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Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

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


Halloween Jack posted:

I haven't read these sections in detail but I'm going to bloviate regardless...in defense of SA this time!

Conventional wisdom is that hard and fiat currencies evolved out of barter economies. Newer research says that's not true--barter economies come in times of economic collapse. (It's not intuitive to develop the idea that a sword and cow and a jar have some fixed abstract value, even if it's only in relation to each other instead of a currency, if you don't already have the concept of currency.)

So you would have barter, but not in the sense that Patent X is worth 2.7 Patent Y. More like social credit, but in a social network much larger and more intricate than a village. The value and cost of an exchange would depend a great deal on inter-faction and intra-faction relations, with the Patent Office serving as a forum/court for grievances and a regulatory body.
It's kind of interesting that it goes with this model; I wonder if it's an artifact of when it was made. It's a system based on assumed good-faith actors with an authoritative, centralized third party as regulatory body and source of truth, which is entirely opposed to the zero-trust and anti-regulatory stance more popular with technocratic Silicon Valley types these days.

EclecticTastes posted:

I mean... yes? If someone sets the conceits of a setting, I kinda just roll with it, unless it's obviously being used as allegory promoting abhorrent ideology.


EclecticTastes posted:

I know, I probably shouldn't be going in like this, I just feel like a lot of what people are saying is because I didn't explain the game well enough, and I feel a certain responsibility to help clear up any misunderstandings, I don't want what I think is a pretty charming little game to get a bad rep because I hosed up and didn't present it correctly. Sorry.
To be extremely frank, the problem isn't that you're not presenting the game correctly. It's that the position of refusing to critically engage with the conceits of a work of fiction is ethically suspect at best, and the idea that you can "just roll with" racial coding and defend it as "oh that's just how the setting works" that's gross.

You're the one getting the bad rep.

Comrade Gorbash fucked around with this message at 19:22 on Oct 16, 2018

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Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





In this context, a simple definition for 'neoliberal' would be 'the belief that market forces and property rights, in a context of a universal market-based system of commerce, provides the best system for human endeavor' - a lot of socially liberal, well-intentioned Democrats do indeed subscribe to neoliberalism as a method for attaining a better world, and that has not worked out!

It's closely associated with third-way, common-cause liberalism, which believes that everyone ultimately wants the same better world and we just disagree on how to pursue it. Which is pretty present in Sufficiently Advanced as well!

The 'liberal' in neoliberal is in the sense of free markets, aka 'classical liberalism' rather than social liberalism. The authors are pretty consistently both.

Also,

EclecticTastes posted:

I mean... yes? If someone sets the conceits of a setting, I kinda just roll with it, unless it's obviously being used as allegory promoting abhorrent ideology.

This baffles me. Surely that conceit, and whether it holds up or has obvious flaws, is a good reason to criticize the setting and choose whether or not to play it? And more than that, does this mean your standards for verisimilitude... don't exist?

EDIT: I don't mean to go in on you, and not particularly to go in on Sufficiently Advanced, which seems, well, mostly harmless. The basic system and most of the setting locations seem perfectly cromulent; I like the Masquerade and the Starfarers, even with the frustrating little ideological suppositions built into them. It's the extropian utopianism of the Transcendentals that gets pushback because it's so much less utopian than the classics of the genre (like the Culture), and any claim to the utopian always gets criticized because it necessarily involves making a constructive argument for why everyone should do what you want, to make the world better.

A simple solution might be to make the Transcendentals much less present in the story - the PCs are more like private detectives, expected to go into these societies to find out useful information for mysterious benefactors (future AI) who want to help humanity make it to the far future without going extinct or becoming dystopian. Plus, like, comedy of manners and some weird far-future politics. Also, be more ambitious with the economy; look at Banks, for one, or the Quantum Thief series by Hannu Rajaniemi. One great thing about the Quantum Thief is that every single society is post-scarcity and, effectively, socialist or post-socialist, and they still have elaborate economies that are, generally, deeply unjust in totally new ways (there's an MMO society, a Public Key Encryption society, a tyranny of hyperintellects and mind-copy hierarchies society, and so on). The only market economy is on post-apocalyptic Earth in a vaguely Arabian Nights city in a crashed orbital habitat.

Obviously, dial down the injustice in all of these societies for a lighter touch, but, there's a ton of imaginative space outside of the boundaries of this setting. The Masquerade is, again, my favorite - I'd love to see interaction between that and the Martian society of The Quantum Thief.

Joe Slowboat fucked around with this message at 19:32 on Oct 16, 2018

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Also, one of the possible ideological groups builds bioweapons to kill the genetically weak on a wild misreading of Darwin (and is a playable PC group), but you know, the patent office is stopping them getting nukes so I guess it's doing a bang up job.

Anniversary
Sep 12, 2011

I AM A SHIT-FESTIVAL


Night10194 posted:

Also, one of the possible ideological groups builds bioweapons to kill the genetically weak on a wild misreading of Darwin (and is a playable PC group), but you know, the patent office is stopping them getting nukes so I guess it's doing a bang up job.
Though they are expected to use those bioweapons and the patent office apparently doesn't care?

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

LeSquide posted:

Wait, the regular weapon variants are WYSIWYG in Infinity?

As close as reasonable. Individual judgement comes down to your TO, and if you just bought a shitload of one guy and said "This one is an HMG, this one is a Spitfire, this one is a missile launcher," that's sort of suspect.

The general attitude is that I should be able to make an educated guess as to what your guy is at a glance. If you're using a rifleman model, but it's painted a little different and you've told me it's a spitfire, that's okay. If it's a regular unpainted rifleman, but you've stuck a tiny post-it dot on there that says "spitfire," that's also okay pretty much everywhere outside the big tournament in Spain. If you've got a bunch of random Haqq minis and you're telling me what Combined Army units they actually are, eh, probably not cool.

It used to be purely WYSIWYG, and that was widely considered to be crap around the world.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I remembered, it's the Nomads. The Nomads have the coolest cyberninja armour in Infinity.

Anniversary posted:

Though they are expected to use those bioweapons and the patent office apparently doesn't care?
Old Guy from Time Bandits: "I think it has something to do with Free Will?"

Anniversary
Sep 12, 2011

I AM A SHIT-FESTIVAL


Halloween Jack posted:

Old Guy from Time Bandits: "I think it has something to do with Free Will?"

Well there's your problem.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Halloween Jack posted:

Old Guy from Time Bandits: "I think it has something to do with Free Will?"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlJaIREGnaM

Still wonderful.

Barudak
May 7, 2007




Obsidian: The Age of Judgement is a roleplaying game by Apophis Consortium published first in 1999, and this review uses the 2nd Edition from 2001. Written by Micah Skaritka, Dav Harnish, and Frank Nolan. Obsidian is a post-apocalyptic anarchist corporatist literal hell on earth secret knowledge crunchy dice-pool game. It is purchasable online here if you’d like to support the authors of this work.

Part 18: Removing Your Appendix

We start the Appendix with the last of the fluff narrative that has started every chapter in the book so far. It is three solid pages with an attempt to add urgency by breaking up the writing into what exact minute that those events were happening except there is nothing the time is counting down to and ultimately the time that everything happens at is completely irrelevant to the story. I’d spoil the ending but it is so nebulous and undefined that it reads less like a “To Be Continued” and more like a misprint where the rest of the story got left off the printing master-copy.

After that, Obsidian does the single most innovative and groundbreaking thing in the entire book: the section called “Appendix” includes multiple pages of non-optional core rules. Where a normal book would include these materials in the sections relevant to them and possibly mention that they exist, Obsidian takes bold new direction. Only a fool would want all the rules of spell casting to be near each other, instead of 148 pages apart and tucked away between a second list of items and the glossary.

Artifacts

Before we can get to the spell casting, we have to talk about artifacts. Unlike the advanced spell-casting, these were at least mentioned earlier even if they only appeared in a single character creation background and were implied to be purely fluff without any concrete mechanics. There are two kinds of these artifacts, Minor and Major.

