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GM Startup Guide by PurpleXVI - 06/10/09
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DORF FORT ELLPEE by CAPSLOCKGUY - 10/19/08
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In Dark Alleys
The Cyclops Wizard strikes you dead with a thought
The Void and the Citadel
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 18
07:58pm EST - 1/01/2016
So around the DESERTED CITY, which is surrounded by a TALL WALL is THE VOID, which is pure black(hello Dark City nice to see you here in Ripoffsville). It's a windless, room-temperature void that nonetheless has a pitch black, featureless floor. Nothing here except for an occasional escaped creature from the Deserted City and stuff dropped by people who went to the city and then vaulted over the walls.
Oh and then there's the Citadel.
Basically it's a huge, rambling, weirdly-designed place of concrete, stone and barbed wire. Everything inside is huge enough for a giant to walk around in, but 99.9999% of the residents are just 7-foot, floating, naked, androgynous humans that if they see real humans will scream until a bunch more come around and then they'll kill the humans by tearing them apart. There are no stats for them, so I assume it's a "you die if the GM wants you to"-thing.
Speaking of which, the 0.0001% of the population that AREN'T floating naked people is a giant robed cyclops who sits on a throne, wears a porcelain mask and has a claw for one of his hands. He listens to weird reports from the not-really-human people and if he ever notices a human in his Citadel he'll-
If the figure notices the human explorers it can kill them instantly with a thought and paralyze their souls with pain until a servant can drag the souls off to the land of the dead.
-do that. There are no descriptions of what this figure does, why it exists, how it thinks or any suggestions for what it could possibly do in a game.
Under the Citadel is The Machinery.
The Machinery posted:
There are several pits in the floor around the citadel that lead to a massive underground space. The space is sweltering, filled with steam and smoke, and there is an omnipresent roar of machinery. As far as the eye can see in every direction (including down) there is a lattice-work of machinery that combines every type of tech known to the human visitors: steam pipes, gears and chains, old vacuum tubes, computer circuits. Ladders and walkways crisscross the space, giving access to all the machinery. Yellow light bulbs give a diffuse light to the space. At intervals are binocular shaped viewers attached to a circuit boards. Looking through one a person will see pixilated, amberand- black, bird’s-eye views of our world.
Dozens of stories down is a blood-soaked concrete floor covered with rows of huge bodies. They’re about 20 ft. tall, naked and have human anatomy. The rows of bodies merge into the vanishing point in every direction. Each body has hundreds of wires, pipes and gear shafts impaling them through blood encrusted holes. The bodies appear asleep and are breathing slowly. They look like a random selection of every age, ethnic group and physical condition. Every once in a while a body will shudder, sometimes make a groan, and the movement will cause machinery around and above it to break, bringing a horde of engineers.
If visitors are lucky, they may see the body of someone they know or they may see giant versions of their own bodies. Bodies of the Touched seem slightly more restless than most of the others (as do the bodies of babies and children). The bodies cannot be awakened or killed. Injuries heal almost instantly.
The place is also full of giant steampunk spiders which, while they have superhuman stats, at least lack any instakill attacks! Hooray! Something the PC's can actually interact with, though so far we have no reason why they would ever want to!
The Land of the Dead
Basically the Land of the Dead is a long, boring canyon where you walk down until you forget everything. If you stop walking or make a fuss then monsters torture you until you get walking again. EXCITEMENT. There is literally nothing to do here, the monsters aren't statted, there are no locations beyond THE CANYON OF WALKING and there are no people beyond THE DEAD and THE MONSTERS.
Surprise! Everyone has a pocket dimension in their subconscious, or multiple, rather, one for each psychodynamic. The Ego appears to be the police of the subconscious, as it prevents anyone from breaking into the Halls of Memory(a big trapped, locked and barred library of everything you've ever experienced, it's possible to steal or destroy memories), the Doors of Perception(a steampunk factory processing sensory information, fucking with these can give a person hallucinations). Aside from them there's The Reptile's Realm(basically just a big wilderness, neither particularly harsh or nice, it's possible to survive there), the Id's Realm(a delightful place full of every awesome sensation you've ever wanted to experience, all the good food, all the best sex, all the craziest things to see. If you poke a hole in the bottom, though, and walk out through that, you emerge from an orifice in one of the bodies described under The Machinery). Troubles are basically all of a person's insecurities and phobias, and they haunt the subconscious as aggressive little critters. Small ones are mooks to stomp, big ones are major villains. Considering that you can erase memories by fucking around here, I have to wonder if killing all the baddies in someone's brain would make them less worried about life...
Oh and this section also claims that "the severely autistic do not have a conscious self." Feel free to poke at that. And the rest of the PD realms are not described yet, if ever.
Because we weren't ripping off Kult enough yet. There's even a fucking Dreaming skill. All the stuff in the subconscious apparently leaks into dreams, but the Ego disguises them with symbolic imagery to prevent you becoming aware that your brain is full of squatters. This is stupid.
Because I'm getting tired of copy-pasting this stuff and fixing the formating
Having the PD's as conscious, somewhat-independent entities is actually interesting, and you could genuinely do some fun or funny stuff with it. Imagine if instead of having separate PC's, all the PC's are just on-the-run PD's from one guy? Maybe they're out to save their "owner," or they've fled because they got tired of his head, or maybe they're just taking a road trip to get a break from chilling out in his brain.
You can literally break into someone's brain and kill off their PD's to eliminate certain urges entirely, though. For instance, break into someone's head, murder their Thanatos and then destroy the Realm of the Thanatos and you end up with someone who has no desire for death whatsoever, in fact probably someone who doesn't think about it at all. Someone without a Shadow would probably be a model citizen.
Further confusing things, psychologically, you can apparently take all these subconscious chunks of your brain and make them part of your conscious, via MAGIC or EXTREME PSYCHOLOGY, basically taking responsibility for them, which... doesn't really describe what it does to your head, except presumably now the GM can no longer compel you to become suicidal or a rapist at will. But it does give you +5 Willpower(HELLO AWESOME MAGICAL ABILITIES) or if you already have 20+ Will, it also gives you +5 points to spend on other things.
Being a complete sociopath apparently integrates your Super Ego and Shadow right off the bat, so I guess that going shopping for that enriched uranium gets even easier if you're just doing it for laughs.
Oh and then there's some art of an Id, just in case you wanted to fight one. I no longer want to fight one. Predictably the Id is just a big selfish jackass who does whatever it wants and doesn't care about anything else.
The descriptions of the various PDs' behavior just makes me further want to run the Psychodynamic Road Trip Game.
Super Ego posted:
Behavior- It travels around peering over people’s shoulders, rifling through their belongings, glowering at them and demanding to know what they have been doing and are planning on doing.
The Super Ego finds every psychodynamic except the Ego to be suspect and thinks of them as enemies. It hates the Shadow worst of all. The Super Ego has a stormy relationship with the Ego: sometimes friendly with it and sometimes hating it.
Typical Attack- A Grab: Pain...
I like to imagine that the Super Ego grabs other PD's by the ear and hauls them around until they say uncle and do as they're told. It also looks like whichever parent you had that was strictest.
The Reptile is a lazy lizardman who just chills in the sun and snacks on stuff. It doesn't really care to talk to anyone or do much beyond just chilling out. The Ego is, as mentioned earlier, THE BRAIN POLICE, it keeps the other PD's from taking over the wheel and also covers things up because it doesn't want to upset anyone.
Most Common Appearance- A woman in a thin white dress. Her appearance is constantly shifting depending on her mood. At times she is young, beautiful and voluptuous, her lips so full that they part involuntarily. At other times she looks plump and kindly. At other times grey streaks appear in her hair, her lips scowl and her eyes have a cruel glare.
Psychology- This is the repository for suppressed ‘feminine’ thoughts and behaviors, yet because Western cultures subdivide feminine into several disparate roles, the Anima has a split personality with a seductive side, a mothering side and a cruel side all trying to make themselves heard.
OH YEAH ONLY THE WEST HAS ODD THOUGHTS ABOUT WOMEN AT ALL. RIGHT RIGHT. LET'S GO LISTEN TO THE NOBLE SAVAGES SOME MORE.
The Stranger is a big cat, as in a big housecat. The other PD's don't really mind it but it only bothers them when it "wants to help them with something." Considering that it has no opposable thumbs and can't speak, I really, genuinely wonder how the fuck it can help anyone with anything.
The Shadow is a blowhard, an inversion of the appearance that the conscious self has(or how they perceive themselves), but even though he looks like an asshole and will be an utter cunt to anyone he meets, he doesn't actually attack people without good reason.
The Shadow posted:
Psychology- The Shadow is a compilation of all the suppressed traits that would have made the conscious self feel like a ‘bad person.’ Cruelty is most common among these traits. Also common are arrogance, sexual ‘perversion,’ prejudice, atheism, jealousy, dishonesty and self-hatred. The Shadow will never attempt to hide any of these traits from anyone, it is intensely proud of them.
So The Shadow is also That Guy who'll loudly and at length tell you about his porn and all the other shit about him that you really do not want to know and don't give a fuck about either.
The Thanatos is a gothy fucker who sits around in places full of DEATH and talks about how beautiful and awesome they are, then gets depressive when talking about life. To further complete the "goth" analogy it feels like an outcast that none of the others like, because, don't you know it, none of the other PD's want to die.
The Animus posted:
The Animus is a caricature of what the conscious self’s culture considers masculine. He is stubborn, bullying, impatient, arrogant, quick to anger, crude, brave and has a huge sexual appetite.
Pocket dimensions that try to force people to take part in pre-scripted events and then kill them off. Essentially all these things are anything you imagine, so if you fantasize about killing everyone at work, out there, somewhere, there's a Going Postal Bubble where anyone who pokes their head in either gets handed a gun or gets shot.
They look for people who imagine things similar to them, then they invade their minds and suck them in. Once you're in, you can break free by doing something completely opposed to the "script," but this requires a difficulty 30 Willpower roll, meaning that Joe Average needs a natural 20 to succeed. Welcome to being railroaded, CHOO CHOO.
THE CREATION MYTH
Step 1: Grandpa makes a bunch of people.
Step 2: Unbirths them all but one.
Step 3: This person cuts themselves to make a horrible mutant person out of.
Step 4: Then rape occurs between these two, which makes all the humans.
Step 5: The world is created as it is because the rape victim wants revenge.
Oh and if you paid attention, The Deserted City is apparently Sophie. Thorn/Spear obvious connection.
Advice on Running A Game
First a big box of Horror Stuff To Rip Off. Named titles: Alien, The Blair Witch Project, The Exorcist, The Grudge, Hellraiser(CLIVE BARKER ALERT), Night of the Living Dead, The Ring, The Shining, Silence of the Lambs and The Sixth Sense. Things to rip off from these: "Sabotage everything the players try to do" and "throw in a creepy kid."
Then a sidebar on Railroading. I'm going to throw it in here in its entirety because of a specific paragraph.
Since In Dark Alleys is a horror game, it is important to put PCs into dangerous situations. Yet many players will feel either that it is their duty as players to fight the GM’s attempt to put characters in danger or that it is ‘good roleplaying’ to have the characters avoid dangerous situations.
Thus, unless the GM and players want to have the adventure end at “So you avoid going in the creepy house and you live happily ever after,” it may be necessary to take away some of the players’ free will and force characters along a certain path. There are two ways of doing this: covertly and explicitly.
Covertly railroading characters means making it appear that the players have choices for their characters, but making it so that every choice the characters make ends in the same outcome. This method is liable to piss-off players when they realize what’s going on. If nothing else, players who discover they are being covertly railroaded will fight back harder than ever against the path the GM has set out for them.
Explicitly railroading involves telling players how their free will has been shortcut. The easiest way to do this is to simply start the adventure in the dangerous situation and then fill in the back story. E.g. “You’re in a creepy house, and this is how you got here…” GMs may even enlist the help of players to come up with a creative solution for why their characters ended up in this dangerous situation, thus giving the players a sense that they do have input and that they have not violated their characters’ concepts. Explicit railroading is less likely to cause player anger than covert railroading.
There are also two example adventures that I will not go into in detail, in the first a guy's soul has gotten lost, go recover it. In the second they find a CURSED DVD(TOTALLY NOT THE RING GUYS HONEST) and shit goes down.
And you know what, fuck it. On that rape-tastic, railroading-endorsing end, fuck In Dark Alleys.
In Dark Alleys
Most of these objects come from Christian martyrs, repressed Victorian girls or homosexual sex in public restrooms.
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 17
07:49pm EST - 1/01/2016
So these things come in a few different forms, first are "Shatter Relics," which are caused by intense emotions breaking the threadbare fabric of reality.
Relics of the Martyrs posted:
These relics come from early persecution of Christianity. Most of the martyrs were celibate women who died simultaneously fearing death, hating their executioners, joyful that they would be martyrs and lustful for an idea of Jesus upon which they had projected their repressed sexuality.
Sorry, did I say intense emotions
? I meant intense boners, because apparently all of this comes down to dicks. Also this next one is going to make some biology/medical person's head explode, brace yourselves for flying skull chunks!
Finger of St. Raphael posted:
A finger bone wrapped up in an old cloth in a wooden box. A person clutching this relic cannot be harmed by any amount of heat. However, he or she is also unable to combine sugars and oxygen to create chemical energy, so he or she loses 2 pooled END per round.
A round is half a second, and an unmodified character has between 1 and 20 END. Besides that, the other two example Christian Martyr Artifacts are an arrow(St. Germaine's) that makes all matter near it transparent and all light sources nearby far more intense. The second is a tooth(St. Oglethorpe's) on a chain that makes corpses explode into swarms of screaming, aggressive locusts if brought near them.
The Victorian Girls posted:
At the height of Victorian England’s prudishness, a few women were unlucky enough to grow up without any knowledge of their own sexuality or female anatomy. they were from very religious upper middle-class-homes.
Their mothers died at an early age and they were never lucky enough to make friends with servant girls who could have explained things to them. They grew to adulthood with no knowledge of sex, masturbation, procreation or menstruation.
They only knew that there was something about their anatomies so sinful that nobody would dare speak about it. Many were so unprepared for menstruation that they believed they were dying. Shatters occurred when joy and lust (at discovering the potential for sexual pleasure) coincided with fear and hatred (of their own bodies). The shatters were quickly covered up by the powers-that-be in the Victorian government and the relics were confiscated and hidden away.
The Victorian Girl artifacts are... Eliza Preston's preserved fetus that lets a person's Shadow speak through it! Mary Sutton's "bloody rags" which will bleed forever until everything within 100 feet is covered in it! And...
Elizabeth Hartford's Labia posted:
Two strips of leathery dried flesh. If placed on either side of a human orifice they will attach, becoming living flesh. The orifice will become lined with teeth. If any part of any living thing (save the owner of the orifice) is placed within the orifice, the living thing will be devoured. The orifice pulls the creature towards it at 40 STH, strong enough to break bones. Once the mouth has caught hold of a piece of flesh, there is no way to save the victim without tearing or cutting off the captured parts. The mouth does 2 BLD damage per round to the victim. The mouth can consume any amount of flesh and consumed flesh is never seen again.
The goddamn Cunt of Vecna.
The third category is the Shatter Artifacts produced by those wacky dudes sucking dick in public bathrooms. The first is named, I shit you not, The Glory Hole. It's a piece of wood with a hole in it, if you look through the hole you can see Invisible things, and if you poke anything through the hole the poked-through part phases out and can interact with the Invisible only for a while. I don't really need to say anything more, do I?
The second is the Vertigo Card which, continuing IDA's habit of hiding kinda neat things
inside all the other shit, is kinda neat
. Well okay, the un-neat part is that it's a piece of folded paper with dried semen on it. The NEAT part is that if you unfold it, time in the area passes twice as fast, and if you, for instance, spin it, everything in the area is spun, flung against walls by centrifugal forces, shake it and everyone in the room you're in will get rattled up and down, etc.
The third is a severed, dessicated finger which, if put on the ground, starts to shake until it's violent enough to trigger an earthquake. HOWEVER, consider this: Once it's on the ground, it just keeps shaking until it reaches that magnitude, nothing says that it can or will stop on its own. And presumably if the entire area is fucking rattling like crazy, it's going to be hard for anyone in the area to pick it up and stop it. So presumably if anyone drops this and doesn't scoop it up again quite fast, an entire country is going to be fucked to gravel by never-ending quakes.
Blessed Objects are stuff given from the rather-incompetent POWERS BEYOND to the human authorities that support their goals. They are: A magical table leg, if you spend most of your day near it you become super-healthy. A whip that flicks a new Psychodynamic into control of a person every time you whack them, allowing you to cycle through personalities until you have one that'll tell you what you want to know. An Islamic vorpal sword. A magical mauseoleum that can be used to revive people with human sacrifice. A magical Cane of Charisma. And a badass skull cup that lets you kick your own soul into the aether to go for trips.
Dances can apparently only produce objects that make people crazy from handling them. The example items aren't very interesting.
Chunks of the Deserted City also count as artifacts, the first type is mementos, which always show perfectly happy androgynous humans. The longer you stare at these, the more you'll start glowing and becoming superpowered, until you explode into ash from being too hotblooded. Literally. The second type is just objects, which are always unbreakable and useless and the only thing they have about them that's interesting is that they turn into stuff that people fear or desire very much when no one's looking. The last category is Tools which are Normal Objects That Do Supernatural Stuff. Like the White Fluid, a vial of milk that makes you vomit up a soul-less perfect copy of yourself. The Black Knife, a knife so sharp it cuts holes in reality. Or the Gray Book, another of these "whatever you're most afraid of will be what you see in it"-objects. Which really just sound like Brian wanted to write something spooky but couldn't come up with anything.
The next category is Subconscious Artifacts, stuff dragged out of the brains of people you've visited, like for instance a Wonderlander's Playland. The example item is a knife from the mind of a woman who secretly hates herself and bangs lots of strangers without using a condom, so anyone stabbed by it becomes irreversibly ill until this lady gets some mental help. We're reminded that all this is because of her parents.
And lastly there are Annotated Volumes, basically these are books so scribbled-up by Scribblers that they can teach you supernatural powers if you can tolerate their Philosophy 101 wanking going on for pages and pages and pages on end. Predictably half the example books are written by Jung, Freud and Nietzsche, that is, before someone wrote all over them.
