I love all of the Scrastech. It's cool, it's realistic, it's detailed, and it's internally consistent. I would pay American dollars for a hardback or a pdf of it.
But it's also completely unusable to me. It's so specific that I would have to run a campaign around it in order to give this stuff the treatment that it deserves. It's basic future-tech equipment with a rich and textured history--a PRESENCE--but it's still just basic equipment.
A lot of the Scrastech posts have real cool ideas buried in them that I can scavenge, but not this one. This one is just lore. Notes for a campaign setting. Which I love to read.
I can't vote it low because it's so well done, and I can't vote high because it's unapproachable. It's the Scrastech Paradox.
I'll leave the voting to less excitable people. People who can leave comments shorter than five paragraphs. Go to Comment
The spines are poisonous, and banded in the same permutations of brown that mottle it's body. The spines are deadly poisonous, and if some ever finds its way to your bloodstream it will blacken your eyeballs and shatter your bones. However, the Leonamuth has no way to apply this poison intentionally: the poisonous mane mainly serves to discourage other leonamuth from jumping on its neck. (They are mostly resistant to their own poison.)
The poison also loses its efficacy after 1-3 days, and so it is impractical to store it. The only people who will bother poisoning their weapons are people who own a leonamuth. And when you own a leonamuth, you have a better ways to kill people than with a poisoned lance.
Leonamuths build elaborate dens. Their spines constantly grow and fall out. Discarded spines are carried back to its den and stuck into the ground, pointy end up. Larger, more practiced lions might even weave them together, to make something like palisade walls. Given enough time, this can resemble a (very small) labyrinth. There are rumors of a family of leonamuths that live together, and that have spent the last few centuries building a tremendous structure of woven spines. It is a honeycombed maze, and a familial den for the beasts. If anyone has ever found it, they have probably not survived to tell the story, so most disbelieve this "myth".
Leonamuth also use their spines to store leftovers, on the rare occasions when they are unable to finish a meal. Meat is gathered by rolling around in it. It is retrieved by shaking, like a wet dog.
Leonamuth spines are rarely made into permanent weapons, simply because they become brittle once they dry out. However, they have a famous and permanent usage in the Bone City, where they are used as dueling instruments. They have exactly the proper strength and flexibility to be used as dueling foils. The duels are always fatal and usually brief--one good poke with a fresh spine and you have only a few seconds left to poke your opponent before your brain turns to vinegar and your bones to sand.
Male leonamuth are very territorial. Although they will "adopt" a previous male's den if they take over the territory, they will also sabotage and destroy another male's den when given the chance. For smaller males, this is the only weapon they have against larger males.
Leonamuth will sometimes howl together, as regular as clockwork. They do not howl in response to any visible stimuli, but most sages will tell you that they howl in the direction of the next big corpsefall.
I think it would be a good idea to introduce PCs to leonamuth spine duels before they hear about leonamths. And then to hear about them long before they encounter one. And maybe they get back to camp after an excursion and the camp has leonamuth tracks all over it and all of their porters and friends are dead. Apex predators need to be built up before their introduction.
Sorry, animals preying on humans is something we haven't had to take seriously in a few hundred years (partly because the lions weren't 20' tall). Here's another something to shake the ancestral fear by the shoulder.
Not only do leonamuth's use their spine-dens to impress females, but they also use them acoustically. In the wastelands of Corpsefall, hearing a far-off corpse hit the ground is often a matter of life and death.
Built according to instinctual blueprints, spine-dens always work to funnel and amplify sounds towards the center. A listener in the center of the den can hear noises coming from ten times farther away than they would otherwise. Bigger dens are more powerful amplifiers, and the most successful dens are built on hills (although in flat areas without any tree cover, elevation doesn't matter).
For this reason, it is nearly impossible to sneak up on a leonamuth in its den. If you stumble upon a leonamuth's den, you can be assured that it is not home, or else it would have heard you coming and killed you by now. Go to Comment
I like it. I've got a good image in my head, and its sticking. A bone-lion the size of an elephant is an appropriately epic mount for a evil giant antipaladin, or whatever.
However, I want to quote my Grandma in saying, "If all you've got is a big scary monster without any any weird powers, you've got to put a dress on it before you bring it to the ball," i.e. I feel like the Leonamuth would benefit from some weird lore or tactics.