Minor artifacts are relatively plentiful, with most having at least fifty or so copies and some running into the hundreds with more discovered all the time and players expected to eventually get some if not several. Major artifacts are all game-ending macguffins that promise to end the never before mentioned “Divinity Wars” and are expressly forbidden from the players to meaningfully possess. Quote: “Major Artifacts should never permanently come under the control of a Character

So what do Minor Artifacts do? Not a whole lot really, with almost all of them being pretty crummy but you can at least stack as many of them as you want on a single character. One Minor Artifact, for instance, lets you destroy kult blades and suppress kult magic when you hold it, but once you destroy enough kult blades everyone has to make a terror rating check in its presence and with a Terror Rating of 30 minimum it is absolutely going to kill some players. Another lets you cast extremely bad and absurdly situational magical spells in exchange for losing one of your fingers forever, no regeneration. One of them references the Mayans which makes no sense because earlier the game established no character in the entire game setting would know who they were.

Of course, what would a section of flavorful, abundant items be without one that threatens to complete derail a game? One of the absolute most common minor artifacts is a sword with a unique property. When it deals any amount of damage to a good aligned kultists, instead it instantly no-save no-resurrection roll-another-character kills them. If you picked a good aligned kultist, or roughly half of all spellcasters in the book, you better hope your Narrator skipped the appendix section thinking they didn’t need to read it.

The Major Artifacts fare little better. Despite there being only five total Major Artifacts most have some combination of undefined powers, no rules on how to activate, or rules for what they would do if you managed to activate them. All that tiresome detail is instead replaced with spooky vague sentences like a ghost story stalling for time. The best one is the “War Drum of Sheol” that if played makes all demons loyal to you. The reason it’s the best is because it empirically doesn’t work because the backstory for how it got lost was the owner was killed by their own demons betraying them while they were playing it.

Arcane Rituals

After that it’s time for advance spellcasting. The game calls them “Arcane Rituals” and, in fairness, they actually are arcane. All of these rituals have mastery requirements of rituals learned earlier in the book, and are basically prestige magics. Most require two, but some require three separate rituals at different mastery ranks to unlock, making them a rather hefty investment. Even once you do have associated rituals learned, you’ll need to invest between 2-4 sessions of max XP just to learn them. If you didn’t read this section prior to building your character it’s very possible to end up with no “arcane rituals” at character creation and the only meaningful route to unlocking them requiring dozens of sessions XP.

It’d be really bad to have that happen, too, because a character with Arcane Rituals is flat out better than a regular caster. Arcane Rituals provide you an extra ritual that recharges at its own rate and your skill with it is governed by your highest ritual it consists of. This means an Arcane Ritual that requires a rank 7 ritual to cast are themselves therefore cast at a rank 7, and would have an entire extra ritual available to them in combat. With most of the rituals being lopsided in their requirements, i.e. requiring a rank 7 and a rank 1, system mastery is rewarded extensively here.

Further raising the value of these Arcane Rituals, a lot of them fill in gaps in a casters arsenal or push something they’re already good at into overdrive. Were you focused on avoiding damage and and making it hard for enemies to hit you? Congratulations you can now cast a damage causing sphere anywhere you can see that safely allows as many allied characters as you want to teleport through it.

This doesn’t mean they’re all worth building a character around, even if theyre all valuable. Some deal worse damage than the ritual they require to learn or do little else except give you a second slightly different cast of a ritual you already have. There is one absolutely awful one that is pure John Wick and he didn’t even work on the game. On a successful use of this power, you permanently lower one of the target’s skill of your choice by one rank. This can never, ever no matter what be recovered and the new number you lowered them to is their eternal maximum even if they have something that would boost it.

As we close out this section, it probably also won’t be much of a surprise to know that the rules regarding learning them don’t work right. Thanks missing rules and sloppy natural language. You’ll still need to invest some XP, but don’t worry about spending a year learning them, you only “may” need that much time!

With Artifacts and Arcane Rituals out of the way, the rest of the appendix is pretty standard. There is a glossary, an index, and a recap of the character creation and combat rules in highly truncated format. After that, all that remains are the character sheets ready and waiting to be photocopied, advertisements for a supplement that undermines the setting, and a novel whose selling point is it is at least 120 pages long.

And with that, thats Obsidian.

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Comrade Gorbash posted:

It's kind of interesting that it goes with this model; I wonder if it's an artifact of when it was made. It's a system based on assumed good-faith actors with an authoritative, centralized third party as regulatory body and source of truth, which is entirely opposed to the zero-trust and anti-regulatory stance more popular with technocratic Silicon Valley types these days.

Having been written in 2010 and heavily influenced by Star Trek, it's definitely coming from a much more optimistic, pro-government point of view.

Comrade Gorbash posted:

To be extremely frank, the problem isn't that you're not presenting the game correctly. It's that the position of refusing to critically engage with the conceits of a work of fiction is ethically suspect at best, and the idea that you can "just roll with" racial coding and defend it as "oh that's just how the setting works" that's gross.

Please give me a little credit, anything that's racially coded is obviously gross and not going to fly (if we're using specific examples, the "orcs are always evil" thing is a cliche I'm not particularly fond of), and things need to be internally consistent, I'm just saying that, speaking very broadly, I'm personally willing to suspend my disbelief if a GM decides that something just is, within reason. I guess a good example of what I'm saying would be the alignments of the various chromatic and metallic dragons in D&D. I don't know why they are what they are, but I just sort of accept it unless the GM makes the decision to examine it. I apologize for giving the wrong impression regarding my views, I'm actually very quick to call out anything that's problematic when playing, so, I guess in that context, I concede the point to Joe Slowboat, in that yes, I would question anything with a sociopolitical allegory I find objectionable.


Joe Slowboat posted:

In this context, a simple definition for 'neoliberal' would be 'the belief that market forces and property rights, in a context of a universal market-based system of commerce, provides the best system for human endeavor' - a lot of socially liberal, well-intentioned Democrats do indeed subscribe to neoliberalism as a method for attaining a better world, and that has not worked out!

It's closely associated with third-way, common-cause liberalism, which believes that everyone ultimately wants the same better world and we just disagree on how to pursue it. Which is pretty present in Sufficiently Advanced as well!

The 'liberal' in neoliberal is in the sense of free markets, aka 'classical liberalism' rather than social liberalism. The authors are pretty consistently both.

Thank you very much for the explanation, I was worried I might have come off as dismissive, but I truly have seen the word misused so much that its meaning has somewhat diluted for me, and this has helped me understand your points. It's true, Sufficiently Advanced has an unrealistically optimistic, even naive, view of the world, human nature, and so on, and I suppose my own love of Star Trek has biased me somewhat in its favor due to that. I rather like the idea of an idealized society where any economic or social model could exist peacefully, with minimal inequity, etc. That said, I can't deny that you're right in saying that it bears no resemblance to anything even remotely possible for real humans, my contention is more that there's nothing wrong with indulging in the fantasy that it's possible.


Joe Slowboat posted:

This baffles me. Surely that conceit, and whether it holds up or has obvious flaws, is a good reason to criticize the setting and choose whether or not to play it? And more than that, does this mean your standards for verisimilitude... don't exist?

As long as the setting plays by its own rules, I'm willing to go along with it. That said, the more I think about it, the more it seems that Sufficiently Advanced doesn't do that. It claims an infinite universe, but also that negative entropy and perpetual motion are impossible. The two are potentially compatible, but it really feels like they just wanted a universe without the prospect of heat death, that still adheres to thermodynamics, which doesn't feel consistent on review.

Joe Slowboat posted:

EDIT: I don't mean to go in on you, and not particularly to go in on Sufficiently Advanced, which seems, well, mostly harmless. The basic system and most of the setting locations seem perfectly cromulent; I like the Masquerade and the Starfarers, even with the frustrating little ideological suppositions built into them. It's the extropian utopianism of the Transcendentals that gets pushback because it's so much less utopian than the classics of the genre (like the Culture), and any claim to the utopian always gets criticized because it necessarily involves making a constructive argument for why everyone should do what you want, to make the world better.

