I'm not so sure how different that is from the base game, really. The Big E always gets exponentially more dangerous when high grade fabrication is available, and I'm not so sure how that would play that differently then trying to stop a bunch of, say, Skrik exsurgents from pouring Skrik blenderized into a fine liquid into the hab's primary water cisterns, and deliberately primitive hardware is already in use in many counter-exsurgency operations throughout the system, as detailed in firewall - you need a pretty high pixel ratio for a Basilisk Hack. It's the two major ideas that EP tries to push at the same time conflicting again. I do think possibly giving onboard nanoware a large risk of inducing a critfail or similar negative effect in 'resist Exsurgent infection' rolls is a good idea - fluff it as Bionanobots being able to subvert the hives to manufacture a nano-tech version of themselves or, use cognitive nanotech as a Basilisk vector or something.
Well, primarily it would remove the massively lame save-or-exsurgent factor from things, unless you pop exsurgents as a surprise in a mission not slated to involve them, players could divest themselves of nanotech-based augs and gear and bring something more old-school and ruggedized. Like, don't just make it a choice between having a penalty or not, make it an option to make yourself entirely resistant to those lovely save-or-dies. Of course the exsurgents can still stab you in the brain or shoot you, in those cases, but at least that's usually established in graduations of dead rather than instant dead.
Secondly it would make the whole economic argument a bit more nuanced than "capitalists evil, communists and anarchists happy fishmalk friends" as well as making nanofabricators a bit less ubiquitous in at-risk locations.
Thirdly, just anything to make them less of a faceless, mindless horde with no clear goals or tactics beyond "infect people a lot??????"
|# ¿ Sep 10, 2019 01:51|
|# ¿ Nov 28, 2021 19:52|
Do not let this happen to you! Invest in Google Docs today!
I've been saved multiple times by SA's post-saving feature, which is a godsend.
I argue that it might break them too far in the other direction - exsurgents should never be no-sellable completely, and they'd never get to the nanotech if they were completely dependent on it; I'd make it easier to resist though, like possibly inoculations that slow the virus enough that a healing vat can clean it out; - take it from save or die, to save or get to a doctor fast, or die.
Thing is that if the only scary thing about exsurgents is "hur hur save-or-die checks" then they're a pretty lame terror.
Mostly EP would let you do a lot of interesting things but generally they require rewriting the fundaments of the setting, like how Firewall is always right and good and perfect, or the lolworthy assertion that their space-anarchy is anything but a ticking timebomb that'll blow up any day now, or the fact that the foundation of the whole Humans vs TITANS & Exsurgents thing had 5000000 different ways it could go and they took the dumbest, blandest one.
|# ¿ Sep 10, 2019 02:52|
Eclipse Phase: Gatecrashing
So, to wash away the lovely taste of EP2's monumental failures and the general titanic garbage writing involved in the Sol system politics and other stuff that's supposed to be the lifeblood of Eclipse Phase, the heart of it, let's jump to some of the stuff that's actually good, primarily by virtue of being able to ignore all of the badly written and considered junk near the heart of the setting, while also getting away from many of its less well-considered system aspects. I mean, I'd act like it was a surprise, but the title and huge tag image should already tell you that it's Gatecrashing.
This is by no means a perfect book, and Gatecrashing itself also puts you into somewhat-forced contact with some of the weaker points of the game. In fact most of the pre-written stuff in Gatecrashing is hard or impossible to interact with, or so vague that except for a few adjectives you're writing it all yourself anyway, but the book provides a lot of the good, sciency stuff that's needed to create a believable exoplanet, and the pre-made exoplanets provide a lot of inspiration because the writing is generally solid.
Gatecrashing also has some of my favourite pieces of Eclipse Phase art, in part because they're sometimes the right kind of gonzo to show that someone actually had fun with this book rather than just jerking themselves off while writing it. In other cases, they're just plain good.
Neato Space Adventures In Space
We start off with an okay piece of fiction about Gatecrashing Firewall members getting hunted-and-killed by a Factor in a human spacesuit pretending to be human, before two survivors manage to finish it off. It's forgettable, really, then we get into the proper content of the book.
The book proceeds in a logical order, with the gates in Sol, where they are, what's known about them and how missions are organized, before moving on to any of the stuff that's actually outside of Sol. So if you read the book in order(and why wouldn't you?) you actually get the information in the order that it makes sense and you rarely have to page back furiously for a reference. This is the sort of way a book should be implicitly ordered and I only bring it up to point out that at some point the people writing Eclipse Phase did, in fact, have editors with a functioning central nervous system who hadn't been victims of a home trepanation accident.
The bit on the gate knowledge is one of the rare cases where the writers' penchant for not answering questions works out, because we don't need to know any details about the gates beyond that they work. In fact, they're much easier to swallow in a "hard" science universe if they're mysterious than if someone technobabbles out of their rear end about tachyons and bosons and singularities or whatever. We get presented with the main theories, but none of them are established as perfect fact, not even in a GM chapter anywhere. Thank you, writer who knows restraint.
The vast majority of gates so far discovered are physically anchored to some sort of astronomical body, whether that be a planet, moon, or small rocky asteroid. There are a few notable exceptions, such as the Aerie Gate free floating in the vacuum of space in a tidally-locked orbit around an extrasolar planet or the Vortex Gate that appears to be suspended by unknown means within the crushing depths of a gas giant’s atmosphere. This standard placement, in conjunction with their size, implies that the gates are not intended to facilitate spacecraft travel, though some of them may be used for this purpose. (Most asteroid-locked gates, for example, require little in the way of escape velocity.)
And the writing is generally evocative, galvanizing your imagination. It also makes good use of something that EP2 tried to do, but never quite managed outside of one or two paragraphs, which is having each paragraph be clearly written not by a godlike narrator but by a specific in-setting individual who often has specific viewpoints and sympathies(which may or may not be correct), or as conversations. It also covers, in a very natural way, how establishing connections works and generally answers a lot of questions that a player or GM might have or need to answer("What happens if two gates try to connect to the same third gate simultaneously?" and etc.).
okay, so occasionally the art is less than stellar
One minor problem in this section is that it also touches on weirdnesses and anomalies that can occur with gates, especially if someone pokes at them in unauthorized or experimental ways. This is conceptually good, but the result is inevitably "and then they all died instantly without a save, even their stacks were annihilated" or "and then this character vanished out of the story for an extended period of time which would be pretty lovely if it was a PC it happened to huh" rather than something that could be useful in a story where the protagonists are players rather than the author's characters.
Also good is the section on organizing Gatecrashing trips, since it contains just about everything you might need: Prices if you're paying the inner system for access out-of-pocket without a sponsor, info on getting a sponsor, info on getting in through a lottery, info on using rep to get access through an autonomist gate, what sort of stuff you should be prepared to bring, what sort of backup you should expect and how well the place will have been scouted with drones and probes before sentient explorers are deployed, etc.
A chapter that's just as useful, if not even more, since I can imagine a lot of GM's might want to waive the nitty-gritty details of exactly how many space-dollars the players are paying for getting to a new planet, is the section on extrasolar worlds. In part because it involves a lot of relatively hard, fascinating science fact that's great for designing your own exoplanets. It's probably one of my favourite parts of the book, and I'll dare anyone to read it without getting a hundred ideas for exoplanets or gatecrashing campaigns.
There's also a good section on xenolife, like in the bit on xenoflora, it points out that if the planet has spiky or poisonous plants, it probably means there's also advanced xenofauna that eats said plants. And the more advanced the "do not eat me"-countermeasures, the more advanced the eaters are likely to be. A little bit of logic that someone designing an alien planet might not otherwise have thought about.
The section on colonization missions is also great, since it provides the seeds for everything from being colonists yourselves to working security on an exoplanet colony. About 50 pages in, and you'll have like a hundred good suggestions on what to do with gatecrashing campaigns/missions, both corporate and autonomist. Knowledge about designing new worlds and alien life. Like, even if the book had only been 50 pages long, it would absolutely still have been a worthwhile buy.
really all I can fairly bitch about so far is that the art of pandora gates is inconsistent in depicting them
The main problem with writing much about the first part of the book is that it's generally all so good that it doesn't need commenting on, but don't worry, that'll absolutely change by the end of the book.
