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Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Mors Rattus posted:

Night Horrors: Nameless and Accursed
How Did She Even Get A Shadow Name

Finally, a hosed up shitmage that you can fix with just a pillow.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e: Terror in Talabheim

Crowded and Dirty

Talabheim is crowded and has poor sanitation. This isn't news, every Imperial city is like that. Talabheim has much more of a premium on space than places like Altdorf or Nuln, however. You'd think the city could expand to fill the entire impact crater, but it really can't; the land within the crater is some of the most fertile and productive in the entire Empire (considering it's supposedly blessed by Taal, and I'd imagine Rhya as well) and the city is currently able to mostly feed itself from the farms and orchards within the crater. Add to that having a huge, supernaturally pure lake to get drinking water from (and the Talabec River, though that lies outside the crater) and the city's in the enviable position of currently being able to feed and water itself entirely within its main defenses. This is how you get stories of ten year attempted sieges of Talabheim that the locals barely noticed; the economy crashes a little, times get tougher, people can't import things, but they can survive. They also need to leave some of the land undeveloped, because the sacred forests of Taal are necessary to keep his blessing (and are also their own economic boon, providing hunting, valuable plant life, and timber). All these competing concerns mean the city can't physically grow much larger than it is, so people cram in harder and more tightly than ever before as the city's population continues to grow. Which then affects public health, naturally; the close quarters of Talabheim cause congestion and plague. But that's normal for an Imperial city.

This leads to Talabheim having a natural tension with immigration. The city literally has limited physical space, and with the refugee crisis caused by Chaos hordes sweeping through Kislev and the North (and the legendary reputation of Talabheim as a fortress-city) tens of thousands of refugees have come to try to find protection in recent days. This means the city is more crowded than ever, and opportunistic shitbirds have taken this as a chance to stir up the population against the refugees and immigrants, causing crime and infighting. Once again, much of the trouble in Talabheim has nothing to do with Chaos; these people aren't portrayed as Chaos Cultists trying to cause murder and death (though I'm sure some are) but rather the usual rear end in a top hat demagogues who want followers, money, and fame. The actual official policy on the refugees is that Talabheim's government is throwing its support behind Count Ludenhof of Hochland, trying to help rebuild and clean out Hochland so that people can go home to ease the pressure on the city. Talabheim hopes the reconstruction will solve the refugee crisis and maybe make allies for the future if Middenland gets any ideas.

One of the oddities of Talabheim is how impossible the entry requirements would be. As in, if they had these requirements to enter the city they'd actually completely choke their trade and travel; they require you to be literate, for one. The only legal way into the city is a tunnel through the crater walls called the Wizarding Way, which has a 3-10 day waiting period even if you have the proper paperwork and is on an incline going up 200 feet. A standard pass only lets a person into the city for 3 days. Everyone must carry and present their papers at any challenge, with various more expensive passes giving someone more time in the city or the right to own property. This feels like it assumes a far more widely literate society than the Empire currently is, as well as much more hassle and centralization than the Empire can usually handle. It also feels like it would keep Talabheim from being much of a destination for trade, and like it would probably be impossible for it to be a major hub the way it is if it takes this long to get into the city just on the paperwork, never mind the physical traffic. Talabheim's whole 'law' gimmick has always felt a little tacked on in how it's implemented; stuff like the crazy array of taxes or silly random laws are fine, but I just can't see the Empire carefully requiring every single non-citizen carry papers at every moment, that every watchman be literate enough to spot forgeries and check records, etc etc. I'd probably like this point more if this was all the 'official' way things worked but in practice nothing was really enforced unless someone didn't pay a 'tip' to the guards or the guy rubber-stamping the passport none of them can read. As it is, some of this stuff feels like it's mostly here to give the PCs some trouble during the adventure rather than to make Talabheim feel like a place.

Don't get me wrong, early modern Germans should be litigious as gently caress. Everyone suing each other all the time and having a crazy tax code full of holes that doesn't actually collect tax that well is early modern working as intended. It's more the much more centralized tracking of people that doesn't quite work for me.

I'd expect more stuff like the Hollows, the city's prisons and punishment center. Which is run by a devout Sigmarite who spends all his time yelling at his prisoners that they have to accept Sigmar as their personal savior and accept that they're sinners who have broken the holy laws of the Empire, but who still never met a bribe he didn't take. Herr Hadschieff sees nothing wrong with people making donations to the cause of Sigmar or monetary restitution for their crimes, after all. And as one of the few beacons of Sigmar's light in this god-frosaken Taalite city, he deserves to benefit from it. The city has an entire Law Quarter, which you probably guessed, and it's marked by a huge obelisk craved with the city's law code. As there is no more room on the obelisk to carve anything, new rulings are nailed to it in paper, which covers up the old laws. In practice, nobody can read the drat thing. At the same time, the Obelisk is considered sacred to both the city and Verena, and anyone who tries to put up a false law or tear down or deface anything will face severe consequences. Which is a nice analogy for Talabheim's law code in general: They'll be damned if they can make heads or tails of it, but if you mess with it in the slightest way the locals will raise hell.

The Temple of Verena stands in the law quarter, and it is one of the largest places of worship in all of Talabheim. The local priests of Verena aren't as happy about the situation in Talabheim as you'd think; they recognize that the over-abundance of law is actually making justice much harder. They like the codified laws, but they despair of the fact that there are so many that a corrupt lawyer or judge can selectively city what they want to take what they want; law enabling corruption is a great blasphemy to Verenans. The head of the temple, Mother Astrid Oehler, constantly calls for legal reforms but is mostly ignored by the city. It's an amusing irony that the goddess the city loves so much is completely ignored the moment her followers try to change anything.

Next Time: More of Talabheim. There's going to be a lot of Talabheim.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Midjack posted:

Finally, a hosed up shitmage that you can fix with just a pillow.

Sure. What hospital is she in again? In which country of the entire loving world?