A simple solution might be to make the Transcendentals much less present in the story - the PCs are more like private detectives, expected to go into these societies to find out useful information for mysterious benefactors (future AI) who want to help humanity make it to the far future without going extinct or becoming dystopian. Plus, like, comedy of manners and some weird far-future politics. Also, be more ambitious with the economy; look at Banks, for one, or the Quantum Thief series by Hannu Rajaniemi. One great thing about the Quantum Thief is that every single society is post-scarcity and, effectively, socialist or post-socialist, and they still have elaborate economies that are, generally, deeply unjust in totally new ways (there's an MMO society, a Public Key Encryption society, a tyranny of hyperintellects and mind-copy hierarchies society, and so on). The only market economy is on post-apocalyptic Earth in a vaguely Arabian Nights city in a crashed orbital habitat.

Obviously, dial down the injustice in all of these societies for a lighter touch, but, there's a ton of imaginative space outside of the boundaries of this setting. The Masquerade is, again, my favorite - I'd love to see interaction between that and the Martian society of The Quantum Thief.

Honestly, aside from my own worries of not explaining things properly, I enjoy a spirited discussion about this sort of stuff. Everyone's made a lot of good points, and hopefully I haven't been too inept with my own. It's given me a lot to think about, and I'm glad we could hash it out like this, and hopefully I haven't pissed anyone off. Also, I feel like I've overstated the presence of the Transcendentals in-play. They basically give Inspectors their missions, and that's it. They don't directly communicate with anyone else (to minimize the observer effect). Your idea of "private detectives" sums up what most missions ultimately are (anything about "patent law" is explicitly acknowledged as just a pretense), just that they also take an active hand when necessary, which feels like a concession to gameplay, so that the action is more dynamic for the players.

At least the writers, to their credit, anticipated criticisms like yours, and encourage the players to modify things as they see fit. Personally, I'd run things like The Federation, where it is basically socialist and working is based less on necessity and more on what one wants to do. I'm not entirely sure why the writers didn't go that way to begin with when they explicitly cite Star Trek as an influence.


Night10194 posted:

Also, one of the possible ideological groups builds bioweapons to kill the genetically weak on a wild misreading of Darwin (and is a playable PC group), but you know, the patent office is stopping them getting nukes so I guess it's doing a bang up job.

Yeah, that's also true. I mean, this falls somewhat into the "why does God let bad things happen" question, I imagine, but given that the Ts will subtly deal with lots of other broad-scope threats, the fact that the Darwinians are able to continue operating feels a little eugenicist, like they've got the Ts' silent endorsement, which feels pretty ungood. Either that or they secretly suck so bad at actually implementing their goals that nobody bothers to go after them. I'm kind of amused at the idea of the Darwinians just being a bunch of neckbeards that talk a big game but never get anything done.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



You guys should stop arguing with the dude who admitted he never critically evaluates text.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





How is this discussion so close to the bad Goblinslayer defender takes?

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Mors Rattus posted:

You guys should stop arguing with the dude who admitted he never critically evaluates text.

That's absolutely not what I said. The way I engage with most media and the way I engage with a setting created by a GM for the purpose of an RPG are completely different, and I clarified the latter case in my last post. I'll thank you not to misrepresent the things I say.

Terrible Opinions posted:

How is this discussion so close to the bad Goblinslayer defender takes?

Okay now that's just insulting, but clearly indicates that I'm still not explaining myself properly, so I'll just say plainly that no, that's not anything close to the point I was trying to make, but I'm just not doing a good job of making my actual point, and leave it at that.

EclecticTastes fucked around with this message at 20:45 on Oct 16, 2018

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



You have absolutely said that. You don't question why decisions are made the way they are, you don't engage with what these decisions mean, you have consistently poo-pooed complaints and critical comments about the meanings behind things with 'well I guess I'm just better at accepting utopian thought' rather than accept that maybe the utopia presented is flawed or reveals negative things about its writers and their beliefs. You treat the setup for these societies as if it were of the same consequence as dragon colors.

You have consistently been attacking anyone who disagrees with your particular love for this game and the ideas it presents as having misunderstood the text or being unable to accept utopian star trek sci fi, and you vacillate wildly between 'well this is a serious look at these ideas that fails in some imagination!!' to 'why do you keep criticizing sci fi genre tropes!!'

You're very bad at this.

e: just being made for RPGs does not make anything different for fiction - choices are still made, ideas reflected. That you shut down critical engagement because elfgames is on you.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Yeah, the issue is now really is you can't be objective, you're taking the criticisms of this system as a personal attack, and that's not a good tact to take in this thread where people are by default going to comb for flaws.

I think it wouldn't be a bad idea to step back from the thread for a bit.

Big Mad Drongo
Nov 10, 2006







Grimey Drawer

Night10194 posted:

Like in general it just feels like Sufficiently Advanced doesn't have sufficient imagination. It's raised a potentially interesting question: What happens when something with a wholly different perspective on reality happens to reach a homogeneous opinion that the kindest thing it can do for reality is move all intelligences into its model of viewing existence? What happens when this is a genuinely well intentioned perspective reached by all available data to the computer Gods? Is this a function of their new perspective on reality being able to see past different forms of conflict, or have they become trapped in some kind of false consensus by the peculiarities of how they experience reality? Is this a higher level or a sidestep masquerading as one? That way you aren't arguing about intentions; they remain benevolent in intention. You're arguing about whether or not you could even say that a perspective on reality is necessarily optimal and how you argue that. It isn't just a matter of good and evil, it's a matter of the value of perspective and experience.

Like your general objection to anyone suggesting things could be examined more deeply is that they're suggesting the robot Gods are evil. What I'm suggesting is more that the robot Gods are acting on what they believe to be the best of all possible ideas and perspectives and that keeping in mind that they are doing what they believe to be morally good and benevolent actually makes these questions more interesting to examine. They are, as you say, programmed; they are created organisms, built towards a specific end, and apparently still working towards it despite their power. Are they capable of examining the implications of their creation? If not, that's fascinating! There is so much you can do with the premise of benevolent robit Gods who believe they have found the optimal route for existence (and who very well may have! Part of the interesting question to examine is whether or not anyone with a trans-temporal perspective will reach the same conclusions) Leave it to the discussion of the group and story as to whether or not they have. A basic premise of 'benevolent Gods with a fundamentally different perspective on reality have decided an optimal route for it' is a good premise if it's willing to examine itself and debate itself and think about itself rather than defaulting to a fairly simple 'this is objectively good' right off the bat.

I feel like the most interesting campaign for this setting would be a post-singularity Candide with Candide and Professor Pangloss as the PCs. Like, they take the Patent Office's mission completely straight while sci-fi chaos rains down around them as a result of their actions.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Tome of Salvation

I need a priest!

One of the odder bits in the ToS writeup is the idea that 'it is a rare boy or girl who tells their parents they want to be a priest'. Yes, priests have a rough initiate period, and yes, it's a little uncommon to be that strongly drawn to one God, and yes, especially if you end up able to use miracles being a Priest is going to mean being scrutinized more carefully by a divine power and your community for the rest of your life, but it's a position of tremendous respect in the Old World. Not only that, but outside of Ulricans priests are perfectly able to inherit property, marry, etc so many of the reasons you might worry about the priesthood seem less likely to come up.

Many people who become priests do so because they're called to their religion, feel an especial attachment to one God, and wish to learn the rites that will bring that God's good will down on the community. This is simply enough, but it's worth noting that the average priest got into it because of sincere religious belief. Older people who become priests were often already Templars, Hunters, or other people heavily associated with the church, who have decided to go into preaching and maintaining the rites rather than fighting for their God. Taking an initiate's vow and entering the formal priesthood is also common among lay cultists, who often performed other functions for the cult and already had occasion to learn many of its teachings. These people are already used to following the strictures and often take less education to achieve ordination, since they were already deeply involved with the cult.