SECRETS OF OTHER WORLDS
Summarizing the intro: Other worlds are whack shit but our tiny human minds can't comprehend them so we subconsciously reform them into something that SORT of makes sense to us. Linear time, three dimensions of space, that sort of jiggery.
The first line of the next paragraph is that all supernatural skill rolls have between +20 and +60 modifiers, this means that anyone with even a single rank in Untouchable and decent Willpower, for instance, is literally invincible. Dances actually become kind of interesting here, since minds can affect reality and Dances are literally wandering minds, so with a bit of a rewrite of their fluff they could become useful sidekicks rather than monomaniacal parasites. Also remember Masks? In THE OTHER WORLDS, it literally transforms the disguised thing into the thing it is disguised as. So holy shit can you hilariously break everything with that EVEN MORE.
Also since Reapers are both visible and tangible here, technically the party could take turns committing suicide and fighting off the arriving Reapers until they're all Survivors and outfitted with Survivor powers to Be Goddamn Unkillable. But that's just me considering how to break this game in half, not that it needs much effort.
So just to make this interesting, before I wrap up this post, let's hit the first of the Otherworldly Locations: The Deserted City. You ready?
THE DESERTED CITY
This place basically looks like whatever a group recognizes as "urban."
To a group of hunter-gatherers that have never seen a city it would look like a massive deserted encampment, in an endless forest clearing, filled with huge huts. To a group from Japan, the city would take on a slightly Japanese flavor. For instance, some of the rooms inside buildings would have sliding screens and tatami mats.
Though any cultural exposure, even if only through media, to "Western Cities," sees them as such. It's always night, it's always cold, there are street lamps that keep the worst of the darkness at bay and it's always goddamn deserted
. But of course you can hear someone sobbing and moaning in the distance because it's gotta be SPOOKY. The place looks like it was super-fancy once, but now it's pretty run-down and dirty, and everything that isn't nailed down has been removed.
"When the PCs can find a sign that’s not too faded to read, the text is just words like “pain” “horror” and “death” repeated over and over again."
"GPS systems, compasses and cell phones don’t work. Radios play a woman sobbing on every frequency."
: So something big and awful poked a hole in the city and now THE GROUND IS BLEEEEEEDING. Basically it's a big black thorn and if anyone pokes at it they just die. Either later fluff sections will expand on this thing or it's just added because OMG BLOOD IS SCARY.
: Some enterprising architect figured adventurers might drop by and decided to make sure the sewers were spacious enough for people to run around in. Also instead of water they have BLOOD. BLOOOOOOD, SCARY BLOOOOOOD. Also sometimes the blood is replaced by black fluids and if you touch them you die. Sometimes there are immortal people stuck in the walls that do nothing but wail and moan and you can't kill them or talk to them, so they're basically just decor.
CREATURES OF THE CITY
: Organic robots that run around "doing tasks" in the city that the PC's aren't supposed to be able to ever understand. Also it's emphasized that they might just randomly reach out and kill PC's. The example creature is a pillar of flesh with a flower of babbling faces at the top. If anyone tries to interact with it, it'll wrap the flower around their heads and scream at them until they die. Also if you don't get someone away from it in two rounds(1 second, remember), they'll be rendered permanently deaf by the cacophony. Much longer and it'll liquefy their brains.
So that's THE DESERTED CITY.
I think I'm going to try to finish off IDA in the next post, because I just read ahead and spoiler: The entire world was created by rape.
In Dark Alleys
Hideo Nakazawa, Atomic Ghost
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 16
07:47pm EST - 1/01/2016
So we're still in the GAME MASTERS ONLY section about all the WEIRD SHIT BEHIND THE FACADE. And the first thing we bungle into his H-Tech. This has been name-dropped a few times before, oddly enough, only Heroes have anything to do with this, really. You'd figure there'd be some sort of Mad Inventor class/Secret Life...
Essentially the same slap-dash labourers that designed the Storks and left them capable of mis-delivering souls apparently designed the laws of reality, leaving them full of loophopes and exploits. H-Tech devices are any devices that exploit these holes, and according to conventional laws of physics they simply Should Not Work. The entry here tells us that there will be MORE TO COME, but for now all we're told is that H-Tech devices for seeing the invisible and touching the intangible are kind of common. Also apparently it's relatively easy to make a vest that turns you into a Survivor if you die while wearing it, as it keeps Reapers at bay, leaving the soul with long enough time to figure out how to jumpstart the body's systems.
CRACKS IN THE FACAAAAADE
I.e., more times where the contractors that built reality fucked up and did things on the cheap with plywood and duct tape.
: Someone had a REALLY INTENSE EMOTIONAL MOMENT and that left a hole in reality related to what happened to them. Like if someone had an INTENSE TIME while getting burned there'd be an area where THINGS WOULD BURN or something. One of the example effects is "gravity reversing," I'm not sure what sort of trauma would trigger that. Absolute terror while bungee-jumping?
: Apparently nuclear weapons DESTROY THE BODY SO QUICKLY that the Reapers never get a call that someone is about to die, hence they completely miss their appointment with the soul that just got de-bodied. And of course all of the ATOMIC GHOSTS are Japanese people who are super-racist against white people. Of course
. The example ATOMIC GHOST is a Japanese guy who... possesses white people's bodies and then uses them to do lots of drugs and ruin their lives/health. For instance, since this is Brian, he often possesses white people and uses their bodies to rape their families.
A variety of weird things that can happen to souls. Guess we finally get to find out what having a HORSE SOUL means.
: Apparently the SOUL BUREAUCRACY is so stretched by MORE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE that either they're running out of souls to distribute or just keep fucking up because they're rushing. So loads of kids end up not getting souls. Soulless people have no true consciousness, they're basically just biological machines. Apparently the soulless also tend to act as properly Souled people expect them to, meaning that if you enter some weird little country town with nothing but soulless and expect them to come for you with sickles and cannibalism, they will. So I guess if you're a really upbeat and positive person, Soulless will be your best friends forever.
: One soul, split in half. Not very interesting, really, just the generic TWINS CAN FEEL WHAT THE OTHER FEELS-myths.
: Jekyll & Hyde, essentially. One is mostly in charge, but if it's KO'd due to drugs or some weird psychological effect, the other takes over for a while.
Humans with Animal Souls
: Will like things that their stereotypical animal soul enjoys and be a bit less smart than normal humans, that's it.
Animals with Human Souls
: See, Dog King of LA, the.
: Some tumors have SOULS, which apparently just makes them into huge assholes who ENJOY killing the person they're in and makes them hard to treat.
: If you play with genetics you will most likely, literally, create Soulless monstrosities because the Storks are too fucking dumb to figure out how to shove a human soul into a non-standard package. Frankly the fact that mere genetic changes can affect this makes you wonder if, for instance, people with chromosomal disorders do not have souls in IDA, or what about people who are simply odd mixtures of rarely-mixed genetics? Like a German and a Peruvian or something? Do they also have a higher risk of not having souls? Fucked if I know, the implications are just amazingly stupid
See, Kult Ripoffs.
So basically the world is miserable to keep us busy enjoying FLESHY THINGS and fighting for survival, because otherwise if we didn't do that, we'd invent NEW PLAYTHINGS and these NEW EXPERIENCES would TOTALLY BLOW OUR MINDS and we'd see through the illusion and you know what? We still don't know why this is a bad thing. So far NO ONE has told us SHIT about why the Powers From Beyond are assholes to humanity. Did we borrow their lawnmower and never return it? Fucked if I know! IDA sure doesn't see fit to tell us yet.
So essentially what wakes people up is emotional/psychological extremes. Too much suffering, too little suffering, etc. Being awakened really just means you can remember stuff about THE WOOOORLDS BEYOOOOOOND and have some of the same powers as characters with Secret Lives, but more under control. Like you can command Wrigglers(Misfortunes) without wacky rituals, you can "Get Lost" without needing to be actually LOST, that sort of thing. And of course, since they've Awakened under severe psychological duress, they also tend to be mentally damaged as all hell.
The example Awakened is someone who was sold from a Russian orphanage to AMERICAN PEDOPHILES. So basically she got raped for years and years until she went so crazy that she killed the EVIL AMERICAN with her AWAKENED POWERS and now she's a complete nutcase. But... aside from that, she's actually VAGUELY COOL. Essentially, she's abused to the point where the only people she can empathize with are children, and perceives all caretaker/parent figures as abusers. She Lost-walks her way from dark place to dark place, essentially a boogeyman figure. If she finds a lost child in one of those places, she'll basically keep the child captive until their parents/caretakers come looking... and then kill them.
Olesya does not need food or water. She only want to sit in the darkness, sing little songs to herself, play games with random items, and be left alone. She uses her Lost-like abilities to travel between basements. If someone opens a door to whatever basement she is in, she will flee. If unable to flee (e.g. surprised while sleeping) she will panic and use her telekinesis to wring their necks. If she encounters a crying child her empathy will be aroused. She will keep the child from screaming (by paralyzing his or her vocal cords), will hold and caress the child, will wait for the adults to come down into the basement, at which point she will kill them. She thinks she is doing the child a favor. She is unable to realize that the children might not want their parents killed.
: Hello "Jaws!" Basically animals that have been driven insane by horrible stuff become of human intellect and physically superpowered, able to revive themselves from situations that would have killed them, and of enhancing their physical abilities besides.
Supernatural Serial Killers
: Basically they're Heroes who're either rapists or dispassionate "professional" murderers.
: Basically one of their Psychodynamics sometimes takes the wheel and runs their body for a while. So take one of the Psychodynamics listed in an earlier post and have them care about nothing but the realm that PD is all about.
When people are born with little or no mental capacity, intelligence sometimes develops spontaneously. The soul begins to think for itself without depending on the neurons of the physical body. It is this tendency to develop intelligence where there is none that forced the powers-from-beyond to lock human souls in the bodies of intelligent animals (it is safer for humans to have limited intelligence than to develop nearly unlimited intelligence).
An Algernon goes quite suddenly from being profoundly subnormal to being a genius. The more retarded they were, the more likely they are to become Algernons. The change can happen at any time, but it is most likely to happen during a trauma or extreme stress.
Then there's an example Algernon and Jekyll. Basically the Algernon had Down's and now her new intelligence has made her OCD and besides that she very easily gets fascinated with a single thought and forgets everything around herself. All she really does is play the stock market with her MATH MIND and become rich. The Jekyll is a schoolteacher who used a SUPER TECH DEVICE to... become a dominant psychopath who rapes her students and is a total prick besides, except when her Shadow isn't in charge in which case she's just a shy little lady.
: No, really, that's what the book calls them. Basically these are child versions of the Secret Lifers. Thankfully the only ones noted are Lost, Outcast and Wonderlanders, there are no 10-year-old Androgynes. Lost Kids are kind of cool since they're basically driven by their internal fantasy worlds into imagining that, for instance, "through this old closet is a path to somewhere magical!" and they can actually use that to Get Lost somewhere. Outcast Kids are either weirdos who hex their classmates or they're like Constantine and go screaming insane and get electroshock therapy. Wonderlander kids don't really need any describing.
The Creepy Kid NPC is a Lost child who got separated from her mom in a mall and has been unable to get properly back to reality ever since then, Getting Lost from location to location without much control. Most of her time she spends skipping from mall to mall across the world, joining up with whatever kids she meets there and pranking the hell out of mall security. She could almost be a PC for a very light-hearted IDA game. One accidental wandering into a mall in the Deserted City found her a cursed doll which she can wave at people and it'll tell them the thing they fear most of all, scaring them away and giving her a chance to leg it.
: Somehow this is just a tiny side-note about some Native Americans who made ANTI-BULLET SHIRTS with which they FOUGHT THE WHITE MAN.
In Dark Alleys
SECRETS OF LOS ANGELES
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 15
07:35pm EST - 1/01/2016
And now we're into Quest Hook Territory. This is where we're going to be relentlessly pounded with badly-designed NPC's that the PC's are supposed to empathize with or fight.
Imagine a Scientology that is capable of using high-tech devices to selectively deleting parts of people's brains until they're mindless servants. Pretty much the same, masquerades as therapy/religion, actually has some techniques that could be useful if used well, but actually just works to make a profit and dominate people. Their SECRET DEVICE That allows them to do the brain deletion was designed by the founder after getting high and having drug-fuelled occult orgies for a month.
Founder is somehow a theist despite actively believing God is just a metaphor.
The Dog King of LA
A super-intelligent dog is behind a loan shark business, he has robot hands and likes fucking female dogs. This is all because he secretly has a HUMAN SOUL. He uses his MIND POWERS to get people he doesn't like mauled by dogs.
Oooooh if you go into a spoooooky supernatural men's room one of the stalls will teleport you to another dimension! Oooooooh! Also you might get shivved by crack addicts hanging around there, ooooooooh!
The Devil Boys
Vietnamese gang hires an Animist to do his weird wizard stuff for them. This works out pretty well and now they're powerful. Like pretty much every other "evil" NPC, we're told how much he digs drugs and getting laid. And like every "ethnic" NPC so far, their shaman freaks out whenever he has to interact with people of other ethnicities.
The Blue Bus and The Lake Creature
The Blue Bus is basically public transit for another dimension. Really, the supernatural in IDA sucks shit at keeping hidden, since people who get on the wrong bus literally get driven to some horrid otherworldly place called The Citadel.
The Lake Creature is a huge, five-limbed, headless "humanoid." It lives in a lake until people near the lake are really depressed/angry, then it crawls out and looks at them with the ghosts in its stomach and they go catatonic forever. It's basically a Soul Janitor.
Another layer of reality which is full of life-sustaining jelly and all the public servants of reality live. Reapers, Storks, Rumblers, etc. etc. Also pretty much everything bad in the world is caused by them, including psychological problems, natural disasters and so forth. I guess this also means that meteorology and tectonics are SCIENCE LIES since THE INVISIBLE controls earthquakes and hurricanes!
If you stand still for too long, one of these things latch on and cause some of the following miseries. Medicine can deal with the systems but never the cause, since the cause is an INVISIBLE GHOST WORM. Despite the fact that there are five Wrigglers to every human on Earth, and 1.5 Wrigglers(on average) attached to every person, only 1 out of 10 diseases are actually caused by these guys. Well, in the West, anyway. We're not told how it is in the ENLIGHTENED FOREIGN REGIONS.
Common: asthma, clumsiness, coughing, cramps, dizziness, fatigue, forgetfulness, headaches, indigestion, infertility, insomnia, nervousness, nightmares, nosebleeds, poor temper, tinnitus.
Rare: anemia, epilepsy, erotomania (an insatiable desire for sex), exhaustion, extreme vertigo, fetishism (inability to have sexual pleasure without some odd element present), hallucinations, sourceless pain, tooth loss, weakness, weight loss.
Very Rare: heart attack, stroke.
Appearance- It looks like a naked human corpse, pale skinned and half rotten, hanging upside down with its legs attached to a wall. Although its mouth doesn’t move it is constantly saying things like “run away, this place is dangerous, get out of here, you’re going to die here.” When it moves it prefers to slide along a wall, although if it must it can leave the walls and float in midair.
Oh man this is just so TOTALLY UNLIKE conventional horror. They would never have scary corpses hanging around. Basically these guys' jobs are to police places where reality is broken and spook people off by mumbling weird shit at them.
Disaster superbugs! Somehow scientists never notice the crazy shit these guys do.
Misc. Weirdos From Beyond
Some sink into the ground and create earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions; others float up into the sky and create hurricanes, floods or ice-storms.
Wolves: Scrap broken or un-needed Invisible entities. Look like manta rays.
Crying Girls: Invisible crying girls that sit around looking miserable in the hope that someone who can see the Invisible will take pity on them. SURPRISE, SUCKERS, if you do that then she is a TRAP and will instakill you by crushing your heart with her ghooooost haaaands.
Starers: The same, except they look like old weirdos who will reach into your brain and give you a stroke.
Bad Talkers: Ghosts who mumble to themselves until you go insane. They have tentacles and shells and ooooo spoooooooky.
Storks: Bring souls to babies. Horses, cats and dogs are apparently the only non-human species who get to have souls.
Please note that 90% of these things just hang around and fuck shit up for EVERYONE. There are so many around that the PC's can't really deal with them, and if the PC's can't see the Invisible at all they can't even stop them locally. Only the Storks(who bring souls) have an even vaguely useful-to-humanity function. And if you get into a fight with these things, most of them can basically instakill you.
Servants of the Powers From Beyond
So these guys can edit history and mind control people. They can, at will, alter any written or otherwise-recorded data. So good luck ever having evidence of ANYTHING if they don't like you, or they can scramble the data on your PC, smartphone, whatever to fuck up your equipment. Made a map? LOLSCRAMBLED. But maybe the PC's can take them in a fair fight!
-Can instantly read and comprehend anything on any storage medium (books, papers, punch cards, film, magnetic tape, CDs, hard drives, etc.) within 20 ft. (6 m.).
-Can instantly change any aspect of the physical world except human anatomy. Takes 1 to 10 rounds depending on the severity of the change.
-Can change human anatomy with a roll of 1d20 vs. 10 (humans get moderate difficulty opposed will roll).
-Can command humans to do, believe or remember anything at 1d20 vs. 10 (humans get moderate difficulty opposed WIL roll).
-Can pass through walls.
-Can know what humans are thinking within 20 ft. (6 m.).
-Can browse through human memories (the humans experience spontaneous recall of those memories).
Or no, they can't, because their lungs are now full of sarin gas and their legs have come off. Or maybe their clothes caught fire or the floor is literally lava. Their "typical attack" is to pelt you with instantly-created bullets of poisonous diamond. Oh and they're superhumanly intelligent and since they can read your thoughts good luck ever fucking hiding from them.
These guys can unlock any blockage just by touching it, cannot be captured on film and can make you pass out just by looking at you. Then they haul you into a pocket dimension and use you for medical experimentation until they get bored.
Pass messages to the mortal servants of the Powers From Beyond and are the ones prodding Rumblers into action when a city needs to be consumed by magma or something similar. This is their entire purpose. Also if they dislike someone specifically they just glow very brightly until the person is roasted to death.
These are beings that the powers-from-beyond have allowed to run free in this world, usually in human form, hunting, torturing and killing humans. They are allowed to torture and kill as much as they want so long as they don’t leave any evidence that they are supernatural. Once they start breaking that rule the powers-from-beyond or the powers-that-be hunt them down and destroy them. The powers-from-beyond may occasionally call on them to kill a specific human.
The torturers all have some sort of grudge against humanity. They like toying with humans and proving that they are superior to humans.
