Brave New World: Covenant by Hostile V
INTRODUCTIONOriginal SA post
Yeah alright let’s do this.
"I put on my collar and priest's frock."
Brave New World: Covenant is the Covvie sourcebook for BNW as if that wasn’t obvious. It’s 130 pages long, the first 60 are all in-character fluff and the rest is a premade mission, new blessings and powers and stuff like that. The main narrator is Father
The Beginning: Years before Jesus dies on the cross, he’s tempted by Satan out in the desert. The apostle Peter, the first Pope, ends up inspired by Christ’s resistance to temptation to create a secret order to eradicate evil in a corporeal form under control of the Church. That’s a pretty quick step from “let’s make a church from this religion and I’ll be the Pope”. The Pope is an honorary leader/member of the Covenant and was one of the few people to know about it back in the day. The Covenant was even a secret part of the Crusades, fighting actual literal demons and monsters that had somehow been around. No shut up this isn't problematic.
Man, she is yelling hard enough to fleck his face with spit. Mad lung props.
Anyway, Deltas don't show up until World War I (COUGH HOUDINI COUGH) and the years after it. Father Joe Murray gets shot in gangland crossfire between Capone's goons in Chicago in the 1920s and becomes the first American Covvie. He fights crime as the Cross for a few years until Houdini asks him for help. A protégé of Houdini's (who is of course fucking Mr. Twist) has summoned an actual demon to Chicago and Houdini needs help sending the demon back to where it came from. They succeed, but in the process The Cross is unmasked in front of a Christmas mass and his secret identity gets out. Pope Pious finds out and he's basically just like "alright buddy, come to the Vatican because we're gonna use you to start forming an international Delta fighting team". The Covenant as we know it comes into existence in 1923 with Father Joe leading two other Covvies before all the other empowered nuns, monks and priests join them. Oh also basically every Covvie has the possibility of being canonized as a saint because why not.
The Cross, beating Nazi ass.
Joining the Covenant: You only get in one of three ways: you're either a Delta with Covvie powers, Pope John Paul II picks you to join the team or you're another type of Delta on loan helping with Covenant stuff. The regular people generally need to cover the non-combat stuff like surgery, forensics and R&D. You also have to be really good at what you do and have a member of the clergy basically write you a letter of recommendation to be passed on to the Pope to recruit you. The faster way to do this is be a nun, monk or priest, get hit by a truck and survive as a Covvie. Of course you can end up a Covvie or a Catholic Delta and not join, that's your choice. You can also work for a sort of auxiliary corp if you don't fully have what it takes to join the Covenant.
The Mission: Bearer of the Delta power, seek to save souls. Many, many souls. Seek God, that is the only way. Lest the darkness swallow you whole, as it has so many others. Banish the literal darkness from the world and help mankind stand on their feet. Then there's six pages explaining how he and the other priests were attacked by vampires outside of Atlanta and it's just a weird rambling old man segue. The 40 new Covvies manage to hold their own but the vampires ultimately aren't stopped by Jesus powers but by a bunch of soldiers with machine guns and helicopters with guns. Also Catholic dogma states it's perfectly fine to kill vampires because they're viewed as footsoldiers in the thrall of darkness.
Stabbin' for Jesus.
Just y'know keep in mind this all started with "what is the mission of the Covenant?" and also vampires are just a type of Delta created from people who managed to survive a horrific nuclear event but yeah kill 'em. It doesn't help that mechanically vampires are shitty. At least the vampires have started wearing body armor and started toting machine guns to fight the Covenant to stand up to the Covenant's actual holy super soakers.
From here the book...meanders.
STRUCTURE OF THE COVENANT
Pope Jean Paul II is the man in charge but below him, running the show, is Cardinal Paul DuTemple. Cardinal Paul is an Australian and he's also a Covvie and a pragmatic man. Beneath him are Archbishops set up all over the world controlling affairs in each country, 12 in total across the world. Archbishop Bill Hansom is 300 pounds and the book wants you to care about that because he's in charge of the Northern Americas. He works in St. Patrick's Cathedral of Crescent City.
So hey apropos of nothing do you think that the gradual ramping up of Deltas across the world through the last 80 years is a sign of the End Times? Because parts of the church do and this comes hot on the heels of the structure of the church. One of these Deltas might be the new Jesus and there's a clear parallel between resurrection and getting Delta powers.
"MOM HOLY FUCK"
OH HEY IT'S THE SCHISM AGAIN WHOOP DE DOO
Interest Not Found.
So Covvies don't really have to serve with Delta Prime as per the DRA due to their religious callings and JFK chose that. This doesn't apply to Jewish people, Muslims, etc. And then the Schism happens because people don't want to kowtow to JFK and they want to be in Defiance and fuck you government! So officially every Covvie in Defiance is part of the Schism and the Schism continues to be an awful badly explained idea. In fact, the Covenant have secretly been hosting the Delta Times website for the last decade to help the cause until Primer hackers attacked the servers. This resulted in JFK removing restrictions against Covvies and now they're basically all lumped in with Defiance and all that jazz.
COVENANT OPERATIONS ACROSS THE WORLD
Tibet: Tibet is, uh. Too busy dealing with China to do anything with the Covenant. Why was this included? Because Tibet has its own equivalent to the Covenant, the Big Hats, who are lead by the Dalai Lama. They're friendly but they don't really work together.
I have no idea what this is but here it is anyway.
China: Christianity is illegal, the Covenant is not allowed in but this doesn't stop people from having hope. Sometimes they're allowed in for humanitarian efforts but religion is forbidden in Communist China. I don't know if that's true? That's definitely true for the USSR. I will admit to being more ignorant of Chinese Communism.
Hong Kong: There's an ongoing war between the Chinese and the British but, and I quote, the real god of Hong Kong is money. There's Anglican churches accepting help from Covvies though.
Australia: Australia apparently has the Anglican equivalent of the Covenant, the Synod. I. Uh. Sure. Whatever. They get along with the Covenant.
The Covenant is generally viewed with suspicion across Africa and South Africa and Libya openly hate them. That's it.
