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 STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)

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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyMon Dec 17, 2018 1:58 pm

Keeping it moving is definitely good.

Also, in thinking about it a bit, it does make a bit of sense. If cover is affecting one target, it’s probably affecting everyone further from the target. Walls also explicitly ignore cover anyway. Likewise, the benefit of attacking a flat-footed target overall is about one and a half extra targets hit so by the main target being distributed it’s easier to line up the rest of the potential targets.

I think I like that.

Also worth noting is that it doesn’t apply to everything. Most notably would be Skirmisher PCs and Scrapper-type opponents who make attacks with their minor actions (since it’s a separate action).

Likewise, some elites/champions whose attacks come in a sequence (ex. the Ogre Lord’s sweeping axe where they push the first target then shift before the next attack which could be on the same target or a different one) will need to remain as two separate attacks despite being a single action to keep the resolution clear (elites and champions generally are “too big” to be grouped up as well).

Actually, that’s another thing I’ve got to math out real quick; how do group attack AoEs work? Because a flat +2 or so from the area attack is only going to be one extra hit whether it’s one guy or a hundred blasting away and that seems really off.

The easiest way would probably be that group area attacks only subtract 1 with each additional target instead of 2. Most of the things that can target more than two creatures, a blast 3, burst 1 or wall 6 are going to be too strong to be grouped up in all but the most over-the-top scenarios (how often are you going be seeing entire formations of level 6+ opponents?) so I think it would be okay to just ignore the effects of larger areas on hit probability as statistical outliers.

Any thoughts? (After this I think I’ll share some thoughts about some smaller communities in the Old Praetoria region; starting with something of a counterpoint to the Kingdom of Rin - Emberfalls).
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyTue Dec 18, 2018 12:44 pm

I know I said I'd talk about Emberfalls (and a few places along the way since they're kind of relevant for the setup), but I'm hitting crunch time for Christmas in my day job so I'll probably not really have time to get to that until December 26.

What I do have time to share is a fun emergent tidbit of the mass combat rules. By going with the same simple "only the closest target" approach to modifiers in reverse for the Group Attack action, it lets Enablers (and opponents with the leader subtype) really shine because any buff they provide that affects the attack roll effectively adds onto everyone's attack roll.

Likewise, a guardian throwing out a reaction that halves the incoming damage against an ally means that only half that damage applies to EVERYONE using the Group Edge... a line of 50 soldiers hitting another line for 125 damage (enough to put a dozen men out of the fight that round) would instead get dropped to just 62 damage (only putting six men out of the fight).

Controller AoE effects obviously make them exceptionally effective against those using Group Edge and Slayer's extra damage isn't going to be lost going against those targets either.

In short, there's a way for every PC to be able to contribute to mass battles in a meaningful way... and THAT sort of thing is exactly what I'm looking to see in mass battle rules.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyTue Dec 18, 2018 6:15 pm

I'm cutting away at glassware and having to swap them out every two minutes for at least the next several hours, but since all I have to do to share this is cut and paste, I can at least post this... these are the final rules for mass combat.

Managing Larger Battles
While many battles that PCs find themselves in are relatively small battles against a roughly equal number of similarly skilled foes, PCs do sometimes find themselves facing (or occasionally leading) large numbers of creatures in battle. This requires some special considerations to keep these larger battles from turning into a slog. In addition to rolling only once per opponent type in a battle, use the following special rules to speed up larger battles.

Group Edge
When you have five or more opponents using the same statistics involved in a battle, you can use Group Edge to make tracking damage to them easier. Really large battles might have more than one set of opponents using Group Edge (ex. 20 infantry and 10 archers would be tracked separately as two groups).

Total the Edge of all the opponents in a single group. Damage dealt to any of them is taken from the total. Remove one opponent every time the damage taken adds up to one of the opponent’s Edge scores starting with the actual targets of the action and then those next closest to those dealt damage until the full damage is accounted for.

Those not dealt damage directly are presumed to have fled, hidden or otherwise removed themselves from the battle as quickly as they could. GMs should keep a count of those lost to non-direct damage in case it is needed (ex. allied soldiers who flied might be rallied by the PCs to fight in the next battle).

Group Attack
When multiple creatures of the same type attack the same target (or same type of target if that target is using Group Edge) they can make a Group Attack. Each creature uses the same attack  on the same initiative count using their normal action for the attack.

Make one attack roll for the group’s actions (the group chooses which of its members makes the attack roll) with a +1 bonus per creature attacking the target. If it hits the target is hit by one of the attacks, plus one additional hit for every two points the target’s defense was beaten by (to a maximum of the number of attacks made).

A single creature can only be targeted by so many creatures using Group Attack at once. Medium and smaller creatures can only be targeted by five creatures of the same type at a time, seven for large creatures, ten for huge ones and 15 for massive ones. As many attacks as can reach one of their members can be used against creatures using Group Edge.

If the action used is one that normally targets more than one creature (such as a burst, blast or wall) then it scores one hit for every point it beats the targets’ defenses by, but these hits must be split as evenly as possible between all the targets and no more than half the hits with a multi-target attack can be inflicted on a single target no matter how much you beat their defense by.

Group Movement
When combatants per side exceeds twenty creatures, you should start using Group Movement for the creatures you’re also using Group Edge for. Instead of moving individually, creatures using Group Movement gather into units and move together on their turn.

The default unit size for Group Movement is 10 small, medium or large creatures which move together as a creature two sizes larger than itself. A unit of 10 small creatures would occupy space and move as a large (2x2 paces) creature. A unit of 10 medium creatures would occupy space and move as a huge (3x3 paces) creature. A unit of 10 large creatures would occupy space and move as a massive (4x4 paces) creature.

Huge and massive creatures are usually powerful enough that they won’t be using Group Edge in a battle and do not need to use Group Movement either. Tiny creatures typically already have statistics for swarms of them and those rules should be used instead (using Group Edge and Group Movement for multiple swarms if necessary).

The space occupied is a bit smaller than the creatures would normally occupy, but since they are fighting as a homogeneous unit it is presumed that they are able to squeeze a bit without impacting their fighting ability.

Because they can shift around each other a bit, every member of a unit can make melee attacks as part of a Group Attack against targets in range of the unit (subject to the usual limits for attacking a single creature).

Non-grouped creatures (like PCs and more powerful opponents) can move through allied units normally and can even share their space as if the unit was a creature of its size (i.e. a medium creature could end their movement inside a unit of medium creatures because the unit is being treated as a huge creature).

Altered Scale
Really large battles might require changing the normal map scale from 1 pace per square to something bigger in order to give all the combatants room to maneuver in the play space you have available.

The next scale up from the usual combat scale would be to use squares 3 paces on a side. This allows a huge or smaller creature or unit to naturally occupy a single square on the map and for ease of play a massive creature or unit can also occupy a single space as well. Divide all speeds and ranges by 3 (round up in this case) as well and the battle can otherwise play out as normal.

This scale is more than sufficient for any mass battle involving the realms and adversaries found in the Old Praetoria region. Bigger battles than this also become harder and harder for single PCs actions to be discernible when played at that level. If such a massive battle erupts, it is recommend you use the rules above to focus on a section of the larger battle where the PCs can make a difference or present opportunities for them to pursue key targets like generals or champions and thus sway the larger battle by removing them.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyFri Dec 28, 2018 2:01 pm

Yay! Crunch time is over... now back to your irregularly scheduled background fluff.

To understand the community known as the Emberfalls, you first have to take a bit of trip up the Hydra River because its rather instructive of what led to its founding.

We begin our trek at Blackspire on the southern shores of Lake Blackspire, the great crater lake in the midst of which is The Black Spire (this is one of those "New York, New York" sort of situations where the lake is named for the Spire and the city is named for the lake and the Spire.

As the seat of Malcer's rule it was also the focal point of his persecution of all those he considered "unnatural" (Malfeans and mutants primarily, but also non-human avatars and worshipers of the Old Faith who refused to convert to the Imperial Church).