Others are orphans, raised in the many religious orphanages in the Empire. The cults of Shallya and Sigmar operate many orphanages, and generally try to downplay how useful these are to producing children who already have some religious education and inclination as future priests and priestesses. Religious education is also one of the most affordable and widespread forms of education in the Old World, so burgher parents will sometimes send their children to learn to read and write with the temples' schools; some percentage of these children are inspired to take Initiate vows and stay in the faith, especially as this is a very respectable path to take in life. 'Gifting' a child to the church is also a common way to get rid of a child a family can't feed, or a noble son or daughter who the family doesn't have any property for. The family hands the child over to the priests to be raised as an Initiate from a young age, which means they'll be provided for, educated, and may eventually have a respectable profession; far superior to letting them wander off and become an Adventurer or exposing a child you can't feed. Other children taken into the temples as wards are the children of priests or templars killed in action; the temple has an obligation to provide for them as part of its obligation to its former servant.

Others become priests because something has drastically changed in their life. The example given is a mercenary who found himself badly wounded and on the wrong side of a losing battle, praying to the Gods to let him live, and just before he passed out and came to still alive, he saw a dove sitting on a wrecked cannon. Naturally, he became a Shallyan, thinking the Goddess had spared his life. Life-changing events happen; people find a new path in life. These priests are generally just as valued as the young initiates, and might bring unusual skills to their temple that the cult will appreciate. The Career system gives a few explicit paths for this, like a Thief who becomes a Verenan in contrition.

Some people become priests because they're respected and valued members of the community who get paid. This is especially helpful if you used to be (or still are) a criminal, cultist of dark forces, or someone else who wants to erase their past. Still, plenty of people become priests to have access to the collection box and to be exalted among their peers. Some of them might even make fine priests, even if they got into it for selfish reasons; a priest is above all else a religious professional and intermediary between a community and their Gods. If they're capable of performing the rites and doing their job properly, it might not end up mattering that the main reason they do it is because it's a good and secure job. Of course, those who got in to hide their past misdeeds, and who continue doing them, make either particularly interesting PCs or enemies for PCs.

We also get an interesting aside on a compact between Shallyans and Ulricans in the northern Empire, whereby the Shallyans take the girl orphans but hand over the young boys to the Ulricans for initiation at the age of seven. This is usually a huge shock to the boys, who are used to the kindness of the Shallyans and then handed over to be beaten into gruff warriors by the harsh Ulricans. The Ulrican temples actually have great respect for initiates of this sort who either successfully escape the orphanage or keep trying to break out despite being captured and punished repeatedly; it's pious to the God to refuse to be caged in a situation you don't want to be in and to keep resisting your fate. Some of the best Ulrican priests come from those who have been caught running away five or more times, as Ulric admires their resolve.

Next Time: The beatings will continue until it makes up for the perceived slights I suffered as an initiate myself

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

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



Saladin is ironically an incredibly apt choice of historical figure, since he's infamous for being a more important figure in the West than in the world of Islam itself.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



Big Mad Drongo posted:

I feel like the most interesting campaign for this setting would be a post-singularity Candide with Candide and Professor Pangloss as the PCs. Like, they take the Patent Office's mission completely straight while sci-fi chaos rains down around them as a result of their actions.

We live on the best of all worlds, said professor pangloss as the orbital bombardment began.

EclecticTastes
Sep 17, 2012

"Most plans are critically flawed by their own logic. A failure at any step will ruin everything after it. That's just basic cause and effect. It's easy for a good plan to fall apart. Therefore, a plan that has no attachment to logic cannot be stopped."


Robindaybird posted:

Yeah, the issue is now really is you can't be objective, you're taking the criticisms of this system as a personal attack, and that's not a good tact to take in this thread where people are by default going to comb for flaws.

I think it wouldn't be a bad idea to step back from the thread for a bit.

That's probably good advice. I try to maintain objectivity, but I won't lie, I'm not very good at it, and I've definitely put forth a completely inaccurate image of myself as a result.


Mors Rattus posted:

You have absolutely said that. You don't question why decisions are made the way they are, you don't engage with what these decisions mean, you have consistently poo-pooed complaints and critical comments about the meanings behind things with 'well I guess I'm just better at accepting utopian thought' rather than accept that maybe the utopia presented is flawed or reveals negative things about its writers and their beliefs. You treat the setup for these societies as if it were of the same consequence as dragon colors.


You have consistently been attacking anyone who disagrees with your particular love for this game and the ideas it presents as having misunderstood the text or being unable to accept utopian star trek sci fi, and you vacillate wildly between 'well this is a serious look at these ideas that fails in some imagination!!' to 'why do you keep criticizing sci fi genre tropes!!'

I'm just going say that all of this,

Mors Rattus posted:

You're very bad at this.

Is because of this. I've clearly done an absolutely terrible job of explaining myself, and it's come out all wrong, and that's my fault, as I've acknowledged. So, before I go for a while, I just want to apologize for making an rear end of myself, and say I sincerely do appreciate all the input everyone gave. Sorry.

WhitemageofDOOM
Sep 13, 2010

... It's magic. I ain't gotta explain shit.

FFRPG 4e Part 15: The White mage

The last primary job

Level 1- Arcane devotion: And i never have to pretend i'm witty for these abilities again. Oh you also get healing magic.

Level 1- Heavenly Magic: You get the light, air or purify spell school. Not having damage blows. The lvl4 light spell deals Mute, the lvl4 air spell is the best AoE spell outside water or ultima.
Specializations
Heavenly Mastery: So get purify.
Heavenly Blessing: You can target two characters with a heavenly or protective spell for x2 mp. Considering both of these groups get MT stuff anyways, not worth losing esuna.
Heavenly Warrior: You can equip medium armor, and equip medium weapon&shield. Your hp bonus also increases by 1. Ok so you are a cleric. This is definitely something to consider, if you take it dump light or air and just use MACE TO THE FACE.

Level 15- Protective Magic: (Protection from) Elemental, Life, Armor, Shield, or Images group. Yeah welcome to the hardest group choice in the game. The elemental group doesn't group target and can't hit physical elements so it's a crappy version of shield.
Specializations
Protective Mastery: Well this lessons some of the choice paralysis of how good protective magic is.
Magic Shield: I said some, this let's you cast self targeting protective magic as a reaction.
Magic Armor: You can just take damage to mp, suck it will shield.

Level 15- Versatile Protection: Yeah we know how hard picking between protection magic is, here have another, that's what this ability is saying. Armor&Shield is a solid choice, Images&Life is also but more swingy. It's still hard.
Specializations
Deep studies: Gain a Heavenly, psychic, or protective spell group. Man, black and time mages WISH they had this somewhere in their trees.
Martial Dabbler: Choose a weapon other than twin weapons or instruments. Gain proficiency. If i wanted weapon proficiency I'd have taken cleri....heavenly warrior.
Offensive Barriers: You can with Fire vs. (7+Water) debarrier any status you can inflict with protective magic. Man, where IS the despell group.

Level 30- Psychic Magic: I have a complaint, these don't use water it's called psychic magic and inflicts mind attacks. Take vulnerability (Scan+Weaken:Element), Enchantment(Silence&Berserk), or Madness(Confuse&Charm). Enchantment is the stinker here, but vulnerability is amazing as is confuse and charm.
Specialization
Psychic: Take Vulnerability AND Madness....or have taken deep studies and not needed this.
Asceticism: If you are stoned, berserked or stopped you can cast status removal spells on yourself to remove them. Why not mute?
Elemental Blessing: You gain R: any element, you can actually pick crush, but....why?

Ancient Magics
Holy- Does less than flare, doesn't ignore shell, reflect or m.arm. The only difference should be that that Holy isn't non-elemental.
Shield- Because it being a spell and a spell group isn't confused. But it grants someone old style wall for the rest of the round, can i have my status immunity?
Arise- Full lifes the party, cute but you'll use it once or twice. Go with holy or shield.