But why? What fucking sense does this make? They can just use angels and Gray Men to incinerate/delete people they have trouble with and have less risk of these crazy murder-bugs cluing people in to the existence of the supernatural! Shit, isn't one of their conspiracies convincing everyone that the Abrahamic religions are real? Then DIVINE INCINERATION from angels should be COMPLETELY IN LINE with their fucking goals.
Anyway these guys are shapeshifting deathspiders that are allergic to silver. The example Torturer has a really shitty sense of humour, like HK-47 with Down's, and just hunts humans to help its poor self esteem because it's actually afraid of us and wants to convince itself that the mean old humans can't harm it any longer.
The Red Sun
We used to have another sun, THE RED SUN, which was intelligent and tyrannical, so the Powers From Beyond flung it into space and gave us a stupid, less-troublesome yellow sun. Now THE RED SUN wishes to return and resume its dominance! Luckily, despite being a literally star-sized mind with FTL travel capabilities, it's too stupid to remember where we were.
Thankfully while it has lots of dumb, down-on-their-luck people convinced that they will become GOD KINGS OF EARTH when it returns, so far all the Astronomers it's contacted in their dreams have apparently decided not to help it, or dismissed its contact as just dreams. Its servants become immune to fire and can make people burn just by concentrating on it really hard for a minute or so. Considering that there's no obvious sign of them being the source of the burning, there's really no way the PC's could ever defeat an even slightly intelligent servant of the Red Sun.
The Red Sun also doesn't need any wacky ritual to summon it, it literally just needs a really good astronomer to think about exactly where in the Milky Way Earth is, then it'll travel here at WARP SPEED, beat up our Yellow Sun behind the school and rule us once more. So it's kind of a... if these guys are succeeding enough to be noticable, we'll have noticed it because we're already fucked. The only PC's who'd ever know about these guys or wrangle with them would really be if one of them was an astronomer they were trying to kidnap, or the PC's were a team of Professionals.
In Dark Alleys
The word Secrets has started to lose all meaning to me
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 14
07:33pm EST - 1/01/2016
Alright, still a bit before Wraeththu, I think I've got about 80 or so pages of IDA remaining, and they're going to be all
the juicy fluff stuff. Before I'm done with that, I'm going to get my scanned hooked up and then you can all partake in Wraeththu with me.
Secrets of the Professionals
These were the servants of The Man who killed all the noble freedom-fighting rapists and such. It starts with the bombshell that Powers From Beyond are responsible for the fact that we're not idiots chilling in the trees any longer, they're responsible for Scientific Rationalism, the rise of nations and Monotheism.
Smart leaders realized that is was what they were doing, not who they were, that gained them favor of the powers-from-beyond and so they kept doing it, even passed it down to their successors. The kings of Israel had favor of the powers-that-be because they practiced monotheism and discouraged homosexuality. This favor allowed the Jews to triumph over many superior forces. Yet after the death of Christ, Christianity emerged as a proselytizing monotheism capable of converting the Roman empire from paganism. Favor of the powers-from-beyond quickly transferred to the Christians.
Yet Christianity was born in a time where many cultures were coming together to share their beliefs: Greek philosophy, tribal mysticism, pagan occultism, even ideas from Buddhism found their way into Israel. Gnosticism (see p.152) developed as a variant of Christianity, yet the tenants of Gnosticism were dangerously close to the truth. Gnosticism was a threat to the powers-that-be and its enemies were given special favor by the powers-from-beyond in order to eliminate it.
Honestly if anything really pisses me off about shit like this and Psi-Watch it's how they steal all these genuine issues/historical things and turn them into BIG BADS FROM OTHER DIMENSIONS ARE CAUSING IT! Hence basically raping all of the nuance out of them. And how all the people they don't like are SECRET SERVANTS OF THE BIG BADS.
A sidebar informs us that all Western witches were bullshit. Even in YE OLDE TIMES it had no power because I guess the West has always been TOO LOGICAL. All the witches who had "power" were really just crazy people with poison that they used to kill neighbours, husbands and livestock.
Back to the Professionals, seems that the Inquisition were the first of these guys. So they've basically been mondo assholes since inception. How are they supposed to work as PC's again when their entire job description is "kill what the other PC's are"? Templars, Assassins and Islamic empires were also superpowered by EVIL POWERS FROM BEYOND. The Renaissance? Caused by the EVIL POWERS FROM BEYOND favouring merchants instead of churches, I guess Capitalists are also an extension of Cthulhu.
Written language? Western medicine? ALL EVIL!
So these guys are the Order of the Protector and to ADVANCE IN THE RANKS they at some point tell you to kill someone you know
is completely innocent, just because they say so. Apparently they're testing to see if you're retarded, and you only get to progress if you are. "By the twenty-fifth degree the Professional must be willing to kill children or torture innocent people." What is the fucking sense in only allowing amoral sociopaths to progress? Why would you give more powers to the sort of people who'd feel no moral twinge at using them against you
? This is fucking stupid.
Fifth Degree: Many small cults pop up which ‘accidentally’ gain supernatural powers. These cults should be wiped out quickly, if they don’t destroy themselves first. One group believes they worship a ‘red sun.’ They seek out astronomical charts and have the power to start fires.
Sixth Degree: Certain strong emotions can shatter reality. Places, objects and people associated with shatters can have dangerous powers to warp reality. Christian martyrs, repressed Victorian young woman and anonymous homosexual sex in public places were the source of many shatters.
OH NO, A CULT THAT'S MASTERED MATCHES. And secondly, how the fuck is this supposedly "enlightened" asshole managing to stereotype and degrade homosexuals more than the people who think they should all be burned at the stake? Because yes, anonymous gay hookups in bathrooms are such a huge thing
. And straight people are totally not prone to it because they're being manipulated by the Cthulhus into believing the nuclear family is a great idea!
Professionals get all of two NPC's! The first is Lawrence, a forgettable Professional that will kill you with guns. The second is Wallace, one of the people who CONTROL THE WORLD.
He hates poor people, sexual “deviants” and smart-ass progressives.
Besides gaining power, his other pleasure in life is having sex with children.
In a given day he might ‘fix problems’ by financing a military coup, manipulating markets to cause an economic depression in certain countries and paying the mafia to assassinate a public figure.
When he slips past his security to have sex with children his only protection is his personal assistant, who has a ballistic vest and automatic pistol.
I guess that pretty well hammers home that this guy is an Ultimate Badguy. Also apparently he hates himself. Also I like how the methods of the Guys That Rule Everything is apparently just to make the world miserable. Because, I mean, totally, stability and normality would be harmful for everyone! It's not like some of these supernaturals are directly triggered by seeking extremist religion(Cannibals) or being despondent and drugged-up(Lost, Faustians)! And those things never happen when times are bad! This is stupid.
Secrets of the Scribblers
As we already know, Scribblers keep in contact by believing any fucking thing they see written on a wall. Why they haven't all died because a Professional wrote a recipe for nerve poison annotated with: "TRY THIS TO ACHIEVE ENLIGHTENMENT," I don't know. Especially as they're all Philosophy students, essentially, and hence would probably not know a recipe for nerve gas if they saw one written down. But hey, this is IDA, the Evil Powers of Evil are terminally retarded and just wash away the graffiti instead.
There are also only 500 Scribblers world-wide, yet apparently they're all concentrated enough that they can pass each other these physical messages. One guy with a camera near a painted-up wall and the Professionals could get the identities of 99% of them. This. Is. Stupid.
Metaphysics- Although the techniques Scribblers use to gain supernatural abilities can be traced back to Gnosticism, Greek mysteries, occultism, psychotherapy, surrealism and even rituals stolen from the Templars, all rely on the Scribbler’s disbelief in the physical world as their source of power.
So I guess if you like surrealist art enough you become a WORD WIZARD????
Scribblers disdain the world of external phenomena which they believe keeps them from the truth.
I fucking know, right? Fuck empirical data! I'm just going to believe
my way to the truth! Because Plato gave us so many scientific advances!
An example of a library book ruined after Scribblers have had their filthy hands near it
Their NPC is an old, disillusioned dude who did experiments to confirm that reality was a lie
. But wait, wouldn't that entail empirical data? Wouldn't that entail humouring the real world for long enough to do experiments? Isn't this... GAH! Fuck internal consistency, I guess! He's also a terrorist who uses his magical powers to attack the FBI, police and schools. Great guy! He also hates the world so much that he basically Nihilistic Rages everything around him into destruction unless he tries to control it.
Secrets of the Survivors
Yadda yadda, not much new here except we're told that the "storks" are actually ghost birds, not actual birds. At least that makes the setting make a bit more sense. We also get stats for Reapers, who are dumb as fucking rocks. Literally an Intellect stat of 0. But thankfully, as we know from the stat chapter, INL doesn't actually determine how cleverly you can act.
Reapers look kinda neat
Do not die of old age, and their memory is limitless.
Reapers are about as intelligent as a cat, yet they have instinctual knowledge of various things that are dangerous to human life. They thus excel at problem solving where the problem is how to alter the environment to kill a person. They are emotionless and fearless. They do not communicate. They only do the job they were created to do.
Reapers are beings created and manufactured by the powers-from-beyond to do a specific job. They are the smartest and toughest of the beings manufactured for use in this reality. They are the main line of defense between humans and immortality.
The Survivor NPC is a guy who got told of a MAGICAL CAVE by MAGICAL INDIANS and went there and the Reapers chasing him got vaporized by the creepy cave. Since all it took to get this done was basically to interview every mystic weirdo in sight and since the Reapers were apparently dumb enough to follow him in there and get disintegrated, it's really a wonder that there are any Survivors not
free of their Reapers. Also he's lived for so long that he's now an asshole because apparently living for a long time makes you bored, and when you're really bored you become evil.
He often forces his lovers to join him on dangerous adventures (robbing convenience stores, driving up to gang members and calling them ‘putos,’ driving the wrong way on the freeway) which he does simply to enjoy his dates’ fear.
Also note that he's staggeringly rich and important. So, how the fuck does he get away with doing ALL THIS HIGHLY PUBLIC SHIT, AND BEING A VERY VISIBLE FIGURE, and not getting tracked down by the Professionals? They were apparently canny enough to hunt down Scribblers when they were just writing anonymous notes in a fucking library book, but they can't find and incinerate this asshole? Also despite being born in 1820 he has somehow not spent his time learning anything beyond how to be a really good wrestler and how to snap people's necks. Interestingly enough he uses the hilarious "breaking necks is fucking simple"-loophole to be monstrous at it.
He does sort of make a decent enemy, though. He's not hanging out in alternate dimensions and he's brutal enough with Flesh Control and similar to make for a murderous boss battle. Plus he's a giant asshole so the PC's would have a reason to end up fighting him. On the other hand he pretty much stays out of all supernatural business, so the PC's would really have no fucking reason
to fight him unless they want to wring the location of REAPER KILLER CAVE out of him.
Secrets of the Wonderlanders
In Brief- Victorian Children’s book authors discovered how to travel into the subconscious of kids by linking the subconsciouses to a vibrant fantasy world, learned to become immortal by living in those subconsciouses.
It wasn’t until 1910 that the children’s books authors used techniques recently developed by Freud for probing the subconscious mind to determine that the playworlds were manifestations of the children’s subconsciouses. Using an admixture of spiritualism, occultism and Freudian techniques the authors discovered ways to send their consciousness into the playlands of their children.
An ailing elderly member was in a Playland when her physical body died, but she soon contacted the other members to tell them she was still alive in the playland. The group devised a scheme for their own immortality. They would each escape death by hiding in the playlands of their children, then convince those children to do the same.
You know, I hate to say it, but so far this is pretty much some of the sort-of coolest stuff in this book, once we get to the details of the Wonderlanders. Hell, you could base an entire game about Lost and Wonderlanders diving into Playlands to kick these guys in the junk, because they're basically brainwashing the poor kids whose Playlands they're in. The whole thing's layered sort of like bubbles, if a mind dies, then the Playland it's created dies as well. But if the owner dies while in a Playland, the mind keeps going, essentially, I presume, making that Playland "self-sustaining" as long as no one charges in and fucks it up.
Humans have incredible power over reality. They can make things ‘exist’ simply by believing hard enough. The requisite belief is emotional and not intellectual. Humans have to feel the truth of a thing, which is a power which dawns with the birth of imagination and slips away quickly as a young person becomes more indoctrinated into the rules of “real” and “not real.” The ability to imagine things real peaks at around 4 or 5 years.
OH, YES, WE ARE INDOCTRINATING CHILDREN, TOO. TAKING AWAY THEIR MAGIC BY TEACHING THEM ABOUT THE REAL WORLD. Fucking IDA, is there any part of the modern, adult life you don't loathe with a passion? But yeah that's it, a creepy cult of old brainwashers are using children's minds as hideouts to be immortal in by basically programming them to believe in these things and nurturing these beliefs as they grow up.
The Wonderlander NPC is a "spider at the center of the web,"-type, living within Playlands within Playlands within Playlands, etc. until she's tucked away deep enough that no one who doesn't know she exists will ever find out. Her only real goal is to keep her "empire" existing and expanding, and if anyone ever threatens or pisses off "her children," or might get in the way of them developing proper Playlands, she basically wanders into their brains and shreds their Psychodynamics, making them them insane or braindead.
She's made herself a Playland mansion where she spends her time puttering around in the garden like a nice old grandmother, and she forces "her children" to resume their child forms and personas when visiting her, otherwise she beats them to within an inch of death. She's a right old cunt. But all in all, she could kind of work as a game villain, assuming the PC's have ways of keeping her from just murdering their minds in passing.
Anyway, that's it for all of the Secret Life secrets. Beyond this is now the setting fluff, creatures/enemies and at least one pre-made adventure, by the looks of it. Thankfully we'll soon be done with this pile of shit.
In Dark Alleys
Up to my neck in secrets
Secrets of the Heroes
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 13
07:24pm EST - 1/01/2016
If you remember, Heroes were our lovable semi-insane vigilantes who had either animal familiars, Generic Occult Powers or High Tech Devices that helped them DO BATTLE WITH EVIL. This section basically tells us that they are literally
serial killers who are just more picky about their victims.
Familiar: These Heroes have come across a partially awakened animal. This is a servant of humanity from before human souls were trapped in this reality. Like human souls, these servants are more-or-less immortal and are kept prisoner by the powers-from-beyond in the bodies of animals. Due to some supernatural or h-tech accident the animal became partially awakened and regained some of its powers and intelligence. It cannot remember its life before this world, nor can it escape from the body it has been placed in, but it was able to find its former master.
Wait what? Kult? What are you doing here? What did Brian do to you?! Way to jack Kult's setting and make it even worse, jackass.
Their end-of-section note is a stained piece of paper from a Hero detailing his HEROIC EXPLOITS. First he kills some drug dealers, then he kills a prostitute, then he murders some "gangbangers & family members." After every killing he obsessively washes his hands and notes for how long. Finally he kills a supernatural creature that begs for mercy and tells him it's just taking revenge for MEAN OLD HUMANITY that used to have its kind as slaves back when we were powerful! (hello again Kult) He then scrubs his hands until he can see muscle and tendons.
The Hero NPC is... something.
Richard was born to a working-class Black family. He was a sensitive, shy boy. His father left when he was seven and this sent him into a spiral of isolation, self-hatred and loneliness that left him friendless during his adolescent years. He entertained himself with fantasies of violence, of him slaughtering armies of racists, terrorists, mafioso, etc. Soon he was living more in his fantasies than in the real world. After high school he had a series of demeaning customer service and manual labor jobs that barely paid the rent. He was poor, lonely and desperate.
One evening blood started to drip from his ceiling. He called the cops but nobody came. He went to check on his neighbor and found his neighbor hanging from his neck, pierced with a dozen kitchen knives and masturbating. There was an explosion and a knife cut his hand. Moths started flying from the wound until Richard bound the wound up.
The wound would not heal and continued to expel moths whenever unbound. Richard decided the moths were either a curse or a gift from god, and that he was responsible for using them to smite sinners. He trained and equipped himself as a vigilante. Over the next 30 years he killed more than 100 drug dealers, as well as pimps, rapists, abortion doctors, convenience store robbers, carjackers, child molesters, serial killers, innocent people who he mistakenly thought were committing crimes and innocent people who were hit by stray bullets.
His most intense relationships are imaginary relationships with the people he saves. There are a number of terrified young women who he harasses with anonymous letters and phone calls. Richard has a black and white view of morality: anyone who kills or rapes deserves to die.
So basically we have a wannabe-tough guy with a hand that shoots moths. How the fuck does this guy manage to rack up over 100 kills including
shitloads of supernatural things without getting his head taken off? The moths will "fly out and bite people," but all it does is create distracting pain and briefly blind them with the swarm, not actually doing any damage. This guy has no concept of subtlety, so why hasn't a Professional offed him by now? Why hasn't some random goon with a shotgun
offed him? Why, in fact, haven't the fucking COPS done something about this guy who runs around on the streets in riot-armor dual-wielding silenced pistols? MOTH HAAAAANDS isn't exactly subtle or an ability that lets you evade a manhunt.
Unlike most of the other NPC's, I guess at least he's functional as an opponent because he has no truly bullshit/unbeatable powers, and the PC's have reasons to find him(and the ability to do so) and murder his eerie, fuckfaced self.
Secrets of the Lost
There have been Lost as long as humans have had souls. Becoming Lost was frightening and dangerous: an aboriginal person who got Lost would most likely wind up in the camp of some group who spoke a different language and would kill a stranger.
Yes, because those horrible savages would murder anyone who looked different on sight! This is only mentioned in relation to this, apparently all other eras have Lost bungling into only CIVILIZED COMPANY that accepts them as friends.
Psychogeography was created in 1958 but didn’t really become popular until the 1980s. It was popularized by the Situationists, a group that was influenced by the Surrealists and Existentialists. Psychogeography is the art of wandering a city at random and mapping how different parts of the city made one feel. Some of the psychogeographers became Lost.
This is apparently a real thing. But judging by a quick browse, he's simplifying it to the point of aggressively missing some of the point. Then we get BLAH BLAH MORE KULT RIP-OFF, THE BODY IS A PRISON FOR THE SOUL. YOU CAN TOTALLY BE FREE OF THE "TYRANNY OF SPACE" IF YOU FIGURE THIS OUT.
