Profile for DrPraetorious


Recent posts

AuthorRecent posts
GF5 Creation Wishlist in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Apprentice
Member # 3568
Profile #19
I 100% agree with most of what the root poster proposes. However, I think it would be cleaner to add a bunch of new creations to the existing classes (turrets are battle, worms are magic, rats are fire) than to add new creation categories.

To flesh out my request in another thread: if the enemy can make steelskinned vlish, you should be able to do so, as well.

An individual creation can have up to two "egos" (the term used for items in games like Angband), a prefix-type-ego and an postfix-type-ego.

Each ego has to be learned individually. Each ego has skill reuirements independent of the creations to which it is applied. In addition, each ego raises the required level in *that specific creation* by 1. Thus, only canister addicts (or those who benefit from highly advanced shaper training, if such is available) will be able to make full use of egos.

Here's a putative list - not becuase I'd expect anyone to use it, but because I think spsecifics makes it clear what I mean:
* Steel-skinned (prefix). Requires battle skill of 3. Creation gains +25% physical resistance. Creation costs +25% essence. Requires +1 rank in relevant creation (i.e.: to make a steel-skinned fyora requires a fyora of 2 - to make a steel-skinned plated bug requires a clawbug of 4.)
* of the Spheres (postfix). Requires magic skill of 7. Creation gains +50% magic resistance, +25% cold resistance, +25% acid resistance. Creations attacks deal bonus magic damage (approximately 20% of base damage total.) Creation costs +50% essence. Requires +2 ranks in relevant creation.

***

On a distinct but related topic, very high shaping skills should do something for you. I understand why, from a game-balance standpoint, a fire shaping of 14 doesn't add +14 to the level of all new fire shapings. OTOH, there's a real game mechanical benefit to taking your spellcraft from 10 all the way to 14 (which only an agent/infiltrator can do, essentially), OTOH, in the late game, does a lifecrafter care about taking her magic shaping from 10 to 14? Not really.

Possibilities include:
* Shaping skills improve the rate at which creations gain XP. This would help those who nurture early creations without making those early creations too nasty out-of-the-box.
* High shaping skills reduce the essence costs of your creations. Something like 2% for each point by which your skill exceeds the minimum to make the creation would make these skills balanced against intelligence, I think.
* Your shaping skill applies as a flat bonus to the hit-rolls and resistances of all shapings of that type.

I'm sure you could brainstorm more benefits that very high shaping skills would provide. If you're going to have a game that goes this long (or, I am hoping, longer), and there's a class path that gets a discount to shaping skills, there should be a reason to take shaping skills arbitrarily high.
Posts: 19 | Registered: Saturday, October 18 2003 07:00
Script question about Creations in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Apprentice
Member # 3568
Profile #1
I believe that it's in:
gf4itemschars.txt

Oh, also, gf4itemschars.txt has various weapons ("abilities") defined in it. If you look in
gf4objsmisc.txt

You should see definitions for those abilities, if you just want to up the damage for battle creations.

Personally, I think battle creations should have resistances, and be better meat shields, rather than dishing out more punishment.

[ Wednesday, May 16, 2007 03:02: Message edited by: DrPraetorious ]
Posts: 19 | Registered: Saturday, October 18 2003 07:00
You should win stuff by watching [long] in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Apprentice
Member # 3568
Profile #20
On the subject of more pre-shaper ruins.

I think it's fair to assume that the shapers overthrew - probably rapidly, and probably with great violence - some previous social order / civilization.

I'd like to explore the ruins of that civilization.

Whoever it was the shapers fought, they presumably didn't take it lying down. Probably they had powerful magic of their own, maybe they were led by non-shaper lifecrafters who refused to obey the shapers rule. Maybe they practiced competing and forbidden forms of magic - necromancy, demonlogy, whatever else there is - which were judged by the shapers to be too dangerous. Maybe some mix of the above, if the shapers enemies joined together as the shapers consolidated their power.

So we have a mountain range, forested, southern temperate climate. The ancient enemies of the shapers made their last stand there. The place is therefore intrinsically very dangerous - full of wild magic and the like. It is not, however, that *far* from major centers of civilization.

So you have an excuse to visit a major shaper city, as well as to wander in a wilderness full of rogue creations and shades, and to dig up ancient ruins full of mysterious ancient technology, vile idols and eery rune-covered obelisks.

FWIW, I think all that zeitgist contributes more to the game than some pedestiran notion of sound plot continuity.
Posts: 19 | Registered: Saturday, October 18 2003 07:00
You should win stuff by watching [long] in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Apprentice
Member # 3568
Profile #18
Anyway, to resume brainstorming.

The Sholai are very concerned about the military and magical power of the shapers - there's a single sholai expedition but with two leaders, who are rivals.

