Mass Exalt

2016-Apr-15, Friday 19:28
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
So I had a ridiculous idea and I need to share it.

In Shards of the Exalted Dream, the book for Exalted 2e about alternate settings for the game, there’s a chapter entitled “Heaven’s Reach,” which is a space opera setting. Humanity reaches the limits of technological innovation in the purely physical realm until they discover Essence and use it as a source of power to create enhanced humans with a variety of seemingly supernatural abilities. Cue Exalted in space.

Of course, since I’m playing Mass Effect, I ended up thinking of this:
In the year 2148, explorers on Mars discovered the remains of an ancient spacefaring civilization. In the decades that followed, these mysterious artifacts revealed startling new technologies, enabling powers previously deemed to be mythological. The basis for this incredible enhancement was a force that controlled the very fabric of space and time. They called it the greatest discovery in human history.

The civilizations of the galaxy call them...

Emoji The Solar Exalted THE EXALTED. Emoji The Solar Exalted
The basic structure of the world would remain the same, with the relays and so on, except instead of biotics and Element Zero allowing for mass manipulation, it’d be Exalts and Essence manipulation allowing for FTL. Ships can enter into hyperspace, a chaotic dimension of possibility where only a strong anima field can prevent the ship from dissolving into the surrounding madness, and jump from relay to relay. Jumping without using a relay is possible, but is much slower and ships have to periodically leave near a star in order to prevent hyperspace from eating away at their reality. That way, I get to keep the Wyld and use hyperspace as hell.

The Council races would have the most territory and Exalted. I’m a little tempted to add some of Exalted’s Primordial races, or at least use their appearance, for some of the minor one-note groups. Like, change the Volus to the ereta’een (the species that Autochthon ate whole and thus discovered soulsteel), the Hanar to the pelagials, or the Batarians to the hruggha. Asari, Turians, and Salarians could stay as is. Draw a bit on the Mountain Folk for the Quarians, and say that they’re on the run now because they experimented with beings drawn from hyperspace as a work force until those beings banded together in sufficient numbers and started showing signs of self-awareness, which lead to war, which lead to the migrant fleet. These “raksha” are a persistant danger to travelers in the Terminus Systems.

The Protheans are, of course, the Dragon Kings.

Reapers would draw on Abyssal iconography and motivations. Life is chaotic and messy and full of sorrow. We will grant you the peace of death, in which there is an end to suffering and fear. You exist because we allow it, and you will end because we demand it. And husks are already space zombies, so...

I think this has potential.
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
While I was plundering the old Exalted wiki for Charms and spells and thaumaturgical effects, I came on a setting someone had written up called the Wyldspan. The basic premise is that the Ten Thousand Dooms all strike Creation at once, and while most of them were fought off, the final assault of the Fair Folk was set to wash over Creation like a tidal wave and plunge it back into the unformed chaos of the Wyld. In desperation, Mercury sacrificed herself to defend against the Wyld, and when the attack came, Creation simply...went elsewhere.

The result is that every Manse and Demesne in Creation became its own stable worldlet in the chaos of the Wyld. Some are a few miles across, some are dozens, and all the animals and people of Creation were scattered. Even the Exalted were unable to cross the barriers, since the Fair Folk raged outside the boundaries of shaped reality and would tear anyone who stepped outside to pieces.

And so on. You can read the rest of it at the link and I won't summarize it all here, but the Exalted invent ships that can traverse the Wyld while shielding the inhabitants from its effects and explore from world to world. Eventually, enough infrastructure gets established that some parts of Creation start interconnecting, and new nations begin to form.

The PCs would be Terrestrial Exalted in a relatively large but not enormous world, maybe 50 miles square (twice the size of Rhode Island) who are unaware the rest of Creation survived. One day, a damaged Wyldfarer with a mutated or dead crew all wearing strange uniforms washes up on the edge of their world, and being Exalted, the Dragon-Blooded of that world repair it, test it, and crew it with a mission to go out and find more worlds, figure out what is out there, get intelligence on their neighbors, figure out how much of Creation survived, and, perhaps most importantly, figure out where the Wyldfarer crew came from and whether they were a threat.

If you haven't guessed it by now, why yes, I am proposing Stargate: the Wyld.

Space Opera Exalted has been a popular idea, from the old Transcendant fan setting about transhuman Exaltedish sci fi to the Gunstar Autochthonia and Heaven's Reach settings in Shards of the Exalted Dream, but I never really took to it. I like this one a lot better because it keeps more of the initial assumptions. Creation is still recognizably Creation. People fight with swords and bows instead of magic guns. There aren't any computers or internets that I have to deal with.

