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Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Nessus posted:

Given the attitude and style of Blue Rose I assume there would be multiple routes to transitioning, but the fell sorcery might be both the quickest and the "easiest" to get hold of. I forget if that stuff was bad because it was against the law or bad because it involved worshiping things with tentacles.

Sorcery in Blue Rose, as differentiated from other types of magic like psychic-stuff and elemental shaping, is explicitly the provenance of the Shadow. It's possible to use Sorcery without immediately falling to the dark side but the book hammers the point home that lots of corrupted sorcerer-king types started out as someone deciding that they could totally handle using it this one time, honest.

Like let's be clear, I don't for a second believe that Steve Kenson is secretly down on trans people, and Blue Rose's treatment of the subject however awkward is a million light years better than anything Abby Soto has ever done. Blue Rose is a good game with some awkward and sometimes embarrassing rough spots, like the whole Magical Gypsy Caravan People Who Are Naturally Suspected of Being Thieves And Love Dancing And Fortune-Telling thing.

edit; they're called Roamers. Get it?

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Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


AweStriker posted:

This is actually one of a very, very small number of things which is a Free Action, at least in my copy of the book.

Oh boy, that was an embarrassing mistake. Gotta fix that ASAP O_O

quote:

There are a few Active Skills I'm surprised didn't make that writeup: Provoke is basically the MMO tank's trick of making your enemies attack you as opposed to some other guy, and it keys off Resolve, meaning anyone using it is likely to be able to take the hits. Battle Analysis and its cousin Exploit Weakness essentially give you or one of your allies a Determination for defense/offense only, respectively, if you succeed in an Intuition roll against them - but it has to work the first time, since it can only be done once per enemy. Those last two are only available at higher levels, but then again so are Portal and Refraction Point.

They just didn't strike my fancy quite like "Now I can let my laser beams bounce all over the place". But yeah, they are pretty darn neat.

ProfessorProf posted:

One of my favorite gimmick Valor builds I've ever seen was a guy who would surround himself with barriers, fill the space inside with damage-over-time area attacks that wreck anything inside other than him, then spawn Portals around the battlefield and use techniques to suck enemies through them into his miniature hell dimension.

Now I'm imagining an Eldritch abomination sucking feeble mortals into its belly.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 21:44 on Apr 8, 2016

Behold the Void
Feb 16, 2016


Doresh posted:

Now I'm imagining an Eldritch abomination sucking feeble mortals into its belly.

I like the sound of that, let me write that one down.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012






Doresh posted:

Now I'm imagining an Eldritch abomination sucking feeble mortals into its belly.

You've just described at least 3 WoW Boss fights.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kurieg posted:

You've just described at least 3 WoW Boss fights.

Any sufficiently big and long-running MMORPG will ultimately include vore.

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

Remember when Pinocchio pandered to vore fetishists back in 1883? Is there nothing they won't corrupt?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Well. It could be worse, somebody could have named a game VOR or something.

That would be awfully on the nose, wouldn't it?

Karatela
Sep 11, 2001

Clickzorz!!!



Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Well. It could be worse, somebody could have named a game VOR or something.

That would be awfully on the nose, wouldn't it?

Entering a World Called VOR you say?

That likely hits all the notes you'd ever need before you'd have to shower with a tanker truck of bleach to try and get it off of you

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Alien Rope Burn posted:

Well. It could be worse, somebody could have named a game VOR or something.

That would be awfully on the nose, wouldn't it?



That monster is going to totally eat whole and slowly digest that soldier there.

Karatela
Sep 11, 2001

Clickzorz!!!



Grimey Drawer

Young Freud posted:



That monster is going to totally eat whole and slowly digest that soldier there.



Do I... do I at least get to roll on a chart for how it digests me, my sense of verisimilitude needs to know

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Moinkmaster posted:

That likely hits all the notes you'd ever need before you'd have to shower with a tanker truck of bleach to try and get it off of you

It wasn't so bad.

The gimmick was that you had different worlds being pulled into a interdimensional black hole and basically smashed together. Naturally all the disparate forces in this mini-galaxy worked together to get out of this terrible predicament!... well, no, actually, they all tried to murder each other, because what else can you do in a minis game? Thus, the "VOR" was the interdimensional black hole pulling them all together.

It was published by FASA shortly before their collapse, though, and never found another publisher. And that was that.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012





Chapter 4 Continued: Araterre
The Principality of Araterre consists of the various large islands and island chains sitting south of mainland Megalos. It is governed and policed by the Megalan Empire thanks to its major Banestorm drop being a bunch of gun-wielding Protestants and ornery Jesuits that caused widespread panic and fear.


Geography
Most of Araterre is made up of subtropical to tropical islands that have been heavily deforested and used for sugar cane, tea, and spice plantations by French and Spanish colonists, so it is more or less Literally the Caribbean. The only exception is Bilit Island, which takes the role of the Hollywood jungle island with fierce wildlife and even fiercer locals.


History
Protestants and Jesuits came in the 1500s, Megalos got pissed, the Protestants were all but wiped out while the Jesuits fought so bitterly and tenaciously that their status as heretics was repealed fairly quickly, and in 1652 the region was declared a principality of Megalos. That's about the long and short of it. Oh, and some Balinese Hindus came in the 1800s and didn't get wiped out because they had fancy new crops to share, so there's that.


Society
While Araterre technically follows the same social rank conventions and such as Megalos, having its own prince and various aristocrats down the ladder, their power is hollow compared to their counterparts in the Megalan mainland. Instead, the merchants and the Church hold the biggest pieces of the pie across the principality. It's suggested that they are powerful enough that they could overthrow the monarchy entirely and become the next Cardiel or Caithness if they didn't hate each other so much that they'd never work together.

Technology
In spite of Megalan efforts to keep the world grounded heavily in the Middle Ages and its success at gun control, Araterre retains Renaissance-era ships, swords, architecture, and agriculture. Aralaise shipwrights and armorers are a pretty big deal, and keep the secrets of the crafting of their unique sea vessels and fencing swords pretty close to their chests to avoid foreign competition in said crafts.

Nonhumans
Sea elves and merfolk are both found in the waters around Araterre, but they're pretty much the only native nonhuman sapients. The Aralaise are made up of people who are either open-minded or keep their prejudices about other species to themselves in an effort to look welcoming, however, and other nonhumans are treated well when they come ashore. Goblin merchants in particular are common visitors.

Magic
Unsurprisingly, a group of formerly Protestant people who were attacked by a magic empire don't have great opinions about the wizardly arts. Who would have thought? The Jesuit and Thomasite clergy are pretty much the only people with a great working knowledge of magic in Araterre, and it's generally frowned out outside of the Church.

The Law
Legal practice in Araterre isn't all that different from in Megalos, though slavery has fallen mostly out of favor compared to imprisonment.

Fencing
And what would the not-Caribbean be without some buckling of the swash? Combat in Araterre is fast and maneuverable, as armor is impractical in the heat of its islands, and the weapons of choice are rapiers, sabers, and smallswords, as well as a few cases of the main-gauche and kris blade. The Aralaise even have dueling academies that teach weapon skills, Acrobatics, Cloak, Carousing, and Sex Appeal to their students.


The Fiefdoms
Araterre is divided into fiefdoms that make up either part of or the entirety of an island. They aren't really different from fiefdoms in Megalos, though the local lord typically has a private fleet rather than horse-mounted knights due to obvious reasons.

Sauvons
One of the two fiefdoms on the large Isle Entelle, Sauvons is both the capital and the cultural hub of Araterre. Combat in Araterre is fast and maneuverable, as armor is impractical in the heat of its islands, and the weapons of choice are rapiers, sabers, and smallswords, as well as a few cases of the main-gauche and kris blade. The Aralaise have their own dueling academies that teach weapon skills, Acrobatics, Cloak, Carousing, and Sex Appeal. Most of the population's food comes from the sea, either through fishing or Sauvons's numerous manatee farms. Prince Arnod de Sauvons rules from this city, for some measure of the word "rule". He's not particularly skilled at speech, and he cares far more about hunting and affairs with various mistresses than he does about governance. His wife, Princess Acarie, is the far more politically savvy of the pair, and was once ruthless in undermining anyone who could threaten her place in the system before she finally bore a son that secured her position for good. Sadly, the young Francois de Sauvons has always been gravely ill, and requires a retinue of healing wizards at his side at all times.

