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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.

Aztechnology is also at the forefront of cybermancy, so you can always bring back mooks as Zombie Bane.

(I should add that as a general rule, I hate the trope in Cyberpunk/Shadowrun of sending an elite death squad after the PCs with revenge as the rationale. You're expendable assets who don't know anything and that's the point)


Sep 25, 2004

Halloween Jack posted:

Aztechnology is also at the forefront of cybermancy, so you can always bring back mooks as Zombie Bane.

(I should add that as a general rule, I hate the trope in Cyberpunk/Shadowrun of sending an elite death squad after the PCs with revenge as the rationale. You're expendable assets who don't know anything and that's the point)

I agree, but it really depends on what sort of game you're playing - games where shadowrunners need to be icy professionals who leave no trace and massive firefights downtown get treated as modern-day terrorist incidents are pretty different from games where the average level of societal violence is assumed to be "opening of Demolition Man" (which the game definitely supports given things like the number of gangs presented, prevalence of body armor, easy/cheap licensing of automatic weapons, multiple competing armed combat ambulance services, fiction featuring shadowrunners gunning down security, etc.)

I also think it's overused precisely because the players are supposed to be expendable assets - it's supposed to immediately makes it clear that the last job/GM's current storyline is a Big Deal and it's a pretty familiar genre fiction storyline that seems like it should inject some tension into the narrative

its fine as a very occasional device, but I think the problem is that a lot of GMs envision their campaign proceeding as a self-contained thing akin to a spy thriller/heist movie so it actually ends up occurring all the time as a result (along with the similarly troublesome "being set up/betrayed by an important NPC who should have your back due to being family/a mentor figure/a long-standing ally/bffs")

they're not necessarily bad devices (which is why they're used so much in the genres shadowrun emulates/incorporates), but they're such easy-to-use cliches for "exceptional circumstances" that they can easily feel routine/de rigueur - I think its something the game should caution against overusing (since both devices are much more effective when they're actually contrary to expectations rather than assumed/obligatory)

I'd honestly say that if you wanted to do a campaign starting with the overused "johnson sets up the team and puts them on the run" plotline it'd almost certainly be better to start in medias res immediately after or right as the team is getting screwed rather than playing it out

LGD fucked around with this message at 18:02 on Aug 6, 2018

Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.

Betrayal At House on the Hill, 17

Closing in on the end, although the authors ran out of ideas long ago.

Worm Ouroboros
Trigger: Find a Skull in the Gymnasium, Charred Room, or Master Bedroom.

"Hey, you know what we haven't used in a while? Those giant tentacly thing rules from Carnivorous Ivy and Tentacled Horror."

Well, ok, maybe that's a bit unfair, because there is actually an interesting variation in this one. The traitor removes their piece from the board and places two Ouroboros Heads on that location instead. These move like monsters, and - unlike the previous tentacle creatures - they do actually leave their Body sections behind. Ouroboros Heads can discover new rooms and can attack at Might 6; Body sections don't do anything other than slow down heroes' movement in the way regular monsters would. If the worm grows to 16 body segments, the traitor wins. The heroes have to kill the two heads, but just to make this not ridiculously easy, before the heroes can attack a head they have to cast a spell on it, and the spell requires the Skull and a Sanity 5+ roll. After that, each worm head has to be defeated a number of times equal to half the number of players.

Fairly straightforward, but has the standard complaint (which probably sounds like a stuck record by now) that it's really map dependent and the map is random. The ability for the heads to discover new rooms could also easily be problematic, as it encourages the worm to burrow off down a chain of new rooms as quickly as possible thus forcing the heroes to move through areas where its body remains. On the other hand, it's possible that the floor the worm is on will run out of tiles and the worm player will have to sheepishly admit that they are now stuck.

Stacked Like Cordwood
Trigger: Find the Spirit Board in the Abandoned Room, Catacombs or Gymnasium.

This Jason-style haunt is named after a phrase classically used to describe the bodies of the dead in concentration camps. I don't know if I shouldn't just stop there.

Ok. So Jason is called Crimson Jack. He shows up in the entrance hall and wants to kill everyone. He has 3 in all stats except Knowledge, but if he's temporarily defeated he comes back with 1 extra point on all those stats. He also has a fear aura which means anyone in the room with him must make a Sanity 3+ roll or lose 1 point from each of two traits. The traitor.. gets to kill people too. That's it for the bad guys.

The heroes have to find the cursed weapon that can kill Crimson Jack. It can be the Axe, Spear, Blood Dagger or Sacrificial Dagger. If they already have one of those, they can declare that the cursed weapon; if they don't, they can go to one of four specific rooms and make a Knowledge roll to find whichever one of the four they like. Everyone then has to study the weapon by making a Might/Knowledge roll in the room with it (whether it's the room where it's hidden, or the room where the person carrying it is); once a number of these rolls equal to the number of players is made, the players now know how to kill Crimson Jack and the next time they defeat him they win.

Meh. Really really meh. Could be incredibly dull if the heroes already have the weapon and are all together to start with.

You Wear It Well
Trigger: Find the Medallion in the Abandoned Room, Balcony, or Catacombs.

Years ago, the traitor found a spirit about to possess their mother, and made a deal with it; in exchange for it sparing their Mum, they offered to bring it someone else to possess instead. Guess who that is?

This one has an interesting set-up, too. The traitor places the Astral Spirit in the room with them, and all the heroes' souls are ripped out of their bodies; they place Soul tokens in the squares where they are, and they play as their souls from now on. Souls can move through walls, use items (but not take them), explore rooms, and make mental attacks instead of physical ones. Their goal is to hit the Astral Spirit a number of times equal to the #players. The traitor gets to stay in their body, but the heroes' souls can make mental attacks against them, stunning them (but not harming them).

The Astral Spirit gets to attack the heroes' Souls back; the traitor gets to attack their bodies. If the traitor attacks an unconscious body, the corresponding soul takes 2 dice of damage to mental traits. What the Spirit wants to do is to kill a soul, then merge into the body it previously held, which requires it to make a number of Sanity rolls equal to the #players against the dead hero's original Sanity score. If a soul is killed by the traitor attacking their body, the spirit can't possess that body because it's been smashed up.

It's a really nifty and flavorful idea, but isn't really backed up by interesting gameplay - ultimately, it's a single Big Monster haunt of the types we've seen before, with the additional bonus of the traitor being able to make special attacks (although needing to do so carefully to avoid wasting good bodies). Also, the Astral Spirit has a 6 in both mental stats and souls can't pick up items, so the ability of the heroes to adapt to it is very limited.

Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Shadowrun, but with Heat from Night's Black Agents.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

7th Sea 2: The Crescent Empire - To Provide For The Common Defense

Every nation in the Empire and every people are distinct, with their own governments or customs, but all rally to the Empress in times of trouble and for common defense against invasion. While individual nations or tribes may disagree with her policies, she has final say on all matters that concern the empire as a whole. The ultimate goal of Imperial governance is the 'Circle of Equity,' also called the sacred balance, between the government and its peoples. The idea of the Circle is as old as the Empire, and is written in gold on the floor of every government building. It is eight simple rules.


The good garden lives, but with the grace of the bugs
Meaning: There can be no imperial authority without the military.
Feeding upon the leaves,
Meaning: There can be no military without taxes.
Fell from a great tree, one with the ground.
Meaning: Taxes are generated by the people.
The good gardener tends his bed carefully,
Meaning: The ruler protects the people by ensuring justice.
Not to trample the earth's bounty underfoot,
Meaning: Justice requires a harmonious society.
Aware of the world just beyond his walls.
Meaning: A harmonious society is a garden; its walls are the state.
The good sun shines upon the garden,
Meaning: The state is sustained by religion.
And the good gardener basks in its glory.
Meaning: Religion is supported by imperial authority.

Empress Safiye is the most powerful woman in the Empire, and all imperial law flows from her. She is the supreme Dinist religious authority (in theory), and the commander-in-chief of the Imperial armed forces. She's also been very, very busy lately. She has abolished the strict caste system, dismantled the registry of sorcerers, discontinued the law of fratricide, initiated wide-scale civic and military reforms, and has taken a much more public role in running things than her predecessors, which makes many traditionalists unhappy. She has given her subject nations ten years to implement her new decrees. Traditionally, the empress or emperor rules from deep within the palace complex, out of the Fatih Sarayi, or Conqueror's Palace, full of ceremony and mystery. Safiye has chosen instead to be much more accessible.

She is served by the Imperial Divan, an eleven-member cabinet of very important and influential people, led by the Grand Vizier. They meet four times a week in the Vizier's palace of government in Iskandar, where they discuss matters of state and policy. These discussions and decisions are recorded and presented to the Empress by the Vizier for approval. While she is not bound by them, it is unwise to casually dismiss their advice. Lately, the Empress has been taking much interest in the day to day and even chairing the Divan's meetings personally, which is not making the Grand Vizier happy, either.

The Imperial Harem is one of the parts of the government that is quintessentially Crescent. Many poets have given lurid description to its decadence and the beauties within. Certainly, the pleasures of the harem are restricted (on pain of potential death at the hands of the eunuch guards) to all but the Empress. However, the poetry misses one important aspect: family. The harem is, above all else, a place for the partners of the Empress, their children and their servants. The harem is built on family as well as romance, and it serves the vital purpose of continuing the dynasty, as well as being a place where a lot of politics happen. There are technically two harems, divided by the color of their veils. The Black Harem is for women, the White Harem for men. No tradition bars the Empress from taking lovers from both, but the ascendant harem is always the one opposite the present ruler's gender, to emphasize the importance of maintaining the line. The Black Harem is run by the Harem Stewardess, and the White Harem by the so-called White Eunuch, each easily recognized by their fur-lined robes, jeweled headdress and silver mace. The leader of the ascendant harem is the Chief of the Harems and sits on the Imperial Divan. At present, that'd be the White Eunuch, Bomani Chike, a massive Ifrian man of great patience and cunning. He is a staunch supporter of Empress Safiye and always on the lookout for treachery.

However, even the Chief Eunuch's power pales before the Valide Sultan, that is, the empress' mother. She is a master of the Art of the Second Prophet, lives in apartments at the heart of the harem and has influence far beyond her official rank. It is said that the Valide Sultan's loyalties are split between Safiye and her son Istani. Few can predict which side she will eventually fall on, but when she chooses, it will shake the world itself. Beyond these two, the children of the ruler are kept in different parts of the harem, to prevent overenthusiastic parents from arraging "accidents" on the children of their rivals. Rumor has it that some turn even to charms or necromancy to defend their child's claim to the throne. On the best of days, the harem is rife with intrigue, though since the abandonment of the Law of Fratricide, outright murder has been rare.

The Grand Vizier is second only to the Empress in authority. Their powers include appointment of military personnel and bureaucrats, maintaining the civic order of Iskandar and commanding the military while the Empress chooses not to. They also receive all foreign ambassadors and chair the Divan when the Empress doesn't. That said, the job's never really a safe one, as they live at the Empress' whim. The present Vizier, Mehmed al Pasha, hopes to reverse this, having survived the Empress' father and brother so far. He is a keen mind and a razor wit, who spends most of his leisure time on chess and birdwatching, though his foes whisper of an unnatural fascination with Syrneth artifacts. Mehmed is a staunch traditionalist, and he fears the Empress' new liberal reforms may destroy the Empire. He is deeply loyal to the people and his position, so he has done little but contemplate this...until recently, anyway. He has begun hunting the 8th Sea to see if Istani survived and, if so, if he might be able to overthrow his sister.

The Vizier receives foreign ambassadors to the court. These ambassadors generally come seeking trade treaties, reduced tax on their goods and protection from the Empire's privateers. Competition between ambassadors is very common, and the foreign quarter is always full of intrigue. Every Thean nation has representatives in Iskandar, though the most prestigious is easily Ludovico Attendolo Bernoulli of Vodacce (and his young wife, the witch Lucia). He is a wealthy, cunning man who wields words and poison with equal skill to maintain Vodacce's position of favor with the Empire. His greatest rival is Comtesse Amandine Gautier of Montaigne, a cunning libertine who absolutely adores Crescent men. She wants Montaigne to gain the favor Vodacce currently holds in order to launch a join invasion of Castille. Her greatest foe (besides Ludovico) is the Castillian ambassador, Esteban dela Rosa de Odiseo, a staunch Vaticine whose unbreakable honor and skill with a blade have earned him several allies in court. He'd give his life for Castille...something Amandine would very much like to make happen. He is allied to Sir Jack Harding of Avalon, a trusted knight of Elaine who is quite well-liked in the Imperial court. He despised Istani, thanks to his strong sense of morality, and helped to smuggle the Empress' Chavra guards into the palace just before the coup. Jack would dearly love to help Esteban keep Castille safe, but must find a way to do it without implicating Avalon in anything dangerous.

Below the Divan are the branches of the Imperial government - the Imperial Bureaucracy, the Imperial Military and the Imperial Judiciary. The Imperial Bureaucracy is a massive group of scribes, accountants and administrators who oversee the day-to-day functions of the Empire. They are broadly divided between the Imperial Administration and the Financial Officers, but no aspect of life is outside their influence. The Administration are mainly bureaucrats who keep the state moving, while the Financial Officers handle taxes. While the Empire may overlook many crimes if it suits their purpose, tax evasion is not one of them.

The Imperial Military is no smaller, and if its full power is marshalled, it is more than able to rival the best Thean forces. The military is divided into three main groups. First, the Palace Guard, also known as the bostanci, or gardeners. They are led by the bostancibasi, and manage the security of the Imperial palace, the maintenance of its grounds and the defense of the Empress and her family. Their reputation for ferocity is legend, and their current bostancibasi is Altan Demir Pasha, a Sarmion Chavra warrior of immense skill. Second, the Standing Army, a force of both cavalry and infantry. The cavalry, called pala, are four divisions of extremely well-equipped horse riders from elite families, who fight with fanatical zeal. They are quite proud of their record of total loyalty to the throne, and are often rivals of the less loyal Janissaries. The Janissaries are the infantry division, renowned for their accuracy and discipline under fire and for their white hats and lavish uniforms. They are typically war orphans or children sold into indentured servitude to escape poverty, trained in the schools of Iskandar and promoted by merit. They are an extremely disciplined force, with a full host of support staff and artillery. Their guns are better in both range and accuracy than their Thean counterparts, and may in fact be rifles. (Single shot, if so, but still. The game is not entirely clear.) Traditionally, the Janissaries are disciplined to the point of brutality and forbidden to marry, participate in any trade or take part in any vice. Safiye has eased these restrictions and opened Janissary recruitment to anyone who volunteers and can handle the training. Traditionalists in the army question the wisdom of this, and only time will tell if they become less loyal. Further, the empress may supplement the army by levying naval units, pirate mercenaries or the warriors of any nation in the Empire. Last, the Provincial Administration maintains the network of imperial provinces of taxation and administration, called eyalets. Each province has a bey assigned to it, who runs the local administrators and functionaries to maintain accurate tax records and commands a garrison of Janissaries. While the bey technicalls has the Empress' authority behind them, they always allow the subject nations to run their own affairs as long as the taxes get paid on time and they come when called for war.

The Imperial Judiciary is composed of qada, judges, who administer law and jurisprudence. Every qadi gets an extremely good education in Iskandar's law schools, covering religious, secular and tribal law from across the empire. Bribery and corruption do exist, but frequent rotations and the threat of public disgrace (and death) keep things reasonably impartial. Qada make their decisions based on local law whenever possible, though conflicts between local custom and imperial law are always resolved in favor of the imperial court. Every qadi is paired with a mufti, a religious advisor that ensures all decisions are within the tenets of al-Din. In theory this system of checks and balances works well, but has led to occasional, sometimes legendary disputes between qada and mufti, such as the one between the qadi Tadashi ibn Barris and the mufti Asil Mansoorzadeh. Tadashi is loyal to Empress Sadiye's vision, while Asil is a staunch Persic traditionalist loyal to the shah. Their courtroom arguments are the stuff of legend, with rumor saying that Asil has called Tadashi a, quote, "backwards devil beast birthed of an inbred goat," and that it will be only time before they come to a physical altercation. While the system is as fast as it can be, appeals, failures of witnesses to appear, backlogs and bureaucracy can tie complex cases up for months or even years. In these cases, either side may call for the "judgment of al-Musawwir" and demand a trial by combat. Further, in addition to the imperial courts, the judiciary recognizes a set of local courts for non-Dinist communities. Vaticine, Orthodox, Yasnavan and Yachidi courts are all recognized, and may render judgments within their own communities so long as they pay a jizya, or worship tax, proportional to their wealth. Their decisions and appeals are recognized by the judiciary and may be processed upwards through the imperial system, which renders any new verdicts using the law of the individual community as the courts understand it.

