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Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk








Adventure 1: Exit 23 - A Grisly Discovery






Now it's time to get the soon-to-be investigators involved in this adventure. Currently, we've got Jane (highway patrol), Nadine (doctor), Donna (private security) and Doug (freelance photojournalist) and they've been cooling their heels at the White River Station, waiting for an unexpected blizzard to break so that they can continue on their respective ways. They share the truck stop with eight other seemingly unremarkable people, completely unaware that the blizzard was the result of a deadly cat and mouse game between the Hoffman Institute and the cult Les Trieze Corbins. Here's the introductory text the book presents for the players:

Dark*Matter posted:

You've never seen a snowstorm like this. October in the Idaho mountains can be bad, but for hours now it's been a virtual white-out. The snow must be at least 15 inches deep on the highway, and the weather's showing no signs of stopping.
It's close to midnight now, but you've each been stranded since sundown in a small interstate rest stop, waiting for the plows to come through so that you can get back on the road. Nearly a half-dozen motorists share your predicament, plus for or five rest stop employees who have stayed on to serve coffee and food for the duration of the storm.
Each of you has somewhere to go and things to do, but for now you're all stuck here. No one's driving anywhere tonight, and no one's coming to get you out. Some of you have passed the time with a paperback novel or a magazine, while others have been chatting with the other motorists.

Donna has poked around the White River Station out of boredom and has a pretty decent idea of how the place is laid out. She's mostly kept to herself, a habit she's picked up in her line of work.

Doug is getting anxious about his prolonged confinement and has been asking all of the other people assembled whether or not it's really that dangerous to try and just power his way through the blizzard; when he asked Jane, she pointedly told Doug that he'd be lucky to get more than a mile down the road before careening off the highway and ending upside-down in a ditch. Doug stopped asking after that, but keeps giving Jane a furtive stink-eye when he thinks Jane isn't looking.

Nadine's done her best to make small talk with everyone else stuck in the station. She's also frustrated about having her travel plans put on hold, but she's developed an excellent bedside manner over the years and is using the small talk as a way to avoid thinking about all of the time she's losing.

Suddenly! More exposition:

Dark*Matter posted:

You're all sitting in the donut shop, nursing a cup of coffee, when the lights flicker. "Oh great," mutters Mabel, from behind the counter - and then the lights go out altogether!
Somewhere on the other side of the rest stop, you hear a door slam open, following by the vicious howling of freezing cold air that somehow finds its way over to where you sit. The wind screams like a wounded animal, scratching and clawing at your exposed skin with an icy grasp.
Without even thinking about it, each of you simultaneously realize something is horribly, terribly wrong. Then you hear an awful racket from the direction of the rest rooms - sounds of violent conflict, cries that are choked short, glass breaking, and one final high-pitched scream that makes your blood run cold.
The wind howls again, more doors slam . . . and then the room becomes still again, except for the distant howling of the storm outside. "What in heaven was that?" Mabel speaks from the darkness.

Jane does a quick inventory of the people assembled in the donut shop and realizes that the businessman, the teenage fry cook, and the kid wearing the army jacket aren't inside. Occupants of the truck stop have been moving around the building all night, but those three are missing from the donut shop immediately following the loss of power. She asks for volunteers to go with her to investigate the noises, and Donna agrees. Nadine does her best to keep everyone else in the donut shop calm, and Doug learned to leave well enough alone while attached to the troops he chronicled in the U.S. Navy.

Jane's currently carrying her service 9mm, two pairs of handcuffs, a police flashlight and her radio. Donna's only packing her .32 revolver and a cellphone in her purse. Jane's drawn her pistol and flashlight and is advancing slowly through the building towards the bathrooms; Donna's trailing her at a slight distance but hasn't yet announced that she's also got a gun.

Dark*Matter posted:

The last gust of wind seems to have knocked out power to the entire rest stop and there's barely enough illumination from the various emergency lights to carefully move through the darkened building. The wind screams outside, howling from beyond the open door at the end of the hall, just past the arcade.
You reach the Men's room and immediately notice a body sprawled face down in the doorway; it's the teenager that was wearing the army jacket, and if the blood pooling under his chest is any indication, he's lost a lot of it. Three icicles impale his back - they're each about the length of a machete blade and obviously just as sharp, and they're causing the blood pooling around the entry wounds to freeze into scarlet ice. Based on the way his body fell, he must have been stabbed while attempting to enter the bathroom.
Looking beyond the teenager and into the Men's room, you see another body; it's the businessman in the fancy sports coat, and he's slumped into a seated position between a urinal and the sinks. Like the body that's propping the door open, he's also been impaled by two impossibly long and sharp icicles, but as you gaze at the scene before you, he groans and attempts to rise from his half-crouch.
"Help me," he gasps. "I'm so cold . . ."

Jane's first responder training immediately kicks into gear and she rushes over to the businessman. She shouts for Donna to go grab help, and Donna sprints back to the donut shop to grab Nadine. After explaining the situation, she also thinks to ask Doug to come along and snap some pictures of the crime scene, in case Jane needs them for the future. Mabel grabs a first aid kit from the donut shops kitchen and hands it off, and Nadine and Doug both agree to return to the Men's room with Donna.

Jane attempts to perform basic first aid on the businessman but botches her Knowledge - First Aid roll; she wasn't really prepared for trying to assist someone with massive internal hemorrhaging. In the time it takes her to fail her attempt at assistance, Donna has returned with Nadine and Doug, and Nadine immediately moves to try and stabilize the businessman. Her Medical Science - Treatment roll is at a +2 penalty due to Jane's prior failure (which would be a d20 + penalty d6) but she's an actual doctor and succeeds on the stabilization attempt despite her patient's delicate condition.

While Nadine and Jane get the businessman sorted, Doug and Donna decide to search the immediate area and see if they can find anything else that might be important (and Doug's snapping pictures of the whole scene while he searches).

Donna isn't trained in Awareness - Perception and has to make an untrained Awareness roll - this goes about as well as you would expect, and she doesn't discover anything other than what's immediately obvious: all of the stalls are empty, one of the mirrors above a sink has been shattered and contains blood spatter, and the faucet below the broken mirror seems to have frozen solid, complete with the water that had been running from the tap turned into an icicle. There's a fine layer of frost that covers every flat surface in the room, and it's actually colder in the room than anywhere else (even in the hallway with an open door to the outside).

Doug is trained in Investigate - Search due to his profession and manages to roll a Good success. He recalls that there were no icicles large enough to match the ones impaling both men anywhere along the outside of the truck stop. The blood spatter from the mirror and the location of the businessman's body indicate he was likely stabbed from the front while facing away from the sink. Doug also rummages through all of the containers in the room and finds the businessman's overcoat and briefcase were both shoved into the sole trashcan in the room. Finally, Doug spots an unusual mark displacing the congealing blood from the first body; it sort of looks like a paw print from a large predatory animal like a wolf or a bear.

The businessman has been stabilized but has passed out from the trauma. Nadine asks Doug to help her move him back to the donut shop, and while they ferry the unconscious man back, Jane and Donna decide to search the hallway in front of the rest rooms. Jane rolls a Good success on an Awareness - Perception check and catches the sound of stifled sobs coming from the arcade. Again she draws her service pistol and motions for Donna to follow her, creeping slowly towards the sound. She announces her police credentials over the droning howl of the blizzard, and both women are surprised when something leaps up from behind the Asteroids machine and sprints towards them!


NEXT TIME: Interrogation and Ambush.

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JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Straight to supernatural ice stabbings? We're off to a good start!

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book 18: Mystic Russia, Part 7 - "The Mystic Smiths understand that the items, especially magic horseshoes, magic weapons and armor, and M.D. weapons and material can change the balance of power in a region or bring tragedy instead of prosperity."

We've got a looot of classes still left to go through. In fact, most of the rest of the book is just classes and spells. We've got two other types of magic to cover as well - Living Fire Magic and Nature Magic. Let's hurry it up.


"Necromancer? No, that was the last class, I'm a mystic. I just like skulls."
  • Born Mystic O.C.C. (42%): The Russian version of the Mystic. They lose the ability of the Mystic to sense supernatural evil or commune with the supernatural, but get better psionic powers, more magic (they get less regular spells, but bonus Nature Magic, and a choice of Bone Magic or Living Fire Magic). They also get Dowsing as a "power" even though the description is "the skill, only psychic".
  • Russian Fire Sorcerer (55%): A sorcerer that learns an "ancient" fire magic that's completely distinct from elemental fire magic (as seen in Rifts Conversion Book). Because this is Rifts, we've had no less than three fire-themed spellcaster (and one fire-themed psionic). This one is immune to mundane smoke, fire, ash, and is never blinded by light. Oddly, they don't start with many spells (only 3 Living Fire spells), but they learn spells like a Ley Line Walker, making them one of the few magic classes able to select any spells irregardless of their level.

The swagsmith.
  • Mystic Kuznya (4%): A magic smith class said to be empowered by "Svarog the Divine, Highest of the Gods", which is the sum total of the explanation. They're one of the few magic classes that's well-respected, and get a big-talking up as a result as to how much they're appreciated and liked. They become MDC creatures with super-strength, magical armor and weapons, get a variety of added but superfluous crafting skills, and some minor fire and object spells. Their key feature is being able to craft items, and they can actually make some really powerful stuff, magical armor with 200-400 MDC, melee weapons that actually do good damage, bonuses to items based on the metal used, a few outright magical items- but it cripples and weakens them for weeks or months, so you better have a lot of downtime on hand. It's an awful punishment mechanic, as it basically knocks them out of adventuring when they want to build a thing. But at least they can build some really cool stuff on the relative cheap.
  • Russian Line Walker (24%): The Ley Line Walker, but they lose some regular spells and get a choice of mid-to-low Bone Magic or Nature Magic. I'm not sure this is a great tradeoff, really, but it doesn't make a huge difference.
  • Russian Shifter Summoner (??%): "The Russian Shifter is more of a monster summoner who summons, controls and commands numerous supernatural monsters... I had intended to explore and explain this O.C.C. in greater detail but time and space limitations prevent my doing so. Perhaps in some future sourcebook." Why even bring it up if it got cut? (And the answer so far is: perhaps not in any future sourcebook.)
  • The Old Believer O.C.C. (42%): The Russian "old faith" class, they have a variety of powers befitting an Earthhugging sort. And no, this doesn't refer to the sect of Eastern Orthodox Christians known as "Old Believers" like it probably should - I don't know if the author just picked up the term and was confused, or deliberately misapplied or, or what. They have an affinity for earthly animals (except for mutants and... cats?), get an animal familiar, and can cast wizard and Nature Magic spells. They have a cap that's slightly above their level for spells, generally. They also get a magic staff of "Moist Mother Earth" that does low Mega-Damage, makes spirits and faeries treat them with respect, can repel vampires and undead, and can understand (but presumably not speak) any language. Nature Magic - which we'll be getting to in a moment - is 90% homebody trash. Also this description seems to love the term "Moist Mother Earth" or "Moist Mother Russia". Yes, I know it's a real term... but... moist. (At least say "damp" once in a while. Damp it down.)
  • The Slayer O.C.C. (6%): A more dedicated supernatural-hunter than the Huntsman-Trapper from the last book, these are laser-focused on dealing with supernatural horrors, with a side of grim determination. There's a problem, though. While they are modestly good at detecting supernatural shapechangers, can blow off vampire mind control, see the invisible, and get modest combat spellcasting, they honestly don't have much that directly helps them in a fight that, say, most Ley Line Walkers or other dedicated caster won't do better. They get a good number of Weapon Proficiencies, but spellcasting is pretty bad in a fight (as covered in Rifts World Book 16: Federation of Magic). As it is, they're supposed to be monster-killers, but are really just end up being magical investigators - there's nothing that really helps them in a fight against monsters or demons that a wide swath of other classes can't do better. All they really get for that is a decent set of Weapon Proficiencies, and nearly any class can load up on those if it needs to.

Never judge a class by the class art.

Oh, and just as a nitpicking side-note while I'm thinking on Federation of Magic - you may remember how spellcasters couldn't wear regular metal or plastic armor in that? Yeah, that notion's already been forgotten, as the casters here just wear normal Mega-Damage armor. That was only two World Books ago! Well, given Palladium already switched class names from the introduction to this point, I can't expect too much in the way of consistency...


"Whoops! Sorry, Mr. Demon!"

Living Fire Magic

We don't get much detail on what this exactly is other than it's a secret magical tradition that seems to have connections to ancient Slavic gods. Did we mention it's secret? It's secret... because... it's secret! It also has an odd mechanic sometimes where a spell will require new fire, which is a special pure fire created by... rubbing two sticks together. But you need a spell to do it. And some spells require new fire to be lit to use as a trigger or fuel source, and won't work with other sources of flame. So, remember that to take as one of your three starting spells if you want to do any spells that require it. (Really should have been a class power, there.)

It has some flavorful spells with only slight effects: finger sparks makes your fingersnaps into a lighter, pluck & handle flame lets you handle and even pocket a small fire (it vanishes if the duration runs out), smoke smell serves as a distraction if not much of an effect. Stuff like extinguish fire, circle of flame, ignite fire, impervious to fire, fireball, fire sword, etc. give you exactly what you'd expect. There are some more "holy fire" sorts of effects - bonfire of explusion terrifies the supernatural, Perun's fire scourge sets demons on fire for slow but long-lasting ongoing damage, and healing fire does what it says when people leap into it. The Torch & Wheel lets you roll a torch-adorned wheel around a village to purify it of illness and disease. The essential dilemma Living Fire Magic has, though, is of any combat magic in this system - spellcasting is too slow. While there are some powerful high-end attack spells like desiccate the supernatural that does good damage and prevents regeneration, or dragonfire at least does rail gun-level damage, it's often more effective to just wield a gun instead.


"And that's why they call me 'the Jesus of Pagans'."

