Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Tibalt
May 14, 2017

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee


Skellybones posted:

This had better be a Superstition Totem one.
That was the idea

Poland Spring posted:

please change your avatar
D&D is a lovely place full of lovely people. Hopefully they don't change it back.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


I’ve got tons of downtime right now, so I’m going to jump into a particularly insane task: I’m going to cover all three of the core books for White Wolf’s Aeon games (Adventure!, Aberrant, and Trinity). It works best to look at them in order, so we’ll start with Adventure!

Adventure! (the exclamation point is part of the name) is a game attempting to recreate the style of pulp novels from the 20s. Think things like Doc Savage. It begins with a short story written by Warren Ellis and starring the setting’s signature character, head of the Aeon Society for Gentlemen Max Mercer. It’s super pulp and if you’re into that sort of thing you’ll probably enjoy it. Then we move on to the actual text, which is divided into two Books: Setting and Rules.

Book 1: Setting – Part 1

So just to get this out of the way, Book 1 is like 94 pages long, and is in White Wolf style largely made up of stories and in-character text. It’s further split up into sections.

Welcome to Adventure!

We start with a couple of pages of Max Mercer welcoming the reader to the Aeon Society. At this point in history the Aeon Society is just a bunch of like-minded adventurous types who want to make the world a better place. They’ve all got different ways of doing this, reasons for it, and visions for what a better world looks like. But for now, they’re mostly playing nice together because pulp land is very black and white (and because Mercer is still around). We get another short story, and then move on to some background in the second section.

The Aeon Society

This section starts with a burned invitation to witness an experiment from Doctor Sir Calvin Hammersmith, who uncovered a method to harness energy from nothingness (which he termed Telluric Energy). It then moves immediately to a news clipping explaining why this invitation was charred, that at the demonstration his machine exploded killing him and some unspecified number of the attendees. We then get some journal entries detailing one of Max Mercer’s friends searching for him when he vanished for six months after the demonstration, eventually being found in the care of another major setting character, Doctor Primoris (who’s basically Doc Savage if Doc was super shady). It continues on to talk about the founding of the Aeon Society, and the strange events that were becoming increasingly common since the Hammersmith Experiment. This leads into the next section.

Telluric Energy

This next part is written by Doctor Primoris and is in a really rude handwriting font that would make me want to skip it if it didn’t introduce some important concepts. He discusses the three types of characters you can play: Daredevils, Mesmerists, and Stalwarts. Daredevils are your Indiana Jones types who are seemingly normal human beings but for whom the improbable works more often than not. Mesmerists are psychics, as you’d expect. Stalwarts are suspiciously like pulp-scale superheroes. Primoris (a Stalwart himself) makes rather a supremacist statement about Stalwarts being portents of the future, a statement which is definitely not going to be important in the overall plot of the setting at all ever. I’ll actually quote him here, for another take on the classes:

“I think we can look to myth and legend for a different way to categorize the new breed walking the earth, should categories be desired. Daredevils are the heroes of myth, the Daedaluses as well as the Jasons. Mesmerists are the wizards, witches and sorcerers who haunt the corners of our past. And stalwarts? Stalwarts are gods. Gods of the dawning age. But… if we are to be gods, where will mere mortals fit into our world?”

Nope not ominous at all. These gifts are collectively termed “Inspiration” and those with them “Inspired” by Mercer (who is in fact not really any of those things, and has a unique ability to travel through time that is revealed by Primoris in this section). Primoris spends the rest of the section on some anecdotes that lead to his conclusions as to how Inspired powers actually work (for example recognizing that the infant beginnings of quantum theory were important for explaining much of what was happening, which is a major part of the story but not all of it as we’ll see in Aberrant and Trinity). Our next section is on major organizations in the setting.

Agents of Change:

We get some information on how the Aeon Society views some of the other groups that are connected to Inspired in the setting now. These are probably the first really useful information we’ve gotten as far as ‘things that could be good adventure hooks’ goes.

The Air Circus: The Air Circus is a group of pilots led by friend of the Aeon Society “Danger Ace” Stefanowski. They’re an informal group of pilots who fight Sky Crime and fly where nobody else will. Their nemesis is a dude named Doctor Zorbo who is all about lighter-than-air craft and tried to destroy Kansas City with what is termed “Death Balloons”.

Branch 9: Branch 9 are a secret-rear end government organization that operates extralegally and deals with the weird poo poo going down in the world now. They’re not a solely US organization (though they were founded by Teddy Roosevelt) and have branches at the minimum in Britain, Mexico, China, and France. The section ends with a hook, that the Chinese branch has potentially be compromised by the Adventure equivalent of Fu Manchu, the Ubiquitous Dragon.

The International Detective Agency: These semi-Pinkertons are a bit more actual detective than that agency ever was. They’re investigators for hire with that slight tinge of thugs-for-hire you’d expect. Aeon considers them good guys and they’re definitely more legit than their real-world equivalents ever were. Their nemesis is introduced a bit, a criminal known as the King of the World.

The Ponatowski Foundation: A Slavic equivalent of the Aeon Society. They were originally headquartered in Russia and were on the White side of the revolution. They’re potentially headed by a criminal called the Czar who wants to use the secrets they find to create a new Russian empire, presumably after reforming the Russian monarchy given the name

The Contedorri: The secret Mafia, run by the King of the World mentioned above. They date back to before the world got really weird (though it’s always secrectly been a bit, even before Hammersmith’s Experiment). The Contedorri are criminals for hire and the secret masters who control them, not much to it.

The Rational Experimentation Group: This group is, apparently, how mad scientists manage to always have weird secluded labs in the middle of nowhere and plenty of test subjects to play with. Whoever they are, they want to see what science can do unmoored from ethics. Who they are, who is really behind them, and why they do this is left as a mystery.

The Order of Murder: Don’t let their name fool you, these aren’t assassins. They’re a group that provides the rich with the means to fake their own deaths when faced with some pressing reason to do so. They’re English noblemen mostly, and are the sort of Illuminati fucks who think they secrectly run the world.

Le Salon des Femmes Nouveaux: Not actually a French organization in spite of the name (though one of the founding members was French). They’re a group that has looked at the state of the world and come to the conclusion it’s largely a result of men running everything. They’re violent and pretty extreme, but the game does agree that the things they’re against are super poo poo at least instead of trying to paint them as obviously evil.

The Inquiry: A nebulous secret society engaging in nebulous social engineering by subtly destroying the careers and lives of those it disapproves of. More Illuminati and kind of boring really, not a great way to end the section.

This is going to get pretty long if I try to do the whole thing and we’ve still got the longest and probably most interesting (not all in good ways) section, on the world, to go, so I’ll cut this off here. Next time we’ll finish up the setting with This World of Wonder. And if you want more detail on any individual topic just ask, I can totally dive more into things.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Sage Genesis posted:

Lilli von Pipsqique.

:five:

SirPhoebos posted:

Len Kabasinski, male orc monk

Neil Breen, male human Paladin. :colbert:

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


JcDent posted:

Neil Breen, male human Paladin. :colbert:

He's going to take down all the corrupt bankers.

Also considering how many times he's been Jesus, Cyborg Jesus or Space Jesus, he should probably be an Aasimar or something instead, if that's an option.

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009



grassy gnoll posted:

The Sygmaa, better seen in the photo above, unfortunately. Sygmaa likewise don’t get their own subfaction (but it’s probably a matter of time). These are the Quisling Tohaa, traitors to their race, etc etc.

Or are they? The Tohaa are losing the war against the EI - they absolutely wouldn’t deign to deal with us otherwise. One third of the total Tohaa systems are occupied by the Combined Army, and billions have died to resist the EI. But for those living in the occupied territory, life goes on. They got a Cube upgrade and their high-end research labs have new subjects to poke at, and that’s about it. To say the Sygmaa are upset that they fought and died so that the Tohaa bigwigs could stay in power is an understatement.

It’s not specified either way whether this is just the EI manipulating folks, or if it really is the OG Tohaa triumvirate being uttery wretched. I’m inclined to suspect the latter.



Infinity is basically a game of deep black ops by the CIA-equivalents of every power, so you get to see a lot of incredible assholes basically everywhere. And it absolutely does have this ambiguity baked into a lot of its factions about their actual intents and goals, and the implicit answer seems to be basically 'a little of both.'

PanO is at the same time an enlightened liberal democracy with the best living standards of humanity and the guys who have the Hexas, who make the CIA and their coups and death squads look like pikers.