Next time: Imperial law.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

7th Sea 2: The Crescent Empire - THE CODE OF SHAMASH-TAL

The Imperial legal system is legendarily both equal and brutal, made from a mix of al-Din religious tenets, secular laws of the imperial founders and the inherited sacred codes of the ancient king Shamash-tal. Equality is the central pillar of Crescent law, which is administered by a truly impressive and labyrinthine bureaucracy designed to treat all equally, and to grant special attention to the poor and children, who have special legal protections. Civil law draws off an elaborate body of laws and precedents that most Theans would be deeply confused by without aid of a trained attorney. Contracts can be made for practically any purpose, and breach of contract requires payment in kind for whatever was lost. Lawsuits can be called for any reason, though frivolous suits can result in fines or loss of honor. The greatest possible penalty under civil law is indentured servitude for failure to pay debts. There are no debtors' prisons, so this allows the indenture to survive under their new master's roof and work theory. Slavery is illegal in the Empire under penalty of death, but indentured service is, as you see, fine. Citizens may sell their children into indentured service, which may well be a way to a better life for the ultra-poor if sold to a wealthy person or the Janissaries. All contracts of indentured service must be formally recognized, notified and certified by a qadi, and the Empire takes a fifth of the price of the contract. Abuse of indentured servants is strictly penalized, and all indentured servants go free on the fulfillment of their contract or the death of their master, whichever comes first.

Criminal law in the Empire is almost uniquely harsh in its punishments. Minor offenses often get sentenced to public humiliation, such as having to swallow a stone on a string, which is then yanked out at speed. The vomiting this causes is always viewed with much scorn. False witnesses are placed on donkeys, coated in bull's blood and paraded through the market, and dishonest merchants have their ears nailed to their market stalls. There are equally creative punishments for things like theft, such as beating until the thief can't walk, cutting off hands or even plucking out eyes. More serious crimes, such as adultery, burglary, treason, rape and murder are all sentenced to death. Piracy of an Imperial vessel is also punishable by death, but you can purchase the right to pirate non-Imperial ships for a small fee and 10% of any goods seized. Treaties with the Empire may stipulate immunity from these pirates, but typically require payment of an anti-piracy free annually. While Empress Safiye has dismantled the registry of sorcerers that Istani set up, using magic for evil purposes remains a capital crime in the Empire, with the execution method being burning alive at dawn and seeing one's family name blackened to the tenth generation.

Under Crescent law, citizens may have up to four spouses, though typically multiple spouses are something only the wealthy can afford outside of the 8th Sea Tribes. A licensed marriage scout, called a gorucu, is often hired to find a potential spouse in the bazaars, baths and other social gatherings prior to the initiation of courtship and marriage rituals. The state takes a relatively small role in marriage itself, but does require a family to ask permission from a qadi as well as recording their names and any dowry paid, largely to set tax brackets. Imperial law permits divorce if a declaration is made and the couple does not have sex for three months, at which point the divorce cannot be revoked. Grounds for divorce include failure to provide for a spouse financially, neglect, mutual consent or if the right was specified in the marriage contract.

Dishonor is not illegal - but it's a huge loving deal. Kindness and hospitality are essentially religious duties for most of the Empire's faiths. Offering room and board to a stranger is to grant rest and relief from the road, to offer protection, and this is your duty. This carries obligations to both host and guest. A guest that violates such obligations hugely insults the host and ends all duties of protection. Fortunately, foreigners are generally given leeway due to their ignorance of local custom. Hosts typically intervene and calm offended locals with reminders of that ignorance, explaining the faux pas to their guest and suggesting ways to make amends. Hosts that violate their duties, meanwhile, suffer a huge loss of respect. A poor host may insult their guest, but if the guest is patient and does not strike back, the guest gains a lot of honor and the host loses face. These obligations extend to public life, and those with responsibility over others must consider the laws of hospitality to apply to them, whether that means their employees or their servants. No matter where you are, a host is expected to greet a guest with a traditional blessing of peace, called a salaam in Katabic: 'Salaam. Peace be upon you as you rest under this roof.' It is also considered exceptionally rude to intentionally exclude another Crescent from conversation by shifting to a language they don't know. Excluding foreigners is not nearly as impolite, in part because many foreigners just don't share language with the Crescent Empire at all, or even speak Katabic. Many Crescents generally expect some level of rudeness from Theans in general.

Respect and family are vital to the Empire's peoples. Everyone is owed respect according to the way of the Second Prophet, because everyone is of one tribe. Family may argue, but you never allow an outsider to raise their hand or voice against your family. Those who hold authority are granted the respect due to a parent, as parents are the first authority figures of all Crescents. When seeking expert advice, one grants the respect due an uncle or aunt, whose wisdom is cherished and only questioned privately and with respect. Peers and friends are given the respect due to a sibling - honesty and mutual respect. You sing their praises, rather than your own, and they sing yours. Honesty and respect need to be balanced. To call your friend a liar in public or to comment lewdly about their sex life, even as a joke, calls their integrity into question to any listening. Doing so in private is perfectly fine, however. Among lesser friends and acquaintances, one must take care, and rather than a direct accusation of lying, it is common to imply a mistake - 'I must have misheard you' or 'perhaps you are confusing that with something else?' To accuse someone openly of lying, villainy or impropriety can lead to a duel - or worse, a poetry duel.

The actual nuclear family is the closest bond there is in the Empire. This is why most Crescent nations have traditions in which the child takes on a surname based on one or both of their parents' names. Extended family is considered equally sacred, if in a different way. Family is part of you, it is where you come from and what you become. Insulting someone's family is an insult to that person as well, for their family is part of them. Questioning someone's modesty, particularly a woman's, questions the integrity of the entire family, especially as it brings the relation of her children to the extended family into doubt. Doing any of these things is likely to be taken as a mortal insult.

Honor is, as mentioned, a huge deal. While western Duelists and heroes often know honor, it can be hard to understand that in the Empire, it is often worth more than money, and it can be lost quickly. Something said without thought or done without care can ruin your good name and that of your family. Those of good reputation are given extra weight in court. A merchant in good standing that accuses someone of evil acts often means that person has to prove their honor before they can even begin proving their innocence. Those of the most social standing and honor are given the best wares at market, while a disreputable client may not be able to buy anything at all. 'My shop holds nothing worthy to your name' is one of the classic Crescent insults. Of course, honor comes as quickly as it can be lost. Honesty, cleverness, courage, prudence, generosity and moderation all bring honor to your name. These can erase any shame, if practiced properly. A dishonest man is not trusted, a woman without wits is not taken seriously. If you can show both honesty and wit, navigating the schemes of your foes, than you are deeply respected and all will know you are honorable. Likewise, the Alwarithli hate a coward who will not stand against adversity, as well as a fool who rushes headlong into danger for no reason. Those who stand in spite of fear and who temper their passion with sense are respected. However, it should be noted that each nation has its own ideas on what is and is not the correct method of comporting yourself.

In Anatol Ayh, equality and egalitarianism are paramount. To accuse or imply that someone abuses their authority or position is the highest insult you can give to an Anatoli. These accusations, even in private, can be very dangerous, as both duels and litigation in the mufti courts can bring punishment down on slanderers. However, exposing the abuses of power is a duty of all true believers in law. Religion and faith are also deeply tied to Anatoli ideas of honor, particularly the Dinist concept of al-Badi`, the moment of divine union with the Creator and the artistic masterpiece. Artistic skill brings a lot of respect, as does appreciation and protection of art. An adventurer that heads back into a burning building to rescue artistic masterpieces (after, of course, rescuing the actual people) is something that all Anatoli will praise.

Ashur is a nation of farmers and Assassins, and while this may seem a contradiction, given the pacifism of the Orthodoxy and most Anashid, it works. Mostly. However, using violence without absolute need or as a first resort is considered to be intensely disrespectful of Elohah's great gift of life, and also is likely to draw swift action by Anashid or even Assassins looking to end fights. Accusing an Ashurite of cowardice for not fighting is extremely ignorant and dishonorable. You can earn respect by showing reverence for the great trees of the nation, and by imitating the qualities of trees - the ability to be strong and firm, yet bend so as not to break.

Persis is a bit of a Byzantine mess of rules, thanks to its strict laws abou class and about magic. The rivalry with Anatol Ayh is especially deep in the ruling class, and mentioning the Empress' ten year time limit on ridding the land of class systems or magic divisions is likely to annoy people at best or enrage them at worst. Despite this, the Persics have as grand an artistic traidtion as the Anatoli, particularly with calligraphy, and skill or appreciation of art is equally able to earn honor and respect in their eyes.

Sarmion is a land of scholars, and knowledge is respected there in a way that goes beyond almost anywhere else. Risking your life to protect knowledge is an easy, if dangerous, way to earn the respect of any Sarmion. They also prize skill in academic or theological debate. Knowledge must be understood, after all, not just learned by rote. The ability to consider and understand another's argument while offering your own views is seen as a beautiful act, similar to the creation of a shared poem. A quick mind and gifted tongue are much respected. They are also a nation that is deeply supportive of the Empress, and showing disrespect to her is a good way to piss them off.

In the 8th Sea, even more than in the rest of the Empire, family is paramount. An insult to an 8th Sea tribesperson's family, living or dead, will draw even more vehement rage than elsewhere. It's not just human family, either, but also the herds. The reputation of a tribe's horses and camels is vital to the 8th Sea Tribes, and they see themselves as owing their lives to these beasts. To call a Tribesman's horse poorly bred will instantly bring them to the beast's defense - by word, sword or contest, because to let an insult go unanswered is to say it is true.

Next time: Jinn

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



There is something fundamental to humanity, a drive to know more, understand foundations, grasp not just how things came to be, but why. This drive, this profound hubris, seems both deeper and higher than other similar ingrained desires. The urge to get some sex is, in most of us, certainly strong, but lacks the patina of nobility that cosmic curiosity possesses. We seek the mysteries to benefit humanity, while we get laid for ourselves.

Staring up at the skyís infinite depths and wondering ďWhy, though?Ē isnít something that seems to preoccupy spider monkeys and sharks and slime molds. Itís us. Itís our problem, uniquely.

According to Unknown Armies, itís our problem because itís our fault.

And our glory! Every marvel beheld in the natural world, every great work of art remembered or forgotten or imagined but never shared? All ours. The elegant sophistication of biology, the profound mysteries of physics? We did that. The sublime and the ridiculous and the kawaii cute are all courtesy of humanity.

But on the other handÖ cancer? Death? Rape and unfairness and birth defects? Someone put those in the mix. Our instinct for mayhem and the way we learn to shrink from difficult justice without ever being taughtÖ someone thought those were good ideas. They were done to us, on purpose, by people like us. The myriad wounds upon humankind are self-inflicted, each and every.

The universe of Unknown Armies is a democracy, controlled by representatives we elect not through conscious action but through the mass will of humanity. These representatives are people, just like you and me, elevated to positions of cosmic importance through our collective will. When enough people believe hard enough in an idea, a concept, a type of person, then a person on earth who best represents that idea is elevated by the cosmos.

These representatives are known as Archetypes, and they form the Invisible Clergy. The clergy are the gods of the universe, the controllers and influencers that shape us as much as we shape them. It is difficult to see the effects of the clergy in the same way it is difficult to see air, they are everywhere, invisible, working through synchronicity and coincidence and imprinting and pressing on the unconscious minds of humanity.

The best way to think of this, is using the metaphor a network of paths. Every path represents a type or pattern of human thought, because after all we all are humans. Humans, mostly, think the same in the same ways about much of the same things. Not identically, but there is enough shared cognition that patterns and trends can emerge. Patterns of thought that have more and more people thinking of them get more and more powerful, meaning more and more people follow that same trend of thought. The more people follow a path, the wider and wider it gets, and eventually the path reaches some critical threshold, and becomes a permanent fixture in the minds of the mass of humanity. This is the point where the path is formalized, and a human who best fits that path is ascended into the Clergy as an archetype.

Archetypes can then shape and reinforce that path in the minds of humanity, changing it and using it to change the world based on their own very human whims. Archetypes arenít gods, they may have immortality and phenomenal cosmic power, but theyíre the same people they were on Earth. They also arenít omnipotent: An Archetype is severely limited by their mandate, the path they are part of. They canít do things outside of that remit, and rarely care about anything outside their purview in any case.

They reside in a realm of pure ideas, the conceptual heaven, known colloquially as The Statosphere. When 333 Archetypes ascend, when 333 types of people are indelibly printed into the human unconscious, the universe will end. And those 333 Archetypes will craft and shape the new universe that will come forth, and the entire process will begin again. Nobody knows exactly how many archetypes there are, or what all the existing ones are in the first place.

There are some limitations to Archetypes: Mainly that they must be both real, and current. Real is simple enough: Things that exist only in fiction donít qualify for Archetype status. They need to have the extra weight of real human experience to give them that boost into the Statosphere. This means Archetypes like the Great Detective, the Cowboy Cop, and the Evil Genius donít exist, not really. Because as commonplace and widespread as the concept is, there has never been a cackling madman holding the world hostage with death-rays and robot legions.

For currency, the metaphor of a democracy comes in again: Archetypes can be kicked out of ďofficeĒ and replaced. While the core concept, the very basis of the Archetype doesnít change, the details can. The nuances and symbols, the policies and influences and flavor of the archetype changes over time. While there may always be a Mother, a Warrior, a True King, the details of what those mean to people change over time. If the universal unconscious starts thinking of an Archetype in a way sufficiently different from the current Archetype, then the person currently in the position can be kicked out. The falling Archetype is returned to Earth as a mortal human once again, while a new human, someone who better fits the current view of the Archetype, is ascended in their place.


Because the archetypes are so potent in the collective unconscious, the paths they embody are familiar and readily understood by all of us. We know, on a deep and visceral level, what it means to be a Lover, a Murderer, or a Soldier. But precisely because they are such burning presences, their paths are imbued with power. Walk that path, and some of its power can be borrowed.

Those that walk the path of the Archetypes, who live like them and act like them, who emulate and imitate them, are known as Avatars. By aligning themselves with an archetype, and living and acting according to its strictures and methods, avatars can borrow some part of that power. They surf along the breakers of thought coursing through the human mind, waving the VIP Pass to Club Synchronicity.

To become an avatar is simple: act in accordance to the path of an archetype. You donít have to believe in the archetype, or even like or care about them. Your thoughts donít matter, what matters is how you appear to other people. Walk the right walk, talk the right talk, and wear all the right clothes and you can feel as lame and phony on the inside as you want. The universe doesnít care. You donít even need to know what youíre doing! There are plenty of accidental avatars about, channeling the power of the archetypes without intention or knowledge.

Becoming an avatar has two primary effects: First is you gain access to channels, the mystical overt powers of an avatar. While the channels start small and weak, they grown in power as the avatar grows closer and closer to the Archetype of their choice, with powerful avatars possessing great magickal abilities.

The second effect is colloquially called ďTheme MusicĒ. In essence, synchronicity and coincidence get warped by avatars, leading to a background ďnoiseĒ of events linked to the nature of the archetype. Radios near avatars of the Rebel start playing Bad to the Bone, Warriors always end up with war-movies playing on nearby TVís, Stars spontaneously attract paparazzi no matter how incognito they are. This is rarely helpful or harmful, but it is a good way to recognize avatars. If a grizzled dude with an Open Carry pistol on his hip walks in a convenience store, and suddenly some Ennio Morricone starts up on the radio, he might just be a Masterless Man.

One avatar of a path, a single human on Earth, is the Godwalker. This is the most powerful, most perfect, avatar of a particular archetype. The one person that best represents the archetype in the material world. They are given great power for their position, but face constant threat from others who seek their throne.

In mechanical terms, there are two ways to become an avatar: One at character creation and one during play.

In character creation itís simple enough: One of your Identities needs to be an Avatar identity. This follows special rules. They donít get any ďOf courseĒ usage, and canít substitute for any abilities. They get the Casts Rituals and Use Gutter Magick inherently, but no other features. Istead the main function of the identity is access to Avatar Channels. Every archetype gives access to four channels: First at 1%-50%, second at 51%-70%, Third at 71% to 90%, and the fourth at 91%. If you manage to somehow become a godwalker, you get another fifth channel, unique to your avatar thatís created collaboratively by you and the GM.

You increase your avatar identity by rolling at least 1 success every session, or by making increasing your identity a group objective. If you break taboo, every archetype has some forbidden action that they must not do, will cost you percentage from your identity.

If you decide to follow an avatar in the middle of play, you just get the identity as soon as you start following the path of the archetype of your choice. This starts at 0%, but automatically increases once a week by 5% as long as you donít break taboo. Once it hits 15%, no more freebies, and have to start rolling successes to increase it further.

Avatar identities max out at 98%, to get to 99% youíve got to become a godwalker. How do you do that? Well, get to 98% first, thatís the only way to be eligible barring some sort of mystic cheating or cosmic shenanigans. THen you have to dethrone the current godwalker. If you manage to do it yourself: By besting the godwalker in some sort of mystic challenge, forcing them to break taboo, or just killing them in some appropriately symbolic way then you get crowned as the new godwalker. If they die some other way, hit by a bus, break taboo through total accident or because they just donít give a poo poo anymore, or even just if a non-candidate whoops them then itís open season. Every archetype chooses a new godwalker differently: Maybe it just jumps to the next-best person, or they arrange some cosmic avatar tournament challenge. Itís pretty easy to get people together when you can warp coincidence and probability like pipe cleaners.