Africa is a lot like this picture: theoretically full of stuff but what exactly is it, it's badly defined.
Spain, Portugal and France are strongholds with high Covenant influence. Then there's these guys.
Ireland: Here the Synod hate the Covenant and vice versa because of all the terrorism. There have been no steps successfully made towards cooling down the area.
Italy/The Vatican: Covvie home turf. Kennedy's really pissed at the area despite the Pope trying to smooth things over since the whole Delta Times thing.
The Soviet Union: Religion is illegal according to the state and Russian Covvies have to hide themselves. If they're caught, they either have to denounce their religion and join the Red Brigade or stay Catholic and go to a gulag. The Covenant as a whole is not trusted by the Russian government.
Wait why is this in this book, is someone going to try and blow up Al Capone again?
The United Kingdom: Home base of the Synod. There' s no real difference besides the fact that an Anglican Bishop named Simon Carr runs the Synod with the Queen as a figurehead. They also don't have a consensus of opinion from the top down; Synod bishops running chapters run things their way and believe whatever they want. As a result the Synod is viewed as the weak equivalent of the Covenant because it has no consistent stance and sense of unity besides in name, especially when you compare the Irish Synod to the Australians. Oh also Maggie Thatcher is still PM and she's besties with JFK, which is...fuck, whatever.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Islam: HOOOOOOOOO BOYYYYYYYY. Islamic states generally press-gang their Deltas into religious service. There's a loosely affiliated group of Islamic Deltas in the Middle East known as the Jihad which spread the word of Islam by focusing on being good people, doing good deeds and preaching the word of Allah as opposed to the method of the sword (aka the popular post-9/11 view of "kill the infidels". So okay, this isn't as bad as it could be. Regardless, the Jihad works with the Covenant despite the general ban on Covenant presence in the Middle East.
Israel: Israel has the Jewish version of the Covenant known as the Kabbalah run by Rabbi Jeremiah Stein, a high-level Mossad official, German-born and survivor of the Holocaust. Israel and the Kabbalah and the Covenant get together along well because, uh, "Israel knows what it's like to be oppressed and they're kindred spirits".
This isn't Nicollette Marks, this is my original character Blanche Templayte. No I won't explain why she's in this book.
The decree of the Pope is to treat Schismatics as your brothers and sisters now that JFK is all mad. The Pope has extended a gesture of friendship to MLK Jr. because he's not really a fan of how Cardinal O'Connor and Sister Mary Victoria represent the American Catholic church and etc. etc.
Canada: The government of Canada accepts the Covenant as long as they don't draw attention to themselves. Canada is trying to keep positive relations with America and it's keeping its relationship with the Covenant on the back burner with a result.
Lots of Catholics in the area means there's a heavy Covenant presence. Generally speaking, every country in the area treat Covvies as saints and national superheroes. Big problem: rampant coups and regime changes in the area means this friendship is not guaranteed by the next leader, especially if they're pseudo-Communists. The most secure country in the area is Costa Rica's island of Isla Delta.
FORCES OF DARKNESS
Vampires: Vampires are "common" and "virulent" which is weird to me because they ultimately stem for surviving nuclear blasts and they're incapable of transmitting their "curse" because they're the result of superpowers. Although apparently the attack might trigger a Delta awakening but it really shouldn't be Vampire Powers, it should just be whatever. At any rate, governments of the world attempt to keep the vampires in Atlanta, Minsk, Chernobyl, Kiev and San Francisco. Mostly they just go berserk if they go too far from the zones and try to go on killing sprees. This is patently ridiculous because if everyone in America has a gun they're probably going to shoot a rampaging vampire who is eating someone. And everyone outnumbers vampires. So vampires are footsoldiers of apocalyptic dark forces except they have zero infrastructure to support this. It feels like the Covenant just has a raging hard-on for an ultimately impotent enemy.
Deaders: Remember these things? They're corpses animated by a Gadget powering chips in their brains. They have zero purpose in this entire series. The big problem with Deaders is that as shambling corpses they're immune to any wards against evil. The big upside is that as shambling corpses you can just shoot them until they're pulped and break the chip animating them.
Werebeasts: Werebeasts get the double standard treatment by not being counted as inherently evil like vampires. Basically they're people with powers they need to learn to control and you can't just kill them with no repercussions. I have to imagine that this is because werebeasts are actually playable as opposed to vampires not having a powerset outline provided.
Bargainers: Bargainers also fall under the same umbrella. You can't just kill 'em because no person is inherently evil. But everyone's opinion differs.
Demons: Run. If you have to fight, fight to kill or capture. A demon has to be in a binding circle to be captured, whereupon it's much easier to kill the demon.
Everybody's gonna be friends!
Sometimes only a demon's spirit gets through and their body is left behind in Hell. A demon can possess something inanimate, but that inanimate object has to have been a part of something evil. However, they can only possess one item at a time. You either have to exorcise or just break the item.
Alternately, the demon can possess the living or the dead. The same rule applies: they can only have been a part of something evil, even if they were just a witness to a crime. Kill the host or exorcise them to get rid of the demon, which has major issues if the host is a living person: if the host dies while possessed, the soul goes to Hell too. In the case of possessing a corpse, exorcism is kind of pointless. Just destroy the corpse.
A successful exorcism or destruction of the host only banishes the demon for a year and a day as opposed to the 100 year banishment of killing a demon's body in the wrong plane. And that's it for this part of the book.
Look at those nipples.
THOUGHTS: I would sigh or go "uggggh" but I fear I would not stop and my spirit would escape from my mouth and let me die before this is complete. This was painful to complete. I gave myself some time off between books (mostly due to work, mostly due to wanting to work on other things) and I felt every essence of my mind actively resist reading and absorbing any of this. I have reached a critical loss of fucks to give about any of this. I guess the only thing I find interesting is that they progress the metaplot openly?