While some of the outlying regions limited themselves to merely heavily oppressing said groups, in Blackspire itself were outright enslaved and, as the tide started turning against Malcer in the rebellion, purged since every group freed added more members to the "unnatural resistance."

This culminated in the Battle of Blackspire where Malcer ordered a mass sacrifice of the "unnaturals" in order to fuel a ritual to the god of war that he intended to turn the tide... the restoration of a recovered pre-Calacylsm weapon known as a Dreadnought Golem (which is EXACTLY what it sounds like). In the end Malcer died at the helm of his ultimate weapon, but the damage to those he'd persecuted had been done; of an estimated twelve hundred enslaved malfeans and mutants in Blackspire, barely two hundred survived (the majority of malfeans and mutants in the present day Blackspire either hailed from elsewhere in the Free Cities (and therefore were liberated before the mass sacrifice) or other regions entirely (i.e. once it became known that the new Free Cities regime was not just tolerant, but supportive of the commonly outcast malfeans, mutants and religions other than the Imperial Church or Elven Court).

Of the Blackspire survivors, only a handful had any desire to remain in the liberated city even if the new leadership had fought and bled to free them and a First Warden who was actually a convert to the Old Faith. The remainder gathered what they could and departed to form a community far from the realms of Men where they could live among their own kind and free of oppression or even the temptation for it.

* * * * *

The refugees' course led them up the Hydra River, the main tributary (name for its many branches) that feeds into Lake Blackspire.

The first notable location on that route is Stonepoint Monastery. Stonepoint is a peninsula of rock too dense to have shattered by whatever forces created the crater-lake that lays at the mouth of the Hydra River. The monastery, built for those who wish to come and ponder the mystery that is the Black Spire, is built of the same basalt as the peninsula and has been rebuilt and refurbished countless times over the ages, with the earliest archeological finds indicating that it was a site of religious worship even before the rise of the Demon Empire.

Side-bar: The Black Spire is an absolute anomaly to every one of the creation myths of the various religions. It is generally accepted that prior to the Demon Empire mankind existed only as hunter-gatherers. Yet all evidence points to the miles-tall structure (that it is NOT a natural object is immediately obvious to anyone who has ever set foot inside it) being far older than the Demon Empire and possibly even older than humanity itself. I provide no concrete answers to what it is, because at its core what The Black Spire IS in a narrative sense is a mystery that cannot be answered. Thus, explaining it, giving it a concrete definition and purpose, destroys its very reason for being included in the first place. End of Side-bar.

Stonepoint Monastery took in a fairly large number of "unnatural" refugees and shielded them from Malcer's reign, but with a very important caveat; Since even before the Cataclysm, Stonepoint has been a stronghold of the Imperial Church. Indeed, until his father and brother's untimely deaths, it was where Malcer had been studying to become a priest of the Imperial Church (this is also why Malcer was never able to gather up the "unnaturals" who took refuge there... it'd be rather like a Seminarian trying to demand action from a Bishop).

This was important because part of their conditions for granting sanctuary was that one had to also be a member in good standing with the Imperial Church. While those of no particularly strong faith generally did so for the safety it accorded them, for those of great faith (particularly many Malfeans for whom their devotion to the Old Faith was one of the few things they could truly claim as their own) it was a bridge they could not cross, even to save their own lives (because this life is temporary and next life promised by the Old Faith was eternal and infinitely better than this one).

So even though Stonepoint was home to numerous religious military orders who could have protected them and roughly half of the mutant survivors from Blackspire did choose to stop their exodus there, it was no home to those whose devotion to the Old Faith was the only thing that kept them going through the darkest days of Malcer's reign.

Thus, the remaining 100 or so malfeans and about 50 mutants continued their exodus up the Hydra River in search of a land to call their own.

* * * * *

Next time, the Toria Tribes, the last rest stop before leaving human civilization entirely.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyMon Dec 31, 2018 2:14 am

Between Malcer and the Stonepoint Monastery, I'm noticing problems with the Imperial Church - are there any good actors high up within that organization, and how many of them fought against Malcer? Also, how many people worship the Imperial Church in the Free Cities now, given their history with Malcer?

Also, Dreadnought Golem is a phrase that probably induces traumatic flashbacks in veterans - seriously, it sounds like Malcer got himself a Gundam and went out stomping rebels.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyTue Jan 01, 2019 12:20 am

As should be apparent by now, EVERYONE has problems. Stories are more interesting that way.

That said, two things need to be clarified with regards to the Imperial Church.

First, Malcer was a fanatical zealot and despite his religious background his powerbase was temporal not religious. If not for his father and older brother’s demise he probably would have never risen above the rank of deacon in the Church and probably shunted off into something like dutifully copying manuscripts (and the truly tragic thing is that he would probably have been quite happy in that role of protecting and transmitting the faith and died of old age a respected member of the clergy... but then Hitler only wanted to be an artist at one point in his life... history is full of better might-have-beens for monsters).

The Imperial Church deferred to Malcer because he had control of the Free Cities’ military and did what they could where they could. Stonepoint taking in “unnaturals” was a low priority for Malcer because it was the center of his Faith, was at the far reaches of the Free Cities territory, only took in those who professed allegiance to the Imperial Faith and provided no support to the rebellion. Cleaning out the “unnaturals” there could wait until the armed rebellion was dealt with.

In other words, the leadership of Stonepoint did what they thought they could do to help without getting attacked themselves given the situation.

The second thing that’s important to consider is how badly regarded the Old Faith is among civilized peoples. This dates back to the First Empire of Man. The First Empire nominally followed the Old Faith, but by the end had become so corrupt that the Primal Spirits took no action at all to protect it when the Beastmen rebelled with the help of the newly awakened Astral gods.

As a result, the First Empire was torn down and the humans blamed the Primal Spirits for their loss. Seeing the success of the beastmen, most humans turned to the worship of the victor’s gods. In time the human worship split off from the Bestian Faith into what would eventually become the Imperial Church (so called because it was the state religion of the Praetorian Empire). The only peoples who stuck with the Old Faith were the outcasts who’d rejected the decadence of the First Empire (and thus kept the protection of the Primal Spirits) and, of course, the despised Malfeans.

Basically, amongst most of mankind for thousands of years now the Old Faith has been considered the faith of barbarians, outlaws and the demon-tainted. The Primal Spirits (and Avatars) are seen by most as mischievous spirits barely a step above the demons.

Stonepoint is roughly akin to Vatican City in terms of its importance to the Imperial Church in the region. Allowing followers of the Old Faith to take up residence there would be roughly akin to the Vatican opening its doors to something between a bunch of old-school pagans and satanists from their perspective.

So to answer your question, the majority humans throughout the Old Praetoria region (and most of the world in general) are followers either of the Imperial Church or a similar offshoot. Malcer is largely seen as a fringe radical who took things too far.

Blackspire and the Free Cities are something of anomaly in this largely because the First Warden has embraced religious tolerance, in large part because a large part of the coalition that defeated Malcer were followers of the Old Faith; Toria barbarians and freed Malfeans among them; and he had converted to the Old Faith during his time living in exile with the Toria tribes and even marrying one of them.

This is jumping a bit ahead, but a number of Blackthorne’s reforms stemmed from his time living among the Toria tribes, where everyone was judged on merit, everyone had a voice and the chief (who served his tribe) was elected by the tribe and served until they lost confidence in the chief’s leadership and called for a new election. When time came to unite for war each of the chiefs would elect a high chief from among themselves to lead the Toria tribes as a whole.

Basically, Blackthorne took the Toria tribes’ system of government filed the names and the tribal traditions off and presented it to the Free Cities as the system of elected Wardens (who in turn elect a First Warden from among their number).