The official leader of the expedition - and ambassador to Terrestria - is a sholai lord who wants a military alliance with the shapers. He also wants to force the shapers into some kind of pact while they are still weakened by the rebellion.
* Expose the scheming of his lieutenant.
* Hide the scheming of his lieutenant from the shapers. There's a shaper who has been leading his lieutenant on, he wants him dead.
* Get information on the military situation.
* Help him persuade the shapers to agree to a non-agression pact.
* Help his forces fight the rebels to prove their usefulness.

His lieutenant - who is a lord of a rival house/clan/lineage whatever - has been in contact with the rebels, but he certainly doesn't want the sholai to get involved on the rebels side (as the rebels are hoping). He wants you to steal shaper secrets for him. If you can deliver rebel shaping lore without having to commit him to anything, great.
* Hide his schemes.
* A shaper has been leading him on with promises of training - force the shaper to reveal his secrets through blackmail or intimidation or whatever.
* Make the military situation seem worse than it is so that the sholai won't intervene.
* Help him convince the other sholai to leave.
* Undermine the leadership of the current mission leader by getting his ventures to fail.

The sholai obviously can't reward you with shaper training, but they offer a cheap magic trainer, and some high-level spells that you can get nowhere else:
(Combat)
Sulphur Cloud - severe fire damage and poisoning in a large template.
Force Bolt - massive damage to a single target, stuns severely.

(Blessing)
Flame Blades - Entire group. All melee attacks do bonus fire damage.
Power Boost - Single target, lasts until you leave, costs essence. Greatly increases the target's spell energy and spell energy regeneration rate.

(Mental Magic)
Blur - Single target, lasts as long as you stay in the area, costs essence. Target gains a stealth bonus (fixed) and attackers miss more often (skill dependent).
Mana Drain - Severely reduces the targets spell energy, and gives it to you. Costs a bit of essence, though. Has a special effect on certain enemies.
Posts: 19 | Registered: Saturday, October 18 2003 07:00
You should win stuff by watching [long] in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Apprentice
Member # 3568
Profile #17
Offtopic:
Okay - which of the five classes would you say is the weakest overall? One of the five has to be.

Since you no longer benefit as much from high shaping skills early on, I suppose you might say that the assault trooper is weakest. It's certainly my least favorite. And I haven't run through this game as a guardian yet.

The servile is tougher than the agent, which if you were actually soloing makes a big difference, but when I played as a servile I died a lot more often simply because I couldn't do as much damage from a safe distance and found myself getting close in. I did both agent and servile as pro-rebel (fire creations exclusively) and found the game much harder as the servile.

--

There were drayks on the island in GF 1, where there hadn't been any shapers for some time. Furthermore, drayks are smart and know that the shapers are trying to kill them - so I'd expect any area with few shapers to be rich in drayks very quickly. They may or may not be able to reproduce by laying eggs, once they've escaped into the wild.

Obviously there were shapers in this area at one point.

For this to make sense we have to assume that the war is going thusly:
* The rebels are unable to sustain a direct confrontation.
* The rebels are engaging in ongoing guerilla-style resistance, which is proving very expensive for the shapers.
* This has been going on for time X, where time X is long enough for it to reach a steady state.
* The rebels are much more impressed with the importance of the pre-shaper ruins than the shapers are, so they're willing to expend a lot of forces (relative to their lesser strength) while the shapers aren't willing to just nuke the place from orbit.

Anyway, to say that the game would automatically be a commercial flop because the plot takes a left turn is pretty far out there. I don't think that was the issue with nethergate, certainly.
Posts: 19 | Registered: Saturday, October 18 2003 07:00
You should win stuff by watching [long] in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Apprentice
Member # 3568
Profile #14
It wouldn't be that much of a departure from the rest of the series to have you play a servile/lifecrafter. You have the *option* of play one in GF4 (although it's the weakest class overall, I'd say.)

I should summarize what I had in mind from the previous thread:
* Area is wilderness with significant circle-of-the-drayk type infestation.
* You go on a vision quest and come back able to shape.
* There are ruins there with scads of valuable goodies in them, both sides think they will change the direction of the war.
* The shapers, rebels and sholai have all shown up to try and get their hands on the buried treasure.

In terms of gameplay this isn't a departure from other GF games at all - it just has four factions instead of two.
Posts: 19 | Registered: Saturday, October 18 2003 07:00
You should win stuff by watching [long] in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Apprentice
Member # 3568
Profile #12
Anyway, what quests does the circle of the drayk want you to perform?

You get your initial magical powers as a result of an ascetic vision quest - there are additional visionary quests you can perform for various rewards. These rewards come as magical tattoos which cause social problems later in the game, in a fashion similar to (but parallel with) the canisters.