Look, I'm not a Catholic. I have a mother who is, but I was raised far away from the Catholic church. I do feel like a lot of this has not really aged well with how it presents religion. You've already got my comment about the Islamic religious Delta group called Jihad and how it actually isn't awful because it's pre-9/11. I immediately had an angry groan reaction the moment I saw the word "Jihad" before I read deeper. And I still wasn't very impressed with the whole thing. I think that sums up my reading experience of this book. I didn't really find anything interesting or worth liking, it's just a book I read and my eyes glazed over. I think it was Humbug Schoolbus or Kai Tave who mentioned that this book was written by Forbeck as a point of interest book and I completely agree. I would argue that it's a very passionate book. Unfortunately it's a topic that doesn't interest me in the slightest and in the year 2016 a lot of people are viewing the Catholic church quite differently. It doesn't hold up, not in this time. And personally, my enthusiasm towards this series is burning out fast now that I know the end is near.
NEXT TIME: new rules for playing Covvies, new powers, new blessings and orders to join.
COVENANT HEROESOriginal SA post
The upcoming info also includes stuff from Ravaged Planet.
For starters, let’s pretend you don’t want to play a proper Covvie. That’s okay. Simply reskin every power but say it’s from a different source and instead of Covenant Martial Arts create a new Martial Art of that religion. So, for example, Wrath of God causes holy fire to strike enemies as a ranged attack. For a Muslim, call it Wrath of Allah. For someone Jewish, call it Wrath of Yahweh. Wrath of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Wrath of Vectron, Wrath of Time Pony, Wrath of Corgulon, Wrath of Jesus, Wrath of Buddha. Just pick a religion and change some names, boom done. No this isn’t problematic shut up. Back to Covvie mechanics!
So by default, every Covvie in America is wanted under the DRA because JFK is pissed. Every Covvie is also ordained as a nun, priest or monk. Every Covvie has access to training for Covenant Martial Arts. They also get access to unique weapons besides guns (despite the game mentioning that guns are pretty effective against killing the forces of darkness).
Balloon Mortar: It’s basically a two-handed crossbow balloon launcher that can fire straight with Shooting or in an arc with Artillery. The balloons generally carry three payloads: water,
Covenant Crossbow: So not counting the regular repeating disintegrating belt ammo, the Covvie crossbow has wooden bolts for vampires. Wooden bolts are Teflon-coated with a hollow-point tip that causes it to explode barbs into the flesh of the target to bypass body armor vampires have taken to wearing. Ripping out a bolt without cutting the hooks is a TN 10 Strength check and deals 3d6+3 damage.
Cross Kit: A black leather bag containing stencils, day-glo orange spray paint and glow-in-the-dark spray paint for your immediate Christian vandalism needs.
Cross-Sights: Turn the sights on your gun into a cross. Keeps vampires at bay. Doesn’t require spray paint.
Holy Soaker: Three different types of holy water squirtguns. You have pistol sidearm, a pump-action watergun or a flamethrower-type with a pack and a hose. The only real advantage these guns have over a dollar store model is sturdier plastic and being covered in religious symbols.
Portable Circle: A circle of folded cloth that can be whipped out and unfurled to trap a demon inside or surrounded people to keep evil out and away.
Protection Projector: A heavy flashlight with a magnet/tape on the bottom with two lenses you can attach to the top (cross, circles). You can affix a flashlight with a projected circle to a ceiling to beam it down.
Silver Blades: Does nothing different to the blade but hurt most weres. Seriously there’s nothing different from a regular steel blade.
Silver Bullets: “Teflon-coated bullets that cut through Kevlar”.
These are all things you can buy directly from Covenant HQ or just build in your garage with the help of that guy from Network Zero.
ROMAN CATHOLICISM BASICS
I don’t want to be dismissive but no I’m good, I’m not going to cover this brief course in Catholicism. I will also skipping the important rites and the hierarchy of the church.
Georgians: Covvies following the teachings of St. George so let’s go kick some vampires in their groins. Georgians wear battle armor covered in crosses with a mask and are basically shock troopers/marines for the Covenant. They’re forbidden to kill…humans. Everything else is fair game.
Judians: Named for St. Jude, Judians are stealth-ops. They wear all black, including facepaint, except for a large cross on their chest they might cover until it needs to be revealed. It helps protect against vampires but on the other hand, it’s an awfully large target. If a Judian is shot at and the hit location is arms, legs or head, reroll and if it’s a torso shot it hits the torso. Judians have to take Disguise 2, Stealth 2 and Perception 2 in addition to the regular requirements.
Yeah that’s it. Those are all of the special orders. Let’s look at some new stuff.
Inspire: Extra successes on a Faith roll add a cumulative +1 bonus to skill rolls for the next round for anyone who watches you do a thing.
Terrify: Reverse inspire, cumulative -1 to skill rolls to enemies witnessing you do things.
Priests can do these at any time; they don’t count towards a power limit. Note how I said priest. Women can’t use some of these powers, which is just…great. I’ll notify which ones are applicable to nuns/female Covvies.
Rules for whipping out a cross: Faith roll to make a vampire stay six feet away as long as they can see the cross via literal invisible barrier. A failure makes the barrier disappear until another success; a disaster invalidates the power of the cross for that item for the rest of the scene.
Bless: TN 5 to make holy water or bless an item.
Exorcise: TN 20 but requires a TN 10 Faith roll after talking to a demon for a hour. Holy water burns the possessed but not the demon. Keep talking to demons for a hour and make a TN 10 Faith roll to add +1 to Faith, cumulative, for exorcising.
Pray: TN 5 every hour to gain +1 to Faith for the next 24 hours or until you sleep. Women can do this.
Retreat: Pray for days in seclusion and make a Faith roll at the end of it. Get +1 Faith for a successful roll and +1 for every day. Lose 1 point of extra Faith for every night of sleep and you can only have up to double your Faith. Women can do this.
Sanctify: Throw around some holy water to bless a place and ward it from evil.
Raise your Faith by 1, get access to a new power. A Covvie can spend a hour in prayer and make a TN 20 Faith roll to swap one power to another. Previously showcased powers will not be repeated here.
Ascend: Make a T pose and fly 30 feet straight up for every success on a TN 5 Faith roll. You can’t fly in any other direction but up unless you have a means of propulsion to move around. You can also use this to slow your falling.