Yu Jing is at the same time a state which will kill you dead if you become an enemy of a state and one which takes its role as guardian of its people seriously. There's a thread on the CB forums with the Yu Jing fluff and it's still an authoritarian state with strong national security powers to do just about anything, but it's also not exactly North Korea: https://forum.corvusbelli.com/threads/the-bright-side-of-yu-jing-a-fully-referenced-guide.22915/

Yu Jing has the weirdest tone dissonance out of all the factions tbh, especially after Uprising, because it can't decide whether it's an authoritarian bureaucratic state which has some extremely nasty black ops types or if it's Took A Wrong Turn From Warhammer 40,000 Guys. I'm mostly mentioning this because of the Kuang Shi. Some of the fluff suggests that Kuang Shi are not all that common, and then you have the stuff that suggests that they're... actually pretty common. (Incidentally, the Japanese Secessionists are simultaneously brave rebels seeking independence from an oppressive overbearing state and gigantic militarist terrorist assholes who just want to personally be on top).

Haqqislam are enlightened and moral and well-governed, and they're also immense funders of space pirates and run a massive section of extralegal assassins.

It's not clear if the Nomads hate ALEPH because they're right, and they're a sensible loose alliance of left-libertarians, right-libertarians, and people who know a bad thing when it sees it, or basically a bunch of bitter fringe political groups, criminals, crazies, and ne'er-do-wells who are just mad that they're outcasts.

ALEPH is Big Sister and pretty clearly does not follow the laws it should be following, and is definitely engaging in power grabs, but at the same time there's no indication that she has any malice towards humanity as a whole.

The Tohaa are like, humanity's only major allies in fighting the alien invaders and are pretty clearly racist jerks who are very much smug in their own racial superiority.

The EI are unique because you're seeing the absolute worst of the Ur Civilization and everyone tacked onto it and until the Sygmaa showed up, they were pretty clearly just Bad Guys in the most stylish and ludicrous of ways. The Sygmaa were probably put in intentionally to blur the lines there, and show that EI conquest might actually be not that bad for the majority of people, and maybe fighting against them is just going to cost a lot of pain for not much gain in the end. Of course, they also added in the Umbra, and there's a fluff quote about the Umbra by some alien who says something to the effect of "no matter what the EI says about its kindness and generosity, no matter what it shows you of the Combined Civilization's happy citizens, any power which would resurrect the Umbra doesn't deserve to be followed."

Strange Matter
Oct 5, 2009

Ask me about Genocide


I don't think it's unfair to say that Adepts are the most interesting part of Unknown Armies. Knowing what I know about this edition they did a fairly charitable job at making them all fundamentally playable instead of clever thought experiments that are impossible for players to use in-game.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





JcDent posted:

Neil Breen, male human Paladin. :colbert:

Seconded. His battle cry shall be "I'm here... now!"

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


MJ12 posted:

Infinity is basically a game of deep black ops by the CIA-equivalents of every power, so you get to see a lot of incredible assholes basically everywhere. And it absolutely does have this ambiguity baked into a lot of its factions about their actual intents and goals, and the implicit answer seems to be basically 'a little of both.'

PanO is at the same time an enlightened liberal democracy with the best living standards of humanity and the guys who have the Hexas, who make the CIA and their coups and death squads look like pikers.

Yu Jing is at the same time a state which will kill you dead if you become an enemy of a state and one which takes its role as guardian of its people seriously. There's a thread on the CB forums with the Yu Jing fluff and it's still an authoritarian state with strong national security powers to do just about anything, but it's also not exactly North Korea: https://forum.corvusbelli.com/threads/the-bright-side-of-yu-jing-a-fully-referenced-guide.22915/

Yu Jing has the weirdest tone dissonance out of all the factions tbh, especially after Uprising, because it can't decide whether it's an authoritarian bureaucratic state which has some extremely nasty black ops types or if it's Took A Wrong Turn From Warhammer 40,000 Guys. I'm mostly mentioning this because of the Kuang Shi. Some of the fluff suggests that Kuang Shi are not all that common, and then you have the stuff that suggests that they're... actually pretty common. (Incidentally, the Japanese Secessionists are simultaneously brave rebels seeking independence from an oppressive overbearing state and gigantic militarist terrorist assholes who just want to personally be on top).

Haqqislam are enlightened and moral and well-governed, and they're also immense funders of space pirates and run a massive section of extralegal assassins.

It's not clear if the Nomads hate ALEPH because they're right, and they're a sensible loose alliance of left-libertarians, right-libertarians, and people who know a bad thing when it sees it, or basically a bunch of bitter fringe political groups, criminals, crazies, and ne'er-do-wells who are just mad that they're outcasts.

ALEPH is Big Sister and pretty clearly does not follow the laws it should be following, and is definitely engaging in power grabs, but at the same time there's no indication that she has any malice towards humanity as a whole.

The Tohaa are like, humanity's only major allies in fighting the alien invaders and are pretty clearly racist jerks who are very much smug in their own racial superiority.

The EI are unique because you're seeing the absolute worst of the Ur Civilization and everyone tacked onto it and until the Sygmaa showed up, they were pretty clearly just Bad Guys in the most stylish and ludicrous of ways. The Sygmaa were probably put in intentionally to blur the lines there, and show that EI conquest might actually be not that bad for the majority of people, and maybe fighting against them is just going to cost a lot of pain for not much gain in the end. Of course, they also added in the Umbra, and there's a fluff quote about the Umbra by some alien who says something to the effect of "no matter what the EI says about its kindness and generosity, no matter what it shows you of the Combined Civilization's happy citizens, any power which would resurrect the Umbra doesn't deserve to be followed."

Ariadna also have that werewolf slavery thing going on, plus probably a lot of gross cultural quirks from the pre-fall West.

I thought I liked Nomads more than I did, because when I read the fluff here I instantly went "Uh, that's a Mobster state, not an anarch commune." Which seems to be a major threat for anarchists in real life, if they manage to throw off the state, and they're sitting on any remotely valuable resource, service, or location, the gangsters try to move in.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

MJ12 posted:

Infinity is a land of contrasts

This is a good post.

The Yu Jing issue is what bothers me the most here. I'm definitely okay with some ambiguity in my fluff - the spaces created by that ambiguity are where settings come alive and the audience can let their imagination do the heavy lifting. The players are assuming the position of a group of inherently unpleasant people, deniable assets who exist to protect at best and more often simply perpetuate their governments and philosophical systems as part of a zero-sum political game. We should question what they do and why they do it.

My problem is that a lot of the Infinity fluff seems unintentionally ambiguous. Interruptor has a stranglehold on every particle of Infinity fluff out there, to the point it causes the company problems. We shouldn't have to puzzle out if the State Empire is just unconcerned with morality in its pursuit of order, or if Party members are actually making piano keys out of the teeth of child kulaks.

The Sygmaa are pretty well-executed, especially by comparison. Which is sort of more galling to me than if everything had just been written horribly from the get-go - the Infinity fluff stumbles a lot, but it's got some real gems in there too.

By the by, is there official word on ALEPH personifying itself as female? I'm going off N3 and HSN3, but I would prefer not to misgender even the questionably-malevolent supercomputer.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Adventure!:

We’re going to finish up Book 1 now with the discussion of things going on in the world. Some of this is super likely to be either massively insensitive to non-Western cultures or just plain racist as gently caress.

This World of Wonders:

The whole section is narrated by reporter Sarah Gettel, the archetypical reporter who sticks her nose into poo poo she shouldn’t. She starts by noting the world is full of crazy stuff and that she doesn’t necessarily buy that it’s all the fault of some science experiment (which is true). It starts with a brief and essentially accurate account of the Great War. This is important, because it tells us a major fact about the setting: Until the formation of the Aeon Society, all the history we ‘know’ is accurate. Any Inspired that secretly existed before weren’t powerful or important enough to change the history we know (or were secretly RESPONSIBLE for that history, who knows). Equally, we get a short paragraph that essentially tells us that unless you decide otherwise the things that are coming up between now and World War 2 probably still will. Italy is going fascist and the war to end all wars won’t remotely be that. Now let’s move on to specific places, which will often be full of actual facts amazingly.