Anyway, the majority in the Free Cities (c. 60%) belong to the Imperial Church (25% Old Faith, 8% Bestianism, 3% Elven Astral Court, 4% Other), far too many for Blackthorne to have been able to make the Old Faith the official religion (as just about every other realm has), but low enough (compared to the 95% following the realm’s state religion) that he could institute a “no official state religion/all religions free to worship here” policy and privately fund one of the first Temples of the Old Faith to be found in an urban location since before the Praetorian Empire was a thing. A dozen years on, the locals have grown less prejudiced against the Old Faith as it becomes more familiar in their day-to-day experiences.

This also means that a good chunk (probably 40%) of Blackthorne’s forces were followers of the Imperial Church who believed Malcer had gone too far with his persecutions.

* * * *

If I were to put Dreadnaught Golems into D&D terms I’d say think “Mecha-Tarrasque.” They were the Praetorian Empire’s equivalent of a WMD; a thing you send when you want to wipe a city off the map. Blackspire found the wreckage of one on the shores of Lake Blackspire (probably washed ashore from The Black Spire) and dragged it into storage where it sat for nearly 200 years until Malcer used a ritual of mass sacrifice to restore it.

How many more Dreadnaught Golems are still out there and in what state of repair they’re in is something I leave to individual GMs, but in my head there were probably 12 of them; one for each of the Imperial gods.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyTue Jan 01, 2019 4:14 am

Yeah, I was rather unfair to the Stonepoint folks there - like you said, they were in a crappy situation and didn't really have any good options at the time.

Also, thanks for the clarifications regarding the Old Faith and the Imperial Church.

****

A mecha-Tarrasque? Oh, God, it's worse than I thought! I'm shocked that the rebellion held strong when they saw Malcer piloting one of those things. Also, you say that it's a golem; does that mean that it could have developed its own personality the way smaller golems have?
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyTue Jan 01, 2019 9:01 am

Well, the reason the rebellion didn't break and run when Malcer launched the Dreadnought Golem largely falls to the aforementioned fact that Blackthorne and his closest allies were essentially a previous generation of PCs and it was the final act of their big campaign; blow all your surges and burn through all the consumables you've accumulated over the campaign because its Big Damn Hero time and there is no tomorrow (metaphorically speaking).

While leading the rebellion in general was important, nothing gets you as close as humanly possible to a 100% approval rating and carte blanche to reinvent the government as saving the city from an apocalypse (his approval is probably hovering at more like 65% these days, though the remaining part is probably 20% no opinion, 10% somewhat disapprove, 5% strongly disapprove).

* * * * *

As to Golems' capacity to develop a personality, they have a range of potential awareness.

The PC Golems were the most self-aware of the set because they needed to be; they generally interacted with people the most and so needed complex algorithms to not come off as creepy mindless things shambling around. Even the crafter versions were actual craftsmen meant to work on custom designs or other things where human input shaped the final outcome (ex. jewelry, architecture, custom fitting armor) and the warriors as body guards, special forces or scouts where the need to improvise in a crisis and take initiative was needed.

Then there were things like heavy industrial golems whose only purpose was to hammer out the same mass produced piece again and again and again. These had only the most rudimentary of AIs; Just enough to do its one task repeatedly. They'd be better represented as a trap or hazard since they have no regard for themselves or anything other than performing its task.

True War Golems (which include the Dreadnought) on the other hand needed to be able to fight independently if their commander was disabled and generally had self-preservation routines unless ordered to fight. In terms of mental stats they're more in line with Beasts; Ø INT, but with WITS to contextualize its environment and identify friend from foe and PRE to be able to act of its own accord when a commander is unable to direct it.

So yes, a functional War Golem like a Dreadnought could develop a personality, but only on the level of a beast; well-treated it might be a loyal attack dog, left in the wild it would probably turn "feral" based on its default programming (ex. a guardian might designate a given territory as something it needs to protect and drive out all creatures designated as hostile; which is nearly everyone since anyone with the right uniforms and code signs has probably been dead for well over a century at this point... an front-line golem would instead target anything it perceived as hostile while moving further and further into "enemy" territory until someone finally destroyed it; any of those still left are either under the control of someone or trapped someplace and just waiting to execute their programming).

If a Dreadnought Golem went feral it would likely slowly traverse the world wiping whole cities off the map if they met whatever profile matched its definition of "hostile", retreating only if they suffer enough damage to endanger it so its self-repair routines could engage.

As to how something like that would go unnoticed, well, I said Mecha-Tarrasque, but in terms of locomotion Dreadnought Golems are more like a Mecha-Godzilla. 90+% of human civilizations lay along the coasts so being able to deploy largely undetected was an important aspect of their design (and another reason I picked Dreadnought for its name).

You're going to need a bigger boat.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyTue Jan 01, 2019 11:43 am

So there are an unknown number of kaiju-scaled, possibly feral mecha wandering the world's oceans and wiping out entire cities at a time. Jesus, at least the tarrasque was dormant most of the time. I can see why Blackthorne's group is regarded as heroes. By the way, who were some of the other PCs in that party?
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyWed Jan 02, 2019 10:34 am

To be fair, there probably aren’t more than one or two actually active (90% were probably destroyed in the Cataclysm just like the one salvaged by Blackspire) and because their default program was “city killer” and there aren’t that many that actually qualify in the post-Cataclysm world they actually strike less often than you’d think.

If one were to swim up the Titan River it would swim right past Daysmarch (pop. 3500; built into and around an old stadium that’s been fortified) without slowing down. It would swim right past El-Phara (90% of its population is rural so it’s capitol population is only about 4000 with two other towns of 1200 and 800 respectively) and Ironhold and Riverhold’s capitols (pop. 10,000 and 8,500 respectively) would be marginal targets (Riverhold would be the more likely of the two due to the strategic importance of its lock system for transporting goods). The entire Bloodspear Kingdom wouldn’t even ping its awareness due to their largely nomadic structure.

Only Blackspire would likely pass the targeting test outright both in population (15,000), fairly high level of magitech (they have one of the few functioning teleportation circles in the region and have rigged the upper floors of the tower to handle airship traffic), industry (they have one of the largest ports along the whole river system) and general defenses... and Blackspire’s the one place confirmed to have actually faced and destroyed one just a dozen years ago (the initial strike by a Dreadnought would do considerable damage; probably to the port; but the defenders would know what they’re facing and what its weak points are and so could deal with it far more effectively than just about anyplace else.

* * * * *

As to Blackthorne’s party;

- Kel Blackthorne - human military abjurer wizard. He was once a part of Blackspire’s military, but balked when Malcer ordered a massacre and, after stopping that action, fled into the lands of the Toria Tribes. There he earned a place, converted to the Old Faith and married into the tribes. He was eventually able to rally the tribes (who were persecuted for being pagan barbarians who “threatened” the Free Cities by their proximity) against Malcer’s regime.

- Tharisa Half-Elven  - human (elven bloodline) barbarian swift daring captain (primal empowered multiclass). Born to the wife of a Toria chief after a “hunt” by the last elven overseer of Blackspire that slaughtered every adult male in the tribe. Her older half-brother became chief of the tribe when he came of age and she became his most skilled warrior. She and Blackthorne fell in love and married shortly before the start of the Rebellion against Malcer.

- Taran A’Toria - human barbarian swift wary sharpshooter. Chief of the Toria Tribe Blackthorne joined and older half-brother of Tharisa. He is an expert at ambush tactics and his favored weapon is a reinforced bow.

- Garth - mutant (troll) outlaw daring berserker ravager. One of many mutants persecuted by Malcer, he joined the rebellion shortly after it started organizing in earnest when Blackthorne offered him a better path than simply being a bandit. He brought with him a number of his fellow outlaws who’d felt they had no better options than banditry to survive.

- Mar’dyn - dust malfean primal religious empowered (w. shifter utility and summon ally attack). Priest of the Old Faith who ran an underground railroad smuggling malfeans and mutants out of Blackspire and started smuggling arms and armor out as well once he joined the Rebellion. He’s basically a D&D druid with his shapeshifting, summoning and healing aura.

