Friday, October 11, 2013

Children of Lilith Relationship Map

I just completed a massive relationship map for the NPCs in Children of Lilith, as part of my preparations to run the metaplot using Fate Core. The patterns that emerged were very informative, and I finally think I know how I want to alter the published plot to better suit my tastes.

Also, spoiler alert. If you have never played in Children of Lilith and think you may want to, don't look at this chart.

Update: if the image won't show up full-size, you can get it from here.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Tribe 8 LARP rules

Looks like someone has put together some Tribe 8 LARP rules. LARP isn't really my thing, but I figured I'd boost the signal a little bit. You can download them from here. They also have a Facebook group set up.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Dream Quest

Editor's Note: This is a piece from the original Rusted Sky website, and the original author was not credited. If any of my Google+ peeps (of which I know there are a few from the Tribe 8 olden days) recognize it as theirs or somebody else's, simply drop me a line and I will put the credit in.

From the journey of Shara the Pure, Lightbringer:

I feel the energies of my soul open in petals, forever unfolding to reveal the source of all creation. The sound of my own voice becomes more distant with each breath, removing the binds of consciousness and thus allowing the River of Dream to take hold. A warm, almost burning sensation ascends my spine, coming forth from the lowest of my spiritual centers, passing each nexus, awakening its potential. The warmth finally reaches my head and the world vanishes from me.

I am floating amid a thousand butterflies, their wings carrying my weight among the mists and clouds of the River of Dream. I feel alive, closer to the Goddess than I ever was during my time among the Tribes. Among Magdalen the Lover. She had taught me how to love and appreciate the sensations that existence had to offer, and I learned to appreciate her teachings and her embrace. I sought to understand the inner nature of desire and found what I was looking for. I found true peace in the love of the Goddess. Magdalen’s jealousy was complete. I felt the wrath of her vanity and was banished from ever knowing another touch or caress from her pleasurable lips. I would never again know the comfort of numerous bodies, keeping me warm at night and lending to me the sensations of the flesh. I was an exile when I made the true discovery, and the subsequent banishment held no pain for me. I realized then, that the pain was during my time among the Tribes. I was truly liberated.

So here I am, floating as a Lightbringer in the River of Dream. Searching for the spirit that will guide us and aid us through the hardships to come. The sweet fragrance of the butterflies calms my senses as I project my mind into the ether. Droplets of rain fall upon my face, cleansing my pristine, naked form, taking me further across the fold into the depths of the spirit realm. Magnificent colors, brighter than a rainbow in a clear sky, shine and dance in a harmonious nature. They soon take form, creating a brilliant landscape of emerald green trees, alabaster white trails, and waterfalls that resemble an angel’s tears. I weep at the beauty of it all, knowing that with guidance and hope, all of this can become our reality. If only we allow ourselves to dream.

The butterflies gently place me upon the path of the magical forest, my feet light and weightless upon the ground. I laugh out loud despite myself, willing to give myself to my surroundings without fear or hesitation. My movements are enchanting, like a swan about to take flight. The trail carries me along, a breeze of lavender kissing my face. I notice deep red stones, like well placed droplets of blood, standing out in contrast to the placid white shales of the path. I know I am getting closer now. My power as a Dreamer are strong and I have done much in the way of knowing my destination. I am careful not to disturb the rubies, leaving them in their slumber; untouched by my imperfections.

I am led to a grove that is alive with the activity of forest creatures. Insects gathering nectar and pollinating everything they touch. Birds dancing in the circling ripples of air, allowing their wings to whimsically carry their bodies. The grass flows like the currents of the tide, swaying and lapping against the roots of the trees. Flowers blossom, releasing their seductive perfumes into the air, erotically mingling with the scents of the grove. I dance and spin into the circle, reenacting the ritual I had practiced so often before. The spirit can not resist a dance of purity, for that is what it is. What it represents.

My motions are without resistance, one flowing into the next, never giving any signs as to when one ends and the next begins. Pure dream essence falls from my body, forming tiny eddies of fairy mist in my wake. The silent music flutters beside me like a partner in dance, always keeping in time and rhythm. I am not alone now. She is with me, in all her grace and elegance. I begin my chant, my voice as sweet and luring as the ripest fruit.

Song of love,
Dream of purity,
Dance with your child,
O’ Spirit of wild.

Come with your hope,
I sacrifice all I am,
Unto you Destiny lies,
O’ Spirit of wise.

Carry our young,
Promise to a greater land,
Within your soul,
O’ Spirit of old.

I continue to repeat the song, rising into an epiphany that pervades all the senses. Body, mind, and spirit become one. My dance spins, continually faster and faster, until I feel a sensation enter the grove. It worked! It has arrived! I stop.

Tears well up within me, pouring forth of their own volition. My knees shake and give way, my body collapsing to the grass in its presence. Emotion overcomes me and I lose myself in its beauty. Word cannot lend justice to the spirit that stands before me. It is proud yet humble. Its starlike eyes pierce me with mercy. It steps further into the grove, red droplets of rubies left in its path. A faultless, brilliant white horn rises from its pristine head, touching the stars of the sky with its purpose. In all my life, I have never witnessed such an enchanting beast.

It comes towards me, calm and gentle, reaching for my bosom with its horn. The touch of its magic is like all the pleasures of the world, without sin or shadow, passing through me in an instant. I see the visions of its past. How it was hunted and forgotten. How its brethren were tainted an turned into creatures of darkness. They are horrible visions filled with pain and longing that only makes it all the more beautiful. I promise it that we will never forget.. That we will always worship it for what it is. That we will respect it and hold it sacred as our totem spirit. I feel its love for me when I pledge myself to it, and know then, that it will never be far from me.

I sleep in the grove, truly knowing peace. When I awake, I see that a ruby the color of blood has been placed in my palm, my fingers holding it tightly. My fellow lightbringers come around me, asking me what my DreamQuest has foretold. What secrets it has garnered for the Fallen, the Eighth Tribe. I smile at them, feeling the warmth of the gem in my hand.

“Come, let us go.” I say. “There is much work to be done. We have a Tribe to save.”

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Love of Sisters

Cinder: "Look, would you get rid of the DORKS!"

Chigger: "Huh? Why?"

Cinder: "Because they're fuckin' annoying."

Chigger: "No they're not! They're just kids. I think they'll be really useful once they learn some shit. Like, messengers or spies or something."

Cinder: "SPIES!!! Are you out of your mind! They couldn't keep their mouths closed if I nailed them shut."

Chigger: "Sure they could! They just need the right motivation. I'm trying to make up spy games and shit. They love it. No, they can be great spies, I swear."

Cinder: "Lemme remind you about the whole Yagan fiasco. . .all of Hom knew about that ten minutes after you told those brats."

Chigger: "That's cause they didn't know they were playing 'spy'. You're totally not listening to me."

Cinder: "The problem is that they don't know shit. Besides, all these games like playing 'spy' are totally useless to me. Maybe they'll learn enough to be helpful in, like, ten years. But who cares, we'll be dead by then."

Chigger: "Maybe you will. I'm gonna have a network of spies and assassins."

Cinder: "You're gonna have a network of morons and losers, and they're gonna get you killed!"

Chigger: "I can think of a couple of loser/morons who've almost gotten me killed already."

Cinder: "You better not be talking about me, cause I saved your worthless ass more times than. . ."

Chigger: "What? More times than what?"

Cinder: "More times than was worth my while. Bitch!"

Chigger: "Well, I didn't ask you to."

Cinder: "Fine, next time you die."

Chigger: "Yea right. You love me too much. I'll never die. You'll come and rescue me no matter what I do, so I can do anything I want, with no consequences, nya."

Cinder: "Cow! I hate when you bring that damned 'love' thing in."

Chigger: "Sorry, sis. You're stuck with it. So, since we're talking about love, ya get any lately?"

Cinder: "More'n you, even counting that freak in Griffentowne."

[note: Chigger had sex with an Agnite in Griffentowne while searching for Jacques, the Joshuan.]

Chigger: "No duh! But at least I'm not stuck with him. I imagine he'd be a drag on the road. So, ya think you're gonna squeeze out any puppies with Bastion?"

Cinder: "Naw, but I might have a lovely little Z'bri."

Chigger: "Don't even say that!"

Cinder: "Serious, I'm kinda worried."

Chigger: "Umm. . . I don't think Bastion is, like, part Z'bri or anything. He's, like, a guy. Just a guy who got adopted by a Z'bri. Like a kitten getting taken care of by a dog."

Cinder: "ya, I know. But I don't know what the dog did to the kitten. I mean I trust him and all, but what if he's been affected more'n we think?"

Chigger: "I don't think so. He's ok. But are you really thinking of having a baby? I'd be an auntie!"

Cinder: "Holy crap. That's fucking scary. . . uh, maybe not then."

Chigger: "Yea, probably not a good idea anyway, given the risk of injury during pregnancy around here."