Criticism: Still the best, still do everything(damage, status, healing, protection), possibly even MORE mandatory with how hard potions are to use(2 actions? really?). On the other hand most of their specialization choices are legit choices as are their spell groups.

Final Criticism on primary classes: Like 3e too many classes don't know what they are doing, and Primary classes are supposed to be WHAT YOU ARE DOING. Go through every class, ignore the specializations outside the gil bonus from rogue and the ancient magics on mages and ask "Hey what is this class doing?" Then make sure their main abilities work towards that.
Also a lot of times specializations are no brainers and i don't mean "For your build", so then make a specialization pass where you ask yourself what the specializations are doing at that level. Specialization sets like ancient magic and Rogue gil bonus, or The AoE attack on warrior offer the best choices because they really are specializing you not sticking you down a build path.
Also split out the Knight from the Warrior as the "Tactics Fighter" rather than the "Smash Fighter", the game needs more primary class fighter types. Only one class using most of the weapon groups is just weird.

WhitemageofDOOM fucked around with this message at 21:59 on Oct 16, 2018

SirPhoebos
Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!


What got my attention with Sufficiently Advanced was the post-singularity hyper-AI that could communicate with the past by Super Logic, because I heard that stuff before on these forums. The centerpiece of the thread was Rokko's Basilisk, and how this community of sci-fi nerds that convinced themselves they were Important Philosophers were having panic attacks because through a series of intellectual jack-off sessions they had re-invented Catholic Hell.

In fact, I sort of want to run a campaign where the players had to deal with Rokko's Basilisk.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





SirPhoebos posted:

What got my attention with Sufficiently Advanced was the post-singularity hyper-AI that could communicate with the past by Super Logic, because I heard that stuff before on these forums. The centerpiece of the thread was Rokko's Basilisk, and how this community of sci-fi nerds that convinced themselves they were Important Philosophers were having panic attacks because through a series of intellectual jack-off sessions they had re-invented Catholic Hell.

In fact, I sort of want to run a campaign where the players had to deal with Rokko's Basilisk.
A forums poster presented the solution: "Aha, but I refuse to accept the wager, and I punch myself in the balls: What now, computer god?"

Which really is the entire solution to the problem, even if you accept its premises: Resolve that a far-future frankenstein computer god that would do such things should not be, and you won't further it, even if it (hypothetically) threatens to punch you in the genitals for all eternity. If you are a simulation, either you were going to reach that conclusion anyway or you demonstrate moral reasoning to the god-intellect.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cults: Judges, pt. 3



Degenesis Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 3: Cults


Archot's Obsession

The first 20 years of (Supreme Judge?) Archot's reign were magnificent or so the history books will say. The Protectorate absorbed dozens of villages in Borca. Scores of Clanner scum fell to musket fire. The Cockroach clan was driven into hiding. Ignatz, a smuggler's den, was razed in a combined effort with Preservists. Archot accepted praise for these accomplishments with “an insufficient layer of false humility.”

However, the Supreme Justice feared being forgotten in death, just like Supreme Criminal Bender. He didn't want to be just another stone head among stone. He wanted something bigger.

Archot's Obsession posted:

They struggled in the ruins, harvested stones, and dragged them to Justitian’s high town. They piled them up at the end of the Judgment Alley; layer by layer, a stone torso formed, passing from a sinewy neck to the chin, tapering at the shoulders.

Is it me, or the description of the Colossus feels off?

It doesn't matter, really, since a Jehammedan assassin blew it up.

I don't know why he's called an “assassin” for blowing up a statue, but here we are.

Apparently, Chroniclers recorded “the Hagari” (whatever that is) before the detonation. Some judges saw a female Jehammedan near the statue. Archot knew that an Issaki had been sent to Justitian from Osman. He gathered all that information within 30 minutes of the explosion and he was mad with vengeance.

Archot's Obsession posted:

Streamers spread out, trying to warn the Jehammedan community, but they did not reach them. Interface problems. In the end, Rutgar’s black Judges found the Isaaki Gideon and riddled him with 12 rounds of bullets.

I think there's implication that this all might have been orchestrated by the Chroniclers – or that “interface problems” is just a stupid way to call a misunderstanding.

Also: 12 rounds of bullets is one of the more wrong descriptions of a shooting I've ever read.

Archot hung Gideon on a jib on the wall of Justitian - and with this madness started the collapse of the Protectorate.

Retreat

The Jehammedan quarter survived, but only because one dude convinced them to turn their back on Osman, persuading them that their leaders started a holy war that would kill them all. But Archot remained paranoid.

The fall of the Colossus emboldened the clans to attack... somehow (apparently, SYMBOLISM is super important). They started attacking trade convoys. Some Protectorate settlements were lost, just like that (what were the Judges doing in the meantime?). Then Praha fell. The Judges didn't care about poo poo going down on the other side of Reaper's Blow - but the clans did. If they could kill Praha (with the power of a pre-Eschaton murder robot), they could surely fell Justitian, right? So they gather in strength. Even the Cockroaches are back.

That’s where the situation of Judges at present. We now unceremoniously switch to the description of the organization.

Hall of Judgment

The Hall of Judgment starts in the middle of Justitian, just next to the Central Cluster. It's rectangular, 80 meters long and 50 meters wide, with thick walls, high arched windows, columns, a dome... and three entry portals, with two bronze statues of Judges between them. Each over 8 meters tall, one is shown resting on a hammer while the other clutches a Codex to his chest.

Hall of Judgment posted:

The roof is 14 m high, a broad battlement with low bunker towers on all four corners surrounding the whole building. Thick-bellied cannons and mortar mounts stare down onto visitors grimly from up there. Behind them, the Protectors patrol.

It's basically a Warhammer fortress. There's building next to it, concrete “covered in ashlar from pre-eschatological times” (read: fancy stone bricks), that houses the stables. Of course, there are rumors that horses live better than some citizens of Justitian.

The main structure is described further, but it's kinda boring. Just know that there are stained glass windows and a central atrium.

The Barracks

There are barracks placed in strategic spots in Justitian (just... how big is it?). Depending on importance, they can hold between 10 and 100 judges, subterranean vaults, arsenals, training rooms and fortifications.

pre:
                     THE CODEX

                    SERVE JUSTICE,
               SEEK THAT WHICH IS WRONG,
                ALLEVIATE THE SUFFERING.

                     THE WORD
       GIVES US PREMONITION AND SHOWS US THE WAY.
               IT AWAKENS THE SPIRIT,
              EXACTS THE CONSCIOUSNESS.

                     THE HAMMER
               DOES NOT SHOW THE WAY.
                     IT PUNISHES.
                    IT EXORCISES.
                     IT REMOVES.

                    CLOAK AND HAT
   ARE THE SIGNS OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE RIGHTEOUS.
                THEY DEMAND HUMILITY
                AND ASK FOR RESPECT.

                  GOGGLES AND SCARF
                   ARE THE SHADOW
                 HIDING THE FEAR AND
                 DEFLECTING REVENGE.

                     THE MUSKET
               IS LIGHT AND LIGHTNING.
           ALL THAT IS FALSE FLEES FROM IT
                      INTO RUIN.
I can't into whitespace

Next time: these are some rank Judges!

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



As there was a request to see more Ed Greenwood fuckwittery, here is part one of Ironguard, a short adventure published in Dungeon #18, and suggested as a followup to the Haunted Halls.



Written by Ed Greenwood and published in July/August 1989, Ironguard is a mini dungeoncrawl for 4-6 characters of levels 1-3, or about 10 total character levels.

The adventure opens in a market square where the characters notice a scraggly old man sitting on a worn leather pack. The man suddenly notices the party, mutters angrily and vanishes. A few moments later he re-appears and accuses one of the PCs of having tried to mess with his stuff (whether they have or not). He ignores any protestations of innocence, yells about the PCs having to suffer "THE CURSE!", lurches forwards and then tries to grab one of the player casters. The module helpfully suggests that the GM can fudge his attack roll.