Next: Stuff on Pandora Gates in Sol, and the meat of the book: the pre-made exoplanets
|# ¿ Sep 11, 2019 19:55|
I'd assume part of the problem is that in a game like WFRP(referring to the "you must lose X fantasy dollars on whores"-rules) where you can't just outright buy magical items and other power-defining gear, once you hit a certain wealth threshold basically all you can do is pay people to go adventuring for you? Like the gear that actually furthers your career as an adventurer was, at least in 2e, kind of limited in scope from how I recall it.
Like, what are the big money sinks in WFRP?
|# ¿ Sep 12, 2019 00:41|
Eclipse Phase: Gatecrashing
The Good Gate and the Bad Gates
After getting told about the "generics" of Gatecrashing, what's next is the specifics about using any one of the Sol system's five gates. This is largely not anything remarkable, mostly a description of any specific business circumstances(repeat missions for Terragenesis off the Vulcanoid gate gets you a bonus for being a repeat customer) and the atmosphere around each gate(Serious and slightly shady, serious and very shady, super cool and professional, super wacky and cool but also professional, ultra shady and evil, from innermost to outermost. Guess which one is the anarchist gate). The Anarchist gate is simultaneously in "totally free hands," completely locked down by the Love & Rage Collective, in danger of being monopolized by L&R , not in danger because the other anarchists would take care of them if they got evil, laid back and chillaxed, super-well planned and efficient despite being laid back and chillaxed and the only gate operating crew humane enough to prioritize a rescue over other activity. Because you know we just wouldn't get that the hypercapitalists are bad people unless they cackled at the profit they earned from letting a Gatecrasher die. The anarchists of course also do fishmalky things like easter egg hunts on alien worlds.
You also know how evil the Ultimates are because the guy narrating the bit about the Go-Nin gate on Discord keeps talking about OVERHUMANS and GENETIC INFERIORS despite the fact that every single writeup on the Ultimates mentions that their philosophy is about mindset, not genes, and also the fact that genetics are hilariously irrelevant in the EP world. Some writers really wanted to make them sound like Nazis as much as possible. It's especially clashing when in the next paragraph he drops back to a philosophy completely unfocused on people's genetics, only on their willingness to modify and resleeve themselves to be tougher and smarter.
Anyway the bit about the existing gates is mostly just for flavouring anything occurring near them or setting the scene before heading out into the unknown. The actually interesting part of this chapter are the unknown gates, the ones rumoured to be scattered around Sol. Chasing one of these rumours could be the foundation for an entire campaign, as gates are A) immensely profitable if you can lock one down and make sure no one steals it from you, B) potential sneaky ways in and out of the system for various villains and shady operations. The book does a good job of positing where the various gates could be, what makes it likely for them to be hidden there, how they could be hidden, how they could be found, who'd have an interest in them, etc. It's not a long section, but it's enough to be inspiring, even if it does seem somewhat conspicuous that it ignores theories of a new gate anywhere between Earth and the outer fringes of the system, possibly just so no one gets any ideas that the Jovians might be relevant to the game's setting any time soon.
See Interesting Planets! Meet Interesting Aliens! Roll Save Or Die Checks!
Probably the best and worst section of the book, for me, is the bit with the pre-made exoplanets, however. Almost every single one of them has something interesting going on, something that'll give you ideas, but, well, most of them have their issues as a thing to use in-game, too. Either they're just not useful as places to run a game or set an adventure, maybe they've already been destroyed or sometimes just nothing about them is statted meaning that it's up to the GM to stat and describe every single thing the PC's might want to interact with.
This is a Venus-esque planet where hypercorps are building a very shady aerostat which is so shady and mysterious that no one knows what it's for, and also it's not finished yet, and the world contains no native life or anything else of interest. I'm sure you can imagine all sorts of exciting adventures for PC's to get up to in an unfinished aerostat with no stated purpose on an otherwise-unexciting world they can't even explore because the local atmospheric pressure will annihilate them at ground level.
There aren't even any planets to explore here, just an alien spaceship stuck in the corona of the local star that shoots anything that approaches or dodges it so it can't get close enough to learn anything, also the spaceship might be alive and/or have still-living organic pilots. Somehow the space sensors used by a group of explorers can detect life signs at long range, something that always pissed me off in any trying-to-be-hard sci-fi. How would you scan for "life"? Signs of respiration? Methane? CO2? A heartbeat? I feel like I hardly need to A) list how many non-living things could generate those molecules or a regular beat or B) point out how useless this would be at detecting life through any sort of barrier much less at any sort of decent distance. Uh, but yeah, I guess catching up to and exploring an alien craft could be kind of interesting if they'd given the vaguest hints at what was inside and/or statted any of it.
This is an Earthlike World(tm) where you can have your soft sci-fi Star Trek adventures without a helmet or any concerns about polluting or being polluted by the local ecosphere. The exciting thing about Bluewood is the blue wood, as in blue trees, that are growing everywhere, they grow superquickly, overwhelm transhuman structures with little warning, and also they hack computers. No, really. If you gently caress with the trees, the entire ecosystem will attack you(none of the ecosystem or the trees themselves are statted for this purpose, btw) and, yeah, that's it. It's a planet of fast-growing trees that hack your computer and corrupt the data in your porn stash. Why? Dunno.
Brak Kodel is moderately interesting, since it actually does something with one of the many Spooky Titan Things that Spooky Titans have done, which is collecting heads/egos from people on Earth during the Fall. Brak Kodel is a lovely little Mercury-like planet with no atmosphere except where a bunch of valleys have been roofed over to keep them breathable, these valleys are basically full of weirdo mutant cavemen stuffed with super-psychosurgerized egos from the Fall. One group of cavemen control some of the remaining tech(weather manipulation, some fabbers) and worship the TITANs, then there's a tribe of literally insane cavemen and another tribe of cannibal cavemen. Apparently the TITAN that set the project up sleeved the same Ego into the leaders of all three factions, potentially just for laughs. Pathfinder's found the place and are split between nuking it because it's a TITAN artifact, looting it for tech, and trying to recover any famous or interesting egos that were sleeved into the mutant cavemen. It's an interesting world that could do some stuff, and the cavemen are actually statted for use as opponents or NPC's.
It's an Earthlike world where the grass gets you hiiiiiiiiiiiigh maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan so of course it's full of Scum that do nothing other than be high and gently caress. I'm not really sure what you could even use this world for other than ERP scenes.
Corse would be better for a short story than as a place to set a game, because the story's already been told. Hypercorps show up on a rock at the edge of the galaxy, build some observation equipment, place looks a bit odd, but not too odd, starts looking more and more odd as time goes on. Local astronomical situations look like they've been messed with, something built a craft on the rock and set off barely some years ago, probably a TITAN or TITAN-descended intelligence, about a month into observation they spot whatever took off in the sky, running back to the gate at high speed, like it's fleeing something. Then the corps shove a nuke through and evacuate everyone. Like the idea that there's something out there that could spook a TITAN or a TITAN's Fetch? Neato. Putting that in a place that's already been nuked by a corporation? Less neato.
Next up: Hope you don't expect them to stat any more things rather than just vaguely describing them. Also more mysterious alien trees.
|# ¿ Sep 12, 2019 22:42|
Eclipse Phase: Gatecrashing
Vague Aliens Doing Vague Things on Vague Planets
Let's get back to reviewing these planets.
Droplet is like a Soggy Earth. Bit denser atmosphere, much higher ocean surface, so there's only about 8% dry land. It's another place the Spooky Spider Aliens, the Iktomi, have shown up. Which is great because it doesn't mean anything considering that no one knows a goddamn thing about the Iktomi except that they were aliens, they're dead, they probably looked spidery and as a weird spooky coincidence they also liked web-ish designs because let's just make them space spiders rather than being creative. Droplet has a ton of aggressive, super-sized wildlife, both flying, swimming and amphibious, it'd be great if any of it was statted for use, but it isn't. The only statted thing from the world is a bunch of cute hexapod lizards you can have as a pet, which is cool, lizards are cute.