Britain: So the League of Nations still exists for now, and because the US didn’t join Britain’s in charge of it. Britain is noted as against the punitive terms of the Treaty of Versailles, correctly recognizing that it’s going to lead to the country being ruined and turning to desperation. They back the Dawes plan, which in theory should have helped but certainly didn’t stop everything going to hell in the end. The political climate comes up, including the fact that there’s some fascist sympathizers hanging about. We get some hint as to the state of technology, and some other flavor stuff. Britain is Britain, and not really ‘weird’ per se.

France: France got absolutely trashed during the Great War and its economy is in shambles. They’re getting increasingly antagonistic with Germany over the reparations owed by the German government and there’s a sense that another war might be inevitable, which of course it is. We’re still way too close to ‘civilization’ for anything other than weird side-anecdotes (they have a news clipping about a mechanical serpent kidnapping an opera diva in Paris).

Germany: Germany is super unstable and while Sarah is hopeful for their future we know the Weimar Republic isn’t long for the world. Still, things haven’t completely fallen apart yet so there’s plenty of space for brawling with Nazis and thwarting the Thule Society, who have actual supernatural poo poo to try and track down in this world. We’re all still on basically ‘this is the real world’ which is both nice and will make whatever poo poo about talking ape-men in darkest Africa later all the more jarring.

Italy: Italy was a basket case during the war and their humiliation in military matters throughout contributed to Mussolini coming to power. He’s presently pretty firmly entrenched and Italy’s not exactly a hospitable place to be right now.

Spain: Spain’s currently mid-turmoil. They were neutral during the Great War but had not long before it had to deal with losing the Spanish-American war and a bunch of bullshit in Morocco. Their monarchy is slow-motion collapsing and there’s so much worse for this all to get.

Russia: The Soviet Union came to be just as in reality. Lenin just died, and Stalin is presently in the process of disposing of Trotsky. There are, as in reality, rumors that one of the Tsar’s children had escaped the revolution and could become a figurehead for a resurgence of the White movement. Though this won’t come up until much later in the book, this actually turns out to be true.

Eastern Europe: We get a good explanation of why the Balkans are a goddamn nightmare. The European powers have just decided to jam them all into one country and call it a day, and time tells on that choice.

We move on to the Americas, and because of course this would be a thing they did we open with a short article on Tesla being an Inspired superscientist and opening a portal to a parallel world. I’m less Inspired.

The United States: Things are pretty loving great in the US. They got all the prestige of being on the winning side of the Great War without having had to be all that involved or even have it happening anywhere near them. Because they likely expect most people will set their games in the US, they spend a bit more on the present state of everything. It’s pretty much all actual facts about the US that you could go look up, and includes a DELIGHTFUL use of the literal phrase “darkest Africa”. It does also note that the US is racist as gently caress though, which is some fun whiplash.

Canada: Canada’s also doing pretty well. They’ve got tons of natural resources they’re starting to exploit and Vancouver’s become a major port in the advent of the Panama Canal. Prohibition’s on so there’s a lot of illegal booze crossing the border.

Mexico: Mexico is currently between revolutions, and that’s most of what we hear about them. Whatever.

Central America: Gettel is pretty sore about how the US has treated the people of Central America, noting that between the actions of corporations down there and the Panama Canal we just sort of barge in and push them around for our advantage because we can. Not going to disagree with anything here.

South America: South America is just glommed into one section with a paragraph on how the countries down there are doing (actually pretty well for the most part) and then a lot on how much of the continent is unexplored and all the crazy poo poo that might be in it. There is LITERALLY a quote on the archaeological opportunities on the continent from Dr. Henry Jones Jr. included and I can’t hate the section too much when you’ve got that.

Now for Africa and the Middle East, strap the gently caress in. We start with a dispatch where Sarah encounters Mokole-Membe, because of course we do. If we get through this without poo poo devolving into full Bongo-Bongo land then we should count ourselves lucky.

North Africa: North Africa has a lot of deserts and a lot of lovely colonial powers that the locals don’t like. The French Foreign Legion is currently battling the Berbers in the region, and Spain is having nothing but trouble in Morocco.

South Africa: We’re seeing the transition of South Africa into the autonomous and super gross apartheid state it becomes. Gettel doesn’t see any way this doesn’t end terribly and she’s right.

Towns, Farms, and Outposts: East Africa is noted as being dotted with lovely immigrant outposts exploiting the region and inauthentically recreating their homelands. West Africa meanwhile has very little of that, as it’s significantly more heavily forested. There’s even an acknowledgement that Africa has actual native civilization regardless of what the imperial powers think which is about as non-lovely as this is going to get.

West Africa: The loving Belgian Congo. A horrible place, but also a place you might go because of the rumors of crazy poo poo in the jungle. Even Europe thinks the Belgians are being over the top in the Congo, which says something about the poo poo they got up to there.

The Middle East: Joy a massive area of the world handled in like three paragraphs. Britain currently controls Egypt, taking the reigns of horrible mismanagement over from the Ottomans. The meddling with borders in the region by the European powers is already starting poo poo, and it’s only going to get worse.

I bet you thought we were getting out of this pretty tastefully after all that, right? Well gently caress YOU, because before we move on to Asia there’s a letter from a TALKING GORILLA. An erudite letter to be fair, but drat. The Asia section starts with a Japanese criminal dude with literal samurai bodyguards trying to torture information out of Gettel, whoo boy.

China: We get a lot of background for why China’s a mess, and then the present way in which it is. The Communists and Nationalists are fighting, and again that’s only going to turn out one way. We get a whole bunch of side stuff about the various criminal groups in the area because White Wolf loves that poo poo for some reason.

French Indochina: France is doing gross poo poo in the region, which they still control pretty firmly. There’s a lot of piracy in the South China Sea and a lot of weird poo poo potentially in the trackless jungles. Whatever.

Japan: Had a war with Russia, their burgeoning economy and population don’t match well with a resource-stripped island nation, something got to give. Gross nationalists everywhere and it’s all going to end in wars and animes.

India: Britain’s still in charge, and we get a lot of discussion about how the ‘white man’s burden’ is total bullshit and the British are being super lovely. Ghandi comes up but we also can’t help but have mentions of all the secret societies and spooky poo poo that people familiar with the genre will expect from India.

Australia: Having relatively recently upgraded from prison to commonwealth, Australia’s growing quite a bit. It’s full of untamed lands and gross lovely racists who hate the natives, what would you expect.

Let’s ditch all this real world poo poo though, time to get to the Lost Worlds and Hidden Lands:

These all take the form of short little story vignettes, they're less interesting than you'd think honestly.

Dinosaur Swamp: You’re probably expecting a swamp with dinosaurs to be in Africa or South America or something, but nope. This one is in Darkest Louisiana. There are dinosaurs. In a swamp. What more do you want?

The Beast-Men of the Chiquibul Caves: So this is some hollow earth poo poo actually. She almost gets eaten by primitives after being attacked in a cave in Belize and dragged into some underground world with a spooky red sun. She’s saved by a dude named Gar, who leads her to the surface but will not follow. We’ll get the backstory on this much later when we get to the section of book 2 on heroes and villains, it’s kinda interesting.

The Thunder God of Machu Pichu: This is a story about some Peruvian rebels who battle the government in, well Machu Pichu, led by a dude named Huascar who can control lightning. This Huascar dude claims to be high priest of the Incan thunder god and is trying to revive the Incan empire. That’s a thing I guess.

The Hidden Pyramid: This introduces the Cult of the Sun-Disk, some fuckers who are trying to take over Egypt. They’re theoretically led by a child claiming to be the resurrection of Nefertiti, and are a revival of the cult of Aton based out of the lost pyramid of the Pharaoh Akhenaton. We’ll get the truth of the matter in book 2.

The Beasts of Devil’s Pass: Vampires are apparently real? Who knows.

Book 1 ends on two letters. The first, from Michael Donighal (Doctor Primoris’ real name) to Max Mercer, pretty much imploring Max to join him in godhood. The second is the reply, trying to get him to chill the gently caress out. Neither of these letters is successful. And that’s Book 1, we’ll be getting to the rules next time. And it only took about a hundred pages. White Wolf!

Also to editorialize, Book 1 is really kinda dry and boring. It's mostly giving you information so you can be historically accurate but come on we picked this book up to punch Nazis and dinosaurs and Nazi dinosaurs. Get with the program WW.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry



The Colonies -- The South

In the six months since the Seventh Seal was broken, the Meek had searched for others and set up settlements. The rules give fairly detailed descriptions of ten of these. The first two are in the South.