Drift Abbey
Drift Abbey was around before most Aralaise even came to Araterre, having been settled way back in 1175 by some Benedictine monks who happened to come across the island chain. It is now the headquarers of Andrew of Hidelban, Archbishop of Araterre. Andrew is rather different than his predecessor, Jacques-Jude LeBlanc: while he may not be as skilled in oratory or theological debate, he is nonetheless passionate about the faith, and also keenly aware that the Curia's insistence on keeping watch on the Jesuits is probably meant to keep the Aralaise Church and the Jesuits at odds with each other to avoid any political upheaval. While Jacque-Jude towed the line concerning the Jesuits, Andrew is convinced that if he can work with the Jesuits the two can break the great influence the merchants have in the court of the prince.

Ansonne
What was once the second mightiest city in Araterre is now known by the rather unflattering title "Wickedest City in Ytarria". The blame for this falls on the prince's younger brother, Duc Remis d'Ansonne, and his corrupt Wazifi advisor Jafar as-Siyassi. While claims that Jafar is a Hashishin, diabolist, or even a demon are probably overblown tales, it's true that he has been puppeteering the rise of the criminal underworld in Ansonne, flooding its streets with thieves and pirates of all stripes. He is also probably running a network of Wazifi spies throughout Araterre, though that one is less certain.

It is also in Ansonne that we get our second actually statted NPC, the 208 point Catherine de Melies. An attractive woman whose mostly Asian heritage is contrasted by pale blonde hair, Catherine was once a favored mistress of the prince, but was kicked out when she proved unwilling to be subservient and silent when he eventually grew bored of her. She used the prince's parting gifts to pay for a fleet and a crew, making herself a self-styled pirate queen. She now loves striking blows to the royal navy of Araterre as her ships plunder the Eastern Isles. While rather waifish and only slightly skilled in knife fighting, she makes up for her lack of physical prowess with charisma, cleverness, a fair amount of ranks in the Tactics skill, and loads of money.


The Ring Islands
The Ring Islands get their shape from two meteor impacts in Yrth's deep past. These impacts also greatly affected the magic of the region, making it wild and unpredictable – you can start out an area that greatly boosts necromantic magic and cripples healing magic, and then just half a day's hike later be in a place where it's suddenly boosting fire spells and baning water ones. The islands are also home to ferocious monsters such as acid-breathing feral dragons, giant man-eating bats, tigers with chameleonic skin, and sea serpents. Even the mundane animals in the island chain are things that are exotic and frightening to most Ytarrians, such as pythons, crocodiles, and gorillas. The only permanent habitation in the ring islands are scattered pirate hideouts.


Bilit Island
An island of thick forests and semi-active volcanoes, Bilit Island is home to people descended from various Mesoamerican civilizations. While only at Bronze Age technological advancement, they are ferocious warriors aided by powerful wizard priests who sacrifice captives to various gods from southeast Asian and Mesoamerican cultures, demons, and Great Old Ones. To make things even worse on invading armies, the wilderness around the cities of Bilit Island are filled with violent monsters and giant reptiles that may or may not be dinosaurs. Even the Megalan Empire learned fairly quickly that it would probably be more beneficial to trade with the Bilit Islanders than attempt to conquer them, even with their xenophobia and various unknown taboos making life difficult on traders anyway. And trade they had: jade, obsidian, strange hides and feathers from local wildlife, mahogany wood, vanilla, capsicum-laden peppers, and chocolate are all unique exports from the southern island. They also have loads of gold in the biggest deposits outside of the dwarven lands. In return for their own goods, the Bilit Islanders typically demand wine or steel weaponry, the latter to augment their own arms of bronze and obsidian.



Next Time in GURPS Banestorm: Civil war and Silver Hands in the land of Caithness, and also a longer entry than the one this time.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Alien Rope Burn posted:

It wasn't so bad.

The gimmick was that you had different worlds being pulled into a interdimensional black hole and basically smashed together. Naturally all the disparate forces in this mini-galaxy worked together to get out of this terrible predicament!... well, no, actually, they all tried to murder each other, because what else can you do in a minis game? Thus, the "VOR" was the interdimensional black hole pulling them all together.

It was published by FASA shortly before their collapse, though, and never found another publisher. And that was that.

The special thing about VOR that I don't think ever manifested in published form was that it was eventually supposed to contain a system for creating your own faction using some sort of point-buy system so you could use whatever miniatures you wanted to play with.

Hunt11
Jul 24, 2013



Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:

It wasn't so bad.

The gimmick was that you had different worlds being pulled into a interdimensional black hole and basically smashed together. Naturally all the disparate forces in this mini-galaxy worked together to get out of this terrible predicament!... well, no, actually, they all tried to murder each other, because what else can you do in a minis game? Thus, the "VOR" was the interdimensional black hole pulling them all together.

It was published by FASA shortly before their collapse, though, and never found another publisher. And that was that.

There is something oddly human about that response.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Hunt11 posted:

There is something oddly human about that response.

There were only two human factions in VOR, actually. One was basically GI Joe USA with elite troops and sentry guns and stuff and the other were the Neo-Soviets comprised of every heartless ultra-communist Cold War stereotype you can think of mashed together...commissars executing deserters during human wave assaults comprised of poorly trained conscripts using lovely equipment, along with mutant monster shocktroops and heavy weapons teams using radioactive sludge-throwers. Everyone else was some kind of weird alien.

Hunt11
Jul 24, 2013



Grimey Drawer

Kai Tave posted:

There were only two human factions in VOR, actually. One was basically GI Joe USA with elite troops and sentry guns and stuff and the other were the Neo-Soviets comprised of every heartless ultra-communist Cold War stereotype you can think of mashed together...commissars executing deserters during human wave assaults comprised of poorly trained conscripts using lovely equipment, along with mutant monster shocktroops and heavy weapons teams using radioactive sludge-throwers. Everyone else was some kind of weird alien.

My comment was about that even though it would be in every factions best interest to work together to try and escape, they are all too busy trying to kill everybody else.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Alien Rope Burn posted:

It wasn't so bad.

The gimmick was that you had different worlds being pulled into a interdimensional black hole and basically smashed together. Naturally all the disparate forces in this mini-galaxy worked together to get out of this terrible predicament!... well, no, actually, they all tried to murder each other, because what else can you do in a minis game? Thus, the "VOR" was the interdimensional black hole pulling them all together.

It was published by FASA shortly before their collapse, though, and never found another publisher. And that was that.

Goddamnit FASA, why didn't you just expand Renegade Legion instead of taking on another brand?

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!






Psionic Artifacts of Athas part 2:
Metaplot Devices


Okay, now we've already had some metaplot artifacts, the Belt of Kings and the Dark Lens, but that's just the tip of the ice berg. Metaplot artifacts really make up the bulk of this book's non-life-shaped artifacts.


The halfling with the pink afro might be the best illustration in this book.

The Heartwood Spear

The Heartwood Spear is from the very first Prism Pentad book and it's the weapon that was essential to the killing of King Kalak.

The Spear is formed only of a single piece of wood and is perfectly smooth (no one told the artist that apparently) coming to an extremely sharp, natural point.

For some reason, the first paragraph of it's history is very vague "It is thought that this artifact was once a piece of the Last Tree, although the only person who could verify this is Nok the Halfling. However, Nok perished in the battle with Sadira while attempting to retrieve Ktando's Cane and return it to the halflings of the forest ridge." Okay, well first and foremost none of that would make any sense to someone who hadn't read at least a summary of the Prism Pentad novels...and those who have read it know very well that the spear was pulled directly from the Last Tree and given to Rikus to slay Kalak.

Oh, and then the history goes on to say just that. Nok gave the spear to Rikus once the halflings learned that King Kalak was going to turn into a dragon. We then have more metaplot: Rikus returns the spear, Nok gets mad at Sardira. They fight, Sardira wins and Nok turns the spear into a tree. That's right, this artifact effectively doesn't exist anymore! Thanks for wasting the page!