Now, how do you become an Archetype? Thereís two main ways, and the first is ascension. This is the process by which new archetypes, completely new ones, arise. There are no predetermined archetypes, though any that are too similar just get bunched together. The Teacher precludes the existence of the Tutor or the Instructor. One way to ascend is just to be a lucky bastard: When an archetype reaches the threshold for permanent enthronement in the collective unconscious one lucky bastard gets their golden ticket. Whoever most perfectly embodies that archetype gets to become a god. Most archetypes were created through this method. You can try to do it knowingly though, but this is a lot harder. You essentially need to act as an avatar of an archetype that doesnít exist yet, which is quite difficult. You have to identify a role that is significant to a decent majority of humanity but isnít filled by an existing archetype, and is also important enough that it has a decent chance of becoming a full-fledged archetype. Mostly this is done with 1 part resarch and 99 parts random lucky guessing. Remember, nobody actually knows exaclty how many archetypes there are, or what archetypes already exist or donít. BUt hey, if you just build this empty avatar identity up to 99%, which does nothing, then you need to pull off some giant mythic magickal symbolic act of power that jumpstarts the collective unconscious into action to solidify the archetype. If you did everything right, then boom! Youíre a newly minted god. This method is insanely rare and basically impossible to do.

This is the second way to join the clergy. ItísÖ more clear-cut but not exactly easier. How to assume a position as an archetype is relatively well known among avatars, but actually doing it is another story. First, you gotta be a godwalker. Nobody but a full fledged godwalker even has a chance, so enjoy that hellmarch. Then you have to shape and identify yourself with a variant of the archetype. Different enough that you are a noticeable change from the incumbent, but not so different you break taboo or lose similarity. Too dissimilar and thereís not enough mental mojo to let you assume the position, too similar and thereís no reason to replace the current guy. But, if you can find a distinct variant of an existing archetype that you can embody better than anyone else, and is more popular in the minds of mass humanity that the current archetype, you can try to assume the path from the existing inhabitant.

The way you do this is to challenge the current archetype in a symbolic contest where you prove your superiority and relevance. This can be easier with some archetypes and hellaciously hard to impossible with others. This generally takes the form of some giant really complicated ritual scheme. If you can pull off and succeed at this ritual challenge thing, then hooray! The old archetype gets booted to Earth and you get ascended in their place. Note, that archetypes really really donít wanna lose their job. Try to assume and youíre going to have an immortal, omniscient, god-thing with near perfect control of probability and synchronicity trying to stop you. Oh, and every other avatar of the archetype probably wants you stopped too, because thereís no guarantee that the new boss is better than the old boss. Try for an assumption and the universe, quite literally, wants to kill you. Good luck.

Wapole Languray fucked around with this message at 02:08 on Aug 7, 2018

Jul 15, 2017

I always wondered in 2E if the Naked Goddess ascended on purpose or not (as The Woman Everyone Can Have But You or whatever archetype). It was also amusing that by doing so she shut out Alex Able with whatever similar archetype he was working on (as I recall Alex had to be told after the fact he was on that path) and I think it's probably more in tone with UA that she didn't know she was doing it.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012

Dawgstar posted:

I always wondered in 2E if the Naked Goddess ascended on purpose or not (as The Woman Everyone Can Have But You or whatever archetype). It was also amusing that by doing so she shut out Alex Able with whatever similar archetype he was working on (as I recall Alex had to be told after the fact he was on that path) and I think it's probably more in tone with UA that she didn't know she was doing it.

She was definitely an unconscious ascension. The Naked Goddess is in next update but suffice to say they're loving weird. People finally figured out how to be an avatar of her, and turns out the entire archetype is bizarre and hard to grasp, but also is flat out terrifying in ways no other avatar or even adepts can be. A top-tier avatar of the Naked Goddess is straight up probably the most powerful avatar in the game, bar none.

Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion

Alex Abel was shut out by a deliberately bad message from Dermott Arcane trying to usurp The Messenger (as something really dumb that I would rename The Spin Doctor.)

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer

Agreed, that was a really awkward coinage.

Jul 12, 2011

wiegieman posted:

Alex Abel was shut out by a deliberately bad message from Dermott Arcane trying to usurp The Messenger (as something really dumb that I would rename The Spin Doctor.)

Really? I thought he just failed being "The Man Who Succeeded Where You Should Have" or "The Black White Man"

Aug 12, 2013

Avatars in UA are basically cribbed wholesale from Last Call by Tim Powers. It's a great read for getting into the mindset.

Dec 23, 2012

For Gold & Glory: Chapter 6: Non-combat Skills

It's the last chapter we need to read before we can roll our own character!

The chapter is not exactly clearly written, but from what I gather, skills are essentially modifiers to the regular ability checks we're already familiar with. Some can be used untrained (which imposes a -2 penalty on the ability check) whereas others are too niche to be attempted without proper training. Not everything has a skill to cover it, in which case a regular old ability check should be attempted instead. If conditions make the check more or less difficult, a modifier between -4 and +4 should be assigned. When the party acts as a group, only the most proficient character should roll a check. Other characters can lend a hand by making a skill check of their own: A success gives a +2 bonus to the big check. Unlike in later editions, rolls of 1 succeed and rolls of 20 fail regardless of the ability score.

Characters start knowing a free trade or knowledge skill representing their past education, and a number of skill points based on their class. Warriors and rogues start with 3 skill points while wizards and priests start with 4. All characters except rogues gain a new skill point every third level, and rogues get a point every four levels instead. Proficiency in a skill costs one or more points depending on the skill and allows a character to use the skill without the untrained penalty. Additional points can be spent on a skill to upgrade it to "advanced" and "mastery", which both give a +3 bonus to the skill. It's still 1989 and this is strictly a class system, so some skills are only available to certain classes.

There's no skill list of any kind, only six pages of descriptions. :sigh: Here's some examples of what sort of stuff counts as a skill:


Blind-Fight (Rogue/Warrior, 2 skill points) A character trained in this skill isnít hindered by poor lighting. They suffer no AC penalty in dark conditions and the attack penalties for dim and no lighting are reduced by half (−1 and −2 respectively). The penalty to attack invisible creatures is reduced to −2 (although the character cannot pinpoint their exact location) and characters move at one-half speed in total darkness vice one-third. These benefits only apply to melee combat. Penalties are not reduced for ranged attacks and the −4 AC penalty still applies to ranged attacks. A character with blind-fight cannot actually see in complete darkness, they can just compensate for poor lighting better than most. A character can only be trained in this skill: further proficiency doesnít give any extra benefits.
...What part of this is a non-combat skill?!


Read Lips (Rogue, Intelligence, −2, 2 skill points) A trained lip reader can discern a conversation via lip movement and body language. Proficiency allows a character to know one language they can speak. They must be within 30 feet of the speaker and be able to see them speak. A successful skill check allows the character to understand the gist of the conversation with basic details and simple names (about 70% of a conversation). A failed check gives no result.
There we go. The bolded part shows the skill's name, the class that can pick it, the ability to check against, a base difficulty, and cost in skill points. It doesn't say "Untrained" so only characters trained in lip-reading can use it. This particular skill's more difficult than most, and imposes a -2 penalty on even trained users.


Cross-Country Running (Warrior, Constitution, −6, 1 skill point) This skill allows techniques that aid in moving swiftly over open terrain. A trained runner may move at twice their movement rate in a dayís march (8 hours) and continue this movement on successive days with a skill check. At the end of a day spent running, the character must get 8 hours of rest or theyíre immediately fatigued the next day and cannot run until they rest.

A character who runs cross-country for more than an hour suffers a −1 penalty to attack rolls until they rest for the night.

A day's march is actually 10 hours of travel.


Use Rope (General, Dexterity, +0, 1 skill point, Untrained) A trained character has extensive knowledge of knots and tying techniques. A skill check at a −6 penalty can be used to slip free of knotted bonds. A trained character gains a +2 attack bonus with a lasso and a +2 bonus to climb checks when assisted with a rope. A trained character can bind someone with rope: on a successful check, no human-sized creature can break the binding unless they have strength 20 or greater. A failed check allows a character with 18 strength or greater to break the binds or slip out with a dexterity check at −12 penalty.
Here's an old standby, available to everyone thanks to being a General skill. Note how a trained character can just tie stuff without having to roll for it, and gets automatic bonuses for related rolls. Also note how even a failed bondage Use Rope check leaves most humanoids completely helpless.

Certain Trade skills can be used to make stuff, but making any equipment takes weeks so I'm not going to bother.

There are a bunch of other skills and Knowledge, Perform and Trade aside are all more or less useful. At first I was a bit leery of muddling a perfectly fine ability check framework up with skill bloat and untrained penalties, but there are actually only seven skills that you can attempt untrained and their implementation is interesting enough that I'll give them a pass. FG&G's skills tend to allow trained charcters to pull off neat stuff without any rolls, so buying them feels less like a tax and more like a deal.

Incidentally, I much prefer this "Trained/Advanced/Master" framework to skill points. In 3.5 in particular, counting skill points was the biggest chore in making and leveling characters, and the few times we actually had to roll a skill check never really justified the effort.

Coming up next: Enough talk, let's roll a character!

Siivola fucked around with this message at 11:51 on Aug 7, 2018

Jul 15, 2017

wiegieman posted:

Alex Abel was shut out by a deliberately bad message from Dermott Arcane trying to usurp The Messenger (as something really dumb that I would rename The Spin Doctor.)

If I remember right Arcane wanted to control the message, not just deliver it (and tying into Wapole Languray's explanation, the archetype itself doesn't care because it was still in the letter of the law and not the spirit). Didn't know he'd messed with Abel, though.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

7th Sea 2: The Crescent Empire - How 2 Jinn

There are a ton of weird critters throughout the Crescent. Thejinn, in particular, can be found throughout the area. The Persic call them angels or demons, the Sarmions say they are the old gods, and in the 8th Sea, they are still often worshipped as angels or gods. They are strange creatures, who organize themselves in their own way and have their own customs. While they may demand tribute or scheme over mortal worshippers, they consider their own internal struggles far more important, and many humans understand very little of them. Jinn have existed long before humans, and are believed by Alwarithli scholars to have been the first and original inhabitants of Terra, made from samum, the smokeless fire. The term 'jinn' is something of a catchall for any spirit with otherworldly power, though. Scholars often assume that many different jinn species exist and that they can become something more. This is why they are often called angels, demons or old gods. All angels are jinn, but not all jinn can be angels.

A few things are common to all jinn. First, they occupy a part of the world that is largely invisible to humans. The word 'jinn' actually means 'one that is is hidden or concealed.' The jinn are immaterial beings, and they can move freely though any object, with one exception: pure iron. Even in their immaterial form, they cannot pass through pure iron, and may be wounded by weapons or other items made from pure iron. Pure iron tools and weapons are exceptionally rare and extremely valued in the Crescent as a result. Samum, the smokeless fire, is the substance that makes up the jinn and it makes them extremely fast - so much so that they can move great distances at a speed that appears to be teleportation. Beyond this, they may assume any shape or form they choose in the material world, though they typically prefer either human or animal shapes, and of animals prefer dogs and snakes. The transformation is never perfect, however, with small details always revealing them, such as unnaturally bright eyes, being too slender in their features or having movements that seem wrong and over-forceful. All jinn have the Immaterial, Shapeshifting, Swift and Teleporting Qualities, regardless of any other traits.

There are at least five types of jinn that universally are agreed on to exist, despite regional idiosyncracies and beliefs. Ginnaye are the oldest and once the strongest of all jinn. They were originally the tutelary gods of the 8th Sea, and they are often still woershipped by the Yasnavans there. In ancient times, a ginnaya was often worshipped as a god, earning this faith by ferociously defending their people, for travel through the desert was extremely dangerous and prone to banditry, which rarely struck the Tribes due to their caravans being protected by mystic luck from the ginnaye. Once, the Tribes knew how to forge binding contracts with the ginnaye, which granted protection to a specific item or person. This, plus their art of appeasing Gocihr, caused them to be the supreme power within the 8th Sea. Stories tell of ginnaye stored inside objects that could call down massive earthquakes and sandstorms that would murder a band of thieves while leaving the caravan unharmed. However, most scholars believe the rise of al-Din and other religions caused the ginnaye to lose much of their power and leave the lands that had forgotten them. Now, they are largely restricted to the 8th Sea, where the Tribal practices strengthen them, for the ginnaye feed on reverence and worship. The secrets of how individual humans could employ their powers is long since lost, though some believe tha certain among the Tribes still remember it and can do it, for a price. Besides the qualities of all jinn, ginnaye are Strength 15 and Guarding.

Afarit are giant, winged creatures of fire. There are tales of them throughout the empire, and they are currently the most powerful of the jinn known to exist, and any ifrit is widely feared. While their power and physique is great, their real terror comes from their ability to turn any creature they meet into any other creature. It is said that once, two women were kidnapped by an ifrit and fell in love with each other, and when one of them managed to fight the ifrit to a standstill, he turned her eternally into a frog. Fortunately, afarit appear to prefer to live in deep underground caves and in ruined buildings. Some believe this is why the Alwarithli architects excel at constructing resilient buildings - no one wants to unwittingly invite in an ifrit due to a collapsing structure. Knowledge of how to call on afarit is forbidden within the Empire, one of the few secrets whose knowledge is considered to be a crime. Legend has it that these creatures are extremely dangerous to their summoners, and that the act of summoning often requires human sacrifice. Afarit range from Strength 10 to 15, and on top of the normal jinn qualities, they are Elemental (Fire), Metamorpher, Powerful and Winged.

Qurana are probably the most frequently encountered of all jinn. While others are spoken of in many stories, the average person will never meet them. A qarin, on the other hand, can be found fairly easily. They are 'constant companions,' whose existence draws much speculation in the Empire ,especially when discussing current Persic policies. It is actually illegal to gossip about Shah Jalil's qarin, Araska, in Persis. Everyone knows, however, that she still influences him, whispering in his ear. How the shahs of Persis allowed themselves to be influenced by such beings is a subject of much debate, but the truth is that they are and have been for some time. Legend says that every qarin is born from the heart of its mortal companion. A good ruler produces an evil qarin, and an evil ruler would produce a good one, in theory. Jalil freed Araska right after Istani was disposed, and rumor has it she gave him the power to place a terrible curse. This is because of the great power of the qurana: supernatural seduction. Any who hears the voice of a qarin, no amtter the consequences, feels a deep instinct to obey. Stories tell of qurana assuming the shape of trusted advisors and pushing people to commit terrible acts, such as when the shah Zumurrud sacrificed her children to end a plague at the urging of a qarin. She was told to only sacrifice two, but the evil whispers of the qarin convinced her that if two would end the plague, surely the jinn would reward her for all. The plague did end - but so did her dynasty. Qurana are Strength 15-20 and Compelling, on top of the normal jinn stuff.

Ghilan are unlike most jinn; the normal jinn are feared for their potential to harm. Ghilan do not have that potential - they kill most they meet, and harm all. They lack the sheer might of the ginnaye, the magical power of the afarit or the commanding presence of the qurana. However, a ghul has the power to deceive and lure its victims. They are hunters, going after the weakest, most accessible prey. They do not fight fair, preferring to ambush and slaughter their victims. They are often associated with cemetaries and dangerous places, and they enjoy eating human flesh. The ghilan will use any and all of their abilities to ambush their prey, often shapeshifting into hyenas or their former victims to lure in more. They, laone among jinn, have nearly flawless disguises, difficult to pierce for anyone that did not know the dead victim closely. They are Strength 10 and Ambushing, as well as the normal qualities.

Perian are the weakest and youngest of the jinn, only recently appeared in story. A peri is a tiny creature with elegant and long hair, and wings the size of the rest of their bodies. The perian appear weak and fragile, but are actually quite resilient. They are seen more often than any other type of jinn, and they continually quest to find something - a particular emotion, an heirloom, sometimes a piece of junk. They are beautiful creatures, and their endless quest is due to their origins. They have no great powers, and seek something they will defend them against the divs. While the items or feelings or things they take seem trivial to humans, the perian have found a way to harness these things and preserve their power. They often bless those they steal from, and using their stolen things, they are able to fight and defeat the divs effectively. Divs are foul, tiny jinn, so weak and so far removed from the others that they, alone among jinn, are immune to iron. They attempt to lock perian in iron cages, imprisoning them forever. This is because the divs are not recognized as true jinn by their peers, and so hope to eventually overtake the race of perian and replace them in the jinn hierarchy. A single peri is a Strength 5 creature with no special abilities beyond the normal jinn ones. A div is presumably similar, or even weaker.

The book presents the following new Monstrous Qualities:
Ambushing: The creature is good at hiding or waiting for the unwary in disguise. It may spend a Danger Point to double the number of wounds it deals on its first successful attack in a Sequence, as long as it goes unseen.
Compelling: The creature can alter human perceptions, desires and even motivations. At any time, it can tell a PC to do something. If the PC does, they gain 1 Hero Point. If the PC does not, the GM gains 1 Danger Point. This does not allow control of the compelled PC - it just means any suggestion it makes will be viewed as favorably as possible. It can't make you kill yourself, but it is generally more than able to convince you to attack someone for reasons it makes up, even if that puts you at risk.
Guarding: The creature is bound to a place, object or person. The method varies, but it must defend that thing by any means necessary. If the Monster is a Villain, it gets 5 more dice on any Risk it takes while performing this duty. If it is a Monster Squad, it instead deals double Wounds when doing this duty.
Immaterial: The creature is invisible to all human senses, though its location may be deduced by other means, such as light it puts off or the reaction of nearby animals. It cannot be harmed by any material means, save under very specific circumstances, such as a difficult to obtain material such as pure iron or silver, magic, or other unlikely circumstances. It may take on physical form for as long as it likes, but while it is in a physical form it loses all Immaterial immunities.
Metamorpher: It can turn any creature into another creature. This gives the target all characteristics of the new form, but leaves the victim with their mind and will. Only a powerful magic can return a victim to their own form, and over time, victims may begin to lose a sense of self. It costs 1 Danger Point to transform someone, and a PC targeted by this may spend a Hero Point to retain a single aspect of their original form, such as the ability to speak.
Obsessed: The creature is looking for some specific thing or person that represents the goal of its quest. If the monster is a Villain, it rolls 5 additional dice in any Risk it takes while trying to obtain its goal. If it is a Monster Squad, it deals double Wounds when trying to obtain its goal.

