Post 1

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Y'know what I just got ahold of?

Into The Steam is the sourcebook for all things Arcanist, Steamfitter's Union and parts north of Malifaux. It covers the lands north of the city, a new character creation method (the Assembly Line Tarot) with option to play as one of the Invested - a sentient robot. There are eight new basic Pursuits and five new Advanced Pursuits, some new Talents and a lot of new options for skills. There's also new items and new magic variations, plus a bunch of new monsters and rules to make mutant or robot monsters.

The north is one of the areas least controlled by the Guild - it's the primary stronghold of both the Arcanists and the Ten Thunders. Much of the land is known as the Northern Hills, full of soulstone veins and other ores. Lots of abandoned boomtowns and a few that have flourished in the five years since the Breach opened back up. The railroad heads all the way up to Ridley Station, and some small companies are trying to push it even further.

We get a digression on Malifaux astronomy. The place has two moons: Illios the Revealer and Delios the Dark Stone, names found in old documents from before the first Breach. Delios is the first to rise, moving east to west and glowing faintly green. It is known as the Dark Stone because it looks like uncut soulstone. Its light is barely enough to illuminate the ground, and it is often associated with deceit and magic. It is the harbinger of darkness, and the sick or dying are sometimes said to have had the light of Delios upon them. Some say that those who die when Delios alone is in the sky have their souls trapped within it. Illios is slower, taking hours after sunset to rise. It moves southwest to northeast, and it shines white-blue, bright in the sky. Most wait until its rise to travel by night. It is tied to the concept of truth, and many use the phrase 'Illios has not yet risen' to say that the truth will be revealed in time.

When both moons are in the sky, it can be as bright as daylight...well, Malifaux daylight, but everything is given a yellow-green tint. Many in the North don't mind traveling by the light of Illios, if only to add color to an otherwise dull trip. The sun of Malifaux, meanwhile, is not so bright as Earth's sun. Clouds are common, and bright days rare. The days are shorter as winter approaches, and common reckoning holds that the sun rises east and sets west - apparently, the original Malifaux inhabitants used an entirely different system, but humanity has essentially ignored it entirely. Eclipses are rare but not unheard of, typically seen as omens, and a night without a moon might happen once in a lifetime. These nights, known as Fallow Nights, have never been witnessed by human eyes, but they are recorded in old tomes and grimoires of the ruins. There are also many, many stars, some even bright enough to see by day on clear afternoons. Unlike Earth stars, the stars of Malifaux are more colorful, with red and green and, much more rarely, blue. Blue stars are good omens, but can only be seen in the darkest part of the darkest nights.

We also get some mention of Malifaux's massive underground cavern complexes, to be detailed in a later supplement (Under Quarantine). The Northern Hills are relatively tame, but have some animals - mostly moles, and most notably the rare and aggressive Molemen, a magical creation of the Arcanists that's had an offshoot go wild and feral. They are aggressive, territorial, rather clever and very good at weakening mines. As yet, there has been no decision reached on whether the Miners and Steamfitters Union should engage an active project to exterminate or contain the Molemen. The rest of the dangerous animals of the Northern Hills are rare - mostly jackals, Night Terrorsand, near the mountains, Maulers and Hoarcats. There is plenty of other animal life that is less dangerous and relied on for meat. The lands near Frostrun also suffer from Razorspine Rattlers (giant snakes) and giant boars wandering in from the river.

Most settlements in the Northern Hills don't break a thousand people, outside of Ridley or Hollow Marsh. There's just not enough food for large populations, and people tend to be transient - the hillfolk, as they are often disparagingly called in Malifaux. They're survivors, no-nonsense and gruff, with strong ties to local settlements. Most belong to the M&SU, which has fostered a spirit of camaraderie and mutual support, but they don't easily welcome newcomers. They aren't hostile, just standoffish and not quick to help anyone that doesn't pull their own weight. Many towns actively defy Guild mandates, and while Guild men come for the Soulstone, they don't often stick around long. Direct confrontation is rare, given the Guild's heavily armed nature, but they are defied often - magicians, for example, are often protected from them, as are peaceful outlaws, as their skills can be handy to have around. Northerners tend to call themselves the Folk, reclaiming part of the insulting 'hillfolk' nickname. People from nearby settlements are often 'cousins,' a name encouraged by the Union to build a sense of family and community. Still, people tend not to move around too often, except to avoid trouble or find new resources. Still, when it does happen, this network of 'cousins' and their 'cousins' helps people settle in. However, the area between towns is rife with highwaymen and bandits that prey on these rare travelers, often based out of old ghost towns.

Next time: Ridley and Points North

Post 2

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Through the Breach: Into the Steam

Ridley used to just be a small rail station used for trading, but since it was a trade center, it was only a matter of time before little Ridley Station became the largest settlement in the North. It's built atop a plateau, giving it a great view of the area, and while it hasn't reached the edges yet, it will soon, which will limit its growth. It is the southernmost town of the Northern Hills, bordering the Footprints, so it gets very little rain or much in the way of good cropland. Indeed, the only reason Ridley works is that it's the connection to Malifaux City. Even trains headed to Hollow Point have to stop there - and the city council won't honor tickets to Hollow Point bought in Malifaux, so don't bother doing that. Just buy a new one in Ridley. The city council runs a tight ship in Ridley, and every member is a card-carrying Steamfitter's Union man or woman. They keep the place humming. Since Ridley can't feed itself, they have imposed a Sustenance Tax to pay for importing food and water to sell back to the people. The prices are kept low by the council, but many are still uncomfortable with this, especially those with Guild leanings. The Guild control exactly one thing in Ridley: law enforcement. Despite many attempts by the council to take over the courts, it's reached the point where Ridley is backing down to avoid agitating the Guild further, though the council still gets to define the law. The Guild just enforces it...and some of their own laws, at times.

The council is made of eight people, each representing one district. Districting is by population, but the ones at the outskirts are the poor ones, mostly the old or the disabled who can no longer make it on the frontier. On top of the council, there is a largely ceremonial mayor. Mayors are kept in for a year and are primarily retired Union leaders. Most try to get a bit more power, but all such attempts have so far been foiled. The mayor's only true power is that they serve as Guild liaison, and the Guild's started going straight to the mayor in hopes of bypassing the council. So far, it hasn't worked out very well - retired Union heads tend not to like the Guild. Ridley's districts are Center City (the rich part at the center and one of the nicest places in Malifaux due to a functioning sewer), the Smelt (industrial), Slate (a slum), Iron (artisans), Ivory (Guildtown) and the three housing districts, Bronze, Quartz and Jade. All of those three are relatively poor but mostly support the Union thanks to subsidized bread and water.

Outside Hollow Marsh is Hollow Point Pumping Station, the other major settlement of the Northern Hills. It is the brainchild of Victor Ramos, a giant pump to keep the mines clear of floods by hollowing out a mountain. The people of Hollow Point live on the mountainside, and it's safer and wealthier than anywhere else in the Hills. The Union's even paid for a railway - a public line, if rarely used by non-Union people. Hollow Point is on the edge of the Bayou, so it has plenty of water and fertility, allowing them to grow rice, which is shipped throughout the Hills. Ridley depends almost entirely on Hollow Point food. The only real separator from the Bayou is the Frostrun, an icy river that comes down from Ten Peaks in the north. It is rough and treacherous, so it keeps most monsters and natives out...though some Gremlins are determined and cross anyway to loot local villages, which are mostly defended by the robots they use for mining.

In the far northeast is the inexplicably successful Promise, just below the mountains. It's three weeks by horse from Ridley, across unforgiving land, and the winters are harsh. Despite this, Promise has done well, with good cropland and hunting. Indeed, the town appears to be self-sufficient. It is settled mostly by people from the Three Kingdoms, and it's as much an Asian as European town, with a uniquely hybrid culture. People from Promise are easy to spot as a result. And the reason the place works so well? Soulstone trading. The Second Breach, high in the mountains, is one of the best-kept secrets in Malifaux, and it's run by the Ten Thunders. They use it to manage a massive illegal Soulstone smuggling ring based out of Promise. The town is also called Delios by Ten Thunders operatives to keep its status secret - saying you're 'traveling by Delios' leads many to think you mean 'by darkness' rather than through Promise.

Delta Six is the largest mining site in the hills, located north of Hollow Point. It's immense, covering one of the largest Soulstone veins in history, and it's very profitable. It's so big that it's more a quarry than a mine, and Hollow Point was built mostly to keep Delta Six dry. Before its construction, floods were common and very damaging. Nearby Bedlam Quarry, on the other hand, produces no Soulstone whatsoever. It mines granite and occasionally other minerals - even gold, sometimes. It's not so profitable, but far more reliable and easier to staff. Indeed, it's the safest mine in the north, though more tightly Guild-run. Mostly, it gets used to break the will of convict miners and test their skills. Those with an aptitude for the job or for following orders are often shipped to other mines, but all convict labor comes through Bedlam Quarry at some point. It's one of the few shared experiences that the convict miners tend to have, and when two convicts meet, it's Bedlam they gossip about.

