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Thursday, 28 March 2019

Silent Legions: Bogeymen

Usually, the monsters of Silent Legions are creatures of otherness: alien forces beyond our mortal realm or from long-forgotten dying worlds. However not everything which lurks in the shadows is so alien. The bogeymen are monsters of our world, if not our psyche.

Monster Under The Bed. Artist unknown.

Physically, bogeymen are humanoid in shape and only in shape. Their form is human-like enough to pass for human in darkness or at a distance, possibly hidden behind thick clothes. Seen up close most bogeymen are the stuff of nightmare, with large unblinking eyes, dislocated jaws filled with needle teeth, skin like melting wax or with worms crawling in their still-living flesh. Even the most human-like bogeymen look fundamentally wrong: hags with discolored skin that is almost a sickly yellow-ish green or hulking brutes far too wide with long arms ending in oversized hands with thick black nails. Others have pulsating scars on their faces which might have been (but never were) human or they have unusually smooth skin and features so thin and subdued they look more like a cross between a mannequin and a skeleton.

Bogeymen are fundamentally very similar to Slashers and the two have similar stats. However the thing with Bogeymen is that they are inexplicable monsters; they were never human but they aren't some creature from 'outside' our reality. They are like fear of darkness and monsters given flesh. Bogeymen have superlative stealth abilities and while the mechanics of it vary from bogeyman to bogeyman they are hard to catch.  Many of them are gifted with odd and unique powers born of their twisted, impossible physiology; wandering limbs, impossibly long reach, a glowing gaze which paralyze or the ability to smell children and hone in on them from miles away. Others grow stronger with fear, becoming intoxicated and empowered by the fear their prey feel.

Sample unique Bogeyman powers to spice up this monster:
  • The Bogeyman eyes glow with baleful light. Anyone who encounter the creature must Save Luck or catch a glimpse of its paralyzing glare, like some modern day Gorgon. While it doesn't turn people to stone it paralyzes them in place for 1d4 round. Children have a -4 penalty to resist this effect.
  • The Bogeyman can extend it's fingers and arms to unnatural length. While this has no in-combat applications, being too slow, this ability is used when the creature is sneaking up on a target. While hidden it will extend its arms and fingers and when the time come will snatch the target and break its bones as it snap back the arms and fingers instantly.
  • The Bogeyman can instantly cause all lights and electronics in its immediate vicinity to fail. This ability can be turned on and off at will.
  • Anyone who see the Bogeyman must pass a Luck save or become cursed, at which point at any time it fall asleep alone in a dark room the Bogeyman instantly knows and teleport to the target no matter the distance.
In addition to this all Bogeymen have some sort of passive ability which make them difficult to spot with electronics such as cameras. Their shape is blurred or, when in the wilderness, they do not appear on cameras until they attack. Others leave no traces of their presence: no footprints and no noises. Other stills can phase through walls while others are invisible to everyone but children or their chosen victim.

Bogeymen In Fiction:

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Godbound: Wonders of the Thousand Gods, Part 1

The region known as the Thousand Gods embodies how truly lopsided the Realm of Arcem more than any other region. Built in ancient times in untapped jungles, the facilities there were the ancient temple-research centers of the Former Empires as they field-tested the theotechnical devices which would be implemented in the Made Gods.

Suffice to say things went south pretty quick as the wars raged on.

Today these places are insular communities who live in veneration and fear of their 'Gods', horrible monstrosities created by the research facilities as a lost resort to survive the horrors of the Sundering. These beings are more often than not lopsided beings driven mad by their transformation. The end result are jungle communities where ancient technology overlap with cruel, sometimes degenerate tribal societies (but often just as much simply desperate) where pre-industrial lifestyle overlap with leftover wonders of advanced theotechnical marvels jealously guarded by shaman and their vicious masters.