Nature Magic

Like spoiling magic, this is what you get when you try and add folklore magic to high fantasy - for the most part, you get hilariously specific or underwhelming effects. For an example, it has a lot of bee spells. Spells about bees. And honey. Which could be cool if taken to a ridiculous level of riding giant bees and burying foes in wax hives... but... well, here's what you get. These often have a special note where it says:

Rifts World Book 18: Mystic Russia posted:

Note:Ancient and rare Beekeeper's magic.
I think it might be rare because not many learn magic arts just to be a beekeeper, not because it's potent. Pretty sure. Here's every last ancient and rare beekeeper spell!
  • Melt Bee's Wax: Yep. Melt bee's wax in your hand or a container you're touching. You spent a spell pick on this. Congrats.
  • Glue with Bee's Wax: Now that you have melted beeswax, you can use it like superglue to put stuff together. What, you didn't take Melt Bee's Wax because it seemed like a waste? Well, get ready with a stove, then.
  • The Bee's Friend: "Oh, well, I can control bees-" No, no, no. Let me stop you there. "I can at least not get stung by angry bees-" Whoa there, fella, let's not get too arrogant. No. You can open a hive with your hands and retrieve some honey without getting stung. That's all. Enjoy your loving honey.
  • Make Honey & Syrup Candy: If you have already have honey or syrup, you can make it into soothing candy drops. This is magic. This is the power of your magic.
  • Seal a Wound with Bee's Wax: "Oh, so I can heal people with honey and-" Hey, there, we talked about getting too big for your britches a spell or to ago. This lets you turn melted wax into a bandage. It reduces pain and lets them heal back 1 more point of damage a day. But don't get too excited.
  • Bee's Wax Disguise: This lets you use hot wax and mold it into a short-term disguise. Wait... is this an effect actually useful to adventurers? I mean, it's pretty imperfect, but it's better than the Disguise skill at low-to-mid levels? It's... something? Granted, you'll probably want the spell to melt wax, and the one to take honey just to get the components for this. But it's something.
  • Hold Tight with Bee's Wax: This lets you seal off containers to keep stuff magically fresh for much longer!... on a less householdey note, you can also seal doors and windows, though most supernatural creatures will have enough strength to bust through it, but... some might not? Wait, isn't this just glue again? I guess it seals freshness in, but that's the only thing that makes this different.
  • Make Honey Medicine: Let's you make honey medicine that's... mostly just good for curing irritations like indigestion, rashes, or headaches. Whoooo. Granted, you can make a poison antidote that instantly cures poisons, if not potions, which is actually handy in some corner cases.
  • Bee's Wax Effigy: This lets you create a protective talisman of wax that can make the user impervious to fire, cold, poison, or mind control (any one), give a bonus against magic, or grant strength and endurance. Yeah. This is the top end of what bee magic gives. Bee-lieve it.
Granted, it's not all just dumb beewax nonsense. Some of it is other nonsense! Crunching egg shell lets you make an alarm trap out of scattered eggshells. [b]Bake magic kulich[/i] lets you make a bread that can feed somebody for a whole meal on two slices. You still have to bake the bread normally. Similarly, Sustained by the Earth lets you eat dirt for food andColored Egg lets you make a dyed egg that will feed somebody for the day. So you can be the party cook, if they're willing to survive on bread, eggs, and dirt. Glimpse of the Future A Wood & Water Divination is too many words for a ritual involving throwing a garland of birch, which can be used to predict disaster for a community... or a young woman's marriage and family prospects. You know, for a setting where magic is supposed to be supercharged, this isn't really working. A magic bread that still has to be baked? You can't just summon up the bread? And it barely has any supernatural effect at all? And it still costs PPE-

Granted, it's not all just folkloric headscratchers. Magic knots is actually pretty interesting, having a variety of small effects from just better knots to binding ghosts or executing mega-damage creatures with a hanging. Strength of the earth at least makes you supernaturally strong, and living bones of stone makes you supernaturally tough. Demon's mock funeral lets you trick supernatural creatures into thinking somebody's passed away with a funerary ritual. Swords into snakes is what you'd expect, but snakes into swords lets you turn snakes (or even the smaller worms of taut from Conversion Book) into mega-damage weapons! (It's not that effective, but it's thematically neat.) Enchant the mighty rooster lets you turn a rooster into an undead-detecting alarm and tracking device that also doubles as a fear effect against the undead. Summon fog, calm storms, and summon rain are as you'd expect.

So not all of is completely awful, but often a lot of it is straightforwardly weaker than just being most other sorts of spellcasters. And, of course, you have terrible "trap" options like sacred oath, which does literally nothing beneficial. It lets you swear an oath on Mokosh - Mmmooooiiist Mother Earth - and you get horrendous casting penalties if you break it, requiring extensive penance and a permanent power loss of HP and PPE to regain your power. "But what's the benefit of this spell?", you may ask.

None. It has no benefit. There is no point to casting sacred oath over just saying an oath that you can choose to break or not break. It's not even obvious that it's a spell, so you can't even use it as reassurance unless somebody has a means to notice or detect spellcasting. Why would you put this on your character sheet? It's the worst spell I've seen in any Palladium book so far, and that's quite the cake to take.

Next: The part I warned you about.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Can you use sacred oath on someone else? In other words, does it let you (or an NPC) establish a great burden on an NPC (or you)?

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Sambieda's spell naming ideas are loving awful. "Glimpse of the Future: A Wood & Water Divination" is a lovely VHS tape that Red Letter Media will put on the Wheel of the Worst some day and you can't convince me otherwise.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




RIFTS seems to be the b-movie of RPGs, so.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2e: The New World - Slave Queen

Ix K'ahk' Chi' was orphaned young and quickly sold into slavery. Her master was a rich potter who made her, along with several hundred other slaves, fire and glaze his pots. When he found that she had some degree of control over the fire, he hoped to make money off her ability. First, he took her to a local priest, who told him she was a child of Kinich Ahau. Then he took her to a Nahuacan priest, who told him she was a child of Xiuhtecuhtli. When he took her home, though, she set his house on fire. She, along with the hundreds of other slaves he kept, fled to a local volcano, free for the first time in decades. Soldiers followed them, but Ix K'ahk' Chi' burned them terribly. She sent emissaries down to tell people not to follow them up the mountain. Word of her deeds has spread, and followers of both Kinich Ahau and Xiuhtecuhtli have started to leave offerings on the side of the volcano, which the slaves have survived by eating. However, more slaves also came to the mountain, having escaped their masters and sought Ix's protection. Now, they don't have enough food, or any way to grow food on the side of a volcano. In the city beneath, the slave-owners have called an emergency meeting to figure out what to do, the priests still squabble over her divine lineage and the nobles make plans to extract her from the mountain. She maintains her freedom and that of her followers solely with the threat of terrible fire. A few people are brave enough to climb the mountain and give her news, and she uses them to send messages or requests for aid.

Guy de Malvaux was born Guy de Levesque-d'Aur, a noble attached to a brief campaign into Ussura who got left stranded there by a failed assassination attempt. A nearby village saved his life, despite his being part of a foreign army, and when he was well enough to travel, he set out to find the attempted killer. Unwilling to allow him to go alone, Illya Ekaternava Borisovitch offered to join him on his travels, with the help of his Castillian friend, Bartolomeo Garcia Torres. The three tracked the assassin to Vodacce, but were only able to learn one name: Henri. Guy changed his name to try and throw off the assassin from recognizing him, and the three men became practically family in their close bond. With the Henri lead seeming dead, they decided to seek out Bartolomeo's brother, who had apparently gone missing during a trip to the New World, and they headed for Tzak K'an. They have since learned that Bartolomeo's brother was last seen with an expedition seeking out Syrneth artifacts, and have headed out into the wilds to find him, despite their unfamiliarity with the jungle.

Alonso Ruiz Calderon joined the Vaticine young, and he was in the Inquisition well before Verdugo took over. If he'd wanted to, he could've been Verdugo's right hand man, but he was always more interested in land than in ecclesiastical power. When Verdugo offered him the chance to lead the pogrom against Syrne artifacts in the New World, he jumped at the chance to scout out new land to own. At first, he obeyed his orders, but soon, his own goals took over. He loved the New World's beauty, and he wanted to own it. He tried first in the Nahuacan Alliance, but their many laws kept him from getting far before they kicked him out. In Tzak K'an, however, he found a land of dissent, ready to be subjugated. If he angered one ruler, he could just go to another city, and the shared culture made it relatively easy for him to learn and move on. Now, he lives in Polok K'anche', manipulating and poisoning the mind of King Kal'omte Chan K'awiil, whom he plans to use to take over Tzak K'an, and eventually the entire continent. While his efforts are currently limited to Tzak K'an, he has sent emissaries to Nahuaca and Kuraq to seek allies. He's learned a lot in his time in Aztlan, and he's pretty good at using what people want to his best interests. Nominally, he continues his work with the Inquisition as well. Instead of destroying artifacts, however, he has set out to learn how to better use them to conquer the New World, destroying them only if he can see no way to do so. He is Strength 7, Influence 13.

Ix Tzak Cho'k-Taak is a cacao farmer, with plantations scattered and hidden across Tzak K'an. She maintains them with the aid of her many daughters - she has over 20, some adopted and some biological. They run one of the biggest counterfeiting programs in the continent. They take cacao pods, removing the valuable beans and replacing them with appropriately colored clay. Then she sells these pods to the Nahuacans, on the correct assumption that they aren't as good as Tzak K'ani merchants at spotting the fraud, being less familiar with the beans. Then she sells the beans to Tzak K'ani wholesalers, profiting twice. This would be less profitable, of course, if she didn't make a lot of use of child slaves. She captures small children, forcing them to work for her. Children are ideal for her purposes - their fingers are small, causing minimum damage during bean extraction, which makes her counterfeits almost undetectable. When they become too large, she either sets them to work as harvesters or sells them off. Catching kids isn't hard, anyway. She lures them in with promises of hot chocolate and food, and has grown to be something of a bogeyman among the Tzak K'ani. Parents warn their children that she will steal them away if they are bad, saying she drinks their blood to remain youthful. City leaders dismiss such tales as mere rumor and urban legend, which she is quite happy about, as it lets her keep up her work unchecked. Ix Tzak makes a ton of money off this, which she uses to pay off key merchants and leaders to keep the rumors rumor. Her Strength is 4, her Influence 8.

Ix Miol wanders the land. She was raised in Sakbe'nal and joined her parents on trade missions from a young age, eventually becoming a wandering merchant. However, she hated being a merchant, wanting instead to be an archaeologist, and she cherished any time she could get among those who studied the ancient past, though her parents often chastised her. When she was old enough, she abandoned the family business entirely to work at a Syrneth dig site under famous archaeologists. She had a knack for figuring out how to use artifacts, and they interested her deeply, as she sought to understand them and learn to better use their technologies. However, when her parents learned of her deeds, they disowned her, and without their funding, the archaeologists had little use for her. She knew if she could just make a breakthrough, she could earn her family's favor back, so she becan stealing artifacts to study. What began as a noble mission of learning has become a quest to find items that let her steal better, and has made her the most wanted artifact thief in all of Tzak K'an. She has a small band of helpers, and she's more than happy to sell weaponized artifacts to fund her raids and expeditions to not only steal other relics, but to destroy the research surrounding them to better cover her tracks. She is Strength 6, Influence 4.

Kal'omte Chan K'awiil is the scholar-king of Polok Kanche', a city-state dedicated to art and science. His people love him, for he is a wise man, an expert strategist and spends his wealth on his people, living far below his means. When Don Calderon came to the city, he saw potential, and it was not hard for him to bring fear to Chan K'awiil. After all, he merely had to tell the truth. The Alliance in the north? Warriors, bent on conquest. The Kuraq to the south? Subjugating everyone in the name of a death god. Theans? Greedy. They want Tzak K'an for themselves. All true. And therefore, Tzak K'an must be united under one banner, led by someone wise and skilled enough to defeat these threats. Surely, surely Kal'omte Chan K'awiil was the man for the job. And while Chan K'awiil once spoke only of peace, he now realizes that peace will not unite his people. He could see the wisdom in Calderon's words, if not the manipulative purpose. And so, Chan K'awiil has dedicated himself to unifying Tzak K'an. Polok Kanche' has gone from flourishing hub of business and the arts to a military center in mere weeks. Great construction projects have been abandoned to conscript the workers, palaces stripped of jade, obsidian and gold to trade for or make into weapons. The army has been streamlined, and they have already conquered several lesser city-states, demanding their tribute in the name of unity. Now, Kal'omte Chan K'awiil sets his sights on Cahal Naab. He is Strength 2, Influence 8.

Next time: Kuraq

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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




Panic at the Dojo: Enemy Forces Part 2

POLTERGEISTS (3 Phantom Stooges)
Build: Agile (Gain 2 Speed Tokens at the start of your turn).
Annoying harassment stooges who throw things around the battlefield, but don't do much else. A good foil for obstacle-based heroes.

Puppet's Hurricane Stance
Action Dice: d10/d8/d6
Range: 2-3
After you Throw or Grapple someone, gain a Speed Token for each space they moved. After each space of movement, you can choose someone within range and pull them 1 space. Can use Speed Tokens to move allies, enemies or obstacles - Walls and Traps moved become Rubble.

3 Speed Tokens: Try And Keep Up
Move two spaces, then heal 2.

3+: Pull the Strings
Move an enemy or ally you can see 3 spaces.
5+: Do it again.

1+: Reinforcements
Same as all Stooges.

PYROMANIC (Flametongue Warrior)
An enemy who is perpetually on fire, and is sharing this gift with everyone in the immediate vicinity. Uses Ignition every turn that there's an enemy in range, and the Blaster Ability means that it gives Burning Tokens to multiple enemies at once.

Ability: The first time you deal damage to an enemy during your turn, they gain two Burning Tokens.
Skill: Basically Magic

Inferno Dynamo Stance
Action Dice: d8/d8/d8
Range: 1-3
All Actions get one extra target within range. Whenever an enemy attacks you, you can give them all of your Burning Tokens. At the end of your turn, gain three Burning Tokens.

3+: Amplify
Next Action this turn has +2 range and 3 extra targets.
3+: Shockwave
Deal 1 damage to every enemy within range.
6+ Deal 2 damage to one enemy within range.

Gain 1 Burning Token: Ignition
Can only be used once per turn. Give a Burning Token to an enemy within range.

CHATTERBOX (Punk Warrior)
An annoying tank who deals with enemies by never shutting up. Strategy is to taunt and challenge enemies, then be almost impossible to take down.

Ability: At the start of your turn, add X to your Action Pool. X is the amount of damage on your current health bar, or 1 if it's full.
Skill: Eyes Wide Open

Taunting Eternity Stance
Action Dice: d6/d6/d6/d6
Range: 1
At the start of your turn, either discard a token or heal. At the end of your turn, give a Weakness Token to an enemy in range. After taking damage, gain 1 Iron Token, and move one space if the attacker has a Challenge from you.

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

1+: Is That All You Got?
Challenge an enemy you can see, then gain an Iron Token.

X: Not Good Enough
Give X-2 Weakness Tokens to the enemy with your Challenge, then discard the Challenge.

ACES LOW (Gunkata Boss)
A flashy high-ranking enforcer who likes putting on a good show, working for whoever you need them to be working for. Riddles the party relentlessly with small amounts of damage. Eschews gender binary, mercy.

There's art for these characters, but most of it is bad and/or art we've seen before. There are a few exceptions later, so I'll include those ones.

Ability: At the end of your turn, deal 1 damage to all enemies within range.
Skills: Flashy Enforcer, Put On A Show, Think Fast, Professional

Flashy Shuffle Stance
Action Dice: d10/d8/d6/d4
Range: 1
After you Throw or Grapple someone, gain a Speed Token for each space they moved. After each space of movement, you can choose someone within range and pull them 1 space. After rolling Action Dice, you can pick any two and combine them into one bigger number.

3 Speed Tokens: Try And Keep Up
Move two spaces, then heal 2.

X: Show Off
Limit once per turn. Choose two basic actions: Movement, Damage, A Challenger Approaches, Put It Out!, Throw. Use both as if you had spent X on them.

Akimbo Chaos Stance
Action Dice: d6/d6/d4/d4/d4
Range: 3-5
Anytime you deal damage to an enemy with an Action, hit them again for 1 damage. After you damage someone, move one space.

1+: Slide In
Teleport two spaces.

4+: Whirlwind
Deal 1 damage to up to 3 enemies within range.