The Atlanta Confederation
Population: 2,306
Founded by Dr. Jim Grant, a former member of the KKK that was a serious churchgoer and actually believed in God. His belief counteracted his sins and so he was left with the Meek. He realized that when the Gates shut, there would be no more sin and he could do what he pleased. He found a group of other Meek outside of Atlanta and through his personal charisma, took charge. Over the months he has guided the men to realize that women are nothing more than property and now is running a slave society and is trying to build a true master race.

Threats to the Confederation: People in the group are starting to realize that Dr. Jim (a title he gave himself as it took him f years to finishe high school) isn't as clever as he prtryas himself. Jim's response is to send the best an brightest out on 'recruitment missions' for able-bodied men as colony members and women as slaves. As the wastes are pretty loving dangerous this has the side effect of removing people that could be a threat to Jim's regime. This also has the effect of making the actual colony staffed with the more incompetent members.

Another threat is the Abolitionists in the Louisiana Swamps. At the moment the Rats have only sent out scouting parties, but when they get enough women trained up it will be bad.

Finally, Atlanta is the closest colony to DC. Dr. Jim has lost at least a dozen 'recruiters' on expeditions north that may have gotten too near and no trace has been recovered of them.

Living in Atlanta: Limited Power from a few gas generators, trade in slaves and non-perishable goods. If you're male you can live like a king. If you're male and competent and ambitious, Jim is going to get you killed.

Commodities Needed: Slaves, rechargeable batteries. recreational drugs. Fuel for the generators.

Who's Who:
Madame Mary -- the only free woman in the colony. Madame Mary is a more than slightly deranged RN, that has the job of maintaining the health of the slaves. She is sane enough to know that as soon as her usefulness is over, she's a slave so she has started assisting in escapes while giving the escapees messages to get help.

Dr. Frank Tupper DDS -- Dr. T, as he likes to be called, is the Slavemaster General of the colony. He is responsible for determining the viability of slaves and maintaining the purity of the bloodline. This means putting slaves 'to sleep' if they are at all flawed to his perception. He is an angry and bitter man which means he one of the few Jim can trust completely.

Dwayne Washington -- Dwayne is a hunter searching for both recruits and slaves. He knows that Jim is an idiot and tries his best to play dumb whenever he's near him so Jim won't feel threatened. Dwayne is also very good at his job so Jim considers him an extremely reliable and unambitious member of his colony. However, Dwayne is drawing his plans for a coup.

Relations with other colonies:
Swamp Rats -- There will be war.

DC -- No interaction at all.

Elgin -- Attempts for recruitment. Slaving raids in the outskirts.

Waco -- Recruitment attempts made a lot harder by the Swamp Rats.


The Swamp Rats
Population: 113
Created by escapees from the Confederation it consists of solely women with a justifiable anger toward men. As they have raided a Louisana Army National Guard facility they are exceptionally well armed. Their leader, Rachael Duvalier wants simply to destroy the Confederation and free all the slaves. Their warleader, and ex-Marine named Mary Colwell wants to make every male Meek suffer in repayment for her treatment in the slave pens. Tensions are high in the swamps.

Threats to the Swamps:
Dr. Jim and the Confederation of course is the highest. He would love to recapture all of them and burn Girls' Town to the ground. The other biggest one is the division in the ranks. Rachael wouldn't shed a tear at Jim and his bully boys' destruction, death, or even torture; but Mary's goals of vengeance against every surviving male are so far beyond that that she has been drawing up contingencies. Finally, since they live in a swamp with very little fresh food or water and have no surviving physicians, there's the constant threat of disease.

Living in the Swamps: Miserable and if you're male it's merely a matter of time before you're tortured and executed.

Commodities Needed: Medicine, fresh food, water purification.

Who's Who:
Sam 'Piglet' Shustavosky -- The leader of a group of bikers that is currently based in New Orleans. He is tentatively allied with Rachael's faction and Rachael is keeping Mary from knowing about him. He and his gang want to help destroy the Confederation.

Mary Colwell -- a former Marine, expert in wilderness survival as well as an abuse survivor. She wants to see all men dead, or at her feet. She is short-tempered and homicidal.

Relations with other colonies:
Confederation -- War.

Elgin -- Two of the Rats have made their way up to Elgin to get clear of the war. They have sent back word that it's relatively safe there.

Waco -- More likely to side with the Rats than the Confederation.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



And ofc, the South rises again in the immediate aftermath :jerkbag:

I mean, I feel it would be satisfying if Dr. Jim was the only white man left in Georgia.

Also, having a population of 2,000 feels like it wouldn't be expanding into a territory 600 miles away. At 80 square miles per person, I feel like it would be fairly hard to find anyone, let alone wage war with so few people.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




All this time that I didn't know about The End's plot and world crafting I imagined it to be all about self discovery or some interesting poo poo.

It was better not knowing.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Young Freud posted:

And ofc, the South rises again in the immediate aftermath :jerkbag:

I mean, I feel it would be satisfying if Dr. Jim was the only white man left in Georgia.

Also, having a population of 2,000 feels like it wouldn't be expanding into a territory 600 miles away. At 80 square miles per person, I feel like it would be fairly hard to find anyone, let alone wage war with so few people.

yeah, the population numbers across all of the fiction seem like they were complete rear end-pulls by someone that didn't even have great baseline understanding of what geographic population numbers look like, and why.

also, while the concept of a lovely southern redpill dude reigniting slavery based on sex is (sadly) plausible, i feel like the author doesn't have the chops to present it in anything more than the most unimaginative, 90's style edgelord way. it'd be one thing if the confederation was presented as an ominous boogeyman with very little detail outside "they're trying to start slavery again and everyone living there is loving awful" but the level of detail provided seems to imply that the author expects that players could have adventures there, which, uuugggghhhhhh :barf:

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

Yeah, the population numbers make no loving sense with the concept of power projection. It's like they don't understand just how big the US is.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Freaking Crumbum posted:

yeah, the population numbers across all of the fiction seem like they were complete rear end-pulls by someone that didn't even have great baseline understanding of what geographic population numbers look like, and why.

Yeah, by my figures, any major metropolitan area would have about 1500-2000 survivors, save for the heavy hit locations on the West Coast, so Atlanta having that many people isn't outside the realm of possibility. And it would probably be easy to find people, if they want to be found. No one's going to be Walter Bemis for long.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Nerdgames always faceplant whenever they try to give population numbers.

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


I don't know why Nerdgames are so obsessed with giving population numbers, honestly. Like, I understand in D&D sometimes you're going to have exceedingly small communities where the PCs are expected to go interact with everyone because there are only a couple dozen people or whatever, but for anything larger it doesn't matter even from a simulationist perspective. You'e not *interacting* with all those people, the vast majority of whom will never even be in the same scene as the PCs. It's not relevant to any mechanics, what is the purpose other than showing that no one has any coherent idea of what realistic populations are?

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

OvermanXAN posted:

I don't know why Nerdgames are so obsessed with giving population numbers, honestly. Like, I understand in D&D sometimes you're going to have exceedingly small communities where the PCs are expected to go interact with everyone because there are only a couple dozen people or whatever, but for anything larger it doesn't matter even from a simulationist perspective. You'e not *interacting* with all those people, the vast majority of whom will never even be in the same scene as the PCs. It's not relevant to any mechanics, what is the purpose other than showing that no one has any coherent idea of what realistic populations are?

It's probably my fault, I really like demographics. I, for some reason even I don't fully understand, love estimating the populations of various groups and writing scripts to model how they would behave. It's utterly useless in actual games, but I draw enjoyment from thinking about and modeling a population breakdown and how their resources and culture would interact to create professions and (social) classes. I've written code to model the genetics of Terrestrial Exalted, to track the book sub-markets in Ars Magica, to create a Victoria-esque simulation of a fantasy economy complete with pops. And almost none of it has actually seen use in play.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Having a very rough idea of the size of population centers can help with a sense of place. But rough estimates are enough and it's easy enough to look up population estimates from equivalent cities and things in the eras you're writing about.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

OvermanXAN posted:

I don't know why Nerdgames are so obsessed with giving population numbers, honestly.
Because it's a concrete number that you can point to in order to show how versimilitudinous your setting is. It's not enough to say that Refton Vale is a big city, or has roughly 80 thousand inhabitants - no, to show what a master worldbuilder you are it needs to have a population of exactly 81,972

NutritiousSnack
Jul 12, 2011


FMguru posted:

Because it's a concrete number that you can point to in order to show how versimilitudinous your setting is. It's not enough to say that Refton Vale is a big city, or has roughly 80 thousand inhabitants - no, to show what a master worldbuilder you are it needs to have a population of exactly 81,972

Forget just that, it was also another "subtle" way for GM's to wield subtle power over their players. With population control you can say wheter or not they blend into a crowd or find a certain smith or just hide either dicknesses or good GMing done dishonestly through numbers

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Also for some reason we have collectively decided that "squalid dictatorship ruled by a psycho who will force people to live according to his vision of society and probably chop up the rugged band of main characters to eat/wear as fashion accessories" will be the inevitable form of government in a major disaster's aftermath.