Cinder: "Yeah, just what I need; even more people after me. You know what, though? I don't know what Eshlazi is gonna do if I do. I mean, not that I really want to, but, you know, if it happens 'n all. I mean, you'd be an aunt, but he'd be a grand-daddy!"

Chigger: "Yuck, I think you've gone too far. Times on the baby subject, 'kay?"

Cinder: ". . .yea, right. I'm just kinda worried 'n all. I mean, look what he did to Slash." [note: Slash escaped the Hive and returned to the Bin. She's fairly catatonic.]

Chigger: "Umm, yeah. Slash is kinda fucked up, huh? Do you think maybe Mari-Anne could help her? Maybe, just, like, well, make her strong enough to be useful in the kitchen or something?"

Cinder: "Slash. I mean, this is Slash we're talking about. . . in the kitchen. Could you picture that?" [giggles]

Chigger: "Quit it. It's not funny. What of that happened to me? What would you do with me? Maybe we should put her down. That's what I'd want. End the pain."

Cinder: "Hey! You're not gonna have to worry about that, 'cause it's not gonna happen to you. Look, I'm sorry I was joking, it's just that I don't know if she's gonna be okay. I'm worried."

Chigger: "I don't wanna be worried. I want to do something about it.. can we help her or not? I need to figure this out. What are we gonna do with her?"

Cinder: "I dunno, Chig, I just don't know. I guess we'll have to send someone for Mari-Anne."

Chigger: "Hmmm, you know, I'm having a hard time sticking to the plan. I really want Eshlazi to die. Just die and never be able to hurt anybody again. Maybe he can change, but how long will it take? How many people get fucked over permanently before then?

Cinder: "Tell me about it. I hate the fucker. He's never done one good thing in his life, ever! Bastion always talks about how he took him in when he was starving. Like the monster was looking out for Bastion's best interests. That's bullshit! He was looking for an easy score. Just so happens that he figured a way to get people without any work by using a kid to trick 'em. He's a bastard, and I hate how Bastion sticks up for him. I hate how he's still blinded by him!"

Chigger: "But what about our dream? I've been putting my heart behind that part where Eshlazi helped us and said we could be his salvation too. Was that wrong? If we can't even trust our dreams. . ."

Cinder: "I don't think it was wrong. . . but I don't think it has to mean what we want it to mean. I mean, come on. . . is a Z'bri's salvation really something we wanna help out with? Their morality is totally fucked up and usually ends up with people getting killed. How many gotta die for their salvation?"

Chigger: "That's my problem! And what good is a 'saved' Z'bri anyway? I guess I thought it would help us against the other Z'bri, which would be cool. But it isn't necessarily so. Maybe, even if he gets saved, he'll just dissolve or something."

Cinder: "Hey, I could live with either one."

Chigger: "Well, so could I! But is that an option? Maybe for Eshlazi to get saved, we die for it. But, the dream said he could also be our salvation. 'Salvation' can mean a lot of things. So can 'your'. 'Your salvation' could mean; you and me, or the Fallen, or maybe everybody."

Cinder: "Yea, I know. But maybe it isn't that special. Maybe it just means we re-unite with the Goddess 'cause we're dead. That'd be cool and everything, but I kinda wanna live some more."

Chigger: "I wish I knew. All I know is that it's important. None of my dreams have ever spoken to me like that before. I can't help but think that if I don't act on it, I will be missing out on my destiny."

Cinder: "But of our destiny is to become another one of its 'kittens' that tend to get broken, do you really want to help it along? The thing is, the dream was really different for me too, I'm just not sure if it was different 'cause it was more important or 'cause, maybe, Eshlazi had something to do with it."

Chigger: "I have to trust my dreams. Without them, I'm fucked. I need that confidence in the Goddess to have the strength to act. What will happen to us if we stop trusting our dreams because we think Z'bri are tampering with them? How could we know anything?"

Cinder: "You're right, I know it. But we've had weird things happen before, at least I have. I don't know if it was Z'bri or one of the Fatimas or what, but something contacted me directly and wanted me to use the spear. It just makes me concerned about what else we trust is being manipulated. Aw, fuck! I don't know. . . you gotta trust your dreams. Maybe I should ho back to Den Hades to learn more about it. The thing is, the dream is true, I know it is, but I just can't figure out how, and that scares me. I want to do something and I don't know what."

Chigger: "Well, I think it's still best to try to work with Eshlazi. We just need to trust in ourselves enough to keep him from picking us apart. If we can change him, awesome, if not. . . we still have the spear. I mean, as a last resort. We have to do something about him, one way or another."

Cinder: "Yeah, but we're still all fucked up over it. I mean, we just agreed that he's gotta die, and now you think we should save him. I'm all for fulfilling destiny, but. . . shit, I don't know. It seems like we should be behind it completely, or not at all. Most of our problems before were 'cause we couldn't make up our minds and commit to something. Which one do you want to do?"

Chigger: "My problem is, I grew up thinking the Z'bri were evil and scary and that's it. The Tribals taught me that. They also taught me a bunch of other shit that was pretty much wrong. Like that the Fallen have no souls. They think there's nothing to the Fallen because it's easier to think that. The Z'bri could be more complex than the Tribals say, too. All my upbringing tells me that if someone does wrong to my friends, that person dies. But, what if that person would be more beneficial alive? Maybe an enemy can become an ally. My dreams say so. Trust the Tribals or trust my dreams? My heart's stuck in the middle, mostly because of you. You still buy the Tribal line on Z'bri and I have a hard time telling you you're wrong. I'm usually the one that's wrong."

Cinder: "Look, I'm stuck too. I was a Tribal a lot longer than you and that's hard to abandon. But as for buying their line on Z'bri, I'm not sure. I mean, we've already seen that they're way more complex than the Tribals give them credit for, but that doesn't mean that they can be good. Sure the Tribals are all fucked up and have been wrong about important shit before, but I think that we have to look at history here. I mean, the Z'bri enslaved and killed and tortured us for who knows how many years. What's more, they probably enjoyed it. I've got no love for the Tribals, but I also have a hard time overlooking genocide. I trust my dreams, I really do, and I wanna fix things, make everything right, but I just can't figure out how. My heart tells me one thing but my head is screaming 'What the fuck are you doing? You wanna die!' I just think it's a bad idea until we have a good plan on how to do it."

Chigger: "I know, I know. But we have to be sure we believe it can be done before we start, or it's going to be half-assed. And I'm not risking my life on anything half-assed. Sure nobody's ever seen a Z'bri stop being a fucking evil piece of shit. Nobody's even fucking tried! Until someone decided to learn to swim, every poor fuck who fell out of a boat probably drowned. That didn't stop someone from swimming. I want to hear you say we have a chance. I think we do. Bastion thinks we do. What do you think?"

Cinder: "We have a chance. Plain and simple, we do have a chance. I just want you to realize it's not like going out in a boat. Most people that go out in a boat make it back. The odds are reversed with the Z'bri. Not that it means it can't happen. Sit, our dreams told us pretty blatantly that it is possible. But Eshlazi told us that we could be his salvation, not that we would be. I just don't want to go off on another one of our pointless crusades that always ends up with us getting fucked over and our goal not achieved. Fuck! We have a chance, but it's a really fucking small one, so excuse me for tossing my shitty little life away on saving something that I hate more than anything else in the whole world. I hate him. I hate him for what he's done to us, to Bastion, to Mana and Juniper, to who knows who else, but mostly I just fucking hate him! If it's my destiny to save him, then so be it. If it's my destiny to chick my life away in exchange for his, well then pardon me for saying that fucking sucks!"

Chigger: "We know from our dream that we can kill Eshlazi. At the very least, we can do that. I can't help but think the dream was sent to us to guide us to something betterthan ridding the world of one scum-sucking Z'bri. Shit, I would have easily given my life to get rid of Eshlazi. No problem. I could die with a sense of accomplishment. But if I can do something even better with my life, I want to. This place is going to hell anyway." Cinder: "I'm sorry, Chig, I just don't know. . ."

Chigger: "Well, that's the problem, isn't it. There's no sure thing to bet on. Eshlazi will fuck us over if we do nothing. We can try to change him, or we can fix him the old fashioned way. He's only one of our problems. I'm sorry, but I don't think 'Joshua the Wino' is going to fix anything. Maybe I'm wrong. If we help this guy, can he get rid of our Z'bri problem? How about the Tribal conspiracy? What's he gonna do? If we get Eshlazi in there, Cylix is a dead man."

Cinder: "Look, who knows what the fucking Joshuan is gonna do. . .fuck him, let the others sort that out, they didn't want our help anyway. But Eshlazi isn't going to be out attack dog, no matter what you think. Even if we do save him, who's to say he's gonna do anything we we want. . .naw, fuck, forget that. It totally doesn't matter 'cause you're right. I am the problem. I can't commit to this thing no matter how much I want to believe it, and we would be insane to do it half-assed. Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck! It would be so much easier if we could just kill him, but the problem with that is, I do trust the Dream. Look Chig, I want so much to say 'Hell ya! Let's do it!', but I just can't."