4+: Firing Wild Deal 1 damage to either all characters adjacent to you, or all characters within range.

Ten Thousand Blizzards Stance
Action Dice: d10/d8/d6/d4/d4/d4/d4 (Jesus gently caress)
Range: 2-6

3+: Suppression
Gain a Control Token and move one space.
6+: Gain a Control Token.
9+: Gain a Control Token and move one space.

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

Aces is a highly mobile boss who shines when taking on multiple opponents at once. Flashy Shuffle Stance lets them Throw enemies and escape at the same time, Ten Thousand Blizzards Stance gives them Control Tokens for defense, and Akimbo Chaos synergizes with their Archetype Ability to allow insane amounts of movement each turn.

Next: Ninjas.

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


JcDent posted:

Straight to supernatural ice stabbings? We're off to a good start!

A man is found dead in a locked room, there is no way in or out. It appears he has been stabbed. There is a puddle on the floor.

Thatís right, a wizard did it.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


D&D 3rd Edition - The Core Books

Part 18: Running the Game (Part 5)

Christ, how long has it been since my last post now? Sorry for keeping folks waiting; hopefully I'll be able to get back on track now. As I have mentioned in previous posts, where the PHB spreads its information out in a beginner friendly manner, the DMG is quite densely packed with information. This is great for people with the patience to sit down, read it, study it and actually get a really good feel for how the game is intended to run; it is less so for someone trying to summarise its contents on an internet forum .

We start here with skill and ability checks. As I described in the writeup for the PHB, DCs for these checks are based on a combination of the skill required to pull them off, the amount of time it should take, and whether there are immediate consequences for failure.

Firstly, it is suggested that both the roll and the DC may be modified - circumstances that affect the person performing the task should modify the roll, while circumstances that affect the task itself should modify the DC. Either way, you can either tell the PCs or not - and in many cases probably shouldn't. It does point out that it's entirely reasonable to completely ignore this distinction and just pick one or the other to modify - mathematically it's identical. The only reason I'd consider separating them out would be if I intended to tell the PC the modifiers to the roll, but not to the DC.

Next, it suggests that favourable circumstances should provide a +2 to the roll (or -2 to DC), while unfavourable circumstances should do the opposite. These things can stack. The general idea of this as a rule of thumb is just to just have a quick modifier that you can use when either nothing else seems appropriate, or when you can't actually remember what the one in the rules was and you want to keep the game moving. It does suggest modifying the rule in cases where a +/- 2 is insufficient for the situation at hand.

After that, we move onto tasks. A task is anything that requires a roll. Naturally most experienced roleplayers will be familiar with this concept, but the DMG gives a few examples here of various things that a person completely new to this might think of as a task, which are broken down into several gamplay tasks. These include being on watch, riding a horse, tracking a giant scorpion, and sneaking past a bunch of hobgoblins.

It is generally recommended that asking for specific information should receive a bonus (where such a bonus would make sense) to related rolls. The example here is that if a PC sees a kobold dart inside a poorly room, and looks in specific places, that should count as a favourable condition and add a +2 to the roll.

Next, we have degrees of success - if a character beats a DC by 10 or 20, they should get better results than if they only beat it by 1. Usually, they should only apply when it's a question of how much information a character gets as a result of the roll.

Here is where the DMG says outright what I said earlier on: encourage the players to take 10. It can really speed up play in situations where a roll might be technically required, but you have to make the roll repeatedly (for example, if you're climbing a high wall or swimming a long distance). I would add to this that sometimes it's better to just assume that your players get a 10 if such a roll is sufficient to succeed.

Ability checks come next; these work exactly like skill checks, except you're not adding a skill to the roll. Examples given include a DC 12 Constitution check to avoid going to sleep when remaining awake is important, while taking dictation would be a DC 15 Intelligence check, with a +2 if the person doing it succeeds on a DC 10 Dexterity check.

At this point, we get our next variant rule: making skill checks with different abilities. Examples include moving about in Zero-G, where a Climb check based on Dexterity instead of Strength would make sense, while picking the best horse out of a herd might be a Ride check based on Wisdom. Another variant rule is critical success or failure on skill rolls - if a natural 20 or 1 is rolled, you roll again to confirm. Personally, I'm not a fan of critical success or failures on skills and would never use this, but I understand some people like to include such things in their games.

Following this, we get a table of example DCs. These examples include the almost impossible to fail (like a DC -10 to hear the sounds of a pitched battle, or DC 0 to track ten hill giants across a muddy field) though to the genuinely impressive (DC 43 to track a gobling that passed over hard rock a week ago, and it snowed yesterday).

Next, we have saving throws. As a recap, saving throws are used to avoid danger - trying to catch oneself on a ledge to avoid falling would be a Reflex save, for example. The DC for a spell is 10 + spell level + ability modifier, the DC for a monster's ability is 10 + (hit dice / 2) + ability modifier, and for pretty much anything else the recommended DCs are between 10 and 20, with 15 as a good default.

As a variant rule, it is suggested that occasionally you might want to tie a saving throw to a different ability. Examples given include making a Fortitude save based on Wisdom instead of Constitution against mental attacks that call for them, or a Reflex save based on Wisdom instead of Dexterity for casting a Quickened Dimension Door spell to avoid falling into a pit. It's an interesting option, but not one I could see myself using very often if at all, if only because it makes things fiddlier than they really need to be for very little payoff.

Following this, we come to adjudicating magic. First, we're told that we should be creative with our descriptions of magic in use, and that it is worth giving players a degree of creative freedom in describing their own spells (though a spell shouldn't be allowed to look more impressive than it actually is; for example a fireball shouldn't look like a dragon breathing fire.

There is a decent amount of advice about handling divination. Firstly, the concern that the players could learn too much from their devination. The advice given here is that a situation shouldn't be designed to render divination useless, but it should take it into account. If investigating the murder of the king, for example, a divination spell might tell the party who did it, but it's not going to catch the murderer for them, nor will it foil whatever other plans the murderer had in mind.

The second potential problem given is the need for answers on the fly. The advice given here is that you should ideally already know the answers to anything important that the PCs could potentially use this magic to learn about, and that it is worth having a few default rhyming couplets you can easily insert information into (for example, "If into X fate doth thee send, thou wilt find Y in the end") for use when you're caught by surprise.

Next, there is guidance for creating new spells. The general advice is to compare new spell ideas with pre-existing spells. If it is better than sleep but worse than invisibility, it probably fits into second level, to use the example given. This is followed by some rules of thumb:

Dungeon Masters Guide posted:

  • If a spell is so good that you can't imagine a caster not wanting to use it, it's either too powerful or too low in level.
  • An XP cost is a good balancing force. An expensive material component is only a moderately good balancing force (Money is easier to replace than XP)
  • When determining level, compare range, duration and target (or area) to other spells to balance. A long duration or large area can sometimes make up for a lesser effect.
  • A spell with very limited use (only works against red dragons, for example) could be one level lower than it would otherwise be - even at this lower level, a sorcerer or bard would only take it if they knew it would be worthwhile in advance.
  • Wizards and sorcerers should not cast healing spells, but they should have the best offensive spells. (Note: I might be tempted to disregard this, but it would be setting dependent)
  • Clerics are best at spells that deal with alignment and have the best selection of curative and repair spells. They also have the best inormation gathering spells.
  • Druids are best at spells that deal with plants and animals.
  • Rangers and Paladins should not have flashy attack spells such as Magic Missile and Fireball.
  • Bard spells are enchantments, information gathering spells and include a mixture of other types of spells, but do not include large, offensive spells such as cone of cold.

Finally, we have some variant rules. Firstly, for GM's who like to add a little random chance to magic, we have the spell roll. Instead of the DC for a save being static, you replace the +10 with a d20 roll. This means that sometimes the casting just isn't as effective as usual or else is sometimes more effective. If I were to use this, I would simply assume that the target gets a 11 - mathematically it is roughly equivalent, but moves the die rolling to the person acting rather than the person reacting. More often than not, however, I'd probably just leave casting as it is.

The second variant rule is one of power components - the idea that some incredibly rare material components might be used to replace the XP cost of a spell. They should not be available to purchase, and getting hold of enough of a component to cast a single spell without spending XP should itself be the object of an adventure. The general guideline for the value in gold pieces is roughly 10-20 times the XP cost of the spell, and it ought to be unique to each spell.

The third variant is one of summoning individual monsters - the idea being that you summon the same specific monster each time you summon a given type of monster (for example, every time you summon a dire wolf, it's the same dire wolf). If multiple monsters are summoned at once, then they will also always be the same ones. I kind of like this idea; it can addflavour to spells that might otherwise seem a little boring with very little effort.

And so, finally, this chapter is over. Once again, I'm sorry for the long delay. Yay depression. Next post, which will hopefully be much, much sooner, I'll be diving into the Adventures chapter. Not only will that one hopefully be much quicker, it will hopefully be significantly more interesting (and thus less of a slog to get through).

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2e: The New World - The Land of Death

The Kuraq Empire was once disparate city-states, brought together in the ashes of a fallen kingdom. They have been united as a single empire for two centuries, growing massively in infrastructure and power to become a stable nation. The reason this has worked so well for them is that their power comes from a place no other touches - the dead. They are led by their ancestors, spirits bound into mummified corpses, who control the Empire from the grave. Each generation serves their ruling ancestor, who plans, manages and controls them, using the bodies of descendants and retainers to spy on the living or even to take control entirely. These are the Venerable Dead, and under the guidance of Empress Asiri Inkasisa, they have helped the Kuraq rise from a fractured group of city-states to a monolithic empire. However, the Empire is not so united as they'd like to think. While the nobles are dead, they still scheme against each other to raise the power of their own descendants, and ancient grudges become modern blood feuds that control entire lineages. The Empire is on the verge of toppling, and its people are rebelling against the brutal rule of the dead.

Long ago, in the time of the Aztlani Empire, the gods walked the land as giants, carving it with their footsteps. All were happy in the protection of the Winged Grace, Apocoatl, who drove away all that would harm the people. Under him were the other gods, his children. However, the gods began to fight over Aztlan, blaming each other for any misfortune or suffering, for uneven distribution of rain or crops. Outsiders noticed their disruptions and invaded, and Apocoatl withdrew his blessings in fury, driving away the gods that most angered him. This only made the squabbles worse, and the gods gathered their favorites in powerful cities, ignoring the suffering outside. When the battles ended and the smoke cleared, the Aztlani were scattered, huddled in the walls, their connections and communities broken by fear and mistrust.

And so it remained for six generations, with the city-states of Kuraq independent, fearful and distrusting of each other. Each ruler had their own god-patron, who had fled the fall of Aztlan to take refuge with them. However, the gods were never far, living on nearby mountains and accepting the pilgrims that came to them to worship and ask blessings. The gods often came down and walked among their people, blessing and cursing in equal measure, for they were capricious beings. Eventually, the city-states sought to expand, fighting each other over land and resources. One bloodline from the kingdom of Kuska became weary of the battles, and their leader, Yaca Yma, sent forth messengers to invite the other great kings to a meeting, to end the bloodshed and unite the people.

The emissaries met in the holy palace of the ancient, monstrous deity Kikinpaq, a dark place set into a mountain. Kikinpaq swore to ensure none would harm each other, and gave each king a single golden feather, which had been granted him by his father, Apocoatl. The kings each brought their feathers, swearing to broker a peace for the land. Each swore on their god, who also promised to maintain the peace. In thanks for this, King Yaca Yma was given a cloak of Apocoatl's feathers, and he retired to the holy estate of Manqo Pacha, handing his kingdom to his son, Pakacocha. For a time, there was peace. However, it is said that one of the gods began to spread distrust again in an effort to gain resources for his people. When a northern foe ransacked the land, the kings once more turned on each other, accusing the others of betraying the peace and siding with the foreigners. Finally, that traitor god even whispered that the power of the cloak of feathers of Apocoatl could secure all of the kingdoms. Three of the kings turned on Yaca Yma, marching to his palace. When the retired king greeted them as friends, they slaughtered him and set fire to the villa. In the fighting, the cloak vanished, smuggled out by a loyal servant.

At that point, two city-states emerged as leaders: P'alqacamba and Kuska. The warrior-priests of P'alqacamba followed Suway, the death god, and believed that only by uniting the lands of dead and living could a strong new kingdom rise. Yaca Yma's two sons, Supacha and the illegitimate son Pachacunya, led Kuska. Supacha was a studious scholar, while Pachacunya was a mighty warrior. Kuska followed the sun god, Wach'i, who gave Puchacunya immense strength and power in battle. The pair fought the death priests, leading their army south to fight Suway's forces. It was a vicious battle, indecisive and bloody, and while Puchacunya wanted to continue fighting, Supacha convinced him to seek peace by understanding Suway's power. Supacha then went down to the priests, alone.

In the three days that they talked, Supacha became fascinated by Suway's power and chose to worship him rather tha Wach'i, the first ever ruler of Kuska to do so. The priests, seeing his conversion and convinced he'd make the land strong in his worship, surrendered, bowing to serve Kuska and Supacha forever. Supacha returned to tell his brother what had happened, but hid a secret - he was sick, for the battle had taken its toll. Supacha soon died of his illness, but not before he convinced his brother of the glory of Suway. After Supacha's death, Puchacunya was crowned king of Kuska, and out of respect for his brother, he too set aside Wach'i in favor of Suway. Puchacunya soon became the greatest of kings, conquering or converting the other city-states. Under his leadership, the power of the dead was embraced, and he sent priests to teach the people how to connect with their ancestors and keep them in the mortal world as guides after death. He led the ancestors back, bound into their bodies, as the Venerable Ones - a class of returned ancestors whose spirits inhabit their descendants.

At least, that's the official version, cooked up by centuries of imperial propaganda in an effort to unite the people. The true story is known to a tiny few. It's all true up to the part about Supacha and Puchacunya. They were, you see, outnumbered and afraid. Supacha wanted to flee, and did so when his brother refused to. He was captured by the death priests, convinced them he wanted to convert, and was afraid that his very popular brother would steal his birthright. The priests and Supacha hatched a plot, and Supacha called his brother to tell him that peace had come and they would hold a feast to honor his victory. When Puchacunya came, they drank and talked like brothers should, and Puchacunya drank to a stupor. Before the sun rose, Supacha strangled his brother, and the death priests came, killed Supacha's body and reanimated the body with Supacha's own spirit. This, Puchacunya-who-was-Supacha was the actual king.

Regardless, the Venerable Ones proceeded to carve up the Empire right under the nose of the Emperor. While open conflict between the dead nobles was forbidden, their shadow wars became so pervasive that they were known as the War of the Panacas or the War of Bones. The Emperor could barely contain the infighting long enough to rule, and the people saw his weakness. The rural areas banded together and threatened civil war if the nobles did not stop. As it seemed the Empire would fall to chaos, a heroine emerged. Asira Inkasisa was of a noble family that had worshipped Kikinpaq and tended his shrine, before he entered eternal slumber. In the War of Bones, she rose to prominence by turning from the old ways to worship Suway, and on her feather's death, she betrayed his wishes and entered his death shrine. She emerged wearing his funerary mask, declaring herself his speaker, the first woman ever to lead a noble house.