As opposed to, like, "shell-shocked people orbiting around a central location engaging in low-key trade and mutual support while trying to process all that poo poo, man." Then again I guess post-apocalyptic cooperatism doesn't make for as much action and drama...

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

People think post-apocalypse = Mad Max plus them getting to finally kill their neighbors. In other words, something like the Rowandan genocides or ethnic cleansing in Serbia.

A better model would be genuine periods of government collapse like e.g. the recent economic collapses in South America or immediate post-WW2 Europe, during which ironically urban enclaves in cities have done a lot better because they can re-establish services with surviving infrastructure, whereas rural survivalists have no-one to turn to if they run into trouble or get raided by bandits.

But it isn't a proper post-apocalypse if you can't sneer at cityboys so we get the Mad Max bondage biker gangs every time.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Loxbourne posted:

People think post-apocalypse = Mad Max plus them getting to finally kill their neighbors. In other words, something like the Rowandan genocides or ethnic cleansing in Serbia.

A better model would be genuine periods of government collapse like e.g. the recent economic collapses in South America or immediate post-WW2 Europe, during which ironically urban enclaves in cities have done a lot better because they can re-establish services with surviving infrastructure, whereas rural survivalists have no-one to turn to if they run into trouble or get raided by bandits.

But it isn't a proper post-apocalypse if you can't sneer at cityboys so we get the Mad Max bondage biker gangs every time.
Even in Mad Max it's clear that some kind of society is forming and existing, though it is certainly nasty and brutal compared to the old world. But then you also have the vein of moralism over living in cities which I know is strong in the US, unsure how strong it is in other nations.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Nessus posted:

Also for some reason we have collectively decided that "squalid dictatorship ruled by a psycho who will force people to live according to his vision of society and probably chop up the rugged band of main characters to eat/wear as fashion accessories" will be the inevitable form of government in a major disaster's aftermath.

As opposed to, like, "shell-shocked people orbiting around a central location engaging in low-key trade and mutual support while trying to process all that poo poo, man." Then again I guess post-apocalyptic cooperatism doesn't make for as much action and drama...

i think part of it comes from the fact that very few first-world people (overrepresented in the population of RPG authors) really have any concept of what society would function like at a tribal or feudal level, outside whatever fiction-based media they've consumed. "Squalid dictatorships ruled by a psychopath" have been the default fiction trope that's supposed to show what happens in post-apocalyptic scenarios, so it's also the path of least resistance in terms of audience familiarity.


Loxbourne posted:

People think post-apocalypse = Mad Max plus them getting to finally kill their neighbors. In other words, something like the Rowandan genocides or ethnic cleansing in Serbia.

also this. a lot of people fetishize being able to justify murdering other people and having ravening hordes of inhuman bandits fulfills this urge. if post-apocalyptic societies had to actually model real-world scenarios of disaster survival, there'd be significantly fewer opportunities to murder other people with impunity.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Now we return to Adventure, and get to Book 2: Rules. This post will cover the Introduction and first Chapter.

Introduction:

Pretty much what you’d expect. They start by noting that this is a game of pulp heroism set in the 1920s, and go through the basic ‘hey what’s a roleplaying game, how is this experience structured’ that is generally at the start of these. It then goes on to some more interesting and specific to the game things.

1) Unless something is specifically noted as different from what happened in history, assume that history happened and will happen just as it did in the real world. All this weird poo poo going on will have been dismissed as tall tales and just in general lost to history, unless there’s a good reason it won’t.
2) We officially begin in the spring of 1924, 18 months after Hammersmith’s Experiment. With the reveal of ‘pseudoaetheric’ energy and the failed attempt to concentrate and collect it there’s now more people who are able to use these energies than ever before, and even more push to find the places where they collect and warp reality.
3) The effects of the Hammersmith Experiment aren’t dying down, they’re continuing and even building.

We then briefly discuss the future, and have some words about Trinity (a sci-fi game set in the setting’s far future and featuring psions, the legacy of the Mesmerists from this game) and Aberrant (a superhero game set in approximately the modern day and focusing on the novas, more powerful versions of the Stalwarts from this game). It’s noted that Daredevils also exist in both of those settings, but as we’ll see those characters would be pretty drat weak in comparison and would barely be noticed.

So they have a goddamn LOVELY paragraph after that, where they note that while a few characters from Adventure are important to the future parts of the setting the metastory they present is entirely optional and if you don’t like it don’t use it. That combines with it being honestly pretty unobtrusive, as most of the events that would ‘have’ to happen and therefore are things PCs aren’t supposed to gently caress up don’t really happen within the bounds of time the games are set in (for example eventually the Aeon Society and Doctor Primoris are going to have some poo poo go down, but that’s not until WW2).

They note you’ll need a bunch of d10s and whatever the hell else gets you in the mood for some pulp, then have some paragraphs on not being lovely if you decide you want to do this as a LARP. Now for Chapter 1.

Chapter 1: Rules

So I really like this, before we even get to creating characters they’re going to lay out the basic rules for how to do things, so you’d know what the hell the numbers you’re picking in the next chapter might mean for your character.

We start on taking actions. They lay out how time works, namely that you have turns in which you take actions during scenes which are part of episodes of stories in a series, with downtime in between. When you take an action you succeed automatically unless the GM (storyteller of course, this being White Wolf) decides there’s a chance to fail, at which point you roll some dice.

Before we get to how that works, though, they talk about Traits. As with any Storyteller system game Traits are rated from 0-5. Traits are your Attributes, your Abilities, and whatever else. When you’ve got to do a thing and throw some dice down, you add together whatever Traits are relevant to doing that and that’s how many dice you’ll get to roll. Usually this will be an Attribute and an Ability, though some Traits don’t have Attributes to go along with them and are rolled on their own (usually Backgrounds, which are rarely rolled against, Willpower, which is what it says on the tin, and Inspiration, the power stat of this game).

Every die in a pool that comes up 7 or higher is a success. There’s no target number weirdness going on as there are in some Storyteller games, just get you them sevens and up. More successes is better, but any success is a success unless there’s a reason otherwise. Botches are a thing, if you don’t get any successes and one of your dice came up as a 1 then you really hosed up. Note that 1’s don’t erase success and mean nothing if you got any successes.

If you have 7 or more dice in a pool, you can essentially take an automatic single success in non-stressful situations (so not in combat for instance). You can also spend temporary Willpower points to gain free successes, and in some circumstances also Inspiration points.

As noted increased difficulty manifests as more successes needed to get a base success, not an increase in target number. Some of these tasks will be Extended, and require multiple stored successes over more than one turn.

Taking multiple actions in a turn is pretty complicated. So for each action you take past the first, you subtract one die from the pool of your first action and one further for each of the additional actions. So, two actions are at -2/-3, three at -3/-4/-5, four at -4/-5/-6/-7. If you wouldn’t have a dice pool left for an action, you can’t do it and should probably not have tried so many actions.

When you’re being opposed by the actions of someone else you’re undertaking a resisted action. You roll your dice, they roll theirs, and you subtract the opponent’s successes from yours. Resisted actions can also be extended, of course. Sometimes you can team up and pool successes, if it’s something where teamwork makes the dream work.

They note that retrying actions outside combat generally increases the number of successes required to model characters going on tilt pretty much, which kind of makes the attempt futile unless you were just super unlucky. They finish with a discussion of Knacks, which are our supernatural powers in this game. They’re things with their own rules and we’ll cover them later.

We end with the note that if you don’t like something in the rules gently caress it, just change it, and a bunch of examples of actions, what you would roll, and what the difficulty might be.