The last place of importance before the Ten Peaks is Perennial, home of the Perennial Mines. It was one of the few ghost towns left standing just after the second Breach, with practically no decay at all. Indeed, it was named because it was found in near-perfect condition. The mine was soon cleared, with the Soulstones coming out of it easily and the lowest casualty rate in the north. Perennial became a cushy Union post, a prize town to be sent to for good work. That is, until the town fell apart following a brutal winter and the place's first major mining accident. A lesser town would have survived, but Perennial lost the charm it once held, and most people just moved on. The Arcanists, however, decided to keep the town going on paper. Soulstones of other mines were attributed to Perennial, and all Guild overseers there are Arcanist infiltrators. The entire place exists solely in documentation, and the town isn't even maps any more. Working at Perennial Mines is Arcanist code - a cover story for important Arcanists to use without having to maintain a life there. It's a fiction, a signal to other Arcanists, and the Guild still doesn't realize it.

I don't know, either.

Ten Peaks is as far north as anyone's ever really managed to get. It's a mountain range running from the Bayou to parts unknown, and its meltwater feeds the Blackrill and Frostrun rivers, and ultimately most of the Bayou. It was named because ten of its peaks could be seen from Malifaux City when exploration first started. The mountains are in near-constant snowfall, as storms roll in from the north and break on the peaks, never getting to the lands beyond. Occasionally, there are avalanches. Very little grows there, and only predators make their homes on the mountainsides. They are hardy, vicious beasts, and the Folk have learned to avoid anything coming down out of the mountains. The most common creature to be discussed is the Wendigo. Few know how they come to be. Occasionally, a person from the Hills or even Malifaux City will find themselves drawn northward, trekking without food or water, driven by primal need. As they reach the mountains, they change. They hunch over, shriveling, but will over time grow even larger than humans - the mighty Wendigo. The strongest never leave the mountains, but any will devour anyone they meet. The Mauler, a rare type of mutated bear, is also symbolic of mountain life - twisted, vicious and hungry.

Few people live in the mountains - mostly exiles and criminals, and there's no law out there. They aren't friendly or good-mannered, and they don't look out for each other. Grudges last a long time for them, and most have cast aside human morality just to survive. It's almost tribal, with the strong leading so the strong can live. In winter, they band together to raid settlements, kill anyone they meet and rob them. These groups are known as the Hordes, and while they strike but a few villages each year, their destruction is not soon forgotten. There is one other type of person out in the mountains: the Cult of December. They seem to worship the mountains, the cold and the entity known only as December. They have great magical knowledge, using it to carve a massive temple atop one of the peaks. They use this temple as a base to hunt food from via their followers and strange beasts. No mountain settlements exist, at least according to maps in Malifaux or Ridley.

That's not to say they don't exist at all, though. The Temple of December is a massive edifice of ice and snow, frozen eternally as tribute to winter. It is covered in ice sculptures of strange faces and beasts, which can be animated to defend the Temple as a small, frozen army. Inside is the Cult, with their bulky cloaks. They are small in number, but not so small as must would hope. Most are acolytes, mere adherents to the glory of December. Above them are the Silent Ones, the priestesses of December. They know much of magic, but most had their tongues cut out by an earlier generation of leaders in the cult. Alongside them are the priests, tasked to care for the Temple and commune with the entity December. There are also strange things outside the hierarchy, like the Blessed, a former Silent One warped by magic into a flesh-eating monster, a testament of the raw, feral power of the Cult.

Then there's the Grove - an unsettling place of "trees" carved from ice. The ice-trees are thick...and more strangely, laden with fruit. Few have eaten the fruits of the Grove, but those who do are entranced by the taste, said to be the most wonderful in all the world. They tend not to leave the Grove, and the small village that exists there is quite successful, even friendly, in ways the mountains don't often see. When asked how they survive the winter, they say only 'the trees take our complaints.' A poem implies that the trees command them. The other village of the mountains is Windblown, the largest of the roving villages. Hunters across Malifaux speak of it with awe, for it is the home of the world's finest trackers. Unlike most roving villages of the mountains, it heads south to trade, not raid. The people of Windblown eat meat almost exclusively, making them look unhealthy but muscley and able. They are tough and hunt only in packs, and only for the largest prey. They wear furs of their best kills - Maulers, sometimes even Wendigo. They revel in the hunt, though often one or two die on each hunt. It keeps the population low and thus fed. Some were professional hunters on Earth, but most were convicts or just those uncomfortable with city life They have little respect for those unable to survive like they do.

And then there's the Footprints - the badlands between the Northern Hills and Malifaux City. They are desolate, full of canyons, and not much else. No animals call the Footprints home naturally, save vultures. Few people do, either, save bandits who stay a short while to raid travelers...and even then, there aren't many travelers, and most are destitute, or they'd have used the train. Thus, the trains are the only real prize, and bandits must come up with elaborate plans to slow them down and rob them. It annoys both Guild and Union, but not enough to wipe out the bandits.

Next time: Factions in the North

Post 3

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Through the Breach: Into the Steam

While the Guild is often seen as omnipresent and ever-vigilant, it mostly has just been good at applying force in the right place at the right time, creating that illusion. Its power is centered on Malifaux City, and it is not yet strong enough to control the northern lands. Instead, it focuses on profitable locations there. The overseers track what comes out of the mines, the troops man the trains and the customs officers tax what they can. The Guild doesn't usually do much else in the North, as that would take more manpower. They play the economy - they need Soulstones to stay in business, but they can't extract them very efficiently. The Union checks their power, but they themselves are checked by the Guild's control of the Breach. The Guild might stamp them out if they organized more, but the Union can halt the flow of Soulstone. Guild leaders want heavier control of the North, to increase their returns. They believe it'd pay for itself. However, success is far from a guarantee and the Guild isn't big on risk, so they've settled for economic war, looking for ways to cut Union profits and authority and to get the Northerners to believe the Guild would help them prosper more. The northern operations are overseen by a man named Gilgamesh, rarely seen. He operates the Guild there with clandestine cells and spies, and it is he who commands the shadow wars against the Union. He understands them deeply, and the Union fears an infiltrator in their ranks, which helps the Guild - their infighting has slowed them down. Other than Gilgamesh, there is also Derrick Westmore, head of the mine overseers, who has made the overseers more responsible after he defected from the Union due to being fed up by their politics. There is also a sizable number of Witch Hunters going after the Arcanists in the area, though they're mostly good at catching minor operatives.

The Miners and Steamfitters Union was born in the North, and it is strong there. It formed first among the miners, led by Erick Ulish, and made enough money from dues in a few months to address safety concerns. It hired engineers to focus on lighting and flooding, and that's when Victor Ramos showed up. Ulish, President of the Union, pushed to accept Ramos and his engineers, and by the time the Guild knew what was happening, its influence had already spread throughout the Northern mines, making it impossible to easily remove. Ramos was originally in charge of safety, but he quickly expanded thanks to his massive success. After Ulish died in an accident, Ramos was quickly elected the next President. He has made the Union what it is today, uniting the membership massively. The Union controls a lot of infrastructure, and it works hard for its people...and itself. The Union doesn't help anyone that won't pay dues - it has to be that way to stay strong. It's forced a number of people with no mining or engineering skill to join, for practical reasons.

In the North, in fact, not joining the Union is considered absurd. The Guild might have authority, but everyone knows Ramos and the Union have the real power. The line between Miners and Steamfitters has started to blur, but the Miners are larger and more profitable, covering anyone involved in mining concerns. The Steamfitters cover everyone else - mostly craftsmen of all kinds. The Union has recently been experimenting with company towns - low cost of living and definite work but low pay. It's caused some concern, but company towns would let the Union live entirely outside Guild control. So far, the experiment is working, and it's growing. Beyond that, the Union focuses on opposing the Guild politically, though Ramos has always been careful to appear willing to compromise. He is the friendly face, allowing his subordinates to be more hardline and aggressive while he keeps his hands clean. Below the top levels, most decisions are made by committee, with each mine or other organization having their own committee and reporting to larger committees. Almost all decisions are by vote.

The Arcanists are often felt but rarely seen in the North. The Guild knows but can't prove they have strong ties to the Union. The truth is, Victor Ramos leads both groups. Most Arcanists are also Union members, and they use it for cover. It's simplest to think of the Arcanists as the criminal arm of the Union, smuggling Soulstone and illegally training wizards. Ramos keeps an eye out for magical talent to recruit and protect, bringing them into the Arcanists whenever possible. Ramos founded them around the same time as the Union started, because he knew mages like himself were being hunted, and felt they weren't doing anything wrong but be powerful. He used his wizard allies to bolster the successes of the Union, and the two organizations grew together. Their mixing of magic and technology has often been helpful, such is in the creation of the Leviathan, an immense construct resembling a giant centipede that, until recently, was an immense weapon. Its soulstone has since cracked and rendered it inoperable, however. The Arcanists are also looking for ways to open their own Breach, to try and break the Guild's power, but they must be careful - if the Guild learned of it, they could use it to cement their control.

Victor Ramos is usually more personally invested in the Arcanists - the Union mostly runs itself well without his involvement - but the Arcanists are still mostly autonomous. Most members are also Union, and so answer to both a Union master and an Arcanist one. Sometimes these are the same person, but not always. Most Union members are vaguely aware that their organization shelters Arcanists, and most are fine with it, treating them as family as much as any other Union member, especially since the Arcanists will happily use magic to help the Union. Most are not aware, however, of the extent of the collusion, and only a handful know Ramos leads both groups. The Guild is vaguely aware of the Arcanists using the Union as a shield, but even they would be shocked to learn the level of collaboration between the two groups.