"Fixing" her is easy. Finding her is the hard part.

Oh, and figure if you start suffocating her with the pillow, there's a decent chance she'll manifest as a greater tulpa, merge into a living, immortal storm that's inside a loving hospital or do any number of other insanely destructive things.

The first three Rapt are kind of obsessive, willful assholes. This one seems to be an otherwise decent person who got hosed up. Figure the key to "fixing" her is communication. Honestly, while Spiral would be good for a Werewolf crossover, Thalia would be good for a Changeling crossover given that the "real her" is in her dreams.

Of the four Rapt so far, this is the only one that I'd want to make an effort to save as a player. The first three are obsessives who got Rapt by doing horrible poo poo to other people. This one was just in the wrong place at the wrong time even with the Right/Awakened state of mind.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Night10194 posted:

It's an amusing irony that the goddess the city loves so much is completely ignored the moment her followers try to change anything.

I kind of want to do a Talabheim adventure now about a group of Verenans trying to wrestle with the city's problems fought as much or more in the courtroom (which may be a city street) as in any kind of brawl (unless that's also a trial, Ulric approves) now. For a more scholarly Knight of Everlasting Light, this place must be catnip.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





Everyone posted:

Sure. What hospital is she in again? In which country of the entire loving world?


She's in Mobile, Alabama.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Xiahou Dun posted:

She's in Mobile, Alabama.

And her name is Eliza Martinez. So what? Presumably any PCs getting involved with this aren't going to know either of those things. Storms are more frequent and probably stronger, but there's not a whole lot of evidence to lead back to Thalia, who barely even knows who she is, much less where she is. Again the biggest problems for a Cabal here will be finding her. Oh, and surviving encounters with her as a Greater Tulpa that likes to throw tornadoes around.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Cythereal posted:

I kind of want to do a Talabheim adventure now about a group of Verenans trying to wrestle with the city's problems fought as much or more in the courtroom (which may be a city street) as in any kind of brawl (unless that's also a trial, Ulric approves) now. For a more scholarly Knight of Everlasting Light, this place must be catnip.

Verena is one of my favorite gods in Hams just because her worship is both so respected and so despised at the exact same time.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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Night Horrors: Nameless and Accursed
The Bad Decision Gang

Scelesti are mages who intentionally wield the power of the Abyss, whether that means tapping into anti-meaning to empower spells or full-on summoning Abyssal entities. Even the Seers hate them and hunt them, and the Orders can't stand them, but they hide throughout mage society, sometimes as saboteurs and sometimes just because they fell into extremely bad habits. Your average Scelestus does not, after all, begin as a nihilist seeking to remake alien gods to destroy worlds or anything like that. Most start out by dabbling in Abyssal power in pursuit of some other Obsession, slowly becoming addicted to it and the comfort of the Lie. Their magic is often referred to by other mages as "befouled" or "antinomian" magic. The Scelesti are not an organized group, though there are groups of Scelesti. It's just a general term for any mage that taps into the Abyss for any reason.

Broadly, the Orders divide Scelesti into five levels of increasing corruption. The lowest form are the Rabashkim, who deliberately taint their spells with Abyssal power but have not given up their souls. Antinomian magic is forbidden even to this extent, of course, because even when wielded with the best intentions, it corrupts the world and leads it away from Supernal truth. However, it is impossible to completely forbid the study of antinomian magic rather than its use - that would lead to dangerous ignorance. Thus, there is a line to be walked that can keep a budding Rabashkim alive. It is impossible to accidentally befoul a spell, however. Doing so is more than just accidentally causing some Paradox via overreach. Those who set out to learn how to tap the Abyss rarely succeed early on, and the first successful befouled spell a mage casts usually requires quite a bit of experimentation and failure beforehand; each such failure is itself an Act of Hubris, a chance to turn back from the path of the Abyss. Thus, anyone that casts even one befouled spell is not doing so from ignorance.

The Free Council and Mysterium agree: any user of antinomian magic is an enemy and must die. The Guardians, Ladder and Arrow are not quite so absolute in dealing with Rabashkim, however, if the mage seems capable of reform. They won't promote a known Rabashkim, will deny them access to resources, will forbid them apprentices - but they won't execute them. Instead, they will bury the evidence of their past dalliances with darkness and hope no one finds out. The Seers, for their part, do nothing to Rabashkim if they can reasonably show that their use of befouled magic is for the purpose of controlling and regulating the Abyss, as this is a task commanded by the Exarchs. Any further delving into Abyssal magic, however, is taken as a betrayal and dealt with as such.

Given such dire consequences, you'd think no one would bother with befouled magic. Some do so because they think the warnings are intended solely to keep apprentices from gaining too much power and believe the threat to be overblown. Others think the forbiddance of antinomian magic is an old, obsolete tradition held over from before the world became Fallen. (Which happened in a timeline that no longer exists, but hey, that's Mage.) Others seek it out as a tool to understand Paradox better or to fight Abyssal corruption with its own tools, convinced they can resist its dark lures. Others understand the danger but become obsessed with some mystery they cannot solve any other way - or seek to understand the forbidden nature of the Abyss itself. Despite the best efforts of the Pentacle to contain and purge Rabashkim, a surprising number manage to go unnoticed within the Orders. Most mages refuse to confront the idea that anyone could learn to befoul magic if they really wanted to and had the knowledge necessary, and too many mages believe that the Abyss is a quick but forbidden route to power, rather than that its nature is inherently corruptive of the mind, body and soul.

It's true that antinomian magic can be powerful, but that power is very risky. However, Rabashkim use the least risk of any Scelesti. They can still turn back from their path and return to being normal mages. It isn't common for them to do so, and the Orders suppress stories of ex-Rabashkim out of fear that more will turn to antinomian magic if they think its addictive nature is temporary. The knowledge of how to befoul a spell is closely guarded, though teachers can be found for the right price. It is a counterintuitive process, hard to learn without a mentor or grimoire instructing on how to do so, though. It's not just about causing Paradox, but controlling Paradox, which means distorting the casting process. The most potent Scelesti are able to create befouled Rotes, encoding the Abyss into spells that they can then teach others, which offer all the normal benefits of Rotes but also the benefits of antinomian spells. Corrupting a non-Rote spell is harder. It's easiest to befoul your Praxis spells, but it takes a Resolve+Composure roll and costs Mana. Normal spells can also be befouled this way, but the roll is done at a penalty and costs more Mana.