Asiri became hugely popular, even in Kuska's royal court. It was there that she met Yara, the illegitimate great-granddaughter of the true Puchacunya. The two became lovers, and Yara revealed to Asiri the truth - that the Emperor was Supacha. On discovering this, Asiri led a popular revolt, storming the panacas of Kuska and dragging Supacha from his throne, slaying him on the pyramid steps. Without a king, the people turned to Asiri, who took up the golden feather cloak and became the first Empress of the Kuraq Empire. She promised that the instability was now over. And, indeed, for two decades she enacted progressive reforms and led a stable, prosperous empire. She divided up the land into territories, assigning each noble house a land to rule in order to keep them busy and away from each other, with emissaries of each line serving on the Council of Sixteen, who would advise her. She also created the Tokoyriq, a force of guards and secret police, to maintain the peace and enforce her will. They would become her face in the nation.

Next time: Theans arrive.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2e: The New World - These Guys, BTW, Are 'What If The Inca Rejected Their Sun God For A Death God'

At some point after this, the Castillian explorer Franco Gonzalez shows up on the shore of Kuraq. Many priests hailed him as Kikinpaq returned and brought him to the panacas on the cliffs over Takana. The Empress soon heard about this so-called return of her childhood god, and called for Gonzalez to attend her at Kuska. When he arrived, she knew - he was no god. She saw a way to use him for her own ends, however. She allowed him to continue to pretend at godhood while she mined him for information on Theah. It was not long, though, before Apocoatl awoke from his sleep in a rage over this pretender and his lies, destroying Gonzalez's fleet off the coast. Only Gonzalez's own ship and one other survived, and Gonzalez was forced to flee back to Theah, vowing revenge.

Gonzalez returned five years later, in the twentieth year of Asiri's rule. This time he brought a small fleet and landed at Takana, where he burned the city down and massacred the people. He burned any mummy he found, destroying dozens of Venerable Ones and killing thousands of people. The Empress turned to Suway's priesthood to drive back Gonzalez and his forces. Yara and her sister Alqacha were forced to watch in horror as Asiri slaughtered their family and slew herself, using the power a hundred sacrifices to become a very potent Venerable One. The priests bound the Empress' spirit into her own corpse, which rose full of power from the sacrifice of the old imperial family. Now functionally immortal, she turned her power on the Theans, blasting Gonzalez and his forces into nothingness. From then on, she led the Kuraq as warrior-queen, Venerable One and defender of the empire. The people felt safe and mighty.

Asiri turned her attentions towards ruling her empire. Now undead, she could remain awake and active longer, allowing her to better unify and control the kingdom. She instituted new reforms in what would be known as her Renewed Reign, to increase prosperity and peace. She codified and standardized the law and trade, she expanded the road network and irrigation system and expanded the study of art, encouraging noble patronage. Her reign has lasted a hundred years so far...and if the cost is a sacrifice every so often to maintain her power, well, what's the harm? The Empire is stable, after all. Only one threat remains: the gods.

The gods of Kuraq were once its mightiest force and were heavily involved in the lives of their followers. However, with the rise of Suway, the other gods were generally abandoned, losing power and followers. Still, they were unwilling to give up their role as guardians of the people and the land...until Suway's priests began to force the issue. No one is sure whose idea the God Hunt was or when it started. Suway himself hasn't been seen publicly in generations, though rumor has it that he took the Empress as his consort and visits her annually. The priests have certainly named her the Bride of Suway, and worship of Suway has become intrinsically part of loyalty to the Empress. It wasn't hard to go from that to the idea that Suway should rule all and that other gods must be destroyed. And so, the priests set their secret warriors, the Awqaylli, to hunt down the gods and imprison or destroy them. Now, the ancient Kuraq gods are hiding and running. Those that are captured are locked away in the jungle, and many believe the priests are somehow sacrificing the gods to fuel Wanay Naqay, death magic. Once a god is gone, their blessings vanish, leaving followers with no choice but to turn to Suway for protection. Most of the populace has no idea the God Hunt is going on, nor that the deaths of the gods go to fuel Suway. Now, after years of hunting, only a few gods remain free. The Empress and her propaganda tell the people they are lucky that these divisive, mercurial gods are gone...but the gods have not yet given up, and they are spreading an idea: revolution.

Kuraq has always been a place where freedom is restricted, at least since the rise of the Venerable Ones. The dead control the lives of their descendants, planning them out completely. They decide who the living may marry and make all important family decisions. Many see this as a small price for stability, but others chafe under this control and miss the days of the ancient gods. The gods approach these people in disguise, offering their blessings if they will oppose Empress Asiri. The resistance has come together under the care of these gods, an underground guerilla organization known as the Pakaykuq, whose goal is to free the Kuraq Empire from the rule of the dead. Life, they say, is for the living. However, they and their gods must be careful. The Empress' sheer popularity and powerful control of the realm makes it hard for them to stay hidden. Recently, they have taken to hiding in the mountains, in areas that all Kuraq consider holy.

The modern Empire is built on a single idea: one Kuraq, one Empire. Unity in all things. Parents teach children of the old days, when more freedom caused chaos and infighting, and praise the new society, led by the Venerable Ones, that builds a stronger future. Once Kuraq becomes powerful enough, they will expand and bring their benevolent rule to the rest of Aztlan - by force, diplomacy or intrigue. The unity justifies it. Of course, it has a price. Improved quality of life and innovation have required sacrifices and a very strict social hierarchy. At the top of it all is the Empress, the supreme leader of Kuraq. Her word is law by divine right and by strength. No one is strong enough to challenge her, nor willing to try doing so openly. Instead, the nobles fight each other for power as her advisors and military leaders. Most of those nobles are undead. The Venerable Ones rule from their mummified bodies, bound inside their Speakers. Together with Suway's faithful, they work for a world where the dead and the living work side by side, and death is merely the next step of eternal life. For the dead to be truly free, this eternal life must be granted to all - but it will take time to grant this mercy to the world. Fortunately, the dead have time.

Ever since the creation of the Venerable Ones, Kuraq has enjoyed the benefits of never truly losing the wisdom of good rulers or scholars. However, only the very best and brightest are chosen to become Venerable Ones. Every Kuraq strives to earn the honor by achieving their highest potential in life. Children are evaluated quite young by their Venerable ancestors for useful talents and skills, then assigned to the profession that best suits them (according to said ancestor). The final decision of who becomes a Venerable One or Speaker is left to a house's leading Venerable One, with the other Venerable Ones in the house attempting to influence the decision. Political fights within families are common as the living seek to secure their afterlives or those of their loved ones. If there are multiple possible candidates for a Venerable One position, infighting becomes quite commonplace, and bribes, sabotage or even violence are not unknown. Some families encourage this ruthlessness.

The Kuraq dedication to being the best has led to rapid advance in technology, science, art and magic. Intense competition is normal, and the truly ambitious strive to prove their worth in order to become Venerable, while the Venerable Ones provide their wisdom to the living. Kuraq citizens commonly work alongside the Speakers and Venerable, serving them and offering deference as well as protecting the mummies that house the spirits of the Venerable. The Venerable are seen as more advanced beings due to their age and power, and those Speakers that wear their funerary masks are given utmost respect. Speakers are easily recognized by the masks that tie them to their ancestor, which set them apart from other mortals.

It is due to their perceived supremacy that the Venerable control all levels of Kuraq society, down to individual families. They have often ruled for centuries, and it is not rare for a family to have several Venerable Ones that vie for control over decades or longer. Their goal is to advance their own mortal families. Anyone that wants a mortal's aid must get the approval of their family's Venerable leader, for mortals rarely act without undead approval. The undead manage all marriages and may even decide how many kids a couple can have, using this power to connect and bind family lines. Because people maintain their power well beyond death, it is very hard to manage any form of upward mobility in the Kuraq Empire. As more Venerable Ones are made, the youngest fight their elders for power, trying to earn respect for themselves. Infighting and public squabbling are officially frowned on, but the Empress secretly encourages such conflicts to ensure no Venerable One ever tries to take her throne.

Next time: The Empress

Otherkinsey Scale
Jul 17, 2012

Just a little bit of sunshine!


ProfessorProf posted:

ACES LOW (Gunkata Boss)
A flashy high-ranking enforcer who likes putting on a good show, working for whoever you need them to be working for. Riddles the party relentlessly with small amounts of damage. Eschews gender binary, mercy.

Oh, same.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Nessus posted:

Can you use sacred oath on someone else? In other words, does it let you (or an NPC) establish a great burden on an NPC (or you)?

Nope. Here's the full text.

Rifts World Book 18: Mystic Russia posted:

Sacred Oath
Range:
Self only.
Duration: Instant
Saving Throw: None
P.P.E. Cost: None

To swear an oath on the sanctity of "Damp (or Moist) Mother Earth" is a solemn vow made before the ancient goddess of the Earth. The Old Believer cannot lie or break his word when he swears on "Moist (or Damp) Mother Earth" or in the name of "Mokosh," another name for Moist Mother Earth. If he does, all his magic powers and spells are reduced by half (half range, half damage, half duration, etc.). Break his oath a second time, andhe loses all magical abilities except for his staff and familiar! The halved or lost powers cannot be restored unless the Old Believer begs the goddess of the Earth for forgiveness and a second chance. This requires seven days of fasting from food, 10 hours or more a day of meditation and repentance and, on the morning of the eighth day, mentally transferring, by force of will, 2D6 Hit Points and 2D6 P.P.E. permanently into the Earth ó H.P. and P.P.E. are lost forever! If a pine sapling suddenly appears where the mage has focused his energy, he knows he is forgiven and his powers are restored to full (minus those sacrificed to the Earth). If no sapling appears, he must spend the next six months helping others, protecting the Earth from supernatural evil and dark magic, and repeat the process. Note: Mokosh usually forgives. The G.M. can make a random roll if he or she desires; 01-97 means the mage is forgiven and his powers restored.

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


Ghost Leviathan posted:

RIFTS seems to be the b-movie of RPGs, so.

RIFTS is the film that has an action-packed opener in the first 5 minutes, followed by 2 hours and 25 minutes of establishing shots and exposition. And the top billed actor (who is of course Cameron Mitchell) is only in it for 3 minutes.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Alien Rope Burn posted:

Nope. Here's the full text.
I could see the meta-value of something like this - it's basically a token of good faith, explicitly demonstrated, and could greatly build the comfort of people in community with wizards if they knew that Old Igor isn't going to do anything TOO bad, and if he did, he'd lose his powers because of his oath to Mokosh.

That ain't Rifts though.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




SirPhoebos posted:

RIFTS is the film that has an action-packed opener in the first 5 minutes, followed by 2 hours and 25 minutes of establishing shots and exposition. And the top billed actor (who is of course Cameron Mitchell) is only in it for 3 minutes.

So what's the RPG equivalent of the film selected to replace it on Best of the Worst after the group starts to die of boredom?

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


Kavak posted:

So what's the RPG equivalent of the film selected to replace it on Best of the Worst after the group starts to die of boredom?

Judging off the last time they did that, I'd say playing a PBTA conversion of World of Synnibar.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




SirPhoebos posted:

Judging off the last time they did that, I'd say playing a PBTA conversion of World of Synnibar.

So McCracken = Neil Breen, got it.

CHIMlord
Jun 30, 2012


Shadow of the Demon Lord Part 15: An Introduction, Magic and Traditions A-B

The previous F&F of SotDL was abandoned, but I believe that SotDL is good enough that it warrants a continuation from where Serf, who I would like to thank for the effort I am building off of, left off. Please excuse me if I am not as comprehensive as Serf was.

Magic: How Learn?

Compared to spellcasters in D&D, the ones in SotDL are much more focused and have fewer distinct spells at hand. I order to learn a spell, you need to have discovered the tradition that the spell belongs to and have Power equal to the spell's rank (i.e. level, thanks Schwalb et al. for making the terminology clearer). A minor rule that some have mentioned not noticing is that, upon discovering a tradition, you learn one of its rank 0 spells. Learning a spell also allows you to exchange another learned spell for one of the same rank or lower, so you're not stuck with a spell that's no longer useful. Some traditions (viz. Curse, Forbidden, and Necromancy) are "dark magic", granting a point of Corruption for discovering them and possibly for learning their spells, in exchange for the useful benefit of a boon to challenge rolls to resist gaining Insanity for every dark magic spell learned.

Magic: How Do?

To cast a learned spell one needs four things: speaking some magic words, wielding an implement (which requires an hour spent attuning and you can only have one at a time) using an action, and expending a casting. The number of castings each individual spell gets depends on the spell's rank (which goes from 0 to 5) and your Power, and all castings are recovered after a rest and a minute of ritual. SotDL divides spells into attack and utility, and nerfs spellcasters compared to D&D by requiring attack rolls for most attack spells, with the attribute modifier being either Intellect or Will, depending on tradition. I won't go into detail on the nitty-gritty of spell descriptions and targeting rules except to note that unless spell text specifies otherwise, a spell can only be cast on an object that the caster wears or carries, or an unattended object, so no using fetch (a 0 rank Teleportation spell) as an irresistible disarm. Some spells also can have "critical hit" effects on an attack roll of 20 or more that beats the resisting attribute or characteristic by 5.

Air Tradition

Guess what this tradition controls. Stir the Air creates a breeze in a two-yard radius of the caster that protects them from ranged and thrown weapon attacks...made in the area. I would probably rule the bane as applying to every ranged or thrown attack passing through the area. Wind Blast is an attack spell that moves the target 1d6 yards away from the caster, and Evoke Gale is a 3-yard cone version of it. Flense flenses the target with windborne grit. Glide is feather fall. Still the Air deafens all creatures in a 4-yard radius and makes them immune to sound-based attacks, like Thunderclap, a spherical area-of-effect that deafens and damages. Bestow Flight is fly. Fling and Create Cyclone are a cylinder and a line that damage and throw targets around. The rank 5 capstone, Bind Wind Genie, summons what other games would call an air elemental.

Alteration Tradition


This tradition, all utility spells with reach range, provides beneficial transformations to targets. Comprehension allows you to communicate with any one creature, as long as it knows at least one language and you touch it. Itís not mentioned if the communication is verbal or not. Distort Appearance is kind of like blur. It gives a boon to the targets attempts to hide and a bane to attacks against its Defence or Agility. Enhanced Senses gives the target shadowsight at the cost of vulnerability to blinding and deafening. D&D players will recognize Spider Climb. Underwater Adaptation lets the target breathe water and swim much better. Bolster Attribute a grants a boon to rolls with a particular attribute. Bolster Defence grants +5 Health and a bane to attack rolls against the target. Alter Size allows you to double or halve the targetís size, with various bonuses and penalties, and can be used offensively to damage in a confined space. Regeneration lets a target heal damage at the end of every round for a minute (i.e. six rounds). Malleability turns the target rubbery, giving them some immunities and allowing them to slither through small openings. The capstone, Awaken Potential, gives a +1d6 bonus to a particular attribute.

