posted by pkfan2004 Original SA post

Galaga Galaxian, Warbirds looks pretty sick, definitely keep it up!

London waits. It gasps for air, the city filthy with polluted fog, its gutters and alleys thick with filth and blood. Its citizens are no better. London waits to die an undignified death, be it by bombs or the walking dead or a slow starvation.

This is the world of Unhallowed Metropolis, a world with no hope. Last time I went over the core rulebook and all of its classes, monsters and technology. For the expansion, they decided to focus on something they really just briefly glossed over the first time: the ghosts of London.


For a quick recap: Unhallowed Metropolis is a d20 based tabletop RPG. The game takes place in 2105, 200 years after the dead rose up in 1905 and threw the world into turmoil. The dead walking was just a symptom of some greater cosmic disease that resulted in the Earth being taken over by a necrotic Blight that mutated plant life and tainted soil. Despite the spiritual death of Earth, mankind stubbornly clung on, resulting in things getting worse and worse.

There are vampires, ghouls, werewolves (in the form of chemically/bite induced Mr. Hydes), reanimated corpses (through plague or mad science), brains in jars, genetically-augmented soulless humanoids and melancholic Frankenstein's monsters. The tech and cultural level is an incredibly lopsided mixture between goth pulp future and traditional Victorian society. The result is a fortress city of London surrounded by giant concrete walls, policed by a WWI-styled army who resolves any outbreak by razing the block and building a new one on the ashes. The other major world powers are a league of Prussian airships, an immortal French god-king who might be the Devil or a dark god who closed the borders of France, a smattering of other European nations and old colonies and everything east of the Rockies in the US. A lot of London's problems are self-inflicted and the game is about playing trouble-seekers in the city.

The word of the day is "hopeless" and it's not gonna get better in this book. Like I said: they mention that ghosts have been roaming London since the early 20th century and they did absolutely nothing with that in the core book. And that always struck me as weird. I mean, ghosts and demons and all sorts of supernatural monsters got a few mentions in the New World of Darkness core book and they all got a few pages dedicated to mechanics and how they work in play. How do you say something like "oh yeah there are ghosts everywhere" and then not expand on that? The book is already ~400 pages long.

Unhallowed Necropolis isn't nearly as long. It's literally a little under half the length. But it does have a lot to add to the core campaign. And, admittedly, there's a lot more to Unhallowed Metropolis than just adding ghosts. Here's a preview of nightmares to come:

And the Appendices, which contain general errata AND rule changes between the Metropolis and Necropolis. It's riveting stuff. Not really. But they did think to change some stuff. I didn't talk about UM's Appendices last time, so if there's anything interesting I'll throw it in here. And I'll still be adding art. Like so.

Also I was thinking about adding some extra content to the reviews by attaching some short stories taking place in the metropolis of London. Frankly, Necropolis is more of the same pointless Gothic bleakness and "realistic"/rough rules and it would be boring to give you more of the same. If anyone's interested, let me know and I'll attach them when I come back with Chapter 1.

CHAPTER ONE: Visions & Revelations Part One

posted by pkfan2004 Original SA post

CHAPTER ONE: Visions & Revelations Part One

So Chapter One has a chunk of in-universe text, kicking off with "The Origins of Parapsychology" which is the history of parapsychology in the real world up until the Plague Years. If you're super interested in the field, you probably know the history. I'd recap but this is a tabletop RPG and I'm here to share the fake history of a fake science in a fake society and the fake events herein. There is a lot I'm gonna be skipping over, so I'll be breaking up the paragraphs with pictures of timelines provided in the book.

During the Plague Years, there were lots of survivor settlements away from the armies of the world. Sometimes the protected zones would willingly dump people in the wasteland for crimes or to make room or for fun. And as a result of being forced to live directly in the middle of an apocalyptic nightmare, a lot of people developed mixtures of PTSD, depression and more. But a rare few got more than years of emotional turmoil and grief and began to develop unnatural abilities they could exercise with their minds. They were brought to the attention of scientists and the military and were researched.

On the other side of supernatural stuff, the mass deaths of the survivor settlements started leading to weird supernatural phenomena, especially if they bordered the wastelands or cities. Hauntings and general ghostly activity began to really step up, especially when death was imminent. A lot of ghosts were confused and disruptive, some were just malicious, and some didn't fully manifest and just threw shit around. On top of that, some people are able to talk to the dead and interact with them.

From here it gets really specific about instances of hauntings and psychics unleashing their powers. So let's just jump ahead to 1917. English scientists start taking some of their psychics and their mediums and experimenting on them en masse. A lot go even more insane, a lot of them die, but a few end up refining their powers. The ones that make it through the tests were used for Operation Valkyrie and were assigned to command posts along the wasteland. The idea was that friendly psychics and mediums would be able to help detect major plague outbreaks and help the military coordinate or just help the military destroy Animates and other supernatural monsters.

What happens when you use emotionally-disturbed disaster survivors to operate without giving them stability and therapy? Nothing good. The precogs and the other psychics were often inefficient or wrong and they were always understaffed. But they kept intentionally exposing people to mind-breaking situations and they kept pushing. From their pigheadedness came the Special Strategic Branch of Project Valkyrie, controlling squads of similarly-powered psychics who were trained in concentrative techniques to help hold their minds together. Despite having an appalling mortality/insanity/termination rate, the SSB was able to help Britain reclaim London and defend the survivors.

What were the mediums doing? Uh. I dunno. Great question. They're mostly used by the government for a variety of reasons or working privately. Why answer that question more thoroughly when you can just talk about ~PSYCHIC POWERS~?

So now that the sources of psychics are understood, and there's a way to get them to control their powers, the British parapsychologists decide to work on means of inhibiting and inducing psychic phenomena. It's kind of hard work to just let a potential asset to the Empire live a life of crushing despair in the wild until they can move stuff with their mind. Both induction and suppression is incredibly costly and hard to research. For suppression, they come up with:

Induction was a lot more sinister. Officially, psychosurgery was used to stimulate the brain in the opposite of suppression surgery. In reality, a group of government workers and private investigators ended up revealing a government conspiracy called Dominion.

Originally called Project Archangel before it was shut down, The Psychic Defense Bureau (aka Dominion) was established to help control psychics for the Empire and induce powers in normal people. Much like the MKULTRA experiments, their real purpose was to operate covertly in asylums and workhouses experimenting on the poor and destitute. On top of that, they often employed heavily-armed kill teams in their labs to help control the test subjects. When a pyrokinetic killed two orderlies by accident, a kill team chased them into the bowels of a sanitarium as the others worked on evacuating the staff. What resulted was the entire asylum burning down, hotter than any normal fire and visible from anywhere in the city. Dominion panicked and set about terminating test subjects and destroying labs to cover their tracks, and it was officially blamed on arson by anarchists. Later, an inquisitive reporter tied together several leads and would interview the disgraced project leader being held until watch in a hospital room and publish his findings in all newspapers. As a result, scandal broke out and accusations fly in the government, support is lost for the ruling party and people start trusting the government less about psychics.

Dominion is not shut down.

And I'm not done with the chapter yet. Remember how I said this was all about ghosts? Well, I was wrong and Halloween Jack was right. This isn't really about ghosts. This is about whatever the hell the creators felt like adding past the core game. Ghosts themselves really get the short end of the stick compared to psychic powers and Neo-Victorian shrinks. And like I said: I'm skipping a lot of the more specific stuff. I skipped a whole section on how the London stock exchange came to terms with precogs using their powers for insider trading (spoilers: it's illegal to use psychic powers to make a killing on the stock market). But I'm keeping some of it to remind you that they go into an insane amount of worldbuilding sometimes even if it's stuff I really could not care about or would not be used in a plot hook. I could get behind being rogue psychics and adventurers fighting against Dominion. I don't think most of you guys care about Parliament's attempt to come up with licensing and laws regarding psychics.


This chapter's short story: The Lowenthal Case

CHAPTER ONE: Visions & Revelations Part Two

posted by pkfan2004 Original SA post

CHAPTER ONE: Visions & Revelations Part Two

So what is Britain actually like with all of these ghosts running around? Well, ghost hunting, talking to the dead and banishing spirits is a brisk, thriving business. To some, it's a safer alternative to being an Undertaker or joining the Deathwatch. To others, it's a big money sink for technology or a thankless job that requires a lot of free time or charity. So unless you're hiring a medium to talk to Aunt Josephine, most people's experience with ghosts boil down to containment or avoidance. Unfortunately, London is built on top of the Underground, and the Underground is full of old dead things that keep coming to the surface. These ghosts are no longer anything remotely close to what they once were, howling creatures of malice and spectral energy in misshapen forms.

After years of accidentally disinterring ravenous ghosts, mediums, parapsychologists and exorcists started making their own private firms to deal with the restless dead. The business is legal and recognized and controlled by various national rules. Parapsychology is booming and an accredited science to study, with most ghost hunters capturing spirits and bringing them back to research. While it's far from perfect, more often than not Neo-Victorians are looking to capture ghosts or detain them. To them it takes more effort to actually go about exorcising them, and general belief in religion has gone down due to the apocalypse. And more often than not, they do more good than the police or military can.

While the police employ precogs and various other psychics in their service, as paid consultants or as actual policemen, more often than not they're a novelty or another tool to be used. A few lucky mediums are employed as forensic pathologists. Occasionally, they will end up picking up and averting an assassination, an anarchist bombing or an Animate outbreak but most of the time they're just used to gather clues or interrogate suspects without touching them. They don't always have to deal with the real monsters.

The most notable of these monsters in recent memory was a incident called the Stepney Horror. Stepney was a slum in the city, notorious for being violent and crime-ridden enough to regularly attract feral vampires looking to set up hunting dens or Plague outbreaks. On top of those threats, Stepney was famous for people disappearing in the night. Not just one or two people either; on some nights, around a dozen men, women or children could go missing. The Psychic Branch dispatched some psychic officers to the slum to inspect the area. They found nothing but left with terrible headaches from scanning the area, and after they left the disappearances increased. After the investigation, scientists, psychics, homeless began to flee Stepney and avoid it. When unregistered psychics in the area began killing themselves, the military dispatched some Deathwatch soldiers to help the police. 58 soldiers, policemen and natives were torn apart by an invisible force and the military locked down the block.