Casting any befouled spell is an Act of Hubris, no matter what, and a pretty bad one. It also always risks Paradox, which must be released rather than contained within your Pattern. Spells that would normally risk Paradox get more risky, on top of that. However, once the Paradox is determined, you make a Gnosis roll, entirely unmodified by anything, to control the Paradox. For each success, you get a point of antinomian Reach, which can be used on antinomian anomaly effects. Further, you also reduce the penalty that the Paradox would normally have caused your spell. Antinomian anomalies can impose Conditions on the target of the spell or Sleeper witnesses, can alter the spell the way normal Reach would, can create Abyssal environments, can alter a spell's target even when this should not be possible, or can even deliberately summon Abyssal entities. However, if the control roll is really, really bad, the Paradox gets significantly worse and can cripple nearby Sleepers or even the caster with Abyssal power. (The reason Sleepers are so vulnerable, incidentally, is that the Abyss can resonate with the Abyssal shards that exist in Sleeper souls and enforce the Lie.)

I will note: the high Mana costs and difficulty of pulling this off for non-Praxis spells makes it relatively unattractive to PCs. This is still probably the most attractive level of Scelestus for PCs to be, because after this we start getting into Scelesti who get things like Abyssal Mage Sight, which is quite possibly one of the most hellish and awful experiences you can have as a WoD character.

Next time: People with even worse ideas.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



If every spell cast is Hubris, shouldn't you turn into a Rapt pretty quickly?

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

The Lone Badger posted:

If every spell cast is Hubris, shouldn't you turn into a Rapt pretty quickly?

You don't have to befoul every spell you cast.

Also, the serious Scelestus will wind up becoming something even worse than Enraptured. A lot worse, actually!

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Everyone posted:

Honestly, while Spiral would be good for a Werewolf crossover

I assume Spiral is an oWoD reference. If she met a woof she'd almost certainly try to shove a spirit inside them, and I have no idea what would happen then other than it ending badly.

Froghammer
Sep 8, 2012





Rand Brittain posted:

You don't have to befoul every spell you cast.

Also, the serious Scelestus will wind up becoming something even worse than Enraptured. A lot worse, actually!
...worse than the 9 foot tall woman with melting skin?

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Froghammer posted:

...worse than the 9 foot tall woman with melting skin?

A lot worse!

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Ah, we finally get to my least-favorite part of the book! Not because I don't want any kind of Nephandi-style shenans in my gamesbook, but because I think the mechanics are actually kind of lovely.

Antinomian sorcery is such a hassle and so uncertain to provide you any actual benefit at all, and if it provides any benefit that benefit will be pretty small, and (as we'll see later) tends to gently caress you up for days, all the talk in the book about it being seductive and addictive falls pretty flat for me. Now, yeah, once you master this poo poo and go to Second Level Evil it becomes a bit more attractive, but boy the game mechanics don't make the process of getting there at all attractive.

It also adds a bunch of extra dice rolls to resolving an action, which I am very rarely a fan of.

That Old Tree fucked around with this message at 01:19 on Mar 27, 2020

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Long history in an awful lot of RPGs of the supposedly addictive, seductive evil option being kind of lovely and not especially useful in the end.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.



The seductive power of maybe applying a Condition, sometimes, possibly. Which could be really strong or entirely useless depending on your familiarity with Conditions, given that "apply a Condition" in CoD 2e games is broadly "do, idk, anything to someone"

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Chernobyl Peace Prize posted:

The seductive power of maybe applying a Condition, sometimes, possibly. Which could be really strong or entirely useless depending on your familiarity with Conditions, given that "apply a Condition" in CoD 2e games is broadly "do, idk, anything to someone"

I mean, I don't want to get too ahead of the review, but one step above that is getting what amounts to +1 free Reach. Which is, like…nice, I guess? But, woof, all the poo poo you've gotta go through to maybe get that. It's like "I love the adrenaline rush of dangerous situations, so sometimes I crush my head with a cinderblock. On purpose. And sometimes I'm so taken off-guard or so used to it, I don't get the adrenaline rush. I am somehow addicted to this activity."

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




As someone who doesn't know much at all about mage, what's the deal with the abyss?

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



wiegieman posted:

As someone who doesn't know much at all about mage, what's the deal with the abyss?

It's a metaphor for depression I think.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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wiegieman posted:

As someone who doesn't know much at all about mage, what's the deal with the abyss?

So basically, Mage posits that actual, true reality is the Supernal Realms. This is a reality made of symbolic truths, which is more real than our world, the Fallen World, which exists by interpreting the shadows cast by these symbolic Truths. The thing that separates the Supernal from the Fallen World is the Abyss, a negative anti-reality which enforces the Lie, the shadow-casting falsehoods that keep most people from reaching out to the Supernal. This was opened by the Exarchs, ancient wizards from a prior timeline who stormed the Supernal, claim to have taken it over and become as gods, and then smashed the road behind them, created the Abyss to keep anyone from doing the same thing they did, and altered the timeline such that the highly magical, more potent world that allowed them to come into existence ceased to be a thing that ever was.

So, basically, it's a giant gaping wound in the universe that represents everything that does not and cannot exist, which hates and envies existence and so seeks to corrupt it into anti-existence.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




wiegieman posted:

As someone who doesn't know much at all about mage, what's the deal with the abyss?