Orthodox:
* There are humans trying to settle our lands. Kill them and wear their skins!
* Find the drakons, bring back their teachings.
* Get the shapers and the rebels to kill one another, when they are weakened, we can eject them by force.
* Bring back choice sacrifices to the circle.
* Prove that the reformists are weak, human-sympathizing apostates.
* Drive away the sholai to prove our strength.
* Raid passing caravans for loot, slaves and sacrifices.

Reformist:
* Convince the humans not to settle here - negotiate peaceful co-existence with the distant humans.
* Avoid being pulled into the drakons conflicts.
* Get the shapers and the rebels to fight somewhere else.
* Bring magical objects, treasures and lore to the circle.
* Get the orthodox to calm down.
* Come to a negotiated arrangement with the sholai.
* Make trade agreements with our neighbors to strengthen the prospects of peaceful co-existence.

In addition, there are a number of vision-quest type mysterious errands that provide tattoo rewards.

You get the rewards from individual drayks. Some of the drayks are pretty insane, some of them find being worshipped by serviles somewhat revolting. None of them want anything to do with the rebels - and most of them would rather keep hiding from the shapers than fight them.

Possible tattoo rewards:
* Skill increases.
* New spells.
* Permanent personal regeneration.
* Permanent personal spine shield.
* Permanent boost to AP.
* Permanent boosts to one or another resistance.
* Secondary melee attacks.

Also, some of the drayks will teach you spells or shaping if they like you.
Posts: 19 | Registered: Saturday, October 18 2003 07:00
You should win stuff by watching [long] in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Apprentice
Member # 3568
Profile #9
Sorry, "sects" not "guilds".

Regardless, I don't think we can assume they've been retconned out. We haven't seen a lot of real civilization, period - all we have is a reference to a "shaper university" which could have faculty from a dozen minor magical sects for all we know. I think it'd be a mistake to read too much into the apparent lack of other magical organizations in the heavily militarized hinterlands where most of the GF games take place.

There's not a lot of ambiguity about who is and is not an alchemist, even if the alchemists are poorly organized, or totally dependent on shapers to pick and train them, they've clearly got some kind of formal training and certification in their specific field. Invariably they would have their own political interests - especially if they're stuck in the middle of a civil war.
Posts: 19 | Registered: Saturday, October 18 2003 07:00
You should win stuff by watching [long] in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Apprentice
Member # 3568
Profile #5
Obviously, what I call "liberal" shapers are the weaker half of the faction.

However, a couple of things to consider:
* The people you meet while wandering the warzone are those that volunteered to fight a guerilla war against an elite cadre of homicidally insane telepaths and their legion of slavering bioengineered monsters. Now, they have slavering bioengineered monsters of their own - but they've got to be pretty zealous, or they'd be back home where it's safe. This is even mentioned in-game: several complaints about the cowardice of the shapers who don't want to fight. Some of the non-belligerent shapers are probably in favor of negotiation, it's fair to speculate - although maybe most of them are chickenhawks.

* The loyalist forces are suffering heavy casualties. I got the impression that they'd lost on the order of half of the shapers they'd deployed, one way or another. That cuts into the support base for the conservative shapers pretty hard.

* If the war keeps going, with a continuing and high rate of casualties, one assumes that many of the shapers will see the merit in some kind of negotiation. Even the main-line shapers you deal with in GF 4 are willing to forgive you, personally, the PC - which means a negotiated end to hostilities is not completely out of the question.

As for the other magicians - in the opening monologue of GF 1 it specifically mentions that the shapers are the most powerful of the magical guilds - implying that the other magicians are also organized into lesser guilds. In later games we learn that other magicians only operate with shaper sanction, but that doesn't mean they aren't organized somehow.

This also makes a lot of sense - learning to shape is pretty clearly a lifetime commitment, it's very difficult, and I get the impression that while shapers can make wands and spray crystals, the more sophisticated stuff is another area of expertise that very few shapers would take the time to master. So it makes sense that the shapers would tolerate teaching and professional organizations to teach skills they need their servants to have. Also, in many ways it's easier to control a group of people - especially educated people - if you give them some organized outlet for their supposed interests which you then control.
Posts: 19 | Registered: Saturday, October 18 2003 07:00
You should win stuff by watching [long] in Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Apprentice
Member # 3568
Profile #0
More GF5 musings. This expands on my musings in the "chosen ending" thread.

It'd be nice if creations (as well as other allies) had a secondary attack button so that they too could switch attacks. This has been a gripe of mine about fire creations since GF1, that it can be a real pain to get them to bite people.

This would also enable you to have sidekicks with more interesting support abilities.