One of the head investigators allowed a personal friend, a highly skilled empath, and her Undertaker bodyguard to enter Stepney and investigate. They were given a day to look around before the gates were locked permanently and returned in eighteen hours. What they found inside was an unstoppable horde of Animates centered around a factory deep within the slums and a psychic maelstrom trying to pull them closer. The factory was staffed with Automata (brains in jars operating galvanic bodies, built to do manual work) force-feeding chained captives into the mouth of a furnace. The furnace was pumping something into bottles in the factory and the rest was released into the sky by a smokestack, making a black coal fog of psychic screams and ectoplasmic energy. The duo burned down the factory, returned to the gate and that was the end of the Stepney Horror. The taint of something remains in Stepney and many psychics or scientists refuse to go near where the factory once was. Nobody knows who built the factory or what it was doing, but I'm pretty sure you guys can hazard a guess and come up with something the creators would approve of.

Oh hey, this picture is actually kinda relevant.

This is the face of the supernatural in London; it's an omnipresent force that preys on the weak and the desperate, just like the city itself. And sometimes, people tamper with it and very bad things happen.


CHAPTER TWO PART ONE: Mysteria in Vitro

posted by Hostile V Original SA post

Guess what's back like a bad penny? If you have no idea what it is I'm talking about (and oh my god the last time I posted anything about this was August 2014, ugggggh) please go check out the Inklesspen archives. Unhallowed Metropolis is the core game and Unhallowed Necropolis is the expansion book.

CHAPTER TWO PART ONE: Mysteria in Vitro

Metropolis had eight character classes: Aristocrat, Criminal, Deathwatch Soldier, Detective, Dhampir Vampire Hunter, Doctor, Mourner, Undertaker. Necropolis adds five more classes and they all have to do with the supernormal and the spiritual: the Alienist, the Exorcist, the Medium, the Parapsychologist and the Psychic.

ALIENIST: Alienists are therapists, psychologists, psychiatrist, shrinks, head-doctors and more. While the plain, vanilla Doctor of Metropolis is a master of all sciences, the Alienist focuses on exploring the realms of the mind. Alienists play a wide role in Neo-Victorian society: they help the police on cases by discerning the pathology of the criminal mind, they are residents at private clinics and public hospitals and they study psychics. Of course, you're clearly playing the kind of Action Psychiatrist who kicks ass for money if you're making an Alienist PC (or you're going to get up to some abominable shenanigans because of your Corruption).

Alienists get the feature of MEDICAL AUTHORITY. Fill out the right paperwork at a sanitarium you're affiliated with and they will commit someone on your behalf. After a minimum stay of three days, the Alienist or the person responsible for the case will decide if the patient must stay committed and for how much longer. I honestly don't see much use for this specific function of the feature: you are cautioned not to abuse your powers lest they get taken away or a patient decides to get revenge on you, but this is still a pretty good way to just brute-force your way past a NPC or stonewall an enemy. They also get the feature of PSYCHOLOGIST: for every point in the skill Psychology, the Alienist gets to pick a bonus from the following list.

Alienists don't get any free Qualities and start with Alchemy 2, Galvanics 2, Medicine 2, Parapsychology 2 and Psychology 2. They also get to choose five of the following skills: Concentration 2, Cryptography 2, Etiquette 2, Forensic Science 2, Hypnosis 2, Interrogation 2, Pistol 2, Shadow 2, Streetwise 2, Unarmed Combat 2. For material goods, Alienists get a flat in the nice West End, good wardrobe, good respirator, a maid/butler, tools necessary for their practice and a comfy couch. Alienists start at Wealth 6 and get 30 pounds to spend on things and can't keep more than 10 as savings.

Thoughts on the Alienist: they seem to be built for two different roles. On the positive side, the Alienist is a steady force that helps keep the group stable and helps with investigation and psychics. On the negative side, it's really easy to turn your character into a morally repugnant person up to Abominable Shenanigans with their free drugs, brain surgery, ability to commit people and be in charge of their case. This is barely considering the madman they keep chained up in the coat closet.

EXORCIST: Suffer not a ghost to live. Exorcists are folks with True Belief and force of will to fight back the forces of darkness. It's commonly believed that their power stems from their will and has nothing to do with actual divine manifestation. You end up with a lot of cultists and cranks picking up a book and a gun protecting the streets while Exorcists of major churches are held in good societal standing. Just pick a religion (or make your own beliefs) and figure out how your PC expresses their faith.

Exorcists get a few different features. First, there's CRISIS OF FAITH. If your highest Corruption track is greater than your Will stat, you lose access to Compel, Lay to Rest and Deliverance. The Exorcist must redeem themselves to get the powers back. In the realm of class benefits there's COMPEL, which allows the Exorcist to make a Will roll against a spirit in their presence. If they win, the spirit is forced to tell the truth as long as it's near the Exorcist. This comes with a major dick move: the GM isn't supposed to tell the Exorcist if they succeeded the roll. LAY TO REST takes 10 minutes of concentration against a targeted spirit (which can retaliate) and make a Will roll. Succeed and you reduce the Spirits Will by 1. Reducing the score to 0 puts the spirit down for good, so you keep making rolls as your buddies help keep the ghost at bay. DELIVERANCE gives the Exorcist the ability to exorcise spirits from people or places by focusing for 5 minutes and making a Will roll against the spirit. Succeed and the spirit is ejected for 1d5 hours. You can follow up by sanctifying the area/person for a half hour to prevent the spirit from returning for 1d5 days. Finally, no fear rolls due to ghosts and stuff. Exorcists get extra powers from ranks in their Theology skill, one per level.

The Exorcist starts with the Faith quality (+1 to resist fear and exhaustion, meh) and Resolve quality (failing Fear saves only leaves you shaken, complete non-issue with some of these other abilities). They start with Concentration 2 and Theology 2 and can pick five of the following skills to start with: Etiquette 2, History 2, Melee Weapon 2, Parapsychology 2, Performance 2, Pistol 2, Psychology 2, Rifle 2, Thanatology 2, Torture 2, Unarmed Combat 2. Exorcists begin with the trappings of their faith and a good respirator. They start with vanilla lodgings at a boarding house or rectory, better or worse depending on if they adjust their Wealth. They start with Wealth 4 and get 20 pounds to spend on things. They can only keep 5 for savings.

Thoughts on the Exorcist: Deliciously imbalanced in the right hands. It does the heavy lifting way better than the Undertaker or Deathwatch Soldier could ever hope to dream of and it's no slouch against ghosts. The ability to substitute your good stat for your melee damage stat is completely bonkers and I have a feeling they did not playtest this idea in the slightest. You would be a kind of MAD class if not for the ability to easily game the system and start with Purity, Theologian, Sword of Righteousness, Force of Will and Inspiration. All you have to do is make sure you have a good Coordination stat to help your defense. Now let's be fair: if I wanted to play this kind of character, I would be playing Warhammer 40k. But it's incredibly tempting to roll up someone like this and run roughshod on all of the dangers of the world, belonging to the one man Church of None Of This Is Real.

I'm gonna call this one here because I think it's a beautiful thought to end on.
NEXT TIME: the Medium, the Parapsychologist and the Psychic.


posted by Hostile V Original SA post


weird damn picture for a character class...
MEDIUM: Mediums observe spirits thanks to having powers of Second Sight. Second Sight is always on and it can be tricky to tell the difference between London and the Spirit World. Most Mediums are self employed and part of London's booming post-mortem communications industry. Some end up getting attached to aristocratic families and groups or end up becoming entertainers. Nothing says "birthday fun" like a medium channeling your dead relatives to wish you a very happy sixth birthday.

Other classes can end up with Second Sight by way of Latent Medium (Mourners, Psychics). The difference is that they don't have access to what a Medium can do beyond paying into Second Sight's Quality to raise its levels. Mediums automatically get FAMILIARITY: SPIRIT and never make Fear rolls for ghosts. They also get SECOND SIGHT level 1 for free and can upgrade it with custom points at creation. They also get bonus abilities tied to their Thanatology skill rank.
Mediums don't get any Qualities to start and start with Thanatology 2 and can pick five of the following: Acting 2, Concentration 2, Etiquette 2, Parapsychology 2, Performance 2, Photography 2, Psychology 2, Streetwise 2, Theology 2. They start with a comfy home that suits their means, a wardrobe for their Medium Persona and social standing, and that's it. They also start with 20 dollars to spend on materials and can save 5.

Thoughts on the Medium: Okay, first, let's look at Second Sight before I go into my thoughts. I would normally hold off this until it appears in the book but it's kind of vital we take a crack at what exactly a Medium can do with their powers.

SECOND SIGHT: Second Sight comes in 5 levels of ability. Every time you raise a rank in it, you get all the abilities the rank has to offer. Some powers may require needing to enter a trance in order to use a power and each power has a Subject, Range, Trigger and Description (Trigger being when and how a power is activated). For Mediums, raising in rank in Second Sight costs 3xNew Level. With me so far? Cool.

Level One:
Level Two:

why the hell is this picture here in the section on second sight? I'm not kidding, it's there and it's ridiculous but I need some art to break up these words so yeah have...this.
Level Three:
Level Four:
Level Five:
So that's Second Sight for you. What about the Medium?

Thoughts on the Medium: The Medium doesn't really do anything another class can't (with the exception of Ghost Buddy and even then ).

That's an incredibly harsh thought but it's completely true. The problem with Latent Medium is that it lets other classes do more than just see ghosts with points pumped into it. They can't do any of the other Medium (optional!) class abilities but really what that boils down to is rerolls for Ghost Stuff and Will Contests. Mediums get the ability to raise it at a cheaper level and they get the first level for free, but the Latent Mediums can just do more with their own class abilities. Latent Medium is only available to Mourners and Psychics, but what else can they do?
In contrast, Mediums don't really get anything . If you want them to have a combat skill, you have to take it as an out-of-class ability. Their optional (!) abilities don't carry any real weight: there's no Business aspect to their abilities and everything else is social. None of their class skills do much outside of social things or role-playing and they don't even start with a good gas mask. If there was something to sincerely suggest as a reason to play a Medium, believe me I would have told you already. They're like the Rogues in the group where the Wizard knows Knock: they're outclassed and overshadowed by the people who can do other things besides talk to ghosts. I would recommend the Medium far less than I would the Alienist because the Medium doesn't even bring common party buffs to the table (outside of ectoplasmic shenanigans). They are the absolute weakest class in this book and possibly in the whole game.

After reading through the Medium far more thoroughly, if it wasn't clear that they didn't play test or balance any of this it should be apparent now.