The foundational myth (which may or may not be true, as usual) is that in the long-ago Time Before, mages were awesome. Then some of them were like "let's storm Heaventhe Realm of Supernal Truth and claim its thrones for ourselves, exerting our control over all reality." They built or used the previously extant Celestial Ladder to invade the Supernal and install themselves as the Exarchs, who are now more symbols of oppressive authority than people but nevertheless still issue orders to their minions somehow. They knocked the Ladder down behind them, and that or simply concurrent with that broke reality by laying down or summoning into prominence from elsewhere the Abyss, an anti-reality realm that seeks to smother Supernal truth within the Fallen World we now inhabit. It is the root cause of Paradox, the backlash of getting too bold with your magic, and enforces the Lie that the world is not magical, in part by infecting the souls of humanity so that normies go crazy and disbelieve magic (Supernal magic specifically) when they see it, and their presence actively erodes Supernal magical things.

Scelesti look at that situation and think, "I'm going to get a straw and suck up some of that universe-smothering power for my own ends!"

That Old Tree fucked around with this message at 02:02 on Mar 27, 2020

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
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#1 Builder
2014-2018



That Old Tree posted:

Ah, we finally get to my least-favorite part of the book! Not because I don't want any kind of Nephandi-style shenans in my gamesbook, but because I think the mechanics are actually kind of lovely.

Antinomian sorcery is such a hassle and so uncertain to provide you any actual benefit at all, and if it provides any benefit that benefit will be pretty small, and (as we'll see later) tends to gently caress you up for days, all the talk in the book about it being seductive and addictive falls pretty flat for me. Now, yeah, once you master this poo poo and go to Second Level Evil it becomes a bit more attractive, but boy the game mechanics don't make the process of getting there at all attractive.

It also adds a bunch of extra dice rolls to resolving an action, which I am very rarely a fan of.

I've been avoiding giving the exact mechanics because a chart of what you can spend the points on is not super interesting to me, but yeah, basically, the main benefits are shoving Abyssal conditions and Tilts around, IMO, or retargeting spells that really shouldn't be able to. (At the basic level, anyway. Going above this gets you more tricks but also is fundamentally loving yourself over experientially, because again, Abyssal Mage Sight is the worst possible experience you can inflict on yourself while remaining technically fully capable of action.)

Froghammer
Sep 8, 2012





If we're going with a Plato's Cave analogy, then reality is the shadows on the cave wall, the Supernal Realms are the fire, the Exarchs are the ones making shadow puppets, and the Abyss is the empty space between the projected light and the wall. If a random floating bit of whatever gets in there and starts casting a shadow it has the opportunity to completely gently caress up whatever shadows are being projected.

Now imagine some of those random floating bits of whatever are sentient and actively want this to happen.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





The Abyss also specifically is the place that Things Which Should Not Be get cast out into - one of the Annunaki (entire Abyssal worlds, because the Abyss is both without size and infinite in size, because it contains everything which doesn't exist) is a history of humanity that's so loving bad it got ejected into the Abyss. Cannibalism is the only sacrament in the timeline known as the Prince of Ten Thousand Leaves, and if you think the history the Exarchs have created sucks, and it does, it still doesn't hold a candle to what the Prince considers to be history.

The Abyss is nihilism, unmeaning, the death of any coherent philosophy or purpose in the universe. It's a gaping wound in metaphysics and it's incredibly caustic to humanity, because for all that the Fallen World is distant from the Supernal, the Abyss is infinitely more distant (in nature, it's maybe technically closer because you need to cross the Abyss to reach the Supernal, but that's because of the Fall and things getting hosed up). The Abyss, unlike phenomenal reality or even the Lower Depths, places further from the Supernal than the Fallen World, just 100% should not exist and doesn't have even a little reality. It's not even a lie, it's the state where 'lie' is meaningless because there is no truth to hide.

Touching the Abyss is bad for your health and for the universe, and most of the Antinomian magic rules just make it Kinda lovely Magic That Is Worse. I find specific Antinomian Rotes that break the rules and let the caster do things they shouldn't be able to with the Practices (or at least not easily or within their range) is a much more interesting kind of Abyssal temptation or antagonist than 'it's addiction to bad decisions, literally.'

e: Also, my hot take is that the best Abyssal Intruders (monsters from the Abyss) are those that embody a paradox in how they operate; the Lethean, an Abyssal entity that will eat good memories you don't want anymore, is a great example. There's something paradoxical in a memory being good enough that, because of your current situation or later pain, you want to forget it - and that is where the Lethean emerges, and replaces your golden memories with the Abyss, until in comparison even your mediocre memories are too painfully happy to stand in your new state, until your entire mind has been overwritten by an Abyssal intellect. That one was fun in play (infecting an NPC, to be clear).

Joe Slowboat fucked around with this message at 02:48 on Mar 27, 2020

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


That Old Tree posted:

I mean, I don't want to get too ahead of the review, but one step above that is getting what amounts to +1 free Reach. Which is, like…nice, I guess? But, woof, all the poo poo you've gotta go through to maybe get that. It's like "I love the adrenaline rush of dangerous situations, so sometimes I crush my head with a cinderblock. On purpose. And sometimes I'm so taken off-guard or so used to it, I don't get the adrenaline rush. I am somehow addicted to this activity."

I don't recall exactly how it was put, but I recall fromWraith: The Oblivion that one of the abilities your Shadow could possess was something called "Shadow Pact." Your Shadow was your dark side constantly pushing you to do bad stuff. It's influence was measured in something I'll call Shadow Points. Get 10 Shadow Points and your character dies againish, or goes to Hell or becomes a Spectre or something else. Usually the Shadow tries to manipulate you into doing evil, self-destructive things.

With Shadow Pact it bypass that by trading Shadow Point for Wraith powers. Want to instantly gets 5 Dots in the Possess Humans power? That's 5 Shadow Points. No XP spent. No training period. Just make the trade and you're done.

That's how "Evul Powerz" should work for PCs. They should epitomize the bit from Empire Strikes Back where Yoda clarifies that the Dark Side of the Force isn't stronger than the Light Side. It's just "quicker, easier" but with consequences that ultimately make it far from worthwhile.