We then get some non-jinn monsters. The bakhtak is rarely seen, though its effects are often felt. They strike at sleeping victims, giving terrible nightmares. The creature crawls onto its victim's chest, breathing a noxious breath into the nose and mouth that causes these terrifying dreams. Bakhtaks are born when someone curses another person with so much malice that the curse takes substance. They are only half the size of an average person, and seem smaller because they are always slightly hunched. They have a large, crooked nose and bulbous, protruding eyes. They are covered in patchy brown fur and have two large canine teeth that protrude over their lips. Once they find a victim, they continue their nightly assaults until the nightmares grow so terrible that they kill the victim. At that point, the bakhtak drinks in the victim's soul as it flees out their mouth, preventing them from passing to the afterlife. However, it is possible to defeat the bakhtak by sleeping with a knife under the pillow. This allows the dreamer to appear in the dream armed, to drive it off. Bakhtaks are Strength 5, Nocturnal and Shadowy.

Dybbukim are the reborn spirits of those who died with unfinished business. They live side by side with an unborn child, nurturing and creating a bond with the child-to-be until, moments before birth, they enter the newborn's body and meld with their soul. When the child is born, there are no signs of the dybbuk's presence. RAther, as they grow, memories of the dybbuk's own life and memories of their normal life begin to conflict. What seem at first to be momentary lapses or daydreams begin to blur the two sets of memories together. The dybbuk's unfinished business must be resolved for it to rest in peace. If this happens, the dybbuk will pass on peacefully, often leaving a gift of wisdom for the host. Any other attempt to treat the creature, by sorcery or religious means, merely enrages it, sending it into a frenzy in which it uses the host's body to attack the would-be exorcist. Dybbuks have no stats of their own; they use those of the host body.

The Karkadann is a gentle but ferocious-looking creature. It has a thick hide that looks like leather armor, with the pieces overlapping like scales. It has low-set, brown beady eyes, short yet strong legs, a permanent scowl and a long, elegant horn in the middle of its head, which curves up and back. The karkadanns used to roam Persis in small groups, but are rare now and generally attack humans on sight. They have come to distrust and hate people because they were hunted to near extinction for their horn. The horn of the karkadann has miraculous properties as a medicine, able to heal any illness if grouind toa powder and swallowed. The karkadann is able to sense innocense, and if it finds an innocent, it will lay its head in their lap and weep for its lost companions. The tears of a karkadann become priceless jewels when held up to the light of the moon, but no true innocent would abuse the beast's trust just to catch its tears. The karkadann is Strength 15 and Powerful.

Gocihr is also known as the Sovereign of the Desert and the Terror of the 8th Sea. It is a gigantic serpent, said to once have lived in the sky. IT wanted to eat the sun, so that it would be warm forever, but just when it was about to swallow the sun, it felt a warmth at its tale. It looked down and found that a tribe of tiny people had built a bonfire the size of a mountain beneath it. Bemused, it asked them why they would interfere with its great power. They all started to tear at their clothes and hair, wailing in anguish and begging Gocihr not to eat the sun. Gocihr was pitiless, however, and asked how they might hope to persuade one so great as itself. They begged it to live in their desert, where it might bask in the sun by day and shelter under the sand by night. They promised that every year, on the longest night, they would remind it of the desert comforts with a sacrifice to sate its hunger and its desire for warmth. Gocihr agreed - it could always eat the sun later if it decided to. An so, it told the Tribes of the 8th Sea ot carry with them the 'flowers of the desert,' to hang these but their tents and put them in the feed of their cattle, so that it would recognize them and not harm them. Occasionally, in the 8th Sea, a caravan just...vanishes. The Tribes are glad it is never one of theirs, for these caravans are eaten by Gocihr. Members of the Tribes or those under their protection are never attacked by Gocihr, and every year, they hold a Feast of Sacrifice to ensure that Gocihr continues to not eat the sun. It is said to be a sand serpent so large that when it opens its mouth, a sinkhole forms, devouring everything near it. Entire camps or small settlements might vanish entirely. No one has ever seen Gocihr in its entirety, but tales have been told of it. They say that the sand moves under their feet, or swear they saw snake scales shimmering in the desert sun. The tribes say that the sandstorms are caused by Gocihr sneezing. Gocihr does not have stats; it is far too powerful to be defeated in battle without an entire plotline surrounding such an effort rather than relying on dice.

However, while Gocihr is the only sand serpent of its size to exist in the 8th Sea (as far as anyone can tell), smaller serpents - up to 50 feet from head to tail - are called the Offspring of Gocihr and attack travelers. They are the color of the sands, and so blend well with the envrionment to ambush anyone they meet. The Tribes are frequently victim to their attacks, such that many warriros have built up a natural resistance to their snake venom over time. The bite still amkes them sick, but it may not always kill them. The venom is so potent, however, that a weapon coated in it will kill with just a scratch. Harvesting Offspring venom is extremely dangerous, and few ever dare to try it, so the stuff is extremely rare and precious. It is unclear if the snakes are actually Gocihr's offspring. If so, that suggests either it has a mate or it can reproduce without one, neither of which is very comforting. Offspring of Gocihr are usually Strength 20, Chitinous, Fearsome, Powerful, Relentless and Venomous.

Lamassu are terrifying beasts of Ashur. They have been there forevfer. The statues that are the lamassu were said to have been discovered when Yesu's followers settled the land, and they stand at the entrance of every city and every village that can afford them. By day, they appear as 15-foot statues that show a creature with a human head, an ox or lion body, and giant bird wings. They have five legs rather than four. In their pesence, everyone feels as if they are being watched, regardless of where the head actually faces. At night, however, rumor has it that the creatures awaken from their dreams of stone to protect people. For a small offering of blood, they will listen to any man, woman or child, and defend the truly suffering. The fifth leg represents their ability to move between the seen and unseen worlds. By night, they may travel vast distances in the blink of an eye, hunting down villains and criminals on the other side of the world if they must. They are always bound to retyurn to their statue form and its place by sunrise, and they typically act only within the areas around Ashurite cities and palaces. If a dishonest person attempts to gain their favor, they are unhesitating in killing such people. This is why most Ashurites and indeed most Alwarithli fear them, seeking their aid only when they are at their most desperate. However, if one approaches with pure intention, they c an be extremely powerful allies. Lamassu are Strength 17, Relentless, Shapeshifting, Teleporting and Winged. No matter what form they take, they are stone.

The rukk is a gigantic bird of prey, walnut brown in color. At a high enough altitude it might be mistaken for an eagle, but at close range its terrifying size is obvious. When it strikes, it excretes a strong odor from scent glands at the base of its neck, evoking a primal fear response. Story says that even a whiff of this scent can reduce the mightiest hero to a coward in seconds. Rukk nests are built on high cliffs near the ocean. Their eggs are as big as a person, and a rukk chick is a dangerous foe even though it can't yet fly. When rukks nest near a port or populous area, they wreak so much havoc that, if not driven off, they can decimate a town in weeks. Sometimes, a rukk will move if its nest is destroyed, but finding someone who is brave enough to climb the cliff and face an eagle large enough to attack entire ships is not easy. Rukks are Strength 15 and Winged. (Surprisingly, not Fearsome.)

Next time: Anatol Ayh

May 13, 2013

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

OK, so none of the mentioned jinns feel like angels (except for the kender cherubs) or old gods. Does the book point out which are which, or is the status of angel/daemon/old god conferred regardless of the species of Jinn?

I wonder if you can ask the Lamassu to gank Rourke, as he is a right proper oval office and finding an Antabean desperate and sincere enough shouldn't be hard.

Also, Jesus Christ, did the monsters jump in power in the Crescent Empire :stare:

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Most old gods would be ginnaye. Angel is a status based on behavior and generally defined by Yasnavans,

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Yeah, I love that Naked Goddess avatars are basically embodiments of vague but powerful mysticism.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

7th Sea 2: The Crescent Empire - What If Baghdad But Also Turkey

The Caliphate of Anatol Ayh is in the middle of a massive change. The empire has always been a place of tradition. The House of Chaghri has ruled Iskandar since they defeated the Numanari, and they have always led the Empire as a whole. But now, Sultana Safiye has abolished the laws of many of her predecessors. She has declared magic users to be free citizens, abolished class, enacted sweeping populist reforms. However, the wealthy Anatoli opposed her. Even now, tradition still holds power. Iskandar, the heart of both the Empire and the nation of Anatol Ayh, remains a place of deep tradition. Every day begins with the call to dawn prayer, is filled with the sounds of merchants dealing in dozens of languages...but it changes, too.

Saifye has had to deal with opposition forces that seek to make her abdicate or overthrow her. The traditional feudal aristocrats dislike her centralizing power in Iskandar, and because their duty is to support her with both tax and military forces, their opposition weakens the Empress both economically and militarily. The worst blow is from Koray ibn Mazhar, who withdrew his troops from the capital when Safiye retook the throne. While most of the feudal lords eventually rallied under the sultana, Koray has remained loyal to Istani and even now campaigns in secret to convince others to join him in seeking the lost emperor. He is certain Istani still lives, and that if he is found, they can gather a sufficient force to attack Safiye. The Sultana's response to the nobles withdrawing support has been to expand the Janissary Corps, as the noble cavalry shrink. Her invitation for anyone, of any faith or perceived class, to join the Janissaries has won her much favor. Her younger brother Vedat has been put in charge of the corps; he had been so far removed from inheritance that no one ever bothered to kill him, and Istani kept him around to abuse. Vedat is fiercely loyal to his sister, and his years of subjugation by Istani have left him very able to understand the people who work under him. The unhappy nobles are less of an issue, though, than the fierce and determined traditionalists from the far eastern provinces. They name themselves Kurtanoglu, in reference to ancient Anatoli myth, and believe that Anatol Ayh's greatness must be restored via bloody conquest, not peace. They believe Safiye's attempts to preserve the peace of the Empire are weakness.

The origins of the House of Chaghri are largely lost. Apocryphal claims say they trace back to a band of nomadic horse riders who conquered Persis and the petty despots along the Igiglat and Buranun Rivers before turning towards Anatol Ayh. The 8th Sea Tribes claim that the House of Chaghri was one of theirs, a lost family of the al-Hisan whose righteousness let them unite the Anatoli in preparation for the coming of the Second Prophet. The shah of Persis points to the many Persic turms, customs and poetic forms used by the Anatoli to claim that the House of Chaghri originated in Persis (and further should be subordinate to it, because Shah Jalil). Whatever the truth, the House of Chaghri certainly does blend Persic and 8th Sea traditions along with knowledge salvaged from the Old Numanari Empire, making something more than the sum of its parts. The history of the Chaghri is largely known only from the fall of the Numanari.

In the seventh century, during the final battles between the failing Numanari and the rising Anatoli Sultan, Mehmet I (called the Heroic Lion), a young man of humble appearance began to preach in Iskandar. Mehmet raised the walls of Fatih Sarayi to celebrate his triumphs at the same time that Khalil ibn Mustafa urged humility and ecstatic devotion to al-Musawwir. Mehmet did not like this message of submission to a higher power, and he commanded Khalil to attend him while he crushed a rebelling Persic bey. The Second Prophet arrived in the aftermath of the battle, making his way to the sultan's tent through a field of corpses. On arrival, the sultan demanded he explain what right Khalil had to urge his subjects to serve smething beyond their ruler. The Prophet's only reply was this: "I urge no such thing, only that your people create so that they might know the struggle of al-Musawwir, the Shaper, who molded this land and all its people. But I tell you truly that wanton butchery offends the eyes of al-Musawwir, the Merciful One, and it is not his will that such acts go unpunished."

Hearing this, the bey took courage and drew her dagger, charging at Mehmet. Mehmet, a famous archer, dismissed his Silahdar Agha, his chief weapon bearer, and slew the bey with a single shot, twisting aside from her blade. However, his foot slipped, and he was mortally wounded. As the Sultan lay dying, the Prophet spoke again: "So al-Musawwir, whose justice is infinite, has punished them: one for the crime of rebellion, the other for the crime of barbarism." And so Jalal, the sultan's son, embraced the Prophet as a brother, saying: "I take al-Musawwir, the Expediter of Fortunes, as my God, and accept you as his messenger. What you deem holy, I will guard, and what you deem sinful, I will cast out."

The Prophet told Jalal that all he must do is struggle to build, as the Creator built, and to bring forth wonders, as the Creator had. Jalal swore this would be so, and for this and many other grat deeds, he is called the King of Kings. In honor of his pledge, the Anatoli monarchy became not just temporal rulers, but also the guardians of al-Din, protectors of the holy places and swords of the faith. This is not the end of Anatoli history, however - later, in 819, the Fetret Devri occured. It was a period of civil war fulling the death Sultan Selim I, the Cursed. Two twin sisters, Aisha and Melike, fought for the throne. Aisha won, at the cost of Ashurite independence. This had two major consequences. First, it was the source of the implementation of Maslaha, the law by which an heir could inherit the throne only if all their siblings were dead, and second, it made Ashur independent, by proclamation of Sultana Aisha in a somewhat enigmatic toast to the Guardian of the First Garden after she slew her sister.

Anatol Ayh is the crown province of the empire, and its laws are largely identical to those of the Empire at large. The seat of government in Iskandar is the royal court, divided into two branches -- the Enderun, or Inner Service, who oversee the functioning of Fatih Sarayi, and the Birun, or Outer Service, which handle all government outside the Palace walls. The Enderun are powerful even though their duties are theoretically purely mundane. They attend to the Sultana's needs and oversee the cooks of the Kilar-i Hass and the concubines of the Harems. In practice, however, the Enderun are the people most aware of the flow of power and favor within the government. They have the longest history of all administrative divisions in the Empire, known as Chambers due to their traditional locations in the Conqueror's Palace.

The Hass Oda, or Privy Chamber, is the most powerful of all of these divisions, being those courtiers that facilitate the daily life of the Sultana. The Silahdar Aga, or chief weapon-bearer, transmits her will through the palace, and recommends guards for promotion to the bostanci, the elite guards of the palace and the sultana. The current Silahdar Agha is Hazan bint Elif, a former bostanci who refused to join the empress' side when she took the palace. When asked why, she said it was simply duty. She vowed to protect the ruling sultan, regardless of her personal feelings, and would do so to her last breath. In honor of this strict code, Safiye made her the Silahdar Agha after officially taking the throne. The Hazine Oda, or Privy Treasury, contains the personal wealth of the sultan, and is overseen by the Khojagan, or chief treasurer, who also handles hte palace budget and ensures it stays balanced. The Seferli Oda, or Expeditionary Chamber, is responsbile for coordination of the logistics of all military campaigns, and is led by the Nizam al-Mulk, who controls approval of all military budgets and supply requests, in order to prevent corruption and enrichment of the military at the expense of the nation. The Kilar-i Hass, or Privy Larder, is run by the Murbakh Emini, who plans all meals of the sultana and commands a small army of poison tasters and event planners for affairs of state. Every page, no matter how important their family, must serve in the larder and learn that drudgery is half of service.

The Birun have grown in power with the Empire, and their ever-increasing responsibilities have forced them to divide into three Royal Institutions, each with a vital function. The Kalemiye, or Scribal Institution, handles the financial administration of the Empire. They collect tax, distribute pay and confirm aristocratic fiefdoms. At their head is the Grand Vizier, Mehmed Ali Pasha. The Seyfiye, or Military Institution, handle and execute all military strategy for the Empire and oversee the army and navy. Their leader is Ali Hakhan ul-Barrayun wa al-Bahrain, the Lord of Land and Sea, and chief military officer for the Empire. The Ilmiye, or Religious Institution, handles religious law and education. It is led by the Sheikh al-Din, the highest religious and legal authority of the Empire short of the Sultana herself. These three groups are often at odds with each other in attempts to gain favor or control to push their own ideologies. The Grand Vizier, a staunch traditionalist who opposes Safiye's reforms, has been courting the favor of Ali, in an attempt to gain the power needed to overthrow the empress.

To strengthen his plan, Mehmed has been subtly influencing the Sultana to undermine Ali and make him angry. Mehmed suggested placing Vedat in charge of the Janissaries without consulting Ali, and while that was within the Sultana's rights, Ali took it as an insult, which he still holds a grudge over. However, Yonca Sheikh al-Din bint Damla, a clever, elderly woman dating back to Saifye's father's administration, seeks to gain favor with Ali before Mehmed can. Yonca has used Safiye's rule to help undo many of the wrongs caused by Istani. She has hjad the Ayaecclesia rebuilt and restored to the Orthodox as a church, as well as finishing the Sulan Metehan Camii mosque. If she can convince the devout Ali that Safiye is the true voice in al-Din in soul as well as title, the Empress will have all the military power she needs to maintain control. Yonca's first step is to prevent the Montaigne ambassador from seducing Ali, which she believes is clearly a ploy orchestrated by Mehmed to get the empire into a war with Castille.

