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DShomshak last won the day on September 21

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  1. Just fencing for my rapier-and-main-gauche fighter, plus some Talents and Skill Levels. Dean Shomshak
  2. Just heard on All Things Considered: Tomorrow is the 42nd anniversary of the publication of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. There will be coverage of this cultural milestone, on its most important anniversary. Dean Shomshak
  3. Response #1: Eat your heart out, Harry Dresden! Response #2: Wow, NZ really *is* Middle-Earth! Dean Shomshak
  4. It's cold consolation, perhaps, but perhaps it's worth reflecting that the UK has seen only two murders of MPs in the last 5 years? The Brits, and we Yanks, are still not good at political violence. Perpetrators are being hunted and punished, instead of being openly shielded by those in power. The MPs I've heard on BBC seem determined that they will not give up meeting their constituents in these "surgeries." One was very firm in saying that his job was to represent his people to the government, not the government to his people, like some "Proconsul from Westminster" shielded by metal detectors and armed guards frisking everyone who dares comes near. Dean Shomshak
  5. Or a poet. Vide "High Flight," I wish a great poet could be sent into space. Except I haven't heard of any great living poets. The ones who occasionally appear on All Things Considered range from bland to stultifying, though that may be a selection effect. Dean Shomshak
  6. Wikipedia did not mention him dying, so I assume so. He'd be 83 or thereabouts. Unfortunately true. (And I won't nominate Card, either.) Add Harlan Ellison to the list of the dead, too, and too bad: He had the writing chops to do justice to a trip into space, that might help people understand just how gobsmackingly amazing this all is. Dean Shomshak
  7. Most important paragraph: There's still a lot of work to be done, however. It's not clear yet if this no-beginning causal approach can allow for physical theories that we can work with to describe the complex evolution of the Univese during the Big Bang. Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but once again the headline ought to have been, "Theoretical Physicist Plays With Freaky Cool Math; No Evidence It Describes Anything Real." The article mentions string theory, and that's a case in point. In 30 years of grand promises, last I heard string theory still has not produced a single testable prediction. Still, I've used string theory as the rubber physics for an SF setting. The question that matters is: Can we use this for games? Dean Shomshak
  8. Odd: The link I tried to copy and paste isn't pasting. Oh, well. On Oct 6, the NPR program "Fresh Air" interviewed Russia expert Fiona Hill, whom you might remember from Trump's first impeachment. She's written a book; she talks about it, and her time in diplomacy and the White House. Smart, wry observations about a life in public service and some of the horrifying idiots she encountered in her last post -- and some not at all funny observations about the state of American democracy from an expert on autocracy. Goodle "Fresh Air Fiona Hill" and you should reach it. Dean Shomshak
  9. The other two forms of magic in the World of the Five Gods have associations with deities, but are not actuzlly controlled by them. Sorcerers are possessed of demons and gain use of the demons' powers. Demons come from the Bastard, but a sorcerer doesn't need the god's permission. Shamans possess an animal spirit that grants their powers. Such spirits have an association with the Son of Autumn; a connection that may allow that god to communicate with them more easily than with other mortals; but the Son does not control them or their powers. I am sure other people here can cite other ways Fantasy has handled divine power. Dean Shomshak
  10. The D&D cleric is a way to handle divinely-empowered characters for a FRPG. It's not a bad way. But it is hardly the only way. For instance, in Exalted all the various sorts of Exalted (Solar, Lunar, Sidereal, Terrestrial, Abyssal, Infernal, Alchemical -- I'm leaving out som innovations from 3rd ed because I don't know them well) in some way from a divine entity. But they don't get spells from those entities; they get a capacity to channel and shape supernatural power that the entity has no further control over. (In the case of the Terrestrial Exalted, for instance, the power was given thousands of years ago and passed to descendants.) Some varieties of Exalted are particularly associated with priestly functions, but they don't have to be actual priests. Or take a look at Lois McMaster Bujold's "World of the Five Gods" stories. Saints channel power directly from a god. Some of their miracles follow common themes: for instance, saints of the Father being able to discern truth, saints of the MOther being good at healing, or saints of the Bastard pulling demons out of people and returning them to the god that is their source. But many miracles are sui generis... and so subtle that most people can't perceive them.