God’s Truth: Contested roll to make someone unable to lie to you. Three extra successes over the opponent forces them to blurt out the truth to one question.
Holy Flame: Summon a small flame that orbits your head on a TN 5 Faith roll. The flame illuminates a radius of 12 feet around you and adds six feet to the range for every extra success.
Martyr’s Determination: TN 5 Faith roll to ignore 1 wound modifier per success.
Pentecostal Tongue: TN 5 Faith roll and an audible prayer to understand another language of your choice or speak it. Works for written words too until the power wears off. Congrats, you made the Translator useless in one power.
Petition: TN 5 Faith roll in a moment of desperation and problems to get 1 free Delta Point from God if you have no points left.
Sacrifice: TN 5 Faith roll to give an ally a Delta Point.
Sanctify: Faster sanctification that blesses a 12 foot sphere for three hours.
Solace: Reassuring speech and a TN 5 Faith roll to give someone you’re consoling +1 to Bravery per success.
Unfetter: TN 5 Faith Roll to basically cast Knock and unlock one thing in your line of sight. Don’t have to touch it, just have to see it.
Walk on Water: TN 5 Faith roll to do that.
Blar, a Dracula.
KEEPING YOUR POWERS RUNNING
You sort of have to be religiously devout like a D&D Cleric would be. Follow the Ten Commandments, honor the Lord thy God and do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Sin regularly and lose your powers until you properly atone, lip service does you no good.
Well that was uplifting and happy, let’s see some premades. I will not be going over them individually but I will say that the Acolyte is the most powerful of the bunch thanks to the fact that they are a Blaster.
Thoughts on everything so far: I hate to say this but I missed the original characterization in Ravaged Planet. The Georgians are…okay. The Judians are okay if they didn’t have a stupid fucking cross on their chest. Ever since the Covenant were announced in the 1920s their uniforms have gotten more ostentatious by the decade all the way up to these knockoff Warhammer ensembles. Also let’s talk about their fight against the forces of darkness.
Vampires are an absolutely awful enemy. It’s incredibly easy to capitalize on their weaknesses by simply wearing a fucking cross as part of your clothing. Guns just tear right though vampires and you can pop a UV light in a flashlight that shines a cross to get a ridiculous death device. They’re disorganized, they’re limited in where they live and they can barely reproduce. They are also fundamentally survivors of a terrible disaster and you’re killing them.[/b] You want to really rid the world of their influence? Give that warden on Isla Delta who’s an Alpha Snuffer a ring and she can just turn off their powers for good. Because they’re not undead, they’re superpowered and trapped in this mode. Werewolves just get the “oooh, well maybe we [i]should treat them like they’re people with a physical condition” treatment because werewolves don’t need to drink blood on a daily basis. Except! Except for the fact that werewolves are by far more dangerous because they’re more likely to flip the fuck out and go feral. Fire inherently makes them go into a wolfman shit-fit! I have no fucking idea why there’s such a hard-on for murdering vampires. I never really had anything to say with them in the core book besides the fact that they’re way out of place but seeing them turned into this weird punching bag is just pretty gross to me.
Also let’s talk about your equipment. I expect all of this from a bunch of newbie Hunters going to Walmart. It’s incredibly laughable that the difference between a dollar store supersoaker and Secret Catholic Monster-Hunting Technology is “more crosses, more sturdy”. Let me introduce you to this revolutionary concept of “paint crosses on it, reinforce with duct tape”. Water balloons? Get the fuck out of here. Cross-sights? Yeah, I saw From Dusk Till Dawn too. Here’s the big killer to me: they’re equipped for absolute vampire overkill but barely any of this is useful against a demon. The circles are the most useful thing but if a shadow crosses over the projected circle it’s useless and it takes effort to use the cloth circle. Your best weapon against a demon is still Sufficient Firepower. You are disgustingly ill equipped against an actual problem instead of a bunch of people sick with superpowers.
Let’s talk powers, speaking of. Priests are the only ones who can do certain things and these certain things are basically Free Powers. But women can’t use these powers because women can’t be priests and this is admitted to be a bad thing because the church hasn’t come around to gender equality. Fuck that. You’re gonna throw gender inequality into this mix when you could just avoid it in this game that has never been about being accurate to reality? Bullshit. The in-universe explanation is ass and does nothing to actually justify this decision. Plus there’s the implication that it’s not a matter of issues of the church and a matter of issues of God because it’s not like the church says “no, nuns can’t bless” and behold, nuns cannot bless. Nuns can’t bless because their powers granted from God say they can’t bless. Any GM with a brain is just going to drop this bullshit crap-ass in-universe justification and let the fucking nuns have their full range of power and ability. There is no mechanical justification for this; it’s just arbitrary fluff bullshit. It has as much thought to it as “yeah just call down Wrath of Emperor Hirohito” does.
The new powers are just versatility shit and are okay at best. That’s all I have to say on the matter. I’m done here. I need to put on some music and chill.
NEXT TIME: The last of the setting secrets and the last premade mission, a story of Plot Important NPCs and the shortest and loosest in form, a story called ”For Goodness Sake”.
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTEROriginal SA post
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER
SONO CHI NO SADAME!
Truth: When the Primers took the Delta Times server, they were able to figure out Truth’s identity. She’s currently behind bars in Crescent City because her powers mean she can’t escape and she’s in holding until a transfer to New Alcatraz.
Sinning: Venial sins are stuff we do on a normal basis, like swearing and being a jerk. Too many venial sins and you cool off in Purgatory when you die. Mortal sins involve things like murder or actively, willfully ignoring the Ten Commandments. One mortal sin on your soul damns you to Hell for eternity. However, Covvies can tell if they’re about the level of sin they’re about to commit by making a Faith roll before doing it (TN 10 for Venial, TN 5 for Mortal) to avoid getting slapped with the sin. Knowingly committing a Venial sin deducts 1 point from your Faith and a Mortal sin deducts 3. Hit 0 Faith and lose your powers until you attempt the sacrament of reconciliation and penance. Otherwise you can’t regain any Faith by any means. I would imagine this rule translates to other religions badly.