Maybe you can make a fantastically deadly poison from its eyeballs. Maybe it wakes up sleeping animals by tapping them awake. Or it carries you off into the desert, gives you five minutes to run and hide before tracking you down (as long as it isn't too hungry) like a big, horrible cat playing with its food. Or they howl at the moon at night, except instead of howling it's like whalesong played backwards through Anton LaVey's skull without a pause for breath, and instead of a moon they howl towards the direction of the next corpsefall. Or else they use their mane-spines to build beautiful, deadly dens (I assume the spines are poisonous) for themselves and their mates, like bowerbirds. (Rival leonamuth are always trying to smash each other's dens.) Or how they'll stalk you with their bellies in the dust, so you can't see them sneak up on you, but their tails bob around 15' in the air like a golf flag is stalking you (My cat does that because he's an idiot.) Or how they roll around in their kills, spiking the remains on the their manes for a later snack. Go to Comment
Why would the king be embarrassed about raiders? Raiders attack stuff all the time. I think kings usually just throw a lot of knights at the problem until it goes away. It's also unusual that he'd have such poor intelligence about the nature of the raiders.
Maybe the king's brother or bastard son is leading the logging company, and he needs to keep it super-quiet. Or the king sent the logging company, breaking a treaty in the process, and now regrets it.
Also the ship is probably way more defensible than some palisades on the beach.
Also, I'm a little bit confused about who the original raiders are. The elves? The dwarves? None of the five tribes seem to have boats.
The party motivation seems a little bit muddled, too. If the dwarves are the ones raiding and killing humans, then they would probably be the ones targeted.
Last point: I think this sub could use a good dose of the unexpected. More weirdness. I've already killed a bunch of evil logging companies in WoW. Maybe the logging company is building a giant guardian wickerman? Or the land was once occupied by elves and orcs, who are both persecuted the loggers, and the party needs to unite the elves and the orcs by beating both sides at their ridiculous contests, all while avoiding lumberjack assassins?
Summary: I'd say the plot can be simplified and tightened up. The addition of some PCs would be cool, too, and I'd totally like to hear about what type of Annointed the leader of the logging company is (and this would be a good way to tie your Atheus subs together). Go to Comment
This is well done stuff. Immediately useful and powerfully stylish. Why hasn't the city torn down this place yet? Send in some exorcists and demolition dwarves.
Maybe there's some bureaucratic hold, since some of the books aren't Skezemo's, and must be recovered, but no one wants to actually go through all the books of a cursed library one by one.
I can't think of a reason for not locking the doors, though.
Another thought: having the party all lose consciousness is definitely the scariest thing on this list. What if they woke up in different positions? Or what if they woke up and one of their members was trapped in the wall somehow? Or what if, whenever they left a book unattended, it was back on the shelf the next time they looked for it?
The pommel stones walk a fine line between the mundane (functional sword bits) and the fantastic (freakin' memory recorders). It works, though. Do the priests of Zoratan make any other memory-recording devices? It seems too useful of an ability to use only for pommel stones. Go to Comment
I like anything that proposes an alternative to the weary old Good/Evil and Order/Chaos axes.
However, this seems to have distilled the definitions of these principles down to "caring about yourself", "caring about something else", and "caring about some Kantian principles". The problem, I think is that people are inclined to combine all three of these things. I selfishly care about myself, but I am altruistic towards my family, less so towards my friends, and a set of morals (honor?) dictate how I behave towards people otherwise. (Although some would argue that I behave however I want and then assign the morals post hoc.)
I also have a hard time imagining how altruists can be evil as often as ambitious egoists. And this definition of ambition reminds me of Ayn Rand's objectivism, which I've only known to produce a terrible sense of entitlement.
I guess my objections are mostly philosophical.
These three words are already well-defined and burdened with connotation. I would rename them something that doesn't mean anything. Maybe the names of the three genderless gods? It'd add some exoticism, as well.
I also think this works better as a system for *centering* morality rather than *defining what is desirable*. Such as: the self-centered dude helps the drowning man because that's what he would want if he were drowning. The community-centered dude helps the drowning man because the village needs every citizen. The honor-centered dude helps the drowning man because "it is just the right thing to do".
The self-centered dude robs the bakery because he needs money for food. The community-centered dude robs the bakery because his children need money for shoes. The honor-centered dude robs the bakery because the baker is a coward and does not deserve it. Go to Comment
True, but it fills a lot of the same roles as fire. Acid burns, fire burns, consuming forest and flesh, etc. This sub was the result of a brainstorming session about fire. -0.5 for misleading title, I guess. Go to Comment
The characters are wandering through the bustling crowds of Lasopolis. A street conjuror is performing a simple summoning spell, something for the kiddies. A bit of odious purple powder in the fire, an incantation and out pops a saak-lizard or a muhmentarsh, writhing from the flaming brazier. But the conjuror has only a poor grasp of the arcane magical tongue. A few stuttered syllables could lead to Other Things coming through the brazier and giving the crowd more entertainment than they had paid for...