Sadly, there are still those willing to claim all the Rorqual's power for their own.

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

World of Darkness: Blood-Dimmed Tides
Part One: Sadly, there are still those willing to claim all the Rorqual's power for their own.

We're starting out nice and easy. Blood-Dimmed Tides is bad, no questions about it - it's probably one of the silliest oWoD books around. But it's not egregiously terrible like some others. Eventually I plan to look at this - Nuwisha, Ratkin (which is hilarious but not good), the Kindred of the East line...and eventually work my way up to the single worst book that White Wolf has ever published.

But we're on this one now.

This is the book about the oceans of the World of Darkness. Like many oWoD books, it can be practically unreadable at times due to silhouettes of sharks behind the text. We'll skip the fiction because I am not going to read oWoD fiction if I can help it.

Instead, you get to guess what this guy is! Go on. I'll give you a bit.

Did you guess 'vampire'? Then you, too, share the insanity of the writers and artists on this book.

Anyway, this book is all about the things that live in the oceans of the World of Darkness. Gangrel (yeah, Gangrel), merfolk, weresharks and so on. And...oh, right:

Blood-Dimmed Tides posted:

It can be pretty easy to fall into the "Aquaman" syndrome, particularly if you live someplace landlocked and your players haven't seen much more of the ocean than the occasional National Geographic special or Baywatch episode. You know what we mean - the point when the group starts chuckling about using Animalism to "call their finny friends" or making campy Red Lobster jokes. In that light, the thought of telling horror stories with an oceanic backdrop might seem kind of silly.
We'll try to convince you otherwise.

Good luck with that, guys! (Also, note the general trend of oWoD declaring that You're Doing It Wrong if you want to not take things seriously. It gets a bit annoying, because it's impossible to take a lot of oWoD seriously.) So on to Chapter One: Seas of Darkness! Get ready for a lot of terms that aren't going to be defined for a good while yet! Now, one thing about the ocean: supernatural energy works a little different there. Gnosis, Quintessence, Chi, whatever - it pools up in Grottoes, which are kind of like Nodes or Caerns, except they get harvested by Rorquals. Rorquals are magic dolphins . Also magic whales. No one else can do this, it has to be the rorquals. These magic talking dolphins then hand out the energy to the people of the sea - the Rokea, the merfolk, the murdhuacha and others.

What's a Rokea? Wereshark. What's a murdhuacha? That's a good question, and it's not going to be answqered for a good while.

Now, because of their vital service in handing out Gnosis, Glamour and whatever other stuff you need, no one hurts the Rorqual much - not even the murdhuacha. However, the Mariners (that's the Gangrel of the sea) aren't naturally oceanic and the Rorqual don't hlep them, so sometimes they'll feed on the Rorqual because Rorqual vitae is tasty. Also, the fomori of the ocean and the "malevolent Chulorviah" also tend to mess with Rorquals.

What's a Chulorviah? That's a good question, and you're still going to have to wait to find out.

Now we get a sidebar on playing a Rorqual. Once again: a Rorqual is a magic dolphin . The book provides no rules for doing so, mind you - they point you at the Bygone Bestiary or the Werewolf Storytellers Guide for those. Anyway, Rorqual are living caerns, and even a smaller Rorqual can hold up to a hundred points of Gnosis. Which they call Steep, because...they do. A whale Rorqual might be able to hold 500-1000 points of it. Rorqual also have some magic powers. They can Breach by leaping out of the water, and when they reenter the water, they can spend Steep to purify water at one point per five gallons to purge of oil or other toxins, or one point per gallon of water purged of magic toxins. They can assume Human Form though they rarely have Physical or Social stats over 3. And they may use the Song of the Sea to absorb Steep at a rate of 1 point per ten minutes while in a Grotto.

While this is pretty short, it feels like a good place to stop, because Rorqual are a special kind of silly...and because, well, the next section deserves to be approached as a whole.

Next time: Plot hooks for every ocean!

Somewhere along the line, something went very wrong.

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Hengeyokai - and in fact 90% of the Year of the Terrible Racist Asian - is pretty bad. I plan to cover Kindred of the East at some point because of it, which is worse than Hengeyokai. In the meantime, have another update today because I'm bored and may not get a chance to update tomorrow.

Blood-Dimmed Tides: Somewhere along the line, something went very wrong.

Okay. We're starting from the top: the Arctic Ocean. Much like Antarctica, we are told, it is replete with occult significance. Mages thinks of the waters as a place where the spirit world is close to the surface and is largely untapped. Rumors of Nephandi in sunken Fortresses of Solitude beneath the water and ice. The Wendigo think there's a severed Wyrm talon beneath the Arctic silt at the North Pole, and that monsters and Banes guard it. The Sabbat talk about vampires occasionally heading to the north pole for no apparent reason. Spectres sail in iceships through the Shadowlands of the Arctic, as if patrolling. Maybe it has something to do with the magical evil that controls Russia and Siveria, maybe the Gauntlet and Shroud are weak here. Maybe the original children of Lilith are sleeping there anre are now awakening. Okay, sure, that's actually not that bad.

On to the Atlantic! Which is subdivided into areas. So first, the Sargasso Sea! The Sargasso Sea is, for those not in the know, an area that is full of sargassum weed, slow currents and little wind. In the World of Darkness, there is little in the Sargasso Sea that is alive - even the Rorqual do not visit. In the Shadowlands, however, there are many ghost ships, trapped by the power of the Sargasso. Almost all are Spectres now, powerful and dangerous ghosts. The Bermuda Triangle comes next - and yes, the Sargasso Sea is in the Triangle. The Gauntlet is also very low there - sometimes dropping even to 1, so low that things might blunder across it by accident. The Mediterranean Sea is full of Lasombra sailors, while the Aegean Sea is full of Black Furies. There are many merfolk in the Mediterranean, too! There's also Followers of Set and Assamites trying to make a play for the Mediterranean shipping industry's nearby, I guess? The local Rokea are also annoyed with humans - the Rokea always are, but these are especially so - and are engaging in guerrilla raids of beaches to eat random families. And vampires, because they hate vampires, too. Moving on to the Baltic Sea, we learn that it's full of pollution ...and that about a third of it hasn't been able to be accessed by supernaturals since 1992, when Baba Yaga raised the Shadow Curtain. They just can't cross it - boats carrying them lose power, swimmers are attacked by frost-spirits. There aren't many swimmers anyway - few Rokea, and only a few fairies. All selkies. The Umbra is full of water-spirit Banes, too. Basically the Baltic sucks, and you can't fix it. The Caribbean is full of vampires! No reason why - they're just there. There's also some Rokea and Mokole (werelizards) around too, and merfolk living in the "coral city of Qryll". In the Underworld, there are many, many wraiths, thanks to the piracy that was so rampant here in centuries past. They are based out of the Necropolis of Port Royal.