Like most worlds described here, this one has only a single interesting thing described. In this case it's a structure called the Toadstool, which is a big self-repairing mushroom-looking thing that does vague thing to Asyncs. Oh, I guess there was also a precursor civilization even older than the Iktomi on Droplet, but unlike the Iktomi which have left behind one or two pieces of alien tech that GM's and players can interact with, these guys were just amphibious centaurs.
more like the chodestool lol
Hope you like spiders, because this one has spiders. Yes, it's more Iktomi. Echo's a half-Earth with an appropriately halved atmospheric density and gravity, except once it had a decent atmosphere but something spooky and vague happened to it. Thankfully this is also where a Smart Science Man learned the one thing we'll ever know about Iktomi culture: "Mind the Weave," what is the Weave? Well gently caress knows, it's just a picture of a Pandora Gate in the middle of a spiderweb. Could just mean "mind the loving gap, you moron, don't trip when you enter the gate" or "leave the Gate network clean, don't mess it up by throwing McBurg wrappers everywhere." Echo also has a bunch of buildings where the wind makes spooky or cool music when it blows through them and this does vague things vaguely to asyncs.
(Spoiler: everything about Asyncs is vague and useless)
Echo does have another planet, nearby that you can fly to, though. Its main thing is that it has giant kaiju that will try to eat you, and little flying monkeys that will try to lure you into giant land anemones so they can eat you. They decided to stat the monkeys and land anemones, but otherwise tell us nothing about the place except that some hypercorps are poking at the fun genetics present on the planet.
It's an icy moon where genehackers are making weird cryptid critters and resurrecting Earth species that no one managed to get a full genetic library for off of Earth before/during the Fall. Somehow this is too transgressive to do in Sol, despite the fact that Sol is where someone uplifted an octopus and did hundreds of other wacky things to the human genome. But no, you make one pet griffon and apparently you've crossed the line and need to hide out in another solar system for ??? reasons. They've apparently also been working on organic ways to give creatures firebreath so they can make dragons and the like, which is actually pretty cool. That would have been something to make pod morphs really stand out, if you could literally sleeve into a dragonmorph or something.
Spoiler, you cannot, as a player or GM, interact with Giza unless you rewrite the canon. In the fluff established in the book Firewall has already shoved a bunch of nukes through the gate and blown it up on the Giza side. Now, the Gates do eventually tend to rebuild themselves even if nuked down to their constituent atoms, but have fun waiting a couple of in-game years for that to happen. It feels extremely like one member of the writing team made something a bit softer sci-fi than the rest, something that players could actually interact with rather than just being mystified by, and one of the others appended "and then firewall nuked it, the end" so no one would accidentally have fun.
Which is a shame, because Giza actually has way more potential for actually being interacted with than just about any other planet in Gatecrashing. It's a relatively habitable planet, wear a thick coat and bring an air tank and you're golden. No aliens will try to eat you. So what's so special about it? Space Omegle. Alien Space Omegle.
See, Giza's got these spooky stone pyramids lying around. If you go over and poke one, it invades your morph/systems/brain with a bunch of microtendrils that go "YO SUP BAYBEE YOU WANNA CHAT WITH SOME COOL NERDS?" and if you go "HELL YEAH BOYEE" it randomly connects you to someone poking at another Giza-esque site somewhere else, probably in another galaxy or solar system, and handles the translating as far as it can. Usually what then happens, according to the lore, is that the other alien trolls you and sends you a picture of its dick.
Approximately 15% of contacts were able to coherently communicate, amenable to talking to us, and had useful information they were willing to trade. Of the remainder, at least 35% were what Go-nin categorized as “bad faith operators” who seemed primarily interested in acting in a manner to provoke annoyance on the part of the user by attempting to discover what they found vulgar and offensive and spewing it back at them.
Depending on your view of humanity, it would either be relieving or extremely horrifying to know that aliens are basically just like us.
Enough folks have poked at the Giza artifacts that they now know how human Wi-Fi works and you don't actually have to touch them to get chatting. It even lets users set up a social media-esque profile, in case you really want to find some sexy alien molds to swipe left on(or is it right? I don't know how Tinder works). Depending on who you hook up with, you either get text chat, VR chat or MIND TO MIND INTERFACING and can send them pictures and video. The service, not being designed by morons, automatically filters anything that would identify where you're from in the solar system. It doesn't allow you to describe yourself, which makes you wonder how aliens got around sending dick pics, it doesn't allow you to send forks and you can't connect to anyone at the same Giza site as yourself. It's also patrolled by a badly programmed censoring system that cracks down on stuff sometimes like preventing some human poetry from being shared because it's "too sexual."
The only remaining quest hook here is that a couple of the guys who found the Giza site managed to escape into the wider Sol system with a few cool things aliens told them, like how to build a super-effective solar cell that also sometimes explodes if you're not really careful. Whoops lol.
Just In Case
It's a space survivalist bunker built and staffed by non-Consortium corps in case the TITANs come back to eat all of Sol or the PC takes over all of Sol. Also they're working on stuff to spread humans to other systems without the use of Pandora Gates. That's it.
Probably not dangerous to Superman, it's a space resort on a planet with a thin atmosphere, cold weather, warm geysers and super-cool giant crystals everywhere. You can easily get me hooked by imagining giant crystals, those things are neat.
It, of course, has a vague threat that vaguely destroyed some vague Firewall goons in the past so now Firewall is vaguely interested in doing something more about it if the GM can decide what it is. Alternately your PC's can use the place to have a beach episode if you're out of ideas, I guess.
Lassiter's stupid, like real goddamn stupid. So it's a space planet with no space badguys on, only space goodguys, because it's the SECRET FIREWALL HEADQUARTERS where they give the Prometheans blowjobs while the Prometheans tell them it's gonna be all different this time baby i'm not no TITAN i'm not gonna hurt you honest now go back to the kitchen and make me another bunch of dead fascists/capitalists and if you make them real good this time no one will have to fall down the stairs okay?
Also the Promethean is disassembling a loving moon to make itself a super hypermind. That's not shady or anything.
The only hook for Lassiter is if you're somehow not a loving moron and become aware of it and start assembling a fat stack of nukes to shove through the gate from Carnivale to this place, maybe strap a couple of drunk Scum to the pile just to make sure it's a total win.
Luca's another one of the very common Earth-esque planets. You can breathe the atmosphere without dying, and even apparently eat the local plants and wildlife without dying, and it has the requisite dead alien culture, too, of course. The writer describes their technological level as "feudal" despite the fact that they apparently invented primitive radios. That seems more like, what, renaissance, at the earliest? They were big ol' hexapod ant-eaters, essentially, and they ate pre-sapient mega-ants(big as a fist for the soldier caste) that are still around and have huge hives and may on a hive level be pretty clever. The main local draw is that you have decent odds of getting pasted by an asteroid while living there, neat.
The main story hooks for this place are that scientists found enough Lucan genetic material to recreate the natives and then ?????, and the other is that hypercorps want to terraform the place into something more human-standard, which would likely annihilate most of the existing ecology as well as destroying any remaining Lucan archeological sites that have yet to investigated. The latter, at least, is something that can easily be used for a single mission or brief campaign, either stopping anarchist obstructors or blowing up hypercorp badguys, depending on the party's ideological bent/greed.
Don't ask me how to pronounce that, please. Anyway, it's an ocean planet full of cool invertebrate life(vaguely described, not statted), like living, floating reefs and stalking megajellies. The main thing is that it should never have the moon it has, astronomically speaking(the moon is where the Pandora Gate is, by the way), and its local star is dying much sooner than predicted, so it'll be annihilated and/or rendered lifeless again in about 1000 years. Sucks. The only suggestion in the text is that there's alien space technology under the moon's surface and then it leaves it at that. Not really sure what you could do with this world except to invent an alien tech mystery from whole cloth and put it under the moon, since the whole "star is dying" isn't really something humans can interact with in this setting. Maybe you could rescue some space lampreys and nautiloids from Mishipizheu and transplant them to another ocean to save them?