Killer Lost sidebar posted:
Although very few Lost have ever thought to do so, it is possible for very powerful Lost to use the Grab Bag skill to kill people by remote. They need a body with a large hole in it. They can then reach in and pull out the internal organs of an enemy. The Grab Bag skill requires that the person not know what’s in the container, so the Lost can’t know that the body they are reaching into doesn’t contain the organs of their enemies, which means they can’t know whose body it is they are reaching into. This skill is therefore extremely difficult to use. Yet when done correctly it allows a Lost to kill an enemy anywhere in the world and the enemy doesn’t have any means of defense.
Welcome to a sidebar which, while kind of cool, is basically useless for the game. If an enemy has this, the PC's will just keel over dead, missing vital organs, with no defenses, no way of tracking him down. If the PC's do this, they trivialize any fight against any human opponent as long as they have access to a morgue or can find and kill someone whose intestines they do not know in detail.
The Lost doesn’t experience revelations by being told things but by seeing things. The Lost have the ability to wander out of this reality, to see the subconscious, the land of the dead, the deserted city, the citadel and the machinery of this reality. A member of the Lost may even find the sleeping body of his or her true self. Whether the Lost has any idea what it is they are seeing is another matter.
Metropolis? The Citadels? What sort of ass-tastic ripoff is this turning out to be? I mean seriously, we've yet to reach the fluff on these parts, but so far it's REALLY sounding like they're just ganking Kult fluff left and right.
The Lost NPC is a brain-damaged old Mexican who has maxed levels in all the Lost abilities(Grab Bag, Get Lost, Homing), he has brain damage to the level of Kender/Fishmalk ADHD, no concept of morality and practically no ability to remember things past the last few minutes. If anything pisses him off he'll instantly whip Grab Bag'd submachineguns out of the nearest container and hose the party down with bullets.
So basically: He's got powers the PC's will never be able to beat, he can always avoid them or kill them and is untrackable, making him an awful choice for an enemy. And his brain damage means that he's completely useless as an info NPC. He couldn't even be used as a pre-made PC because of a combination of his power level and brain damage.
Secrets of the Outcasts
IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS, EVERYONE BELIEVED THAT THE CRAZY SCHIZOPHRENICS HAD INSIGHT. THEN WE LOST THIS CLEVERNESS AND THOUGHT THEY WERE CRAZY, AND LOCKED THEM UP, OH WOE IS OUR LACK OF WISDOM. NOW THEY ARE WANDERING ARMIES OF CRAZY HOBOS WHO HAVE CULTURE WARS ABOUT WHETHER THE MIND WORMS ARE DEMONS OR ALIENS.
The explanation for their SEEING SHIT is basically that they have SOOOOOOUL EEEEEEEYES like what Cannibals get when they pluck theirs out, but most people are, and I quote, "too lazy to see the truth." Not blinded by metaphysical bullshit or physical limitations, just too LAZY.
They may discover that this world is a machine: storks bring souls to human fetuses, wrigglers plague us with problems to make sure our lives are not easy and when we die reapers take our souls away.
My mind is full of WHAT THE FUCK? Are we talking ghost storks? Spirit storks? Is everyone born without a visiting physical stork some sort of soulless machine?
Nothing noteworthy about the Outcast NPC or End Text, except that the Outcast NPC is actually kind of useful. He's not overpowered or cripplingly insane. He's in charge of a bunch of crazies at an institution, meaning he has a group of minions that could technically cause trouble for the PC's without instakilling them, and he Sees Shit like any other Outcast, so he could be a good info NPC.
In Dark Alleys
Secrets of the Animists!
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 12
07:18pm EST - 1/01/2016
In Europe, the last real Animists (“witches”) died in 1490 (see p.206 for more). Today, modern society is encroaching on the few remote wilderness areas that still have animistic cultures and converting those people to Christianity or Islam. There has been recent interest in shamanism by Westerners, but this ‘neo-shamanism’ is no threat to anyone. The neo-shamans approach shamanism from a framework of western thought and ideas and, like modern occultists, are almost never able to achieve real power.
THE WEST IS SUBJUGATING THE TRUE RELIGIONS THAT UNDERSTAND THE SPIRITS, yet it only mentions Animism, Islam and Christianity. What about polytheistic-yet-not-animist religions? Were they also evil creations of the POWERS-THAT-BE? Or did they have power, too? I guess IDA doesn't bother to consider these things. Nothing in this world but WHITE MAN VS BROWN MAN, HERMAPHRODITE VS THE NON-GENDERQUEER.
Some animists are also powerful enough to become WIZARD GHOSTS when they die.
Much of Animist practice involves identifying, removing and even attacking people with what many Animists call ‘misfortunes’ and Outcasts call ‘wrigglers.’ These are the invisible beings that cause many of humanity’s diseases and other problems. Yet not every illness is caused by an invisible creature. Some are caused by microorganisms or physiological failures, just as scientists and doctors believe, and Animists find themselves powerless in the face of these illnesses. In cities the proportion of illnesses caused by microorganisms and toxins is greater than in Animist’s aboriginal homelands. Thus many Animist healers find their powers faltering in the face of modern medicine.
So wait, in the West, most illness IS caused by scientific things, and can be resolved by scientific means... then maybe the Powers That Be are just oppressing the Animist stuff because it seems like ineffectual bullshit to them? And the GM may happily decide that an Animist can't do something about some trouble because SCIENCE DID IT, NOT SPIRITS? And wait, if the West is
largely right about how we treat things in our part of the world, how are we misguided by stomping out this shit?
And for that matter, if illnesses in far-flung corners of the world are NOT science-caused, shouldn't that mean that things like quinine and vaccines wouldn't work against native diseases? Because they'd be EVIL SPIRIT WORMS?
This makes no fucking sense.
Animists’ ‘guardian spirits’ are really human psychodynamics. The ‘spirit world’ they live in is really the combined subconscious realms of the psychodynamics. When Animists are possessed they are allowing psychodynamics (or occasionally Dances, see p.193) to take control of their bodies. Most of an Animist’s psychodynamics take the form of entities from the Animistic culture’s myths. Insomuch as the ‘spirits’ have self-awareness, they believe they are those mythological figures.
Ah, I guess the answer is that even the Animists are wrong and TRUE SUPERNATURAL POWER is... actually granted by incarnate Freudian psychodynamics? I suspect that my brain is going to start leaking out of my eye sockets when we reach that bit.
The Animist NPC is an absurdly powerful WIZARD GHOST who never hangs around in the mortal realm if he can help it, on account of Reapers wanting to collect him for the afterlife. So basically he's never going to be anywhere the PC's can interact with him if it's up to him, and he's lost most of his memories when his physical body died anyway. Despite having an above-average intellect, his reaction to "white persons" is to circle them like an animal and throw rocks at them.
Secrets of the Cannibals!
Background: The Dead Sea Scrolls were actually all sorts of crazy Gnostic heresies that revealed how to become a Cannibal!
Wizard Secrets: Normally the soul conforms to the body, Cannibals know how to rigid it up so they can lop off parts without losing a chunk of their soul in the process, and then use that part of the soul to do what the lost part of the body used to do.
That's seriously all there is about them. Oh and their NPC is a floating, limbless, mostly disassembled corpse who will punch out your heart if you disrupt his meditations. He has literally no contact with, or understanding of, the modern world, and spends all his time hanging out at a monastery and chanting and/or meditating. He's even less likely to encounter any PC's or deal with them in a helpful manner than Indian Ghost Wizard from the Animists.
Secrets of the Faustians!
In Brief- Experiences, and the desire to express them, in undisturbed abandoned buildings coalesce into entities (‘Dances’). These entities become powerful and intelligent when they reproduce themselves in human subconsciouses. Powerful Dances can make backup homes and can turn humans into undead experience-machines.
This section actually makes Dances intensely creepy. They're these blobs of sensory input that want to replicate themselves and guard themselves. So first they get some Faustians who keep them safe, then they get those Faustians to create copies of the places where they were created, in both feel and appearance. Then they capture weak-willed people, even weaker than Faustians, or the Faustians capture normal people and break their minds.
Then those people get stuck in one of those replica locations and get to just stay there, forever, experiencing those same experiences over and over and over and over and fucking over, to perpetuate the Dance. And eventually, the Dance will be sated with that, and will need to "bud off" again. But before it reaches that point, it'll want to accelerate the pace of saturation. It does this by cutting its captives in half, vertically, so they can experience twice as much
at the same time. So you have these severed corpses just prancing around old, mouldering apartments, reading books, listening to the radio, looking at pictures...
Even for Faustians the Dance grows in their head like a tumor, slowly stealing more and more neural processing power and pushing out all other influences. This is really how Dances become sentient, by processing themselves on human neural architecture.
Of course, Dances are kind of vulnerable because you can either burn down their core lairs, kill their servants or even just run in and experience wrong
things, or mess up the lair so that the drones there experience non-Dance things.
Sadly, the Dances feel kind of peripheral to the setting as a whole. If they were more intelligent, more prevalent or had any plans beyond PRESERVE SELF they could be kind of cool setting villains. As it is, Faustians get the wimpiest and least interesting powers and even if they manage to discover the Dance inside their own heads and take control if by pure force of will, all they can force it to do is abandon its hosts. Dances don't even know enough by themselves or learn enough things outside of what they are that they can be used as handy informants. Kind of a shame.
The Faustian NPC is a black hobo with chloroform and a silenced pistol. Unlike the others, she's more of an antagonist NPC and PC's might A) actually encounter her and B) might actually be able to fight her if they do!
The little shred of fiction at the end details a patient who's an obvious Dance-host. The cops broke into one of its lairs because of the missing people, and chopped-up puppets, inside, and arrested the only surviving puppet(this guy). The people in the asylum who're keeping him stored(because they figure he's insane, not possessed) start reporting that the other inmates are beginning to act like him, talk like him, draw things he describes... becoming more Dance-puppets.
Next time: More secrets! Including one that is pretty much a straight-up rip-off from Kult! Oh boy!
In Dark Alleys
Cities & Secrets
Chapter Four: Los Angeles
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 11
07:10pm EST - 1/01/2016
And finally, at long last, we actually get to all the SETTING stuff. The very first bit is Chapter Four, which is an excessively long chapter about Los Angeles, being the "basic" setting for In Dark Alleys.
Looks like not even Brian could really
fuck this one up, though, and the mistakes are relatively minor. For instance, a sidebar mucks up the history of Noir, in part as detailed by a friend I asked to look it over because he loves his detectives and I figured he'd know more than me.
The sidebar in question
First, the Maltese Falcon was a book before it was a film, and it predated Marlowe by ten or fifteen years.
Second, it wasn't really based around L.A., though it may have done LA's reputation that kind of damage internationally. I wouldn't really be that surprised; the facts of the matter wouldn't have a lot of bearing on what people took away.
Third, Chandler was in no way the father of Noir. He wrote a lot of influential books, but he was also largely following in Hammet's footsteps, I think -- I may tend to idolize Sam Spade novels more than Marlowe ones, though.
The start of the chapter focuses on historical issues I don't know well enough to critique but which SEEM mostly factual(the one thing I suspect might be his bias is his insistence that the natives prior to Europeans settling the area had holy crossdressers, anyone know how true this is? No one I asked seemed to have a clue).
The L.A. area Indians also had people who dressed and lived as the opposite sex and were generally considered holy.
There's also an insistence that Liberals in LA are basically evil, while everywhere else in the country they are Noble Progressives, in LA they apparently only support good causes because those causes subtly benefit themselves. But they hate homeless people and minorities.
I'm also told by Americans that this bit...
In 1914, Birth of a Nation was filmed in L.A. This movie showed the Klu Klux Klan as the saviors of a South in crisis after the end of the Civil War. Birth of a Nation was generally regarded as the greatest movie of its era by White Americans and it began the shift of the movie industry from the East Coast to Hollywood.
...is somewhat exaggerated in how it portray's people's joy about Birth of a Nation, apparently it wasn't quite so universally acclaimed. But I guess, to Brian Vajra, white man has to be EVIL MAN in all ways possible.
The demographic sections and the descriptions of how miserable it can be to be an illegal immigrant or homeless seem pretty straight-up with no hyperbole, which is a first. Really the most hilarious part of this section is the small bit of art it grants us.
I mean, look at that shit!
I suspect SOME of the stuff about how evil the LAPD is are exaggerated but, you know, I just don't know enough
to really make that call. But if anyone wants to correct me, they're basically presented like the cops out of a cyberpunk story, showing no respect to anyone who isn't directly paying their wages, which is of course rich, white people in walled-off communities.
Slightly un-necessary is probably the "Sex Industry" headline that gives us a detailed shopping list of what it costs to buy various services from prostitutes in different parts of LA. I mean, yeah, okay, I can totally see when it's relevant to know how much a crack-addicted prostitute charges for a blowjob???
But really, it's a mostly unimpressive chapter which doesn't prepare us at all for...
CHAPTER FIVE: SECRETS OF THE TOUCHED
tl;dr, this chapter will blow your miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind
Holy shit aren't you just EXCITED? I totally know I am until I realize that alphabetic organization means we're stumbling headfirst back into Androgyne Avenue. Hang on to your balls before some bishounen with a monstrous, fanged penis steals them from you.
SECRETS OF THE ANDROGYNES
Since prehistory, people have chosen to dress and live as another gender, either with or without the knowledge and sanction of society. Almost every culture in aboriginal North America had what Whites called “berdache”, people who lived as the other gender and were often considered holy or powerful.
In the mid 20th century, when homosexuality was thought of by most homosexuals as a terrible secret (and by society as a crime and a mental illness), men met in public restrooms known as ‘tea rooms’ for anonymous sex. Many of these men lived as heterosexuals except for the few minutes they spent in these tea rooms. Occasionally the sex would lead to a supernatural accident, usually killing the participants. Nobody wanted to admit to being there, so nobody reported or talked about the supernatural accidents.
Later in the century, tea room sex lost most of its power as homosexuality became more accepted and homosexual sex roles and rituals standardized.
Just let that sink in for a moment. Gay sex wasn't dangerous because it might get you beaten to death by intolerant maniacs, it was dangerous because you might accidentally wizard it up and teleport your own head off or something. Then the GENDERQUEERS arrive and they're new and enlightened and their WISE PHILOSOHERS figure out how to recreate the TEA ROOM INCIDENTS to become... The Androgynes
When an Androgyne tries to eliminate gender roles in hirself, two things happen. First, the Anima or Animus becomes weaker as more of it is incorporated into the conscious self. Less psychological energy is caught up in that psychodynamic and the energy is available to the conscious self. Second, genderless sex has less to distract participants from the pure sharing of pleasure and is thus more likely to cause a minor awakening in the soul. Androgynes are trained to recognize these minor awakenings and take advantage of the brief weakening of the laws of physics.
I'm really glad IDA doesn't have a sci-fi supplement of any kind, I can only imagine warp cores that are 24/7 orgies dedicated to weakening the laws of physics enough that the ship can travel at FTL speeds.
Some have found that “miracles” have favored societies that were sexually restrictive, helping them thrive and destroy more permissive civilizations. To an Androgyne historian, the bible is a chronicle of some supernatural force, masquerading as ‘god’, manipulating historical events to wipe out sexually permissive pagan religions.
BECAUSE EVERY NON-ABRAHAMIC RELIGION WAS A 24/7 JIZZY FUCKFEST ORGY BETWEEN BISHOUNEN LADY-MEN.
Various elder Androgynes are in possession of artifacts from sex-related shatters including: Mary Sutton’s Bloody Rags, the Vertigo Card, and the Glory Hole (p.244).
I fucking swear to God.
The Androgyne NPC we get for this section is basically a guy who rapes rich people with his mutant genitalia to "terrify them with bizarre changes during sex." He was first enlightened to the existence of WIZARD SEX when some gay dudes banging in a toilet stall next to his accidentally chopped themselves apart like something out of the fucking Event Horizon. Please note the constant stereotypes that all gay dudes are trawling for dick in public bathrooms, because they're all over the fucking place.
Vox has almost completely stopped thinking of hirself as male or female. Vox thinks of hirself as a lover, explorer and, most importantly, as a freedom fighter trying to save humanity from the tyranny of gender. Sie doesn’t think it’s wrong to destroy property or ruin the lives of those who support, consciously or not, gender roles. Vox loves to confuse, disorient and scare ‘normals.’
Vox's standard reaction to being attacked is, and I quote: "An entangle with hir genital probe."
I don't want to be alive any longer. So I'm going to leave you with a GIFT while I regain the motivation to keep breathing and tackling the rest of the SECRETS OF THE TOUCHED. It is the gift of POETRY.
Passion, by CrotchPower posted:
I stare into your eyes. You seem more real than any person I’ve ever met. Your mouth opens slightly. I feel like I am running down a hill and as the incline grows steeper I must run faster and faster to stay on my feet. Yet there is no fear here, not in this world we have carved for ourselves. Your breath is hard and fast. I can feel my heart pounding in my lips, the lobes of my ears, the tips of my fingers. The air between us is filled with warm moisture. Every part of my body aches with desire to touch you.
We pull ourselves together. We both know the steps to this dance, make them in perfect harmony, although neither is leading. There is softness in your skin, but strength under it. Your body presses against mine and my breath is taken away. We kiss and time is banished. Only this moment exists. Your taste is on my tongue. Your smell fills my nostrils. The warmth of your skin is all over me. Your wordless sounds of pleasure fill my ears. To me there is only you. There has never been anything else and never will be anything. You are the universe.
We lay ourselves down. In no hurry, we slide over each other, positioning ourselves so we can each discover the fire burning between the other’s legs. A touch there and we feel electricity leaping between us, traveling through our spines, filling our bodies with a holy vibration. For a moment we are tentative, afraid that this experience will be too intense, that it will obliterate us. Yet we cannot stop, the parts of our minds that make decisions are like tiny insects buzzing against the wrath of a hurricane.
Our fingers dig into each other’s flesh. We pull ourselves closer and closer together. Our bodies rock in harmony. There is no longer any difference between giving and receiving pleasure. Our bodies have no shape, all we are is moving and feeling. The waves of pleasure grow higher and higher. What once would have been heartstopping pain is now crashing ecstasy filling all known worlds.
And as we reach a crescendo, something stirs in the darkness. Something that is us and yet more than we can ever imagine. Two things for which time and space and life and death have no meaning reach for each other across a terrible void. And the world shakes. Across every reality that has been or could be, thunder crashes. Petty gods are shaken on their thrones. For ours is the passion that can destroy the heavens.