Rah, rah, Rasputin, lover of the Russian queen

The Cult of December worships the Tyrant December, and they are drawn to the north, to the high Temple. The call of December is strongest among the starving, and if they survive the climb, they join the Cult. Their leader is the Winter Witch, Rasputina, who will do anything to get what she wants. Still, she is not so cold as some say. She cares deeply for the Cult, going to great lengths and even resisting December's will to protect them. The Cult was once led by the male priests of December, who cut out the tongues of the priestesses to avoid a prophecy of a woman controlling the cult. When Rasputina came from without their ranks to take control, she killed most of the priests and elevated the priestesses to lead as the Silent Ones. Her pragmatism and struggle of wills with December has led her to ally with the Arcanists, gaining access to their stores of magical knowledge in order to control her gifts and resist December's influence. The Cult predates her, however, dating back to the first Breach. Indeed, some of the eldest priests and priestesses were found after the second opening, frozen in the Temple. When thawed, they taught the new arrivals the ways of December, allowing the Cult to quickly regain much of its former glory. The call of December keeps the ranks full, as those fallen on hard times are lured to the Temple.

The Foundry is a subset of the Union focusing on the expansion of rail travel, and its members mostly work on steel mills to make railroad tracks or constructs. When not doing that, they lay track. They are almost all fiercely loyal to the Union rail boss, Mei Feng, who trains them, keeps them safe and protects them with a Mauler's ferocity. Her magical skill lets her control fire and metal, allowing her to operate the biggest and hottest machinery easily. She was quickly recruited by the Arcanists and given leadership in the Foundry, but the Arcanists have not realized her true loyalties lie instead with the Ten Thunders. She's not stupid, however, and knows that when she stops being a useful spy, she will be discarded, and she's trying to gain Arcanist favor in preparation for that day. The Foundry fights with her, no matter what side she chooses, and so do their rail golems.

Condor Rails is led by an Earthsider named Aucaman, a man of Native American heritage who came to Malifaux after discovering he'd never make the top ranks on Earth thanks to his blood and embezzling large sums of money from his old bosses. Once there, he found his heritage no longer mattered socially, and he used his money to invest in rail companies, quickly outpacing the competition. Condor Rails has been gobbling up smaller companies ever since. It's just about the only game in town now, besides some minor concerns. It owns all the major tracks and most of the cars. Other services pay Condor a fee to run on the tracks, and Condor trains always take precedence. Aucaman is a businessman, and he subsidizes the workers he needs, mostly hiring out to the Union and specifically the Foundry. After all, he wants the best, always, and Mei Feng's crew is the best. Aucaman's consolidations have made him extremely important, and Condor Rails is the de factor confidante of many other organizations, with the Guild and Union both trying to get Aucaman on their side, but he remains stubbornly independent. Rumor has it he plans to take over the train lines through the Breach, though the Guild has been working against him on this, though with a softer hand than they're used to. They could move against him openly, but it'd mean strikes along the entire rail line, and their attempts at a rival rail have never succeeded - Aucaman buys them out too fast.

There are four major lines on the railway. The Green Cannonball runs to Fortune Falls Station, and it's named for the speed it travels the Knotwood with. It has few passenger cars, mostly transporting freight - trees, primarily. It shares track with no other trains - there's only one Green Cannonball, and the trips aren't all the time, but it's a profitable line nonetheless. It does have issues with Neverborn, though, usually on the slower trip home. Still, Neverborn don't seem to like being on trains and are usually driven off. The Ridley Express, meanwhile, goes from Malifaux City to Ridley to Hollow Point. It was the first regular line after the second Breach and is a staple Condor income source. It runs two types of trains - even-numbered engines are Soulstone runs, and odd-numbered trains carry passengers. It's believed that the bandits know not to attack the more heavily defended even-numbered engines. Despite the name, the Express isn't very fast, to avoid wear and tear on bridges, though it runs faster between Ridley and Hollow Point, even if the hills make the overall speed a little lower. While the second stretch is sparsely used, the cars are not often changed for it.

The Downtown line serves inside Malifaux City limits, traveling around the city to stops like Industry Station and Southgate. It's mostly older engines, low on freight cars and often with very short, all-passenger trains. They get across the city quickly and safely, with a few engines always set aside for Guild use. Many smaller lines snake through the city, a remnant of the time before Condor, and Aucaman has even put small trains on some of these lines for direct service to select neighborhoods. The last line is the Southern Belle, heading to the only southern stop of note: Edgeport Station, hub of all southern Contract Towns and the Ortega family. The Belle is fast, as it has no other stops, and it's got a classy set of train cars. Like the Cannonball, there's only one Southern Belle - there's not enough demand for more, and the prices are high to ensure a high class experience. There's only a few freight cars for the Contract Towns in the south, not nearly so many as the Cannonball or Ridley Express.

And then there's Winston Finnegan of Winston's Dirigibles. He is not a businessman, come into his control by accident when his uncle died. He's been wasting resources on his hobbies ever since. He's a social climber, wanting to host the best parties, and he'll use the company's money to do it. So far, it seems to be working out for some reason. His uncle was a better businessman, but Winston's connections have let him expand the aircar lines faster than anyone ever imagined, and business is booming. Prices are high, but service is great. Winston will attend any party he can, regardless of who's holding it, but his company is closest to the Guild, and the aircars in the city move Guild troops. Recently, Winston moved to Ridley to get into social circles there, and he took a lot of the business with him. Ridley now boasts a single aircar line and a second under construction. Winston hates the ban on free-floating zeppelins in Malifaux City, and that's part of why he moved to Ridley. He's planning to build a fleet. So far, he has two, the largest of which he calls the Mountaintopper. The Union helped design them and is using them to win Winston over. Winston dreams of using them and his aircar lines to unite the Badlands, but it's probably little more than a pipe dream. It's theoretically possible, but they haven't even gotten from Ridley to Malifaux yet, and none of the Contract Towns would generate fares to make it worthwhile. Still, some people have approached Winston to fund expeditions to the Bayou for mapping, and despite his advisors' protests, he seems interested.

Next time: More factions

Post 4

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Through the Breach: Into the Steam

The Resurrectionists have little presence in the North. The ones that live there tend to be solitary necromancers, unaware of the others. They rarely have the ability to band together and mostly pursue their own individual goals. This does keep anyone from seeing them as a real threat, though, and for the most part they keep a low profile and are left alone. Many of them are content just to research minor magic, but others are searching for something more, hearing the call of Soulstones. Soulstones are less rare in the North, after all, and the ones that are dug up there behave a little differently. Most magic users never notice, but a Resurrectionist might, hearing the stones sing with the lives they've taken. Most Northern Resurrectionists are researchers, working in the mines to have a chance to get close to Soulstone. This can be a dangerous study, however, as the stones often amplify the whispers most Resurrectionists suffer from, and often they will steal a Soulstone and vanish into the depths of the caves, never to be seen again.

The Neverborn do not leave the North alone, quite. Attacks are not so frequent as in the Knotwoods or Badlands, but they exist. The most common type of Neverborn in the Ten Peaks are the Kaltgeists, strange beings made of snow that can reshape their bodies. They are practically impossible to spot when hiding and will stalk prey for days at a time before striking. There are also the Mountain Wisps, small, faerie-like creatures that glow like campfires. They feed on dead flesh and like to lead travelers off the path by pretending to be campfires. In the Northern Hills,. the most notable Neverborn is Collodi the Puppet Master. Collodi travels the towns of the North in a colorful wagon, and in each town it puts on a puppet show, hiding its wooden body beneath many disguises and letting the puppets take center stage. It enjoys these shows, but it hates the humans that watch them. Collodi is lonely and hateful, and in each town it kidnaps a child or two, using their blood and souls to make new puppets. It takes most of its puppets with it, but some get left behind sometimes, to cause trouble, particularly if it got heckled. These Neverborn puppets are rare, but the stories of their actions are spreading, and some parents now refuse to give their children any toys at all for fear that they were made by Collodi. Still, while Collodi is powerful, it is not a planner and is more interested in pain than power.

The Ten Thunders have agents across Malifaux, but the North is where they've put down roots outside Malifaux City and its Little Kingdom. They settled the town of Promise, which lays close to the Second Breach. Promise is the start of their foothold in Malifaux, but it isn't enough for the Oyabun. He is directing Ten Thunder expansion in the North, always working subtly to avoid attention. Placing Mei Feng in a ranking position in the Union and Arcanists has been their greatest success so far, but the Oyabun knows she's not as loyal as would be ideal. He is working to establish new assets, in case she forgets who she works for. The other Ten Thunders base in the region besides Promise is the Hidden Temple, located in the foothills of the Ten Peaks. It's more fortress than temple, and it's where most Ten Thunders training happens, both martial and mystic. The Oyabun is building an army there, and so far, no one even knows it exists. Promise lets the Ten Thunders and their servants appear civil, integrated...but the Hidden Temple hides their true purpose and their strength.

Anyway, that brings us to the new character generation method! The Assembly Line Tarot spread is meant for characters from the North, who have Union or Arcanist leanings or who are robots. We will need seven cards for this.

