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



hyphz posted:

This included spending hours running combats against himself.

hyphz posted:

the author claims to have spent 11,000 hours DMing.

I've got to wonder if he considers the hours spent doing things like the former to count towards the latter.

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Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


:smith:



Grimey Drawer



Buck Rogers XXVc: The 25th Century

An Introductory Overview


Dat rear end, tho

Here is the box. Retailing at $24.95- so a little over $50 in 2019 money- it contains three booklets, three big maps, a GM’s screen, twenty four reference cards displaying major NPCs and notable spaceships, a transparent ruler, dice (the standard D&D assortment), and a sheet of counters. The ruler and some of the counters are for the big Solar System map, which shows the Inner Worlds and major asteroids and their tracks around the sun. The idea is, the GM can keep track of the positions of the planets relative to each other based on how much time passes in the campaign, with the planets moving to the next position on their rotation every 30 days. The ruler helps figure out travel times and communications delays. Unfortunately they printed it on the opposite side of the maps showing ship interior layouts so that may be a little inconvenient. The other maps are one big topographic one of Mars, and another double-sided affair with a hexmap on one side and a map of the Tycho Spaceport on the other.

The cover art is by Jerry Bingham and it’s cool, not quite the style that the interior art conveys but it gets the basics right.

Now, since the rules are the weakest part I think I’ll go through the rules booklet first, but before that I want to give a brief rundown of the setting. It’s the year 2456. Mankind has expanded beyond Earth to colonize the solar system, though interstellar travel remains out of reach. Extensive terraforming is underway on Mars and Venus, but at the same time, genetic engineering has produced a number of new human offshoots specially adapted to living in different environments around the system. Some are close enough to humanity that they’re still basically called human, but others are “gennies”- heavily modified and all weird looking.

(This is one of the balancing elements between hard sci-fi and space opera we see- FTL and intergalactic empires are out of the picture, but we still have a wide variety of “alien” beings living on the known planets.)

Earth, meanwhile, is in a bad state, described as a complete mess due to pollution, nukes, and exploitation by offworlders. The most habitable areas are the arcologies, but there are vast slums. While Earth is supposedly governed by the Solar Alliance, it mostly falls under the influence of RAM- a monolithic corporate entity once called the Russo-American Mercantile, which rose to power after leading the terraforming of Mars and staging a successful rebellion against the Earth government. RAM now exploits Earth for every resource it has, backed by a powerful military, including gennie soldiers known as Terrines. And it’s fair to say they’ve got eyes on the rest of the solar system, though they haven’t made any big moves yet.

Opposing RAM is NEO, the New Earth Organization, a growing movement operating largely from orbiting space stations. It’s your standard band of rebels, and most recently they’ve added to their ranks a long-thought-dead air force pilot known as Buck Rogers. Rogers (so it was thought) gave his life shooting down a Soviet space battle station near the end of the Cold War in 1999, and in years since he became sort of a mythic hero- and now he’s back.

I’ll note right away I think the use of Rogers himself and the other classic characters is one of the setting’s strengths- they’re important, but not so important that they’ll overshadow anything the PCs do. Buck Rogers is famous, but he’s no Chosen One, anybody could end up having a major effect on the battle for the 25th Century. It feels like his role is usually to show up and say “good job guys” when you do cool stuff.

So with that out of the way I’m ready to dive into the first book- Characters and Combat.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Chapter 6: Character Creation



Degenesis Rebirth
Katharsys
Chapter 6: Character Creation




Protagonists

Before you dive into generating your character, you should sit down with your GM to answer a few questions about the campaign.

So I'm guessing we're getting the exact opposite of WFRP 4e's “420-roll-it” approach.

What will be the game's topic?

I guess this answers the “what are the players supposed to do in this setting” question. This step is probably discussed will all of the players. That way, you narrow the campaign’s focus the gently caress down: where the game will take place (Europe, Africa, both?), will the characters do much traveling, how much fighting is to be expected, etc..

You know, just because you have a giant sprawling setting doesn't mean you can't run your campaign in a single city. I wish more people got that.


You'd think they'd have more dignified surroundings for this.

There's also the question of genre:

quote:

Psychonauts embody horror. Crime stories develop in places where the human condition holds sway. When Cults collide and the power structure threatens to give under the pressure, we have a thriller. When the Sleepers or Pollen’s weird Fractal Forests come into play, we have arrived at mystery. Do the players want to portray normal people in the harsh daily routine of Degenesis? Or do they want to become heroes—or criminals?


While you can argue how much horror is there in fighting Psychonauts, it's the part I bolded that's weird for me: if you're a member of a Cult, you're already something other than the “normal people” of the setting (except for maybe Clanners). There's really no common-commoner class.

Anyway, this is also the step where the GM writes down the player's wishes and makes a schedule, which is a list of character goals, I guess? It says that the schedule will change with the game and it doesn't have to be more than a sketch at this point.

Why this group?

A Spitalian, an Apocalyptic, a Jehammedan and an Anabaptist walk in the bar. Why aren't they killing each other? That's where you determine why the group is together. The four suggestions here is being related, being friends, being in the same trouble together, or just being mercs.

Who plays whom?

This bit is about avoiding crippling yourself by making a party of four engineers with no social or combat skills. Most Cults can cover several roles. Here's the checklist for a good party:

Two Damage Dealers
They punch poo poo: Hellvetics, Judges, Scourges, Anabaptists, Jehammedans and Clanners. It notes that Spitalian Preservists get good at ranged in the late game, but I doubt that's something a starting party has to take into account.

At Least One Support
Buff your dudes or weaken enemies from range: Spitalians and Chroniclers.

Spy or Assassin
Rogue: Palers, Scrappers and Apocalyptics. Considering what jerks two of those Cults are...

Healer
Healer: Spitalian, but an Anabaptist Elysian or Anubian can do. Seeing how only Spitalians are strongly recommended, this almost feels like niche/waifu protection.

Silvertongue
Face: Neilibyans, Judges and Apocalyptics. So Judges.

Spark of Life

A very strange side-section which says that the players should now know how their team is supposed to work... but that they should also read the rules before continuing with the char creation.

Special Skills

Remember when the Skill section first mentioned that Primal and Focus as well as Faith and Willpower are mutually exclusive?

Primal and Focus

Primal means you're driven by feelings, Focus – that you like to tell people how rational you are. (INS+Primal or INS+ Focus)*2 determines your ego points, which are like fate points? I guess? Your pool can lowered by social and mental attacks, and you get demoralized if it reaches 0 (we'll find out what that means in the Combat section).

The influence is mostly roleplaying, says the book, but it also impacts access to Attributes and Skills. We're advised to flip 71 pages ahead to find out what that actually means.

Faith and Willpower

INS+Faith or INS+Willpower is your mental defense. That's it, lol.



The virgin Spitalian vs. the chad Anabaptist

Character Generation Overview

This is a side section!

1. CHOOSE CULTURE, CONCEPT AND CULT

This is when you note down skill and attributes

2. SPEND POINTS

You can spend 10 points on Attributes and 28 on skills. The “max” is 2, but your Culture, Concept and Cult can raise those by +1 each (so I guess you can walk out with max 5 in an Attribute or Skill)

3. SPEND POINTS ON BACKGROUNDS

You have 4 points and 6 backgrounds to choose from; no going over 3 in a trait.

4. DETERMINE RANK

Remember when I was confused as to what a char is supposed to do as a 16yo newbie Chronicler? This bit solves that. You climb ranks in a Cult until your stats are not enough to qualify for the next. This awards you gear and stuff.

I'm sure this won't lead to terrible balance issues down the line.

5. CHOOSE POTENTIAL

You get a level in a Culture/Clan Potential. No idea what that is.

6. FINISHING TOUCHES

Pasting Mr. Proper as the character portrait for you Spitalian.

Anyways, back to the main-section land, where the above details are expanded upon.

The Character Sheet

It's explained that every player needs a character sheet and that's where you write down your character's stats. It's highly unlikely that Degenesis is your first RPG, so I doubt the utility of this bit.

The Human

Note down name, age, sex, height, weight; none of it matters mechanically (we'll see if that holds true when we get to the more... interesting Jehammedan ranks).

Attributes and Skills

Same as mentioned in the side section. Attributes all start at 1 already, so you spend those 10 points however you want; however, the max is still set at 2, so you best hope your Cult, Culture and Concept will give you enough of a ceiling to allow you to spend all the points. But yes, when any of the CCCs give you an Attribute or Skill bonus, that's just a bonus of how high you can raise them.

So essentially, you spend your points after you choose Culture and such. Could have worded that better, book.

Culture

Here's where you choose your culture (region) and get your bonuses.

quote:

Some combos of Culture and Cult are uncommon, but not impossible; not all Cults are present in every Culture. In the list, you will find the Cults commonly encountered in the respective Cultures. A Character does not have to adhere to this, but an African Jehammedan needs a drat good explanation.

I'd say a Pollner Scourger would be a harder concept to pull off, but that's just me.

What follows is a table of Cultures and their associated Common Cults, Attribute Bonus and Skill Bonus.

Here's Africa (an obscure micronation):



Interesting bits: Apocalyptics, Scrappers and Clanners can be found everywhere. The African Cults are also present in Hybrispania. Palers are limited to Balkans and Hybrispania.

Concepts

The part about Concepts is a bit insane, since we have paragraph or more on each of the 22 Concepts (based on Apocalyptic tarot). Mechanically, you get the Skill/Attribute bonuses that Concept gives as well as +2D to an Action once per day when acting according to your concept. This seems too small a thing to waste that much space on.

Personality Patterns

This side-section explains that Concepts basically exist as a scientific thing in the world of Degenesis. They emerged from a Chronicler big data surveillance project that compared their sensor data to whatever leftovers of Stream they had at hand.

quote:

Over 100 years ago, data sets of alleged personality patterns activated a cascade of 22 symbols. Every pattern related to exactly one symbol. A Chronicler’s dream became reality. The Stream had revealed to them that humans were classifiable into 22 groups! How much easier could it get? The Stream reactions died down after minutes, but from this point on, the symbols were rooted in the Chroniclers’ minds. Years later, Chroniclers saw the same symbols on the cards of the Apocalyptic tarot. They were identical, and they were 22 again. They were definitely onto something very big here.

Chroniclers are really too excited about rediscovering Meyers-Briggs (all of them are INTJ, btw).

Back to the main sections, the 22 Concepts and descriptions follow. How do y'all want me to do it? I don't want to c/p the entire thing!

Next time: So, my character concept is “a good Apocalyptic” and

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Are the 22 personality types the major arcana of the tarot?

If so, give us Hermit, Chariot, Magician, Hierophant, Star and The World.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Nessus posted:

Are the 22 personality types the major arcana of the tarot?

If so, give us Hermit, Chariot, Magician, Hierophant, Star and The World.

Haha, no. It's Shitbird tarot, remember?

We do have a Hermit, though!

E: For funsies, here's how tarot and Apocalyptic tarot/Character Concepts look like (going by the numbered list on Wikipedia).

1. The Magician - The Creator
5. The Hierophant - The Seeker
7. The Chariot - The Traditionalist
9. The Hermit - The Hermit
17. The Star - The Visionary
21. The World - The Traveller

JcDent fucked around with this message at 10:37 on Sep 23, 2019

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!


The Buck Rogers RPG sounds pretty interesting so far, and the front cover is BANGIN', also my brain can't help but see it as a variant of the Doom cover art.

Also Degenesis seems... pretty reasonable so far? I expected far more madness, like the GM telling the players to wear the flayed skin of their enemies around the table to get into character, etc. some of the advice actually seems sensible.

lofi
Apr 2, 2018






It does need more DMing masks, true.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: The Tormented
Part 15: This Chapter Frustrates Me


What If Poison Ivy But A Mom

Rose is a Lesser Lilithim, appearing most of the time as a small, middle-aged woman with dark skin and golden-brown eyes. She wears her hair in a frizzy bun, and it is streaked with white. If anyone were to look very closely, they would notice lines on her skin, similar to plowed soil, and perhaps a green shoot or two in some places. She always smells of roses and other flowers, and this scent appears before she does. She dresses in colors similar to a sunset. She has a maternal demeanor, though she can be cold and calculating if required. In her true form, her skin is much more obviously made of soil, and occasional cracks reveal tiny rivers of magma beneath. The scent of roses gets replaced by burning pines, ozone and sage. Her hair unravels and unfurls like a flower, and her eyes burn like blue coals. Her ears are flowers, and she has no mouth, despite her relative humanoid appearance.

Rose's purpose is to contain and kill weeds in the garden. She finds things and removes them before they can spread. Occasionally, she will appear to a Promethean performing the generative act, perhaps in a crowd or reflection. She acts with a strong maternal drive, and she loves Prometheans, considering them to be siblings of the same fire that spawned her. It is not entirely clear if this is due to her own feelings or simply the nature of her missions, though. She is usually quiet and unassuming, allowing herself to be underestimated much of the time, and she spends the first 24 hours of her existence dampening her Azoth to ensure this happens. Above all, Rose is efficient in her work. She pursues the destruction of her targets above all else, and not even her fondness for Prometheans slows her down. She will happily wield fear, deceit and anger if they are the best way for her to contain and remove her target. When she observes those performing the generative act, she often uses her power to heighten their emotions, ensuring that they don't back down and stop halfway. She does not appear to care if they are successful or not, though.

Rose is...honestly, still pretty weak. Like, she's on par with a mid-rank spirit, but that's about it, and she's not got a lot of mystic powers to make up for having no Influence. She can make people feel a sense of awe, can influence emotions and is good at finding her way to things. She also has a Numen that doesn't exist in 2nd Edition: Pray For Rain. Whoever wrote this chapter appears to have been heavily reliant on Pandora's Book without realizing its rules were never updated for 2e. In fact, every statblock in this chapter has this error!

That's because Rose and the Rake are the only things in this chapter that have stats. They're the only Lesser Qashmallim, y'see, and Greater Qashmallim are intended to be plot devices. However, while this is also true of, say, Rank 6+ spirits, rules exist for those spirits to create avatars that are more rules-interactable for PCs. We don't get that here. I also don't think the writer remembered that Greater Qashmallim cause Firestorms when they manifest, or that Arch-Qashmallim cause Firestorms when they show up.


You thought the Rake was the Doctor?

The Emerald Professor is a Greater Elpidos. He appears as a man in fine but slightly archaic clothing, always perfectly tailored. He generally appears to be a sort of archetype professor/curator/scholarly authority. His clothes are always black or dark blue, and his gaze is intense. His eyes are deep set, and he always wears pince-nez or small, round glasses. He carries a newspaper under one arm and a notepad in one pocket. He will always have a pin or tattoo of a serpent in the infinity symbol shape, which he will tell humans is just a trinket of a former interest in antiques or mythology. In his true form, he is a massive, blank-faced humanoid. His glasses become concave surfaces with spires, rather like radio satellites, and he has three pairs of wings, though two are clipped or ragged-edged, as if gnawed on. An emerald snake half-emerges from one shoulder and encircles his arm. He wears a blue-black mantle, reminescent of the midnight sky, and his voice in this form is accompanied by a hiss.

Not that the Professor talks much. He is, however, always followed by the smell of a well-worn study, with notes of leather, amber and what might be a winter fire or the burning of black powder. He is typically found in artistic or intellectual society, moving through universities and artistic collectives. He may wear the guise of a visiting artist, a rare book dealer or a local historian. When dealing with mortals, he may even work with street art or beat poetry, though this is rarer. No matter what, however, critics love him for his enigmatic nature and social commentary. His missions revolve around serving as a herald for certain milestones on the Pilgrimage, including the New Dawn. His presence does not mean that these attempts will succeed - merely that an attempt will happen soon. If a Promethean sees the Emerald Professor and fails in attempting the New Dawn, on top of whatever normal consequences, they fall under the Professor's influence for two days.

While under the influence of the Professor, Prometheans may notice feathers or circular objects (eggs, balls, circular motifs). These symbols are intended to evoke the idea of rebirth and learning, and they may cause feelings of dread, guilt or new dedication. The Promethean also gets the Obsession Condition, related to changing their current state and seeking knowledge to surpass their self-imposed limits or learn more about a Role or Refinement. The Professor's key trait is encouraging questioning. He is considerably more interested in getting Prometheans to understand their own actions and seek new things to learn than whether or not they succeed or fail. The Professor especially respects honesty about what you do or don't know, admission of fears or failings, and resolution to do your best.

Next time: The Judge, the Scaffold-Builder, Ash

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





There can be more than one The Doctor! Also, I have never, ever seen a character or NPC in an RPG who's meant to be the Doctor who hasn't been insufferable, even the fun ones. The Rake is one of the fun ones, potentially, with a good ST. The Rake also seems insufferable.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Tuxedo Catfish posted:

Geists are the working-class labor activists to Mage's academic Marxists, with a generous dash of "mystery cult" thrown in for flavor.
Hallelujah, I'm a ghost
Hallelujah, ghost again
Hallelujah, give us some Plasm to revive us again

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

Halloween Jack posted:

Hallelujah, I'm a ghost
Hallelujah, ghost again
Hallelujah, give us some Plasm to revive us again

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f2J4ceCikI

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




Joe Slowboat posted:

There can be more than one The Doctor! Also, I have never, ever seen a character or NPC in an RPG who's meant to be the Doctor who hasn't been insufferable, even the fun ones. The Rake is one of the fun ones, potentially, with a good ST. The Rake also seems insufferable.

And that's sort of the double bluff of The Doctor, because The Doctor if often insufferable in his own show. The trick is that in good Who that insufferability can also often be the fun of the character, The Doctor is an exasperating super-intelligent weirdo gallivanting around causing and solving all kinds of hijinx who's arrogant enough to always assume he knows better. Worst of all he's often correct. It shouldn't be a surprise that whenever more than one incarnation of The Doctor meet they never get along, every single one of them assumes they're the best and The Doctor loves the spotlight as much as he hates being upstaged, even by themself.

That dynamic doesn't work well in tabletop because most RPGs already have people who are just like the Doctor in action and outcome who go around dealing and defeating hijinx, in common parlance they're called PCs. Introducing a Doctor-esque character usually doesn't work out because what makes The Doctor tolerable, IE being heroic and doing the right thing from his vantage point on high, is no longer unique and so you're left with his personality and his personality is as an insufferable, exasperating etc. Take away what The Doctor uniquely does from who The Doctor is and put that into tabletop and you have a gloryhound who always tries to hog the spotlight, and that's always an obnoxious kind of character.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: The Tormented
Part 16: Keep Those Firestorm-Causing Rules In Mind


A pregnant bird.

Dinah, the Judge is a Greater Lilithim. In her human form, she appears to be a woman in her 50s with a ponytail with strong I Want To See The Manager energies and opinions on kale. Her mission is to cause conflict and encourage emotional volatility, and all of her actions are designed to push this. She is a skilled manipulator who is very good at spotting and encouraging rivalries and insecurities and especially good at driving Prometheans to violence. Much of what she actually does is fairly minor, but drives Prometheans into conflict with others to push them to be more individual. In her true form, she appears to be an impossibly tall and slim pregnant woman, her belly distended with a long overdue fetus. Her head is that of a pelican, and her skin is perfectly smooth and reflects light in many colors. She wears a gold-black cloak, and her eyes are the burning light of dying stars. She carries a latern which flickers with Pyros.

Dinah's missions always focus on pushing Prometheans to become individuals in their own right, and she typically does so by wielding relationships against them to push them to separate from others. She relies on fear, guilt and other negative emotions, amplifying them with her power. Sometimes her mission is to get a Promethean to kill someone for the greater good, and often also to push them to conflict with their throng or creator in order to differentiate them from their friends. She causes small rebellions, which then lead to a chain reaction of arguments and fights due to volatile emotional reactions. Often the chains of events she causes end with one Promethean slaying another in misguided efforts to prove themselves correct, or at least working to outdo each other in ever-riskier situations. She might push a demiurge to abandon their 'child' as a failure, causing the Promethean to stop defining themself by their creator's desires.

Dinah's efforts revolve around pain and separation. She is not kind, and her lessons always hurt, even if they are later seen as necessary. She is subtle and manipulative, avoiding direct confrontations if at all possible, and often uses speech patterns that remind Prometheans of their creators. Her clothing choices also are often selected to cause early memories to resurface with a jolt, such as wearing a lab coat to talk to a Promethean made in a lab setting. She aims for emotional reactions, sometimes minor and sometimes horrific. She doesn't especially care what the Prometheans she urges to act do, as long as they no longer define themselves purely in relation to others. She does not give a poo poo about the fallout and she vanishes well before it hits most of the time.


The Joker's Brother, Dave Joker

The Scaffold-Builder is a Greater Lilithim, and he appears as a construction or dock worker with brown, worn skin from the sun. His hair is brown, but tipped in gold. He moves around without being noticed much of the time, has worker's disguise making him easily ignored. he wears a thick leather belt with a closed pouch resembling a tool pocket. He opens it when dealing with clients, though they rarely remember the details or strangeness of it all. In his true form, his face is something like a mosaic or surrealist painting, with features in the wrong places. His mouth runs from his ear to his chin, one eye is in his left palm, and his normal sockets are filled over with skin. His right hand is entirely ordinary, though reddened by rust or blood or paint. His leather pouch is made of human skin and filled with implements of torture.

The Scaffold-Builder exists to trigger transformations in Prometheans. His presence always comes with a sense of dread, for his transformations are fast and painful. His operating principle is simple: to make something new, the old must way die first. He "helps" Prometheans change Refinements and comes to those who become stuck in their ways or have trouble finding a Role to emulate. He rarely appears for more than a single scene before his job is done. He's direct, honest and doesn't talk much. When he does, he's more soft-spoken than his rough appearance suggests. He prefers to talk if he finds his target at rest, and if they are in Torment, he will offer to listen to them. He will coax and encourage and yell at them, he will browbeat and psychologically torture, but he cannot force them to act. If he is attacked, he vanishes in a burst of flame, leaving only scorch marks behind. He is a force of desperation and change. When he shows up, it means a transformation is needed because the other option is, likely, death.


The most powerful background music in the world.

Ash is an Arch-Qashmal and I hate her. She is the worst-written thing in this chapter, and this chapter is already fairly low in usability. But let's look at her first. She appears as an olive-skinned woman with braids bundled about the top of her head like a crown. She typically has an instrument, improvised or otherwise, and always one that has been in use by humans for centuries, if not more. She communicates largely through signs, usually music. Prometheans near her begin to hear rhythmic beats wherever they go, and seem followed by drums. In her true form, Ash is a giant bipedal figure that takes up your entire field of vision. Her legs are made of bronze and cedar ladders, and she wears a translucent lapis lazuli gown that ends at her knees. She has wide hips and a thick torso, like a fertility figure, and her braids run down her shoulders to become a silk belt that bears a tapestry of images from her target's past. All features above her waist shine too brightly to make out, and her voice, if she speaks, blasts like a trumpet. In either form, she is followed by the scent of incense - a mix of amber, galbanum, frankincense and burnt spices lost to time.

Ash appears when Prometheans make Pandorans or are at risk of becoming Centimanus, serving as a warning to return to the Pilgrimage before they fall. However, Ash does not do anything directly, and rarely even talks to her targets. Instead, she...plays music. She uses music or quotations to remind Prometheans of "the power of moving on," either via lyrics or just primal drumbeats to remind them their heart is beating. She can speak if she has to, but rarely does. She usually appears in her human form as a musician, dancer or DJ, though the longer she's around humans the less human she comes off. She uses her music to influence people to...uh...move on? Not do bad things? She can be anyone she wants. Her role is to offer a chance to turn around and not double down on making mistakes. It's okay to make mistakes, is her message - it's what you do afterwards that matters.

So yes, the most powerful being in this entire book, whose merest presence causes Firestorms, is...a source of background music for the GM to use to tell you 'hey, stop being a dick and get back on your Pilgrimage, you're going self-destructive.'

And that's literally all she does. She doesn't cause conflict. She doesn't move things along. She is literally just background music for the GM to be like 'hey maybe don't do The Evilest Thing.'

Next time: CLONES, who are much cooler than this

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



Ash is honestly a waste of some really cool visual imagery in favor of the most passive-aggressive thematic GM move. Remember, she mostly doesn't speak. The GM just introduces the Drum Lady, the entire city explodes because the writers forgot arch-qashmallim are supposed to be for cataclysmic big deals and not soft personal messages, and the Drum Lady beats on her drum at the characters, and the players just kind of stare at the GM and try to guess what the drum solo means until she goes away.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Alexis Smolensk's writing style seems to indicate that a lot of talk about his style of GMing is just that, talk. I somehow doubt that he's put together multiple gaming groups, over long periods of time, that want to play his ludicrously detailed game of Early Modern Europe But Also Dungeons & Dragons Somehow.

From some brief glances at Buck Rogers XXVC, it seemed like an interesting experiment that was better designed than most of TSR's other games at the time. The post-nuclear AI-ruled dystopia seems like a very timely update to the setting. On the whole, though, the game seems to lack a strong hook and winds up being neither-here-nor-there.

Lorraine Williams made some bad decisions, but diversifying TSR's games and leveraging their IP was not only a good idea, it was necessary. It seems that where it all went wrong was that they had no market research to guide them in deciding which individual ventures were likely to pay off.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


At the risk of being the pigeonholed guy in general, too...if you're playing D&D But Early Modern and with more of a focus on mundane life, why the hell are you using D&D for it instead of WHFRP?

The sad thing about mustard smuggling campaign is 'our campaign starts with mustard smuggling as we try to get around tax laws' would be a fine starting point for a lot of games, if the players were on board with it. How many players and player groups and games start around 'we're a bunch of minor but good hearted crooks committing a cool crime or just trying to make it day by day AND THEN!'? It's this insane idea that A: The players have to actively seek it because it's hidden in rumors within the gameworld, rather than people saying 'we want to start out as smugglers and see what kind of crime drama/adventures/escapades happen from there' and B: That he thinks that's just how all games should be. There's nothing wrong with starting out rag-tag mustard smugglers, or having a detailed locale you adventure in. Just there's a lot wrong with the way he wants to do it.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I mean at the heart of it, he's angry about historical anachronisms in a game built entirely around the anachronism of the footloose Adventuring Party.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Are you trying to tell me most of history doesn't ride on 3-5 weirdos trying to get beer money?

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!


Having an angel that just shows up and plays music(or maybe blows a vuvuzela) at the players any time they're about to do something incredibly stupid and/or dangerous would be a GM'ing power move.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




PurpleXVI posted:

Having an angel that just shows up and plays music(or maybe blows a vuvuzela) at the players any time they're about to do something incredibly stupid and/or dangerous would be a GM'ing power move.

the power move is having a vuvuzela sound clip queued up on your phone/laptop/tablet and playing it at max volume any time the players are about to deviate from your expertly crafted narrative, but never telling them why and expecting them to figure it out pavlov's dog style

Night10194 posted:

At the risk of being the pigeonholed guy in general, too...if you're playing D&D But Early Modern and with more of a focus on mundane life, why the hell are you using D&D for it instead of WHFRP?

The sad thing about mustard smuggling campaign is 'our campaign starts with mustard smuggling as we try to get around tax laws' would be a fine starting point for a lot of games, if the players were on board with it. How many players and player groups and games start around 'we're a bunch of minor but good hearted crooks committing a cool crime or just trying to make it day by day AND THEN!'? It's this insane idea that A: The players have to actively seek it because it's hidden in rumors within the gameworld, rather than people saying 'we want to start out as smugglers and see what kind of crime drama/adventures/escapades happen from there' and B: That he thinks that's just how all games should be. There's nothing wrong with starting out rag-tag mustard smugglers, or having a detailed locale you adventure in. Just there's a lot wrong with the way he wants to do it.

he seems like the kind of dude that would get mad at a tv show that has an obvious premise and then creates stories based on that premise for being too straightforward and pedestrian, but would absolutely love some "The Real World" style reality show where there's no concrete overarching plot because all of the actors were filmed live 24/7 and the editors randomly mashed together scenes out of sequence in post to create the appearance of a plot because it's organic storytelling or whatever bullshit

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

For the interested, here's the infamous Mustard Smuggling post. An excerpt:

quote:

When I have someone run in my world for the first time, in the usual way I would describe what they see: it might, for instance, go like this:

“You’re standing in Paris, at the head of the Rue de Pontoise, where you can gaze along the Quai de Montebello, towards Notre Dame; it has been raining heavily and the streets are flooded an inch deep in water; but movement has taken hold of the city again and artists are setting their canvases up along the Seine. A few teamsters nearby are struggling with a mule. You have been in the city for only a few hours, and here is where you’ve wound up. What do you wish to do?”

Now, from someone unfamiliar with my world, and quite familiar with D&D, I will get some very definite replies. If they are a thief, they will ask, “Do I see anyone with a fat pouch hanging from their belt?”

What is it with this nonsensical Lieberesque perception that rich people carry all their money where it can be clearly seen by thieves? That it wouldn’t occur to them, perhaps, to keep their money a little closer to their persons? Is it Dickens, perhaps, that makes player thieves think that every rich passerby is so much of a fool as to be unaware that there are thieves? And that it is clearly the easiest thing to do to steal money pouches as they pass by, like peaches in an orchard?

No, I will answer. No pouches. “All you see is poor people. You will have to go elsewhere to see them; and you would be hassled by guardsmen to be dressed as you are (the thief is a country lout, far too provincial, and dirty from the road).”

But, the more common reply to the description of origin, regardless of where I start a character off, will be, “I go to a tavern.”

“All right, it takes you a bit to find one, but you ask directions. And here you are at the Sour Bottle.”

So the player will buy a drink, and ask, “where can someone find a little adventure around here?”

And I will have the wine steward (this is France, after all) raise an eyebrow and walk away.

It’s a dumb question, after all.

Usually, what comes next is the player will wait for something to happen. That is, he or she will wait until I give them something to do. Which I won’t. It’s not my responsibility to make sure they have an adventure.
So bear in mind, Smolensk didn't present his players with Module M1: Mustard Smuggling Adventures. No, mustard smuggling is an example of the kind of thing he wants you to come up with on your own, without any prompting or even context in which to operate.

Smolensk is truly a parody come to life. In grognards.txt we used to mock the idea of the snobby and ambitious DM who wants to run D&D as a realistic medieval world, but with dragons and elves. He pretty clearly wants to be running Harn or Almogavers or Glorantha or some kind of game that grounds your PCs in the setting, but he won't break with D&D for whatever reason. I don't follow his blog closely, because I don't consider that a worthwhile use of my limited time on Earth. But from what I've seen, he always favours "realism" in a way that screws over the players and holds them to some impossible standard.

It doesn't help that his prose style can be summed up as "Mort and Tony from The Anime Club." What, you expect a game called Dungeons & Dragons to have signs pointing the way to monsters or dungeon adventures? You idiot. You utter swine.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Everything that says 'realism' usually means 'fucks someone over'. Usually the guy without magic.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



Okay, I'm here to infodump about Alexis, because his entire blog is F&F content. So let me teach you about this weird rear end in a top hat's Deal.

First let's make something clear: He has never played anything besides Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1e. He started playing it at 15, and has never changed games. His home campaigns are built on an insanely complex houseruled frankengame made... entirely of AD&D and his own ideas. He basically has no idea that other RPGs exist, and doesn't care to learn.

He has campaigns, several ones. They are ran, not even joking, via blogspot.

http://juvenis-campaign.blogspot.com/

Browse and see exactly what sort of game he runs. He takes literally months to run a single combat in this format, so who knows why he does this.

His homebrew nightmare is present on a ""wiki"" (Blogspot blog).
https://tao-dndwiki.blogspot.com/2018/02/general-index.html

Some fun rules he thinks are Good Ideas:
-Action Points ala XCOM in D&D.

-Chance for weapons to break when used.

-Tracking moon-phase to determine stealth-effectiveness.

Oh, note those modifiers aren't to the roll, that's how many hexes away you can be before getting seen. Everything is tracked via hexes universally at all times.

He also has a secret Patreon Locked Super Blog of Higher Learning on D&D that I can't be bothered to look at.

It's honestly hard to talk about this guy because his blog is this insane infinite hole of terrible opinions. I mean for gods sake he made nutrition rules, with spreadsheet matrices for determining taste and quality of cooking you roll on to determine how well fed/sick/disgusted you get by the food.

http://tao-dnd.blogspot.com/2019/05/at-last-nutrition-rules.html

KirbyKhan
Mar 20, 2009


Soiled Meat

Been reading these Diongenesis write-ups for a litteral year and we've gotten to character creation and mechanics.

What a time to be alive

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




What an absolute waste of a human life, to spend it all homebrewing dnd 1e.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





He seems like the kind of person who writes self-help books for low-level managers. He started out with a mediocre approach and a mediocre system, and then he spent thirty years polishing it and that much hard work surely means he's a transcendent master of the craft with a perfect technique by now, right? And anyone who says there was an easier or better way is just lazy -- unwilling to put in the hours. Kids these days just want everything handed to them on a platter.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

And when he wasn't working on the system, he was working on his Trade Tables, an enormous cross-indexed set of spreadsheets in case you need to "realistically" determine the price of cinnamon in Novgorod in 1562.

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.


I fooled myself into buying a CC book once. Which of course turned out to be “if I had written 3.0,” garbage.

Even I’m not fool enough to buy a book from Alexis.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: The Tormented
Part 17: In Which Science Is Never Wrong

Human cloning is a scientific leap that...well, isn't possible so far without Azoth. Scientists have, despite their best efforts, proved unable to create human clones without the use of Promethean alchemy. With it, they can create rough simulcra that are usually referred to as clones, though these tend to be short-lived and...deficient in important ways. They tend to keep these secret - while it's possible that the truth would seem the lauded as geniuses, it's far more likely that they would be seen as criminals and lunatics. The things they make are both more and less than human. No matter what, the creation of clones requires either the presence of a Promethean or at least their Azoth. This is the fuel that allows the cloning to succeed, but the Azoth donor is rarely a willing part of the scheme. The process is costly, both for the scientist and Promethean, but once complete, you get a living clone - one that generally very much wishes to remain living.

The Cheiron Group's records indicate that the first successful human clone was created by a genetics professor named Jakob Rathben. He was an enemy of the Group, spending much of his life sabotaging their experiments, at first with vandalism and then with theft. He used "random" attacks to to steal records, equipment and even Cheiron test subjects - though not out of any desire to liberate them or to reveal the information he took. Rathben just felt he was better able to pursue science when not restricted by any lab ethical code or oversight board - even one as...liberal...as Cheiron's, and he wanted their work. During this time, an anonymous benefactor (whom Cheiron themselves do not realize was a rather twisted Frankenstein with weird theories) sent Rathben cash each month, along with essays on the creation of life. She never visited Rathben personally and never went to his extensive underground lab near Prague, preferring to observe from a distance.

Rathben grew paranoid as his work continued, and he came to distrust electronics. He fired or killed his lab assistants, and soon his only companions were a pair of captive Galateids he'd taken from Cheiron. Their Disquiet sped his descent into madness, giving him strange lusts and cravings. He spent money like water, mixing his benefactor's theories with his own in order to achieve his greatest desire: the creation of life. He ground one of his captives into a nutrient slurry, unleashing her Azoth in order to clone himself. He recorded the method in thousands of scrawled notes on chalkboards and scraps of paper. He woke his clone, teaching him biology, reproduction and advanced chemistry, though with little sanity or pattern. The clone, while loyal to his "father," grew confused and depressed.

Rathben attempted to duplicate the process, but never managed it completely. He made limbs and vat-grown organs, but never a full human body. The second Galateid resisted his efforts to siphon her Azoth, causing the constant failure. His clone, which he simply named Son, acted as a lab assistant but unknowingly ruined every experiment due to Rathben's absolutely awful teaching methods and poor parenting skills. When Rathben realized this, he decided it was impossible - Son was his clone, and therefore perfect and incapable of error. This probably would have led to even greater insanity if Son didn't accidentally release the Galateid. She took pity on him and kidnapped him from the lab, leaving Rathben alone. He became desperate to find his "child," even using remnants of his Galateid slurry to create a flawed second copy, which survived a bare three months. As lucidity began to return with the fading of Disquiet and the slow retraction of the Wasteland around his lab, Rathben came into the company of a scientist named Hagen.

Hagen was a psychotic, however, and stabbed Rathben repeatedly before stealing all of his research and fleeing. Hagen went on to build clones for the highest bidder. He, Cheiron and the escaped Galateid have all assumed Rathben is dead, but there are rumors that his Frankenstein benefactor swooped in and saved "Daddy Rathben," putting him to work for her own purposes. Rathben is hardly the only human to experiment with Azoth or create human clones. However, after someone at Cheiron leaked the Rathben file, he is by far the most infamous. Prometheans have taken to calling those scientists that attempt human cloning with the aid of Azoth "Rathbens."

There are less than 30 independent Rathbens out there right now. Fredrich Hagen was very careful about who he sold the cloning information to, as he wished to avoid drawing too much Promethean attention. However, not all of his clients were so discreet. Some have set up fully-staffed labs, and staff leaked the ideas. Others went for government grants, though so far only one has actually been taken seriously on that. Prometheans have learned that some mortals want their Azoth to produce clones. For most, the idea is disgusting. A clone has only a fraction of its creator's personality and rarely lives for more than a few years. They exist for a specific purpose, and then they die. Some Prometheans have a sort of morbid interest in whether this could produce a new Lineage, and a few even sponsor experiments, but the results have never been ethical or humane.

Most Prometheans that deal in cloning are of the Argentum Refinement, seeking humanity in the mysteries that surround the science. These sometimes donate Azoth to cloning projects, despite the warnings of their peers. Azoth must be used. It might be mixed into a nutrient bath for the embryo, force-fed to a vat-grown shell or injected into an inert simulacrum heart, but no matter what, it is the key to life. Without it, no matter how good the scientist, the process doesn't work. Period. If you don't know about Prometheans, you may just be forever hosed in your clone research. So, how do you get Azoth? In the crudest sense, it can be found in the physical form of Prometheans. Chop off an arm. However, Azoth is not an element or a physical thing you can easily study. It is metaphysical, and thus it can be extracted in any number of ways, most of which involve liquids. Syringe extraction, melting flesh down...really, most gross methods work.

The actual methods of cloning differ between labs. In Salt Lake City, a huge lab keeps a bunch of cooled metal cylinders full of yellow, viscuous soup containing corpses. Ten of them. Each one looks different, but all are going to house the same mind: that of a Rathben by the name of Klara Ostergaard, who is sending instructions on their creation and maintenance from her home in Copenhagen. She has no desire to meet the clones, ever. She just wants them to awaken if - and only if - she dies prematurely. Her agents work throughout Utah to grab solitary Prometheans, mostly Frankensteins, in order to turn them into that yellow soup that keeps the bodies in stasis and helps to clone her brain and spinal cord in the corpse-shells. Meanwhile, in a small Queens studio apartment, another Rathben tortures and dissects a Tammuz, liquifying his flesh into a navel tube leading to a slow-growing clone of him. This is failing med student Bobby Tarr, who believes he can clone himself and have his clone attend lessons and exams in his place while he lives it up. The Disquiet his Tammuz victim caused has warped his mind entirely, and he is drawing the attentions of rather nasty things.

Meanwhile, Lydia Salerno is treating cloning as business. She doesn't care about life extension or creating life - she just wants to sell the results of the process to her customers. She's a sex toy pioneer, and she set about cloning herself around hollow-boned artificial skeletons. She now seeks to refine the process via luring in Galateids to her lab-dungeon with promises of safety and pay. She alternates between buying limbs from them and trapping them to melt them down into Azoth to create her sex-doll clones. She now grows these clones from all kinds of different men and women, and they have short, fast lives serving her clients' whims. In a horrific twist, some Prometheans even take advantage of her services for companionship, as the clones appear to be immune to Disquiet.

Mechanically, as a note, a Promethean who loses or donates Azoth to a clone project loses a dot of Azoth. Every clone requires one dot of Azoth to animate them and make them sentient, and a dot of Azoth requires the sacrifice of at least a limb. In theory, a clone can receive more than one dot of Azoth - each dot gives the clone another 1-3 years to live. Clones cannot undertake the Pilgrimage and can never gain souls, however, no matter how long their Azoth-granted span...as long as they remain clones, anyway. Clones tend not to be particularly self-aware, but the rare ones that are tend to either become desperate to extend their lives or exceptionally depressed about how long their extended, torturous existence will last.

Clones are incomplete. Those with enough mind to think about it wonder if they may perhaps be similar to Prometheans and thus able to grow and aim higher. They...well, aren't. Their Azoth depletes as they age, and while additional Azoth can prolong their existence, the majority either rapidly age to death or just fall over dead one day. All clones live in the uncanny valley to some extent. Some forget or never learned to blink, while others have unnaturally twitchy joints. They may lack a navel or genitalia depending on method of creation, or may have unnaturally colored eyes or a strange metallic sheen to the skin. Some Rathbens just wind them up with Azoth and let them go until they die, while others offer Azoth injections or pills to ensure loyalty. This is rarely actually necessary - few clones have the drive to rebel. However, those that have enough cognition to risk it do know that killing their Azoth source is suicidal.

A clone's mind is fundamentally a blank slate until filled. Some Rathbens use microchips of data to do so, while others use VR headsets or online educational courses. Others rely on flurries of subliminal messaging to condition their creations. In theory, you could take the time to teach them manually, as a parent would a child, but the short life of a clone makes this impractical and not usually worth doing. Rathbens usually prefer to teach their clones what they need to know - 'protect this,' 'kill this kind of person,' etc. - rather than any complex skills like detailed linguistics or etiquette. This tends to mean relentless, single-minded clones who are inflexible in dealing with new or unexpected things. Clones aren't robots, and they can learn and adapt, but they're typically guileless and respond aggressively to the unknown, as a child might when asked to do something they don't like.

Clones are not human beings; they don't have a soul, the natural growth of mind from child to adult or any true fire animating them. This means they tend to be puppets of their creators. Many do not need food or sleep, though some do. Their bodies do not rot, as their Azoth maintains them in stasis, and they do not tire. Those taught to emulate human activity may pretend to have functions they don't need just to blend in, of course. Clones lack much initiative and usually are not planners. They are natural followers, and while not slavishly so, they take comfort in performing tasks they are told to do. They tend to lack a frame of reference for wider thought, given their institutionalized births and short lives. They also tend not to be particularly malevolent in combat, too - they fight because they're told to, not out of malice.

Clones (and Hybrids, which are clones made with a mix of human and animal DNA) lack the pure fires of Azoth needed for a Pilgrimage. However, a Promethean can give some of their own Azoth to a clone, purifying and stoking the flame within them. By using a clone as they would any body for the generative act, a Promethean can turn a clone into a Promethean - though the act is shorter and easier, often, because there's already Azoth present in minimal form. They just need more. This means that a Frankenstein might just, for example, use the core body, torn apart and sewn back together, rather than needing other parts, while a Galateid can work with a form that is merely lovingly prepared rather than perfectly unmarred. However, freeing a clone as a Promethean is not without risk. You might accidentally create a Jovian Athanor inside your new child, or turn them into a Pandoran. (A Jovian Athanor is basically an anti-enlightenment box, powered by the Pyros Devil. We'll...get to him.) It's always a higher risk to attempt the generative act on a clone rather than normally.

If done correctly, however, the clone becomes a true Promethean of their new creator's Lineage, regardless of what they were before. Hybrids have their animal DNA burned away, with Azoth and their human parts filling in the gaps. However, former clones and hybrids alike lose their memories, both of themselves and their original DNA donor. These may resurface, as any Promethean may occasionally gain memories from their body, but essentially, a clone that is turned into a Promethean is merely a new Promethean whose personality is more heavily influenced by the clone that was used to create them.

Next time: Clone mechanics

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


Halloween Jack posted:

Hallelujah, I'm a ghost
Hallelujah, ghost again
Hallelujah, give us some Plasm to revive us again

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_PgNRBdgN0

e: with a touch of

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP4tZ8p4iwc

"If God were a computer, undoubtedly he'd blow up the world."

Tuxedo Catfish fucked around with this message at 20:00 on Sep 23, 2019

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Night Horrors: The Tormented
Part 18: There's Always Two Of Me Just A-Hangin' Around

By default, a clone has two dots in all attributes ('exactly human average') and 1 dot in all skills their progenitor had. The Rathben that makes a clone need not be the progenitor - Fredrich Hagen, for example, never uses his own DNA to make clones, and instead steals DNA sources. However, many Rathbens self-clone at least once; they tend to be egotists. Specialized clones that are trained in specific functions or indoctrinated from "birth" in a specific way of thinking may have higher attributes or skills in their areas of focus; for example, Vernon McTavish hs produced a team of mercenary clones operating in the Zanzibar region of Tanzania, and all of them have four dots in Dexterity and Stamina, plus three dots in Stealth, Weaponry and Firearms. Rumor suggests that each one is a clone of McTavish himself. Rathbens can imprint their own personalities on clones, and the GM can decide at will that a clone temporarily gains one of their Rathben's traits for a while. The Rathben may believe this is the result of education, but generally it's just the clone mimicking them.

Clones are immune to wound penalties. They do feel pain, but it's dampened - they can't pass out, and will only stop attacking (if that's their purpose) when they get killed or are physically prevented from continuing their assault. Azoth takes on the role of adrenaline, allowing them to perform superhuman feats of endurance and making them immune to the Beaten Down Tilt. (Which is one of the nastier ones, and the main way of nonlethally taking someone out of a fight without, you know, beating them to unconscious.) Clones also have no negative reaction to the deaths of other clones; indeed, on a subconscious level they feel emboldened by being closer to being the only one left. This means that whenever a clone sees another clone from the same batch get aken out, they gain 1 Willpower.

Clones have neither Integrity like humans nor Pilgrimage like Prometheans. They have a Virtue and Vice as mortals do, with Virtues typically based on loyalty or dedication and Vices usually based on their progenitor or their conditioning. Clones are easily swayed by their vices and must make a roll to avoid acting in the nature of their Vice whenever they see a chance to do so. Clones regain Willpower via whatever method their Rathben has designed them for - sleep, pills, meditation, whatever. Clones also have a single Alembic when created, copied from one of the Transmutations of the Promethean whose Azoth was used in their creation. Their Azoth rating determines how much Pyros they can have, but it's half as much as an equivalent Promethean. Clones regain Pyros by spending 24 hours pursuing their designated purpose. A Promethean who has 'donated' Azoth but still lives can sense the direction of the clone they helped make whenever it uses its Alembic, and will feel a strong desire to nurture the clone. They must spend Willpower to ignore this call, which otherwise causes a penalty to all actions until either the call is answered or the clone recovers Pyros.

Some Prometheans believe that Rathbens are a form of alchemist, but they tend not to have any special alchemical understanding at all. They're not trying to defy Heaven and seek enlightenment or cure some great ill - they're making life because their egos tell them to. Their decisions about what to do with their clones tend to come after they've actually made the first one, not before. They do, however, tend to be geniuses. Some of them maintain their sanity despite the work, even their compassion, but handling raw Azoth twists their minds most of the time. Most Prometheans believe that there's something out there that doesn't want clones made this way, but don't generally name a higher power or moral arbiter as that thing.

Mechanically, when a scientist handles Azoth, they develop first stage Disquiet - or one stage higher than what they already have. They also gain the Obsessed condition, resolved only if all of their clones die. It is common for scientists to also gain the Paranoid condition, and if they do, it won't go away until they spend at least a full week out of the presence of any clone. Every time after the first that the scientist handles Azoth, the Disquiet gets worse. They don't necessarily lose Integrity, but Integrity is often a result of actions they take and the manias they develop. The only necessary thing, mechanically, to be a Rathben is to have a two-dot Retainer (Clone), and the main benefit is that you have a loyal clone who will defend you to the death.

Popular public belief holds that cloning is only possible in the best labs, with bleeding age tech and the best researchers in safe, sanitary conditions and spending millions of dollars. And honestly, that's relatively true, in the sense that the materials required to make clones are outside the reach of most scientists. However, an enterprising Rathben can make them with only the materials on hand, if they're clever. You don't even need a ton of real scientific knowledge - just enough of it and possibly a mix of pseudoscientific theory to have a map towards making your cloning dreams come true. Rathbens tend to take risks others would not in pursuit of their goal, and often their labs are messy, mad-sciency lairs with clone vats made tarps and old bathtubs. Some will misappropriate grant money or abuse loans to get the equipment they want. After all, to make a clone you have to be willing to do what others dare not.

Cheiron did their best to keep Rathben's research under their control alone. They couldn't. Researchers left the company with copies of the notes in binders or flash drives, and while selling the process never really made much money, it's disseminated enough that there's clones out there with no relation whatsoever to Hagen or Cheiron. A lot of folks are unwilling to invest in cloning - this is not a new scam to them - and the UN's ban on human cloning makes it hard to market your goods openly. Often, cloning research is disguised as "providing a resource for organ transplant services." Companies and people involved in human cloning typically survive by having two layers that never, ever meet. The first is public image. These companies have a front of entirely normal employees and researchers engaged in entirely mundane work, with the occasional bit of information passed on from above containing breakthroughs in protein encoding or whatever. These are shells, engaged in pointless work to launder their owners' money and disguise the real operation. The second layer is behind the scenes - small groups of researchers under the control of one Rathben, who generally will work hard to keep anyone else from realizing the true nature of their research for fear of it getting out of their control. The Rathbens also manage the acquiring of Azoth. Some hire private security teams to capture Prometheans, while others devise traps to gain the trust of a Created and then take them down and render them for their precious, precious flame.

Dioscuri Executive Solutions is owned by Diego Reines, a Rathben who has always had a fondness for the tale of the warriors Castor and Pollux. He was an engineer that worked with the US military during the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. He discovered cloning when he acquired the notes of a researcher in a Republican Guard compound who, it turns out, was a Rathben, and he realized that clones could save countless US lives if employed in military operations. His dream of making perfect, soulless fighters with no families to worry about led to the foundation of Dioscuri, a PMC with only a few listed operatives. That's because these operatives, considered the best of the best, are made from carefully curated cell collections of dead soldiers, given life in Reines' lab.

Reines believes the potential of cloning is limitless. Tailor-made soldiers can handle any environment, are completely loyal, and are totally expendable assets, not real people. (At least, Diego's decided they're not real people.) He sells his soldiers' services to the highest bidder to fund his research into making better clones, and his teams are trained to return the bodies of his clones to the lab for further research. While he's only been operating for a few years, Reines has a shocking number of contacts across the globe, allowing him to keep an eye out for Promethean activity over a wide area. He knows that the need for Azoth will always keep his numbers low, and so he has hired a number of other Rathbens to develop more efficient means of Azoth harvest.

Project Gemini was originally a CIA-funded operation meant to replace foreign leaders with clones that would obey the US. The project got shuttered and the name reassigned to the space program during the Cold War, officially. Even these official records of the old project require top-level clearance to read, and most that have seen the Gemini file believe it's a joke meant to test the gullibility of agents that read things they shouldn't. In truth, Gemini saw most of its funding shifted to another covert operation investigating cloning. This operation got ahold of a black market copy of Rathben's notes shortly after they got out of Cheiron custody, and they've used them as the base of their research ever since. The CIA's primary clone testing facility is based out of a safehouse under an old car factory in Dresden, Germany. The agents working there attempt to avoid the CIA Director's notice while working secretly to hunt and harvest Promtheans.

Gemini is in the gray area of what is considered acceptable, even by CIA standards. The project's leader, Greg Donovan, hopes to one day reveal the prototype clones to the President. Until then, he works in secret, in the belief that the ends justify the means. He keeps track of CIA information channels for potential targets to replace with clones, and he's replaced several mid-rank foreign officials, whose "changes of heart" tend to be shocking to the rest of the CIA. Agents working with Project Gemini monitor Promethean activity carefully, especially for fights, and will happily swoop in to vulture any corpses or body parts that get dropped. They aren't above live capture, but prefer it to be a last resort, because taking down a Promethean tends to require more resoruces than Donovan thinks is prudent. The project's Rathben, Doctor Kneise, wants more live subjects for testing, but for now, Donovan is keeping Gemini's activities slow and carefully measured.

Vivitas Health Institute advertises heavily - bus stop banners, late night commercials, mall kiosks, social media vendors, all proclaiming the wonders of Vivitas miracle anti-aging products. The majority of these are simple cosmetics and perfumes, no more potent than any other scam medical supplement. However, for those that attend Vivitas' private clinics, miracles do happen. Many are shocked by the results - someone heads off for a long spa and returns utterly revitalized in mind and body. This is possible because Vivitas was founded by Arno Nederlander, one of the original ex-Cheiron researchers that stole Rathben's notes. He realized that the potential of cloning was limitless - it just needed a testbed. Nederlander used his family's vast fortune to buy a majority share in a failing cosmetics firm. He complete revamped them into Vivitas, refocused on health and wellness.

Nederlander now has thousands of people willing to just hand him their DNA as part of the Vivitas Gene Phenotype Restorative Testing - a nonsense phrase that gives his firm an excuse to learn whatever they want about someone, then replace them with a clone. Via cloning, Vivitas is able to produce a nearly infinite supply of organs for transplant patients, while others are replaced wholesale by Nederlander's clones, loyal to him. This gives him access to their wealth and contacts. Thanks to that, Vivitas is now a world leader in restorative therapy, and Nederlander's reputation has skyrocketed. His extending reach has allowed himself to place dozens of clones in places of power, either replacing them as they near their expiration dates or arranging to have their estates transfer their assets to him upon death.

The Mellifera Group wants to turn cloning into a profitable business. (In, presumably, a different way than Dioscuri and Vivitas have.) Specifically, they want to create healthy, long-lived clones, and their efforts to do so have resulted in the creation of a number of Hybrids which they sell to fund their efforts. They're only interested in cornering the cloning market, and they've dedicated themselves to two things. First, monitor clones worldwide. Second, identify their Rathbens and bring them into the company. Any that refuse their offer of employment are murdered. As far as the Group is concerned, clones themselves are chattel, to be bought and sold. Often, their corporate meetings refer to clones as "units," with the latest models theorized with potential luxury add-on enhancements.

Mellifera offers free psychiatric services to all executives in order to monitor their loyalty. Those that grow a conscience and find themselves unable to continue their work developing clones are replaced, and only the chairman of the board, Shelby Tycho, has a totally accurate count of how many Mellifera execs are clones now. Currently, Mellifera is working on trying to develop more Hybrid breakthroughs. To date, only one Hybrid has proven stable, but that's not stopped them from trying to create all manner of hybrid creatures. The most popular line they have developed for their limited but wealthy clientele is the Model-B, derived from genes taken from prize-winning bulls throughout the Midwest. Their massive forms are designed to be shock troops in dangerous areas. Other succesful lines include the Model-C, using cobra DNA to produce natural assassins, and the Model-D, using dog DNA to make loyal bodyguards.

If you're asking who the gently caress is buying hybrid furry clones in the World of Darkness and how no one knows it's going on, the answer is 'wealthy assholes' and 'how much do you know about the operations and products offered by Blackwater?'

Next time: Specifics.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



thank god "C" isn't for "catgirl".

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



One of the afore-mentioned tie-ins Buck Rogers: Battle for the 25th Century Game is legitimately good. We played the hell out of it back in the day.

It's basically RISK, but with some interesting wrinkles. There's multiple unit types. Continents are replaced by planets, and they move at different rates around the solar system track. So planets come in and out of alignment, constantly shaking up who's adjacent to who and how far you have to go to reach your target. Plus you can do some cool stuff like sling-shotting for extra movement points, with a slight associated risk of misjudging the maneuver and ramming the planet you're attempting to accelerate yourself with.

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



wiegieman posted:

What an absolute waste of a human life, to spend it all homebrewing dnd 1e.

I know right. 40 years of other RPG's, other genres, all the new and interesting (plus all the terrible) stuff that's come out.

It's all passed him by. It's genuinely a little sad.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Halloween Jack posted:

Lorraine Williams made some bad decisions, but diversifying TSR's games and leveraging their IP was not only a good idea, it was necessary. It seems that where it all went wrong was that they had no market research to guide them in deciding which individual ventures were likely to pay off.
Williams actually did a good job running TSR in the 1980s. She pushed heavily into book publishing (which led to money spigot that was Dragonlance and then the money geyser that was Drizzt/Forgotten Realms). She oversaw the creation of the Gold Box games. She invested in cover art and physical presentation. She presided over the single most intellectually fertile period of D&D's history, with a zillion interesting world settings being created and published under her watch. Plus she dragged the company away from the family of grognards who were systematically looting it at the start of her tenure.

What did her in was the market changing in the early 1990s - first, the shift of the RPG market towards Vampire and other similar play-a-monster games, and then the fireball that was Magic: the Gathering, which TSR struggled to respond to (Dragon Dice? Spellfire? Blood Wars?). Plus the DL and FR paperback novel goldmines became tapped out and TSR was unable to get lightning to strike a third time (despite publishing a river of Al-Qadim and Dark Sun and Planescape novels)

All that said, her self-dealing w/r/t her ownership of the Buck Rogers property was really indefensible.

Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


:smith:



Grimey Drawer

Deptfordx posted:

One of the afore-mentioned tie-ins Buck Rogers: Battle for the 25th Century Game is legitimately good. We played the hell out of it back in the day.

It's basically RISK, but with some interesting wrinkles. There's multiple unit types. Continents are replaced by planets, and they move at different rates around the solar system track. So planets come in and out of alignment, constantly shaking up who's adjacent to who and how far you have to go to reach your target. Plus you can do some cool stuff like sling-shotting for extra movement points, with a slight associated risk of misjudging the maneuver and ramming the planet you're attempting to accelerate yourself with.

It's actually kinda close to Axis & Allies and similiar games, and yeah it's pretty fun.

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.



Imagine how bad of a bartender you would have to be to not be able to come with an answer to "where can someone find a little adventure around here". That's not a dumb question. It's a question that thousands of bartenders doubtlessly answer every day, because that's part of their job.

Maxwell Lord posted:



Buck Rogers XXVc: The 25th Century

This setting is really interesting, and on further investigation significantly more interesting than the actual story line of Buck Rogers serials.

DalaranJ fucked around with this message at 00:05 on Sep 24, 2019

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Leraika posted:

thank god "C" isn't for "catgirl".
Yet. :getin:

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Clones seem like a lot of work for not much return. Yes you create artificial life... except not really, because you had to use better artificial life as an ingredient. You're just taking an engine apart and puting it back together shittier.
If you want something with no existing mind that you can indoctrinate just use a regular human baby. It's 1/10,000th the price and will last longer.

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Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


Creating souls is the one thing that even wizards in the ChroD can't do easily. The Divine Fire can, but it mostly uses it to turn Prometheans human, unless tampered with.

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