Reviews and Ramblings
MIDDENARDE - PART 7 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 6 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 5 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
MIDDENARDE - PART 4 by PurpleXVI - 12/12/16
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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
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!