NEXT TIME: the Parapsychologist (I won't be including their gear for that update because there's way more than a Medium's abilities) and the Psychic (won't be including their powers either).


posted by Hostile V Original SA post


look it's just not proper bustin' without a smoke after
PARAPSYCHOLOGIST: Parapsychologists are academics and science-learnin' types who focus on ghosts and psychic phenomena. They operate entirely using the tools at their disposal, building and maintaining their own tech to hunt ghosts, capture them and measure supernatural phenomena. Despite supernatural shenanigans being an accepted fact of life, parapsychologists are low-ranking in the hierarchy of scientists. Even the nutjobs who try to bring the dead back as Mercurials have better governmental backing. You've still got funding and power, though, and it's enough to be a PC.

Parapsychologists start with FAMILIARITY: SPIRIT so they're never spooked by a ghost. They also gain bonus abilities depending on the strength of their Parapsychology skill.
Parapsychologists get to pick one of the following Qualities for free: Club Membership, Noctuary Membership, Order of Reason Membership, Resolve, Secret Occult Society Membership. They start with Parapsychology 2 and can pick five of the following: Concentration 2, Galvanics 2 (you take this or you can barely ever use your shit), History 2, Hypnosis 2, Medicine 2, Natural Science 2, Photography 2, Psychology 2, Thanatology 2. They start with a comfy flat or house and Wealth 5. They get 75 dollars to spend on gear and can save 5 of it. Did you take Aethertech Engineer? If you didn't, you really can't afford a good mix of your gear.

Thoughts on the Parapsychologist: Like an Artificer, Parapsychologists are totally reliant on their shit and being able to build their shit. They're also reliant on how much stuff they can carry at once, but if you take interns you can turn them into porters. Parapsychologists do get some fun toys to play with and they can also use Galvanic weapons like lightning guns, so they're quite good as a tech-focused class.

PSYCHIC: You know exactly what a psychic is. In London, licensed psychics are given training for their powers and then ranked in three groups by how powerful they are. A lot of psychic ability is borne from suffering and torment and a lot of psychics have mental issues as a result. So do PCs.

Psychics automatically start with LATENT INSANITY. The presence of psychic powers and a calm mind are holding back a mental disorder that the psychic has; as long as they're stable and calm, the disorder is at rest and they can function normally. It manifests in times of extreme stress or when they gain too many Instability Points from using their powers. You pick a Mental Disorder for free and don't get any points for having an impediment and you can't pick one you already have to be your Latent Insanity. The class abilities Psychics gain stem from their Concentration skill stat.
Psychics start the game with one Devotion chosen at level one. You can spend 6 points during chargen to bump that Devotion up to 2, or pick another Devotion at 1. You can't start play with a Devotion higher than 2. Psychics get Concentration 2 and can pick any three Basic, Criminal or Academic skills at rank 2 to be their skills. The average psychic has a small place to call their own or a modest house on the outskirts. An unlicensed psychic starts with Wealth 2, licensed with Empathy or any Psychokinetic devotion starts with 3, licensed with ESP/Prescience/Telepathy starts at 5. You are recommended to bump up your wealth/standing in life because a Psychic starts with 10 dollars for stuff and can only keep 5 as savings.

Thoughts on the Psychic: It's hard to get into them without talking about their powers. They're the squishy wizard splat and most of their class benefits are about making the facets of their class be less of an impediment. It's not too hard to smooth the edges and it's interesting that they only get a little bit of their abilities to be about increasing damage or hitting better. In the long run, it helps that the limits of Concentration are dictated by Willpower and Psychics need a high Willpower to handle Instability. There is also some backwards compatibility fuckery we will get into when I get deeper into psychic powers.

How powerful are they from the word go? Not very; level one devotions grant minor things, it takes second level to do more impressive/offensive things. Make sure you pick up some combat abilities to help you out.

NEXT TIME: Qualities and new Mental Disorders and the end of Chapter 2.


posted by Hostile V Original SA post

Night's Black Agents is pretty good and I appreciate that you're sharing it, Prof. It gives me good thoughts of vampire stories.


NEW QUALITIES AND IMPEDIMENTS: Qualities and Impediments are bonuses or drawbacks you take at character creation. As much as this kind of system tends to be a bad idea that doesn't integrate game mechanics and roleplaying properly, the vanilla options from Unhallowed Metropolis had a lot of just plain shitty choices you should never take such as: Good Tasting, Fits (aka seizures/epilepsy), Hemophilia, Consumptive, Leper, Syphilis (because you can't cure it for unknown reasons), Gigantism (because despite being a bonus, it has "realistic" drawbacks such as what ended up doing in Andre the Giant) and Malignity. So let's see what's on the menu this time around: bad choices and a lot of art to break up the text.

wrong thing to do but at least you tried
Social Qualities:
Social Impediments:

and for my next trick, I will pull a good quality out of my deck of magic cards
Supermundane (ugh I hate that word) Qualities:

pretty rad, she'd make a good PC
Supermundane Impediments:

me for most of this, sans rosary
Physical Qualities:
Physical Impediments:

help i'm trapped in a bonus/drawback factory
Mental Qualities:
Mental Impediments:

man, lot of art of women in this section
New Mental Disorders:

That's it for Chapter 2. A lot of those qualities are okay at best, a lot of those impediments are stupid to take and the new mental disorders don't really add anything new but they're there for the psychic players to pick from. There's not much to say about this part of 2, the character classes are much more interesting.


this isn't from chapter 3, it's from 2, but trust me: it's incredibly appropriate for a lot of the content in 3


posted by Hostile V Original SA post


It is the duty of all proud, patriotic citizens of the British Empire to register if they have psychic powers. A lot don't, especially because you can lose your license. A licensed psychic has to fill out the proper paperwork to get ordained to use their powers for money followed by training and lessons. You have to reregister and get retested annually. However, most psychics only register one or two of their abilities and hide the rest because there's nothing requiring you to register ALL of your powers.

PSI LAW: Empathy and Telepathy cannot legally be used to dominate or influence people. It's two years of prison for minor nudges, ten of hard labor for fraud or contracts the influenced signs and surveillance/eavesdropping using powers is illegal (gathering sensory info isn't). These rules, of course, change if you become a psychic cop. Precogs are not liable for if their predictions aren't right, but intentionally misleading/lying is fraud. Psychokinetics are licensed weapons and are liable for the damage they cause but can still profit using their powers. And, of course, misusing your powers isn't illegal if you don't get caught but if the police see you they will ask for your license.

So what happens if you're caught and get imprisoned? You either go to prison and go to solitary or if you're especially unwell, you go to an asylum. You don't want to go to an asylum.

I told you.
Asylums suck. They're the personification of every horror game trope rolled up into a Cuban cigar wrapper of "suffering tends to induce psychic powers in the desperate". Most people with minor or mundane or "hopeless" cases get thrown out onto the streets with a scolding to make room for a psychics. The regulars and the psychics are kept separate with psychic captivity resembling supermax cells that can pump in gas. Psychics in asylums are experimented on, studied, poked and prodded and kept on a healthy diet of scop, sedatives and inhibitor drugs. If you can't be used for experimentation, develop a resistance to the drugs, try to escape too much or are too dangerous to be safely kept, you're lobotomized.

So let's say you're a talented enough psychic and you're willing to play ball with the law and they're willing to let you join the Psi-Branch. You don't actually have to be the best of the best to join Psi-Branch; the majority of them are Rank 2 or Rank 3 psychics. Psi-Branch is made up Psi Crime, Special Interrogation and Oracle. Psi Crime is the department that solves crimes using their assets (generally precognition and clairvoyance). Psi Crime has five rapid response teams made of up to four to six psychics who handle major problems beyond simple investigation. Special Interrogation uses telepaths to extract information from suspects and witnesses. Special Interrogation telepaths don't ever make an appearance in court (not like the worst criminals ever make it to court) and the project itself is a closely guarded open secret. Oracle tries to predict the future by using precogs and analysts but they're generally not very accurate. The most accurate thing that Oracle does is predict Lost Days (when the smog is so thick it can kill and reanimate a body in a minute) and print the info ahead of time. Despite that, it has the highest funding out of all of the departments. Alienists, Mediums and Parapsychologists can also find good employment in Psi-Branch if they're willing to support the main assets or work with the dead. The only people Psi-Branch will not employ are Empaths, considering them to be too unpredictable and believing that their powers influence and change police work too much.

Let's talk about all the things that make psychics tick. For starters, your level in a Devotion gives you all the powers of that level and below (this system is also used for Second Sight). Sometimes when you use a power, you have to make a Control check which is a Will check with DC 11+Power Levelx2 (so 13, 15, 17, 19, 21). Success means nothing, failure means +1 Instability Point.

What exactly are Instability Points? They're how much stress and strain the mind of the psychic can take before their latent insanity manifests and they return to their old self, unable to use/control their powers properly. Your limit for points is directly equal to your Will score. Matching that amount is what's called a Breakdown and the player has three choices for how a breakdown plays out:
None of those are particularly good or fun but we'll talk more about this in a little bit.

Trances are necessary for some abilities and requires one point in Concentration to be able to perform, automatically entered after five minutes of meditation in a peaceful environment. That's the ideal case, so of course there's rules for trancing under duress: Will rolls with a minimum DC of 11 and entering a trance becomes easier with something to focus on or sedatives. You can trance as long as you like but requires a DC 11 Will roll to exit one peacefully. If you're brought out by force, gain one Instability Point.

Finally, psychic powers have four aspects: a subject, a range, a trigger and a description. This is pretty much the same as the Second Sight powers except for the fact that a Psychic can maintain certain amounts of psychic abilities up to their Concentration skill stat.

That's the rules for how to track and use psychic powers and world fluff. So far, this has been a pretty boring, dry update. I don't even have much art to offer to spice things up. Let's do something different before we finish then. Let's see how hard we can break the system or at the very least game it.

First of all, there's a backwards compatibility issue I'm not sure the developers thought of when they made Concentration the bonus power skill for Psychics. However, what they've done with the first game (and have done since) is give you bonuses for every point in some skills besides "gun better". For example, every point in Rifles gives you one bonus ability to pick, like Night Fighter, Sniper, Headhunter or Trick Shot. This applies to Concentration: every point in Concentration lets you pick a little bonus. Some of them are quite good, but in the core game alone they're entirely situational because Concentration and trances weren't used for much. Let's take a look:
Suppression and Willpower are alright, but the important ones are definitely Compress Sleep, Focused Healing and Thought Mask. Focused Healing helps reduce downtime, Thought Mask gives the Psychic extra defense against mind control and Compress Sleep is part of what will make things tilt in our advantage.