The first two cards are Replaceaqble Parts. We set them aside for later. A 3 of Spades Crows and a 5 of Diamonds Masks.

Then we deal out our five cards - Allegiance, Body, Root, Mind and Endeavor. This is where things start to get different - unlike the Crossroads Tarot creation, there's no Heritage. Instead, we get Allegiance, which tells us which faction or group our character has some tie to, though it may not be a tie that determines loyalties. We also now have the option to swap in one of our Replaceable Parts for any one of the other cards we drew. So, for Allegiance for this character, we draw the 8 of Crows. Our Allegiance is Resurrectionists, and the first line of our Fate reads:


When the winds of change blow through your core

But I'm not feeling Resurrectionists here, I think. We could swap in the 3 of Crows but that wouldn't change much. So instead, we swap in the 5 of Masks. This means that at some point in our history, we were going to be indebted to the Resurrectionists, but then something changed our fate. Instead, our Allegiance is to the Outcasts, and our Fate reads:


If you witness the hollows of the night

This brings us to our Body card, the Red Joker. We get 0/0/0/3 to divide between our Physical Aspects.


If you witness the hollows of the night
the curse of the land will be your savior

And then on to the Jack 11 of Masks for our Root card. 2, 2, 2, 2, 1 for skills. We can assign these to any skills we want, as you might recall from last time.


If you witness the hollows of the night
the curse of the land will be your savior
but only the oni can save you.

Next, the Mind card: the Ace of Masks. -3/-1/+1/+3.


If you witness the hollows of the night
the curse of the land will be your savior
but only the oni can save you.
You will descend into the darkness without hope

And, finally, our Endeavor card, for our next set of skills. Northern characters generally get more but smaller numbers here compared to the Root. We get the 8 of Hearts Rams, which gives 3,1,1,1,1,1,1. So lots of skills but only 1s for most, because Northerners tend to be jacks-of-all-trades.


If you witness the hollows of the night
the curse of the land will be your savior
but only the oni can save you.
You will descend into the darkness without hope
and the weight will finally lift from your shoulders.

We would now be able to either raise an Aspect by 1 point or get 2 ranks in a Skill we do not already have, then we'd select a Pursuit and a Talent and so on as normal. There is, however, another option - the game allows for an optional rule to take a Flaw instead. The GM flips a card. If it's a Ram, you reduce your highest Physical Aspect by 1. Tomes is highest Mental, Crows is Wounds and Masks is Willpower. If you take a Flaw, you do not receive a Talent, but instead a Manifested Power or another point to spend on either +1 to an Aspect or 2 in a skill you don't already have.

But suppose we wanted to play a robot? The Invested are made similarly to human characters, but require one of two things: 1. the GM allows it or 2. your Body card is Tomes. Any Tomes Body on the Assembly Line Tarot is an Invested, and that's the main use of cheating a card in via Replaceable Parts. But the game says if you really, really want to play an Invested and don't draw it, well, the GM should allow it anyway. What's different about the Invested? Well, first, after Step 7, if your Charm Aspect is positive, it becomes 0. You may then increase any one Physical Aspect by 1, to a maximum of 4. Invested are immune to any Condition referencing Living anatomy, such as Bleeding Out, but can still be knocked unconscious. They may choose to have any starting gear be integrated into their body. The Defining Suit of their Twist Deck must be Tomes. They also get to choose a chassis, which determines their Height, Defense and Armor. Their Evade skill does not help their Defense at all, so no point having one. A Lightweight Chassis is Height 1, Defense 6. A Standard Chassis is Height 2, Defense 4, Armor +1. A Heavy Chassis is Height 3, Defense 3, Armor +2. Lastly, Invested do not have the Living characteristic. They have the Construct characteristic instead. However, if their Body card was an 11, 12 or 13, they may choose to have both. That's the sum total of differences in playing a robot. And yes, if you cheat in a Tomes card, the game suggests that you may not have always been a robot - maybe you died and were trapped in soulstone and now your soulstone animates a robot - and if you cheat one out, maybe you were part of some grand and potent magic that granted your robotic self true life.

Next time: Allegiances

Post 5

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Through the Breach: Into the Steam

Allegiance is new for Into the Steam, and it's an affiliation your character has, willing or unwilling, maybe even unaware. This isn't a guide on personality, but a complication in their story. A character with Guild allegiance might hate the Guild, but owe their life to a Marshal and have too much integrity to let the debt go unpaid, say. Allegiance is helpful to your character, but also harmful, in pretty much every case. The game offers a quick method by taking each possible Allegiance and letting you draw a card and check against the suit to determine what your Allegiance means, or you can make it up y ourself. The possibles are Arcanists, the Union, the Guild, the Ten Thunders, the Outcasts (that is, the folks who live outside society and have ties to no one, like mercenaries or the betrayed), the Resurrectionists, Condor Rails, the Foundry, the Cult of December, the city of Ridley or Manufacturing concerns. We drew Outcasts before, so let's see what we get as suggested options there.


Tomes: You went to join the Freikorps, but were asked to come back when you were a little less green. Now, you're out to get some experience so you can sign up with the legendary mercenary group.
Crows: The energies and magics of Malifaux are everywhere, and one night they almost took you. You were saved by a wretched-looking girl, clearly haunted by her own past. You've not seen her again, but you now take pity on those tormented by their personal demons.
Rams: Live or die by the coin, that's your motto. Only problem is, you haven't really got any. So now you're just a bit desperate, willing to take almost any job that comes your way.
Masks: You were once part of a group, but you were betrayed by those who wear a mask and pretend it's their face. You'll never owe your allegiance to another again, no matter the cost.

So, what about the new Basic Pursuits? There's 8 of them, and they're often rather more limited in scope than the ones in the core. As a result, they all have a Step Zero Talent - essentially, the moment you get on the Pursuit, you get that Talent for free. Handy!

Fat, happy and robot-obsessed.

The Animator is a creator, someone who uses magic and inspiration to turn scrap into constructs. They work with things thrown away, deemed worthless, and they make these things into valuable creations. Animators aren't common - most who animate Constructs are either engineers or tinkerers using magic or science alone to give their creations life. Few can do both at once. Most Animators belong to the Arcanists, but not all. Some Animators go their own way, and there's even tales of Gremlin Animators in the Bayou. Some Animators also choose to use dead bodies in their work, and are in fact a form of Resurrectionist, using corpses and steel to create twisted minions. Any Animator [i[could[/i] do that, but few would think of doing so. Either way, however, Animators are scavengers, stealing the useless and discarded to turn into tools.

Taking Animator as your starting Pursuit gets you a non-magical skill toolkit. Their Pursuit Talent is Always More Scrap : when a Cobbled or Amalgam controlled by this character is killed or sacrificed by an enemy during Dramatic Time, the Animator may draw a card. During the Epilogue, they may advance any Magical Skill rather than the options presented by the GM. As they advance they get the following talents:

Did someone mention double cyborgs?

The Augmented are often derived from injury - it's easy to get hurt in Malifaux, hurt in ways that disfigure you or remove limbs. Often, these injuries also cause spirals of depression that overtake your life. Fortunately, science and magic have come together to help! They can make you better, faster, stronger than before. Yes, prosthetics can be hard, but don't you want a purpose again? And some people just...embrace it, no injury needed. It doesn't really matter. Those who are as much machine as man are the Augmented, and they become something more than either. (And since there's no restrictions on Infused taking Pursuits, you can be a ROBOT CYBORG, too.)

Taking Augmented as your starting Pursuit gets you a Pneumatic Limb worth up to 25 scrip, total, for limb and augments. While on the Pursuit, you get End of the Line : When you fail a Might duel, you can draw a card. During the Epilogue, you can advance any Might-based skill instead of the options given by the GM. As you advance, you get the following:

Where are your eyes?

The Collaborator is the result of the community-driven mindset of much of the North. People need to work together and support each other, and the Collaborator understands that - and applies that philosophy to combat. They excel in a support role as well as fighting to help their allies. The most notorious of them are the Union foremen and representatives, easily able to rouse a mob into action and hold the line against Guild strikebreakers. The Guild has their own, of course, serving as sergeants and commanders. Others prefer no such formal ties, leading gangs or mercenary teams.

Taking Collaborator as your starting Pursuit gets you any weapon and armor with combined value no more than 25 scrip. While on the Pursuit, you get Team Tactics : When you fail a Social duel, draw a card. During the Epilogue, you can raise any Social Skill instead of the GM's offers. As they advance, they get the following:

Next time: Engineers, Illusionists, Infiltrators

Post 6

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Through the Breach: Into the Steam

Wait, do any of these guys have eyes?

The Engineer is a machinist without magic. They need no Soulstones nor spells to animate Constructs, just good old science, steam and pneumatics. Most of them are Union, working hard to keep things going, but the Guild employs them, too, to maintain their army of Constructs, railroads, aircars and so on. Condor Rails always needs them, and the Foundry loves 'em, too. And it's easy to freelance, since Engineers don't do magic and so are not required to register as mages under Guild law. They solve problems with technology, no one understands machines like they do.