The Indian Ocean! We head first to the Persian Gulf. During the Gulf War, unidentified parties caused a ton of oil spills and so it's really,m really, really polluted. The merfolk and Rokea are gone, and it's full of Banes and fomori. Off to Australia's coast, the Rokea are the main powers. They are buddies with the Mokole, and hate all non-shapeshifters. Also most werewolves. The Chulorvia have not yet spread to the Great Barrier Reef, but Pentex is messing around there. No, we haven't a clue what a Chulorvia is.

The Pacific Ocean! Yeah, that was the entire Indian Ocean section. Anyway. We start with the Sea of Japan, which is under control of the shen , who are the Asian shapeshifters. Mostly, that's Same-Bito, which are the Asian Rokea. In the Underworld, it is guarded by the Heike ghost crabmen . There is also a Grotto at the bottom of the sea which is a gateway to the Dragon Kingdom of Umi. Westerners are not at all welcome in the Sea of Japan without representatives of the Dragon Kingdom; neither are Western ghosts welcome in the Asian waters of the Underworld. This is normal for the World of Darkness, Asian supernaturals are generally dicks. The Phillipine Sea is next, also mostly claimed by the shen . They're dicks, like I said. A bunch of normal vampires are trying to infiltrate the local ports to learn more about the Kuei-jin, the magical Asian vampires. We'll get to Kindred of the East, and trust me, they're really fucking stupid. Even the guy who wrote this book thought this was weird - he had to write normal vampires for the bottom of the ocean, but Asia? Asia's got entirely different vampires. Anyway, moving on. The Mariana Trench is the world's most powerful Grotto. It is also a place of interest for the Technocracy's Earth Frontier Divison, who have been exploring since the 60s, and a few cabals of Tradition mages, who think it is tied to the Umbral Realm called the Chasm (or the Abyss, by werewolves). There may or may not be abandoned alien cities or giant monsters there, or possibly there are just hallucinations. The Technocrats have also had to deal with at least one giant squid attack.

Oh, and then there's Project: Deepwater. Project: Deepwater is an undersea Technocrat arcology in the Pacific Ocean that is manned in concert with Endron (a Pentex-run oil company). They are officially performing research, they have been heavily compromised and tainted by Chulorviosis. Which is...not explained at all. Also, it's a huge source of Banality, because they do science there. And imagination hates science , so this is killing off the merfolk of the local coral city Xinqux at a rate of about one merfolk per week. The Rokea are planning an assault on the arcology, too, which has cut off the Rorqual from the Trench's Grotto.

We also get a sidebar on Atlantis! The book intentionally does not talk about Atlantis outside this sidebar, ever, because they don't want to kill the mystique. They then ponder that perhaps Atlantis' true form lies in the Dreaming, made by human imagination. And, of course:

Blood-Dimmed Tides posted:

If you want to use Atlantis, Lyonesse or the like as plot hooks, be our guest. If you're worried that your players will only make Aquaman cracks if you play that card, then don't. You know best what interpretation suits your chronicle. Use it. We don't mind. Really.

Unless they'd make Aquaman jokes, that is. But we've only talked about what's around the sea or in ports! Time to talk about ships. The Technocracy love research ships, and Bone Gnawer wolves and Ratkin are both common stowaways on cargo ships. Some vampires take luxury liners, while wraiths sail ghost ships. A few mages have Chantry boats, and some very rare Changeling freeholds are on boats. But we're not going to talk about them. We're going to talk about pirates . Fortunately, most of the pirate material is Wraith, and Wraith is often surprisingly good, even in this book. (Hell, the Wraith book on the Holocaust is far better than it could have been, though it's been years since I read it.) Blackbeard, Captain Edward Teach, is still around in the Underworld. And still on fire. Stede Bonnet is not a ghost - rather, he's a Lasombra and still piloting, though a rather more modern one. He has no idea Blackbeard's still around, but if he did know, he'd be trying to get revenge on a ghost. Calico Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny and Mary Read are all ghosts on Blackbeard's crew. There's a more details on what's going on with the Wraiths later.

Then there's a bit talking about the different parts of an ocean at different depths. Not all that interesting, though we get a sidebar telling us that there's a colony of Chulorviah in the Hudson River, and a hive of murdhuacha in Boston Harbor. Also some aquatic Nosferatu in the Thames. Most polluted ecosystems are unlivable to "pelagics", but fomori, Chulorviah, murdhuacha, wraiths and vampires can handle them fine. Oh, and merfolk refuse ot live in sunken ships, instead employing "bioarchitects" to carve out coral cities. They are hugely arrogant Changelings. I have a small rant about them later; suffice to say I don't like oChangeling at all, and the Merfolk don't even make much sense in its context.

Next time: Supernatural groups in the ocean!

Is the Prince of Kansas City really going to believe that the Toreador primogen was consumed by piranha?

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Turns out I did have some time today. Might have more time later, we'll see. Either way!

Blood-Dimmed Tides: Is the Prince of Kansas City really going to believe that the Toreador primogen was consumed by piranha?

So, what are the vampires doing in the ocean? Well, a few Gangrel have headed into the waters otl ive out their lives. They're pretty good at it, apparently. Some Nosferatu also live underwater, mostly in sewage pipes. I never really understood why Nosferatu like to smell like shit as well as looking like shit, but that's bog-standard for them. They mention that some Nosferatu have trained hideous ghoul-crabs and ghoul-sharks. There is also a rumor a Tremere chantry under the Atlantic ocean, using Thaumaturgy stuff. The Sabbat, meanwhile, think that there are Antediluvians down there. A bunch of Mexican Sabbat packs are searching the seas for them. Also, for no clear reason, some vampires whose Humanity or Path hits zero head calmly into the ocean rather than going crazy and savage. Because...the author thought it'd be cool. These guys never get mentioned again; you can listen to the interview to find out why. (The idea of all vampires who go crazy from low Humanity going under the sea to become alien vampire cultists isn't cool, it's dumb, but hey! It might have been better than Kindred of the East!)