Chigger: "I know. What can we do? There's no way we can do this if you're going to constantly have second thoughts. I just don't know what else to do! I told you about Raven and his goons didn't I? They're out to get me. If I stay in Hom, we've got to deal with them. Are you up for that? "cause I can't even begin to come up with any way of getting out of that one on my own. It's only a matter of time before they find the Bin. They beat the crap out of me last time they saw me because I wouldn't tell them our hideout."

[note: Chigger was intimidated by Raven's Shadow several days prior. They're extorting favors for relieving the cell of the Yagan Flesher Assassin, several months back.]

Cinder: "Hmmm. Yea, I was planning on having a little talk with them. Look we could throw them the Clinic to get them off our backs. Anyway, I'll tell them that a friend was dying or something and that's why you didn't want to talk. Maybe they won't be so pissed off then. Aw, probably not, but what else are we gonna do? I think they'll be in to doing the Clinic, and that's something we want to get rid of anyway, so if it cancels our debt with those psychos, then great as far as I'm concerned."

Chigger: "I don't think you understand the situation. They don't want to do what we tell them to do. They want us to do what they say. Raven:'Master', Us:'Slaves'. Get it. I'm not comfortable with that. All I owe them is a good fucking beating. Fuck them. I want them dead. If you want to talk to them, go ahead, but expect to get beaten up, maybe even raped. I'm serious."

Cinder: "Damned, mother-fucken, sons-of-bitches, shith***. . .fuckw***. . .aarrrg! Why the fuck's everything always so fucked up for us? Well, did they at least tell you how they want us to commit suicide?"

Chigger: "No. They didn't want to talk about anything until I brought them to the Bin. When I refused, they just threatened me, then did their macho 'he-man' thing and beat me up. They let me know they could do anything they wanted to me. And they were right. I was helpless. Until we do something about them, we're all helpless. They can do anything they want to us. So can Eshlazi. So can the Tribals."

Cinder: "So we're screwed on all sides. Being a victim sucks! Fuck them all. Let's be the ones doing the screwing for once. I'm not going to sit around and wait for it. We've gotta take charge for once and actually act, not just react. But, before you jump to conclusions, I'm still not convinced about Eshlazi, so it'll have to be one of the others."

Chigger: "Well, here are our other choices: Raven and company, Cylix and Salor, or the Clinic itself. [note: The PC's believe that Salor betrayed the River Dreamers and had a hand in the cell's death.] Either we choose one of those, or we head into the Outlands and eal with the Squats. Personally, I think we need a safe home-base to work out of, so Raven goes down." Cinder: "So what, you want to assassinate Raven and his gang? How?"

Chigger: "If we all think it's a good idea, we can find a way. I know that for a fact. Maybe we only need to kill Raven. Maybe we don't even need to kill him, just pin something on him that gets him thrown out of Hom. I need to know if you will help me. Bastion has to agree, too. Once we have a mission, we can come up with a plan."

Cinder: "We should just feed the scum-fucker to Eshlazi! Look, of course I'll help you, I always help you. If you want to get rid of him, then let's do it. But personally, I think he's small potatoes. The two biggest things out there are Eshlazi and the Joshuan. I'd like to help Jacques if I can, but more importantly, I'd like to figure out what the hell it is that's bugging me about the whole Eshlazi deal. I know I'm missing something but I can't put my finger on it and it's driving me crazy. I'm going to have to try to get something more in the Dream, because, really, Eshlazi is what I want to take care of most. I guess until that happens, we gotta keep living. So Raven's gotta be fixed. I think that killing him might cause more problems for us in the future though, and I hate how we've been going from problem to problem. Let's solve one for once that won't cause more for later."

Chigger: "Well, why don't we try the Elders then? I mean, they are supposed to take care of things in Hom, and they owe us big time for bringing Jacques in. [note: The cell completed "Enemy of My Enemy" from the T8 Screen.] I would even make a deal with Raven for payment as long as I had enough backup to do it on even terms."

Cinder: "Yeah, I thought about that. But I want us to solve our problems without outside help. That's how this problem with Raven started in the first place; getting him to do our dirty work. It's always better if we can do it ourselves. Besides, I'd like to be able to keep that favor they owe us as leverage. Knowing us, we're going to need it for later. But I guess if it comes right down to it, the Elders could be a huge help, and probably won't require much in return as 'gangster-boy'. We'll talk to Bastion and see if we can come up with anything on our own, if not, then the Elders it is."

Chigger: "Good. I feel better already. Personally, I don't count the Elders as outside help in mediating peaceful business. I think it's their fucking job, and bringing in a Joshuan is worth way more than that. But if we can think of a better way to handle it, by all means. I'm pulling a blank. Hey, I think your lines moving. You might get to be the victimizer after all!"

Cinder: "Cool! Help me pull it in. Aw fuck, that is one big, ugly, god-damned fish. There's no way I'm cleaning that! Anyway, I totally agree with you that the Elders aren't outside help, but I'm sure raven will. And that'll put us back in square one, with him pissed off at us and us afraid."

Chigger: "Pull him next to the boat so I can bash him! Shit!. . .Ah, yea, what a beauty! Hey Cinder, give him a big kiss!"

Cinder: "Naw, I know the type, he'll leave me in the morning and I'll never hear from him again. Besides, I think he's into little girls."

Chigger: "But, hey, when he's done with you, you won't smell any different."

Cinder: "Yea, but if you had a go, you'd probably smell a whole lot better."

Chigger: "Shut the fuck up and put him in the back, you cow. We need to catch at least three more before we go in."

Cinder: "Three more! You nympho. One isn't good enough for you, huh? What you need is a good man. . .or, failing that, a shitty man."

Chigger: "remember before when we were talking about swimming? Think about it. Anyways, like I was saying, the DORKS are good for something. I bet they bring in more fish than we do, although perhaps not as handsome and clever."

Cinder: "Yeah, but that's only because they use each other for baitI mean, everyone knows how much fish love to eat worms."

Chigger: "No, I mean it. I think they're really useful. Even Mari-Anne thinks so. They're eating a lot better than most of the other kids in Hom, because I took the time to teach them how to fish. And they picked it up really quick! I'm not saying they're ready for anything really important, but I wish you wouldn't just discredit them, 'cause when you do, you're basically telling me that my work is shit. And even if you think that, I don't need to hear it from you."

Cinder: "You're right, Chig. I'm sorry. You're really doing a great job, more people should do it. That's one of the reasons everything is so fucked up; no one's helping each other. I'm sure they can be a great help, and more than that, I think they will be able to do cool things on their own. It's just that it's one more distraction I don't need. I'm fucked up enough as it is. But that's part of the problem, so I'll help, whenever you want. But please, please get them to change their name!"

Chigger: "Yeah, that name sucks. Hey, I'm sorry for making such a big deal out of it. It's just that being belittled seems to be the story of my life. And, every time I try to change that, do something cool, or important, it either backfires, or just isn't that important. When I was kid, I heard about nothing but how awesome you were at everything, and how I wasn't and would never be good enough to polish your boots. Did you even notice? Did you! Did you now what I went through while you were getting all the best parts in all the best plays? Do you even know what mom made me do?"

Cinder: "No, Chig. I can't know, not for real. But I don't think you know how I felt either. I devoted my life to becoming so good at something, that I didn't really care about, just so our parents would notice me, just so they would stop hating me. Do you have any idea how hollow each 'victory' in getting a new part or being acclaimed as the 'best' was for me? I just wanted them to forgive me, so I did everything I thought they wanted me to do. But it still wasn't enough! Mom treated me like shit, and dad never fully recovered, he just sort of blocked me out. The whole time everyone was saying 'what a star' I was, I was thinking about what a failure I was. I couldn't even get my own parents to care!"

Chigger: [sobbing]"You mean after all that. . . after all that you didn't even want it! [moaning] That makes it even worse! [sob] Oh, fuck! I think I'm going to be sick. . . bleaaagh! Ohhh. . ."

Cinder: "Are you okay, Chig? I'm sorry. Really I am, but it was horrible. I felt so empty. I used to really envy you when we were kids. You just did your own thing. You didn't seem to care about what dinks the parents were. You seemed so free, and I felt so trapped. I always played the role for those bastards and got nothing for it, and it just got worse and worse. But you told them to fuck themselves and didn't get caught up in the bullshit. I always respected you for that. I wished I were you. But I couldn't be. After I started, they expected too much, and I couldn't bear it if they pitied and scorned me on top of everything else."

Chigger: "Cinder, [spit] mom let the stage directors have me, use me, so that you could get all the good parts. [sobbing] I. . . I started to think it could even be worth it, as long as you were happy. You were so beautiful. You were the best. [sob] I tried to hold on until you were at the top; I dreamed you would take me away from them. I broke down, though. I burned down the stage 'cause I couldn't take it anymore. It was all such a fucking ridiculous waste."