Liberal shaper stuff:
* The more liberal shapers should be concerned about popular dis-satisfaction with their war. So they'd have idealistic young shapers establish hospices for care of the sick and injured. One of the idealistic young shapers should join you, if you can finish her quests - she casts acid spray, her alternate attack is healing craft.
* The liberal shapers want leverage over the rebels, so that they can force their terms when the rebels surrender.
* They want you to carry messages to and from the more moderate rebels.
* The liberal shapers have more competent serviles working for them, kinda like the awakened from GF 1. They have informal contacts with the rebels that they want you to facilitate. They also want you to convince the other wild serviles to become "tame".
* The liberal shapers want the radical rebels killed or undermined.
* The liberal shapers want to accomodate the sholai, but keep them from learning to shape.
* If you can expose the conservative shapers ties to the rebel radicals, they think that's great.

Conservative Shaper stuff:
* The conservative approach to dis-satisfication is to kill those who criticize them; a lot of people are unhappy with the way the war is dragging on, so there are plenty of traitors to turn in. With a high leadership and some evidence, you should be able to turn in innocent people (or your rivals) and the conservatives shouldn't know or much care. There's a conservative agent who will join you if you turn enough people in.
* The conervative shapers want the radical rebels encouraged to pursue violence, since that'll prevent a negotiated end to hostilities.
* They want to expose the liberals for talking to the rebels.
* They want rebel infiltrators among their serviles (who are pretty useless and stupid) found and eliminated.
* The conservative shapers want rebels killed - *especially* moderate rebels.
* The conservative shapers want sholai aid in the war - but eventually they want to subjugate the sholai. Under no circumstances do they want the sholai to learn shaping.
* The conservative shapers want the rebels to fight eachother, if that can be arranged.

Lesser Mages (not a faction per se):
* The mages who do all the crystal stuff ("Lapidaries") are trying to continue their crystal research in spite of the war, which is hard. They're obviously shaper clients, but many of them are rebel sympathizers (if not actually rebels.) If you can help them, they should give you a golem.
* The alchemists ("Alchemists") are trying to hold society together. They're heavily involved in the public health and welfare programs that the liberal shapers are instigating. If you can convince them that you're sincere about minimizing casualties, they'll send a juicer mercenary with you - his secondary attack causes him to chug a random pod (so he either buffs or heals himself,) for 3 AP and a pile of spell energy (representing his somewhat limited supply of pods.)
* Whoever it is who does the crazy architecture and obviously magic-assisted construction ("Masons") want to explore pre-shaper ruins. One of them is a scholar and will go with you if you bring back an interesting report - besides filling the game's profound need for a hot archeologist chick with glasses, she knows war blessing and speed.

I'll brainstorm rebel, sholai and wild servile quests later.
Posts: 19 | Registered: Saturday, October 18 2003 07:00
Geneforge Pen and Paper in Geneforge Series
Apprentice
Member # 3568
Profile #0
A couple of friends and I are thinking of running a couple of games set in the world of Geneforge, but we decided that the gameworld needed a little fleshing out, so I wrote this. This is a partial, rough draft.

We'll be using the SR IV game mechanics, since wanted things a little grittier than D20.

If anyone has any suggestions, comments or feedback, coo:

The Other Magical Guilds

Social Classes
Magic users
Shaper incl. Agents and Guardians, are the highest social class. Every Shaper expects absolute obedience from the entirety of the rest of society, and from lower ranking Shapers. In a sense, they foreswear personal wealth (in another sense, they own everything.) They generally divide their time between healing the sick or injured (which always guarantees them a minimal base-line level of popularity), ordering people around, doing research and applying their talents to the benefit of their community (generally in agriculture.) Paradoxically, most Shapers are born into the landowner class, and not into the wealthier merchant class (see below). Shapers are not permitted to marry – but given that their talents are partially hereditary, and they understand this fact, they do reproduce. Recreational sex and romance are both strongly discouraged as a matter of policy – but Shapers, especially in remote areas, can do essentially whatever they want so it is not unheard of. The offspring of shapers are generally adopted and raised by landowning families (or by the non-shaper parent), and it not considered appropriate for a shaper to show favoritism to his or her biological offspring.

Lapidaries There are several sub-societies within this prestigious magical guild, but they are interchangeable from a societal standpoint. Lapidaries sometimes serve as “lieutenants” to the Shapers, but generally avoid responsibilities related to governance in favor of accumulation of wealth and luxury. Most Lapidaries live in major metropolises where they manufacture powerful magic items and maintain magical infrastructure of various sorts (street lighting, for example) The magical powers of this guild are described below. Lapidaries are generally drawn from families of the Merchant class, as their products are expensive and the schools that teach their guild members, although vetted by the Shapers, generally charge substantial tuition. Lapidaries are integrated into society more or less normally, and they generally marry to secure family business connections, or for love. Lapidaries have to do whatever work a Shaper orders them to do (the Shapers sometimes dip into their coffers to pay Lapidaries in their service a stipend, and sometimes don’t,) but are otherwise generally free to sell their services as they wish.

