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Author Topic: [TSOY] Near's Frozen South  (Read 8909 times)
Troels
Member

Posts: 77


« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2008, 10:22:00 AM »

The elves of the far south didn't much get discussed, and since you also asked for comments in general...

For some reason, the cold southern reaches of Near are somehow less stable than other parts of the world. Those who become lost in the frozen tundra sometimes report wandering into strange green forests which simply cannot be, or meeting fellow travelers whose presence makes no sense in the inhospitable wastes, such as caravans drawn by great blue shaggy horses. The people of Vulfland know that sleeping underneath the twinkling Aurora can provide dreams which are oddly prescient of the future, and bear beneficial omens and dire warnings alike. Some are visited in dreams by the spirits of animals who have blessed them, made them their earthly representatives amid the peoples of the snows. And when a dream seems particularly bewildering but still of great urgency, the people turn to the Dream-Tellers, the interpreters and mystics, whose skills allow them to go abroad by night, traveling via their own dreams. Some elves are forever changed, both mentally and physically, by their time under the Aurora.

Even the savage vulfen, who eschew human ways and faiths, take their dreams seriously, understanding that a dream of danger is good cause for wariness. When puzzled by a dream omen, even the proudest vulfen might slink away to find a Dream-Teller of another species, forgoing his normal response towards the human tribes or the primitive goblins. The simple yeti of the mountains also trust in the significance of their dreams to guide them to new sensations which they might sample and enjoy. Only the elves, with their remote alien minds, do not experience the night visitations that the other peoples of Vulfland have come to trust over the generations. This is not to say, of course, that elves are immune to the strangeness of the "dreaming places" of the south--if anything, there are small enclaves of elves who eagerly study these "soft places," seeking to better understand the waking dream of their existence on Near.

This is the bit about your Vulfland that really makes me want to play. Say, a ruthless elf hunter/mercenary mystic determined to learn about peoples' prophetic dreams. At any cost. To them. To get to stick around, he tries to make himself indispensable so that he can "cultivate" dreamers. And the more desperate and pressed their situations, the better. When he has a couple of really good subjects, he will convince them that it is necessary to travel to a soft place, where he can actually meet and mess with their dreams. The thing about the Aurora changing elves keeps him at risk, and his quest for dreams and dreamers could ultimately threaten to turn him human. THAT, I could play!

But then, the elf/goblin/human triangle is one of the bits of near that I love the most.

Hey, here's a thought. Since goblins are defined by their addictions and consequent lack of love for anything else, maybe human (or elf) wendigos who truly embrace the cannibal urge actually become goblins. Horrid, monstrous goblins, whose ability to change makes them even harder to control and contain. Imagine, then, a wendigo goblin falling to the affliction. Imagine being the target of it's affections.

The stories are just popping out of your Vulfland!
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shadowcourt
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2008, 11:01:37 AM »

Heh, thanks, Troels. Glad you're enjoying that element.

This is only vaguely on-topic, but I wrote that bit particularly because in the games of TSOY I run elves simply don't dream, or even sleep in the way that other creatures do. I've stolen the D&D conceit of elves meditating rather than sleeping just as an homage to the whole "D&D heartbreakers" thing which seems to be the genesis of TSOY's development, and because I liked the implications it had for the idea that Near is only something that the elves are dreaming.

With the idea that Vulfland has a strange connection to dreams in general, it seemed particularly apropos (whether people are using that variation on the elf daily cycle or not) to indicate that things were strange for them there. Your elf character idea is brilliant, though. I hadn't even considered just how vicious an elf could be, in his obssession to control and understand the dreams of the Vulflanders, and thereby gain a leg up on his mastery of himself/Near/what-have-you. All the more exciting if he's in danger of becoming human in touching too closely on what dreams are. Excellent stuff.

I love your thoughts on goblins and their connection to the whole Wendigo thing, as well. Its not for nothing that I based the Secret of the Wendigo so heavily on the goblin species secret. I wanted people to be able to question and play around with that weird place of obssession/addiction/madness which is so mired in the goblin-human-elf triangle. Your goblin wendigo who is suffering from the Afflicition is truly terrifying. Even if he solves his goblinhood, and becomes human, he's still a vicious human cannibal. Wild.