Amidst all this are the Imperial Harems, both a home for the royal family and providers of romantic partners for the sultana. The inhabitants of the harem live in total luxury, entertaining guests, caring for their children and studying various forms of higher education. As noted bnefore, White Eunuch Bomani Chike fully supports the Empress. His opposite in the Black Harem is Head Stewardess Caterina Pallazao, a Vodacce strega. She was the ruler over the harem under Istani, a former concubine of his father who never had a child and thus fell from favor. She was named Head Stewardess after she used her sorcery to advise Istani, and she selected the concubines he would favor, allowing her to control the vicious rivalries of the Harem. Now, Caterina has fallen from favor again. Honor is more valued under Safiye, and Caterina has never had any use for honor. She absolutely despises the House of Feclitiy, a home the sultana has created to house her siblings and their parents, which is now home to many of her former rivals for Safiye's father's affections. If Bomani does not keep a close eye on her, she will happily burn the place to the ground.

So, what exactly ar the reforms that Safiye began three years ago when she took the throne? Well, there's a long list, and they have earned her the name Kanuni, the Lawgiver. Her views have been developed by long years traveling both Theah and her empire, hearing the calls for change among her subjects. The first big shift was Yasaklana, the Forbidding. Prior, the principle of Maslaha, 'the greater good' in Katabic, was what guided succeession ever since the Fetret Devri. Sultana Aisha decreed that the House of Chaghri would ensure all succession disputes were handled internally, to avoid great danger to the empire, and no sultan or sultana could rule if they had any living siblings, ideally killing them by strangulation or poison to avoid spilling royal blood. Safiye believes this practice is what led Istani to attack her, and so she has forbidden it. She has expanded the harems to build the Abode of Felicity for siblings of the ruler and their families to live in comfort (and careful guard by the Enderun). Her siblings, who fled under Istani's reign, are slowly returning to the empire, including her brather Bayram, whom she met in Montaigne. When Bayram was welcomed back, given his exile by their father and his being hunted by Istani, there was a huge scandal. Thean rumors claim he worked in the Montaigne courts as a saboteur and a smuggler of victims of nobility to safety - and that Safiye helped him do it.

Second, Kaldirma, the Abolishing. Istani had instituted the Sihirbazlarin Kaydi, the Magician's Registry, which compelled registraiton of all magic-users in the empire. Safiye pointed out that the Second Prophet himself was the son of two sorcerers, and questioned why these magic-users had been singled out. She emancipated them, revoking the registry and ordering all its records destroyed. Shortly after, she issued an ultimatum to Shah Jalil of Persis, giving him ten years to do the same or be declared apostate. Persis has been deafeningly silent on the matter.

Third, Degistrime, the Changing. Safiye altered many statues and customs throughout Anatol Ayh after taking command. She has focused on the aggressively meritocratic, cosmopolitan nature of the Birun and Enderun. Now, all would-be bureaucrats must be fluent in Persic, Dibre and Katabic, and if they are, they may sit an exam. If they pass, they get into a school in the royal palace that will eventually lead to a post in either Birun or the Enderun. Further, Safiye has stricken the remnants of the feudal caste system from the lawbooks. Status in Anatol Ayh and the Empire at large are no longer bound by religion, ethnicity or social class at birth. The beys of several eyalts near Iskandar are Vaticine Numanari, and Sarmion has several Yachidi beys. Persics hold many positions of authority in the Empire, and as tensions grow, they have proven to be a vital diplomatic backchannel between Iskandar and the Shah's court.

Next time: Religion.

Nov 9, 2011

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

Panic at the Dojo: Archetypes - Demon, Flametongue, Gunkata

Did you forget I was doing this? So did I!


Demons are aggressive harriers who bully opponents to death. They make it hard for you to do anything, push you around, and generally make one person's life a living hell. Their gimmick is Chaos Tokens, which let them take actions during other people's turns. Complexity: 3 stars.

Focused Demon Ability: At the end of your turn, gain 2 Chaos Tokens.
Frantic Demon Ability: At the end of your turn, gain 1 Chaos Token.
Frantic Demon Ability: Same as Focused.

Dark Style
Range: 2-4
The Batman style, sort of. They're built around Fog - you aren't affected by it when picking targets, and at the end of your turn, the space you're standing on becomes Fog. For reference, Fog means that anyone in it or adjacent to it can only be targeted in melee range.

4+: Darkness Dawns
Place Got into two empty spaces within range, then you can teleport into one of them.

4+: Twilight Sorrow
For each enemy standing in (or adjacent to) Fog, you gain one Speed Token and that enemy gains one Weakness Token.

Good stances: Dark Shadow can use their Stunt action to place even more fog, and keep their bonus Speed Tokens between turns. Dark Blaster can place extra Fog on each action, and lets you use Shockwave on fogged targets. Dark Control's expanded range lets you teleport at even longer distances.

Ogre's Style
Range: 1-2
A positioning-based style built around the Throw basic action. Any time you use Throw, it can target any number of enemies within range, and it does 1 damage to each target on top of that.

3+: Watch Your Step
Deal 2 damage to an enemy within line of sight who's moved during this turn. That's any turn, so you can use Chaos Tokens to punish enemies moving during their own turns, too.

Good stances: Ogre's Dance turns your Throws into massive numbers of Speed Tokens. Ogre's One-Two deals an extra point of damage on each Throw. Ogre's Reversal can snipe moving enemies without using Chaos Tokens. Ogre's Blaster can Throw a ton of enemies at once, then Amplify Watch Your Step to damage all of them. Ogre's Control lets you Throw everyone within 5 spaces in all directions.

Slasher Style
Range: 1
An offensive style built around staying close to enemies and damaging them repeatedly. At the end of every turn, you can deal 1 damage to someone adjacent to you, so you can can stick to someone who already took their turn and hit them over and over again.

4+: Suddenly...
Teleport into an empty space adjacent to someone who has nobody else adjacent to them.

Good stances: Slasher Reversal/Shadow can move out of turn to stick to fleeing enemies. Slasher Power/Song give you more Power tokens to enhance your passive damage. Slasher Iron lets you both pull enemies into your range and survive long enough to do good damage while in the thick of things.

Vampire Style
Range: 1
Exactly what it says on the tin. Heal 1 after every time you deal damage with a hit, and whenever you inflict Weakness Tokens, you gain the same number of Power Tokens.

4+: Life Steal
Deal 2 damage to an enemy in range, then give them one Weakness Token.

Good stances: Vampire One-Two/Blaster deal lots of extra hits, letting them heal more often. Vampire Vigilance has lots of ways of inflicting Weakness Tokens. Vampire Zen is a slightly unintuitive but powerful one - every time an enemy breaks one of your shields, you deal 1 damage to them, which activates your healing ability, making it so that enemies who try to hurt you end up healing you instead.

Zombie Style
Range: 1
A relentless style that's almost impossible to keep down. Has Armor inherently, and if your HP is 3 or less at the start of your turn, you heal. This includes being at 0 HP, so you can keep getting back up and continuing the fight as long as you stay in the stance.

4+: Hunger
Deal 2 damage to an enemy within range, then take one of their tokens.

Good stances: Zombie Vigilance lets you heal twice every turn. Zombie Wild can get tons of tokens from staying at low health and using Hunger, then channel all of them into Fury.


The Flametongue archetype is about fire. You'll set everything around you ablaze, zone enemies out of position, cover everything in tokens, and cover everything else in traps until the enemy can't even get to you, let alone fight back. Their biggest vulnerability is to enemies skilled at removing tokens. Complexity: 1 star.

Focused Flametongue Ability: Whenever you damage an enemy with an Action, give them a Burning Token.
Fused Flametongue Ability: The first time you deal damage to an enemy during your turn, give them two Burning Tokens. If you damage multiple enemies at once, just pick one of them.
Frantic Flametongue Ability: Same as Focused, but it only procs of the target has 2 or less Burning Tokens on them.

Burning Style
Range: 2-4
The most straightforward "All Burn" style. Whenever you target an enemy with an Action, they get a Burning Token, unless they already had four or more.

4+: Burn It All Down
Give a Burning Token to an enemy within range, and also put a Trap into their space.

Good stances: Burning Shadow/One-Two/Dance gives you a lot of hits per turn, which translates into a lot of fire. Burning Blaster sets half the battlefield on each attack. Burning Iron gives you protection from your own Traps.

Explosion Style
Range: 2-4
A huge, dramatic style where your attacks tear open holes in the battlefield itself. Whenever you destroy an obstacle, it's replaced by an Edge. Whenever you damage an enemy, you also push them one space.

6+: Ka-Boom!
Deal 2 damage to an enemy within range, then destroy every obstacle adjacent to them.

Good stances: Explosion Blaster is a gimme, wiping out huge swaths of the battlefield. Explosion Power/One-Two lets you massively push enemies. Explosion Dance uses mobility and the Edges you create during battle to ring out enemies constantly.

Inferno Style
Range: 1-2

A personal favorite. At the end of your turn, after Burning Tokens trigger, you gain three Burning Tokens. Whenever an enemy deals damage to you with an Action, they get all of your Burning Tokens.

Gain 1 Burning Token: Ignition
That's right, it's a Token Action that gives you tokens, rather than spending them. Can only be used once per turn. Give one Burning Token to an enemy within range.

Good stances: Inferno Blaster lets you multiply your Burning Tokens when giving them to other people. Inferno Shadow lets you keep setting people near you on fire, even if they try to run away. Inferno Wild gets bonus action dice from being on fire. Inferno Zen is hell for anyone you challenge, since if someone breaks your shield, you damage them AND set them on fire.

Phoenix Style
Range: 1
A style best paired with other Flametongue stances, to keep from getting consumed by your own fire. If you have Burning Tokens, they heal you instead of hurting you each turn. Traps also heal you instead of hurting you.

4+: Cleansing Fire
Choose two: Give someone in range a Burning Token, heal an ally within range, place a Trap within range.

Good stances: Phoenix Vigilance is a great self-heal stance for getting back into the fight. Phoenix Song/Iron are good burning support stances, Phoenix Shadow can use Stunt to place a trap, then stand in it to heal up.

Volcanic Style
Range: 1-3
Burning Tokens are already handled by Burning and Inferno, so here's the Traps stance. You don't take damage from moving through Traps (but you do take damage if you end your turn on one). Whenever you move via spending Speed Tokens, lay down a trap on each space as you leave it.

4+: Pyroclasm
Place three Traps within range, and adjacent to existing Traps.

Good stances: Volcanic Shadow lets you place Traps out of turn as a reaction to enemy action. Volcanic Dance gets a shitload of Speed Tokens. Volcanic Song, same thing. Volcanic Iron/Reversal can't be hurt by Traps.


The ancient art of shooting people in the face. A death-by-a-thousand-cuts archetype, Gunkata is all about doing damage loads of times, to loads of guys. They have a major downside, though: Styles in this archetype have minimum range, making positioning important and Fog a nightmare to deal with. Complexity: Two stars.

Focused Gunkata Ability: At the start of your turn, push every adjacent enemy one space, then move one space. At the end of your turn, deal 1 damage to each enemy in range.
Fused Gunkata Ability: Only the end-of-turn half of the Focused ability.
Frantic Gunkata Ability: At the end of your turn, move one space, then deal one damage to each enemy within range, then move one space.

Akimbo Style
Range: 3-5
Dive sideways with pistols. After you deal damage to someone, move one space. This movement is NOT optional. If you damage multiple people, you move multiple spaces.

4+: Firing Wild
Choose one: Deal 1 damage to everyone adjacent to you, or deal 1 damage to everyone in range. This affects allies as well as enemies.

Good stances: Akimbo One-Two doubles Firing Wild's effectiveness, both in terms of damage and movement. Akimbo Control can have a Range of 3-8(!) or 1-5. Akimbo Reversal lets you use the passive ability to move in the middle of an enemy turn, even without any Speed Tokens.

Artillery Style
Range: 3-8
Long-range, blasty violence, covering the enemy lines with chaos from far away. You can see targets through Fog and Walls.

1+: Bombardment
Place a Trap on a space within range.
6+: Place traps into all spaces adjacent to that one.

Good stances: Artillery Control can have a Range of 3-11(!!) or 1-8. Artillery Power can dish out massive damage at massive range. Artillery Blaster doubles the inconvenience of Bombardment. Artillery Shadow can cover the battlefield in Fog for you to hide in at no penalty. Artillery Zen can use 6+ Bombardment every turn.

Crosshair Style
Range: 4-8
A sniper - slow, steady, absolutely ruthless. Weakness Tokens? Iron Tokens? Armor? Shields? None of them can reduce your damage. You always hit at full power.

1+: Take Aim
Your next Action this turn has every number increased by one. That includes damage, push distance, cost, token quantities, and even the number of things you get to choose off of lists.

Good stances: Crosshair Blaster can use Take Aim, Amplify and Damage together to hit six targets at range 4-12(!!!). Crosshair One-Two/Power take advantage of defense piercing to do heavy damage. Crosshair Control can gain double Control Tokens from Suppression while also dropping your minimum range to 1. Crosshair Iron/Song/Vigilance benefit the most from using Take Aim to pick more things from lists or give more Tokens.

Ricochet Style
Range: 2-4
Bounce bullets off of walls, or people. Whenever you deal damage to an enemy with an Action, you can also deal damage to another enemy within 3 spaces of them. Line of sight for the second target is drawn from the first target.

3+: Trick Shot
Choose one obstacle within range. Deal 2 damage to an enemy within 3 spaces of that obstacle. If you shoot a Wall or a Fog, you can choose the next target as if that obstacle wasn't there.

Good stances: Ricochet One-Two lets you deal damage three times on every attack. Ricochet Wild/Shadow get extra ricochets with their plentiful Action Dice. Ricochet Blaster triggers multiple Ricochets per Action by hitting multiple targets - this makes Shockwave VERY dangerous.

Ten Thousand Style
Range: 2-3
Unload bullets constantly, at everyone, forever. Add d4/d4 to your Action Dice.

2+: Point Blank Shot
Deal 1 damage to an adjacent enemy, then push them one space.

Good stances: Not really any point of listing them all here. Bonus dice are good for everyone. If anyone's counting, though, Ten Thousand Vigilance/Song are the only Forms that have Unique Actions that can trigger on a 1, so that's not a bad idea.

Next: Phantom, Punk, Teacher.

Feb 13, 2012

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

Ah, good old 'ninjas can't catch you if you're on fire'.

The Deleter
May 22, 2010

I love the stupid stupid idea of being on fire and passing it to someone else. You could theme that as virulent disease, or a swarm of hostile nanobots or something.

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

What in the world is happening with Gunboy's hand

Feb 15, 2012

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

Guns! And FIRE! This is the best update!

Nov 9, 2011

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

Lynx Winters posted:

What in the world is happening with Gunboy's hand

Dec 23, 2012

For Gold & Glory: Intermission

We did it, we finished chapters 1Ė6! We can roll a character now!

Siivola posted:

The chapter concludes by outlining how a character is created. Roll stats, pick race and class, choose alignment, choose skills, buy equipment.
I chose to roll the stats with the "4d6 drop lowest" method, because I wanted to have at least an outside chance of rolling something other than a useless Thief.

The dice came up 13, 14, 15, 16, 16 and 12, which is a remarkably good array! I could pick any race with these scores, and while the paladin is just slightly outside our reach, I could do a bard, a specialist mage or... A ranger!

It's not every day you can roll a ranger so let's go with that! For race I'm going to choose the elf, because they get a +1 to hit with swords and bows, and because the Elf Ranger is such a classic look.

The ability requirements of the class are strict enough that I don't have that much choice on how to assign the scores. I can't quite nail all three prime requisites of the class, so I think I'm just going to try to maximize my chances of survival instead. I'm going with an array of Str 15 Dex 17 Con 15 Int 12 Wis 14 Cha 13, after racial modifiers.

For alignment I'm going to go with full-on Lawful Good, since most ranger types seem to be complete Chaotic anarchists and I feel like playing against type for once.

As a warrior, the character (let's call her Goonwien) gets 4 combat skill points, 3 non-combat skill points as well as a free knowledge or trade, and her okay intelligence gives us 3 extra languages. Characters don't start proficient in any weapons, so I'm going to pay 2 points for proficiency in all swords, and (after checking the price of the longbow :retrogames:) 2 more for all bows. Combat methods can wait, I guess. For skills I'm picking climbing, cross-country running, survival and swimming, and the free trade skill's going to be carpentry. Elves only get to choose from so many languages so I'm picking gnome, halfling and hobgoblin.

Equipment doesn't come up until the next chapter, but I'm going to give you guys a sneak peek: Warriors start out with 5d4 * 10 gp. I roll somewhat low and only manage 100 gp. Not a whole lot of money in frontier carpentry, I guess. Still, that's more than enough for an full arsenal of a long sword, a short sword, a shortbow, a suit of studded leather armor and a buckler. (Bucklers leave both of your hands free, remember?)

Finally, I'm going roll random height, weight and age for the heck of it: She's 4'7", weighs 82 lbs. and is 121 years old. That's a long-rear end time spent on carpentry, at least by human standards.

Wait, I forgot something. Something to do withÖ Health?

Aw. Well, at least she gets a +1 bonus from her constitution.