Mason Although theoretically lower in status than Lapidaries, Masons are much more visible to the general populace, as they are generally given charge of crews of craftspeople (and serviles) who work to maintain roads, bridges, buildings, etc. It is common practice among Shapers to delegate their authority (which is total) to Masons who are engaged in such work. Masons also provide some general services to the public. For cultural reasons, many children of craftspeople become Masons. Masons generally live as very wealthy craftspeople, with spouses often drawn from that class. Masons are more restricted in their ability to sell their services to the general public than are Lapidaries, but they are also more likely to be given a stipend since they are so directly involved in public works much of the time.

Aromatists Aromatists are not actually higher in status than Magi generally (the next caste in the list), but they are such a large guild that they deserve special mention. Some Aromatists are itinerant, working as fortune tellers, soothsayers and the like, but most live in and work for the Shapers directly, using their divinatory talents to provide the Shapers with valuable intelligence, or working to produce various useful products from shaped raw materials. Since this is the lowest status, (and easiest to join) of the major magical guilds, many Aromatists are the magically talented children of the poorest “craftspeople” – traveling entertainers, street performers and the like. Aromatists have a reputation for licentiousness, and even those living permanently in the compound of a Shaper or Shaper’s council seldom have stable family lives. Aromatists are not, technically, supposed to sell their services to the general public, but most Shapers turn a blind eye to this practice as long as they don’t cause trouble.

Mage A member of any other magical guild, a licensed assistant to the Shapers, or a licensed but not guild-affiliated magic user, will generally just be called “Mage”. Not everyone with the honorific Magi before their name is actually capable of using magic – although the vast majority are, various prominent citizens (heads of non-magical tradesman’s associations, prominent merchants, artists of renown, as well as high ranking supporting functionaries, such as the secretary or head gardener of a powerful shaper) will also get this honorific from the local Shapers council. Note that this title gives you permission to know magic (and to be a member of a legitimate magical guild,) so even if someone knows no magic whatsoever, they will often learn at least a little once honored with such a title. Some minor guilds require their membership to be celibate, but generally speaking, Magi of other guilds are integrated into the larger society. Anyone wishing to make a living as a teacher/intellectual must be a Mage – non Magi are not permitted to be paid for tutoring, writing or teaching – one way in which the Shapers promote ideas they favor is to elevate aspiring writers into this caste when they espouse pro-shaper ideas. Magi in general need permission to sell their services, but such permission is routinely granted, depending on what exactly the Magi does.

Students Students are not precisely Magi. Until they are officially awarded the title of Mage, they are not allowed to use magic except as explicitly instructed to do so by a Shaper or by someone delegated by a Shaper to instruct them. For a student-shaper to violate this discipline is a good way to get kicked out or killed. For any of the lesser guilds, it’s assumed that young people will tend to misbehave and is generally overlooked when not egregious.