Next time: Animists and... all that other misery. I'm kind of hoping that the Faustians and Survivors will salvage this section.
In Dark Alleys
An un-history of moderately popular ideas
A history of unpopular ideas
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 10
07:05pm EST - 1/01/2016
This section is ostensibly Brian telling us about SHOCKING PHILOSOPHIES that have been LOST TO THE AGES(sort of) because either the AUTHORITIES suppressed them or because they just horrified people too much. In practice it's more our beloved author being a completely useless fuckbrain about everything he touches. Let's go over his fuckups in order.
Also note that the second section of each philosophy is "tenants." Yes, he really fucks up writing "tenets" for each of them, every fucking time.
We largely went over his fucked up perception of Animist beliefs with the Animist class, but there are a few new gems here.
Anything that works via unexplainable means, e.g. a medicinal herb, is believed to work via spirits or supernatural power.
People who are physically or mentally ‘different’ than others are often considered to have more power, and in many cultures the role of shaman is often given to mentally ill people who would otherwise have no useful role in the tribe.
To recap: All animists believe everything they don't immediately understand is SPOOKY GHOSTS and they put crazy people in charge! Noble savages! Also all animist systems adhere to the exact same tenets. True facts.
Supposedly Animism scares people because INVISIBLE FORCES control things! Presumably the same people afraid of the concept of Animism live in constant terror of gravity and string theory.
One of my friends, Softface here on the forums, commented a bit on some of these as soon as the screaming migraine the writing gave him passed. I've added his quotes for the stuff I admit I don't really know well enough to nitpick greatly, as he usually knows these things better than me.
Buddhism - It looks like Varja's knowledge of karma came exclusively from the show "My Name is Earl." You have no idea how much I wish people would learn that karma is a complex idea which affects your incarnation in the next life rather than reducing it to petty aphorisms.
This pretty much sums it up, as Karma is essentially reduced to an alignment system that takes you farther or closer from Nirvana, as the book describes it. You reincarnate over and over until you're Lawful Good and then you win the game of life.
This scares people because it's "pessimistic."
Platonism & Neo-Platonism
This is Brian yanking one out to the fact that he knows the old "shadows on a cave wall"-analogy. It doesn't even have a purpose in this fucking chapter as it's not really illustrative of any current patterns of thought(I know what we've inherited
from it, spent most of last semester learning it, so no need to point that out to me) and there's nothing shocking enough about it to give it a "what scares people"-section.
The requisite element for all modern "horror" RPG's with supernatural/divine elements. To the book's credit, as far as I can tell he didn't fuck this one up.
Descartian Skepticism - It's cute that he included this. "Some credit Descartes as the first to come up with the concept of virtual reality." And those people are idiots.
What Scares People posted:
The perpetual and unconquerable uncertainty. Humans can never be sure, no matter what they discover, that what they experience is true.
How unpopular was this idea again? I do not really recall it inspiring any witch hunts, and I'm pretty sure that anyone "terrified" of these ideas would have a mental breakdown after watching a soap opera.
De Sade was mean. De Sade thought all people were fundamentally mean. Spoooooooooky. What scares people is apparently that Sade was a maniac who advocated hurting people. I really cannot see how this is a weird reaction, in fact I'd say it's pretty sane to be adverse to philosophies that involve unbridled sadistic behavior towards others.
Marxism - Starts out with "Karl Marx (b. 1818, d. 1888) was a German, atheist, economist as well as a heavy drinker and cigar [s]moker, who created the first complete economic theory of Communism. Marx died without seeing a Communist evolution." which just seems to me like needless character assassination. Plus his timeline of the History of Communism is entirely off.
Aside from that he seems obsessed with Marx's characterization of capitalists as "vampires" since he mentions it three times in the short blurb.
What scares people: Marx used the word vampires! Oh no! Dracula is a banker! No literally, what Brian says is scary about Marx's writing is him describing bankers as vampires.
You know how the Nazis basically misinterpreted and abused Nietzsche's writings? That's kind of what Brian does here, in pretty much the exact same way.
Nihilism - Where to even start with this? Apparently Nietzsche was the most influential Nihilist writer, despite a large portion of his work saying NIHILISM IS BAD. STAY AWAY. He then goes on to entirely misunderstand the ubermensch, which shouldn't be mentioned here in the first place, even worse than Ayn Rand does. For some reason, he felt the need to include this: "He had a big walrus mustache and piercing eyes." and concludes with "After WWII he was so strongly associated with Nazism that no serious academic would dare discuss his ideas in a positive light." which is like some sort of anti-truth. By writing this he erased some of our collective human knowledge.
For those not up to date with the Niet and his moustache... essentially the argument goes that you should never accept any knowledge without investigating it critically, that you should never let anyone tell you how to perceive things, but instead turn things over yourself and then come to a conclusion. What conclusion you come to does not matter, but just doing this lets you rip your way free from the crowd.
If you then decide that's carte blanche to claim everything is false and start stabbing people for laughs, you're a nihilist fuckhead. If you keep your head on straight and decide for yourself a purpose rather than what people say it should be, you're a step above the crowd, an Ubermensch, who has some degree of responsibility towards the rest of the world by helping others reach that same level.
According to Brian, Ubermenschitude is entirely a genetic thing and the Ubermensch are destined to RULE THE MASSES OF SHEEPLE. If anyone needs to take a break here and just hold their head in their hands, that's understandable.
I don't think Nietzsche ever wrote anything about whether being a Nihilist would get you more fine ladies, though
What scares people: "People are initially off-put by the idea that they, and everyone else, had incest fantasies as children."
Essentially it's less that Freud scares people, more that his ideas gross them out a bit.
Despite saying that Freud has essentially been discredited and discarded by most sane people(though some individual ideas may survive among the larger establishment of psychologists and psychotherapists), a quick read of the description of Freud's "tenants" reveals that it's basically word-for-word the psychodynamics earlier in the book. I guess we know where the author's sympathies lie.
Surrealism - "Although people still love surrealist-style art, the revolutionary and anti-rational ideas of surrealism are scary. Surrealism is about acting without censorship of thought, which many associate with chaos and anarchy. Nonsense is fine when restricted to a piece of canvas, but when people try to apply it to the important matters of life it becomes threatening." Please, Varja, never write about anything related to art again, because you are clearly a child.
A sidebar ties Existentialism to Lovecraft's books for undefined reasons. Aside from that... Just about the only thing that Brian gets right is that Existentialist fiction is often heavily about a protagonist struggling with the idea that they Have To Make A Choice, that they are not required to just go along with the flow in their lives.
He helpfully summarizes the rest of Existentialism as "like Nihilism except for a few minor things." Existentialism is also the cornerstone of Atheism!
Like Freud except that he liked religion and also he wasn't sciency enough so no one ever uses him for anything scientific! Apparently this is also what scared people.
Punk - FUCK YEAH PUNK ROCK. At least he admits that there's no single statement to represent this "philosophy," and takes the time to tell us what exactly a poseur is.
What Scares People posted:
People fear punks because they don’t know what societal codes a punk has chosen to reject and thus a punk is unpredictable and possibly dangerous.
Punks = Fishmalks in IDA.
Paglian feminists believe that sex is powerful and females are inherently more powerful than men. Females are also more a part of nature, which Paglia describes as Cthonian: ugly, dark, terrible, unpredictable, amoral and gross. Out of fear of the Cthonian and a desire to reduce the power vacuum, men have created culture, society, religion and science.
If Brian is to be believed, Paglian Feminism is some sort of reverse crypto-psychotic misogynism, insisting that women cannot be intellectual... and are somehow better due to it???? Also that women should be prostitutes so they can subjugate men with their vaginas.
I don't know if this is IDA being completely insane or Paglian Feminism being completely insane or a combination of the two.
Postmodernists hate science and academia, unless the latter is taught by non-white lesbians. Also all postmodernists never create anything worthwhile, they just circlejerk words until they end up in a linguistic mess that only other postmodernists can understand.
They also think it's adorable, but completely wrong, whenever someone tries to be honest.
Preview of the following chapters:
May 98 – Journal of Genderqueer Poetry posted:
‘Passion’ by CrotchPower
In Dark Alleys
What?! We didn't hit game mechanics yet?!
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 9
06:59pm EST - 1/01/2016
Well, we did now. This section starts out pretty calm, re-affirming the basic mechanic that we already know, adding a bit more like the basic, non-skill things stats can be used for, no surprises there.
Save vs Shock posted:
Save vs. Shock Difficulties
Easy (10): Seeing a small child driving a car.
Moderate (20): Seeing a dog driving a car.
Hard (30): Seeing a mass of spiders driving a car.
Legendary (40): Seeing floating globs of congealed blood connected by chains driving a car.
The Hard difficulty one just cracked me up. That and moderate aren't SHOCKING, they're fucking hilarious! Frankly I'd be more freaked out by a kid driving a car, I mean, if a swarm of spiders are driving a car they probably know what they're doing, that kid might skid out and flatten me.
Fucking up our roll gets us a -X to everything(where X is how much we missed the roll by) for as many hours as what we flubbed the roll by. This is also where we're told that # of failures = what we flub a roll by, and # of successes is how much we overshoot our needed number by. Flipping back a few pages, this reminds us that Blood Sigils work for a number of days
equal to our successes, making it even more ridiculously broken! Say hello to a week-long typhoon, City Of Choice!
Fucking finally, I was starting to think that these dumb things were just here to troll us or something. Firstly they can be used as empathic intuition, for instance we can use our Thanatos as a sort of danger sense or something, or use our Shadow to discern if someone has bad intentions. No specific difficulties are set for these rolls, so I guess it's up to our GM to determine when it's incredibly easy to figure shit out and when it's not.
Alternately, we can use them kind of like FATE aspects, in any situation where this particular PD is relevant, we can roll it vs 20. For each point we overshoot, we get a +1 to everything we do in the scenario. Like, Shadow is our aggression and general anti-social side, if we just want to flip out and do something unpleasant and selfish to someone, we can use that. The example in the book is just that, someone using their Shadow to kick the shit out of their boss. Thinking about it for a moment, this means we can use our Thanatos pretty much whenever we want someone to die
. Starting with our THAN at 20 means we're guaranteed to have between a +1 and a +20 bonus whenever we're trying to kill people. Or I guess we could use our SHAD for it, too. Point is: THIS IS INCREDIBLY BROKEN.
Okay, let's look back for a moment.
Black Market, buying Uranium. Difficulty 40. If we max the relevant attribute, okay, sure, that makes it something that only happens on a 20. Pimp out the skill a bit, say, for +8, and we've now got an 12-20 range for succeeding. But then let's say we're doing it because we're an incredible asshole. And our Shadow is 20. That means we're basically rolling 2d20+28 instead of 1d20+28, practically guaranteeing our success.
Since Legendary difficulties are now easily within reach as long as we can find the right motivation, let's look at what our supernatural powers can do.
Animate Toys: Human-intellect, non-sentient servitors.
Area Knowledge, Supernatural: Find working mad science devices in garbage bins.
Birth Servant: Legions of indefinite-lifespan, dog-sized servitors with near-human intellect and a grab pack of super-abilities.
Flesh Control: Ridiculous levels of shapeshifting, near-instant regeneration.
Grab Bag: Every use is another thousand bucks or some ridiculous item. Wow, all these garbage bins are full of shotguns!
Homing: Hey! Check it out! I walked into Heaven! Or Area 51!
Imaginary Powers: I'm going to spend several hours as a flying, invisible creature with 30+ Strength! Watch your heads, little people!
Masks: "Make a building look like a dinosaur." Yeah, okay. The world is fucked when we have this power.
Nihilist Rage: ANIME ANNIHILATION SPHERE.
Mortification of the Flesh: Body? What body?
Untouchable: Literal invincibility if we want it, or 1/10th damage on reflex(I'm sure it's not hard to find a psychodynamic that wants self-preservation in combat situations).
Now, the downside is that the GM can also our our psychodynamics against us, in which case he adds the PD level to his roll, and we oppose it with Willpower. He has Impulses: "You do this thing because I say it's in-character, fuck you." Slips: "You say this thing because I say it's in-character, fuck you." And Hindrances: Which are like when we help ourselves with a PD, but in this case every number over 20 is how much we're penalized
in the situation. Like our Shadow might fuck up our social interactions or our self-preservation PD's might try to prevent us from getting into danger.
A quick cheat sheet on the basic situations these can definitely help us with. And yes, you're right, the GM can use a high THAN to impulse us towards killing ourselves! Better hope you invested in Willpower
Combat & Health
Alright, so BDY is for blunt damage, BLD is for stabby/shooty/choppy damage and INCY is for everything once we run out of those two. The only reason, really, that we shouldn't just invest everything in INCY is that once we hit zero BLD we can only stay conscious for as many rounds as we have Endurance, and we're going to need some medical care otherwise. Of course, if we have something like Flesh Control we really just need a quick nap afterwards and we'll have fully regenerated. But if we DON'T, we might want to be slightly careful.
Or we can just have Revive which instantly recovers us to 1 BLD if we run out of INCY, though the farther we get knocked below zero INCY the harder it is to make the roll. Still, we'll have a high REPT or something that'll give us a ridiculous bonus on trying to stay alive.
As far as I can tell, until we actually get KO'd, we aren't actually any worse at doing stuff, even if we've got so many bullets lodged in us that we jingle when we move.
Armor actually works in an interesting fashion, each piece has an AR(Armor Rating, coverage) and a PR(Protection Rating, actual defense added). If someone hits us and they don't overshoot their minimum needed roll by more than our AR, our armor works. If they overshoot it, they've managed to hit a hole in our defenses.
Some of this art is just goofy enough to be kind of awesome
Then there's some boring shit about saving throws against disease, amnesia and drug addiction. Nothing interesting there, just more of the same: "ROLL 1D20 + THIS STAT TO NOT BECOME A CRACKHEAD."
The skills section is also kind of hilarious, despite the intro saying: "NO MONSTERS, PSYCHOLOGICAL HORROR IS WHERE IT'S AT," a good few of the examples involving danger are about "monsters made out of rotting flesh" and similar horror tropes. And a tense chase is about NUMBERS, NUMBERS, ROLLS, NUMBERS, rather than storytelling.
Combat itself is just more of the same 1d20+STAT+STAT vs 1d20+STAT+STAT business, though it's further 'sperged up by each side having a DIFFICULTY they're rolling against, and the actual numbers compared to each other being how much they beat that difficulty by. Nothing's particularly noteworthy about it, aside from it being a bit nitty and gritty about ranges and other such things that frankly no one is going to give a fuck about. Though there are a few odd things, for instance if you hose down an area with gunfire you can be a deaf-blind clumsy cripple, and still hit people, because then it uses your Intelligence as your relevant stat.
Though it's vital to note that once you're gotten someone pinned with a Wrestling attack, they're NEVER getting free, because your difficulty to maintain the Wrassle is 10, and theirs to break free is 30, meaning you're essentially getting an automatic +20 on your roll compared to theirs.
In its defense, there's a relatively wide variety of actions you can use in a fight, but that's honestly something I'd appreciate more in a videogame where there's something to keep track of all the numbers for me, here it feels more like an option to get tangled up and neck-deep in paging through the book while arguing about what the difficulty for Grab(Strangle) is and someone telling you that you're mixing it up with Grab(Pain).
Their COMPLEX COMBAT EXAMPLE is someone getting attacked by a SPOOKY LITTLE GIRL IN A DRESS and then throwing her on the ground and stomping on her head. As much as I hate SPOOKY LITTLE GIRLS in horror, and as much as this is derivative, boring piss, I do feel like those kinds of movies/stories would be vastly improved if the protagonist just opened up on the little shit with a flamethrower or a submachinegun.
Also, as far as I can tell, nothing about scoring a really good hit improves your damage, so I guess damage from all weapons is static. Paging back, this means that unless someone has specifically taken some defects that lower their total health, most people will survive holding a pipe bomb while it explodes. It's also pretty much impossible to drop someone with a single shot. And odds are generally that, thanks to various supernatural shenanigans and armor, most people will soak up more. Especially seeing as how, while lots of weapons are illegal, there's apparently no raised eyebrows if you buy a full suit of SWAT armor, which basically renders you invincible to firearms unless someone's got armor-piercing ammunition.
The combat ends with TIPS FOR GM'S
Tips for GM's posted:
1. Never let the PCs get into a fair fight. Either the PCs should be ambushed, or the PCs should be doing the ambushing, or the PCs should be vastly superior to the people or things they are fighting, or the PCs should be vastly inferior to their opponents.
Translation: Either the PC's should be in fights they can't lose or fights they can't win. The remaining 8 suggestions are just bookkeeping stuff which largely can be summed up as: "Enemies never do anything clever unless it comes to running away, and take notes before your PC's get into a fight."
Next time: "A History of Unpopular Ideas"
Watch as Brian Vajra tackles these important subjects in a sensitive and informed fashion:
Unpopular Ideas posted:
Animism, Buddhism, Platonism and Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, Descartian Skepticism, Sadism Marxism, Nihilism, Freudian Psychoanalysis, Surrealism, Existentialism, Jungian Psychology, Punk, Paglian Feminism and Postmodernism!
In Dark Alleys
Still nowhere near done
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 8
06:50pm EST - 1/01/2016
The equipment list is RETARDEDLY comprehensive, starting out with guard dogs, capuchin monkeys and police horses. This is the sort of thing I'd expect to see in a D&D manual, not in a goddamn "urban horror game." It also seems to be one of those games you do not
want to play with an obsessive-compulsive GM as it's got lists for all sorts of nitty gritty survival things like bottled water and dust masks.
Imagine the excitement when you finally manage to Get Lost your way into Area 51 and the GM tells you all that everyone who didn't bring bottled water is now suffering from dehydration and has perception penalties because they didn't think to buy a dust mask! Of course there's also a listing for trench coats.
Condoms, giant rack-mounted servers, armors that appear to have listed their issues with the wearer suffering from heat exhaustion, birth control pills(apparently it's a misdemeanor to own these without a prescription? What? Is he trying to illustrate the gruesomeness of the Old White Men in charge or is US law really that crazy?), rules for overdosing on caffeine and roofies. There's so much stupid shit here that no one would ever need to specifically note on their damn character sheets, if need at all.
Someone who's got more experience with drug use than me could probably go through the drug list and nitpick the various effects/side-effects/withdrawal effects of these drugs. For one thing, I've never heard of anyone smoking marijuana who complained of suffering from sudden amnesia after a couple of joints...
