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HerraS
Apr 15, 2012

Looking professional when committing genocide is essential. This is mostly achieved by using a beret.

Olive drab colour ensures the genocider will remain hidden from his prey until it's too late for them to do anything.





Im fine with the current version of Emperor Hammerfist Facesmasher, but him being a weak-willed pissant was an essential part of the Enemy Within and therefore I'll always fondly remember that version of him.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Sigmar's Heirs

Concerning Hobbits

Hey, look. It's the hobbits. They have a shire, because of course they do. The Mootland is an area of absolutely primo agricultural land taken from the provinces of Averland and Stirland by Emperor Ludwig the Fat. This isn't (despite the popular legend) solely because of the sheer amount of butter his halfling chef managed to pack into his meal; he was upset at the Electors of those lands for refusing to pay him massive bribes and the halfling was just in the right place at the right time. Still, the butter did have a say in things; this is the same Emperor who granted the Grand Theoganist of Sigmar an Electoral Vote, after all. That time specifically because of a series of suppers and banquets so rich that the original Theoganist maneuvering for the vote died of heart failure. Thus, we can see that Ludwig the Fat may have had other political objectives but was clearly still affected by the provision of pies.

Averland got over the loss fairly gracefully. Averland is a rich province and the Aver March wasn't their absolute best land. In fact, some of the Aver land was known as 'the fallow hills' because no food crop would grow there. The halflings figured something out, though, and now it's the main source of their famous tobacco instead of food. They compete mightily to get more of the Empire to pick up the smoking habit, and to beat out Bretonnian producers. Stirland, on the other hand...well, the portions of the Mootland that came out of Stirland were their best farming land. Stirland has never gotten over it. We'll get to that when we get to Stirland. Still, 'Auld Styrland' produces enough food to properly feed an entire province of halflings, and still have enough that the leftovers are some of their most profitable exports. That should say something about its productivity.

Halflings are mostly irrelevant to the world. Halflings are very happy to be mostly irrelevant to the world. Let everyone else go out and fight in epic wars; they kind of figure they wouldn't make much of a difference either way. They're known for their love of a good smoke, a good lunch, and a hell of a lot of sex talk. They love talking about scandal and romance and the up and down social dances of courting and family affairs. And they love doing it with anyone. A halfling will happily tell you about how his aunt is loving the councilman from the next town over, which is causing trouble with her husband, who is responding by courting the gardener, whose brother is married to the councilman's sister, who fancies the husband in the first place, all to 'pass the time'. They love being able to worry about these silly love octahedrons and familial spats while everyone else tries not to get stabbed to death by satanic goatmen. They also love parties. Any excuse for a party. But that's really a trait they share with most of the setting's humans, so who can blame them? Parties are a good excuse for eating, drinking, smoking, and starting new affairs, after all.

The Empire usually regards the halflings as farmers who make fine chefs and domestic help, as long as you keep an eye on your silverware. This is partly because halflings really do provide a rich and diverse (as long as you're willing to die of heart failure at 45) culinary tradition, and partly because the halflings have a strong social safety net and extensive familial ties back home. If you need food, you can take food. If you need a tool, it's fine to borrow a tool. They know they're stealing from humans when this comes up outside a halfling context, they just think it's silly that that's the case and so carry on as if it wasn't. They're also the only functional democracy in the Old World, electing their Elder (who holds the Electoral Vote) as well as their own town councils and sheriffs. There are no halfling nobles, even as they keep massive genealogies and consider matters of relation and bloodline to be of paramount importance. The halflings are generally sure any new trouble will pass by without noticing them, the same way the rest of the Empire does.

The halflings still worship Imperial Gods, or at least, they'll say they do. They think of Sigmar as a great protector and tell stories about how he guarded the halflings during his life; stories not backed up by any other historical source. No-one actually knows where the little guys came from. They don't worship him (or their own Gods) the way humans do, but they consider him a good lad who got up to good things, so good on him. Their own Gods are more of folk-heroes than divinities; stock characters with magic pouches always full of tobacco or a farmer who can make anything grow no matter what, that sort of thing. Larger than life heroes of the kinds of stories halflings care about rather than great warriors or cosmic forces. That said, the halflings have managed to resist conquest from Sylvania (partly for not being worth it), and they truly are resistant to Chaos; who knows? Maybe the little guys are on to something in how they live.

Elder Hisme 'rules' from the main town of Eicheschatten, where the Electoral Palace (a two story sod-roofed country home, often with a goat perched atop it to graze) stands. She considers it too big for her needs and rents it out as a bed and breakfast since her husband passed, living instead in a 'cozier' private residence that's easier to clean and where she can keep her own garden. It's said that Magnus the Pious stayed in the Electoral Palace on his way to Kislev, and there enjoyed the one truly untroubled sleep of his life. Every 3 years, the halflings hold a Moot at Eicheschatten to decide on the Elder (they've elected Hisme for 30 years, much to her annoyance; she's thinking of retiring since they don't seem to be getting the hint that she's tired of it, but doesn't want to be a bother) and swap cider recipes. They also handle farming and territorial disputes at this time.

Gipfel feels a little out of place; it's a cult town. Yes, a cult town. Not a Chaos cult town, a town devoted (secretly) to an evil nature spirit that makes the tobacco grow right so long as the halflings living there kill someone in the fields each year. This was brought about by an ex-adventuring halfling named Dagobert, who brought the spirit with him and told the town it could make them extremely wealthy. They originally drew lots, but decided to start killing an out of towner and stealing their goods each year, instead; they could always say they died on the road. They don't know what will happen if and when they fail a sacrifice, or if this spirit is leading them towards a darker deal. Just feels a bit odd for hobbits to go all Wicker Man, really.

The Altern Forest is another weird place. There's still traffic in it, but the halflings and traders avoid going there at night. Ever. You see, the last folk who went in there at night were a big adventuring party, with knights and a priest of Sigmar and everything, and the only thing that came back out was one really terrified horse. The common knowledge is if you stick to the road and get through the woods before dark, you'll be fine. Otherwise, people who come back tend to be too insane to describe what happened to them. This comes up in the adventure seed for the Mootland, where there's a party of dumb young halflings trying to pull a Scooby Doo trick with the forest's reputation who hire the PCs to help with their robberies...before they get jumped by spirits of an 'older' faith (not Chaos), terrible eldritch things that demanded the original tribesmen of these regions shed blood for them. The idea being to have the players stuck in a hell forest being haunted by very real and extremely dangerous creatures they've never encountered before (no stats or anything given, though honestly I'd just use Dryads or something. They're mean as hell).

The example character for the Mootland is Samuel Fellbelly, a former toll-keeper turned halfling fieldwarden who is starting to think of getting into adventuring. He wants to do this because he's scared out of his mind of undead, and fieldwardens have to fight undead. He comes with reasonable ranged combat skills and some okay gear, plus a pet raccoon, and is specifically intended to be used as a pre-made character or replacement for a dead PC.

The Moot's a weird place. Funny, but weird. You're not likely to have too many adventures there, but as the center of all hobbit business in the world, there's a good chance you'll have a PC who came from there and it does a good job of getting across Hams Hobbits, who are quite close to the original Hobbits but with somewhat less reverence for 'honest' English Country Gentry in their creative DNA.

Next Time: SHOUTING

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


Not the most interesting take on hobbits but it's serviceable. It tells you enough about them to figure out what they're like, why they might wind up being adventurers, and they don't have any particularly obnoxious traits, unlike kender

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


OvermanXAN posted:

Not the most interesting take on hobbits but it's serviceable. It tells you enough about them to figure out what they're like, why they might wind up being adventurers, and they don't have any particularly obnoxious traits, unlike kender

They do have a touch of the 'we steal because we don't have as much of a sense of personal property' stuff like them, but not the 'you have to be an annoying little twat at all times' stuff.

I don't think I've ever had a single halfling PC in any of the games I've run or played in. No-one's ever interested in being them, partly because their stat penalties can really hurt. -10 WS, -10 S, and -10 Tough in return for +10 Fel, BS, and Agi are pretty nasty, given how carefully S and T gains are usually controlled. They don't quite have the same Fate advantage of humans, and their Wounds are terrible. Add to that that most of their racial skills are 'fluff' skills like being a good cook and the only big advantage they get is Resistant to Chaos.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

Night10194 posted:

That said, the halflings have managed to resist conquest from Sylvania (partly for not being worth it), and they truly are resistant to Chaos; who knows? Maybe the little guys are on to something in how they live.

I do love the game's Halfling Vampire Hunters. Just the thought of a bunch of Halflings looking at a vampire on his steed of bone with a shroud of darkness etc etc, nodding to one another, and saying they'd better get Cousin Ossie, the intense guy with the big hat, and he'll come sort this out.

(How intense? He doesn't even stop for cheese first!)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The best way to fight a vampire is from far away, anyway, and halflings are as good of shots as elves, at least.

Don't let the elves hear that.

E: They also get Sling, and Sling honestly isn't a bad weapon. It's only as effective as a normal hunting bow, sure (unless you use a Staff Sling, which is basically a cheaper crossbow with infinite ammo) but it's one handed, and carrying a shield is -10% to enemy return fire if you're aware of it. That's not nothing. Plus, slings are cheap at dirt and/or can be made on the fly and you generally don't need specialized ammunition, just any rocks you find laying around.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 22:34 on Nov 14, 2018

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




The look on a young Von Carstein's face as he is gunned down by a gang of diminutive fun loving gluttons must be worth a campaign all by itself.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


One of the problems with ranged in 2e is simply that the Longbow/Elfbow is the best ranged weapon in the game, with no real competition. Guns are useful early on but action economy concerns around reloading mean that anything but a brace of pistols will fall behind on damage output, because while Damage 5 Impact AP1 is definitely useful, a longbow with the same talents is Damage 4 AP2 *and* shoots more than once. The Repeater guns also lose Impact RAW, so all you're gaining from using an expensive repeater pistol or musket is +1 damage in place of AP, with worse range and (if your GM is actually tracking ammo carefully) much more expensive ammunition. They're also just as hard to get as an Elfbow (and a Longbow is effectively as good as an Elfbow anyway, just with slightly less range), which outranges them and effectively does the same damage in the hands of a talented shooter (and if you're spending that much effort on your ranged weapon, you probably are).

I'm not convinced that wasn't just ported over directly to 4e, looking at the reloading rules and the way bows still have Impale and add your SB to damage over there, but there was definitely an effort to correct this fact.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


I've played Halfling before in WHFRP 2E and I will again in any editions where they're playable.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



How do halflings feel about grenades?

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


The Lone Badger posted:

How do halflings feel about grenades?

Useful, a slong as it's kept far away from crops.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011
Probation
Can't post for 41 hours!


The Lone Badger posted:

How do halflings feel about grenades?

make the weaponized stewpots even better

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

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


I mean, the fact that halflings/hobbits are usually treated as the insular community of unnoticed small folk who also universally control and make up the thieves guild does give them a sort of innate "cosa nostra" quality.

Punting
Sep 9, 2007
I am very witty: nit-witty, dim-witty, and half-witty.



Tibalt posted:

I mean, the fact that halflings/hobbits are usually treated as the insular community of unnoticed small folk who also universally control and make up the thieves guild does give them a sort of innate "cosa nostra" quality.

The Hobfather

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




The 4e writeup seemed to strongly imply that Halflings deliberately make themselves seem silly, whimsical and childish (probably down to having different ideas about personal property) because they rightly recognise not being taken seriously is their greatest defence.

They're more open about not worshipping the same gods as humans in that, which meant that the Empire came along and graciously built them a bunch of temples to their own gods, which the halflings are a bit baffled by but they make for good places to throw parties.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Now it’s time for more Aberrant, starting on Quantum Powers! We’re definitely not going to finish this in one go.

Chapter Five: Quantum Powers

We start with a note on how Quantum Powers actually work. See, at some level there’s really only ONE Quantum Power, the ability to gently caress with the forces that compose all things and make poo poo happen that should not be happening. In theory a Nova who truly understands and can perceive how their powers work could do pretty much loving anything. Fortunately, not even D to the Mal can really do that, because even a Mega-Intelligent Nova is ill-equipped to comprehend how mechanically these powers are working.

The main takeaway is that while they do not operate within the bounds of how reality is ‘supposed’ to work, the phenomenon Quantum Powers generate are real and operate the way they ‘should’ work as far as the person using the power is concerned. So fire is hot and burns, cold freezes, whatever. And a Nova who thinks their Quantum Blast is shooting dark matter based on some half-remembered bullshit they saw on a pop science show will in fact shoot ‘dark matter’ with fake bullshit properties based on what they think it’s supposed to be like.

In terms of your character, what this means is that when you take powers you get to decide what they look and act like. This can potentially add new limitations or minor effects to the power because of how it’s manifesting. If you want something to be significantly different, there are things called Extras you can buy for powers. We’ll talk about them later but basically an Extra makes a power significantly stronger at the cost of also making it effectively be one power level higher.

Powers are Traits with ratings from one to five like any other. You roll them with their rating plus something else just like anything else. You’re always immune to the effects of a power you used, though there’s a power that can negate this immunity.

Powers have Levels, going from 1 to 3 (there are powers up to level 6 in some optional rules that require more Quantum than anyone in your party will likely ever have). This determines how much they cost to buy, to level up, and how many Quantum Points it takes to activate them. One Quantum Point per level, straight up. Powers have a minimum Quantum rating to buy them as well. Duration is the next major thing to consider, because many of these are ongoing effects. A Permanent power is just that, always on no worries. There’s also ‘Concentration’, which is paid for once and lasts as long as you’re concentrating on doing it (which adds +2 difficulty to any other actions you try and take while doing so). In contrast is ‘Maintenance’, which lasts a while then has to be paid for again but requires no concentration. Unless otherwise noted, you pay every (Quantum + power rating) turns for one of these.

They have a sidebar before we start noting that while Novas can have powers that seem like psionic phenomenon, they work nothing like actual psionics (they’re actually opposed forces in fact, and using Quantum poo poo on a Psion is super hard) and Novas are absolutely not psychic even if that’s how they think their powers work.

Okay, power time guys! Just going to go alphabetical, that’s what the book does.

Absorption: Level 2, Quantum 1. You can absorb damage and turn it into Strength. Pick either energy or kinetic damage when you take this, the power only works against that. When you’re hit by an appropriate attack, you may roll Stamina + Absorption. For every success, you may pay one Quantum Point to negate a level of damage you would have just taken. And for every two levels of damage Absorbed, you temporarily gain an extra dot of Strength. Go over five, or already have five? Then go ahead and make those Mega-Strength instead. You can’t gain more bonus dots than you have dots in Absorption, but you can absorb damage even if it wouldn’t help you further. These dots fade one per (Quantum + Absorption) turns. Some extras suggested, one makes the effect last for the scene and the other lets you absorb at a range (only for energy, though). An interesting defensive power but it’s really intensive to your Quantum Points. It does go better with soak than it might sound like because you can apply it pre-soak if you want.

Animal/Plant Mastery: Level 2, Quantum 1. You can either be Aquaman or Poison Ivy, your choice. You can communicate with your choice of animals or plants. The animal version can call animals within two kilometers per dot to your side, though they can only move so fast. Plant mastery doesn’t let plants uproot themselves to your call, but you can pull again Poison Ivy shenanigans where foliage animates to attack people. It mimics a later power, Molecular Manipulation (Animation). The category you have Mastery over will always be friendly unless you attack them or something. This is a pretty fun one, and the Extra lets you have both versions as one power.