Cinder: "Oh shit, Chigger. I didn't know. I'm so sorry. . . I. . . I. . . how could she! That bitch! She's gotta fuckin' die! I'm gonna strangle her with my own hands. . . I'm gonna watch her die. I want her to see me, to know that I'm doing it. That I am killing her! That fucking slimy, shit-eating cow! That bitch! How! How? How could she? [sobbing] How could she do such a thing? Why didn't you tell me, Chig? Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you tell me?"

Chigger: "I was embarrassed, Cinder. I just wanted you to think I was cool, too. I didn't want you to know I was a. . . a whore."

Cinder: "No! No, Chigger! Don't even say that! You're not a whore. You had no choice. It wasn't your fault. She's the shore! She's the damned whore! I'm glad I caught the bitch with Lothair! I'm glad I told dad! Fuck her! She's the fucking whore! She's. . . Chig. . . I'm so sorry. . .I . . ."

Chigger: "Look, whatever. I don't even want to talk about it anymore. It's just that ever since then, it seems like everyone I meet just tries to do the same fucking thing. Eshlazi, that Evan Mana capped at Medusa's, the freak in Ile Perdue, and now Raven. I've just fucking had it with all these scum-sucking pimps. Now you see why I keep a list."

Cinder: "I don't know what to say, Chig. I. . . well, fuck them all. We don't need them.

Chigger: "I sure as hell don't. I just need to figure out how to avoid them. Actually, no. Avoiding them doesn't cut it. I need to know how to stop them. I know I can't stop everyone. It's just the way people are. But I want my neighborhood to be safe, at least. And that means 'by-bye Raven'."

Cinder: "Alright. Let's go talk to the Elders in the morning. If nothing else, they can give us some advice. And Chig. . . tell me if anything like this ever happens again, okay?"

Chigger: "Ditto. Let's go back, the barf probably scared all the fish away."

by Jon Dawes (Chigger) and Steve Bell (Cinder)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Jacker's Theme When They've Been Riled Up

A full three sixty
A complete return
With no excuses
And no concerns
The ultra-heavy-beat
Is going strong
If it feels this good
Then it can't be wrong

What's good for you
Is still good for me
And after all
We're not looking back
We manipulate the future
To stay on track

Damned if you do
And damned if you don't
You better seize the moment
Before it's gone
The ultra-heavy-beat
Goes on and on
When it's all said and done
This is what you want

The vision
The manifesto
Translates post-mortem
Buried alive
And left for dead
One step back
Is two steps ahead

Rise! - From the ashes and decay
Rise! - From the prison of your grave
Rise! - Above the standard and the norm
Rise! - Into the eye of the stormRise!

Raise the flag
Carry the flame
The more things change
The more the stay the same
The king is dead
Long live the king

A small step for mankind
A giant leap for a rock'n'roll
We control the rhythm
The beat cops are on patrol
Wake up people
Get on your feet
It's time to do your part
For the ultra-heavy-beat

Shoulder to shoulder
Back to back
All guns ablaze
Systematic attak
Strong and rigid
Bold and vivid
Spread the news
The ego has landed

Metal detectors
Drug tests
Don't let the system
Continue to rape you
Vodka and benzene
Destroy the machines
The glorious end justifies the means

Rise! - From the ashes and decay
Rise! - From the prison of your grave
Rise! - Above the standard and the norm
Rise! - Into the eye of the storm

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Circle of the Chosen

The Circle of the Chosen is a large clearing in the Discard Lands, just beyond the Seven Fingers. It is the place where, each new moon, sacrifices to the Z'bri are secretly brought by Tribal representations as part of the Pact of the Dome. Aside from the Watch tasked with bringing the prisoners there and a handful within the Sisterhoods, very few know of this practice - the tributes are almost always newly Banished, or sometimes Fallen that have been captured in Tribal Lands. No one keeps tabs on the Fallen after they have been cast out.

Because of the sacrifice and horror the Circle has seen, it has become a Gully - a place where the veil between the River of Dream and the realm of flesh has become thin. Spirits of past sacrifices haunt the Circle. Even before the inevitable coming of the Z'bri, these spirits will try to assail or possess anyone within the central circle of posts at the center of the clearing.

Beyond the immediate threat of the spirits, the looming danger is wild animals and the impending arrival of the Z'bri to take their tributes. The blood and scent of prey brings the predators, who often maim or even kill the prisoners before the Z'bri arrive. Often grisly remnants of sacrifices who did not survive being taken byt he Z'bri remain in the Circle or attached to the posts.

The Circle of the Chosen is a good in media res starting point for a Tribe 8 campaign. The Mild Consequence and aspects at the beginning are reflective of what has happened prior to the start of the scene - basically it shows the end results of being Taken Out or Conceding. The situation also lends itself well to "filling in the blanks" as far as character aspects and skills go. The players will need to make the most out of what they have in order to escape their bonds, possibly fight off predators, and flee before the Z'bri arrive.

Any sacrifices brought to the Circle of the Chosen have likely been abused, mistreated, tortured, drugged and dragged through the brambles. They automatically have a Mild Consequence reflecting those injuries. In addition, each character has two additional aspects: Bound to a Post and Disconnected From the River of Dream. The former must be overcome before the character can do anything physically, while the latter must be overcome before the character can use Synthesis or Technosmithing. For their trouble, each PC in a scenario starting at the Circle of the Chosen gets 3 free Fate Points.

The Circle also has one hidden aspect: Unexpected Help. This aspect is the result of an Evan matron (actually a Marian) named Lalani. She knows of the Tribes' use of the Circle and does what she can to sabotage it or otherwise help out. This includes weakening posts, loosening the metal rings the characters are bound to, hiding sharp pieces of metal or glass within cracks in the post or on the ground covered with dirt, rocks or leaves, and hiding bundles of food, rough clothing and simple weapons in the brambles. The guards who bring the tributes never pay attention to the Circle as they are intent on getting away from it as soon as possible, but PCs looking for a way out are sure to uncover the aspect and make use of it. While the Circle and its environs are too dangerous for Lalani to enter at night, either her or her son often keep an eye out around the homestead for any stragglers or escapees. When they find them, they covertly take them in until they are ready to travel and then send them on their way with additional provisions and clothing.

The goal of the scenario is to escape before the Z'bri arrive, so they aren't considered to be a part of the scenario (given the PCs' condition, it's likely they would survive). However, depending on the PCs and their abilities it's unlikely that predators will come into play. Typically these will be a small pack of wolf, a pair of Ontos, or if the GM really wants to make them fight a Skuller Bear. While not Gek'roh, even normal animals in the woods are often Tainted in some way, and can also be diseased. How the predators are handled depends on the group, the situation, how the GM wants to handle that kind of tension and pacing, etc. Suggestions can include a timer, a stress track to represent the danger getting closer, etc.


  • Haunted By Sacrifices Past
  • The River of Dream Is Closer
  • Unexpected Help (Hidden)
The area is divided into three zones.
  • The Inner Circle which is comprised of a number of posts surrounding a patch of barren dirt. The Inner circle defines the boundaries of the Gully.
  • The Outer Circle, between the Inner Circle and the Brambles, comprised of patchy grass and a few stunted, dead trees.
  • The Bramblesa barrier of thick vines and thorns that surrounds the Circle and acts as a barrier that must to be overcome to exit the Circle into the dense forest beyond. Every time the Brambles are cut through when sacrifices are brought, they grow back at an almost impossible rate.


Great(+4) Spiritual Blitz

Spirits within the area of the Circle of the Chosen will mob anyone left there, resulting in apparitions, hauntings, spiritual assaults and possibly even possessions. The Circle can exercise use of this skill on any character that is still within the Inner Circle.
  • Overcome: Spiritual Blitz is not normally used to overcome obstacles.
  • Create an Advantage: The spirits of the Circle can use Spiritual Blitz haunt, harass, and discover information about those that are in the Circle. Most characters can defend against having these advantages placed with Will or (if they have overcome the Disconnected From the River of Dream aspect) Synthesis.
  • Attack: Spiritual Blitz can be used to mentally attack targets. These attacks can be defended against using any appropriate skill for defending against mental attacks.  
  • Defend: Spiritual Blitz cannot be used to defend.


Wolf Pack (Fair NPC Mob)

Aspects: Pack Hunters, Unsettling Howl, Tainted (optional)
Skills: Fair(+2) Fight, Average(+1) Athletics, Average(+1) Notice
Stress: O
Go For The Throat: Gain a +2 bonus to Fight on a target that has taken a Moderate Consequence.
Remember that the wolves use teamwork to attack their prey, gaining a +1 bonus to Fight for each additional wolf.

Onto (Good NPC)

Aspects: Ambush Predator, Great Cat, Tainted (optional)
Skills: Good (+3) Fight, Fair(+2) Athletics, Average(+1) Notice, Average(+1) Stealth
Stress: OO
Tremendous Leap: Once per exchange, the Onto can move into an adjacent zone and attack. Alternately, the Onto can move two zones with one action.