Citizens
Any human being who is not granted permission to know magic is a citizen. Knowing magic is punishable by death – former students who are not made Magi are sometimes exempted from this sentence, but sometimes they are killed for the crime of knowing magic (especially likely if they are kicked out of school for causing trouble.) The Magic Users are the officially sanctioned “professional” class (including those “Magi” who do not actually have magic) – anyone who does not have permission to use magic is regarded as, at best, “skilled”.
Citizens generally have a fairly high standard of living, and look up to the Shapers for providing order and stability, as well as economic prosperity and medical care.
Families tend to be fairly small, for several reasons. Firstly, there is general gender equality, which as a social question lowers the frequency of childbirth. Secondly, most citizens are reasonably prosperous (which tends for whatever reason to favor small families), and finally, the Shapers spent a great deal of effort breaking the power of individual clans, so atomized, nuclear families are encouraged (by various policies, mainly economic.)
Unless one is a shaper, Magi generally retain some ties to their birth families. This is particularly important for Merchants, but some Magi make their living as homesteaders, and many sell services to the general public on the side (in addition to doing whatever work it is the Shapers require.) In any case, Magi will often be members of one of these unofficial classes as well – so Mage/smiths and magic-using landowners are fairly commonplace.
There are several unofficial ranks of citizen, based more or less on wealth.
The wealthiest citizens are generally Merchants. The Shapers do not entirely trust Merchants, however, and there is a certain tension to this day between the existing Merchant families and the Shapers, who view the wealthy, organized and inter-networked merchant families as a potential threat or rival. The term “merchant” will be used to refer to any member of a merchant family, even if they are a clerk, teamster or banker (or useless dilettante.) Young merchants are generally the most cosmopolitan section of the population, along with the students of the lesser magical guilds.
Landowners are generally second in wealth to Merchants. A landowner will be, almost invariably, a gentleman (or gentlewoman) farmer with a sizeable “stable” of serviles and other work animals. The small sizes of families keeps population growth relatively slow, there is a great deal of wilderness but it is steadily being taken over by homesteaders. Because they receive so much material benefit from the Shapers (shaped seeds, for example, and various magical aids to soil fertility,) the landowners are, generally speaking, the social class most loyal to the status quo. This means that their children are generally thought to be more reliable candidates for the Shaper caste, and that parents are more likely to encourage their children to enter into that calling (since it is highly respected), as opposed to Merchants and Craftspeople (who would generally prefer their children join a magical guild that permits it’s members to accumulate wealth.)
Craftspeople are, generally speaking, not as wealthy as the landowners and the like who purchase their services. They are organized into semi-democratic guilds or tradesman’s associations. This class includes smiths and pipe fitters, but also rogues, tinkers, etc. Entertainments and arts of various sorts are also generally regarded as “crafts”, although high art (as determined by Shapers) and literature are both professional callings which can get one jumped in status to Mage (see above.)
Finally, some people aren’t integrated into one of these social classes. Some of them live in secret compounds, hiding from the Shapers. The Shapers don’t generally like it when people don’t fit the mold, and take it upon themselves to ensure 100% employment. Those with no other prospects are encouraged to become homesteaders (eventually landowners) in new areas which the Shapers have fertilized and prepared for cultivation.

Religion
The Shapers did away with organized religion some time ago, and it is remembered (if at all) as a romantic strangeness of a bygone era.
Most people would be baffled if you tried to explain the concept of a religion to them.
The general population does have an amorphously monotheistic belief system, and you get occasional expressions that reference “God” or “Heaven” or the like. This is combined with superstition and pantheism (many people believe in invisible place spirits, as well as various spirits of good and bad luck, possibly ancestor spirits or ghosts.) Many people are atheists, or at least skeptics, but none of this is considered (by the Shapers) as appropriate material for discussion, so people simply don’t talk about it much. Most Magi are unarticulated agnostics – meaning they probably don’t believe in God (or in ancestor spirits) but don’t give it much thought.
There are occasional, generally secret, movements that might be described as religious or philosophical – this includes the Takers, for example, as well as the various groups that simply choose to live away from the larger Shaper-dominated society.
Finally, there are mystery cults within the Masons and Aromatists (and, some whisper, the Shapers.)
The Shapers generally take a very dim view (spiced, in some instances, with extreme violence) of anything that we would characterize as religious activity, including overt atheism, which tends to upset superstitious people.

Serviles
Serviles form a sub-human slave caste. You will be able to play a servile if you wish – you get build points for it, and certain other features (being shaped yourself, mainly) are cheaper if you are born as a servile.
Serviles who are not shaped to it cannot channel essence (use magic) at all.

Social Responsibilities of Shapers
Shapers are generally expected to spend their time doing three things –
a) Healing. Their talent with healing magic – which is unparalleled – is one of the things that propelled the Shapers to mastery in the first place. It gives the Shapers a veneer of benevolence and a moral authority that is practically unmatched.
b) Aiding the economy. Shapers create economically useful things of various sorts, mainly by shaping either a plant or a servile in a permanent way to be more useful for some task. They also deal with pest infestations and help keep the landowners’ soil fertile. In an economy that is still substantially agricultural, this is a big deal.
c) Maintain order. Brigands are still an occasional problem. However, Shapers also do duty as the government, resolving disputes (in the best interests of all, ideally,) and so forth.

A Shaper is supposed to be wise, powerful and benevolent, to some extent self-sacrificing. Every tyrant in the history of the real world has made the same claim, of course – it’ll vary from game to game to what extent the motives of the Shapers really are noble. Personally, since they also serve as doctors, and since I want to make the loyalist position at least somewhat appealing, I intend to play them as largely benevolent, but very arrogant.

