wealth is typically measured in extra horses, and Khazari tend to think of value in terms of horses and fractions of horses. Horses feature in over half of Khazari songs, too. Their horses tend to be smaller and sturdy, suitable for multiple jobs, from fighting to labor to milking, but specialized in few.

A ger is a form of large tent, made of a wodden lattice, doorframe, supports, roof beams and circular crown, over which a sheep's wool felt is stretched. They vary from single-family homes to immense public meeting tents. Typically, it takes two hours to set up a ger, and once in place it is able to handle the Ussuran cold and weather handily. When broken down, the camels or yaks will bear the ger's pieces to the next destination. Not all Khazari travel so much, however. The great hero Sarangerel Bogatyr settled down and became a Madhyamika nun, for example. The Madhyamika are a Cathayan faith, seeking freedom from suffering via compassion, moderation and non-attachment. Saranbaatar was originally founded by Sarangerel as a nomadic monastery, though it rapdily gained followers of every Ussurain faith. Its favorite locations typically have two permanent structures: the bath house and the stupa.

A stupa is a dome-shaped rock mound or other earthwork that contains the relics of dead Madhyamika monks and nuns. In Khazar territory, they also have a syncretic function as bases for Turaist shamans, Yachidi temples and whatever other religious structures passing Khazari may need. Saranbaatar has dedicated clergy for most denominations, but as with most Khazari, the priests will happily muddle through another group's rituals if, for example, you really need to talk to an ancestor buried in the stupa right this second. Once the city stes up, it will hold a religious festival to highly the teachings and interests of those buried in the local stupa, as well as venerating the local spiritual landscape and describing which deities and other figures live nearby and how they can be respected properly. Over the past few years, howeve,r Saranbaatar has discovered that many traditional stupas have been despoiled or descreated, and even after the people of the city pitch in to rebuild and rededicate them, the ghosts and spirits rarely return. The Khazari are not aware of it, but Matushka is behind these acts. She herself cannot approach a stupa that is consecrated to other spirits, but she seeks to marginalize all other Ussuran spirits, and so she sometimes bewitches humans to despoil stupas that have been visited by Khazari towns.

Most Khazari towns feature a large, colorful tent in which athletic competitions are held. These teach many life skills, most notably sportsmanship. When you're part of a culture that constantly raids its fellow tribes, you have to learn how to put aside personal antagonism in case of, say, an attack from an outside empire, so you can band together. Every Khazar that is physically able to learns to ride, wrestle and shoot bows. Less universal, but still important, is raptor hunting and melee combat While Khazari mercenaries sometimes use pistols, muskets and crossbows are both very unpopular compared to the recurve composite bow. However, spirits forbid mortal combat between Khazari within a few kjilometers out from a stupa, for both practical and religious reasons. Breaking thsi rule causes bad weather and animal stampedes as the spirits grow upset, so Khazari near a stupa will typically solve disputes and insults by wrestling at the athletic tent instead.

The latest sports craze among the Khazari is chogan, a sport from the Crescent state of Persis designed to train cavalry. Two teams of four riders use mallets to knock a ball into the opponent's goal on one end of the field. Khazari adore this sport, thanks to the mix of riding and tactics, and have gone so far as to invent variants for camels and yaks, because of course they did. This yea,r Saranbaatar has headed further south than usual in the hopes of attracting the Gallenian chogan teams, famously the best in Ussura, to attend their yearly invitational.

In more dangerous times, the Khazari mobile cities were put of their war effort. Enemies had problems figuring out how to attack and occupy Khazar land when even the location of the cities was basically guessowrk. Half-made fortifications litter the steppe in times of war, as the cities turn into siege engines with alarming speed. As in Breslau, all able-bodied residents of Saranbaatar fight in times of war. Soldiers are typically mounted and will maintain a herd of around sixteen horses to ensure speed in times of war. These horses are also used for milk or, occasionally, meat. Khazar soldiers prfer lamellar armor and a conical helmet with neck guard, relying primarily on bows as their weapon, and a basket-shaped shield with an axe, spear, mace or saber if melee is required. Section leaders wear banners that bear their clan's tamga (sigil) for identification, and use songs to issue orders, as they are easy to remember and recognize, especially backed by drums or bells.

The mountains of Molhynia are the tallest in Ussura, especially the largest, Crystal Mountain, though its width at the base is probably more notable. IT is made of translucent crystal, and in sunlight it can be blinding. It is said that a twelve-headed drachen once occupied a nearby lake, concealing all the treasures and people it stole inside the mountain. IT was only by turning into an ant, using tricks learned in Vir'ava Forest, that Sarangeral Bogatyr could save them. Carvings on rock and crystal warn travelers that Chernobog, a dark spirit, lives atop the mountain. Ussurans know little of him, save that he lives atop the mountains, hurling lightning and cursing people that disturb him. He is a storm and mountain god, associated with Molhynia. Of course, no one actually knows anyone cursed by Chernobog. It's always rumors, fairly recent, a friend of a friend of a relative who went up the mountain and was cursed with the pox, or perhaps to wander. It's never very clear. The truth is that Chernobog has never cursed anyway, because Chernobog isn't Chernobog.

In northeast Ussura, people worship the far more popular storm god Tura, ancient god of the Khazari. Tura is not just god of the sky - he is the sky, and the weather as well. Your walk out and feel the wind and hear the distant lightning? That's Tura. Not his powers, just him. Tura was once lover to Matushka, and they ruled over the steppes together, he in the sky and she on the ground. Humans, however, fascinated Matushka enough that she couldn't leave them alone. She needed to be involved in their lives, helping and hindering them according to how they followed her laws. Tura could not agree, so he left. Since then, he has watched Matushka tighten her grip on the land, terrifying the other Leshiye and driving them into the depths of the wild to keep them away from the humans she sees as her children - and hers alone. She is domineering and cruel, and now Tura feels he must become involved.

However, because he is weather, he can't take human form. If you climb to the top of the Crystal Mountain, however, you can hear his voice, rolling and crackling in the dark clouds like thunder. Tura needs you to keep his secret - if Matushka learned he was back and trying to meddle, she'd kill him, or at least try. So the Chernobog story cuts down on those who would otherwise seek him out. Khazar shamans know the truth, but they are sworn to secrecy by the sky god. Thus, only the powerful and foolhardy seek out the Mountain to challenge the unbeatable Chernobog. Once they arrive at the top, they discover something older and wiser has been watching them, learning the truth from Tura as he recruits them to fight Matushka, whom he once loved. Most of Tura's chosen are Khazari at this point, but a few others from outside the province have joined them. This new generation of bogatyr wanders the land, telling others that they have been cursed by Chernobog. What the others do not realize, and nor does Matushka, is that these bogatyr are gathering allies, resources and power, to stand up to her and make Ussura safe for other Leshiye once more.

Next time: Dar Matushki

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Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Hostile V posted:

Run by an anonymous being known as the SysOp, the BBS is where Receivers name themselves, giving themselves “true names” they can change whenever they want that will allow people to see through their Gift of the Stranger. Unfortunately, all these names tend to be stupid leet names even if the Receiver has never used a BBS before. Sample names include: “b0lt-thr0w3r,” “d4rk4rt,” “s4tyr,” “@ombomb,” “cathode_god,” “di0de,” “d0m1n0,“ “j0hhnyha$h,” “sykl0ps,” “p1ndr0pp3r,” “s1r3n,” and “z1pp3r”.

Now wait a moment. Anarchist cyborgs with l33tsp33k names? It's the Freakshow from City of Heroes.

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