As a side-note, remember how the Ultimate Genitals could do "3 ragged damage"? We had no comparison for that before. Now we do. A pickaxe does "3 bladed damage," that's right, that ability turns your dong into a goddamn pickaxe for murdering people with. How the fuck does this still allow anyone to have intercourse without killing their partner?
Tear gas grenades are listed under "self-defense" and along with flashbangs, apparently it's totally cool for random civilians to own and use these without registering or having permits.
But the huge shitloads of LIST PAGES aren't done here.
Suffice to say, if it's some sort of modifier to your character's physical, social or mental condition, it's in here. For a bit of racism, just to kick it off, "being raised in the ghetto" automatically gets you levels of Criminal and Combat skills. Shitloads of them, in fact(onsidering that your starting pool of skill points gives you probably around ten skill levels in total, the three skill levels in Crime from being RAISED IN THE GHETTO is pretty considerable.), it's an advantage. I mean, hell, not like growing up in something definable as a ghetto might leave you socially disadvantaged or anything! Naw, it's just the SCHOOL OF THE STREETZ. Or something. I find it kind of offensive, anyway.
Outside of the fact that being raised in a ghetto and
having prison experience lets you start off with a cool +6 skill ranks in crime and +3 in combat(which is hilariously awesome for anyone keeping note, compare with our predicted plausible amount of starting skills without any boosts), the advantages aren't that bad. But the disadvantages kind of edge into some creepy business when the very first one is having an "Abusive Partner" who basically tries to ruin everything in your life and is a match for you "in a fair fight."
On the other hand, considering that you and your party probably have a combined total of Fuckloads of supernatural abilities... I don't really see why this state of affairs would last for long. I mean, it would be an unsettling state of affairs for normal
people, yes, but when your Animist friend can just give him a heart attack or your Lost friend can dump him in Shanghai... and considering the skill difficulties of Psychotherapy it shouldn't take more than a day to deprogram your psychological dependency on him. It kind of defuses the drama a little.
Disadvantage: Alzheimer's! How the fuck is this even playable unless your campaign is silly enough that it turns him into a goofy Mister Magoo character? If played in a silly fashion, though, it could kind of be an amusing concept for a Lost. He doesn't wander into other worlds because he's stoned out of his gourd, he does it because he just sort of mentally fizzled out on where the world is. But, y'know, considering that spousal abuse and AIDS are the diadvantages right before this one, I don't think that was Brian Vajra's thoughts.
Having a kid is also a disadvantage if you need to take care of them... 'cept it gives you ten Bonus Points, enough to harvest Prison Experience and Raised in a Ghetto, and the kid itself is not just some fragile beanbag you have to protect. No, the kid has goddamn 100 skill points, as much as you! It costs 40 points for a level of an "adult" skill, admittedly, but this kind of elevates them to the level of "potentially handy sidekick" rather than "useless fleshbag." Shit, with the Masks ability they could verge on being invaluable aides for distraction and flim flam purposes. The kid also levels up rapidly, getting another 50 skill points and 4 attribute points every year... so let's see, they start out at 3 to 5 years old, this progression stops at 10... 40 for a level of an adult skill... By age 6 or 7 they could be a goddamn police sharpshooter if their parent has any sort of Combat ability.
Fuck, you could teach them the goddamn Neck Snap ability if the parent is a hitman or something, recreate the movie Leon/The Professional but even more hilarious. And they're giving you points to do this
So by the D's we reach "Disfigured." It makes you hideously ugly, something that penalizes your Seduction rolls so far as to be impossible to pull off, and make you look memorable(just wear a fucking mask)... and it gives you six bonus points. For comparison's purpose, a thing that give you 1 bonus point: a criminal record that prevents you from ever legally owning a firearm. A potentially-fatal allergy or being hunted by a serial killer is 4 bonus points. Chronic pain, epilepsy, a crazy stalker or a dissociative disorder are two points each.
For more crazy points comparisons, having a sexual fetish or herpes are 2-point disadvantages as well. Yes, because I can see so many situations in which having sores on your dick or needing to wrap it in latex to get off are as crippling as a fucking epileptic seizure or some maniac sitting outside your window, writing things on it in his own feces
Lonely (Gives 2 BP)- The PC starts the game with no friends. The PC’s family provides little or no companionship. The PC is unhappy and would like to have someone he or she could talk to or hang out with.
So either this is the most incredibly depressing game ever or these two points turn out to be a super-cheap bonus when the PC meets the rest of the fucking party
Being hunted by the Mafia, a corporation or the fucking government... is less of a penalty than being an illegal immigrant.
Lingering Abuser (Gives 1 BP)- The PC lived for several years with someone who sexually, physically or emotionally abused the PC. Now that person is no longer able to hurt the PC (either dead, in prison for a long time, or too weak to hurt anyone), but the abuser’s personality left such a deep impression in the PC that the PC feels his or her constant presence. The PC dreams about the abuser, has momentary flashbacks of the abuser being around, and hears the abuser’s voice in his or her head. What’s worse, if the PC loses control the PC may find himself or herself acting exactly as the abuser would, even speaking with the same tone of voice.
Years of traumatizing, sexual/emotional abuse! One bonus point! I mean, it's not like you're too ugly to ever get laid or anything! Ha ha! You've just got crippling nightmares about him!
Morbidly obese: 1/3rd of the points of being too ugly to fuck! Being old gives us 15 Bonus Points for every decade after 50 years of age. The stat penalties THAT give us would cost EXACTLY 13 bonus points to buy back. Someone sure did the maths on this one! Fucking idiots. Not to mention that the penalties are negligible enough that if we just blow the points on skills and super-sweet advantages instead, we come out even more on top.
At this point there is really no point to not playing a 60-year-old, scarred badass with a child sidekick, who's spent years in jail and was raised in the ghetto. The actual downsides are negligible, because "prison experience" does not actually require us to take "criminal record," unless we're playing in someone's creepy erotic roleplaying campaign then "seduction" likely won't get much use(and if it did, then any Secret Life with Masks could pretty much just pretend they didn't have the disadvantage) and I've already illustrated how having a kid is actually an ADVANTAGE in this game.
Phobia is +3 Bonus Points and, well, as we saw a couple of posts back, anyone can fucking cure that. So just have another PC take Psychotherapy and rake in the sweet, sweet bonus points.
Shit, I could really go on and on about how many things are considered minor compared to not getting laid, so just pretend that if there's anything in this game universe less bad than having AIDS, Alzheimer's or being a heroin addict, it rewards less bonus points.
Terminal Illness: The most aggressive version drops several stats by 1/4 every week, presumably we die when it hits zero. Compare to Old Age which drops several stats by 1 or 2 every decade
, and Terminal Illness is only two points more. On the other hand, this one actually does make for a pretty interesting plot hook/character motivation, hunting for a supernatural cure for what ails them. Maybe it's a Scribbler or something who knows the supernatural exists and teams up with some Lost and Survivors to try and "petition" the Reapers for an extended time. The sort of crazy faustian bargains that could result from THAT could be the core of an even more extended campaign.
And of course it ends with the predictable, final disadvantage of "Virgin." One bonus point!
I'm really not sure if this chapter is just the product of REALLY bad maths, or the product of Vajra having no fucking clue what the actual impacts of most of these disadvantages are. For someone with a BA in psychology, he sure doesn't seem to know much about how horrendously damaging some things would be to the human brain.
Next time, Chapter two! Game mechanics!
In Dark Alleys
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 7
06:34pm EST - 1/01/2016
So this is the section on supernatural powers, which span the stretch from Incredibly Creepy to Incredibly Broken and with some boring ones besides. I'm really only going to bother with the ones from those two categories, though I'll mention the remainder to illustrate the stretch these abilities cover.
Note that these work exactly like normal Skills except that ranks are more expensive(10 or 20 points), they have a governing stat and we can buy more ranks in them for +4's to our rolls, hence it's roughly the same level of difficulty to make them unfailable(i.e., not difficult at all). Outside of two exceptions, WIL or AWR govern them all. So we've still yet to see what Psychodynamics actually do, besides provide a very over-complicated alignment system.
The chapter starts, predictably, at A, with some simple and unworrying abilities. Animal Form and Animate Toys, neither particularly unsettling. Though oddly enough, turning into an invisible ghost animal that can go through walls has a higher challenge level than turning into a physical wolf that is easily spotted, can't float through walls and might get shot by a farmer. We then skip through the B's until we hit Birth Servant. This is an ability that Androgynes get.
Birth Servant posted:
The PC must be in a body with a uterus and vagina to use this skill. The PC gives birth to a servant which does a pre-determined task or follows orders. Servants look like bloody fetuses which crawl around on all-fours. It takes at least 4 rounds to gestate and give birth to the servant. Duration:See below.
Easy (10): Mouse sized servant, 1 STH, 2 SPD, 1 BLD, can do 1 predetermined task, dies within 5 minutes. If it has fangs or claws it does ½ bladed damage, choose 1 ability (text box below).
Moderate (20): Rat sized servant, 2 STH, 3 SPD, 2 BLD, can do multiple predetermined tasks, dies within 1 hour. If it has fangs or claws it does 1 bladed damage, choose 2 abilities.
Hard (30): Cat sized servant, 3 STH, 6 SPD, 1 BDY, 2 BLD, can follow verbal instructions, dies within 24 hours. If it has fangs or claws it does 1½ bladed damage, choose 3 abilities.
Legendary (40): Dog sized servant, 4 STH, 8 SPD, 1 BDY, 3 BLD, 1 INCY, has near human intelligence, lives until killed. If it has fangs or claws it does 2 bladed damage, choose 4 abilities.
The noted abilities are stuff like claws, being amorphous or being able to fly. It takes "four rounds" to produce one of these creatures, and I'm guessing that a round is somewhere between a matter of seconds or a minute. Since this ability otherwise doesn't note that it consumes any health or exhausts an energy source, nor that you're limited to a specific number of servants... one creepy Androgyne wizard could flood half a city with murderous spider-fetuses.
After Birth Servant, we turn around and hit Blood Sigils, which is the opposite side of the spectrum, not particularly worrying, but incredibly
Blood Sigil posted:
The PC can draw arcane symbols with his or her bodily fluids then energize them with his or her will such that invisible forces will accept them as ‘commands’. When seen by those who can see the invisible, the sigils appear to glow. Duration: 1 day/success or until the body fluids are wiped off or destroyed.
Easy (10): Anyone in the area will be either more or less likely to suffer from misfortunes and medical problems.
Moderate (20): Every hour spent in a marked building there is a 1 in 20 chance of dying of heart attack or stroke -or- anyone staying in a marked building heals 1 BLD and 1 BDY per day.
Hard (30): Mark someone for scrutiny by the powers from- beyond -or- cause a natural disaster to ravage a city -or- create a portal to ‘the citadel,’ an alien world inhabited by dangerous monsters.
Alright, so, Moderate basically turns any goddamn building into a fucking DEATH ZONE. Drawing these sigils appears to take no specified time. They can last for up to several days. So even assuming we don't crunk up to pulling off Hard sigils that smite the entire fucking city with tornadoes like we're playing Sim City and spamming the "Disaster" button, we can still murder dozens of people if we find some sort of relatively populated building(like an office building, school or hospital) and scrawl one of these in the damn basement. Or hell, even on the outside should work. And anyone who sees it who ISN'T supernaturally empowered probably just thinks it's some weird-ass graffiti scrawled by a hobo.
In fact since it doesn't specify that the drawer is excepted, it's probably a good idea to draw it on the outside
to avoid that 5% chance of having an instant heart-attack.
The next ability is Change Gender and really wouldn't be that strange if not for the Legendary ability, which gets its own sidebar...
Change Gender posted:
The PC can change his or her sexual anatomy and appearance. Gives +10 to the roll if the PC is experiencing a strong orgasm. Duration: Permanent.
Moderate (20): Change gender, minimal change of appearance (PC will look like a ‘male version’ or ‘female version’ of hir last body).
Hard (30): Change gender and appearance (change ethnicity, build, hair color, features, etc.).
Legendary (40)- Change into an androgynous being with no genitals, multiple genitals or inhuman genitals.
ULTIMATE GENITALS posted:
With a legendary Change Gender roll, the PC can have genitals that are not on any natural being on the planet. The PC’s genitals can have any form and be made out of tissues with all the powers of any other part of the human body. It would not be impossible, for instance, to create genitals with working eyes.
The most popular configuration, often called ‘the flower and the snake,’ allows the owner to engage in any sexual activity a male or female could, as well as to:
-Reach out up to 7 ft. (2 m.) to grab and manipulate objects with 25 STH.
-Pierce objects with a probe doing 3 bladed damage (pierces armor as 6).
-Grab onto flesh with retractable barbed teeth (do negligible damage unless the flesh is ripped away, which does 3 ragged damage) and reel the flesh in at 25 STH.
-Feel objects with extreme sensitivity (+20 to touch based AWR rolls).
-Chew up (and later spit out) wood, flesh, plastic or softer types of stone and metal. Does 2 ragged damage per round.
I think this particular quote really requires no fucking commentary at all. Jesus, Brian Vajra, why would you ever come up with this?
Another broken power is "Command Misfortune," which the Animists get, because OF COURSE the weird foreigners are focused around talking to animals and cursing people! You basically scream at a local spirit to harass someone, and most of the time it'll just give them a nosebleed or make them cough for a few minutes or something similar... but there's a random chance they'll just straight-up have a fucking stroke or heart attack.
It's followed up by "kill a motherfucker straight-up in cold blood," which Survivors get. As long as they get the ability to See Reapers... they can also buy the ability to command
Reapers, and the 20-difficulty one is "command a reaper to collect a specific soul." We seem to be swerving rapidly into the Kult territory of "a lot of these powers are only marginally useful, the remainder will let any player with half a brain kill everything, even if he isn't trying to min/max."
I mean, shit, it doesn't even take a fucking ritual or any time to command a godddamn soul-collector, apparently. It's difficulty 10 to send them to a specific place, and 30 to tell them to ignore a specific soul. So you can pretty much just order them all to fuck off if you want a group of people to be safe.
Flesh Control lets you shapeshift and min/max your physiology. Interestingly enough there are no downsides to fucking it up, you won't accidentally give yourself sickle-cell anemia. And it requires no knowledge of medicine, biology or anything else to know how to improve your body. Since there's no limit to how often you can do this, or any requirements to doing it(except that the changes require nutrients, so I guess you can't do it while dieting), you can just spam rolls over and over until you succeed and get some pretty solid boosts to your physical stats(for every level we have, Strength, Endurance and Speed can be increased by +4. Considering that the max natural level is 20, that's actually a pretty respectable boost). A single Hard check also allows us to heal fast enough that we regrow lost limbs overnight.
Really overwhelming me with my character's potential fragility here.
We then hit the three signature powers of the Lost, which are all three hilarious and incredibly breakable. Behold.
Get Lost! posted:
The PC can dislodge himself or herself from space and time by becoming lost. The state lasts only as long as the PC doesn’t know where he or she is. Being intoxicated gives +10 to skill rolls. Anyone following the PC (keeping the PC in sight) will become lost and will end up wherever the PC ends up. Duration: Until Stopped.
Easy (10): Get lost after walking around an unfamiliar neighborhood for an hour.
Moderate (20): Get lost inside a large office building.
Hard (30): Run around a corner and get instantly lost.
So, since we can booze up to boost, just having a high Willpower means we can basically sprint around corners and jump around in places without a care.
Prerequisite: Get Lost (1). While in a lost state (see Get Lost), the PC can think about where he or she wants to go and will end up there more-or less instantly. Duration: Permanent.
Easy (10): End up in the type of neighborhood (but not specifically the location or city) the PC wants.
Moderate (20): End up in a specific place the PC has been to before.
Hard (30): End up where a specific item or person the PC has seen before is currently located.
Legendary (40): End up in a place the PC has never been to but which has been described to the PC (including places outside this reality).
Now, okay, firstly we can just warp around without abandon, especially if we've had a drink or just have a decent Willpower or a few ranks in Homing and Get Lost. But the shenanigans are already kicking in: Any place that has a corner to walk around allows us to use this, so we can basically easily warp into stores we've been in during the day, gank shit, and warp out again. Our finances are now resolved, as are any needs for weaponry. Oh and we can probably win just about any fights we get in.
If we want to REALLY be a dick, though, we get enemies chasing us, pop into some really dangerous location(or just somewhere quite far away), shake them, and then pop out again alone, leaving them to be incredibly miserable somewhere they can't hurt us.
There's no range limitation at all, so just, say, take a holiday in China or something, and you've got a safe spot to dump people, friends, items and yourself. Hell, manage the Hard difficulty and you just need to have seen a bad guy once, and you can pop into his home at night and set his bed on fire or cut his throat.
But there's a third signature power for the Lost.
Grab Bag posted:
Prerequisite: Get Lost (2). If there is a container and the PC has no idea what’s in the container, the PC can reach in and pull out whatever he or she wants, given that the item is something that actually exists inside a container of this type somewhere in the world. The difficulty is based on the rarity of the item. When the PC uses this skill to get an item, that item disappears out of a container somewhere in the world. The PC can conceivably use this skill on his or her own pockets, but only if the PC is so out of it that he or she has no idea what might be in those pockets (e.g. is coming off of a week-long drinking binge). Duration: Permanent.
Easy (10)- Pull $5 or a plastic comb out of a pocket.
Moderate (20): Pull $50 or a pocket knife out of a pocket.
Hard (30): Pull $200 or a loaded pistol out of a pocket. -or- Make an object disappear by putting it in a pocket.
Legendary (40): Pull $1,000 or a picture of another PC’s mother out of a pocket.
So all this really requires is that we have some friends with pockets. Because we have no idea what they might have in their pockets, and conceivably somewhere in the world, someone has a gun in their pocket. Presto, whammo, infinite armory! And shitloads of cash besides.
On this page we also get told that Wonderlanders basically get to turn invisible, get +40 Strength, fly or a bunch of other superhero-style tricks. It's still as easy to activate as the other powers, but ADDITIONALLY they get up to a +15 bonus by meditating on it beforehand. So if they meditate/concentration for an hour, they can relatively easily have these powers for an hour or so. Either that or they can just activate them round to round, see...