Yet another terrestrial world with very large oceans and a dead alien culture. The interesting thing about Moravec is that the dead aliens left behind their very active space internet, a bit dinged up, but still maintained physically by drones and such. Humans and their AGI's can even connect to it and VR-surf the alien internet, which seems abandoned, but vaguely spooky and sometimes vague things happen. Also sometimes the repair bots throw laser light shows at the local researchers, which may be attempts to communicate, but who knows. If you log in and surf the alien internet it's like exploring an abandoned, buggy MMO written in a foreign language, you'll have no idea what's going on, but occasionally it will seem profound, and there's a lifetime of searching to do because there's enough space in there for three billion aliens to have had their own perfectly simulated world right down to bacteria and grains of dust.
Despite this titanic trove of information and, presumably, language, researchers have yet to learn anything about the locals except that they were centaurs with three arms and cones for heads. Good job, science people.
Next: The last of the planets. Honest.
|# ¿ Sep 13, 2019 21:26|
Why nuke Giza? What reason did the book give? It seems like good fun.
According to Firewall there was too big a chance it was all an alien/TITAN scam and/or someone would eventually sell some human a Species Destroying Device(tm) and they'd end up killing all of us either out of malice or idiocy.
Which are reasonable doubts, but imagine if you just had the conversation, and had such a mission as a potential plot device, rather than carving it into stone that it had already happened and annihilated the Giza site...
|# ¿ Sep 14, 2019 19:12|
Eclipse Phase: Gatecrashing
Read, But Don't Touch
One thing I realized while thinking about this review earlier is that despite all the alien tech and ruins humanity's stumbled across while exploring exoplanets(like the Iktomi Kumobots, or the entire loving Moravec network), there are actually no gear pices or other items humanity uses that are based on any discoveries made off it. The closest thing you get is stuff like the Scurrier and Whiplash morphs which are based off alien biological foundations. There's no Meshware based off of recovered Moravecian data, there's no cyberware based off of Kumobot servos or armor, or anything of the sort. Far as I can recall there is all of one alien piece of gear in the entire EP fiction that you will be able to have access to, and which isn't just statted as [works as human plasma rifle] or something similar.
So Nirvana is a dead system, like, extra dead, since there's a pulsar at the heart of it annihilating everything in the system with sterilizing radiation. It has multiple irradiated planets, but no details on them, so I guess maybe they have dead alien civilizations but no one cares enough to go look, apparently. There's a single hab out here for scientists doing close studies of the pulsar, with a bunch of attached modules for some buddhists who come to meditate on the corpse of a star(kind of metal) and some modules serving as what's officially a Consortium prison.
Now, there's some poo poo about how the star does wacky things to asyncs and also therefore to exsurgents with async powers, so the prison is actually a place where Project Ozma is storing some exsurgents for study. Oversight is aware of this, tangentially, and wants to take it down, too. At another point in the book it mentions another pulsar, where an area of space in the vicinity generates matter ex nihilo in tune to its pulsing. It feels like they were trying to do some sort of theme with stars and asyncs/space magic in general, but didn't know where they were going with it or someone nixed it. I mean, either it implies that (some?) stars are sentient, because non-epsilon async powers always interact with sentience rather than physical phenomena, or it's just vague spookiness that the writers never thought about.
I mean fancy that. Something vague in Eclipse Phase. Whodathunk it.
And, of course, there are at no point any rules for what the pulsar does to asyncs of any kind.
There's some dumb accent thing over the O that I can't replicate with this keyboard, but whatever, imagine it. Use the powers of your mind.
So Nott is like a frozen hellhole, very inhospitable. There's a research station there specifically loving around with things that require extremely low temperatures, and a bunch of people have gone missing. Okay, that's cool, we've got a not-Earthlike planet and we've got a quest hook. This is already better than most of the planets so far. Sadly, rather than a cool snowbeast hunting people and there being an interesting sub-zero ecology on the planet, it's just some exhuman being an edgelord, which means you can show up, follow the tracks, gib him, then go home again.
And, of course, said exhuman/snowbeast is not statted. That'd be doing work.
So Olaf is fuckin' huge. Like it has a diameter that I'm sure the devs misplaced a loving 0 in, because it's over ten times the size of Jupiter, yet has a gravity less than that of Earth(varying from about 0,7G to 0,9G). Anything that tries to go into orbit gets blapped by a hidden defense system, and the crust below a certain depth is impenetrable and self-repairing. It is, of course, also conveniently Earthlike and possibly a Dyson Sphere. It has alien ruins, of course, but they're not detailed in any way, except to mention that there are ruins from many different species present on the "planet."
So Penrose is an entirely artificial location, a space station involving materials sciences that allow it to survive on the edge of a black hole and potentially drain materials and energy from it back into the observable universe. It also has an atmosphere that's like 90% halon, so definitely unbreathable. Oh and it's full of active defense systems that want to murder you, which is what happened to several teams of explorers already. There is of course no statting for the defenses, no description of the inside or outside of the station, not even any art of it, so my man, you are definitely working from absolute zero if you want to make Penrose Station into part of your adventure.
So Portal is, try to restrain your surprise here, an exoplanet that has even more gates on it than the one you arrive through. Shocker. And of course the requisite vague alien ruins. It has one of the game's two(no, I refuse to acknowledge the Dream Shells as a "usable" anything) usable alien artifact, however... The Fixor. Which are basically Immovable Rods from D&D defined as remaining stationary relative to the nearest strong gravitational field(i.e. they won't tear through a planet's core) and they can support up to two tons of weight. I'm sure someone will do something creative with that. Portal also hosts yet another kind of Mystic Alien Tree, the Myst Tree, which is a nano-tree that's probably an alien computer but no one knows because you can't interact with it you can just look at it and oooh and aaah at how creative the writer was.
The other two "statted" alien artifacts, btw, are Dream Shells, which let you have weird dreams if you put them under their pillow and do vague things to asyncs. At this point I'm pretty sure that going to McDonald's does vague things to asyncs, goddamn. Afterwards there are Scour Rings, which are like hula hoops but if you shake one and toss something through it, it gets stripped down to its atoms. Probably work well as an assassination weapon if you could figure out how to hide the loving thing on your person.
Tired of VAGUE ALIEN MYSTERIES? Want some ACTION? Well good, because that's all Rorty has. It's a frozen chunk of rock where Exhumans sleeves themselves into hulking hivemind-controlled battletanks bristling with guns and then go out and raid places and come back with more egos to psychosurgerize into hive minds and put into battle tanks. Try to control your excitement.
Oh boy Sky Ark you know what? I don't really care about the content. It could be absolute poo poo for all I care, but Sky Ark is a good planet because it gets us this loving art:
It's a loving robot cowboy riding a goddamn Triceratops, hell yes.
Anyway, it's a place that was kind of primordial and without much native life except for maybe some boss and bacteria, so Terragenesis decided to recreate as many Earth ecologies as possible on Sky Ark. Some extremely lame ecologist terrorists are trying to prevent these people from making dinosaurs and other cool things.
[quote]In addition to resurrecting Earthly life that went extinct during the Fall, the research teams working on this project have been reconstructing animals that went extinct hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of years ago. The dodo, aurochs, stellar sea cow, and moa are their most widely known successes. Their most recent projects, however, are far more ambitious.[quote]
What they don't have a genome for, they approximate using DNA from other creatures, and they sponsor Reclaimers trying to hit up stuff like old zoos, seed banks, DNA research servers, etc. on Earth. So Sky Ark is bristling with potential. You've got the whole DNA hunter angle, you've got people getting eaten by dinosaurs(potentially, I mean, you know it's gonna happen), you've got eco-terrorists preparing to take shots at the place, etc.
Sadly no velociraptor pod morph, but I guess I have to excuse that, and I kind of wish they'd have statted a T-Rex or something.
