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Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





megane posted:

I mean, Vodacce is basically the Drow. So it makes sense that the only way they pop up in normal games is a PC going "I am an exile who cast aside and/or escaped from the evil ways of my people."

So, consider: Spire, but extremely Italian.

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Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Bieeanshee posted:

I'll admit, I feel like I'm leaving gear on the table when I play a class that does what I want in broad strokes, but can't be bothered to use the rest of the class's functionality.

It doesn't help at all that Fighter, especially in a feat-strewn system, has this undeserved rep as the build-a-bruiser class.
Well, we were talking about 4e, and 4e ranger doesn't saddle you with a pet wolf or spellcasting if you don't want it. The guy I was talking to actually complained about having more skills, but again, brain worms.

4e made the build-a-bruiser thing true. There are so many loving ways to play a Fighter. Maybe too many.

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


Halloween Jack posted:

The conventional wisdom for a long time is that D&D fails to be the flexible fantasy game that people would like it to be, so you should just have 3-4 classes with lots of options and branching paths.

I'm starting to think D&D would be better off as its own thing that leans as hard into its own weird peculiar mythos as much as possible--so eliminate generic classes like Fighter and Wizard in favour of rangers, paladins, bards, warlocks, hexblades, all of that

Who’s conventional wisdom? Goons, perhaps? Certainly not the actual designers.

I agree with your conclusion. In a way that’s what makes DCC so exciting (although technically it still makes it’s classes appear generic). I’m not sure this has a lot of actual relevance to D&D though since Mearls is happy to sleep at the bottom of the deep hole he dug for the rest of his career.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - More Reasons To Never Visit Hell Italy

Vodacce has many, many stories about weird supernatural gribblies. Many of these are written up in Lo Conto de li Conti, the Tale of Tales, a collection by the explorer Loanna Bazza. One tale speaks of the Badalisc. Once, there was a village where the people schemed and fought against each other constantly, and the Prince grew tired of dealing with their cases, so he decreed that no one could accuse another, and that he would kill anyone that became violent. The villagers obeyed in letter but not spirit, finding ever more creative ways to offend and take vengeance on each other - so much so that all the good people left. Except for one family, that is. They were the richest of the town, and they saw leaving as a non-option. They'd heard of fierce forest beasts, which they might use to bring the town back to its senses. They went into the forest looking for an answer, and they returned with a hideous beast. It had a large, goatlike head, two small horns and glowing, fiery eyes, along with a mouth large enough to swallow a man whole. The others of the village thought they had lost their minds, imagining the worst. However, before any could flee, the creature began to speak in an unnatural language. The family's young daughter translated. The monster, through her, revealed the deepest, darkest secrets of everyone in the town. At first they were shocked, then angry, but eventually, as the recitations continued, they all laughed, their scheming rendered useless by the creature. And thus, the village was saved, as was the family's power.

Few believe this story is true, of course. They interpret it as a morality tale on the dangers of plotting and scheming and the value of trusting your neighbor. However, there is a village deep in the northeast, near Sedilo or Fontaine, where you might enter the forest and find a creature that can reveal the intentions and plans of anyone it meets. It is elusive and difficult to tame. You must lock eyes with it, to show you have no fear, and you must remain that way for an entire hour. Even once you have done this, you must never turn your back on it, or you will break the spell. Once you have tamed it this way, it will teach you its language and allow you to lead it somewhere. Once you have brought it there and had it use its innate ability to reveal secrets, it will magically transport itself back to the forest. The Badalisc is, however, fiercely territorial, and will attack anyone that enters its den. If you don't lock eyes with it immediately, it will fight until you die or it is gravely wounded or killed. It is not interested in any gift or bribe, and its language can only be learned by someone that has beaten its staredown. It is Strength 6 and Teleporting.

It is said that on New Year's Eve, an old strega, perhaps the first, travels across all of Vodacce. From afar, she looks like a fragile old woman with a broomstick and hamper, covered in soot and rags. With that stick, though, she can fly faster than a bird, and in the hamper she bears judgment for all. To those who are good, she brings gifts - baubles, food, money. To the bad, she brings punishment, generally bad luck or pain. Both are given out by Fate's whim, and none are immune from her judgment, no matter their rank. To placate her, most families leave an offering of fine wine and food. She is the Befana, the bringer of judgment, who brings hope to the just and fear to the wicked. Many stories speak of her origins. Some say she lost her only child and, after a long chase, brought vengeance upon Fate Herself. Her sense of justice was so great, it is said, that Fate made the Befana Her envoy, to judge all people. Others say she made a terrible mistake long ago, which she now tries to compensate for. Others say she is first of the streghe, so tied to Fate and so deeply entrenched that she cannot die, and that she keeps the Vodacce in check that the power of Sorte may continue. But everyone knows, no matter where she came from, she will judge you on New Year's Eve.

While the original Befana may have been one woman, in truth she is now many. The abuse of Vodacce, and particularly Vodacce women, is kept silent and secret, and would go unpunished if not for the Befana. They are a massive network across the nation, which watches for evil deeds. Their 'witnesses' exist everywhere - children, young women, widows, peasants, couriers. They see and listen and inform via encrypted messages, naming those that deserve gifts and those that deserve pain. The Befana are...just women. Some are streghe, but many are just excellent liars who use the disgise of the Befana to bring justice. They do not attempt to reward all acts or punish all wrongdoers. Rather, they are vigilantes trying to improve Vodacce, one New Year's Eve at a time. Sophia's Daughters and the Befana are aware of each other and approve, but their MOs differ greatly. Sophia's Daughters mainly try to get streghe out, while the Befana want to make Vodacce more livable for them. To help the Befana, you must be vouched for by their witnesses - and it's hard to trick them, as they are largely invisible and unknown. If you could get into their network, you'd learn a hell of a lot about the secret crimes and sins of Vodacce, and be expected to help fight them.

According to legend, the Vestini maintain their power with the support of a monster - one they display on their own coat of arms. The Biscione. This, the Great Serpent, appears in the center of their blazon, a disproportionately long snake whose tail goes on for some time. It has azure scales as thick as steel, a fin along its spine, and atop it there is a splash of red that represents a child being torn apart and devoured. The painting is vivid and memorable, but some say it cannot compare to the true Biscione. These people claim, in secret of course, that the family's wealth comes from the beast's treasures. Other families avoid the Vestini for fear that they will turn their monster upon them. It is said the creature craves human blood, often that of the young. Some say the reason the Vestini are weaker than other families is that they must feed their children to the beast.

The truth of the Biscione is worse. The Biscione is not a new addition to the family - the Vestini have known it since their founding days, and they owe it a blood price. The serpent does indeed devour human flesh, and it dwells in a magic lake that preserves it and keeps it strong. It is effectively immortal, and the Vestini family must feed it or it will devour them instead. They have barely any control over it at all, and content themselves merely with throwing enemies to it. Age and relation to the Vestini isn't important - all it wants is human blood and flesh. The Vestini actually hate the drat thing, as it often demands more than they can give just from their captured foes. It cannot be defeated unless it is made to leave the waters that sustain it; in them it is immortal. Outside them, it's just a giant snake with impenetrable skin and a jaw big enough to snap horses in half. Its lake is able to restore life to people...sort of. To benefit from the healing properties of the water, one must consume human flesh. If you've done that in the past day, drinking of the lake of the Biscione restores your health. Otherwise, it is deadly poison. The Biscione is Strength 10, Aquatic, Chitinous and Powerful, and while in its lake it gains Regenerating, too.

Next time: Sexy goat women, pixie monks, a giant wolf and the ghost witch.

Dareon
Apr 6, 2009



Aethera Campaign Setting

Part Twenty - Bestiary II - Kyton to Phalanx


TRIGGER WARNING: Kytons are chock full of blood and body horror. Those sensitive to such topics, please take appropriate precautions. Scroll down really fast or something, I don’t know.

Kytons in Aethera lurk beneath the surface of the everyday world like a cancer, forging endless horrors in service to the ideals of the great Machine they revere. The prose here is very purple, to the point where it can be difficult to get relevant information out of it. But the gist is that the kytons are shadowy puppeteers that are rarely even seen in the system, working under the auspices of the Choir of the Machine to remake the system into their vision of perfection. The Choir of the Machine is one part sadistic cult and one part industrial death-spiral. Their machines are needlessly complex and their rituals needlessly cruel. The exact nature of the Machine is known only to the Choir, but don’t worry, they’re more than willing to help you understand it. :cenobite:

A kyton-run dungeon is going to be a sadistic gauntlet of traps and industry for no other reason than to exist. Typically they will have no external power source, operating entirely off a kyton’s ability to control chains. They may rearrange themselves around an adventuring party, or the entire dungeon may be a grand device needing only the right series of activations to spring to grand and horrific purpose. DMs are encouraged to throw trap after trap at the PCs without letting them see the actual kyton behind it all, because that’s just how kytons do. DMs are also encouraged to play with players’ metagame knowledge and swap around abilities, because kytons are heavily into self-modification. “Battle with kytons should never seem safe or predictable.” Additionally, kytons take great pains to conceal their presence from the Material Plane. Knowledge checks related to kytons are at a base DC of 25 to even know of their existence and vague details of the kyton subtype. And even that won’t help you much, because other than terpsikhore (below), every kyton is supposed to be more or less unique. Aetheran kytons are all immune to pain and have the see in darkness ability, and kytons from other sources should have these abilities added, as well as changing any plane shifting abilities to Greater Shadow Walk.

When the Taur leaped into the system, the loss of their priests’ contact with their god upset their power structure, and into this vacuum stepped the kytons, offering an alliance where the kytons would provide technology and knowledge, and the taur would provide… meat. It has been a profitable partnership for both sides. Kyton society on each planet is supposedly overseen by a Conductor (Who could also be called an Architect, either in a recurring typo or an intentional synonym), operating in its own manner but always in accordance with the will of the Machine. Taking a lawnmower to the flowery bits, we learn Akasaat’s conductor is known only as the Enraptured Luminary, Aigog rules on Kir-Sharaat, and Glua-Mahab is spoken of in ancient okanta legends as a beast of steel and shadow taller than mountains. No evidence is available to Prime Material denizens that the Conductors actually exist, though. A similar lack of evidence points to the existence of the Prime Mover, an overseeing power above even the Conductors. The only mortals who even whisper about it are insane scholars of the Score.


Who rule Bartertown?
The Paragon Project did not spring purely from the minds of man, nor were the infused and Paragons its only result. Kytons planted nightmares of erahthi dominion in the minds of Hierarchy officials, urging them to moral atrocities to avoid this fate, while disguised kytons aided researchers in the Project, able to smuggle “failures” into the Shadow, where the real experiments began.