One of the cooler bits from AD&D was The Complete Book of Necromancers. They did the classic Evil Wizard version, but they also did the idea of the Anatomist who could go full Victor Frankenstein, or simply be a doctor who studies death to preserve life.

Conditions for tempting would be boring and stupid. Antinomian magic needs to be something that will tempt the players.

Battle Mad Ronin
Aug 26, 2017


Night10194 posted:

The only legal way into the city is a tunnel through the crater walls called the Wizarding Way, which has a 3-10 day waiting period even if you have the proper paperwork and is on an incline going up 200 feet. A standard pass only lets a person into the city for 3 days. Everyone must carry and present their papers at any challenge, with various more expensive passes giving someone more time in the city or the right to own property.

I can see a scenario forming around a situation like 'we have to get into Talabheim by tomorrow to save the Empire. But the waiting period is 14 days for a party of four' where the players have to figure out some highly illegal way to enter the city. It also opens the possibility of smugglers and the corrupt watchmen who aid them forming a whole shadow economy.

It's a bit contrived and something I'd probably hand-wave if time isn't an essential for the particular adventure I'm running, but could be fun in the right circumstances.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Battle Mad Ronin posted:

I can see a scenario forming around a situation like 'we have to get into Talabheim by tomorrow to save the Empire. But the waiting period is 14 days for a party of four' where the players have to figure out some highly illegal way to enter the city. It also opens the possibility of smugglers and the corrupt watchmen who aid them forming a whole shadow economy.

It's a bit contrived and something I'd probably hand-wave if time isn't an essential for the particular adventure I'm running, but could be fun in the right circumstances.

It's basically there entirely to cause this to happen during the adventure.

Loxbourne
Apr 6, 2011

Tomorrow, doom!
But now, tea.

PurpleXVI posted:

Night: Glad to see Warhammer back on the docket, and this place sounds interesting. The Street Judges sound like they could make for an entire adventure on their own.

A hilarious adventure.

"Court is in session, everyone in this street is now either a juryman or a bailiff. YOU! You are now my wigbearer, hold this wig."

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

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




But I'm not qualified to sample urine, I was kicked out of med school on my first week!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Night Horrors: Nameless and Accursed
Nasnasty

Rabashkim sometimes choose to perform a spiritual journey and exploration of Abyssal Mysteries that introduces them to a Dur-Abzu, which is an Abyssal reflection of their Path's Supernal realm. The Dur-Abzu offers paradoxical anti-secrets to grant profane wisdom. It is possible to seek out the Dur-Abzu unintentionally, via being debilitated and tainted by the Abyss. However, it is also possible to deliberately seek out as an Obsession, requiring the exploration of anti-symbols and rejection of traditional Path symbolism in favor of more twisted, destructive beliefs. The Supernal is less abandoned and more warped into a nihilistic view. Embracing this Lie transforms the Rabashkim into a Nasnas. This requires replacing one's Wisdom with Joining, an Abyssal attunement that Nasnasi follow. You must also take on a new Shadow Name and abandon your past, turning away from your old life to be reborn at the Abyssal Ziggurat of your Dur-Abzu. The Ziggurats are profane anti-Watchtowers which warp Nasnasi magic with Abyssal nature, corrupting their Mage Sight, Nimbus, Path Yantras and Oblations.

While some of the Pentacle might accept the idea of a reformed Rabashkim, the Nasnasi are given no such benefit. Once you become a Nasnas, you have committed yourself to the cause of anti-reality, and neither the Pentacle nor the Seers would ever knowingly allow a Nasnas into their ranks. In theory, a Nasnas might be able to redeem their soul of its taint and reject the Joining, but in practice, no one's going to give a former Nasnas a chance - and for pretty good reason. Accepting the Abyss into your soul may not sever the tie to the Supernal a mage has, but it taints all aspects of their magic. Nasnas soul stones create warped Demesnes, their Mage Sight shows tainted symbols, and their soul is awash with Abyssal energy.

Ao Si, the Mound of Thorns, is the Dur-Abzu of the Acanthus and twisted mockery of the Supernal Arcadia. It wields the symbolism of malevolent tricksters and warped heroes. The Joined Acanthus knows that the Lie is true - human choice doesn't matter and destiny is illusory. Embracing this Lie frees them, for if there is no choice, then there is no responsibility. They embrace chaos, treachery and free use of magic, breaking oaths easily and betraying trust. The ideas of obligation or consequences are false ideas, futile grasps at meaning in a world where nothing can mean anything. They are traps, self-inflicted chains of the weak. Everything is entropy and the inevitable. For some, this takes the image of overgrown, tangled brambles, randomly growing without pattern as the Fallen World lurches ever closer to its inevitable end. This end is no great apocalypse nor mighty revelation - it is a cold fading, a meaningless and slow death to a meaningless and random existence. Others see the tangled webs of fate as a Mobius strip of self-driven narrative, creating the same scenes over and over with neither meaning nor moral. And this never turns off - a Nasnas Acanthus sees this inevitable entropy everywhere.

The Nimbus of an Acanthus Nasnas breaks causality and blunts intention. Endless identical paths or the sense of futility are common, as are focus on meaningless detail and bizarre hiccups of coincidence and probability. Their soul stones create zones of strange, improbable and random physical properties, such as backwards temporal flow or making it impossible both to fail spectacularly or to succeed beyond expectation. Their magic flows through the power of broken oaths, kinslaying and curses that cannot be broken. Their magical tools usually have noticeable defects or subverted parts, like double-headed coins or flawed crystals. Dishonor and betrayal are their chief tools in shaping magic through behavior, with broken contracts and knives used to backstab allies making up their chief sacrifices.