Earth-esque planet with a thin atmosphere and a faint ecology. Local bacteria corrode all refined metals and eat plastics. Nanobots can keep them at bay, but damage gives the bacteria deep access to dissolve stuff faster than the nanobots can fight them off, also a bunch of anprim fuckheads have set up station on Solemn, where they want to run around with stone axes and hit each other on the head, I guess.
No weird alien ruins or anything else to attract people here, I guess, so not really many built-in quest hooks except "stop the anprim morons before they kill someone and now we actually have a reason for the natural attacks some biomorphs have." Not so much podmorphs, though, they'd melt as well.
It's a tidally locked Earth-esque planet where the plants that live around the equator will try to hunt you and are often motile predators, that's rad. Killer plants are cool. Of course none of it is statted and Sunrise has no plot hooks beyond vague Iktomi presences once upon a vague time.
Synergize! Energy! Synergy! Profit! Growth! Grofit!
Wait, no, wrong setting.
Anyway, Synergy is a world that gets like five sentences of description: Dense, helium heavy atmosphere. Lots of weird floaters and fliers. Cool local pteranodons you can fly. Awesome. No alien structures or vague plotlines about vague async things. Instead, what we're mostly told about is the local Synergist colony. They got cut off from the rest of transhuman space for a while and decided that the solution was to hivemind themselves up, which worked pretty well and is interesting, except they have no mysteries or complications on their own planet. The only real complications are when they interact with the rest of humanity, so all of Synergy is really just an advert for not going to Synergy and instead dealing with the Synergists in Sol.
Hope you like mushrooms, fucker, because all of Tanaka is covered in mushroom. Plant mushroom, animal mushroom, mushroom mushroom. All of them are basically split into three hyper-organisms fighting each other to a standstill, apparently this happens every x years and then when the ULTIMATE MUSHROOM wins it eventually splits into more mushrooms with divergent genetics and they enter the mushroom thunderdome again. The mushrooms will kill and eat anything that comes through the gate unless it's an async, because the mushrooms are also psychic.
So I guess if you feel like interfering you can go bug the mushrooms playing their RTS games, hear which one is most into consensual ERP with humans or supports your pet political philosophy and then help it win or something. This will of course have absolutely jack poo poo consequences for the rest of human space because transhumanity so far seems completely incapable of capitalizing on scientific opportunities and none of the mushrooms are statted so you can't recruit a horde of shroom troopers and use them to storm the Lunar capital or reconquer Earth or something.
Unless of course your GM feels like statting an entire ecology.
Tirion is planet that spend literally two lines describing, and then they plop a lab on it where Uplifts are tortured by the same "genius" who brought the world the Lost and their Futura morphs. This is literally a plot line about saving traumatized Uplifts that could be slapped down anywhere in Sol, putting it on an exoplanet is wasting space in this book.
Imagine Venus. Imagine Venus if it was in a different solar system. Imagine Venus if it was in a different solar system and used for dumping toxic/radioactive waste by hypercorps. Imagine Venus if it was in a different solar system, used for dumping toxic/radioactive waste by hypercorps and also had primitive, indigenous aliens who did not want toxic waste in their back yard, except the hypercorps believe the planet is uninhabited.
So you've got a planet where most morphs, even synthmorphs, can't survive.
You have aliens that are silicon-based cavemen, that live in magma.
That can't communicate with humans.
And which no one knows exist.
Even if you knew they existed the entirety of this adventure would take place Sol-side, stopping the dumping operation. At no point would there be any point to the PC's going through the gate and dealing with the hellish conditions just to be unable to interact with anything.
It's a rock somewhere in space(no one's found the surface yet), with a bunch of tunnels inside that you arrive in through the gate. There's a non-breathable atmosphere, and no alien artifacts. One guy's gone missing, but he probably just got lost in a tunnel. There are no sinister hypercorp plots or crimes in progress.
What an exciting site for an adventure!
Excuse me while I book a trip to Sky Ark to ride a loving dinosaur and shoot at militant hippies instead, hacks.
What Else Does The Book Have?
It's got the rules such as they are for Pandora gates, some new morphs(of note are some cool new flying options), some new ware(like the High-G adaptation you'll never use), some new gear for scouting(useful for exoplanet campaigns) and some suggested plot hook for the listed exoplanets that range from decent(anything suggested for Brak Kodel) to the unimaginative and vague(what if TITANs show up on Bluewood but, like, the trees fight them, man?), but mostly they're straight out what's already implied by the text and, as usual, rely on the GM doing all the work, not filling in any blanks for him whatsoever.
As much as I love some of the art and suggestions in this book, it's just... not really good if you were expecting to use most of its pre-made canonical exoplanets for anything.
|# ¿ Sep 14, 2019 22:15|
Do they have some note about how there are a lot of planets that are just not interesting adventure scenarios or is this just meant to be vaguely cosmically xenophobic?
I think they actually thought, in their heads, that these were all cool adventure locations, since they wrote up two PLOT HOOKS for each of them at the end of the book. But it's kind of like the Inner Planes in D&D. Neat locations, give some atmosphere, explain some of the setting's cosmology... but like 1% of 1% of all 20th level parties get bored enough to go there or have a GM high enough on drugs to create an adventure for the place.
|# ¿ Sep 14, 2019 22:32|
...Hey, I've created and run adventures on the Inner Planes. Not only for my home campaigns, but I ran a Planescape adventure at GenCon one year that was set in the Elemental Plane of Water, and another year I ran an adventure in the Quasielemental Plane of Mineral. And they were relatively low-level adventures; the Inner Planes aren't suitable only for 20th-level characters.
The Inner Planes have two problemsl largely, that prevent them from being more generally useful.
Firstly, most of them require specialized magic to survive(some more than others, admittedly, Earth and its offspring are generally easier to survive in, same goes for the Water and Air-based ones). So this keeps a lot of parties from going there at all.
Secondly, yeah, even more than the rest of Planescape it feels like one location in the Inner Planes is often very undifferentiated from the next. Like, I feel that the Inner Planes would have had much more potential if they hadn't been in Planescape, if they hadn't had to compete with... what... eighteen outer planes and multiple named primes? If they'd been part of a tight cosmology where it's just Prime, Astral, Ethereal, Inner, I think they would have had a much easier time seeing use. As it is, the elementals more rarely than the outer planar creatures have an interest in loving with mortal matters.
|# ¿ Sep 15, 2019 02:14|
On the other hand, backstabbing and self-destruction are supremely human.
Alternately if being humane is required to be human, that means it's okay to kill bad people because they're not really people, just some sort of highly aggressive animal that can use a gun. Seems like pretty much a perfect PC philosophy to me.
|# ¿ Sep 16, 2019 19:35|
I mean, he's actually got a plan, can talk, and is driving around the country in a giant tractor trailer collecting high school science DVDs in his quest to build the Superior Body.
I think what feels missing there, to me, is any assessment of whether his plan can actually work. Like what I get from reading it is that it's basically a stupid boondoggle that the metaphysics of the setting have doomed from the start.
Which, honestly, feels kind of like a trend with a lot of the bad guys. Like... they can't ever succeed, the best they can do is to cause a lot of trouble for everyone else while doubling down on their failures. There's no real win state for them. I'm not sure why that bugs me. I guess it just makes them a bit less scary.
Though yes, I do like him as a mastermind(ha ha) of sorts.
|# ¿ Sep 17, 2019 20:43|
I feel like one of my issues with the uh, in-splat ecology for Prometheans is that there's a lot of stuff about some of them or their villains(I've skipped a bit through the text, sorry), feeding off of Pyros and Vitriol, which only Prometheans and/or some of their broken variants produce. And it's like... do they either only need to eat very rarely or is it presumed that there's a metric fuckton of them around? I always felt like the "ecology" for, say, vampires was a bit easy to swallow(ha ha) because it consisted of feeding off normal people/animals, which you could justify as being reasonably present at all times.
becoming involved (horrifyingly) in peace talks and international nonviolent intervention protocols.