Arcana Tradition

The Arcana tradition has a some attack and utility spells youíll probably recognize from D&D. Arcane Armour is a combo of mage armour and endure elements. Magic Dart is a rare auto-hitting attack spell that does a little damage. Arcane Shield protects against attacks on Defence or Agility, and gives better protection against a single attack when cast as a triggered action. Arcane Sight is a better version of the magicianís sense magic, functioning within visual range. Unerring Darts gives you seven damage to divide among up to three targets. Empowered Magic is a self-buff that increases the potency of your attack spells. Explosive Darts is kind of like a much less damaging meteor swarm. Arcane Lightning is a cone-shaped AoE. Destroy Magic is an AoE dispel magic. Harness Magic gives you points that last until your next rest that can be consumed to cast spells without using castings. Arcane Retribution, the capstone, gives you a Defence bonus. The spell turns the next successful weapon attack against you into a failure, ending the spell and giving the attacker a bunch of damage and knockback.

Battle Tradition

This traditionís spells are all about enhancing oneís combat prowess and attacks. Some of them involve making a weapon attack as part of casting the spell with the possibility of using Intellect instead of Strength or Agility. Oddly, the traditionís attribute is Intellect, not Will. Discovering the tradition has a drawback: instead of rolling of the Madness table upon going mad, you start attacking the nearest creature. Augmented Attack boosts the attack roll made as part of it. This Celerity fortunately only involves moving without vulnerability to free attacks and can be used as a triggered action. Close Wounds heals you and can also be used as a triggered action. Mighty Attack boosts an attack roll and its damage. Resounding Attack is like mighty attack but with dazing instead of a damage boost. Arc of Death lets you deal some damage to every creature you can reach. Mountain Fall lets you jump a fair distance and causes an AoE where you fall. Battle Prowess gives you D&D 5e advantage (i.e. lets you roll the d20 twice and take the better result) on your weapon attack and boosts their damage for its duration. Meteoric Assault lets you move in a line, attacking each creature in reach with decreasing accuracy but increasing damage. Wall of Swords creates a line of slashing blades. The capstone, Strike like Lightning, allows you to attack every target you choose in a very damaging AoE.

CHIMlord fucked around with this message at 23:02 on Aug 31, 2018

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




SirPhoebos posted:

RIFTS is the film that has an action-packed opener in the first 5 minutes, followed by 2 hours and 25 minutes of establishing shots and exposition. And the top billed actor (who is of course Cameron Mitchell) is only in it for 3 minutes.

That sounds more like a bad anime.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Rifts World Book 18: Mystic Russia, Part 8 - "Note: Gypsies lie a great deal, and do so cheerfully, although not necessarily to cheat or deceive."

Hoooooof. Where do I even begin?


Rustic.

Russian Gypsies

Rifts World Book 18: Mystic Russia posted:

Note: All material presented on Gypsies is an entirely fictional and fanciful portrayal of these historically nomadic and enigmatic people. We make no attempt to portray the Gypsy in any "real" or "historical" way. These portrayals are not meant to present any real-life race, people, society, organization, or culture. Nor does anybody at Palladium Books encourage the exploration of the occult or use of magic. All magic and powers are fictional. We hope we have not offended anybody.

Well. Keep hoping.

So, despite being "not meant to represent any real-life race", the history traces when back to northern India - i.e. where the Romani likely came from. We're told they're passionate, magical, and daring... and sneaky and clannish. Er, "subtle" and "part of a team". But they're cheerful, despite the fact that everybody still hates them. Yes, the apocalypse came and went, but hating rakish wanderers still remains in style. Of course, we're reassured some ethnic wanderers are real criminals, but many are not. Mostly, their outlaw status in Russia comes largely from the fact they're willing to explore magic and relate with the supernatural and creatures of magic. This is apparently because they have a "unique view of the world without boundaries" and being adaptable. They also often put on an image of being more saavy and tough than they may otherwise be, making them seem unflappable. But apparently to the average Russian, all this makes them seem more sinister.

Rifts World Book 18: Mystic Russia posted:

The Warlords and their War Camps buy into the worst of this crap (hey, it's human nature to believe the worst and be tantalized by the mystical, mysterious and dangerous).

And so these wandering folk are often subject to harassment and abuse by the Warlords as not really "Russian", and are interrogated or tortured or... poo poo. Well, there's r-word. The r-word and the g-word, together at last. It's a collision of insensitivity and ignorance that's I'm committed to chronicling up now. The Warlords are really, really bad to them. That's the core point we're hammering home.

Of course, it emphasizes that these ethnic wanderers are the sort to accept or join a motley crew, meaning player characters might travel with them, or one might join a group of player characters. They apparently hate "the cocky Exohunter" (Ecto-Hunters? It's not clear.) and the Warlords, though, and most are opposed to obvious sources of evil. Apparently the Mystic Kunzya gets mixed feelings, because they never want to ask for anything but would be glad to have their gifts. Apparently they'd... rather steal or "win" goods than ask for them and despite charity being shown to them. We get a list of classes they might take aside from their specific classes, which are mostly a mixture of adventurer sorts, criminals, and some of the spellcasters from this book.


"'Star in an RPG book', he says, and then this poo poo happens-"

Rifts World Book 18: Mystic Russia posted:

The Gypsy Code

Gypsies have no home or dream of a homeland ... all the world (Megaverse?) is theirs.

Utopia is no place.

The past is naught but a haunted memory. Live for the present and look to the future.

Celebrate life and yearning for it gives birth to passion and adventure.

Life is an adventure.

Change is good. Adapt and keep moving or lose sight of freedom.

Be loyal to true friends, never betray a friend, willingly die for a friend, for true friends are the greatest of life's gifts.

Do not lie, embellish. Make the world colorful, cheerful and full of wonder and surprises.

Note: Gypsies lie a great deal, and do so cheerfully, although not necessarily to cheat or deceive. They like to embellish upon real events. It's part of their storytelling legacy, in which a tale is spun not simply to relate the facts but to enthrall, impress and entertain. Of course, this penchant to enhance and playfully misguide makes them masters at the art of lies. Most can weave convincing tales, explanations, plausible excuses or reasons, pretend to be somebody else, and so on, at the drop of a hat. The more subtle and sincere sounding, cleverly mixing truth, (seemingly genuine) emotion and sharp observation with falsehood, the better. For many, telling lies and convincing (but untrue) stories really is an art to be proud of. Player Note: This should all be part and parcel of role-playing the character. If your Gypsy can spin wondrous tales and talk the tail off a monkey, do it ó play it. Conversely, not all Gypsies are good at lies and deception. Unfortunately, since the reputation of Gypsies is otherwise, his teammates and associates are likely to "assume and expect" that he can. This can get the character into all kinds of interesting or tight situations where he is expected to talk or fake his way in or out of a situation, giving the player (or G.M. using an N.P.C.) the opportunity to bungle, stutter and perhaps get the group into trouble because he can't do it. Besides, it's always good to have fun with, play, tease and confound the "gadji" or "gadjikano" ó non-Gypsy.

Uhhhhghghgghgahghghaga gfuffufufuffufuffuffuffuuuuuuueharjehjrklahrjklew-

deep breaths

They have a secret language nobody else is taught, even if your'e a "blood-brother" that apparently is a mish-mash from a "dozen different languages" and of course they're make fun of people for not knowing the language they teach to nobody. Other people have a penalty on learning so high you may as well not bother: -60% for the spoken version, and -90% for the written. As a reminder, skills cap at 98%. It also has some warning symbols, but only a "Layer of the Law and other Elders" apparently know the whole written form, as most ethnic wanderers are illiterate.

They have, of course, colorful wagons as seen on teevee. Some have mega-damage vehicles that two them, while others use mega-steeds - usually horned steeds or ursan forest steeds. These days they're often made of mega-damage material (how?) and have some spells like sanctum or magic circles to protect them. Even though magic circles are primarily the domain of the Diabolist (from Palladium Fantasy via Rifts Conversion Book), who hasn't even gotten a mention here, but... y'know... maybe they paid a Diabolist.

Lastly, some know how to travel between continents using rifts, because of course they have that kind of secretest knowledge. Mind, the book implies they might travel to North America this way, but... the two rifts mentioned that they know of (the Calgary Rift and the Devil's Gate) are massively, exceedingly unsafe for travel because they barf out demons and monsters on the regular. I guess that's why adverts for this book touted "a dangerous connection to the Americas", but it's a weird thing to have in an advertisement, because the whole notion is hardly detailed or elaborated on. It's just there.

Next: Nine classes. They get nine unique classes. Nine.

Liquid Communism
Mar 9, 2004


Out here, everything hurts.




Ghost Leviathan posted:

That sounds more like a bad anime.

Yeah, that's pretty much Rifts for you.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Presented without comment:

http://rifts.wikia.com/wiki/Rifts_Movie

http://palladium-store.com/1001/product/305-rifts-path-of-the-storm.html

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Kavak posted:

So what's the RPG equivalent of the film selected to replace it on Best of the Worst after the group starts to die of boredom?
There are a number of systems out there that, like RIFTS, purport to do any and every type of game with one universal system and have rules for everything from mecha to magic. None of them are as bad as RIFTS, but all of them are probably almost as big a nightmare to actually play. Apologies to the Blacksburg Tactical Research Center.

I imagine that if the RIFTS movie were actually going to get made, Kevin would be impossible to deal with because he'd want way, way, way too much stuff from the setting to be crammed into the movie. And he'd do what he's always done with his own stuff: push for it to cater to hardcore RIFTS fans to the exclusion of everyone else.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea 2e: The New World - O Mighty Queen

Now that she's gotten the nobles to focus on each other, Empress Asiri is focused on expansion. Initially, she considered annexing the territories to the north, but both Tzak K'an and the Nahuacan Alliance have good military power, and she has decided she may be better served by looking overseas for conquest. She's spent her time gathering information about the lands beyond Aztlan, spying on any outsiders that come to her shores or even picking them up and interrogating them directly. After a century of this, she is satisfied she understands enough to take part in politics in trade with Theah, in service to her plan to take it over from the inside out via the Venerable Dead. To that end, she has ordered the rebuilding of Takana as a port welcoming outsiders, a project that has been ongoing for 30 years. It is to be the most beautiful, impressive city in Aztlan, and construction is to be perpetual, always adding new features.

Most Kuraq consider Takana to be an ill-omened, haunted place, but the lure of work has drawn many there as the city prepares to open its ports for the first time. Of course, like anywhere in the Empire, outsiders will be tolerated only within the existing framework of Kuraq life and belief. This is Kuraq, not Theah. Things seem to be going well, though the Empress has hit a few snags. In her century of grabbing outsiders, she has realized her biggest challenge to dealing with and infiltrating the outside world is Apocoatl himself. While the ancient god does not stop every visitor who arrives, he and the other gods often strike down those they see as threats - and Apocoatl deals with such threats more often than most, getting rid of many before Asiri could learn from them. To prevent the intrusion of other gods, Asiri and Suway have worked together to weaken other gods in Kuraq. She has convinced Suway that his power will expand into Theah, and he backs her entirely. Still, both are bright enough not to piss off Apocoatl, and so their work has been slow, trying to keep him appeased or at least unaware of their plans.

The Pakaykuq resistance is the Empress' biggest obstacle, those citizens who have kept alive the old ways and reject Suway and the Venerable Dead. The largest deities that support them are Wach'i, the sun god, and Ninaq'ara, the father of the gods. Wach'i was once the most potent and a rival to Suway, and has been protecting and leading his followers in secret ever since the fall of Puchacunya. Ninaq'ara, meanwhile, has taken the form of an old human man to help lead the resistance. Not all of the old gods can fight, however. Saramama, the harvest goddess, just wants to survive and help the crops. Others, like Urkillay the shapeshifter god, travel in secret to inspire revolt among the people.

Either way, to join the Pakaykuq, you must believe in the ancient ways. Members can come from any walk of life, though they have few nobles, due to the opulence in which they tend to live. Still, anyone that chafes under Kuraq's current form might find a cause in the old gods. They find ways to reach out to the underground divinities or catch the eyes of their followers. The Pakaykuq then test them several times, until local members believe them to be sincere. Only then will the new recruits be brought to the hidden temples, in the out-of-the-way locations that protect the gods and their people from the Tokoyriq. Ruined cities, ancient caves, sewers, lost temples. Here, the new recruits meet their gods and swear a blood oath to fight Suway's priests and the Venerable Ones. The gods give them a token, a blessing or some other gift to set them apart and give them strength. Few are as fanatical as the Pakaykuq as a result, for all know that they have the direct support of gods in their fight for freedom.

The Pakaykuq operate on a cell-based structure, organized only loosely to prevent any one group from giving up the entire organization if tortured. The group includes rogue priests of Suway, who now wield their power against their god's current methods, warding off dead spies and performing hit-and-run attacks. It is the sacred duty of all members to help protect the gods from the God Hunt, who are their mortal foes. They currently lack any overt political power outside of their ability to strike from the shadows and perform sabotage. However, as the Empress tightens her grip and the noble houses treat their children as disposable playthings, the number of dissenters grows and starts to secretly aid the revolutionaries. Two of their greatest assets live right under Asiri's nose - her granddaughter, Princess Miyatala, is a secret worshipper of Wach'i, and Tolanaq, the last surviving descendant of Puchacunya himself, is a member of the resistance too. If either were able to rally the noble families, it could start a civil war that would destroy the current Empire. Ninaq'ara leads the movement personally, in the form of a wily old man from the rural areas. He moves constantly, always in contact with Wach'i and working to inspire others to join the rebellion. Wach'i is the bravest of the gods, fighting on the front and serving to make himself a living, moving target for the Empire to chase.

Eventually, the Pakaykuq know they must emerge from the shadows and rebel openly. However, it won't be easy even in the best circumstances, and the risk of defeat is terrifying. Further, they are not very organized. Each cell is spread apart, so communication is hard. They smuggle messages using coded patterns in cloth or via runners who belong to the group. Even with this, messages are lost and often each cell must operate on its own. Further, because the resistance is made of the followers of many gods from many social classes, there is internal conflict, and the Pakaykuq must spend much of their time fighting the God Hunt rather than acting against the Empress directly. Several cells have approach Ninaq'ara to broach the idea of enlisting outside help, such as the Tzak K'ani or Nahuacan, or even Theans. So far, Ninaq'ara has been against such things, but the idea has been growing in popularity.

The Kuraq live on the southern tip of Aztlan, and while their land is vast and arable, good for cattle, it is full of mountains. These serve as natural barriers, which once kept the region from uniting. After Puchacunya united the empire, the Kuraq began working on infrastructure to bring together distant cities. The first innovation was the Runners, a group of heroes who would travel the land before the roads were even built, carrying supplies and messages. Behind them, a road system grew to connect the various territories and Kuska, the capital. This allowed traders, merchants and craftsmen to travel, building a common culture and centralized laws with them. Tithes paid for expansion of water and waste management systems in the cities and irrigation in the rural areas, plus water travel for shipping of goods. Once the Empress took over, the roads were even further protected by Tokoyriq military police, and the Runners were expanded to become the honored guardians of the road, becoming warriors as well as heroic messengers. Harming a Runner is now punishable by death.