The entry goes on to say that a powerful halfling like Nok may be able to create a new Spear from the last tree or return the tree-spear back to its original form...but still, the entire artifact section is so bloated with Prism Pentad related artifacts that it seems like including one that the metaplot already destroyed is pretty wasteful.

Anyway, who does the spear actually do. It's a +5 Spear and it can ignore all armor, magical or otherwise and if it rolls maximum damage to an armored target the armor must make a save or be destroyed. Plus the bearer of the spear is immune to all nature-based magic (presumably this means druid spells?) and all psionics.

I mean, it's certainly not bad, and if used properly it could be very effective at killing a target like a Sorcerer-King (who have relatively few HP for their level being psionicist/wizards, but impressive AC due to magical defenses and natural armor). Given that it doesn't actually protect against wizard magic few would-be-assassins are likely to get very close with it (notably, in the book it originates from the Spear is specifically intended to protect against wizardry).

The suggested means of destruction (although it hardly needs it considering its now a tree) are to smash the spear against the glass of the obsidian plain or it will simply rot to pieces if it draws the blood of a halfling.



Ktandeo's Cane

I always want to spell this as Ktandeo's Kane.

So, this artifact is a complete and total disaster, but properly understanding why requires a bit of background on the Prism Pentad series, the series whose plot completely warped the setting of Athas and whose artifacts dominate this book.

It all goes back to the Verdant Passage, the first Prism Pentad novel which, I will say, isn't all that bad by the standards of cheap, licensed fantasy novels. It did a pretty good job of getting the setting right, the plot was simple but not painfully dumb or anything and the changes it introduced to the setting (the death of King Kalak and the creation of the "Free City-State" of Tyr) are minor enough to be ignored easily if you don't like them and are actually a welcome bit of variety in the standard hot bleak mess that is Athasian life. It's one of the few elements of the metaplot I have no problem with keeping in the game.

There was one area where the Verdant Passage differed significantly from the standard rules of Dark Sun, and I'll go out on a limb and say I think its actually an improvement, in that it didn't present preservers and defilers as a flat either-or dichotomy. Preservers knew how to draw magic without killing living things...but they still could defile if they wanted to (for more power) or if they had to (to cast a spell of greater power than they could normally). Honestly, I'd say that's a good thing, it makes life as a preserver more interesting and keeps things in a nice, morally ambiguous area where morality comes into question.

Now, here's where things get hinky. In the book Ktandeo was Sardira's teacher, a human preserver who often used magic with the aid of his cane a wooden staff topped with an obsidian orb. The cane was a gift from the halfling cheiftan Nok. The Cane allowed Ktandeo to draw life-energy from his own body rather than the environment, allowing him to cast spells much more powerfully than he could as a preserver without risking the destruction of nearby things. It also seems to have served as a general amplifier of magic as well, but that could have been because the magic in the books was decidedly not very Vancian.

Now, in Psionic Arifacts of Athas Ktandeo is apparently a halfling. Being a halfling he has no magical abilities and only uses the cane to cast wizard-like spells from his own life-force. Despite this he somehow is able to teach Sardira and her fellow preservers the methods for casting wizardry spells. So not only does this not really make any sense in the context of standard D&D rules it completely contradicts the book that the whole thing is based on.

It was so confusing when I re-read this that I actually looked it up and supposedly the reason for the change is that the writer of the artifact entry got confused by the art piece chosen for the entry (see above), which depicts what is clearly a young, halfling holding the cane (which makes perfect sense as the cane was a gift to Ktandeo from the halflings and their creation). Somehow, the artist got the impression that this was supposed to be sardira's elderly human mentor and due to this misinterpretation came up with an entirely different purpose for the cane, to grant the halfling the illusion of being a wizard.

Oh, and guess what, following the rest of the meta-plot-laden history we find out the cane has been shattered during Nok's fight with Sardira. Yet another destroyed artifact taking up page-count.

Anyway, so what can the cane do? It can cast wizard-y spells as spell-like abilities, duplicating any wizard spells of 3rd level or less that the user has seen, up to 3 times per day. it can also cast globe of invulnerability 1/day, hold monster 2/day, suffocate 1/week, and protection from evil 10' radius 5/day. Plus a selection of random abilities: two from Major Spell-like Powers, one from Offensive Powers, and one from Protections.

Its curse is drawing on the user's life force, aging the caster 6 months per use, 12 months per use if you use it more than 3 times per day. This is another deviation from the book, but a more understandable one given the difference in how spellcasting works. This would normally be fairly weak for most settings (an elf could use the cane all day) but Athas doesn't really have any extremely long-lived PC races.

Suggested means of destruction: broken by an item made from the Last Tree, crushed under the foot of a 20th level or higher Defiler, or broken by an elderly halfling (oh hey, that already happened).




The Last Tree

Now, we've moved on from metaplot artifacts that have already been destroyed to the metaplot artifact that made them in the first place, except you probably won't be able to get it to talk to you because you're "unworthy". Judgemental racist old tree. Oh, and this racist old tree that probably won't help you have over a full page dedicated to its incredibly dull history.

The Last Tree isn't obviously actually the last tree...given its located in the Forest Ridge. However, it is a survivor of the Blue Age of Athas. It stands on the top of the highest mountain in the Forest Ridge, standing over 500 feet tall and a dozen yards wide. It's very big.

As the Blue Age was ending there was a battle between the "good" Nature Masters and the evil "Nature-Benders". The leader of the nature masters, a halfling named Sull was mortally wounded and dragged himself to the top of a mountain, spoke magic words and turned himself into a tree.

Now, you may be wondering how. No clue. Keep in mind that lifeshaping is not a form of magic. It's explicitly a scientific (very soft science, but still) process which simply involves combining the right ingredients in the right way. It, very clearly, does not involve magic words and likewise the ancient halflings did not practice magic at all, focusing exclusively on life-shaping. Now, this might be an acceptable level of vagueness given that life-shaping rules were introduced in a separate book...except that this one has an entire section dedicated to life-shaping and life-shaped creations. It probably has more material on life-shaping than the actual Windriders of the Jagged Cliffs book itself! Anyway, Sull's mind lives in the heart of the tree and is the last, true Nature Master in the world.

Around the time of the cleansing wars a badly wounded halfling hunter stumbled upon the tree and Sull decided to reach down a branch and heal him. Tired for his ordeal the halfling hunter rested at the base of the tree for a few days. Naturally the tree was fairly depressed at the quality of its descendants. After leaving the tree the hunter returned a few weeks later with his village elders, including a Rain Cleric who found the tree an object of holy awe.

For the next 2000 years rain clerics (why only rain?) from throughout the forest ridge came to the tree to speak to it and learn its wisdom. The Last Tree has shared wisdom and secrets with the halflings who come to it, the most prominent was the halfling chieftan Nok who used the Tree to create the Heartwoood Spear and Ktandeo's Cane. Of course, the halflings consider the Last Tree to be the greatest and most important secret of their people.

The last tree will communicate only with halflings and apparently has not actually decided to share any knowledge of life-shaping (although, presumably if it learned of the halflings of the Jagged Cliffs it would be quite eager to help them restore their dying knowledge). On the one hand I can understand the tree being worried about throwing life-shaping "out there"...on the other hand Athas is pretty much on its last legs and one thing Life-shaping is really good at is environmental manipulation and restoration.

The Tree is ancient but pretty much knows only about the Blue Age and life-shaping...it hasn't exactly been roaming the world.

As far as what the tree can actually do:

It can all upon chain lightning (from the mist around its branches) (twice per day) and use all the powers from the Healing and Nature tables at will. The tree is immune to psionics and to magical fire, but can be burned with normal fire (and I suppose any other sort of magical damage). It can produce 20 gallons of water per day. It's branches can produce enchanted weaponry (+1 to +5) if the tree wishes. It can also grant any of its own powers to a subject for 2d10 days.

The tree could be destroyed by the eruption of the mountain it sits on, or by preventing it from receiving sunlight for 72 hours.