Starting the game as an Engineer gets you a Mobile Toolkit, essentially a pet robot minion. While on the Pursuit, you get Interchangeable Parts : When you fail an Engineering or Artefacting challenge, draw a card. During the Epilogue, you may advance any Crafting skill rather than the GM's offers. As they level, they get:

It's maaaaaagic

The Illusionist appears to be using simple tricks, mere distractions to fool people. And technically, this is true, but the tricks are far from simple. Illusionists know how to magically manipulate the senses, and while they're rare, they're more common than most suspect. Most do not believe they use true magic, which helps them avoid Witch Hunter attention...and Arcanist recruitment, sometimes. They often pose as stage magicians, in fact, which makes them easily able to blend into society. Even when the Guild does notice them, it's often hard to catch them - their power makes it easy for them to disappear when needed. Many hide their power behind sleight of hand and actual stage magic as they exploit the power of people's senses.

Those that begin play as an Illusionist get Stage Magic : You get a Manifested Power, Hocus Pocus, which allows you to create audible but not overwhelming sounds, create sounds audible to only one person, shove objects weighing 5 pounds or less that you can see, make small objects invisible for 5 minutes or create or extinguish a light source such as a candle or lantern. While on the Pursuit, you get Nothing is Real : Whenever an enemy successfully disbelievers your illusions for the first time during Dramatic Time, draw a card. During the Epilogue, you may advance any Magical Skill rather than the GM's offers. As they level, they get:

I actually quite like this design.

The Infiltrator is a spy. It's not an easy job - you work undercover for long periods, living a life often counter to your true beliefs, all to ensure your bosses learn useful information. They often lose some sense of self, and many end up as double agents as a result. The Guild and Union have been engaging in a shadow war against each other with heavy use of Infiltrators, and the Ten Thunders are masters of their usage. And, of course, everyone's heard of Neverborn doppelgangers. Infiltrators are highly prized assets, usually well paid and very good at getting into places they shouldn't, usually vie lies, bribes and blackmail as well as stealth.

Taking Infiltrator as your starting Pursuit gets you a non-magical skill toolkit. While on the Pursuit, you get Act Like You Belong : When you fail a Deceive or Stealth duel, draw a card. During the Epilogue, you may advance any Social Skill instead of the GM's offers. As they level:

Oh hey this guy has eyes.

The Mage is a magic-users, but not one who got the same training as most spellcasters. The North tends to be more accepting of their presence (and that of spellcasters in general) - their magic is useful! Mages were born with a bit of natural talent, a talent awoken by Malifaux. Of course, the Witch Hunters are always after them, so many leave the city and head northwards. Mages tend not to have a wide repertoire. They don't use a Grimoire, but instead learn magic naturally, making it easier for them to escape attention. They hone a handful of spells to perfection, making them safer and more reliable, if limited.

Starting the game as a Mage gets you a Magical Theory talent and Arcane Shield : During Dramatic Time, if you have not yet taken your turn this round, reduce all damage you suffer by 1, to a minimum of 0. While on the Pursuit, you get Focused Efforts : If you fail to cast a Manifested Power, draw a card. During the Epilogue, you may advance any Magical Skill instead of the GM's offers.

Next time: Primals and Advanced Pursuits

Post 7

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

All I can say is that when you talk about the Victorian era or the Old West, prostitutes seem to come to mind. And, in fairness, when you are making a Jack the Ripper pastiche, it'd be wrong not to at least mention that, yeah, he killed prostitutes. Still, they could do way better in that area, yes.

Through the Breach: Into the Steam

I can't even tell if this is supposed to be sexy.

The Primal feels more affinity for nature than for man. They prefer animals to other humans, but that doesn't mean they always reject civilization. Many Primals own homes, have friends, go to parties and so on...but most also feel trapped by their culture, not uplifted. They may believe they can't leave due to obligations or they may lack the wilderness survival skills to make it, but even those that want to leave have not truly abandoned their species. Some surround themselves with animal friends, especially hunters, and in the North it isn't too rare to see someone who's tamed Hoarcats or Raptors to help them hunt. Less common are the ones who've managed to befriend Razorspine Rattlers or wild boars, and those always draw a crowd. Even a few in Malifaux City have become Primals, particularly those that raise the Guild's hounds or the rat-catchers. Primals can be gruff, but they are tenacious and loyal.

Starting the game as a Primal gets you +1 Wound. While in the Pursuit, you get On the Scent : When you fail a Notice, Track or Wilderness duel, draw a card. During the Epilogue, you may advance any Cunning-based skill instead of the GM's offers. As they level:

The book has five Advanced Pursuits. Three of them (the December Acolyte, the Showgirl and the Silent One) require joining a certain group. Two (the Demolitionist and the Shapeshifter) are more personal paths.

No, he's cut off like that in the book, too.

The December Acolyte has felt the influence of the Tyrant known as December. Those chosen by December share a few traits: most have had a near-death experience from cold. While on the brink of death, many see a vision of glowing eyes and a terrible maw or hear a voice urging them to travel north. A few, though, are darker - those who have consumed human flesh out of choice or desperation. Some ignore December's call, but most listen, out of curiosity, need or ambition. They head north to the Cult. They are welcomed, fed and given the initiation rites. It is cruel and difficult, for the Cult has no room for those that will not survive. Armed with but furs and a harpoon gun, the chosen must kill a human, abducted from their home and left on the mountain. If they can track the prey, kill them and eat their heart, they're in. Those that fail are left on the mountain for any scavengers to find. To become a December Acolyte, you must be contacted by the December entity in some way, and then must travel to the Ten Peaks and make contact with the Cult of December, surviving and completing their initiation rites. In return, you get:

That mask must be really cold.

The Silent Ones , historically, were the priestesses of December, whose tongues were cut out by the priests, who feared their power. Since Rasputina took over, they now instead ritually brand their tongues in memory of the sacrifices of the past. What the rest of the cult does not know, however, is that each brand also limits the power of the Silent Ones, to ensure none achieve a stronger connection to December than Rasputina, as she fears December might pick another as a more willing vessel. The Silent Ones also serve as Rasputina's handmaidens and have special privilege, second only to Rasputina herself. In battle, they wield the might of winter. Most never leave the Ten Peaks, but there's no rules against doing so. The Silent Ones are, however, unshakeable loyal to Rasputina, the Cult and December, though not always in that order. To become a Silent One, you must travel to the Temple of December and pass their initiation rites, which involve fighting one or more other prospective Silent Ones to the death and then eating their hearts, then swearing loyalty to Rasputina, December and the cult, after which your tongue is painfully branded with a rune linking you to Rasputina. Traditionally, only women can become Silent Ones, but Rasputina changed that, and men can join the order...if they're castrated first. Silent Ones get:

Note: not a prostitute.

A Showgirl is a member of Colette Du Bois' Star Theater - equal parts burlesque, magic show and dance number. It doesn't take long for a Showgirl to become famous in the Star Theater, and while some women embrace this fame, others resent their fans and popularity and particularly the cheery persona they must keep up in public. Colette keeps a close eye on those girls and rotates them out when they seem to be almost overwhelmed. As part of their contract, each Showgirl gets a Mannequin assistant - a fully-articulated doll matched to their proportions which serves as a dress canvas, assistant and bodyguard. Each tends to develop its own quirks. Each Showgirl, as part of their bargain with Colette, is also an Arcanist operative, though they aren't given this part of the bargain until they've been with the troupe for a month at least. They work as spies, couriers and messengers for important Arcanist missions. To become a Showgirl, you must first petition to join the Star Theater, which will usually require a history of successful performances at other theaters. Once there, you must prove to Colette that you have a wide array of skills, including singing, dancing and willingness to show some skin if required. If that goes well, you then get an interview with Colette, to ascertain your allegiances. If you seem like a person who would object to joining the Arcanists, she'll give you a letter of recommendation to some other theater instead. Also, you have to be female - Colette only hires women, period. Showgirls get:

Next time: Shapeshifters and Demolitionists!

Post 8

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Through the Breach: Into the Steam

The mighty sprinting werewolf guy!

A Shapeshifter wields one of the most potent magics in the entire world. Even the most skilled spellcasters can only transform themselves briefly - it's a simple idea, but the actual process of changing the body that way is exceptionally complex, and experiments are limited by the damage you might do to yourself with a single miscalculation. Shapeshifters bypass magical theories and calculations by forging a connection to the primal power of Malifaux itself. It is widely known that Malifaux twists creatures that live there, and it is that subtle force that the Shapeshifter harnesses. Most become more bestial as time passes, but it's not clear why. Some believe Malifaux's natural magic is inherently corruptive, but most spellcasters disagree - they believe, instead, that it's impossible to take beast shape without taking on beast nature, too. Of course, it may also have to do with the fact that when you can turn into a bear at will, you don't need to be polite. Either way, it's common for Shapeshifters to avoid civilization, though the degree varies widely - some prefer to live in frontier towns, while others turn their backs on humanity completely, and others make do preying on humans...occasionally while still living in cities. Becoming a Shapeshifter requires a few things. First, you need the Shapeshift Magia as a Spell or Manifested Power, and you must be Living - those that aren't cannot form a strong enough connection to Malifaux. After that, when you feel ready, you should head into the wilderness to harness the primal forces. This can take many forms, and it's different for everyone. But when you do it, you become a Shapeshifter. Shapeshifters get:

The happiest!