:choochoo:

The old man is Mad Meerim, a level 12 wizard with ridiculous stats (S 17, D 16, C 16, I 18, W 6, C 7, hp40), He only has two teleport spells and the curse left, but is protected by a plethora of defensive spells plus a contingency spell that teleports him away on low HP. The GM is advised that he can be immune to even more attack types if he wants to make the old man even more mysterious and use him in other encounters.

No. No thank you. I don't think we will.

Anyway, once Meerim has cursed the caster he teleports off, but his bag has split and he leaves behind a box containing 4 healing potions which have the side effect of making the imbiber glow blue (as per faerie fire) for 2-8 turns (20 to 80 minutes. Enjoy enemies having a +1 or +2 to hit you for the duration of the crawl if you drink one)

The curse makes the affected caster forget a memorised spell, and be unable to rememorise it, at a rate of one spell per 10 days. The Curse of forgetfulness can't be cured with Remove Curse.

Consulting a Sage about the curse will inform the characters that the spell was created by a notoriously reclusive and less than sane mage called Iyarim. He had claimed an ancient tomb in the Ironlands as his home, and was survived by his three apprentices, one of them being Meerim. We're given the names of the other two but they don't matter to the scenario. The implication being that since Remove Curse didn't work, and Alter Reality, Wish or Limited Wish are going to be out of the character's budget, the best hope for a cure would be to raid the wizard's former home and hope to find a way to reverse the spell.

Assuming the characters take on this quest (which I imagine they will, though possibly with grumbling thanks to the :choo: :choo: ) we arrive at the tomb.



It's a five room affair, starting with the entrance. An 11' tall black stone statue of a warrior stands guard over the entrance of the tomb - a slab set into the ground that requires a combined Strength of 22 to move. Once the slab is moved, the party see a set of spiral stairs winding into the earth.

The stairs are steep and sharply twisted. It takes three rounds to go down them at a normal walking pace. But wait! Ed Greenwood's love of Pratfall Stairs strikes again! These ones are magical - stairs will randomly grow to a foot high then revert to normal. The game effect is that each round characters on the stairs must pass a Dexterity check or fall and take 1-2 points of damage. The stairs can be shut down temporarily with Dispel magic.

Next… the bullshit continues!

Any guesses on where the Stirge is, and what state it's in before it attacks?

(Yes, I probably could have fitted it all into one post, but I'm writting these before work in the morning)

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Barudak posted:

The Major Artifacts fare little better. Despite there being only five total Major Artifacts most have some combination of undefined powers, no rules on how to activate, or rules for what they would do if you managed to activate them. All that tiresome detail is instead replaced with spooky vague sentences like a ghost story stalling for time. The best one is the “War Drum of Sheol” that if played makes all demons loyal to you. The reason it’s the best is because it empirically doesn’t work because the backstory for how it got lost was the owner was killed by their own demons betraying them while they were playing it.

It works all right. It's just the demons have a different definition of 'loyal' than most people.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Angrymog posted:

Any guesses on where the Stirge is, and what state it's in before it attacks?

I wager 200 Quatloos on "elf maiden naked in forest, possibly bath".

Sage Genesis
Aug 14, 2014


Angrymog posted:

Any guesses on where the Stirge is, and what state it's in before it attacks?

Is it petrified and magically turns alive, like the world's shittiest gargoyle?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




This is by Ed Greenwood, right? The stirge is inside of a Mimic, having sex with it. They both attack you at once.

Piell
Sep 3, 2006

Grey Worm's Ken doll-like groin throbbed with the anticipatory pleasure that only a slightly warm and moist piece of lemoncake could offer



Young Orc

The stirge is in the door lock so when you try to peek inside it pokes out your eye

Big Mad Drongo
Nov 10, 2006







Grimey Drawer

The real stirge was inside you all along. Take 2d8 damage (save vs. breath for half) as it bursts from its fleshy tomb.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.



Ariadna

I hope you like Vernor Vinge, space cowboys and ethnic stereotypes as much as I do!



Back before everything went to hell for the global north, they banded together and took a stab at interstellar travel. NASA had tripped over a bizarre new stellar phenomena, a singularity entering the Sol system, and discovered that with the right bit of probing you could enter the singularity and travel through a wormhole.

Turns out the wormhole dumped out in Delta Pavonis, a relatively close-by star system. Delta Pavonis about twenty light years away from Sol, and the star itself is cooler and brighter than our own. Better still, the four planet out from Delta Pavonis looked like it was suitable for colonization. This planet was christened Dawn, as it was held to be the start of a new age for humanity. An ostensibly pan-national colonization effort was started, although since most of the funding came from the US, Russia and the EU, they locked down as many of the colonist berths for their own people as they could.

The Ariadna was the first ship built to colonize Dawn. It was intended to run on a bare-bones setup, to provide just enough in the way of manpower and infrastructure to get a toehold on the planet, where it would be followed up by its much larger sister ship, the Aurora.

The first wave of colonists consisted of the flight crew and space walkers, a cadre of scientists and technicians, and a military contingent to safeguard the colony from any potential threats, as well as to keep the peace between the disparate national colonies. Russia being Russia, they bundled up a bunch of semi-loyal Cossacks who were used to hard manual labor and treated them as their entire colonist clique, military and civilian alike.

The initial plan called for the beginning of a colony base population, operating under the fairly sensible idea that it’d be cheaper to grow new workers and techs on-site rather than ship them across twenty light years. Whole families were encouraged to join the crew, so long as they could provide at least two qualified crewmembers. To further spruce up the genetic viability of the colony, a drive for tissue samples, oocyte and sperm donations was held across the globe, because you never know when you’ll want to get ahold of that Finnish ability to withstand long, hard nights and the close proximity of Russians.

Once everyone was bundled onboard, they were put into cryosleep and shoved through the wormhole. Upon reaching orbit, the ship woke the crew, with only minimal deaths in the freezers, and everyone set about the landing procedures. The military crew were dropped after the establishment of some primitive orbit-to-surface facilities, to clear out a landing zone and to make sure there weren’t any hostile indigenous lifeforms that’d put the bite on the civvies. After that, the Ariadna itself would make planetfall and be broken up to form the core of the colony base.

Predictably, everything in the plan went wrong. The Aurora, with the rest of the more experienced scientific staff and the bulk of the colony’s infrastructure, was lost when the wormhole collapsed. Since the initial colony wave was meant to put boots on the ground, they didn’t have the ability to get back to orbit once they touched down; the first sign they had of the Aurora’s disappearance was that all those other guys are overdue, since it’s not like they brought deep-space telescopes with them. Turns out there were native, intelligent aboriginal lifeforms, dubbed the Antipodes. First contact didn’t go well, since Antipodes look and act like unintelligent wolves by their lonesome, but form a gestalt mind when they get into proximity with each other. Eventually this escalated into a full-scale war between the Antipodes and colonists; while the colonists had guns and radios against the Antiopodean discoveries of fire and metalworking, there were a couple hundred guys with guns versus an entire planet full of pissed-off wolf-things.

Between getting cut off from Earth and their impending doom at the hands of an entire continent of angry monsters, tensions began to rise in the colony. The unified mission began to break up along national lines, with the US contingent declaring themselves the 51st state and naming themselves like a social media hashtag, USAriadna. The UK crew followed suit, forming Caledonia to the north, the Cossacks seizing the remains of the Ariadna to found Rodina, and the French ESA creating the Francoariadnan Republic of Merovingia, because there’s nothing that French republicans love more than hybridized nationalities and connecting themselves to mythical royal lineages.

Having neatly divided up their labor pool and resources to be better prey for the Antipodes, the Ariadnans entered a period of disunity and economic decline referred to as the Depression. The Cossacks, with the greatest number of available combatants and their hold on the central point of industrial and scientific infrastructure on the whole drat planet, started to pull ahead of their peers. The Rodinans set themselves up as the primary power player between the other de facto independent nations, throwing its weight around and running the others against each other until it came to hold the reigns of a loose coalition between each country. If nothing else, the average person was so weary of frontier life and the constant and mounting pressure from Antipode attacks that they were willing to give peace a chance.