  11. Of course not. Useful -- for D&D -- but not mandatory. I see no reason why gods of different character and concerns would not give correspondingly different gifts to their mortal priests or other representatives. All depending, of course, on how you define gods for your setting.
  12. It's remotely possible someone might find it useful to see the actual initial infodump/sales pitch I gave players of my "Scion High" campaign. It had to introduce core game concepts as well as give the campaign premise, since not all players knew anything about Scion. Printed out, it was 2 pages long. For what it had to do, I think it was fairly concise. SCION HIGH: STUDENT ORIENTATION WHAT IS A SCION? From time immemorial, Gods have mated with mortals. The children of such unions are Scions. Although Scions are mortal, they inherit a trickle of divine power. This enables Scions to perform amazing, superhuman, or outright magical feats. With practice, a Scion gains power and gains a greater proportion of divinity. In time, a Scion can become entirely divine and leave the mortal World for the realms beyond. You are a child of the Gods, raised among mortals. Your divine parent — long absent — recently came back into your life and decided that you should know your heritage, develop your power and fulfill your destiny as a new generation of heroes to perform deeds worthy of legend. WHY ARE YOU HERE? Long ago, the gods defeated their malevolent progenitors, the Titans, and bound them in the prison of Tartarus. The prison has crumbled, though, and the Titans are free. Their minions and spawn already commit badness in the mortal World. The Gods need Scions to do things in the World that they, for various reasons, cannot. Oh. You mean, why are you here at this school, all together? Well, Scions need training at using their powers, but they also need practice at being people within the modern World. Your divine parents gathered their Scions in one place, where it’ll be easier to keep an eye on them. They also hope for new, cross-pantheon alliances between Scions. The old Gods have difficulty transcending the myths about them long enough to work together. Scions have no such trouble. Thing is, Legend — the power underlying everything supernatural — attracts more of itself. Because you, a group of Scions, are here, other creatures of Legend come too: other Scions, minions of the Titans, creatures allied to neither side, you name it. Some of them came to the area long before you did, for Legend acts across time. If there’s a dragon sleeping under the school gym, it’s here because you’re here. Or, you’re here because it’s here. It’s confusing. Just expect all sorts of weird stuff to come out of the woodwork. Your divine parents believe this isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. You can practice your powers and learn about the secret world of Legend while it tries to kill you, recruit you, destroy the World, or at least make you fail algebra. High School Heroes The ancient mythological epics describe heroes whose lives are an unending melodrama of passion and conflict. Nowadays, we call their emotional condition “adolescence.” Modern teens easily feel the wrath of Achilles, the love of Sigurd and Brunhilde, the friendship of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, or the betrayal of Arthur and Lancelot. Only, the grown-ups around them don’t take them seriously. Adults know that the fate of the World doesn’t really depend on who asks whom to the prom. What if those sensible grown-ups were wrong? Scion High takes the Scion game and filters it through modern high school. The style is that of TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Smallville: basically action-adventure, but with heaping helpings of teen angst and soap opera. Characters face titanspawn monsters and evil cultists, but they also face the challenges of sports, dating, afterschool jobs, parents and teachers. The big game may decide the fate of a soul; school cliques can represent supernatural factions; the mall is a goblin market of wonder and horror; a jealous classmate or a mean teacher can be a monstrous servant of the Titans. Welcome back to school! The Scion Condition Once upon a time, Gods and the monstrous spawn of the Titans acted openly in the World. The Gods fought the Titans, and both sides fought amongst themselves. The Gods began as offspring of the Titans, but contact with humanity changed them. Titans have will and sentience, but they are not people, strictly speaking, and they have no use for people. Contact with humans taught the nascent Gods how to be people, and they liked it. The Gods wanted to continue being people, and their Titan progenitors objected. The Titans tried to destroy the Gods, and the Gods objected. Hence, the war