I've been thinking that I really need to figure out what the Vulflander humans call themselves. The idea that their nation might be called Vulfland is one thing, but I'd love to get an Eskimo or Lapplander-sounding name for the people themselves, just so that they have a term that means "the people" which they call themselves, among their own kind, and which indicates what their language should sound like. I had considered "Inuk" before, but I'm not settled yet.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)
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shadowcourt
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2008, 02:30:11 PM »

Sorry to bump what's been a largely dormant thread for a bit, but I realized I never posted the core Cultural Secrets for Vulfland. They've got more than just the magical stuff for the Dream-Tellers. After all, what does a non-mystical type get as a potential perk?

Comments welcome, as always. Some of these could use some work. And there's definitely plenty of space available for some new ideas from folks.

Cultural Secrets

Secret of Awakening the Tale<Cost: 1 Reason.

Secret of the Cold Sea<Secret of the Fearsome Hunter
You have great skill at tracking and capturing prey, and have earned a measure of accord from this ability. You receive a bonus die on Animal Ken checks and related checks to pursue game. You receive a bonus die on Intimidate checks when facing vulfen, who treat you less as prey and more as a rival. Prerequisite: Must not be a member of the vulfen species.

Secret of Fetch Status<Prerequisite: Must not be a member of the vulfen species..

Secret of the Flame-Keeper
You are a priest of flames, devoted to the importance of preserving fire among the tribes of Vulfland. A Hospitality check, and the expenditure of 1 Reason, allows you to make fire in any place, even when there is seemingly nothing to burn and no way to keep it lit. Cost: 1 Reason.

Secret of Foraging<Secret of the Icy Home
You are well-trained to survive in freezing environments. You receive a bonus die on Arctic Survival checks to navigate or find shelter. You ignore 1 point of harm from cold damage, no matter the source; this benefit applies in addition to any imbued defenses you have, which further reduce harm from cold (such as warm clothing).

Secret of the Many Snows<Cost: 1+ Reason.

Secret of the Mountain-Walker
Your experience in the cliffs and mountains of the your frozen homeland has taught you how to travel over difficult terrain. You receive a bonus die on ability checks to climb mountains or navigate in steep or rocky terrain. You receive a bonus die on Endurance Ability checks to deal with thin air and cold climates.

Secret of the Polar Nomad
You live among nomadic cultures of the tundra and glaciers. You add a bonus die to Animal Ken ability checks when dealing with arctic wildlife. If you become lost in the cold wastes (typically through a failed check), you can immediately spend 1 Reason to make the check a second time, as if circumstances had changed.

Secret of the Scentless
You were born without an easily detectable body scent. Anyone trying to track you by smell takes 2 penalty dice on the check. However, you make animals and feral creatures nervous, imposing a penalty die on your Animal Ken checks, and on some social checks with vulfen.

Secret of the Sunken Harpoon<Cost: 2 Vigor, 1 Instinct.

Secret of the Surefooted
You find it easy to keep your balance while walking over snow, ice, or similar loose terrain. You add a bonus die to any check to keep your footing or avoid slipping.


I know a lot of those are redundant, in some ways. I think I might have gone overboard on the "Get it? It's all snow and ice!" tip. Anyone who has suggestions for combining, cutting, etc.. I'm all ears. Ditto for adding things which have a little more diversity and spice to them.

In addition, two minor systems. These are on the scale of the moon-metal stuff in Khale, hopefully. Not everyone is into them, and they're not the biggest thing, but they provide additional spice.


Totem Worship
I know I need to detail a little more carefully just WHY the Vulflanders believe in totemic representation, and what their origin myth is like. I'm tempted to go for a slightly stirred-up version of Australian Dreamtime beliefs, with the idea that both animals, land-forms, and certain people were created by progenitor animals, who watch over their children still. As such, communities, families, and individuals might all have totem spirits associated with them. Personal totems usually come only as a result of powerful dream visitation, or a traumatic or intense event in a character's life. A young child who wanders away from his family, is attacked by two vulfen who are driven off by an enraged walrus is clearly marked by the Walrus totem, as far as his fellow villagers are concerned. He is more likely to be pushed towards a maritime trade, to exploit the good graces of the Walrus spirit, and he may dream of walruses much more often (though whether this is the result of Vulfland's dream-world responding to his own thoughts, or vice versa, remains intentionally mysterious).