The shortest duration possible is A Round. Activating the power only takes more than a round if the PC wants to concentrate on it beforehand for a bonus. Hence, there's really nothing stopping a character focusing up to turn Invisible for an hour and then using his Unarmed: Assassin neck snap to kill everyone in a ten-block radius because they can't see him coming, boosting it up with the +Strength power just before every neck snap to ensure that he succeeds.
I guess that would be horrible to WITNESS, heads popping off like champagne corks left and right, as some giggling invisible maniac twists their skulls off, but not particularly horrifying to play as.
Most of the other powers I'm skipping are just generic "HAVE VISIONS!" abilities or "DREAM TRAVEL," though one of two are somewhat cool, like "Masks," which allows you to dress up something like something else, and everything will see it as what it is dressed up like. For instance, put a Hulk mask on someone and everyone will see him as the Hulk. Put a stovepipe hat on a tree and everyone will see it as Abraham Lincoln.
It's not overpowered, it's handy and it could provide for some hilarious shenanigans. Someone needs to roll 1d20+AWR and hit 40+ to see through this so, yeah, if you get a good idea with this ability, mechanics aren't stopping you from trolling the world.
It is immediately followed by "Mortification of the Flesh," the signature ability for the Cannibals and oddly enough also available to Survivors. It's what lets you allow to maintain a "phantom" version of a body part, and it has a difficulty of 30, with a -10 penalty if used after removal, none if used during, and you can get up to a +10 bonus by chanting/meditating beforehand for long enough.
Every part we're already missing increases the difficulty by 5, though, so we can't just end up as a floating, ghostly torso unless we really dump all our skill points into this and have some crazy Willpower besides.
Obviously we can remove our arms and legs, and the resulting limbs act as though they have maximum human, or superhuman, strength and speed. Removed eyes give us Predator Vision Modes, and lacking ears allows us to understand all languages. As a bonus, missing an eye, yet still seeing with that eye, isn't really something that'll blow our cover, considering that people will just assume we're using our normal eye.
And there are a bunch more internal
things we can remove without anyone being the wiser. For instance our brain, which hoses us down with sweet +5's to Intelligence, Agility and Awareness, so there's really no reason not to sit around chanting for ten hours while someone cracks our skull open and yanks out our gray matter as the first damn action of the game. Sure, we'll have to invest in 20 Willpower to make sure it succeeds(otherwise, yeah, we're KINDA FUCKED), but the total of +15 to our stats rather makes up for that. Removing the heart gives us a total of +15 more health points(+5 Blood, +10 Incapacitate), since we start with 12 total, THAT'S PRETTY HUGE.
With those being the two ones that would kill us very instantly if we failed, those should probably be taken first by any aspiring Cannibal, both for the sweet bonuses and because with the mounting difficulties, they're ones we really do not want to fuck up. Phantom Lungs would be another +11 health levels(+4 Blood, +7 Incapacitate), plus no need to breathe, phantom stomach/intestines removes our need to eat and if we remove our tongue we become a powerful telepath that can scream people psychically into submission.
Oh and really, with the exception of using our telepathy, no one is ever going to tell that we have these changes unless we go to the doctor
, and since they make us largely invincible, there's no reason that would ever happen. Both Cannibals and Survivors also get to pick Flesh Control, so at least numerically, both are just kind of broken compared to the others. Especially since neither are any of the Secret Lives that require you to kick out skill points in order to have a decent life.
Nihilist Rage is the following ability and it kind of amuses me. Remember how, in Otherverse: America, Lifers could hate/disbelieve evolution so hardcore that it would hurt mutants more? Cannibals and Scribblers get to expand this to a point where it affects all of existence.
Nihilist Rage! posted:
The PC creates an aura of disbelief of the physical world that causes all inanimate objects to crumble, break, fray or corrode. Duration: Permanent.
Easy (10): Things within 7 ft. (2 m.) become much easier to break (difficulty for STH feat or amount of damage required to break is halved). PR of armor is halved. Anything which degrades over time does so twice as fast.
Moderate (20): Everything within 15 ft. (5 m.) cracks, corrodes, sours or frays. Anything bearing weight (e.g. a chair someone is sitting in, the tires of a car) breaks or bursts. Parts of the room the PC is in may collapse. Nearly anything can be broken or destroyed with bare hands. Armor is ineffective. Machines and electronics don’t work.
Hard (30): Everything within 30 ft. (10 m.) cracks, melts, twists, blackens and corrodes as if exposed to a fire or strong acid. Sinkholes appear in the ground, clothes fall apart, buildings collapse. Weapons are too brittle to do any damage.
Legendary (40): Everything within 60 ft. (20 m.) disappears, leaving a semi-spherical crater. The edges of the crater are black as if there had been a great explosion. Anyone in the area is dumped into another plane of existence.
So let's assume we haven't min/maxed like crazy. This ability requires no warm-up, no rituals, nothing. And there are no obvious rituals or special effects marking us as the source. We might get pin-pointed as the center of the decay, but since every thing within 5 meters of us just started collapsing(what if we're standing next to a building? Will its walls give way?), people are probably going to be too busy to do anything.
Oh and since "nearly anything can be broken or destroyed with bare hands," we can use this to tunnel through walls or punch tanks apart, assuming that their own machinery doesn't rattle apart their now-fragile forms.
Also note the Legendary ability. Is it just me or is this starting to seem kind of anime?
Oh and Untouchable, the ability that turns Scribblers, the nerds, into complete combat monsters. See, basically it lets you close your eyes and phase out of reality, taking between half(difficulty 10) and none(difficulty 40) damage. Normally it requires you to concentrate, but you can use it reflexively in combat at a -10 penalty to your roll. Even then, if we've got good Willpower(which we probably have, since anything supernatural we do likely relies on it, no matter our Secret Life), we're pretty much guaranteed to meet the half-damage(10) and have good odds of getting to quarter-damage(20). If we know something is coming, 1/10th damage(30) isn't impossible either, and hell, at that point we can just close our eyes, put on some rollerskates and let our allies use us as a mobile shield, shoving us ahead of them, secure in the knowledge that we're basically immortal. Scribblers also get Mortification of the Flesh, so a couple of quick rituals to yank out our heart and lungs, and we've got hilarious amounts of health besides. And shit, we don't even know what body armor is going to do to us yet.
But we're already looking at 300% normal max health and 1/4 damage from all sources, aside from wacky magical/spiritual shit.
So, really, while a bunch of these powers SOUND interesting? Almost none of them seem like they fit in a goddamn horror game. Either it puts the horror powers in the hands of the PC's(Blood Sigil) or it gets closer to superhero stuff(Flesh Control, Mortification of the Flehs, Untouchable). There's no danger to using any of them(even the Animist power that opens you up to spirit possession says that your guardian spirit instantly boots out any malevolent spirits if they try to come close), unless you save replacing your brain/heart/lungs for last as a Cannibal and fuck up the roll.
Really, the impression I have of this game so far is that it would likely work far better
if the PC's did not have Secret Lives, but instead the SL's were relegated to villains and NPC's as the supernatural shit that the PC's fight. I mean, imagine being up against a Cannibal society, never knowing if some guy in a wheelchair is about to shiv you with an invisible hand or just roll past. A group of the Lost could basically ruin your life by being able to go anywhere you are, or sending you off to far-off places, making you miss work, appointments, etc. Professionals could hunt you for knowing too much, Survivors could mark you as a sacrifice to the Reapers...
These are really all good potential VILLAINS, but kind of shit potential heroes in a horror
game, and their powers really do not change that at all, only emphasizes it.
In Dark Alleys
Day Jobs, Skills
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 6
06:22pm EST - 1/01/2016
Day Jobs are, predictably, what we're doing while we're not out doing our Secret Life thing, unless we're a Professional in which case the two are basically the same. Some give us Bonus Points(because they suck), others cost us Bonus Points(for being awesome), and some do neither. Of course we still have yet to know how many Bonus Points we start with(if any) or what else they can be spent on. The book helpfully tells us that we can learn more about them on page 111. We're currently on page 58.
The Day Job section also doesn't get any introductory art, so let's pretend we're in a better setting and that one of the optional Day Jobs is Pirate Space Robot.
Most of the jobs have both perks and drawbacks, even the better ones. Sometimes they're minor, for instance, Alternative Health's perk is that we meet a lot of people(which could be handy for, say, an Outcast or Survivor keeping an eye out for shit going down). While the Drawback is that on account of us being unconventional, we have no pull or authority within the legit medicine establishment.
"Boring Customer Service Job" has the disadvantage "has to deal with lots of crazy assholes," factory workers effectively have a lower Endurance because they're exhausted at the end of every work day, that sort of thing.
Interestingly enough, while these Jobs set our skill costs(apparently, skills are still a chapter away, so not sure what these numbers actually MEAN...), none of them have any skill requirements
. As far as I can tell, we can be a Medical Professional with Int 1, or a firefighter(Dangerous Field Job) with rock-bottom physical stats.
It's not that fascinating a chapter, but there are some interesting bits.
From Business Manager:
+4 BP for Useful Inventory (PC makes or carries something that may be useful in an adventure, e.g. reproduction medieval armor, occult books, bondage gear)
I like how swords, De Vermiis Mysteriis and gimp suits are rated as being equally useful for an adventuring party in this setting. Only a few of the other optional bonuses for professions are very useful or interesting, though, for instance, an IT tech might be maintaining some FBI databases or something, giving him tangential access to information that way.
Numbers-wise, starting with a shop full of leatherware, having your own car, being a member of the Mafia and having access to the FBI's databases is rated as being of equal cost. Some of these seem a bit handier than the others.
Homemaker is an optional job, with disadvantages for either having a spouse that thinks you should be barefoot-and-pregnant, or having kids that need taking care of. Both of those make for excellent quest hook-ish things, I'd note. Having to take care of things without disturbing your family life, or reapers hounding your car while driving the kids to school.
Some of these things, though, just seem like there's no way to use them in the game. Like being the District Attorney or a police chief. I mean, these are roles that NPC's could fill, but not PC's. They're so high-profile that having any sort of Secret Life outside of a Professional would border on the totally impossible. Though it does conjure up the image of a "loose cannon" cop Lost who gets drunk and pops up in criminal lairs with a ridiculous handcannon, or booze-walks the SWAT team past hostage-taker cordons to attack them from behind.
Or for that instance, why are there even rules for being a Religious Professional who becomes a bishop? I mean, yeah, sure, a priest who's a Survivor or something could be fucking interesting, and it's basically where Cannibals would start out, I suppose. But which of these Secret Lives would at all work with being a goddamn bishop?
Being a social worker and a prostitute are of the same cost level, despite it being noted that prostitutes are regularly victims of hate and violence, and the worst it says for social workers is "the work is stressful and tiring." Sure seems a lot less bad than the risk of being stabbed by some maniac because he wants to make a vest out of vaginas.
But that's really it, I'm sure that there are some minor things I might've missed, like maybe some of the skill costs are completely irrational, but right now we just don't know enough to make sense of it. But we might soon! Because here's the Skills section.
Again no art for this section. Lame-sauce.
But at any rate, we have 100 skill points to spread between some skills here. Basically all skills are split into the categories ACAD(Academic), ATHL(Athletic), CMBT(Combat), CRTV (Creative), CRIM (Criminal), TECH (High Tech), INVS (Investigation/Espionage), LABR (Labor), MEDI (Medical), PEOP (People) and TRAD (Traditional).
Our profession determines what the skills in each category costs.
For instance, let us say that our obese Hispanic astronaut is a FORMER astronaut. He/she is an Outcast who saw the terrible truth behind the Moon Landings and, while drowning his/her panic in Twix bars, got out of the business and became a Paranormal Professional.
This instantly eats up 10 of our skill points to learn Act Normal(otherwise we'd have to be a homeless guy, retired or homemaker, I guess the kids don't mind their mom clawing at their faces to get the bugs out). If we wanted a better job, we'd have to burn 20 or 30 points on it.
Being a Paranormal Professional also takes up 4 Bonus Points, but we'll burn that bridge made out of numbers once we get to it. This leaves our skills costing the following:
Skill Costs: ACAD 5, ATHL 7, CMBT 15, CRTV 5, CRIM 12, TECH 7, INVS 10, LABR 6, MEDI 7, PEOP 6, TRAD 7
Fighting is going to be ridiculously expensive to learn, criminal stuff as well, and oddly enough, for someone whose job is likely going to involve a lot of research and investigation
, INVS is our third-most expensive category. Flipping ahead to page 136, it seems that just BUYING a skill only means we can use it at all, it takes another purchase(another level) to get any bonuses, in this case +4 per level above the first.
I recall the basic mechanics and head back to page 3 to confirm them.
"All mechanics are based on a simple system: The sum of attribute + skill + modifier(s) + 1d20 must be equal to or higher than the difficulty of the proposed action."
It's FAR easier and cheaper to have 20 in an attribute, than it is to have a rank of 6 in a skill, meaning that attributes matter way more and, I assume, cover multiple skills to boot. Going ahead one page confirms this. So unless later pages tell us that the original, simple description of the basic mechanics was just a lie, we don't really NEED much more than that first rank in a skill.
Seems like difficulty checks tend to come in increments of 10, too. 10, 20, 30 for Easy, Moderate, Hard. So from chargen we can essentially be sure of beating every Moderate check and have a 50% chance of hitting Hard checks, and that's completely without skills.
The Hard example for Business(An Academic skill) is "Hard (30): Borrow money to buy a shipment of 100,000 pens from China then sell them to an American company at a 100% markup."
So with 20 Intelligence(the governing stat) and a bit of skill in this, we can basically double our money regularly if our GM is a chump and just goes straight by what it says in the book. A lot of these skill examples are AMAZINGLY useless, though. As in, something that could never conceivably come up in an urban horror game.
Law, International: "Hard (30): Prepare a brief, on behalf of one country, seeking reparations from another country for war crimes." Maybe if reapers were behind that genocide, otherwise... not really seeing it.
Science: Psychology (INL)- This is knowledge of the theories and research concerning the workings of human and animal minds.
Easy (10): List some of the consequences of not enough dopamine.
Moderate (20): List Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Hard (30): Name the likelihood of each attachment style.
I like how the trivia that is Maslow's Hierarchy is more complicated to understand/remember than neurochemical voodoo. Or at least, to me, the outsider of the subject who knows about Maslow's but couldn't tell you shit about dopamine to save my life, it just seems a bit poorly conceived.
Bicycle (AGY)- This is training on various terrain with racing and mountain bikes. Gives the following maneuvers (with +4 for each level after the first, see Vehicle Skills, p.137).
Jump (20): Jump the bike over holes or obstacles.
Sharp Turn (20): By leaning over almost to the point of touching the ground, the PC can make tight turns.
Skidding Turn (30): By skidding the rear tire, the PC can make incredibly fast and tight turns.
Stairs (20): Go up or down stairs or similar impediments.
Swerve (20): The vehicular equivalent of a dodge.
Law: Criminal (INL)- Prerequisite: Law: Basic (1). This is knowledge of prosecuting or defending those who have been accused of crimes.
Easy (10): List the elements of murder.
Moderate (20): Figure out whether the ‘deal’ the district attorney is offering a criminal defendant is a good deal or not.
Hard (30): Get the evidence obtained from a not-quite-legal police search thrown out.
So according to In Dark Alleys, pulling a "tight turn" on a bicycle is barely any more difficult than, or costly to learn, than enough law to defend and counsel people effectively in court.
This also seems to have taken Kult's lead on the Fist of the North Star thing. Check this out.
Assassin: Unarmed (Combat)- Techniques for quick and efficient unarmed killing of a surprised opponent. Gives the following maneuvers with hands and feet:
+4 to Grab (Strangulation)
+0 to Special Action: Neck Breaking (Requires a hold on the victim’s head. If successful, instant paralysis and death. STH + AGY +1d20 vs. 40)
+4 to Stomp
+0 to Knockdown
Now, starting with 20 in Strength and Agility is relatively trivial, though it might require us making our character a drooling retard, so let's just say we have 15 in each, if we're #47 we have to be pretty physically fit anyway. Just there, we've got 1d20+30 vs. 40, that's a 50% chance to instamurder someone. But for every rank we have in this over the first, we get a +4. Assuming we've got a class that doesn't have prohibitive casts on CMBT skills, we can pretty much guarantee an instant kill on anything with a head that we can sneak up on.
And this is what we can do well before even reading the combat rules to break its numbers, contemplate supernatural powers or anything else. Outside of this, the CMBT skills are just lising every damn kind of weaponry you can learn, from Anti-tank rockets to kung fu.
The CRIM skills kick us into game-breaking with the first column as it lists its first (40), or "legendary"-level difficulty.
Black Market (CHM)- This is knowledge of where and how to purchase illegal goods and services, how to bribe officials, where or how to sell illegal goods and services and how to determine the value of black market goods and services. The PC is at -10 in any other than the PC’s home area and -20 in other countries. This skill also allows the PC to start play with illegal items (see p.88).
Easy (10): Buy an infraction level item (e.g. a dime bag of marijuana) or pay for a blowjob.
Moderate (20): Buy a misdemeanor level item (e.g. a switchblade) or bribe a cop to forget about a speeding ticket.
Hard (30): Buy a felony level item (e.g. a machine gun) or hire an assassin.
Legendary (40): Buy a capital level item (e.g. weapons-grade plutonium) or hire mercenaries to overthrow a government.
Sadly we don't get to add together two stats for this one, so we'll have to actually invest in the skill itself. But even so, it would be trivial to have the 20 Charisma to give us a shot at making this work at all, and if we choose to start as a gang boss or something, we could relatively easily pump skill points into this and start off making nukes in our basement.
Knowing how to deal with being high without being useless(Drug Resistance) is also a Criminal skill, I guess that in the world of IDA you don't smoke up unless you've got a felony record.
Remember the "Law" skill that would basically let us get defendants out of court thanks to procedural infractions? It's got LITERALLY the same costs and difficulties as "Card Counting," a skill for getting a bonus to playing Poker and Blackjack. I mean. Really? Not to impugn poker players, but REALLY?
HIGH TECH posted:
Anonymity (INL)- This is knowledge of how to access the internet while concealing the source of the access. This is typically done through anonymous re-sender servers operated by privacy advocates.
Easy (10): Send an anonymous email for a $5 fee.
Moderate (20): Make an anonymous VOIP phone call for $1/minute.
Hard (30): Chat anonymously, live and for free.
Invest your points correctly and you can either buy machineguns on the black market or chat anonymously online!
These tough choices, man!
Data Pirating (INL)- Prerequisite: Research: Internet (2).