The rest look like this, but smaller

The Orbs of Kalid-ma

The Orbs of Kalid-Ma are, thankfully, not related to the metaplot and are instead a set of 5 obsidian spheres created to help one of the Sorcerer-Kings to transform into a dragon extra-fast. It's a fair bet that if a sorcerer-king dies, its because they were trying to rush their dragon-transformation in some way. The city of Kalidnay (Kalid-Ma's city-state) was destroyed in the process. Although: fun fact! It's not mentioned here but neither the city-state nor the sorcerer-king are actually destroyed. They're actually in Raveloft (having transferred there when Kalid-Ma's high priestess murdered her children to keep his botched ritual from killing him). Because when you think Gothic Horror you really think Dark Sun.

Fortunately, the book declines to go down that particular rabbit hole and presents an alternate history where Kalid-Ma actually succeeds in jumping up 5 levels in the Dragon transformation process but the effect is too much for his mind to handle, driving him insane and turning him into a ravening beast. He wrecks the city and is eventually killed by the combined efforts of three other sorcerer kings.

The orbs survived (Kalid-ma swallowed them as part of the transformation) and the sorcerer kings powers (magical and psionic) had transferred into them. There are 5 Orbs, each with a theme. The king's mind was shattered into each one, giving each an Ego score, making them capable of dominating the bearer and if all five orbs were brought together and swallowed by a pre-dragon (defiler/psionicist of 20th level or higher) then they would reconstitute Kalid-Ma, recreating him as a 27th level Dragon, with full access to his faculties once more. Even worse, the orbs combine their Ego rating when possessed by the same person (for those not familiar: you get dominated when the artifact's Ego exceeds your combined Intelligence, Charisma and Level (so once its greater than 30 most psions or wizards are probably starting to be at risk).

The orbs are:

The Protector: The smallest orb. It has an Ego of 10 and grants a constant protection from normal missiles spell and a +2 to all saves and MAC. Once per day it can function as a cube of force that lasts for one turn and gives you a random "what it protects you from" roll. This is actually a really lame power as it has really only about a 1-in-3 chance of being useful any time its used and it only lasts for 1 turn. It also grants immunity to illusions and mind blank as a constant effect and it can neutralize poison 1/day. Plus two abilities from the Immunities Table and one from Protections.

The curse of this orb is the possessor believes themselves to be invulnerable and must make a wisdom roll to act in any way to try and defend themselves...which really sucks since that includes activating any of the orb's non-constant abilities.

Orb of Minor Magic: That's a really unimpressive name. This Orb has an Ego of 18. The orb projects a constant minor globe of invulnerability and all your 1-3rd level wizard spells last twice as long. Plus you can cast Burning Hands 5/day, dancing lights 5/day, fear 3/day, sanctuary 5/day, and free action 1/day. Plus 4 random powers from the Minor Spell-like Abilities table and 1 from the Movement table.

The curse of this orb is that it pollutes all water within 30' if used. Wow, that's actually really bad in Athas.

The Confronter: This one has an Ego of 18 and is focused on offensive magic. It also enhances the user's physical abilities: +4 to damage rolls and treating 19 and 20's on attack as a double-damage critical hit. In addition, when casting a spell while holding the orb in your hand the spell's range is doubled, the duration is tripled and all 1's and 2's on damage dice are treated as 3's. Three times per day the user can get +5 to hit or reduce their THACO to 2, whichever is better, for one hour. Once per week the orb can stop time within a 30 yard radius for 1d6+1 rounds. Twice per day it can reflect attacks (physical or magical). Finally it can energy drain 1/week, cast strength 3/day, call lightning 1/week, haste 1/day, flaming sphere 5/day, and shocking grasp 5/day. Plus 3 powers from the Combat table, two from Minor spell-like abilities and one from major spell-like abilities.

The orb's time stop causes all dead creatures in the area to rise up and attack the nearest living being as standard zombies. Plus the spell-like abilities drain the surroundings as though cast by a defiler (aging the user a year if no plants are available).

The Orb of Schools: This orb has an Ego of 22, spelling trouble for most people in combination with another orb. If the possessor of the orb is a wizard then they can choose a school of magic at the start of each day and memorize two extra spells per level for that school. It also takes 1/4th the time to memorize evocation spells but three times as long to memorize illusion spells (reflecting Kalid-Ma's preferences). Once per day the user can gain a 50% magic resistance to spells of a particular school, lasting for 12 hours. They can also pick a school and a target and twice per day inflict a -3 penalty to all the target's saves against that school, lasting until the target fails a save.

It can also cast Avoidance 1/day, Merciful Shadows 7/day, aerial servant 1/week, grease 3/day, wizard eye 3/day, detect magic 3/day, charm person 2/day, wall of force 1/day, chill touch 5/day, polymorph other 3/day and weird 1/week. Plus a lot of random powers 2 from Abjurations, 2 from Conjurations, 2 from Detection, 1 from Enchantment, 1 from Major Spell-like abilities, 2 from minor spell like powers, and one from offensive powers.

The curse is a cumulative 1% chance per day of the owner gaining the arrogance of a sorcerer-king, insisting on being treated as though he were one.

The Mindbender: The largest orb, 24 inches (remember, these things were intended to be swallowed 0.o), with an Ego of 26. It is the entirity of Kalid-Ma's psionic abilities. It grants the possessor all 5 psionic attack and defense modes and a +4 to MAC and MTHACO. It also has 200 PSPs to draw from to fuel the user's powers or the powers of the orb. If the bearer is only a wild talent they gain the abilities of a 4th level psionicist (6th level for defilers) this is treated as dual or multi-classing depending on race and grants hit points and all the other benefits of the class levels. A psionicist gains 4 levels of experience from the orb (6 levels if they are a multi-class defiler/psionicist). All these bonuses are lost if the orb is.

The possessor of the orb can choose to ignore the effect of one psionic discipline once per day for 12 hours. Twice per day the bearer can reflect a psionic attack back to the source and twice per day they can inflict -5 to someone's MTHACO which lasts until the victim succeeds at a roll. It also grants the powers of detect psionics 3/day, know direction at will, displacement for 1 hour 1/day, see magic at will, inflict pain at will, true sight for 1 turn 1/hour, life draining for 1 turn 2/day and ultrablast 1/week and a permanent mind blank effect.

And of course random powers!! one from Detection, four from Psionic Devotions, three from Psionic Sciences, and one from Protections. The curse is a 1% cumulative chance per day that the bearer ignores their primary class in favor of psionics. If they are defiler this has no effect, if they are a preserver then they will turn towards defiling. They don't just neglect their current class...they lose all levels in it, becoming a pure psionicist or a multiclass psionicist/defiler. If they ever lose the orb they lose all psionic abilities it granted them...which may leave them as a 0 level character.


If you have multiple orbs you get additional benefits, but they're all from random tables and I'm so tired of typing those out. Suffice it to say: more random spell-like abilities the more orbs you have. Of course once you've got 4 or more orbs the ego score is at a minimum of 68, meaning that there is no chance of a character resisting domination

suggested means of destruction: shatter the orbs against the walls of the Pristine Tower, strike the orbs with Tari bone (the race kalidma was to exterminate), cover them in the blood of two sorcerer kings, drop all five into a cauldron of boiling gold.


Thats it for now, next time we'll get some slightly more interesting artifacts

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012







Beast the Primordial: A quick foreword
Beast: the Primordial is the 10th game in the Chronicles of Darkness game line, and the first since their branding change. To say the game is divisive is an understatement, so I'm making this first update to provide some context for what comes later.