As such, here are a couple of Secrets designed to play around with those thematics. Hopefully some more flavor text to follow.

Secret of Totem Blessings
You have a patron animal totem which gives you blessings; this may be the totem of your tribe, or a personal one if you wish. You receive a bonus die on all Animal Ken and Arctic Survival ability checks to interact with or hunt your totem animal. You also receive a bonus die on an another Ability appropriate to your totem, determined when you take this Secret. For instance, a character with the seal totem might receive a bonus die on Maritime checks for swimming, while a stag totem might provide a bonus die on Athletics checks while running. An eagle totem might provide a bonus die on Reaction checks related to vision, a hare might provide a bonus die on Stealth checks, and a bear might provide a bonus die on Bash and Hold. An arctic fox might provide a bonus on Deceit checks, while a raven might grant a bonus to Theft. Keeping a positive relationship with a totem requires giving thanks to it whenever you take of its children (offering prayers to the Salmon when you eat fish, for instance, and thanking them for their deaths) as well as willingness to participate in community rituals in honor of your totem spirit.

Secret of the Totem Boon
Totem spirits associated with you and your community listen when you call out to them in dreams. You can make a Pray ability check to call on an animal totem and converse with it, asking its advice, spending 2 Vigor. The totem will appear in dreams, providing advice, information, or minor aid as per the SL of the check, but will also demand some minor service or act performed in its name. Cost: 2 Vigor, plus the service the totem demands.


You can call upon your totem to ask for minor aid or favors from its animal kin. This requires an Animal Ken ability check, and the expenditure of 1 Instinct. Animals are called who provide minor benefits to you, usually performing simple tasks which are within their scope of ability. This can result in a pool of bonus dice equal to the SL of the check, if that is appropriate for the favors asked. Cost: 1 Instinct. Prerequisite: Secret of Totem Blessings.

Secret of Totem Form
You can assume the form of your patron animal totem. This requires 2 Instinct and 1 Vigor. In this form, you redistribute your ratings in your Innate Abilities and your Pray ability between the following Abilities: Power (Vigor), Swiftness (Instinct), Senses (Instinct), and Brain (Reason). You cannot use any other Abilities in this form, can only communicate as an animal, and are denied access to any Secrets which rely on your normal shape. Cost: 2 Instinct, 1 Vigor. Prerequisite: Secret of Totem Blessings.


Skin-Thievery
Dreams and the powers of totems are not the only magics of Vulfland. It is said that long ago, a dream-teller was upbraided by the eagle totem his people worshiped for demanding gifts and favors of the spirit without giving service and making offerings in turn. This arrogant shaman stole gifts the people gave to the community totem and took them for himself, leaving no part for the hungry Eagle. When he was warned by Eagle to be generous to the children, he laughed and did as he wished, shooting many of the great birds from the sky without giving thanks for their deaths, and making a fine stew of them.

The shaman was punished by the spirits when, during a great rite in which he sought to impress the village with his gifts of flight, he was turned back into man-form by Eagle and set to fall from a great height. Falling past the other birds, he reached out in his anger, snatched one up, and tore it to pieces. Smearing its blood and feathers on his body as he hurtled towards his death, his magic and anger twisted inside him, and he stole the bird's form, becoming an eagle once more.

Since that time, those who mock and defy the spirits have learned the gifts of Skin-Thievery, becoming dangerous sorcerers who work magics that are displeasing to the totems. Humans are not alone in these magics; vulfen, who care little for reverence to the spirits, have learned these arts, as have some self-serving elves and yeti, though the latter are almost always banished from among their people for such needless blood-letting. Skin-thievery is a dark art, and those who practice it are driven away from communities, regarded in much the same light as the wendigo are. It is not uncommon, of course, for a skin-thief who is denied access to the bounty of the community to turn to murder, and finally cannibalism to survive in the cold wastes, making the association a literal truth.