Drugaskan, the Impenetrable Darkness, is the Dur-Abzu of the Mastigos, a dark mirror of the Supernal Pandemonium. It rejects perfection of self by saying that human nature is ultimately corrupt, and all people are truly doomed to be alone. All are damned, so why try? Isolation is inevitably, darkness a constant. Its symbols are those of cynicism, and Nasnasi Mastigos seek to prove that all people are so flawed and broken that they are unfixable no matter what trials they undergo. They cannot be purified in the flames of Hell, only consumed. Where normal Mastigos see the Chains of Pandemonium as emotional connections that conquer distance to place people in context with each other, for the Nasnasi they are suffocating bindings, prisons that isolate people and control them with their worst impulses. Their vision of auras is ugly and painful, sensations of irritation, piercing noise and ugly veins of darkness. This is their constant vision of the world.

The Nimbus of a Nasnas Mastigos spreads dissociation, juidgment and feelings of deception and unworthiness in both the self and others. The sensations they spread are unpleasant detachment, sensory deprivation or doubt. Loneliness and fear haunt them, and their Long-Term Nimbuses typically exacerbate misunderstandings, break down communications and spread paranoia and fear. Their soul stones drain identity and melt memories, suppressing the better instincts of those around them, or exude all-consuming darkness. Silence, darkness, doubt, lies, isolation and damnation are the tools of their magic. They channel it through darkness, broken mirrors, tarnish and rust, and their sacrifices destroy symbols of hope and redemption in a denunciation of these very ideas.

Arallu, the Cave of Rot and Tarnish, is the Dur-Abzu of the Moros, a broken reflection of Supernal Stygia. It is a crumbling ruin, a water-filled cave of rotting corpses, decomposition and erosion. It denies the creation of anything new, rejecting transformation and rebirth. Rather, Arallu's symbolism is of rot, ruin and decay. There is no true ending for Arallu, only constant deterioration, a continual worsening without cease. Suffering is endless, the dead do not move on, and age rots us all without granting trhe release of death. Accepting death is meaningless, for peace is impossible. The Mage Sight of the Moros Nasnasi is one of tarnish and suffering. Every failure, every flaw is a weight that cannot be shed, and they see it all around them. Treasures are hoarded chains, burdens that cannot be discarded, and all drown forever in the endless river of time and pain that wears them down.

Imperfections are made obvious in the Nimbus of a Joined Moros - both physical and spiritual. They exacerbate mistakes, pains and signs of wear, yet also slow down the processes near them, spreading tedium and suffering but never allowing it to end. Nostalgia, exhaustion and decay are frequent, and their Long-Term Nimbus often causes objects to rust or break down, but also prolong the inevitable. The sick will die less often around them - but they will be trapped in suffering. Rotting cars will continue to be used rather than scrapped, endless meaningless sequels churned out, unwelcome guests never leave. The soul stones of these Nasnasi halt cycles at their worst - wounds do not heal or bleed out, and acceptance becomes impossible. Their magic flowers through worn and old objects, or preserved yet obsolescent ones. Their sacrifices destroy beauty and turn it into meaningless waste, broken and unusable, ugly and rotten.

Tartarus, the Deluge, is the Dur-Abzu of the Obrimos, a shattered echo of the Supernal Aether. This Dur-Abzu declares that even high truths are fundamentally fleeting things, brief yet catastrophically destructive when they manifest yet gone so quickly. This Dur-Abzu is a drowned sea floor of broken temples that declares all things doomed to fall and collapse before the Abyss. The sublime exists - but it is meaningless. The world is vast, and people are insignificant. The Abyss and its messengers are the only higher powers of this broken, Fallen reality. Power is the only thing to be respected, and the Nasnasi are the gods who will end the world. The only higher truth is this: apocalypse is coming, and revelation is meaningless destruction. The Mage Sight of the tainted Obrimos rejects truth and revelation, yet also tells its user they are the god that will rule over the end of all. It is a vision of impossible paradoxes, confronting these Nasnasi with near-constant visions of impossible laws of physics and blasphemous ways to blot out truth. They see the innate authority of destruction and the exaltation of the unworthy over the worthy in all around them.

An Obrimos Nasnas is by necessity a narcissist and a hypocrite, demanding sacrifices from others for the sole purpose of destruction. Their Nimbus brings fear, worship and the terror of nature, or shame and cold and false humility. Their Long-Term Nimbus often encourages collateral damage, the formation eschatological doomsday cults and the loss of faith. Their soul stones negate laws of physics or encourage others to obey the creator and punish the defiant. They wield magic through subversions of divine judgments and the symbols of dead civilizations and places destroyed by disaster. Their sacrifices must be massive, for the power they grant is through unnecessary destruction.

Amma Su, the Burning Iron Spiral, is the Dur-Abzu of the Thyrsus, the antithetical shadow of the Supernal Primal Wild. It is not a wild land of life, but a choking, endless city of factories churning out nothing but smog, fetid cages of beasts, slums and prisons. It chains that which is natural to the soulless creations of man, breaking the wildness of life to the whims of the Nasnasi and eradicating entire species. Amma Su teaches that the worlds of nature and spirit are inherently inferior to humanity, and they must be made not only to bend knee in submission, but to be entirely consumed and absorbed by mankind. It is not enough to command spirits - they must be forced to fuse with empower the mage, their power and health torn from them to be put to other, better use. The Mage Sight of a damned Thyrsus grants the same power to hear the music of life and spiritual existence - but to them, it is discordant, broken and hollow, while the works of humanity sing like an iron chorus. Yet even this is a cacophony, ending only in broken and scoured wastes. The Thyrsus Nasnas is an occult stripminer, leaving only grime, polluted waste and broken bodies behind them. They are ever aware of the crowds, the sounds of busy people, the compulsions and hungers of lives bent and broken by human existence.