These were some of the key players in the Rebellion.

Today, Blackthorne is First Warden of the Free Cities with Tharisa as his wife (and First Lady), Garth serves as Warden of Blackspire’s Dock Ward, Mar’dyn is chief priest of the newly built temple to the Old Faith in Blackspire and Taran remains chief of his tribe (whose village is about two days’ travel up the Hydra River from Stonepoint) and primary point of contact between the Free Cities and the Toria Tribes.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyWed Jan 09, 2019 12:40 pm

Sorry for the travel log update delay, but a couple of mechanical issues nudged their way to the surface and I had to tamp them down before continuing.

You know how if you have a program running in the background and because it never seems to be doing anything you presume everything is fine... then it runs into a glitch and you realize the whole thing is a shoddy mess that needs a complete overhaul?

That was Attack Spells this week. It started when a player was looking at a new attack spell and realized that just about the only difference between Force Barrage and Shockwave was that one did force damage and the other storm.

Sure there were minor differences; one pushed further (far more than at at-will should) and had knock prone as a special focus effect, the other had the option of push or knock prone as the base effect, but then push further as a special focus effect); but both were attacks that targeted Fort, could be enlarged into blasts and inflicted push/prone effects. Heck, the Aeromancy specialization even affected both identically (since it worked on storm or force damage attacks).

This prompted me to take a closer look at the attack spells I'd been pretty much coasting on ever since the class attack spell lists got merged and I learned it was worse than I thought. There were three acid-based attacks where all three had the special effects of creating damage zones and sustain hit damage. There were eight force-based and seven fire-based attacks (many also with overlapping special effects), but only two that dealt toxic damage. No spell inflicted the deafened (which is actually pretty useful for stealth attackers since it inflicts a -10 to Insight, making it very easy to regain stealth in a fight) or grabbed conditions.

So I went and did a whole fresh pass on the Attack Spells. The result was that several got merged (ex. Blocking Hand and Dragging Hand got merged into Forceful Hand; Baleful Teleport and Transposing Blast got merged into Baleful Transposition) and others got dropped entirely (as much as I love Force Barrage I still had six force-based spells after dropping it while Storm had only three to begin with), others got renamed and new effects added (Acid Burst became Acid Cloud with a blinding special effect), others were re-worked from the ground up (Toxic Transformation now causes the target to give off a debilitating aura that affects its allies while under its effect) and new spells got added.

Some of those new spells are;
- Disintegration: an acid-based spell that deals extra damage and has specials that make targets vulnerable and do ridiculous amounts of extra damage to objects (your Focus+level extra damage per focus spent). Burning through a foot or more of solid stone with a single blast is what this spell is meant for.
- Madness: a Will-targeting spell that deals no damage, but inflicts a random (roll 1d6) moderate condition on the target (including dealing damage to itself). By spending focus after you hit you can bump the random result up or down or gain extra rolls to inflict additional conditions.
- Miasmic Cloud: a toxic-based spell that fills a zone and can be moved as the spellcaster wills while it persists.
- Rolling Thunder: a storm-based wall (only Focus damage but covers up to 6 squares) that deafens and can render all targets shaken and/or unfocused (dazed if target has no focus) with focus expenditure.
- Sleet Storm: a cold-based spell that creates lasting zones of difficult terrain.
- Viper's Bite: a toxic-based spell that deals (sustain hit) damage as its base effect and can daze or stun with focus expenditures.

The end result of this was the same number of spells as before, but with a better mix of conditions, damage types (at least four for each damage type so that you could specialize in a single damage type if desired), defenses and enlarged shapes across them.

* * * * *

Then when I cross-checked the updated list with the sample PCs I also learned that several had spells and combat stances that had long ago been renamed, but missed being updated here. Thankfully that was a MUCH shorter process.

* * * * *

Before we move on to the Toria Tribes, I do feel like Stonepoint Monastery and the Imperial Church was left with a bit of a bum rap, so I wanted to touch on some of the more heroic orders of the Imperial Church.

First and most noteworthy for PCs is the Order of Venatrix (a.k.a The Grey Hunters). They swear a pact to Venatrix, the Imperial goddess of death, fate and winter and wage an unending crusade to root out and destroy the undead wherever they might be found.

Another order is The Scribes of Verax (a.k.a. The Sun Seekers). The Imperial god of the sun, arts, medicine and truth is the patron of their order and, despite the sedentary sounding name, their primary mission (at least since the Cataclysm) has been to plumb the depths of lost ruins in search of lost knowledge so that it can be recorded and spread to one and all.

While not so much an adventuring order, the Medellan Healers (whose patron is Medella, the Bright Lady; Imperial goddess of love, freedom and endurance) are who most followers of the Imperial Church are going to turn to for aid if they come down with a condition they can't treat themselves. They are found most often running clinics and orphanages throughout the civilized world. They also work closely with the next order on this short list.

Another important order in these dark times are the Knights of Viatus (a.k.a. the Hospitalers) whose patron is the god of travelers and guests. They are charged with forging and protecting travel routes (particularly those leading to holy sites), escorting pilgrims and other travelers and providing food and lodging for travelers in places that would otherwise lack such amenities.

Other orders include the Templars of Bellos (Imperial god of just war, strength and sport and mailed fist of the Imperial Church), the Seers of Cassia (Imperial goddess of divination) and the Castians (an order of virgins devoted to the goddess Castia and responsible for tending her temples, midwifery and protection of women).

Hopefully, that gives a bit more balanced picture of the Imperial Church. Despite jerks like Malcer they are most widely known for hunting the undead, seeking out lost knowledge, healing the sick and protecting travelers.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyThu Jan 10, 2019 7:42 pm

All of the new spells sound interesting. Viper's Bite is something that I'm wondering why I was okay without it, it's so obvious, and Madness sounds like a lot of fun for more random players.

***

The various Imperial Church orders are damned cool, by the way, the Order of Venatrix and the Scribes of Verax especially. The former sound like Raven Queen acolytes transplanted directly into the setting, which given the heavy undead presence is badly needed. I imagine that the Stormhold Necropolis is their white whale. The Sun Seekers give off an Indiana Jones vibe while working to restore the lost past. Like the Medellans and the Hospitalers, they're badly needed in this current dark age. The confirmation of the names of some of the Imperial gods is a nice side benefit. By the way, is the divination goddess Cassia or Castia? I imagine it's the former, given the name's resemble to Cassandra.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyFri Jan 11, 2019 12:17 pm

Yeah, when it came to the Imperial Gods and the orders I tried to take a cue from 4E's design process and focus on gods/orders that would be of interest to adventurers rather than the more traditional roles they often have in society. This isn't to say that they don't also cover traditional roles; just that the adventuring role was created first and then traditional roles tacked onto those that fit best.

So at this point, I think it makes sense to actually cover the Pantheon of the Imperial Church. So without further ado;

Caelos, The Sky Father - god of storms, kings, laws and justice. His symbols are lightning, crowns, eagles and the color blue. He is most often depicted as an eagle-headed man wearing a crown and bearing a lightning bolt/spear in his left hand and a tablet of laws in his right (showing that he favors law over wrath).

Arvia, The Earth Mother - goddess of agriculture, fertility and harvests. Her symbols are plants, animals (particularly cows) and the color green. She is most commonly depicted as a cow-headed woman wearing a crown of flowers and holding a sheaf of wheat.

Verax, The Sun Lord - god of the sun, arts, medicine and truth. He is the son of Caelos and Arvia. His symbols are the sun, musical instruments and the color gold. He is most commonly depicted as a handsome young man holding a lyre and with the sun as a halo behind his head.

Somnia, The Lady of Dreams - goddess of the moon and dreams. She is the daughter of Caelos and Arvia. Her symbols are the crescent moon, a closed eye, and the color silver. She is most commonly depicted as a reclining maiden with closed eyes and a crescent moon as a halo behind her head.