Elf Female, 1st-level Ranger

THACO 20, 19 (swords), 17 (bow); #AT 2; Dmg 1d8 (long sword), 1d6 (short sword), 1d6 (shortbow); AC 3 (studded leather, buckler, Dex); hp 5; MV 12; SA Attacks with two weapons, enchantment resistant, stealthy, infravision 60 ft., keen senses, MS 20%, HS 20%, tracking, animal empathy; SZ M (4'7" tall); AL LG.

S 15, D 17, C 15, I 12, W 14, Ch 13.

And there we have her! Goonwien, the two-sword-fighting, bow-shooting, house-building endurance athlete is finished. As a ranger she gets no penalties for fighting with two swords as long as she's not wearing heavier armour, and high dexterity means she's an okay shot with a bow. It's not listed above, but she also gets a handy -2 bonus to saves vs. breath from her dexterity, and a +1 to reaction rolls from charisma. She's pretty squishy with only 5 hp (:ohdear:) but I'd say AC 3 is pretty boss for a first-level character who can't even afford metal armor.

To be honest, this took me quite a bit longer than I was expecting because I haven't rolled a D&D character in ages and ended up doing a lot of page-flipping back and forth, comparing fighting styles and skills and checking ability scores and, and, and. :downs: I'm nonetheless absolutely convinced this was far less painful than making a first-level character in 3.5! :v:

Coming up next: Chapter 7: Equipment!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

7th Sea 2: The Crescent Empire - YOL

The Empire is a melting pot of many ethnicities and religions, and Anatol Ayh is, as well. While the population is overwhelmingly Dinist, there are notable communities of various minority faiths, including Orthodox, Vaticines, Yachidi and Yasnavans. Because Crescent law is explicitly Dinist, members of religious minorities are subject to that law only if they commit crimes against Dinists. Any crime between two members of different religious minorities who cannot agree on which law to apply also default to Crescent law. In most cases, though, they use the legal system of the victim.

In a recent show of religious tolerance and solidarity, Yonca Sheikh al-Din has returned the Ayaecclesia to the Orthodox, it having been turned from a church to a Dinist temple by Safiye's father. Many believe her action was politically motivated and aimed at getting allies on Ashur, and some even suspect her of conspiring with Ashur to undermine Anatoli supremacy. However, many Dinists welcome the gift as a way to bring the Orthodox back to the capital and bring back their spark of religious debate, which they enjoy, and getting the chance to make more friends.

In all civil, religious or criminal disputes within a minority faith, the religious head of that local community is considered the governing authority. Sufficiently large faiths receive an exclusive quarter in Iskandar, and are granted permission to appoint a prelate, who serves as the arbiter of final appeal for that faith in the Empire. While the prelate may not always be the leader of a faith, for purposes of law they are the highest authority. Safiye is a fairly tolerant ruler, but at present she refuses to allow the Vaticine Hierophant to meddle in Crescent business. This is actually quite a contrast with her views of other religious heads, whom she meets with fairly frequently. As with the Sheikh al-Din, these heads are given the power to appoint subordinate authorities, though in practice they usually tolarete a lot of local independence and will only stop in if a locally preferred candidate threatens the autonomy of the community at large, such as by preaching rebellion or sedition.

A major Dinist sect within Anatol Ayh is the Yol. It focuses on the key distinction between outer (and flawed or impermanent) truth and inner (divine, eternal) truth. Yol embraces a multiplicity of paths towards achieving union with inner truth, from breathing exercises to dance to meditation to pilgrimage. These are taught by a yol bulan kisi, literally a pathfinder, who serves as a teacher or guide to individuals. The purpose of all Yol paths is the dissolution of the ego in pursuit of divine union, generally via ecstatic trance, ritual purification and the overcoming of desire. Any given person is not limited to just one path, though, and the leaders of each path are always clear - you can take many paths to al-Musawwir.

Ishaq ibn Qunavi is one of the most demanding yol bulan kisi in Iskandar. He is a tall, severe man who teaches critical thought via intense philosophical cross-examination of his students, relentlessly questioning them until they overcome their fear of failure and other earthly concerns, confronting the limits of learning and language. While in theory Ishaq's followers are lnguists, their real concern is the tension between what is known and who knows it. They implicitly challenge the practice of all other paths by asking if your senses can ever truly observe reality as it really is, and if so, if that knowledge can ever be accurate transmitted to someone with no direct experience of it. They want to find a means of communication which removes the distinction betwen the observer and the observed, which would allow didactic process rather than ecstatic worship to become the central idea of worship.

The culture of Anatol Ayh is in something of a state of flux between factions. There is a rich syncretic culture based on adopting ideas of other nations and drawing on many sources to make a distinctly Anatoli identity. This is known as the Way of Anatol Ayh, and mastering it is the sign of a sophisticate and an aristocrat, with the cultured and culturally influential being far more welcome at court even than the rich. A Master of the Way has no official title, but is often called 'Osda' as a sign of respect and honor. The ability to fluently speak the languages of the Empire and recite all traditional forms of poetry is considered an important skill, as is the aiblity to compose verse in any of those languages. Art in general is highly encouraged, and even a minor aristocrat will often be a talented ceramicist, painter or musician. The Way also brings with it a sort of code of conduct, in which all people are expected to show hospitality and respect to all others, regardless of class. Beggars are welcomed as easily as rich men, and all offer food and shelter to those that need it. It is custom to refuse the first offer, accepting only after a second proves sincerity. Osda have no class requirement, and not all masters of the Way are ethnic Anatoli. Because the Way is open to all people, Anatol Ayh is renowned for its cosmoplitan class of aristocrats that represent the entire Empire, withn one having a monopoly on culture.

Opposing this idea are those who believe the Way is spineless, a compromise that dilutes the true greatness of the Anatoli by incorporating foreign, inferior influences. These people call back to older (and therefore better) traditions, believing that the conquest of the Numanari was the highest expression of Anatoli superiority and culture. This feat, they say, was due to the bands of holy warriors known as ghazi, who invaded Numa with fire, faith and blade, subduing the debased Numanari Empire and claiming the land fo the House of Chaghri. These fundamentalists usually see the permissive and multicultural reforms of Safiye as analogous to the decadent Numanari. They call themselves the Ghazi Ideal, and they sweek to return Anatoli greatness through resistance to the Empress or even rebellion.

All citizens of Anatol Ayh, regardless of origin, gender or religion, are expected to be able to defend themselves. Thus, Meyru Mudafa, that is, martial arts for self-defense, a re a cornerstone of the cultural debate. Both the Way and the Ghazi Ideal empahsize Meyru Mudafa. For the Way, it is about the beauty of the forms and the movements of the body, while the Ghazi Ideal see learning these as the first step in transcendence through conflict. Every year, the Yarisma is held in Kadifekale, a tournament of martial arts champions. IT has become the focal point of battles between the two factions, and every form of martial art has its own event, with winners generally declaring support for one of the two views. Last year saw the largest number of Ghazi victories so far, and in an efort to keep things civil and exciting, for the coming year the bey of Kadifekale has sent out invitations to the best martial artists of Theah, IFri and Cathay, inviting them to attend this year's Yarisma.

Gures, or wrestling, has been a huge part of local culture - it predates al-Din, as sculptures and art depicting it have been found in pre-Dinist ruins. Anatoli consider wrestling to be the leading form of martial arts as a result. Per legend, Sultan Mehmet held a great Gures tournament to celebrate the birth of his son, inviting people of all faiths and cultures to take part, with the winner being given the honor of deciding where the Faith Sarayi would be built. In the final match, it came down to a huge Yachidi named Samson against a wiry Persic named Delara. They fougth for hours atop a hill covered in fig trees, fighting long into the night. As the sun rose, the two were found dead, still intertwined in each other's arms. The sultan understood, and he ordered them buried under the trees, declaring that his palace would be built around the grove in honor of the pair choosing death over defeat. The figs still grow atop Padisahin Tepesi, the center of the Faith Sarayi. The sultana's bodyguards, known as bostanci ('gardeners') are called this because their first duty is to care for the sacred fig trees. If the trees die, legend has it that the Empire will soon follow them.

To the Anatoli, commerce is also a battlefield, and bargaining a martial art. It is considered extremely rude to accept an item at its asking price - it implies that the merchant is either unworthy of your time and attention, or that they are so unskilled as a businessperson that they need your charity. Traditionally, merchants and customers engage in protracted haggling, with each side making outrageous claims of poverty or camaraderie in pursuit of an agreeable price. If no agreement can be reached, typically another merchant will step in and begin a new round of bargaining.

The Anatoli artistic tradition mixes many others, some native and others appropriated and given an Anatoli twist. Architecture of the Anatoli draws most of its inspiration from the Numanari. The greatest mosque in the nation, the Hikmet Camii of Iskandar, is an ancient Numanari temple remade for Dinist use. Similarly, the Dinist emphasis on purity led early sultans to rebuild the Numanari baths, and bathhouses, called hamam, now reflect the Empire's prosperity with their rich marble, ceramic and silver decorations. Anatoli art is very varied, with ceramicists making Cathayan-inspired handpainted tiles ornamented with images of local animals. Painters work out of studios known as nakkasane to create illustrations of the Second Prophet's teachings, usually less concerned with realism and more with the Persic style of evoking emotional or spiritual truth. Weavers use looms to make carpets that are considered to be half gift and half talisman, incorporating many patterns from the 8th Sea alongside traditional decorative patterns that ward against evil.

Iskandar is renowned for its cooking, thanks to the presence of the empress and her retinue. You can find cooking there influenced by all kinds of cuisine, especially that of Montaigne and Vodacce, and simplified versions of the luxurious and innovative dishes invented in the kitchens of the palace often trickle down to the common restaurants and cooks of Anatol Ayh, though made with local ingredients. Pasta has recently become quite popular, often combined with local lamb, beef, eggplant, mint, cumin, walnuts or pistachios. Meals are typically served with a side dish that mixes tangy yogurt with mint, cucumber and fluffy flatbreads.

Anatol Ayh is a Dinist country, but it borders many peoples, and its clothing mixes many fabrics and traditions. To combat the often changing temperature, people usually wear large, comfortable cotton salba, trousers, under simple and bright-colored skirts. Floor or knee-length robes in many colors or patterns are worn in layers over this, topped with a kasak, a sash worn just under the waist. Hats and headwear in general are extremely popular, due to the nation's Dinist roots, and Anatoli headwear is seen as an art form, the taller the better. Headwear often signifies social status, and wealthy Anatoli often show off with ostentatious hats. Anatoli men and women, being more liberal than the nearby Persics, often show their hair, worn loose or in braids. Men often have impeccable beards and moustaches, and any follower of the Way of Anatol Ayh works to maintain a polished and clean appearance at all times.

Things could be better, however. Anatoli legend says that they originated with a child born from a dying woman on a battlefield, for whom battle was as bread and blood was as milk. The orphan grew to be a great chief, taking a she-wolf as his bride and raising a litter of half-wolf sons. These pup-boys took the surname Kurtanoglu, Son of the Wolf, and are said to be the apocryphal ancestors of the Anatoli, who took hold of their destiny by acts of destruction and death. The modern Kurtanoglu claim to be their direct descendants, though now they have as many women as men. Common to all of them is the certain belief that Safiye's rule is weakness, and that Anatol Ayh can reclaim greatness only by violent conquest. To prove this, they have launched attacks on outlying towns around the capital, which Safiye has had very little success in stopping. These 'packs' use guerrilla tactics to thwart her forces, and will soon attack the capital if left unstopped. They are fanatics, ruled by the strongest through threat of violence. Any can challenge the alpha male or female, depending on the challenger's gender, but failure always means death. When they build up enough recruits, a pack will hold a bloody induction under the new moon, in which the neophytes are made to hunt each other, with only those that kill and drink the blood of another being welcomed. All others are slain for their weakness and left for carrion birds. Their extreme brutality has led to many rumors - that they can become half-wolf monsters and command wolves, that they seize the faithful under the full moon and baptize them in blood, that only a weapon blessed by an imam can harm them, or that they can only be stopped by chanting the teachings of the Second Prophet. Whatever is true, certainly the wolves of the east have become much more aggressive, for no clear reason. Local beys are terrorized into supporting the Kurtanoglu, as their own soldiers obey the packs over the orders of the Sultana. Even in Iskandar itself, there are rumors of the Kurtanoglu, speaking of people with the skin of beasts who live by day out of ancient cisterns, emerging at night to hunt the loyal people of the Empire and devour their flesh.

Next time: Locations

Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.

Betrayal At House On The Hill, 18 + Bonus!

So, this is it. The last of the 50 Haunts.

Treasure Hunt
Trigger: Find the Book, Dog, or Spear in the Pentagram Chamber.

This is another non-traitor Haunt; instead of trying to kill each other, the players are competing to find the treasure first. The haunt revealer places 20 numbered Clue tokens in any rooms with symbols.

In any room with a Clue token, an explorer can look for the treasure. They roll Knowledge, and add the number of Clue tokens they already have. If the result of the roll is 16 or higher, they find the treasure and win (which isn't going to happen without a bunch of bonuses being accumulated). If it's 13+, a room in the house collapses as in the other collapsing house haunts. Finally, if it's 4+, the explorer can take the Clue, and look up its number on a chart. Most of these (numbers 1-14) give a bonus to the search roll which applies in particular rooms; for example, a bookmark gives a +7 bonus when searching the Library. 15-16 are nasty; they give a bonus to search rolls in dangerous rooms (such as the balcony and the chasm) but they also specify that you die if your search roll is below 13. The bonus gives is +6 for the balcony and "your might/sanity score" for the chasm, so there's less of a chance involved, but it's still nasty. 17-19 are traps, and just damage the person who takes them; and 20 finds a puzzle box. The explorer can try to open the puzzle box with a Knowledge roll; on a success, it contains two other clues (which might be traps, ugh); on a failure, it releases a poisonous spider who does 4 damage.

That's all! You can attack other explorers, mainly to steal clues - although you can deal damage, the Haunt specifies you can't kill anyone else, although you can wound them so badly they get killed by a trap. As with many of these, it's kind of OK, but very random - at least flavourful, though.

And that's it! That's all there is to Betrayal At House On The Hill! There are no more haun...

Wait.. were those footsteps?

Ok, we have to talk about Widow's Walk. Widow's Walk was the expansion set to the second edition of Betrayal, and it contains a full 50 extra haunts. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them are completely stupid. In fact, Widow's Walk pretty much marked the point at which they completely gave up on Betrayal being anything but a beer-and-pretzels game full of laughs, because it's almost making fun of itself. This is partly due to the strategy they used for writing the Haunts, which apparently was to invite random people to write Haunts for them. Some of these people were game designers. Many were game designers from a much less successful company. Others were the website guy, the CEO, some dudes in a band, and... people who were known about from gamergate.

So whereas Betrayal had cheesy but recognizable and classic horror tropes, Widow's Walk has obvious rip-offs and silly exaggerations, sometimes dropping the horror theme entirely and sometimes even ignoring the fact it's set in a house. It would be OK if there was some interesting game design, but the majority of Haunts in Widow's Walk are more basic in game design than the originals, usually just powering up the traitor a bit and then leaving them to fight the heroes with not much additional variation. The second most common is to put a bunch of item tokens in rooms and have the heroes roll dice or randomly turn them over to find which is the correct one. Those that are more complex tend to make gimmicky additions to the rules without seeming to have thought through how they fit in. Worse yet, it repeats errors from the previous game - there are a ton of cases of "the traitor role is infectious so everyone can win by voluntarily becoming a traitor" bugs. Several of these were specifically removed from Betrayal 2nd Edition, so it's really bizarre that they'd come right back.

So.. rather than fully writing these up, I'm just going to summarise them. Crummy haunt machine gun, activate!

Director's Cut
The idea: The house is a theatrical production and the director has gone insane.
The framework: Find the thing.
The gimmick: Instead of a traitor and multiple heroes, this Haunt has a hero (the director) and multiple traitors, who can kill each other. There's a bunch of one shot items, one of which is the one needed to win. Also, in order to win the game someone has to get to the Theatre and act out the text on an event card.
The stupidity: A bunch of monsters called "production assistants" who defend the director against being killed.. but if the actors do kill the director, they lose. The only reason to attack the director is to take the winning item off them. So there is no reason for the director not to just have all the Production Assistants follow them at all times.

The idea: The movie Cube. The heroes are trying to find which mathematical sequence the traitor rolled, which determines which rooms are safe to enter and which room they can escape from.
The framework: Find the thing.
The guest author: Liz Spain of Lone Shark Games.
The gimmick: The traitor gets to rearrange the rooms the heroes are in anywhere in the house every turn.
The stupidity: The traitor gets to rearrange the rooms the heroes are in anywhere in the house every turn.
The errata: They realized they forget to tell the heroes that there's an exit room and how to find it.

Till Morning Light
The idea: The movie The Purge.
The stupidity: It's Let Them In with different monsters.

Monster Mash
The idea: A bunch of Universal Monster ripoffs are having a party.
The framework: Big monster.
The gimmick: 8 Big Monsters each with a single omen card that instantly defeats them if a hero is even in the same room as them.
The stupidity: Just read that gimmick again.

She is not amused
The idea: Medusa.
The framework: Big monster.
The gimmick: The heroes can unpetrify existing statues in the mansion to help against Medusa.
The stupidity: You need a particular randomly drawn card to kill Medusa.