In addition, the Wyldspan setting justifies a lot of space opera tropes with no extra effort required. Hyperspace is Hell is the most obvious, of course, but every planet having a monoculture and a single climate makes sense, because they're mostly less than 100 miles square. Humanoid aliens are covered by the Breeds. Planet of the Week is much easier to plan for when every planet is so small. Space is an ocean, albeit one that wants to kill you. The collapse of government during which each planet developed its own weird quirks.

There is some stuff I'd have to do, since it looks like the rules for Wyldfarers were never finished and some of the factions links lead nowhere. But I've been accumulating my own personal collections of Exalted rules for the last few months, so what are a few more? It's not bad in service of an Exalted sci fi setting I'd actually want to run.

Another idea to throw on the pile!
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
I haven't posted about RPG stuff in a bit. I think it's because I've been consumed by making a unified Dragon-Blooded Charm index for Exalted, with all the errata and fan-Charms I like in one place, in anticipation of that Ollantijaya game I mentioned a while back. But of course that's not the only thing on my mind, and it's time to write about Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom again!

One of the main game premises I thought of when I started designing the setting was a megadungeon game. I know that most megadungeon games are OSR ones, or at least d20-based, but reading the GURPS blog Dungeon Fantastic and the Felltower game the author is running (first session here) has given me a lot of inspiration for how a completely different game can do a proper dungeon. The main aspects that are needed are:
  • An interesting megadungeon. I already have Etemenanki, the miles-high tower based on the Tower in Sky Land from SMB3, written into the setting, and a bunch of underground ruins filled with treasure and traps everywhere. With the dimensions I'm imagining, it's several hundred billion cubic feet of space within, and even a long tradition of exploration and actual communities around and in Etemenanki, there's still plenty of room for a series of adventures in there.

  • A wide variety of loot. Exalted has this covered, with all the artifacts in various books and the hearthstones that I've repurposed as crystals. No problems here at all.

  • A reward system to encourage exploration and looting. Basing XP on value of goods recovered--the old XP-for-gold rule--is the venerable and probably best rule, but it does run into the problem that unlike D20 games or GURPS, most of the magical items in Exalted don't have monetary value except in the abstract, so I'd have to assign everthing. Unless I just did "XP equal to Artifact or half Manse Background value" and then made sure that mundane treasure and goods had a reasonable scale. This would require some tweaking.

  • Competing factions. If everything is unendingly hostile and the only interaction the PCs can take with it is to sword it in the hit pointsHealth Levels, then they might as well leave and go play Ancient Domains of Mystery or Angband or something, which will do dungeon exploring and loot-gathering to a far greater degree of nit-picking detail than a tabletop game ever could. But if the PCs can work together with a party of kappa sent by their tribal shaman to retrieve a relic, or hear a rumor that a group of pidgit-folk have descended from their Cloud Kingdom citadel to clear out the same abandoned shrine that they were planning to go to, or find a group of dossun blocking off a passage and manage to parley with them into letting them pass, or pay a group of Disciples of the Empyrean to transport them to a balcony on a higher level of Etemenanki that they know is unexplored, that all leads to much more interesting stories than just murdering everything does. A megadungeon has to feel like a place where different groups live and interact, not just a collection of rooms where orcs are 30 feet from gnolls but they never acknowledge each other's existence.

    Unlike the ones above, there's nothing specific in Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom to facilitate or hinder this. It's just a very important part of design to keep in mind.

  • Dungeon as location for adventures. "Explore the next level" can be a motivation, but it doesn't have to and shouldn't be the only one. Let others evolve out of faction interactions. Maybe there's a plague in town and there's a pool inside that has healing waters, and now the PCs not only need to get there, they need to transport a barrel of water safely back. Maybe someone wants a particular room or section cleared out because they want to build a community there. Maybe the pidgit-folk take over that section after exploring and they won't let the PCs through unless they bring them a Disciple of the Empyrean, who they claim stole mystical secrets from them and is using them profanely. Make sure there are plenty of opportunities for more goals to arise.
Part of me wants to include rules mechanics as a necessary part of the experience, but it's clearly not, since the first megadungeons were run with OD&D which barely has any rules at all, much less the kind of attempting-to-be-comprehensive system that d20 or Exalted have. It does require players who are onboard with the core concepts, though. Once I finish that Dragon-Blooded Charm collection and go back to finishing the WotMK bestiary, maybe I'll start looking in to that.
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
Since I bought Legend of the Five Rings 4e, I've thought about running a game inspired by A Song of Ice and Fire because a lot of the particulars are pretty close. Unified nation that's mostly independent power blocs? Ruling family with the Mandate of Heaven? Mysterious pre-humans who are mostly gone nowadays? Low-key magic? A giant wall beyond which are the enemies of all humanity? Peasants who are treated like dirt by the nobility, who are obsessed with honor and duty but mostly just have all the weapons?