Cassia (a.k.a. Lady Luck) - goddess of divination, luck and changing your fate. She is said to the sister of Caelos and is most often invoked when beginning a new endeavor. Her symbols are dice (often with all sides bearing the best result), abstract symbols and the color gold. She is most commonly depicted as a dancing woman whose specific features are concealed by flowing veils (as the future is uncertain and can only be glimpsed).

Medella, The Bright Lady - goddess of love, passion, freedom and endurance. Her symbols are hearts, clasped hands, cats and the color purple. She is most commonly depicted as a woman with a cat's head and tail and holding a flask of perfumed oil.

Bellos, The Champion - god of just war, sport and strength. His symbols are weapons, lions and the color red. He is most commonly depicted as a lion-headed man holding a sword downward and a victory laurel aloft.

Castia, The Battle Maiden - goddess of protection, honor, the heart and virginity. Her symbols are shields, weapons (particularly the spear or lance) and the color of light blue. She is depicted as a maiden in armor with a shield and spear.

Viatus, The Guest - god of travel, hospitality and commerce/opportunity. His symbols are coins, footwear, cornucopias and the color gold. He is commonly depicted as a portly jovial man holding a cornucopia and a walking stick or staff.

Fornus, The Forge God - god of fire, crafting and invention. His symbols are fire, anvils, gears and the color of steel grey. He is commonly depicted as a man in a smith's smock with fire for hair and holding a great hammer.

Peritus, The Lord of Sails - god of the seas, sailors, bravery and skill. His symbols are ships, waves, fish and the color of sea green. He is commonly depicted as a man with a raised trident in hand astride a dolphin or some other sea beast that is leaping from the sea.

Venatrix, The Grey Huntress - goddess of winter, death and fate (the unavoidable kind) and absolute enemy of the undead. Her symbols are the bow and arrow, wolves and the colors grey (for death) and white (for winter). She is most often depicted as either a wolf-headed or hooded woman aiming her bow at some distant target. Despite being a part of the pantheon, rumors persist that Venatrix is far older than the rest of the Astral gods and the Old Faith claims that she is actually not an Astral god at all (indeed, her "home" to the extent she has one is not the Astral Realms, but her hunting camp in the Shadow World), but is actually the Primal Spirit that embodies natural death.

* * * * *

In addition to the gods worshiped by the Imperial Church, there are also the Black Pantheon; a set of twelve malevolent gods that are actively worshiped against (the opposing numbers to each member of the Pantheon. They are;

Inperos, The Tyrant - god of raw power, injustice and cruelty. His symbols are crowns, fists, rams and the color of deep red. He is depicted as a ram-headed man bearing an iron sceptor/mace.

Bellua, The Mother of Monsters - goddess of wild beasts and the cruelty of nature. Her symbols are monsters and the color of sickly green. She is depicted as a humanoid chimera with the heads of wild beasts in place of her hands and feet in addition to the usual two heads and serpent-headed tail.

Calum, The Lord of Lies - god of night, lies and propaganda. His symbols are tongues, pipes and the color midnight blue. He is depicted as a man whose features are concealed by a hood and cloak playing the pipes.

Malia, The Banshee - goddess of misfortune. She is depicted using abstract symbols and her color is black. She is depicted as a maiden pierced by knives and arrows.

Timora, The Queen of Nightmares - goddess of the new moon, madness and fear. Her symbols are black disks and screaming faces. She is often depicted as a woman with fangs, talons and the lower body of a spider and a screaming victim snared in her webs.

Cruciata, The Lady of Pain - goddess of slavery, humiliation and torture. Her symbols are chains, whips and thorns. She is depicted as a woman wrapped in barbed chains like a mummy and holding a spiked chain.

Caedes (pronounces like "Hades"), The Blood God. God of conquest, murder and vengeance. His symbols are blood, savage beasts and the color red. He is depicted as a massively muscled man with a tusked gorilla-like face holding one half of a person ripped in two in each of his hands (the top half traditionally in his right hand, the bottom half in his left hand).

Salaxi, The Seductress - goddess of betrayal, hatred and lust. Her symbols are beating hearts, erotica, and the color red. She is depicted as a beautiful woman in a seductive pose, but bearing an expression of pure malice.

Raptus, The Thief - god of greed, gluttony, mistrust and theft. His symbols are cloaks, piles of gold, bone-littered food plates and gold. He is depicted as a ghoulishly thin man with a half-eaten leg of meat in his left and his right hand holding a dagger behind his back.

Uros, The Brute - god of ignorance and destruction. His symbols are broken objects, ruins, and the color of rust. He is depicted as a savage standing atop opened books with a torch in one hand and a broken sword in the other.

Scaevitas, The Kraken - god of terror, failure and sea monsters. His symbols are various sea monsters and the grey-green of a stormy sea. He is typically depicted as a man with the lower body of an octopus.

Morbia, The Blight Queen - goddess of pestilence, disease and the undead. Her symbols are skulls, beetles and the color of bone white. She is depicted as a hooded skeleton holding a carrion beetle in one hand and a rotting head in the other. The Old Faith claims she is the Bride of the Demon Emperor and Mother of all Ghouls.

* * * * *

So that's the Pantheon of the Imperial Church.

Since we're on the subject, next time I may as well cover the Elven Pantheon of the Astral Court and the Bestian Faith of the Beastmen before moving on since they are kin to the Imperial Church (rather like the Roman religion was kin to the Greek).
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyFri Jan 11, 2019 3:13 pm

Very interesting - so Cassia and Castia are separate characters.

It's interesting to note the resemblance between the Roman and Greek deities, and specifically how they, the Norse gods, and the Hindu gods arose from an early Indo-Aryan faith.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptySat Jan 12, 2019 7:43 am

Cassia and Castia are indeed separate goddess.

Ultimately all the names for the Imperial Pantheon are derived from Latin, but are not direct translations. For example Cassia is derived from Casus (luck, adventure), Castia from Castus (pure, pious) and Caelos from Caelum (sky).

This goes back to my intention to make the relics of the Praetorian Empire (like the armor warn by Warclaugh's orcs) feel very Neo-Roman in relation to the Neo-Dark Ages of the present setting.

And yes, the Proto-Indo European roots of the gods were on my mind with ideas; though also of note was that I settled on twelve gods back when EVERYTHING was in twelves early on; twelve races/species, twelve backgrounds, twelve classes (three each of martial, arcane, divine and primal) each with twelve attack power options.

The attack powers was the largest part of why I ended up at an even dozen; one power for each of the gods for each of the divine classes. The game has been massively restructured for the better since then, but the fluff aspect of the Astral gods has stayed intact and been further fleshed out as well.

* * * * *

Also, speaking of Proto-Indo European, I think now would be a good time to bring up the Bestian Pantheon. The Imperial Church claims their Pantheon to be based on a refined understanding of the Astral Gods and that they are divided between light and dark pantheons, but the original Astral faith... the Bestian pantheon of the Beastmen... makes no such distinctions and is most marked by its acceptance of dualism in the original understanding of the Astral gods.

Thus, instead of two opposing pantheons of twelve, the Bestian Pantheon consists of just a dozen deities embodying both positive and negative elements (in D&D terms they'd be the Neutral-aligned deities vs. the Good and Evil deities of the Imperial/Black Pantheons);

Taevos, The Storm King - God of Supreme Power. His symbols are crowns, rods, eagles, rams and the color royal purple. He is depicted as an eagle-headed man with a crown of ram's horns and bearing an iron rod.

Valjadi, The Queen of Nature - Goddess of Nature in all its forms. Her symbols are plants, animals and the color green. She is depicted as a Lioness-headed woman wearing a crown of thorns.

Vestja, The Storyteller - God of Art and Stories (both true and false). His symbols are books and various musical instruments. He is commonly depicted as a monkey-headed man with a monkey's tail that holds a rattle while his hands hold various instruments (whatever is most popular in the region).