Make America Disintegrate Again
The idea: The traitor is the campaign manager for a lich running for President.
The guest author: Zoe Quinn. If you don't know who she is, I don't need to tell you. Just like how to ante your soul, some day, not knowing might save you.
The framework: Traitor and monster.
The gimmick: Traitor status is infectious and traitors are expected to speak in bombastic slogans.
The stupidity: Unrestricted infectious traitor status means everyone can join the traitor and all win. Also, the premise.

The Gathering Storm
The idea: The house is falling down in a storm and everyone has to reinforce the basement and hide in it.
The guest author: Chris Dupuis, a designer on Dungeons and Dragons.
The framework: Co-op find the things.
The gimmick: Reuses the collapsing house rules from the previous set.

Olly Olly Oxen Free
The idea: A Scary Little Girl is playing a version of tag with heroes with bonus ghostly possession.
The guest author: Elisa Teague of Loan Shark Games, who is credited with designing Geek Out!, a party game of making the longest list of geek references possible. No record of having designed positional strategy games with variable starting positions.
The gimmick: Infectious traitor status and a need to find and burn the girl's old dolls.
The stupidity: Unrestricted infectious traitor status means everyone can join the traitor and all win.

The Fleshchild's Alchemical Mandate
The idea: The traitor wants to steal samples of flesh from each of the heroes.
The guest author: Christopher Badell, the co-designer of Sentinels of the Multiverse.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: Every hero carries a "flesh" item which the traitor wants to steal instead of attacking them.
The stupidity: There's practically nothing else to the haunt other than this confusing merge of the stealing and combat rules.

Cat O'Clock
The idea: That one episode of Futurama where the cats try to take over the Earth.
The guest authors: Angela Webber and Richard Malena - a nerd rock singer and a theory podcaster respectively.
The gimmick: Hellbeasts but with an additional Big Monster which is powered up by the presence of tokens in the house. Ok, that's actually not too bad an idea.
The stupidity: The traitor has to roll two dice for the name of the evil cat. Examples include "Barnaby Cuddles". The name has no effect on the game.

Captain Sting's Revenge
The idea: A pirate, apparently an actual living pirate, just showed up in the Underground Lake and wants to steal treasure.
The guest authors: Mike and Tifa Robles. Lone Shark games again.
The framework: Traitor and minions.
The gimmick: The traitor can win by collecting loot.

Rosencrantz and All Of You Are Dead
The idea: Hamlet.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The traitor's win condition is to go to two target locations and then get killed by the heroes.
The stupidity: The heroes' win condition is to go to five fixed locations that may not even be on the map.

The idea: The hero's voices have all been stolen by an "evil fairy".
The framework: Find the thing.
The guest author: Chris Dupuis, again.
The gimmick: The players can't speak during the haunt.
The stupidity: There are basic rules missing from the books, and the ones that are there, the traitor is told to be ambiguous about.

Chairman of the Board
The idea: There's a ton of poltergeists in the house who can only attack the victim by throwing stuff at them.
The guest author: Rodney Thompson, a designer from Bungie who worked on Lords of Waterdeep.
The gimmick: There's one hero and multiple traitors. Also, every time a traitor attacks the hero, they do it by playing Wheel of Fortune using the name of one of the objects in the room's artwork.

Sushi Night
The idea: One of the explorers becomes a merman/mermaid and the others want to catch and eat them.
The guest author: Liz Spain, again.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The heroes are evil and the traitor is good. Also, the house is flooding.
The stupidity: The merperson can win by staying away from the flooded areas for three turns (they turn back into a human, and then the others no longer want to eat them) which can be trivial based on the map configuration.

Cardinal Sins
The idea: The traitor wants to be elected Pope, by demonstrating to ghostly Electors that they can punish people for their sins. Which makes no sense whatsoever.
The gimmick: Traitors and heroes alike have to move to each Elector in turn and either make a pre-determined type of attack (for the traitor) or a sanity roll (for the heroes).
The stupidity: Interaction with the electors in their rooms is the only thing that make any difference to the scenario. Also, it makes clear that after the election the Pope must go to the roof to set up white smoke, an interesting nod to tradition that becomes ridiculous when you consider that it implies that a new Pope has been elected whenever white smoke comes out of any building, not just the Sistine Chapel.

The idea: The ghost of a scary little boy wants to play a game involving throwing stones at people.
The guest author: Keith Richmond, the designer of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, which coincidentally is one of the few board games I have ever just thrown in the bin.
The gimmick: Dead characters respawn, and traitor status moves around between players as they are "tagged" in the game.
The stupidity: If the total number of points scored (by killing other characters) exceeds double the number of players, every explorer who made a kill wins. This is very easy to arrange.

He Who Must Not Be Read
The idea: A ripoff of assorted bits of Harry Potter.
The guest author: Bart Carroll, a website producer for WotC.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: To kill the traitor, the heroes have to defeat a series of procedurally run creatures ("soulcruxes", ha ha). Also, written apparently as an afterthought, traitor status is infectious in the form of becoming a Wraith.
The stupidity: Unrestricted infectious traitor status yadda yadda.

No Noose Is Good News
The idea: The traitor is a ghostly wild west hangman.
The guest author: Elisa Teague, again.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The heroes literally play Hangman - the word game - with the traitor, giving up all movement on their turn to guess a letter. To be fair, they have attempted to make the main part of the game vaguely relevant by letting the traitor "put the noose on" a hero, which prevents them guessing latters until it's removed with a Might roll.
The stupidity: The traitor gets no bonuses to attack or defend, so there is nothing stopping the players just beating the traitor to death before guessing any letters.
The errata: They wrote mismatching damage values between the hero and traitor books.

To Reach the Cosmos
The idea: That bit from Red Dwarf where the alien tries to drink people's brains through a straw, but without the cool shapeshifting stuff.
The guest author: Ben Petrisor, co-designer of the Temple of Elemental Evil board game.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The heroes and traitor all write down random "thoughts" on bits of paper that are effectively used as their health points.
The stupidity: If the traitor wins, the text describes that they ascended to a utopic alien world with all the other heroes experiencing it through them too.

The Other Side
The idea: The house is.. uh, haunted. I think that was the basic premise to start with, wasn't it?
The guest author: Liz Spain, again.
The gimmick: The heroes are the ghosts and the traitor is the ghostbuster.
The stupidity: The multiple ghosts are powered up and require special tasks to kill, so the ghostbuster has almost no chance.

Man's Worst Enemy
The idea: A hellhound in the house is trying to possess people.
The guest author: Keith Baker, the creator of Eberron.
The framework: Big monster.
The gimmick: To hurt the hellhound you have to play fetch with it. If it fetches a weapon, you can stab it with the weapon afterwards.
The stupidity: The rules contain text for needing to attack the Dog after you kill the Beast, even though the Haunt ends when the Beast is killed.

Existence Precedes Essence
The idea: The traitor has befriended a disembodied head that wants to eat.
The guest author: Pendleton Ward, the guy who drew Adventure Time.
The framework: Traitor and minion.
The gimmick: To win the heroes have to hug the traitor and the head for a given number of turns.
The stupidity: The traitor can resurrect dead heroes as monsters.. but there's a deterministic way for the heroes to have the reincarnated monsters join their sides which doesn't require any roles. This also has the infectious traitor problem, but since it requires killing the heroes, it's much less emphasized.

The idea: It..
The guest author: Justin Gary, the designer of Ascension.
The framework: Traitor and minion ("Noodles the dog")
The gimmick: The traitor has 5 "gags" and each hero is especially vulnerable to one of them.
The stupidity: All there is for the heroes to do is beat down the door.

Let it glow
The idea: Frozen.
The guest author: Elisa Teague, again.
The framework: Traitor and minions.
The gimmick: The traitor can spawn minions. Also, the minions cause damage by just being in particular rooms..
The stupidity: ..rooms with thermostats, because apparently only standing right next to a thermostat is effective at lowering the temperature.

Back to the past
The idea: The heroes have been sent back to the past to prevent their own murders in the house.
The guest author: Chris Dupuis, again.
The gimmick: The players play Guess Who with the traitor, but using rooms in the house.
The stupidity: The only actual reference to time travel in the scenario is that the Turn track counts down instead of up.

They're Always After Me
The idea: "They're after me Lucky Charms!" No, it's literally that. The traitor gets turned into a leprechaun by a cereal box.
The guest author: Well, it's not actually a guest author. But it credits this song:
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: When the heroes stun the Leprechaun they get to pick a Wish.
The stupidity: To complete the adventure the heroes have to walk along a Rainbow, seven squares in which the leprechaun can insta-kill them in one attack.

The Devil's Name
The idea: The players need to learn the true name of a spirit to banish it.
The guest author: F. Wesley Schneider, co-creator of Pathfinder.
The framework: Find the things.
The gimmick: Infectious traitor status and the heroes are trying to solve a word square using clues found in books.
The stupidity: There's pretty much nothing else for the traitor to do other than try to give obscure clues. Also, unrestricted infectious traitor yadda yadda..
The errata: The hero text falsely says the traitor can destroy the books, but actually he can't.

The Twins
The idea: Scary twins.
The guest author: Tycho from Penny Arcade.
The gimmick: There are two traitors.
The stupidity: It's otherwise just Worm Ouroboros with nastier body segments.

I, Mutant
The idea: The players are all experimental mutants who are trying to escape.
The guest author: Liz Spain, again.
The framework: Traitor and minions.
The gimmick: Heroes can mutate and rebalance their traits for an extra power once per game; heroes respawn and have to be captured to win.
The stupidity: Capturing depends on defeating the heroes or them entering particular rooms, and one of the powers allows the map to be edited. Staying in a single room and rotating it can easily stalemate the traitor.

The Canopic Curse
The idea: One of the jars in the house holds a Pharoah's spirit who will grant great power if he's released.
The guest author: Paul Peterson, author of Smash Up.
The framework: Find the thing.
The gimmick: Every hero gets a secret Curse which they can't tell anyone about. One of the curses makes them into a secret traitor.
The stupidity: The traitor starts with one Jar, and although the selection of which is the correct Jar is supposed to be random, it's very easy to arrange, especially if someone becomes a secret traitor and can tell the actual traitor what they read in the other book.

Get A Clue
The idea: Cluedo.
The guest author: Elisa Teague, again.
The framework: Find the thing (or rather "take the thing to the place").
The gimmick: It's Cluedo. Well, ok, kind of in reverse, since instead of asking a question you "establish your alibi" by taking the right item to a room.
The stupidity: It's loving Cluedo.

In The Details
The idea: Everyone in the house signed a deal with the devil, and wants to get out of it.
The guest author: Rob Daviau, the Legacy games guy.
The framework: Co-operative, hidden information.
The gimmick: Hidden tokens are constantly passed around. Whoever has the lowest token gets a chance to get out of the contract. Without seeing the other tokens in play, they do not know if it is the lowest or not.
The stupidity: The rules aren't clear on whether or not you can look at your own token. If you can't, the whole thing is pointless. Also, to win, a Hero must die, so if everyone just runs away the whole scenario stalemates.

Forget To Remember
The idea: A psychic serial killer haunts the house and can possess anyone who remembers him.
The guest author: Will Hindmarch, designer of Storium. No, I've never heard of it either. It's an online resource-based storytelling game.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The traitor might actually be on the heroes' side, based on a random roll at the start of the Haunt. To win, heroes have to forget about the killer by lowering their own Knowledge rolls.
The stupidity: The rules are incredibly vaguely written. The heroes appear to be able to win by just killing the traitor, and while there is a Sanity penalty for killing the traitor if they were loyal, they still can probably win that way.

The Murderer In The Machine
The idea: A spirit is haunting a social network and driving people mad by sharing pictures of their butchered friends.
The guest author: JefF Tidball, director of Atlas Games.
The framework: Find the thing.
The gimmick: The players are searching for rooms with Bars of reception (randomly generated) to call for help; but rooms with more Bars also make it easier for the traitor to attack them through the network.
The stupidity: Actually that's pretty coo.. oh, wait. Unrestricted infectious traitor status. Head-desk.

The Woods In The Cabin
The idea: The house is actually a giant tree which could grow out of control.
The framework: Do the ritual.
The gimmick: The gimmick involves destroying rooms on the ground floor, and the traitor can't attack unless attacked.
The stupidity: The traitor's win condition is based on adding rooms to the house. The heroes don't get to know this, so they can accidentally give the game to the traitor by exploring rooms. The traitor can only discover rooms in the basement, so if the heroes don't attack and just allow those to run out, they can stalemate.

Sibling Rivalry
The idea: More scary children.
The guest author: Marie Poole and Elisa Teague, both from Lone Shark. This is their second Scary Kids haunt.
The framework: Do the ritual.
The gimmick: The traitor plays both children and flips who they play each turn.
The stupidity: Instantly deadlocks if there is no Basement when the Haunt begins. Completing the ritual involves setting up complex conga lines of heroes to drag the traitors to certain target rooms, which is likely to be almost impossible.

Cry, Babylon!
The idea: The traitor is possessed by the god Marduk.
The guest author: Peter Adkison, the founder of WotC.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The heroes can sacrifice cards to sic a Lammasu on the traitor, which drains their stats.

One Of The Master's Affairs
The idea: Rocky Horror.
The framework: Multiple monsters, do the ritual.
The gimmick: The monsters are each keyed to one of the traitor's traits, so attacking them weakens that monster. Also, each hero can "save and restore" their position once. This is called Time Warping.
The stupidity: One of the tasks in the ritual is to fail rolls in all four stats in one location.

Internal Conflict
The idea: Inexplicably, the House on the Hill is now filled with Employees who you have to take coffee to. Also, one of you is up for promotion.
The guest author: "The Lone Shark interns". Oh dear.
The framework: Power Traitor.
The gimmick: The traitor gets to move the heroes around at the end of each of their turns.

Burn Out the Darkness
The idea: The traitor turns into a patch of darkness; the heroes try to burn down the house to keep it out.
The guest author: Michael Dunlap, the senior sales manager at Wizards; and Chad Brown, the main designer of the Pathfinder card game.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: The house is gradually destroyed by the fires the heroes set. Also, multiple traitors with a team picking mechanic and infectious traitor status..
The stupidity: Seriously, gently caress this unconstrained infectious traitor status business. You'd have think they'd learned better by now.

Ghost at the Finish Line
The idea: A ghostly runner challenges the heroes to a race.
The guest author: Quelle Chris, a hip-hop artist who wrote a song called, um, Ghost at the Finish Line.
The framework: Co-op find the thing.
The gimmick: The ghost has a set of 6 item criteria. At the start of each round, each hero must give him an item and gain a bonus based on how many criteria it matches. If it matches none, you get attacked. You win by discovering all the rooms in the house.
The stupidity: Item draws on discovery are random.

Owl's Moving Castle
The idea: Bizarrely everyone can shapeshift into Owls, and the traitor wants them to stay that way for good. They are trying to encourage them to by moving the house off a cliff.
The guest author: Gaby Weidling. Lone Shark Games again.
The framework: Power traitor, collapsing house.
The gimmick: The traitor gets to flip and move tiles every turn. The heroes can turn into owls and have to do so to "fly" over the flipped tiles.
The stupidity: The traitor is supposed to move the tiles towards the physical edge of the table, with an event happening when they fall off. So the size of the table is a critical part of the game rules. Huh. Also, the heroes can only turn back from being owls 3 times; getting people stuck as owls is how the traitor wins. Tne traitor can force heroes to turn into owls, but not turn back; the only reason to be a human is to attack the traitor. So if the heroes just turn into owls and wait, the haunt stalemates (or just becomes a silly physical brawl between owls).

Last Will And Tournament
The idea: A greedy ghost wants to hang onto its life's belongings forever.
The guest author: Chad Brown, again.
The framework: Transferable power traitor and a big dumb brawl.
The gimmick: The traitor always transfers to the person with most items. The heroes have to leave the traitor with no items in the middle of a round, plus have a hero in an appropriate room with an item.
The stupidity: I have.. no idea how this is supposed to play out other than everyone getting in a big dumb bundle and stealing items from each other over and over. It's also possible for items to get discarded, which ought to help, but can actually stalemate the game if every item is discarded because a hero needs an item to win. It also has nothing to do with a tournament.

Nanny Interrupted
The idea: The traitor is the Nanny out of Muppet Babies. Yes, read that again.
The guest authors: Mikey Neumann and Don Eubanks, both from the Borderlands team at Gearbox Software.
The framework: Power traitor.
The gimmick: Heroes turn into Babies when "killed"; the traitor wants to collect them all in the Nursery.
The stupidity: The heroes only have to meet up outside the house to win, and they can jump out the windows, so this could end abruptly. Also, there's no specific rules about attacking, so presumably the "children" can just beat Nanny to death. Yay?
The errata: Clarified that the Nanny carrying a baby into the area outside the house doesn't count for the win condition. That's some good rules lawyering.

House of Leavings
The idea: The traitor is trying to kill the heroes with a minotaur that may not be real.
The framework: Everyone wants to get to the Abandoned Room.
The gimmick: The entire house layout is cleared and reset when the Haunt starts. Also, if the Minotaur is ever out of line of sight of a hero, they start taking damage at the start of their turns.
The stupidity: It's just exploring the house again, and we know that's not a whole lot of fun. People can attack the minotaur but only one hero can attack the traitor, and they haven't got much to do anyway.