The bonus abilities of the Psychic class rely on being somewhat situational, unfortunately. You're not going to take Wrathful if you don't have those offensive powers, you're not going to take Mass Perception without a scrying-type power. Let's assume that we're playing a Psychic with 5 Will and 5 Concentration. Without even picking a main Devotion, let's choose the following bonuses for maximum cheese and gaming.

When it comes to Concentration bonuses, we pick Focused Healing, Thought Mask, Compress Sleep, Dull Pain and Willpower (because drugs are handy things, sadly). Now for class bonuses. First, Meditations so we don't get IP from getting shocked out of trances and getting in and out of a trance faster. Second, Sound Mind which reduces Temporary Insanity to one day only plus removes 2 IP instead of 1 when you rest. Mix Sound Mind with Compressed Sleep and you can easily flush out all of the accumulated IP over the course of a day and still have time left over. Or, if you want to engage in Maximum Cheese, trance for eight hours while everyone else is sleeping their required eight to be super rested and lose up to 4 IP. Third, take Force of Will; failing Control Checks with those other safeguards in place are the biggest source of IP and a reroll to help deny those means you've got less to worry about. More importantly, it helps keep Temporary Insanity much more manageable so you don't have to choose those worse options.

Now, unless you have other active Mental Disorders it's not worth taking Fortified Mind or Self Control because they relate actively to handling Mental Disorder rolls. Hanging out with the right crowd (coughanexorcistcough) will help protect the Psychic against any future mental disorders, leaving them with a latent disorder that they have created a system of control and prevention to manage. Your other two ability choices are just gravy and personal choice, depending on the type of powers you choose to take. You'll still accumulate IP, there's no bones about it because a good GM would test your limits and push you and account for your trippy mind powers. You're just much more equipped to flush and purge it with a good night's sleep. Aside from that, there's not a lot of ways to break the system besides taking Wrathful and cutting yourself every now and again to shoot lightning better. They only really excel at breaking the rules and restrictions imposed on them (as opposed to the Exorcist who does VERY well at breaking the actual game rules). That being said, don't take their ability to break the restrictions lightly; without worrying much about the pressure of IP they can use their powers all day every day if needed and in the hands of some of the more destructive psychokinetic powers this can be quite a tasty benefit.



posted by Hostile V Original SA post


Empaths can't read minds but they can influence emotions and glean information from how people respond to emotion. Empathy is a power you can't legally profit off of and (as mentioned previously) Empaths can't be police officers due to the possibility of tampering. Most Empaths of London are content to hide their abilities and, if they do use them, use them as grifters or con-men or gold-diggers. It helps that it's really hard to prove empathic influence in a court of law. Empaths are supposed to be tragic characters in the game, ruled by their uncontrollable emotions, have "a perceived deficiency of character" and unable to touch another person without problems. It's mentioned that it's common for Empaths to be sexually attracted to vampires due to their limited emotions and many Empaths have a Desire Corruption.

Empaths have some extra rules in place. First, unless the power says otherwise, they can't use their powers on animals. Second is a rule I highly dislike: critical failures with Empathy are horrific failures and critical successes go way too far in the direction of success. Empaths also suffer from Empathic Backlash (if you didn't take Silence, which prevents this from happening so why didn't you take it). Empathic Backlash means that an Empath with a power stat of 2+ is subject to feeling the worst of negative emotions any time they're in close proximity of half-lifers, humans or spirits feeling strong emotion. What this translates to is that they have to make a Will roll with a DC of 11+highest Will of character around them in the group and if they fail they take damage. This is bumped up to +2 DC if they're touching someone. Just take Silence, this is a stupid rule. Finally, Empaths get +2 to the Empathy rolls if they're touching the person they want to influence.

Would you smooch a ghost?

I have no idea what this has to do with Empathy or why it's in this section really.
Thoughts on Empathy: A lot of these powers have to be used carefully in the context of RP because your group may not be comfortable with the bigger rape/abuse implications of Bedroom Eyes or Heart Strings. The risk of gaining Instability isn't that bad if the Empath plays smart with their abilities and how many people they want to try charming. The capstones under level five are kinda underwhelming for three reasons: having to do individual Will contests for everyone around you is dumb and clunky, all you're adding to the ability to read emotions is no risk of gaining IP and some other wiggle room for how they'll react to stuff and finally it feels tonally inconsistent to be able to scare people to death with a look and you can just bust it out with impunity if you really want to.

Extrasensory Perception: Psychics with ESP are called clairvoyants and their power isn't a sharpening of the senses but a honing of the mind. Or so the book says; in the next breath it says that ESP can replace lost sight or it can augment existing senses to pick up new things, but for the most part ESP is an entirely new sense. London's psychics are generally voyeuristic with a predilection for Drive or Desire corruptions and it doesn't help that they can't legally use their powers to spy on people (unless you're a cop and even then there's limits). It's not uncommon for a psychic to blind themselves in a misguided belief that this will enhance their powers or have trouble reacting to stimuli properly (overreacting to distance noises, not noticing a gun going off by their ears).

ESP has its own special rules. First, the powers don't affect animals unless they say they do. Second, just take the stupid Split Perception ability. Otherwise, every time you try to use certain powers while maintaining other powers, you have to make a Control check with a DC of the highest power you're using. On top of that, you get -1 to all Wit rolls per maintained power. Fail and you gain 1 IP and drop all the powers you're currently channeling. So just take Split Perception.

Your Stand, with a gun.
Spoilers: there are zero powers that will let you figure out who killed a person by touching the body.
ESP gets a lot of art.
Thoughts on Extrasensory Perception: Like many powers or spells where the PCs are able to just gain info with a snap of their fingers, ESP can break things quite a bit. The progression is pretty good, though, and I would honestly say that it's worth sinking the extra points into starting with level two. You do start off with a very good kit of tools from level one alone. ESP lends itself very well to stories about investigation and you're going to be using a lot of your powers over and over. It's also not a set of powers that carries a lot of IP risk which is handy, but taking the ability to increase the range of your powers is absolutely necessary. I'm not happy with the hindering of Astral Projection, though. If you can't project over places that are too corrupted with the rotting of the planet, that means there's a lot of places you can't visit easily. France makes sense, but most of Europe/East Europe/Central Europe? I know you're not going anywhere near them because the mechanics of this game assume you're focusing ONLY on London, but that's a really lazy way of stopping your players from getting more information about the world. Revelation is also somewhat weak as a capstone and at least Seeker will let you follow people now.

NEXT TIME: Seeing the future (protip: do not do this) and reading minds (protip: reach out and touch someone).


posted by Hostile V Original SA post


The game describes having Prescience powers as being "a living nightmare" so there's that. The majority of precogs who aren't working for the cops end up becoming hermits or cult-leaders or con men. A licensed psychic can in fact make money off of prescience and they're not liable for their predictions not coming true unless they out-and-out lied to the customers. It's a lot safer and a lot more financially stable to just join Oracle and become a weatherman.

Precogs have no special rules but it's not uncommon for them to need some sort of focus for the powers they have control over (and a lot of their powers they can't control). Some of the more nasty drawbacks are related to Prescience though and the game says it's pretty common for long-lived precogs to develop ennui, nihilism or dementia.

I would make a joke but this is just feels exploitative.
Put your keyboard on the floor. Put it down as flat as you can. That's good. Now I will move your keyboard by power of my will alone!
Thoughts on Prescience: A lot of the passive powers are unreliable and uncontrollable and that's kind of not fun, especially when the GM is in control of whenever you get visions. There's also the fact that you can still use minor powers when you have a higher level, so you're still beholden to GM visions whenever. Prescience also doesn't seem like an Instability intensive set of powers, but failing control checks gains IP and there's a lot of control checks you have to make to shut the visions off. Force of Will is mandatory for IP management for precogs. Aside from that, I like some of the powers that aren't just "get vision". The precog can be an effective fighter or a skill monkey whenever you need them to be and I appreciate the versatility beyond just seeing the future. The capstones aren't very good. Dreamshaper is nice from a RP perspective but it's just going to get you in trouble, Prophecy is okay and Fate Weaver gives you rerolls for anything but oh man is that a limited pool of dice you don't want to increase.

Telepathy: Victorian telepaths are people with trust issues because they know what you're thinking and it ain't always pretty. Most telepaths keep to themselves or to their own kind, most work for private clubs or clients or the police. The aristocracy tends to stay the hell away from telepaths because pretty much every bloodline is host to horrible secrets and bizarre pasts, so telepaths are generally not allowed in higher society. They live quiet lives of silence and work and really stand out as a result, even considering the nature of Neo-Victorian London. On the plus side, you can totally use your powers for money as a courier or with the authorities, just don't steal info on your own.

Telepathy has some extra rules. First, using them on anyone with a Chronic Mental Disorder or Corruption 4+ gets you 1 IP. Second, telepaths are immune to the powers of other telepaths who are lower than them in power (unless they permit them to use them). Third, touching someone you're using your powers on gives you +2 to the roll. However, touching people is risky. It forces a Will save where a failure is 1 IP and a success is brief flash of what the other person is thinking. You can automatically pass this roll with Silence but you won't get that flash of vision, so opt out of that when you need to. Otherwise, Silence is a handy class ability to have.

I don't think you need be able to read his mind to know he wants you to stop touching him.
Oh hey Professor X.
Heck yeah.

Thoughts on Telepathy: Telepathy is a nice grab bag of powers that can pretty easily fall into uncomfortable territory unless the players take action to not go there. The whole set is a good mixture of investigative powers, debuffs and group communication abilities. The capstone powers continue to not be totally good/worth it. Mind Slave is a really good way to impersonate someone for a little while, but it's a borderline abominable act. Omniscience would be a lot better if it didn't have the caveat that the personality of the telepath bleeds into the minds of people around them. Puppet Master is by far the best because it's very versatile for group control; the sleep ability is an excellent way to shut down enemies or problems, group Pain Induction is a nice debuff and while it probably wouldn't work to command everyone to kill themselves, it's a lot easier to tell them to shoot each other. Telekinesis is a very IP-intensive power set, so management is important; pump up the Will and Concentration.

We have officially moved past the predominantly investigative/social psychic powers, which means that NEXT TIME, we move onto the three Psychokinetic power sets: Electrokinesis (Shocking Grasp), Pyrokinesis (Burning Hands) and Telekinesis (Bigby's Magic Hand).


posted by Hostile V Original SA post


Psychokinetic abilities (Electrokinesis, Pyrokinesis and Telekinesis) are more noticeable, physical psychic abilities and follow different rules. First, most of them require the psychic to make a ranged attack using their Wits. They can't use Combat abilities with their powers but they can use other powers to see their enemies where they normally couldn't. Second, psychokinetic powers can affect the dead unless otherwise noted. Third, be prepared to make a lot of control checks. Finally, most psychokinetics can't find gainful employment due to their naturally destructive abilities, but they're a considerable ally to criminals, anarchists and Deathwatch.