Saatia, The Weaver of Fate - Goddess of Fate, Destiny and Luck (both good and ill). Her symbols are looms, spiders and webs. She is commonly depicted as a woman with four insect eyes and four spider legs sprouting from her back that are weaving patterns in spider-silk.

Unalema, The Moon Maiden - Goddess of the Moon, Sleep and Hidden Knowledge. Her symbols are the many phases of the moon and sand. Her common depiction is of a female winged goblin (i.e. a bat beastman) holding a lantern with her feet claws (her arms being needed to fly).

Raeva, The Queen of Passion - Goddess of Strong Emotions of all kinds. Her symbols are hearts, fires, and the color red. She is depicted as a cat-headed woman in fine clothing and holding a burning brazier with a heart emblem upon it.

Sodur, The Warrior - God of War. His symbols are blood, weapons, the lion and the color red. He is commonly depicted as a lion-headed man in armor with a sword and a lion-faced shield.

Neitsi, The Woman - Goddess of Womanhood in all aspects. Her symbols are cattle, hearths, homes and the light purple color. Commonly depicted as a minotaur holding a minotaur calf (which is also Neitsi; in the stories she gives birth to herself, thus being both maiden and mother).

Randaja, The Traveler - God of Travel and Wealth. His symbols are coins, gems, scales (weights ), wings and the color black with a glossy sheen to it. He is commonly depicted as a ravenkin male with a coin or gem held in his beak and a map in right foot talons.

Sulat, The Fire Lord - God of Fire in all aspects. His symbols are fire and the red-orange color of molten iron. He is depicted as a giant kobold with burning eyes and maw and, in many depictions, wings (modern depictions present these as gadgeteered devices, but the earliest ones instead show Sulat with dragon-like wings… thus the association of kobolds with dragons in the minds of many who also call the god The Fire Dragon).

Oskus, The Sea God - God of The Seas, Sailors and Sea Life. His symbols are waves, ships, monsters and the sea green color. Commonly depicted as a crocodin male with a harpoon and net.

Surma, The Reaper - Goddess of Death and Finality. Her symbols are bones, grave dirt and the color black. Commonly depicted as a female gnoll (i.e. a jackal beastman) with a scythe. Also worth noting is that Surma has no aspect relating to undeath and the Bestian religion considers undead to be a type of demon.

* * * * *

Next time, the Elven pantheon.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptySat Jan 12, 2019 2:37 pm

Going off of the Bestian gods, I can see why the Imperial Church prefers to believe in two opposing pantheons as opposed to twelve gods that you're taking your chances with.

Couple of questions: what language did you base the Bestian gods' names on? Also, how did Bestia fare during the Cataclysm? Finally, they strike me as vaguely Egyptian, but I'm curious as to how much so.

***
The Bestian idea of undead being a type of demon makes sense - after all, the Demon Emperor created undead magic.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptySat Jan 12, 2019 6:58 pm

To the first question, I ended up using Estonian for no particular reason than the words I picked to base the names off (ex. Taevos is Estonian for Sky) just sounded good and just a little harder to pronounce than Latin for English speakers (the idea being that they’re just a bit more foreign than the Imperial gods). The same goes for just odd things like The Woman being both mother and daughter simultaneously.

Second, the gods in general have had Egyptian themes to them (Caelos has the head of an Eagle and Arvia the head of a cow as a deliberate invocation of Ra/Horus and Isis/Hathor), but it’s definitely dialed up for the Bestian pantheon, which actually segways well your other question.

The state of Bestia post-Cataclysm is best summed up by the title of the book I hope to one day get to for the region... The Blood Wastes of Bestia. As I believe I’ve described in the past the Beastmen live in a Neo-Egyptian kingdom along a major river surrounded by the endless wastes of iron-rich sands that are all that remains of a once verdant region filled with forests, lakes once known as the Templelands. The wastes are rife with undead hordes (many of which wear heavy bandages to protect them from the damaging light of the sun), lost temples filled with relics and magic, and of course the Kingdom of Rin (and if you check out the picture of the Vermin malfean you’ll see he’s decked out in a rather Egyptian themed outfit).

Basically a kingdom Egyptian beastmen (and a smaller one of malfeans) vs. Egyptian undead legions.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyWed Jan 16, 2019 3:22 pm

So, in the name of completeness for the Astral religions I present here the Astral Court of the elves.

Like all the Astral religions it has its dualistic nature. The Imperial Church declares there to be a light and a dark pantheon in competition with each other. The Bestian faith embraces that gods are beyond mortal conceptions of good and evil and instead represent greater forces that can be used for good or ill.

The Astral Court takes its dualistic cues instead from the Moon, which waxes and wanes in cycles of light and dark… and so too its gods. The Astral Court has two faces, Seelie (fiery passion and spontaneity) and Unseelie (cold logic and obsessive focus) that the gods cycle through with the phases of the moon (the elves once shifted between natures as well until the Cataclysm locked each into a specific nature).

Thus, the faith of the Astral Court alternates between weeks of intense focus and purification and weeks of festivals and merriment. One cycle per lunar month (28 days) and each lunar month devoted to a specific god of the Astral Court.

With 13 lunar months per 364 day solar year and 11 gods, two of the lesser gods get an extra month/purification/festival cycle that celebrates their relationship with the High Queen. Which of the gods get that extra month (and in which order) becomes the name for the year in the Elven tongue (ex. if gods Chan-Lo/Fire and then Cha-Chata/Fate had extra festivals in the year then it would be the Pi-Chan-Chata or Year of Fiery Fates in the Elven calendar… if they were reversed it would be the Pi-Cha-Lo or Year of Fated Fire).

This creates a 90 year cycle of year names which are appended with a Cycle name if needed… each lesser god in sequence getting a Cycle that is said to mirror the state of the elves. The cycle during the Cataclysm was that of Kar-Taxsu, God of War. It was followed by the cycle of Phoz-Bin, the King-Consort. The current cycle is that that of Cha-Chata, Goddess of Fate and its onset aligns with the coming of Warclaugh’s Empire and Blackspire’s independence. The elves console themselves that the first half of the cycle is always of purification before the celebration so this is therefore the time of trials before the glorious fate that awaits them; or so say the Priests of the Astral Court.

Also, you may have noticed up above I said ELEVEN gods instead of the twelve of the Imperial Church or Bestianism. That is because, as immortal reincarnating spirits they do not recognize any goddess of death among their gods. To the elves, the Grey Huntress is a demonic spirit that preys upon lesser beings that are cursed to end while the elves endure forever.

They also have a slightly different hierarchy to the gods; placing the Goddess of Dreams above all other gods; for Creation is but her dream and all the other gods, elves and mortals are but fragments of her dreams.

For the Imperial Church’s part, they contend (though only quietly in Old Praetoria due to its proximity to El-Phara) that the Elven Faith is a heresy; that the only true gods among their Pantheon are Somnia and her dark twin Timora. The rest of the Elven gods are but the dreams of mortals about the true gods that jumble the light and dark together into the chaotic patterns that are the elven gods.

Also of note, the Elven gods are generally depicted as Archons (winged elves), but have no set appearance as they are also regarded as retaining the full mutability of dreams (i.e. they can change their appearance as changelings can). Instead the only consistent aspect of their depictions is the color of their eyes; which are the same solid pools of color as the elves, but include colors that elves do not normally possess.

So here are the gods of the Astral Court;

Mae-Phra/Sin-Canthr, Queen of the Gods, Goddess of Dreams and the Moon. She has two names for her two faces; Mae-Phra the light and Sin-Canthr the darkness. As noted above she is the supreme deity of the elves and the Astral Court waxes and wanes between Seelie and Unseelie dominance with her phases and transitions. Her eyes are pure white in her light aspect and pure black in her dark aspect. Her light aspect is of hopeful dreams, her dark aspect is one of fearful portents.