Lambs to the Slaughter
The idea: The house is surrounded by zom.. um, wolves and the heroes are keeping it barricaded, but one of the heroes is secretly a wolfman.
The guest author: Jonathan Gilmour, designer of Dead of Winter, who does not seem to have managed to see beyond his own nose.
The framework: Hidden traitor. Kill the traitor; you can test if someone is the traitor if you're in a room with them at the end of your turn.
The gimmick: Every round, wolves attack one of the barricades, wearing down the stack of tiles there. Everyone can build new barricade tiles, but the traitor can place sabotaged barricades which instantly give way and discard the tile below them.
The stupidity: .. Well, actually not a whole lot, other than the massive dependence on hidden information. Time could run out very quickly.

Plastic Fantastic
The idea: Scary mannequins.
The guest author: Anita Sarkeesian. Yes, that Anita Sarkeesian. Like with Zoe Quinn, if you don't know who she is, I'm not going to tell you.
The framework: Procedural monsters with no traitor; the "traitor" runs them as GM and can also shut some of them down each turn to help the heroes, since their win condition is the same.
The gimmick: The mannequins start stunned, and based on their token colour, become "unstunned" whenever a hero does not do a particular thing in their turn. "Stunned" mannequins actually still move, and try to leave the house. "Unstunned" ones attack the players.
The stupidity: The entire Haunt is full of text like: "Given purpose for the first time in their.. well, not lives really, but 'existance' - they start to react to what is around them. They move out from the closet and seek out life." and, on the victory text, "These mannequins have shuffled off into the real world, where undoubtedly they will learn and grow. Perhaps they will become normal members of society."

The Manor of your Demise
The idea: You know that Magic card, Shahrazad?
The guest author: Max Temkin and Eli Halpern, both authors of Cards Against Humanity.
The gimmick: You start a whole new game of Betrayal, but your only goal is to find the Box within 30 minutes real time. If you start the Haunt in the subgame, instead this one resets and you start another game with the timer set to half.
The stupidity: People generally agree that the Snooping part of the game is pretty boring. This haunt is basically just that.

Let's Play A Game
The idea: Saw. I mean, ok, we already did Guillotines, but let's do it again with nowhere near as clever a design.
The guest author: John Borba, host of Cardboard Conquest.
The gimmick: Players collect "challenge tokens" by moving into rooms and doing random Saw-style tasks from a list. Also, players can vote at the start of the game if they will go it alone, or work as a team. Loners can skip challenges by killing other explorers; teammates can't.
The stupidity: Random, random, random.

And finally..
Season Of The Witch
This one gets its own section, because it's supposed to be a climactic one. To try and enforce this, this Haunt has to be unlocked. Specifically, you're supposed to put a mark against your specific hero whenever you complete The Woods in the Cabin, The Gathering Storm, Owl's Moving Castle or Let It Glow - which represent the four seasons. If all the hero characters in the game have participated in playing all four of those haunts, you can play Season of the Witch. Otherwise, you're supposed to just discard the omen card and pick again. What you did in those Haunts doesn't matter at all; you can even have lost them, just played them.

The only reason for this is that it tries to have a meta-story. Magdalena Gunchester was imprisoned in the house's cupola for life after rebelling against her evil husband, so she went mad and became a witch who has been enchanting all of the Gunchester family's properties into haunted houses - the ones you're previously explored. Now, you've been lured to the final one where the witch intends to trap you for a full year.

When the haunt starts, tiles are drawn until the house is fully explored; the Haunt plays for a fixed twelve rounds, each representing one month of the year. In addition, each explorer gets a power-up in the month of their birthday, as on their character sheet.

Here's what happens each month:

Jan: The heroes get a warning that a storm is brewing and can board up the house with Obstacle tokens.
Feb: The storm strikes, and being too close to any unboarded window deals physical damage.
Mar: The three heroes who are closest to the landings get attacked by lions.
Apr: Poisonous snakes spawn in the Underground Lake and attack explorers within a few rooms' range.
May: The snakes move and attack again, then leave.
Jun: Heroes have to defend the Food tokens - which were placed at the start of the Haunt - from rats.
Jul: Heroes can plant new Food tokens. Also, they take damage from the heat for moving too far.
Aug: Several rooms fill with smoke, causing physical damage; the heroes must try to fix the furnace.
Sep: Month 6 again but with locusts instead of rats.
Oct: Random rooms in the basement get destroyed by an earthquake.
Nov: Heroes take Mental damage if there's less food tokens left than there are heroes or if the furnace wasn't fixed.
Dec: The house fills with Vampire Bats who will fly out of open windows, but not if they were barricaded back in January.

And then finally, you get to fight the witch! She has 8 in all stats. You can attack her with any trait, but once she's defeated using a given trait, you can't use that trait again until you have no choice but to do so. You need trait rolls equal to the #heroes to kill her. As is universally the problem with boss battles, the odds aren't good, and if she beats you all of the effort you put into overcoming the previous challenges is for poo poo.

So. What have we learned from this? It's better to have a single solid mechanic than a ton of variable ones. That a critical input to your mechanic, the map, shouldn't be random. That you should learn your lessons from the changes you made in your previous edition. And that you sure as anything shouldn't wander into creepy houses on hills.

The Deleter
May 22, 2010

Randomly generated cat names might be the best part of all of those scenarios honestly. I'll kill for Barnaby Cuddles.

Dec 23, 2012

For Gold & Glory: Chapter 7: Equipment

Since D&D is a game about killing things and taking their stuff, some rules for said stuff are in order. Welcome to the shoddiest-edited chapter yet!


The most important stuff is, of course, money. Characters might find copper pieces, silver pieces, gold pieces, and even electrum and platinum pieces in their adventures. Of these, normal people use on copper and silver, but both banks and adventurers tend to prefer the gold standard. The three common coins follow a straightforward system where 100 cp = 10 sp = 1 gp. Electrum and platinum are ancient stuff, found usually only in old ruins and hobbyist collections and as such have weird antiquated exchange values. As electrum is an alloy of gold and silver, it's worth five silver pieces. (The conversion table fucks up and says it's worth only a fifth of a gold piece instead of half.) A platinum piece is 10 electrum pieces, so 5 gold pieces. Clear as mud.

Conversion rates have a practical application, since somehow 50 coins of any kind always weigh 1 pound. If the characters want to travel with their money, they might want to exchange their coinage for a more portable currency. The chapter doesn't include prices for gemstones, so platinum bars are probably the most portable you can get, short of investing in livestock.

Player characters start with a random amount of money based on their class. Since fighters and priests rely on the heaviest armour, they get the most (on average, at least).

The numbers in parentheses claim to be the average results for the die rolls, but whoever calculated them lowballs the results a fair bit.

Everyday stuff

This section includes stuff like backpacks, baskets andÖ Huh. Turns out someone left out the 10' pole. They even mentioned it in the example of play back in Chapter 0. This is a bit of a let-down.

It's a boring section but I guess if you really need to know the price of a pair of sandals (5 cp) or the weight of a water clock (200 lbs.) they're here for you. There's two separate tables of provisions like pickled fish by the barrel, but I can't tell why they've been separated. There's also living costs for different lifestyles. A "poor" lifestyle only costs a flat 5 gp a month but anything higher actually factors in your level. For example, a 9th level Fighter who maintains a "wealthy" lifestyle befitting of a Lord pays 1800 gold pieces per month in... Rent and household staff wages, I guess?

Speaking of wages, sending a message by courier costs 1 sp and you can get your grody dungeon-crawling clothes washed for 1 cp.

Tales of high adventure, indeed.

Animals and transport

Animals are really expensive and require daily food and drink. There's multiple varieties of both horses and elephants, and five different quality levels for any horses you might purchase. Beware of swindlers!

Table 7.11 includes prices for a whole bunch of animals, but only some get described. The descriptions for various animals largely address how often they need to be fed and watered, and whether they will need to be kept tethered or not. Oddly, there's a description for yaks but they're not on the table.

There's a second table for tack, harness and stabling. Animal-sized armour is more expensive than the actual animal! There's also a table for the prices of various means of transport, like carts (horse sold separately), canoe and caravel. A caravel costs 10,000 gp, in case you're wondering.

Many descriptions here modify or otherwise reference the animals' speed and carrying capacity, but neither is actually included in the creature table or the descriptions. Instead, the encumbrance values for domestic animals are hidden way at the end of the chapter, and movement rates for animals can be found in Appendix C: Bestiary, under "Animal". It's a bit of a bother.


Before we take their stuff, we must first kill the things, and trying to kill things bare-handed is a huge chore. Thankfully D&D is famous for giving us a wide variety of weapons to get the deed done.

First of all, there are about fifty or so different melee weapons, all with a bunch of different stats:

Like any equipment, weapons have a price and a weight in pounds. All items also have a size but for some reason it's only listed for weapons. Damage type is one or more of slashing, piercing and bludgeoning. Combat speed determines which strikes first when initiative is tied, lower being better. (Magical enchantments make weapons faster.) The first damage column is for damage dealt against man-sized (M stands for "Medium") or smaller opponents, the second for larger creatures.

Weapon size affects encumbrance (more on that in a bit) as well as how many hands it takes to wield the weapon: Humans can wield medium and smaller weapons one-handed, but need two hands for large weapons. Small creatures like gnomes and halflings need two hands to wield medium weapons and presumably can't use large weapons at all. All of the weapons in the book are made for human-sized creatures, but it's implied that equivalent equipment for smaller and larger creatures exist. There's just no rules for those.

And since it wouldn't be proper D&D without them, here's some pole arms:

Note how all over the place the damage values are. Some weapons are extra good against large enemies, others way worse, some don't care. I can't find any rhyme or reason for the differences.

Side note: It's been said before but I guess I'll repeat it: D&D weapons are, as a rule, ridiculously heavy. If you're curious about swords you should put the rulebook down and pick up something by Ewart Oakeshott instead.

In case you don't want to risk an acute case of stabbing, the game also includes some ranged weapons. They have largely the same stats as their melee counterparts, and in fact you can "hurl" some melee weapons at the enemy without any penalty I can find. Additionally, ranged weapons have stats for ranges and rates of fire.

Ranges are expressed as now-familiar bands of short/medium/long, with a -2 penalty to attack at medium range and -5 at long. As you might remember from a previous update, fighters who specialize in bows or crossbows gain an additional point-blank range where they get a +2 bonus to hit. The short range on a bow extends up to 150 feet, which should be plenty for any dungeon.

Rate of fire tells us how many attacks a character can make with a ranged weapon in a given number of rounds. For instance, thrown darts have a rate of fire of 3/1 for three attacks per round, while a heavy crossbow has a glacial ROF of 1/2, meaning an attack every other round. I'm pretty sure this means that missile weapons let any character make multiple attacks each round as long as they have the darts to spare.

If this makes bows sound like a sweet option, yeah they sound hella sweet! However, you can't be a complete wimp if you want to use one, since in addition to the regular Dex modifier to ranged attacks, bows also add their Str modifiers to both attack and damage. Characters with exceptional strength need to find a custom bow to take full advantage of their huge guns. Crossbows are a slower, more reliable option for characters who used Strength as their dump stat.

Armor and shields

Unlike in later editions, armor isn't technically a modifier on your AC Ė it is your AC. Unarmored AC is always 10 before modifiers, and wearing armor replaces that with the armor-specific value. A padded gambeson gives you AC 8, a suit of chain mail AC 5 and a custom full plate harness a sweet AC 1. If through some magic your unarmored AC is already lower than the listed number of your armor, the armor doesn't do anything. Halfling-sized armor costs as much as human-sized, but is half as heavy in pounds.

Helmets are sold separately. Not wearing a helmet gives you a +1 penalty to AC, regardless of what kind of helmet it is.

If you want to boost your defenses further, you get a variety of shields to choose from. They all give you a -1 AC bonus against frontal attacks, but for most of them there's a caveat: A tiny buckler only lets you use the bonus against one attack, a small shield two and a medium shield three. The tower shield is an exception as it protects you from any number of attacks, and gives you a -2 bonus against ranged attacks to boot. On the upside, using a buckler leaves both of your hands free to wield weapons. In case you're wondering, the AC bonus from the weapon-shield combat method has no restrictions on facing or number of attacks.

Donning armor takes time, so getting ambushed at night is bad news. Plate armor takes 1d6+4 rounds to put on and requires help from a buddy. If you try to do it yourself, the time is tripled. Lighter armor slips on in one or two rounds, and the time is only doubled if you're doing it alone. Getting out of non-plate armor takes a round, while getting out of plate takes up to five. A round is roughly equal to one minute, so this is only slow in combat terms.

Second side note: Yes, the terminology is all made up. A guy by the name of Ian LaSpina's done a really good Youtube series on various bits of armor and I recommend checking him out:


All of this crap weighs a ton and needs to get transported somehow. FG&G tackles the issue by tracking both encumbrance (item weight) and carrying capacity (item size).

To determine encumbrance, you simply total up the weight of all the crap your character is carrying and cross-reference with your Strength on the encumbrance table.


There are seven stages of encumbrance in increasing order of discomfort: non-encumbered, lightly encumbered, moderately, heavily, severely, and overwhelmingly encumbered.


A man-sized biped can carry up to twenty small-sized objects (attached to a belt, cloak liner, or bandoleer), four medium-sized objects (two on each hip and two slung around its back), and two large-sized objects (one in each hand). A man-sized backpack and two large belt pouches can also be worn.
Small and large creatures have to adjust according to their size: Halflings and gnomes can only carry two medium objects instead of two large ones, for instance. You can exchange two smaller objects for one larger, if you need to figure out how to haul a huge treasure chest out of the dungeon. If you need to go really deep into the nitty gritty, volumes and weight limits for various sizes of backpacks and pouches can be found in the beginning of the equipment chapter.

Being even lightly encumbered means taking a penalty to your movement value, and the penalty gets stricter the more you carry. If you're at your maximum carrying capacity and at least moderately encumbered, you start taking additional penalties to your attack roll and AC.

Overall, this chapter leaves me pretty lukewarm. There's a lot of plain old crap in the equipment tables that belongs in some kind of Magical Hanseatic League supplement instead of the core book. I would probably read that supplement! But I don't need to know the price of soap or a gallon of beer to make a character. Same goes for the weapon list, which is huge just for the sake of being huge. The vast majority of damage dice fall between 1d6 and 2d4 so you might as well pick a sack full of clubs for your weapon. Sure, I'll take an arbitrary number of these free hurling weapons, whatever.

I actually like the carrying capacity rules, but I'm not so hot on keeping track of every ounce and pound my character has in their belt pouches. I get that weight is meant to be the balancing factor for a lot of good equipment like plate armor and tower shields, but I can only stomach so much bookkeeping. I think I get why the chapter's the way it is, and making a super-detailed list of provisions for a dungeon expedition sounds sort of fun, but I'd probably find it interesting exactly once and never again ever.

No 10' pole, 0/10.

Coming up next: Chapter 8: Combat!

Siivola fucked around with this message at 10:57 on Aug 8, 2018

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?

I think that polearm table is just straight copied from 2e AD&D.

Also yeah, if there's one issue I have with 2e AD&D it's that no one cared about weapon balance. Like, if you use the optional and POINTLESSLY CUMBERSOME rules for some weapons having to-hit bonuses against certain types of armor, it broadens the field a little, but ultimately you'll almost never want to use blunt weapons, crossbows or axes. You'll always want to roll with bows and swords. So I just always ended up houseruling crossbows to be less useless and letting people refluff their weapons at will. Like, that two-handed sword might as well be a two-handed axe or maul, since there's no reason for punishing players for wanting a different aesthetic.

And it's not even that the better weapons were noticeably more expensive or anything, so you were encouraged to start with the scrub-tier stuff and then upgrade. Some weapons just sucked.

Dec 23, 2012

I was about to say that crossbows are a viable option for characters with strength penalties, but then I checked the damage of a crossbow bolt.

It's 1d4. :psyduck:

The sling is a better weapon than that piece of poo poo.

Feb 13, 2012

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

D&D has a loving vendetta against the crossbow.

May 13, 2013

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

Night10194 posted:

D&D has a loving vendetta against the crossbow.

Nerds on 4chan still go into seizures over blackpowder stuff.

Nov 1, 2012

Just keep on walkin'.

Siivola posted:

I was about to say that crossbows are a viable option for characters with strength penalties, but then I checked the damage of a crossbow bolt.

It's 1d4. :psyduck:

The sling is a better weapon than that piece of poo poo.

Actual 2e fixed that in a later book, but I guess these guys didn't feel the need?

Nov 8, 2009
Can't post for 5 hours!

Night10194 posted:

D&D has a loving vendetta against the crossbow.

In my experience with fantasy grogs, crossbows aren't seen as "heroic." Even introducing composite bows gets you wary glances.

May 13, 2013

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

Something that point-and-click removes A Warrior Knight Hero without even requiring to be squishy bookworm like a wizard is probably not liked by the elfgame community.

Feb 13, 2012

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

I think it's more a function of them needing reloading and earlier D&D not really understanding action economy.

If there's one thing I can definitively say about D&D it's that it doesn't understand 'I can only take this one shot with this while he can take 3 shots with his' means that shot better be damned good (unless you're a wizard, in which case the shot is amazing). Remember how long it was before people started realizing the 90s trend of 'this stat gives you more actions' was a terrible idea?


Mar 25, 2013

Crossbows are an everymans weapon, far easier to learn than a bow due to not needing to worry about keeping the bow string, as well as higher powered ones being equivalent or superior to longbows.

No wonder high fantasy people hate them, they aren't noble at all!

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