Armor: Level 2, Quantum 1. This is permanent, and gives you +3 bashing and lethal soak per dot straight up. It’s entirely up to you how or even if this physically manifests, this doesn’t actually need any physical manifestation for it to work. If you decide yours does, you can turn it on and off at no cost at will. This gives you a LOT of soak, but it doesn’t scale up as quickly as Mega-Strength so you kind of need to pair it with Mega-Stamina to keep up. There’s an extra that lets you spend three quantum points to make your armor heavier than usual, giving you extra soak and making you harder to hit but slowing you down.

Bioluminescence: Level 1, Quantum 1. You can glow. Spend the quantum, roll Stamina + Bioluminescence, light up for 10 minutes for each success. I wouldn’t spend a Nova Point to be a loving flashlight but that is your freedom here in Aberrant land.

Body Modification: Level (special), Quantum 1. This is a weird Permanent power that simulates some permanent changes to your body. There’s a bunch of suggested ones, along with costs. I’ll go over them a bit, why not.
Adhesive Grip: Do some Spiderman poo poo.
Chromatophores: Change color like a chameleon. Add three dice to Stealth rolls if you’re either naked or wearing attuned Eufiber.
Extra Limbs: You’ve got fun bonus arms, which reduce your multiple action penalties by one (before Multitasking).
Extra Health Levels: You’ve got bonus organs like a Spess. Marine, giving you some extra health levels for every time you purchase this.
Gills: You’ve got gills, like a fish.
Spines: You’re spiky, which makes your grapples do Lethal damage and causes people punching you to take as many dice in damage back as they’d inflict (up to 10) when they hit.
Tendril: You’ve got a grabby tentacle that lets you swing and grab things. It doesn’t actually have to be a tentacle of course, it could be pure energy or something.
Webbed Hands/Feet: Swim faster.
Wings/Patagia: You can control your falls and glide, but not truly fly. You’d want to pair this with Flight if you want that.
These are cool and are just examples, and again be creative because many of these can be energy or crystal or whatever the poo poo you want them to be physically.

Bodymorph: Level 2, Quantum 3. You can turn your body into a specific form of matter or energy, which you specify when you buy this. Think Human Torch poo poo. So, how this works is that for each Bodymorph dot you pick a dot of another Level 1 or 2 Power that it simulates whe active. You can activate this at will and it’s a Maintenance duration. There can also be other benefits beyond the simulated powers, they give some guidelines:
Hard Solids: Inflict two extra dice of damage with Brawl and Martial Arts, attacks directed at you suffer a difficulty penalty of one. Suggested powers include Density Control (Increase), Armor, and Claws.
Liquids: Breathe and exist in water, move through water at twice normal speed. Gain the Flexibility Mega-Dexterity enhancement and access to the Asphyxiation combat maneuver. At least one dot MUST be assigned to Density Control (Decrease), the rest are generally Density Control (Decrease), Poison, or Immolate (which simulates turning into an acid).
Gas: Move through air at normal running speed, +1 soak vs physical damage, Flexibility and access to Asphyxiation. You also need to assign at least one dot to Density Control (Decrease). The rest can be Density Control (Decrease), Poison, Flight, and Storm.
Energy: Inflict lethal damage with Brawl and Martial Arts, +1 difficulty to strike you. There’s a lot of listed power options, including Immolate, Invulnerability (the energy type you are), Magnetic Mastery (EMP), Electromagnetic Vision Enhancement, Force Field, and Density Control (Decrease).
If you can justify something else, then do it, that’s fine. These are just guidelines. I really like this power, though it’d be cooler if you could dynamically pick the allocation of the powers instead of them being fixed. There are other powers that are kind of wildcard-y, I’d personally let there be an Extra that did exactly that since a Level 3 power is kind of appropriate for that effect.

Boost: Level 2, Quantum 2. This power lets you go Super Saiyan. Choose an Attribute when you buy this, that’s the Attribute you can Boost. Roll Quantum + Boost, add the successes to your stat (rolling over to the Mega-Attribute right up until it hits 5). Dots fade one per (Quantum + Boost) turns, and you can do this once a scene. Extra include letting the effect last the whole scene, affecting two Attributes at once, and being able to boost someone else. This is, obviously, really good. The obvious stat to boost is Strength, because it’s got kinda lovely Enhancements to its Mega so who cares if you don’t have any.

Claws: Level 1, Quantum 1. Turn your hands into natural weapons of some kind, even if it’s just making them vibrating super speed Flash hands or something. It’s a Maintenance power, so pretty cheap and long lasting. Your close combat attacks become Lethal, and do bonus damage equal to your Claws rating. There’s an Extra that lets you apply this to weapons as well, which is cool. A cheater like me would cheat and give this the Aggravated Extra, but that would make me as bullshit as Anna DeVries because that’s very much against the spirit of that Extra as we’ll see when we get to the generic ones.

Clone: Level 3, Quantum 5. This lets you make copies of yourself. I’m covering what’s in the base book normally, but this power actually radically changes in the errata in the player’s guide so I’ll jump a book ahead and cover both. So the original iteration generated as many as your successes in a Stamina + Clone roll (as long as you spend a quantum point per clone). The new version just lets you spend a Quantum to generate a clone up to Quantum + Clone, no roll. Your clones are entirely separate and have all your Traits (except the Clone Power). In the original version, each clone you created gave them all -1 to ALL THEIR TRAITS, which would quickly cause them to really kinda suck. On the other hand, they couldn’t go below 1 in anything, and they each got their own quantum pool equal to half of yours. The new version, their stats are unchanged BUT they share a quantum pool with you and all the other clones. Clones last for a scene or until they are killed or you recombine with them by touching them. So I think this change was intended as both a buff and a nerf, on one hand you get clones that don’t suck poo poo but on the other hand you can’t pull bullshit where you just blam out a bunch of clones that can spam some Quantum power with their pool and who cares if they suck at it. Or for example make a clone and then use a power to drain Quantum Points from them, since you spent one to make a clone with half your pool.

Cyberkinesis: Level 3, Quantum 4. This is our first multiple technique power. What that means is that we pay for one power that has a lot of individual techniques that it lets you access. We get one of these per dot in Cyberkinesis, but can use the others if we pay an extra Quantum and add one to the difficulty. Anyway this is a Power we can use to Hack the Planet. Let’s see some of what it actually does:

Alter Data: Roll Intelligence + Cyberkinesis, as long as you succeed you can later, read, or remove existing data or insert entirely new data into a computer system. The rate at which you can do this depends on the number of successes. Great way to gather information.

Control: Roll Manipulation + Cyberkinesis to take control of a machine. If someone else is trying to control it, they have to roll against the successes you get as a resisted action. Try to kill someone with a forklift.

Fool: Manipulation + Cyberkinesis. Lets you insert false data into sensors. Assign the sensor a ‘Perception’ to resist this. Really similar to Alter Data, but a bit more real time and active.

Overload: Overload a machine. Roll Wits + Cyberkinesis. If you succeed, boom, machine is busted. Particularly robust machines might take more than one success.

Reprogram: While Alter Data lets you change the information in a system, this lets you change the programming. Roll Intelligence + Cyberkinesis. Note you don’t need to know jack poo poo about computer programming as far as this roll is concerned, because you’re using wibbly wobbly quantum bullshit to do your coding. I’m pretty sure anyone who’s ever done any programming at all really wishes they had wibbly wobbly quantum bullshit now that I’ve brought that up as a concept.

We’ll pick up with the first D, Density Control, next time. We’ll be seeing at least one really goddamn brutal attack Power, it’s gonna be great.

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

I'm surprised one of the body modifications ones isn't enlarging Nova skulls to accommodate their power tumors so people don't go insane.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




You are a wrongfunner! You must enjoy this doomed timeline as written!
*bodysnachers fingerpoint and scream*

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


RocknRollaAyatollah posted:

I'm surprised one of the body modifications ones isn't enlarging Nova skulls to accommodate their power tumors so people don't go insane.

Eh they'd still go weird just from literally turning into things that are more inhuman than not but yeah that one Mega-Intelligence Enhancement does suggest some more headspace would help with Taint. Personally I'd allow a Body Mod to copy that Mega-Int bonus.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!



Chapter Seven: the Abandoned Lands


Dominating the geographical center of the continent, the Abandoned lands are a sparsely inhabited region where the capital of Glorious Umbuso once sat. The collapse of the titan empire and its ley lines left much of the region a dangerous place, but even the promise of riches and lore draw explorers to this forbidding realm every year.

Ramag

The Ramag people were a tribe of humans allied with Glorious Umbuso, gifted with the ability to manipulate magical ley lines to help their larger neighbors build works of wonder. When the insane plague gripped the titans, the Ramag sheltered themselves within the city of Ramagani (or “home” in their native tongue).

Ramagani still stands to this day, geographically spread all over the Abandoned Lands and outlying regions but considered one city thanks to the network of teleportation portals. Said portals are linked together via stable ley lines and maintained by huge monoliths. The ambient magical energies of said structures slowly changed the Ramag humans into a still-humanoid yet highly magical race; most Ramag appear as humans, but with slightly longer limbs and much thicker strands of hair usually tied back in fanciful clasps.

Day to day life in Ramagani is much like that of other Southlands cities, although their teleportation network makes their civilization a trade hub par excellence. They also are the greatest repository of titan lore in the Southlands, privy to their language, hidden sites, and magical traditions unknown elsewhere. Ramag’s neighborhoods are arranged in a ring-like pattern with monoliths around the edges, and at least one of those portals leads to the main city which is located on an island off the southern coast of the Southlands. Maintaining the monoliths is a vital public service, and every adult learns an incantation to bind their soul to the structure in death and are entombed in the monolith. At its basic function this keeps the magical energy flowing, but the presence of more powerful spellcaster’s souls can grant bonus effects such as animated statue guardians, long-ranging abjurations covering entire neighborhoods, and so on.

If you’re wondering how far-spread Ramagani’s portals reach, the answer is very far. You can download a free copy of the setting map from Drive-Thru RPG to see for yourself, but the book itself lists eight of the largest ones: two just south of Kush, two near the Skittering Ones’ Web, one in Mafri near the Eleyin Mountains, one along the southernmost coast of Terrotu, one west of Terrotu, and countless more not on the map. The book teases us with potential lost portals used as secret refuges, failed settlements, and forgotten streets of other cities.

Ramagani’s government has a council of elders whose members are elected by popular vote, and a king or queen chosen from the elders during New Year celebrations to serve a 10 to 15 year term. The end of the term entombs the regent in one of the monoliths, usually to replace one with fading magical energies or reinforce a weakened portion of ley line.

Ramagani’s defenses are also appropriately extraordinary. The Stormwatch manages ley-line powered siege ballistae crackling with magical lightning to ward off enemy armies and monsters, while a guild known as the Scaled Keepers raise and hatch pterodactyl eggs in special incubated houses to serve the military as aerial cavalry. In the event of a magical disaster breaking or severing a ley line, the heavily-armed Ley Wardens patrol the Abandoned Lands’ environs to repair and protect them with exacting rituals.

Tosculi, the Golden Swarm


Finally we get to learn more about everyone’s favorite wasp-people! This section serves as an overview of all tosculi settlements in the Southlands, and not just the ones in the Abandoned Lands although they are most populous there. The buzzing sounds of the insect’s flying raiders is one of the most-feared things among the realm’s travelers, and there are few things which unite the Abandoned Land’s scattered people than an invasion of the Golden Swarm.

The tosculi worship the archdevil Arbeyach, working to expand their hives into new territory. Raiders kidnap people to take back to their hives, where they implant the prisoners with eggs for their larvae to feed off of and grow before emerging from the drained corpse as new tosculi drones or warriors. They have a hostile foreign policy with just about every other political power bloc, even each other. Although tosculi have the same long-term goal and worship the same god, their six major hives are ruled over by queens who all want to be supreme ruler of the Southlands themselves and brook no competition.

We get a list of four of the largest hives of the Golden Swarm. There exist smaller ones all over the Southlands, but tend to be tiny affairs ranging from two dozen to a few thousand tosculi at most. Snowcap Hive lairs in the cold mountains of the Southern Fringe (the following chapter), built from immense pillars of mud reaching into the sky. Titans’ Hive lairs in the southwest portion of the Abandoned Lands, a former settlement of Glorious Umbuso now almost completely encased in mud-like resin structures. It is unknown to what extent the tosculi are aware of the titans’ powers, although they do seem knowledgeable of the ruins’ many magical items. Corpsehive is perhaps the most macabre settlement, for a large portion of its structure is composed of tosculi corpses frozen in resignation, arms and jaws locked before death. The Corpsehive tosculi are also known to build sacred cattle of the Terrotu into their structures as well, their skulls separated as trophies on display by their queen.

The Great Hive of Arbeyach gets the most detail, and it’s not even in the Abandoned Lands proper: it’s actually east of Kush and west of Sar-Shaba, which would technically place it in the Corsair Coast. The Tosculi call it Crecretellock, or “Green Hill City” in their tongue. It was the first relam of the tosculi to convert to the archdevil’s worship, and for this loyalty they are the strongest and most fanatical of the hives. Arbeyach’s herald, the unique devil Ia-Affrat, sits within the hive and actually has contempt for the wasp-folk. He sees them as dirty, boring, and ugly and is prone to inflict abuse upon them for minor infractions.

The Great Hive is a mostly-vertical settlement, divided into sections of chimney-like hives. The Farsight Chimney grants the best view of the surrounding territory, while the Orange Chimney holds scribes, artists, merchants selling unique living items of the Tosculi, and swarm masters raising mundane insects to use in war or as sacrifices to Arbeyach. The Sky-Templer of Arbeyach is the religious center of the city and also home to its butcheries. The War and Commerce Chimney holds the living quarters for most of the soldier caste and serves as a storehouse and armory. The Royal Chimney hosts the hive’s governance and living quarters of Hive-Queen Tekli, who sits upon a throne of carved jet embedded with precious gems. A few travelers of other races are brought here to share news of caravan and settlement development, although the Queen is fond of inviting less-favorable visitors to her private quarters where she promptly insults and dismembers them.

Munayo, the Floating Village


Lake Debari, the largest body of freshwater in the Southlands, holds an entire town upon its lulling waves. Hundreds of fishing-boats and barges lashed and tethered together form a city upon the clear waters. Many boats are capable of lone travel and have departed from the fleet, but most remain docked in Munayo for decades. The town’s ancestors swore an oath to never set foot on solid ground, for they are tasked with constant vigil of a threat they claim sleeps at the bottom of the lake.

They do not share this with outsiders, but the Munayo’s oldest stories explain of how their ancestors paid tribute to marid genies who lived within a magnificent city surrounding a portal to the Elemental Plane of Water. They later came to revere the titans of Glorious Umbuso who protected them from the dangers of the continent, and this did not seem to cause conflict between them and the marid. When the titan empire collapsed, a leviathan emerged from the portal and devastated the marid city. One of the dying titans tried to kill the creature, but the insanity wrought by her plague made her cast the wrong spell and instead put the beast in a deep slumber. The people of Munayo had a front-view stage to Umbuso’s burning cities and the broken remnants of the marid buildings. After mourning their lost neighbors, they made an oath to continue where the genies and titans left off by watching over the lake.