Vicky is covering a zombie titty.
Electrokinesis: Electrokinetics are walking, talking aetheric generators, capable of powering galvanic weapons and aethertech with their bodies. They're considered to be the most calm and stable of psychokinetic psychics, developing an interest in space, math and science while keeping their bodies and minds fit and clean. Some gain a fear of entropy and gain phobias of the dark.

There's one big rule for Electrokinetics and it's an enormous pain in the ass. A lot of their powers run the risk of causing temporary blindness from flashes of light. Anyone looking at the psychic or the target (and this includes the psychic ) is blinded for 1d5 rounds. The psychic can close their eyes and fire blind at -4 or the psychic and their friends can wear photo-reactive goggles. Other characters can be warned ahead of time that the flash is coming and can close their eyes. Either way, it's a giant annoyance but handy for dealing with human enemies.

Finally, a note on electrocution: electrocution has its own damage table. It ranges from "cooked alive" to "muscle spasms" depending on how severe it is. It doesn't do any long-lasting damage like certain complications (disembowelment) but it does bypass armor, so that's nice.

LEVEL FOUR LEVEL FIVE Thoughts on Electrokinesis: Electrokinetic psychics pair really well with Doctors and Parapsychologists, helping mitigate the downsides of aethertech using their generating abilities. They don't have much in the way of self buffs, but they have good offense that works nicely against the undead and they at least have one nonlethal means against living people. Aside from that, they run into a problem that psychokinetic psychics have at higher levels: they qualify for the Alpha Complex Junior Varsity Troubleshooter League with the sheer amount of unfriendly fire they throw around. Frankly, it's not very fun. It's absolutely what they're going for thematically but it's not friendly or functional or practical. The capstones are nice. Ion Blast is the right mix of 'I Win' and 'OH FUCK', Electrocutioner gives you a good crowd control weapon but I'm not a fan of Entropy; while it fits the whole narrative of "SPACE AND ENTROPY, MAN!", it just takes too long to do anything but suck out the power while eventually killing your friends and you. If I wanted to deplete everyone's batteries faster and safer, I'd just use Power Vacuum.

Pyrokinesis: Pyrokinetic powers are, as a whole, destructive. There's a disproportionate amount of pyrokinetic's stuck in asylums for small crimes compared to other psychics and the most unruly/dangerous are often lobotomized. The game portrays pyrokinetics are impulsive, antisocial and ruled by their emotions.

Your attacks and abilities often run the risk of someone being set on fire, which add +3 to rolling on the damage table and you're on fire until it gets put out. Pyrokinesis has a big restriction and it sucks. Without the Silence ability, strong emotions or Serious wounds force Will checks on the part of the psychic where failure means they must attack the source of their frustration. Take Silence. Just take Silence. Also, a lot of your powers might result in you losing your clothes, so don't worry too much about armor and get comfy with being naked in public. Freak them Victorian squares.

You'll find her at the Black Lodge.
LEVEL FIVE Thoughts on Pyrokinesis: Pyrokinesis has some fun toys to break things with and some handy utility powers. They don't bring much to the table like Electrokinesis and the "getting naked while using your powers" thing gets old fast, but they do still have good versatility. Their capstone powers are nice and powerful and fitting without being too clunky but they still run into the specific problem of hitting everyone around you. I have a distinct feeling that the developers don't really have a sense of scale or size because you'll buff the shit out of your Will for your powers and you can also make them DOUBLE in size. Where the hell are the other PCs supposed to be when you lay down your 600 foot in radius firestorm, down the block twiddling their thumbs? You can really monopolize the attention of things with how much your powers can do, it's a hindrance really.

Let's see you turn heads like that , Empathy.
Telekinesis: Electrokinetics are tied to logic and control, Pyrokinetics are tied to passion and emotion, but the Telekinetics of London are most tied to madness and sorrow.

Telekinetics are pylons of power and often have pasts rooted in mistreatment, tragedy and suffering. Their powers are a way to take control of the world around them and they end up with a lot of complexes and raging egos as a result. The ones who gradually develop their powers have more control over their anger and their power than ones who develop it spontaneously. These psychics are prized in construction and manufacturing and often live lives of control of themselves and their power through meditation or mysticism or religion. Some become mass murderers, some neglect their bodies and use their powers instead, some rip Animates asunder. They don't have any explicit downsides besides normal psychic rules save for one: if two telekinetics try to use a power on the same object, the one with the higher level wins automatically.
"We're never gonna make it as a circus act at this rate."
"Ride the Maelstrom, just a pound a go!"
LEVEL FIVE Thoughts on Telekinesis: The whole set is a bit of a one trick pony, revolving around lifting things and hurting people. The barriers and the self-buffing are nice though. Your primary attacks aren't very good until level three because there's still armor to deal with, so the key is to be creative with your powers. The capstones are...okay. Thematically they work great but they really boil down to feeling like more of the same too much but with the propensity for mass property damage. I might just be biased and tired from powering through this whole thing over the span of an afternoon without stopping.

Honestly I'm glad to be done with sharing these powers. They were a lot and I think I was too thorough in regurgitating them. NEXT TIME we'll finally be done with this chapter and take a look at lobotomies, psychic induction surgeries and the rest of the nitty-gritty behind psychic powers.


posted by Hostile V Original SA post


A warning: the following write-up is all about surgeries and treatments in Neo-Victorian asylums and sanitariums. It handles them as well as you would expect them to (in true lazy horror fashion) and people who are sensitive to these topics should pass this section over. You're sincerely not missing much, just a lot of tables.


To make a long story short, the lobotomy was invented in 1888 then the Plague happened and lobotomies never really went out of style. Psychosurgery in Unhallowed Metropolis/Necropolis is explicitly cutting into the patient's skull to access the brain to tinker with it to fix the patient's ailments. This is essentially the pinnacle of mental health treatment in London and has been for two centuries now; therapy is available but instead of medication or pharmacology, psychosurgery is used for the majority of all treatments.

This is definitely on the more extreme end of things but hey, you chose to include this in your book.
Psychosurgery breaks down into three separate fields: corrective surgery, lobotomies and psychic induction. This all ties into my main problem with the Alienist: there are rules for letting the players do all of these procedures. The game treats corrective brain surgery the same way it treats creating Thrope serums, reanimating the dead Herbert West-style and genetically engineering new life. The Doctor class, the scientist-of-all-trades class, can get by perfectly well without ever needing to delve into making monsters or creating new life. Psychosurgery is essentially half of what the Alienist can do, and there's enough here to make a group incredibly uncomfortable or delve into bad territories. It feels cheap and exploitive and not fun because you're giving the players direct access to taking advantage of/controlling NPCs with the power of authority and "medicine" and ~horror~. I personally would not make any of what follows a part of any game I would run in this universe.

Corrective surgery involves trepanning the skull for access to the brain for corrective alterations. "Though such procedures were initially quite haphazard, Neo-Victorian medicine has advanced to the point at which minute and seemingly harmless alterations to the psyche are not only possible but the expected outcome of such treatments." uggggggggh. Corrective surgery can be used to remove psychic powers (whether the psychic wants them to or not), Mental Disorders and some Mental Impediments. These rules apply to both PCs and NPCs so I suppose you could, in theory, pick up a bunch of Disadvantages in generation then immediately turn to the party's Alienist and say "crack me open and fix me" but as you will see, that's not such a good idea. First the patient has to be diagnosed with a Psychology roll (vs. DC of patient's Will+10) to identify the conditions and level of psychic power. The patient should be strapped down ("or" sedated, the game seriously doesn't expect both), the psychosurgery kit should be prepped and surgery can begin once the doctor states the conditions they want to attempt to fix. Key word: attempt.

Each condition takes a hour to treat and requires a skill roll of Medicine vs. DC 11+patient's Wit+patient's Will. You can only attempt to treat that condition once per procedure, but the doctor can attempt to treat more than one different condition per procedure. The doctor can take care and double the length of the operation for +2 to the rolls (do this) or rush it and try in half the time for -2 (do not do this). The doctor can also make a really big hole in the skull for +1 to treatment or not sterilize their shit/use the wrong tool for -2. Aftercare requires someone with Medicine 2 to give the patient a half hour of treatment a day for a week or else they'll get an infection and slowly die. I would provide an example of an operation but A: I really don't want to come up with something like this myself and B: the book provides for me. A doctor takes 6 hours to treat a man's chronic OCD, night terrors and narcolepsy and over the course of the operation removes the man's OCD, doesn't cure the night terrors and instead makes the man prone to melancholic fits and accidentally makes the narcolepsy chronic. Whenever you fail a Medicine roll for Psychosurgery, the GM rolls on the Failed Psychosurgery Table to see what happened to the patient (in this case, he still has night terrors and he now sleeps more so that's awful).

Lobotomies are a lot faster because it's using a hammer to shove an ice pick into the patient's brain through their tear ducts. All it takes is a DC 14 Medicine roll and lobotomies are popular with asylums because A: they automatically shut off all psychic powers and B: they reduce the patient's Wit to 1, reduces their Will/Charm by 1 point and makes the patient docile and compliant. If Will/Charm is reduced to 0, the patient is in a vegetative state. If the patient is a PC, they can regain their stats with experience but can never have a Wit higher than 2 or a Will/Charm higher than 4. That's pretty much it for lobotomies; they're an awful medical practice favored by doctors because they're cheaper and faster than sedatives/psi-inhibitors and if the Medicine roll is failed then the GM rolls on the Failed Psychosurgery Table.


PSYCHIC INDUCTION: Induction comes in three forms. There's natural psychic induction, which is when a person experiences something so terrible and horrific the trauma permanently puts their mind off-kilter and gives them a Latent Insanity and one level in a power (but can't develop anything from the Psychic class). This can just happen naturally over the course of play and is by far the "best" way to get powers outside of playing a Psychic.