Werewolves! The Bone Gnawers are the sailors of the wolf tribes. They are the best, most experienced werewolf sailors. The Glass Walkers can do okay on modern naval craft but are still not as good as them. The Get tend to respect this, because all Get are vikings. All of them . The Rokea, meanwhile, have no clear idea what the War of Rage was, having spent all their time underwater being sharks. They don't like land-dwellers in general, though, so the fact that the werewolves never tried to genocide them doesn't help.

Mages! The Order of Hermes maintains a yacht that has been, technically, in existence since the 13th century: the Verditious, though it's been remade a lot. The Sons of Ether have their own yacht, Ahab's Ghost. The Cult of Ecstasy have some idiots who plan to go skinny-dipping in the Arctic and then the Carribbean or something "for the experience", and the Akashics of Okinawa have some kind of special ocean magic kung fu. Also there are a bunch of Polynesian ocean wizards, the Kopa Loei, who I assume are in some other supplement. The Technocrats are funding Project: Deepwater and a fleet of research and attack submarines (the attack part is so they can destroy Etherite submarines). Also, the Syndicate is shipping drugs on boats. And apparently Nephandi are "notorious for their adaptation to the ocean depths."

Wraiths! The Shadowlands of the ocean are a hair's breadth away from the Tempest, and it's easy to cross over. The Shroud's low, too - and that's why there's so many ghost ship legends. The law against crossing it is pretty lax at sea, as well. The Hierarchy (that's the fascist ghost government, you knew there was one) have turned the Lusitania into a battleship. There are a ton of ghost pirates at Port Royal, and Carribbean ghosts are famous for their sailing expertise.

Changelings! Okay. There's the merfolk as the main ocean changelings. The eshu like boats a little but mostly it's the merfolk. The merfolk are being destroyed by Project: Deepwater, because of the Banality. Again: this is an underwater arcology and research station manned by guys who literally do science magic . Later in the book we will hear about their fishmen. These guys are destroying the merfolk with the concentrated energy of lack of imagination . God damn, this is almost as bad as the time I tried to read Autumn People. But no, no, I can hold it in, I can wait until the merfolk section. Okay. Some pooka have aquatic shapes, but the mer despise these creatures and they never truly fit in.

We get a sidebar now on the Undersea Triat. Which may or may not be the normal Triat. They are: The Fish Bearer, whom the merfolk call the Fish Father, Vatea, and the Rokea call Kun, the Mother of Fishes. It supposedly can take any form it wants. So long as it's a fish, anyway. The Fish Bearer is, at least according to the Rokea book, roughly equivalent to the Wyld, but the Rokea themselves believe that Kun doesn't care at all about anything that is 'Unsea' which is their word for land. The Rokea book contradicts the entire Werewolf cosmology, of course, but it's such a fun book full of retarded idiocy that I can't hate it. I feel that way about a lot of oWerewolf. Anyway. The Wyrm-analogue is the Tentacled One, called Qyrl by the Rokea and Dagon by the merfolk. The Tentacled One is the patron of jellyfish, octopi and squids. It is alsocalled the Kraken. It hates the Fish Bearer. The last of the three is the Shelled One, who is the underwater Weaver. The Rokea call her C'et, and she is the patron of crustaceans. The merfolk don't care about her. She doesn't do much, at least in this sidebar.

Oh, and right now Pentex is aiding Project: Deepwater and acting as the major corrupting influence; the Technocrats there are honestly just trying to do their job and be magic scientists. But Mr. Klieg, Pentex's Project Coordinator For Oceanic Pursuits, is a Chulorviah Enfolded and is acting to corrupt the project. Klieg also likes ot hire on other Chulorviah. Pentex has some other interests - a fishing company that is decidedly dolphin-unsafe, a whaling firm and that sort of thing. Mr. Klieg is trying to kill all the Rorqual, you see, and also Pentex are Captain Planet villains.

Hunters...don't do much underwater, though the Asian group Strike Force Zero (yes, Asian - all of Asia is one fucking country, didn't you know?) are on the trail of Project: Deepwater. That's it for the Hunters.

The Umbra is full of water spirits and fish spirits. The fish spirits are called Apsarae because...proper nouns! Average ocean Gauntlet is 5, dropping to 2 or 1 in Grottoes. Apsarae are unique to the ocean, and are split into two camps. The Boned, who are fish and serve the Fish Bearer, and the Unboned, who are mollusks, lobsters, octopi and so on and serve either the Tentacled One or the Shelled One. They are somewhat more unified than normal Umbral spirits.

The Shadowlands are kind of neat in the ocean because water is solid to them . They can walk on it. They can't go underwater. Waves can trip them but they can't be pulled down. It's not easy to walk on water, of course, becuase of all the waves. Also the Tempest is really easy to wander into by accident. They do have boats, though, and plent of them. They trade in valuable cargo...which I assume is mostly souls, because ghosts have rather little in the way of material needs.

And back to Project: Deepwater! It was started in 1910 by the Void Engineers, but got its funding slashed massively because the NWO and Syndicate didn't like it. Enter Mr. Klieg of Premium Oil, who seems to have a copy of their plans already somehow. He offers them money and a deal to launch Deepwater. Later on, Premium Oil becomes Pentex. Construction starts in the 30s, and finishes in the late 50s. The local changelings and Rokea try to fight off the technocrats but after a few problems Mr. Klieg starts supplying a new type of guard: the Genetically Enhanced Nautical Enforcement Specialists. Or GENGS. (Actually GENES, but the book has a huge editing error.) These are also known as Sharks. And they're...undetailed here. Anyway, by the early 60s Deepwater brings in a few Pentex execs and researchers as well as the Technocrats living down there; Syndicate and NWO members, however, are not welcome. There is an epidemic in the early 80s of dizziness, fatigue, nausea and skin conditions; Mr. Klieg keeps the project from being shut down. The Technocrats are trying to solve the problem, but whenever they get close, the research (and sometimes the researcher discovering it) mysteriously vanishes. They plan to open Deepwater to the public by 2010 as cheap, comfortable undersea housing. Which it can actually do, if it weren't for the disease issues. And if it weren't corrupt and a breeding ground for the Chulorviah. Who again are completely undetailed here . It is all Pentex's fault, the Technocrats are not bad guys here. Except insofar as they've cut off access to the Mariana Trench Grotto by accident. The Rokea believe the project is Qyrl's attempt at vengeance for some reason, and the Merfolk believe the same about Dagon. They are planning to attack it, possibly with surface aid if the mer can stop whining long enough to ask for it.