Munayo’s demographics are mostly Zwana humans, but some undines, elves, and fey-touched trollkin live among the boats. Seafood gained from fishing and diving comprises the majority of their diet, although a few sturdy boats with soil grow floating gardens. Everyone knows how to swim and the village’s warriors train in underwater warfare for the inevitable time when the behemoth rises. They have a large community of spellcasters, more divine than arcane, but bards are popular due to strong storytelling traditions. Much of the lake’s natural resources are turned into tools, and mussel shells are the most versatile. They can be used as pottery, eating utensils, or even forged into scale mail armor.

The people of Munayo accept foreigners into their settlements for three days, but those who wish to remain longer must become full citizens and “leave behind the land.” They undertake a test to dive to one of the ruined marid towers and retrieve a relic of that land; those who survive the ordeal are welcomed with a weeklong feast along with the full history of the Munayo and their status.

For those who wish to play as Munayo PCs, the village holds a blind lottery every three years for six among their number. Those chosen are tasked with venturing into the Abandoned Lands to harvest and trade for resources unobtainable on Lake Debari. Unfortunately this breaks their taboo, and they are treated as outsiders who must leave the village after three days once they return with the needed supplies.

Munayo’s entry ends with 14 locations within town and 3 adventure hooks. The hooks include an oracle making contact with a ghostly marid deep beneath the waves who is not all-benevolent, another involves helping an exile return a treasured keepsake to the village they were sworn to never return to, and the third involves braving the underwater ruins at the risk of waking the sleeping behemoth. The locations are nothing special, mostly detailing mundane stores and important personages responsible for community affairs.

Perils of the Abandoned Lands

Most of the Abandoned Lands is located on the Aggesal Plains, home to very large wildlife such as dinosaurs and towering megafauna. Beyond these obvious dangers, a more subtle one deadly to spellcasters manifests from the warped and broken ley lines. Beyond the stable ones of Ramagani the majority twist, link, break, and form in random patterns. Any time a spell, spell-like ability, or magical item is activated, there is a 20% chance a caster is within a region of broken ley lines, triggering a primal magic effect on a failed concentration check (DC 15 + twice the spell’s level or caster level if a magic item or ability).

We have an entire table for failed results here:



As you can see, there’s a fair amount of negative backlash and unexpected positive results. It reminds me of the Wasted West region from the Midgard Worldbook, which more or less operates under similar mechanics.

Afterwards we get eight locations of miscellaneous locations within the Abandoned Lands. They include the Trollkin Kingdom of Nmabi ruled over by a reincarnated adventurer who believes himself to be a divine king; the Palace of the Heris, home to a community of white-furred sapient apes awakened by a long-dead race of sorcerers wiped out by a magical plague; the Rift Valley of Kimvai, home to titan-sized cavernous structures dotting the canyon walls where human and heru communities inhabit, some of whom gone mad and form cults to dark gods; the Shattered Roads, huge stone highways reaching out from Glorious Umbuso’s capital capable of doubling travel speed but filled with erratic and hazardous magic; the Skittering Ones’ Web, a rainforest home to a race of spider monsters who sold their souls to a demon lord and make raids against Terrotu and coastal vessels; and the Treehomes of the Mafri, a group of two dozen Zwana villages who live in a jungle canopy east of Lignas.

The Mafri worship serpents of all kinds, based on a creation myth where great snakes protected their ancestors from a cataclysmic rain of stone and fire, and leave sacrifices of prisoners to shrines. Precious stones are given back in the same location the day after as a reward from their gods. Their “gods” in question are subterranean serpentfolk who are more than happy to use the Mafri as a buffer against enemies and even have a few spies in Lignas (who they do not treat as an ally just because of a shared love of serpents).

Gala’ikos, the former capital of Glorious Umbuso, is second in the list but has more word count so I’m treating it as its own section. Its towering spires of crystal and glass reflect sunlight onto the streets, and some of the city’s floating palaces still orbit the perimeter. Although Gala’ikos still looks beautiful, the lost legacy of the titans can be seen in etched runes of blood written by victims of the maddening plague. The structures are built for inhabitants 70 feet tall, which would ordinarily make conventional travel for human-sized people difficult if not impossible. But many structures have separate human-sized entrances and stairs for the titans’ mortal followers which mitigates this. The titans’ descendants still occupy the city as deformed, insane beings a shadow of their former power. They are prone to violent mood swings, react with hostility to intruders, and worship the city’s magical devices and phenomena as though they were gods.

Some of the notable locations within Gala’ikos include a Floating Prison which housed some of the empire’s greatest criminals, but is now mostly empty save for a nest of vrock demons and a trio of evil gods imprisoned near the prison’s center. The Hall of Creatures is a crystal dome housing a menagerie of life forms from across Midgard and other planes. The menagerie’s occupants survived in their own ecosystem, malfunctioning construct caretakers barely able to contain the population. The broken wards are how the Abandoned Lands became home to so many dinosaurs and megafauna. Finally, six cocoons of floating crystal known as the Sleeping Gods each contain the comatose form of a titan, and the academy ruins they orbit hold the secret to awakening them.

Character Options of the Abandoned Lands


The PC-facing options are a bit short, focusing heavily on magic. Our sole new race is the ramag. They are heavily inclined towards brainy arcane caster types: -2 Strength and Constitution, +2 Dexterity and Intelligence, are Medium native outsiders, gain +1 racial bonus on all caster level checks made to use ley lines, treat Spellcraft and Use Magic Device as class skills, and have Spell Resistance equal to 11 plus their character level.

The only archetype we have is the Snakebound Hunter (Ranger), a tradition among the Mafri people who bond closer with serpents so as to be better hunters and warriors. They trade out wild empathy in exchange for a viper or constrictor animal companion whose progression advances as a druid rather than ranger. But their biggest class feature is replacing favored enemy and favored terrain for the ability to duplicate an extraordinary ability from an animal, vermin, humanoid, or monstrous humanoid within 30 feet as a full-round action a limited number of times per day (and for a limited number of rounds). At higher levels they can mimic more powers at once and choose from a wider amount of up to 6 other creature types (aberration, construct, fey, magical beast, outsider, and plant). The Snakebound Hunter eplaces hunter’s bond with the ability to gain a limited set of snake-themed powers (natural weapons, climb speed, scent, and/or natural armor bonus) for a number of minutes per day equal to his class level. Finally at 20th level they trade out master hunter in exchange for the ability to shapeshift into a giant anaconda at will and can cast spells in that form.

This is potentially a very powerful ranger archetype, as the mimicry ability can expose you to a large amount of variant monster-exclusive powers. The only major restriction is that it must be a creature physically present at the time, but with a friendly party summoner this can be circumvented.

The Magic of the Abandoned Lands has three parts. The first detail the game mechanics of ley lines, which are a reprint from the main Midgard books (2012 and 2017). For those unfamiliar with said ruleset, it is an unseen geographical feature restricted to locations, but with a proper caster level check a spellcaster can tap into the ley line and enhance a cast spell with an automatic metamagic feat with no increase of spell level. The metamagic in question is randomly rolled, and the ley lines’ overall strength (weak/strong/titanic) determines the overall strength of available feats.

A failure on a caster level check means the spell functions as normal, but a natural 1 causes the spell to be lost without effect, the ley line vanishes for 24 hours from being overtaxed, and the caster suffers a backlash which is a randomly rolled long-lasting debuff.

The ley line rules are a cool and thematic aspect and give an incentive for spellcasters and nations to fight over land and territory. All of the River Nuria is a Titanic Ley Line, for instance. But the lines being inherent on location means that their frequency in campaigns are subject to and reigned in by GM Fiat.

Tosculi Living Items are 8 new magical items made by the insectoid race to augment their drones when higher-caste members are in short supply. They are specially-crafted devices made to be attached to a living body via surgery and cannot be disarmed or removed, but can be attacked and sundered like an object.

The items include a stunted wing graft which grants a constant nonmagical feather fall and glide abilities; tosculi antennae grant the scent ability; tosculi carapace grants a +3 natural armor bonus which can stack with innate natural armor, and 2 of those points may be sacrificed as an immediate action to heal the wearer 10 HP per point of sacrificed AC; tosculi healing resin is smeared over wounds and broken objects, granting fast healing to injured creatures or removes the broken condition from an object; tosculi lenses make your eyes insect-like and grant +5 on Sense Motive and Perception checks in exchange for a -2 penalty on saving throws against light, gaze, and pattern illusion effects; tosculi pheromone glands allow silent communication with other gland-possessors at a range of 30 feet (people with scent can detect the general emotions and not the “words”); tosculi saliva allows other living items to be safely removed from helpless, willing, or dead creaturers; and tosculi spurs grant a retractable dagger-like weapon with enhanced versions that can deal acid damage or inject Strength-damaging poison.

The magic of the Abandoned Lands revolves around the legacy of the titans. Scholars of Glorious Umbuso deign titan magic as “Words of Power,” utterances which can alter reality. In fact, the 6 new spells are keyed off of the Words of Power optional subsystem of Pathfinder’s Ultimate Magic. In short, Words of Power’s magic are “wordspells” stringed together to form a spell’s combined effects. It is not a system I am familiar with, but this gentleman on Giant in the Playground wrote a comprehensive guide for it.

The six new utterances include Fire in the Heavens, which can hurl several creatures into the air and set their blood on fire; Force Spike, a shard of pure force which smashes into a target as a ranged or melee touch attack; Polar Palsy which freezes a target’s muscles and blood with sheer cold, paralyzing them and dealing cold damage; Rending Word, which causes a creature to be afflicted with overwhelming fear to the point that their internal organs burst, potentially causing 200 damage on a failed save and disabling the target’s spell-like abilities for 1d4 rounds; Severed Tendon, which impedes a creature’s movement by reducing their base land speed by 30 feet (5 feet minimum) for the duration of the utterance; and finally Shattering Dream, which commands a creature to throw an object held in its hand as far as possible before the spell’s second effect shatters or severely breaks it.

Thoughts So Far: The Abandoned Lands is a bit hit-or-miss for me. I got the feel of the whole “barren wilderness where giants once sat,” but areas with this theme are common enough in the other chapters that it doesn’t feel truly unique. The Ramag’s high-magic society is interesting and can be a useful nexus for “fast travel” across the continent. I cannot put my finger on it, but I liked Munayo. It reminds me of Fisherman’s Horizon from Final Fantasy 8, which had a very calming atmosphere and a populace dedicated to a worthy ideal.

The new rules options were the weakest part. The Ramag are a good race mechanics-wise and the Snakebound Hunter is powerful in the right hands, but the reprint of ley lines and the new magic being words of power meant that it was of limited use to me as I already own the Midgard sister setting. It may be of better use for those who purchased Southlands as their own product.

Join us next time as we cover the Southern Fringe, home to a lost minotaur colony, an island nation of xorn elementals, and a mysterious Bottled City home toassassins, thieves, and all manner of scum and villainy!

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


Volo's Guide to Monsters: Giants: World Shakers Part 3 Roleplaying Giants, Laying them low and other misc facts

Previous Entry

Giant Bags
Giants on the move typically take a large bag with them. Normally filled with lots of food to fill their large bellies, some rocks. (A few for hunting and a few special ones for games.) and other tools.

Some giant bag possible contents include:
Longsword wrapped in a blood-caked cloak (used as a knife)
Keg of ale
Caged halfling (for amusement)
A once-fine tapestry that’s now tattered from being used as a towel
Four mostly intact wagon wheels
A tombstone (for skipping across water)


Champions of Rock Throwing
Giants like rocks. They have a reputation as living siege engines and are known for being able to throw rocks with great accuracy over large distances. Rock throwing for various things is an ancient tradition for giants. Other races created various mechanical tools for ranged weapons, but giants have never really seen or required them. Even in places were giants have adopted the use of stuff like spears and javelins, they have never neglected the old toss a rock at your target strategy. In fact throwing rocks seems to give all giants a degree of satisfaction.



Most giant games involve rock throwing. Mostly in ways that improve their skills in hunting and war. A sample games are provided. One of most popular ones, particularly with fire giants, is simply them taking turns trying to knock each other over with boulders. A frost giant game involves making many targets out of ice and snow and seeing who can knock the most down with one throw. A popular one on one giant game starts with the challenger throwing a boulder as far as they can. The giant challenged then goes to were the stone landed and throws it back at the challenger. If the challenger was stronger he wins, because the return throw will fall short, however if they were arrogant and took on a stronger thrower they will get clocked with a rock, them having to nurse their wounds shows them the price of arrogance.

When up against puny foes, giants use boulders that fit in one hand, but against other enormous creatures or targets, like castles and dragons, giants like to use stones so large they need both arms to lift and throw them. Giants are able to throw just as accurately with both arms, instead of just one. (A feat the books remarks as being near impossible for most humans.) Though these attacks are only effective at shorter ranges for obvious reasons.
When hunting with rocks they like to use small ones around the size of a human head. As this way they can kill a bear or elk without smashing it to a pulp.

How to Lay a Giant Low
Forces with giant allies or made up of giants are one of the most feared on the battlefield. Giants can rain boulders on their enemy from a range were only skilled archers, siege weapons and spellcasters can hit them back.

At first it seems that a potent wizard would be the best giant killer. But few spellcasters can actually stand up to a giant in a direct confrontation. They will likely be able to harm a giant, but odds are the giant will shrug off the one or two spells that will be thrown at it, and then a boulder or club swing will crush the threat.

Of those who have experience fighting giants. Dwarves are stated to have developed the most effective tactics. When battling giants dwarves employ mass prolonged archery, fast moving calvary that can force the giants into more disadvantageous conditions or fanatical troops armed with polearms, ropes and grappling hooks. If a giant is tripped or knocked down (ideally on the belly.) then it can be entangled in nets and cables, and disabled by hits to the head and neck.

Giants meanwhile know smaller foes will target their lower bodies. And so normally go into battle against them armed with thick greaves, boots, armored codpieces and wide heavy belts to protect their lower half. Even hill giants will peel bark from trees and wrap it around their legs and dangle logs and stones from their belts to make it more difficult for those that try to go underfoot.

Living the Giant Life
Giants are very long lived compared to humans, though none are immortal. Peaceful death from old age is common among cloud and storm giants and is not unusual from stone and fire giants. But it's the exception with frost and hill giants. Frost and hill giants normally die violently against humans, dragons, other monsters, or their own kind.

Giants live at a much slower pace than humans. A stone giant's heart will beat only once for every four beats of the average man. Giants stay with their parents far longer than humans do, and giant children grow to adulthood more slowly. A giant family is normally pretty small, because giant couples normally don't have more than a few children and many have none at all.

Giant lifespans are normally the same as their place in the ordening, the lowliest giants live the shortest and the most noble live the longest. Stone giants are the exception and have the longest life spans. Because of this, despite their low position in the ordening, other giants normally consider stone giants to be the wisest of all giant types. Just like their god Skoraeus Stonebones is often seen as the wisest of all the giant gods.

Elminster posted:

Save in battle, giants tend to be slow. “Soon” to a giant may be three or four years to a human.