Hypnotic Induction is the safest kind, but it's temporary. Someone with Hypnosis 4 and Parapsychology 3 can spend a half hour walking a living subject through a trance to unlock their potential (Hypnosis vs. Subject's will, where success for the hypnotist manifests a power). The hypnotist can attempt to make the subject manifest specific powers (DC 20) or direct the subject to use their power (DC 11+Will). Failures result in uncontrolled/unwanted powers and critical failures/success means they're way more powerful than they should be. If the subject wakes up, the powers disappear. Hypnotic Induction really just exists to look cool or show off the hypnotist's skills at putting people under; in the long run, it's incredibly inefficient.

Which leads us to the hard way: Medically-Induced Psychic Induction. This kind of psychic induction is illegal, incredibly dangerous and undeniably immoral. At its core, it's systematic abuse of the patient with the intent of breaking their will. Anyone involved in the procedure must have Medicine 3, Parapsychology 3 and Psychology 3 and the subject can only see those people for the duration of the procedure. If there's more than one person involved, one has to be designated the head physician who is the one who determines how this progresses. There is no nice/gentle/good way to do this, considering it's breaking a living being's will and intentionally destabilizing their mind; the game recommends that the procedure have appropriate equipment such as an operating room, torture chamber, isolation room or psychoactive drugs. The patient will need two hours of care daily from anyone in the project, requires 24/7 monitoring and the head physician has to monitor and perform on the patient for six hours a day. At the end of the week, the head physician makes two rolls: Medicine vs. DC 16-Subject's Vitality and Will vs. Will. For the former, failure reduces the subject's Vitality by 1 (at 0 they die). For the latter, the doctor adds their Torture, Medicine or Psychology skill to the roll and success lowers the patient's Will by 1. The experiment is done when the subject's Will hits 0, so depending on how rolls go this entire thing can run around a month/six weeks. The subject regains Vitality/Will 1 point per week after the experiment.

So what happens when the experiment is done? The GM rolls 2d10+subject's base Will to determine what happened on the Psychic Apotheosis Table. Yeah, the doctor's stats don't really do anything or add anything, it just comes down to a blind fucking roll after all of that nonsense. The results should be secret until the patient is full examined.

Keep this guy the hell away from my skull.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON CHAPTER 3: Thank god it's over. The information on psychic powers overwhelms a substantial chunk of this book that's supposed to be about ghosts. I feel like I went too in depth into the powers. This whole last bit is just wholly unnecessary for play and for player interaction and I feel like I can't make my opinions on it any more clear. At least Reign of Steel said "hey, if the PCs end up in a Zonemind's death camp, it should be to further the plot and you really shouldn't just do bad stuff to the characters". There's this kind of implication to Unhallowed Necropolis with psychosurgery; it feels like it's offering up the rules for lobotomies to say "if you wanted the PCs to get thrown into an asylum and operated on, here's mechanics for that" in the same breath it endorses letting the PCs perform brain surgery. Psychic induction is just awful mechanically and narratively speaking; if you do it, you have to commit to it for at least a month and the side effects are bad. There's also the fact that powers gained that way don't get anything from the Psychic class' abilities. The Psychic class is just a better deal overall and I can't think of any narrative reason you'd make a psychic besides needing to for some contrived reason. It's all just awful and I'm glad I can move on with it.

NEXT TIME: Chapter Four, Ghosts'n'Stuff


posted by Hostile V Original SA post


Hey I hope you're ready for a lot of art because I have a lot of art and there's not too much to this chapter.
The Spirit World is linked to the physical landscape of London but it's also linked to the biggest source of power in the city: aethertech. Aether is a wirelessly transmitted form of energy invented by Nikola Tesla and the broadcasting plants are powered by massive coal furnaces. The Spirit World is actually measurable/understandable as a low frequency level of aether, so aethertech can be used to actually measure the Spirit World. So what is it? It's a bit like going to the Other World from Silent Hill; it may match the physical landscape but it's altered and changed by the emotions of people interacting with it or who've come and gone. Destroyed buildings may exist as whole or vice-versa. The ghosts that occupy the Spirit World are erratic and their true nature aren't entirely clear but it's generally held that they have a sort of "battery" necessary to their existence (or that they ARE aetheric energy bound into a sentient form). Ones that are bound to people, places or things draw power from them, while some of the more powerful spirits exist independently and conserve/drain power somehow.

With religion being a bit on the backswing and science's gleeful exploration of the supernatural, Neo-Victorians retain a fascination with spiritualism. Some of it is superstitious in nature, some of it clashes with scientists over the relationship between soul and spirit, but the séance is widely popular. On the other end, you have spiritualist cults like the Adepts of Perpetuity, the Invisible College, the Daughters of Ammit and the Blackthorn Covenant. The Adepts are aristocrats so terrified of death but are unable to take any more anti-aging treatments so their spirits are stripped from their body before death and used to possess a new body that is adopted into an Adept family. The College is a(n allegedly) disbanded cult of mediums and ghost-hunters who blackmailed aristocratic families with secrets gleaned from the dead. The Daughters worship the Egyptian demon Ammit by using alchemy to distill the essence of the living and dead for drinking in an attempt to attain immortality and dread power. Finally, the Covenant is a cult of homeless beggars and madmen who worship the spirits of the city and willingly give up their bodies to possession to escape life and serve a higher power. It kind of says a lot that there's more info about evil ghost cults than anything else.

The infamous spiritualist cult The Brotherhood of the Funny Outfits.
So what does one do with a haunting or a spirit? Neo-Victorians treat mild hauntings like one would treat being mortified about a pest problem. Minor hauntings/immaterial ghosts need to have their haunts destroyed or relocated (haunts being people, places or things keeping the ghosts attached). If destruction isn't an option, an exorcist can exorcise and banish, a medium can communicate to the ghost and talk them through severing a haunt, or a parapsychologist can capture/contain or talk to the ghosts. Ghost-hunting/ghost handling is a vital business to London's economy; there's no shortage of takers and it's considered to be the "safer" alternative to Undertaking. These businesses range from amateurs with home-made tech or low-level mediums to teams with contracts with companies, the Anglican church, large franchise companies or groups who work for specific families/groups. The worst case scenario for dealing with a haunting is flat-out quarantine of the affected area as executed by the Department of Health; quarantines can last for decades or until someone gets rid of the ghost (most often a poltergeist or malicious spirit).

I ain't 'fraid of no property damage.
Taxonomy of the Dead

Spirits are divided into three categories based on strength: apparition, ghost and poltergeist. They are a self-contained aetheric force that can manifest between the Spirit World and real world and they leave behind ectoplasm. All spirits basically need a tether or a reason to keep existing or else they'll gradually dissipate and fade away. Apparitions can last around months, ghosts can last up to centuries depending on what holds them on Earth and poltergeists only lose power in isolation. London has no shortage of old ghosts but the majority of them active in the metropolis are people who died after the Plague; they're only made from a bad, sufficiently traumatic death and the worse the circumstances the more power the spirit has. Dying and becoming undead do not create spirits, so someone dying from the Plague or vampirism can never become a ghost. Other artificially created undead don't have ghosts either and word is out for what happens to most half-lifers (like ghouls or Thropes, not dhampirs because they become vampires). Finally, a note on possession: the person being possessed will not remember what happened while they were possessed. In long term possession cases, the mental faculties of the victim will decline if freed and many have attempted suicide immediately after release. Also, possession really plays hell with the immune system and post-possession the human body has a higher risk of illness.

A friendly reminder that Neo-Victorian science is terrible and their scientists are idiots.

To be honest I can't be assed to regurgitate everything I just said but with actual game mechanics this time. Here's some new info instead:
Apparitions only have Will equal to the Will of their creator. They can't react or respond to communication with the living. Their appearances are limited to the sense of touch, sight or hearing and how high their Will is. They can't attack and can only play out the same scene over and over. Really they're like well-made illusions as opposed to anything else.

Apparition or ghost? You be the judge!
Ghosts retain all of their stats from life (except Vitality and Coordination) and their skills, but their minds might be impaired from death. Their appearance is tied to how stable their Will is but is tainted by aspects of their Corruptions. Also, most importantly: ghosts can never be player characters. Ghosts can manifest in certain ways, and get ways to manifest equal to their Will selected at their creation.
Ghosts can't attack people unless they're using Manifestations or possessing a person. They can also regain Will based on why they're bound to the world of the living. The Pathology (and Will sources) are:
Poltergeists are assholes. You need Second Sight to see them and they're all terrible inhuman abominations, primal horrors created from a person dying with impotent rage/hatred or the death of a diseased mind. Poltergeists can't be reasoned with or talked to, they're just wellsprings of anger and psychokinetic power. The best way to deal with them is capture and isolation or by quarantining its domain. Destroying its haunt is a good idea but easily said than done for two reasons: because there's a poltergeist standing between you and its tether, and because the poltergeist is prone to destroying it without realizing as it rages. They can't manifest, they regain Will whenever someone dies around them and they get one Psychokinetic power set (Electrokinesis, Pyrokinesis or Telekinesis) equal to the Will of its dead creator.

Here's the mandatory naked lady for this chapter. I guess whatever is possessing her hates pants and loves Spiderman.

And that's it for Chapter 4. There's really not NEARLY as much compared to Chapter Three, and that's not even counting out the fact that I included the rules/powers for Second Sight with the Medium class. Funny how this whole expansion is supposed to be ghosts but the ghosts don't get a hell of a lot to them. There's really not a lot to say here! Poltergeists should be used sparingly, there's some neat diversity among ghosts, but the majority of this chapter is back story, world fluff and repeatedly explaining the same things. It really is all downhill from here because NEXT TIME is Aethertech and all the new equipment the book introduces. But to its credit, there's some neat stuff.


posted by Hostile V Original SA post


Aethertech, as it's used to hunt ghosts, is pretty straight forward. Spirits are actually condensed, "intelligent" collections of aetheric energy created by a sufficiently shitty death. Ghost hunting with aethertech tools and galvanic weapons just requires the hunters to create a field of aetheric energy around the spirit that has a stronger power than the ghost. Capturing a ghost requires an aether field generator, a containment ring, brass cables connecting the two and knowledge of how to work a generator. It's as simple as luring the ghost into the area of containment and turning the field on. As long as the field is running, the ghost is contained. Most generators are hooked into the city's aether field but it's pretty common for ghost hunters to have machines with backup batteries. Outside of London, these machines need a source of fuel.