Next time: The Vampire from the Black Lagoon!

Also, yes, do oChangeling. oChangeling is fucking terrible. (Also I want to do Gypsies myself. Yes, it is basically entirely my god, this is racist but it does it in so many ways! Plus there's a little bit of other stuff, primarily in the vein of 'my god, this is stupid.')

Some people claim that drowning is a "nice" way to die.

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Tonight's update brought to you by the Mors Rattus Works At A Library With Nothing To Do But Sit At A Desk And Wait For People To Ask How To Use The Printer Foundation.

Blood-Dimmed Tides: Some people claim that drowning is a "nice" way to die.

We are now getting the in-depth look at each splat in the oceans of the World of Darkness. We start with vampires. Under the waves, there is apparently exactly one clan that has adapted to deal with things. Not Nosferatu - Gangrel. But okay, sure, we can accept this because what kind of idiot vampire wants to be a fishman? The book says that there are approximately 30 Gangrel Mariners, as they are commonly known. This is, for some reason, enough for the Tremere to give them a lLatin title: aquarii. They use the same Discipline spread as normal Gangrel, but get some unique Protean tricks. They also lose a point of a Social attribute every 3 animal features they gain, rather than every 5 as normal.

Anyway. The Mariners are apparently not only very rare, but universally also very patient. None of them will even think of Embracing some yahoo without spending at least a year watching them. They love to eat Rorquals because it gets you high, just like werewolves, but they can't tell a Rorqual from any other asshole Bottlenose. Some of them act to prevent naval disasters (such as keeping a Saudi supertanker from being hit by a guided missile), though apparently they do this for the sake of some "Mother" figure who is never referenced ever again, rather than out of the goodness of their hideous fishman hearts. And make no mistake - they're fishmen. They are the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The Mariners have next to zero social hierarchy and tend to be loners, though they accord respect to age and experience. Just because you're an aquarius doesn't mean your childe will be, and a normal Gangrel can sire an aquarius. There are known aquarii in: New York City, Buenos Aires, Odessa, Athens, San Francisco Bay, the Rhine, Lake Michigan, the English Channel, the Congo Basin and two different parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Okay, so we've accounted for a third of the entire population already. There's another four (or more) aquarii hanging out at Lake Nyasa in "southeastern Africa", so that's fully half. They're the only aquarii known to hang out together, and appear to be guarding something. This is never mentioned again.

The Mariners have a unique Protean 1 Discipline, Dolphin's Unsight, which gives them sonar which only works underwater. Protean 2 for them is Phocidean Webbing, which gives them webbed hands and feet, letting them swim at triple speed for the cost of -2 Dex when they need to use fine manipulation or thumbs. The webbing is also somehow sharp enough to let them attack for Strength+2 aggravated damage, difficulty 6. With no underwater damage penalty. I admit that oWoD's mechanics are not my bag, but, uh... what ? Was agg meant to be that easy to get? Moving on...their typical Shape of the Beast shape is shark for fight (+2 to all physicals and Strength+3 agg damage bite along with 4x swim speed, so apparently it was), though they have also used barracudas, eels and octopi. Flight form is usually a seagull or albatross.

Their example character is Machete Paul, who lives in the docks of NYC. He lets Camarilla vampires through but viciously murders any Sabbat who enter his waters. With a machete. He is also crazy badass, we are told, and totally killed two entire Sabbat packs. He can turn into an eel and likes to eat vagrants and dockworkers. As far as I can tell, he has no desires whatsoever.

The primary vampires on top of the water are Lasombra. They apparently have a natural love for sailing, which causes them to act like idiots. The clan elders are cool with this, though, because they used to be pirates and were involved with the Spanish Armada. (They fucked that one up.) The Lasombra believe this connection is because Obtenebration comes from the Abyss which is somehow linked to the ocean, and so the Abyss calls them to the sea. They control more ocean shipping than all other vampires in the world combined, and own the majority of the shipping companies in the Mediterranean, South America and the east coast of the US. No, really. They don't control the navies of the world, though they have their own private pirate navy. Also an attack submarine. Because Lasombra are kind of stupid, they tend to run the clan colors once their ships are out at sea and take down any national ones. They are fighting a constant pirate war agains the Lasombra antitribu (good god, that's a stupid word) who are based out of the Carribean. Apparently, that's most Sabbat and Setite, and Israel is mostly Assamite. The antitribu fleet is tiny, mind you, not even a tenth the size of the main clan one.

Lasombra can take a 2-point Flaw, Pelagic Compulsion, which causes +1 difficulty to Willpower rolls when the character's gone more than 24 hours without seeing the ocean, and a 3-point Merit, Pelagic Harmony, which gives -1 difficulty to Willpower rolls when in sight of or in a boat on the ocean. Also a 1-point Flaw, Poseidon's Call, that gives -1 difficulty to frenzy in calm weather, but +1 on rough seas, +2 in a storm and +3 in a hurricane. Also a 1 point merit, Weather Sense, to be able to roll to forecast bad weather, even magical bad weather. Also merits for owning boats or serving on boats.

Werewolves! Most werewolves only go to sea to fuck with Pentex, because werewolves hate Pentex. The Black Furies as mentioned before have the Aegean Sea under their control, though. The Bone Gnawers are the primary wolf sailors. There's a few Child of Gaia sailors, too. The Fianna don't really sail much but do travel the sea around Britain. The Get want the entire North Sea and used to have it. They're vikings. The Glass Walkers own private yachts. The Red Talons don't sail but do wander the Arctic being wolves. Shadow Lords occasionally learn th sial, Silver Fangs and Stargazers mostly don't. The Uktena and Wendigo care about the waters around America, and that's really it.

Rokea! The Rokea are weresharks. They are crazy motherfuckers, but not detailed much in this book. Their entire job is literally to be . That is their duty. They don't really comprehend land society and have mostly not even bred with humans. They are ungodly hard to kill and really, really, really like to eat people. In theory they are allied with the Mokole (werelizards, remember) and the merfolk, but in practice they basically just swim and eat. They have a few fetishes but not many. Mostly they're written up in their own, much better book. It's not a good book, mind you, but it's a damn sight better than this one.