Giant Life Spans posted:

Hill: 200 years
Frost: 250 years
Fire: 350 years
Cloud: 400 years
Storm: 600 years
Stone: 800 years

Roleplaying a Giant

Giving giants a trait, an ideal, a bond, and a flaw tend to make them more vibrant npcs. Certain backgrounds from the core books also work well for some giants, Noble for a cloud giant is the given example.

Our giant has
Personality trait: D8 (2) = As the most powerful beings in creation, we have a duty to use our strength for the benefit of all.
Ideal: D6 (2) = Skill. What sets my clan apart is its mastery of our traditional crafts. (Good)
Bond: D6 (2) = My clan mates who serve in our deity’s temples are the closest companions I’ll ever know.
Flaw: D6 (1) = The ordning is too restrictive for the likes of me.

So we got a giant that heavily values traditions, and the role of giants in the world. Even viewing the servants of their deity as their closest friends. But who actually views the ordening as too restrictive despite it being their greatest and most notable tradition.

Next time: Cloud Giants and Fire Giants

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


Feinne posted:

Aberrant mechanics

I know you've already said this, but the game seems to be a choice between "Do I want to do something flavorful, or do I just want to break the action economy over my knee"

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Ronwayne posted:

I know you've already said this, but the game seems to be a choice between "Do I want to do something flavorful, or do I just want to break the action economy over my knee"

Welcome to the Storyteller system! It's very bad.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Although it should be noted Aberrant does something... extra to the ST system.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.


Non-Aligned Armies, part 1

Back in April (2018, if you’re reading this on the archive), CB launched a new book, Uprising. Uprising introduced the Non-Aligned Armies, which for some reason they want you to pronounce as “N-A-2.” These are mercenaries and independent nations, and their big thing is that they’re all sectorials. There isn’t a general non-aligned army you can take, like with the vanilla factions. It’s a pretty clever idea, since it lets the company introduce some more minor factions without the need to tie them into larger pre-existing entities.

Uprising also advanced the timeline two years. After years of being 2175, it’s 2177. Progress! The primary thing that happened during those two years was a whole lot of nothing most everywhere, and also the Japanese broke away from Yu Jing; that’d be the titular uprising, see.

You cannot imagine the wailing and screeching that resulted. Suffice to say, much drama was had, Yu Jing still sucks, and the Earth still orbits the Sun.

Uprising introduced the Druze Bayram Security, Free Company of the Star, Ikari Company, and independent Japan as new forces. This part of the writeup will cover Druze and StarCo, with JSA and Little JSA to follow.

Actual real-world Druze are a people and a religion. They’re an offshoot of Ismali Islam, but they’re not Muslim - the Druze faith is kinda wildly syncretic in its origins, and they’ve got a little bit of a mystery cult thing going on; they’ve got levels of initiation, esotericism, and as principle of faith, you don’t have to be out and practicing the faith to be Druze. If you’re not familiar, the Druze faith is a pretty interesting subject.

The game relies heavily on taqiyya, the willingness to conceal one’s faith when necessary. A particular member of the faithful may be in danger of persecution if they’re openly practicing, or there may be local members of the community who just aren’t prepared for the revelations of the faith, and so it’s just easier and safer for everyone to keep doing their thing in secret. Extending the logic here a little, this principle means that you can be a Druze person working in another society’s bureaucracy, commercial sector, or army.

The Druze Society takes taqiyya to an unfortunate extreme. They’ve banded together among the criminal elements of the Sphere, forming a secretive empire of organized crime; the Druze Society is probably the most powerful criminal enterprise in human space.

The book does specifically call out that the Druze Society is a mafia group that happens to be of the Druze faith, not that all Druze are inherently criminal. I’m pretty sure the thought process here went “The Druze faith is interesting, I want to put them in my game > they form secret societies > criminal organizations are secret > idea,” but it’s also kinda hosed they’re the primary facet by which a lot of nerds will now view an entire ethnoreligious group. Like, for a game that’s so deeply invested in the papacy, there’s a comparative lack of the St. Paul Gang or whatever the gently caress. Good intentions, maybe sketchy implementation.

The Druze Society was mostly off the radar of the various powers’ intelligence until recently. A PanO intel agent was involved in a public dust-up involving several high-profile members of the Society. See, CB finally got enough money to write, illustrate, and publish their own comic book, which they insist you refer to as a manga, even if nobody who worked on it has been further east than the Pyrenees. That incident was this comic. Buy our poo poo, and also these miniatures of the comic characters, that nobody cared about until we gave two of them really good profiles.

The art’s fine. The story is certainly a thing a person, with some command of a pen, wrote at a point in time. Anyway, they kept Kenny Ruiz around to do the illustrations for Aristeia, and he’s got kind of a Joe Mad thing going without the awful coloring, as well as having met a deadline once in his life.

Right. Druze. The Druze were originally a Haqq unit, and for a long time they were the stereotypical mercenary group of the game - cold, callous, and valuing their bottom line over any ethical constraints. They were alright medium infantry profiles, which meant they were heavy hitters by Haqq standards.

Uprising brought mixed fireteams fully out of the domain of the Tohaa, and the Druze were the first army to get them. Druze Bayram Security was dropped last year around December, way prior to Uprising’s release, with no real leadup or prep work for the community. This actually worked really well for CB; this weird new interesting thing was sort of a Christmas present to the fans, as opposed to a world-turned-upside-down problem like JSA would become. They were also the first mixed-list sectorial, which would come to define the NAA - Druze lists can pick from the new units, Haqq, PanO and mercenary profiles.



Druze Shock Teams form the backbone of any Druze army. They’re medium infantry, so they’re a touch slow. Stats are okay, but they’ve got very respectable ARM/BTS values. Their release as a whole new army gave them a host of new weapons loadouts, so your average Druze team will be able to put the hurt on pretty much anything they come across. All Druze are Veterans, so if your LT gets killed, they keep on keepin’ on. They’ve got Fatality, X-visors and viral pistols, so they can reach out and murder something from further away than you’d expect from other armies.

Fireteam options really come out for these guys. They can Duo (2-man), Haris (3-man), Core (3-5 man, can be run alongside a Haris), or they can take a special Core link. Druze can combine up two Druze with up to three Brawlers, a new mercenary profile, or they can run four Druze and one Brawler or Clipper Dronbot (a missile launcher bot).

Here’s the tricky part. Brawlers have 4-4 MOV, and Clippers are 6-4 MOV. You’ve still got to keep all these guys in unit coherency despite wildly different movement speeds and silhouettes. Also, words mean things! Infinity players have a tough time with this concept, though in fairness Corvus Belli does too.The Brawler/Druze link is specifically “2 Druze and up to 3 Brawlers.” If you lose a Druze, congratulations, your fireteam breaks and you don’t get any of the benefits. The Clipper link is 4 Druze and 1 Clipper - lose any one of them, broken link. Compare with an Alguacile link or whatever, you can run those guys into a blender and they’ll keep going until there’s just two of them left. Fireteams are already sacrificing flexibility for power, and the mixed fireteams go full-on into that tradeoff.

Druze have mostly been covered - they’re mobbed-up tactical squads that secretly exist in other people’s armies. Among their notable accomplishments are utterly wiping out one of the largest non-Tunguska Russian mob groups. That’s neat, I suppose.



Brawlers don’t have a write-up beyond “these are new mercenaries,” so there’s just fluff for this segment. They’re interesting pieces, since they’re less-killy light infantry counterparts to the Druze. They’re also your only option for doctors, your only effective option for engineers, and your only choice for MSV2 to defeat smoke and camo tokens. They’re crucial profiles for the army, which is possibly why they’re pretty expensive choices. I like Brawlers on the balance, but I’d like to see more in the way of fluff, and more model support beyond the pre-order bonus for buying the Uprising book.

Druze can take Hunzakuts and Bashi Bazouks, the Haqq irregular infiltrators and jump troops respectively. They get PanO and Haqq remotes, a mercenary ninja, and two TAGs, the Anaconda and Scarface.



The Anaconda looks cool, but isn’t very good. I’d take most heavy infantry over it in a fight, and they’re probably cheaper than this thing, too. On the plus side, Druze get an upgraded version with an HMG, instead of the previous version with an LMG. Anacondas are mercenary units, and the only reason anyone ever took them is because you could do so if you played Space France in Ariadna.



Scarface and Cordelia, the brother and sister pair, recently paid a visit to a lot of armies. A few seasons prior, the gimmick was that there were new TAG-focused missions, and you needed one to score objectives. Well, not everybody in Infinity got a TAG, so those that didn’t got Scarface. Except Caledonia, who got the Anaconda. Scarface is a better, if much shorter-ranged TAG than the Anaconda, and it has three hit points like a real-people TAG. Cordelia and Scarface can Duo, so she can chase after him and engineer him if he goes down. Remember when I said the Brawler was your only practical Engineer? Yeah, you’re not dropping 74 points and 1.5 SWC for the privilege of just pushing a button.

Cordelia and Joe Turner are brother and sister mercenaries. Joe used to be a revolutionary on a mining colony, fighting in a movement sponsored by State Empire foreign intel. Space China was also pushing space heroin on the miners, so that ended well. After the revolution fizzled, Joe took work as a mercenary, as he was already a maladjusted rear end in a top hat to begin with. He bounced around from warzone to warzone, committing just a few warcrimes in Caledonia in the process.

As conditions on their home asteroid deteriorated, Ma and Pa Turner eventually bought it in “a mysterious industrial accident.” Care for his younger sister was suddenly thrust upon Joe, who decided the best way to raise her was to pay their way as a mercenary and leave her in the baggage train. Young Cordelia picked up her engineering talents there. She helped him kick the space-horse, and now he’s only a huge rear end in a top hat, instead of a huge rear end in a top hat and an addict. Technically an improvement.

That’s about it - Druze only get 17 different troop types. There’s a reason they’re a pseudo-sectorial and not a full army. They’re pretty good at putting holes in the opposing side, but they struggle with mobility and accomplishing specialist objectives. Druze armies tend to be middling order counts. Their best asset is linkable speculative firing EM grenades provided by a Shock Team squad - little packets of isolation (and immobilization for mechanized units) just raining down like artillery fire. Which, coincidentally, is one of the great strengths of the next army.

The Free Company of the Star, commonly StarCo, is a semi-deniable, wholly-owned subsidiary of Corregidor. If Druze are the shady mercenaries, these are the rag-tag white-hat mercs. They primarily draw their units from Corregidor, with some Ariadna and Haqq thrown in for flavor. They’re also loaded with special characters - only Steel Phalanx has more unique units.

StarCo is currently headed by Captain Yolanda Cardoso, transplanted over from Corregidor. During her tenure, the number of StarCo contracts signed with NGOs and charitable organizations skyrocketed. Captain Cardoso is spare with her soldiers and utterly cutthroat against her competitors. The degree to which her childhood in a Corregidor barrio has influenced her management style is a matter of some debate among the troops.

StarCo includes four non-negotiable clauses in its contracts.
    StarCo will abide by the international human rights convention of the Space UN. Any order from a client that violates the convention will result in an automatic voiding of the contract.

    StarCo will operate with strict transparency, and any appropriate auditing authority may request information from corporate HQ freely.

    StarCo will conduct extensive background investigations of all personnel to verify they haven’t committed war crimes, and will provide the details of those investigations if asked.

    StarCo will aid in the investigation of any human rights violations committed under the aegis of one of their contracts with a maximum of transparency.

To whit, StarCo openly courts legitimate operations and peacekeeping functions, and will push your poo poo in if you ask them to do otherwise. Of course, this being Infinity, loremaster Gutier follows this feel-good section with details about how StarCo is also a training cadre for Corregidorian forces and a potential source of deniable assets for Nomad intelligence.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

StarCo’s rosters include Alguaciles, a limited number of Brawlers, Nomad docs and engineers, Hellcats, Mobile Brigada, Riot Grrls, an Anaconda of their own, Nomad remotes, Nomad skirmishers, the Al-Hawaa holographic body doubles from Haqq, Avicenna, and Ariadnan Irmandinos, Hardcases and Caterans, to really give you the cream of the irregular crop.

StarCo is about as capable as Corregidor in a stand-up fight, which is good but not superlative. They’ve got a lot more in the way of irregular options, and a bunch of new mixed links - new options include Avicenna rolling with a pack of Riot Grrls to provide a hell of a meat wall, Mobile Brigada can take along a doctor and Senior Massacre for revives and a melee booster, and a bunch of special duos. They have a real big weakness when it comes to LT choices, however. You get four choices, and you’d only ever pick from three of them - the Brawler LT, the Alguacile LT, or the Mobile Brigada LT. All three of these choices are obvious, and they’re not hugely survivable. Be prepared to deal with numerous assassination attempts.

As mentioned, StarCo gets a shitload of special characters, some of which are new altogether, some of which are reassigned.



Like Senior Massacre, literally Deadpool. Horrible scarred face, regenerates, has a katana, two pistols, bad jokes - Deadpool. Great in close combat and gets Natural Born Warrior, so he short-circuits a lot of special melee skills. Regeneration sounds nice, but he’s not actually that burly, so he’s probably just going to eat his one wound and die. Still, he’s got EM grenades, Eclipse grenades, and a breaker rifle, all for 29 points. You could definitely do worse.



Likewise, Raoul Spector is literally Moon Knight. There’s no model or planning illustration out yet, but I don’t hold out a lot of hope. Raoul is one point of CC away from being totally identical to Massacre’s stats spread, and he’s also got Natural Born Warrior. I feel that he’s a little more survivable, though, since he has No Wound Incapacitation instead of Regeneration.

Spector gets a lot of use in StarCo lists, but you’ve got two fairly different flavors to take. He’s a Specialist Operative, so he can go accomplish mission objectives - that’s the same between the two types. One version generates a Regular order and has a fireteam option, so that he can deploy normally and take two Brawlers or a Brawler and a corporate security unit (sort of a fancy Nomad Morlock) with him. The other version is irregular, but has Combat Jump, so he can parachute in anywhere on the board. I gotta say I prefer the irregular version, since you’re not wasting an order keeping him off the board, and he can set down right next to his objective.

There actually is some fluff for Spector! It’s highly derivative of the comic book character! Raoul Specter is a mercenary employed by a Baron Harkonnen figure. Raoul’s job is to go out, do exciting things, and have his entire experience piped back to his boss via simsense. As a result, Raoul’s died quite a lot, but that’s not as much of a problem in the Infinity universe. Still, getting killed repeatedly has left him a little mentally unstable. You know, like Moon Knight.



Knauf comes to us from the comic book, along with the rest of the heroes I’m about to showcase. He’s a gritty mercenary sniper with a troubled past, so of course he’s the hero of the book. Knauf costs too much and sucks at his job.

There was memory loss and some kinda dumb anime chewing on a spent rifle casing and he eventually kills his clone. I don’t care.



You know what poo poo everyone loves and is a great idea to introduce into your rapidly-growing game, so that new people are exposed to it as part of your cross-media push? That poo poo where there’s a grown woman trapped in a child’s body! :suicide:

Uhahu hails from some hosed-up Nomad experiment and now she looks like a child, forever, even though she’s thirty-something. There’s apparently a whole other group of adult-children out there with brain problems and murderous impulses. I am really unhappy writing these words! She’s a decent hacker, with some launchable repeaters. She’s probably your best hacker option in StarCo, and there’d never be a reason to take her in any other army ever.