This is knowledge of how to obtain free software, music, even movies and television files via the various file sharing networks and piracy rings on the internet. Downloading the data can take seconds or days depending on the size of the file and amount of success. A PC with this skill starts with $2,000 in pirated data per skill level, anything else must be pirated during gameplay. The skill also includes knowledge of how to crack the copy protection or digital rights management schemes meant to protect data from being pirated.
Easy (10): Find an mp3 of a rare track from an out-of-print album by a popular country singer.
Moderate (20): Find a camcorder-taped copy of a major motion picture that just came out.
Hard (30): Find and crack a major A/V editing software suite weeks before it goes on sale.
Even accounting for the fact that IDA came out in 2006, this is pretty hard to excuse. Note the prereq., note that "criminal law" has one less rank of prereq costs. It's literally costlier to know how to find a shitty, handi-cam movie online than it is to know how to be a lawyer in fucking court. My God.
This whole section is just a mess of badly conceived numbers. Investigation for some reason houses a "WMD's" skill, a Brainwashing skill and a Torture skill. The latter two will, again, if you min/max, basically allow you to crack anyone's will easily. They get to oppose you with their Willpower, and only that, no beneficial skills, so you're pretty much guaranteed to have the upper hand on them if you invested in the skill at all. And WMD's I guess is there so you know what to do with the fucking weapons-grade plutonium you've got in your garage.
Psychotherapy (CHM)- This is training in helping people overcome psychological problems and traumas using various forms of therapy (talk therapy encourages people to discover their own feelings and mental processes; cognitive therapy teaches people to avoid illogical or harmful thoughts; role-playing therapy helps people prepare to deal with real-life situations; exposure therapy helps people deal with fears by slow exposure to the source of the fears).
Easy (10): Help a patient overcome a mild phobia.
Moderate (20): Help a patient deal with the psychological effects of a recent severe trauma.
Hard (30): Help a patient overcome an ego dystonic sexual fetish.
Legendary (40): Help a patient discover that he or she is paranoid and delusional.
Note that psychotherapy has no theoretical prerequisites at all, and depends entirely
on your Charisma and nothing else. Your intellect is irrelevant, your psyche is irrelevant, your willpower doesn't matter, nothing but how charming you are. This skill is also filed under People skills, alongside stuff like Seduction.
Also, hey, check it out. Even if you have a Charisma of 0(impossible) and only first-grade training in psychotherapy, it's 50-50 odds to rid someone of a phobia! Man, check all those suckers actually STUDYING this shit. Curing people is EASY AS BALLS. I mean, shit, if we actually had the appropriate stat and skill points we could heal everyone's brains easily.
...hang on, wasn't this game supposed to be about craziness and psychological horror? Hm.
Surgery's got much the same difficulty levels. Fixing someone who's been stabbed through the fucking heart
is pretty much guaranteed to succeed if we have just basic levels of Surgery and an above-average Intelligence. How are there even any Survivors in this setting? They just need to get near an even vaguely-competent doctor and they'll be healed.
After all the other categories, though, there's the Traditional, or TRAD category of skills that all Day Jobs have an easy time learning, relatively speaking. Even hobos can be skilled acupuncturists! Similarly, tracking, wilderness survival and building a storm shelter out of discarded tin cans. And I do mean every Day Job. While it's cheapest for Homeless, Retired and Alternative Health Day Jobs(5 per skill or skill rank), it's only 7 for someone who's working in "Trendy Customer Service," Politician or Religious Professional.
I guess even the bishops have to blow off some steam by hunting The Most Dangerous Game.
This section is just an utter fucking mess.
At least that's it for the skills. I was going to do the Supernatural Skills, but this post is already pretty bloated, so I'll save that for tomorrow or something. There is some crazy shit over there.
Next post! ULTIMATE GENITALS
! (yes, that is a real sidebar title)
In Dark Alleys
We'll get back to the actual rules any week now...
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 5
06:12pm EST - 1/01/2016
Slow start to the semester, so I may as well hammer down a few more SECRET LIVES.
Basically Professionals are cops or FBI agents or mafia guys(????) or VATICAN SECURITY or corporate security or SOMETHING of that order. They do their job, then one day they end up FIGHTING THE SUPERNATURAL and, for some reason, both kill a ghost(or whatever) and don't consider this big enough news to tell the press that HOLY SHIT GUYS, THE UNDEAD ARE REAL!
This gets them a raise and an invitation to join an Organization, always a Fraternal Lodge(yes, like the Freemasons) which is ruled by OLD WHITE MEN who are now suddenly their pals. As they rise through the lodge, they are one day invited to join the SECRET SUB-LODGE, which is all about defending society from the supernatural badthings.
Of course you can also elect to not join a lodge in which case you're still a cop who shoots ghosts, you just never get to learn why
nor get any supernatural training.
What You Know posted:
-One type of threat is humans who have gained paranormal skills or powers.
-Some of these humans are trying to destroy society (or perhaps even destroy reality itself).
-Some of these humans are in dangerous occult groups that meet in or near bars, accident survivor support meetings, gay/lesbian bookstores, libraries, immigrant communities and abandoned buildings.
-Other humans don’t have control over their powers and go around causing problems unintentionally.
-Sometimes inanimate objects can be the source of paranormal events. The PC has been encouraged to give these objects to the Order for safekeeping.
-Sometimes places are the source of paranormal events. If informed, the Order can pull strings and make sure these places lie abandoned and unused.
-Some of society’s most powerful and important people have a relationship with the Order.
So, to summarize. These guys are oMage's Technocracy, everyone
but Faustians who actually work with their Dances seems to have a decent idea of what they actually are, and Freemasons control the world.
There's also a huge sidebar about the Freemasons and similar/related lodges, but none of it seems crazy and, in fact, it seems pretty similar to what you could find if you just looked them up on Wikipedia. On the upside, hey, it's not crazy. On the downside, hey, it's kind of uninspired.
Also as a side-note, some of them have other supernatural humans as contacts despite this technically being the direct opposite of their job description.
Many who would become Scribblers were already questioning the basic principles of modern philosophy and religion long before they ever heard from another Scribbler. Many were philosophy students who finally found a philosopher who made sense, only to find that nobody considered this philosopher anything other than a joke. The initiate’s favorite philosopher was studied only because it was interesting that someone who seemed so smart could be so wrong.
At some point those who would become Scribblers came into contact with some phrase, most often scrawled on a wall or on a piece of paper hidden in a library book. The phrase said exactly what the initiate had been thinking for years yet
never knew anyone else believed in. It might have said that what we can see and touch is only a tiny part of what there is to reality. Or it might have said that human consciousness can’t have been created in or designed to live in the mundane realm. The clear disdain for orthodox beliefs the graffiti showed was as important to the initiate as any theories the graffiti put forth.
After that the initiate kept his or her eyes peeled for more messages and learned where to find them. Although they could pop up anywhere the writers had the audacity to put them, they were most dense in run-down, seldom or neverused locations where nobody would ever bother to clean up graffiti. The initiate may have discovered, for instance, a ratty old bathroom stall in a dive bar where the walls were coated with scribbling in dozens of hands. For many initiates the discovery of their first ‘bulletin-board’ was the most ecstatic moment of their lives. Sitting for hours, they read not only statements of unorthodox beliefs but also debates, discussions, references to books, references to other bulletinboards, references to places to find supernatural phenomena, reports of supernatural experiences and directions for occult experiments. Many of these experiments included meditating on the falseness of the material world.
Yet another Secret Life who spends most of their time hanging out in public mens' rooms! Badumpsch. Their thing is that they found a supernatural ritual that someone spray-painted on a wall, or painted on a bathroom stall, and instantly took it as gospel and went home to try it. I guess being a gullible idiot is another path to supernatural power.
Their main activities are either said scribbling to contact other scribblers, or scribbling little creepy notes and graffiti to SHOCK THE MUNDANES and make them realize what the world is really like, maaaaaaaan. From their perspective, these guys are basically stuck in the Kult universe: A hostile shithole designed to hide the truth from us, everyone's out to get us, and the authorities have secret armies to stomp our faces with if we get too close to THE TRUTH.
For some reason one of their powers includes learning how to COMMAND ANIMALS and some of them become totally-mean terrorists "destroying the foundations of power." BUT, how is this a "Dark Side" to them? I mean, if The Man really is
suppressing the truth and trapping us in a twisted society trying to hide that having weird genitals is humanity's real state, or whatever, wouldn't this be just the logical, and good, thing to do? Fucked if I know.
Their party role seems to be "that geek with all the books who researches shit."
Survivors died, making them fit their name pretty badly. Then, while their bodies were technically dead, they saw the reapers(no, not the Mass Effect ones, no, not the generic scythe guys either, just weird blue blobs) collecting souls and whigged out. Or at least as much as you can whig out while being discorporated. And willed their bodies to take them back, their hearts to start beating again, and dodged the reaper's, metaphorical, scythe by a hair's breadth.
Now that they know what happens to the dead, they are so utterly shit-scared of it that their terror gives them supernatural powers of regeneration and recovery, even curing prior disabilities. It specifically includes mental retardation as one of the things that get fixed. No word on whether it also fixes insanities.
They also got stuck being able to see the reapers permanently. Turns out these reaper guys hang around where bad shit is about to go down(but never at sudden, randomly violent incidents), and the Survivors often run around trying to get people to safety when they see reapers congregating. Of course, the reapers have apparently not taken lightly to this and have started trying to murder Survivors through violent accidents and the like, blowing up their gas stove or whatever, getting their house to burn down around them while they sleep. In fact most Survivors have heard stories of fellow Survivors being killed in their sleep and are now refusing to sleep at all, as far as possible.
Others become death cultists, deciding that killing people for the reapers to harvest will get them off their backs. That they somehow have to "pay off" their own survival. If this was actually the truth, it would be kind of interesting, balancing morals with ensuring your own survival.
And finally we only have one secret life left.
At a young age, Wonderlanders became entranced in a fantasy world of their own creation. Each had an “adult friend” (usually a relative or friend of the family) that took a special interest in them and helped them escape into the fantasy world. The help may have included giving them a place to play alone and giving them toys or books. Some adult friends invited their young Wonderlander to come stay with them until some family crisis resolved itself. Most importantly, the adult friend told stories to the young initiates based on their own fantasy worlds.
Am I the only one who feels like this sounds just a slight bit creepy? But anyway, after this, the Wonderlanders forget all about this stuff and grow up. Then ONE DAY, when they're FEELING DOWN, they remember it! Weird hobos and living toys are suggested as some of the means of reminding them. Alternately...
For other Wonderlanders it was a message they received or evidence that they found that suggested that their adult friend had been psychologically manipulating or experimenting on them. The Wonderlanders found out that their adult friends had unusual interest in their playlands and knew things about them that the young Wonderlanders had never told anyone. Parts of the messages were, for some Wonderlanders, instructions from the adult friend telling them how the power of the Playland could be harvested in time of need.
Doing more research, Wonderlanders discovered that the same thing had been done to other children, perhaps even by the same adult friend.
Which doesn't really defuse the creepiness of the first quote.
Also apparently Playland isn't a nice place. Seems like a lot of Wonderlanders end up stuck tracking down escaped Playland creatures causing trouble for people, or busting into Playland and dealing with shit there which causes trouble in the real world some other way. Their abilities related to Playland are very vaguely worded in this section and we'll have to puzzle about the exact stuff later once we get to the actual powers part of the rules, but for now it just says that stuff can move between the real world and Playland, Playland has aggressive, malevolent and non-intelligent predators, as well as semi-intelligent, "exaggerated" inhabitants. Sometimes the Wonderlander can turn local reality into something that follows Playland rules.
Dark Side posted:
Wonderlanders were experimented on as children, often by people who had an unhealthy obsession with children and childhood. What was done to them is still not entirely clear. In the course of figuring it out, some Wonderlanders start performing their own experiments with children. Many of these experiments may harm children.
Playland Phenomena (Mandatory Disadvantage)-
In addition to the powers the PC consciously controls, there are phenomenon which will happen against the PC’s will. Toys will animate, portals will open to playland, playland entities will cross over into this world, etc. These events are most likely to happen when the PC is under stress. There is a small possibility they will help the PC, but if they have any effect on the PC’s life they are most likely to cause trouble. Sometimes when a PC has a desire he or she is unwilling to act on (perhaps because of moral considerations, fear of disapproval by others, impracticality, etc.) some playland phenomena will attempt to act on that desire on the PC’s behalf.
There's also a bit of illustrative fiction.
The final sidebar of the Secret Lives section informs us that being a child is a miserable, horrible existence of existential angst and worry, only salvaged by the fact that all children have ADHD and will forget about bad things after a couple of days.
The one thing children have going for them is their incredibly short attention span, which allows their periods of stress and dread to be interspersed with periods of joy and abandon while they are doing something fun. Adults tend only to notice and remember the latter, which is why so many adults mistakenly believe that life as a child is more pleasant than life as an adult.
And that's it for Secret Lives. Next time... Day Jobs! Skills! Supernatural Skills!
Aren't you just excited?
Birth Servant (WIL) posted:
The PC must be in a body with a uterus and vagina to use this skill.
In Dark Alleys
Drunk, disorderly and covered in giant bugs
FATAL & Friends Repost: In Dark Alleys, Part 4
06:03pm EST - 1/01/2016
You know that guy who buys knives off the internet, shows off his katana and tells you how he hopes someone is going to try jumping him in a bad part of town so he can cut him up? Those are Heroes. They're basically your general wannabe-vigilante, so mal-adjusted they can't even hold down a job or a social life(except chatting with other Heroes about leads). Most of them have never even fought a mugger, much less a flesh-hungry ghoul.
PC Heroes, on the other hand, are actually the crazies who have
saved some people while dressed up as Batman(really, it suggests vigilante costumes) and have somehow tumbled to the fact that there are supernatural threats to people out there as well. Some are genuinely crazy, some are desperate, most mean well, but some end up being the sort of people who cut off a purse-snatcher's finger with a bolt cutter and mail them to his family.
They also get some degree of supernatural power, either a magical familiar(cat, dog or horse), a high-tech device(that normal science says should just do nothing, or maybe explode), have occult training(wizard Batman!), got an inheritance meaning they can start off buying anti-tank missiles, have superpowers for another reason,
Shattered Person posted:
Shattered Person- Once the PC, or someone the PC was near, had an intense experience, one in which he or she felt both pain, pleasure, fear, hatred and joy all at the same time. Most likely the experience involved sex. Somehow the strength of this experience ‘broke reality,’ making the laws of physics go haywire in the surrounding area. Anyone nearby was killed and the PC survived only through extreme luck. Thereafter the PC found that his or her body warped the laws of physics around it.
have an enchanted SOUL MATE or some other such crazy shenanigans.
You get the dealy-o. These powers are made with a vaguely BESM-y "cobble shit together and fluff it as you please"-method, and as we have yet to actually know shit about the system beyond our stats and hit points, we can't really tell whether any of this rocks or sucks. Props for suggesting high-tech or secret-government-tech devices powered by MOON ROCKS, though, that's the sort of old-style comic book hilarity I approve of.
Basically they can teleport. But only while drunk
. Or possibly stoned out of their gourd. And they discover this power by getting crunk as all Christ, not giving two-shits and accidentally teleporting all over the place until a fellow Lost who's learned to control his abilities a bit tells them what the deal is.
At adventure one, the Lost has been experimenting with his or her powers for months and is starting to get a handle on what he or she can and can’t do. The Lost has wandered through a lot of interesting places and has even passed very briefly through a place that seemed unearthly: an eerie deserted city, a giant concrete space of unknown purpose, a space filled with endless bizarre machinery, a dark canyon filled with naked marching people, a place with a featureless black floor and sky, or a place that seemed like something from a children’s book.
Honestly? They seem kind of neat. They also learn how to bring friends along. This makes them kind of a great cornerstone for a party, especially as it suggests that these friends often come along to help them investigate the weird places they find.
This would be a great setup for the entire party just being a group of buddies checking out some cool shit, accidentally Lost'ing their way into Area 51 or extradimensional spaces, etc. etc.
This... this doesn't completely
suck shit! They also learn to travel without being drunk, eventually, but it still helps.
There's also a random table for generating places to pop into, all of which could basically work as adventure seeds, and a sidenote on Lost combat, suggesting that when really experienced they can pop around a corner, into a gun store, grab a gun, pop out around another corner, unload on their enemies, and then disappear once more. Or possibly their very pockets just become handy, extradimensional spaces full of random shit.
These guys rock.
Outcasts are the poor people who see weird crazy alien shit and likely end up labelled as schizophrenic or something if they talk to anyone about it. Some learned to turn it off, at least some of the time, and the remainder usually goes completely fucking bonkers.
The book helpfully illustrates the sort of horrifying bullshit they can see and which normal people can't. Not all of it's that blatant, though, sometimes it's weird symbolic shit, like seeing human skulls on a part of a person's body and then it turns out they have a tumor there. So Outcasts spend a lot of time trying to find patterns and explanations for their visions.
A lot of 'em apparently also become hobos.
Their "What You Know" also suggests that Dances may be some sort of gestalt minds created by coalescing pools of memories in old places.
These guys probably have the most expansive What You Know section, really pointing out that they've done some research into the weird shit, see more than the other Secret Lives, etc. Mix a Lost and an Outcast in a party and you'll never run out of stories. The Lost takes them weird places, and then the Outcast sees some vague shit that starts them on the road to cracking the puzzle or just gets them more interested than the place alone. Or the Outcast sees something fucking weird, and the Lost gets them on the road to pursuing it or learning something more concrete.
Along with the whole SCIENCE IS FOR WESTERN IGNORANTS-thing, I'm getting a kind of... Scientology-ish vibe. I mean, we know from the Animists that most mental ailments are actually evil spirits, and the stuff about secret voices whispering to people from beyond the aether kind of reinforces that. Is it just me? Kind of a distrust of the psychological and medical establishment?
As for powers, an interesting aspect is that they get better at seeing supernatural shit if they deprive themselves of sleep. They also get to intimidate Dances, by threatening to burn down their buildings or get the police interested in them, meaning that the Dance will either send a Faustian servant to aid them or otherwise try to assist. That could actually be a decent hook to stitch a Faustian into a party, the Dance has him permanently assigned to help them out and be their gopher to get the Outcast off its back.
All in all, these three classes/archetypes don't seem too bad. Or maybe it's just that after the Androgyne, almost nothing seems that bad
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