Secret of the Skin-Thief
You have learned magical secrets of impersonation, allowing you take the form of a creature you kill by skinning it and wearing its hide. This requires a Crafts ability check, and the expenditure of 2 Instinct and 1 Vigor. The total SL of the check results in a number of hides prepared from a single body. A hide can only be used once, after which it disintegrates. You appear as a member of the species which you killed and skinned, but not exactly as that individual; the strength of your disguise is equal to the Crafts check result, which can be opposed normally by anyone trying to pierce the disguise. Cost: 2 Instinct, 1 Vigor.

Secret of Skin-Thief Mastery
When you steal the hide of a creature to appear as one of its kind, you can choose to prepare the hides so that you appear exactly like that creature, rather than simply a member of its species. This allows you to easily appear as your subject a distance, though you may still need to make Deceit checks to impersonate mannerisms and voices. Prerequisite: Secret of the Skin-Thief.


-shadowcourt (aka josh)
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2008, 05:42:52 PM »

I'd love to comment on this, but I'm too busy as it is with convention preparations. If I haven't come around by the 18th, feel free to bug me about it; for now I'm trying to have time for something else apart from TSoY, too.
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Rich F
Member

Posts: 20


« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2008, 01:49:23 AM »

Initial Thoughts

Skin Thieves are nice, and suit the tone.  Could you wear a man's skin?  I'd be tempted to change the cost to 1 Vigor, 1 Instinct and 1 Reason (you need to be the animal, think like the animal and act like the animal).

Totem's are OK, but don't grab me yet.  I think it is missing a twist or hook - perhaps the idea of love between the totem and the shaman, 2 souls in 1 body perhaps, "I am the bear and the bear is me".  Perhaps look at the distinction between A bear and The Bear.  Can you see through the eyes of any bear, control their actions for a time.  Grab a couple of animals and detail them up, what is the Essence of Bear and turn that into a Secret and (perhaps more importantly) a Key.

Cultural Secrets I really like are Fearsome Hunter (Appear as Predator not Prey to Vulfen), Fetch Status (I can't help but picture Wormtongue from LotR), Many Snows (using the environment to do Harm - ties in with so many film heroes, using their knowledge to beat a physically superior opponent) and Scentless (just seems to tie in well with the Vulfen).


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shadowcourt
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2008, 09:44:17 AM »

Rich,

You can absolutely wear a human's skin. That's part of the fun of this. It allows sorcerers to prey on communities, or vulfen to secretly try out how the other species live, even though its totally taboo for them to do so among their own kind.

I'm also probably missing:

Secret of the Borrowed Form
Without a full hide to steal, you can still appear as someone else briefly. This requires a stolen lock of hair, fingernail clippings, or some fresh drops of the subject's blood. The Crafts check creates only a single "hide" no matter how many Success Levels you achieve, a small bundle which must be worn while the illusion is assumed, and lasts only for 1 scene before burning away.
Prerequisite: Secret of the Skin-Thief, Secret of Skin-Thief Mastery. Cost: As per Secret of the Skin-Thief, +1 Reason.

Something to keep the mischief level up, when you can't quite afford to kill your prey yet. Note the shorter duration, though.

Something about your idea of Totem-love is really sparking for me, except in a different way than you're suggesting. Rather than "I am the Bear, the Bear is me," which is sometimes done in a very bland way, maybe the answer is to treat Totems as if if their family relationship was much more evident and present for the Vulflanders: "Bear is my father", "Hare is my little brother", "Owl is my lover." There's a beautiful Amasalisk eskimo poem I can remember from my youth which equates the way a man feels for the woman with whom he's in love for the way the hunter wants the seal he is hunting. Its a matter of survival, that kind of passion. His continued existence hinges on her. It may make for a very interesting cultural conceit in that the Totem is treated as a family member, and welcomed/propitiated accordingly. One keeps symbolic representations of the totem in the appropriate family role: a fetish-doll of Hare is brought to children's games, fed at the table like an infant brother, and must be played with, sang to, and cradled. If Bear is father, then his image must occupy a seat at the head of the table, he must be consulted on matters of import to the family, and one may have to seek Bear out and accept his punishment if one has hurt the family in some way, before one can be allowed into its good graces once more. Similarly, if Owl is your lover, you might be compelled to dance with, seduce, and make love to the ritual-dancer who wears Owl's mask at the great ceremony.