The Thyrsus Nasnas is arrogant, self-superior and entitled, knowing that they are the innate master of all life, that it is theirs to break. Their Nimbus tends to spread feelings of insignificance, or the sense of choking, sickening smells and polluted colors. They spread fear of extinction, nausea and sickness. Their Long-Term Nimbus weakens spiritual resonance, encourages spirits to permanently fuse with and Claim their victims, and disrupts ecosystems to encouragfe the destruction of "weak" species. Their soul stones create entire zones that harm spirits or force them into obeying extra bans, make possession easier or poison non-human life. Their magic is wielded through expressions of human dominion over the world or through coopted, false claiming of traditions that hold no connection to the mage. They wield magic through plastic flowers, mechanical bulls and other manmade false reflections of the natural world, and their sacrifices are murders of animals to no purpose, salted fields and burned plants.

Fortunately for everyone, Nasnasi cannot become Rapt. This is because at this stage of existence as a Scelestus, the mage entirely loses Wisdom. The entire Wisdom track is just gone, replaced by a trait called Joining. This begins at 1. It can be increased by committing Acts of Defilement, deliberate atrocities intended to bring you closer to the Abyss. The higher your Joining, the harder it is to raise and the more difficult and dangerous the Acts of Defilement must be. The mage must be working towards an Obsession when performing an Act of Defilement, which might be as broad as 'increase my harmony with the Abyss' or as specific as 'conjure an Abyssal plague into the world.' The Act of Defilement must also expose them to the Abyss. There are no rolls involved except those to actually accomplish the thing, however.

At Joining 1-3, Acts of Defilement could be things like direct opposition to a Supernal entity, banishing or destroying a low-rank Supernal entity, teaching a mage how to use antinomian sorcery or encouraging them to release Paradox, summoning a low-rank Abyssal entity, unleashing a minor Paradox anomaly, learning a befouled Rote, corrupting an existing and active spell with Abyssal power or deliberately causing Dissonance in Sleepers. At Joining 4-6, they might include getting a mage to cast antinomian sorcery enough to get them to reach a Dur-Abzu, destroying a mid-Rank Supernal entity, summoning a mid to high-Rank Abyssal entity, corrupting a major Supernal phenomenon such as a Hallow or artifact, unleashing a large Paradox anomaly, creating a Grimoire of befouled Rotes, teaching someone a befouled Rote or deliberately causing Dissonance in Sleepers that causes total destruction of a Supernal phenomenon. At Joining 7-9, they might require destroying a high-Rank Supernal entity, summoning a very high-Rank Abyssal entity, permanently destroying a major and long-term Supernal Mystery, unleashing a huge Paradox anomaly, or inventing a befouled Rote that has never existed before.

Hitting Joining 10 converts you into a Qliphoth, a mage entirely consumed by the Abyss and trapped forever. You really, really do not want to do that. To avoid this, you can deliberately lose Joining by performing Refutations, deeds that reject the Lie which maintains your connection to the Abyss. At Joining 1-3, a Refutation can even push you entirely out of alignment with the Abyss. Joining 4-6 can no longer perform Lesser Refutations, however, and Joining 7-0 can no longer perform Medial Refutations. When you perform a REfutation, you roll your Joining, with a bonus if your Refutation is aligned to an Obsession or Vice, and a penalty if it's aligned to your Virtue. Lesser Refutations give a bonus, and Medial Refutations a small bonus. Success on the roll means you don't lose Joining, while failure causes you to lose 1 Joining, and a dramatic failure also restores Willpower. If you lose your final dot of Joining, you regain a Wisdom track (at 1 dot) and are no longer a Nasnas (or higher-status Scelestus), losing all benefits that being one gave you, including any Abyssal Legacy Attainments. Even if you regain Joining later, you're going to have to learn those all over again. However, even after you stop being a Nasnas, you retain the Abyssal versions of your Nimbus, soul stone rules and Yantras, and you retain any befouled Rotes and Praxes you knew, and you don't have to make a roll to befoul spells.

Lesser Refutations are things like going a full day without using a befouled spell, convincing a mage with Wisdom to contain or avoid causing a Paradox, ending an Abyssal environmental Tilt you didn't cause or banishing and/or destroying a low-Rank Abyssal entity. Medial REfutations are things like going afull month without releasing Paradox, getting another Scelestus to perform a Refutation, ending a major Abyssal environmental Tilt you didn't cause, or destroying and/or banishing a mid-Rank Abyssal entity. Greater Refutations are things like getting another Scelestus to lose all Joining and regain Wisdom, permanently sealing an Abyssal Verge or Iris, destroying an Abyssal artifact or destroying and/or banishing a high-Rank Abyssal entity.

Next time: But why would I ever do this? It sucks!

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Everyone posted:

Conditions for tempting would be boring and stupid. Antinomian magic needs to be something that will tempt the players.
I mean, does it?

Like it seems as though Awakening here is deliberately going for a rules-based philosophical perspective where, yeah, the Abyss sucks. It isn't "the denied truth," it isn't "the hidden real reality," it is deep cosmic bad poo poo. I think that it would be good for it to be clearer on why anyone would be drawn to it other than just being a complete mean-spirited rear end in a top hat.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




That's a problem that CoD and White Wolf needs to have solved years ago by not framing nearly everything as theoretically player-accessible.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Nessus posted:

I mean, does it?

Like it seems as though Awakening here is deliberately going for a rules-based philosophical perspective where, yeah, the Abyss sucks. It isn't "the denied truth," it isn't "the hidden real reality," it is deep cosmic bad poo poo. I think that it would be good for it to be clearer on why anyone would be drawn to it other than just being a complete mean-spirited rear end in a top hat.

I think that there's a clear niche for Antinomian temptation where the players OOC know it's a bad idea, it's the Abyss, but still might decide to touch the slimy green fire that hates you, because they have something they decided is worth jeopardizing reality just a little for. The trick is that it should actually be rules-breaking Antinomian magic that can do things normal magic can't, even if it's almost definitionally a bad idea. Give players a clearly labeled Monkey's Paw and they'll enjoy agonizing over using it, even if they know nothing will actually be made better.