What really galls me is that they don’t even pretend to justify this perv crap or work it into the story. Being a hosed-up child soldier has no impact on Uhahu’s character, and neither the sculptor nor the comic artist knows how to render a child, so you just have this short kinda deformed character hanging around for no explicable reason. But they sure as balls want you to know she’s an adult, but she looks like a child! Not lovely at all, CB!

Here is a thing.The comic book (Outrage) had a special model pack published not long after the book’s release. Partially, it’s to get you to buy some models that didn’t have rules attached for a long-rear end time. The other side of it is that they used the Outrage box to test new sculpting methods, to simplify production for the Aristeia board game; Infinity models can be very fiddly to put together, and their regular production standards weren’t going to cut it for a board game slapped together in a Chinese factory.

This is the illustration for Emily Handelman.



Why Ruiz chose to illustrate her mid “fffffff” is unknown, but apart from being very generic-anime-chick, she’s competently drawn and not entirely horribly designed.

Okay? Here’s what her model looks like.



The Outrage models, to put it mildly, are not very well made. Uhahu up there is probably the least-worse one, and none of the studio models are painted well. This is particularly unfortunate, because Emily is one of the few must-take models in the game. StarCo does not really work the same without her.



You’re only going to take the Chain of Command option. In no small part, your LT is obvious and you want that backup. Mostly though, you want that grenade launcher.

You can take Emily in a fireteam with either four Alguaciles, or four Riot Grrls, depending on how spendy you feel at the time. You very much want her in a five-man link. Theoretically she can also Duo with Uhahu, but that’d be wildly suboptimal.

So, with an X-visor to reduce her range penalties and a 5-person link to boost her BS and Burst values, Emily is an artillery piece. Just like the Druze, she can drop EM and regular grenades from entirely out of line of sight, and with the bonuses she gets she stands a fair chance of succeeding. This time it's cheaper and can keep you from Loss of LT, though.

Now, this is not quite as broken as people were screaming about when StarCo was first released. She is good at dropping bombs on people, but if you’re keeping her tucked in the back board and ensconced in cover she’s not out accomplishing objectives. She’s also real squishy, so a suicide AD troop can solve your problem in an order or two.

Still, I’m not a fan of must-take choices in this game. One of the things I like most about Infinity is that the way I compose a list and run it might be wildly different from how you do it, even within the same subfaction, but we can both be equally successful as long as we’re skilled, knowledgeable players. Must-haves reduce the variation inherent to the game, and they get boring (lookin’ at you, Tohaa). It’s not totally broken and it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a flaw in what’s otherwise a pretty reasonably balanced system.

Next time: Glorious Nippon.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Why don't some of the characters have models? Isn't selling models the point?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Sometimes designing them takes a while and rules get put out before the models actually exist. This is especially true over in, say, Warhammer land, where several Ork units hadn't seen new sculpts in over a decade.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!




grassy gnoll posted:

loremaster Gutier follows this feel-good section with details about how StarCo is also a training cadre for Corregidorian forces and a potential source of deniable assets for Nomad intelligence.

"They're good guys but they have shaaaadeees oooof graaaaaay or a possible darksiiiiideee ooooh!"
:jerkbag:
God lord do I hate that cliché when it's that horribly implemented.

Also Emily looks like a knock off D.Va with that outfit and color scheme for the bodysuit.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Halloween Jack posted:

Why don't some of the characters have models? Isn't selling models the point?

So literally last year was the first time CB outsourced their production. There was no way they were going to be producing any of the components for Aristeia with their setup, which was literally to do everything in house with a couple of dozen folks. Corvus Belli is just now rivaling the local cannery for the number of people it employs.

There are genuinely, in a very practical sense, not enough hands to go around to make all the stuff they want to make, so sometimes you just don't have a model for something for months, years, and so on.

CB is still a company with the mindset and production of a bunch of really motivated nerds working out of a garage. Sometimes this is good, sometimes this is real bad.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Sigmar's Heirs

YELLING INTENSIFIES

Ah, Nordland. I'll always have a soft spot for Nordlanders, because one of my favorite PCs was a Nordlander Outrider. Like much of the Northern Empire, they're foresters and rangers and all that. However, they've got the odd twist of being direct neighbors to the Laurelorn forest and having regular contact with the saner Wood Elves that live inside the Empire. They also have the twist that their tribe didn't join Sigmar originally, because they were conquered by the Norsii and only liberated later; lots of Nordlanders are part Norse. Nordland's Elector has a huge number of inherited titles that should make him (or her, depending on the time) one of the most powerful Imperial nobles. The problem is about half those titles are only nominal, especially the ones that deal with ruling the Laurelorn regions. With the forest denser and half of it more occupied than usual, Nordlanders mostly live along the coast and in fortified lumbering towns. They export a lot of the best wood in the Empire, and the Electors constantly have to deal with their people trying to push east into the edges of Laurelorn to get the best timber.

Now, you might remember wood elves as murderous baby-stealing monsters from the Bret book; while the Laurelorn elves won't get their own name until 4e, they aren't really associated with Ariel and her band of killer ninja hillbillies from the Loren. And the Empire aren't the Brets, and aren't totally dependent on a (probable) Wood Elf trick for their most powerful nobles and their royal succession. The relationship is a lot more complicated; the elves know if the Empire ever really came at them in full it would probably win. The Empire knows the elves mostly spend their time killing beastmen and Chaos marauders and are generally willing to trade and leave each other alone; Nordland is one of the few places in the Empire you can buy Wood Elf goods in the province's larger marketplaces. Nobody would directly benefit from a full on pissing match war and they both know it, so Elector Count Gausser tries to keep things from escalating. Meanwhile, the elves know that if they just start shooting random humans (outside of some really clearly delineated no-go zones agreed on by both sides) they'll trigger a crisis of legitimacy for Salzenmund (the provincial capital) and might leave the Imperials with few choices but a confrontation.

Another interesting aspect of the elf tensions up in Nordland is that Rhya is more important than Taal among their nature worshipers, specifically because it's easier to syncretize Rhya worship and Isha worship. This leads to shared religious ceremonies and commitments to protect some of the same sacred places that help relations and ease tensions. Ulrican worship is also very important in Nordland specifically because the pre-Nordlander tribes didn't join Sigmar, but also because Nordland was conquered and colonized by the Norse again in the 1111 crisis. Nordland has been ruled on and off by Imperials or Norsemen for most of its history, often falling when the Empire as a whole falls apart again, which has led to Nordlanders being an interesting fusion of Norse and Imperial. Trial by Combat is an important part of the local legal appeals process. Coastal settlements build longhouses and older buildings still have Norse runes of protection and luck carved into them (though they've erased any related to the Ruinous Powers). Similarly, Nordlanders picked up the Norse tradition of exaggeration and bragging, which has given them a reputation as great storytellers and novelists. A surprising amount of the growing market for popular fiction in the Empire is filled with Nordlander-style tall tales, historical epics, horror stories, and lowbrow comedies.

They also picked up the Norse habit of shouting. A lot. Nordlander accents are harsh, fast and loud, and local songs are gravely and have a lot of throat singing to them. Nordlander culture prizes honesty and volume as persuasive measures, as long as you aren't working with fiction or telling a story (in which case, exaggerate like mad), and so their merchants are infamous for forgoing double-dealing and lying in favor of shouting their desired price until someone is brow-beaten into taking it. This leads most of the rest of the Empire to think of them as yokels and backwoodsmen, especially their Middenlander neighbors, who deride them as mongrels who can't trace their pure bloodline back to a founding tribe or original king. With Marienburg's secession, Nordland also finds itself trying to house and support the Imperial fleet, which it really isn't well suited to. It's also still regularly raided by the Norse, because it's right there, across the extremely easy to cross Sea of Claws. Seriously, at its shortest point, it's a 70 mile passage from Norsca to Nordland; Raiders can hit them fast and the population is concentrated along the coast as it is.

Our important places for Nordland are a miserable fishing town called Neue Emskrank, which was built when a charlatan managed to convince the Empire it could totally become a huge and powerful fleet anchor that could permit them to outcompete Marienburg. He collected vast consulting fees and the town was built before the Empire realized the harbor it was built on was terrible, and the dumb bastard stuck around a few days too long and ended up arrested rather than escaping with his loot. Now the place is so depressing and miserable for the people who live there that the other Imperials speak of it having a 'look' or a 'taint' to it (thankfully, there are no fishmen that I know of, so we avoid an Innsmouth situation).

Another is Salzenmund itself, which is a very prosperous small city and one of the only places in the Empire where you can openly trade with Wood Elves. The markets there have fine silver-work, the best timber and woodworks in the Empire, and despite the province being considered a backwater its capital produces goods in demand as far away as Araby. Count Gausser hopes to use this prosperous city to expand Nordland's importance to the Empire, helped in this by his friend Erich Granholm, High Priest of Ulric and master of one of the oldest Ulrican Temples in the Empire. You might also remember Nordlander Ulricans as being one of the few sources of female priests and templars for the cult. Gausser wants to make Salzenmund and his province more important to the cult and siphon resources from Middenland, and a game about trying to undermine rear end in a top hat Middenlanders hardly seems like a bad idea.

The village of Schuten is also interesting for acknowledging another part of the cost of the war with Archy: While Nordland wasn't hit by the enemy, Nordland did see plenty of forces pass through. Imperial ones, claiming forage and property on their way and issuing promissary notes that the bankrupt Imperial government (from the costs of raising and organizing a huge army to counter Archy on short notice) can't fulfill. The town should be prospering, but the upkeep of Imperial forces and the way most of the men of fighting age are going to miss this year's harvest threaten to bankrupt the sleepy little settlement. It's otherwise a very standard Imperial town, but I like the acknowledgement that an Early Modern Army moving through your homeland can bring economic ruin even when they're on your side. The Empire is a lot less brutal about raising money and supplies than the actual Early Modern 30 years war armies would've been, but it's still difficult to support thousands of soldiers at a time.

The village of Schlugel is a mystery. Settled awhile ago on the edge of Laurelorn, the elves didn't mind it, the humans traded with them, everything was fine, and then one day five years ago everyone was just gone. No signs of violence, no signs of where they went. Just a few old runes for 'fog' and 'mercy' carved in some of the village's doors. The adventure seed for this has the people of the town come back, not even noticing they were gone, save that their town's priest didn't return with them and now there's an open door in an old stone ring around a local hill. Who knows what the adventurers will find poking around there?

Nordland's a fun place. I'll always remember it fondly as the birthplace of Wilhelm Metzger, Outrider and later Blood Dragon, but it's got enough hooks and flavor to make a nice place to adventure in. The tensions with the elves are a really interesting contrast to the situation in Bretonnia, and would be fun to play with from both the elven and Nordlander side. And who doesn't love tall tales, throat-singing, and shouting matches?

Next Time: Vampire Hunting, Performative Grief, and Horses

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


grassy gnoll posted:



You know what poo poo everyone loves and is a great idea to introduce into your rapidly-growing game, so that new people are exposed to it as part of your cross-media push? That poo poo where there’s a grown woman trapped in a child’s body! :suicide:

Uhahu hails from some hosed-up Nomad experiment and now she looks like a child, forever, even though she’s thirty-something. There’s apparently a whole other group of adult-children out there with brain problems and murderous impulses. I am really unhappy writing these words! She’s a decent hacker, with some launchable repeaters. She’s probably your best hacker option in StarCo, and there’d never be a reason to take her in any other army ever.

What really galls me is that they don’t even pretend to justify this perv crap or work it into the story. Being a hosed-up child soldier has no impact on Uhahu’s character, and neither the sculptor nor the comic artist knows how to render a child, so you just have this short kinda deformed character hanging around for no explicable reason. But they sure as balls want you to know she’s an adult, but she looks like a child! Not lovely at all, CB!

"She may look like a child but she's actually a 3000 30 year old vampire Mobster-Anarchist!"

:suicide:

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012


Volo's Guide to Monsters: Giants: World Shakers Part 4 Cloud Giants and Fire Giants

Previous Entry

Cloud Giants



Cloud giants are said to be well named, or at least were well named in the past. Few of them live on the clouds anymore, but they all live in high places mountain tops inside or above the perpetual cloud layer. The ones at the apex of the ordening control the last of the ancient cloud castles that drift through the sky.

No one can build the cloud castles anymore. The methods for making them was lost when the ancient empire fell. However some cloud giants believe the secrets to creating them again, maybe buried in a long forgotten trove. Some rumors spring up from time to time of the secret being discovered and the glory of the cloud giants returning, but definitive information has never been found. Many cloud giants think that one day, a hero will unearth the secret. But until then they must be content watching the clouds drift by their mountain top homes instead of living on them.

Family First
Most giants live in clan communities of many clan mates. But cloud giants stick in families, a mated pair, their offspring (if any), and perhaps a couple of close relatives. Cloud giant don't like to gather in great numbers in any one place, as they don't like the attention. This is not because they fear attack from humanoids, or monsters, as only a few creatures like dragons can threaten them. But because if they lived in close distance their large amounts of treasure would attract a stream adventurers and other would be thieves to their homes. A nuisance compared to having rats in the larder.

Despite the distance the separates families, they are not isolated. Every family and individual knows where it's nearest neighbors are even if the locations are hundreds of miles away and this network spreads across the whole world. In a crisis word travels from family to family, so that squads of cloud giants can be formed if the need arises.

Cloud giants are also fond of pets for the family. Creatures of the sky like wyverns, griffons, giant eagles and owls are popular. But they don't limit themselves to creatures that can fly. Nearly any creature can be found in a cloud giant pet menagerie, rare creatures are treated more as status symbols then companions though.

Benevolent Overlords
Cloud giants are famous (or infamous) for demanding tribute from humanoids living below them. From their perspective they view it as proper for two reasons. One their presence drives away many evils, particularly flying predators. Two they think they deserve to be reworded for their forbearance. Namely no one could stop them from taking what they want, but instead they allow the tribute to be freely given. "(The logic of that position is clearer to the giants than it is to those on the other end of the arrangement.)"

Most tribute accepted is in the form of crops and livestock, though this is not their only source of food as cloud giants are avid gardeners. Their fortresses all possessing a garden "that produces enormous yields: beans as big as turnips, turnips as big as pumpkins, and pumpkins as big as carriages."

A cloud giant garden almost never suffers from drought, frost or locusts. When stuff like that hits nearby farming areas, cloud giant families are known to share their produce to ease the humanoids food shortage. Which are the roots of tales like magic beans and a human family living in an enormous gourd. Cloud giant generosity like this allows them to cement themselves as friends of humankind. Which serves them well, though it's not entirely deserved.

Ordning of Extravagance
A cloud giants position in the ordening does not depend on skill, or talent, But wealth. The more treasure a cloud giant has, the higher their rank in the ordening. It's almost that simple.

Ownership is one thing, but cloud giants don't see value in treasure locked away. To fully make one's status clear they have to show off their wealth, "the more ostentatious the display, the better." In a cloud giant home extravagance is everywhere. "One might boast windows framed in gold leaf, rare perfume stored in vials of crystal with silver lids, or a scene in the sky depicted in a tapestry composed entirely of pearls."

Another way for them to show off their wealth is to bestow lavish gifts to other families. (From family member to member shows nothing.) No cloud giants believe though that it is better to give than receive. It is only done to elevate their status. Their god Memnor and his trickery play a role in this "game" they play. The best gift they can give, is one that appear more valuable than it actually is. Only the giver and eventually the receiver will ideally know it's true value. And neither would reveal the true value as it would reduce the status of both.