An aloadai kyton is a gestalt of two infused, the lower one pumped full of muscle-boosting mutagen and wrapped around a mechanical endoskeleton, while the top one has its superfluous flesh cut away and its head injected with mind-boosting alchemical fluids, the pair laced together at the ribcage and their minds merged into one. The result is a powerful physical combatant and a psychic terror all in one. Aloadai are used as commanders of lesser kyton, particularly terpsikhore, using their mental abilities to remain in contact with both local forces and any distant aloadai. Isolated kyton outposts may be run by an aloadai who serves as the outpost’s message center. Their mind-reading abilities make them natural interrogators, but the kytons prefer to extract truths through torture rather than lift them directly from a mind, seeing the resultant information as “purer.” Rare sights aboard taur vessels normally, shortly before a raid on a Material settlement, kytons will appear from the Shadow with a pair of aloadai and a horde of terpsikhore. The taur like these guys and study them every chance they get to try and learn about the kytons as a whole. Built into the twisted minds of the aloadai are periodic flashes of memory of what they used to be, stunning moments of clarity that act to further refine the growth of all aloadai, as these moments of sickening lucidity propagate through the psychic network, shocking the aloadai anew with each aloadai it touches.

A single aloadai is a CR 8 outsider with a handful of subtypes, 21 AC and two slams at +14. It has 19 SR, DR 10/good or silver, and regenerates, which is also bypassed by good and silver, as well as electricity. It can cast a number of psychic spells, mostly offensive, but including Instigate Psychic Duel. It has Combat Casting, a few metamagic feats (Including Traumatic Spell), Awesome Blow, and Improved Bull Rush, so it can knock you around in combat. But wait, there’s more! It can communicate telepathically with any aloadai within 3 miles or any other creature within 50 feet. If two aloadai are within 100 feet of each other, they become linked to each other, sharing sensory information along with the boost from the spell. An aloadai’s two minds allow it two initiative counts in combat, with one controlling the body and the other the mind, each one capable of a full round of appropriate actions. Their powerful minds also grant them their Int bonus to AC and saves versus psychic spells, and half that bonus to kytons within 100 feet. And finally, its unnerving stare invokes paranoia in the target, causing them to treat all enemies as flanking them. And because the aloadai has two heads, you need to roll twice to avoid its gaze. Alone, one doesn’t seem like much of a threat if you’re packing the standard golf bag of swords, but they’re rarely encountered alone, coming in pairs or a pair backed up by upwards of half a dozen terpsikhore. I like the mechanics, but the design just makes me go :stonk:. I met the lady that did all the kyton designs when I was at PaizoCon. Nice woman, soft-spoken.


I can’t pick my nooooose
The kyton hate the okanta for some reason. The result is the ceres kyton, broken and twisted in mind, body, and spirit until all that remains is the okanta’s bestial bloodlust, a pure desire to kill and rend and rip and tear that is then shackled and bridled (Literally, a bit and bridle is welded into their jaw) and used to retrieve subjects alive for the kyton’s twisted experiments. Treated as little more than hunting hounds, ceres are kept in cramped cages aboard taur ships or on the Shadow, ushered out and onto the Material by greater kytons with orders to retrieve a target or small group and kill all witnesses.

A ceres is a CR 4 outsider with DR and regeneration 5, bypassed by good or silver. They have AC 16 and three natural attacks: Two integrated scimitars, and an okanta’s gore, all at +7. The scimitars are treated as natural weapons when attacking, but can be enhanced or sundered like manufactured weapons. Their main trick is to ensnare a target in chains, which is basically a ranged grapple. Once they have something grappled (Multiple ceres can act in concert to grapple larger creatures and make the grapple harder to resist), they can automatically drag it with them. A ceres’ unnerving gaze focuses the victim’s attention on the ceres, granting all other enemies concealment against the victim. A single one is probably not much of a problem for a party above 1st level if they’re packing silver, and would get absolutely pasted by a 4th-level party, but these are rarely encountered alone, coming in groups of three or more and occasionally accompanied by a greater kyton. These guys are okay, they do their job and make you feel a little sad about the okanta.


Groot a la Giger.
The Shadow of Kir-Sharaat is a world of nature perverted to industry, great factory-trees belching smoke into noxious skies. Small wonder, then, that the kytons have seen fit to marry the biology of the erahthi with burning oil to create the khloris kyton. Eternally burning, but never consumed, a khloris longs for the sweet embrace of death, twisting its mind into a destructive and suicidal nature, gladly hurling itself into battle against formidable foes in the hopes of being granted explosive release from its torment. Used by the kytons as saboteurs and instigators of conflict, they blight, burn, and infect the great forests bit by bit. Although they’ve lost the erahthi ability to speak to plants, they can still hear the agonized cries as they burn. :supaburn:

A khloris is CR 3 with 15 AC, DR 5/good or silver (The constant burning negates the kyton’s normal regeneration), and fire resistance. They have two claws at +6 that do a bit of additional fire damage, and can cast Produce Flame at will and Blight 3 times a day. They can spray their internal oil in a cone, increasing Acrobatics DCs in the area, and anyone coated in the oil is sickened and has vulnerability to fire. The oil can be washed off a creature or square with a full-round action and a gallon of liquid. They can throw their razor-sharp flowers as a splash weapon, and when they hit 0 hp they explode, dealing fire damage and setting things on fire, incidentally completely obliterating their body and hiding evidence of kyton involvement. They’re supposedly very prevalent, though, which just leads to a lot of eyewitnesses saying “We fought a burning erahthi and they totally exploded, officer!” Finally, their unnerving gaze entangles victims. They usually operate alone, but can be encountered in groups of up to 8. The group noun is an inferno of khloris.


Butchershop quartet.
Humanity is meat and music. A human alone is nothing, but together they can accomplish incredible things. So it is with the terpsikhore kytons, the massed hordes of the kytons, voiceless alone, but singing great paeans to the Machine when joined together. Even the weakest of them can find purpose and power when joined with their fellows, a concept the kytons find beautiful. Formed from the cast-off flesh from more successful experiments, a single terpsikhore has only a 20th of a soul. This fragmentary existence keeps the terpsikhore docile and grants them a fragmented but terrifyingly cohesive sense of self. Terpsikhore is both singular and plural, one voice, countless hands.

A lone terpsikhore is hardly a threat, even to a commoner: CR 1 with only 12 AC, 15 hp, and 2 1d4 claws at +2. Their split soul doesn’t grant them any DR, regeneration, or unnerving gaze and they have no special abilities when on their own. But they are rarely encountered alone. Up to 20 can be encountered at a time (Group noun: chorus), and they have some special abilities that only function in a group. First off, they have a kind of hive mind that syncs up their reactions and senses. Terpsikhore always act on the same initiative and are all aware of anything any member is aware of. Second, terpsikhore adjacent to each other share flesh and organs in a horrid symbiosis, treating the entire group as having one hit point total equal to the hp of all the members, any that separate from the group take the average remaining hp. Third and most important, adjacent kytons can join together in discordant song to produce various effects, depending on how many join together. This takes a full-round action for each participating terpsikhore, but nothing says everyone in the group needs to participate. A smart DM could do some real damage with these guys in formation, letting the frontliners tie up the tank while those in the back dropped sick beats all over the party.

Two terpsikhore together can create a Sound Burst. Three buff their friends, boosting claw damage. Four produces a mass Cure Light Wounds, which can get really mean if you have a party that just tries to damage race through mooks. Crushing Despair, Wall of Sound, Shout, and Song of Discord are all in the terpsikhore toolbox as their boy band gets more members, as well as some that don’t reproduce spell effects, like a generalized damage AoE or magic disruption. 20 terpsikhore together can produce a Blasphemy effect as they chant the ultimate paean to the Machine, blasting the truth of the kytons into people’s minds. Those that would be killed by this are instead knocked out by charisma damage and gain two insanities: Technomania and psychosis. I like these guys, they’re thinking man’s minions. Needing more than just a couple buffs on the barbarian to handle effectively, I could see some parties hauling out the combat maneuver rules to yank individuals out of the group and focus them down.


The dimensional lock effect on the Aethera system prevents outsiders from the Outer Planes from transferring back home. When such an outsider is killed, their soul is not drawn back to the Outer Planes, nor is it pulled into the star to be reincarnated. Their flesh decays, while their soul lingers on the Ethereal Plane, becoming warped and imprisoned by the dimensional lock. Forever bound to the Material Plane now, the imprisoned outsider is still immortal, and over the course of millennia may find themselves drifting from the moral and ethical alignments enforced by their prior home planes. Not only that, the raw spark of divinity from their planar origin can be fed by worshippers and leveraged by the Living Idol to grant powers in much the same way a god might. These living idols establish cults in the dark corners of the world, attracting the downtrodden and desperate. Living idols are unpredictable, often dangerous, and never what they seem.

The Living Idol template itself doesn’t change the numbers much. Living idols can be any alignment and become native outsiders. If the base outsider had spell resistance, it gets better, and it loses any teleportation or summoning abilities it had. Most of the changes provided by the template are just adjusting its immortality and dictating how it interacts with worshippers. When a living idol dies, it leaves an imprint on the Ethereal Plane and a sort of afterimage on the Material. Its body reconstitutes itself over 1d10 days, but you can start the process over by blasting the afterimage. The only way to actually kill an imprisoned outsider is with a carefully-worded Wish or Miracle spell, or by transporting it to the Outer Planes and killing it there.

Now, an imprisoned outsider can apparently just live without much difficulty, but to become a true living idol it needs to accept the supplication of worshippers. This is done by linking the worshipper to the idol over the course of an hour. This linking cannot be magically coerced, and usually takes the form of a ceremony suited to the idol’s tastes. The idol gains new powers based on how many followers it has, and some of these powers can be given to the worshippers in some form or another. A living idol has a rank from 1 to 9, based on the number of followers, and some powers are restricted to higher-rank idols. Some of the powers available include Cha to AC, granting followers a +4 bonus to an ability score, constant Nondetection or Protection From [Alignment], Control Weather 1/month, channeling energy like a cleric, locating/possessing/slaying/seeing through the eyes of worshippers, or granting immortality to a handful of followers. Gaining more powers results in small boosts to HP and CR, and if the idol’s followers drop below the minimum threshold needed to maintain a rank, the idol immediately loses access to a power.