Jason Vorhees bursts through the floor of the UN general assembly, pulls himself up as diplomats scream and cramble to get out of the way, then just stands in front of the doors, menacingly, until everyone agrees that world peace would be a good idea. Every time a general or dictator starts pondering a territorial grab or border violation he hears a faint "ch ch ch ch, ha ha ha ha" in the background and decides that he doesn't want more land quite that badly.
|# ¿ Sep 18, 2019 18:26|
There are powerful Requem vampires, as well as... well, let's just say an entire ecology weird poo poo that's related to vampires in one way or another. They're just not omnipresent like they are in Masquerade (because there's no guarantee than any given vampire will go down that path instead of entering torpor, and in fact the latter is far more likely), and their MO tends to be closer to "evolve into a beautiful, horrifying Vitae-based butterfly and gently caress off for parts unknown" more than "plot to gain ever-growing amounts of temporal power."
I feel that kind of misses the point of the Vampires, though, which is that while they have superhero-level powers, and many of those powers could in some sense be used for good(imagine a surgeon with Vicissitude) or self-discovery, they instead choose to remain stuck in their mortal patterns, just with a different sleep schedule and diet. Like the fact that even many of the methuselahs, though they've grown ancient, sleepy and alien, still operate along these trains of thought, and that only the antediluvians are usually outright alien(without just being edgy poseurs with a lot of piercings), is supposed to be part of their tragedy. And that the ones intentionally leaving humanity behind, like the Sabbat, tend to go screamingly insane and be dangerous to everyone(not dissimilar from EP Exhumans).
|# ¿ Sep 19, 2019 11:52|
I mean, you sometimes don't even need multiple splats interacting for that. In oVamp half of the vampire clans' mythologies were mutually exclusive, I think there were maybe two that could actually both have happened. And considering that several of them were actually borne out, like, supernatural stuff that would only have made sense if they were true, were true at the same time, either the truth was weirder than anyone postulated or the Mages were right all along.
it was strictly possible to run an avengers team, or have your vampires take on the Technocracy, or get your wizards tied up in werewolf apocalypse nonsense, but there's always going to be friction between the different supernaturals' conception of the universe and their origins
Also entities in oWoD interacting with each other could go in one of two ways. For instance, let's say you're running an oVamp game and want your vamps to hang out with some werewolves. You can either take the werewolf enemy entry in the oVamp books and use that, especially since it boils everything down to operating on oVamp rules so you're not messing around with Werewolf special rules and energy sources at the same time as Blood and vampire special rules. OR, you could crack open oWolf and stat up a full Werewolf from there and then hate yourself because you've just overcomplicated things massively. Of course, that's the rules-wise interacting.
In practice the splats, while ostensibly in the same world, really aren't meant to get anywhere near each other for the most part. They aren't involved in each others' metaphysical conflicts(except vaguely, like how the Technocracy would probably love to snuff out Werewolves and Vampires only marginally less than they want to end/brainwash the Mages, and I think Werewolves see Vampires as being kind-of-sort-of related to the Wyrm), they have vastly different power levels and there are lots of fiddly rules interactions that no one ever really bothered to write out or rule on if you were really running a fully-statted Mage next to, say, a Werewolf and a Mummy.
Not to mention how many of the game lines were kind of stillborn compared to the others. Wraith, Mummy and Demon got effectively zero love from day one, for instance.
There's no consistent or ordered way to look at the setting, honestly, only splat-by-splat, because it was never designed with an overarching order or fundamental truth in mind.
|# ¿ Sep 20, 2019 15:01|
Saulot also sired the Baali clan, for reasons that are open to interpretation. Saulot has always wanted to redeem Kindred and end the Curse of Caine, but he's a very ends-justify-the-means kinda guy.
About the only thing I remember about the Baali is that their apex ability is essentially "you end the world by summoning a demonic kaiju that no one's gonna have much luck stopping."
|# ¿ Sep 20, 2019 19:08|
Lucifer and Caine work on a startup Taxi company together and thats the only lore I'll accept.
"So what you guys have been working on all along..."
"Yes, isn't it fiendishly evil?"
"...I mean, yes, it's loving, excuse the term, satanic in terms of darkness. But I wasn't expecting Uber."
[a duo of mad genius cackling]
|# ¿ Sep 20, 2019 19:52|
Classic sci-fi stuff has a lot of cool stuff.
I think what fascinates me the most is a protagonist who signs a peace accord with the antagonist, rather than just blowing them to smithereens. Like, it's rare you see that in a story, of any genre. It strikes me a really cool.
|# ¿ Sep 22, 2019 04:10|
The Buck Rogers RPG sounds pretty interesting so far, and the front cover is BANGIN', also my brain can't help but see it as a variant of the Doom cover art.
Also Degenesis seems... pretty reasonable so far? I expected far more madness, like the GM telling the players to wear the flayed skin of their enemies around the table to get into character, etc. some of the advice actually seems sensible.
|# ¿ Sep 23, 2019 12:29|
Having an angel that just shows up and plays music(or maybe blows a vuvuzela) at the players any time they're about to do something incredibly stupid and/or dangerous would be a GM'ing power move.
|# ¿ Sep 23, 2019 17:15|
I am told nVamp is also extremely better than oVamp. Basically, that nWoD is better in every way (except Beast because we live in the worst timeline.)
Maybe I just hang out with the wrong people, but I've yet to hear a single, well, story, or positive comment about nVamp. Like, that's not to say that I hear bad stories about it. Just no one mentions it. Ever.
Geist comes up, nWolfs, nMage, nDemon, nPromethean, sure. But Vampire? Might as well just not exist. Which suggests that even if it's, say, mechanically better or story-wise more solid than oVamp, there's gotta be some sort of magic lacking if no one ever talks about it. Like maybe in tightening it up they also lost some of the goofy poo poo that gave oVamp character and let people have fun with it. Or something.
Or maybe I should get off my rear end and do a review of it as someone who, despite recognizing all the terrible things about oVamp, can get completely lost in reading a ton of its dumb supplements for hours at a time.
|# ¿ Sep 24, 2019 05:00|
Dragonlance is one of those fantasy settings where there's a strong sense, at least from reading the novels, that nothing interesting really happens where the protagonists of the novels aren't. So it's a bit "well what do other main characters do in this setting, then?"
EDIT: Also the canon timeline covers so much that you'd get into fights with the novels, essentially, if you try to do anything even marginally large-scale.
|# ¿ Sep 24, 2019 22:57|
Mildly entertained that this Buck Rogers RPG which isn't even supposed to specifically call out to weird transhumanism has what feels like a more interesting repetoire of near-humans than Eclipse Phase.
|# ¿ Sep 27, 2019 03:15|
I think this is a place where Eclipse Phase is limited by its vision of Hard Sci-Fi, very badly. Some of this is just the progression of science and technological knowledge,
I mean, no, honestly, no. EP is nowhere near anything I'd consider to be "hard" sci-fi, everything that's treated as "hard" sci-fi is mostly only to make it something the players won't interact with(physical interplanetary travel, for instance). The only thing that prevents it from being as laughable as Hc Svnt Dracones is that the political statements are slightly less laughable and that the setting actually has some things to do.
|# ¿ Sep 27, 2019 03:48|
(released fairly late in the line's life, with a lot of stuff reprinted from adventures and supplements.)
Personally I don't mind that stuff because gently caress having to page through 50 different books and supplements for that one gun you saw in the back of that one book about Titan.
So books that pull everything into one tome are A-OK with me.
|# ¿ Sep 27, 2019 04:47|
nDemons feel like Exalted Sidereals but not written and designed by idiot dumbfucks.
|# ¿ Sep 27, 2019 17:00|
Can demons "source" parts of covers from supernaturals as well, or only mortals?
|# ¿ Sep 27, 2019 17:49|
They can, but only stuff that amounts to "mortal" details. They can't incorporate having Supernal magic or Disciplines or whatever. If they try to soul pact a supernatural, they get all those mortal details but the magical stuff shorts their circuits. So then they have like a 1,000-year old persona that is definitely not a vampire.
But what if they eat the chunk of a vampire's mortal existence that, say, includes their Embracing? Does that unvampire the vampire and/or cause any weird causal bullshit to melt down?