It turns out I was totally wrong about the low-key magic, but the rest of it fits reasonably well.

A couple days ago, I was looking at my copy of Sengoku and thought, "You know, this is really overcomplicated, but if I converted it to dice pools and simplified it a lot, I could run it without too much trouble." Then I thought, "Actually, I could do that and then use L5R's setting and rules, subbing in okuden for bushi schools, ki powers for kiho, and prayers for magic. That'd let me tone the magic down a bit, too. I like the idea that the real path to magical power is blood magic." I've only read Legend of the Five Rings in fits and starts, so I'll need to read it cover-to-cover, but I was planning on doing that anyway. Trying to convert over specific mechanics is usually more trouble than it's worth, but I'll want to make sure there's a mechanism for courtly actions and one for duels.

So now that's the latest RPG fire in my brain. How come all my RPG ideas require bunches of conversion work?
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
I've had the thread called Ollantijaya, the Land Spread Out As Wings (cached because the real link doesn't work for some reason. Good thing I copied all the info down yesterday!) open for literally months on my computer, because I'm one of the people who has dozens and dozens of tabs open at a time for months until I get around to reading them, and I finally read it last weekend and was immediately seized with the urge to run a Dragon-Blooded game.

I've been thinking about it for a while, admittedly, so this isn't really a new thing, but it has a lot of what I was looking for. It's a kingdom of outcaste Dragon-Blooded, so the PCs wouldn't need to know a ton of complex social relations to properly portray their characters. It's set far enough away from the Realm that it can be isolated without being totally cut off--if you look at the giant map of Creation, it's in the far southwest, just off the Violet Coast and just south of the "Island Tribes" label--and has the Lintha in between to further limit the opening scale. The Dragon-Blooded of the island have a very close relationship with the local spirit courts, so I can properly integrate the super-active spiritual dynamics of the default Exalted setting that set it apart from standard D&D fantasy where "spirits" is a synonym for incorporeal undead.

The described setting is pretty unified and harmonious, but there's an offhand mention of a "Five Kingdoms" period in the history section, where instead of being one government under a Senate in consultation with the Mountain and Forest Courts of Ollantijaya's spirits, various mountain valleys containing individual Dragon-Blooded dynasties warred with each other to determine who would come out on top. I was already planning on setting the game in the past to avoid the Ten Thousand Dooms from even being a consideration, and the Five Kingdoms period gives me a perfect place to do that. The on-par opposition is mostly other Dragon-Blooded and spirits, with heroic mortals as lieutenants and the Lintha always working on the edges, and an Anathema showing up is both a major threat and so unlikely that I can totally ignore it and it's still believable.

It keeps politics local so there's no huge info-dump at the beginning, lets the PCs start out with smaller concerns and expand the scope of their operations if they want to, provides an obvious reason to go looking elsewhere (resources or aid for their warring state) and a foil to that effort (the Lintha). The setting says that there are no Wyld zones or shadowlands on the island, and that might be true in the default RY 768 setting...but when there's tons of war between Dragon-Blooded dynasties, I suspect the status quo doesn't apply. I actually like the idea of residual Wyld zones from the Balorian Crusade here and there, with a watchful eye kept on them by the Dragon-Blooded and their spirit allies. Or maybe that sentence should be the other way around?

This is a bit annoying after all the effort I put into Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom, but fortunately there's a preparation issue stopping me. The Dragon-Blooded Charmset is notoriously badly-written, being done before the rules were finalized and containing little use of Keywords and lots of copy-pasta from first edition. This was fixed in The Thousand Correct Actions of the Upright Soldier, and later again in the Scroll of Errata, but there's no way I'm flipping through multiple books to figure out how the Charms work. As such, I want to build a master Charm document with all errata applied and extra Charms included. And since I copied the raw text of the DB 2e Charms over and it turned out it's 76 pages, that'll take a while. Emoji Eyes bulging stare

Since I've already done all that Warlords work, I should run the test game of that first. But after being out of Exalted for years, I've come back around to it now in a big way. I'm even thinking of an Exalted Space Opera game using Heaven's Reach from Shards of the Exalted Dream. More on that if it ever goes beyond the "wouldn't it be neat if..." stage.