Skuller Bear (Good NPC)

Aspects: Large Bear, Mad With Disease, Rotting Away 
Skills: Great(+4) Fight, Good(+3) Physique, Fair(+2) Athletics, Average(+1) Provoke
Stress: OOO
Bear Hug: +2 to physique rolls when creating an advantage to grapple or hold on to an opponent.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Zetetics

zetetic [zəˈtɛtɪk]
proceeding by inquiry; investigating
[from New Latin, from Greek zētētikos, from zēteō to seek]
"Despite our failures to date, I still cannot believe that the River of Dream is completely unexplainable in scientific terms. It is a part of the universe, falls under the same laws as everything else in the universe, and I will unravel its secrets and its power..."
From the journals of Hanna, rogue Keeper

The Zetetics

Aspects: We Will Create A New World, Our Next Experiment Will Work!, They Fear What They Don't Understand

The Zetetics are one of two groups of Keepers within The Institute, the other being Clarice Chalk's Keepers. They mostly keep to themselves, inhabiting a section known as the Workshop. They have no interest in and actively avoid the medical wings were Chalk's Keepers are active, and through SlaveBeta Z'vatis has kept the Z'bri presence a secret. Their latest project is a massive device that is intended to redirect the flow of the River of Dream through Hanna, allowing her to merge Synthesis and Technosmithing into something she is calling Syncresis.


Source: DeviantArt
Rogue Keeper, Obsessed With The River of Dream, Collective Memories of the Past, Well Known In Talon Nexus, No One Understands My Genius

Hanna is around 30 summers old, with brown hair and eyes. Woven throughout her hair are glass beads and disks, and she has a tattoo of a magnifying glass on her right hand. She is never without her trademark magnifying goggles (not unlike those that modelers or electricians once used), and also will have several pocket magnifying glasses on her at any time.


  • Great(+4) Crafts
  • Good(+3) Lore and Investigation
  • Fair(+2) Technosmithing, Resources, Will
  • Average(+1) Contacts, Dreaming, Shooting, Survival
Ignite, Jury Rig


Deranged Machine Monk, Z'vatis Is My True Master, Metal > Meat

SlaveBeta is a Machine Monk who is under the control of a Melanis Z'bri named Z'vatis. Very little of his body is still flesh and blood - he owes his tortured existence to both Dr. Chalk's experiuments and Z'vatis' implants

Source: Flickr
  • Fantastic(+6) Fight
  • Superb(+5) Physique
  • Great(+4) Shooting
  • Good(+3) Crafts
  • Fair(+2) Provoke
  • Average(+1) Will
Modular: Because SlaveBeta is more machine than human, he can quickly reconfigure himself for nearly any task. Once per session, he can swap the ranks of any two skills when making an Overcome roll or Create Advantage roll. The ranks remained swapped for the remainder of the session, but only for the purposes of Overcome or Create Advantage.

The Workshop (Location)

Source: TravelPod
Aspects: Atmosphere of Spiritual Despair, "Do You Hear Voices?", Poisoned Dreams

The Workshop is an area within the labyrinth of rooms and corridors inside The Institute. It contains a machine shop, a work area where the machine is being constructed. The Workshop manifests its own dedicated entrance to the physical orb through a series of tunnels in the Discarded Lands and, because of this, is also accessible from the River of Dream even when the Institute is not materialized. Even so, the interface between the Workshop and the outside world changes and corrupts the flow of the River. Z'vatis knows this, which is why he had SlaveBeta bring Hanna to the workshop.


Hanna was a rising star and highly regarded as one of the most brilliant minds in Olympus. Over time, she began to take an interest in the River of Dream and Synthesis. Her studies turned toward less conventional areas such as the paranormal, ESP, psychedelics, etc. Hanna began sneaking into Tribal lands to secretly observe Synthesis use, as well as associate with Synthesis-using Fallen. The Elders in Olympus became concerned because of her trespasses into Tribal lands and warned her she needed to change the direction of her inquiries. Hanna continued her research anyway, often in secret. Her first real experiment in trying to harness the River of Dream through technology ended in tragedy. A second Keeper was reduced to a mindless husk and Hanna was badly injured. After a several week stay in the infirmary, Hanna was imprisoned to be tried for endangering the security of Olympus.

While awaiting her trial, she met another prisoner named SlaveBeta. SlaveBeta was a Machine Monk. Worse, SlaveBeta was under the influence of Z'vatis, A Melanis Z'bri working out of The Institute. Z'vatis became convinced Hanna's research held the key to opening the Fold, and through SlaveBeta arranged for the two of them to escape. Once free of Olympus, SlaveBeta led her to The Workshop where they began reconstructing her research and performing experiments.

Over time, a few other exiled Keepers joined the group, which Hanna named the Zetetics. Her obsession has continued to grow, fed by both Z'vatis' direct influence as well as the overall effect of being within The Institute. The other Keepers in the Zetetics are likewise becoming somewhat unhinged. Hanna's experiments have become more dangerous and grisly, and it's only a matter of time before her activities get noticed.

The Zetetics are growing from a very slow trickle of disaffected Keepers and even a few Fallen. Hanna was known around Talon Nexus and even Hom prior to her imprisonment, and occasionally people still seek her out for help. Some come to the group because they have nowhere else to go, others because they have heard about the experiments, and others because they have had visions or dreams leading them there. This latter group are often fodder for Hanna's experiments. The remainder guard The Workshop, gather needed supplies, or assist with the experiments. The machine shop is capable of producing reasonably complex parts, so the Zetetics tend to be rather well equipped - even for Olympian Keepers. If the Zetetics continues to attract new members, at some point they will be a bigger threat than the Machine Monks. Fortunately there are multiple groups who would try to stop her, provided it's not too late - specifically the Fatimas, other Keepers, the Guides and key Fallen such as Veruka the Wraith.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Vimary Redux

When Tribe 8 first came out, it wasn't a huge secret that the setting, Vimary, was the remains of Montreal, Canada (Vimary is a play on Ville Marie). But there wasn't a whole lot to go on, aside from looking up other maps and information on the area on the Internet. We didn't have Google Maps or Google Earth to get a bird's eye view of the locations in the game. Looking over street view and photos of different locations in Google Maps, I think there are some tweaks that can be made to Vimary as a whole.

First is the proximity of the Z'bri to Tribal lands. They're just too close for me to find it believable that half of the Tribes don't see them as a large threat, at least in the default starting point of the game. My solution, at least in my game, is to move the Z'bri lands on Vimary proper back across the river. The areas where they were become a no man's land, an extension of the Discarded Lands that acts as a buffer between the Z'bri and the Tribes. This can be seen as a mutually agreed upon DMZ. It facilitates all kinds of story opportunities for the Z'bri to harry the Tribes by releasing monstrosities into the no man's land and fostering Serfs, forcing the Joanites from the Seven Fingers to have to deal with them.

A corollary to this is the Seven Fingers gets an upgrade. In the canon setting, the wall is a very porous border. In my game, it gets beefed up into a formidable fortification. There aren't any holes to exploit (except going underground), and the Joanite population is increased. The line of the fortification actually crosses over and continues toward Duskfall, although the actual Seven Fingers are still located where they are now. In addition to the increased fortification, the Seven Fingers are also imbued with Synthesis to repel Z'bri (similar to how The Wall in A Song of Ice and Fire is warded against the White Walkers). In fact, I see the Seven Fingers as being a spiritual counterpart to The Wall.

Similarly, I think the Jo'han Skyrealms are too close for comfort. I can see a handful at most taking residence  high up in the remains of skyscrapers on the outskirts of Tribal land where they can't be reached from the ground. I think parts of the underground would be better suited for the Jo'han than living atop a skyscraper.

Speaking of the skyscrapers, these are structures I think the Tribals would generally avoid being near period so the Skyrealms might work out. Anyone who's seen Life After People knows that the elements, lack of maintenance and time conspire to bring these buildings down. They're just not that safe to be around. I do think the Tribals would make extensive use of the Emporiums year-round as opposed to in the winter season. The majority of the population in and around Bazaar probably live down there. It also gives them refuge in the event of some kind of attack.

There's a fort on the island. Why was that never mentioned?
As far as Hom, I've always envisioned that the amusement park that makes up the center of the settlement is in relatively decent shape. Part of this is due to once the Fall began, it just wasn't a place where people went to and suffered relatively little damage. The other part is due to the spiritual nature of the setting. Sure the place is still a shambles, but there are some structures that are not doing too bad. These are the structures like the ferris wheel, carousel, funhouse, etc. Maybe whimsical things like statues or whatnot are still mostly intact. Also, a lot of buildings on the island look really cool. I mean, there's a freaking fort there. As the Fallen come into their own, the place starts to look better and better. It gains less of a depressed, tent city atmosphere and more of a vibrant one. Part of this is going to be tied to the spiritual nature of the setting and things happening like when Lilith [REDACTED].