This power is not without a cost, however. If a living idol is not propitiated with sacrifices on a monthly basis, it begins to take drain to its mental ability scores. If these drop to 0, it falls into a state of torpor, only capable of using telepathy, if it even could in the first place. It then begins taking daily Constitution drain, hardening into a statue at 0. Sacrifices can be food, items, or blood of living creatures, but must be freely offered by the sacrificer. Animal sacrifice is okay, but the life of a thinking being is worth more in terms of sacrifice. An idol that accepts a blood sacrifice automatically becomes evil.

A sample living idol’s statblock is provided, an osyluth devil with 1150 worshippers and 7 powers. The names and dispositions of a few other known living idols are also provided, and we may get stats for them in the Aethera Field Guide. Contract is a Lawful Neutral kolyarut inevitable who has mostly maintained his pre-imprisonment outlook and now runs a mercenary company dedicated to maintaining law and order and enforcing contracts. Nairaia the Giver is a Chaotic Evil monadic deva angel who operates out of a captured Hierarchy battlecruiser, her cult offering “peace from all wars” and slaughtering those who refuse her message of goodwill. And Shevrix is a Neutral Good leukodaemon who wanders Akasaat as an itinerant pilgrim and healer, often using its knowledge of illness to develop plague vaccines.


Say “bacon” one more time…
Okanta NPCs highlight the magical themes of the race, with a level 15 steelblood bloodrager called a “runebreaker” and a level 10 unsworn shaman who has come to the wastelands of Akasaat to study the spirits of the barren land. The runebreakers are a tradition similar to the Vanguard of Akasaat, developing in parallel to protect their peoples from enemy magic-users. Each runebreaker abandons their name, donning a title passed down from previous runebreakers, such as Breaker of the Mountain :black101:, Song in Death’s Embrace :black101:, or Fond Remembrance :shobon:.


He’s only smoking because it looks cool.
Phalanx NPCs are universally veterans of the Century War, and provided for our edification are a level 4 gunslinger working as a freelancer and a level 11 two-handed fighter operating as a mercenary captain.

Next update will finish out the campaign setting with the last pieces of the bestiary: Symbionts, taur, and zahajin.

Liquid Communism
Mar 9, 2004


Out here, everything hurts.






I really, really wish 7S 2E's combat system wasn't a pile of broken trash. The description of the dueling styles is fun, and it has potential, but the basic mechanical errors made in design render it drat near unusable in play.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I like that someone looked at the old Planescape Kyton, admitted to themselves that someone lifted them straight from Clive Barker, and decided to run with that.

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!


Halloween Jack posted:

The conventional wisdom for a long time is that D&D fails to be the flexible fantasy game that people would like it to be, so you should just have 3-4 classes with lots of options and branching paths.

This is actually what I'm doing with my own, certainly doomed homebrew at the moment because I'm tired of systems with 900 classes that each have one gimmick and exactly three and a half of which aren't useless or boring. :v: Once it's something approaching done I should let someone here take a crack at making fun of it. :v:

LGD
Sep 25, 2004



PurpleXVI posted:

This is actually what I'm doing with my own, certainly doomed homebrew at the moment because I'm tired of systems with 900 classes that each have one gimmick and exactly three and a half of which aren't useless or boring. :v: Once it's something approaching done I should let someone here take a crack at making fun of it. :v:

I'll just say that I think its way more important that the gimmicks you can access not be useless and boring in the first place (and you're not pigeonholed too hard) - an extremely broad "fighter" with endless false choices for build-defining feats isn't really different from a system with a bazillion useless specialty classes

if you haven't yet, I'd strongly suggest you take a look at how Shadow of the Demon Lord does it (however imperfectly) - it has 4 extremely broad base classes that bake in a lot of the assumed power for a role in a generic fashion (so you'll never be too underpowered), and then you select two classes as you level up (with no prerequisites) that give you more specific/defined gimmicks, with a rough minimum of combat power each (even for non-combat focused classes)

there are definitely substantial power differentials between different builds, but it does a good job both ensuring baseline competency and that characters have access to the gimmicks they want

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





It seems really stupid that all those obvious combat maneuvers give you such disadvantage. You would think they would be normal moves for a fighter or whatever and feats would make them better/more reliable, but fixing D&D is its own kettle of worms.

MadDogMike
Apr 9, 2008

Can I come out and play?

Bieeanshee posted:

I like that someone looked at the old Planescape Kyton, admitted to themselves that someone lifted them straight from Clive Barker, and decided to run with that.

Yeah, it’s much cooler than just “devil with chains”.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



MadDogMike posted:

Yeah, it’s much cooler than just “devil with chains”.

It's also cooler than the stuff in nuKult.

Just Dan Again
Dec 16, 2012

Adventure!


Halloween Jack posted:

I'm starting to think D&D would be better off as its own thing that leans as hard into its own weird peculiar mythos as much as possible

Whenever I say something along these lines, the people I game with look at me like I've grown a second head. The idea that D&D is a generic fantasy game is incredibly prevalent, despite the overwhelming evidence that it's entirely its own specific take on the fantasy genre.

PurpleXVI posted:

This is actually what I'm doing with my own, certainly doomed homebrew at the moment because I'm tired of systems with 900 classes that each have one gimmick and exactly three and a half of which aren't useless or boring. :v: Once it's something approaching done I should let someone here take a crack at making fun of it. :v:

Something I've noticed about D&D diehards (at least among those playing 5e and similar) is that they really don't want classes to be flexible or allow multiple fantasies. When I bring up the fact that players make basically zero choices about their character's advancement after creation, excepting false choices like whether to do a thing that sucks or a thing that's good, I've had multiple people tell me that this is part of the appeal. Every homebrew I make winds up having multiple branching paths of development and they generally read this as "overpowered."

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

Night10194 posted:

I played Pathfinder with an entire group of 'half casters' and not a single mundane character and people actually had a great time until the system math broke down and the players revolted against the concept of Feats (rightly). A Bard, an Alchemist, and an Inquisitor investigating wizard crimes feels like what that system really wishes it was.

The half-casters in Arcana Evolved are all very different and even the fighter types have some tricks that casters can't do as well or at all.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised.


Just Dan Again posted:

Whenever I say something along these lines, the people I game with look at me like I've grown a second head. The idea that D&D is a generic fantasy game is incredibly prevalent, despite the overwhelming evidence that it's entirely its own specific take on the fantasy genre.


Something I've noticed about D&D diehards (at least among those playing 5e and similar) is that they really don't want classes to be flexible or allow multiple fantasies. When I bring up the fact that players make basically zero choices about their character's advancement after creation, excepting false choices like whether to do a thing that sucks or a thing that's good, I've had multiple people tell me that this is part of the appeal. Every homebrew I make winds up having multiple branching paths of development and they generally read this as "overpowered."

It really seems like a lot of D&D diehards have an active aversion to what anyone else would call 'good game design'. Especially the ones that rejected 4e. Either it's the usual 3.x Stockholm Syndrome or the contradictions of believing a system to be perfect despite its obvious problems breaks their brains.

AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005

I FORGOT TO HAIL KING TORG


A very important detail about OD&D/1e/2e is that Hit Dice just kind of...stop, after a few levels. You go from gaining 1dX+Con per level to a flat +1 or +2, no Con bonus. So that Fighter hit die and bigger Con mod is actually a huge deal, you might even make it into triple digit HP!

Cocomonk3
Oct 21, 2010


Halloween Jack posted:

I once tried to explain to someone that if he wants to play a lightly-armored dual-wielding fighter, that's called the ranger, play that. "Nooo," he wailed, "I want to play a Fighter!" He didn't actually want to play a fighter, and he also had brain worms.

I have had, almost word for word, this exact discussion with at least three people who played 3.5 and now play Pathfinder and spend a lot of time mad about 4e.

Siivola
Dec 23, 2012



I thought we'd gotten over the whole "playing elfgames wrong means you have brain damage" meme.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Cocomonk3 posted:

I have had, almost word for word, this exact discussion with at least three people who played 3.5 and now play Pathfinder and spend a lot of time mad about 4e.
If I'm ever running 4e again and have to deal with this I think I'm going to make the players I'm trying to help select a class to describe what they want to do, without referring to the name of a class.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





Siivola posted:

I thought we'd gotten over the whole "playing elfgames wrong means you have brain damage" meme.
:same:

too bad

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy

in the vein of the Fighter discussion, I'd like to contribute that stuff like disarms, trips, shield bashes, and bull rushes were all originally introduced in AD&D 2e's Player's Option: Combat & Tactics supplement, and while there were certain special modifiers and circumstances to the rolls, none of them were as punitive as 3e's "free attack-of-opportunity if you don't have the right feat".

The only one that had that was the "Overbear" action, and that was supposed to represent a large pile of minions trying to mob-down a single heroic figure. So letting the PC Fighter get a free attack on the dozen-or-so goblins trying to drag them down into the muck is actually narratively appropriate.

A called shot was an attack roll with a penalty of generally -4.

A disarm attempt would have both sides making an attack roll, with the loser of the opposed roll losing their weapon.

A "grab" action was similar to a disarm attempt, except with perhaps more penalties based on the size and accessibility of the not-weapon item being grabbed.

A trip attempt was an attack roll to make a normal hit. If the attacker hit, there would be an opposed roll-under of the attacker's Strength versus the defender's Str or Dex, whichever was better. The attacker would knock down the defender if they won, or nothing would happen if they lost, or both of them would get tripped on a tie.

Siivola
Dec 23, 2012



Speaking of fighters!


For Gold & Glory: Chapter 3: Classes

We've got our stats and we've chosen a race, now it's time to pick a class. This one's a bit of a long one, since there are quite a few classes with a lot of features in this book.

quote:

All player characters are members of a specific class. Their class embodies their special training before they became an adventurer. There are four class groups; warrior, wizard, priest, and rogue. Each group bestows the same hit dice progression, attack bonus, and saving throw progression.
Once you've picked a class, you're stuck with it so choose wisely. Humans can decide to dual-class out of their starting class once play begins, but more on that later.


Like races, classes have ability score requirements. Unlike races, these can be really loving prohibitive. Some classes require 14s and 15s, but the paladin is notorious for requiring 17 charisma to get in. That's a high roll, and the ability doesn't even do much anything.

Luckily, here the book graciously tells you that if you can't qualify for any class, the GM should let you re-roll your stats. On the other hand, you only need a single 9 to qualify for the classic quartet of fighter, thief, cleric or mage, so good luck getting that re-roll.

In addition to ability requirements, all classes come with a "prime requisite": If you meet or exceed the listed ability score, you get 10% more experience points. Different classes require different amounts of XP to advance in level.

With all that out of the way, let's dig into the classes.