Similarly, the Totems quarrel with each other, and have enemies and allies. Kite steals the eggs of Penguin, making them foes of each other. Seal and Bear fight for the same food, and battle with each other. Fox chases Hare, who gains cunning from running from his foe.

We could easily construct a few Keys which represent the Keys as familial relationships, which might make Vulflander spiritual practice really unique in Near. Rather than being the Bear, you are the Bear's lover. The method whereby you are chosen by your Totem might well give insight into the nature of this relationship, as well-- communities often default to Totem patrons as parents, while people rescued by a Totem's representative (the sailor who almost drowns were it not for a seal) regard their personal Totem as lovers if they are adults, or parents if they were children at the time of their accident. A strange dream of a weak or small animal, or an experience caring for one which marks the character, might render the Totem their child. Vision quests and fever dreams become key ways to determine this social pecking order.

Key of the Totem Child
You have accepted one of the Totems as your own, whom you treat as a child figure. This could be your sibling, or your own child, depending on your own social role. You treat its representatives (animals of the Totem's type, carvings, fetish-dolls, and ritual implements which bear its likeness, priests and ritual dancers wearing its garb and masks) as if they were your Totem child.
1 XP: Treat your totem's representatives with tenderness and generosity--feed or baby them, raise them as your own.
2 XP: Defend your totem's representatives from danger.
5 XP: Give generously of yourself to your Totem child even though it causes harm or great personal loss.
Buyoff: Fail to come to the aid of your Totem child.

Key of the Totem Lover
You have accepted one of the Totems as your own, whom you treat as a lover. You treat its representatives (animals of the Totem's type, carvings, fetish-dolls, and ritual implements which bear its likeness, priests and ritual dancers wearing its garb and masks) as if they were your Totem lover.
1 XP: Offer a love gift (a meal, jewelry, poetry or love songs) up to your Totem or one of its representatives.
2 XP: Make a sacrifice of something you need or want for the good of your Totem or one of its representatives.
5 XP: Refuse the love of another in favor of your dedication to your Totem.
Buyoff: Cheat on your Totem lover or reject their advances.

Key of the Totem Parent
You have accepted one of the Totems as your own, whom you treat as a parent figure. You treat its representatives (animals of the Totem's type, carvings, fetish-dolls, and ritual implements which bear its likeness, priests and ritual dancers wearing its garb and masks) as if they were your Totem parent.
1 XP: Offer respect up to your Totem or one of its representatives--allow it to eat your food, or use your home.
2 XP: Submit to the authority and suggestions of your Totem's representatives.
5 XP: Complete the demands of your Totem's representatives even though it brings you harm or risk.
Buyoff: Defy the edicts of your Totem or its representatives.

Key of the Totem Sibling
You have accepted one of the Totems as your own, whom you treat as a brother or sister. You treat its representatives (animals of the Totem's type, carvings, fetish-dolls, and ritual implements which bear its likeness, priests and ritual dancers wearing its garb and masks) as if they were your Totem sibling.
1 XP: Spend time working and living alongside your Totem or its representatives, accomplishing tasks with it.
2 XP: Engage in competition against your Totem's representatives or its spiritual enemies.
5 XP: Improve the situation of your Totem's representatives despite risk or harm--make fools of its spiritual enemies, find new homes for its animal children, or get the priests to make special offerings to your totem.
Buyoff: Hurt your Totem or its representatives and refuse to make apologies or restitution.

(I'm having a tougher time with that one, even though I think it's important. The Seal-Brother is potentially just as interesting as the Seal-Lover or the Seal-Child, I think, but I have to figure out a good payoff scheme for a Key which is about supporting, living with, competing against, and helping your Totem.)