Matt McFarland, the lead developer, had previously worked on Demon: The Descent, which was almost universally acclaimed and received several positive reviews. So when it was announced that he was developing another game, and one completely divorced from any Old World of Darkness trappings, people were surprised and hopeful. The central conceit, one of playing a mythological monster trapped in human form, was somewhat derivative of other concepts seen in the CofD books, but it also had some unique ground to tread on. Who didn’t fantasize about being Godzilla as a kid, kicking down buildings made of blocks and roaring to the sky in triumph? Well in April of 2015, we started to get official previews of the book.

quote:

Eve loosened the hoodie. She had pulled it tight around her face, trying to screen out the world, for all the good it had done. The cafeteria was too loud, and the sounds too diverse. Boys thumping on tables, high-pitched laughter from girls, the hum of the microphone that the lunch lady used, in vain, to get them to shut up. Eve stared down into her juice, and thought of water, the silent, cool, Boundless Deeps. She felt the cold on her skin, and she was home, if only in her mind.
Something slammed into her back and pitched her forward. One of the boys — Antonio — was playing catch using a wadded up piece of paper and had slipped. Eve stood up, wiping juice and the remnants of her lunch from her hoodie. She turned to face him.
“My bad,” said Antonio. Eve said nothing. Antonio didn’t wait for acknowledgement, he just turned and went back to his game.
Eve reached out and grabbed him by the hair. She pulled, using only a fraction of her true strength, and yanked him backwards into her arms. If we were in the ocean, she thought, I could crush him. I could eat his skin and liquefy his flesh in my mouth, and drink him slowly. The thought appealed, and started to call her home.
Seawater trickled into the room from the corners. No one noticed. The students chanted “Fight! Fight!” Someone ran to get the principal.
Eve let him go. Antonio turned, and curled his hands into a fist. And then he glanced at his forearm, and stopped.
A row of angry, circular wounds had appeared across his arms. Eve hadn’t touched him there. He looked at her in horror, and she pulled the hoodie strings tight again. “Don’t touch me,” she said.
Antonio could only nod.
Reception was decidedly split. Group A absolutely adored the presentation as given. Group B saw it as a juvenile revenge fantasy. And Matt did take the time to respond to the second group.

quote:

Sorry you didn’t like it; I wrote it. Wasn’t meant to be a power fantasy, just a Beast having a rough day (based in part on my experiences working in a school with a similarly chaotic cafeteria, though I never saw any giant squid).

As more details started to be revealed as the months passed, the concerned group were given more fuel for their fires. The driving force behind a Beast’s existence is it’s hunger. It’s need to feed the primal horror living within it. They hunger either for Power, for Things, for Prey, for Punishment, or for Destruction. Those aren’t precisely nice things, and the descriptions of their feeding methods ranged from “Hilariously petty and only barely keeping in line with the spirit of their hunger” to “Are you sure you didn’t steal this from a SAW movie?” The fact that beasts “had a primal soul living inside of them” stank heavily of Otherkin wish fulfillment and legitimization. And the idea of being born as something you have no control over and being persecuted because of it drew uncomfortable parallels to the LGBTQ community, made only more uncomfortable by the fact that you were compelled to hurt and inflict violence on people.

Then information started to be released on the antagonists of the line, the Heroes. The naming there being intentional for it’s irony. Heroes were otherwise normal people who either survived the predations of a Beast, or were nearby when a Beast did something horrible. Their brief brush with the soul of a Beast warped them into something different, they abandoned their normal lives and devoted themselves to hunting down Beasts. People liked this description, and saw them as sympathetic. Ordinary people compelled to rise up against something horrible is something most people can get behind, though it was somewhat problematic due to the earlier LGBTQ analogues. The idea that some of the most marginalized and victimized real world groups actually deserved it and were horrible people simply for existing was problematic at best and actively dangerous at worst.

It also wasn’t what Matt intended, and he was not shy about letting people know.

quote:

Heroes are assholes. That’s not necessarily all there is to say on the matter, but don’t look for them to be portrayed sympathetically. You have lots of other games for that.

quote:

OK, I'm not going to post in red text, because I'm very much a normal poster in this thread, but as a request - could we tone down the "OMG HEROES ARE FIREMEN WHY DO YOU HATE FIREMEN" stuff a little? Because that's really obviously not what we're going for, and frankly the question of why Heroes are called Heroes has been more than adequately answered.

(And, I note, once again Heroes smash their way in here and are all like "not all Heroes!" and "what about the Heroes?")
Normally sympathetic villains is seen as a hallmark of good writing, the fact that he railed against it so hard made several people nervous about what the actual intent of the book would be. The fact that he compared his detractors to MRAs didn’t help at all. By the end of April the Beast information had slowed to a trickle and interest waned. But on June 2nd, 2015, the Beast kickstarter launched. More surprisingly it also contained the full pre-edited text of the book.

And it was bad.

Beasts were still born special. Not only that but the other monsters in the World of Darkness were compelled to be friendly towards Beasts, because they were all just pale reflections of the true terror that Beasts represented. Also there were several more example beast feeding methods, including a pair of gay beasts who tricked people into hunting down hidden treasure and then killed them for their greed. Or a female beast who catfished people into laying a hand on her so she could beat them up and feel justified about it. Or a Beast that killed bad tippers. And few, if any Beasts, expressed any remorse for their actions. And people started identifying with the horrifying hell monsters that feed on suffering for all of the wrong reasons.

quote:

I’m Autistic. No matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, I’m going to end up sooner or later misreading social cues or misunderstanding the situation in a way that hurts or upsets people. Despite my best intentions, I have been more work for my parents than an non-autistic child would have been.

I am trans. It shouldn’t, but my transition is going to hurt people. People who are too invested in my as my assigned gender. People who feel like they’re losing someone close to them, or having their own work in me undermined. Not to mention people for whom I’m a threat to core beliefs about how gender is supposed to work.

By conventional narratives of marginalization, I don’t deserve to exist anymore. People are right to hate me and want me gone, because I have, because I will hurt them. I either have to pretend I’m not hurting anyone, or acknowledge that I’m worthless.

Beast is saying that I deserve to exist – that no-one else has the right to decide I don’t except me.


Which was made worse by the fact that Heroes finally got their full write up. Heroes were directly equated to Internet Trolls, Pick Up Artists, and Mens Rights Activists. A specific requirement of being a hero is having an integrity stat of 3 or lower, and if you’re actually able, somehow, to raise a Hero’s integrity to 4 or above they just… stop being a hero. So yes, every hero is specifically an rear end in a top hat. Even if their integrity was brought that low due to being tormented by a Beast. The example Heroes offered as NPCs weren’t any better, barring one. A teenage girl stuck in a Coma after an attack by a Beast, hunting Beasts in her dreams trying to find her way back to her body while struggling to keep her soul alive. But since Heroes are by definition terrible people, Group A tore through her character description like someone trying to Dox their worst internet enemy searching for justification of her terrible nature.

quote:

Actually, someone else pointed out some really, really interesting things from Melanie's stat block. First off, she has Integrity 3. That doesn't mean anything itself, but then look at her Social skills, and we get "Empathy (Finding Insecurities) 3." Her character write-up doesn't say, but from that, it sounds a hell of a lot like she was already exactly the sort of bully you'd expect to become a Hero. That doesn't mean she deserves what happened to her, but it strongly suggests that, yes, there is a certain sort that becomes Heroes beyond just "low Integrity" and Melanie was one of them, rather than having it forced on her by that nasty Beast when she'd never done anything wrong.

quote:

Though while the topic is still in the air, she also has the Subterfuge specialty "Putting on a Brave Face", which also shades the possibilities of her unrevealed history. Including the 'finding insecurities' specialty and especially Integrity 3.

quote:

No it certainly doesn't - but equally, all but one of the Beasts she's killed have nothing to do with what happened to her.

I would remind you that this is a fictional comatose teenage girl that they are attempting to villify.

The arguments online grew heated over the week following the Kickstarter’s start. Even though they met their goal in the first 24 hours, the incoming money plateaued quickly and people started withdrawing their backing (I can’t be sure how many, but people stated that they did and I’m assuming that they weren’t lying).

Roughly 10 days after the Kickstarter went up Matt posted this.

quote:

I sent a long email to Rich, Rose, and Michelle (the editor of Beast) tonight. I'm not going to go into the contents (yet) because I need to actually have some feedback from folks, but basically it was a proposed batch of changes/fixes to the material, based in large part on the discussions happening here and elsewhere.