Artist Unknown

Monstrous Demiurges

The key component of the societies of the Thousand Gods are the beings they serve and fear. Created from either untested or damaged theurgic and theotechnical means, most if not all divinely powerful beings found in the Thousand Gods region are horrific monsters in some shape, form or function. Few, if any of them, are truly sane or well-meaning. While the infamous Parasite Gods are one common form these beings can take, they are not the only type:
  • Artificial Intelligence: The core 'canon' of Godbound is somewhat unclear on the existence of true Artificial Intelligence. The Lexicon of the Throne leaves it open to inclusion in a campaign and it is definitely one of the cooler concept Words. But does it exist in Arcem? If it does then it must be a byproduct of the theotechnical knowledge which went into the creation of the Mades Gods as some were said to be wholly artificial. An Artificial Intelligence would be a form of spirit, in a manner of speaking, its code made of ephemeral and multi-dimensional...thingamajig. Look the point is they are coded into reality rather than coded into a device. It is likely the Ren and Din were the one to build such constructs: the Ren to help manage their ideal society on a societal level while the Akeh likely used them for automation and defensive purpose.
  • Beast Gods: Driven mad by a surge of divine powers, these creatures are massive and bereft of anything resembling human intelligence. Some came into being via highly unstable Khamite soul-gene modifications which grew out of control from an excess of divine power while others were warped by other means. The key traits of Beast Gods is that, while they are divinely powered beings they lack intelligence. Any cult centered around them treat them more like a living volcano to be placated or some giant guardian which sacrifices are offered. While these beings understand these pacts they cannot communicate with their worshipers beyond certain theurge-shaman using songs or rituals to soothe the beast.
  • Corrupt Godwalker: Sometimes, things go terribly wrong in Godwalker designs. The end result is a haunted, unstable machine with a life of its own. This is not quite the same as it being sentient or possesed but rather a form of mental imprinting which slowly corrupt the pilot to fulfill the alien needs and desires of the machine. In addition, much like artifacts, these corrupted Godwalkers will warp the body and mind of its pilot or even try to physically assimilate it into its structure in some cases. The end result is very much a biomechanical Parasite God for all intent and purpose, albeit one without the limits of being tied to one location. They do, however, require maintenance to live which is a different limitation and weakness. Eventually the human inside will rot or be consume and a new pilot will be chosen to ensure the mechanical God live again.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Godbound: Thoughts On A Scion Conversion, Part 2

Some more thoughts on a Scion conversion for Godbound. Still nothing mechanically complete, as that would require far too much work not to mention I do want to wait for the Second Edition to show up to see what good parts can be salvaged of said mess.

Mistakes Were Made

The last post I realized there are three Pantheons I forgot:
  • The Yazata (The Persian Pantheon): These guys had their own expansion but somehow I forgot to mention them last time.
  • The Inue (The Inuit Pantheon): A rather obscure Pantheon with nonetheless a large role when it come to expanding the lore of the Titans, as Ymir is/was an Aspect of their associated Titan.
  • The Contentious 'Native American' Pantheon: Oooh boy. This is one which I recall the fanbase long argued over because of the debate if there should be a universal Pantheon for these incredibly varied cultures or if there should just be one representing a specific major cultural group. Right now I'm not 100% sure what I'd do if I ran Scion when it come to handling Native mythology. They do have Gods in the Overworld as any culture does to some extent. I'm just not enough of an expert to delineate how said Pantheon would be organized. It is a very complex subject matter and one I'd need to handle to the best of my ability if/when the time come.
And with that, the Pantheon roster is mostly complete, at least as far as some loose draft of all the major and minor players. Is it a list which cover every possible option? Hardly. But at some point one need to make the cut.

On The World Of Scion

A generally-agreed consensus when it came to Scion 1st edition was that it wasn't really a setting. Yes, you had rules for all the gods and monsters and you had an overall massive conflict of the Gods vs Titans (as well as Gods vs Gods and Titans vs Titans) but outside of the (very railroady) adventures there wasn't really much of a world. Scion books presented and front loaded a ton of information on how the various myths and legends existed in seemingly our modern world but never really gave much thought or explanation on how this was actually handled. There was this big, overwhelming sense that the setting at times lacked purpose, direction and most damning of all applicability. This was often the case with the White Wolf games but Scion in particular often left you wondering "What the flying fuck am I supposed to do with this game?". It is a very damning trait for a Tabletop RPG to leave a Game Master unable to figure out what the flying fuck do to with its world and characters.