Social Benefits of Shapers

Relations between Shapers and Lesser Guilds
All of the lesser guilds exist only on suffrage of the Shapers, at least in theory. Also in theory, they have no secrets from the Shapers. Obviously, they have their own traditions, and since a Shaper will very, very rarely have the needed background to understand the highest levels of one of these “lesser” magical arts, the “no secrets” rule is essentially meaningless.
Nonetheless, while the basics of shaping are absolutely forbidden to non-shapers, any shaper has free access to the basics of any of these guilds – and nominal access to their advanced teachings, though few are serious enough students to manage such.
The membership of the lesser magical guilds comes from several sources –
a) Shaper washouts. Anyone who has any experience with higher education knows that “failing” may have very little to do with competency and a lot with politics. Nonetheless, sometimes those who don’t make the cut are transferred into a different guild so that their magical abilities can still be useful to society.
b) Children of the prominent. A Lapidary or a Mason doesn’t have quite the status of a Shaper – but they don’t have a fraction of the responsibility either, and are generally permitted to pursue their own wealth and advancement when the shapers have no need of their services.
c) The specifically talented. Some people just have a strong nack for one sort of magic and not another – since there are never enough Shapers (or other sorts of Magi) with genuine magical strength, the Shapers do a certain amount of scouting. The odds of a talent being noticed vary greatly depending on circumstances, however.

Magical Guilds are different in approach, not in effect. Thus, there is no guild that specializes in fire magic – but there is a a guild that specializes in using fire to do magic (seeing the future in fire, throwing someone’s fingernails into a fire in order to cause them bad luck, etc.)

Lapidaries Lapidaries do magic using crystals. This means they are the “lesser magicians” who make the wands and spray crystals, and they also work with those giant crystals that power many shaper facilities. The Lapidaries are the ancient allies of the Shapers, so they are the second most prestigious of the magical guilds, and the one given the most leeway.

Masons Masons basically do Feng Shui – they work magic through architecture and arrangement. These are the people who put up magical buildings and build many of the magical traps. Drawing mystic symbols on things and arranging them on the compass points, along with various other trappings of high ritual magic, are also part of the Masonic study. Their magic is not always artificial or even stationary; they can harness power from natural arrangements and the movement of natural things such as wind and water. Finally, they study space itself, and when the shapers permit the construction of a gate or portal, it is the Masons who build it. Masons are the third most prestigious of the magical guilds,

Aromatists This is a catch-all guild for various groups of witches and alchemists who surrendered to the Shapers, and whom the Shapers treated mercifully (both to encourage others to surrender without much of a fight and because they had magical skills the shapers thought might be useful.) The name of the guild comes from the practice of working magic by burning wood or incense and inhaling the smoke, which both harnesses magic inherent in the wood and alters the Mage’s state of consciousness. The Aromatists absorbed the remnants of various magical societies of a more or less alchemical nature, so they make magical salves and potions, and use other preparations to achieve altered states of consciousness. Their focus on fire also leads them to smith magical objects out of actual metal. Shapers make the plants from which magical pods, batons, etc. grow, but most Aromatists prefer to work with shaped plants over natural varieties. Finally, and again with a focus on ritualistic fires, aromatists practice sympathetic magic of a type very different from that practiced by Masons. The Aromatists are both the least prestigious and least trusted of the three major lesser guilds – unsurprising, given their history as defeated enemies. However, they still have great clout compared to the general population, and as the Shapers wars fade into ancient history, the stigma declines.

There are probably at least a dozen more, lesser magical guilds, but the Lapidaries, Masons and Aromatists are the big three, and are present in every major metropolis or agricultural region. Other magical guilds are comparatively much smaller, often taught in only a single school with membership only in that region.

Illegal Magical Practices
There are a number of magical practices which are illegal, for shapers or for any other guild. Before the shaper conquest, these arts were practiced by various magical societies – some of which were part of the magical guild system that preceded shaper dominance, and some of which were despised and illegal, even then. One of the reasons that Lapidaries are so favored is that the Shapers have seldom had cause to censure them for overstepping these bounds, while the Masons and Aromatists are prone to bouts of Demonology and Necromancy (respectively.)
Examples of forbidden magical practices include –
Necromancy of any kind. This includes both magic that involves or manipulates the dead, as well as the magic of the former Guild of Necromancers, which used death and human sacrifice as a means of magic.

Demonology. There are horrible things which are somehow excluded from our reality. The same techniques that would allow a Mason to open a gate between two places might allow him to summon these utterly alien and generally malevolent beings. Actually controlling or harnessing such beings would be an entire college of magic in its own right (demons being vary diverse and useful, after a fashion), but it has never been permitted by anyone remotely sane.

Various forbidden shaping. This gets talked about a lot in the computer game – creations that can make more creations, using shaping to alter human beings, making Drayks, all disallowed.

Creation Types
Basic Would be “battle” creations in the computer game. This is the default for a creation with a “normal” metabolism.
Fire Would be “fire” creations in the computer game. These creations incorporate magical fire into their physiology (they may or may not actually go around breathing it.)
Cold Likewise “fire” creations in the computer game. These creations incorporate magical cold into their physiology.
Spectral A class of creation which phases in and out of material reality.
Magical A Magical creation is essentially a creation which is, itself, capable of limited essence channeling. Name unchanged from the basic game, but now includes the majority of the basic game creations (since most of them can use magic in some sense or another.)
High Magic A Creation which MUST manipulate essence as part of its underlying processes (for example, anything that flies or floats.)