Warriors :black101:

The warrior classes are fighter, ranger and paladin. They get the best hit die (d10), their THACO advances every level and they eventually get multiple attacks per round. You might remember from the ability score chapter that warriors can also roll for exceptional strength. Their saving throws start out middling, but they get better every other level and eventually overtake the other classes'.

Fighters just fight. All races and alignments can become fighters as long as they have 9 strength. Their prime requisite is strength at 16+. They can wield all weapons and wear any armour, and they get more combat skills than the other classes. Only fighters can specialize in weapons, but more on that in a future update. At 9th level a fighter becomes a Lord and is entitled to construct a stronghold, which will attract a small personal army of about a hundred people.

Paladins have to be Lawful Good humans with exceptional stats. Their prime requisites are Str 16+ as well as Cha 16+ which is a bit weird, since all paladins meet that latter score. Paladins are hella sweet and get a big load of supernatural abilities right out the gate, including a +2 bonus to all saves, a permanent aura of protection and the ability to heal with a touch. Later on they can turn undead like clerics, receive a magical mount (after a suitable adventure) and eventually the ability to cast cleric spells.

In exchange for all this sweet stuff paladins have to follow a code of conduct. They can't carry too many magical items, they have to donate at least tenth of any found treasure to charity (no, your adventuring party is not a charity!) and can't employ jerks for henchmen. Oh and they also can't commit any evil acts or they lose their status as paladins and all associated abilities, becoming a fighter of equal level. Presumably this means they can take combat skills as fighters and can now become Lords, which doesn't sound too bad.

As "hunters of evil", rangers must likewise be some flavour of Good. Unlike paladins, elves and half-elves can also pick this class. The class's prime requisites are Str, Dex and Wis 16+, which is something of a tall order. rangers can track creatures with a successful Wisdom check and they can befriend animals instantly. They can wear any armour, but if they opt for studded leather or something lighter, they can hide in shadows like thieves and fight with two weapons like Drizzt. (I don't know what fighting like Drizzt means in practice. We'll find out later, I hope.) At 2nd level rangers become massive racists, get bonuses to hit their favoured enemies, and start getting reaction penalties from them because the ranger wears their hate on their sleeve. They eventually learn to cast druid spells and attract about a dozen random followers. The followers might include intelligent animals, but rangers never get a dedicated "animal companion" as a separate class feature.

Being goody two-shoes, rangers have their own code of conduct as well. They're loners and thus can't have henchmen or hirelings until 8th level. They can't own more treasure than they can carry, and anything they can't convert to portable currency they must donate to charity. Like paladins, they revert to fighters if they ever knowingly commit an evil act.

Wizard :science:

Wizards include mages and… Specialist mages, who are just like mages but focus on specific schools of magic. Their hit die is the piddly d4 and their THACO only advances every three levels, but their saving throw progression is alright, if very slow. Wizards get access to a new spell level every other character level, and whenever they do, they also learn a new spell of that level for free.

Humans, elves and half-elves can become generic mages if they have at least 9 intelligence. The prime requisite for all wizards is Int 16+, which should be common enough. Wizards can't wear suits of armour (only helmets and gauntlets, for whatever reason), and can only wield daggers, staves, darts, knives (how are they different from daggers?) and slings.

Specialist mages can't use magic from one or more schools of magic in exchange to an easier time with their chosen school. They get an additional spell slot usable only for their school, and every time they learn a free spell from gaining access to a new spell level, they also learn a free spell from their chosen school. However, the ability score requirement to be a specialist are somewhat harsh, since all school require a high score in some secondary ability. For example, conjurers need 15 constitution while necromancers need 16 wisdom.

Priest :catholic:

Priests are billed as holy men, miracleworkers and spellcasters, but a look at their stats reveals that they're not too shabby in combat either. With a d8 hit die and a THACO that advances two points every three turns, they're not entirely awful in combat, unlike the wizards and the rogues. Priests get middling saving throws, with the exception of being somehow super difficult to poison. They unlock a new spell level every other turn, like wizards, but don't have to learn spells one by one. Priests must be devoted to a belief, but that doesn't necessarily mean believing in some specific god. If the priest loses their faith, they can no longer cast spells.

All creatures of all alignments can become clerics as long as they have 9 wisdom. The cleric's prime requisite is Wis 16+. Clerics can wear any armour, but they can only be trusted with weapons that have no edge or point. :histdowns: They can turn undead to make them flee or collapse outright, but more on that in the combat section. At 8th level a cleric who has built a place of worship attracts 20d10 fanatical followers. At 9th level a cleric can build a religious stronghold that functions as a tax haven.

True Neutral humans and half-elves can become druids if they have 12 wisdom and 15 charisma. The prime requisites are Wis and Cha 16+. Druids can only wear leather armour, carry wooden shields and wield a completely nonsensical assortment of weapons. Druids have access to a somewhat different set of spells than clerics, although both can cast healing spells.

Druids are weird. They get a saving throw bonus against fire and electricity and a weird mish-mash of abilities that let them pass slip through bushes, identify plants, and talk to various woodland creatures. At 7th level they can turn into an animal three times per day. Sounds okay, if kinda niche.

Then, at 11th level they receive the official title of "druid" and begin progressing through the weird druid hierarchy. Druids can only advance beyond 11th level if they can get an in-character promotion, since titles and levels go hand in hand. Finally, at level 16 the Grand Druid breaks free of the hierarchy, quits their job, becomes a "hierophant", stops learning new spells and gains a boatload of weird transcendent abilities like not aging and being able to plane shift at will.

I don't get it. :psyduck:

Rogue :ninja:

Thieves and bards make up the rogue category of classes. They're fairly fragile characters with only a d6 for a hit die and a THACO that advances every other level. They don't even have very good saves. On the upside, they require the least XP to advance in level, which means that most of the time they'll be a hit die or two ahead of the rest of the party.

Rogues also gain access to the special thieving skills, which I don't quite understand, because the book outright says that anyone can do the same with ability checks. Thieving skill scores start so low that your odds of doing the same thing better by rolling an ability check are pretty darn good. The upside to thieving skills is that a successful result holds until something happens to hinder it, so climbing high walls or sneaking through long stretches of darkness might be easier done with thieving skills. Rolling ability checks every couple of yards dumpsters your chances of making it through.


Constant Wauters: Der beim Diebstahl ertappte Hausdiener, detail. 1845.

Any races of any alignment except Awful Goo can become thieves, as long as they have 9 dexterity. Thieves' prime requisite is Dex 16+, in case you want to get all the levels. They can wear leather armour and elven chain, and can wield a mish-mash of edgy weapons. They get a bunch of points to pour into thieving skills, the ability to backstab surprised opponents for massive damage and they get to build a thieves' den at level 10.

Humans and half-elves of partly-neutral alignment (NG, LN, CN, NE) can become bards if they have Dex 12, Int 13 and Cha 15. Their prime requisites are Dex and Cha 16+. They can wear armour up to chain mail and wield all weapons. In addition to thieving ("bardic") skills and knowing stuff, bards can cast a handful of wizard spells and can create almost magical effects with their performances. They can influence non-hostile NPCs' reactions, negate magic that relies on sound or vocal effects, or inspire courage in allies. Like many other classes, bards gain followers at 9th level if they've built a stronghold.


Gee, Black Leaf, how come the GM lets you have two classes?

I've already mentioned the two ways of broadening out your character's competence: Multi-classing and dual-classing. Multi-classing is an option for demi-humans and is a choice made at character creation. Dual-classing is reserved for humans, and it can only be done after play starts.

Multi-classing is straightforward enough: You just pick multiple classes and get all the best sides of each! (Terms and conditions may apply.) If your character is, say, a fighter/cleric, you get a warrior's THACO, a priest's save vs. poison, and all the features of both classes. On the downside, they can't specialize in a weapon like a single-class fighter, and they have to follow the cleric's weapon restrictions. Leveling up is a bit tricky, since you divide all gained experience evenly between your classes. Whenever you level up, you gain hit points according to that class's hit die, but divide your HP bonus from Constitution with the number of your classes, rounding up.

Dual-classing is trickier. At 2nd level or above a human character can opt to permanently stop advancing in their old class and pick another, provided they have a 17 or higher in the prime requisites (yes all of them) of the new class. The character effectively becomes a 1st-level member of their new class, with only the HP and hit dice carrying over. Until the new class's levels exceed the old one's, the character doesn't gain any HP for leveling up. The character can use their old abilities, THACO or saving throws in a pinch, but until the new class overtakes the old, using those means only receiving half the experience points for the encounter. You're supposed to learn adventuring from scratch, not lean on any previously mastered skills.


"I miss casting spells."
Walter Crane: Britomart, detail. 1900.

Honestly, this game's growing on me. I do love me a strict class-based system, after all. The four classic classes (fighter, mage, thief and cleric) don't have too many fussy abilities to keep in mind, so even if you welp a character by diving headlong into the green devil mouth, you can probably roll up a new one while the GM takes a potty break. The way some of the more special classes are a pain to qualify for makes me suspect that in some sense, people were expected to be rolling up new characters instead of trying to finish an epic yarn with their starters. Tracking XP is a bit weird, but staggered advancement seems neat enough that I'd like to give it a try and see how tedious it actually is.

Coming up next: Chapter 4: Alignment!

Siivola fucked around with this message at 12:34 on Aug 4, 2018

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - What If A Goat, But Sexy

In ancient times, a creature from the Otherworld fell in love with the human world, and whole the Otherworld was timeless and magical, she wished to enter ours. Because in the Otherworld, wishes and will can change reality, she did. With her, she brought others like her. In the material world, for no clear reason, they took the form of women from the waist up and goats from the waist down. Since their arrival, they have always preferred to live in the harbors and cliffs of the Vodacce coast, watching over mortal lives from hiding. No one know of them until one of them, Longana, fell in love with a mortal man. She dared to reveal herself in her full glory to him, and he fell in love with her immediately, asking her to marry. She agreed, on the condition that he must never ask her name, for no clear reason. He agreed. They lived happily, and they had children who appeared fully human but had the impossible charm and beauty of their mother. Their estate was fertile and rich, nad many jealous neighbors whispered that the woman must be a strega, or worse. When sne ignored them, they began to tease her husband for not knowing the name ofh is wife. At last, he caved, and one night while drunk, he asked her name. With tears in her eyes, she told him, then disappeared into the night forever, returnign to her people with a broken heart.