Again, I’m a big fan of laying out the basics of gameplay before we even have the character creation rules, you know the significance of your choices in creation and mechanically what the options you’re taking mean. And further, boiling the rules down to their most basic and then later presenting more detail as essentially optional complexity is really positive.

We’ll get to the character creation next time, where White Wolf will undo all the good work they did here!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Nessus posted:

Also for some reason we have collectively decided that "squalid dictatorship ruled by a psycho who will force people to live according to his vision of society and probably chop up the rugged band of main characters to eat/wear as fashion accessories" will be the inevitable form of government in a major disaster's aftermath.

As opposed to, like, "shell-shocked people orbiting around a central location engaging in low-key trade and mutual support while trying to process all that poo poo, man." Then again I guess post-apocalyptic cooperatism doesn't make for as much action and drama...
You expect the authors of The End to have read Kropotkin? No such luck.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





"What is it really that's going on here? You've got a system for total control"



IVa. Nels Bergenholm and the Weapons of Mass Destruction

In order to talk about the planets used as weapons, we first have to talk about the Bergenholm inertialess drive. (Named for its inventor, of course.) This widget, sized to a spacecraft or other object, activates and the object is then now "free" - of inertia. "An inertialess ship instantaneously takes on the velocity at which the force of her drive is exactly equalled by the friction of the medium in which she travels." (There is also a reactionless drive.)

This is the keystone faster-than-light drive in the Lensman setting, without which any of this bullshit would be so much irrelevant faffing about with super-psionics. The idea is that a "free" object can, in fact, exceed the speed of light if appropriately driven - especially in space. The speed of a spaceship is a matter of how powerful its power source and "jets" are, and how streamlined that ship is relative to the interstellar (or intergalactic) media.

This is one of the places where Smith thought everything through - or at least thought through the permutations of what it means for spaceships. For one thing it explains why everyone uses rays: an explosion or a hail of physical projectiles would, assuming nothing stopped the "free" ship, just knock it around. We will explore this in the section on ORDINARY weapons.



Now, what happens when the Bergenholm turns off? Good question. The object resumes its previous "intrinsic" velocity -- which is why most starships disable their Bergenholms well away from planets and "match intrinsics" with normal-space rocket/thruster motors. Small objects or personnel who have had to go inertialess get into "The Net," which is described in some detail as, literally, a gigantic spring-loaded shock absorber whose purpose is to let you dissipate your accumulated intrinsic velocity in a way that will either not hurt you, or will hurt you way less than smashing into a mountainside at .02 of lightspeed.

"Gee, Nessus," you may be thinking - "Wouldn't you be able to get a massive kinetic kill weapon this way?" You would be so able, yes. Given the permutations of this it was almost certainly tried - the main interfering points would be that there are faster-than-light sensors and extremely fast reactions, meaning that (for instance) someone who tried to take a comet free, park it over Prime Base, and turn off the Bergenholm would get shot down, or at least shot up enough that the Bergenholm would break down.

Gee... but what could handle that kind of rough treatment?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsV500W4BHU

Indeed. Though the first paragraph here outlines some of the challenge involved in kinetic kill weapons above and beyond the possibility of things being shot down: a "mere" 30kt explosion will not break a lot of the defense systems on static installations in this milieu.

Bergenholms will work for planets if you build out the installations... and the thrusters. If it's an empty planet, like Mercury or some dead rock in a lifeless solar system, there is no reason to worry about its long term fate... so what you do is that you find a planet with the right kind of intrinsic velocity, take it free, and then go park it in 'front' of the enemy planet. Even before the Bergenholms break down, there will be a hellacious impact.

Can the enemy take their planet free too? No problem: get two planets with more or less opposite intrinsic velocities and park them on either side. When their planet goes free, inert both of yours and watch the fireworks.

Is the enemy using a free planet as an invincible war-base a la Palpatine? No problem: make a negasphere! A negasphere is confusingly described by Smith, probably based on physical theories which became obsolete, but could be seen as "negative" matter.


A scan of a negasphere as shown from the Patrol base, Hakone, Japan

However it works, a negasphere destroys a normal planet and liberates a huge amount of radiation. Be behind a screen or you're going to melt. This is actually not described as an explosion - great effort was taken to construct negaspheres approximately the same size as planet.

Ah, but perhaps you need to defend a planet with an ecosphere and you can't just flit it out of the way or use some kind of hellacious contraterrene matter that will sterilize everyone's buttholes for twenty light years around. Earth, for instance, or Arisia. That's cool: just build a sunbeam!



No biggie. Firing a Sunbeam requires a specialized Mental/Very Hard skill for the operators in order to hit their target. If their collective rolls succeed, the star dims dramatically and a massive-rear end ray is released. On a failure, the star flares wildly and every planet in that system suffers a year - cumulatively, mind you - of exceedingly strange weather. On a critical failure, the star becomes permanently variable, which will soon render all but the hardiest and most adaptable life forms in that system extinct. If it was ALREADY variable, and you get ANOTHER critical failure, roll 2d: in that many days, the star will go supernova, obliterating its entire system and becoming a navigational hazard to shipping in the sector.

The ultimate weapons were planets from another universe with different velocity factors where Bergenholms still worked. The Patrol got there through theoretical guidance and VERY CAREFULLY kept everything in their gear "free" until they were able to build Bergenholms on the alien planet. They then, using a hyperspatial tube - we'll get to THAT later - they snuck it back into the "main" universe. The Patrol only used them once because they were, essentially, impossible to defend against -- and one of the recurring themes about technology in these books is that the other guy isn't stupid, and WILL use or copy anything of yours they can, if they have time.

You might fairly ask: How can you use this in a game?

My answer: I don't loving know, but at least you have numbers to roll when Chewbacca gets hit by a moon.

Next time: Weapons of individual destruction! (Significantly more useful for gaming purposes.)

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



And this is the reason why TV Tropes has a page labeled 'Lensman Arms Race'

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009



grassy gnoll posted:

This is a good post.

The Yu Jing issue is what bothers me the most here. I'm definitely okay with some ambiguity in my fluff - the spaces created by that ambiguity are where settings come alive and the audience can let their imagination do the heavy lifting. The players are assuming the position of a group of inherently unpleasant people, deniable assets who exist to protect at best and more often simply perpetuate their governments and philosophical systems as part of a zero-sum political game. We should question what they do and why they do it.

My problem is that a lot of the Infinity fluff seems unintentionally ambiguous. Interruptor has a stranglehold on every particle of Infinity fluff out there, to the point it causes the company problems. We shouldn't have to puzzle out if the State Empire is just unconcerned with morality in its pursuit of order, or if Party members are actually making piano keys out of the teeth of child kulaks.

The Sygmaa are pretty well-executed, especially by comparison. Which is sort of more galling to me than if everything had just been written horribly from the get-go - the Infinity fluff stumbles a lot, but it's got some real gems in there too.

By the by, is there official word on ALEPH personifying itself as female? I'm going off N3 and HSN3, but I would prefer not to misgender even the questionably-malevolent supercomputer.

Yeah Yu Jing feels really weird because it almost seems that there are two Yu Jing writers. One, who knows a bit more about Chinese politics and history and is writing a Deng Xiaoping thought-like state where the party and the state apparatus have internal checks and balances and the whole thing is a bit oppressive and sometimes callous but perfectly livable and does more or less right for the majority of its citizens, and one who basically writes it as an evil empire with Judge Dredd types running amok killing babies for being Japanese.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cythereal posted:

And this is the reason why TV Tropes has a page labeled 'Lensman Arms Race'

I still have no clue how the Innertialess drive works.

On the other hand, I kinda mentally check out when a setting starts discussing using the sun as a CIWS to defend against rogue planets.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





JcDent posted:

I still have no clue how the Innertialess drive works.
It works very well, thank you. Smith didn't explain the fine details of its function beyond it involving uranium, somehow.

The idea is that it makes it so the normal laws of physics are suspended and the "free" object moves by different rules, which allow for going faster than light (very important in a sci fi setting) and also makes most "conventional" armament much less useful, facilitating the use of cool-rear end ray guns and space-axes instead of "guided missiles from far outside of visual range."

I'm no physicist but I'm sure there's some clever reason why being temporarily immune to inertia would let you go faster than light - at least by the physics of the time.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Nessus posted:

The idea is that it makes it so the normal laws of physics are suspended and the "free" object moves by different rules, which allow for going faster than light (very important in a sci fi setting) and also makes most "conventional" armament much less useful, facilitating the use of cool-rear end ray guns and space-axes instead of "guided missiles from far outside of visual range."