Wealth also has a habit of changing hands between cloud giants as most of them are avid gamblers. However this is not an entertainment thing, it's largely a type of bloodless feud. Cloud Giants are poor losers and other cloud giants would be shocked to hear of one them saying they lost money but had fun. Betting wars between families can go on for generations. Fortunes and estates (And the position in the ordening that goes with them) passing back and forth. Children winning and losing what their parents won and lost, and their children doing the same. Cloud Giant tales of their ancestors, are normally not about stuff like wars and dragons, "they’re about brilliant wagers won through boldness or deceit, and rival families brought to disgrace and ruin by the same."

TWO FACES OF MEMNOR posted:

The chief deity of cloud giants is Memnor, the cleverest of Annam’s offspring. But Memnor isn’t only clever, he’s sly and deceitful. Tales of his exploits emphasize his charisma, his smooth manner, and his ability to manipulate and mislead his siblings and other legendary figures into doing exactly what he wants, usually to their great detriment.

Thus, cloud giants have two distinct aspects of Memnor to admire and emulate. Those of a benign disposition revere him for his charm, intelligence, and persuasiveness, while those of a more malign bent take Memnor’s self-interest to heart and imitate his trickery. Cloud giants that take a particular interest in trickery, known as “smiling ones,” wear two-faced masks as they practice their deceptions and prey on those who are susceptible to their charms. Statistics for cloud giant smiling ones appear in chapter 3 of this book.

Masks of Nobility
Depictions of Memnor show him wearing a two faced mask. Because of this cloud giant nobles normally don't show their faces, instead they wear masks made of precious materials adorned with gemstones. Each noble creates a collection of masks that hides their face, but shows their current mood. Changing masks throughout the day as it's mood shifts.

Masks are prized both for material value and the accuracy in expressing the mood. Only the richest cloud giants can afford the many masks needed to show off all the subtle differences of emotion. Artisans who can create these masks to the cloud giants standards are richly rewarded.

Volo posted:

Every thief has a story about the treasure that was too rich to haul away. You think you’ve seen magnificence? The halls of the pashas in Calimshan, maybe, or some patriar’s estate in Baldur’s Gate? Let me tell you, you’ve seen nothing. Those places are hovels compared to the palaces of the skyejotuns.

Fire Giants



The fire giants were the officers, engineers and crafters of their ancient empire. Their position and skill, along with a domineering outlook, makes them arrogant.

Ordning of Craftwork
Fire Giants are the greatest smiths and architects among giantkind. Their halls deep within volcanoes and mountains both support massive weight and allow them to harness the heat of the magma rivers for their forges

A fire giants skill at crafting determines their rank in the ordening. Though they do put value in combat skill, they view success in battle as largely coming from the quality of weapons and armor, and those who can create the finest gear enjoy the highest status. The artisans, architects, and engineers select the best disciples to pass their knowledge on to, along with their standing. Often pupils are children or siblings of their teachers, but that is not always the case. Leaders are chosen by general recognition from among the best crafters in the clan.

One group of fire giants, known as dreadnoughts, don't owe their place in the ordening to their crafting skill, but their physical power. They are given the job of guarding the forges and keeping them stoked, efforts the crafters need to succeed.

Fire giants don't spend much time creating art. (Though they view all of their creations as a form of art.) Any they do create is normally jewelry. But they do have a unique form of artwork were a fire giant manipulates magma as it cools, forming it into fantastical one-of-a-kind shapes. The most impressive works are collected and displayed throughout a stronghold, similar to topiary gardens.

Volo posted:

If you want forge work fit for a king, you have two options: dwarves and fire giants. If you don’t want to be forced to slave in the mines until you’re tossed in the coals, you have really only one option.

Mighty Fighters, Poor Planners
When not crafting, fire giants are drilling with weapons or exercising to keep themselves fit for battle. Despite most fire giants having fantastic battle skill that few other warriors can match, they possess a very rudimentary understanding of a strategy.

This is not because the ability is beyond them, but because of tradition. In the ancient empire, cloud and storm giants created the strategies. And ever since the giants clans went their separate way, fire giants have never mounted a grand effort to expand their territory. At best they have fought skirmishes to hold onto territory they already control. If an ambitious fire giant ever became a master of strategic planning, (Or enslaved a cooperative general.) It would be very difficult to stop a fire giant tribe that enjoyed this advantage over their neighbors.

Fire giants also train Hellhounds as war dogs. Some recruit wizards, (Free or enslaved) to harness fire elementals to serve as guards. Some allow trolls to roam their perimeter to act as guards, as they require little maintenance, are able to survive on the gaints scraps or dead slaves. And their vulnerability to fire makes them little of a threat.

SURTUR'S CLEANSING FIRE posted:

Surtur, the chief deity of fire giants, is believed to have been born alongside Thrym. Each twin then tried to be the first to cry out, the first to walk, and the first to talk, and they have competed with one another ever since. Often in legends these contests are bloody battles, but some tales have the brothers acting side by side on grand adventures. Surtur is seen as the more clever of the two, and fire giants emulate his unsurpassed skill at creating and building things.

In the fire giants’ world, fire is strength. It burns away impurities and leaves behind only what is strong enough to withstand the heat, such as the best steel from the forge. When fire is controlled, it is the giants’ most powerful tool; when it rages unchecked, it can bring down forests and lay waste to cities.

Because of the destructive power of fire, the worship of Surtur is tinged with an apocalyptic air. Some observers suspect that priests of Surtur maintain clandestine workshops and armories where they manufacture and stockpile battle gear in preparation for a final, all-encompassing battle that will decide the fate of the world. If the suspicions are true, these sites are expertly hidden and kept secret even from most fire giants.

Slaves: Labor-saving Devices
It takes a lot of work it takes to maintain a fire giant stronghold, and fire giants prefer to pass off the roles that don't involve skill to slaves. This allows the giants to focus on crafting and foundry work they value. Fire Giants are not particularly cruel masters, but neither are they kind. They are simply uncaring about the slaves as they are not giants, and they can always be replaced if the supply runs low.

Most slaves are put to work in the fire giants mines. Even master crafters of other races are put to this fate as they are not considered skilled by the fire giants standards. Slaves that have skills the giants need but don't practice (Due to not being valued by the ordening.) like accounting, brewing, and medicine, are allowed to continue plying their trades.

Skilled slaves get better treatment, in the sense an owner uses less force with a more delicate tool. But a fire giant views humans the way most humans view horses: "they have utility if properly directed, and some might be prized for rare qualities, but even the smartest, best trained horse isn’t a person." Still it's not unheard of for a fire giant to "consult" with a slave physician if they fall ill, or with a slave engineer before starting a tunnel excavation. (Though in the later case it would be to make sure the right tools and materials are in place, not to get a second opinion.)

Giants low in the ordening serve as the management for the slaves. And while excavating tunnels and digging ore is important work, smelting and metalwork are valued more highly than making sure a tunnel does not collapse on slaves.

Paying the Price
Fire Giants have on many occasions ransomed back slaves, once they determined the slave does not have any talents they need and that others were willing to pay for it's return. Merchants and aristocrats are the most likely to get this reprieve for obvious reasons. The ransom does not typically involve baubles like gold or gems. But rather materials like mithral and adamantine or different slaves. (Ones with more useful talents or stronger backs.)

Next time Frost and Hill Giants

MonsterEnvy fucked around with this message at 19:03 on Nov 16, 2018

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


More Aberrant, more Powers.

Density Control: Level 2, Quantum 3. We can choose to be able to increase or decrease our density. Increased is pretty straightforward, we pay our Quantum cost and roll Quantum (adding our Density Control as automatic successes). Each success doubles our weight, gives us an extra Strength (rolling over into Mega-Strength), and gives us an extra Bashing and Lethal soak. We don’t get any increased jumping ability out of this Strength increase, but it’s otherwise normal. Decreasing density doesn’t take a roll, but has variable effects as we get more dots. At one dot, we can slowly ooze through cracks in things and get +1 die to dodge. At two, we take and deal half damage with physical attacks, can go through cracks more quickly, and get +2 dice to dodge. At three we’re totally intangible and physical attacks can’t hurt us, though energy still will. We can pass through physical objects, but do still need to breathe unless we pair this with something else so we can’t just peace out in an object forever. We also get +3 dice to dodge. At four dots, we get all that and half damage from energy as well. Once we’re at five dots, only mental (or likely ANY Psionic) attack can hit us and we’re able to turn partially solid as an action to attack fuckers. Extras include being able to do both Increase and Decrease and being able to affect others. This is a pretty great power overall, it’s either an amazing defense or a solid cheap way to improve our offense on demand.

Disintegration: Level 3, Quantum 5. Simple and brutal. Pay your quantum, roll Dexterity + Disintegration, target takes Aggravated damage equal to your Quantum + the successes you rolled. If they don’t have a way to soak Aggravated this is going to go really bad for them really fast, since again that’s a guaranteed six Aggravated hit. This power absolutely does not gently caress around and if you can take it you’ve got an unimpeachable offense.

Disorient: Level 2, Quantum 1. You can gently caress with someone’s actions. Roll Manipulation + Disorient, opposed by Willpower. Each success net reduces their dice pools by one, and they absolutely can’t use any action whose dice pool has been reduced to half or less without spending a Willpower for the duration (which is Maintenance). Spending a Willpower will shake off the effect entirely but you’re not penalized for immediately reapplying. Maintaining the power will cause it to slowly weaken each time you pay for it again, though, so you might want to just hit them anew each time if it’s going to run out. This is a super cool option for social characters, dice pools are often going to be small enough that you can really mess someone up.

Disrupt: Level 2, Quantum 3. This lets you gently caress with someone else’s control over their quantum powers. Choose a power the target possesses (not a Mega-Attribute) and roll Intelligence + Disrupt. The target resists with Quantum + Node. If you net any successes, the target’s power is temporarily reduced by as many dots as you net successes. You can affect two powers at once with an Extra.

Domination: Level 2, Quantum 3. This allows you to try and control a target. Spend your Quantum, roll Manipulation + Domination against their Willpower. The more net successes you get, the more complete your control over the target is. The target is then allowed to roll Willpower, and if they succeed they can spend one point of Willpower to knock your successes down by one and potentially change what they’re doing. Four successes lets you make someone kill themselves so, yeah. You need an Extra to do this without the target being able to understand you. Another Extra lets you temporarily possess targets, but keep in mind that you’ll die if they do while you’re in their body. This is good (save or die always is) but it’s not easy to land.

Elemental Anima: Level 3, Quantum 4. This is another power with multiple techniques, and it’s all about controlling (but not creating) elements. Remember you get one technique for each dot you’ve got in the overall power. These don’t have to be ‘real’ elements, remember the powers don’t need to be things that should work in reality. They do need to make some level of internal sense, though, so you shouldn’t pick techniques that don’t feel consistent with the element.

Alter Temperature: You can spend Quantum to alter the temperature around you by 10 C for each dot you have in the power. No roll is required. Straightforward but not exactly amazing unless you’ve got a lot of rating in this and have some creativity.

Blast: A ranged bashing attack using the element. Inflicts [Quantum x 2] levels + (power rating x 3) dice of bashing damage, so at least 8 + 3. This is pretty comparable to a Quantum Blast that’s doing bashing, a solid one.

Elemental Shield: This lets you shield yourself and those near you from the element in question. Roll Wits + Elemental Anima, each success counts as four soak that apply to that element only. This is either great or really feeble, depends on the element.

Enhance/Diminish: You can increase or decrease the effect of the element in an area. You roll Intelligence + Elemental Anima, and successes increase or decrease some aspect of that element in the area. You can also use this to counter enemy novas controlling the same element, which is a resisted Quantum + power rating roll.

Lethal Blast: This is the lethal version of Blast, as the name suggests. You do [Quantum x 2] + (power rating x 2), so a minimum of 8 + 2 lethal. The scaling is slightly weaker, but this is still really powerful.

Movement: You can use the element you control to move quickly. You’ve seen this sort of thing done in all sorts of superhero stuff, it’s good fun.

Shaping: You can alter the shape of a quantity of your element. It’s possible to do things like make a pit under someone, which requires you to make an attack roll with Wits + Elemental Anima. Another cool one for creative cats.

Wall: A special case of Shaping really, you create a wall of the element in front of you that gives you two soak per Elemental Anima dot to attacks that have to pass through it, unless they would not reasonably be hindered by it. A solid defense, actually, 10 soak potentially isn’t something to say no to.

Elemental Mastery: Level 3, Quantum 5. This is similar to but distinct from Elemental Anima. This power also has techniques, but instead of simply controlling the element you create it entirely. It’s mostly got its own techniques, though, because again this is creation not necessarily fine control.

Blast: Identical to the Blast technique in Anima, and just as good.

Crush: Create a quantity of element that lifts a target up and slams them down. Roll Intelligence + power rating, each success allows you to move the target by as much as 10 meters, deals two levels of bashing damage, and reduces their Initiative on the next turn by one. A not entirely terrible offensive power, though inferior to Blast in damage by a large margin.

Imprison: Confine the target within the element. This is a clinch with Might equal to twice the successes on a Wits + Elemental Mastery roll. You can spend an extra quantum point when using this to make the clinch do damage as normal. A good save or die to disable a weak character.

Lethal Blast: Identical to the Lethal Blast in Anima.

Propel: This lets you propel yourself with a jet of your element. What sort of movement this is depends on the element in question. I will say that they underestimate how well water would work on land, it just wouldn’t let you fly.

Shield: Creates a Force Field like barrier around you. Straight up two soak per dot with no positional issues (unlike Wall) and for an extra quantum it’ll do your power rating as a bashing effect to anyone who touches it. Very solid defensive power, take the hell out of this.

Sphere: An AoE version of Blast, this hits a large area for (rating x 3) dice bashing. I’d suggest taking this and Lethal Blast as an offensive set, you certainly don’t need this AND Blast.

Storm: Creates a storm of your element. Inflicts two levels of bashing damage per turn per dot in the power, reduces opponent dice pools by two, and halves movement. Other effects are possible at the Storyteller’s discretion. This is a Concentration power, so you won’t be able to do much while you’re doing it. It’s also kinda indiscriminate, so be careful.

Empathic Manipulation: Level 2, Quantum 2. Allows you to manipulate the emotions of others. Detecting them requires Perception + Empathic Manipulation, then changing them requires Manipulation + Empathic Manipulation. They’re allowed Willpower rolls to resist both. This is one that requires some subtlety and work to get good use out of.

Entropy Control: Level 3, Quantum 4. This is another power with Techniques. If you know anything at all about Entropy, just throw that poo poo out the window because this power lets you do poo poo that connects with the bullshit popular view of it.

Bioentropy Storm: Create a field where the biology of living creatures goes all to hell. You summon spontaneous injuries and other weird crap. Roll Dexterity + Entropy Control opposed by the Stamina of targets, each net success inflicts one health level lethal that can only be soaked if you have the Hardbody Enhancement. This can be a real nasty thing, since it’s AoE and is nearly unsoakable.

Breakdown: Make a machine fail. Roll Intelligence + Entropy Control, opposed by a “stamina” set by the Storyteller (which goes down as the device gets more complicated). The machine fails if you succeed, simple as that.