The Demolitionist loves explosives. The Union uses explosives a lot for mining and rail construction, and accidents do happen, even with increased safety guidelines. Demolitionists tend to both solve and cause these accident-related problems. Few people know how to react when a stick of dynamite starts to talk to them, and Demolitionists are the ones who start to listen. As it turns out, dynamite knows a hell of a lot of useful information about blowing things up, and it's happy to chat in exchange for...well, blowing some things up. That's just one stick, though. Get a whole box together, the voices start to blend together, singing about all the wonders you could do if you blew them all up. At some point, it stops being a job, or even about learning more about explosions. At some point it's just about the explosions. Some demolitionists do their best to keep it under control, but most are more than willing to pump up any charge they set to get a bigger boom. They don't really want to hurt people, it's just the dynamite makes a much better argument than the people do for keeping their limbs. To become a Demolitionist, you need to blow something up - not just some regular thing, either, it has to be suitably big and impressive. A house, no. A mansion in the middle of town? Yes! It doesn't need to be a dwelling, of course - an impressive boulder blocking the railroad, a towering Bayou tree covered in Gremlin ornaments...the object just has to be impressive and the explosion real big and loud. The remaining dynamite will start whispering to you, and there you are. Demolitionists get:

The game also provides an array of new General Talents - Frozen Heart, for example, is a general Talent, anyone can take it if they want to have had the touch of December upon them. Some interesting ones are Invested-only, because they're for robots.

Advanced Sensors : Requires Invested, Light Chassis. You get a bonus on Notice duels and can detect invisible things (but not their exact position) with a Difficult Notice challenge.
Avoidant : Requires Resilience -1 or lower. You permanently lose 1 Wound but get +1 Defense.
Blot the Sky : Requires Archery 3+. When you make an Archery attack, your moderate damage gets +B, and your Severe damage gets +BB, as long as you expend 2 additional arrows per B.
Book Smart : Requires Cunning -1 or lower. You get a penalty to Initiative but a bonus to all non-Magical Intellect challenges.
C-C-C-Combo!!!! : Requires Martial Arts 3+. Yes, it's spelled that way. All of your Martial Arts Close Combat attacks get a Masks Trigger: You may take this action again against the same target. This second attack may not declare Triggers.
Channel Destiny : When you perform a duel, you may suffer 2 damage before flipping cards to add a suit of your choice to the final duel total. If this damage causes you to suffer a Critical Effect or Toughness check to remain conscious, resolve the initial duel before checking for either.
Cheating So and So : Requires Gambling 3+. You get a Masks Trigger on all Expertise challenges: After resolving, you may look at the top card of the Fate deck and then choose whether or not to put it on the bottom of the deck.
Common Sense : Requires Cunning 2+. You may discard a card during Narrative Time to get a bonus on a duel.
Concussive Force : Requires Might 2+. Any time you deal damage with the Martial Arts or Pugilism skills, you may push your target directly away from you (Might) yards.
Demanding Taskmaster : Requires Flexible 3+. You get a Masks Trigger on your Flexible Close Combat attacks: After succeeding, move the target 1 yard if this attack deals Weak damage, 2 yards if Moderate and 3 yards if Severe.
Disarming Attack : Requires Martial Arts 3+. You get a Crows Trigger on your Martial Arts Close Combat attacks: After succeeding, the target drops a single item of your choice held in their hands. The attack's damage flip receives a penalty.
Fickle : Requires Tenacity -2 or lower. You get a bonus to any Skill you haven't used this session, but it costs 1 extra XP whenever you try to raise a skill over 2.
Frozen Heart : As noted before.
Gaussian Logic Engine : Requires Invested. Reduce your highest Physical Aspect by 1, but raise a Mental Aspect by 1, to a maximum of 4.
Heavy Mount and Bracing : Requires Invested, Heavy Chassis. You have a weapon mount. You may attach weapons with the Heavy rule to it with five minutes of work. That weapon is then considered braced to a mount, and you may use the 1-AP Ready Weapon action for 0 AP when readying that weapon.
Improvised Parts : Requires Intellect 1+. When making a Construct, you get (Intellect) additional Construct Points.
Inscription : Requires Literacy 3+. You may add up to two total Magia and/or Immuto to a single Grimoire you own. These need not be ones you have in another Grimoire. Any special rules applying to the Grimoire apply to these new Magia and/or Immuto, too.
Interface : Requires Invested. You get a Tomes Trigger on all Social duels: After succeeding against a Construct, gain 1 additional Margin of Success.
Leg Modification : Requires Invested. Your legs can be easily swapped out. This takes 30 minutes and a successful TN 12 Artefacting or Engineering duel, which can be made by you or another. If successful, you gain one of the options below until you use this Talent to change it again:
Let Me Show You : Requires Teach 3+. You may discard a card to spend 15 minutes explaining how one of your non-Invested, non-Stitched Talents works to another character. That character may then discard a card to gain that Talent for the rest of the day.
Lightning Rod : Requires Grace -1 or lower. You get a bonus on any duels to resist Spells or Manifested Powers, but when targeted by an enemy's Spell or Manifested Power, the enemy can add a single suit of their choice to the final duel total.
Metal on Metal : Requires Invested. You get a Tomes Defensive Trigger on Defense: Reduce the damage caused by an Attack action by 2, to a minimum of 1.
Mostly Blind : Requires Grace -1 or lower. You get a bonus on Close Combat attacks but a penalty on Ranged Combat attacks.
Mountaineer : Requires Grace 1+. When climbing a surface, your speed is your full Walk rather than half. You get a bonus on any Athletics challenge made to climb a surface, moving 2 yards per Margin of Success rather than 1.
Mow Down : Requires Heavy Guns 3+. When you make a Ranged Combat attack with a Heavy Gun, you may use 2 AP instead of 1 AP to gain two bonuses on the attack flip. You may not Cheat Fate with this attack, and it uses three times as many bullets as normal.
Queensbury Rules : Requires Pugilism 3+. You get a Rams Trigger on Pugilism Close Combat attacks: After damaging, the target takes the Drop Prone action.
Quick : Requires Speed 2+. You get a bonus to any Challenges made to resist an AoE effect and take 1 less damage from AoE and Blast effects, to a minimum of 1.
Rebound : Requires Thrown Weapons 3+. You get a Masks Trigger on Thrown Weapon Ranged Combat attacks: After damaging, you may deal 1/2/3 damage to another target within 3 yards of the original target.
Riposte : Requires Melee 3+. You get a Rams and Masks Defensive Trigger on Defense: After a Close Combat attack fails against you, you deal the damage of your readied sword or blade weapons to the attacker, but the damage flip gets a penalty.
Self Sufficient : Requires Charm -2 or lower. You get +1 Willpower, but you can't take the Assist action and can't voluntarily take part in Ongoing Challenges alongside other characters. The GM can still force you to participate if it makes sense for the instance in question.
Slow Learner : Requires Intellect -1 or lower. You get +1 to an Aspect of your choice. During the Epilogue, the GM chooses what Skill you advance, not you.
Steel Wall : Requires Invested. At the end of your turn, if you did not take any Move or Charge actions, you get Armor +1 until the start of your next turn and provide Hard Cover to characters with Height equal to or lower than yours.
Street Fighter : Requires Pugilism 3+. You get a Crows Defensive Trigger on Defense: After a Close Combat attack fails against you, if you are wielding no weapons, you deal 1/2/3 damage to the attacker. This damage flip can't be cheated.
Stubborn : Requires Tenacity 2+. You get a bonus to all Willpower duels but a penalty on all Convince challenges.
Sycophant : Requires Charm 2+. Choose a Peon or Minion level Commoner from the Fatemaster's Almanac to be your sycophant. That character goes everywhere you do, or tries to, but is still under GM control. If they die or you abandon them, you may gain a new sycophant after a few days in any reasonably populated area.
Taskmaster : Requires Flexible 3+. When a friendly character within 3 yards of you takes an action involving a non-Social skill, they may choose to suffer 1 damage to get a bonus on the challenge. This can only be used while you are wielding a Flexible weapon.
Threading the Needle : Requires Archery 3+. When making an Archery Ranged Combat attack, you may ignore other characters to determine line of sight and you do not randomly determine your target when firing into melee.
Torso Modifications : Requires Invested. Your torso can be swapped for other models. This takes 30 minutes and a TN 14 Artefacting or Engineering duel (which can be made by you or another). If successful, you gain one of the following options until you use this Talent again:
Tough as Nails : Requires Resilience 2+. Critical Effects made against you receive a penalty.
Unceasing : Requires Speed -2 or lower. Once per turn, you may discard a card to take a Walk action without spending any AP.

Next time: Skills and new Skill Triggers!

Post 9

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Through the Breach: Into the Steam

There are three new skills in Into the Steam: Culinary, a Crafting skill based on Charm, which is for cooking. Geography, an Academic skill based on Intellect, which is less about the surveying the land (that's Wilderness) and more about the landscape, inhabitants and how they relate to each other. It's useful for deciding where to dig for Soulstone or where to lay railroad tracks, as well as making maps. Finally, Grappling, a Close Combat skill based on Speed. The better you are, the more damage you do when grappling, but the main benefits of grappling are that you can cause Paralyzed and, at high levels, Critical Effects without rolling an actual crit. We also get a sidebar on how the GM should allow PCs to sue (normally very rarely-used) Academic skills in place of stats for some challenges if it makes any sense - so instead of Intellect+Wilderness, you might use Art+Wilderness when trying to pick your way through a ruin by navigating and using the wall art as landmarks. We then get a section on Skill Triggers - an option for GMs that want more Triggers. I say go for it - they're fun! Each time a character hits rank 3 in one of the following skills, they get to take one of its Triggers. At rank 5, they get a second. First, Academic Skills:


Close Combat Skills:
Heavy Melee
Martial Arts

Next time: More Triggers!