Personally I'm just trying to think of the most annoying thing you could do with Cover constructions. Like make a Cover personality consisting exclusively of things that happened within the same 24 hours(but obviously to different people, stapling it together from birth to current time), just to give any Angels looking into it a screaming headache.
|# ¿ Sep 27, 2019 18:04|
The problem is that every time someone spots an inconsistency in your Cover, it frays a bit. If it's timeline is obviously borked, it won't stay on you very long. And pray you don't encounter an Acanthus mage, or kill the fucker on sight.
If you can't give an Angel a migraine, what's the point of having superpowers, though?
|# ¿ Sep 27, 2019 22:16|
Jenna should be Kickstarting her new companion game to Nobilis, Glitch in November, so I wonder if anybody can be talked into doing a F&F of Nobilis 2e before it starts.
If anyone's willing to get me a .PDF of the core book I'd be happy to take a look at it as long as it isn't dull. If it's either terribly creative or terribly terrible, it makes for good reviewing.
|# ¿ Sep 28, 2019 00:28|
It's really fine line to walk, there's the sort of tension where you're invested and nailbiting, and the eventual release and resolution of that tension is highly satisfying catharsis, but there's also the kind of tension where you just start thinking up excuses not to show up to the next game. Not that every game has to be grim and dark, but a game without any nailbiter moments or potential for failure at all would be, I think, not very exciting to play in.
|# ¿ Sep 30, 2019 00:36|
So, uh, Nobilis. It's a game that basically never pops up in my usual RPG circles, and frankly the only place I've ever even heard it mentioned is this thread, so I'm not quite sure what to expect. Judging by the comments levied at me and mentions of the game, I strongly suspect it's one of those games that will make me roll my eyes so hard they almost pop out of my head and make phantom jerk-off motions, but you never know. I'm planning to give the game a reasonably fair review and to aim as little aggressive invective at it mostly just to spite the people snarking at me that I'm reviewing something a bit out of my usual regime.
We open up with the usual. A bit of art, the credits, an index that doesn't make me want to pluck my eyeballs out, so it's already better than Kult: Divinity Lost. In fact, it's got a really nice thing that I don't recall seeing in any other books, which is an index of the book's art, too, in case you want to look up a particular piece. Nothing to complain about there, it at least has a professional presentation. The font is fancy enough to give a bit of flavour, but not so fancy that it's unreadable.
What they, uh, write with that font, though... I'm not excessively sold on the opening fiction.
At the Shore posted:
Under the cliffs, near the rotted logs, at the edge between sand and water, something impossible happens. A man appears, standing, on top of the sea. His face is impossibly pure. His eyes are closed. Nevertheless, he looks at me.
So basically someone goes to the shore and then a mysterious stranger shows up and is mysterious at them and then suddenly the someone gets magic powers, he shoots her in the head, she doesn't die, he acts mysterious at her, she has a multitude of ephipanies, he threatens her and tells her that if she acts up with her new powers he's gonna show up and kill all her friends and family. Then she talks to the water. On the one hand, I feel like it tells us a decent bit about the mood to expect, but the style of writing is just... overwrought and flowery, pouring out a shitload of words to tell us barely anything at all. It's like reading someone's 3-dice Exalted stunt on a Dodge check to not die when someone shoots at them.
Chapter 1: Noun and Noun
In all seriousness the first chapter is called ASH AND CHRYSANTHEMUM which sounds very nice but again tells us jack poo poo about what the content of the chapter is going to be, thus rather ruining the point of a chapter title. It later turns out that this flowery(ha ha, get it, flowery, because chrysanthemum) term refers to the entire game world area. But since we don't know this yet, it's still stupid.
Chapter 1 posted:
It is said that there are no wonders and no horrors save those that man brings upon himself. It is said that butterflies were born of blind evolution and insensate Nature, that the sky is but a screen of molecules between humanity and the endless void. It is said that the highest form of life is man. People have looked for more, scientists and artists reaching for some hidden magic. They have found none … but it is there.
So from the intro fiction, or even just my short description of it, I'm sure you could guess that this is one of those games where the world is normal except there are supernaturals doing supernatural things supernaturally under the surface. The short intro description of what Nobilis is comes across as very Exalted in some ways, since the protagonists are, as far as I can parse this(it took me a few tries), chosen by COSMIC HAPPENSTANCE, to be henchmen for the Imperators, and get superpowers to accomplish that with. The density of Proper Nouns isn't quite as bad as, say, the Promethean stuff that's been posted recently, but it's enough to tell you a lot about what tradition of writing this game came from and that the author has almost definitely been having lunch with White Wolf employees. Oh and of course we've got to have a real special name for the GM, the "Hollyhock God," because this is the loving thing that every RPG feels a need to re-invent the name of, god loving dammit.
Oh and as per usual for these sorts of games the mythology/cosmology mashes a lot of real stuff together, like there's both Yggdrassil but also heaven and angels, and the first art piece features someone that sure looks Lucifer-y. Anyway, next we go into the "how does this thing actually play"-bit. Firstly, we're told, we're not meant to fight anyone, just to kill all the people they love and things they care about and laugh as they wither away. Secondly, if we die, we just respawn as another character with the same abilities, as our "shard" is passed on. Another mark for this being Exalted-esque(in terms of the shard-reincarnation, that is, not the mechanic). Oh and there are no dice.
Also the poor sidebars are being massively abused just to cram in literary quotes, goddamn. Some pages of this .PDF have four quotes in the sidebars.
Anyway, Imperators are Primordials, Shards are the formerly-human Exalts they create, Excrucians are Abyssals who want to destroy all reality by killing our hopes and dreams, Secret Places(for which we're given another dozen proper nouns to call them by) are the hidden clubhouses where the Imperators hang out, Lord Entropy and King Murder are the guys in charge of maintaining the Earth, the Camorra are the mortals who collect payments from Lord Entropy to do the things that God Law says the Shards and Imperators aren't allowed to do, Anchors are mortals that the supernaturals can use to whitewash their breaking of God Law by tossing their powers through them, the afterlife is primarily reincarnation, Yggdrassil also has paths to a bunch of alien worlds, science is very real and good but so is magic except sometimes mortals accidentally fall in a puddle of magic and go insane, Flowers are the angels' power tools and the Shards can use them as well(they're not actual flowers though because then it wouldn't be a Proper Noun but just a noun).
So far this is feeling like a weird Exalted/Changeling crossover where you must fight ~*banality*~ with legally ironclad(or obfuscated) magic so the bad fairies don't make the world dull and it dies and your boss Lord Entropy isn't able to toss you in God Jail.
Angels in Nobilis are divine handymen, eternally doing DIY in heaven to spruce it up and make it the coolest place ever. Some of them come to Earth to spruce it up or get banished to Earth for insisting that what Heaven really needs is a red-and-black bathroom to attract more females. Devils are kind of edgy morons that exist only because of Lucifer being dumber than the rest of them, and deciding for incredibly dumb and vague reasons that Hell was the realest place and also it should be full of suffering, now he and his devils are only allowed out if they promise to beat up Excrucians. Light Imperators protect humans, Dark Imperators want to destroy humans and the only reason they don't cooperate with the Excrucians is that they want an artisanally crafted, hubris-laden, ironic destruction of humanity rather than just large-scale butchery. So Dark Imperators are essentially hipster Abyssals. The Wild are extremely vaguely defined but sound very much like proto-Exalted Fair Folk. True Gods are mysterious and unknowable and are thus completely undescribed because the alternative would be to drown us in prose. Aaron's Serpents, which is the funniest loving name for a variety of immortal gods, are basically big ol' sea monsters that sometimes go walkabout on dry land at which point Lord Entropy and King Murder have to sigh and go butcher all the witnesses, because killing the Serpents themselves so they stop making a loving mess is apparently impossible.
Excrucians don't just ride in there in sick soulsteel armor and start chopping people up, instead they connect Bad Human Things to the concept of that thing so the concept is destroyed as the Bad Human Thing gets worse. So presumably something like if a popular artist gets outed as a sex pest they can connect to that and use it to destroy the very art he performs/performed as he sinks more into self-destructive madness and the conflict around it gets more and more toxic.
