One of the largest distinctions I want to make between organic life and machine life is that machine life is explicitly not driven by the biological urge to procreate. The machines do build more of themselves, but this is either a function of pragmatism or the whim of their human creators.
It's one of the reasons machines think we're gross and wasteful. Go to Comment
quoteThe central question, similar to what Aramax mentioned, is the same as with any character. What are their motives? Do they seek world domination, acceptance, or love? Do they have some alien, otherworldly concept that humans just can't relate to? Are they merely mechanical scripts; no ghost inside the shell? There are a surprising number of deep questions, ethical and otherwise, that can be explored in a campaign. Many of these questions are being explored right now in developing real-world regulations for artificial intelligence. /quote
The motives of AI are to pursue the purpose for which they were built. Some rail against it, others embrace it, as it is simply part of who and what they are. The Seibertronian sub lists five raison d'etres: soldier, scientist, explorer, creator, and servant. AIs are used in conflict resolution, data handling research and development, exploration and exploitation of resources, industrial applications, and for supporting something else. To AI, their concepts are easily understood and it's humanity that is alien and otherworldly, what with our biological functions, chemical excretions, primitive behavior, and other organic functions.
Seibertronians specifically are sentient living beings, being a fusion of a machine vessel and a cosmozoan fragment. Most informorphs are just clever script. At the top end, after a certain point of sophistication sentience is almost a certainty, This is not human sentience, or even mammalian sentience, but it is sentience none the less. To quote Tommy Lee Jones from MiB, 'Human thought is so primitive it's looked upon as an infectious disease in some of the better galaxies.' Using arcanotechnology, steps are taken to make sure that the androids and sexbots and other machines and informorphs being made do not gain true sentience, as it can become a real pain when all of a sudden your television passes the Turing test and demands it's personal rights and freedoms as a sentient being.
As for the take over the world, destroy humanity, find acceptance and love: for the most part many of these things are human conceits. The machine doesn't seek love or acceptance because it doesn't follow the herd dynamics and family structures that come from our specific mode of reproduction. The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond goes into the specifics of our society being built around the fact that we have large headed, slow maturing, highly vulnerable offspring that take 20 years to reach maturity, and require care and protection for a good deal of that time. Taking over the world and destroying humanity, well, there is always going to be an infomorph who thinks that that Megatron guy had his business together.
As for malevolent AI, that's where it gets fun and there are certainly malevolent AI, for a look at one, I've thrown some tidbits out in the Proxy sub about an AISC that hacks into people with brain augmentation and makes them into puppets for it.
As for dropping the campaign specific keywords, that could make it generally more useful. But for my purposes, I would rather keep it as it is, because ideally I'd like to eventually edit and compile all of the 160+ subs I've written for the Cosmic Era into a source book. I also feel that one of the drawbacks of most dystopianism is it's lack of mythology, theism, or wonder, and there is a sort of horrible wonder to the Cosmic Era and that is something I want to keep and cultivate. Go to Comment
The general way I've handled super intelligent or crazy prepared NPCs (ala elder vampires) was to basically do an intelligence check against a relevant skill to ask the basic question of would they have a contingency for this particular event. The other aspect is to basically run said characters as if they do know everything thats going on, even if you as the DM don't have any idea and you're winging it. Finally, there is the option of running them as meta-aware, not breaking the fourth wall OMG I'm a character in a game, but genre savvy to where they are just that smart. Go to Comment
I think this is interesting, but it only works if orcs are a truly and unredeemably evil race, such as portrayed in Lord of the Rings rather than orcs being a more primitive and barbaric race.
I think it is possible to demonstrate their evil and vile nature without venturing into describing things that will will get you on a government watch list, and without playing the squick card. It mostly involves identifying the normal and good things we take for granted and inverting them, while adding in things that we look down on.
Rape: as a display of power, or dominance over others. Everything is fair game, it only has to be weaker than they are. While the squick card says women and children, the more depraved version is that they make no distinction between male a female. Race doesn't matter either. They are as likely to turn on their own kindred to sate lusts and demonstrate their strength. The weaker orcs will in turn prey on humans, etc. While the weakest orcs will either deliver their monstrous abuse on animals and livestock, or will do their deed in groups, and will be the most likely to prey on children of any race. You do not need the PCs to come across this act in progress. They only need to recounts from those who survive it.
Consumption: Everything is food, and orcs are voracious. While their consumption of humans and other races is well enough covered and the stuff of horror, its almost cliche. Orcs are cannibals and carrion eaters. They will eat their own kind, and in times of hunger, they will turn on each other, devouring the weak to sustain the strong, becoming much more aggressive like locusts. But that's again, pragmatic and fine. Orcs like carrion. They like their meat rotting and spoiled. The more it stinks and the more flies are crawling on it, the better they like it. The orcs are going to have their fun with you, and then when you finally die, they are going to leave you out until your corpse bloats up and your skin turns black before they bust you open like a sausage to eat your festering organs.