Operating a generator doesn't require a dice roll if you've got any points in Galvanics or Parapsychology if you just want to turn it on. A generator has two ratings: Threshold and Area of Confinement. Threshold determines just how powerful of a spirit the field can contain and will trap/deny the powers of a spirit with Will equal to or less to the Threshold rating. If it exceeds the Threshold, the spirit can just leave and use their powers as they see fit. A character with Galvanics/Parapsychology 2 can manually control the field to push the Threshold but can't contain any spirit stronger than Threshold+2. To push the Threshold, it requires a Parapsychology roll based on the DC caused by the Spirit's Will where a failure means the field collapses. An augmented generator needs constant supervision, though; if unattended for longer than a minute, the spirits can try to break free. In cases of dire emergency, the generator can engage in Parapsychology vs. Spirit Will rolls to temporarily hold a spirit with Will higher than Treshold+3 where every success only buys a minute of containment. A field collapse is pretty self explanatory: the spirits are no longer contained and are probably pissed. Loss of power or damage to the machine is an easy way to lose the field, but certain powerful ghosts can just overpower it. The big, important rule of thumb is: any non-Exorcist/Psychic way to deal with a ghost using technology NEEDS a stable aetheric field to contain the ghost. No exceptions. No field, no containment. This applies to all aethertech.

So what do you do with a captured ghost? Generally, a ghost in a containment field can't stay there forever. There's long term imprisonment in a vault until their dissolution is complete and they no longer exist, there's multiple attempts to farm ectoplasm for industrial purposes and there are ways to turn ghosts into alchemical tools or sources of energy. It all depends on what you want to do with what you've captured or who you want to sell it to. The big problem is that you need a good amount of gear to capture ghosts: you need a generator to set up a containment field, you need at least one apparatus to extract the ghost from the field and you need a place to put the ghost. Well boy howdy do I have plenty of stuff to sell you! Friendly reminder: if you have the Aethertech Engineer ability, you get these for half price because you made/scavenged most of the parts yourself. You really, really need Aethertech Engineer for this to all be workable unless you're a university employee or working for a private group. Each item has a price, a threshold and an area of containment.

Aether Vault ($350/Unlimited/the vault): The aether vault weighs 500+ pounds. It's built to be a long-term installation for the containment of ghosts until they dissolve. Vaults are massive fixtures of generators, tubes, chambers, spheres and gauges wrapped in a brick, wood or brass frame. Anyone with both Galvanics 2 and Parapsychology 2 can transfer ghosts into the vault for permanent containment, the ghosts unable to manifest. Most vaults draw on the aetheric grid but have backup generators for power outages.

The vault in its natural habitat: someone's basement.
Alcott Jar ($30+regular maintenance/6/15 foot diameter): Alcott Jars are 20-50 pound containment field rigs that use alchemical materials to boost the power of a group of generators. The generators are deployed in a circle and form a containment field of static aether that contains ghosts. Alcott jars come at a good price for the threshold they offer but they have downsides. You need both Galv. and Para. 2 to use one or remove a ghost from its field. Because of their alchemical materials, they require four hours of maintenance after every capture or after ten hours of use and have to be off during that time. Not doing the repairs leads to very bad things happening and the jars in general have a eight year lifespan, no matter how well they're kept in shape. Good containment at a good price, pretty big pain in the ass otherwise.

EctoHabitat ($20/3/slightly bigger than habitat): EctoHabitats are basically orb-shaped or square containers used to hold ghosts without them dissolving and losing Will, drawing on the city's aether for power. It can never have its threshold increased so it's only used to hold low level spirits. While the game says they're shaped like diving bells or lanterns, there is no way in my mind they're anything less than fish tanks that you can keep ghosts in.

Ectostability Containment Suit ($40/unlimited/the suit): Do you remember Hellboy? The developers sure do. It's primarily used to load ghosts (not spirits or poltergeists) into the suit to communicate with them and study them, rarely anything more. There's a bunch of rules but let's be honest, I think the following picture says enough:

The WEIGHT...of the SEA...
Essence Chamber ($10/unlimited/the device): Essence chambers are used to extract spirits from containment fields so they can be moved to a vault or another container or they can just be kept in the essence chamber. The device is a mix of a generator, a power supply, glass tubes and brass that weighs ten pounds and creates a stronger field than the container which draws the ghost in through a pressure imbalance between the fields. They come in the form of spheres or boxes. An essence chamber can only hold one ghost, but as long as the spirit is in the chamber it's not getting free.

Oscillating Aether Field (variable/variable/variable: The OAF (heh) is a newer invention. The Alcott Jar uses a single ring with an unchanging field (static) while the OAF uses a circle of spider webs placed on the floor that generate concentric, overlapping fields (oscillating). They can take more physical punishment than an Alcott, able to function while damaged. The main downsides are strength, size and price. The price depends on the size of the area and the threshold, ranging from 5 feet to 30 and 3 to 5. On the low end, the five foot diameter, threshold 3 OAF costs $5. On the high end, radius 30 and threshold 5 costs $60. With or without Aethertech Engineer, you're paying twice the price of an Alcott Jar for less containment but you're also paying to not deal with the maintenance. Plus if you're after a Will 6 specter, you're probably working with someone who can reduce their power, so just go with the OAF as the better choice.

Spirit Lamp ($15/unlimited/device): The Hot Topic equivalent of an Essence Chamber, it does everything the essence chamber does but for illumination purposes, lit with wisps of swirling green smoke or tinted to appear however. They don't do anything different except for $20 more you can add a voice modulator to talk to the ghost. Their popularity leads to a pretty good business opportunity for the enterprising Parapsychologist: nab a ghost and sell it as a lamp for twice the cost it took you to build the lamp, plus get paid for the capture job.

Seriously, eat your heart out Spencers' Gifts, spirit lamps look good.
Void Gate ($20/4/internal essence chamber): Using an Alcott Jar or OAF is a lot like fishing with a reel or with a spear; you have to pick a good spot, lure the ghost, etc. By comparison, using a Void Gate is a lot like fishing with dynamite or a shotgun. A void gate is a 30 pound tool that generates a ten foot diameter field in front of the device that then immediately (violently) collapses and retracts the field into itself. Anything caught in the field is drawn in, but only the first spirit gets captured; the void gate has an attached port for essence chambers, allowing for the speed capture and sealing of a ghost. When the chamber is full, you can just remove and replace it. They don't need any skills to operate, but the big downsides are: need for multiple essence chambers, comparatively low Threshold power than other rigs, can't differentiate between targets, pulls ghosts towards you, requires two hours of recharging after being fired. Looks really cool though.

Clunky and big? Yes. Pretty cool and works well? Yes.

Aether gear is used to hunt ghosts or communicate with them (or utilize them) without actually capturing them. Really, anything involving ghosts but not capturing/fighting them belongs here.

Aether Converter ($100): A converter weighs 20 pounds and consists of a turbine and aether vault. Its use is simple: transfer a Will 3 or less spirit to the vault from an essence chamber and the turbine will generate power as it processes the spirit. The theological implications of using ghosts as power has the general public in an uproar and allegedly energy made from ghosts is sinister and bizarre, so don't expect them to replace the coal furnaces powering the aethertech towers just yet.

Aethergraph ($40, 10 silver for a disk, $5 for a prerecorded disk): The aethergraph is a phonograph designed to play EVP, aetheric vibrations, emotions, thoughts and more. It can also record up to a hour of whatever it picks up and burn it to a disk. Excuse me while I pedal down the street on my bicycle, blasting this disk of what ladies think about me as I balance a phonograph on my handlebars.

Ghosts really don't appreciate it when you scratch records to remix their death wails.
Aetheric Coupling Tube ($2): "Used to transfer spectral matter from one aethertech vessel to another". Translation: you need one of these to shunt a ghost from an essence chamber to a vault.

Aetheric Monitor ($5): A watch-sized device used to...monitor the aether. There's complicated rules for reading it but meh whatever.

Either this aetheric monitor is broken or it's a feature, not a bug.
Aether Lock ($40): An aether lock is a lamp-shaped device that creates a 10 foot zone of interference. Ghosts can't manifest, psychics and ghosts have a harder time using their powers and it gives psychics IP.

Autopsychographer ($20): The poor man's aethergraph, the autopsychographer is a typewriter hooked up to a motor and a field generator that records everything said onto a piece of paper.

Devourer Swarm ($25 for a small school, $40 for a large, $20 for the habitat): Ohhh man these little bastards are my favorite thing in this chapter. Devourers are little aetheric critters made artificially that live in a modified ectohabitat, either fish tank style or a reinforced backpack with a tube. The Devourers themselves look like ghostly fish with skeletons. Using the swarm is simple: point towards ghosts, release and recall with a special tune that tells them to come back to the tank. When released, they will attempt to eat any and all ghosts in the area; large swarms have Will 5 while small have 3.

Psychoactive Photo Plates ($1): Want to take pictures of ghosts? Use these.

Psychocondenser ($25): A psychocondenser is a still with an attached essence chamber that's used to distill a ghost into alchemical solutions. This always uses up the entire ghost. Never drink/use the raw distilled ghost, that is a terrible idea that won't kill you but will make you wish you died.

The psychocondenser, for if you want to try putting spirit in your spirits (again, do not do this, do not drink the ghosts).
Psychoscopic Goggles ($20): Goggles that let you see ghosts, auras, astral projections and psychic powers in use but inhibit normal vision while used.

Rictus ($60): The Rictus is a full-face mask made of lead crystal and glass that makes the wearer's completely immune to all non-psychokinetic powers and spectral manifestations and also become invisible to ghosts and scrying. The masks were based on designs from crystal skulls and various hoopla that actually worked. The mask only remains perfectly clear to people whose Corruptions aren't higher than 1, becoming darker and darker the worse of a person the user is. I have no idea if the mask has eyeholes so I mean the mask's darkness may show the world "hey my owner is a horrible person" but people still can't tell who you are, so it might not be that much of a downside.

Shadow Caster ($250): The Shadow Caster lets people engage in astral projection in the form of a living shadow. The device itself is a tripod projector that casts the shadow of the user onto a screen. It's not an invisible shadow and it has to stay in contact with the ground but other than that, the other rules of astral projection apply. This is also terrible to use. Each charge lasts two hours and anything less than touching your body to get back in results in -2 to all Attribute/Skill rolls for 6d10 minutes while you gain a horrific headache and violent vomiting while you piss and shit yourself.

Soul Harvester ($100, $25 per cartridge, $5 per filter): First of all, the machine is highly illegal. Second of all, it was invented by the Prussians as a punishment device for criminals who deserved more than death that found its way to London illegally. The soul harvester itself is a box with a neck that contains tubes attached to a face mount that goes over the top of the head. In a nutshell, you put a person's head in the mount and slam it shut, shoving glass prongs into the victim's eyes which drains the aetheric energy through the skull, down the tubes and filters of the neck and into the box. The box itself contains a "maiden cartridge", an essence chamber that contains the ghost you made from murdering the victim. The machine also makes a weird psychic sludge captured in the filters that goes for big money on the black market. The whole process takes three minutes or six if it's not being maintained properly but the filter must be replaced every five extractions. The contained souls are normally kept on display in Prussia along with the name of the criminal. Interestingly? The chambers don't need an aetheric source to contain them. Good German engineering.