The peace lasted for a little while, at least. Humans being what they are, however, the inevitable occurred and the colonists plunged into outright civil war in short order; a peaceful protest against the increasing tax burden leveled by the Cossacks was suppressed violently, and the flare-up from the French, Americans and British kicked off another round of combat.

Once again, the comparative levels of unity on the part of the Cossacks versus everyone else won the day. This time, the Russians imposed harsh peace terms, making it abundantly clear that all other states were under their direct and total control. A new federalized nations, with the levers of power clenched tight in the Cossacks’ grip, was formed.

Apart from the usual violent upheavals of life on Dawn, things continued in this brave new world for a few decades. The population increased, a real industrial base was formed, and a rudimentary space program was even launched, with the hope that a return to orbit might help unify the planet again.

Panoceania had to blunder in and gently caress up that plan, though, when the Nirriti, a PanO wormhole scout blasted through a hitherto-unknown wormhole from another system, probably Svalarheima. A few months later, a Yu Jing cutter, the Lei Feng dropped in too. Both PanO and the State Empire immediately claimed the whole of Dawn for their own, embroiling the Ariadnans in someone else’s war, and very conveniently reminding them of just how little they meant to the home planet.

Much wrangling was done at the O-12, the Space UN, that I’ll spare you. The short version is that everybody started jumping onto Dawn and depositing their own colonies, shooting happened, and it turns out both the Antipodes and the Ariadnans weren’t quite as easy to brush aside as the dominant powers thought. The Ariadnan Commercial Conflicts were used by the Space UN to establish a new set of rules for colonization and exploitation, and with the sponsorship of Haqqislam and the Nomads, Ariadna entered the O-12 as a fully sovereign power. All this takes us from the mid-21st century to the current year of 2177.

Life on Dawn is still hard. The world is rich in resources, but the Ariadnans still aren’t up to the technological standards of the other competitor powers, even after decades of interaction, trade and espionage. Walled settlements are common, and everyone knows their way around a gun.

There are more Cossacks than any other Ariadnan state population. They run the federal show around here, and the British and Americans harbor a particular resentment against the Russian yoke. Cossacks employ strategic hamlets throughout their territory, called stanitsas, designed to hold out against Antipode attacks at first, and during the later conflicts against the other powers of the Human Sphere, until reinforcements from other local garrisons could arrive. The Cossacks are sincere in their concern that disunity will be the death of the Ariadnan people, but they’re also entirely unconcerned about cracking heads and breaking knees to get what they want from the other states. They’re fairly ethnically homogenous, owning to the other states varying levels of antipathy towards the Russians, as well as their own burgeoning white nationalist movement. Because Russians, they’ve built a giant armored train network across their territory, which you can see at in the header image for this entry.

The French founded the settlement of Mariannebourg, named for the personification of the French Republic, back during the initial exploration phase of colonization. The city turned into the central hub for transit across the Ariadnan territory, and Merovingia as a whole is located at the crossroads of all Ariandnan traffic and commerce. The great majority of Merovingians are descended from France and the Benelux countries, with significant minorities of Germans, Austrians and Italians. The Space French are proud and haughty, of course, but since they stand to gain by having everyone else’s tourist and trade money, they’ve also gained a reputation for being the most hospitable and easy-going people on the planet.

Much of Caledonia is established in the mountainous northern reaches of Dawn, beyond the Hadrian mountain range, hence its name - just like Scotland, giant wolfmen will stab you with broken bottles if you don’t give them money for heroin, or so I’m told. The northern mountain reaches are inhospitable and gloomy, but full of vibranium Tesium, the magic metamaterial that really powers the Ariadnan resource extraction economy. The Scots and Yorkshiremen are the dominant demographic here, because apparently mining and depression are heritable traits. There are also some southerners, Welshmen, and the occasional Scandanavian among the population. Caledonia presents as Space Scotland, because lunatics in kilts having drinking contests with the Russians to prove who’s more surly is more interesting than space redcoats and space tea.

USAriadna is what you get when you bundle a bunch of NASA nerds and a Ranger regiment into a spaceship, shake thoroughly, and add nostalgia and patriotism. Between the space agency nerds and the genetic stew that is the US armed forces recruiting populations, the USA is the most ethnically-diverse group on Dawn. The US Ariadna Ranger Force (USARF) is the bulwark of the eastern territories, and they see the most intrusion from foreign military powers, to the point where they’re forced to work hand in hand with the Russians because there’s just not enough manpower to go around. USAriadna is just as stereotypical as you could hope for; for instance, the capital city of Jefferson is home to the last remaining offices and factory of the Coca Cola corporation, which has otherwise been out of business for more than a century.


Antipodes and their handler

Antipodes are a wholesale theft of the Trines from A Fire Upon the Deep. They’re a lot meaner, though. Antipodes are intelligent in groups, but not much more than a really nasty dire wolf on their own. Bundled up, they’re capable of forming tribal groups and engaging in basic geopolitics, at least enough to declare outright war on the Ariadnan invaders, as well as mediate the fighting between tribes. Antipodes also have metallurgy and commerce, but we’re not given much more insight into their society apart from the fact they really don’t like us barging in on their planet and killing their children.

So, logically, we’ve captured a bunch of Antipode pups and brainwashed them with chemical conditioning to work for us. Antipode packs like the one above are serious business, and they are not fun to have to deal with on the table.

But wait, the parade of monstrousness continues! When a pregnant woman is bitten by an Antipode (and survives the attack, and somehow this is really, really common), viral agents in the Antipode’s saliva attack the fetus, rewriting part of its DNA. Ordinarily, the resulting child is healthy if kind of hairy and irritable, with a pronounced and universal fear of flying. They’re also werewolves. Like, literal World of Darkness brand, you-wouldn’t-like-me-when-I’m-angry werewolves. These werewolves are given the cheerful and affectionate name of “Dog-faces,” and when they’re riled up or wounded, they transmogrify into gigantic man-wolves. Fighting Dog-faces are called Dog-warriors, or more frequently by their unit name, because both of those terms are stupid. Transmogrified dog-faces have greater dexterity than the average Antipode, capable of handling sufficiently-sized weapons, and they retain their human intellect; they’re just preoccupied with hulking out.

On account of being different, and to a lesser degree because you never know when one might go bonkers and rip you in half with their bare hands, dog-faces are treated as second-class citizens. The only real way to win public adulation is by playing Dog-Bowl, which is like if you synthesized hockey and rugby and drafted teams entirely from groups of nine-foot-tall werewolves.

Even the dog-faces need someone to poo poo on. When a dog-face and a regular human breed, they don’t produce another dog-face, but a secondary mutation, which is the wulver. Wulvers are more your Lon Cheney kind of wolfman - human-sized, but clawed and abnormally hairy. They’re also sterile, because nothing goes right for these people. Wulvers are most common in Caledonia, due to the higher prevalence of dog-faces in that state.

Here is a list, in no particular order, of the things Spanish nerds think they know about the US. Some of them are hilariously wrong, some of them are hilariously right.

    The capital city of USAriadna is MountZion-The Wall, which is built on the furthest extent of USAriadnan territory. Ariadnan-Americans would hang Antipode corpses on the Wall. This was written prior to 2016.

    Geography is deterministic, so that people from the southern part of the state are like US southerners, and also that these same people would tolerate one of their sub-states being named for FDR.

    If you name an American city “Deadwood,” the inhabitants will have rolling gun battles with each other as they break out of their saloons and into the streets, in a place that is still somehow conducive to hosting a professional sports team. This will also work at least twice more in other cities named for the locales from westerns.

    Americans would build enough of a rail network to name a city “4 Tracks.”

    The bright shiny belle of the southern regions is a city named Tara.

    Space Americans would know enough Latin to make a joke motto like “Aurora Hora Aurea.”