Post 10

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Through the Breach: Into the Steam


Expertise Skills:
Gambling - man, all of these are great support dumb card tricks, too!
Pick Pocket

Next time: Even more Triggers!

Post 11

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Through the Breach: Into the Steam

Harness Soulstone

Ranged Combat:
Heavy Guns
Long Arms
Thrown Weapons


Next time: We finish off Triggers!

Post 12

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Through the Breach: Into the Steam


And now we're out of that and into equipment! We get some discussion on various manufacturing concerns, but you don't really need that. New Crafting rules! To make any item, you need the appropriate skill rank; this book has the ranks needed for any item in it or the core. If your rank is equal to or higher than the one needed, you're fine. If it's lower, you can't make it. Creating an item takes raw materials costing a quarter of its price, but no flip needed if you have the tools, materials and skill. A Challenge duel may be needed if you lack the tools or are in a strenuous environment; fail, and you get no item and ruin the materials. Modifying an item is more complex, and is mostly done on weapons and armor. It is handled the same way, though. First, you add the skill requirements of the item and any mods it already has, plus the mod you are trying to add. If this is equal to or less than your Aspect+Skill, you can modify it. If not, you can't. You need resources equal to a quarter of the mod's price or to already have the mod present - a salvaged bayonet, for example.

Inventing a new item, however, is more complex. The GM is encouraged to be careful with inventing, as unbalanced items can frustrate everyone. Still, creativity should not be discouraged. The GM should work out how much time and resources it'd take to complete, but note that inventions made this way should be grounded in relatively normal science and logic. Super science is for Engineers, and magic is for Manifested Powers. Mundane crafting shouldn't step on their toes. We then get some new weapons, armor and ammo, including some ancient relic weapons like lightning guns and some modern marvels like clockwork power armor. We get soe rules for more pneumatic replacements - clockwork limbs, for example, which are more precise than pneumatics, or advanced limbs, or even a pneumatic torso or head, plus more augmentations.

From here, we hit magic. In the North, it is considered rude to mention that someone is able to use minor manifested powers, like powering alcohol form an empty bottle. The Guild might be listening, after all. More impressive magic still gets talked about, however. Also, a note: while the path of each spellcaster is unique, they can all be seen as one of two groups: the Studied and the Natural. The Studied use Grimoires to learn to cast their spells, gaining knowledge by, well, study. It leads to a more fundamental understanding of magic and its rules. The Natural is more instinctive, a lived magic. These are the people who come to understand their power subconsciously, and this magic is often referred to as Manifested Powers, needing no study or special invocations. Some of these manifestations seem to break laws of magic, but these also tend to be limited in application. We get a retread of the core's discussion of magic and Grimoires, and a variant rule to limit the power of Grimoires. The GM can randomly determine a Grimoire's power by flipping a card and seeing if it's weak, Moderate or Severe. A Weak Grimoire has 1 Magia and 1 Immuto, a Moderate has 2 Magia and 1 Immuto, and a Severe has 2 Magio and 2 Immuto. This limits spellcasters in practice. Another method is to generalize the Magia and Immuto - it's very freeform, and it makes magic much more powerful, however. In this method, the numbers remain the same, but each Magia is instead a type of magic, like Sorcery, instead of a specific Magia. This gives massively increased access to Magia and spells in genral. You might combine these methods - so a Grimoire might have all Sorcery Magias, but only 1 Immuto.

We also get rules on creating Magia. A Grimoire should have at least 2 Magia, and the player and GM involved in making it should ensure the first is one desired by the player - so, for example, a Graverobber sould always get a grimoire with a Necromancy magia. Any further Magia are more flexible and can be chosen by the GM or player, or decided randomly by flipping to see what type they are. Then you decide on the Grimoire's history and who or what made it, which should help determine what Immuto it holds. This is a purely narrative step, but it should be ensured that the Immuto in it are usable with at least one of its Magia. Each Grimoire generally has at least 3 Immuto, which can be generated by type randomly. A sidebar talks about how the GM might add Locked Grimoires - that is, Grimoires with an Immuto that must be applied to any Magia cast from it. This should, however, be used sparingly as it takes control from the players. We then get a list of notable and exceptionally potent Grimoires.

The Earthly Tome is a book that has all Magia and all Immuto, but any spell cast from it must use a Soulstone during hte process, either to Manipulate Fate or Augment the Duel. The Elemental Paradox is a small glass bauble that contains only Elemental Projectile, but all Elemental Immuto, and it allows you to combine any number Elemental Immuto into one spell, at the cost of an additional TN +1 per Immuto past the first. The Celestin Universe is a Grimoire made of stars, visible only on certain nights. It contains all Magia and Immuto, and all suit requirements are stripped for spells when using it. However, those who study it must flip two cards each morning - a severity and a Critical Effect within it. The Effect happens to the user and can't be healed until the character studies a new Grimoire, even if hte ffect is normally temporary. Spells cast from this Grimoire also may not benefit from the Additional Suit Immuto. Lastly, the [i[Nihilim[/i] is a large, rune-covered staff. It contains no Magia or Immuto, and is useless while not held. The wielder can't cast Spells or Manifested Powers, but while holding it, the user is immune to the effects of all Spells and Manifested Powers. The staff also contains a Lade 5 Soulstone (Size 3, Quality 2).

Next time: New magical theories.

Post 13

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Through the Breach: Into the Steam

First off, we have Phenomological Reflection . It's a theory that holds that truth is somewhere between subject and object. Its adherents, the Reflectionists, say that reality is neither in the mind nor in the world, but in the connection between them. They believe reality is made of perception, and that magic is the embodiment of the connection between all things, and therefore the basis of reality. They believe the Neverborn take on the form of human fears because they are creatures of magic, something between a living creature and the humans that perceive them. It's a very complex and convoluted theory, but it's also produced some of the best illusionists in the world, in part due to its loose definition of 'real.' The talent gives a bonus to all Prestidigitation duels, but a penalty to all Enchanting, Sorcery and Necromancy duels. Any illusions made by someone following this theory also last 1 minute longer than normal.

Then there's the Lifewell Doctrine , which holds that magic is the basis of life itself. Conflict Earthside, the Lifewellians say, is because magic is running out and only Soulstone's power can preserve life on Earth. They also hold that magic should not be used to harm, as it runs counter to its nature. This distortion, they say, is disrupting the fabric of the world and leading to many of the problems Breachside. They believe in proselytizing this view, but they know it's not popular. The Guild, however, finds them rather useful, as their beliefs keep them from being a threat. Lifewell Doctrine magic focuses on healing and improving, trying to eliminate more brutal magic. The talent causes any of your healing spells to heal an extra point of damage per Rams in the final duel total. Further, if a spell would remove a Critical Effect, it also removes an additional one. Any time you'd inflict dmage with a spell, however, reduce its damage by 1 after all other modifiers, to a minimum of 0.

The book also provides variants on each of the core magic theories. The Refined Oxford Method takes the core methodology of the Oxford Method and its highly formalized casting to a different conclusion. They use the structure to ensure greater spell stability. The Talent allows you to, before casting a spell, choose to increase the AP cost by 1. If you do, you can add a single suit of your choice to the final duel total.

The Murmur is a variation on the Whisper. It seems some people hear different supernatural whispers than others, apparently at random. The Talent allows the user to add Immuto not in their current Grimoire to spells, but the TN adjustment of these Immuto is increased by +2. When the user casts a spell, they take damage equal to the number of Immuto added to it.

Cutting Edge Research is on the forefront of the Darlin Theories, one of the most common permutations of the theories. It is derived from some of the less stable researchers and their papers, allowing for great power but...well, not much stability. The Talent allows the user to add 4 whenever calculating Construct Points or Cobbled Points, but the user also suffers a penalty to all Social duels.

Due Process is a variation on the Court Procedure. It holds that the Gates of Power should not be broken, that the rules should be obeyed. Breaking the rules to your advantage may help, but the Due Process theory holds that more power can be found by altering your magic to obey the laws of the Gates. The talent allows you to, once per turn when casting a spell, increase its TN by +3 to cast it for 1 less AP than usual, to a minimum of 0. However, you may never apply more than one Immuto to any spell you cast - even multiple iterations of the same Immuto.

Special Allowances is a variation on the Thalarian Doctrine, in which the Guild loosens its regulations on magic with special permission to use certain approved spells and gives extra training in stopping magic. It's not common, but these allowances have been granted more often in recent years, as more and more operatives develop magic. The talent grants a bonus to Counter-Spelling duels, and the user also takes 1 less damage from Spells and Manifested Powers, to a minimum of 0. However, the character must also pick a single Magia. If they try to use a spell involving any other Magia, the TN is increased by +2.