Now, I could be flip and say that these discussions might have happened anyway, or I could be contrite and say that we really want all y'all to love the game so we're changing it, but neither of those things is precisely true. The truth of the matter is: This game is generating discussion. It's generating controversy. It's challenging people. I think that's good...but I also think that some of the criticism that's come up is entirely valid. Beasts do need a more defined struggle and culture. They do need specific things to do. Their relationship with Heroes does require some more scrutiny.

So: To the people who have read the game and made their opinions clear without being hostile, to the people who have shared what they feel works as well as what doesn't, to to the people who have been constructive with their criticism: Thank you. I tell my authors all the time, "kill your darlings," but sometimes it's hard to know which darlings to kill without some outside perspective. I won't say that this discussion hasn't stung; it has. I'm a writer and I'm as sensitive as any other writer. But at the same time, as I was scribbling notes in my li'l red notebook last night, I also found myself really getting excited to run Beast (starting up a chronicle when I get back from vacation).

I think the changes are going to strengthen the game, and I'll be talking with the rest of the team about how best to communicate those changes to the backers and the readers so you'll get a quick sense of what we're doing.
Despite the fact that the post came off a little flippant and self congratulatory (“It's generating controversy. It's challenging people. I think that's good.”, “To the people who have read the game and made their opinions clear without being hostile”) it mostly assuaged people’s fears.

Well, it’s now 8 months later and I have the final copy of the book in my grubby hands PDF reader. So the question is, did it work?

Well I’m the one doing this review, so it should be fairly obvious that the answer is “No”. The game got better, yes. But it had a long way to go, and some of the edits and changes are written in more than a bit of a mean spirited way, and there are some “heavily encouraged optional interpretations” at the end of the backstory chapters that try to backslide beasts into the “Amazing Perfect Awesome Born Special Wunderkind Who Everyone Wants As Their Best Friend” that people feared they were going to be last June. Beasts are given a more noble purpose to pursue, but not the tools to actually pursue it. Heroes are given more nuance and we’re told that Good Heroes exist, before immediately being told that Good Heroes are boring and never actually do anything worthy of being written about in a book. So for this review I am going to go over both Beast as it was in the initial Kickstarter treatment, and Beast as it stands today in the version you can buy.

Up Next: Introductions

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Beast is basically a sign that WoD will never actually kill the old White Wolf spirit and its 90s edgelord poo poo.

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Kurieg posted:

and Beast as it stands today in the version you can buy.

But really shouldn't.

Beast is a legitimately disgusting game, amusingly enough for some of the same reasons Bellum Maga is a disgusting game, and Matt McFarland should be ashamed for how badly he handled the reaction to this terrible game he wrote.

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007



Doresh posted:

Now I'm imagining an Eldritch abomination sucking feeble mortals into its belly.

Kurieg posted:

You've just described at least 3 WoW Boss fights.
Also every Kirby game!

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Kurieg posted:

Well I’m the one doing this review, so it should be fairly obvious that the answer is “No”. The game got better, yes. But it had a long way to go, and some of the edits and changes are written in more than a bit of a mean spirited way, and there are some “heavily encouraged optional interpretations” at the end of the backstory chapters that try to backslide beasts into the “Amazing Perfect Awesome Born Special Wunderkind Who Everyone Wants As Their Best Friend” that people feared they were going to be last June. Beasts are given a more noble purpose to pursue, but not the tools to actually pursue it. Heroes are given more nuance and we’re told that Good Heroes exist, before immediately being told that Good Heroes are boring and never actually do anything worthy of being written about in a book. So for this review I am going to go over both Beast as it was in the initial Kickstarter treatment, and Beast as it stands today in the version you can buy.

I mean, really, why would anyone want to have a book that - at least to me - sounds like "Here's how to build other types of monsters whose individual focus is too narrow for their own line to spice up your typical campaign of eco terrorism / lawnchair transformations / Godfather with vampires", if you can just make Special: The Snowflaking?

It's like McFarland spend way too much time browsing through tumblr and watching internet drama videos and thought he found a potential gold mine.

And why the hell is fictional coma-shaming a thing?!

Asimo posted:

Also every Kirby game!



Nintendo's dirty little fetish pandering.

(Also I think I'll try to build Kirby as an example character.)

Doresh fucked around with this message at 08:52 on Apr 9, 2016

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



If Beast is part of the NWoD aren't 'Heroes' better handled with H:tV?

Emy
Apr 21, 2009


Kurieg posted:

Beast the Primordial

Oh boy. Judging by the World of Darkness thread, a number of people were hoping for this game to be an RPG where you play Universal Monsters. It'll be fun to go into exactly how and why we were disappointed. I'm also looking forward to your comparisons between the two versions, since the preview was enough to turn me off from buying the final game entirely.

Kurieg posted:

I would remind you that this is a fictional comatose teenage girl that they are attempting to villify.

Ah yes, the best character in the game—one who is more or less a misplaced Changeling: the Lost protagonist—is one of the enemies.

TombsGrave
Feb 15, 2008



When I'd first heard of it, I thought it would be "World of Darkness does kaiju/endboss hugeass monsters," which struck me as being kind of difficult to fit in the "basically human but [X]" framework of WoD. I remember hearing about the controversy, but this is the first time I've really heard anything specific.

It's... not encouraging.

Reminded how much I wanna run Promethean: The Created one of these days, though.

EDIT: Also, Bellum Magia and apparently Beast are making me yet happier that Golden Sky Stories exists. It's not my personal style, but that it's out there doing "hey, we can all get along and take some joy in helping each other and enjoying the little things" in a gameable way is inspiring.

TombsGrave fucked around with this message at 09:19 on Apr 9, 2016

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


The Lone Badger posted:

If Beast is part of the NWoD aren't 'Heroes' better handled with H:tV?

The major difference is that "Heroes" are actually just jocks.

Wrestlepig
Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool



Toilet Rascal

The Lone Badger posted:

If Beast is part of the NWoD aren't 'Heroes' better handled with H:tV?

Heroes are cartoon villians or out of place good guys. Hunters are generally normalish people.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Doresh posted:

And why the hell is fictional coma-shaming a thing?!
Look, the author says she's bad, therefore she's bad, so let's loving dig through this pile of straws to find a reasonshe's bad.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Beast killed my interest in WoD stuff like the furry romance section in the Werewolf Chronicler's Guide did until Onyx Path got up and running. Maybe if whatever video games come out of Paradox' ownership are good enough I'll come back.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Zereth posted:

Look, the author says she's bad, therefore she's bad, so let's loving dig through this pile of straws to find a reasonshe's bad.

Wasn't the WoD supposed to be ambiguous?

Kavak posted:

Beast killed my interest in WoD stuff like the furry romance section in the Werewolf Chronicler's Guide did until Onyx Path got up and running. Maybe if whatever video games come out of Paradox' ownership are good enough I'll come back.

I dunno, I just picked up V:tR and ignore pretty much everything else. Until 2nd editon Hunter comes around, cause that sounds neat.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 10:47 on Apr 9, 2016

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


In addition to all of the above, for me the idea where you play this legendary monster except you look just like a human and only get to be a monster in your special space nobody cares about is also pretty underwhelming. It's kind of got the Changeling: the Dreaming thing going on where you're this weird otherkinny thing but it's largely internalized, to the outside world you're just some jerk with monster-themed magic.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Doresh posted:

Wasn't the WoD supposed to be ambiguous?

That's one of the biggest problems with it- the tone of assigning Good Guys and Bad Guys that none of the other lines do, either because they're meant to be ambiguous like Requiem or they have enough confidence in their writing that the players should be able to tell who the assholes are, like CtL.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Alien Rope Burn posted:

In addition to all of the above, for me the idea where you play this legendary monster except you look just like a human and only get to be a monster in your special space nobody cares about is also pretty underwhelming. It's kind of got the Changeling: the Dreaming thing going on where you're this weird otherkinny thing but it's largely internalized, to the outside world you're just some jerk with monster-themed magic.

Imagine if Vampire was about goths who feed off life energy by just hanging out near guys.

I think the only way to make this worse is if the rules talk about how your character would ordinarily auto-succeed on everything because he's so special and perfect the way he is, if it wasn't for those pesky normies oppressing him.