Apparently, this entire story is true, and the exceptionally sexy goat-women are known now as the Longana. Some dedicate their lives to finding them, for they are renowned for their beauty, intellect and magic power. Specifically, the Longana have control over natural phenomena. They may prevent bad weather, preserve crop health and tame any animal. They also know many things mortals do not. It is said by some that the fabled sexual skill and intellect of the courtesans are but a pale imitation of the Longana goat-women. Some say the first courtesan was a Longana, and that she passed on her beauty and knowledge to her daughters to start the first courtesan family. Certainly everyone knows that one night with a Longana is one of the most pleasurable experiences anyone can have. (Remember: goat from the waist down.) Despite multiple efforts, none has ever seduced a Longana since that first man. In truth, the Longana are still curious about humans, but they fear suffering the same fate as the original Longana. (...that she got asked her name, I guess.) They will happily defy convention, however, and approach a hyman if they find a truly honest proposal or true appreciation. They like honest men and women and those who have good intentions, which they can tell because of their powers. They will only approach those of pure heart and honest tongue.

The Monachello, or Little Monks, are found in the legends of southern Vodacce, where they are said to live in abandoned abbeys and monasteries. They are small but thick creatures, dressing in brown robes tied by a rope belt an wearing a broad-brimmed hat. The Monachello enjoy playing tricks on people, it is said - pulling off clothes, stealing stuff, even causing minor accidents. Some say they are the best of thieves, stealing things elft out or even purses from pockets, leaving the owner none the wiser. However, other tells tell of Monachello appearing in the dead of night, when all hope is lost, to help people without expecting a reward. In these tales, they bring food, water and money to the sick, the poor and the destitute. Sometiems, they even lead people to treasure hoards. It is unclear where the treasure comes from, and typically a person only gerts as much as they need and no more. If they try to take more than that, it is said that they will receive the negative attentions of the Monachello, who seem to target the rich more often for their pranks. No one can agree if the creatures are good or evil, so most prefer to avoid them, and tell children and foreigners to do the same.

The Monachello are only found in southern Vodacce primarily because they live in underground tunnels that connect the southern hills. They are small, humanoid hillfolk with opposable digits on both hand and foot. They are sensitive to light, which is why they only come out at night, being subterranean in nature. They dress as Vaticine monks because they model themselves after the first people that settled their hills - the monks. They also style their ethics and behavior on the same group. Their twisted understanding of the Vaticine Credo tells them that they should help "good" people, and take that help from "bad" people whether they know it or not. Thus, they spy on humans by moving through homes and palaces unseen, noting who is good and who is bad. Those that are bad have their homes marked by an invisible magic. Any Monachello that can see the mark considers it an invitation to play annoying pranks and steal things, which they then give to good people in need. When seen, they may ber persuaded by freely offered food or coin. They appreciate this, and will happily talk to any that give this gift. They can be influenced this way to focus on a specific bad person or to help a specific good one. They ask nothing in return but may, if you offer, ask for your help with some minor tasks or small objects, typically involving theft. Monachello are STrength 3, Shadowy and SWift.

Once, it is said, there was a walled city that feared no army nor manmade tool. Many tried but failed to take it, breaking armies on the walls, and even the best tactics could not breach them. In their hubris, the city folk declared that none could hurt them. That is when the Wolf d'Aggobio came. It was large as a bear, with fur as hard as a rock and teeth sharper than a blade. It first took their livestock from outside the walls, and in just a few short nights, it ate them all - every last one. The people had no meat, and had to buy it from travelers. Soon, news of the Wolf spread, and even food sellers stopped coming. Winter approached, and the people realized that if the Wolf was not stopped, they would starve. They sent their best warriors, but the Wolf ate them all, and realized that it loved human flesh over all other foods. And so it jumped the walls, beginning to hunt and eat the townsfolk. They cried out, tried to reason with it, but it paid them no heed. It ate until full, left, and returned the next day. For a week it slaughtered, until a foreigner arrived. The locals told her of the Wolf, warning her to go away, but she ignored them and waited for it. She walked p to it, extended her hand and patted its head. Wordlessly, they both left, as if long friends. The city was broken, but it was saved, and neither Wolf nor woman were seen again.

Besides being a cautionary tale of pride, the story tells about one of the most dangerous beasts in all of Vodacce. Fortunately, the Wolf appears only when a population grows proud enough to attract its attention. The Wolf is largely immune to injury by weapons, heals quickly from injuries it does take, and is immensely large and strong. It isn't indestructible, but only the best fighter has a chance of wounding it. Beyond that, it just eats any who it meets, terrorizing wherever it stops for years before moving on. The best way to stop the Wolf is to tame it. Only a truly fearless person, pure of heart and wishing it no harm, can do so. Few people fulfill such requirements, especially in Vodacce. Thus, the best chance any population preyed on by the Wolf has is to send out envoys hunting for such a person, which is a legendary task in and of itself. Once the Wolf is tamed, both it and its new friend will leave the material world to find peace together in the Otherworld. The Wolf d'Aggobio is Strength 10, Regenerating and Powerful.

Streghe may seem to have the ultimate power, but Fate is a fickle mistress, and any strega will tell you, you must be careful or you will get a backlash you can't handle. Few besides the streghe know the legend of the Falsoseta, the creature that devours your luck and power. It is said that a strega, a mistress of all the Tessere, got too proud, too arrogant, believed she had utter control over Fate. For a time, she seemed right - her enemies fell, her allies rose. She forgot that she was not Fate Herself. This lasted years, as Fate waited for the best moment to take vengeance. A group of potent foes banded together to defeat the strega and her husband, and she said she would destroy them all at once. Yet when she pulled on a strand, Fate would not obey. Instead, a wretched old woman appeared with long, slender fingers. None could see her but the strega, for she was made by Fate. She latched onto the woman and stole her away. When her husband came looking for aid, his wife was gone. No other witch would help, fearing the curse. And so, his foes stole into his home and destroyed him and his entire family. None dare speak the name of this fallen Prince any more, for fear of attracting the Falsoseta, and the Witches caution each other against hubris, or they too will suffer the same fate.

Falsoseta may, in truth, be made by Fate...but if so, she isn't any punishment for hubris or failure to pay Fate back. Fate handles that Herself with the Lashes. The actual origins of the beast are wholly unknown. Some scholars say she has always existed, but only streghe can see her, and so they say it is Fate. Falsoseta lives between this world and another, trapped forever between. She appears as a woman in black, wearing a black veil. Witches say that behind the veil is only a well of inky darkness. She has long, spindly fingers that are used to make false threads, silvery and shining, between Terra and the other world. These threads look identical to those of Fate, which bind everything. Falsoseta is essentially a spider evolved to entrap her favored prey: Fate Witches. She even mimics their appearance to hide among them. She doesn't just eat streghe, however - anyone who accidentally touches one of her threads and pulls on it will draw her attention. She may not get as much nourishment from a normal person, but she feeds well on any sorcerer. She isn't invisible, and she doesn't kidnap people in the way the story claims. Rather, she can be seen by any sorcerer, due to their attunement to the unnatural. She sometimes hides in the other world, which can make it seem like she's snatched a victim away. Often, before she attacks, she appears as if she were a normal strega. She is Strength 4, Teleporting and Chitinous.

Next time: Mechanics!

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The goat-ladies remind me of Tome of Corruption's Goat People: +10 Fellowship, Uniformly, For No Clear Reason.

Though actually on examination I've figured out why that was. Every Beastman PC starts with something that gives -2d10 Fel (Bestial Appearance) and so they get the +10 base to compensate and give them a chance of being a weirdly charismatic goat instead of horrifying, I guess.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Legitimately the Longana are the dumbest thing to me. What if a goat...but sexy? What if a satyr, but it has tits and is super shy and everyone wants to gently caress her and she is a magical perfect wife but you can't ask her name because no reason whatsoever

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Also if they like honesty what the hell are they doing in Voddace?

The real answer is Voddace is where we stuff all the issues with women.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - Mechanics, The Smallest Part Of The Book

New backgrounds!
Eisen-Only
Apostat: You were cast out from youyr home for being a witch. Earn a Hero Point when you choose to ally with someone you find personally distasteful to accomplish something important.
Befleckte Seele: You have an evil power, a dark and monstrous side to you. Earn a Hero Point when you use your Monstrous nature to solve a problem and someone shuns you for it.
Eisenblut: You were a wealthy noble. Earn a Hero Point when you choose to sacrifice something personally important to you for the good of Eisen or its people.
Stratege: You were a chessmaster and planner. Earn a Hero Point when you make a critical miscalculation in your plan, and it gets you or your allies into trouble.
Sarmatiaon-Only
Macher: You were a thief specializing in working with groups. Earn a Hero Point when you choose to reveal yourself to an enemy in order to help another character get out of trouble.
Mowca: You saw the good in everyone. Earn a Hero Point when you successfully solve a problem by convincing another character to listen to their conscience.
Rycerz Ludzi: You were a knight of the common man. Earn a Hero Point when you solve a problem by convincing a group to unite and stand up for themselves.
Rycerz Senatu: You were a knight of the nobles. Earn a Hero Point when you choose to hide something from an authority figure for noble reasons, and it gets you into trouble.
Ussuran-Only
Borets: You were a famous brawler. Earn a Hero Point when someone recognizes you due to your reputation, and you'd really prefer they didn't.
Doverchivii Dusha: You were a trusting and kind soul. Earn a Hero Point when another character gets away with lying to you or manipulating you, and it gets you into trouble.
Razrushitel: You were a siegebreaker. Earn a Hero Point when you commit to a course of action that is loud, direct and lacks any sense of subtlety.
Tura's Cursed: You were given power by Tura. Earn a Hero Point when you convince another character to shun authority or act outside of their defined social status, and it gets you into trouble.
Vodacce-Only
Capitano: You were a brave sailor. Earn a Hero Point when you commit to a dangerous course of action because your bravado and ego won't let you turn away.
Moroso: You were a romantic. Earn a Hero Point when you let another character get away with something because you're romantically interested in them, and it gets you into trouble.
Pistola Nascosta: You were a quickdraw gunner. Earn a Hero Point when you solve a problem with the threat of violence, but without having drawn your firearm.
Wild Strega: You were an untrained strega. (Oddly, this is not called out as female-exclusive. Probably an oversight.) Earn a Hero Point when you choose to help another character using your untrained Sorte powers, and it gets you into trouble.