Most other shifters avoid the sea. The Ratkin are passable sailors, though, as are the werebear polar bear tribe. Some M0kole like to hang out in the water, and have been known to singlehandedly sink Pentex fishing ships. The wolves have a new fetish that lets them breath water and ignore water pressure down to 7000 feet if they keep it in their mouths.

Mages! A lot of them ignore the ocean. There's a few Akashics and Cultists because they're like cockroaches, you find them everywhere. A few Verbena muttering things about the Earthmother and the tidal cycle. A good number of Hermetics, oddly enough, for no apparent reason. The Dreamspeakers are pretty numerous around Polynesia. And apparently call themselves the Kopa Loei there, so that's where the term used earlier is from. They were in tenuous contact with the merfolk of Xinqux before its death, and may or may not be on speaking terms with the Rokea. Mostly, though, the ocean is the Sons of Ether show. They have at least two ships which may or may not be able to sail into the Umbra and they love attacking the Technocrats.

Speaking of the TechnocratS! The NWO and Syndicate ignore the water, Iteration X just makes the tools needed to explore, and the Progenitors and Void Engineers love it. Low Paradox and plenty of stuff to play with. The Void Engineers are investigating "dimensional echoes" (read: haunted ghost ships) and accidentally killing merfolk. See, the Void Engineers - the guys who explore for the love of exploration and discovery - are so Banal as to instantly kill any merfolk near them.

The Nephandi seem to like the ocean for no apparent reason. (The guy who wrote this book seemed to think every crazy evil group should do that.) A few Nephandi Ahrimans (what the hell is that, guys who know this setting?) have begun negotiations with the Chulorviah - we needed to get a mention of them into this update. And the Marauders do whatever the fuck they want.

Blood-Dimmed Tides posted:

Although a Flying Dutchman -esque galleon loaded with insane, near-omnipotent delusionaries is a terrifying concept, it's one that hasn't been verified by any reliable source.

And I'm going to stuff Wraiths into this update, so it's gonna be a long one. This is one of the better parts of the book, and one of the longer ones. Most wraiths who die at sea don't survive to join wraith society. The ones who do are predominently military or pirate, and their ships tend to come with them. It's hard to sail, though, because the Tempest is always a danger. The Wraiths have a few Haunts - the Lusitania, for example - that are boats. The Legions primarily care about the sea for military reasons - they want gunboats. Despite the fact that ammo is hard to come by. They also run slave ships to transport ghostly slaves. Because Wraith is like that.

Renegades have a lot of ships. Pirate ships. Some of them try to live quietly, but there's also pirates! So many pirates! Even organized groups, like the Broken Chain which is a group of ghost pirates that hunt ghost slavers. The pirates are based in Port Royal, safe from the Legions because the area is full of Maelstrom.

Project: Deepwater is causing problems for these guys, too, or at least the Legions think so. Deepwater has been discovered by them, mostly by accident, but has made no threats. The problem is mostly that Deepwater has accidentaly broken a few fetters deep in the Pacific Ocean, which is causing problems. So...okay?

Oh right, the Heretics! The book just remembered them. They have very few ships. Used to have more, but they lost them all when Stygia took over the Flayed Lands. (I have no idea what that means.) There's also a surprisingly large number of Spectre ships. The most notable is the Titanic, which is often seen as the spectre flagship. The ghosts are rather terrified of it thanks to the perennial love of the Titanic by the living. It must be genreating a lot of power, see, because memory is power.

The Jade Kingdom of the dead has a lot of ghosts. (The Jade Kingdom is actually mostly not too terrible despite being an X of the East book - see, it's based around the idea that after his death, Qin Shi Huang decided he was going to conquer the entirety of Asia. still doing so. He managed to finally get Japan in the 40s, after the bomb.) Anyway, they have the Heike, who are ghost crabmen . More on them in a bit.

Brief rules detour: water is solid to wraths. They can try to swim, but take damage as if passing through solid objects every (Stamina) turns. You can take a merit that lets you stay under longer, a merit to make you a better helmsman, a flaw that makes you lose Willpoer when away from the sea and have to make rolls to resist going back to it, a flaw to make you a hideous bloated corpse-looking person, a flaw to need a Willpower roll to board a ship...also, rules for naval combat. Most ghost ships have 100 HLs, 200 for bigger ones. You only need to do 10% of that to nullify Comrades in Arms (below).

Argos 1 - Fix Bearings, you know where you are in the Tempest and how to get where you're going. Argos 5 - Safe Passage, you can send a ship from Shadowlands to the Tempest. Or any other large object. Lifeweb 2 - Triangulation, you can determine where you are in the Shadowlands. Lifeweb 3 - Comrades in Arms - you bind a ship and its crew together as one unit, allowing them to be moved together by Safe Passage and use most (but not all) other arcanoi as if they are one thing. You can't Obliviate them all as one thing, for example.

The Heiki crabs are...giant crabs with human faces on their backs. They were originally the Heike clan of Japan, who were destroyed at the straits of Shimonseki and lived on as crab ghosts that attacked any ghosts that got nearby. After the conquest of Japan, Qin Shi Huang learned how to make them and allows people to be turned into them because they are insane killing machines.

There's also an exploration of the Mray Anne, a pirate ship that became a ghost ship that hunts slavers. The captain is an ex-slave from life who hates pretty much everyone and was sold into slavery by his own people. He has a fat braggart for a helmsman and a teenaged rebel who died by being run over by a bulldozer on his crew. She is a 90s rebel of the 'perky punk' variety who is treated as being pretty darn immature but learning now that she's dead.

Also, there's this guy.

Next time: fuck merfolk

I wondered what the Moral Majority would think.

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Blood-Dimmed Tides: I wondered what the Moral Majority would think.

Let me begin with this: fuck changelings. Fuck the entire line. (Actually, that's kind of the problem, as you'll see.) We are now going into the changeling section of the book, and it is a very abrupt shift from the honestly pretty okay Wraith portion. Among other things, it's suddenly a first-person narrative. No, really. It's one of those idiotic first-person IC stories meant to convey OOC information. A rather shitty one. Our star is Virgil Draper, a slaugh (read: Jenny Greenteeth and other kind of gross swamp monster guys) who thinks he's a comedian. (He's not.) A pair of merfolk come in to his freehold ask for help, he bitches when they get laughed off for being arrogant assholes, and he gets sent to help them.