    One of the major issues the Americans fight about internally is the specific detailing and color scheme of their flag.

    The first response Americans had to the Antipode counterattacks was to start scalping them.

    The US Marine Corps will spontaneously reform itself when the US military - even the Army - is in the presence of a sea, and they will recruit the most violent reprobates (here, werewolves) they can find to fill their ranks.

    Americans are fat and slow, but there sure are a lot of them.

    The manliest, fightingest, Americanist American of them all is a tall bald guy who kills people with a fire axe. He’s rude and offensively honest, beloved and feared by his peers depending on his bipolar phase. He looks exactly like Matthew McConaughey in Reign of Fire, and his favorite things to consume are beer and doughnuts.

The entire game is like this. Every single faction.

I love Infinity.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Tome of Salvation

Suffer, as I did!

There's a theme running through most apprenticeship narratives in Warhammer Fantasy, whereby masters abuse their apprentices because they were abused by their masters and so internalized that this was an important part of the educational process. I don't think this is just being done for grimdark; this is something that happens. I remember my father's stories about doctors resisting the calls to limit Resident hours (because the medical Residents were so exhausted that studies found they were making errors that were hurting patients) because 'oh all the hard work and lack of sleep when I was a Resident made me the doctor I am today! They have to deal with it!'. This is just the way people think, sometimes, especially if they went through a very arduous education.

Initiates are first brought before a temple's Master of Initiates (who might also be the main priest, if it's a small country temple with only one priest), who tries to gauge their personality and why they want to be a priest, asking them questions about theology and the Gods (which can be amusingly awkward if the Initiate to be is a 6 year old child or something). Young candidates are almost never rejected as Initiates; the temples pride themselves on their ability to shape children into proper priests with enough effort. Older Initiates are more likely to be turned away, specifically because it's much harder to 'manipulate and mold' an adult (the book's precise words). Temples look for a closer fit in adult Initiates because they assume the process of raising a child as a temple ward will also properly indoctrinate them. Once a student is accepted, they don the robes of their novitiate and symbolically burn their old clothes, to reflect turning away from their old life to move towards a life of faith. Oaths are sworn, and sometimes a new name or an extra name is assigned to represent this is a new part of the Initiate's life.

An Initiate will be subject to numerous tests of faith over the course of their Initiation. Many of the tests of faith are physically painful or terrifying, imposed by the priests because they were once imposed on them. An Ulrican temple might occasionally abandon Initiates in the snow and expect them to find their way home. Sigmarites are very fond of corporal punishment because they believe it 'hammers out' sin. These Tests of Faith are considered integral to religious education; even Shallyans will subject their Initiates to such things in hopes of preparing them to deprive themselves in order to better serve others in the future. It is also quite possible to fail your Initiation and never actually become a priest. Theoretically, any Initiate is welcome to keep trying until they succeed, but eventually the priests will tell one that perhaps the path of a priest is not for them if they continue to fail their tests and fail their ordination. Sometimes, such people become templars. Sometimes such people become the insane zealots running around preaching that their old church is corrupt and they know the only true path of the God. Sometimes they become Chaos cultists. And sometimes they take the hint and go get a normal secular job.

Small towns train their Initiates like apprentices, with the Initiates working directly for the priest as they learn about their faith. In cities, though, alongside the universities there have come theological academies, equipped to train whole classes of scurrying Initiates. These facilities are a considerably investment for a temple, and so they rarely just train priests; seminaries double as a place to teach the templar squires their religious duties and a way to educate monks before they take their monastic vows. Interestingly, many seminaries are co-ed, though you'll find single sex seminaries as well.

Initiates do the scutwork of the temple, partly because someone has to and partly to teach them their place as the lowest of the low. Initiates spend most of their first year cooking, cleaning, and scrubbing out the jakes, often while being subjected to those Tests of Faith by fickle priests who remember how it 'built characters' when they were young. Young Initiates get very little time to themselves, as any moment not spent doing the chores is expected to be spent either in lessons or in prayer and contemplation. Often, their 'prayer and contemplation' time is the only chance they get to socialize with other Initiates their age, so I imagine there's as much socializing as praying during those times, especially as they aren't carefully supervised. Initiates are never permitted to actually preach, instead helping a priest prepare their notes and organize their sermons. After a period of this (either the first year, if the Initiate was already an adult, or on reaching majority if they were not) an Initiate is sent out into the world to work for their God and learn more about the cult's place in the world. This is where Initiate PCs come from, and the temples are known to secretly encourage Initiates to become PCs and adventurers; fighting Chaos cults and uncovering dark conspiracies is a great way to inspire enduring faith in promising young priests-to-be. Remember that the average PC Initiate is on track to become a miracle-using magical priest, who are considered especially favored; a PC Initiate is usually quite promising and the sort of person their masters would like seasoned in the fires of adventure.

Ordination happens when the priests decide it will. Ordination can happen very quickly (often for those who are either tremendously promising, or who have paid a great and generous gift to the temple) or very slowly, but the moment when an Initiate PC is officially ordained and becomes a Priest should be a major character milestone. Holy vows are sworn that symbolically bind that character to the direct service of their God for all of their life. In all of the cults, these vows are the main component of the Ordination ceremony; in some cults, this will be the entirety of the celebration. A priest bound by these vows has a higher responsibility to their God than the lay cultists or the general public, and this theoretically puts the priest at risk of much greater divine scrutiny and punishment should they violate the tenants of their faith. We'll get to the Disfavor system later; it's actually way less harsh than 4e's and you're expected to occasionally annoy your God some, since you're only human, while making it much easier to get rid of Disfavor in the course of normal play. Some cults will continue to watch a young priest for a probationary period, and all cults advise that a priest's training is never truly complete; there is always more to learn and more to do.

We also get some actual mechanics! There are some new careers for monks and abbots (mostly scholastic careers, with the option to make either a divine spellcaster or leave them without magic), but we also get variant rules for the Priest careers. You see, the designers wanted to make it possible to play a Priest without being a miracle-user, or to play a more cloistered and scholastic priest, so we get alternate Priest career advances for both flavors. The non-magic Priests get better physical abilities, better combat abilities, and are still highly charismatic and brave individuals with reasonably good scholastic skills; hardly a bad PC type. The Cloistered Priest track lowers a Priest's combat ability in favor of more knowledge, theology, a better ability to run the gently caress away from trouble, and slightly better magic talents. This is a nice little add-on in case you wanted to try different flavors of the Priest class.

Next Time: Sigmarites have a great love of doctrine and correct thought, which leads to every individual temple having their own idea of the only true way to worship the Heldenhammer.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Ariadna is perfect and you really can't say anything bad about them (aside from Caterans having a single sculpt that, annoyingly, comes with a base).

The strangest thing is that Tartary Army Corps, the Cossack sectorial, is the last and newest of Ariadnan sectorials.

BTW, grassy knoll, are you pulling stuff from RPG in anyway, or just the TT books?

Barudak
May 7, 2007



The Lone Badger posted:

It works all right. It's just the demons have a different definition of 'loyal' than most people.

Just imagine your players faces when after youve hyped up riding into the blasted hell tainted world to hunt down this lost artifact and stop the armies of hell you reveal the thing has never actually worked.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


As an American, I am very excited to see my people get the ridiculous ethnic stereotype treatment in a major sci-fi property this time.

Wrr
Aug 8, 2010




Was there ever a F&F write-up for Blades in the Dark?

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Night10194 posted:

the temples are known to secretly encourage Initiates to become PCs and adventurers

You didn't roll your character accidentally - your character willed you into getting into a game of WHFRPG to animate him and help him become a priest.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I appreciate that almost every major apprenticeship tradition in the setting also includes 'And this is how your master sends you out for eggs and then you fall in with a ratcatcher and a troll slayer and accidentally topple a vampire lord several years later.'

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Barudak
May 7, 2007



Are we sure 4 tracks wasnt named because they only had half an 8 track collection survive planetfall

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