I'm glad you liked some of those other Cultural Secrets, Rich. it's true that you like the ones which I like the most, as well. Some of the others are there for survival sake, but really need to be condensed and simplified.

Just some brainstorming. Hopefully, its got a new fun twist to it.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #21 on: February 28, 2008, 10:39:04 AM »

In general, there's some excess fat on these, I feel. Lots of Secrets that are pretty basic stuff that I'd create during play as necessary. Then again, you seem to prefer a pretty high number of premade Secrets, so you probably know what you're doing in this regard.

Secret of Awakening the Tale

The mechanical benefit here is pretty small, so much so that I'd allow that for anybody with Storytelling for free. Also, I wouldn't outright claim magical power where skill and mystery suffice.

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Secret of the Cold Sea
Secret of the Fearsome Hunter

Flavor stuff.

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Secret of Fetch Status

I like. Balanced and flavorful.

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Secret of the Flame-Keeper

Good.

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Secret of Foraging

An appropriate Ability will, per the rules, do this with at most a couple of penalty dice. Of course, using this Secret implies that such is not the case in the horrid ice wastes of the south, which is of course a possible decision to make. I'd hesitate to do so, however, as were I the SG I'd feel pretty bad at nerfing the Survival Ability in the one place where a character investing in it gets to actually do some heroic and epic stuff with it. After a campaign concentrating on urban environments finally gets to the extremely unhospitable reaches of the glacier it's a pretty shitty move to tell that the one Ability specifically meant for this kind of thing won't be doing anything, here.

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Secret of the Icy Home

A better version of the above, I'd say.

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Secret of the Many Snows

Excellent. Add one day of preparation per point of additional Harm, though; it should take time to mislead a pursuer or set up a trap.

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Secret of the Mountain-Walker
Secret of the Polar Nomad

Flavor stuff. I try to avoid precreating this stuff, as I find it difficult to remember which is which or even that I have these "small" Secrets prepared.

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Secret of the Scentless

Pretty interesting, but horribly marginal. So it's weak and has penalties, which isn't necessarily so good. Now, I'm a firm proponent of allowing and cherishing situationally useful Secrets, as the rules-system has no problem with them, but they should then be pretty strong in their chosen situation instead of random and detached from the setting. In this case, for instance, I'd just flat out state that the character can't be tracked or noticed by smell, he's outright invisible to smell-dependant creatures and that he's reviled by Vulfen, who consider him anathema and the harbinger of the second Age-Rift that shunts the forthcoming Wolf Age into a fold in time. Now that's significant, even if it's still pretty situational. Also, have to add some interesting requirement for getting this, so it's not just completely random. Could require having been a vendigo, for example.

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Secret of the Sunken Harpoon<Cost: 2 Vigor, 1 Instinct.

Nice. I'd write it this way:

Secret of the Sunken Harpoon
When you successfully damage an opponent with a Harpoon ability check in BDtP, you can keep the weapon embedded into your foe and use its rope to tangle and bind the foe. Any additional activations cause normal damage and inflict cumulative penalty dice on the opponent for the rope you dangle on him. The opponent can remove the harpoon and the penalty dice with a successful defensive action using React (I). Cost: 2 Vigor to embed the harpoon, 1 Instinct per round of using the rope.

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Secret of the Surefooted

How many times is that going to come up, now? I don't think I've had one of those situations ever...

My recipe for all that environmental flavor stuff that gives minor benefits and bonus dice is to save that stuff for actual play, unless the Secret is used as a speed-bumb for something else.

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Totem Worship

I like the idea of totem relationships. Has something to grab on.

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Secret of Totem Blessings

Add a requirement: to get this Secret a character has to face a life-threatening situation and survive. Then:

Secret of Totem Shaman
The character is blessed with the spirit sight, and can therefore see the totems of people and things. The character can set up a ritual ceremony for awakening the totem of another character; the shaman's player chooses the totem in this case. Requirements: Secret of Totem Blessings Cost: 2 Reason for preparing the totem rites.

So a given tribe will have a handful of people who got their totems spontaneously and many more who were given them in a safe ritual by the shaman. Sounds good to me.