Kavak posted:

That's one of the biggest problems with it- the tone of assigning Good Guys and Bad Guys that none of the other lines do, either because they're meant to be ambiguous like Requiem or they have enough confidence in their writing that the players should be able to tell who the assholes are, like CtL.

Further proof the writer spend to much time on the interwebs.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Asimo posted:

Also every Kirby game!



Hmmm.

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

Angry Salami
Jul 27, 2013

Don't trust the skull.


oriongates posted:

The orbs survived (Kalid-ma swallowed them as part of the transformation) and the sorcerer kings powers (magical and psionic) had transferred into them. There are 5 Orbs, each with a theme. The king's mind was shattered into each one, giving each an Ego score, making them capable of dominating the bearer and if all five orbs were brought together and swallowed by a pre-dragon (defiler/psionicist of 20th level or higher) then they would reconstitute Kalid-Ma, recreating him as a 27th level Dragon, with full access to his faculties once more

So... is there any way a player (or, indeed, any character) could work out how these are meant to be used? Because, sure, maybe I just play with boring groups, but I'm pretty sure nobody I know would react to "You find a mysterious orb of unknown magical power" with "I swallow it!"

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Part 10: The Autoduel Adventure

GURPS Autoduel posted:

Note to Players: This is a GM-Only section. If you are not planning to gamemaster a GURPS Autoduel campaign, do not read the following section.

Yeah, players! Get out! You may have bought this book, but this is off limits! In any case, this is where we get into campaign ideas, as well as some of the more entertaining groups in GURPS Autoduel. They also recommend you get a road atlas, a U.S. almanac (do they still make these?), and buy Autoduel Quarterly ("It's not absolutely essential... But it couldn't hurt...").

Campaign Types
  • Clubhouse Blues: This is where you're part of the same AADA chapter, Scout Commando troop, police department, "or even EDSEL", with characters taking on specific roles or positions.
  • Lone Wolf: For a campaign for one or two players playing tough folks who have to make it outside of civilization "for some reason".

    GURPS Autoduel posted:

    Many players really, really like to play psychologically aberrant tough-guy loners, and this campaign is ideal for that sort of player.
    Geez, don't hold back, say how you really feel.
  • The Western: Take a large, tough town with weak authority, insert some standard western stories. Stagecoach is a bus or big rig, range wars become corporate wars, gangs are on cycles now, etc.
  • Making a Living: Mercenaries, in other words, whether bodyguards, duellists, or "other road-jocks". Strangely, the idea of doing a truck crew isn't mentioned.
  • On the Duel Circuit: And here I thought they were never going to get around to "Autoduelling". This is going around from arena to arena in competition, with a fair amount of peripheral drama on the side.



Campaign Setting

And now it's time to talk about campaign setting - they suggest taking a local town or city, or one you like, and going through the major events, like the oil shortages or the Food Riots - and imagining how that impacted things. Alternately, there were longer-form city writeups being done in Autoduel Quarterly, often by fans writing up their local towns. It also notes generously if you want to muck with the descriptions in the road atlas or elsewhere, you can.

Campaign Activities

Obviously, the main focus is for the game to act as a vehicle (so to speak) for car combat. But it notes that just having Car Wars with a cooking skill, and encourages GMs to find things that can't always be solved with a ram plate, such as:
  • Self-Improvement: Finding ways to make the world a better place, and encouraging PCs to make larger plans. I'm not sure that's just self-improvement, but wh'ev.
  • Intrigue and Mystery: Obviously, it's often hard to get answers with guns alone, but of course, once the mystery is discovered you can have a big vehicular confrontation.
  • Stealth and Infiltration: Plots that require subtlety may discourage use of the big rig in every scene.
They give examples from a playtest campaign where they had to take over a town and drive out cycle bandits, but it was also followed by helping the town become a trucking center. Hey! They playtested it! That shouldn't feel exceptional, but it does.

Campaign Adventure

It notes you can use the included adventure, but also gives guidelines on creating adventures, which... actually isn't so far from what I'd expect for a general GMing guide. Give the PCs a goal, add some obstacles (which it also terms "encounters"), then try and give the PCs either a reward or personal involvement to motivate them. It refers us back to the GURPS Basic Set for more advice.



Character Death

It notes that there are some special considerations for death in GURPS Autoduel. First, it notes that though thematically life is cheap, it shouldn't be cheap for the PCs. Given the availability of arms, the logical thing for a bad guy to do is catch a player unaware with a sniper rifle or tank gun. Interestingly enough (for when this is written), it notes that it's better to take the cinematic approach, where the PC gets a daring escape from danger and a reason to get back at the villain. It reemphasizes when characters die, it should be dramatic and climactic.

The second note is - well, remember Gold Cross from the world history? Well, they're not some background element PCs can't touch. Characters with enough money can buy a clone from Gold Cross, have their memories backed up, and if not avoid death, at least negate it as a narrative concern. However, there's some limitations, including:
  • It takes $10,000 to grow the initial clone. This takes six weeks. After that, it takes $1,000 a month to maintain.
  • At any time, you can go and program your clone with your current memories for $2,000. These memories fade after a month if not maintained.
  • Alternately, you can pay $25,000 to buy storage space on a MMSD (Mechanical Memory Storage Device). This maintains your stored memories indefinitely. With this, you can pay $5,000 to have them ready to grow a new clone as needed.
  • You can also pay $5,000 to have them read your memories from your corpse; this is possible if the body is less than a day old (ten days if the body is kept on ice). However, there is a likelihood of acquiring a Phobia relating to the trauma of death.
  • Here's the worst: you lose all experience since the last memory recording. Though I suppose this has verisimilitude, it seems unnecessarily dickish to mess around with an OOC currency (though I suppose games at this time didn't make that distinction).
It notes the major problem Gold Cross can present to a GM is encouraging suicide missions or making characters throw away their lives casually. It notes that you might want to enforce psychological complications from their deaths, or-

GURPS Autoduel posted:

... you can occasionally put real fear into a character with some non-damaging nastiness. Imagine getting this phone call five minutes before you're to go into a death-duel with your Enemy: "Mr. Cutter? This is Gold Cross, Columbus. Can you come into our facility in the next day or two? I'm afraid your clone's been terminated ... some sort of foul-up in the nutrient mix. We'll replace it at no charge, of course, but we need to get your current memories in an MMSD..."

Ah, playing dirty, I see.

And once again, it emphasizes potential loss of memories and the six month growth time. In a later section, it notes those who die in a professional duel can't place amongst the winner, even if they would normally points-wise and have a back-up clone ready.



Encounters

While in other games this would be a monster section, this is actually more about the in-game factions of Autoduel America.