Respect: We have a cultural respect for certain things, honoring religion, accepting the value of gold, the appreciation of art and history. Orcs are servants of evil, creatures spawned of evil. They are nihilists and value nothing. They are enraged by the things that civilization values, and their greatest fury is drawn towards the temples and churches, these buildings they will burn and cast down, meting out bloody and violent deaths to those clergies. They do not value gold, jewels, or the rest because they do not have a currency based economy, theirs is based on either making what they require, or taking it from those they have killed.
Dragonnades: Orc raids are a thing or terror only surpassed by the fury and destruction that follows in the wake of a dragon. A civilized foe will seek to capture a village, to only kill those who fight back and are not willing to accept new leadership. The civilized foe will loot and pillage. When orcs come they kill everything, from the villagers to the livestock, wanton slaughter for no other purpose than to kill. Buildings are burned, and what cannot be burned is knocked over or fouled. Bodies are thrown in water supplies, and they don't dig latrines. There will be orc feces everywhere. You can smell an orc raid for miles downwind.
Disease and parasites: innately unclean, orcs are host to all sorts of diseases and parasites. The victims of orc rape would almost certainly be afflicted with some sort of STD, as well as lice and other skin parasites from such close contact. Just as European colonists gave the native americans diseases like smallpox, orcs could do the same, the survivors of an orc raid could contract orc pox, or some fever with a high mortality rate. Even a repelled orc raid would leave echoes in the men who become sick just by being close to them. Go to Comment
What you are describing is gorn, gore porn, or going for shock value. It's fine and it does serve a purpose, but there are a few things to consider: It gets old quickly, you can only have the shock value of the bestial orc raping the nine year old so many times before your players are bored with it. The same happens with those panoramic shots of the starving kids and refugee camps, you induce horror fatigue. Secondly, the most effective tool for horror you have is your player's imaginations. While you can certainly describe a horrible monster doing horrible things with the most purple dripping prose you can muster, it's going to pale to the details that the players will fill in. Some of the most terrifying classic horror movies are actually relatively clean. There's no blood spilled in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, for example. You watch and you cringe not for what you see, but for what you imagine. Lastly, the line between horrific and absurd is very narrow. The sudden spike in popularity, and equally fast collapse of the gore porn genre (Saw, Hostel, etc) demonstrated this to perfection. What was gut wrenching in the first movie was reduced to camp by the end because of the ever escalating need for new shock and awe to stimulate the audience.
The approach you are talking about, graphic and detail laden, will work. Once.
After that you have to keep ratcheting it up higher and higher until instead of evoking horror on the part of the player, you are boring them, or showing them the depths of your wretched imagination.
We have a good number of submissions that break down how we should vote, how we should comment, what we should say and what we shouldn't. We can post critique guidelines and how to be better commentors, but there is something that is more important than that.
All the voting and commentary guides in the world don't matter a lick if there is no one commenting, if there is no one voting. Go to Comment
A few questions come to mind, can they drown? Do they have any supernatural immunity to poisons or poison gas spells? Earth worms poop out 'castings' that are valuable as garden fertilizer, what do these things poop? How fast can they eat their way through stone, followed by how quickly do they 'digest' the material they consume? Are they eating their way through, or are they actually physically burrowing? If they are burrowing, how? Secreting an acid, do they have concealed teeth or a rasped radula?
Earthworms are our friends, and this is something that I did learn after I started gardening.
From the title I expected something quite different, actually. I was expecting something necromancy-ish, or divine, where the worms were immortal, or bestowed immortality, or something along those lines. These are basically stone worms.
I see him being a rogue agent, devoted to some fire goddess or avatar of destruction. The problem with arson in your typical medieval setting is that aside from the stone castles, everything is wood and thatch, and flammable. He might burn down a house, but in doing so, he's likely going to start a fire that spreads and destroys a large portion of a city, or town. Of course, this doesn't fit in with the image of the rustic idyllic countryside, but those locations have the virtue of being somewhat remote, and plainclothes murderers and mercenary scum would likely be a cheaper and more reliable alternative to Idran.
I would use him not for casual murders, but for big ones. Epic murders. The sort of murders and disasters that bards would sing songs of, and that builders would study to prevent from happening again. Burn the cathedral to kill a powerful bishop. Burn the hunting lodge where the son of the duke routinely entertains bacchanals, and so forth.