I'm no physicist but I'm sure there's some clever reason why being temporarily immune to inertia would let you go faster than light - at least by the physics of the time.

Well, if you can overcome mass, then you can basically do anything. If you take E=MC^2 and C being the speed of light and M being turned to zero through :pseudo:, it takes you zero energy to go the speed of light or beyond.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Young Freud posted:

Well, if you can overcome mass, then you can basically do anything. If you take E=MC^2 and C being the speed of light and M being turned to zero through :pseudo:, it takes you zero energy to go the speed of light or beyond.
Pretty much. The limiting factor seemed to be the resistance of whatever you're moving through, which our heroes find out facilitates travel to a second nearby galaxy, because your same drives make your ship go way faster in the intergalactic void.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Freaking Crumbum posted:

if post-apocalyptic societies had to actually model real-world scenarios of disaster survival, there'd be significantly fewer opportunities to murder other people with impunity.

Although it had other serious problems detailed in the thread writeup, something I liked about Dogs in the Vineyard is that the explicit brake on PC murderhobo instincts was that they're visiting tiny frontier settlements, who can't afford to lose too many people or they'll collapse for lack of enough pairs of hands to keep the place going.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Cults: Judges, pt. 4



Degenesis Rebirth
Primal Punk
Chapter 3: Cults



RANKS JUDGES



1. Vagrants

Judges like to make Vagrants out of children orphaned by violent crime. These kids will grow up wanting to inflict the pain back on the criminals... which doesn't sound like the ideal situation, but you do you, Degenesis.

There are also children of Advocate families who can get basically railroaded into becoming Advocates. To them, violence of the Protectors seems alien, and they look for justice or at least the right law.

Other than that, they're basically Judge interns and spend time observing and serving (making tea is mentioned) their mentors.

2. City Judges

After following next to a Real Judge for some years, a Vagrant is tested. If they pass, they're considered Judges – but mostly in the “fights clans” capacity. They don't get to hold trial over crimes any more serious than whatever Post-Eschaton equivalent of a parking violation is.

They look just like real Judges, which they like, and they get to show up wherever tensions need to be reduced via a show of force.

3A. Protectors

Do you want to punch people and use “common sense” to interpret the Codex rather than throwing the book at the criminals? Then you become a Protector. You lead from the front, doing whatever it takes to deliver justice (or hammer blows). Think Roland, I guess.

Protectors act fast and judge fast, sometimes not even quoting the codex.

4A. Executioners

They are known either for creative punishments or for smoking out bandit lairs. People fear them and they like it.

That's it.

4C. Black Judges

They fight the enemy within – the corruption within the Judge system. They are very secretive, connected by this dude Rutger, and nobody really knows how many there are. Rutger contacts them via specific radio frequencies and they carry out death sentences on the supposedly corrupt Judges.

3B. Advocates

The advocates want to “tame the wolf within the man by taking him by the short leash of the law.” They're the ones who put the law first, head-bashin' not being that important. “Judges should be merciful mentors, but also cruel pedagogues,” they say, while also mentioning that a mercenary band can be as good at bashing heads as a bunch of Judges.

4B. Arbiters

Arbiters are the LAW in that they're experts of the Codex. That's it, a short description.

4D. Assessors

They're basically snitches and information gatherers for a Commissioner.

5A. Commissioners

As you can see, only Assessors can level up into Commissioners. These guys are very adept at the long game, allowing some criminal conspiracy to exist for longer so they could gather more information and find its leaders.

5B. High Judges

For everyone else, there's the path of the High Judge. Once you are approved by the Senate – after intense scrutiny, of course – you get unlimited freedom to do what you want. Some go out into the wastes to expand the Protectorate, while others remain in Justitian to do politics.

6. Senators

quote:

The Judiciary affords two senates with eight high Judges each. All of them were heroes once, unused to being interrupted or contradicted. In the angry debates over Justitian’s fate, they will have to tolerate this.

7. Supreme Judgment

Archot has become synonymous with the seat of the Supreme Judge and nobody know what would have to be done if he stepped down or died. That he erased the procedures for handling power over doesn't help. However, he's “neither tired, nor decrepit,” so it remains an issue for the future.

How has he not been whacked by a Black Judge yet?!

quote:

STEREOTYPES

Anabaptists: For years, we lay in ambush with our rifles, guarding Justitian’s Cross Quarter like a prison camp. After all the Chroniclers had spread about the Anabaptists, they had to be wild animals. Now everything is supposed to be different? I wonder who’s in control in Justitian.

Anubites: Who? Ah, Africans. Rare guests in the Protectorate. If they behave, they’re welcome.

Apocalyptics: Wherever these migrating birds land, trouble is not far away. If they pick at us, e will smoke out their nest.

Chroniclers: The Chronicler sect is subordinate to the First. As long as Archot thinks we can use them, we agree. They bring us information and take care of the technology. Ah, whatever.

Clanners: It is our destiny to guard the citizens of the Protectorate. As far as the Clans are concerned, Archot has taught us the only language savages understand: force.

Hellvetics: Soldiers without ambitions, happily sitting in their Alpine Fortress. That’s
just as well, for they have the weapons to forcefully gain control over Purgare and southern Borca. Yet in their old home, they failed. That’s what happens if you jabber too much.

Jehammedans: Since the war in the Adriatic lowlands has lost its momentum, the Anabaptists
and Jehammedans have lain low. The conflicts in Justitian have died down almost completely, and in the Protectorate, the two sects keep their distance from each other, too.

Neolibyans: Chairman Archot had it entered into the Codex: no citizen of the Protectorate may trade with Africans. Sounds as if the Chroniclers had a finger in the pie there.

Palers: Born thieves. They prefer the night like the scum they are. We will keep an eye on them.

Scourgers: Warriors from faraway Africa, often at the side of the Neolibyans. Probably mercenaries.

Scrappers: Don’t ask an Advocate about the Scrappers. In their eyes, those ragged figures ruin the cityscape. But they’re okay. They keep their mouths shut and stick to the rules.

Spitalians: They are part of Justitian. The Hygienists screen every crumble of bread we want
to eat. For a long time, they tried to undermine our rules. After their closing of ranks, WE have to stick to THEIR rules. It’s… unbearable.



Not a sixshooter, oddly enough



Laika, the Bitch

Culture: Borca
Concept: The Zealot
Cult: Judges (Protector)

She operates in Tech Central, ruling over the Scrappers with an iron fist. She has a band of violent Anabaptists (!) everyone calls “the Pack” at her command. Apparently, the Scrappers say that she finds every criminal out there and thus Tech Central sees very little crime.



Rutgar

Culture: Borca
Concept: The Mentor
Cult: Judges (Senator)

Outranked only by the Supreme Judge, he's considered to be the leader of the executive branch, an “old wolf [that] pulls all the strings.”



Philippe Lautreche

Culture: Franka
Concept: The Defiler
Cult: Judges (Advocate)
He was sent in to oversee a newly conquered village on the Frankan bored and to bring justice to the place. Instead, he rules the place like a tyrant and I guess nobody would be sad if he ended up on the wrong end of a PC's musket.

In Conclusion:You can quickly see that the creators of Degenesis clearly had less love for Judges than they did for Chroniclers and Spitalians. On the other hand, Judges seem at least a little more sympathetic – unlike, say, Hellvetiocs, who threw a fit and left their people to fend for themselves - and they sport a very iconic, if not exactly unique, look.

Next time: making GBS threads in a forest is true living.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Now it’s time to cover character creation in Chapter 2: Characters

They start by suggesting that the players should talk over what sorts of characters they want to play, so nobody’s trodding on each others’ toes or making a character that just doesn’t make sense for the game that’s going to be run. So, if you’ve ever created a new world of darkness character you’ve got some idea how this goes. Character creation goes in two phases, the first where we create our character and define what they were pre-Inspiration, and the second where we deal with all the supernatural poo poo.

You start with the concept, which no poo poo. You now pick an Origin, Nature, and Allegiance. These actually all have some mechanical impact. Your Origin gives you a free point in an appropriate Background (they suggest some later in the book, and obviously you could come up with your own if none fit). Your Nature has both a Virtue and Vice component, and they control how you regain Willpower and how you might be forced to lose some. Allegiance can also provide you with a free Background point in Backing(X), but only if you actually have one.