The Sixth Element is a variant of the Balanced Five which holds that soul is the sixth element that binds the other five together. Its adherents try to find a new harmony in using the soul on top of other elements, and they often have a surprising insight into Soulstone usage. The talent allows the user to, whenever using a Soulstone or Soulstone Dust to augment a duel, flip an additional card and add its value to the final duel total. However, when casting without use of a Soulstone or Soulstone Dust, the TN is increased by +1.

Personal Theory is a variant of hedge magic - it refers to those who do not belong to any school of thought, who cobble together their own theories as they go. It seems to work. The talent provides neither benefit nor hindrance.

Fragments of the Past is a variation on Tradition Magic. Some traditions have been lost and forgotten over the years. The core of the theories are still there, but the specific rituals and rites are not. As the students of these traditions learn more about magic, they often begin to fill in the blanks with borrowed ideas. The Talent prevents the user from ever ignoring or adding any suits to their duels made to cast Spells or Manifested Powers, even if those suits are associated with their Aspects or Skills. However, when casting any Spell or Manifested Power, they get a bonus to the flip.

Next time: On Manifested Powers

Post 14

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Through the Breach: Into the Steam

Those on the path of the Natural instinctively understand magic and how to use it. They don't care about rules, and in not knowing the rules or theories, they seem more able to break them. Most of them do not actively seek this power, however - they naturally develop it as they spend time in Malifaux. While some manifestations are mere minor effects to help in life, those with more potent destinies tend to develop more potent powers. It's rare that these powers use any incantation, ritual or focus - they tend to just happen, and those that can do them often develop more than one, as they learn to grow and harness their abilities. They are often more diverse and strange than Spells. The game provides several ways now to make them. The first, spell-based powers, was briefly discussed in the core, but now gets more weight.

First, pick a Magia. Then, pick any number of Immuto to add to it, though the game suggests no more than 4. It notes that, with GM permission, you can combine Immuto that normally couldn't, like two different Elemental Immuto. The player and GM then decide on a suit, defaulting to the normal one of the Magia if they can't agree. They then decide on an appropriate Aspect and Skill determined by the type of power and how it is used. And there you are! Done.

There's another type of Power, however: Ability-based. These, the game notes, can be extremely powerful and break the game, so you should be very careful with them. It gives thre ways to make them. First way: pick a Pursuit Talent from a Pursuit you aren't on. This is very flexible, but the game notes that because Pursuit Talents generally get stronger as you go, as a rule no one should be able to get one from a higher step than the step they are on in their current Pursuit. Second, rework the way an AV or Derived Aspect is determined - so maybe now your Defense is 2 + the higher of your Evade or Intellect. That would let you use your mind and intelligence to avoid damage, rather than speed. Or you might roll Tenacity + Melee to attack out of a magical belief that if you swing enough, you'll hit eventually. Third, you might create a special rule that changes how you interact with the game - perhaps by cribbing from the Malifaux miniatures game. The example is Bring It!, a power that gives two bonuses on Defense duels when engaged by two or more enemies.

And, optionally, there's a third type of Manifested Power: Foscused Manifesting. You create a template with two or three steps to provide a unified theme to your powers. These are more restrictive, but can hit options not normally covered. If you choose one of the templates, however, that's it - you can't get other powers until you finish it. Each time you get a Manifested Power, it must be the next step of the focus...and you must choose to gain a new power each time you resolve a Destiny step until you finish the path. The game provides only three focused templates.

First, Luck . It controls destiny.

Then, Weather , for commanding the weather.

Finally, Scrying , to see over great distances.

We also get 12 new Magia and a few new Immuto. Enchanting receives:




And the new Immutos are all Elemental :

Next time: Hazards

Post 15

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Through the Breach: Into the Steam

The game divides environmental hazards into four types: Immediate, Ongoing, Activated and Personified. An Immediate Hazard is pretty simple - something bad is happening, succeed at a check or a bad thing happens to you. So, say, if it's flooding, you make a TN 9 Athletics check to not get an iteration of Tired. Too much Tired, you become Suffocating. The game provides a number of example Immediate Hazards - floods, crevices, hypothermia, quicksand, etc. The sort of problems you're going to run into in the wilderness, and where you might do it.

Ongoing Challenges, on the other hand, are problems you need to deal with over time. You try and gather successes before gathering too many failures. The examples ofr this sort of thing are blizzards, evadfing the cops, finding your way through an area and more. Activated Hazards are a special variant of Ongoing Hazards, which are triggered by character actions. For example, if you're in a cave, there could be a risk of cave-ins. Any time an attack misses, you check for damage with no modifiers, and if the attack deals enough damage to beat the local TN - 3 for caves with supports, 5 for a nature cavern - then you accumulate one success towards the Activation Requirement. Once the Activation Requirement is met, there's a ceve-in, and it's a pretty nasty one - even if you don't get hit by rocks, you're going to suffer from claustrophobia. Basically, Activated Gazards are a thing where you want to avoid doing a certain thing too many times - often missing when attacking. Unfortunately, it applies to everyone, not just you - so your foes can trigger it, too.

Finally, there are Personified Hazards. These are the most complex, used for situations where the hazard can be considered to attack the characters. Personified Hazards have a character sheet, but differ from normal characters in a few ways. First, unlike most NPCs, their Rank can often rise over time, and it doesn't help their defense. However, they are immune to Willpower duels and rather than suffering wounds, they lose Rank Value, being defeated when that hits 0. That doesn't necessarily mean you killed the hazard or removed it - you just stopped it being dangerous. So if you destroy an angry mob, people are probably still mostly alive. but they've been scattered and are not a threat. Personified Hazards otherwise have stats and skills like characters, and evn talents. Fires, swarms and mobs are the examples here.

The game now presents rules for random encounters - specifically, if a session is going to have one, say on a long journey, you flip a card. The suit determines the type of encounter and the number the difficult - like damage, they come in Weak, Moderate and Severe. Rams means a combat, Tomes a skill encounter, Crows a social encounter and Masks a weird location of some kind. Combat, obviously, is fight a monster. A Skill encounter is some problem that needs a skill check to deal with - a herd of cows to maneuver around, a river to cross, a water pump to fix to get some water. A social encounter is going to be meeting some people who are not necessarily hostile, but only a Weak is automatically friendly. A Moderate encounter is neutral and a Severe is either annoyed at the party or already in a bad mood. For Location encounters - well, the more severe, the larger the location. You might find a hunting lodge that could be useful but is secretly an Arcanist safe house, or a strange statue in the middle of a Quarantine Zone, or a section of broken sewer leading to a bricked-up room. There is an optional rule to allow the PCs to cheat a card in, to semi-control their fate, and I rather like that.

From here, it's just a bestiary, most of which isn't very interesting. Of note is what does count as a Beast, though, which can be handy for Primals and Shapeshifters - it's not just animals. Sawtooth Creepers, a form of killer plant, molemen, the immortal jackalope and several types of Neverborn count as Beasts, like the Kaltgeists, presumably because they're Neverborn animals. Also Wendigos. However, the book also presents two Monster Pursuits - NPC-only Pursuits to better customize creatures for your use.

First, the Twisted , which represents mutation by the primal energy of Malifaux. This is where you get giant animal monsters, dogs with acidic blood, cows that eat human flesh and so on. You can put steps onto critters all at once or gradually over time - either's fine. To become Twisted, an NPC must have the Beast characteristic and must have spent significant time in Malifaux. The game suggests only normal annimals be given ranks in this, rather than Malifaux-native creatures like the Mauler, but sometimes offshoots do occur, so it's not set in stone. Creatures with one step on the Pursuit are fairly common - anything from Earth that survives in the wild for more than a month or two is likely to get that mutated. Two steps is a more significant change, and unusual. Three steps is a once-in-a-lifetime encounter, something deeply primal. Four steps is legendary, and most deny that these creatures exist. Five steps is something rare indeed - the number of fully Twisted creatures in all of Malifaux can be counted on perhaps two hands. They are strange aberrations, almost unrecognizable, and prized by hunters as trophies.

At each of the five Steps, the Beast gets the Twisted Mutation talent, which gives one of the following mutations each time (and, unless otherwise noted, they can be taken more than once each):

The second Monster Pursuit is Mechanical - that is, a robotic version of the monster. It is intended as an easy way to make mechanical creatures, new and interesting Constructs to use without having to make new NPC blocks. It's good for giving NPC engineers and tinkerers a theme to their creations, too! To become a Mechanical monster, a creature must have the Living tag but not the Spirit tag. That creature is not actually transformed - it's the base template for the mechanical duplicate, which is generally immediately recognizable as a Construct. At the first step, the creation can mimic the original. It's not too rare to see these. The second step adds a minor change to function - not too hard to find someone who could make it, though. At the third step, it's a notable improvement on the original, and it'd take some time to find someone skilled enough to make one. It wouldn't be cheap, either. The fourth step is the domain solely of the extremely skilled, significantly improving the base creature. The final step is pretty much a scientific perfection of the base creature in every way.

The first step gives the Mechanized talent: +1 Armor, -1 Defense. The creature also loses the Living characteristic and gains the Construct characteristic. Every step thereafter grants Mechanical Upgrade , which gives one of the following abilities (note that each can only be taken once unless otherwise noted):

The End!