New advantages!
1 Point
Penny Pincher: You can take this multiple times. Each time you do, you may save one more Wealth Point between sessions than normal. (Normal: none.)
Personal Motto: Select a personal motto, adage or catchphrase, such as 'I've got a bad feeling about this' or 'We always pay our debts.' Whenever you make a Risk after saying your personal motto, and whenever your personal motto is appropriate, you gain 1 Bonus Die.
2 Points
Born in the Saddle (Knack): You may activate this to have your horse perform a special maneuver. Examples include making an immense leap, summoning your horse to your side as long as it's physically capable of arriving, or having it evade an attack (preventing (Ride) Wounds) or attack a foe (dealing (Ride) Wounds).
Heartfelt Appeal (Knack): You may activate this to get another character to follow their conscience, look the other way for the greater good, or otherwise do the right hting when it's not in their best interest.
Imperious Glare (Knack): You may activate this to use your real or imagined authority to make someone leave you alone, get out of your way or dismiss your actions as nothing but a tantrum from a haughty noble.
O Captain My Captain (Knack): You may activate this when you make a Risk to take a bold or dangerous action on the high seas to inspire your crew. All of your allies get (Sailing) Bonus Dice.
Wrecking Ball (Knack): You may activate this to break down a door, smash a barricade, knock over a carriage or otherwise break or disable an object using your strength and momentum.
3 Points
Body Blow (Knack): You may activate this whenever you spend a Raise to deal Wounds or perform a Wound-causing Maneuver during a Brawl Risk. Each Hero Point you spend this way causes 2 additional Wounds.
Brains of the Outfit (Knack): You may activate this when you spend a Hero Point to give Bonus Dice to another PC in a Risk. If you spend the second Hero Point, you also give them (Scholarship) Bonus Dice if you describe how your academic knowledge will help them.
Fast Draw (Knack): You may activate this when you make an Aim Risk to gain an additional Raise for each pair of doubles on your roll. These dice can still be used to make normal Raises.
Flashing Blade (Knack): You may activate this when you spend a Raise to deal Wounds or perform a Wound-causing Maneuver to a character or Brute Squad during a Weaponry Risk. If you do, you can deal an equal number of Wounds to another character or Brute Squad in the scene. You may use this only once per Round.
Trusting: You may activate this after the GM buys unused dice from you during an Empathy Risk. If you do, you get 2 Hero Points per die instead of 1. You may use this only once per session.
4 Points
Flirting With Diaster: You may activate this when you make a Tempt Risk. The GM must buy all of your unused dice. You may activate this only once per session.
Moral Compass: You must have completed a Redemption Story and have no Corruption to take this. Whenever you help another PC complete a step in a Redemption Story, they lose 2 Corruption rather than 1 at the end of the Story.
5 Points
Dark Gift (Knack): Select one Monster Quality. You may activate this to get the benefits of that Monster Quality for one round. Whenever you do, you gain 1 Corruption Point, but do not roll for Corruption. If this causes you to hit 10 Corruption, you immediately become a Monster under the GM's control. While your Dark Gift is active, it is obvious to even a casual obeserver that you are using monstrous powers. You may gain this after chargen only by adventuring in Eisen.

The End!

Next up, pick:
The New World
The Crescent Empire

(I decided not to do Heroes and Villains; it is literally just a collection of example Heroes and example Villains plus discussions on different 'builds' and techniques to focus the characters on specific tactics and natures, and while some are well-written, and others are hilariously dumb, it's not super interesting as an F&F.)

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017



Mors Rattus posted:

Legitimately the Longana are the dumbest thing to me. What if a goat...but sexy? What if a satyr, but it has tits and is super shy and everyone wants to gently caress her and she is a magical perfect wife but you can't ask her name because no reason whatsoever

So basically the Changeling: The Dreaming kith only shy. (Well, and save the marriage part.)

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



On the one hand, there are a lot of animal wife stories that put restrictions on the man that may seem arbitrary.

On the other hand, everything about the Longana is pretty dumb, as is basically everything about women in Vodacce.

Let's do Crescent Empire first since it's more likely to be handled well.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I think Voddace is actually worse in 2e because in 1e it didn't have a bunch of better done places around for contrast; most of 1e was on the level of Voddace.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



On the one hand, I can sort of get why you'd put a horribly sexist regressive nation into a game like this - to be villains for feminist parties fighting for women's rights. But it really didn't need to be a whole country, and I don't think the writers got that a group like that should be explicitly framed as villains.

Oberndorf
Oct 20, 2010





Aren’t the Vodacce princes all explicitly called out as Villains, though? I think that’s explicitly the point. Evil, grasping villains involved in webs of treachery and vengeance, who get their power from their exploited viziers. I don’t know how explicit it is in text, but the entire point of Vodacce seems to be to fight the evil from the inside. Good place to be Zorro, Robin Hood, or Harriet Tubman.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised.


I think it's mentioned that some Princes are relatively okay people, but they're still part of a lovely system and they're incentivised to gently caress over nearly all people trying to make it better.

What's the historical counterpart- Renaissance Italy- like? You don't really hear too much history about it aside from Machiavelli. (who was basically not really that subtly writing about how republics are way better than dictatorships)

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ghost Leviathan posted:

I think it's mentioned that some Princes are relatively okay people, but they're still part of a lovely system and they're incentivised to gently caress over nearly all people trying to make it better.

What's the historical counterpart- Renaissance Italy- like? You don't really hear too much history about it aside from Machiavelli. (who was basically not really that subtly writing about how republics are way better than dictatorships)

Lots of internal warfare constantly until the Holy Roman Emperor rolls the place and everyone in northern Italy decides they hate him way more.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Ghost Leviathan posted:

What's the historical counterpart- Renaissance Italy- like? You don't really hear too much history about it aside from Machiavelli. (who was basically not really that subtly writing about how republics are way better than dictatorships)

The Borgias and Medicis were part of that system - and while exaggerated (especially Lucrezia's part, it's like she's more a pawn of her brother and father and less the femme fatale poisoner of myth), they were families of backstabbing assholes that try to out do each other in prestige, power, and having the most fabulous collection of naked man statues by the greats of their time.

Italy was less a country and more a bunch of city-states that band together when they hate someone more and then fall back to backstabbing when the big threat is gone.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: The Crescent Empire



This book is formatted slightly differently than the other ones of the lines, primarily because the Crescent Empire is a unified political entity (albeit one made of four different nations, plus a fifth that is not technically a member). So we're gonna be a while before we discuss the five nations of the Empire - Anatol Ayh, Persis, Sarmion, the 8th Sea tribes and the independent city-state Sahur. The book opens with a long-form poem about the insects of the Emperor's palace, and how they saved his life and therefore prevented him from wiping them out with magic, along with interludes on moral leassons of the story, also in poem form. As poetry goes, uh...well, it has a meter and a consistent rhyme scheme, at least, and it's technically proficient. I'm not a huge fan.

The Crescent Empire lies between Theah and Cathay. Its current government (and name) date back to the days of the Vodacce invasions, through the conquest of Numa and Castille and on to today. Its current leader is Empress Safiye, the Returned Shadow of al-Musawwir on Terra, Mani Sultan of Anatol Ayh. The empire itself is tied together by familial bonds and fragile relationships. Each nation that exists as part of it has tense conflicts with the others, and each would probably rather be independent. However, to the outside world, the empire appears united and indivisible. No matter what conflict rages within, they unite against the outside. It is what makes them strong. Most Theans have little understanding of the Crescent, of the jinn that once freely roamed it or of the Crescent codes of honor. While these can be very complex, the locals seem to have no trouble.

Anatol Ayh is the seat of Imperial power, and has been since the Anatoli warrior princes Aaliyh of House Chaghri founded the Alwarith Dynasty. Their current leader, the Anatoli Sultana Empress Safiye, is the height of their heroism and achievement. The Anatoli are famous for the art and military ingenuity. They are known as the eye of the crescent or the heart of the moon. Persis is their long rival, which now tears itself apart in conflict. They are led by Sha Jalil and bound by an ancient and enshrined class system. They chafed under the rule of the prior Emperor, Istani, and when Safiye took over, things got turned upside down. Rebel groups have splintered and civil war rages. Persis, long the birthplace of Crescent art and poetry, now threatens to shatter. Sarmion is a nation of scholars, healers and warriors, but after the most recent attack by the Numanari and the overnight vanishing of nine tribes, they struggle to rebuild. The death of their King, Josiah, has left a power vacuum that the rightful Princess Batya refuses to step into. They endure in a land of beauty, but things are not easy. The 8th Sea is a desert inhospitable to all life, in which no person could live for more than week. The Tribes of the 8th Sea have lived there for millenia, dating all the way back to the ancient empire of Katab. Their life is harsh, yet vibrant, and they are bound together by family and by honor. The tree main tribes, al-Jamal, al-Hisan and al-Thi'b, swear loyalty to the Empire, so long as it is loyal to them. Apart from the empire is Ashur, a city-state that stands alone in the Green Mountains, home to the largest single population of Orthodox in the entire world. They are pacifists, and would have been long conquered if not for the Guardian of the First Garden, called by Theans the Old Man on the Mountain, and his army of Assassins, who keep Ashur safe from all threats, within or without. Ashur shares much history with the empire and they are not blind, but they more than any know that there are many ways to fight.

In the ancient times, the 8th Sea was once a fertile land, and the Katabic people lived there. The made colonies and cities. When the first drought came, however, many left the land in search of water, and it is from these travelers, who went north and east and west, that the great nations of the Empire were formed. Eventually, the 8th Sea dried out, and only a handful remained within. When maps were made of the region, explorers found it formed a crescent shape, giving the region its name, and from the region, the empire. Today, the people who live there use the word 'crescent' more poetically. Anatol Eye, the furthest north, is the Eye of the Crescent, a land of luish wilds, rocky mountains and flowering water. Nestled in the southeastern mountains from it is Ashur, the Crescent's Shadow, an oasis in desolate mountains. In the south is Sarmion, the Western Star, a place of education and ceremony, where most live on the coast or in the mountains. East of them is Persis, the Eastern STar, a land of hot, dry summers and frigid winters, with many types of terrain, And the 8th Sea itself is the Crescent Moon, a vast desert in which one cannot find oases or water. Even at the highest mountain, the sands are burning hot and the air so warm that the locals refer to it as Ifrit's Breath.

We get an explanation of the goal in the book in trying to bring the complexity and cultures of the Middle East and Central Asia, and that we will get details on Yachidism and al-Din, which are to Judaism and Islam as the Vaticine is to Catholicism - ie, recognizable but not nearly identical. The book is not a scholarly treatise, after all. We also get a lexicon and a sidebar saying that they'll be using the Crescent spellings rather than Thean, which is to say, not Anglicized.

The chapter on the current state of the Empire opens with Safiye defeating her evil brother, Istani, for control of the throne. However, due to an obscure law stating that any accused criminal had the right to try and beat their executioner to the gates of the palace and thus have their life spared, Istani survives, especially because he delays his sister by forcing her to save the life of a small boy rather than kill him. Istani fliees in to the night. We are informed that Safiye's troops, the Chavra of Sarmion, chased Istani and his loyalists out of Iskandar and through the nation of Anatol Ayh, driving them into the 8th Sea. They abandoned the chase a week into the 8th Sea, when they ran out of food and water, and it is commonly held that there is no way Istani could have survived, as nothing survives the 8th Sea. Safiye took the throne.