My take on how the world of Scion would work is what I call World Plus. The world of Scion, and by that I mean the material and mortal world part of (which the Norse Gods call Midgard) is much like our early 21st Century Earth but bigger, cooler, louder and scarier. It is a world more akin to pulp and action movies at times, a world where the general malaise and banality of our dreary soul-sucking social media life has sucked away all meaning of human interactions. A world where there is still a place for larger than life people with great ambition rather than a world of petty mean girls and corporate bullies (even if such things would exist just as badly!). Cities are bigger, more vibrant and the rural areas are rugged and still retain that sense of being the frontier between civilization and the wilderness. Calling it an 'improved' version of our world is wrong, however: because when it reach the darkest and most cruel, uncaring parts it gets so much worse. Catastrophic 'natural' cataclysm can break apart countries and turn a once peaceful location to chaos just as much as it will spur epic deeds of self-sacrifice as people risk their lives to save those trapped in the debris. The roads, at night, become darker places and at the edges of the picket fence, where the woods still exist, monsters lurk in the shadows.

Ten, twenty or thirty years ago it could have been a better place than our world in some aspects but that reality is no more. There are primordial forces at work, forces embodying the ancient enemies of the Gods and mortals alike. As the Titans stir in their shattered prison, things are taking a turn for the worst. Some of the catastrophe were not forest fires nor flood nor earthquake but rather merely appeared to be these things: in truth something from the ancient world of myths and legend crawled up back to the mortal world and (hopefully) was defeated by one of the Scions, the offsprings of the Gods.

The way I see it, the world of Scion is a lot like the world of Marvel and DC: an apt comparison, given that superheroes are often compared to modern mythology when they just flat out aren't Gods from the get go. The slow reveal of the existence of the mythical in this larger-than-life world is comparable to the transformation undergone by the world of, say, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When we are first introduced to it, in Iron Man it is basically a slightly-more-futuristic version of our own world circa 2008. However as more and more supernatural beings appear it begin to deviate more and more from our history and, eventually, even the very history we thought we knew is called into question as all these amazing things such as magicians and aliens were under our noses all this time. Of course, the main different here is that Scion wouldn't really delve into the scifi elements: there would be no super soldiers, no highly advanced power armors and no robots and aliens. However the idea remain the same: the gradual transformation of our modern world into one where the impossible become a known factor and where Gods walk the Earth.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Basic Fantasy: Alien Dragon

In some random internet browsing I came across pictures of a small plastic figure called the 'Alien Dragon': a draconic beast from out of this (or any fantasy) world, a pale blue six-limbed wingless creature. Overall a cool dragon design which reminded of a mixture of a dragon and an Ankheg.

*Alien noises*

The so-called 'Alien Dragon' is not a true dragon, as one might guess from its odd appearance as long wingless creature with four clawed limbs for movements and an extra pair of hands at the front with what appears to be dexterous, almost eerily human-like hands. The body of the creature is covered not in scales but rather pale blue chitinous plates. In spite of the exoskeleton it also has an endoskeleton as vertebrates do. In many ways it behave in a fairly mundane, draconic fashion however: with lairs and hoards and sometime eggs (albeit disgusting, rubbery ones) inside.
  • Alien Dragon hatchlings are similar in stats to Giant Centipedes with an Armor Class of 14 but they are only encountered inside the lair of an adult. Their appearance is less draconic and more like giant luminescent alien grub-things.
  • Adult Alien Dragons are similar in stats to Behir. It lacks the ability to use the electric breath but rather can jump once every three rounds to move at double speed. In addition the creature has a bizarre ability to flash its eyes and body with eldritch otherworldly colors which function as being able to cast Feeblemind once per day.
Both the Giant Centipede and Behir have stats in Basic Fantasy.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Godbound: Thoughts On A Scion Conversion, Part 1

Fairly early in the blog's history, I wrote about using Scion as a basis for modern-day Godbound. These are a few thoughts and expansions on the ideas there. It is still not a full blown conversion document as that has yet to be something which is being worked on. These are more loose thoughts on a Scion 'remake' using Godbound, much like the previous Exalted material on this blog.

The Pantheons

A key and important feature of any Scion game is which Pantheon of divinities would be feature in the game itself as well as what options they offer to players when it come to creating their characters. Every Scion need some form of divine parentage (if going by the setting rules of 1st edition, anyway, as 2nd edition is a bit different).