Vampires: Killing all vampires remains the top objective of the Covenant as a whole and killing them legitimately doesn’t count as a sin.
Deaders: Evil Unlimited now has this tech, which is weird when the first book mentioned that this is a well known technology among shady Gadgeteers. Also I can’t imagine killing a Deader counts as a sin.
Man look at the texture of that wing.
Werebeasts: If you don’t have any of the other books, here are stats for the werewolves. I will not be reprinting them.
Demons: Stats are reprinted here. There’s nothing new here to demons: they can use any Bargainer spell at any time and they can swap between one powerset to another at any time. Killing a demon banishes it from that dimension for a hundred years but they just respawn on their home plane.
Possessions and Exorcisms: The possessed can fly at a Pace of 5 (30 feet a round). People keep their normal skills and can fight like they normally would or gain Barehanded 5 and Dodge 5 from the demon’s abilities. Possessed items get 3d6 in all stats and a few skills have a 5 in them as applicable.
Also it’s still okay to work with Bargainers if you have to.
So this section really didn’t provide anything new or good or useful. But why stop there? It’s time for a premade mission.
FOR GOODNESS SAKE
This is a Covenant-based mission where it works best if y’all are aligned with Defiance. It makes less sense to be a Primer mission.
Background: Carmen Whitstone is a young woman from a wealthy family. Wealthy upbringing, top of her class at Yale, MBA from Wharton, now she’s a consultant for a consulting/investing firm. She’s not happy with how she got everything handed to her and she gains a lust for power, for a chance to actually seize her own destiny. Instead of starting her own business or going to therapy or backpacking through Nepal, she gets in a car accident when an offline Armorgeddon suit falls out of the sky and hits her car.
And Carmen becomes a Bargainer. Yaaaaaay.
Meet Karnax. He's like Shazbatt but A: not named Shazbatt and B: a lot more blunt about what he wants.
Recovering in the hospital, she’s plagued by voices until time and sedation leaves only one in her ear: a demon by the name of Karnax. Karnax promised her power if she did what he said, so Carmen quit her job, bought a limo and drove around until she found five Goth Satanists (The Sixth Cult of Satan because I guess 1-5 didn’t pan out so well). They tried to get her to leave them alone up until she started speaking in an Abyssal tongue and then they were on board.
Carmen and the Satanists made a satanic church in the basement of an abandoned church and tattooed Carmen all over. Last night they drew a protective circle, lit the candles and summoned Karnax. And they successfully pierce the barrier and summon Karnax into the circle, who casually steps out of the circle because the summoning ritual made everyone throw up and someone’s puke smeared the wards. Now everyone is dead (everyone being the Satanists Darren Colby, Ginny Speltman, Dale Whistler, Cos Swenson and Margarita Valez who didn’t even get names until now) except for Carmen and Karnax is loose in Crescent City. Karnax would have killed the fleeing Carmen except he got distracted by a plot contrivance: a newspaper box with the headline of Truth’s arrest. Figuring “hey, this is perfect for my evil plan” he decided to leave Carmen alone for now and go get Truth from Primer HQ.
The PCs get the following call in the middle of the night from Joeson.
When they get to the building, the only thing standing between the PCs and the crime scene is caution tape. There is blood everywhere along with tape where the bodies were and other satanic accouterments that are currently untouched or not yet catalogued as evidence. A TN 5 Search roll reveals that Carmen’s business cards are being used as book marks in occult tomes because why not. If they don’t find the card, they accidentally run afoul of the building’s super who is a Catholic and more than willing to cooperate with Covvies. If asked about who rented the space, he’ll give them Carmen’s name and address. This is incredibly dumb because as previously mentioned wasn’t this a basement in an abandoned apartment building? Why would someone rent this space?
I know this is supposed to be "possessed Carmen and a priest" but I can't look at this and not think "middle school manga drawings".
At Carmen’s house, the PCs arrive to see that she’s smashed her car into the porch. The front door is open and Carmen is on the couch in the living room, clutching an empty bottle of sleeping pills and waiting for death. Rush her to the hospital and she’ll be awake by sunset or you can make a TN 15 Healing roll with God’s Mercy to save her life. If she survives, she’ll tell the PCs about what happened and mention that Karnax was rambling as he killed everyone, talking about Mephistopheles, a cathedral and a woman strong and true. If the PCs wish and have a priest amongst them, Carmen can confess her sins.
MEANWHILE Karnax has broken into Primer HQ and ripped the place apart to grab Truth. A news team has caught the entire thing live and broadcasts it.
PRESS SPACE TO SKIP
Find/save Carmen: 1 EXP.
Get Carmen a Bargainer tutor to help her control her powers: 1 EXP.
Giving Carmen confession: 1 EXP.
CHAPTER TWO 123
A TN 10 Occult roll lets the PCs understand what Carmen is talking about : Karnax wants to desecrate a cathedral with intent to summon Mephistopheles. He'll need to do it on a night of a new moon at midnight and considering how subtle Karnax is, they've only got a few days until the next new moon and the nearest cathedral is St. Patrick's in Crescent City. Contacting Joeson (who is in New York) will result in him just saying "okay, go kill him".
Should the PCs find help? The game says no, that it should be slanted in favor of the demon so the PCs don't feel robbed of their victory if they succeed. This even extends to getting to the church: the cops have figured out the person responsible for the murders was a demon and have surrounded the church. They can't enter because the Archbishop won't let them in for fear of being arrested under the DRA, but they're defending the place.
Man he's just beating on these Covvies. This is what happens when you think vampires are the real threat.
No matter when the PCs arrive, Karnax is not there. He flies through the cathedral's stained glass with Truth in his arms, turns on the Tough powerset and uses a shard of glass to cut Truth from neck to navel on the church's altar while chanting if he's not stopped. The Archbishop will help the PCs fight as best as he can. The rest of the mission is stopping Karnax before he can sacrifice Truth.
The PCs Succeed: The PCs get brief sanctuary in the church and the thanks of Joeson and the Archbishop. If Truth lives, she commits to Defiance full time and brings the Delta Times back online. If Truth dies, Defiance is left with a hole that takes time to fill but they eventually will.