However, shortly after her coronation, the Chavra returned to Sarmion under the command of their princess, Batya, to find that the Numanari had launched an attack on their homeland, known for its scholars and healers, as retribution for years of Crescent occupation. Istani had done nothing to help Sarmion, leaving their lands unguarded, their king poisoned and their holy sites pillaged. Safiye sent half of her new armed forces and all of the Chavra to aid Sarmion, opeing that they'd arrive within two days using her fastest ships. She sent her riders with treasure to the Tribes of the 8th Sea, to secure their allegiance and earn their aid in reinforcing Sarmion. The ships got caught in a storm in the Numanari Approach, and there was nothing that could be done but have the few Janissaries trained in the Art of the Second Prophet climb the rigging and, wielding ancient weapons of power, reflect the lightning bolts back into the sky while monsters rose from the depths. It took five days to reach the Sarmion coast - and that was too long. The walls of Salemoria had fallen, warriors lay dead in the streets, or alive but heavily deformed by abuse of their magical power. The Quabilat al-Hisan, 8th Sea warriors who had ridden to aid in battle, were now attempted to reunite families and bring the living to medical aid. Sarmion had won, but at terrible cost.

In the wake of the war, Safiye set out to ensure it would never happen again. Istani had been a tyrant, who had forgotten that it was unity that made the Empire great, and for unity, all had to be equal. And so, for her first official act, Empress Safiye made three decrees. First, Yasaklam. Rulers of the Empire would no longer be required to kill their siblings in order to take the throne. Second, Kaldirma. Sorcerers were no longer required to register themselves with the Empire or die, as they had been under Istani. Last, Degistirme. There would be no class system in the Empire. While this was all wildly popular with most people, the rich were not happy, particularly Shah Jalil of Persis. Not only had Persis long been Anatol Ayh's rival, but Jalil had been Istani's lover, and was infuriated by his presumed death. To ease the transition, the empress gave him ten years to enact her decrees and withdrew Imperial forces from Persic. The rebels of Persic now turned inwards - where they had once opposed the Empire, now many only opposed the shah, and Persis' civil war is still ongoing. The 8th Sea has continued as it ever has. The al-Thi'b were displaced just before Safiye took power, driven out by the giant serpent Saghira, and now struggle to find new lands. The neutral city Raqmu is full of rumors that something or someone conspires to set the tribes against each other - perhaps the jinn, who are mad that humanity has almost forgotten them, or perhaps Istani, who may have survived somehow via a jinn pact.

Ashur has always stood apart from the Empire. It has been independent since the 9th century, and was primarily neutral during the Numanari attack. While the Guardian of the First Garden would never allow the Numanari to breach Ashur, he did nothing for Sarmion. However, the city-state sent aid after the final battle, bringing caravans of fruit and vegetables down to the war-torn lands to bring relief. When Safiye sent an envoy to the Guardian and the Pleroma (the government of Ashur), bringing thanks and gifts, they were returned with a simple message, one known well by all who live in Crescent land: Five fingers, one fist.

Next time: History.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Mors Rattus posted:

7th Sea 2: Nations of Theah, Vol. 2 - What If A Goat, But Sexy
the exceptionally sexy goat-women

:goatdrugs:

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: The Crescent Empire - Ancient History

The Crescent Empire didn't begin united, or even as a group of friendly nations. They were a group of countries that fought themselves and each other, with a long history. Each has tales of a great, ancient civilization that predated all of them, known as Katab, which spanned the entire region and was advanced, powerful and wealthy. In those days of legend, potent spirits known as jinn roamed the world, and people did magic with ease, raising amazing monoliths that still stand to this day. The Katabi people spoke and wrote the Katabic language, one of the oldest languages known, and certainly one of the oldest still in any form of use today. Scholars across the Empire dedicate themselves to investigating Katabic writing on the structures, statues and tombs found throughout the region, even deep into the 8th Sea. Theories are plentiful as to what actually caused the downfall of the Katab Empire, but their fall is what laid the ground for what would follow.

Before the formation of the Crescent Empire, though, there was a time of darkness. Katab's collapse plunged the Crescent into chaos. No records exist of this period, as each region became ioslated. It is known that the Ifrians, Numanari of the Old Empire and mare came across the sea to plunder, and that the various kingdoms fought each other. Anatol Ayh attempted to conquer Persis, while the 8th Sea raiders attacked Ashur and the tribes of Sarmion fought each other endlessly in service to ancient spirits. The years of infighting did, at least, bring a sharing of cultures, in which all learned from each other. This blending continued with the rise of Shah Korchas the Great of Persis and his formation of the Haxamanisiya Empire. The shah was raised in poverty and hiding to prevent his death at the hands of his grandfather, the King of Nidian, who had been told of a prophecy that his grandson would rise up and supplant him. He did do this - first, he slew his grandfather and united Nidian, in what is now south Persis, then annexed the land around it, using his powerful army of ten thousand soldiers, called Athanatoi by the fearful Numanari - Immortals.

Korvash's Haxmanisiya empire stretched from Khemet in north Ifri, into Numa, and even as far as Sarmatia and Ussura. Now, all qualed before the power of the empire. It would last for generations until its final defeat at the hands of Iskander the Great of Malcedon. Malcedon was a tiny island kingdom between the Old Empire of Numa and the Crescent. It was a client of the Numanari, a conquered people that desired to be free. When King Phillypus the First married the half-Numanari princess of Khemet, Olystina, he made himself a target for the Old Empire. He was slain in his bed by Numnari spies, dying in the arms of his son, Iskander. This galvanized the Malcedonians in rebellion. Olystina declared that Iksander, descended from two dynasties both of divine blood, was the greatest of warrior kings. Many believed it, and history does say he had uncanny instincts in battle. He was a warrior and a philosopher, a tactician that led from the front and inspired his people to become free during the battles between Numanari and Haxamansiya. While the empires fought, Iskander united both Khemeti and Malcedonian forces across both territories. His actions left a massive impact.

Iskander freed Anatol Ayh from Persic control and Haxamanisiya rule. In his honor, the House of Chaghri named their capital after him, building the city of Iskandar that, to this day, is the heart of the Crescent Empire. Iskander even traveled to Sarmion, and while he thought of invading, he was welcomed as a friend and brought to the gates of Salemoria, where the High Priest and prophet (but not Prophet) Yermeya offered up a sacred white bull as a gift. The bull was the ancient symbol of Malcedon, and Iskander accepted it, declaring Sarmion to be forever friend to his empire. Sarmion was spared, prospering under Iskander's protection from their ancient Numanari foes. At last, Iskander conquered the Haxamanisiya Empire in the fifth century, and the Numnari stole much of the territory of fallen Persis, with Iskander taking the rest. However, his ambition went beyond even his reach. He never stopped or settled, always installing client governors as he moved on. He reached the western edge of Cathay, where he became fascinated by the culture and religion. He died there of mysterious fever, having left no heir. His mother ruled briefly, but the Numanari swiftly took vengeance on Malcedon, enslaving Olystina as a prisoner and dancer. Their sorcerers called down a terrible curse, sinking Malcedon below the waves until only its highest peaks stood above water.

After the fall of Iskander and the Haxamanisiya, Numa again invaded. The war spread across the region, but the worst was in Sarmion, where the Numanari took many into slavery to rebuild their crumbling and failing infrastructure. It was among the Sarmion slaves of Numa that a young Yachidi teacher named Yesu became the First Prophet. Stories speak of his teachings and message, but the greatest mark he left was on Ashur, where he led his followers to build a new land. His word spread across Persis and Anatol Ayh, even making a small impact in Sarmion and the 8th Sea. It would not be, however, until the rise of Khalil ibn Mustafa, the Second Prophet, in the seventh century, that the real friction would begin between nations.

TYhe Second Prophet was a legendary wanderer, exiled from his home in the tiny state of Thaj after incurring the wrath of its sorcerer-princess, Shahnaz. She sent sorcerers to test him wherever he went, but he could not be destroyed. His preaching influenced people from across Ifri and Theah as well as his home in the C rescent. When he finally returned to Thaj and was slain by Shahnaz, he had hundreds of followers with him and thousands more had accepted his teachings across the world, praying to al-Musawwir (that is, Theus - same god, different name). The impact of the Second Prophet on the Crescent is impossible to overstate. He lived for a time in Anatol Ayh, and the entire nation became his ofllowers. The Caliphate of Anatol Ayh was formed in the wake of his death, and when local Persic leaders began to outlaw al-Din as a religion, the Caliphate invaded to protect the Persic Dinists. The occupation led many Persic to convert to al-Din, which didn't really help relations with Persis.

In the north, Vodacce became the center of the Vaticine Church, who claimed to be the inheritors of the Prophets. Their influence had transformed Theah, especially CAstille and Vodacce, and had brought the eyes of the Theans to the southern lands. They had little interest in Anatoli-ruled Ashur, as it was being ravaged by the Numnari, and they saw little value in the 8th Sea, they believed Persis and Anatol Ayh were both ripe for the taking. The Vodacce saw a chance to shore up their economy and invaded. As with the Numanari, they believed Sarmion would be the perfect launching point for invasion of other nations, and they tried to take its ports and its capital, Salemoria. By then, however, Sarmion had become long used to fighting Numanari invaders, and they were not easily conquered.

General Yedha and the Maccabe warriors held out against the Vodacce, who launched simultaneous attacks on Persis and Anatol Ayh. Yedha's lover, King Ahaz, reached out to the rulers of those two nations for aid, as both were allies of Sarmion. This united the shah and the caliph against Vodacce, and together, the three lands called on the 8th Sea tribes, allies of Persis, to drive out the invasion. Ashur, an Anatoli client state at the time, provided most of the supplies. Led by the Caliphate, the new alliance attacked the Vodacce forces and drove them out. When the dust settled, the leaders of the nations gathered in Iskandar to discuss what would happen next. History says that on the third night of feasting together, they all shared a prophetic dream of unity. When they awakened in the morning, they found that the night had gone on longer than normal, that the only night was a thin crescent moon. This was taken as a blessing by the Second Prophet, and the leaders declared that they would unite as a empire dedicated to mutual growth and protection. While it would be primarily Dinist, all would have freedom to worship as they pleased. This freedom brought the loyalty of the Sarmions, and particularly the Yachidi rulers of that nation, who offered their elite army, the Chavra, to help protect the new empire.