So as much as it sounds like I've been making GBS threads on the text so far, I kind of like the idea. Essentially you have ULTIMATE SUPERPOWERS, but it's more about employing them in creative ways than rolling a bucket of dice and declaring that the Power of Fish has resolved the situation. Rather it's about abusing gray areas in God Law and subtly influencing things with your narrow-yet-extremely-powerful skillset to resolve things and eat a chunk of your opponent's soul. Scrape away some of the prose and proper nouns and there's actually a really cool idea in here.
Next up: How to be a GM for Nobilis, no, I refuse to loving call it a Hollyhock God. Goddamn.
|# ¿ Oct 2, 2019 01:05|
I've never understood this. The God Machine is a literal machine made of literal parts that you can literally blow to literal pieces. It's the opposite of some astral monolith on another plane of reality.
Not... exactly. Like, yes, theoretically you could maybe possibly dig up and blow up every single piece of Infrastructure on Earth, likely destroying large chunks of history and space/time in the process, and likely dismantling the God Machine to some greater or lesser extent. But from how I read it, the Infrastructure is just what the God Machine acts through, not the Machine itself. So even if you blow all that up, likely it'll just poop out more Angels that try to build new poo poo.
Secondly, they kind of stretch out the UNKNOWABLY ARCANE thing so it's like... there are no patterns. You, the player, cannot deduce that a given Infrastructure does a given thing because it has things that are specifically like a thing. There is no metaphysical set of rules or laws that give you any levers to play with. There can be an arbitrary amount of Infrastructure and it can do any number of arbitrary things, with any arbitrary materials and setups. Like... if there was any sort of internal logic, the players could try to be a step ahead of the God Machine in some fashion, but they can't. All they can do is roll the dice for how well they read the magic and then get told by the GM what they read.
It's kind of like the problem with Eclipse Phase's TITANs where they work so hard to make them completely inscrutable that they may as well just be a divine RNG, completely blurring the line between "alien motivations" and "random motivations."
|# ¿ Oct 2, 2019 17:25|
Another thing to consider here is that both the Exarchs and the God-Machine have basically already won. They don't need to be massively pro-active; the players do.
Here's a good question, though, what can the players accomplish by "beating" the God Machine in an area if we assume they're not acting to counter a specific project and just decide to be "pro-active"? Like what is the nature of a section of the Earth without the God Machine's interference?
|# ¿ Oct 2, 2019 18:04|
God-Machine keeps the Mercers going, Musk popular and Zucherberg rich (and plausibly humanesque). That's why you want to gently caress it up.
See part of the problem I have with this approach to Modern Occult stuff is that it requires rewriting human nature. Because by this reading, a lot of what we consider to be ills that are simply the consequence of normal human behavior and idiocy, are suddenly the works of an extra-human conspiracy or force. This means that, in theory, WoD humanity is considerably nicer and more sensible than real world humanity, because the world would be less lovely if they were just left to do things on their own, apparently. Giving the responsibility for real-world ills to supernaturals or their conspiracies just... doesn't work.
|# ¿ Oct 2, 2019 19:45|
In the case of the GM and the Exarchs, it's more that they reinforce human failings. They're the social and economic systems that reinforce our bad behavior, metaphorized into literal engines and esoteric gods. Why is it so hard to change things for the better? Well, partly people, and partly the secret gods. This is also necessary as a counterbalance to the magic powers the players have, because otherwise you'd be secretly saying something really grim that 'our world but some people have magic powers' leads to 'exactly the same as our world, people would never try to improve things.'
But the fact that humanity needed outside interference to set up those systems rather than setting them up for themselves, as part of their own failings... you can't claim this doesn't distinctly change the character of humanity. Because if it doesn't, we'll arrange the exact same structures with the God Machine gone, and the whole battle is somewhat pointless. Humanity isn't necessarily intrinsically wicked or bad or evil, but definitely capable of some horrendously lovely things, which I think is kind of part of what makes it exceptional and wonderful when humans don't do those things, and stand up, and say "gently caress you" to evil things, because being a selfish rear end in a top hat is often an easier path to start down.
I just don't like the idea of trying to shuffle perfectly human fuckups off on to supernatural agencies rather than owning up to them. I think it's fine to have a game where supernatural abilities can in part be used to cause wide-ranging real-world change, but frankly I kind of prefer the games like oVamp for that very reason, because generally the supernaturals have their own slapfights and aren't particularly engaged with mortal society except to get more money or avoid getting hunted down by FBI agents with stakes. And in general it's indicated that human history would likely have turned out very much the same with or without vampires around(at least from how I remember reading the books).
Like changing the nature of a society being boiled down to rolling a single magical power might be cathartic but... it just doesn't sit well with me. Call it infantilizing or simplifying a genuinely complex issue that deserves a more mature and considered treatment if you want, it's the best kind of words I can put to it.
Part of it's also the kind of oMage-esque issue where all the ills of modern society are conflated with all the goods of modern society. Where the same agency that gives us microwave ovens, vaccines and public education is also inextricably interwoven with the forces that give us all of the corporate and governmental excesses you can think of. Like it feels like there's some weird-rear end noble savage/anarcho primitivist/"banality is the TRUE evil!" poo poo in there that I just loving hate.
|# ¿ Oct 2, 2019 20:23|
But Purple, you're suggesting a universal Humanity as being 'good' or 'evil' versus a mix of different cultural norms wherein one can become dominant over others because of material circumstances.
I am positing a humanity that is universally capable of being both assholes and not assholes. I'm not sure what's so staggering about that.
|# ¿ Oct 2, 2019 20:31|
For the God-Machine though it's more about "this would mean that nobody's sacrificing abused cheerleaders to the oil pit in the woods any more." Which even if it does not objectively change the nature of humanity, improves society somewhat.
See that I'm pretty much fine with, though the implication seems to be, or at least what people are reading into the implication, is that every cheerleader tossed into the pit allows Wall Street another line of coke and another year of the union membership not being resurgent. I'd be more fine with the God Machine, rather than just maintaining a generic societal status quo, being more or less completely unconcerned with human society and what humans get up to(as long as it doesn't threaten Infrastructure) and instead being aimed at some sort of long-term metaphysical goal, and every single piece of Infrastructure in existence is aimed towards accomplishing that goal(the end state of which is probably hugely deleterious to both humans and their various supernatural offshoots).
Fair enough, I at least read the original thing more as "humanity is not really capable of not being assholes," probably due to being marinated in grotesque internet cynicism 24/7
And no, I believe humanity by and large is perfectly capable of not being assholes. But clearly we've got some learning to do along those lines, so we're less assholes. And boiling all that learning and growing up and changing our society into "punch an evil machine a lot" just grates on me.
I mean, yeah, you can have the God Machine represent end-stage capitalism, but... externalizing capitalism as just something we can punch and it'll go away is again just... it's a satisfying fiction, and I know we all need satisfying fiction, but this one is a bit too wish-fulfillment for me.
So, y'know. Patriarchy, capitalism, the divine right of kings, surveillance states, etc etc... basically how they arose in human history, but with a magical gloss.
If patriarchal traditions are caused by evil magic, then I, as a person, do not need to engage in any personal growth or change to counter them.
|# ¿ Oct 2, 2019 20:49|
I feel like the characterization of the Angels is a bit inconsistent. In some cases they feel like machines that are popped out to do their mission, then recycled when it's done, with no real internal life or emotions except when they start to grow close to a Fall. But then you've got ones like Isaac which suggests that the Angels have enough built-in emotion to be capable of fanboying for one of their own number and are regularly kept around long enough, and have enough personality, that they swap rumours and stories with each other.
|# ¿ Oct 3, 2019 18:43|
|# ¿ Nov 28, 2021 19:52|
They can fully Fall and become demons, but it's kind of hard to choose to disobey when you don't receive orders any more, because God has literally forgotten you exist.
The nDemon version of that guy's apocryphal story about falling between the floorboards in a corporate re-organization and getting paid to do nothing.
|# ¿ Oct 3, 2019 19:00|