Phoz-Bin, King-Consort of the Gods, God of Administration and Laws. His eyes are depicted as the bluish-purple of a lightning arc. He is the favored patron of the Courtier class. His light aspect is that of the goods that an ordered society brings, his dark aspect is the stifling effects of bureaucratic overregulation.

Mae-Sahka, Goddess of the Seasons. Her eyes are depicted as a rich green in spring, gold in summer, orange at harvest and grey in winter. Her light aspects are the spring (planting) and fall (harvest), her dark aspects are the summer (drought) and winter (brutal cold).

Phu-Brai, God of Story and Song. He is depicted with golden eyes. His light aspect is the promotion of community virtues through shared culture. His dark aspect is the promotion of fear and hatred of those different from yourself.

Cha-Chata, Goddess of Fate. Depicted with piercing green eyes. Her light aspect are the blessings of good fortune for those who keep to their place in society. Her dark aspect is the banes that befall those who do not heed their place in society.

Xisra-Phaf, Goddess of Body and Soul. Depicted with violet eyes. Her light aspect is of health and wellbeing of the body and soul in balance. Her dark aspect is that pain and suffering are gates that need to be passed through to reach that balance.

Kar-Taxsu, God of War. Depicted with blood red eyes. His light aspect is of peace through strength. His dark aspect is conquest to subdue threats to peace.

Brisu-Thi, Goddess of Womankind. Her eyes shift between light blue and red. Her light aspects are defense of the home and hearth. Her dark aspects are smothering overprotectiveness.

Phu-Kha, God of Commerce. His eyes are gold. His light aspect is the goods that commerce and trade bring to society. His dark aspect is the goods that exploiting others for the gain of your people can bring to you.

Chan-Lo, God of Fire. His eyes are flame-red. His light aspect is fire as a tool to aid civilization (cooking, light for reading, forging tools). His dark aspect is fire as a weapon to destroy your enemies (forging weapons, burning your enemy’s homes and possessions, burning your enemies).

Phaya-Nar, God of the Seas. His eyes are sea-green. His light aspect is the benefits that the sea brings through fishing and travel. His dark aspect is seeking to deny these benefits to all but your people.

* * * * *

In other words, it is a religion that, like the Elven society which spawned it, is all about social control of their people and where its dark aspects are directed towards enforcing that control or projected onto others (vs. something that is to be opposed as it is in the Imperial Church or something that simply is a part of a whole that is both good and bad as in Bestianism). It is definitely meant to have a rather Oriental Celestial Bureaucracy type feel to it.

* * * * *

And with that digression out of the way (unless you've got questions), I think we’re finally ready to continue the travel-log up the Hydra River to the Toria Tribes next time.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyWed Jan 16, 2019 5:57 pm

If I had to worship any of the three, I'd go with the Imperial Church - they at least acknowledge that the evil side is to be opposed. The Bestians have an amoral, "take it or leave it" attitude towards their gods' aspects, and the Elven version looks like a bastardized dream version of the other guys - kind of like what the Imperial Church says about them. Just about all of the elven gods have some aspect dedicated towards control over others, and it's not always the dark aspect. Look at Cha-Chata: her light aspect literally calls for keeping your place in society, or as I read it, knowing your place. Like you said, it's a faith devised by a society with the intent of controlling its people, enslaving its neighbors, and expanding its dominion. Hell, with this set-up, El-Phara is about as bad as the orcs!

By the way, does the light and dark aspect correspond to the Seelie and Unseelie, as I'm thinking, or is it on an individual basis?

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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyWed Jan 16, 2019 9:15 pm

Seelie and Unseelie don't map well to Good and Evil... they map better to Chaos (Seelie) and Law (Unseelie). The Seelie are artists, poets and inventors; Unseelie are more commonly architects, scholars and engineers.

As such, which side is Light (i.e. traditionally "good" or at least "better") and which is Dark (i.e. "evil" or rather the "worse" option of the two) varies with the god.

Breaking it down by God its as follows;

Mae-Phra/Sin-Canthr and Phoz-Bin both have light aspects that are Seelie... rulership is always best when focused on hopes and aspirations and in devising solutions to problems. Their dark aspects are Unseelie because they are the oppressive bureaucratic aspects of rules for the sake of rules.

Mae-Sahka's light aspect is Unseelie (spring and fall when the specific work of planting and harvesting needs to be done) while her dark aspect would be Seelie (the seasons where much of it is waiting and doing a variety of tasks to keep things on track).

Phu-Brai's light aspect is also Unseelie... building a shared culture and virtues takes focus on a common goal. His dark aspect is Seelie... irrational fears and hatreds are the name of the game.

Cha-Chata's light aspect is Unseelie... keep to your place and your tasks and good things will result. Her dark aspect is Seelie... break from the mold and any number of bad things might occur.

Xisra-Phaf's light aspect is Seelie... health and wellbeing of the soul requires not being too focused, but on balancing many different aspects. Her dark aspect is Unseelie... pain and suffering are gates that one must focus on passing through to reach your ends.

Kar-Taxsu's light aspect is Seelie... protecting the realm means being flexible rather than mired in a specific strategy or tactic. His dark aspect is Unseelie... a literal bloody-minded focus on conquest.

Brisu-Thi's light aspects are marginally Seelie... defending hearth and home and doing what is best for family takes flexibility and being spontaneous. Her dark aspect though is definitely Unseelie... smothering all creativity and risk-taking because of the danger an unexpected result might cause.

Phu-Kha's light aspect is Unseelie... again a focus on business as a stabilizing force in society. His dark aspect is Seelie... it takes a flexible and devious brain to scheme and swindle (think the mischievous nature common to trickster fey).

Chan-Lo's light aspect is Unseelie... cooking, reading and forging tools are all tasks that require focus to perform. His dark aspect is Seelie... think the Chaotic Neutral murder hobo who wants to see the world burn.

Phaya-Nar's light aspect is also Unseelie... fishing, sailing and navigating are all things that take focus and skill. His dark aspect is Seelie... think every lawless pirate crew from films and history.

* * * * *

The end result of this is that regardless of which aspect is currently dominant about half the gods aspects are light (at least semi-benevolent) and about half are dark (destructive and dangerous). At the same time the Fire God wants to loot and kill and pillage and burn, the War god is devising creative defenses and the King Consort is looking for ways to benefit his society. Meanwhile when the War God is focused on conquering and exploiting new territories the Commerce God and Sea God are focused on peaceful trade with the neighbors.

The other important thing to remember too is that these are aspects of the mutable gods. The elves themselves are each locked into a single aspect and placed in areas within their caste that best fit that aspect.

A Seelie courtier will be focused on using his position to bring about good ends for as many people as possible regardless of the season because that is his nature. He will likely spend the "focus and reflection" portion of the Month of Phoz-Bin to focus on and examine the rules and regulations under his sway to see which could be best cut away to improve efficiency. An Unseelie courtier by contrast has probably been put in charge of a government position that requires focus and a bureaucratic attention to detail... keeping the accounts of taxes and expenses for example.

* * * * *

But yes, El-Phara IS bad. That's one of the reasons I swapped the default assumptions about PC elves from my original "Caste-loyal is the norm" to "Most PCs are either Dark or at least Dark Sympathetic."

In D&D alignment terms; El-Phara is the Lawful Evil enemy force (Lawful Neutral towards their own people), the Bloodspear Orcs are the Chaotic Neutral (with evil tendencies) and the various legions of undead are the Neutral Evil ones (don't care about order or chaos beyond their use as tools to bring about mass death).

Meanwhile among the "Points of Light" Riverhold would be Unaligned (trappings of law, but mostly anything the rich want as long as it doesn't rock the boat is legal for them), Ironhold would be Lawful Neutral with good tendencies, The Free Cities would be Chaotic Good and the Toria Tribes would be a mix of Unaligned and Neutral Good to Chaotic Good tribes.