Blood-Dimmed Tides posted:

The first thing I noticed was their beauty. It was irresistable; I wanted to rouch out, to touch them. Far from the untouchable beauty of the sidhe, the alien loveliness of these two made me want nothing more than to feel their iridescent skin and wrap my fingers in their deep green hair. Fio was worse, just like you'd expect from a satyr.

Yeah, we're going there. Now, I want you to keep this in mind: these are pretty people. Both of them, the man and the woman. Just, you know, keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that all changelings have a shared origin - they are from Arcadia, and they were locked out (mostly) and their souls are reborn in humans and they're otherkin, okay, they're fucking otherkin. Humans can't see their ~*true forms*~ and shit, their magic glamour tools look like sticks and they're kids playing pretend. Merfolk don't use that backstory, apparently!

No, merfolk talk about Vatea and Dagon, the only two living things in Sea. Then Vatea got bored and wanderd over to Not-Sea (read: land) and went to visit after Sea told him it was okay. He jumped up onto the land, saw it was empty and created the first life on Earth. Which were merfolk. Well, sort of. They'd become merfolk when he gave them Apsarae (personal fish spirits) so they could come visit him in the water. Dagon gets annoyed because he also wants to have some buddies, so he ignores Sea and Vatea, jumps out on land and becomes terrible god-king for a while. Eventually Vatea and the merfolk try to get him to leave and he bites a holy in the sky. (This is part of the Rokea creation myth, too, which also contradicts everything from the setting they're from; basically, it's the sun.) And he gets dragged into the sea, but the hole in the sky weakens all land-dwellers forever. Anyway, Dagon drags some of Vatea's dream-children with him and corrupts them with ichor. These become the murdhuacha (pronounced muroocha) or the merrow, the book can't decide.

Anyway, the merfolk spend quite a while trying to kill the murdhuacha and being annoyed at "dirtwalkers" and drowning them, apparently. Eventually, however, they began to succumb to the "Cold" of the dirtwalkers. This is Banality, and it's a Changeling thing. Specifically, boring people and rational people kill imaginations . Literally. The big problem the merfolk are having? They live near Project: Deepwater and being near the Banality of the Technocrats is killing them.

Fuck this game.

See, the Void Engineers are the guys running Deepwater on the Technocrat side - and while Pentex is evil, they aren't. The Void Engineers are pioneers of science, exploring the frontiers of earth. These guys are space heroes, explorers, fighters of Mole Men in the Hollow Earth. They are science wizards, the masters of . I'm not even fucking kidding about that. And these people are so deadly to imagination that they are committing accidental genocide on a species of people they don't even know exists.

Fuck this game.

Anyway. The merfolk decide to hide from humans, and instead of killing them, they begin to sink ships and kidnap the crews for breeding stock. Because, in a show of edginess , the merfolk are sexist against men. For no really apparent reason.

Blood-Dimmed Tides posted:

"Only men? You didn't breed with human women?"
Lord Schul shook his head and clicked as though I made some huge faux pas .
"Men are secondary, and weaker than egg-layers. They wouldn't be missed. We didn't want to deplete the stock.

This isn't supported mechanically, of course. Now, apparently they all felt this was gross and I really have no idea why they needed to do this because they sure as hell don't need to today. Moving on. The murdhuacha are twisted, ugly killer things. (Well, mostly ugly. The women don't have to be. We'll get to that.) They are "thallain" which I think is Changeling for 'crazy killer'? Anyway, they are actually the same species of merfolk. But first, before we get there, we have to talk about merfolk sex.

See, merfolk are all about the sex. Lots of sex. No kissing, mind you, but lots of sex. Like, to the point that this scornful, angry, arrogant NPC mermaid immediately on being asked about sex offers to have a threesome with the narrator and the merman in the room. For no reason. Because merfolk are horny or something.

Fuck this game.

Anyway, after that, we learn that the mermaids stopped banging sailors once they had enough of a "breeding stock" of their own and have not interacted with humans since, up until Deepwater. Deepwater ended up destroying an entire merfolk city just by being nearby and doing science. Anyway, the kissing thing. Narrator tries to kiss mermaid, gets slapped and shouted at despite having sex with her ten seconds before. Goes to talk to merman. Remember how I mentioned that both merman and mermaid were described as impossibly beautiful?

This is an entirely accurate picture based on the description he's given. He's a stingray-dude. Isn't he pretty?

Now, the reason that kissing is so forbidden is that merfolk treat sex as "play", but kissing apparently causes them to go into estrus or something, if they kiss it's the first step to actually mating and having kids or some shit. This is stupid as hell. Now, why is this guy a manta ray? That's because of apsarae. See, all merfolk are born as "nereids". As are all murdhuacha. They can't breathe water, but are not pyhysically human - they are gray-skinned, large-eyed, web-handed people.

Remember, all changelings are born human and don't find out they're changelings until they're like six at the earliest . Changelings are divided into Child, some name I don't remember that means 'teenager' and 'Grump' which means 'old'. The age range here is roughly 6-12, 13-20 and 21+ for each range. Most changelings are in the middle range, and all grumps are seen as old . I want you to keep this in mind, because it's part of why Changeling is fucking terrible. See, satyrs and merfolk? Still written as all about the sex . Hooray, paedophilia!

Fuck this game.

Anyway merfolk, they don't run the same way, apparently. They break their splat's own metaphysics! They're born mermaids!

Anyway, when they enter the middle range they go into a Grotto and wait for a fish to show up. And whatever shows up is the fish of their soul and those with pretty souls get actual boned fish - blowfish, sharks, eels, dolphins (just roll with it). The dude is a manta ray, the chick is an oarfish. Okay. But murdhuacha and merfolk are the same species. See, if your soul is ugly you get a rab, or a jellyfish, or an octopus. And then you become a murdhuacha, even if raised merfolk. (Or vice versa, with pretty-souled murdhuacha nereids.) They don't have a fish tail, they have a long tentacle. Even the crab ones.

Fuck this game.