Computer Game Creations
Creation Type(s)
Fyora Fire
Cryoa Cold
Roamer Fire, Magical
Pyroroamer Fire, Magical
Drayk Fire
Cryodrayk Cold
Drakon Fire, High Magic
Ur-Drakon Cold, High Magic

Thahd General
Thahd Shade Spectral
Clawbug General
Plated Clawbug General
Battle Alpha General
Bettle Beta General
Rotghroth Magical
Rotdhizon Magical

Artila Magical
Searing Artila Magical
Vlish High Magic
Terror Vlish High Magic
Glaahk Magical
Ur-Glaahk Magical
Gazer High Magic
Eyebeast High Magic

Magical Fire
Essence channeling enables you to generate a lance of power that alters the properties of matter in its path, lowering the flashpoint (the temperature at which something combusts) of anything in its path. The power lance is itself invisible, but the effect of the lance on the intervening air is to generate a cloud of red, orange or yellow sparks and possibly similarly hued, glowing smoke.
Creations of the “Fire” type are those that incorporate this stuff into their metabolic processes. Essentially, a pyro-creation uses magical fire to digest its food. Such creations are also, often, capable of producing lances of the stuff on their own.

Magical Cold
Generating magical cold is more difficult than generating magical fire, but often somewhat more harmful. Shapers generally lack the skill to do this directly. Instead of causing matter to fall apart, a lance of magical cold causes matter in its path to temporarily assume an extremely unstable state, sucking heat from the environment when it does so.
When air collapses from this unstable state, blue or white sparks are produced, sometimes so many that it looks like blue glowing smoke. A certain amount of ionizing radiation is also produced, although very little heat. Thus, you can use these cold bolts (or a similar but weaker effect) to chill a room.
However, it is the sheer transmutation power of the lance that does most of the damage, and not the cold, per se, which is why these lances are actually more destructive than their heat-based counterparts.

Magical Acid
Using essence, it is possible to create a universal solvent out of ordinary water.
You can squirt (or spit) the stuff at people, or you can condense it out of water vapor in the air and drop it on people.
Either way, being splashed with it is extremely lethal, and will hurt virtually anything, although it generally takes a bit to kill someone.

Magic Zots
As fired by Vlish and Gazers. Essentially, this is a telekinetic fist.

Humanity (Humans)
6.0 or less Unmodified human. No penalties. Unless a particular forging has an obvious effect (like, say, claws), it is undetectable at this level.
5.0 or less Slightly creepy. Anyone who meets you makes an Intuition + Essence (3) test. If they succeed, they sense something wrong or unnatural about you, -1 die penalty on social skills in most situations (no penalty on intimidation, no penalty when dealing with a cabal of takers, use common sense.) People who recognize this sense of the unnatural (for example, loyalist agents who hunt takers)
4.0 or less Intuition + Essence (2) or a –2 penalty (same schpeal.) Character probably enjoys increased self-confidence and zest for life, without noticing any loss of self-control.
3.0 or less Intuition + Essence (1) or a –3 penalty (same schpeal.) Character’s vigor and enthusiasm may strike others as dissonant or offputting in its intensity.
2.0 or less -4 penalty all the time (same schpeal). Starting to get crazy – Willpower + Humanity (1) to exercise restraint or humility. Note that this arrogance does not necessarily equate a lack of empathy, or a lack of concern for, for example, the freedom and intrinsic dignity of others.
1.0 or less Really crazy. Willpower + Humanity (2) to exercise restraint or humility. Character also becomes much more passionate, probably prone to extreme mood swings.
0.0 or less Furniture chewing super-villainy. Can exercise caution to show off your own cleverness, but never through a lack of self-confidence, which is now boundless. Expect to spend a lot of time explaining yourself to people while they hang precipitously over a pit of slavering monsters (who will eat them in your absence). Character may be driven by noble principles, ideas or ideals, but is an overconfident megalomaniac.

Humanity (Serviles)
Note that Serviles only start with 4.0 but they lose HALF as much when forged, so they can get 7.9 points of enhancements before turning evil.
4.0 or less Basic servile. Serviles experience many social penalties.
3.0 or less Modified servile. Loyalist shapers will sometimes customize serviles to this degree, but certain forgings (such as the ability to channel essence!) will get the servile killed on the spot.
2.0 or less Dangerous, angry, possibly crazy.
1.0 or less Perpetually angry, definitely crazy.
0.0 or less
Posts: 19 | Registered: Saturday, October 18 2003 07:00