Access to Hom over the Fallen Bridge (the Pont de la Concorde) to me is not realistic. I think that the bridge would have near completely collapsed and would not be an easy access point onto the island. This is noted in Tribe 8 1e, but I think even "makeshift" efforts aren't enough to allow access. The South Tier (Jacques Cartier) bridge, on the other hand, would still be mostly intact. For some reason,  the rulebook doesn't make mention of the off ramps leading from the bridge to the island. While they might have partially collapsed, I can see access to the bridge being easier the other bridge. It would be the primary means for Fallen to get on and off the island (besides boats). Thematically it works well too - Tribals are perpetually looking down on the Fallen from the bridge, and Fallen going to the island have to descend to get there.

I've always assumed it's not important to get things 100% right - it is a fantasy game. The landscape will have changed through altered river courses, erosion, natural disasters, etc. Supernatural influences can shift things around and cause conditions that can't exist in the real world. But going back and looking over Google Maps and Google Earth...there's a lot of awesome stuff in Montreal and little tweaks that can make Vimary come alive.

Just catching up

This is a respost from my other blog, just highlighting the Tribe 8 that I've done in other game systems. At some point all of this will be added to the link section. As an FYI, all general roleplaying posting (even if it has to do with Tribe 8) is going to continue to be on Aggregate Cognizance, my other blog.

  • The newest is my completion of my Fate of Vimary draft, which consolidates the various rules modifications I've made to support Tribe 8 in Fate Core.
  • Next, I'm going to be doing a quick Spark setting write-up. This is actually for the eventuality that I run a dual Fate Core/Spark Tribe 8 game. I'm thinking two parallel games, but I'm not sure yet.
  • Previously, I had worked on an adaptation of Tribe 8 to Strands of Fate called Strands of Flesh and Spirit. Since reading Fate Core, I've stopped developing that branch but it's reasonably complete.
  • I also have a pretty much empty Wikia wiki called The Hundred Books. This will be an eventual rebuild of the wiki I once hosted on my website (which was sadly lost).

Friday, April 12, 2013

Giving the Keepers Some Love

Cross posted from Aggregate Cognizance

For the most part, the portrayal of Keepers in Tribe 8 has skewed toward a few archetypes: the hard boiled survivalist, the over curious yet-open-to-that-hippy-crap youth, the doddering wizard-stand in, or the tech-obsessed lunatic (as in the Machine Monks). Many times they are depicted as reluctant allies - often relegated to the role of firearm and ammunition dispensers. When they act as antagonists, often they're more of the gun-toting, "Get off my lawn!" type and not nearly as multi-faceted as, for example, Tribal antagonists.

Given that Tribe 8 is about the Fallen and their plight, this is  somewhat understandable. Keepers just aren't the heart of the game. It's still a damned shame.

At one point,  there was a Keeper supplement in the works called Word of the Keepers, which fell by the wayside and was never released. It was pitched as:

Enigmatic and reclusive, the Keepers are those who hid themselves away during the Fall of the World Before, and now devote themselves to the preservation and recreation of ancient technology. Word of the Keepers is both a sourcebook and player's handbook for incorporating members of this group into your Tribe 8 campaign.

Opining about the relative incompleteness of the Tribe 8 core books is especially poignant considering how many books were released - surely something like the Keepers could have been slotted into the line a lot earlier. While Tribe 8 2nd Edition featured Keepers more prominently than other books, they still amounted to a couple of decent factions (the Sanjon Keepers) and a motley assortment of groups that are just downright xenophobic, isolationist, hostile, weird, or most often some combination of all four.

Yet there are some fascinating tidbits and unexplored facets to the Keepers. The first is that Keepers are, without a doubt, the only ones who know exactly how much time passed while the bulk of humanity was in The Camps. At least one group of Keepers, mentioned in the Tribe 8 Companion, has only recently emerged from their high-tech bunker. While I'm hesitant to drag realism into it, I can't see how they could have stayed down there for too horribly long.  I've seen estimates for the time between The Camps and the Liberation ranging up to 300 years, on account of the amount of knowledge the Tribals lost. Given the overall amount of decay and ruin seen around Vimary, that figure seems way too long - I'd put it at less than 100 years. The Keepers surely know, but in the published books they aren't telling.

As a side note, for those wondering how the humans in the camps could have lost everything in the span of only a decades, it's simply because of the Z'bri. For those in the Camps, hundreds of generations could have passed, as the Z'bri used Sundering to accelerate their lives and resurrect them again (there are descriptions of Z'bri doing this in various books). Also, the opposite is true of the Keepers - while the wholesale destruction of modern civilization naturally led to a loss of a tremendouds amount of knowledge, given the Keepers' persistence at trying to uncover the past after a couple of centuries they would be much further advanced. Their loss of knowledge, if it has been less than a century, is still difficult to explain - but it can be fudged or chalked up to supernatural reasons a lot easier than explaining two centuries or more of very little progress.

Another piece of information apparently lost in the plethora of setting material is the Ancient One. While later books, and especially Tribe 8 Second Edition, mention "The Ancients" in Olympus, Tribe 8 First Edition says "the Ancient One." The implication here is that there was a single person, entity, or something else at the heart of Olympus. Does he predate the Camps? Is he the equivalent of a Keeper Fatima? A Keeper mech? We don't know because that little blurb was never explored.

I think "never explored" pretty much sums up the state of canon Keepers in Tribe 8. The Olympus Keepers are pretty much our template for what a "Keeper" is. Yet they turned out to be just one group among dozens, each of them a following a cookie-cutter pattern of "Find an industrial-looking location, insert Keepers with goggles and gas masks, make them not trust people." As antagonists or protagonists they are little more than cardboard stand-ups with remarkably little to flesh out the things that could make them truly stand out. While I appreciate that the Sanjon in Tribe 8 Second Edition got their own city and have a write-up, I kind of only got out of it that they dress like the Morton's Fish guy and make people drink alcohol out of dead cod. The closest we get to some kind of non-superficial variety are the Novohuron, who are described as "like Keepers."

For my part, I've tried to battle the two-dimensional nature of the Keepers with a Keeper antagonist, Hanna. She was actually involved in my game with meta plot, dealing with the Institute, Abonom and Agnes. Basically, she is the head of a Keeper group called the Zetetics who are dedicated to discovering a way to harness and control the River of Dream. Hanna isn't a horrible person beyond being highly motivated to seeing her theories and experiments through. In many ways, she is a pawn being played by other groups, including her own kind.

While obviously not every Keeper character or group has to be unique, as it stands they are entirely too homogeneous. They're behind the curve, especially given their story potential. In my fantasy world where Word of the Keepers was actually published, the Keepers would have unquestionably been on the forefront of the curve instead of hiding out in the tunnels underneath it. For now, I'll just have to take solace in my personal reconstruction of Tribe 8 using Fate Core, where I'm able to inject a little bit of variety to the Keepers.

Revised Technosmithing

Cross-posted from Aggregate Cognizance.

In keeping with the Keeper theme for today (har har), I've also finished with my revised Technosmithing write-up for Fate Core. It has some interesting features that set it apart from Synthesis and I think gives Technosmithing more character. You can grab it from Google Docs at the link below.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

S'klas, Z'bri Gift Giver

This is being cross-posted from my other blog as part of the April A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. It is a rewrite of a sadly long-lost Z'bri NPC. For anyone who knows the Tribe 8 metaplot, [REDACTED] happens to Agnes and then she [REDACTED]. In my game, S'klas was going to be instrumental in that.

Rummaging through your mind
With a tentacle down your throat,
What secrets will I find?
Oh I really love to gloat!

Eyes on ivory bone rings
Forcing you to watch your plight.
My how your flesh truly sings
As I receive my gift tonight!

S'klas (Major NPC)
S'klas is a Z'bri Joh'an living in the Skyrealms near Bazaar. Once a Melanis Lord, it was driven out of Hl'Kar because his experiments and penchant for abducting Tribal children threatened the Pact of the Dome. S'klas is convinced because of the innocence children have, and their closeness to the River of Dream, that they hold the secret to opening the Fold. These experiments led it to uncovering a long lost collective memory of a mythical figure who visited children on a certain night of the year, passing out gifts to those who behaved themselves and leaving an item showing his displeasure for those who hadn't. S'klas has taken on the role of this figure, of course corrupting it in a fashion only a Z'bri could.

S'klas is tall and broad for a Melanis, wrapped in a glistening red robe of exposed muscle and sinew. Tentacles often emerge from the folds and openings in the robe of their own accord. Its features are often concealed within a deep cowl, but its visage is disturbingly jovial, with plump features and a mouth forever frozen in a grinning rictus within a "beard" of writhing tentacles. S'klas surrounds himself with diminutive, twisted Serfs who assist him in luring children back to his lair. When he travels it is on a living sled of bone and tissue, pulled by eight nightmarish beasts fashioned into mockeries of the Fatimas.

While S'klas often ventures forth to find new subjects for his experiments, on the longest night of the year is when it truly visits terror upon Vimary. On that night, S'klas fills its sled with horrifying living "toys" and delivers them to children around Vimary. S'klas reserves the worst for those that it deems have been "naughty" over the past year.