They would, of course, need a leader. Discussions raged all night over who would lead. In the end, the Caliph, Aaliyah, daughter of Ilkin of the House of Chaghri, who had led many of the battles against Vodacce, became the first Empress of the Crescent Moon. She took husbands (and one wife) from each of the other nations, including Prince Johathan of Sarmion, Princer Sayed of Persis, warrior-Princess Anaya of the Tribe of the Camel, Siber of the Tribe of Wolf and Isham of the Tribe of the Horse. Together, this new family swore to produce a new line, of united blood, and no one can say who truly sired the heir to the empire. They set their capital in Iskandar, and Aaliyah bore the first royal line of emperors. In an effort to symbolize the unity, the ruling dynasty was known as the Alwarith, and the people of the empire became known as the Alwarithli.

Because nothing good can last, the new empire was invaded by the failing Numanari Empire. They still had vast swathes of the coast of the 8th Sea under their control. In their first true act as a world power, the Crescent Empire counterattacked, driving the Numanari from their shores and conquering their ancient enemy. (And beginning the long cycle of conquest and rebellion over the Numanari islands we read about in the Numa chapter of Pirate Nations.) Numa became a client of the Empire, broken and stripped of its treasures. The retribution and vengeance visited on the Numnari was terrible and vicious, and the Crescents found they needed more resources to maintain control there. They headed west, attacking Castille and handily conquering them. Empress Aaliyah was old when this happened, and while she led the invasion, she also showed concern over the Empire's dedication to war over internal and spiritual growth. When her son Darius, first child of the great mass marriage, took the throne, he understood that each nation had to be able to grow on its own. He halted all further expansion and attempted a more gentle rule. He might have succeeded, had the Third Prophet not risen to power.

Next time: The Third Prophet Fucks It All Up

NutritiousSnack
Jul 12, 2011


Halloween Jack posted:

This is why I don't bother with official D&D anymore. They've made it clear that their #1 priority is not making baby cry. I don't give a gently caress if baby cries.

To be fair, this is the result of their terrible policy of removing OGL and replacing it with whatever the hell they were doing with 4e system. Oh wait, that was a decision that literally told Pazio to gently caress off and die. Like D&D 5e would have been just as bad for the company, if they forced a former associate to go to all out war with them and stroke edition warring.

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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2: The Crescent Empire - Problems

The 12th and 13th centuries were a time of chaos. The Khazari attacked Persis in 1221, under the Iron Khan, Khitai Khan, and conquered it before anyone could do anything to stop them. The Khazari Empire was far older and more potent than the Crescent Empire, and no one could take Persis from them. It remain under Khazari control until 1507, when it was freed by the warrior-poet Khata'i. It was shortly after the conquest that the Third Prophet showed up. He was unwilling to accept variations in belief or use of magic. He saw al-Din as an insult to the Vaticine version of the faith, and the Crescent's control of Castille as proof of Vodacce Vaticine weakness and Crescent wickedness. All of the followers of Theus in the Empire, from the Yachidi to the Dinists and the Orthodox saw the Prophet's rise as a troubling sign and sought to distance themselves from the new Vaticine. Many claimed the Third Prophet was no prophet at all, especially given his dedication to violent upheaval, much unlike the first two Prophets. This did nothing to stop his reforms, however, or his call to liberate Castille. Vaticine warriors fought the Crescents, driving them from Thean shores.

Faced with the possibility of an invasion by Castille, the empire lost more control over Numa in its scramble to prepare. Finally, at the last moment, the Tribes of the 8th Sea called for an end to hostilities due to the losses taken. They pulled their support from the war to force the Empire to step back in the face of a loss - a loss it would certainly have without its most fierce warriors. The empire consolidated within its own borders, from Numa to the edges of the 8th Sea. Emperor Nasir ceded Castille to the Vaticine and watched them descend into fanaticism - but not without leaving one final 'gift.' The Emperor hired an Ashurite Assassin team to kill the Prophet. No one is sure if they succeeded - none of the Assassins returned alive, and shortly after, the Third Prophet vanished.

After Khata'i pushed the Khazari from Persis, the Persics declared war on Anatol Ayh, demanding to become the seat of the empire. The infighting lasted decades, until Sultana Soraya of House Chaghri suggested a marriage between herself and Shah Fardhead when he took the throne. She was widely supported bt the Anatoli and thiose Persics that wanted peace, but many Anatoli saw Khata'i as a traitor and demanded that Farhad be tested first. Farhad, desperate for peace, engaged in a hundred tests set forth by the Imperial Divan, touring the entire empire. Secretly, the sultana was so impressed by him that she put a body double in her throne and headed out to help him. The two became lovers, and by the time the trials were over, they were ready to co-lead their empire.

It would be some time before trouble came again - just last generation. Emperor Shareef was on the throne then, long considered wise and fair. His only real failure was that he ceded Numa back to its people after controlling it proved too costly. This loss haunted him, as he wanted to give a united, powerful nation to his daughter and heir, Safiye. He had her groomed to be the perfect ruler, with teachers from each nation. Safiye became best friends with Princess Batya of Sarmion, as well, and she was sent on a tour of the empire to learn more about it, remaining away for the better part of a decade. No one knows if the Emperor died of natural causes or was murdered, but rumor has it that his son, Istani, was not a patient man. He seized the throne while his sister was away, taking his lover, Shah Jalil of Persis, as his consort. Jalil used the imperial throne's power to declare martial law in Persis in 1648, and a year later, the two created the Magician Registry, which expanded and radicalized Dinist distrust of magic to a new level. It required all spellcasters to give their identity to the state, in an effort to root out worshippers of demons and evil spirits. (In theory. In practice, it was to limit magic so that Istani could do his own method of demon-binding in secret, unopposed.) Cut to, well, the overthrow of Istani by his sister, more on which later.

Now, let's get into the Alwarithli as a society. While each nation within the Empire is unique, there are a number of things that they share in common. Specifically, their celebrations, education, commerce and medicine. There are four weeks throughout the year that are considered to be celebratory holidays under Imperial law, each falling on an equinox or solstice. In the Spring celebration, people decorate their homes with the first banches of green leaf and blossom. They will set a pot or plate of sprouts on the dinner table as a centerpiece, and on the last day of the week, everyone gets together with drinks and baskets of food to picnic in the public squares, meadows or parks. Ashurites also use this time to celebrate the discovery of their land and the burial of Yesu. Because the fig tree is central in the story of Yesu and the first Ashurite settlers, they traditionally plant figs during the holiday, and bake and eat fig cakes as well as setting out large platters of both fresh and dried figs to snack on.

In Summer, on the solstice, people put large tubs of water outside, splashing each other and hurling water around. This water feast will inevitably draw in the mischevious jinn known as perian, who secretly mingle with the revelers and occasionally throw splashes of water themselves. At the end of the day, those they find worthy will not suffer drought that summer. In this time, the Yachidi make a point of celebrating their covenant with Theus, studying the rituals and practices laid down for them. All Yachidi learn these by heart, but also are taught not to take them for granted. One way they study is for groups to come together pick a single law from the Tariyag, as the Yachidi list of 613 divine laws are known, to discuss. During their study feasts, the Yachidi do not eat meat and use a vast amount of dairy products to make food such as rice pudding or cheese pastries.

In Autumn, with the harvest is a holiday celebration about sharing in the wealth of the land. People give gifts to each other in the form of baskets of food, and the wealth give food and old clothing to the poor. The Anatoli and Persic have a tradition of leaving on pilgrimage on the final day of the autumn holiday week. Families prepare for it over the entire preceding year so they may weave special pilgrim's robes, which have unique geometrical themes that are special to each family and repeat in different patterns for each family member. Pilgrims receive gifts of food form their family and friends to take on the journey, and are typically seen off by a crowd that follows them to the edge of town, singing songs and waving paper flags.

In Winter, families come together by the light of the fire and the oil lamp for opulent meals. On the night of the solstice, the Yasnavans light magnificent bonfires in the center of their towns and cities for the fire ceremony. Smaller fires are also lit for those who are brave enough to jump through them, either to show off or for ritual purification. While some 8th Sea Tribes also observe these Yasnavan rites, they have also interwoven the Feast of Sacrifice. Each tribe raises a special herd, known as the Glorious Herd, which is sacrificed to the serpent Gocihr on the morning after the solstice. Once the bonfire goes out, the goats are placed in the ashes, and one person remains to witness the sacrifice's acceptance. They may never speak of what they say, except to tell if the sacrifice was accepted or not.

All families and households in the Empire share one love: kaffee. Every family has its own kaffee pot. In Persis or the 8th Sea, such pots are shaped like an hourglass with a crescent-shaped beak, while in Anatol Ayh, Sarmion and Ashur, they are small pans with long handles. Their often intricate designs and high quality show their importance, and in the Empire, there are no cheap kaffee pots. The pot is important because kaffee is drunk at every social gathering of any kind. Happy occasions have highly sweetened kaffee, and somber events use bitter, unsweetened kaffee. Offering kaffee to a guest implies that they are trusted and welcomed, and it is very rude to refuse a cup. Not offering kaffee, on the other hand, is a clear message that when hospitality no longer applies, the visitors are very much not welcome. Many say that they can read the future in the grounds the remain in the kaffee cup. To read the grounds, one flips the cup upside down onto a saucer after drinking, so that the grounds run down the sides and form a pattern. The topic to be scried on must be decided before drinking, and may be strengthened by putting a symbolic object on the cup while the grounds settle. Of course, you need to be a skilled kaffee reader to tell the meaning of the residue. The ability is fairly common, however, and most people have a friend or family member that claims to have the gift. Skeptics often say such predictions are self-fulfilling prophesies, but there have been famous readings of legend that contradict them. Most Crescents have at least some deference for the practice and predictions, on the grounds of better safe than sorry.

The Persic and Tribal kaffee drinkers rarely add sugar to their kaffee, so that the bitterness can complement their honeyed pastries, though they often do add cardamom or saffron or other aromatic spices. Anatoli, Sarmion and Ashurite drinkers prefer a sweeter blend, often brewing multiple pots of varying sweetness for guests to choose from. They also often serve their kaffee with soft, sickle-shaped candies of starch and sugar gel, known as hilal, or crescents. Kaffee is also frequently enjoyed at kaffee houses found throught cities of the empire. No city has so many as Ashur, however. These places often have a terrace in which locals gather for gossip or to argue politics. While such discussions may grow heated, it is generally considered that in a kaffee house one must remain civil, as it is common ground where all are welcome, regardless of nationality or religion.

Next time: Education.

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