The Empire is split into four quarters, called suyus, for governance purposes. Kuska sits at the center, where all four meet. The northwest is Apuchsuyu, where Asiri was born, home to trade centers such as Aqo Allpa or P'alqacamba. In the northeast is Antasuyu, ruled by nobles and home to the pleasure city of Kapuli or the old city Patanatambo, once home of the heirs of Puchacunya. Southwest is K'uychisuyu, breadbasket of the Empire and the seat of the rebellion out of cities like Manqo Pacha. Southeast is Manachansuyu, home of holy mountains and the rebuilt Takana. All are largely divided into three types of area - the urban centers and their panacas, the rural areas, and the wild lands.

Every city, while united by Kuraq culture, maintains some of the ancient styles and signifiers of their old tribal nature. Some things are universal, though. In ancient times, it was believed that the closer one was to the sky, the closer one was to the gods. Thus, cities are built in vertical tiers, with the poorest living on the lowest ring and the highest points reserved for nobles. The poor live in stone homes built into hillsides outside the city proper. Streets are stone, walls scrubbed and dyed or painted in geometric patterns and murals. City life tends to be fast, loud and intense. Trade is encouraged, regulated only by the imperial trade standards, and the markets are a constant hive of activity. The Tokoyriq patrol the street in groups, watching for crime, and all living citizens travel and work in the same areas, regardless of rank. Only the Venerable and their Speakers receive special reverence and deference when they pass.

Panacas, as the noble compounds are called, lie higher up, acting as central foci for the city. The roads lead to the panacas, where people come each day to bring news, trade and visitors. Those wealthy enough live just outside the panacas, near where the artisans work (well, the cleaner ones). Every city has a temple of Suway near the panacas, in view of the whole city. There might be multiple panacas, with the most powerful noble family living at the highest one. Each panacas is blocked off by a wall, and has a large courtyard to gaze upon the central huaca pyramid from. The pyramids are actually carved into the hills, with chambers dug deep in the rock. The most powerful family members live in the apartments at the top, just under the huaca, with guards and servants on the lower floors. At the depths is the crypt, a series of vaults guarded by priests of Suway and their Awqaylli warriors. In these are the corpses of the Venerable Dead, and none may enter without their express permission, on pain of death.

Next time: Rural areas, wild lands and the dead.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Is it just me or would anyobe else have a hard time not depicting Asiri as Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove?
Specifically the version who had an actual song about overthrowing the Sun in the name of eternal life and power.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Tome of Salvation

The better kind of Cultist

We begin with a reiteration that nominally all of the people of the Empire believe in all of the Gods. They may favor the God their village has a shrine to, or who is closest to their work, but while the cults vie with one another for political power and influence, they all technically believe in one another's Gods. A priest in the Old World is a specialized professional who knows the rites and rituals necessary to invoke the favor of their distant deity and bring their blessings to the community; in theory they are not meant to be a partisan for their God against the others. The issue is that the Cult of Sigmar is extremely tied up in the government and civic religion of the Empire, and also tends to like lashing out and threatening other cults, as we saw in the long history leading up to this point. Really, the reading of the Time of Three Emperors in ToS would seem to make the Sigmarites more of the aggressors (with their attempt to get Emperor Boris to give them a permanent and pivotal role in picking Emperors), religiously, than the Ulricans or Taalites. Weirdly, throughout ToS, I think the Sigmarites come off more and more as a threat to the religious unity of the Empire than they do elsewhere.

To that end, Magnus the Pious declared that every 5 years, all of the cults' high priests should come together for a grand ecumenical conclave in Altdorf (Originally Nuln). The first part of chapter 1 is describing that Conclave, and it's about what you'd expect. A major religious festival that draws pilgrims from all over the Empire (indeed, all over the world, given that you can reach Altdorf by the River Reik from Marienburg, and that the Reik is large enough for very large riverboats. Altdorf is a 'global' hub city) to celebrate their faiths. Myrmidians, Manaanites, Taalites, Rhyans, Morrites, Shallyans, Ulricans, and Sigmarites all come together to ask the blessing of their Gods upon all of the Empire, to pray for the success of the world against Chaos, and to discuss their grievances and issues with the Emperor and civil authorities standing as moderator. Interestingly, Ranaldans are not invited, and a new God of Merchants from Marienburg, Handrich, is lobbying hard to be included. We'll get to Handrich later but he's basically the god of dickish proto-capitalism and loan-sharking. The Conclave then primarily deals with civil rather than theological matters; the Conclave itself is an acknowledgment that more of the religious strife between the cults stems from their temporal issues than divine matters. Taxation, new holidays, the organization of civic funds for religious festivals, grievances between Templar orders of the cults; these are the kinds of issues they work out in Conclave, to prevent them being settled by mob justice or civil war. So far, it's worked; there hasn't been a major religious civil war since the end of the Time of Three Emperors .

Our first actual cult is the Cult of Manaan. Every cult lists its primary orders, its current highest priest, its holy books, its most important festivals, etc. I'll only be discussing these if they turn out to be important in the wider writeup. Manaan is one of the few Gods you find in just about every culture in the setting; even Chaos raiders from the north still offer tribute to Manaan before they get on their longships to raid the south, because they know he can (and will) decide at random he's going to kill all of them on the way. You don't gently caress with the God of the Sea. As befits a sea God, Manaan is extremely powerful, and very capricious. Very few people love Manaan, but no-one dares get on a ship without offering him a brief prayer or sacrifice. Sea and river trade are essential to the Old World's economy; this is still an era where overland trade and travel is vastly more expensive than using the Empire's riverways or sailing along the coasts, even if you aren't trading for exotic goods from Lustria, Araby, or Cathay. Thus, the priests of Manaan are vital to commerce, and spend their time going from ship to ship, leading lives aboard riverboats and ocean-going vessels, blessing their voyages in return for the tithes, devotion, and sacrifices their God demands. People grumble about this being a divine protection racket, but when it comes down to it it's much cheaper to pay homage to Manaan than to lose a shipload of goods and sailors. Few are brave enough to tempt disaster by not giving Manaan his due.

Manaan is generally characterized as capricious because the sea is extremely dangerous. The books mention, though, that his immense power means that when he decides to protect and aid his worshipers (especially as so many of those attacking them have to do it over sea routes) his intercessions are spectacular, obvious, and lethal. We had the example back in Realm of the Ice Queen wherein the ceremonial-never-intended-to-sail ship-temple of Manaan in Erengrad cut itself loose and by miracle, was able to sail into the harbor and spend the sack fighting off Norse longboats. ToS also gives examples of fantastic storms and sudden deadly seas that claimed large numbers of Chaos Warriors on their way over the Sea of Claws in the last incursion. The Manaan cult doesn't have any especial allies among the pantheon, as Manaan tends to stand alone, but neither do they have anyone willing to deem them an enemy, besides a heretical offshoot of their cult to an ancient and corrupt aspect of Manaan known as Stromfels. Stromfels is essentially a bloody god-being of maritime disaster, who instead of taking sacrifices from sailors and considering that he might spare them from the wrath of the sea simply, uh, takes the sailors. And their ship. And then they get eaten by sharks. Manaanites will gladly pay Adventurers to hunt down and destroy any cult of Stromfels.

Manaanite belief is very superstitious and variable, but all centers around the idea that a human who sets foot on a ship or who swims in the sea has entered the domain of Manaan and placed themselves in his hands. The cult has as many different little rituals and rites to avoid annoying Manaan as it has individual shrines, and many different priests will swear by different rules that will keep different ships from angering Manaan. They also love to tell tall tales and myths of Manaan's intercessions and daring adventures, because speaking of the God's great deeds is said to please him and keep the sea calm. Acolytes of Manaan normally start their lives as fishers and sailors, and feel a call to serve the God after observing his many rites in their everyday life. To actually be initiated a priest of Manaan requires surviving being lashed to a mast (or a post on a coastal settlement) during a storm, because the cult revolves so much around the anger of the God and a priest-in-training must experience it directly. Cultists of Manaan (defined as non-priests who are very devout members of the community, such that they often help in temple affairs) are generally maritime professionals whose lives have centered around the sea.

As befits a relatively capricious God, there is little structure to the cult besides the High Matriarch (the priesthood is gender neutral; there's no 'women on a boat are bad luck' superstition among Manaanites) at the High Temple in Marienburg. Individual shrines generally have their own rituals that work for them, so long as they send their tithe to the High Matriarch. There are other individually important temples and High Priests among the various mercantile coastal cities in the Old World; you'll find a shrine in L'Anguille, Bordeleaux, Erengard, etc. The Marienburg temple has become so enmeshed in the mercantile business of the city that there are whispers of schism; it's common for Manaanites to demand sacrifice for their God and the upkeep of their cult, but there are whispers that High Matriarch Camille is going too far in claiming she can guarantee the safety of voyages in return for gold and that the cult in Marienburg is more interested in buying shares in joint stock companies than placating Manaan. A great wealth disparity within the cult is fueling this discontent; the Marienburgers are spectacularly wealthy, and much of it gets spent on nice things for powerful priests in Marienburg rather than sent off to aid struggling fishing village shrines. There are also various minor cults that worship acknowledged aspects of Manaan, like Olovad, the God of Deltas and rivermeets (who have recently started to risk heresy by claiming Manaan is an aspect of Olovad rather than the other way around), or Manalt, the god of fishermen and ocean-going bounty. These minor aspects tend to be more overtly benevolent and approachable than Angry Sea God.

You might not expect it, but Manaan has several militant orders, partly devoted to killing worshipers of Stromfels. The Knights Mariner are a templar order devoted to defending honest sea-goers, fighting pirates, sea monsters, and raiders while also providing security for the Marienburg cult. In keeping with the Marienburg controversy they are prone to charging large 'tithes' for their assistance. The Sons of Manaan lack the money and warships of the Knights Mariner, partly because they don't charge the same huge tithes for their help. They are popular throughout the northern lands of the Empire and Kislev, where they attach themselves to ships and serve as marines, defending vessels from Norse raiders and pirates. Finally, we have the Stormguard, a priestly inquisition devoted to hunting down and killing Stromfels worshipers in order to defend the name of Manaan.

Next Time: Morr

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Oh hey, I finally got a working wifi adapter, so I can actually work on my reviews at home how.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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




Panic at the Dojo: Enemy Forces Part 3

NINJAS (6 Trickster Stooges)
Build: Agile (Gain 2 Speed Tokens at the start of your turn).
A must in any martial arts movie. Swarming the battlefield, hard to pin down, damage is minimal. Be much more concerned if you just fight one ninja - there's an Elite Ninja build for that situation that's much more powerful.

Hidden Silence Stance
Action Dice: d4/d4/d4/d4/d4/d4
Range: 1-3
Gain 2 more Speed Tokens at the start of your turn, so 4 total. Keep your Speed Tokens between turns. See and move through walls as if they were empty spaces.

3 Speed Tokens: Stunt
Place a Fog, Copy, or Trap into an adjacent space, then teleport 2 spaces.

1+: Reinforcements
Like all Stooges.

CIVILIANS (4 Underdog Stooges)
Build: Bumbling (At the end of a turn where you took damage, move 1 space).
An interesting concept - civilians aren't much help at all in a fight, but if they're determined to get in the way, they can be a real nuisance. A Stooge likely to show up as allies as well as enemies.

Distracting Time Stance
Dice: d8/d8/d6/d4
Range: 1-2
Armor. Don't discard Speed Tokens or Action Dice between turns. If an enemy deals damage to you and they have no Weakness Tokens, give them a Weakness Token.

1+: Counter Attack
Teleport within range of an enemy that dealt damage to you this turn, then spend this number on another Action targeting that enemy.

1+ or 2 Basic Tokens: Flare
Move 1 space, then give a Weakness Token to an enemy within range.

1+: Reinforcements
Like all Stooges.

HIVEMIND CORE (Teacher Warrior)
Doesn't do much on its own, but gives more options to every other enemy on the field, letting them all fight at 100% strength or more.

Ability: At the end of your turn, gain an Inspired Token. Inspired Tokens let you roll a d8 and add it to an ally's Action Pool on their turn.
Skill: Perfect Timing

Mastermind Panic Stance
Action Dice: d8/d8/d6/d4
Range: N/A
Armor. Keep your Speed Tokens and Action Dice between turns. You can only take one Action per turn, and can't take Actions yourself - instead, pick an Action and make an ally you can see do it instead. After an ally performs an action on your turn, move one space.

1+: Counter Attack
Teleport within range of an enemy that dealt damage to you this turn, then spend this number on another Action targeting that enemy.

There's actually a gotcha with this build - because the Mastermind Style has no range, it's impossible to use Counter Attack. I asked the creators about it, and they said that they should've just not shown the move in the statblock. Basically, Hivemind Core's supposed to just gradually use all of its Action Dice over the turn to let its allies do extra Basic Actions.

DR. APRIL WINTERS (Winterblossom Boss)
Rich, conniving socialite and genuis engineer. Wherever she's found, she's always halfway done with some plan to take over a new business/city/country.

Ability: At the start and end of your turn, give a Weakness Token to one enemy within range.
Skills: Ruthless Socialite, Professional, Put On A Show, Unstoppable

Precision Blade Stance
Action Dice: d10/d10/d4/d4
Range: 1-2
When you gain Speed Tokens, replace half of them with Power Tokens. You can spend up to 3 Power Tokens per hit. Actions deal +1 damage to enemies with Armor or Shields. When you target an enemy, they discard one Iron Token.

3+: Yell
Gain 3 Power Tokens.

6+: Crush
Deal 3 damage to an enemy within range. Damage can't be reduced or reacted to by any means.
9+: You can spend any number of Power Tokens on this.

3+ and 3+: Perfect Strike
Requires two dice to use. Deal 4 damage to an enemy within range. This can't be reduced or reacted to by any means.

Reflected Control Stance
Action Dice: d10/d8/d6/d4/d4
Range: 2-6
At the start of your turn, place up to three Walls into empty adjacent spaces. You can see and target enemies through Walls.

3+: Suppression
Gain a Control Token and move one space.
6+: Gain a Control Token.
9+: Gain a Control Token and move one space.

3+: Walled In
Place 3 Walls into empty spaces within Range 1-3.

3+: Icicle Fall
deal 1 damage to each enemy adjacent to a wall.

Frozen Hurricane Stance
Action Dice: d10/d8/d6/d4
Range: 1
After you Throw or Grapple someone, gain a Speed Token for each space they moved. After each space you move, you can choose someone within range and pull them a space. After an enemy moves into an empty space adjacent to you, give them a Weakness Token.

3 Speed Tokens: Try And Keep Up
Move two spaces, then heal 2.

3+: Exploit Weakness
Deal 2 damage to an enemy within range and give them a Weakness Token.

The idea for April's build is to open with Frozen Hurricane, drag enemies out of position, use Precision Blade to shut them down, then use Reflected Control to bunker up when the heat is on.

Next: A bear.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

NHP advocate.


Joe Slowboat posted:

Is it just me or would anyobe else have a hard time not depicting Asiri as Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove?
Specifically the version who had an actual song about overthrowing the Sun in the name of eternal life and power.

Welp, that is a game idea I now have.

Josef bugman fucked around with this message at 15:32 on Aug 29, 2018

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Josef bugman posted:

Welp, that is a game idea I now have.

Earths Kitt voices all the best tragicomic sorcerers (see also Ciocie Cioelle).