Agnes in particular, and Agnites in general, are a particular obsession of S'klas'. Its research has turned more and more toward exploring how Agnes' rebirth from Mary and the way that Agnites use Synthesis might not only be used to re-open the Fold, but also allow for S'klas to dominate all children in Vimary. It is S'klas' hope that this will allow vindication and a return to Hl'kar.

Of course, getting close to Agnes is nearly impossible. Even when S'klas suppresses its Atmosphere, Agnes is still able to sense his presence long before he gets near - and a confrontation with a protective Fatima is not something S'klas could survive. The Agnites themselves are a little more accessible. Some Agnites are  fascinated by the idea of S'klas and the items he leaves. They encourage S'klas' winter outing by creating small shrines in hidden places, replete with grisly "snacks" and decorations. These Agnites willingly accept the items that S'klas brings, squirrelling them away lest an adult take them away or Agnes Herself finds out.

Their behavior only encourages S'klas, who thinks that his methods are working. The items he leaves are obviously all Tainted, and sometimes actively dangerous. Worse still, as S'klas' understanding of children grows deeper his toys become more subversive. There may come a point that S'klas will succeed in getting a toy into the hands of the greatest Child of all.

High Concept
Twisted Children's Icon. Invoke this aspect when dealing with children (both scaring and appealing to them - sometimes both at once). Compel it to push S'klas to do something in line with what the true icon would do (like protect a child).

Horrible Helpers: S'klas' serfs often provide the means for both the "gifts" S'klas distributes as well as luring children. It holds for these Serfs what amounts as "affection" for a Z'bri. Invoke this aspect for S'klas' Sundering as well as situations involving enticing children. Compel to make S'klas to have to take some action to protect his Serfs.

Melanis Atmosphere: Like all Z'bri, S'klas constantly emits an Atmosphere. S'klas' Atmosphere causes those around him to ignore his gruesome visage, replacing it with feelings of wonder and joviality.

Melanis Johan: S'klas was once a Melanis Lord, but has now been exiled from Hl'kar. As such,  it is not bound by the tenets of the Pact of the Dome by Z'bri or Tribal. Invoke to provide a benefit to doing something that violates Z'bri law (such as dealing with Tribals or Fallen). Compel to put S'klas in a situation where it has to answer for his actions.

Naughty and Nice List: S'klas spends a lot of time observing children and recording their actions, categorizing them as having been "naughty" or "nice" (of course, these concepts to him have little to do with actually being good or bad). Invoke this aspect to provide allow S'klas information about a specific child. Compel this aspect when S'klas may not have that child on its list.

Touched By the Seed: All Z'bri are close to the Seed. Invoke to activate Sundering, compel to make S'klas to do something visceral or hedonistic.

Investigate+2 Deceive+2


Animation: You get a +2 bonus to using Sundering to create the advantage Animated on an inanimate object. In addition, you can use Sundering instead of Craft to make items.

Appeasement: You gain a +2 when using Sundering to create physical advantages on yourself or others.

Atmosphere Suppression: By paying a Fate Point, S'klas can suppress its Atmosphere for one scene.

Chaining: You get a +2 bonus when using Sundering to inflict Equilibrium stress on another character, by attempting to combine that character with another character or object. When doing so with another character, both characters must have stress inflicted on them. If the character(s) are Taken Out by Chaining, they become a mindless, pain driven fusion of objects with the additional aspect Chained.

Note: This was created using my Fate Core conversion for Tribe 8. You can view any of the relevant documents here.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Even more eyecandy

If you ever need an inspiring image for a scene in your Tribe 8 game, this has everything you need:

33 Most Beautiful Abandoned Places In The World

Musings of a Z'bri

Originally written by Edwyn Kumar

"Leave it to humans to need explanations in matters of sex. We are imposed upon the flesh and take the pleasures of yoursz and organz with delightfulness. Are we the manifestation of a feminine or masculine emotional 'Sundering' created by the darkness of your minds? Yes, that and more. I am in my rage, full of 'she-ness' and in my perversion, complete in 'both a gender'. I am in my vengeance 'him' among you, for that duality is where the strength residez!

"We are NOT withering. You who keep us trapped in the flesh will feel itz sinfulness. When I tempt you I am a child, when I caress you I am a mother, when I scold you I am fear incarnate! My ages here has instilled in my frigid soul a love deeper than you can fathom; more rich than your hatred for me could achieve. I lay the 'Seed' within you you doubt your destiny? That doubt is my offspring, your dread my milk. With every poisonous thought you possess I grow and as your shadow fans my soul with fire, your action gives birth to my kin.

"Death is such a mystery to you humanz. You are blinded by the 'light' that falls from your Fatimas. They are your threshold where we have none. You cry for your ignorance and hide from your knowledge. Monsters we are and progeny are you. Before we leave this cursed, vile land, your kind will know... Never again will we go unheeded or shunned by the race. We prosper in death as you await our return.

"I know your dreams and have visited you, for your mind swims with visionz, tracing paths among the dreaming like fireflies in the night. There are so many beautiful things, so much ecstasy to engage; to crush. My prison of flesh is my reward!

"When you awake dreamer, know that I was here among you, and never forget that it is we that are your release!"

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Songs of Life and Dream

Note: I'm not sure exactly who originally wrote these, but I believe it was Edwyn Kumar.

Jacker Affirmation
Shadowed with beauty
Eyes of fire and ambition
In my path step not
My destiny is mine alone
For none to touch
Nor manipulate, foul hands
Shiver, fear comes
Grows as their souls shrivel
Death is quick
Yet just
I will be forever
Time will not touch this
Body and soul eternal
Bow before me, even
If you know me not
I am the ultimate power
Feel my wrath 

Song of the Goddess
Pain you have felt
Lost ,alone in the years that pass
Children falling
From the graces

We can see that
our dreams are what will guide us now
Visions of times
We shall create

Your hand a guide
The light our beacon in the night
Leading towards
Freedom and life

(chorus) The age has come
For us to fight
Our foes will fall
Falling into the night
(repeat once)

Bringing us back
To the rise of our destiny
Spirit and soul
Become as one

From the graces which we shall create
Freedom and life become as one.
(Spoken in harmony with chorus repeated three times)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Here are some good references for abandoned places

Although it's only a couple years old, this town abandoned as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident shows how things can be when they're suddenly abandoned. Stores still full of merchandise, vending machines stocked, but other things (like buildings) damaged or falling apart. Imagine what this place would be like if it were left alone for 30-50 years.

Also, a quick update: more Tribe 8 content is coming, and once I get past a couple milestones in working on Apotheosis Drive Exodus I will be returning to the Fate Core conversion. Also, I will be reviewing the Spark  rpg on Aggregate Cognizance in the next week with an eye toward adapting Tribe 8 to that as well.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Busy doing stuff. Things.

Between work, back pain, and another project I haven't given DFS much love lately. Not to worry though! I'm getting to where I can swing back around again and continue both resurrecting old content as well as push forward with putting the pieces in place for the Fate Core conversion.

In the meantime, here's some entertainment:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lover's Plot

Originally written by (I believe) Edwyn Kumar.

Margot: The Tera shebans are forcing our hand in this affair.
Daedic: There is no need to panic, Margot. Our diplomats are working as we speak. Farma, what is the current situation on Hom?
Farma: The Outcasts are suffering a major food shortage due to the blockage and increased position of the Joanites in both Bazaar, and at the Fallen Bridge. There is definite evidence that the three prisoners to be exiled, on the coming new moon, are going to have to find another place to stay. All according to Cylix, I’m certain.
Daedic: There is no room for speculation here, Farma, but your insight is appreciated. Is your “contact” still under your control?
Farma: The young Advocate to Euramali has no option but to be seduced by my charms, High Master Daedic.
Daedic: Excellent. Continue to garner more information. Our goals are far from being achieved. However, I see great potential in your assignment.
Farma: A. . . pleasure, your High Master.
Daedic: Margot. Are the Order of the Withered Rose diplomats underway?
Margot: At last contact, yes, High Master. The diplomat of the Order is assured that the Hl’kar will be most obliging in this matter.
Daedic: It is a great risk, but the gains from it will be great. Make certain that the diplomats of the Iron Guild amongst the Joanites are well compensated for their sacrifice. Their families will each receive a medallion of “The Lover and Witness”. Make certain this detail is not forgotten Margot.
Margot: Already anticipated and underway, High Master. Although, won’t the Tera Shebans be suspicious of some internal sympathy in this plan?
Farma: That is my affair, Margot. I would ask that you remain to your own duties and watch that your ambitions do not let you stray.
Margot: Yes, Revered Concubine.
Farma: The Koleris will not fail us in this, High Master. Rest assured. With the lack of forces at the Seven Fingers, their presence will be unnoticed. . .until it is too late. Cylix’s plans will be postponed. This will of course, allow the other Tribes to force the attention of the Tera Shebans, and in turn, the Joanites, towards the Z’Bri threat.
Margot: And what of the Fallen threat? The possibility of the Fallen factions acting against us, especially the Herites, are all too real. Is this risk worth the results?
Daedic: Second guessing the process already in place is futile. We are at an impasse with the Pillars, and unless we make some form of movement now, the Tera Sheban hope of a Unified Law, will become a reality. We cannot allow this to happen. Baba Yaga has sanctioned what little she knows of our ploy and our other Fate, Eve, has far too many Tera Sheban sympathizers for us to resort to Her council. This is a Magdalite concern and so will be dealt within Magadalite channels. Don’t forget, that should the ever watchful Judges come to learn of the plot, the Order of the Withered Rose will be used to save us from persecution. Now go. . .there is far more information to be gained. I have a reception with the High Council. We will gather again on the fortnight. Magdalen’s Love.
Farma & Margot: Magadalen’s Love.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sins of the Sister, Part 6