The PCs Lose: Karnax successfully desecrates the church, Truth dies and Mephistopheles is brought to Earth. Mephistopheles immediately kills Karnax for his impertinence; yes Mephistopheles wants to invade Earth but he's not nearly close to ready and good job rushing this whole thing, jerk. He roars loud enough to destroy the cathedral and when the rubble clears Mephistopheles and Karnax's corpse are gone, returned to Hell.
Thoughts: By far the most straightforward of the scenarios and yet incredibly lacking. The logic flows narratively but there's still a cutscene that happens beyond player control. There's a fight against a tough enemy but it's slanted for you to be doing it on your own and bad team composition might just fuck the party. Then there's the matter of having an important NPC's fate in your hands; there's no way that canonically you fail saving Truth. It's impressive how there's a sharp 90 degree turn taken from the weirdness of Evil Is As Evil Does and yet it's still bland and unfulfilling. The feeling of "who gives a fuck" is in full force; this barely needs to be a Covvie mission, it could very well just be done with the Covenant reaching out for help outside of the Church due to heavier scrutiny.
But don't just take my word for it!
Tag yourself, I'm the dude second from the left.
HYPOTHETICAL PLAY SCENARIO
Cast of Characters
Before the game, Jeremy has the decency of telling the other players that this game is Covenant-themed so a Covvie would be a good logical addition to the group. Everyone is ultimately torn; their team composition is pretty good all things considered. They may not all get a moment in the spotlight, but they cover the bases. Ultimately Dan bites the bullet out of a sense of "fuck it, I'll sacrifice" and puts Flak off to the side for a new character.
- Wonderbolt: male Blaster played by Amanda who is eager for the end. Wonderbolt hits hard.
- Slippery Pete: male Teleporter played by Brian who is also ready for this to end. Slippery Pete has unfortunately grown to do everything because teleportation is that good.
- Plus Ultra: female Booster played by Catie who has a Devo album stuck in her head. Plus Ultra boosts the other PCs and acts as the face.
- Pater Familicide: a male Covvie Priest played by Dan. A sexy priest covered in guns and skulls who only speaks in a sensual whisper and spends far too much time repenting for acts of murder for the Lord. What he brings to the party: lots of guns, high intimidate, maxed-out Faith. Also a provocative cross-shaped codpiece. There is a mixture of horror and amusement from the table.
- Rough Rider: female Tough played by Eric. Rough Rider punches things and takes hits (in theory). Eric is mostly just sitting sullenly, unable to do much ingame and stewing over it.
- Jeremy: the GM, whose enthusiasm for this game has become irritating.
It's midnight and the call comes in of "OH SHIT A DEMON!". PF springs into action, spending as long as he can brooding sensually as he meditates on the nature of demons and evil, crouched naked by a window in his apartment above the church he services. Despite Jeremy's nudging to call the others, PF continues brooding as long as the other players will let him. Finally he calls the others who meet him at the abandoned apartment.
Pete ports them past the detective and onto the killing floor of the basement where RR quickly finds the business card in the occult tomes. Everyone runs back to the car and they find Carmen near-death from her suicide attempt. Catie and Amanda get somewhat frustrated that this seems to be going where the last three adventures went. PF broods, clutching the passed-out Carmen's hand as the others urge him to drag her to the car to get her to the hospital. It takes a lot of urging.
At the hospital, Carmen spills the beans about everything. PF broods about the nature of demons, crouched shirtless by the window. Everyone else is incredibly concerned about the implications and that the next day of the new moon is tomorrow. They don't have any contacts to lean on at all, having played this game just for the premade missions. Ultimately, Eric brings out his copy of Bargainers to check out the stats for a common demon. Things do not look good.
Ultimately the team splits up. Wonderbolt, Pater Familicide and Plus Ultra go to the cathedral and sneak in while Slippery Pete and Rough Rider rob a gun store to get a lot of high-caliber armor piercing bullets. Jeremy asks where they think they're going to get the guns to shoot 50 caliber AP bullets. "Good point," says Brian. "Let's go rob a National Guard armory." It takes the two of them some time to lug a Browning M2 back to the cathedral and even more time to get it past the cops. By the time they work on mounting the gun on a tripod, Jeremy is fuming. The gun is mounted on the second floor and everyone else arms themselves with handguns equipped with tazers. While they're discussing battle plans, Jeremy makes some changes to Karnax' stats: he gives him a 10 in everything stat and ups his combat skills.
The group waits, split into two teams: Plus Ultra and Wonderbolt on the second floor while Pater Familicide, Rough Rider and Slippery Pete wait by the alter. At 11:55, Karnax flies in through the window holding Truth in his arms. "Wait what the fuck?" says Amanda. "Hold fire!" says Eric. "Yup, Truth is the sacrifice" says Jeremy with a shit-eating smile. "God damn it!" says Dan, "Get her loose, Brian." "Wait was your plan to just start shooting when he showed up?" says Jeremy. "Well yeah, we expected some expendable NPC" says Catie.
Karnax strides to the altar, claws at the ready, holding Truth in one hand (up until Pete teleports behind him, grabs Truth and teleports her up to Plus Ultra and Wonderbolt). Karnax turns to stare at them as PF and RR start shooting the demon with their tasers. Caught between two targets and making the necessary rolls (because Jeremy made him beefier) to avoid being stunned, Jeremy decides to take his time and focus on PF and RR. Three things happen when Karnax makes his choice: Catie pokes Wonderbolt and boosts her damage, Wonderbolt starts charging Superblast and Catie grabs the Browning and starts shooting.
A Browning M2 is belt-fed, 72 bullets (armor piercing in this case) per belt. It shoots full-auto and can fire up to 9 bullets an action. Let's pretend our Booster here has Speed 4 and Shooting 5. She gets +3 to hit Karnax for his size and she gets one extra dice to roll to hit per bullet. So in short, Catie has 13d6+8 to hit Karnax with, who will of course dodge, on a TN 11+ (Jeremy neglected to adjust Karnax' Dodge skill). However, Karnax has a pool of 10d6 to Dodge with. Jeremy has made him too powerful to hit in the slightest. Catie calls bullshit in frustration and Jeremy responds with "well excuse me but who the fuck decided to bring a military-grade weapon to this fight, do you think that's fair?". Wonderbolt keeps charging her attack as Catie gets up and puts both hands on the table.