Telekinetic Lock ($15+): A lock that requires telekinesis to open, generally made by telekinetic locksmiths.

Transaetheric Receiver ($35, 10s for headset, 8s for antenna): Use this radio to hear ghosts. Never use the radio that hears ghosts within someone using a psychic power, that is a terrible idea.

Transaether Luminator ($20): The luminator is a gyroscope of seven brass plates that, when spun once by hand, will create an ectoplasmic mist that shows all ghosts in thirty feet for ten minutes. Do not interrupt the device while it spins or else you'll break it/get electrocuted. The really notable thing about this invention is that the design was invented by a French inventor before he was imprisoned by the Golden King, the actually immortal god king of France. This is also the only French item on the list and it works solely by spinning which really makes me want to know more about what's going on behind the closed borders of France. Too bad we'll never know.

The luminator at work.
Transpsychic Resonator ($150): The TPR is a brass cylinder that boosts the power of a psychic when pressed against the back of their neck, sinking metal prongs into their neck and running an alchemical solution directly into their body and is removed by applying pressure to the top of the TPR. When attached, it gives the psychic +2 to their Will when it comes to damage, range and contested Will rolls. However, every use forces a control check where a failure forces the psychic to pass out and use runs the risk of making mental disorders worse. If that's not bad enough, there's a chance that user will create an apparition based on their memories or thoughts. That last part isn't so bad really, apparitions can't do shit. They should have gone with "ghost" or "poltergeist".


Carpe Spiritus ($75): The Carpe Spiritus is basically a four-shot howitzer that forces ghosts to become corporeal by trapping them temporarily in ectoplasm. Any hits to the weapon (like most Galvanic weapons) inflict a -3 penalty to use and using the gun without rubber gloves will electrocute you (like most).

Grenade, Aetherpulse ($5): The aetherpulse grenade is a brass clockwork weapon that will remain primed once it's wound. Simply tossing it causes a pulse of energy that forces spirits to lose 1 Will or psychics to take 1 IP if they fail a DC 16 Will check.

Klöchmann-Adler Hellbore ($100+ and crazy illegal): The Hellbore was created by an Austrian parapsychologist (Adler) who immediately sold it to an esoteric group who sold it to empire who started making the guns for soldiers. Then Klöchmann Arms went bankrupt and top-secret weaponry started ending up in the hands of anarchist and terror cells. Simply put, the Hellbore is a Galvanic rifle that uses ghosts as ammo, drawing from an essence chamber built into the stock. Each shot drains 1 Will from the spirit and creates a five foot explosion of ectoplasm and ethereal energy that forces a Vitality and Will roll in everyone in the area (and automatically forces 1 IP in psychics). If Vitality is passed but Will is failed, the victim is overcome with despair for 2d10 minutes and spends 1d5 days in a depressed funk with -3 Wit, Will and Initiative. Fail Vitality but beat Will and the victim spends 2d10 minutes in pain and spends 1d5 days poisoned with -3 Vitality, Coordination and Initiative. Fail both? Instant death. Fail either roll critically? -1 to Vitality or Will. Pass both? No damage. What a weird weapon.

The Gore Cannon from SLA: Industries that Necanthropes can use is seriously a much better and cooler Emotion Gun than the Hellbore. Man I love that game.
Lockhart Aetherpulse Cannon ($50) : The LAC is a rifle that you wind and fire that creates five feet of fog that forces a Will roll in psychics and ghosts. If they fail, psychics get 1 IP and their maintained powers shut off and ghosts get -1 Will and their manifested powers shut off. It's not as good as the aetherpulse grenade but it's a good ranged alternative.


Psychosurgery Operating Kit ($10): Boy, who knew that tampering around in someone's head could be done at such an affordable price.

Bastion: Clear solution or pills that causes the user to become immune to non-psychokinetic powers for at least a hour. If you take this and you're psychic, you can't use your own for at least a hour.

Deathlace: An oily liquid that kills anyone it's injected into and is made using spiritual distillate. It's rare because it's hard to make and not well wanted even on the black market, plus deathlace poisoning is obvious for 5+d10 hours it takes to work its way out of the victim's system. Victims become cold and pale and breathe a cold mist. If they want to survive, they need either an antidote or to succeed Vitality rolls every half hour until the 5+1d10 hours are up. It's especially cruel because everyone who dies from it becomes an apparition forced to relive the circumstances of their death.

Harrower: Harrower is a black, greasy liquid that makes the recipient a neurotic, jittery, paranoid mess once it's injected. This thing clearly has no purpose outside of letting the PCs fuck with people.

Nebuchadnezzar: Neb is an anti-aging drug made with spiritual distillate that will reduce Ghost Will+1d5 years of aging on the subject. It's a cheap, last resort drug for people who can't afford better procedures. It's highly addictive (where not using it ages the user 1d5 years every week), its uses have diminishing returns, it makes you smell delicious to the undead and the user becomes white like marble.

The aristocrat in their natural habitat: doing drugs to stay young.
Psi-Inhibitor: Psi-Inhibitor shuts down the psychic's abilities for three hours minimum (instantly if a shot or 3d10 hours later if taken in a pill). While not physically addictive, it does get mentally addictive for psychics with poor control or hatred of their powers.

Requiem: Requiem is made with a ghost's distillation that lets the drinker see into the memories and psyche of the used spirit. After the visions are over, the drinker runs the risk of getting -1 to their Will for good and Shell Shock on failure of a Will roll or if they critically fail the spirit takes over the body by completely destroying the old personality. We're not talking possession, no: the drinker is GONE.

Revelation: Drink this, see ghosts and the spirit world. You also glow in the dark for a day. Kinda rad.

Shroud: Made from the ashes of staked vampires, Shroud is a paste that makes the user invisible to ghosts if it covers more than 80% of the body. The downside? The stuff is like psychic sand; you may clean yourself off but boy do you not feel clean.

Cryptor ($30): The Cryptor is a prosthetic graft that looks like an insect and gets mounted on the back of the neck up half the head. It's attached to the spine and has a battery that draws from the aether network to shock the user any time mind control is used on them, negating the power. Downside? That shit hurts; your face twitches, you might drop whatever is in your hands and you have to forfeit your next action to shake it off. Looks cool though.

Thoughts on Chapter Five: Chapter five has a lot of stuff and not all of it is...good. I mean, sure, it covers the bases when it comes to not using a Medium, but it goes way beyond what it needs to with the whole "look technology can only do SO much angle". The new weapons are pretty useless and meh, the ghost catching equipment is nice but very, very limited in choices, not much of the drugs are worth any use, Devourer Swarms are awesome little spooky pets and I would love to own them. All in all? Par for the course for Unhallowed Metropolis/Necropolis: a bunch of slightly neat stuff and mostly useless clunky stuff. Also pretty much every parapsychologist headquarter/ghost containment central is one bad power outage from releasing everything, from the vaults to the ghosts in their lamps. But man oh man was the art game on point for this chapter, I included pretty much everything this time around because it's seriously so good. I just wish there were more pictures of the parapsychology ghost-capturing tech so I could get a better idea of what it looked like.

Next time: the end of the book! Holy fuck!


posted by Hostile V Original SA post


Chapter Six is the DM/campaign chapter that discusses the book and gives advice on how to use everything presented. It's...not particularly creative in the slightest, really. It gives advice for how to use ghosts and the new PC classes with the players or NPCs but it's kind of basic.

Plot ideas!

That's it for chapter six! Seriously. It's seven pages of plot seeds and advice. So I won't end this entire thing on an uncomfortable downer, there's one last thing I want to look at for Unhallowed Necropolis: errata changes and additions between Necropolis and Metropolis. Oh boy!

... That's it. That's all of it.


Final Thoughts on Unhallowed Necropolis: The core game, Unhallowed Metropolis, is one of my favorite bad games. There's some games I like a great deal with flaws, but Unhallowed Metropolis goes beyond flawed to bad. It's a d20 heartbreaker with this overwrought emphasis on Victorian steampunk and every PC having a hidden heart of darkness set in a city on the constant brink of destruction. The big thing, I think, that sucked me in was the fact that they loved Neo-Victorian London as an idea and built the hell out of London as a city. A lot of the core book is just plain world building and fluff, and I'm a giant world building nerd and that's definitely something that caught my interest. The game has a lot of ideas I'd love to steal (and have been, for other project) but requires being less grim to actually play.

Unhallowed Necropolis doesn't have that and I feel like that ultimately makes it worse than the core book, but not in the same way. Unhallowed Necropolis isn't an enjoyably bad game to me: it's a boring bad game.

Are there things that stand out? Absolutely, and I was happy when they did. It actually gave me something to talk about besides digesting and repeating the info my own way. Exorcists easily being imbalanced, Devourer Swarms, incompatibility issues between both games, the sheer uncomfortable idiocy of the chapter on brain surgery. But I wouldn't call them ideas I'd take (except for the first two). A lot of these stood out in a bad way that detracted from the product. The book was literally half the size of Metropolis and it took me way too long to do this because I wasn't interested and I feel like most of you reading this aren't either. I picked apart this whole thing and all I really did was wrinkle my nose and frown at it. It taints a think I like and it's sort of impressive it took them this fast to make the series even worse by making it pretty boring and by destabilizing the mechanics of the game.

To be honest, I don't know a hell of a lot about the company and creators behind Unhallowed Metropolis and Unhallowed Necropolis. Atomic Overmind has been focusing on Day After Ragnarok but hasn't had much to say since late, late 2014. Supposedly, for Metropolis they've been working on an expansion book about France and the old British colonies. If they do? Great. I'll check it out, critique it, share it. Maybe we'll finally learn about what Australia has been up to. But I feel like I shouldn't hold my breath. The core book was their big labor of love and I feel like they said what they needed to with it, created what they wanted to. Necropolis addresses an important part of the world and yet focuses more on psychics and feels like a big old shrug. I don't think anything they can write will be better than what I can imagine about their shitty, messed up world. It's been at least two years and while I want to know more, I know I shouldn't hold my breath. And it's a shame, to me.

But there's other things out there that have great world building that interests me.