Now, once that's done, they become nixes. That's the middle stage, they just needed a new name for it. And then they get old and Banal because old people (read: anyone over 20) is Banal, even changelings, and they call that Naugs but it's Grumps and argh this is dumb. Anyway, here is why merfolk hate you.

Blood-Dimmed Tides posted:

Image having a mansion, and your children only live in one room. Imagine these children make such a mess it makes you want to vomit when you visit them. Soon their mess spills out into your living space. Before long, you relaize that they have lived and grown in their own filth for so long that your own children are poison to you. You can't kill them - they are your children. So what do you do? You retreat. And you disdain these filth-choked creatures. You disdain them for ever visiting the mansion in the first place. You disdain them for living like animals, and for squabbling like eels amid the dung. And you disdain them for making you give up entire sections of your house for their own waste.

God, these guys are annoying. Anyway, merfolk society is organized into three houses: Lorelei, the house of warrior nobles, Melusine, the house of scholar nobles, and Syrinx, the house of noble nobles. Their entire society is this oh-so-perfect place where they can play and sing and dance and bang forever. If it weren't for those dang Technocrats anyway.

I like them more and more.

Anyway, they take Asshole Slaugh off to visit their undersea kingdom, giving him a magic liquid to let him breathe underwater. We'll...we'll cover that. They go visit a murdhuacha's nest, Remember, murdhuacha are ugly? Well, that applies only to the men.

Blood-Dimmed Tides posted:

Kelpy green hair, a sweetly seductive face, grayish-white skin, large chest and flat stomach that tapered to a single, coiling tentacle.

Yeah, apparently you can be the Ugly Monster Fairy and still be pretty if you have tits. This is rules-supported. We finally get out of the fucking narrative and into the rules section.

The Merfolk claim to predate humans, by the way. They "don't see a quick an affront to their dignity; sex is a popular form of recreation among their kind." Remember: most changelings, including merfolk, are under the age 21. They get a free dot of one Attribute appropriate to their Apsarae, which can boost it above 5. They get gills (unless they're dolphins, but they can stay under for like six hours at a time anyway) and all Merfolk get a free dot of Appearance on top of all this and can't botch any Appearance-related rolls. The price? If their Glamour hits 0, they can breathe only air and probably drown. This is why Deepwater is killing them all.

Void Engineers truly are the heroes of the setting.

Also, the merfolk are 'out of touch' and if they want to have Streetwise, Drive, firearms or Computer skills, they need to spend freebie points on them and need a good rationale. On to murdhuacha!

The Murdhuacha or merrow - again, no decision as to which word to use - are monstrous and inhuman. Like the merfolk, they get the Apsarae which gives them a free dot of an attribute, but it "almost never goes into Intelligence" and can't go into Appearance if the murdhuacha is male. They have gills, and also anyone who sees one for the first time has to make a Willpower roll or be frozen in shock for a turn. They suffer the same weaknesses as the merfolk. But we don't care about them and the book will not mention them again in any real context after this page.

Instead, we get the Houses. House Lorelei represent Dagon in the aquatic Triat and thus see it as their job to destroy his minions, "be they human, murdhuacha or even Chulorviah." See, we can't go without mentioning them! Anyway, they're typically sharks, eels, rays, barracuda and so on. They get a free dot of Brawl, Melee or Dodge, and another +1 to that when underwater. Also, they get to bite for Strength+1 damage. However, if they smell blood they have to get 3 successes on a Willpower roll or go into a berserk frenzy of attacking anything that moves for five turns. House Melusine are in touch with the landwalker societies and can buy Streetwise, Drive, Firearms and Compute rnormally. However, they are all dolphins, whales, otters, turtles and other things that need to breathe air, so they have no gills and must come up for air every six hours. House Syrinx are lionfish, marlins, sunfish, tuna, and most other fish that aren't in Lorelei. There's a lot of Syrinx. They may command fishes and sea creatures with a Charisma+Survival roll, but they lose 1 Willpower for every day they don't spend at least an hour immersed in water and can't get it back except by spending several hours in water.

Oh, and the merfolk have invented three unique types of magic. There's Kryos, which is ice magic. It works underwater at -1 difficulty and runs on Strength. First power is the ability to force a Stamina roll to avoid losing dice due to being very cold. Second is coating a target in ice. Third lets you make an item out of ice. Fourth lets you imprison someone in a block of ice. Fifth lets you freeze someone from the inside out. They also get Skycraft, which is the power to control the weather. First dot lets you call a thunderclap that can be heard for quite some distance. Second lets you direct and empower wind. Third lets you summon clouds. Fourth lets you cause a thunderstorm. Fifth lets you shoot lightning.

And then there's Aphrodisia.

Fuck this game.

Aphrodisia is lust and desire magic. First dot lets you make sure someone or something has a good first impression. Second dot lets you make someone want someone or something that they've paid attention to. Third lets you make them obsess over that thing. Fourth lets you make them irrationally obsess over it. Fifth lets you may them go to psycho murder-stalker levels of obsessions over the thing or person.

Moving on, the Treasures. We'll go down from the biggest. The biggest is level 5: the Coral Comb.

Blood-Dimmed Tide posted:

This powerful item is probably best left with Murdhuacha (who need it more than most), for were it to be discovered by land-based troups such as the Pu'Gwis or Nosferatu, they would stop at nothing to get it.

You roll Charisma+Expression to activate it, spend a permanent point of Glamour and gain a permanent dot of Appearance. No, no rules for how a Nosferatu might do this. Anyway, you can do this up to 3 times and then the comb breaks. Also, can't go above Appearance 5 with it because it combs ugliness away, not makes you pretty.


Level 4: Conch of Poseidon. This only works for males, who may use it to suck up and spit out storms. Level 3: Melusine's Mirror. Reflects the true nature of what it looks at - a werewolf shows its Crinos form, a Changeling shows their fae seeming, a suitcase with a bomb in it shows the bomb. (Because its true nature is a trap, not a way to carry clothes.) Does not see through walls. Level 2: Mer Trident. It's a spear that can be used underwater with no penalty. Mer versions give +1 to melee pools, and merrow version leave "pus-filled, festering wounds scuttling with tiny crabs". No rules for that, though.