Attributes are next and are easy. It’s got the normal White Wolf Physical/Mental/Social set. You get one point in each for free, then choose which group is primary, which is secondary, and which is tertiary. You get six points for your primary group, four for your secondary, and three for your tertiary. You have three stats per group, and stats can’t exceed five (since you’re only human). We then get 23 points to spend on Abilities, one dot per point up to 3 at character creation for any given Ability. After this we get six points of Backgrounds, which we can do whatever we want with.

We’re close to the end of this phase. We record our initial Willpower, 3, our Inspiration (which is 0 at this stage in character creation), our Initiative (which is the sum of our Dexterity and Wits), and our movement (which is based on Dexterity). We then get 15 bonus points to spend, which let us increase things like Attributes, Abilities, Backgrounds, Willpower, and Initiative. We can also buy Specialties for Abilities, which give us bonuses to do certain things with that Ability. Now it’s time to become Inspired.

We start by increasing our Inspiration to one and choosing what sort of Inspiration we have:

1) Heroic Inspiration makes you a Daredevil. You don’t have any obvious supernormal powers, but you’re able to do extraordinary poo poo and make it look ordinary.
2) Psychic Inspiration makes you a Mesmerist. You do psychic poo poo, like it says on the tin.
3) Dynamic Inspiration makes you a Stalwart. You have extraordinary physical abilities.

There’s a section on deciding how your character came to be Inspired. This is just flavor, though different methods of Inspiration lean your character towards different sorts of Inspiration. Let’s move on to how Inspiration actually works because it’s super complicated.

Inspiration has three Facets: Intuitive, Reflective, and Destructive. We’ll learn the mechanics of this later on in the book, but they briefly discuss each. The Intuitive facet rewards immediate action, the Reflective facet rewards caution and forethought, and the Destructive facet rewards the shattering of obstacles (whether they’re physical, social, or emotional). You get one point to allocate for each point of Inspiration you have. When we learn the mechanics of these next chapter we'll see that they're important enough to justify explaining what the hell you'll get out of them here rather than making you dig ahead a bunch to even realize that.

Now we get to play around with Transformation Points, with which we buy our cool poo poo. We get 13, and here’s what we can do with them:

1 TP buys us two Attribute dots, which we can use however we want as long as we don’t try to raise an Attribute above 5. A single Attribute cost us 5 of our 15 Bonus Points back in that stage, so that can give you some idea how much ‘better’ the TPs are.

1 TP also buys us 5 Ability dots, which mirrors the TP:BP conversion of Attributes (since Abilities cost 2 per). One big difference though is that we can buy Abilities up to 5 with TP. If you want any maxed Abilities at creation you’ll need to spend TP. We can ALSO buy a sixth dot in an Ability that’s at 5 for a TP. We can do this up to three times total.

1 TP buys us 4 Background dots, which is actually a ripoff since they only cost 1 BP a piece earlier. Backgrounds are definitely better purchased with your Bonus Points than Attributes or Abilities, assuming you want to buy any of those things up. Two points lets us buy an Enhancement for any Background at 5 dots, which are super awesome unique bonuses we’ll talk about when we go over Backgrounds later. They’re really powerful and probably actually worth the TP if they fit for your character.

1 TP also buys 2 Willpower, which is again a poor conversion compared to using Bonus Points (the same 1:4 as buying Backgrounds).

1 TP buys an Inspiration dot, which we couldn’t buy at all earlier in creation. We can ALSO buy, for one TP, a three point larger pool of temporary Inspiration. Temporary Inspiration is a bit confusing and they don’t explain it well, honestly. It’s the points we spend to do cool poo poo, and while we start with our default pool equal to our Inspiration the actual default CAP is 10. So for every point we spend here we start with three more temporary Inspiration and are able to hold on to three more maximum as well. So the more permanent Inspiration we have the more we’ll start a story with, but we buy the cap on how much we can have up separately. If that makes sense.

This is also where we buy Knacks, the special powers of our respective Inspired type. Daredevils get Heroic Knacks, which always cost 2 TP each but have some prerequisites (since you need to be able to semi-plausibly do them for them to ‘work’). Psychic and Dynamic knacks (used by Mesmerists and Stalwarts respectively) have a more tiered system, where you spend 1 TP for a level 1 Knack, 2 for a level 2, and 3 for a level 3. There’s no other requirements on them beyond being the right type of Inspired, though, and they’re not in any way hierarchical. You can never buy a Knack from one of the other types, because as we’ll learn in the later games they work by fundamentally different mechanics that prevent it. The game also mentions Super-science inventions here, but only to note that we don’t buy those with TP. Helpful.

We finish by making sure we’ve recalculated anything that needs it and noting our Soak values, which are how good we are at taking damage. Our Bashing soak is by default our Stamina, and we don’t get any Lethal soak at all. Aggravated damage kinda isn’t a thing we’ll see much in Adventure (though It’s much more prevalent in Aberrant and Trinity) and I don’t think there’s any way to soak anything that potent.

We finish the chapter with a section on character advancement. As usual for the Storyteller system you get Experience Points that you spend on poo poo. Raising traits requires some kind of explanation for what you did that made that trait increase and an expenditure that escalates as the trait’s rating does. You can also buy Abilities you didn’t already have, Specialties for Abilities, Ability Mastery, new Backgrounds, Enhancements for your existing Backgrounds, and new Knacks (Knacks don’t have levels, you either have them or you don’t).

So I was really nice about the whole way they explained the basic rules so you might have some idea what the gently caress you were looking at when creating a character, but unfortunately they immediately plant on their faces by making you fumble around the rest of the book to figure out what the hell some of your options even mean. It feels weird and non-intuitive but for a creation system this open-ended they probably should have put even MORE ahead of the actual creation rules, so you know for example what the Knacks even are and what you can do with Inspiration before you’re supposed to decide what you’re going to do with your Transformation Points. The different things you can spend TP on are as I noted not equally efficient, which is certainly on purpose. It’s a wrinkle that could definitely bite you if you don’t look through the whole of the rules before you do the first portion of creation. The game talks about Traits next, so that’ll be our next stop.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry



The Colonies -- The East Coast


Boston
Population: 991
Founded by Lt Colonel Henry Jefferson USA SF Ret. Jefferson was an atheist and a rationalist and did not accept that the Judgment day was upon the Earth until the Seventh Seal was broken. When he realized what the world had become he started helping anyone who entered Boston. With his skills of organization and the supplies that were easily scavenged in Massachusetts, they had electricity and fresh water within two months. In January of 2004, three heavily-armed men entered Boston and requested to speak to the man in charge. Jefferson met them in his office, there was gunfire and he stepped out the only one still alive.

He warned his people there was an invasion force coming and if they wanted to leave they could. None did and they prepared. In less than a month an armored column rolled in from the south and found Boston apparently deserted. The ambush destroyed the invaders in detail allowing Boston to seize their weapons, vehicles, and supplies.

Threats to Boston: The war is still going on as the mysterious invaders keep attempting to assault the city. The invaders do not appear to understand how to combat guerrilla warfare, but their excellent quality equipment is keeping them in the fight. Boston's scouts have confirmed the invasion force is coming from DC, but every attempt to enter the former Capitol has not ended well.

Living in Boston: Think of living in Kosovo only with invaders that seem endless. New residents are immediately given small arms training and assigned to a platoon. Sound and light discipline is strenuously practiced.

Commodities Needed: Soldiers, weapons, medicine, food, information about DC.

Who's Who:
The Colonel -- A veteran of 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam, he has dedicated himself to the protection of others his entire life. If he had ever acknowledged God, he would have entered Heaven easily. Now this dedication has been focused on Boston and its residents.

Susan Cominsky -- Boston's best scout and the only survivor of the attempts to enter DC. She is frequently out in the field monitoring the troop build ups to give Boston advance warning.

Relations with other colonies:

DC -- Full out war.

DC's forces have intercepted all of the messages to other colonies.


Washington DC
Population: unknown
Leader: unknown
Government: unknown
Attitude: hostile

Nothing is known about the conditions inside DC and there is no...

Ahh, that's bullshit. In the early 2000's The End was rereleased as a D20 OGL product along with the two sourcebooks; The Boston Massacre and The Dogs of War. I have both and will go over them after these rules are finished.

Spoiler: DC is run by The Horseman War

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

So, is that spoiler actually ignorant of how an insurgency works, or is this some seven-dimensional chess business? Because the first option might be the stupidest possibility of them all.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply