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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Age of Sigmar: Beasts of Chaos
Goat War

The Beasts of Chaos say that once, they ruled the Mortal Realms. When the realms first formed from the void, the Beasts of Chaos were its masters, ensuring it remained in a state of primitive, violent and destructive chaos. The rise of the Pantheon of Order and the Age of Myth ended their rule, though many ancient folk tales remain detailing the violence and brutality that the Beasts inflicted. Cave paintinings and ancient art of all kinds depict them as horrific monsters that terrorized the early realms. They were the embodiment of fear and nightmare, and much of what united people under the banner of Sigmar and his fellow gods was that they saved the world from being terrorized so. The rise of cities and development of technology allowed the mortal peoples to fight against the Beasts of Chaos, and the reach of the mortal peoples spread far and wide.

Even Sigmar, however, could not eradicate the Greatfrays. They fled into the wild lands, hiding where no one wanted toseek them. They lived in these places for centuries, biding their time and striking out at their former victims only occasionally, when the lust for blood and ruin became too much. They hated Sigmar and his followers deeply, though, and kept waiting for the right time. That came when the Dark Gods attacked in dawn of the Age of Chaos. In the battles that came after, the Beasts of Chaos re-emerged with a vengeance. Alongside the mortals and daemons, the Greatfrays tore apart whatever civilization they could find, defiling the statues and temples of Sigmar wherever they found them. Those who did not flee were crushed, their bodies torn apart and partially eaten. This remained the priamry mode of Greatfray operation for centuries, pretty much up until the Stormcast emerged from Azyr. The resurgence of mortal power has given the Beasts of Chaos a new face for their enemies, one they can hate over all others. The Stormcast now serve as the ultimate target of most Beastfolk action, for the Beasts see them as pure manifestations of order that can be broken and defeated.

Within each realm, the nature of the wildlife mirrors the magic that shapes the landscape. In Aqshy, many animals have fur or eyes the color of fire, while in Chamon, metallic skin and scales are common. The Beasts of Chaos, like less corrupted life, reflect the nature of their home realm as well, mixing the natural energies of their realm with those of the Realm of Chaos. Ulguan Beasts often have skink or fur the color of dark ink that moves like mist, whily thse of Ghyran often have plants growing in their plets or horns made of wood. Their human and animal parts are usually recognisable as being similar to those of animals and ethnic groups native to their realm. Likewise, they often have instincts similar to those of animals in their realm. Shyishian beastfolk, like the ravens and crows of Shyish, are frequently found stripping all flesh from the bones of their victims, leaving only clean ivory. The beastherds of Ghur hunt no less compulsively than the natural predators around them. They live as a dark mirror of the natives of their realms, mocking them with the twist of Chaos.

It is not entirely clear how the Beasts of Chaos were created, for none of the Chaos Gods did it. They had been around for centuries before the Dark Gods moved on the Mortal Realms in earnest. Some say that it was actually the Beasts themselves that called the Dark Gods to the Realms, saying that the savage revels and dark rites of the ancient Greatfrays strengthened the energies of Chaos from tiny motes into the eventual punctures through which the daemons eventually emerged, and thus drew the attention of the Chaos Gods. However, that's only a theory, and it still doesn't really explain where the Beasts themselves came from.

The libraries of Hysh and Azyr contain ancient works by philosophers in the Age of Myth, known as the Corporeus Chaotica Postulate. These books argue that the Beasts of Chaos represent the destruction of the natural order - and specifically that they are heralds of unnatural mixing of species, of humans with aelves or duardian or so on, for they represents a breakdown of the innate separation of race. These theorists said that Chaos is not the cause of the Beasts, but rather vice versa, and that the Beasts were born of those nations who allowed improper intermixing. Few of these texts survived the Age of Chaos, for they were born from a set of isolationist kingdoms known as the Refracted States, who rejected alliance with other nations, even fellow Sigmarites. They were among the first to fall to Chaos, as they had no allies, and most of their works were lost to the fires of destruction. The few texts that survive are largely discredited now, though some bigoted street preachers still quote from them, arguing that diversity is not, in fact, the strength of the Free Peoples. They're kind of motherfuckers.

A frequent theme in legends about the birth of the Beasts of Chaos is that once, they were natural beings and were transformed by ancient Chaos corruption. Many claim they were once members of indigenous tribes in the days before the Age of Myth who sought out nodes of Chaos energy. The energy mutated their bodies and struck their minds with porphetic visions, so many were outcast from their communities, while others chose to become hermits, and others were accepted but convinced their fellows to join them in bathing in the energies of Chaos. Over time, these stories say, the Chaos-corrupted people grew more wild and mutated, their minds devolving to their base instincts. These became the first Beasts of Chaos, it is said, and from them were spawned the rest. Some Azyrite scholars claim that Chaos' power continues to warp and mutate people even today, recording stories from the Age of Chaos in which entire peoples fled to the wild lands to survive, but returned as beastmen, serving the powers they once fled. This seems an extension of the Old World's fears of Chaos mutation, and doesn't really line up as much with the way Chaos is presented in the rest of the setting, but it's possible.

The version I consider most likely, though, is the one that matches up with the actual mechanics of Beasts of Chaos armies. This is the legend of the Alpha Progenitor. In ancient books of magical lore and scholarly writings, there are theories based on translated tusk-glyphs from the Prowling Valleys of Ghur. The glyphs claim that every Chaos Beast is descended, ultimately, from a single creature that was spawned into existence by the very first touch of Chaos in Ghur. The creations of this ancient Chaos beast became the first Greatfray, and they spread their own creations through not just Ghur but all the Realms. The glyphs do not record what happened to the beast, though it's possible the part that did was lost or destroyed, as many of the huge tusks on which they are carved are broken and shattered. Some of the Ghurish tribes say that this creature still exists, wandering the Mortal Realms as a godbeast, or perhaps that it is the beast Ravenak. Certainly, the local beastherds seem to agree, often worshipping this mythic figure that they name hte Gorfather, the Sire of Ruin or similar. The beastherds of the Prowling Valleys raise immense herdstones of living, Chaos-infected rock, which they sacrifice their prey upon. After the beasts gorge themselves on flesh and offal, the herdstones bulge and pulse, and new generations of Beasts are birthed from it spotaneously, fully formed. There is no mother, no father - only the rampant growth started by the Gorfather. And that's the version I think is intended to be mostly true.

Whatever the case, the Beasts of Chaos consider themselves the only true scions of Chaos. Sure, a lot of civilized people pledge themselves to the Dark Gods...but look how that actually works out for them. Swearing allegiance to one of the Chaos Gods doesn't work long term. You're going to give up everything for power, turn against all your once loved, because that's how the Chaos Gods work. In return for their gifts, they demand total servitude. That's a price the Beasts refuse to pay. They admire the destruction, ruin and corruption that the Chaos Gods spread, they like the damage that the mortal followers of Chaos can do, but they very rarely actually devote themselves to serve a god. Those who do are seen by the rest of their kind as weaklings, who have bound themselves and their innate ferocity and strength in a cage of their own making. There is little the Greatfrays value more than inherent power, and to ask for power from another being is a tool of cowards. It is groveling at the hooves the strong in hopes of being rewarded, a reward that will never come, because why would you help someone so manifestly weak?

Oh, sure, they say, a beastherd follows its alphabeast, but that is a hierarchy that exists only as far as the alphabeast's own strength can take them. No further. It lasts only as long as they maintain able to defeat all challengers. It is not inherent, and it is enforced by power - there is no begging, no groveling, and it is an obedience discarded as soon as possible. One cannot discard obedience to the Dark Gods so easily, and that makes their worshippers weak. Likewise, the Beasts view daemons as essentially slaves. They are powerful, cunning and violent, sure, but they are shackled into being mere extensions of their god's will, using their power only when and where their master allows by their innate nature. This existence cannot be borne by the anarchic Beastfolk. The whole idea of service to a god means limiting your own fury and destruction, accepting the chains of another willingly, and therefore it is looked down on. The Beasts of Chaos are the only true children of Chaos, then, embodying perfect anarchy. The Dark Gods aren't what they want to be - those are just entities of power trapped in cages of their own making. The true goal is pure Chaos, total freedom - freedom of action, freedom of form, freedom from identity. Return to Chaos.

That said, a few breeds of Beasts are innately linked to the Chaos Gods. The Tzaangor serve Tzeentch, granted their birdlike form by him and given the ability to gaze into the past and future. The Slaangors follow Slaanesh inherently. The Thunderscorn, well, they are bound by ancient pact to serve all of the Chaos Gods. Long ago, far before the Mortal Realms existed, the dragon ogors made a pact with the Gods of Chaos in return for immortality. Even so, it's rare that the Thunderscorn will ask for help or blessings from the Dark Gods, preferring to rely on their own power and generally resenting the deities they serve.

The Chaos Gods do not return this disinterest. They see the Greatfrays as quite valuable for the destruction and terror they can spread - on the forces of Order, yes, but also on each other, given the frequent war between the Ruinous Powers. The influence of each god waxes and wanes with time, and the innate viciousness of the Beasts can be quite useful in thinning out the worshippers of another god. Khorne realtively frequently sends daemonic or mortal legions into the lands of the Greatfrays, trying to rile them up. Whether they end up serving Khorne's armies or fighting them, the deaths caused are pleasing to Khorne. Tzeentch, meanwhile, sees the Beasts as perfect tools with which to ruin everyone else's day. He will send the Bray-Shamans of the Gors visions of future carnage or otherwise manipulate people into going after them, spreading confusion and anarchy through the Beasts without having to command them. They're useful idiots, in other words. Nurgle, meanwhile, considers the Beasts of Chaos useful tools with which to corrupt land. Where the Greatfrays travel, the energies of Chaos soak into the landscape, allowing Nurgle's gifts to flourish better in the ruins. He aids the Beasts by seeding plagues among the fortresses of those who would keep them in the wilds, allowing their rampages through with less danger. Slaanesh...doesn't really do much to get the Beasts on his side. They just kind of happen to become Slaanesh-worshippers in places where his power is strongest, as they indulge in base desire and so become trapped in obsession over things like food and cocaine.

Once in a while, a leader among the Greatfrays will emerge and dedicate themselves to a specific god. They do this not through oaths or rituals, but by indulging only in the one aspect of Chaos that god embodies. In return, they receive gifts from their patron, ranging from mutations to unending rage to prophetic visions. Often their herds see them as outcasts and try to kill them, but if a devotee beastman is strong enough to survive this and overcome the rest of their herd, they may end up as an alphabeast, bringing their entire beastherd - or, in rare cases, an entire Greatfray - into the service of one of the Chaos Gods. Their fellows may look on them as lesser, but these beastherds are tolerated as long as they continue to spread anarchy, ruin and pain through the realms.

After all - survival among the Greatfrays is all about power and violence. If you can prove yourself the strongest predator, you survive. If you can't, you serve or you die. Mercy and compassion are alien to the Chaos-fuelled minds of the Beasts, weaknesses that are to be exploited in others. However, they know that physical strength is insufficient. To be strong, one must also be cunning, able to outsmart foes and lure them into favorable territory. One must be smart enough to know when to spare the lives of others so that they may be added to the herd. They must know when and where to lead their followers, so their hunger for violence can be kept at a dull roar. This is all considered to be innate to a Beast, rather than something taught or learned. The Beasts have little respect for those who must rely on tools or education rather than their own instincts and innate power. They have no regard for proper weapons or complex machines, cobbling together tools out of leftover materials or stealing weapons from their defeated foes. They may wear armor, but rarely make it themselves, instead forcing the weaker gor-kin to cobble it together from scrap. This ties into their disdain for those who ask the gods for power, because skill granted by a god is not earned by one's own strength, and so can be taken away as easily as it was given.

The idea of inherited rank or title is nonsense to the Beasts, who consider leadership to belong only to those capable of claiming it in feats of bloody violence. An alphabeast is ordained in the blood of their rivals, and no other way. If they had an offspring, that creature would have no claim to rule any more than anyone else. Loyalty is not to be praised, either, because rewards for loyalty are not earned power. It is expected that, if the chance came, any beastman would attempt to kill their leader and seize power. To not be willing to do that is going to make you distrusted and despised far more than being a treacherous bastard. After all, you must be up to something if you're not openly plotting. Sometimes, these "loyalists" are cast out of a Greatfray to survive alone, but more often they just get killed by rivals who want something they have.

Next time: Anprims

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SkyeAuroline
Nov 12, 2020



Froghammer posted:

Real loving shock that the game that defends sexual assault as "you American prudes have no grasp of the nuances of sexuality, unlike we Europeans" also has Western Europe as literally the only habitable place on Earth

Eastern Europe and northern Africa, too, but the point stands. I refer back to commentary on Degenesis centering Germany (and white Germans) as the last bastion of civilization and the only one not given real-world ethnic/regional stereotypes for my lack of surprise on the worldbuilding's focus.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Libertad! posted:

The (white) male default of adventuring groups is something I see come up here and there in various gaming products. In my cases they were ones that could easily cause a massive plot-derail.
I've read a lot of gross games, and despite being very jaded, I'm still struck by the heteronormativity of all this garbage. Dishaw, Raggi, and their ilk will go off on pompous rants about how they're not going to let the Tipper Gores of the world censor their art, they're not afraid to shatter the establishment with their dangerous thoughtcrimes, blah blah blah. But they're either terrified of or oblivious to the idea of two ding-dongs touching. (Like, Carcosa's evil snake magick requires everything from torture to gang rape to pedophilia to murdering your own child, but no homo.) Their fantasies begin and end with raping a conventionally attractive white woman while dressed as Emperor Palpatine.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

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




I can't help but to wonder if it's a degree of tough guy posturing because they think guys are hot. "No you see I'm not gay but instead I'm edgy as gently caress, just look at this stuff!"
I'm going to assume that in their eyes only girls can be bisexual (and that's totally hot) and not guys.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I don't think they're trying to hide the truth that they're actually gay, I think they're trying to hide the truth that they're actually the most boring and unimaginative clods on earth

SkyeAuroline
Nov 12, 2020



Cooked Auto posted:

I can't help but to wonder if it's a degree of tough guy posturing because they think guys are hot. "No you see I'm not gay but instead I'm edgy as gently caress, just look at this stuff!"
I'm going to assume that in their eyes only girls can be bisexual (and that's totally hot) and not guys.

It's disappointing how quickly people want to jump to "the people hating gay men are just gay men in denial", as far as your first part goes. Least of what I'd call it, probably, but solidly disappointing.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Halloween Jack posted:

This is what they do when they're writing an alternate-world setting and there are large parts of the world they know nothing about. That part of the map just says "here be dragons."

My take in homebrew settings is that 'Here be Dragons' is fine. An adventure about going out past those dragons on an expedition into the unknown through mortal peril can be fun!

But that kind of open-ended fun where you're using an established setting as a backdrop for what's mainly your own original adventures is... not compatible with this kind of metaplot-heavy game.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

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




SkyeAuroline posted:

It's disappointing how quickly people want to jump to "the people hating gay men are just gay men in denial", as far as your first part goes. Least of what I'd call it, probably, but solidly disappointing.

Frankly I was wondering more than accusing because it's behaviour that feels prevalent. Or at least using edgy behaviour and language to cover up something they don't want to admit about themselves.

But this also works very well:

Halloween Jack posted:

I don't think they're trying to hide the truth that they're actually gay, I think they're trying to hide the truth that they're actually the most boring and unimaginative clods on earth

Cooked Auto fucked around with this message at 15:06 on Apr 26, 2021

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Blue Rose 2e

On the note of heteronormativity

Well, how can I resist the invitation to get back to Deermocracy when we're talking about the dull heternormativity of edgelords? Sexuality, gender, and marriage/romance gets a whole section of its own in Blue Rose, which, fair. You're probably going to have people you care about in a Blue Rose campaign, and one of the goals of the setting is to be inclusive. They have a significant change from the original 2005 edition, too! In that edition, apparently, all Flesh Shaping magic was initially Sorcery by nature. Now, in a 2017 version, Flesh Shaping used for things like helping someone transition or dealing with major long-term injuries or even just doing basic cosmetic work with someone's consent isn't Sorcery at all and is perfectly ordinary healing magic. So some points for updating things after realizing some potential unfortunate implications of the way Flesh Shaping was handled as times moved forward and people became more aware of the existence of trans people.

One thing that's a little silly about gender and sexuality in Blue Rose is at least explained in a sidebar in a way I find convincing. See, they wanted to avoid using terms like gay, straight, etc because they wanted to emphasize that Aldin is meant to be a pretty gender-neutral language. The standard pronouns for people in Aldin are explicitly supposed to be gender neutral, owing back to the ideology/faith of the Eternal Dance. Which, fair enough, but silly fantasy terms for all this stuff always comes off a little silly. One of the little bits of Aldin society is that heterosexuality is not an assumed default. Nor is homosexuality. People just assume people fall in love with who they fall in love with; there's no 'standard'. Caria-Duana, Lovers of Dawn, are people who exclusively fall for their own gender. Cepia Luath, Keepers of the Heart, are people who fall for the opposite gender. The odd bit to me is that being gay or straight is considered a little odd; I guess Aldins really like the Kinsey Scale? Or perhaps it goes back to their idea that in the Eternal Dance souls don't really have an inherent gender and your soul has probably been multiple genders in multiple lives. It's the one bit that strikes me as odd, the idea that the assumed default is some degree of bisexuality; I'd have thought they'd just have no assumed default and accept peoples' preferences as they're stated. Still, the whole thing comes of a game attempt to not be heteronormative. My general sense of a lot of the gender stuff in Blue Rose is that it's really trying.

On that same note, they naturally have a magic fantasy term for trans and non-binary people, Laevvel Bran'Maur, people 'beyond the loom of Braniel and Maurenna'. Most of the gender stuff refers to the Gods and their mythic relationships, and so Laevvel refers to people beyond the gender binary. In Aldis, again, this is considered normal. Transition is supported by magic and medical treatment and is generally fairly easy to get hold of. The problem comes in Jarzon and Kern. Jarzon, uh...Jarzon does not like anyone who is not heterosexual. Their God is specifically the God of (they say) 'normal' hearth and home relationships, with commandments to have a male and female spouse and to have children. Faithful, monogamous, and heterosexual relationships are a core of their religious teachings. They do not like people who believe they fall outside the gender binary or who don't conform to their gender, they think the shaping magic used to help someone transition is dark sorcery, and they are just generally jerks about this. The authors are pretty open that this is partly so that there's a continuum of sorts. If you want to play a Trans character who grew up in a supportive place that helped you make your transition and where you're treated as normal and accepted, you can be Aldin. The setting is open for LGBTQ characters to have the option to be in a place where who they are is accepted and respected. You can also be from Jarzon if you wanted your character to have had to struggle with this. They wanted both stories to be available and to be able to be tuned or emphasized how a group wanted. Now, I'm a white cishet guy. But I do like this approach, personally. I would appreciate other perspectives on it! I've been very curious how people of different perspectives will react to what I think is a well-meaning attempt to be genuinely inclusive, but I have a harder time judging how well it lands because, well, I only have my perspective. Kern does something I find even more insidious with its Laevvel citizens: The Kernish state will happily support you! If you bind yourself to the state. Join the secret police and they'll pay for your transition. Only those with the strength to enforce the will of the state have the right to be as they are! Everyone else must be at its mercy and live or die at its pleasure. It's a nasty little authoritarian move, but it definitely fits with the culture of exploitation and the desire to deny agency that pervades Kern.

Also interesting: Aldin marriage is not necessarily monogamous. Polyamorous marriages are recognized legally, and the historian in me can't help but wonder if some of this is because they don't actually have to worry about lines of descent. They don't have patrilineal inheritance as an assumed norm, after all, and their nobility doesn't rely on bloodline. That means they're free to have legally recognized polyamory without ruining lines of succession. The important thing in any marriage is the informed consent of all parties. As another little aside, and one I do think is fitting to note here, Aldis possesses excellent herbal birth control that's pretty much 100% effective. Pregnancy and childbirth is effectively at-will. Sexual education is a normal part of the Aldin public schooling system, focusing on consent, boundaries, and health. There is a serious attempt made to ensure characters can have the relationships they have, based around love and romance, because this is called Romantic Fantasy. Sure, it doesn't directly mean that kind of romance, but the chances your character is going to go on a fancy date at some point in Blue Rose are pretty high from what I've seen so an entire section on this stuff is worthwhile. Nothing in it is weird outside of maybe the 'Aldins kinda assume people are bi by default' thing and I think that just comes out of a well-meaning attempt to reinforce that this isn't a heteronormative society. On the whole I think the sexuality, gender, and marriage section stays to the stated mission of the game in trying to be inclusive and allow for a variety of ways to interact with these things while also having the possibility of just being queer and that being treated as an accepted, respected part of a character rather than always needing to be mined for drama or pathos.

Short one today but c'mon, the talk about the awful heternormativity of stuff like Degenesis meant I had to get in here on this. Next time we'll talk about education and the justice system! The justice system will be a very interesting bit of Deermocracy.

Next Time: Crime and Not Really Punishment

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.




Degenesis: Justitian, The Righteous Fist

Part 1





Dura Lex is latin for “Hard Law” btw. So, so deep you guys.

Unlike the other metaplot adventures I’ve covered, the next two books are more setting overviews along with poo poo like NPC rosters and plot hooks. While there are more metaplot spoilers to be had, these books are at least better than the previous ones by virtue of not being a railroady mess of a narrative. That doesn’t mean that they’re good though, and believe me there’s plenty of stuff to mock along the way. Before I get started, just be warned I’m probably not going to cover everything in these books. If it doesn’t grab my attention in some way, I’m probably not going to bother with it. There’s only so many marketplaces I can write about before I want to stick a Trailblazer in my mouth.

Lets begin with a map of the Protectorate.





As you can see, aside from a dip into Franka this is mostly a German Borcan power bloc.

The actual book begins with this lovely mindfuck of a story. warning!




Imagine being aware of all the bad press your game gets for its weird gross sex stuff, and instead of learning your lesson, you actually double down on it. Seriously, after the maps, this short story is the very first thing in the book. This is the thing someone opening your book for the first time at a hobby shop is going to see, and you open up with this? Are you trying to torpedo your game on purpose Marko, or does it just come naturally?


”Foreword” posted:

The year is 2598. The world has lost most of its recognizable features. The upheavals of recent years paint a chaotic picture. House Bergamo controls the Eden Route and the supremacy of Anabaptists in the Adriatic Basin is crumbling. The Southern Coast of Franka groans from the aftermath of the civil war of Toulon. Briton, once a stronghold of the Anabaptists, is cut off from the rest of the world. At the coastlines of the northwest, Leviathanics pushes ashore. Aquitaine, bastion of Chroniclers in Franka, is ruined. Ninety-thousand souls incinerated in the blink of an eye and yet no one knows the reason for the disaster, to this day. Refugees from all over Franka now push into the western foothills of the Protectorate, flooding Bassham, and are redirected from there towards Justitian.


The world is on the brink of destruction, and the Protectorate fares no better. For more than one hundred years, there was nothing in the way of the Judges’ urge to expand. Year after year they conquered new territories, annexed towns and villages, spread their influence, and pacified the people. But the Protectorate has reached its critical mass. It breeds desires and covetous thoughts. The Clans are back and suddenly the glorious empire loses its fortifications. Wetzlar falls. Leadfield follows. Chalk Breach turns into a beleaguered cauldron. Gesseln revolts and breaks away from the city union. Siege holds out for survival in a mindless battle of attrition. The borders of the Protectorate are ablaze. Raids occur on formerly secured routes within the Black Lung. Reports of shock troops are now on everyone's lips. Justitian is surrounded, and the enemies are so manifold, the hatred of the Judges, Spitalians, and Chroniclers so deeply rooted, and the roar for revenge so loud that no one dares to downplay the events any longer. Borca burns.

Do we have a :GRIMDARK: emote? Why do so many writers think make everything lovely and hopeless = good writing? You need some hope/light for contrast, if everything goes bad all the time people get numb to it, and the bad stuff happening loses all of its impact.

Anyways, I tossed this to show ya’ll that this book is set six months after the events of Black Atlantic, and everything that happened on those railroady adventures is the default canonical state of the world. I hope you railroaded your PCs along the golden path, otherwise some of this material you paid for is kinda worthless.

The gazetteer portion of the book begins with northern Borca, a region known as the Black Lung. No, they don’t really tell us why it’s called that, not yet at least.



Up near the ice barrier there’s not much civilization. In Sinder prisoners cut ice blocks and ship them down south. Mammoths are showing up in the region for the first time in a while, the locals think maybe their herders are trying to prepare for war or something, but they’re just as bewildered as the Borcans by these sudden behavior changes. The Mammoths won’t listen, and instead are being called along a hidden passage through the ice by a set of transponders left by the Marauder Gusev, the Icebreaker. Gusev used to travel along this hidden path when he’d visit Danzig to get annual reports from the Spitalians, why he turned them on and sent the Mammoths up here is anyone’s guess.



It’s a huge-rear end desert filled with hostile tribesmen called the Stukov Nomads. It’s dangerous as hell, but when the sands shift and reveal previously untouched buildings there’s good looting to be had. The Chroniclers also know about 3 untouched Sleeper bunkers and want them destroyed before the Sleepers wake up, but they haven’t made this public because they don’t want the Palers cluing in.

The Reaper’s Blow is the most dangerous landscape in Borca, it’s a magma-infused tectonic nightmare with nothing of interest. The Cockroach clan breeds in the more stable parts because they’re warm compared to Borca. That’s about it.

The Protectorate has been trying to expand into Franka, and for a while it was going well. An army that coalesced around the city of Bassham toppled the Pheromancer King Marakurant, and for a while there was peace. And then Toulon fell, and set thousands of refugees washing over their borders 3 months ago. This “unrestrained migration” as they call it, stirred up the Pheromancers as well as the Corpse Eaters, and everything is kinda intense right now.

In the Southlands, Justitian has abandoned the city of Wetzlar to the Mechan Clans, who previously got driven our of their home of Nullpellia by the Pneumancer Clan. They have bigger fish to fry. The Cockroach and Phosphorite Clans, once previously thought extinct, have united into a horde and are pressing northward. The city of Siege is vastly important to Supreme Judge Archot’s legacy, so while he fortified that they just went around Leadfield, Geslen, and Chalk Beach instead. When the calvary rode out to meet the horde, they were drawn into a trap and slaughtered. Since then, for the past 3 years the Protectorate has adopted a policy of holding the line in their cites. Honestly, this is probably the right move. These clans are literally cannibal barbarians whose only advantage is numbers, hell they mostly use bone weapons for fucks sake. Any sort of wall+firing line will work them over.

The Wastelands are anything beyond the borders of the Protectorate. While some use the term to describe any territory outside of Justitian influence, it’s mostly used to describe unpacified, unexplored territory. There’s probably good loot to be had in these areas, but it’s sparse on details.



The next bit I’m just going to skip, as it’s just some brief info on the other clans, we’ll get into more detail on them later. Just know that the Pneumancers were the former warrior caste of the Mechans, they revolted and tossed them out of Nupellia. They’re currently negotiating with Justitian, but are officially neutral. The Mechans are hostile, and turned chemical weapons on the city of Weztler when they needed a new home, wiping out all the Justitian Protectors there. The Cockraoches and Phosphorites are allied against Justitian, and in that gross short story the Bale Lord threw the head of a Justitian ambassador that tried to establish relations with them. This was what sealed their alliance.

The Cults in the Protectorate:





The History of The Protectorate, In Timeline Form:

This is a 10 page timeline that’s just a wall of text, so I’m just going to pick out (and comment on) notable entries, don’t expect a full accounting.

2100: The Wretched Hag seeps into the consciousness of the surviving Polleners, people draw her icon on walls to warn others of her fearful presence. Spoilers, she made everyone afraid of her with memetics.

2102: A strange streamer cult begins fortifying an abandoned Bygone Maglev station atop a desolate plateau. The station eventually becomes the Central Cluster, the Plateau becomes Justitian’s Uptown district, and the cultists become the Chroniclers.

2146: Exalt rises and forces a fragile peace in the region. They haven’t lost it yet.

2148: The Chroniclers get kicked out of their headquarters in Cathedral City by the newly formed Anabaptists, Bishop Rebus does not pursue as they fall back to the Central Cluster.

2173: The first Sleeper cascade awakens (the 100’s). They basically take over the various tribes and start establishing farms, weapons depots, etc. Those they can’t dominate they spy on. They’re in cahoots with the Chroniclers at this time, and go freely into the Cluster.

2270: Exalt is thriving, and with their help the Chroniclers expand their underground tech facilities. Generally speaking, things are good right now. There’s no war, a lot of trade between the various new city states and outward clans, and so on.

2306: A group of Asian researchers arrive from Franka and revolutionize blacksmithing. They found the city of Ferropol, and started churning out weapons for Exalt and its allies. These are the Steel Masters.


2309: Clashes between Exalt and the communities under Sleeper influence start occurring, I believe this is when they had their orders rewritten and are told to destroy Exalt. It’s the beginning of that, at least.



The Chronicler in her grasp is a Sleeper infiltrator btw.

2311: One-Legged Aspera appears in the Cluster and basically tells them what Exalt is really up to (hint: no good). She offers them a pretty significant piece of the Static Stream taken from Cathedral City (where she’s hiding out to this day) as proof, then vanishes.

2312: Gusev shows up at the Spital, previously they’d pretty much kept to themselves holed up in their Bygone hospital. He offers them cartridges filled with entropic nanites sourced from his own blood, and points them at the growing mother spore field of Menden, then fucks off.

2320: Clans from Bygone Scandinavia flee south from the encroaching Ice Barrier, their horses become valuable currency.

2381: A man dress in a leather coat with a floppy rat strides through the lawless villages of Borca, people bring criminals before him and he passes judgement. In time, he becomes known as the First Judge.

2390: Copycat judges start showing up, but they can find no trace of their idol. The Chroniclers give these new judges his journal, a small leatherbound book filled with his testament as well as a list of crimes and appropriate punishments.


2410: The Chroniclers invite the Judges to settle nearby, they do so and form the Bastion close to the Central Cluster. A short time later they proclaim the rule of the Protectorate. The first Supreme Judge is stabbed to death by his successor 3 weeks in, while that guy rules for 14 years. Fine example our lawful good guys are setting for their subjects eh? The nearby clans are unsure of how to react, the Stukov themselves reach out to Exalt for help in getting rid of the Judges.

2425: The Judges start conquerin’ and demanding tribute.

2482: The City Wars begin. A warlord by the name of Cultrin (Free Spirit Sleeper Prophet) rises, unites the masses with golden words, and leads the armies of Exalt out into the Protectorate. While the Bastion and the Cluster are not attacked, literally all the other cities are fighting will all of their might to resist.

The city of Noret breaks its silence, and Gusev sends an army of reprogrammed AMSUMOS (combat robots with AI) against Exalt.

Trice and Enceph (also Sleeper Prophets) are two of Cultrin’s generals, and they manage to greatly wound Gusev. Not enough to kill him, but enough that he keeps visiting the Spital in the following years hoping they can cure his condition.

“Aspera supplies the Cluster with intel about the advances of Project Tannhäuser and Exalt’s opposition. Two ideologies founded by the Recombination Group stand in direct conflict to one another. One tries to establish a new age of obedience and total
dominion, the other wants to initiate a chaotic reign of blood to wash itself of sins past. Both threaten to turn Borca into hell on earth. The Chroniclers initiate the Shutter program and respond with a purge of all Sleeper agents in their midst.”

Deprogrammed Palers called Halos start executing Project Tannhauser agents, having been decontaminated by Exalt’s Grindworks. Meanwhile, Cultrin’s army is approaching Cathedral City and the Anabaptists are losing entire generations of Orgastics.

However, right before he can sack Cathedral City, Cultrin goes missing. Spoilers, the Wretched Hag aka the Mother of Ravens (founder of the Bygone Apocalyptics and lover of Gerome Getrell) mindwiped him with memes and turned him into her pet. He’s called the Head Collector now. Guess what he does for her?

Exalt is not about to give up, but the loss of their charismatic meme warlord throws things into disarray. The army starts factionalizing into small warbands that compete against each other almost as much as they do against the Protectorate.

Gusev supplies the Preservists with chemical/biological weapons sourced from Noret. They spread them around Exalt territory, while vaccinating the Spital and Justitian. The expected counter attack never comes.

In the winter of 2482, Exalt dies. Maddened with plague and with their power supply failing, civil war breaks out. The survivors flee and scatter into the wastes.

2483: The Judges take advantage of the chaos to conquer the Stukov clan, and their slave labor builds their Judgement Hall atop the Plateau. Those that escape slavery become the Stukov Nomads



The Enemoi clan rolls into an abandoned Exalt and just fuckin’ loots the poo poo out of the place, tossing everyone on a truck before peeling out and heading back to Noret. The Chroniclers are really pissed that all that good loot got ninja’ed, and declare the entire clans as public enemies of the Protectorate. They use every underhanded method and their disposal to gently caress with them.

2497: Ferrapol is deserted, and the Judges round up all the Steel Masters and enslave them. They build a weapons factory in the middle of Justitian that is second to none (and yet still the Judges are using Muskets and Sledgehammers, the hell?) which serves as both home and prison to the Steel Masters. Hmm, I wonder if enslaving folks of Asian descent to perform backbreaking labour for whites might have real world echoes and be really problematic? These German Judges are beginning to look an awful lot like something, but I just can’t find the right word for it. I blame 500 years of linguistic drift.

2500: Justinian is expanding, lots of folks are coming here to settle, trade, etc.

2503: The Cockroaches appear south of Exalt, long thought to be a memory from the Era of the Beast (the time when human civilization was basically non-existent post-eschaton), they’re back and causin’ trouble again.

2531: The previously independent Spital freely joins the Protectorate. I think I need to note when it’s a choice, given the history of their previous expansions.

2556: “Harm, the large pig farm in the northeast, along with its endless batteries of pigsties and mountains of pig poo poo, is incorporated into the Protectorate.”

Just look at that. Someone actually took the time to write that down. And thank God they did, I don’t know what my game would have become if I didn’t know when this pile of pig poo poo was established.

By the way, the stuff I’m skipping is poo poo like “They seized this city for its salt mines, or this city for its power plant, or these people settled nearby and grew wheat” etc.

2558: The Krawe Clan assaults the city of Siege, they really should have known better with a name like that. The Executioner Archot holds them off despite 5:1 odds and only loses two Protectors in exchange for wiping them out. This victory ends up putting him in the Supreme Judge seat after his predecessor dies.

2562: “So far, Ferropol has been more trouble than it’s worth to the Protectorate. Without further ado, the old basement complexes are converted into a vast prison camp in which incurable and anti-social subjects are incarcerated. As the penitentiary of the entire Protectorate, the last glory of this once esteemed armory finally gives way to a grim new purpose.

I’d just like to repeat, this clan is a PC option. They’re literally establishing political prisons, and you can play these heroic fascists.

2563: The Needle tower fiasco happens. I’ll go over this more once we hit metaplot stuff, but basically the Needlers are rogue Chroniclers named after the broadcast towers of the same name, they were set up and betrayed by a Fragment (high Chronicler rank) of the Cluster.


2575: A star (not really a star, but I’m not sure what it was exactly) falls on Nupellia and puts an end to the reign of the Taunar Clan. Cue a struggle between the Pneumancers, the Mechans, and the Phosphorites.

2581: The Battle of Bassham takes place. The Anabaptists gather together with their allies from the other cults at the tiny village of Bassham, and march on the Pheromancer King Markurant. Thousands of lives are lost, but his Ziggurat is torn down and his body is burnt to ash. Except none of this matters because Psychonauts have a backup system, and unless an Anubian happens to be nearby when they die they reincarnate. Won’t they feel silly once they figure this out. Spoilers, but the reborn baby Marakurant is in the next book’s npc roster.

While this is going on, the prisoners revolt in Ferropol and with the aid of the Splinter Hawks (Apocalyptics) they turn the place into a drug fortress.

2582: Just in case you thought maybe this new Supreme Judge Archot isn’t a raging facist, on his orders the judges “embark on a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the remaining savages of the Black Lung.” Yep. It’s mostly the Cockroach Clan that’s nearly wiped out but still, yikes.

Also some Neolybians show up. They’re used to finer things and are unimpressed by the digs offered to them by the Archot, while the Chroniclers are alarmed by all this fraternizing with rich black people and try to sabotage these talks as much as possible.

2585: The Judges get a mysterious radio message and snuff out a hidden nest of Apocalyptics who called themselves the Plague Birds.

They also infiltrate Ferropol, and deal a surprise strike against the Splinter Hawks. Records show no one survived, and they set fire to the drug factories and just let everything burn.

In Franka, our now dead friend Vicarent triumphs over Garaness, and word reaches even Justitian.

2586: The Facists learn their lesson and stop building hellish prisons, I mean they decide the only problem with Ferropol was how far away it was. Their next concentration camp is built within Justitian city limits.



“THE COLOSSUS INCIDENT” posted:

: Neomi Hagari, citizen, faithful wife, loving mother of six, and deeply religious follower of the teachings of Jehammed, wakes up on Monday morning, the 10th of April, at 5:02am, with a firm conviction in her heart. At 9:18am she is seen boarding the elevator platform and at 9:21am a Chronicler drone records her marching across Calendar Square. A City Judge stops her at 9:27am to ask what she’s carrying in her bag. Roasted chestnuts for sale, she says. He checks her citizen papers and her daily sales license for selling food at a nearby stand during lunchtime, issued at 8:44am from an Alcove located on Nassius’ Street close to the Cleft. At 9:32am the young Judge concludes his routine security check and lets her pass. She is spotted by an Observer at 9:35am, who registers her as the 2,586th passenger arriving in Uptown that day. At 9:38am she reaches the foot of the Colossus and her eyes travel up this icon of sin. Then, at 9:39am, she presses the button connected to the charges in her bag and detonates her payload. At 10:04am Archot wants to see blood. At 6:53pm Gideon, Isaaki and blessed child of the Shepherd of Osman, is taken out by Black Judges. His youthful body is vandalized and put on public display. At 8:16pm Archot issues decrees to put the Jehammedan Quarter under lockdown



None of the other cults have sucicide bombers by the way, just the Muslim anolagues. Even the cannibal barbarians don’t strap bombs to themselves to blow up statues.

Also, these Judges are at least supposed to be dedicated to the law and whatnot, so what’s up with rounding up an unconnected scapegoat and publicly displaying a tortured corpse?

2587: Reconstruction begins. The Scrapper Cartel also begins to form coincidentally around this time, with their leader Bosch financing 50% of the costs up front to make it bigger and better than ever.

2594: Chernobog awakens in Eastern Borca, he had previously been lulled into hibernation by yet another powerful and important Sleeper npc called the Piast. He wakes up when his brother Nikitia (also known as Karakhan and the architect of Project Free Spirit) sends a signal to the Minerva space station. Karakhan purposely does this to wake him up, for reasons we’ll get to later.

Senator Laakon isn’t a fan of Supreme Judge Archot’s forceful expansion policy, and sends a negotiator to the Phosphorites to prove that the savage clans can be reasoned with. He doesn’t know that they’ve recovered from previous defeats, and consider the ambassador showing up to be a personal insult. So they cut off his head, and use that to establish their alliance with the Cockroaches.

2595: The Black Year. Chief Protector Rutgar and Provost Kranzler (leader of the Preservers, militant Spitalians) forge a secret pact and plan an operation designed to kill the entire East Wind Flock. In a single day, over 400 Apocalyptics are rounded up and summarily executed in broad daylight. Rutgar has enemies, and while what he did had Archot’s approval it was still apparently pretty illegal, and he’ll have to justify his actions before the Justitian Senate.

Killing all the drug dealers means the addicts can’t get their fix, and crime rises as junkies face mass withdrawal.

2596: The Clan Wars begin. The Protectorate faces attacks on all sides. The Cockroaches and Phosphorites seem to be the primary threats, but the Enemoi and the Mechans get in there as well. Leadfield falls because apparently cannibal barbarians can tunnel through concrete with bone tools. No, really. Gesslen fares better, but the Judges refuse to send help to lift their siege so they revolt and declare independence. The Scrapper residents manage to drive the Cockroach hordes off with crude mortars, but are now on their own.

Operation Mirage (The Killing Game) is launched, and fails.

A Scrapper by the name of Zander finds something incredible near the ruins of Exalt. He doesn’t know what it is, but it made him so rich he hasn’t been able to spend all of his drafts yet. Spoilers, it’s a miniature fusion generator and was the backup power supply for Exalt. The Chroniclers have it hidden deep within the Central Cluster.

Preservers patrolling the western reaches of the Protectorare encounter the Pictons booking for Helios. I believe this is where they capture some, and where our old friend Ampere gets his intel after deprogramming their memes.

The Chroniclers apparently don’t keep an eye on their basement, and a horde of Palers led by the Demagogue Vesna slips through and entrenches themselves near Exit C-3.

The Chroniclers and the Phosphorites lead the Judges into an ambush when they sally out from Siege, casualties are way high.

2597: Chalk Breach is surrounded by Cockroaches, the miners are still holding out but nobody knows how long they can hang on. They’re already eating Cockroaches that died in the fighting.

Markurant is reborn within the city limits of Justitian. The Foster Itis steals the child from it’s mother and escapes into hiding.

Briton falls, Emissary Yasen hands the Spitalians of Rennes from the walls.

Aquitaine is destroyed by an unknown weapon (you all know what), the Chroniclers scramble to figure out what happened and who was responsible. Only Ampere can tell them what really went down.


Someone named Chagall opens the gates of A235 to the Enemoi, and the Chroniclers are very concerned.


The Arianoi Naraka shows up because he’s pretty sure Jehammed’s Will is going to show up here next. Pretty sure that means the next adventure will drag the PCs up here first.

2598: About 70,000 Frankan refugees show up at Bassham. Meanwhile, the central cluster detects the presence of a Needle in Justitan, and goes on high alert.

The present day.



Next time, life in the Protectorate!

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Of all places, this kind of 'everyone is assumed bi because of reincarnation' thing popped up in Final Fantasy 14 within the last few years. It's a setting where reincarnation is an established and well-known fact, and that any soul can incarnate as male or female. Most of the world still adheres to gender norms, broadly, but there's one particular subgroup that does not - they regard the entire concept of gender as superfluous and meaningless. When you meet the tribe's chief, Sadu, your character can express surprise that Sadu is a woman. An NPC in the tribe explains that Sadu is Sadu. Sadu is currently incarnated in a female body, but Sadu has had both male and female bodies over the different incarnations. The body Sadu inhabits right now is a temporary, disposable affair like everyone else's.

(it's also why they're infamously aggressive and bloodthirsty in battle - they regard death as nothing but a temporary interruption in existence)

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Also as an addendum, one thing that strikes me on reading the descriptions of Aldin romance (they tend to pester people who don't date and try to help set them up with someone) it must really suck to be asexual in Aldis.

SkyeAuroline
Nov 12, 2020



(Thanks, Awful, for eating a long post I wrote and am not retyping on a phone.)

Wow. There were a lot of things I expected out of Justitian, but doubling down on every lovely thing wasn't one of them - sure, elements, but not everything!
-
Maze thoughts with player input and my own fractured memory: we never saw the main Dead Wedding, just the northern bit. I stopped calling random encounters for a while in the bar to let the PCs have some extended downtime for roleplay, and that was one scene they continue to reference to this day so apparently doing so landed well. (In general, it seems like slowing down and letting players interact with/understand the weirdness of the maze lands well; the module is tuned to be too lethal to do that but I guess I am, or was, a soft GM. Speaking of, encounter rate? Ridiculously high in the Maze.)
There was also a bit with shark-dude and fairy on two separate occasions. I think it ended badly for fairy, then the players caused it to end badly for shark-dude. Weird little setup between the two.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



So the judge dudes are just playable Nazis "justified" by Proper Noun al-Qaeda?

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Thirsty Sword Lesbians:

Last three Playbooks today, the Seeker, The Spooky Witch, and the Trickster.

The Seeker:

The Seeker comes from a toxic society and has found a new community in which to belong and grow. Their central conflict pits tradition and upbringing against justice and personal development. Unlike most of the Playbooks, there’s no stat the Seeker always excels in. You are either Daring and Witty but with a poor Heart, or Graceful and Spiritual but not Witty.

The Seeker has several intertwined special mechanics. The Seeker chooses at least six Commandments from a list. These are in theory issued by the Authority of their upbringing. They then have a special stat, Tradition, that varies from 0-4 and measures how their Authority would judge their behavior. It starts at 1, and you gain a point when you’d make a sacrifice to act in accordance with your Commandments. If you reach 4, you incur a Condition any time you act contrary to your Commandments. You can spend a point at any time to temper the wrath of the Authority, take +1 forward to follow your Commandments, or Call on a Toxic Power. You don’t within your Commandments have another way to reduce it, but hold on because there’s more.

When you break a Commandment and repudiate it forever, cross it off and mark XP. Write a Conviction expressing your new beliefs, something that contradicts it. Each time you live up to a Conviction despite temptation or cost, reduce your Tradition by 1 and ask an onlooker if they agree with the Conviction. If they say yes, take a String on them and learn what holds them back from living up to it if anything. If they say no, mark a Condition.

Playbook Moves: Start with People Are People, then choose two more.

People Are People: When you talk about your home, roll +Heart. You choose two from the list below on a 10+, and one on a 7-9.

+Admit a flaw about your home; gain +1 forward
+Share something good about your home; clear a Condition
+Lie about your home to impress a listener; take a String on them

This is super strong. It gives you an easy way to heal yourself and also good ways to generate bonuses either through the one taken forward or Strings. There’s a decent argument for taking this as one of the Books that has ways to take Conditions for bonuses or equally to take some of those Moves here since you can just talk about home later on and hopefully get rid of it.

Hear Me!: When you shout one of your Convictions aloud in confrontation with those who hold a contrary belief, roll +Daring. On a 10+ you ask two from a list, on a 7-9 ask one.

+Why do you think you have to follow that belief?
+What does it cost you to follow that belief?
+What do you wish for that is contrary to that belief?

This is some fun roleplaying stuff, obviously no real mechanical benefit and not useful until you’ve got a Conviction. I do like it though.

It Wasn’t All Bad: When you encounter someone whose perspective is different from that of your companions, share a relevant story from your home culture and roll +Spirit. On a 10+, gain a String on them and either take +1 forward to interact with them or grant that +1 forward to a companion. On a 7-9 gain a String on them. Either way they tell you something interesting or useful about their upbringing.

Just like People are People this is really strong, you are incentivized to constantly shoot the poo poo about your homeland with people and thus generate lots of opportunities to decide some of it was bullshit.

Listen and Learn: When you ask someone what you should do in an unfamiliar situation, if you take their advice take +1 forward and clear a Condition. If following their advice goes poorly, mark XP.

This is great, it strongly incentivizes Antics where sometimes you’re asking the Scoundrel or the Beast what you’re supposed to do in a situation and they give you really poo poo advice that leads to a debacle or possibly accidentally goes great because you got to take +1 forward and either way you get something out of it.

Proper Courtship: When you’re Smitten with someone and perform an elaborate and roundabout courtship ritual:

+If the recipient responds properly, you each get +1 forward to protect each other until either of you breaks a Commandment, and they gain a point of Tradition that they can spend for the same effects you can.
+If they don’t understand that you’re Smitten, give a String to an onlooker who does understand.

Okay this is just a Move about flirting on twitter dot com. But no for real I love this one and it’s got great potential for generating fun.

Silly Tourist: When you Figure Out a Person or Defy Disaster by playing the fool, you may additionally ask a question from the list below no matter how you rolled.

+What would make you laugh?
+What hidden threat or opportunity am I missing?
+How are you vulnerable?

This Move is super great, because it gives you some really useful information for playing the way the prior Moves incentivize you to. The Playbook wants you to seem kind of awkward and like you don’t really know how things work then this move tells you how to gently caress someone up after you challenge them to a dance-off mid-fight.

Stiff Upper Lip: You can spend a point of Tradition to ignore the -2 penalty caused by Conditions. This effect ends if you violate a Commandment or at the end of the scene. At this point, you take a Condition.

So on one hand you’re already good at getting rid of Conditions so maybe this isn’t really all that useful, but on the other hand it lets you get rid of penalties in a pinch and the cost at the end is easy enough for you to deal with. I like it overall, and there’s probably some good synergies with other Playbooks I haven’t thought of.

In addition, the following applies to the Seeker:

I Don’t Belong: When you become Smitten with someone, answer this question: “Which of your values do they openly violate or decry?”

Not So Different: When you Figure Out a Person in combat, these are your bonus questions: “What prejudice do you hold?” or “What tradition do you most value?”

Not So Different by the way is great if you want to take the Infamous’ Move where you call someone out, because there’s a good chance that first question will give you exactly the hypocrisy you need for it.

They make it clear much of the details of the society you come from is up to you, within the bounds of what fits with the setting if the scenario is better defined at the start. They also point out here that the Tradition track is absolutely designed as a trap, since in theory it gives you some bonuses if you’ve got some but it’s extremely bad to have four.

The Spooky Witch:

The Spooky Witch is a weirdo who does their own thing but craves connection. They’re friends with monsters, but that in turn brands them one as well. Their central conflict lies in navigating pressures to conform versus their own desires and those of their friends. The Spooky Witch is always Spiritual, and is either Witty with a low Heart or Graceful with a low Daring.

The Spooky Witch can see The Unseen, mysterious beings most cannot. You work with the GM to define what they are (or at least what you think they are) and the other details. You also get a special Move that other playbooks cannot take as an advance connected with this.

Commune with the Unseen: When you perform a ritual to commune with the Unseen, give a dangerous Unseen a String on you and roll +Spirit. On a 10+ Choose two from this list:

+Hide something in the Unseen world
+Learn something important from the Unseen
+Temporarily alter the Unseen nature of a place
+Ask a question from Figure Out a Person of anyone, anywhere, if you can name one of their deceased loved ones
+Learn the recent history of an object you hold

If you roll a 7-9, you still choose two from that list, but then choose one thing to go awry:

+Restless Unseen cause a haunting
+Hungry Unseen destroy all non-sentient life in a small area
+Stern Unseen judge you, inflicting a Condition

High risk and high reward is great, and this is definitely that. Huge fan of this move

Playbook Moves: Start with I Like Snails! and two more.

I Like Snails!: When you are Smitten with someone and Figure Them Out, blurt out something weird and let them ask you a question from the list. Then ask them another question from the list, even on a 6-.

This is narrow but flavorful. I like it, and it’s not like this move needs to be some kind of high power level thing when you also start with Commune with the Unseen.

Astral Dance: When you dance across the boundary into the realm beyond, describe it and roll +Grace. On a 10+ you and a small number of others who dance with you arrive at a distant destination of your choice. On a 7-9 you don’t arrive where you intend, you arrive almost too late, or you lose something important in the process (GM’s choice).

Mass teleport with some risks, again more high risk high reward awesome poo poo you can pull. Huge fan.

Divination: When you have time and safety to read the unseen truth of someone present, describe your divination process and what makes it conspicuous. The GM will tell you something interesting about the person or the obstacles they face that they don’t know. Then roll +Spirit. On a 10+ if you tell them the truth, they clear a Condition. If you lie, you gain a String on them. On a 7-9, they just learn the truth and clear a Condition.

So this Move is just really powerful. You get the information no matter what, it happens before the roll. The roll is just to see if you get the extra effects. The downside, to be clear, is that you’re doing something pretty conspicuously magic. That’s going to come up again..

Dreamwalk: When you touch an unconscious, sleeping, or willing subject you can see an impression of their thoughts and appear in their dreams. You may roll +Spirit to Figure Out or Entice them in this state.

A nice stat swap move to your good stat if you meet the situation, this is a solid one.

Eerie Companion: You have a little pet monster or spirit. Choose two basic moves, the companion gives you +1 to these when it assists you. When it does, though, it’s always obvious and frightening to ordinary people. You can also speak with monsters.

This one is powerful as hell and very fun for roleplaying purposes as well since it lets you talk with monsters. It’s a good pick for other books in that regard.

Friends in Weird Places: You are friends with some odd people, who some might not so much consider people. Name three of them, write down one thing they’re good at, one reason why people are afraid of them, and what you like to do together when you hang out. You can call on them for help. Give them a String on you and mark the Favor next to their name. At some point in the future they will ask you for help in return, clear the Favor if you help and mark a Condition if you don’t.

Another super nice one, it’s pretty powerful as long as you can come up with good things for your friends to be good at and then it generates future story seeds.

Talk Nerdy to Me: You may roll +Wit instead of +Heart to Entice someone. In addition, choose an area of study that holds special interest to you. You have top-tier knowledge of this area and are always prepared with an interesting and sometimes useful fact when you come up against something within your expertise.

Another stat swapper and with a potentially very useful or funny bonus. Also another one that’d be great for basically any other Book to splash.

Witchfire: You may roll +Spirit instead of +Daring to Fight, but you’re very conspicuous when you do. The consequences of a 6- will be severe.

More stat switchers, and another Move where ‘it’s really obvious you’re doing something spooky’ is most of the penalty. I read the last bit as the GM being encouraged to have it not turn out well if you blast out some hellfire and poo poo goes south and yeah that feels fine. If you’re focusing +Spirit that’s realistically not going to happen often anyway.

In addition the following applies:

Why Did I Bring up the Snails?: When you become Smitten with someone, answer this question: “What obvious thing about you are you sure would make them reject you?”

Whispered Secrets: Your special Figure Out a Person questions are “What makes you insecure?” and “What haunts you?”

They point out that there are some similarities with The Beast in that you’re in tension with normal society, but is much more about finding friendship with those society doesn’t value than directly being one of those people (except by association).

The Trickster:

The Trickster is devious and calculating. They fear closeness, sincerity, and vulnerability. Their central conflict is the desire for closeness in spite of this. The Trickster is always Witty, and always has poor Heart. They’re either Daring or Graceful.

The Trickster’s special mechanic is Too Many Feelings. You have a Feelings track that goes from 0-4. It starts at one, and increases by one whenever you gain a String, someone gains a String on you, or you mark a Condition. You can also increase it yourself if you think it’s appropriate. When you open up to someone whose regard matters to you, reduce it by two. When you secretly perform a loving act for someone, reduce it by one. If your Feelings reach 4, you can’t hold it in anymore and start just saying what you’ve been keeping in and doing what you’ve been wanting to do. You can give anyone present a String on you to gain one on them. Stop when the consequences, good or ill, catch up to you. Afterwards, reduce your Feelings to 0 and clear a Condition.

Playbook Moves: Start with Ew, Feelings and The Mask, then choose two more.

Ew, Feelings: When someone offers you Emotional Support and you refuse to open up, increase your Feelings by 1 and choose 1 from the listed options for the Move as though they’d rolled 7-9. If they rolled 10+, they know they got through to you and get the benefits of a 10+ as if you’d opened up.

This move is important, because it lets you benefit from Emotional Support without doing the very out of character opening up.

The Mask: When you seek to persuade an NPC of a lie about yourself, roll +Wit. On a 10+ choose two, on a 7-9 choose 1:

+They believe a big lie
+The lie you have chosen is unexpectedly perfect, creating a new opportunity
+They give you the benefit of the doubt and remain convinced even if there is some evidence of your lie

Additionally, whenever a PC Figure You Out, you can give false answers. You must increase your Feelings by 1 at the end of a scene where you do this.

Giving you mechanics for being Best At Lying is very nice, and the second part is also really good. Feelings is a nice extra cost for Moves because there’s a give and take to what it’s asking you to do.

Center of the Web: When someone approaches you to get something from you or threaten you, choose 1:

+Gain a String on them or they lose a String on you
+Ask them a question from the Figure Out a Person move
+ +1 ongoing against them for the scene

All of these are very powerful options, the trick obviously is to create situations where it comes up but what’s the fun if it never does?

Deft Fingers: When you filch something from a person, roll +Grace. On a 10+ choose two, on a 7-9 choose one.

+The item reveals a secret love or vulnerability
+The item creates an opportunity (Such as a map, key, or note)
+The person doesn’t know you took it

This does a great job of creating selfsaid situations where someone threatens you, because good chance they know you robbed them. I like this one a lot.

Devious Scheme: When others go along with your cunning plan, roll +Wit. On a 10+, twice during your plan choose 1. On a 7-9, just once choose one.

+Produce just the right object.
+Describe an unexpected weakness in an obstacle
+Appear right behind someone at a crucial moment

Straight heist movie poo poo and thus amazing. With respect to this Move, I’m in you son of a bitch.

Knives behind the Mask: When someone reveals a secret about you in your presence, you’re prepared with a damaging secret about them. If you reveal it in retaliation they mark a Condition, otherwise gain a String on them.

Super fun and useful, because you’re probably going to be in situations where secrets about you come out quite a bit as you pull schemes.

Play the Part: When you use someone else’s personal item or clothing to disguise yourself as them, roll +Daring. On a 10+, while you remain so dressed the disguise is perfect and only your words or deeds can expose you. On a 7-9 someone sees through it but don’t give you away. Give them a String.

Yet more fun sneaky poo poo that gives your other Moves a chance to trigger.

In addition, the following applies to the Trickster:

A Beautiful Lie: When you become Smitten with someone, answer this: “What secret do you have that you think would make them reject you if they knew?”

I See Through You: When you Figure someone Out in a fight, your bonus questions are: “Who do you want me to be?” or “What are you most afraid of right now?”

The Trickster seems to have borrowed some Moves from the Cuckoo in Monsterhearts, which honestly I think fits pretty well with their theme.

Next time we’ll move on to the GMing section.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



Book of Vile Darkness(3e)



I've been putting off this review for too drat long partially because this book is just an easy punching bag. It doesn't sink to the levels of FATAL or Degenesis, but it's also not very well thought out. At the same time, it's an example of third edition D&D in a nutshell with all of the same moving parts and failures inherent in not only the system but the people who designed it. Today we're going to get this drat thing back out and take a look at the magic section, and fair warning - it's bad!

Chapter Six: Magic

The chapter opens with some kind of weird person in a BDSM gimp suit with one naked titty flapping out and a mutilated extra titty casting some kind of choking spell on a conventionally attractive warrior lady. It's a preview of the chapter, where because Monte Cook and the WotC gang already just kind of awkwardly tripped over various nondisplayed body parts when trying to come up with a coherent moral system and just decided to go for shock value. Now, I'm not expecting an RPG book to be a nuanced take on moral philosophy and start grappling with the idea that God is dead and you must make your own morality or whatever, but it's not hard to come up with people who are selfish and hurt others for their own gain.

This ties neatly into a weird problem that 3e D&D had in general, which is that being a "dark mage" is...not really a supported rules concept. Yes, you can play death clerics, necromancers, and whatnot, but you never really got a class centered around throwing shadow bolts until Tome of Magic, and the shadowcaster was a class that was such useless dogshit the designer had to release ineffectual errata on EnWorld. To prove my point, I offer the following question: Which sort of damage does shadow magic do in 3rd edition D&D?
a) Typeless
b) Cold
c) Unholy
d) Nonlethal
e) Strength damage

If your answer was "all of the above," you win a prize! There were a bunch of vaguely darkness themed spells in various supplements, but never enough to theme a character around, and they were all various flavors of ineffectual for the most part. Now, you might think the book with "darkness" in the title would maybe have something to address this, but I once again refer you to the mutilated titty woman art that opens the chapter. It's a preview of things to come.

First, though, we need Monte's bad magical morality.

This book posted:

Evil Spells

Only a few of the spells in the Player's Handbook have the evil descriptor, but almost all of the spells in this book have the evil descriptor. Spells have the evil descriptor because they do one of more of the following things:
-They cause undue suffering or negative emotions
-They call upon evil gods or energies
-They create, summon, or improve undead or other evil monsters
-They harm souls
-They involve unsavory practices such as cannibalism or drug use.

Now, an astute observer might point out that D&D unaligned damage spells do things like dissolve people with acid or burn them alive. Fortunately, Cook has an answer for us.

bad moral philosophy posted:

What's Evil?

Some would point out that a fireball spell is likely to cause undue suffering, and it could be used to kill a group of orphans. Does that make fireball an evil spell?

Fireball, by itself, simply creates a blast of fire. Fire can be used for evil purposes, but it is not inherently evil. Contrasted with a spell such as shrivelling, whose only purpose and only possible use is to wither the flesh of another living creature in a painful and debilitating fashion, it becomes easier to see why shriveling is an evil spell.

Fireball is derived from old wargaming rules for an artillery barrage. Yes, you can use it for a signal flare or controlled wildfire burn or whatever, but the intended use for the spell is burning a whole bunch of people alive "in a painful and debilitating fashion", as the book puts it. Hell, even by the rules the book puts out, fireball is more debilitating - both spells just do damage, but fireball also sets the victims' clothes on fire and causes them to take damage every round.

The ultimate irony is that if you want to play a competent mage, you'll cast neither, because direct damage spells are so hilariously bad.

Moving on!

More rambling about evil spells posted:

The judgement cannot be based solely on effect. Your campaign could, for example, have a spell called vitality leech that calls upon a demon that drains Strength points from a target for a short time. The spell's effect is only slightly different from ray of enfeeblement, but the approach and execution are very different. Vitality leech is an evil spell, while ray of enfeeblement is not. Although the ultimate game effect is the same, the character in the game world faced with the two spells undoubtedly regards them differently. Tapping into evil power is an evil act in and of itself, no matter what the effects or the reason for using the power might be.

It just gets weirder and weirder to parse this to the point where this stuff is ultimately ignored by the rest of the third edition line. Spells usually don't call on anything when cast - unless they're divinely powered, in which case the alignment descriptors don't get applied. You can be a cleric of Bane or Lolth or whoever, gain the ray of enfeeblement spell from those gods, fit all the criteria for calling on evil power, and this would not be an evil act under third edition rules. We can't even say this isn't Monte's fault because he helped write the core system. Hell, later Sage Advice would write about how the usable of poison isn't evil directly contradicting this book. It's a recurring theme in third edition splatbooks that none of these authors ever talk to each other or try to keep things coherent, and this, combined with the developers' crippling inability to do things such as basic math or imagine people playing the game unlike second edition, is what caused third edition D&D to be a duct taped trashpile.

I digress, we haven't even made it off the first page and I'm already venting. Anyway, this section introduces "corrupt spells", which are unique in that only prepared casters can use them (for now) and inflict ability damage when cast to reflect the awful corruption of using evil power. This is contrasted with the spells in Book of Exalted Deed (the "good" book) which inflict ability damage because you're making a holy sacrifice, in addition to having to take vows of celibacy or whatever. In addition to the corrupt list, there are new spells for the PHB spellcasters, the assassin, and the blackguard. We hit the next third edition issue - namely, that the developers have absolutely no idea for what spell levels or even character levels mean, and balance is all over the place. Lahm's Finger Darts is a particularly infamous example of a second level spell that does up to 5d4 dexterity damage, which will paralyze someone with no save. Boneblast is a spell that deals a d3 of con damage at second level, never scales, and requires you to be an undead. Now, Lahm's Finger Darts requires you to shoot off your own fingers at people and wait days for them to regrow, and that's another problem with this section. Many of the spells are just designed to be as edgy as possible, and require you to contract some disease, get super high, or eat people's brains to inflict pain on others or do undead or demon themed things. There's not really a coherent theme here besides being vaguely gross and/or spooky, and you still have the problem that you can't really make a coherent user of dark magic. A lot of these spells are inferior to throwing glitter and rainbows around a la PHB, but there are a few really insane spells that let you do really broken poo poo. Mind rape lets you rewrite a creature's brain as a standard action, with no real limits whatsoever so you can make them serve you eternally. Love's Pain is a bonkers effect that lets you deal low amounts of damage to a creature the target loves the most - it's intended so that the villain can do cruel stuff like murder your wife remotely while you're fighting them, but people ended up combining it with Mind Rape (or the neutral and good aligned variants) to make someone love their target and then blow them up remotely. Oh, also, there's a cantrip to cheat at cards.

I think my personal favorite spell is "Soul's Treasure Lost", which literally picks the most valuable non-artifact item the target has and disintegrates it if the target fails a Fortitude save. It's just so hilariously dickish, in a manner that the players will end up trying to convince the GM to follow them to the alley because "there's a potential romantic partner there" only to beat them up.

Next we have a section about evil magic items, and here's where things get stupid. We get a set of armor that protects the wearer from extra damage to evil creatures (a la smite evil)) which you don't care about because the damage is pitiful, evil armor that protects you from angels, and poison spiked armor. We get a writeup of the Dread Emperor's armor, which literally has no armor check penalties if you chain subdued children to it, human flesh armor that lets you shapeshift into humanoids, damage redirection armor that's "evil" for some reason, and some kind of crappy grapple damage boost. There are terrible weapon enhancements you will never use that store blood and burrow into people's flesh for crappy damage, a weapon enhancement that causes the weapon to attack its owner for an automatic critical hit on command, weapons that inflict negative levels (extremely powerful against the living), and a bunch of specific weapons that mutat people and poo poo. There are BDSM rings that allow the master ring to torture the slave ring, acid spraying rods, sacrificial knives, and wondrous items of dumb. There's the belt of the dread emperor, which lets you cast spells for free if you attach a willing/helpless/mind controlled target to you with a chain and deal damage to them. I assume you can just...chain yourself and cast more spells from HP, which is kind of great because you can abuse polymorph effects and temp HP to heal. Score!

This loving book posted:

Nipple Clamp of Exquisite Pain: The wearer of this ring is immune to debilitating pain effects such as the circle of nausea spell. He is also immune to the wrack spell. He is not immune to actual damage described as pain, such as that found in eyes of the zombie, however. The clamp converts all pain into a pleasurable sensation. This item does not change how or whether the character takes damage, but it does change how he might react to it.

There's also a magical bag of poo poo that summons cockroaches.

The section closes with a selection of evil artifacts, such as angel blood that deals acid damage, or a stone that gives minor bonuses then forces you to make a save or become evil. The Dread Emperor returns once more with an artifact ring that gives him the ability to... ignore armor penalties and gain freedom of movement if he kills a 10th level character. This must be done daily. It's kind of nuts! 10th level characters aren't common in D&D land! There's a few demonic engines like a zombie cauldron and, uh...

Why Cook Why posted:

Despoiler of Flesh: This short staff is made of human tongues sewn together end to end. These tongues are slightly animated, so the staff occasionally bends and curls of its own volition. Despoiler of Flesh has been in the possession of a particularly twisted and powerful nalfeshnee named Tapheon that lives in a place called the Fortress of Indifference. It has also been in the hands of a mortal despot named Multhesan, a human in love with his two daughters. Rather than force himself upon them, he used the Despoiler of Flesh to reshape captives and slaves into the likenesses of his daughters that he might have his way with them instead.



On that note, I think we're going to end the review for the day. Next time, we check out the stats and writeups for the archdevils!

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



TheGreatEvilKing posted:

So the judge dudes are just playable Nazis "justified" by Proper Noun al-Qaeda?

Some people really miss the point that Judge Dredd is not a good guy.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




TheGreatEvilKing posted:

We get a writeup of the Dread Emperor's armor, which literally has no armor check penalties if you chain subdued children to it

[…]

The Dread Emperor returns once more with an artifact ring that gives him the ability to... ignore armor penalties and gain freedom of movement if he kills a 10th level character. This must be done daily. It's kind of nuts! 10th level characters aren't common in D&D land!

Of all the things to catch my eye in this, did they really build redundancies into a themed set?

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.




TheGreatEvilKing posted:

So the judge dudes are just playable Nazis "justified" by Proper Noun al-Qaeda?

I think Cythereal has the right of it, some people really like things like Judge Dread, except they don't understand the satire at play and instead take it at face value. Hard men making hard choices in hard times, yeah, that's cool as hell.

Tsilkani
Jul 28, 2013



That Old Tree posted:

Of all the things to catch my eye in this, did they really build redundancies into a themed set?

No, it's that the armor doesn't have additional penalties if you chain subdued children to it. If you're not using kids, or subdued/controlled targets, there is an additional penalty. It is also still full plate, with all the normal penalties, unless he ganks a level 10 character each day.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Hipster Occultist posted:

The actual book begins with this lovely mindfuck of a story. warning!

You'll see it when I hit the bestiary part of the book, but Marko thinks that women wanting to gently caress the dumb ogre Cockroach kings is the most AM I UPSETTING YOU THING in the world, and he just can't stop writing about it. Also, the women are now fat, because fat gross.

Hipster Occultist posted:

Do we have a :GRIMDARK: emote? Why do so many writers think make everything lovely and hopeless = good writing? You need some hope/light for contrast, if everything goes bad all the time people get numb to it, and the bad stuff happening loses all of its impact.

It's something Warhammer 40K writers never get, either.

Hipster Occultist posted:



The Chronicler in her grasp is a Sleeper infiltrator btw.

This image actually illustrates a story at the start of the Primal Punk, the main rulebook lore book. Great loving gap between story and image, ain't it?

quote:

2312: Gusev shows up at the Spital, previously they’d pretty much kept to themselves holed up in their Bygone hospital. He offers them cartridges filled with entropic nanites sourced from his own blood, and points them at the growing mother spore field of Menden, then fucks off.

IIRC, Spitalians planting them in the field leads to apperance of the Discordance/Fractal Forests.

Hipster Occultist posted:

2482: The City Wars begin. A warlord by the name of Cultrin (Free Spirit Sleeper Prophet) rises, unites the masses with golden words, and leads the armies of Exalt out into the Protectorate. While the Bastion and the Cluster are not attacked, literally all the other cities are fighting will all of their might to resist.

Cultrin's crusade was mentioned in the main book as some sort of Anabaptist civil war.

Hipster Occultist posted:

The Enemoi clan rolls into an abandoned Exalt and just fuckin’ loots the poo poo out of the place, tossing everyone on a truck before peeling out and heading back to Noret. The Chroniclers are really pissed that all that good loot got ninja’ed, and declare the entire clans as public enemies of the Protectorate. They use every underhanded method and their disposal to gently caress with them.

Having recently read the Enemoi entry in Katharsys, basically nothing that mentions them in this timeline makes any sense.

Hipster Occultist posted:

I’d just like to repeat, this clan is a PC option. They’re literally establishing political prisons, and you can play these heroic fascists.

Fun fact, the main book Judges are a bit weird (what's with everyone having their own personal Law Codex FAQ and Errata? Why are you using the worst weapons around), but then they go FULL FASH in stuff that HO is covering.

quote:

None of the other cults have sucicide bombers by the way, just the Muslim anolagues. Even the cannibal barbarians don’t strap bombs to themselves to blow up statues.

Why did the Jehammedans suicide bomb Archot's statue, wounding his massive ego? We never knew and we still don't know. DEGENESIS!

Hipster Occultist posted:

2594: Chernobog awakens in Eastern Borca, he had previously been lulled into hibernation by yet another powerful and important Sleeper npc called the Piast. He wakes up when his brother Nikitia (also known as Karakhan and the architect of Project Free Spirit) sends a signal to the Minerva space station. Karakhan purposely does this to wake him up, for reasons we’ll get to later.

Nikitia/Karkhan is now the dude trying to take over Balkhan. I'm not entirely certain he's not the same as Piast

Hipster Occultist posted:

2596: The Clan Wars begin. The Protectorate faces attacks on all sides. The Cockroaches and Phosphorites seem to be the primary threats, but the Enemoi and the Mechans get in there as well.

Once again, Enemoi joining any of these groups is entirely against what's established in Katharsys.

Cythereal posted:

Some people really miss the point that Judge Dredd is not a good guy.

That may have been the original idea, but over time, it drifted, and by 2021, a cop that's entirely beholden to the law almost seems utopian.

Also, this doesn't work on Judges, since they all have copies of the first judge's codex to which they make their own additions which is, uh, not great.

JcDent fucked around with this message at 04:50 on Apr 27, 2021

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





JcDent posted:

Also, this doesn't work on Judges, since they all have copies of the first judge's codex to which they make their own additions which is, uh, not great.

I AM THE WIKI LAW!

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.




JcDent posted:

IIRC, Spitalians planting them in the field leads to apperance of the Discordance/Fractal Forests.

Maybe that contributed towards it, but the Discordance happened because the Chakras tried to link when the seventh Chakra (the Levithianics) hadn't bloomed yet. That created a psychic backlash between the first gen biokinetics and their Chakra, it had to cut them all loose. Most turned into Spore Beasts, while one Biokinetic became something new called the Czar. Its seeds create Fractal Forests.


JcDent posted:

Cultrin's crusade was mentioned in the main book as some sort of Anabaptist civil war.

Nothing in this book suggests the Anabaptists were anything less than united, and Cultrin is very clearly a Free Spirit sleeper. I doubt Marko considers this a retcon tho


JcDent posted:

Nikitia/Karkhan is now the dude trying to take over Balkhan. I'm not entirely certain he's not the same as Piast

The Piast is a different guy yeah, he's an independent Sleeper now, and in a better game would be a mentor/contact for the PCs. He was a 100's cascade sleeper. When his squad woke up they went to get further orders from Cherno, unware he was a techo-zombie now. He ate them all, except the Piast because he was wearing a cloak that disguises his nanite signature. That shock breaks his memetic condition, and he does a bunch of other stuff I'll get to much later


JcDent posted:

Once again, Enemoi joining any of these groups is entirely against what's established in Katharsys.

I don't think they join with those other clans, but rather they take advantage of the chaos.

90s Cringe Rock
Nov 29, 2006



Hang on, BoVD says angels have acid for blood?

Angry Salami
Jul 27, 2013

Don't trust the skull.


TheGreatEvilKing posted:

Now, Lahm's Finger Darts requires you to shoot off your own fingers at people and wait days for them to regrow, and that's another problem with this section.

Alright, there's a lot of edgy bullshit here, but can't we all appreciate this wonderful concept? I want a whole set of spells that require you to shoot off different body parts until you're just a torso and a head, like a more aggressive version of Monty Python's Black Knight.

Winklebottom
Dec 19, 2007



Angry Salami posted:

Alright, there's a lot of edgy bullshit here, but can't we all appreciate this wonderful concept? I want a whole set of spells that require you to shoot off different body parts until you're just a torso and a head, like a more aggressive version of Monty Python's Black Knight.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




TheGreatEvilKing posted:

There's also a magical bag of poo poo that summons cockroaches.
I mean it's a D20 product

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Halloween Jack posted:

I mean it's a D20 product

But why would Zak try to summon cockroaches at a con?

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Hipster Occultist posted:

Maybe that contributed towards it, but the Discordance happened because the Chakras tried to link when the seventh Chakra (the Levithianics) hadn't bloomed yet. That created a psychic backlash between the first gen biokinetics and their Chakra, it had to cut them all loose. Most turned into Spore Beasts, while one Biokinetic became something new called the Czar. Its seeds create Fractal Forests.


Nothing in this book suggests the Anabaptists were anything less than united, and Cultrin is very clearly a Free Spirit sleeper. I doubt Marko considers this a retcon tho


The Piast is a different guy yeah, he's an independent Sleeper now, and in a better game would be a mentor/contact for the PCs. He was a 100's cascade sleeper. When his squad woke up they went to get further orders from Cherno, unware he was a techo-zombie now. He ate them all, except the Piast because he was wearing a cloak that disguises his nanite signature. That shock breaks his memetic condition, and he does a bunch of other stuff I'll get to much later


I don't think they join with those other clans, but rather they take advantage of the chaos.

You know what? I give up. If the sole creative gEnIUs behind a project that doesn't have market pressures to twist the cannon to be more marketable or sell miniatures I mean, such pressures do exist for Marko, and they would improve the product, but he's actively hostile to them can't keep his loving own canon straight, then... gently caress it.

Big Mad Drongo
Nov 10, 2006







Grimey Drawer

TheGreatEvilKing posted:

Book of Vile Darkness(3e)


Chapter Six: Magic

Oh, also, there's a cantrip to cheat at cards.

This unironically owns and I have no idea what it's doing in the book. A weird little effect that's not directly useful, but may be helpful in an interesting way under certain circumstances and is freely available on demand, is what cantrips should be. As opposed to dealing pathetic damage or whatever else they do RAW.

A mage that takes the time to learn a cantrip for cheating at cards says a lot about the character, unlike most spells.

SkyeAuroline
Nov 12, 2020



JcDent posted:

You know what? I give up. If the sole creative gEnIUs behind a project that doesn't have market pressures to twist the cannon to be more marketable or sell miniatures I mean, such pressures do exist for Marko, and they would improve the product, but he's actively hostile to them can't keep his loving own canon straight, then... gently caress it.

I was about to say, for something so rigid on metaplot and canon I'm baffled that there's so little of a gently caress given to consistency.

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.




JcDent posted:

You know what? I give up. If the sole creative gEnIUs behind a project that doesn't have market pressures to twist the cannon to be more marketable or sell miniatures I mean, such pressures do exist for Marko, and they would improve the product, but he's actively hostile to them can't keep his loving own canon straight, then... gently caress it.

So, I think what's trying to do is like "here's the first version of events distorted by bias, the march of history, the telephone game" and then "here's what actually happened, or at least part of what happened now piece it all together and feed my ego as you come begging to me to solve these inconsistencies."

But yeah, he's a poo poo writer and has nobody to tell him he's a poo poo writer, so he'll never get any better.

Tbh, I dunno why I'm interested in this flaming pile of garbage they call an rpg, but I'll ride this diseased horse to its end.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Hipster Occultist posted:

So, I think what's trying to do is like "here's the first version of events distorted by bias, the march of history, the telephone game" and then "here's what actually happened, or at least part of what happened now piece it all together and feed my ego as you come begging to me to solve these inconsistencies."

But yeah, he's a poo poo writer and has nobody to tell him he's a poo poo writer, so he'll never get any better.

Tbh, I dunno why I'm interested in this flaming pile of garbage they call an rpg, but I'll ride this diseased horse to its end.

Negative examples are useful. Looking at how Degenesis does its thing and going 'this is trash, this should all be done differently' is helpful for peoples' writing!

I admit I've used the 'the distortion of history' thing a lot to excuse retcons myself, albeit that was in a setting that was fleshing out and getting developed as those things went, where lots of stuff got filled in as they specifically went into campaigns about the facts and history that were getting retconned. You can pull it off if you know you're doing it and put some work in, but he's not putting the work in because he knows his small circle of followers will love whatever he says because it's got the right signifiers and imagery so he doesn't need to do any better.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Unless a game setting book - not a work of literature - tells me outright and upfront that they're doing distorted rumors, I'm gonna call BS on that.

senrath
Nov 3, 2009

Look Professor, a destruct switch!




Big Mad Drongo posted:

This unironically owns and I have no idea what it's doing in the book. A weird little effect that's not directly useful, but may be helpful in an interesting way under certain circumstances and is freely available on demand, is what cantrips should be. As opposed to dealing pathetic damage or whatever else they do RAW.

A mage that takes the time to learn a cantrip for cheating at cards says a lot about the character, unlike most spells.

Remember that cantrips in 3e and 3.5 aren't freely available on demand. You only get a very limited number of uses of them per day.

Big Mad Drongo
Nov 10, 2006







Grimey Drawer

senrath posted:

Remember that cantrips in 3e and 3.5 aren't freely available on demand. You only get a very limited number of uses of them per day.

drat you're right, it's been literal decades since I've played 3.x.

Still stealing the concept for systems where low-powered magic tricks are unlimited. It's exactly the kind of thing you could see a wizardy-type designing as a bored student looking to make some extra cash and hilariously out of place in the Tome of Edgy Grimdarkness.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Age of Sigmar: Beasts of Chaos
Somehow, Less Annoying Than Actual Anprims

The Beasts of Chaos consider that all trappings of civilized life are awful things that represent an inferior state to total anarchy. They especially hate those who value shiny things, fine banners and great buildings, and they see the Free Peoples as usurpers who stole the birthright of control over the world from them. They consider monuments and cities to be the mark of the weak and love to tear them down and defile them. It's not just Sigmar's peoples that they hate, either. They despise the formality of Death and the rituals and egotism of Nagash, and they despise the greenskins and ogors for just wanting to fight and not making GBS threads all over civilization while they do. (Is this a reasonable and logical hate? No, but these are anprim goat people.) As noted, they even think that the other followers of Chaos are lovely, and they hate especially those who build up fortresses or libraries, so they're more than happy to raid Chaos settlements on the basis that they are an insult to anarchy.

Our goat-headed anprims basically just hate everyone. They tell st ories about the time before the gods, when the Greatfrays ruled the world. They slaughtered whoever they want, murdered giant monsters and reveled in and around their corpses, and celebrating all their massacres. They see order as an unnatural state that was forced on the world by Sigmar and his ilk, and in the time when they were driven back, their anger grew and grew. Since the Age of Chaos, they've just been unleashing all that boiling rage on anyone that gets close. The ancestral memory of the loss of their ancient paradise of death and destruction is burned into the minds of even newborn Beasts, and likewise, so is the name of the ones who broke it - Sigmar and the Gods of Order. As the Stormcast rise and the forces of Nagash surge from Shyish, the beastherds have grown ever more violent and ever larger, hoping for revenge on their ancient foes.

Wherever the Beasts of Chaos live, they raise immense stones, known as Herdstones, which are made from Chaos-infused rock. Herdstones mark the territory of the beastherds and serve as the focal structure for their bloody celebrations. The oldest Herdstones were erected at the dawn of the Mortal Realms, and the Chaos energies that emit from them have twisted the lands around them such that no one but the Beasts can survive their presence without going insane. The substance used to build Herdstones varies by Realm - Aqshian ones tend to be volcanic glass or columns of cooled magma, while those of Hysh are often crystal, and Shyishian Herdstones are often made from the petrified bones of ancient godbeasts. Before a beastherd rampages, they will assemble before their oldest (and therefore holiest) Herdstone. They get drunk and party around it, performing dark rituals and crowding the stone in a surge of bodies. As they eat raw meat and drink fermented blood and wine, their bloodlust rises to a fever pitch. They begin to fight each other, and the strongest roar challenges to the alphabeast as bonfires are lit around the Herdstone, burning off Chaos energy and bathing the gathered Beasts in it.

These gatherings grow so loud and debauched that the Chaos Gods often notice, and if one of them feels like using the Beasts for their own aims, they may offer up gifts to the herd. Massive tentacles might sprout from the Herdstone, or it might suddenly emit a geyser of blood. A strong leader among the beasts might be granted blessed mutations or visions of the battle to come. Sometimes the Beasts recognize the touch of a Chaos God and submit to their dominance, allowing themselves to be guided by the signs until they get bored and pursue some other form of Chaos, or they might refuse the gifts and kill those who seem convinced. Indeed, in some cases, the alphabeast will even order such a "tainted" Herdstone to be smashed, though that's risky - it tends to piss off not just the god, but also the beastherd, who see the rock as holy.

As the Beasts rage through new lands, they erect new Herdstones. They typically drag slabs of corrupted rock behind them using the large monsters that follow them around, but may also just find natural pillars that they can smash into shape and then defile with Chaos energies. Other times, their raw Chaos power will cause Herdstones to form spontaneously, bursting out of the ground to mark their path. Either way, a new Herdstone is celebrated with bloody sacrifices and draped in decorated bones and fleshy bits. Captives are burned alive in bonfires at the base or impaled on sharp parts of the stone. The longer it stands, the more Chaos energy pours out of it, warping the landscape around it and causing the local wildlife to be mutated and warped. Even with no one tending them, Herdstones continue to radiate Chaos power and corrupt the lands around them, waiting for the Beasts to return. Better to just tear 'em down.

So, what kind of beastherds are out there? Well, the most common are the Brayherds, huge groups of centigors, gors and ungors that tend to be "related" insofar as the word applies in any sense to the Beasts of Chaos. They gather in large groups and push each other on to higher and higher heights of collective rage, they smell like blood-coated goats, and they don't wash. They are often covered in ticks and other parasites. They divide themselves into a hierarchy largely based on size, strength and amount of animal traits. The biggest horns and thickest manes are generally signs of greatets physical power, and the gors with those will violently dominate their smaller, more humanoid kin. Sometimes that means taking all the good fights for themsevles, sometimes that means using ungors as meaty shields in battle. The biggest and strongest get the best weapons and armour from their scavenging, and often they end up killing each other over nice-looking loot.

The gors and ungors are the most numerous members of the herd, forming the core infantry forces that smash through the enemy. They are flanked by the centigors, huge creatures drunk on their own home-made fermented...whatever they can find, often blood. Beside them, chariots strapped to angry tuskgors race to beat them to battle. At the center of it all is the Beastlord that leads the force. Often, the Beastlord fights at the front, demonstrating brutal violence to urge the rest onwards. He will usually be served by one or more Bray-Shamans, who wield the magic of raw Chaos to destroy the enemy and whip the gors into a greater fury. Of all the kinds of beastherd, the Brayherds are the ones that most resemble humans, insofar as they tend to actually have some semblance of society made from multiple competing herds of warriors that hunt together and fight each other. They may remain at relative peace for years, getting their kicks out of killing the local wildlife and any civilized people that wander into their territory. However, eventually, this will not be enough, and the Brayherd will emerge to raid other peoples. They have an instinctive hatred and contempt for all non-Beasts, after all.

Typically, what draws a Brayherd out of its territory is the rise of an angry and powerful Beastlord, whose tactical skill allows them to be a threat to much better-equipped forces and whose hatred and rage cannot be sustained simply by murdering random travellers. Their tactics usually involve a large, unccordinated mass running forward while shouting loudly...which seems stupid at first. However, this block is in truth bait. As they close with their foes, the gors will blow large horn trumpets, signaling the ambush of the rest of the herd. They will emerge from hiding to surround the enemy, cutting them off from escape. Then, the collected herd tears into the foe where their lines are weakest, picking them off piece by piece and spreading chaos through the ranks.

Beastlords are generally the biggest and strongest of their kind, veterans of many battles, and their strong will and vicious fists are what keep the Brayherds from devolving into infighting constantly. Their charisma and power bind the group into a united force, and making that happen requires massive amounts of cunning and brutality. If a Beastlord can't keep it up, they're going to be torn apart by their own forces. The Bray-Shamans that serve them are rarely anywhere near as large or physically imposing, but they have the power of prophecy and are able to tap into the energies of Chaos, interpreting the future through instinctive understanding of the shifting currents of time and space. Their visions usually direct the Brayherd's path, choosing the best places to attack and the routes that will bring the most devastation. Bray-Shamans also tend to the herd's Herdstones, preparing the sacred skins and runes that decorate the megaliths.

Warherds, meanwhile, are primarily made of bullgors and monsters. They are huge, muscular and very direct. The lead bullgors will smash the foe apart with crude but immense weapons, and the Ghorgons and Cygors follow after them, grabbing foes and tearing them apart by virtue of massive size and strength or impaling them on their gigantic horns. Warherds are generally led by Doombulls, massive armored bullgors who keep the loyalty of their followers by constant shows of strength and brutality. The Doombulls seek out the greatest enemies to duel, bellowing constantly and pushing their fellows on to greater acts of savagery. They have to - bullgors are even more violent and feral than other gor-kin. They are less human in appearance as well, and usually hail from deeper, more wild lands where Chaos energy is stronger.

Like a Brayherd, a Warherd is still a society in a sense, and the members of its constituent herds tend to be relatives. They are a less nuanced society, though, favoring more direct and simple tactics. Warherds don't generally use ambush - they find the strongest point in an enemy's defense, then run at it with overwhelming force to break it. Once that's done, they prefer to hunt down the survivors at their leisure. It is said that these bullgors were once more humanoid than they are at present, but they were cursed by the Chaos Gods. It's said that in the time before the Age of Myth, the tribes that would eventually become the Warherds worshipped Chaos via sacrifice and cannibalism, killing and eating each other to steal the strength of their rivals. They were granted strength, but it warped their bodies and made them grow to great size. With this size came an insatiable need for flesh. This curse was called the bloodgreed, and it is the urge that drives all bullgors now. They perform their acts of violence in order to gain raw flesh to consume. This need is not hunger - they will survive just fine without the flesh of sentient beings. Rather, they feel an insatiable need to desecrate and destroy the bodies of people.

Warherds in battle often receive the attentions of the Dark Gods. Khorne especially loves them as pure avatars of bloody murder for no purpose but to soak the Realms in blood. Tzeentch considers the corpses they desecrate to be effigies of change and transformation, though he has less use for them. Slaanesh just enjoys the unabashed excess of their violence, while Nurgle likes that they often leave their victims to rot and fester. Whatever the case, the attentions of the Gods mean the Herdstones of the Warherds ar eoften rather more malformed than those of the Brayherds. Many are decorated with the skulls of ancient Doombulls, Ghorgons and, of course, the sacrifices that are thrown alive into the bonfires that burn at the base of the stone. Some Herdstones have eaten so many victims this way that their rock has been replaced by pulsing flesh and muscle, while others have grown toothy mouths that bellow for more food.

The final type of beastherd is the Thunderscorn, the herds in service to the dragon ogors. They are immensely strong, resilient and powerful beings, even beyond the might of other Beasts, and the contain within them the strength of the thunderstorm. They wield the force of Chaos like lightning, and their territories lie far from any civilized land, high in the mountains of each realm, which rage with endless storms. Despite their remote habitats, they are able to strike at their foes from massive distance, moving with a terrifying speed and little warning. These beastherds move slowly at first, like the start of a storm. The skies darken with their arrival and the air fills with static and wind. Lightning flashes and slams into the ground, and with them, the herd strikes.

Dragon ogors smash across the field unstoppably, wielding ancient weapons that they maintain from long before the awakening of Sigmar - the first time. Those foes who survive their initial onslaught rarely survive the whirling blows they deliver in the melee, the crushing strikes of their powerful feet or the blasts of Chaos lightning that they call down. The leader of the herd stands at the eye of the storm of flesh and lightning - the shaggoth, one of the most ancient and powerful of the dragon ogors. They can summon lightning at will, burning enemies to death with powerful Chaos magic, and they are equally skilled in melee with their axes and tails. Their bellows drive their kin onwards, to unending violence, as they take out their frustration and rage on their foes.

The dragon ogors of the Thunderscorn are believed to predate the Mortal Realms. It is said that in the World-That-Was, their ancestors made a pact with the Chaos Gods, gaining immortality at the cost of eternal service to Chaos. When the World-That-Was fell, it is believed that a single shaggoth, one as large as a mountain, survived the destruction and climbed into Azyr from the shattered remnants of the old world. There, he claimed immense territory as his own and sired the first of the modern Thunderscorn herds. While their old world died, the pact with Chaos did not, and the Chaos Gods revealed to them that they were damned to servitude even in this new existence. When Sigmar emerged, he led a war against the dragon ogors, and after a series of bloody battles, the Thunderscorn were kicked out of Azyr entirely. They're still extremely upset about being driven from what they see as their homeland.

Ever since their expulsion from Azyr, the Thunderscorn have focused most of their free time on tryining to get back in and reclaim their ancient homes. They lost again and again during the Age of Myth, and eventually they retreated into mountains, deciding to use their immortal bodies to wait out their foes. They remained in the most remote regions they could find, waiting until the time for vengeance was at hand. Their bitterness grew over the centuries - not just at Sigmar, but at the Chaos Gods they were enslaved by. When the Age of Chaos came, they saw their chance. They descended from the mountains to unleash their fury on the world, annihilating Sigmarite holdings everywhere...except Azyr. Sigmar was able to block off his home realm, and they were forced to shout from their mountain tops at the human god, daring him to open his gates and face them. It is only with the Age of Sigmar that he has answered the Thunderscorn challenge.

Thunderscorn herds use Herdstones, like the other Beasts, but theirs tend to be carved by electricity and crackle with power or are surrounded by constant wind. They are almost always found on mountaintops, serving as gigantic lightning rods. Most dragon ogors are extremely old, though, and their herds maintain, at the center of each Thunderscorn domain, a greater stone. These Herdstones are far larger than most, often taking the form of an entire mountain or magnetic mesa soaked in Chaos energy for millenia. These are where the Thunderscorn gather before battle.

Besides the herds themselves, the various Greatfrays make great use of Chaos-corrupted wildlife in their forces. Because they live in such heavily Chaos-soaked landscapes, these animals are warped and transformed, growing horrible mouths, claws or tusks. Chaos Warhounds and Razorgors gather in huge packs, attacking animals far larger than them with weight of numbers and tearing them apart. Other monsters live on their own, but spread corruptive energies to reshape the landscape to their whims. These animals do not belong to the Beasts, but are drawn to them and their Herdstones. The scent of blood, battle and fury brings them from far and wide. Chaos gargants, cockatrices, chimeras, jabberslythes - all sorts of monsters come out when the Beasts march to war, while the smaller monsters form packs that obey the power of the strong leaders of the beastherds. It isn't rare for these creatures to attack each other or the Beasts when hungry, though...at least until they get into civilized lands, where they will prefer to eat uncorrupted victims. Sometimes they'll even split off and rampage on their own. They instinctively fight to defend the Herdstones, as well, or any area that is sufficiently soaked in Chaos energies.

Next time: The Greatfrays

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



Big Mad Drongo posted:

drat you're right, it's been literal decades since I've played 3.x.

Still stealing the concept for systems where low-powered magic tricks are unlimited. It's exactly the kind of thing you could see a wizardy-type designing as a bored student looking to make some extra cash and hilariously out of place in the Tome of Edgy Grimdarkness.

Couple of things: anyone not a sorcerer or bard knows all cantrips on their spell list, so every wizard ever knows how to cheat at Yugioh and send people to the Shadow Realm. Second is that Monte has an entire into half page on how cheating is absolutely evil.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


So, in the Monte Cook MoralityTM

1: Burning sentient beings to an agonizing death via Fireball is not (necessarily) evil.

2: Cheating at cards is absolutely evil.

3: Boobies need to be both visible and mutilated.

Got it, I think.

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90s Cringe Rock
Nov 29, 2006



You can't expect Monte Cook to have a human perspective. We're all very small from up there.

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