Entropic Shield: You’re able to create a shield that dissipates the force of incoming attacks. Roll Stamina + Entropy Control, add your successes to your soak against anything that’s not made out of living matter.

Probability Corruption: You can make some poor fucker have really bad luck. Roll Entropy Control and JUST Entropy Control. Each success results in a loss of one die or automatic success by all rolls made by the target as long as you maintain this. The target will suffer a botch while this is active if they don’t get any successes and roll a 1 or 2 on any die, which is nasty.

ESP: Level 2, Quantum 3. This lets you sense at a range. Roll Perception + ESP, how well you perceive the target point depends on the number of successes you get. AN Extra lets you greatly increase the range, but makes it take longer to focus. Good for information gathering.

Flight: Level 2, Quantum 1. You can fly. You’ve got to Maintain this, though, make sure you don’t run out of Quantum in mid-air. An Extra lets you Fly while underwater as well.

Force Field: This generates a field of force around you that protects you from damage. Gain soak equal to your Quantum, plus twice the number of successes on a Stamina + Force Field roll. You don’t need to succeed that roll to get the Force Field at all, though, remember. You’re allowed to use the Force Field to parry attacks. With an Extra you can create walls of force as well. A really great defense for the most part, and one of the few ones that can legit stand up to some of the crazier damage numbers you could see.

A lot of powers in D-F, going to hold off here and move on to G+ next time.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Man, I remember somebody taking Disintegration innocently enough and finding out how uber it was in the first fight. It's just super gross. We moved on to another supers game soon after.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Probability control will always be my favourite super power. Besides flight.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!



Chapter Eight: The Southern Fringe


The Southlands’ southernmost tip is literally and figuratively the final frontier. With the exception of Sudvall, its environs are hostile to outsiders and its civilizations just as dangerous. From the conquering lizardfolk of Veles-Sa to the xorn slavers of Zanskar, most of its population are nonhumans or ruled by nonhumans. The Zobanu Jungle dominates much of the Fringe, with the mountainous island of Zanskar off the southeastern coast. Ramagani’s central portal nexus harbor is directly south of the Fringe as well.

Former Satrap of Sudvall

Sudvall is a melting pot culture of lost refugees from Roshgazi, knights from the northern Magdar Kingdoms who got lost on a shadow road, and the indigenous kijani. Its architectural style bears more in common with the northern kingdoms (think Central/Eastern Europe) than anywhere else in the Southlands along with cultural touchstones such as jousting tournaments. The kijani-influenced reverence for nature is the primary form of religion which keeps in check the brutality and violence inherent in a feudal system. On the surface, Sudvall appears as a harmonious multicultural realm where valiant knights and courtly etiquette really do live up to the ideals told in storybooks. But visitors who wrong a Sudvallan soon learn their crimes bring a disproportionately violent response upon them.

Sudvall’s government is ruled by a high marshal drawn from a list of candidates by popular vote every 10 years. The top 16 most-voted for people then compete in the Grand Tourney, a jousting competition of single-elimination matches where the winner becomes the ruler of the nation. An additional clause in the line of selection mandates a minotaur ruler, then a human, then a kijani to ensure that no race gains a disproportionate amount of power. Races not represented in the current marshaldom elect speakers who act as the marshal’s advisors. The current High Marshal is the minotaur Sir Rusa Miklos, whose term is going to end in 1 year.

We also cover the Kijani of Sudvall, who more or less repeat the information from Chapter One. Afterwards we cover the iconic locations: the capital Susa, the Jewel of the Southern Moon where buildings are made of green marble and cultivated trees and shrubs line its streets; Pentecor, a manufacturing hub; Nyse the Opened Eye, home to the nation’s most renowned mage college and Tinkers Guild; Mistorak, a jungle city which serves as border protection from Veles-Sa’s aggressions; Anion, its fertile farmland the breadbasket of the nation and where kijani-bound symbiotes are more common. This is due to the belief the race act as good luck charms for harvesting. Finally we have Cusash, an epicurean city of artisans and alchemists whose lives are lived to the fullest with grand feats and sweet wine.

Savage Land of the Trollkin Septs

Much like the tosculi section of the Abandoned Lands, the overview of trollkin lands applies to just about any of their territory throughout the Southlands. The people known as the trollkin are a diverse lot who can trace their lineage back to various trolls, fey, and other monsters. In the times of Glorious Umbuso the titans sent some demi-humans to live among the fey as ambassadors and their descendants had high status. But after the empire’s fall they descended into chaos and joined and bred with what other races who could shelter them.

The trollkin lands of the Southlands lair on the fringes of settled territory, bound together by related clans. Their leaders are known as kurta; according to ancient traditions a new kurta ascends to power by defeating the old. Most tribes have a warrior culture. In some cases this is expressed in a positive manner, standing watch over ruined cities of their ancestors, but others are little better than raiders. They overall are not fond of history beyond knowledge of kurta bloodlines, glorious victories, and crushing defeats yet to be avenged.

They extend a similar attitude towards religion; gods are not worshiped unless said deity can aid their talents in warfare, which gravitates those who are religious to gods such as the Hunter, Selket, the White Goddess, or Xevioso. Demon cults also took advantage of this brutal practicality, most notably the Whispers who subtly encourage trollkin to explore dangerous fey ruins brimming with cataclysmic magic, or the Bloodbirds which revere death as a means to an end. The Bloodbirds have a poor reputation for they encourage any excuse to kill, even if it means putting their own tribe at unnecessary risk.

Around 40 to 50 trollkin tribes control the largest of the septs, but the book gives us three of the most influential ones as inspirational material. The Burning Arms are ruled by Kurta Vanu who claims he can trace his ancestry to the jinnborn, and their tribe produces many elaborate myths of dubious reliability about his battle prowess and wish-granting capabilities. Vasha’s Face* worships a goddess of the same name and paint their bodies with white dye to better show the spilled blood of their foes. Finally, the Rockeaters are mostly eloko-kin who guard a fey ruin in the southeastern reaches of the Southern Fringe. They treat the ruins as though it were a god, calling it the Sleeping Hunger and provide it with prayer and animal sacrifices (and sometimes more intelligent races) whose offerings are always gone by morning with nothing left save for a splash of blood.

*whose entry refers to not one but two other Kobold Press books, Midgard Campaign Setting and Deep Magic, for what mask Vasha is for the former (V’ashra the Tormentor, an archdevil Nurian cult), and the unique discipline of blood magic for the latter.

Veles-Sa, Land of Terrible Lizards


Deep within the heart of the Zobanu Jungle is an isolated civilization of lizardfolk. Known to outsiders as the Valley of Lizards for the nation as well as the ferocious dinosaurs thriving in the dark jungles, its major feature is an enormous egg covered in flecks of shimmering gold and green. The lizardfolk built their capital around this egg, which they claim was laid by Veles the World-Serpent and is responsible for the rise of their civilization. With an uncanny ability to tame the largest dinosaurs for labor and war, they quickly erected many cities and temples across the rainforest with advanced engineering. This further strengthens their own elitism, where they believe that they alone, and not even the dragons of the Mharoti Empire when they hear of them, are the true descendants of the World-Serpent.

Veles-Sa’s government is a theocracy ruled by Sortaal, the Vessel of Veles, who issues her patron deity’s edicts to a circle of ruler-priests who in turn rule the various castes. Said castes determine a lizardfolk’s lot in life as well as that of their children and children’s children. The engineers design plans for the temples and cities, builders erect them, stonemasons quarry, and the hunters and gatherers exploit the jungle’s food supplies. Lizardfolk’s occupations can be quite specific, with titles such as “Counter of Food for Builders” or “Watcher of the Skies for Terror Birds.” Tantanul, Keeper of Fang and Claw, is the ruler-priest who commands the warriors and scouts. Kesh Kem, the Builder of Veles’ Glory, oversees the many construction projects.

Beyond the castes are foreigners and slaves. The latter is derived from the former, who are small in number yet becoming a growing source of labor grown from intruders and prisoners of war. The Vessel of Veles issued a recent edict allowing for small bands of traders from Morreg and Sudvall to come to Veles-Sa’s border for commerce, although such trade is tiny at the moment.

Most of Veles-Sa is untouched jungle, and the closest thing to roads are the many rivers manned by dire spinosauruses the lizardfolk use as living boats and warships. There are older jungle ruins of forgotten civilizations, believed to be of Glorious Umbuso or Ankeshel origin, but as the lizardfolk tear them down to get quarry for their own buildings reliable information is hard to come by.

The capital city Azmull-Kre is Veles-Sa’s holiest and largest settlement, split by a deep crevice that holds the Egg of Veles which in turn is protected by a dome of marble. The city is still in a process of construction, and most of the buildings are more utilitarian such as granaries, gigantic dinosaur stables, hatcheries for new young, and step-pyramids of administrative buildings, armies, and warehouses. The Egg itself is impossibly large, its 150 foot tall tip barely breaching the surface and whose untouched interiors remain impervious to scrying. Veles-Sa’s clerics receive dreams and omens from it, and sometimes it visits destruction and insanity on those who displease it. There is a bitter debate among the clergy over the Egg’s contents: some claim it holds a titanic dragon infant, others claim it has pure destructive energy which will destroy the world and start it anew, or a host of master-race lizardfolk representing the pinnacle of evolution.

Divine Spark: Many religious lizardfolk hint that the Egg of Veles contains a spark of the World-Serpent himself, or one of the masks he wore long ago. That mask supposedly shed its skin when the titans of Glorious Umbuso went mad, and the spark embedded itself into the egg before revealing itself to its lizardfolk progeny. They believe that when the Egg hatches it will be a time of glorious conquest for their people. Naturally, any who wish to claim the divine spark in the Egg itself are faced with the unenviable task of penetrating its shell while fighting off the lizardfolk hordes protecting it.

Our section ends with two other settlements of Veles-Sa: KzTall (Ten Spires), a settlement built around a circle of metal poles which remain untouched by rust. They go impossibly deep into the earth, which may hint at them being titan artifacts. Strange supernatural activity occurs around the spires during a full moon, and animals go wild if they come too close to them. The other settlement is Splitwater, sitting at a junction of the Meztat and Qualket Rivers meeting at a massive granite shelf to make a titanic waterfall. A strong ley line pulses through the area, which the lizardfolk exploit to channel into the creation of more towers and pyramids. Sail-backed dinosaurs with howdahs are used to make deeper expeditions into the jungle.

Golden Sultanate of Zanskar

Located on a large island of its own off the Southlands’ southeastern coast, the Golden Sultanate of Zanskar’s massive mineral deposits grant it an edge in the vast trading hub of the Tethys Ocean. And yet it is an insular place, surrounded by forests with mountains dominating the center. Its ruling elite are xorn, beings of elemental earth with a sweet tooth for precious stones. Serving them are azer, dwarves of elemental fire who act as middlemen and emissaries to outsiders and as warlords and slave overseers for internal affairs. The majority of Zanskar’s population are humanoid slaves, tasked with mining the vast mineral veins beneath the island whose lives are hard and short. The government is lead by a Golden Sultan whose position is drawn from one of the 200 most powerful xorn known as the Granite Conclave. Said members are further divided into familial houses split between the four major settlements, and the azer have their own clans pledged to the nation of Zanskar as a whole and to the Golden Sultan.

Zanskaran culture places an almost-religious level of importance on politeness, and public displays of insolence are crimes on par with kidnapping or theft. As a result, most citizens rarely refuse requests, instead pledging good intentions and attempts if they do not wish to follow through on it. The xorn love tales of bravery and heroism, and merchants can often offer new and interesting stories as a trade good.

Zanskar’s major cities include the capital of Usunhi Ubakna, its high dome lit with burning gas vents illuminating veins of brilliant quartz crystals known as the Sash of Stars; Chibuuneh, a holiday retreat looking out over a placid bay home to many seasonal villas of the xorn; Khilwah, the main commercial port home to neighborhoods of foreigners whose merchants wage cloak and dagger subterfuge against each other; Sufallah, the primary surface mining town which builds the pumice dhows the azer use to sail the Spice Coast. Said dhows are alchemically treated for Zanskara to deliver its gold and gems to the settlements of the Corsair Coast in exchange for manufactured goods, foods, and slaves to feed the labor force of their mines.

We even have a “ship template” for pumice vessels. They require the crafter to have the stoneshape spell and cost 1.75 times as much as the base vessel, but they gain great benefits. One, the ship doubles its total hit points, resists the first 20 fire damage from any source, and gains 10 hardness and +3 natural armor.

Our final entry in Zanskar reveals the secret to its wealth: the Hidden Vault. A strange stone repository of the same name sits underneath the mines, which to this day has not been penetrated. Enslaved miners are capable of building a honeycomb of tunnels around it to peel off its gold foundations, which still result in a king’s ransom worth of profit. There are rumors that Mammon holds the Vault as a sacred space, and more than a few of his devils have been seen in the mines’ dark corners offering tempting deals to those who stumble upon them. Beyond the mines are many enormous galleries of unknown origin, containing empty ruins of cities and secret passages to the surface.

The Bottled City


Our final major location in this chapter is perhaps the most unique, in that due to its nature can appear just about anywhere. It is a literal city in a bottle, where entry is gained by touching the stopper and saying their name and heart’s desire and thus shrunken down, and whose exit involves whispering one’s greatest sorrow and then enlarged to normal size. The Bottled City appears much like a mundane object on the outside, and it is due to this illusion that it became a perfect hiding spot for a community of assassins, thieves, and other assorted scum and villainy.

The Bottled City’s origin began 200 years ago, with an eccentric wizard of Sudvall inspired by genie containment magic. He came up with the idea of a truly private retreat he and his dear friend the high marshal could visit whenever one wished. The high marshal gave his enthusiastic consent, eager at the concept of an entire city devoted to his pleasure. Once the artificial settlement was completed, the wizard and marshal visited it regularly and its secret was miraculously kept. But when the high marshal’s successor was appointed, he made a show of destroying all the contents of his predecessor to prove to the public that he’d be a more serious ruler. The bottle was dumped into the ocean, seemingly lost until it washed up on a remote shoreline. Its inhabitants decided to become criminals, both as a means of vengeance against the government which abandoned them and as the perfect hiding spot for those of their ilk to retreat. Ever since the Bottled City appears in all manner of obscure places, waiting to be found by some clueless forager to bring back to a settlement or inadvertently enter it.

The Bottled City is crime-ridden but hardly a slum. Its government is ruled by a Marquin, one of the descendants of Halina, the high marshal’s favorite concubine and city’s head of staff during its heyday. Any heir can claim the title if they are resourceful enough to hold onto power, but the only restriction is that the city tolerates no murderous kin-slaying of said family even among each other. The bottle’s interior is surrounded by translucent porcelain walls capable of drawing in sunlight, and a long coiling staircase leads to the upper streets of the city and eventually the stopper. The streets themselves are concentric terraces which descend to a gently curved floor, and many buildings are remnants of its former status as a pleasure palace: foundations of banquet halls, gardens, fantasy suites, and the mundane laundries, kitchens, and other support buildings for sustaining them. Many buildings are connected by interior hallways, walkways, narrow service passages, and other entryways which result in a complicated maze. Residents go not by street so much as houses and landmarks, and visitors are at the mercy of guides who are hopefully trustworthy.