That way, it does break the established setting rules in a way that makes everything worse somehow, but still has a reason for entering the story. I find the example Libertine Rabashkim, who is an idiot but an understandable one, way more usable or interesting than I find the more advanced Scelesti. Especially the one who is just a creepypasta monster (Spiral also has this issue, but works better because she's a big Werewolf mutant monster you can fight, while the advanced Scelestus with the Elder Diadem is just... a creepypasta).

We haven't gotten to the Elder Diadem yet but honestly it's disappointing. It being a really standardized power rather than a unique blessing of an Abyssal patron makes it far less interesting or tempting than any given Exarch Prelacy. Though honestly it makes sense that the Seers are about 5000% better at being temptingly evil than the Abyss is.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


I feel like the only two times that WW or OPP games have done a good 'temptation for power' route was with Wraith, already mentioned, and with Kindred of the East where it was actually a pretty good deal to sell off a little bit of your soul to the Yama Kings. So much so that just about every elder has probably done it and the rules might be too lenient because it's actually possible to cheat Hell and get power for free if you roll well.

Dave Brookshaw
Jun 27, 2012

No Regrets


Yeah, so, the thing about the Abyss isn't that it's the tempting deal with evil powers - that's what selling out to the Exarchs is for (join the seers). It's that it's magical crack. The Orders try to keep it secret because of how destructive it is, abstinence doesn't work in a society of incorrigibly-curious egotists, and by the time yonder Rabashakim has realised his Antimonian Rote really isn't worth it, he's addicted - and a bad day from Joining.

Rabashakim are users, Nasnasi are addicts, Shedim and Autarchs are dealers, Baalim are producers, and Qliphoth are ODs.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Walls of Text
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That said: being a nasnas does have some hefty mechanical benefits. It's just, the actual experience of Abyssal Mage Sight is horrific; it's only a tempting offer if you don't consider the part where you literally have nihilism and suffering overlaid onto your senses at all times.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Dave Brookshaw posted:

Yeah, so, the thing about the Abyss isn't that it's the tempting deal with evil powers - that's what selling out to the Exarchs is for (join the seers). It's that it's magical crack. The Orders try to keep it secret because of how destructive it is, abstinence doesn't work in a society of incorrigibly-curious egotists, and by the time yonder Rabashakim has realised his Antimonian Rote really isn't worth it, he's addicted - and a bad day from Joining.

Rabashakim are users, Nasnasi are addicts, Shedim and Autarchs are dealers, Baalim are producers, and Qliphoth are ODs.

My issue is that while "nihilism is a drug" can be used well in static fiction, I suppose, I have really no interest in this framework for Abyssal magic in running or playing TTRPGs. It's just not a story I find compelling. Which, y'know, says that canon Abyssal mages aren't for me, which is fine. They don't have to be.

E: Also I'm pretty uncomfortable running a game where addicts and users are the foot soldiers or an evil force that seeks to destroy all of society, and are addicted specifically to senseless violence.

Joe Slowboat fucked around with this message at 22:07 on Mar 27, 2020

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

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


I also have to chip in and say if it doesn't tempt the players, it won't tempt the PC's. In fact if there's nothing actually tempting or useful about it(even if it bites you in the rear end eventually), it starts to feel kind of hard to fathom that even any NPC's would fall for it.

I Am Just a Box
Jul 20, 2011
I belong here. I contain only inanimate objects. Nothing is amiss.



Dave Brookshaw posted:

Yeah, so, the thing about the Abyss isn't that it's the tempting deal with evil powers - that's what selling out to the Exarchs is for (join the seers). It's that it's magical crack. The Orders try to keep it secret because of how destructive it is, abstinence doesn't work in a society of incorrigibly-curious egotists, and by the time yonder Rabashakim has realised his Antimonian Rote really isn't worth it, he's addicted - and a bad day from Joining.

Rabashakim are users, Nasnasi are addicts, Shedim and Autarchs are dealers, Baalim are producers, and Qliphoth are ODs.

I understand the idea, I just don't... agree? When viewed as a game element this makes a very poor and very uninteresting metaphor for addiction. The euphoric rush of crack that people destroy themselves for is here represented by a brief mention in the text that you feel real good and euphoric, and now you're addicted. It's very tell-don't-show. It doesn't engage with how we actually play the game, and it falls victim to the tendency of the reader to consider the emphasis to be on whatever receives the most word count, thus inadvertantly telling the reader that the antinomian rush is much less important than all of these ways antinomian sorcery can mess with Paradoxes and what Abyssal Mage Sight does and what forms the Elder Diadem can take.

It conveys very poorly to a reader used to reading game books that this is supposed to be something people do because it feels good even though it destroys them. The way it is written unintentionally suggests instead that it is supposed to be a tempting path to forbidden power, which of course it then fails at being.

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Ithle01
May 28, 2013


I Am Just a Box posted:

I understand the idea, I just don't... agree? When viewed as a game element this makes a very poor and very uninteresting metaphor for addiction. The euphoric rush of crack that people destroy themselves for is here represented by a brief mention in the text that you feel real good and euphoric, and now you're addicted. It's very tell-don't-show. It doesn't engage with how we actually play the game, and it falls victim to the tendency of the reader to consider the emphasis to be on whatever receives the most word count, thus inadvertantly telling the reader that the antinomian rush is much less important than all of these ways antinomian sorcery can mess with Paradoxes and what Abyssal Mage Sight does and what forms the Elder Diadem can take.

It conveys very poorly to a reader used to reading game books that this is supposed to be something people do because it feels good even though it destroys them. The way it is written unintentionally suggests instead that it is supposed to be a tempting path to forbidden power, which of course it then fails at being.

This is pretty much how it read to me, they keep giving PC rules for this and make it sound like you get some good stuff out of it in exchange for joining the Abyss. If you want to make it a metaphor for addiction then you really don't need to add much more in terms of rules that aren't 'do bad thing, get xp' which I think is already baked into the game to begin with.

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