The Aesir (The Norse Pantheon)

Introduced in the core book, the Norse pantheon is one which generally command quite the presence in the game. While not the most famous of the 'main' pantheon, it is the one of those which hold up a sizable portion of the core lore of Scion nonetheless alongside the Greek Pantheon. In Scion, their specific purview is called Jotunblut: it represent the fact that the Norse pantheon interbred with Giants and allow them to enhance their power and stature. Under the original Scion rules, it allowed to turn people and animals into giants but for the sake of Godbound rules I would count that as a miracle and use of Dominion. Rather, personally I'd take cues from John's Scion Resources and use it more for the 'buffing' of the Scion's physical might and stature. Jotunblut, with its theme of gigantism, would likely easily mechanically double as some Giant/Titan 'Concept Word' for vanilla Godbound which is neat. Lore-wise, there isn't much to change to the Aesir.

The Dodekatheon (The Greco-Roman Pantheon)

Easily the most famous of any of the old Pantheons of gods, the Greek Pantheon would be expanded to become the Greco-Roman Pantheon: meaning that aspect of the lore added/changed from the Greek sources by the romans would be considered part of their overall mythos. Their fame combined with being, for a sizable period of time the main pantheon of one of (if not the most) powerful civilizations of the ancient world combine with the sheer amount of demi-gods found in myths would very much make it one of the most prolific, potent and active pantheon...which would not necessarily make them the strongest however, as the Greek gods are easily the most dysfunctional family ever. Any advantage from their size and scope would be negated by how fucked up they are as people. Their Purview in Scion is Arete, which was the most boring-yet-efficient Purview as it provided passive bonus to everything. Rather, if I was to run Scion using Godbound I would loosely base it off the Peak Human Concept Word.

The Daeva (The Vedic Pantheon)

While the Greek Pantheon has fame and influence in human history through the impact of Rome on civilization as a whole, the Daeva are unique in that they've never really gone away and are still worshiped to this day by a very much active religion: Hinduism. Not only that, but through the influence of Hinduism on Buddhism and other faiths such as Jainism the Daeva would be a Pantheon with connections stretching all across Asia. While they were not a core book Pantheon in Scion, this would be something easily rectified and I firmly believe they should be considered one of the core Pantheon of any Scion game. Their legacy of creating demigods and divine avatar easily rival that of the Greeks. Their purview, Samsara, would likely be a reworked version of the Fate Word. As a whole the Daeva have a form of local power which no other Pantheon can ever hope to match in term of longevity and sustained worship.

The Tuatha Dé Danaan (The Celtic and Arthurian 'Pantheon')

On the surface, the Tuatha would not appear to be good material for being considered a 'major pantheon' Celtic mythology, after all, is obscure to most people and filled with characters whose name nobody knows how to read. However, the same Celtic myths which form the basis of their identity were also at the core of a much more famous modern mythology: Arthurian legends. Under this version, the Tuatha Dé Danaan would incorporate many elements of Arthurian mythology with the loose 'retcon' that many key figures were in fact Scion of the Celtic gods albeit those of a later era. This would be more similar to the earlier Arthurian portrayal where he was less of a medieval King and more of a pagan Dux Bellorum. The Tuatha, in Scion, had the purview Enech which is related to the concepts of Geasa. I'd argue this one is a type of Concept Word which would bestow powerful, often passive Gifts at the cost of them being permanently lost if a taboo is broken.

The Shen/Celestial Bureaucracy (The 'Chinese' Pantheon)

Oh boy, this is a weird one. The Chinese Pantheon is a complicated one: arguably 'Chinese Mythology' isn't quite as clearly defined as Greek or Norse, as it has incorporate many ideas and characters from different people and different religions crossed with a sizable body of folklore and popular culture. The previously-mentioned detail that the Daeva overlap with other Pantheon? This is one such example due to the influence of Buddhism. Generally-speaking to be a Scion of the Celestial Bureaucracy would mean the character is the offspring/creation of a Deity with a defined role in this system but it is very plausible for a character to be aligned/allied with the Shen and being the offspring of an Indian, Japanese or Korean deity or some figure of Buddhist mythologies. Conversely there are also Scion of Chinese descent who are member of other pantheons due to the spread of the Chinese diaspora: some of them are on good term with the Shen and might act as cross-Pantheon diplomat, such as a Chinese-American Greek scion while others might incur distrust from the Shen because they associate more with the ideals of their foreign divine ancestry. As the tension between China and the Western world slowly grows, who knows where this might lead?