The Palace of the Marquis holds the city’s ruler, surrounded by a glittering moat with lily pads which can be harvested into poisons, salves, and potions. The Marquis meets with the heads of houses and crime syndicates for day-to-day matters of import but otherwise lets the populace govern themselves in exchange for a tax/rent/protection money. Feuds are dealt with by calling the personal guard, or Night Watch, or putting an assassination contract on the troublemaker.

The Zehir Tekke, or House of Poisoned Men, is the training lodge for the most feared assassin’s guild in the city. The members are literally poisonous, fed small doses of all types of venoms from infancy to the point that their very bodies become deadly to others. They only leave their lodge fully wreathed in heavy waxed cloths to contain their noxious vapors, lead by a gong or drum-banging beater to warn citizens that a Poisoned Man is coming.

The Street of Beasts is a network of alleys containing shops for all manner of creatures, many specially trained in unusual tasks. Monkeys who can pick locks, poisonous vipers, insects with non-lethal and painful stings, and pigeons carrying secret messages are some of the more popular merchandise. The Next-Day Market is where one goes to find stolen goods and is home to the most visitors of the city. Many fences even make a living recovering stolen items, but always with profit in mind. The Tool District contains workshops dedicated to all the necessary items for illegal activities, ranging from simple thieves’ tools and smoke powders to more specialized gear such as magically-warded locks and sleeping dust.

The Blood Factor’s Hall are the mob doctors of the Bottled City. Healers staffed and hired by the Marquis himself as a public service, they ease the pains of citizens whose jobs turned south. Even the dead can be raised here for a price and if the corpse can be carried to their facilities.

Perilous Sites of the Southern Fringe

This section contains five locations, two environmental hazards, and three adventure seeds. Our five locations include the Skyshard, a huge blue crystal spire housing an unknown powerful outsider telepathically promising riches to those who free it; the Citadel of the Dragon Hermit, home to the bronze dragon Sirannonoth who harbors a secret about the Mharoti Empire’s founder which is so valuable that he went into hiding to escape their wrath. He lives as a lonely shapeshifted traveler, visiting villages in Sudvall and Terrotu. Next we have Stoneship Landing, a titan-sized and forged ruined vessel hone to a tribe of medusae; the Trollkin Sept of the Filthborn who are reviled by other trollkin but whose Kurta is desperate to find outside aid; and finally the Zobanu Jungle, home to towering kapok trees and all manner of dangerous creatures of the rainforest.

Our two new hazards are a tree and a disease. Chirurgeon’s trees release a pollen when injured creatures approach within 30 feet. On a failed DC 20 Fortitude save they are mentally compelled to climb into the branches and sleep so that predators can scavenge them for easy meals. The new disease we have is the Ravening, which instills a maddening anger and hunger in those who are infected. Minotaurs of ancient eras purposefully gave it to soldiers to strengthen them, but this lead to disaster. Mechanics-wise the DC saving throw is equal to 10 + the exposed creature’s Hit Dice* and can be resisted with either fortitude or will. It causes 2d6 intelligence damage and is transmitted via inflected fluids and clothing. Those who suffer from it fly into a monstrous rage where they see every other being as a foe, and yearns for hearts to devour to gain power. For every number of hearts they eat equal to their own Hit Dice, they gain one Hit Die (does not specify if it’s of the class or creature type in the case of those with class levels).

*Yes, we have a disease which is more likely to infect someone the higher level they are.

Our three adventure seeds include a mysterious entity stealing kijani pods to bond to dangerous monsters in the Zobanu Jungle; a centaur who claims to know a way to breach the Egg of Veles to gain the treasure within; and the the opportunity to penetrate Zanskar’s Hidden Vault to uncover its mystery.

Character Options of the Southern Fringe


This section is brief. So brief in fact that we have no class archetypes or magical options and only a single race and feat! But what we do have is some new equipment and two monsters.

Race-wise we cover the lizardfolk, the people of Veles-Sa. Mechanics-wise they vary slightly from the standard Pathfinder lizardfolk race so instead I’ll describe what’s different. For one, they have +2 Strength and Constitution but -2 Intelligence, which is odd on account of having marvellous magical architects. Their swim speed is 15 feet rather than 30, can hold their breath for a number of rounds equal to four times their Constitution score before they risk drowning, and gain a +2 racial bonus to Acrobatics skill checks to account for their lithe natures. They also start play speaking only Draconic, with bonus languages being Aquan, Southern Trade Tongue, Giant, and Orc.

Overall they’re much like PF lizardfolk in that they’re geared towards melee rolls. The -2 Intelligence and not having the setting’s “Common tongue” as a starting language hurts unless everyone in the party can speak Draconic.

The only feat of note is Kijani Symbiote, where you bond with an immature kijani seedling. The seedling is a living creature all of its own and shares the host’s HP, AC, saving throws, and is considered to the host’s creature type for spell-specific effects. It is a one-inch-thick green vine topped by a leaf, and if destroyed (and you temporarily lose the feat’s benefits) a new one will grow from the tendrils inside the host within 30 days.

So what benefits do we gain from this symbiosis? Well we have an entire table for this outlined below dependant upon one’s race. They range from minor utilities (casting cantrips or minor spell like-abilities) to defensive properties such as a 10% chance to negate critical hits or rerolled a failed saving throw of a certain type:



Honestly most of these selections are quite underwhelming for a feat slot: the gearforged one is nigh-useless, and the human/elfmarked is perhaps the most useful.

Our new equipment centers around the cavalry of Sudvall, which employs ostriches and axe beaks in addition to horses as steeds. We get prices for said creatures (400 gp for war ostriches, 1,500 for axe beaks) as well as equipment specifically for these animals. A beak blade grants +1 AC to an axe beak, +1 to damage, and +1 bleed damage on a critical hit for the low price of 6 gp. Blinders for 7 GP help guide all manners of mounts, imposing -2 to their Perception but +2 to the rider’s Ride checks, while talon razors grant +1 damage on an ostrich’s feet and +2 bleed damage on a critical hit for 15 gp.

In addition to mount-specific weapons we get three lance-heads, alchemical charges attached to lances which can be triggered on a hit. Dragonfire lance-heads deal 1d6 fire damage on all attacks and light enemies on fire for 2 rounds on a critical hit. Entangler lance-heads spray sticky goo, entangling a target on a successful hit and can force a mounted target to fall from a saddle on a failed Ride check (DC = 15 + damage dealt). Finally the greased lance-head sprays slippery goo, doing the same thing as an entangler but disarming rather than entangling.

We have two new monsters, which technically are in their own final section but is so brief I’m including them here. The first is the war ostrich, a CR 2 animal. In comparison to a warhorse it is slightly weaker (17 instead of 19 hit points, 13 instead of 15 AC, slightly worse saves) but has a more damaging claw attack (+7 to-hit, 1d8+7 damage), is faster (60 feet vs 50 feet), and has a +11 to Acrobatics (+16 total) when leaping.

Our other monster is the zimwi, a distant cousin of northern trolls who are a plague upon the Southlands. Cursed with eternal hunger, they are known to attack entire caravans and patrols without regard to their odds of victory. Their extradimensional stomachs are larger than their entire bodies, capable of holding multiple creatures within akin to a bag of holding. Statwise they are CR 4 Medium-size humanoids (giant subtype) and are perhaps closest mechanically to weak trolls. They have one bite and 2 claw attacks along with the rend special ability to deal more damage if both claws hit. Finally they can make a grapple check on targets they hit, and may swallow grappled opponents up to Medium size akin to swallow whole.

Thoughts So Far: The Southern Fringe feels appropriately remote and alien from the rest of the Southlands. Even Sudvall stands apart whose society is based around the ideals of pseudo-European knights. The Bottled City is perhaps my favorite realm of this chapter, in part because it can plausibly show up anywhere and makes for a nice “evil city of intrigue” for parties to visit for all manner of reasons. The bronze dragon exile can make for a fun destination for a campaign’s epic journey spanning the Southlands, of adventurers seeking an ace in the hole against the Mharoti Empire’s depredations.

Join us next time for our final chapter, where we cover the Gods of the Southlands in great detail!

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 05:52 on Nov 17, 2018

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009



grassy gnoll posted:



The Anaconda looks cool, but isn’t very good. I’d take most heavy infantry over it in a fight, and they’re probably cheaper than this thing, too. On the plus side, Druze get an upgraded version with an HMG, instead of the previous version with an LMG. Anacondas are mercenary units, and the only reason anyone ever took them is because you could do so if you played Space France in Ariadna.

grassy gnoll is really good at understatement, because the Anaconda is awful. The Anaconda has ARM 6, BTS 6, TAG vulnerabilities (crap dodge and possession vulnerability), 4-4 move, no tools to inflict negative modifiers on incoming fire besides suppressive fire, only 2 Wounds, and a mediocre BS of 13.

You pay 64 points for this. Meanwhile, 64 points is within the price range of extremely elite heavy infantry, which are generally as tough and better at outfighting it. The HMG Hac Tao is 68 points, and is almost as tough (losing only a point of ARM), much better at dodging (PH 14 instead of 16, but it doesn't take -6 from being a TAG), and has Thermoptic Camouflage, which is a straight-up -6 to most people's BS if they shoot at it and also means you can deploy entirely hidden and safe until you choose to make a move, and you have a marker state that prevents units from firing on you. To add insult to injury, the Hac Tao is also smaller and fits into spaces more easily and also has a better BS than the Anaconda.

The Sogarat has equal BS and ARM, and has BTS 3 instead of 6 (so they're more vulnerable to hacking and certain weapons), but also costs nearly 10 points less and gets an Armor-Piercing HMG which means that in a gunfight the Sogarat is probably going to dumpster the gently caress out of the Anaconda pretty easily.

Hell, the ORC troops, which are the generic HI that people basically never take because they're so generic, vanilla, and uninspiring, might have ARM 4 instead of 6 and BTS 3 instead of 6, but move just as fast, can't be possessed, are better shots, and their HMG platform costs 20 fewer points.

Anacondas are incredibly sad and I have no idea where their points actually go. It really seems that their costs are typoed and they should be ~10 points cheaper.

quote:

The Free Company of the Star, commonly StarCo, is a semi-deniable, wholly-owned subsidiary of Corregidor. If Druze are the shady mercenaries, these are the rag-tag white-hat mercs. They primarily draw their units from Corregidor, with some Ariadna and Haqq thrown in for flavor. They’re also loaded with special characters - only Steel Phalanx has more unique units.

StarCo is currently headed by Captain Yolanda Cardoso, transplanted over from Corregidor. During her tenure, the number of StarCo contracts signed with NGOs and charitable organizations skyrocketed. Captain Cardoso is spare with her soldiers and utterly cutthroat against her competitors. The degree to which her childhood in a Corregidor barrio has influenced her management style is a matter of some debate among the troops.

StarCo includes four non-negotiable clauses in its contracts.
    StarCo will abide by the international human rights convention of the Space UN. Any order from a client that violates the convention will result in an automatic voiding of the contract.

    StarCo will operate with strict transparency, and any appropriate auditing authority may request information from corporate HQ freely.

    StarCo will conduct extensive background investigations of all personnel to verify they haven’t committed war crimes, and will provide the details of those investigations if asked.

    StarCo will aid in the investigation of any human rights violations committed under the aegis of one of their contracts with a maximum of transparency.

To whit, StarCo openly courts legitimate operations and peacekeeping functions, and will push your poo poo in if you ask them to do otherwise. Of course, this being Infinity, loremaster Gutier follows this feel-good section with details about how StarCo is also a training cadre for Corregidorian forces and a potential source of deniable assets for Nomad intelligence.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Yeah that seems a lot like the whole "Gutier can't make up his mind on anything" bit that you mentioned. There's clearly some deliberate gray areas in PanO and Yu Jing and whatnot but Uprising and the NA2 seem to be particularly bad about inadvertent inconsistency in the tone.

And like, I actually kind of like StarCo as white hat mercs with a sense of social justice even though the first clause is kind of... iffy? If you check the fluff of what's banned in the Concilium Convention and is considered a war crime, half the weapons list is. Basically the only ammo types that aren't Concilium-banned are Normal, AP, Stun, Adhesive (and Plasma/K1, but that's probably because they're too rare to be banned yet), and most template weapons are banned.

The cutest thing in the Mobile Brigada fluff IMO is that sometimes they just show up to murder strikebreakers and force contract renegotiations with corporations that oppress their workers and I kind of like the Nomads showing that face once in a while instead of RAAAARGH ALEPH or "we are the criminals and furries and lolicons."

I mean I like ALEPH more than the Nomads but I think ALEPH works best when its foil is nuanced and interesting.

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


Dawgstar posted:

Man, I remember somebody taking Disintegration innocently enough and finding out how uber it was in the first fight. It's just super gross. We moved on to another supers game soon after.

This seems like one of those systems where its a solved game in initially non-obvious ways, but once those ways are discovered, doing suboptimial stuff becomes a deliberate choice on your part.

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009



Also, as a fun fact for our favorite man-sized TAG, Achilles might be a beast on the tabletop, but in the RPG, he's even more ludicrous. On the RPG scale, an attribute score of 8 is considered 'human normal,' 10 is exceptional, and anything above 10 generally means you're some sort of transhuman superman.

None of Achilles's stats are below 11 and his combat stats are all at 13. That's not super-impressive by itself, sure. But wait there's more! Achilles has more health than an actual TAG. I don't mean a mini TAG like a Gecko, I mean that Achilles has 18 health, to the Guijia's 17. The Guijia is a full-sized, if unimpressive, 'modern' TAG. The Guijia has more armor and more strength, but even competing on this level is impressive.

Achilles also has Superhuman Attribute +2 (All). He is superhumanly strong, agile, coordinated, perceptive, intelligent, and everything else. How Superhuman Attribute works is that normally, in the RPG, you roll 2d20, and if it's below your stat + skill, you gain a success. If your successes match or beat the difficulty of the roll, you succeed on it. You can add more dice to that via various methods, and there are ways to have a die count as 2 successes, but in general getting over 2 successes requires putting in real effort, even for a very specialized, very good character. Superhuman Attribute + 2 (All) means that he straight-up tacks on 2 successes on every single roll he ever makes. Before he rolls a single die, he just tacks on 2 successes. And for all combat-relevant rolls, he basically succeeds on 18 or under, and he gets double the dice if the GM spends dice on giving him extra dice to roll. He is so good at shooting that his MULTI Rifle outdamages a Guijia's HMG.

The GM guide basically says "Achilles is here largely as a reference to what ALEPH can produce when she goes all-out and the limits of what can be handled by the system, putting him in the path of the PCs is a very quick way to end a campaign, and using him to assist the PCs can easily do the same."

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DNA Cowboys
Feb 22, 2012

BOYS I KNOW


Libertad! posted:

The Bottled City


Our final major location in this chapter is perhaps the most unique, in that due to its nature can appear just about anywhere. It is a literal city in a bottle, where entry is gained by touching the stopper and saying their name and heart’s desire and thus shrunken down, and whose exit involves whispering one’s greatest sorrow and then enlarged to normal size. The Bottled City appears much like a mundane object on the outside, and it is due to this illusion that it became a perfect hiding spot for a community of assassins, thieves, and other assorted scum and villainy.

What stops people from shaking the bottle city, filling it with water, or using it in a traveling jug band? My hypothetical players need to know.

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