Words are said. Loud, angry words. Grievances are aired. Dan, Eric, Amanda and Brian watch numbly as team leader and GM argument turn into a screaming match. Eventually they intervene but it's too late. Such things cannot be unsaid. Nobody is happy, not in the slightest. The missions are not fun, Jeremy's attitude is not conducive to fun playing, people are kind of peeved at Dan for Pater Familicide's characterization and nobody really wants to continue trying to fight the demon. Brian shrugs and asks for permission to turn Truth over to the demon because this clearly is an unwinnable scenario and Karnax probably needs her to get to part three of the mission. Better to take the railroad then deal with this shit. Everyone reluctantly agrees.
Jeremy shakes his head. "Forget it, this is stupid. You're all acting like kids and throwing this fight. This is over, you were on the last part of this whole mission anyway."
And it is over. The final mission is shelved, the books are put away and everyone moves on to a new game with Eric GMing. Jeremy does not join them. It takes a few weeks for everyone to cool off, but things linger in the end like a bad smell.
Final Thoughts on Brave New World: Covenant
I think it's pretty obvious I didn't care for this book. I can't recommend it, I can't recommend the whole series. It was a heck of a ride for me to get to this point, to watch a series start in the lower middle and then just keep sliding backwards. The Covenant go from a workable, surprisingly versatile class to a groaner with a bunch of garage-made weapons and it's just not good or enjoyable. If I can say one thing in its favor, I do appreciate that it took them nine out of twelve hypothetical books to get to the point where setting important NPCs are in danger and you need to do missions with them. A lot of better games got to this point much faster.
Nine down, zero to go. So where do I go from here? To a future that never came. I think I'll take a few days to chew on this whole series but NEXT TIME we're going to talk about CROSSROADS and a general retrospective.
Because I feel bad about ending the play scenario on that point (because I seriously couldn't think of a satisfactory ending for that with the characters I have and it felt logical to me), I'll leave you all with some real examples of playing Brave New World. There was a bit of a thriving Brave New World community online at one point, caught between the era of web commercialization and the dotcom collapse. These sites are all preserved relics and I share them because I think they're important to this game. There's stuff to make fun of, sure, but I'm sharing it more because this is a largely forgotten game and these are perfect snapshots of it in the mind of players.
CROSSROADSOriginal SA post
CROSSROADS: A look at the past and the future
I had to take a bit of time to step back from Brave New World, clear my head and forget some of it before I finished the whole shebang. We’re officially done! Hooray! If you want to just check out, go ahead. This is all about what could have been and thoughts about what did happen.
The Death of Brave New World
It’s hard to find anything about what happened to the game, why it got cancelled. This whole exercise has been a good crash course in how to use the Wayback machine (and how there are shortcomings with records of the early 2000s). It’s hard to find anything from Pinnacle or AEG about Brave New World. What I could find is that Covenant came out around March 2001 and the AEG website mentions Brave New World somewhat nominally until around 2003. It doesn’t really get any presence compared to Legends of the Five Rings and 7th Sea; you have to dig around a little to find out about the game. But that’s it, after 2003. That’s the last you see of Brave New World in any official form of recognition.
On the other side of things, Forbeck’s site isn’t really too put together until 2003, ish. There’s also not much of an explanation for what happened (but it is a good source for information). It turns out there actually was a Deltatimes.com and that’s ill-maintained and captured as well. So I guess the big question is what happened to Brave New World?
Well I think it’s pretty obvious it didn’t sell well. BNW was with Pinnacle up through Delta Prime and let’s be frank: I can’t call the life of this product a rollercoaster ride, but the Bargainers book is definitely where everything starts to fall apart. It’s telling that I personally consider the core rulebook to be the best of the whole series and I say that with gritted teeth. I can find faults with the first book (and I did) but the first book didn’t have Evil Genius Ronald Reagan, the Unabomber, weird religious metaplot and most offensively copiously useless Delta powers. And these things only get worse and only get more stupid as the AEG releases go on.
It’s pretty abundant that AEG didn’t give a shit about quality control. I can’t find any announcements about the acquisition but it’s also telling I can’t find anything about the cancellation of the line. AEG has many irons in many fires and knowing what I know about 7th Sea they’re more than willing to just let the developers do their own thing. It’s clear in BNW too, with the awful premade missions and rote repetition of everything and Forbeck just following his own interests. But at the end of the day, the product didn’t sell and it got cut three books short.
I don’t have to ask why it didn’t sell. The two biggest offenders are egregious 90s metaplot and the lack of versatility hindered by the metaplot. Brave New World has a lack of conversation about it compared to all other superhero games because players had something to talk about for Aberrant or Herosystem or any other superhero RPG. And let’s not forget, the majority of the powers are just crap and the system makes them be crap. You can’t ever be better than you already are outside of buying tricks. If they ever did implement the rules to become Alphas, you would have been underwhelmed. Officially, making an Alpha is just giving the Delta 3-5 more powers. So consider that the following counts as a fucking Alpha despite being the worst combination (maybe, this is just a personal opinion): a Bargainer/Translator/Sneak/Genius/Ace/Hacker.
What Could Have Been
Before we talk about Crossroads, we have to talk about the further reveals of the metaplot. And in order to talk about that, we have to talk about a lot of hot, sweaty sex in the BC era.
Once upon a time the gods were real and they liked fucking their worshippers and they were legitimately jerks. Zeus really was a shapeshifter who put his dick in everything, Coyote really was a trickster supreme, so was Anansi and there were also dragons and draculas. But get ready to have the script flipped: they were not actual gods. The Omegas were from universes where shooting energy blasts and smuggling things in your chest are a common fact of existence. They were not necessarily well liked in their own dimensions and Brave New Earth ended up becoming a place to lay low, set yourself up as a god and fuck all the locals you want. Because they were so powerful, they Torg’d it up on Brave New Earth, being in full control of their powers in spite of BNE’s limitations (no magic, no superpowers).