The Orisha and The Loa (The 'West African Diaspora' Pantheon)

While it has roots in the ancient West African people, the Orisha-Loa pantheon is a cross-cultural one born of the African diaspora which resulted from the African slave trade. Much like the Chinese Pantheon (but for very different reasons) it incorporate quite a bit from other faiths. In the original Scion only the Loa were available, while John's Scion Resources presented the Orisha as their own Pantheon which tied into the Loa. Finally, Scion 2nd edition simply has their version of the Orisha be a default Pantheon. Personally I simply consider them an expanded pantheon much like the Greco-Romans combine Greek, Etruscan, Roman and more while the Shen and Daeva overlap with each others (and to a lesser extent the Japanese Pantheon) when it come to Buddhism. Taking cues from the JSR version and the core book Loa, the Orisha would have two potential purviews, which are Ori and Cheval: the first has power over one's destiny and the other allow the 'riding' of humans. How this would work in practice I'm not sure but it isn't beyond possibility for me to consider that some Pantheon have wider and more conflicting signature abilities.

Lesser Pantheon

'Lesser' here is...relative. These aren't necessarily weaker or smaller (or less important), merely pantheon with far less of a foothold in the modern world for a variety of reasons. In fact this isn't even related to my personal tastes as many of these are my absolute favorites its just they have smaller roles and there is generally not much to say about them than which isn't just 'they exist'. They simply have less of a grip upon the world and less active Scion.
  • The Aliha (The Arabic Pantheon): Pre-Islamic gods of the Arab lands, the Aliha are almost a dead Pantheon which has faded nearly entirely from history. The fan-made supplement for them even flat out admit they are among the least known or understood of the pantheons of old.
  • The Amatsukami (Japanese Pantheon): This one is an oddball among the lesser pantheon as it remain very strong within its own country, much like the Indian pantheon. The difference, however, is that the Japanese are an insular people. They assimilate ideas from others but rarely spread their own insular beliefs and myths to others. As a result, this is a strong pantheon with a strong local base but lacking in the reach of the Daeva and Shen which they are tied to.
  • The Annuna (The Mesopotamian Pantheon): One of, if not the oldest Pantheon. While their lust for life may not have faded completely they remain very poorly known today, safe perhaps for their most famous Scion: Gilgamesh.
  • The A'pu (The Incan Pantheon): Of the three Meso-American Pantheon they are the less-known but it is worth remembering that the Incan Empire was indeed once the mighty ruler of the Andes.
  • The Atua (The Polynesian Pantheon): Much like the Greco-Roman and Shen they are a cross-cultural Pantheon.
  • The Aztlanti (The Aztec Pantheon): The most war-like of the three Meso-American Pantheon and the strongest of the three if only because of their connection to the still-existing modern Mexican culture which has Christianize some elements of their pre-existing mythology.
  • The Bogovi (The Slavic Pantheon): One of the more 'faded' of the European pantheons alongside the Nemetondevos.
  • The Elohim (The Canaanite Pantheon): Almost as faded from history as the Aliha, unfortunately. Their founder (and Titan Avatar) El bear an uncomfortable resemblance to a 'certain someone'.
  • The Kuh (The Mayan Pantheon): The Mayan Gods are the sometimes-allies, sometimes-rivals of the Aztec Gods.
  • The Nemetondevos (The Gaul Pantheon): One of the more forgotten Pantheon of the older days of Europe.
  • The Pesedjet (The Egyptian Pantheon): While iconic, the Egyptian gods are also quite misunderstood and not as well known compared to the Greco-Roman Gods. Like other Middle-Eastern Pantheons they've waned in power, albeit not as much as others. Such is the mark Ancient Egypt left on the world.
  • The Tengri-Mongol Pantheon: Currently this one doesn't have a name, as it was not one someone else wrote about in the 1st edition days but rather one born of my own idea on what to add to and expand upon.