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Halloween Jack posted:

There are a number of systems out there that, like RIFTS, purport to do any and every type of game with one universal system and have rules for everything from mecha to magic. None of them are as bad as RIFTS, but all of them are probably almost as big a nightmare to actually play. Apologies to the Blacksburg Tactical Research Center.

I imagine that if the RIFTS movie were actually going to get made, Kevin would be impossible to deal with because he'd want way, way, way too much stuff from the setting to be crammed into the movie. And he'd do what he's always done with his own stuff: push for it to cater to hardcore RIFTS fans to the exclusion of everyone else.

Phoenix Command and other Leading Edge Games would be something like the Surviving Edged Weapons of RPGs.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Well...

I'm reading HOSTILE, which advertises itself as "a gritty sci-fi RPG" on the cover. Its list of inspirations is basically every horror-in-space movie since Alien, and it clearly articulates its themes. But when you get to the actual rules...it's just OSR Traveller. The horror is supposed to be intrinsic to the setting because space is dangerous and society is unequal, but that's just an iteration of Traveller. Granted, Traveller is not a bad base on which to build a horror campaign, but if you're doing that, do you really care about star system maps and terrain types? I tapped out after skimming the stuff about different types of planets and then seeing "warfighter" in descriptions of different body armor types.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2e: The New World - The Quiet Life

The settled land outside cities is mostly farmers, shepherds and tradespeople cultivating the land. They exist in satellite communities for miles around every city, protected by the nobles but largely independent. They cut limber, mine, make pots, grow food. Without them, Kuraq would starve. They tend to be much less centralized than the cities and are mostly self-managed. Each community operates on its own, led by a local Chuki or Palla (respected man or woman, respectively). The local families have representatives advising this person, and each family runs its own household. If an area is large enougn, it will have a Takiy representing the nobility, as well. (Roughly, 'chanter'.) The Takiy answer to local nobles, bring in the tithes and so on. If the tithe is short, the community must make up the difference, as the tithe maintains the roads and infrastructure. Safety is a huge deal for these communities, as beyond the farmlands and pastures are the wild lands, home of wild animals and bandits. The jungles are known to be dangerous, with caves that lead to the underworld, and wild undead monsters are said to roam them. Such corpses wander from their graves to attack anyone they can catch, feasting on them to feed an all-consuming hunger. Local militias are common defenses, as communities badn together to fight any kind of crisis. If the danger is bad enough, the Takiy can ask the nobles for aid, and often Tokoyriq forces are sent to help - efficiently, quickly and very violently.

The wild lands remain untamed by the Empire, mostly because many of them are too far from the roads or otherwise geographically blocked. The jungles at the foot of the mountains, for example. Most of these can be traveled around, but rumor of hidden treasure or lost relics brings people in. Most such explorers never return. The most prominent wild lands are the holy mountains, the backbone of the Kuraq. Once, they were sought by pilgrims seeking to commune with the gods, and while this is no longer done, they are still considered holy places of solace and contemplation. It is inviolate, a core of Kuraq culture. Violence is forbidden in the mountains, no matter what, and they are seen by all as places of safe passage. For this reason, many meetings between feuding groups are held in the mountains, on natural terraces long ago furnished with stone villas for neutral meeting grounds. Traders serving the mountain travelers are treated with total respect, often serving as mediators.

All of the wild places are bound by one law, however: the Water Truce. If a traveler meets another in the wild lands, they must help the other find water. Seeking of water must never be restricted, no matter what. Even if warring groups meet near a water source, both must keep the Water Truce and allow the other to drink and refresh before they part. Those that violate the Water Truce are considered traitors to the Empire, hunted by the Tokoyriq for daring to break the most sacred of laws.

While the Kuraq society is not completely stratified, the class system is quite strict. Beneath the Empress are the noble families, who descend from the ancient kings of the city-states united by the first Emperor. They have a strict hierarchy, with the eldest Venerable Ones commanding the younger and their mortal descendants. They rule as regional governors and lords in the suyus, tithing back to the Empress and enforcing her laws under the scrutiny of the Tokoyriq. Beneath them are the families sworn to their service, from servants to guards. Nobles hire entire families most of the time, often for generations. The nobles choose what jobs the children of such families do, superseding even that family's Venerable Ones. While these people have no real choice in their lives and are not nobles, they hold a higher social rank than any other non-noble.

Below the noble households are those families that work as traders, merchants or soldiers, doing what is needed to keep the Empire running. Achievement among them determines rank, with those who have skill or bravery rising above others. Priests, especially of Suway, are considered a special class among these people. They and the Tokoyriq are special servants of the empire, as the Awqaylli warriors of Suway. To harm any of these three groups is to attack the Empire as a whole, and is severely punished. Some see the priests as holding the true power in Kuraq, treating them with even more respect than nobles. At the bottom are the peasants, the indigent and those who lack in ancient lineage or valuable jobs. Those who are unemployed, especially, are considered a drain on the empire's resources, undisciplined and disloyal. Despite this societal rigidity, however, anyone may advance with sufficient work and the right opportunities. It is forbidden to discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation, as well.

While daily life may change based on station or location, some things are universal. Children are tested and measured and judged constantly to find the right place for them. Even the poorest child can attend a providence school to learn from a teacher, called an amauta. They learn to memorize huge amounts of information, and how to record numbers and complex measures on quipu, long braided ropes. They learn to recite the history of the empire, the names of the noble houses and their lineage all the way back to the founding the Empire. Because the Kuraq have no written language, memorization and retention are key. By the age of five, every child is evaluated by their family and its Venerable One, who decides where the child will study and what their job will be. All further education is aimed at this goal. Another evaluation is performed at age ten, prior to apprenticeship, and again at age sixteen. Dedication to one's assigned job is considered to be the greatest form of loyalty, and being reassessed as a failure and given a new profession is a mark of shame and loss of status.

Because this can be very stressful, nobles fund many leisure areas, like gardens, ampitheaters and sports arenas. Many also distribute coca leaves to their people to help soothe them. After the assessment at sixteen, a child is considered an adult, and may now leave their apprenticeship and get married. Marriages are arranged, of course, with the ideal of finding a good match to continue the line. The young people involved must consent, but bribery or intimidation are not rare. Marriage can be between any combination of genders, with surrogates brought in to have offspring for same-sex or other infertile couples. Marriages last beyond death, though once a spouse dies and becomes a Venerable One, the living partner may remarry. It is not rare to have both an undead and a living spouse.

Kuraq families typically live in one home or at least nearby, generally centered around the family crypt. Many generations will live under one roof, cooperatively raising children. Respect is expected to be given to the elderly, as is obedience. Even in old age, everyone works until they are no longer physically able to. At that point, the family will gather to decide if that person's time is up, and if so, whether they are to become Venerable.

The Empress has spent a lot of resources on economic growth. Her early laws codified trade with standards that remain current, and while barter is still a large part of the economy, the trade laws require fair and stable pricing based on the Royal Advisor for Trade's rulings. Those laws also control trade between suyus or foreign countries, including the taxes on import and export. The system it replaced was not one of tax or tithe, but of communal service and labor instead, and this practice, called llank'ay, is still used in more rural areas where the nobles can be more lax. Most regulated trade is with other nations rather than internal, however, due to the vast program of rural production. Thanks to Kuraq's advanced irrigation and agriculture, they are a giant of agricultural production, textiles and weapons trading. The Empress has recently established a gold standard to make external trade easier, and it is slowly overtaking barter. Gold mining has become a massive industry, and the new coin, the ipa, was inspired by the descriptions of Thean coin economies by Franco Gonzalez. Many traditionalists hate the ipa and do not want to use it, but the Empress insists.

What resources are not exported go towards technological innovation, especially in the areas of food production and medicine. Healers have been studying medicinal plants for generations, and have also developed advanced internal surgery techniques, especially related to the brain and spine. Most of this is thanks to the priests of Suway, whose knowledge of the dead has greatly advanced medical science. Kuraq is also extremely good at preservation of mummies and has a thriving black market in corpses for practice. Besides this, the Empress dedicates a lot of funding to infrastructural improvements. The roads are always being improved and extended, tunnels being cut, storehouses being built to such a degree as to create massive underground warrens. Cities are almost constantly under renovation to accomodate growing populations of both the living and the dead, with more and better water and sanitation systems. Most importantly, the Empress has begun buying a lot of lumber and bringing in boat builders to try and establish a standing navy. While she insists this is all for trade purposes, the other Aztlani nations do not trust her and are concerned with her naval plans.

Next time: Laws of the Dead

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2e: The New World - Art of Death

Because of the focus on producing goods, art has generally speaking taken a lesser focus in Kuraq society for the past few generations. Many artists were supported by the temples and their communities, which obviously isn't really a thing they can do any more, and they were largely refocused on other areas. Only the nobles can now support artists, primarily singers, storytellers and weavers. Among the peasants, performing or creating art during leisure time has become a symbolic act of resistance. Many revolutionaries work through wall paintings and woven messages in textiles, or hide messages in songs and stories. These arts are always destroyed by the Tokoyriq when discovered, however, and those involved are punished.

The laws of the empire derive from basic tenets set down by the throne. All authority flows from the empress and, below her, the Royal Council. It all stems from a single basic principle: Ama Sua, Ama Llulla, Ama Quella. Don't steal, don't lie, don't be lazy. All resources of the empire are for the whole, not the individual, and therefore squandering them is a crime - a swiftly punished one. There is almost no imprisonment in Kuraq. Crimes are paid for with blood. Those accused of a crime are judged by a Takiy. Small crimes are things like personal trespasses or laziness and usually get punished by public shaming - the criminal is displayed and publically ridiculed, with objects thrown at them. If someone manages to somehow avoid this, they are instead put to llank'ay - a term of community service for a period chosen by the Takiy.

Any form of property theft is punished by mutilation, with the severity based on the nature of the theft. Losing a limb or suffering severe disfigurement are common for serious thefts. Minor treason, such as speaking against the Empress, is also punished this way. Those that survive are left scarred as a public example. Because all criminals are considered the lowest of society, they must rely on public kindness to survive, and must by law answer truthfully about their crimes in order to be a caution to others. Often a good story about your deeds will get you fed or clothed, at least, so criminals must learn to tell their tale well or risk starvation. All punishments are meted out by the Tokoyriq, whose loyalty is considered absolute and therefore they are believed to be unable to perform any criminal action. Most consider the Takiy to be wholly impartial due to their position and therefore they cannot be prosecuted for making mistakes or wrongful sentencing. While the Takiy are officially above reproach, everyone knows corruption exists and that you can bribe them to look the other way.

Any criminal sentenced to death dies swiftly and brutally. This is a punishment only for the worst offenders, recidivists who have already lost limbs in sentencing for past crimes. Repeated treason is the main cause of the death penalty. The criminal is stoned, hanged or pushed off a cliff. Their body is then destroyed, rendering them unable to become a mummy and thus forever dead. The very worst are stricken from their family records entirely, forgotten forever.

Now, religion. The Kuraq claim that, after the Fall, their gods did not abandon them as other nations' did. Whether this is true or not is very hard to say. Before the people began building cities again, they had nearly forgotten their gods. When gods came to them and showed them how to live, they worshipped once more. The lines between old and new gods are blurry, and people largely used the old names, but it's hard to say if they were actually the same entities. Especially after the rise of Suway and the God Hunt. Those who followed other gods have been driven from their faiths, their gods sent into hiding. Many have died, and only a few still remain, fleeing and trying to maintain the faith their people have in them, supporting the Pakaykuq.

Niniq'ara is the father of the gods, who rose from the great caves under the world to bring light to the people. He made the skies and the storms and the other gods. He remained a powerful protector until the fall of the Aztlani Empire, and when that happened, he felt a great loss. He gave over his divine gifts to others and walked the world as only a man. He remained as just a man until Suway rose against the other gods, bringing a terrible imbalance. Now, Ninaq'ara has reappeared as a wise father, ready to guide his people in rebellion. He is the living memory of the past, the bringer of storms and the keeper of truth.

Wach'i was the first son created by Niniq'ara, given the power of primordial light. He became the god of the sun and a protector and bringer of bounty. For generations, he was the patron god of all people - warriors, farmers, nobles, peasants. The rise of Suway and destruction of Puchacunya was a nearly deadly blow to him, and for a long time he was secluded, in mourning. Suway's priests hunting him until the reappearance of Niniq'ara, who joined Wach'i and convinced him to help lead the Pakaykuq.

Suway, god of the dead, is now the most powerful and popular god in Kuraq. Every officially sanctioned song or story venerates him and his power. Once, he was brother to Niniq'ara, the reaper of souls and guardian of the afterlife. Early on, his priests asked him for knowledge of how to seek the wisdom of the dead. To give them power, he taught them sorcery and, soon, the priests spread across the land preaching his strength. Now, all worship at his feet. However, whispers say that he is no longer seen by his followers even at his temple in P'alqacamba, nor even in the Empress' chambers in Kuska, which leads many to wonder if he is truly happy. The Pakaykuq believe he has become a prisoner of his own followers, and that balance must be restored to free him.

Kikinpaq is one of the few gods not born of Niniq'ara. Rather, he is a child of Apocoatl himself, and walked the land when Aztlan was young as a terrifying, mercurial monster. When Niniq'ara brought forth the gods, Kikinpaq joined them as a protector of Aztlan, for he adored humans and their ingenuity. It is that love that led him to help bring peace among the gods and mortals. When the kings of Kuraq went back to war against each other, his rage sent him into a deep slumber from which he has not awakened. Today, many of Suway's priests seek to sacrifice Kikinpaq to Suway, to make him unstoppable as the ancient god. If Kikinpaq is found and slain in sacrifice, the devastation would be unfathomable - but so would his power, if he could be awakened to help the people.

Pachamama is Kikinpaq's sister, daughter of Apocoatl, and a monstrous goddess of dragons. She can, however, hide herself in any guise. She is a shapeshifter without parallel, and she was abandoned both by her brother and by her lover Niniq'ara, choosing instead to wander Kuraq as a protector of the outcast. Now, she stalks the land as an invisible spy, rewarding thieves and saboteurs against the Empire. She wants, more than anything, to awaken her brother so that they might once more fight side by side.

Next time: Storm lord, shifter god, moon woman and money king

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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7th Sea 2e: The New World - Dead Magic

Katoylla was once the god of storms and sports, protector of youths and herald of the transition from childhood to adulthood. Now, however, he has lost almost all of his once many followers. He travels the land in wild revolt, laughing at danger and keeping one step ahead of the God Hunt. Rumor has it that it will not be long before his luck runs out, however, given how undisciplined he is. Once he is gone, one of the last great, untamed forces will be lost forever.

Urkillay was born to Niniq'ara as a god, and from her birth she sought the place she belonged. She represents change and transformation, and so she sometimes takes on many aspects of things in nature she finds beautiful. She has never been fully comfortable either with the gods or humanity, and her happiness lies in the animals and wild things, so she became the protector of nature, the goddess of transformation and primal life. When the God Hunt came, she withdrew into the deep jungles to guard her animal charges, but she has now been drawn into the fight. Her hunt of the hunters will begin soon.