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Secret of the Totem Boon

Sounds good to me! Especially like the phrasing in the scaling effect.

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Again, good. Balances well with the praying-based one.

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Secret of Totem Form

A bit high-fantasy to my tastes, and potentially powerful when you consider that some animals can fly, breath water and so on. It'd be cooler if the character just thought that he's changed into the animal. The mechanics can even stay the same Wink Then, give another Secret that allows actual transformation if you want; even then I'd go the way real-world shamanism does and have the character go into solitude and appear later in the form of an animal, instead of just transforming then and there in a blatant supernatural display. But that's just my tastes.

Also, thematically a bit weird that skin-thieves transform into animals as well... I guess it allows for cool duels in animal form under the ice pack and such.

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Skin-Thievery

Sounds good to me. Now you absolutely have to stop, though; three magical systems are more than enough for one culture, especially as there are a bunch of racial specialties tied to the same region as well.

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Secret of the Skin-Thief

The "number of hides prepared from a single body" makes little sense for small creatures. Rather, "number of hides per ritual". Also, limit this basic facility to creatures the size of the character. Also make a call on whether any ability replacements happen, or if this is just a shape-change.

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Secret of Skin-Thief Mastery

Have this consume all the skins prepared from a single kill. Also, allow the character to take the form of creatures smaller or larger than himself. Give some mechanical impact that is "deeper" than the impact of the above version.

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Secret of the Borrowed Form

Require just the first Secret for this; this is not a capstone ability.
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shadowcourt
Member

Posts: 153


« Reply #22 on: February 29, 2008, 11:15:18 AM »

Thanks for the input, everyone.

Eero, I agree with your suggestions about where to cut. Similarly, the totem stuff you suggest is really good, and I'm all for it, particularly the Shaman secret and the way it works with Blessing, and such.

I like the idea that you go off into the wilderness to assume a totem's form, and that its even uncertain if you've actually transformed, are inhabiting the mind of an existing animal, or something else entirely is going on. As a result, I've broken that Secret into two, basically following your ideas, but tweaking them slightly:

Secret of Totem Strength<Prerequisite: Secret of Totem Blessings. Cost: 2 Instinct.

Secret of Totem Journey<Prerequisite: Secret of Totem Blessings, Secret of the Totem Shaman, Secret of Totem Strength. Cost: 2 Reason, 1 Instinct.

Rich,

Thanks for the accidental inspiration for where the totem stuff ended up. I feel loads better about them now, and hopefully they grab people a bit more. The idea of the complex social politics around totems now become much more exciting to me. For instance, in a community where Walrus serves as the parent for the village (which is the traditional role for a totem's relationship to an entire community, though that's hardly set in stone...), a young child might fall into the icy waters one day, only to be saved by a walrus. The shaman of the community determines that walrus belives the little girl is his mother, and promptly conducts a formal awakening ceremony. Now, there's a young girl who other people refer to as "Grandmother", and ask her for advice sometimes when the walruses become difficult and threaten the ice-fishers. Thanks to her Totem Blessing, she at least has a bonus die or two when dealing with the walruses, but they intend to put her out on the ice floe to negotiate with them. Potentially exciting stuff, and weird for a foreigner to get their head around.

I'd love to play anything from the child herself to the concerned parents in that story, and I can think of lots of exciting plot. The jealous shaman might be envious of the special role that Walrus has given to this young girl, and conspire against her. She might be thrust into all sorts of negotiations, as well, when the chieftains of the community have to parlay with others communities and outsiders. It makes me think that the Key of the Totem Child should also have a whole bit in it, maybe as part of its 2 XP payoff, about "disciplining your totem when it misbehaves."

Thanks, everyone. Vulfland lives and breathes thanks to all of your contributions. I can't wait to play it this summer.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #23 on: February 29, 2008, 12:14:32 PM »

Be sure to write about it if you get to use this stuff in play. I have this "new TSoY stuff", referring mostly to your souther initiative, ready to break out whenever there's play opportunity. Almost got to play with it a couple of times already, but not quite; Hero's Banner, Prince's Kingdom and Primitive stole the slots so far.
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