Sins of the Sister, Part 1
Sins of the Sister, Part 2
Sins of the Sister, Part 3
Sins of the Sister, Part 4
Sins of the Sister, Part 5

It was a new moon that night, and the grave fields before us were illuminated only by starlight. Occasionally we would spot a small flame or mysterious light along the dark paths below, but otherwise there was no motion and no sound. Kileg had built a small fire to ward off the darkness and the growing chill, despite my weak protests about offending whatever spirits watched over Mortuary. Very few things genuinely scared Kileg, least of all the dark, yet he jumped at every crack and sizzle from the sputtering flames. If we were not surrounded by the graves of our ancestors' ancestors, I would have found it humorous. Our whispered conversation eventually turned from the latest happenings along the Seven Fingers to the Joshuan sword. We tried to understand how it could have wound up in an Evan boy's hands, and how a Sin Eater was supposed to make things right.

It was hard to gauge the passage of time in Mortuary, but we must have sat around the fire until well after midnight. The flickering against the wall of the tomb's mouth had long dimmed. Suddenly the light inside flared and an unearthly scream ripped through the air, catching Kileg and I utterly off guard. We grabbed our swords and ran headlong into the sepulcher.

The entrance passage turned sharply once, descending down an earthen ramp into a circular chamber. A guttering fire was at the center, filling the room with heavy smoke and the smell of incense and herbs. Standing beside it was a grotesque mass of flesh, bone and viscera, its skin etched with bleeding runes and sigils. It bellowed at us, revealing a mouth that nearly bisected its head, full of ichor and several rows of teeth. Its features were incomplete and unformed, like clay shaped by a child's hands, and its skin writhed and convulsed unnaturally as it moved.

Something snapped in Kileg upon seeing it. He returned the roar with a cry of his own and charged. I think his spirit was swept from his body even before the disfigured arm swatted him away, as I felt him dive into the River of Dream with no focus and no attempt to control it. Kileg's limp body slammed into the wall behind me with a sickening crunch. An instant later the beast was on me, raining down a savage barrage of blows that shattered my blade and dislocated one arm.

I managed to put the fire between myself and the beast, and we circled warily for a few seconds. It was then I truly saw the rest of the chamber. The blood and entrails sprayed against the wall, the remains of the two young Joanites. The shattered bowls and ritual implements scattered on the ground. The Joshuan blade sitting at the edge of the firepit. Den'a and Robbo were missing, and in their place the monster. Its expression was filled with hared and rage, but its eyes seemed to plead with me.

Surrounded by the haze of drugs and incense in the power-charged air, I calmed myself with a koan and slipped into the River.

Joan saw Dahlia on the road and asked where she had come from.
"The River," Dahlia said.
"Where did you spend the winter?" Joan asked.
"In the south of Sanctuary." Dahlia responded.

The beast took a step forward, dust raining down from the ceiling as its misshapen foot struck the ground.

Joan wondering how long Dahlia could give honest answers and asked, "When did you leave there?"
"On the first new moon after the snow last fell." Dahlia responded, and Joan knew it to be truth.
"I should give you three blows, but today I forgive you." Joan told Dahlia and left her on the road.

One more step and the beast closed the gap. It raised one arm, the flesh shifting and rippling as talons the size of arrow heads erupted from its fingertips. There was no way I could survive another blow.

The next day Dahlia came to Joan and asked, "Yesterday you forgave me three blows. Why did you believe me?"
Joan replied, "You are good for nothing. You simply wander from one Tribe to another."

My koan done, Synthesis flooded the small chamber. Just as a Dahlian dancer knows her next dozen steps I saw every possibility of movement, the result of every chain of events. I rolled underneath the creature's arm as it smashed into the wall hard enough to crack the rock, coming to my feet beside the firepit. The Joshuan sword was already in my hand. Poised on the balls of my feet, I coiled my legs like springs and launched myself in an arc at the beast, visible lines of power and force in the air guiding my trajectory. The rough blade plunged to its hilt between the abomination's shoulder blades just as it started to turn, staggering the creature forward until it fell to one knee and then slumped to the ground.

I did not move from beside the creature's corpse, not even when the Joanite girl found me. She left and came back with several Yagans, who bound me and took me out of the tomb and into the light. They brought me to Mortuary where they questioned me about what had happened. Then they turned me over, still bound, to my sisters in Joan. In each person's face I could see nothing else but the creature's eyes. Dena's eyes. Robbo's eyes. They were one and the same.

From the transcripts of Inquisitor Ren'nel's questioning of Cara Gray'on:

"So your statement is that Aline is lying? That you did not kill the Sin Eater, the boy, and the Joanites to protect your secret?"

"Aline? Who..." The subject's bonds tightened slightly, eliciting a low moan of pain.

"Answer the question. Noncooperation will only tighten your bonds. The Joanite girl. You never bothered to learn her name, did you? " The Inquisitor selected a brand from among various utensils laid out on a table, placing it in a brazier of hot coals. "I would use Truthsaying but I have enough evidence. Her statement is that you killed everyone in that chamber including Kileg Tar'on, one of your own tribesmen. Becoming concerned when none of you returned, Aline overcame her fear and sought out the tomb. That is where she found you, holding the sword that slaughtered your tribesmen. You would have killed her too, but she escaped."

"No...the Sin Eater, not..." The straps began to cut into her flesh, staining the edges of the leather red.

"I know your secrets. How you found the Joshuan sword during a raid on a Serf hamlet and kept it for yourself, even while your sisters died at the hands of the Z'bri. How you plotted revenge on Nyeda for rejecting your affections. How you gave the sword to the boy, knowing the blade's power would affect his simple mind. How you twisted him so he would think Nyeda an enemy needing to be cut down."

"Lies..." Came the strangled answer.

"Shaman Storm Cry saw through your ruse. He arranged  for a Sin Eater to purify the boy and discover the truth, to get the evidence necessary to hold you accountable. You tracked them to Mortuary and slaughtered all of them in cold blood to keep your secrets hidden. Do you deny this?"

The only answer was a gurgle. The collar around the Templar's throat had constricted so that she could only gasp for air and watch as The Inquisitor picked up the glowing brand and turned towards her. She struggled feebly against the restraints, each movement tightening them until they sawed into her flesh and totally immobilized her.

"Cara Gray'on, you face the charge of heresy against the Fatimas. For betraying your oaths to Joan and the remainder of the Seven. For allowing greed, jealousy and lust to poison your heart. For murdering five of your fellow Tribesmen, and for attempted murder of a sixth. Crimes so heinous Tera Sheba will not allow her Judges to try them. You are to be consigned to the Circle of the Fallen on the next new moon. Should you survive, you will continue to live the life you have chosen - empty, soulless and without the protection and love of the Fatimas. To the Nation, the Tribe of Joan, your clan and your family you will be dead. If you are lucky, you will perish there."

The Inquisitor brought the brand to the Templar's forehead and pushed it against the inverted sword tattoo there, searing away ink and flesh. Cara Gray'on, Templar of Joan, didn't even have the strength to scream.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fate Core Synthesis Draft

This is cross-posted from my other blog.

Working on the Sigils extra was like clearing a logjam: I was able to get a strong start on adapting Synthesis to Fate Core. I realize the common wisdom with creating Fate Core settings is "start with the skill list!", but in this case I felt starting from the other end was better. By working my way through the other Tribe 8 specific skills (Dreaming, Ritual, Sundering, Technosmithing) I'll have a much clearer vision of how to prune and shape the default skill list.

The direction I am going with Synthesis was something that the way Fate Core is written, and how various things are categorized, really brought into focus. The four actions provide a good framework for taming a freeform beast like Synthesis without having to delve into a lot of niggling little rules and modifiers. It helped me realize (for example) that bonuses for trances, extra time, ritual implements, etc. weren't a static thing but should be the result of the character doing something to create an advantage for themselves. The same thing will go for resisting effects; it's not automatic, the character needs to actually do something to get the bonus. Once again, Rob Donoghue's channeling "hack" helped tremendously in helping the rest of the pieces fall into place.

You can get the draft from Google Docs, and I will post regular updates as I tweak and refine it.