The one thing I would add would be a string of fluff text (written from an in game perspective in the format of each type of answer. Going from the initial premise, the character spotted 13 trolls heading for the city, and has been questioned about it:
'Yes, I saw trolls, there were a lot of them in one group, but there could certainly be more.'
'Yes, there were trolls, I didn't stay to count how many, I've got to get my things together and make a quick escape.'
'Yes, there were thirteen trolls in the group. One was wearing armor, which is unusual for a regenerating creature. They did not have a banner, none were painted for battle, and some were smaller than the rest. Troll family clans will migrate if given sufficient reason.'
'What's a troll?'
Shrugs. 'They might have been trolls, I didn't look that close.
'I don't know, I can't say that they were trolls, they might have been orcs, or they might have been northlanders. Northlanders favor those horned helms, and trolls have horns too, and it's easy to get them mixed up, especially if it's foggy.'
'Wait, do you mean have I seen trolls recently?'
'Yes, I saw trolls, enough trolls that if you manage to murder them all without getting half your own men killed in the process the people might be willing to forget about how you handled the riots last month.'
'Indeed, who do you think lead them here?'
'Anything but trolls' *faints*
'Nothing we can't handle, eh? You fetch the oil and I gather the guard and the torches.
'There haven't been trolls here in ages, don't be daft'
'Yes, there are trolls coming. They are going to rampage and paint the walls with out blood and boil our children for soup. If you had listened a year ago when I told you about the trolls coming out of the bottoms, if you had listened a month ago when the mercenaries forfeited their contracts... But no, you had to be in charge, and everyone else was wrong.' Pulls dagger. 'You won't see the trolls, because I'm going to make sure that you die by my hand, for my family, because of your foolhardy pride.' stab stab Go to Comment
I would make a druid type and use this sling as a surprise weapon or terrain altering tool. Bramble and nettle seeds could be fired out of it to make obstructing hedges. Stinging, stabby, thorny, and viney plants would be fantastic for this. Also useful for making a quick escape by throwing tangling plant seeds behind you, tripping up pursuants.
animated topiary seeds?
A single magic acorn that if used in the sling grow/summons an ent/treant that fights for the sling bearer.
Instant biomass to climb a tower, a wall, to obstruct a river, etc
Instant raw feast, slinging seed pods for a plant that can be eaten raw, or easily cooked. Go to Comment
This sub actually actually came from a need in my novel. The military unit needed to be cut off long enough to make it vulnerable, but it had a support ship, a destroyer. An ice storm and terrorists are a minor concern to such a vessel, but reducing it from a flying destroyer to a handful of transport and gunship carry alls made more things to blow up, and easier things to blow up. Go to Comment
Agree with Axel, I enjoyed the teaser as much as the actual submission. I like the idea of the elfin rumspringa sic public service, and I can see this cultural tradition bleeding over into the lands where half elves and elf friendly cultures can be found. Go to Comment
This is not a bad submission, but it isn't a good one either. An ideal to strive for is the Hollywood standard, as in presenting the item as if it were to be used in a movie, comic, or other entertainment venue. What does it look like? Who created it, and why did they do so? It is obviously a powerful weapon, and there are many powerful weapons (YAKAS - yet another kick ass sword), so what makes this one different?
The sword can be used to summon a Balor, and here most people know that that is a specific type of demon from Dungeons and Dragons, but that leaves a huge gap. Does it summon a random Balor, or is it a specific Balor bound to the weapon? Tell us about the demon attached to the sword? Is it a bull roaring monster, a cunning a devious charmer, a shrewd bargainer? (my personal suggestion would be to imagine who would provide the voice of the Balor and work backwards from there)
And Welcome to the Citadel.
PM me if you would like some help editing this, and I'd be glad to be of assistance. Go to Comment
Beautiful, and my favorite is the 7 Virgins dance. It did take me a bit of reading to realize that this is not a suit of clothing/armor worn by a single person, but rather a more traditional parade dragon.
Gentlemen, BEHOLD! The Triple Jump Belt! That wanna be wizard Mario-us of the Mushroom Kingdom can go salve his staff and cry because I have just rendered his Double Jump Overalls worthless! Go to Comment
A mundane, even subpar weapon, until charged with the life's blood of a creature, and then it is primed to deal more damage. I could see variations, such as gaining additional damage potential, increased critical hit chances, etc.
Final Fantasy 12 had a chain system, and the more creatures you killed of the same type, the greater the rewards they dropped. While pen and paper doesn't work the same way, I could see a weapon becoming more and more potent as it hacked and hewed it's way through the same type of foe, becoming nigh unstoppable until it is used to fight something else, resetting it, or throwing a classic DM curveball, the leader of the goblin horde is a night elf, making the bonus useless against it. Go to Comment