  • The American Autoduel Association (AADA): An organization that serves chiefly as a sporting organization, it approves arenas based on safety (to the audience and duellists) and fairness (to the duellists). They also place limitations on legal car designs to ensure competition, have "divisions" based on car price, and take fees on broadcasting to support the organization. There's a lot of detail on how tournaments are done (and the full season listing, and the circuit regins, and so on) for those looking to play it out. The AADA also provides membership for the everyday driver, along with their own road atlases and information services, as well as their quarterly publication. Despite the name, the AADA has become international, and has offices from Finland to "PanArabia".
  • Anarchist Relief Front: This is a loosely-organized group of anarchist terrorists seeking to overthrow the US government (and any other, but they're mostly US-based) though violent nonsense. "While the idea is not entirely without merit..." Oh, you shine on, you crazy libertarian writers. Well, I don't know they're libertarian, but I have a feeling with comments like that. (Steve Jackson is, if nothing else.) They're nuts who can be used as all-purpose purpose-less baddies.
  • Big League Unlimited Duelling: While their origins are unclear, BLUD seems to be a reaction to the AADA born out originally out of the Midwest region. BLUD isn't organized per se; instead, it's a label that small chapters form under. "Professional" BLUD duels, when they occur, are illegal anything-goes bloodbaths. Naturally, they're directly opposed to the AADA, and vice versa.
  • Scout Commando Corps: Born from various earlier scouting organizations, the SCC helps local communities against disasters, raids, and to fend off criminal activity. The minimum age is 13 and they're retired from the organization at 18, but it emphasizes that troops are a genuine paramilitary force at this point. Yay, romanticized child soldiers!
  • The United Broadcast Network: One of the largest networks around after only 15 years, they made their name on seeking out and covering vehicle combat, particularly road duels. Their helicopters seek out road violence, often airing it live. Naturally, this can have an impact on one's reputation, particularly for those performing "unsportsmanlike" conduct, like firing on a notably weaker vehicle, attacking uninvolved civilians, or firing on a fleeing target. Alternately, some duelling careers have started based on the fame gained by a UBN broadcast.
  • The Brotherhood: When the government pressed the trucking unions to keep punishing runs going during the Food Riots, a number of truckers, after years of fighting cyclists and bandits, went on strike. When the military tried to break the strike, it turned into a full-scale battle. Though there were no winners that day, the leader of the strike, "Mongo" McGuire, would die declaring that a "Brotherhood" of truckers would be formed. Inspired by his actions, the Brotherhood was formed, led loosely by the "Knights of the Brotherhood" - a few truckers with enough money and clout to fight for the interests of truckers, sometimes literally. They can also declare somebody an enemy of the Brotherhood, which is practically a death warrant on the open road.
  • The Eastern Driving Safety Enforcement League (EDSEL): Largely an East Coast organization, EDSEL discourages road combat through both lobbying and also highly-armed patrols of cars that drive around and attack active road duellists. Later on (in the AADA Guide), EDSEL will become famous for using helicopters instead of just cars, since few cars are designed with anti-aircraft capability. And no, the notion that the anti-gun lobbyists of GURPS Autoduel are intolerant, murderous hypocrites isn't lost on me.
  • Cycle Gangs: It notes that the cycle gangs that have survived to 2036 are probably the toughest, largest, and most sophisticated gangs. We get two examples: The War Dogs, who are your stereotypical thugs, driving cheap bikes and still raiding towns and taking prisoners and slaves. (And yes, rape. This has been Rapewatch, noting rape in your tabletop games since 2016.) Their moral counterparts are the Paladins, who have a medieval theme and make their living off of vigilante mercenary work, raiding other gangs, or holding renfaires with bike tricks.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3q0iHYVjBA

    Yeah, like that.

  • Citizens' Militia: This, of course, refers to local paramilitary organizations, but mostly this book wants to talk about the MONDOs. See, the MONDOs are the heroes of one of the first Car Wars supplements, Crash City, where there were a variety of scenarios where a large, feared cycle gang known as the Crusaders tries to raid the city of Midville. "Historically", though, they're fought off by the group known as the MONDOs with their pluck and guerilla tactics. There's a lot more to it than that, but there's not a lot much more to say unless you really enjoyed Crash City or its sequel, Sunday Drivers.
  • The Police: This can apply to the stereotype of the honest officer, the corrupt thug, or corporate security forces of one sort or another. There aren't many surprises here, really, other than them being more likely to hire freelancers (i.e. PCs) as a sort of freelance police. I wonder where I've heard that before...

And we're almost wrapped up.

Next: Have an adventure.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



TombsGrave posted:

Reminded how much I wanna run Promethean: The Created one of these days, though.

It makes me want to hash out that proposal for Alien: The Invasion that I'm enamored with after reading that WoD fanbook based off the Prototype games and said "You know what, it would be better if you threw in some The Thing From Another World and "Parasyte" in there as well".

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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




Autumn: At the Fox's Shrine



The first of two scenarios in the book. Characters are a fox henge and the PCs. Time needed is 2 hours. The Narrator can use 20 Feelings and 20 Wonder per scene.

This scenario is intended to teach the game to both new players and new Narrators as a starter story. There is only one location, and only one NPC. Three things must be taken into consideration when crafting our single NPC:
  • Must be a fox.
  • Must have the "Pride" Weakness.
  • Must not be portrayed in a way that makes nobody like him/her.
The default solution is to just use Suzune from the default NPCs. The default setting is Hitotsuna Town, which is outlined in the Winter chapter, but honestly the town has almost no impact on the story. The story should be set in whatever season it is in real life when you run the game.

First Scene
Location: An abandoned shrine, the offering dish holding only fallen leaves. The time: Day. It's up to the players to explain why their characters are hanging out here. Things can start with a bit of idle chatter and antics amongst the PCs, but eventually the shrine's owner will show up.

If any of the PCs can succeed at an Animal check of difficulty 6, they'll notice the fox watching them. If nobody points the fox out, then she might Surprise them (check set at her Henge attribute) when she makes her presence known. The fox's goal in this scene is to figure out who these henge are and why they're here, then to introduce herself. Once she does, everyone makes Impression Checks, then the scene ends. Nothing complex.

Second Scene
Location: The same. Time: Evening. Now that the sky is starting to darken, the henge can transform for free (if they keep their ears/tail), so the fox will suggest that they take human form.

During this scene, the henge learn more about this fox, and she learns more about them. She's lived alone at the shrine for a long time, and it's been a long time since it was this lively. She might show off some of her powers, but it's important that she keep at least 12 Wonder in stock. After talking for a while, a henge can make an Adult VS Adult check to understand that, although she may deny it, the fox is glad that everyone came, and wants them to stay longer. As the scene is nearing an end, it starts to rain. Scene ends.

Third Scene
Location: The same. Time: Night. Since it's began raining, the fox suggests they take shelter under a large tree next to the shrine. Once they've taken shelter, the Narrator lets anyone make a Henge check against the fox, who will spend up to 4 Feelings to protect herself. Anyone who beats her check will realize that the unblocked moon is peeking through the leaves and branches - there are no clouds in the sky. It's raining because the fox used her Fairy Rain power.

Whether or not she's caught, the fox will eventually come clean about her feelings. She made it rain as an excuse to enjoy the company of her new friends for a while longer. Depending on how the PCs react, this could resolve in any number of ways, but if any of them stay with her through the rain, she'll thank them, and say something to each of the other henge in turn.

Final Scene
Location: The same. Time: The next day. The PCs have gathered again at the shrine. The fox, in human form again, is back to her usual arrogant attitude, but it's clear that she's glad to see them. What happens next is up to the players - maybe it will end with the henge promising to show the fox around town beyond her shrine. Whatever happens, thank everyone for playing, and handle the postgame tallying of Memories and Threads.

Customization
If you want to change things up, or run it again with different characters/a different Narrator, there's a lot of ways to tweak the scenario. You could, for example, replace the fox with a local god, and the shrine with their territory. If you run a different scenario with a different Narrator, the old Narrator could participate using the fox from this story.



Next: Another, spookier(?) scenario.

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Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012






Kavak posted:

Beast killed my interest in WoD stuff like the furry romance section in the Werewolf Chronicler's Guide did until Onyx Path got up and running. Maybe if whatever video games come out of Paradox' ownership are good enough I'll come back.

Paradox actually does not care about the CofD and will not be making books for it. Their lead storyteller is also way too in to Mark Rein*Hagen.

But I would still give OPP another chance. Beast is one hell of an aberration, and other than it's forcible inclusion in the Dark Eras book it can be safely ignored.

Kavak posted:

That's one of the biggest problems with it- the tone of assigning Good Guys and Bad Guys that none of the other lines do, either because they're meant to be ambiguous like Requiem or they have enough confidence in their writing that the players should be able to tell who the assholes are, like CtL.

The thing that really bothers me about the rewrite is that BHM realized enough that he had to give the beasts a positive reason to exist, otherwise their presence within the world would just be a universal negative. So he created this idea of "Beasts teach wisdom lost to the primordial dream", but their tools to teach that wisdom are all ridiculously lethal, and they still empower themselves through capitalizing on other people's suffering. E.G "ensconsing the dark alleyway where a woman was raped into humanity's collective unconscious because 'a dark alleyway' gives you tons of easy tags that you can use to access your lair easier." with the implied but not explicit subtext that immortalizing someone's worst day isn't exactly a good thing for the person who's suffering spawned it. And the rules for Hive society don't mesh with teaching lessons at all, as it cares absolutely nothing about how good a person you are, and everything about how much suffering you cause to the local populous.

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