And the level one treasure? Mermaid's Milk. See, mermaid milk - from mermaid breasts! - lets you breathe water and survive pressure changes and pruney skin for a full day. It's full of glamour! It also keeps your eyes clear. They keep it around in gallon jugs. See, this is why mermaids have breasts, baby mermaids can't breathe water yet and need to be breastfed so they can breathe! This is also how they keep sailors alive and how they let visitors come breathe underwater. And, again, gallon jugs.

There is someone whose job it is in these merfolk coral cities to milk the mermaids .

Fuck this game fuck this game fuck this game fuck this game.

Next time: Anything but this.

Their touch on a given story might be nothing more than a tiny caress.

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Blood-Dimmed Tides: Their touch on a given story might be nothing more than a tiny caress.

Okay. We're finally past the mermaids and their fucking magical breastmilk.

Fuck Changeling.

Okay, moving on, I swear. We're into the ST advice chapter, and...well, there's some rather annoying stuff but little that is egregious. The book notes that you should impress on your players that things from the ocean that fuck with them are practically untrackable and can come back whenever they want. The theme and mood it wants are exotic, unknownable vastness.

Honestly this section is boring and I'm skipping it, except to note that it still talks about Chulorviah and we still haven't been told what one is. There are stats for sharks, barracudas, dolphins, whales, orcas, octopi, moray eels, sea lions, fish spirits, bioluminescent jellyfish spirits, crab spirits, rotting polluted kelp sirits, schools of fish spirits, the incarna of coral reefs...

Aquatic Fomori are mildly more interesting. They get new powers: Amphibious (can go underwater and on land), Angler Stalk (any creature other than a fomor or Chulorviah who sees its light must make a diff 6 Gnosis roll or diff 8 Willpower roll to avoid being irresistably drawn to it), Crab's Armor (+2 soak that can soak agg, but -3 dex on land), Cuttlefish Skin (can change skin color, +3 difficulty to attempts to spot the thing visually), Echolocation (echolocation), Electrical Discharge (can deal 5 agg damage by touch once every three turns), High-Pressure Endurance (immunity to pressure-based ailments), Ink Jet (can shoot poison ink that causes 3 damage unless the target gets 3+ successes on a diff 7 Stamina roll; this costs 1agg damage for every use beyond the first in a day), Poisonous Flesh (anything that bites the fomori takes 1 agg, and swallowing any part of it causes 1 agg per turn until death or they vomit it out; also, bioluminescence), Shark Mouth (Strength+3 bite damage, can swallow anything up to half its size).

We get poison sharks, which are just...poison sharks, the Diving Dead, who are octopus-ghoul-things...

Mostly they're just angry deep-swimming dudes who bite and claw things and become powerless on land despite being able to go on land.

And this is a Bane Lamprey, which is purple, drinks blood and has narcotic spit capable of knocking out werewolves. Anyone who gets bit has to make a diff 8 Stamina roll; if the damage he took is more than his successes, he gets KOed for as long as the lamprey is attached to him or until he dies.

And this is a GENE - a Genetically Enhanced Nautical Enforcement Specialist. Also called a Shark. They are created by Project Illiad, a Technocrat genetic research project run by the Progenitors, according to the memo about them. They are durable, controllable and have no Paradox whatsoever.

This is because they are fomori. Which apparently no one at Deepwater has noticed. The Progenitors and Void Engineers are clueless, and the guys at Illiad refuse to admit they didn't make them, because...something. They're amphibious, have fangs, can take pressure, are immune to Delirium and are poisonous. We also have stats for giant squid.

And now, finally, Chulorviah.

The Chulorviah are also called the Kraken-Born and...and fuck it, they're Cthulhu cultists. Via disease. It is a spiritual disease, Chulorviosis, which is similar to Bane possession. It infects only humans and invertebrates (notably squid). Humans get more squidlike, invertebrates get a tiny bit more human. They operate towards an unknowable plan for...some reason, which is left mostly to the GM but is hinted at being destroying the sun and sinking all land beneath the waves. They come in three types.

The Enfolded, which are infected humans. They are the lowest-ranking Chulorviah - they're ranked, by the way - and are "a blueprint for what humanity will become if the Kraken has its way." They are immune to Delirium, amphibious and can take water pressure, but otherwise have no special powers.

The Petryanos are the second group. They, uh...they're Starro the Conquerer..

No, really.

No, really.

The Peytryani are the commanders of the Enfolded, and are what happens to squids with Chulorviosis. They grab a guy, burrow some tentacles into his brain and control his body. They are also armored and have the same abiliities as the Enfolded, but are auperhumanly intelligent and manipulative.

Last are the Elders. The Elders exclusively come from the ranks of the Enfolded, and are in charge. Each is unique and immensely powerful and deadly and look, this is oWoD. They'll kill you in ten seconds flat, like every other thing that's older than you. They tend to have stats of 9 or higher and whatever powers the GM feels like giving them.

Chulorviosis can be caught by anyone. Mages are affected as normal humans but may maintain control with Willpower rolls; failure drains permanent Willpower. They become Enfolded at Willpower 0 and lose all magic. Vampires are immune but their blood becomes tainted - anything that drinks it gets infected. It also causes growth of molluscoid features when the victim frenzies, which fade after a day. They are easier to detect with Sense Wyrm, and can purge the disease by dropping to 0 Blood. Shapeshifters can spend 1 Gnosis per day to stave off the infection, which can be removed with the Rite of Cleansing. Rokea are immune. Wraiths are also immune. Changelings are affected as mages, but use Glamour instead.

Lastly, the appendix. We get rules for swimming speed, blah blah blah, weather conditions...diving, treading water...holding your breath...rules for seasickness! Anyone on a boat makes a diff 5 Stamina roll to avoid seasickness every 12 hours. It causes you to have -1 to all Dexterity, Perception and social rolls, and -2 to Intelligence and Wits rolls. Critters from the sea are immune, as is (at the ST's discretion) anyone who succeeds for three rolls in a row. Hypothermia rules...nitrogen narcosis...decompression sickness and air embolism - which is basically 'take agg damage until you die' due to water pressure. Vampires are immune to it. Oxygen toxicity rules...

And vampires suffer "depth sweat", also called Pressure-Induced Vitae Dissociation. Basically, at a certain depth, vampires lose 1 Blood point every ten minutes. At 0 Blood, they go into torpor.

And then we end with underwater combat and merits and flaws related to seasickness and swimming. Being unable to swim is worth 2 points!

Next time: Kindred of the East begins!