Mama Quilla was once the most peaceful of all gods, but she is in full and open revolt against the Empire now. She was the goddess of the moon, of marriage and of children, once Niniq'ara's most serene and calm daughter. However, she has now listened to far, far too many prayers of children forced into lives they never desired by their Venerable ancestors. It has enraged her beyond belief, and she travels the land now to free those trapped by their ancestors and to give blessings to those children who yearn for freedom. She does so as militantly as possible, often destroying the Venerable Ones she finds in order to free their families.

Ekekko, the god of wealth and good health, is a traitor. It is said that when the God Hunt captured him, he bought his freedom from the priests of Suway with information. Now, he supports the kingdom and showers it with wealth and blessings of fortune. That is why the Kuraq Empire has grown so economically potent, why the Empress is so powerful, they say. Ekekko the traitor is more than happy to turn over other gods, who now reject him entirely, in exchange for his own protection.

Saramama is the goddess of the grain and the harvest, and she is very, very sad, despairing for her people. Once, they tilled the land with joy, but the empire's oppression drives them now to do so out of fear of the tithe, not of love for the land. She has fallen into a terrible depression, and while the Pakaykuq and her followers protect her, she refuses to do anything. Her despair is simply too great. Many see her lack of action as a dangerous liability, as the rebels must work to protect a near catatonic goddess. However, many hope that if they continue to do so, they will inspire the mighty earth goddess to rise up and help before it is too late.

Of course, veneration of the dead is still the most popular form of worship right now. The people embraced it when Puchacunya invented it, bringing the idea of building a better world with the aid of the dead. The truth, that Supacha murdered and possessed his own brother, is a heresy whispered by enemies of Suway, whom most of the populace still see as a savior. However, those who remember Suway's ancient worship know - his priests have twisted and distorted it to create the modern veneration of the dead. In the ancient times, those that died would pass on to the world of the dead, where they would reside peacefully. The body would be mummified, then placed in a sacred shrine in the panaca by the caretakers and descendants. Eight days of funerary rites would be held in full mourning black, and then the family could enter the shrine to ask advice of the dead. The dead were not fully gone, able to interact and give advice, but would rest in the afterlife until reborn in new form.

This practice was long ago corrupted by Suway's priests, disrupting the cycle of rebirth. This corruption came from what was originally a small priestly faction in P'alqacamba's temple, where the corrupt priest Kakusha sought immortality and convinced Suway to reveal how to bind a spirit into a mummy. Once the knowledge was given, the priests and the Awqaylli warriors began their war, which led to the modern Empire. Now, a Suway priest is in every city, and the veneration of the dead is the leading religious belief. It's hard to turn against it, given how much the Venerable have given to the empire. The worship of Suway is inextricably bound up in the Empire, and it would be very hard to unbind them.

The priests of Suway are called the Yana Takiya, the Black Singers. Once, they were merely the bearers of funereal songs and rites to guide the dead home. Now, they bring their corrupted worship to all. They are taken at a young age from among the orphans, abandoned and criminals, trained at P'alqacamba and indoctrinated into Suway's faith. The more militant are trained as Awqaylli warriors, loyal only to the Yana Takiya. The most devout are taught the secrets of Wanuy Naqay, death sorcery, which grants them great power. The priests are welcomed everywhere by those who wish to mummify their family members as Venerable Dead or who wish to make the funeral masks that allow communication with the dead. These are powers meant for priests, though the magical knowledge has by now been stolen and used by powerful lay people across the empire. Even priests are not automatically made into Venerable Ones. They, too, must earn it. Those who transgress against the Imperial order are given only unending death. The Yana Takiya may support the Empress, but they're an inherently conservative order. They allow few women in their ranks and are extremely intolerant of any who do not worship Suway over all other gods. That is why they, with the Empress' tacit support, have begun the God Hunt. The Yana Takiya can be told in public by their black funerary robes and gold chains of rank. Only the order's leaders wear funerary masks, which let them channel the Venerable Ones that advise them and guide them from the afterlife.

Long ago, Kuraq had many, many forms of sorcery, wild magic given by the blessings of the gods. Some of the wild magic still exists in certain places, largely in the form of divine blessings, but almost all sorcery left in Kuraq now is twisted by the priests of Suway to serve as the magic of death. Wanuy Naqay was once known only by the Yana Takiya, allowing them to reach out to the afterlife and contact spirits for guidance. Once the contact was made, they could call the spirit back to its mummy, allowing it to move and speak. Each body would be given a funeral mask, treated in holy oils and the blood of a sacrifice to allow mortal to connect with spirit. Now, it binds the spirit into the mummy as a Venerable One as well. The spirit now chooses a Speaker to wear its mask. In its benign form, this is just a form of sharing, allowing the Venerable to speak into the Speaker's mind, and to see through their eyes. In its most invasive, it can allow the Venerable One to take over the Speaker's body entirely and destroy their will, making them a hollow husk.

This isn't the only use of Wanay Naqay, however. It can be used to command lesser spirits of the dead, or even reanimate corpses, provided the proper sacrifice of life force is made. That is the greatest secret of the Yana Takiya - their magic feeds on life, and for the Venerable Dead, it feeds on the life of their Speaker. Any great use of magic must require equal life force to achieve its end. That is why the Venerable maintain large groups of retainers, so they can tap into their life force when they must do magic, allowing them to not kill their Speakers. Most members of a Venerable One's retinue wear small talismans which serve as miniature masks that let the Venerable One tap their life. In desperate times, they may even use these to temporarily possess these servants. The greatest works require even more, though. Often animal sacrifice is used to fuel such magic, with human sacrifice saved for only the largest, most vital rites - most notably, the sacrifices used by the Empress to empower herself and drive back the Castillians at Takana. No such rite has been done since that.

The most potent Venerable Ones use their magic to maintain their mummified bodies in the semblance of life. Most notably, again, the empress herself, who still uses her own body rather than a Speaker. She maintains it so that she looks like a middle-aged beauty, as she was in life. Every Venerable One must return to their crypt every so often, though, to consolidate their power. How long they can spend outside is based on how much power they ahve and how much life energy they sacrifice to maintain their corpse-body. With the steady sacrifices in the name of the Empress, she can go weeks between crypt visits. Once, such magic was used only by the priests, but priests have defected from the order over the years, and some of those taught nobles or even peasants in secret. Now, death magic can be studied outside the order of Yana Takiya. Of course, using it to make Venerable Dead without their approval is punishable not only by death but by the destruction of the spirit you were binding, too.

Next time: The gods' blessings.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Night10194 posted:

You might not expect it, but Manaan has several militant orders, partly devoted to killing worshipers of Stromfels. The Knights Mariner are a templar order devoted to defending honest sea-goers, fighting pirates, sea monsters, and raiders while also providing security for the Marienburg cult. In keeping with the Marienburg controversy they are prone to charging large 'tithes' for their assistance. The Sons of Manaan lack the money and warships of the Knights Mariner, partly because they don't charge the same huge tithes for their help. They are popular throughout the northern lands of the Empire and Kislev, where they attach themselves to ships and serve as marines, defending vessels from Norse raiders and pirates. Finally, we have the Stormguard, a priestly inquisition devoted to hunting down and killing Stromfels worshipers in order to defend the name of Manaan.

gently caress YES NAVAL PALADINS

FUCKIN' UP HERETICS

WEARIN' TRICORN HATS

YOHO AND A BOTTLE OF SACRED WINE

Metallia
Sep 17, 2014



Deep Carbon Observatory
Part 4: "The people here are sitting on their roofs. They are not hiding from the flood."


Sorry for the delay, got busy.

When we last left our hypothetical party of adventurers, they had just started up through what the book calls the Drowned Lands, which are the river lands between Carrowmore and whatever lies to the north of their city. The way is choked by displaced flood waters and an extremely odd amount of hostile river life. Under threat from gigantic pike and lungfish, the party will also be under constant pursuit from the Crows; while there isn't much in the way of direction to how quickly the Crows travel, (the book sort of implies that the Crows should basically use the PCs as pathfinders, shadowing them but otherwise not directly interfering for now) it is easy to assume that they're always within striking distance of one of their dirty tactics.

As a reminder, we're currently at four on this map:



5.Corpse Copse

A small copse of trees here peaks out of the water, serving as nesting for a murder of carrion birds. The birds are soaked but gorged on fresh meals, and sometimes the fatter vultures will simply pass out and fall from the trees into the water. If the players investigate this area, they'll only find a crew of d6 freshwater crocodiles flitting through the roots of the trees, feasting on the birds that fall into their hungry mouths.

6. Electrical Eel

Here is two felled trees, a hooked fishing net caught between them on their branches. From the net, the body of its owner, a fisherman, hangs upside down. He is surrounded by a crown of bobbing carrion birds who are working up the courage to start taking bites out of him. If the players investigate the corpse, they'll find a bruised but functional fishing skiff for the taking, and also find the man has a number of fresh welts and burns on his body. If the skiff is disturbed, it shakes the trees and displaces an 20 foot long electrical eel that was caught in the branches as well. (Armor: as leather, HD3, HP15, move 30', d4 Bite/D8 electrify) Despite the eel, this is a pretty big boon for any party that has had to walk so far.

7 'Logs' of Fun

An ancient, huge log rolls by here, and curiously, the people sitting on it seem to be frozen in a strange tableau, surprise on their faces. For once this isn't a hidden medusa's fault: there's a gigantic velvet worm living inside the log who is quite comfortable, armed with a paralyzing gland on his head, and does never much not want to leave his log. The worm is Armor: as leather, HD4, HP19, move '10, Paralyzing touch but honestly, why would you fight this thing? It doesn't stop you from saving the people on the log if the PCs wish, and is otherwise just chillin' in his log.



8. The Windmill

A low mound by the riverbank here sports a windmill that is...er, under attack by a swarm of child-sized crabs. They grab onto the sail as it turns, trying to climb inside through the crank window. Inside the windmill are 15 children, one old woman, and no food. A desperate village woman at the foot of the windmill wields a pole and tries to swat the crabs away. She will be overwhelmed shortly.

9. The Hill

A host of farm animals of every kind have escaped the rising waters here by grouping themselves on the only remaining arable land. They live next to a pack of wolves in temporary truce. Both groups of animals are likely to be eaten by a grue gigantic squid circling the hill.

10. The Tombs
Roofs of tiny stone grave homes breach the surface of the water here: a burial ground, tomb doors forced open by the surging river. Nearly translucent man-eating cuttlefish prowl this place in packs, sliding in and out of the grave doors. If you have the corpse of Sorla the fortune teller from Carrowmore here, this is where you can inter her, preferably with her husband's help. When the PCs place her in the sarcophagus, they find a warning scratched in its roof:



If they didn't agree to help Sorla's husband, the warning isn't there. She was a fortune teller, after all, she'd know.

The cuttlefish mentioned here are basic swarming creatures that are weak individually but have AC as plate if they're camouflaged against natural backgrounds.

11. The Scratch Built Dam

This is what remains of Pollnacrom Village, now in tatters. The village has been neatly dismantled by a Turbine Golem (Kabibona'kan), who wrecks and pulls apart the village homes, carrying off the wood and stone out of sight. If the players follow him, they find a strange effigy he's constructed: a huge sheet of piled up wood, a hole placed in the center to allow some water through. The golem kneels here and presses its engine mouth against the water gap, trying to take nourishment from an invisible source. While it does this it whirrs loudly, and then eventually falls silent; the golems are all dying, trying in vein to reproduce their method of obtaining energy. This doesn't mean they aren't dangerous, though.

12. The Tall Oak

Corpse tree. Dead folk caught on the trees as the river raged past, coming to a final resting place among a knotted band of branches. d20 corpses. Seems mostly like an encounter for The Crows.

13. The Mill-Wheel

A Turbine Golem (Kalevan) is here, sitting silently in the river. He is alive, but barely, the water up to his chin racing all around him. He stares at a nearby water mill and tries to reproduce the exact sound its water wheel makes. A hint for a later puzzle.

14. Pollnagollum

A village, surrounded by dense fields of drowned corn. Flocks of starlings try to peak and grab at the corn without being washed away by the tide. The people sit on their roofs and huddle together. They are not hiding from the flood; under the water, gliding between the stalks, is a Witch. She presses at the water's surface like a solid mirror and looks for victims. She has been killed numerous times by boys and girls of the village, who threw her corpse down the well in the northern field before the flood washed her out. (Remember the rhyme from Carrowmore?) She is a Magic User who is only HD5, HP10 with no armour, but possess complete immunity to piercing, crushing, cutting, burning, drowning, and poisoning damage. She also has a nasty attack that force changes your alignment to Chaotic Evil and auto-charms you if she knows your True Name. Pretty convenient for her that she can also divine True Names by drinking someone's blood. She has Suggestion, Change self, Invisibility, Sleep, Message, and Charm Person.

15. The Golden Boat

Remember the undead king from the first entry on this list? This is his 'ritual heaven-ship'. It is made of gold shaped like rush and reed leaves, but is buried here in a literal hilltop of mud, requiring careful attention and study to even discover. It is all nearly impossible to retrieve, but is worth 50k gp if you return it to any civilized citizen that isn't Carrowmore. Anyone you hire will try to kill you for the ship, or at the very least demand a hefty cut. Trying to retrieve the ship will always provoke an encounter with a Turbine Golem.

16. The Lifesaving Library

A family of four children and two parents have been stuck here, starving, for days now, lost in a isolated copse, trying to avoid the wandering golems. They haven't yet frozen from the rain and water yet because of their trove of dry paper to burn - they found a huge amount of scrolls, stored in watertight tubes. One by one, they've been burning them for warmth and to roast any meager food they can manage. d10 - days the adventure has occurs is the amount of scrolls remain, and you guessed it: they're all magic scrolls, of incredibly potent Cleric and Magic User castings. Earthquake, Part Water (!), Shape Change, Polymorph Anything, Permanency, Trap the Soul are all examples given here for spells. The family has no idea what they're destroying, but anyone who is intelligent enough in magical studies can discern the scrolls are insanely valuable by looking at them. Careful study over days is required to actually cast from them, as they're all written in the language of our friend Ambatoharanana, the undead pharaoh from the first encounter.

17. A Handy Rock

A useful outcropping. You could use it to tie up a boat, or perhaps as leverage to dredge the heaven-ship out of its tomb of poo poo. Every 6-8 hours a 'loving huge crab' (the book's exact words) will fall to its death and explode on the rock from high above. 4d6 damage in a 20 feet raidus from 'crab shrapnel'. The crabs are being dropped by a starving Roc who lands and eats the remains shortly after. The Roc is very territorial but not looking for a fight. If you observe him, you'll notice him flying over the nearby dam to hunt the crabs in the exposed valley on the other side. Roc stats are Armor: as chain, HD18, HP72, flies, 3d6/3d6 claws + 4d6 bite.

That's all the River Lands encounter! Next time we'll explore The Dam.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Ratoslov posted:

gently caress YES NAVAL PALADINS

FUCKIN' UP HERETICS

WEARIN' TRICORN HATS

YOHO AND A BOTTLE OF SACRED WINE

There are going to be so many goddamn types of Paladin in this book, including the actual Warrior Priest class. Not just Sigmarites; Warrior Priests of any God.

Except Shallya. No Shallyan Warrior Priestesses.

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