between them. Gods are immensely more powerful than mortals, and Titans are more powerful than Gods. The power of Fate, however, constrains mortals, Gods and Titans alike — and Fate gives mortals a terrible power over Gods. When Gods use their supernatural powers in front of mortals, Fate may bind those mortals to them, and the Gods to the mortals. The humans become part of the God’s story in fixed roles, whether as friends or foes. All the mortals “Fatebound” to a God try to push that God into playing certain roles in return. Long ago, the Gods figured out that if they did not hide their power from mortals, they would lose their free will and become trapped in the stories that mortals tell about them. For at least 2,000 years, Gods acting in the World have disguised themselves as mortals and avoided using their full power, to prevent Fatebinding. At any given time, dozens of Gods live on Earth in mortal guises. One consequence is that Gods no longer appear to their mortal lovers as showers of gold or otherwise reveal their divinity. (Usually.) Sometimes they sire or bear children in their mortal guises. Before long, though, Gods must leave their mortal partners to resume their duties in the Overworld. Other times, Gods take the place of particular mortals for the express purpose of producing Scions and placing them in a particular family. The upshot is that by and large, Scions are raised by mortals and think they are mortal until someone tells them differently. When a divine parent reveals the truth to a Scion, it’s called the Visitation. A God usually tells the child directly, but can do this through a messenger. For instance, the Norse Gods often delegate the Visitation to Odin’s ravens, Hugin and Munin. Hey, Gods are busy. Even before the Visitation, though, blood tells. Scions tend to show interests and aptitudes related to their divine parents. A Scion of Ares gets into fights; a Scion of Isis has a taste for esoteric knowledge. A Scion’s name often hints at the divine parent’s identity, if only because Gods themselves seem compelled to adopt revealing pseudonyms. Six pantheons produce most of the extant Scions: the Aesir of Norse mythology; the Japanese Amatsukami; the Atzlánti of Central America, most notably the Aztecs; the Greco-Roman Dodekatheon; the Loa of Voodoo; and the Pesedjet of ancient Egypt. Gods of other pantheons also produce Scions, though, and any of them might become students at Scion High. THE NITTY GRITTY Your Scion character has Attributes and Abilities that represent his mortal skills and aptitudes. He also has Epic Attributes that go beyond human limits. A Scion with Epic Strength can lift more than the greatest Olympic weightlifter; a Scion with Epic Manipulation can talk damn near anyone into damn near anything; and so on. Boons represent explicitly magical powers, such as flying or turning invisible. Boons are grouped in Purviews such as Animal, Fertility, Justice or War. As part of the Visitation, a God typically gives the new Scion some presents, collectively referred to as Birthrights. A Creature is a pet that can range from a kitty to Pegasus. Followers can be summoned to fight on the Scion’s behalf; for instance, einherjar called from Valhalla. A Guide is an advisor that can range from a knowledgeable mortal to a talking scarab to some sort of spirit. A Relic is a magical object. A Relic might have enhancements that make it more useful than a mundane object, such as a sword that inflicts extra damage. Other Relics summon Creatures or Followers, which prevents awkward questions about your pet unicorn. Most importantly, Relics enable Scions to channel the power of their Boons: No Relic, no Boon. Scions call on the power of Legend. In stories, heroes can do superhuman deeds. As a Scion, you are part mortal and part story. Your overall Legend rating limits the power of your Epic Attributes and Boons. With experience, however, characters can raise their Legend rating, and so acquire Boons of greater power and higher ratings in their Epic Attributes. Many Boons or Knacks require spending Legend points. A starting character does not have many Legend points, so they are the primary resource to manage. Like your divine parents, however, each time you exploit Legend you risk mortals becoming bound to you, and you to them. Your parents request that you try not to let mortals know about the genuine supernatural world around them. -------------- Dean Shomshak
  13. Wow, that joke just keeps going! I read the text of the original "Turboencabulator" when I was in high school, more years ago than I care to remember, in a book called A Random Walk in Science. Dean Shomshak
  14. Considering his b behavior so far, he might be counting on it. Dean Shomshak
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