And yes, the Imperial Church is easily the most morally human-aligned of the Astral faiths. It was founded by humans based on their understanding of the Astral gods and directed towards traditional human virtues; Rulership is associated with fatherhood, knowledge, truth, beauty, endurance and skill are celebrated; Just war and competition through sport are encouraged; guests are welcomed and protected. Tyranny, deception, murder and theft are evils that must be opposed.

That alignment with traditional human virtues is also the reason it is called the IMPERIAL Church... it was the official state religion of the Praetorian Empire.

* * * * *

That said, while the Astral faiths would contend otherwise, there is another Religious path; the one embraced by both the Malfeans whose exodus started out this travel-log started out exploring and the Toria Tribes they were to encounter after heading north from Stonepoint Monastery.

So as we explore the Toria Tribes we will also be starting to delve a little deeper into the religion most tied to them (and to the Malfeans); The Old Faith.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptySat Jan 19, 2019 12:47 pm

Your travel log will resume shortly, but I had something of a breakthrough on magic items (I’d call it a brainstorm, but that would imply I was working on it deliberately... instead it literally came out of nowhere while I was typing up pregens for a playtest event).

Anyway, I started futzing with the notion of how I’d build something like a magic wand or staff as it would have appeared in earlier editions of D&D; one where the spells were innate to the item and not the caster. In already had magic item properties for duplicating weapon properties (independent of weapon quality), cantrips and even primal utilities, some arcanist utilities and even some rituals, so throwing in a category for attack spells seemed in bounds.

But as I was looking at pricing and balancing such a property it hit me; attack spells are mostly a damage type and extra hit effects (the implement determines range and damage die) which is what the magic item properties already supplied, but with less flexibility (because they were intended to be added on top of using an attack spell or stance).

And that’s when it hit me. Why have a dozen generic conditions as wielded item properties at all? Instead an “unbalancing” property for weapons or implements you could build the “Unbalancing Strike” combat stance into the weapon.

You could even use them more often. Because the magic properties were intended to stack with existing at-will stances/spells they all had focus costs to employ them. But if they’re a built in spell or stance then you can’t use it at the same time as another one so you can skip the focus cost entirely.

The limits on permanent items already keep you from being able carry too many at once and splitting the effects between the at-will effects only for a minor property and the full spell with special effects for a major property you keep the full extra stance/spells to one per item slot (since only artifacts have more than one major property).

And it takes the options from about a dozen special effects to 36 combat stances and 52 attack spells; many of which have more interesting quirks than the raw conditions supply (ex. you could have “The Shield of the North; a runic shield that can produce the effects of an Ice Wall spell... or the Staff of Flames which has the minor versions of Flare, Faerie Fire and Wall of Fire on it).

Depending on how it’s written up (I’m still futzing with the exact wording) it could even allow use across archetypes; a crossbow of magic net is something a fighter might find useful and a blade of skill (with the accurate offense stance built in) might be just the ticket for a squishy wizard who keeps finding himself in melee and doesn’t just want to escape (where a “dazzling duelist” stance might be more useful).

So, less space in the book, more balanced in play and has more interesting options? That is a WIN in terms of game design (other effects which don’t have an equivalent spell or stance; guardian which lets adjacent allies use your defense scores if they’re higher for example; will also still be present).
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptySat Jan 19, 2019 6:11 pm

Now that is one hell of an idea! I can see PCs kitting out in temporary magic items to slay specific monsters, then swapping out upon returning to base. This is definitely something to run past the group. I'd be curious as to what the powergamers could do with it.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptySat Jan 19, 2019 7:17 pm

The cost is the main thing that will make them prohibitive... well, the cost and the fact that the full version is a major property so the materials to craft them require adventuring to obtain, I don't think it'll be any worse than the items available now; just different and with more options.

I'll find out with some testing, but I think it might even be a net nerf in power since the current items are essentially extra special effects you can add by spending focus on top of the base effects of your attack while the new version actually replaces your attack and the minor version can't be improved with focus either.

As an example, the current property of Unbalancing lets you knock a target prone when you hit with an attack for 1 focus. This is on top of say, the Raging Fury stance which lets you deal focus extra damage when you hit and 5 extra damage on a hit or miss per focus spent.

In the new version, the closest equivalent would be a weapon with the Unbalancing Assault stance built in. It doesn't cost focus to use, but it also REPLACES the effects of Raging Fury and, unless you have the major property version, you can't spend focus to do more than knock the target prone.

So its useful because it allows more flexibility (and a ton more options now, particularly with the spells), but it doesn't add much raw power to the equation.

The main thing it might do is allow you to use a different damage type to target a specific vulnerability (or at least not be using something its resistant to), but there's already a much cheaper enchantment if all you want to do is change the damage type of your attacks (Elemental is a minor property that costs 5 pounds).

But we'll see with some testing. My test today got cancelled due to a major snow storm, but certainly the next one we'll see what they can break.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptySun Jan 20, 2019 3:49 am

Sorry for the snowstorm. I hope you guys are doing okay.
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PostSubject: Re: STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade)   STILL Not Dead (Terrors & Tactics Updade) - Page 12 EmptyWed Jan 23, 2019 10:45 am

We did fine with the snowstorm, hardest part was the cold afterwards and keeping the barn warm enough for the horses when it was -10F outside (fortunately when buttoned up the barn stays about 20F and we have heaters for the waters to keep it liquid... as long as they've got food and water 20F isn't bad for them).

* * * * *

Anyway, on to the magic item rework. Ultimately, I decided to keep the older effects as well as the new ones; I just consolidated them under a category called "infliction" (since they all had the same trigger and same focus cost to use) while adding the new properties in.

As to the new properties, I ended up separating basic attack spell and basic stance into two properties since how they interact with weapons and implements was somewhat different. Those are the versions where you can't spend focus on them. The full attack spell and full stance versions are major properties.

In addition, I added "Basic Specialization" as another minor property and "Expert Specialization" as a major property since those allowed for several other effects to be achieved. Extra Attacks, Extra Special Abilities and Multi-classing aren't available as properties, but things like "piercing specialization" for damage types is.

I'm not expecting too many issues with these since the permanent item limits (1+1 at 4, 7, 10 and 13) will restrict the number and specialization bonuses don't stack so you couldn't stack three "abjuration specialization" properties for a +3 to defenses (and it wouldn't stack with your specialization if you had it).

Finally, I made a slight tweak to the Sky Sails. They're now "Sky Sails/Levitators" and can be applied to any vehicle (though they still need some other means of propulsion) so flying chariots (or carpets) can now be built using a combination of this property and either flying mounts or an Arcane Engine.

The best part? Despite adding these options and taking nothing away I ended up reducing the page count by one (so there's more room to squeeze something else into the Player's Guide if I need to).

* * * * *

I also got some new artwork done for the book.

- Goblins (winged), Crocodin and Centaurs.
- Wolfen and Myrmidons.
- Revised both of the Dwarf images to make the artifice a bit clearer.
- All new art for the High Elf warrior and his house guard, now including his wings and in better looking armor.
- Revised art for the common elves to put their clothing styles in line with the rest of the elves.
- two new pieces of artwork for the Fetches.
- the Human captain formerly known as Callahan (but now going by Jack Knave on account of Callahan and Kalla sounding too much alike) got some new artwork to look a bit more stylish.

Next in the cue is some additional artwork for the golems to replace the second image which doesn't quite capture the look as well as the first image (i.e. the one with the cute golem girl which is perfect), then a revised third image for humans (I needed to add a shadow bloodline human in addition to the dwarven bloodline... probably in place of the half-avatar since there's now one of those in the other human art).

Malfeans are done so that leaves just the Mutant artwork and the Species section isn't just "the writing is done", but the artwork for that section will be done as well.

The next set of art I'll be working on is for the Backgrounds section since they're actually laid out to need a full page piece with each background to keep the Utility descriptions on facing pages.

I'll see about putting up an updated "Art of" PDF in the near future.

* * * * *

Next up (I mean it this time), the Toria Tribes.
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