This had two problems. First, the power was hereditary and passed on through genetics. The children of the Omegas were demigods, their children had powers, etc. Enough people had super-powered kids to permanently influence the human gene pool. Second, the fabric of BNE literally couldn’t handle a bunch of Omegas Torgin’ it up and started to tear and corrode. The Omegas didn’t care. The Multiversal Police did. The Multiversal Police started gradually killing/deporting the Omegas from BNE, leaving a weird genetic trait in mankind’s DNA and the opportunity for people to get superpowers if their genetics ran pure enough.
As Leviathan: the Tempest shows, this is not a stable way for people of power to discover their true heritage. Outside of the occasional hero of legend, life continues as per normal until the 20th century. Around then is when the unpatched holes in time and space caused by the Omegas started to get bigger. And from there come the first Bargainers. The Bargainers only existed because their power is pretty simple: talk to creatures from another dimension. But the exploration of their powers and Houdini’s rules lead to demons putting their hands through the holes, which makes the tears wider. When the tears get wide enough, Peter Payne becomes the Silver Ghost and the other Deltas start existing because reality is compromised enough to allow Wonderbolt and Rough Rider to exist.
Too many Deltas are an issue, but the universe can survive and function. Unfortunately, Alphas have a harder strain and make things worse. Sparky’s transformation to Superior sunders the universe more and every Alpha after contributes to the unraveling of BNE’s dimensional fortitude. The Multiversal Police realized that the work wasn’t done, but they also didn’t want to invade a backwater dimension and they didn’t have the same span of time like dealing with the Omegas. So they took another choice and contacted JFK (aka Façade) and gave him a machine that would banish all of the Alphas when activated. Overjoyed that now he has a way to get rid of Superior to become Super President For Life, JFK gives the machine to his pet Gadgeteer who gets the machine (in the form of a doomsday device) to Evil Unlimited who get the doomsday device to the Devastator.
Chicago was sent to an artificially built dimension, created by the Multiversal Police and the other Omegas who aren’t dick-swinging jerks. The Deltas and Alphas and regular citizens of Chicago are trapped there, good and evil alike. The main reason why there’s trouble becoming an Alpha in the first nine books is because there’s a lingering net over BNE that automatically snatches up a new Alpha and plops them into the prison. They’ve been trapped since 1976 and surviving but unable to escape.
In the remaining books of Brave New World, Superior would return to BNE alone, left in a coma as his body healed from the trip. The players would retrace his footsteps and find out that Chicago was still intact, just trapped in such a way that the city can’t be returned to BNE without destroying Crescent City. The main goal, ultimately, would be a way to create some kind of gate that goes far across dimensions. This “FarGate” would allow the people of the prison dimension to go between dimensions, but it would attract the attention of the Multiversal Police and the Omegas. Façade’s impersonation of JFK would have been revealed, Truth would have been fully rescued from Delta Prime and probably Patriot would have become a public figure again.
The final book of Brave New World would have been a direct tie-in to the follow-up series Crossroads. Crossroads would have been a separate game line and series about players exploring alternate dimensions to stay one step ahead of the Omegas and Multiversal Police to secure the safety of BNE and Chicago.
This would have been an interesting idea, to say the least. That’s a polite way to phrase it, but it’s the truth. There’s no doubt in my mind there wouldn’t have been at least a wink towards Deadlands, but generally I don’t know if it would have been particularly good. Multidimensional travel mixed with 90s metaplot, plot important NPCs and this somewhat janky system would not have been a good pill to swallow. But we’ll never know; Crossroads exists just as an idea in Matt Forbeck’s head. This isn’t including the fact that he wrote everything with the mindset of “there are two sides to every story”. This is best exemplified by the existence of the Delta Prime and Defiance books. He admits in a Q&A that Bargainers might have the wrong idea or the Covenant might, so who’s to say that the Multiversal Police don’t have their own story to tell? Did they do everything out of a sense to do good things, are they in the right or should you question them? So there likely would have been a MP sourcebook as well.
But this is something that never happened.
The Future of Brave New World
Brave New World, as far as I can see, is dead. Matt Forbeck ended up writing three books a few years ago that continued the story and worked through the plots of the core book to later. There was also a short film or trailer that came out. But aside from that, I don’t know what he has planned but I honestly don’t expect much. Brave New World was a passion/pet project for him, a story he really wanted to tell that he poured a lot of time and effort into, but it wasn’t the only thing he worked on. He has other projects (licensed books, freelancing) and he goes to conventions (he was recently at GenCon and apparently goes to almost every GenCon). I sincerely don’t know if he’d ever pick it back up again, but I doubt it. It feels like writing those books was his way of finishing the whole thing on his own terms.
On a related note, I will not be reading the Brave New World novels. They’re very short and I skimmed them for some interesting plot details that might have been included in later game books (Patriot’s wife gets free from the prison dimension, it turns out that Superior was actually The Devastator with a rebuilt body from becoming an Omega) but here’s my main reason to leave those books alone: I personally feel like they’re apocrypha. There was a ten year gap between the books and the game line and I feel like they’re too far removed because of the gap. Same author, same universe, sure. But it just doesn’t feel right to cover them here because I came to cover these books alone.
Word of advice: do not shotgun books like these back to back to back. You will hate the product, you will hate yourself and the flaws will be wildly apparent. Never bite off more than you can chew.
I did have fun covering these, and I did have fun with the comments. I appreciate you all in the thread for talking about historical and cultural errors and for giving me your two cents. But I did burn out hard and this was a pretty good teaching experience for how to continue with these in the future.
In the long run, I think I’m going to remember Brave New World. I’m mostly going to remember it as one of those things that never lived up to your mental expectations. It’s like I said in the first post: there wasn’t much to find about this book and I had a mental image of it from what I could glean until I found the books. It was a bit disheartening. Still, thanks for reading and tagging along. We’re finally done.