Cthulhutech remix

2014-Jul-02, Wednesday 14:18
dorchadas: (Nyarlathotep)
So, I like Cthulhutech...or at least, I liked the idea of it back when the creators were teasing it almost a decade ago. When it came out, there were some sour notes, and it got worse and worse as the supplements increase, with a super-creepy focus on sex as a (maybe the) source of horror and a view of world culture taken straight from suburban WASP America, until I basically threw it all down in disgust. But just based on the first book and the companion book, I ran a relatively long game (20+ sessions) with just [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd as a player, chronicling the tale of a psychologist providing counseling to Engel pilots in the NEG military. You can find the Actual Play thread I wrote here, if you're interested--it has one of the best plot twists I've ever done in a game, which I'll put here in a cut for people who don't want to wade through the thread:

Read more... )

It's a good thread, though. I spent a bunch of time on it, back in the day, so I'd love it if you read it.

Anyway, it's a rewrite of part of the timeline and a change in focus to mix up Cthulhutech with Wildfire's other RPG The Void, along with some influence from Ettin's Nyarlathotech. You can find the Cthulhutech timeline here (PDF warning) if you're not familiar with the setting and are curious.

Basically, everything in that timeline happens as written up until 2063, with the exception that the mi-go don't tell anyone, even the Nazzadi High Command, about themselves. The Nazzadi are set on Earth with entirely manufactured memories and that's assumed to be enough, but the genetic similarities and other odd cultural cues cause the same questioning of the war effort and a civil war in the Nazzadi fleet. In this version, the sides are much more equal, and fight each other nearly to a stand-still until the peace-favoring side strikes a deal with the NEG, who join the Nazzadi civil war on their side. The losing side takes a large portion of the fleet and flees to the outer solar system, settling around Neptune, Uranus, and the moons of Saturn.

There were over a billion Nazzadi in the fleet and twice that many humans died in the war, with massive destruction of property and life. The Nazzadi didn't exactly win, but still maintained massive orbital superiority, so a treaty is hammered out where most of the Nazzadi fleet travels to Mars and settles there, far away from the Barsoomian human colony and now vastly outnumbering them. About one-fifth of the Nazzadi decide to settle on Earth, forming a substantial but not overwhelming minority group here and there. They do not inexplicably throw everyone out of Cuba.

Things remain tense, with the occasional riot or hate crime since nearly everyone on the planet knows someone who died in the First Contact War and many Nazzadi still maintain their old religion that has them as the chosen people, perfect creations of the gods who are destined to rule over everything else, but the relative separation of Nazzadi on Mars and humans on Earth help keep things from boiling over until the Crysalis Corporation (which is not directly run by Nyarlathotep, although Stephen Alzis is the CEO) manages to arrange the summoning of...something in Tibet.

A psychic shockwave ripples out through South, Southeast, and East Asia, and about one in three people in a huge radius essentially goes homicidally insane. The NEG has a really hard time containing the threat, both due to shock and because it's indiscriminate in its effect, and ends up mobilizing the army and requesting aid from the Nazzadi on Mars. The Nazzadi gear up their war machine and get ready to come in when unidentified ship signatures are detected moving in from the outer solar system.

Then the mi-go cruise into orbit over Asia and unleash orbital bombardment until the rampaging hordes are nearly wiped out. Then, ignoring all communication from the Nazzadi and the NEG, they leave. All probes sent to the outer system are destroyed, either by the Nazzadi Empire in the outer system or by unknown means when they approach Pluto. Earth, with another billion or so people dead and almost an entire continent devastated, settles down and tries to recover.

And that's the state of the game. The Deep Ones, being a power with no air or orbital support, confine themselves mostly to deep-sea terrorism and infiltrating coastal communities, making them more of a target for covert military action and espionage rather than mecha-on-mecha throwdown battles. The Nazzadi Empire occasionally raids from the outer systems and there are frequent skirmishes around Saturn and Jupiter. The major problem are cults, like the Church of All, a front for the Esoteric Order of Dagon, and the Dionysis Club, a group of sybarites corrupting the highest levels of the NEG and Nazzadi governments, and weird occurrences, like the sudden appearance of an alien ecosystem on parts of Callisto, the occasional person living outside the arcologies snatched up by flying things in the night, or the Zone that swallowed Las Vegas and the bizarre monsters that occasionally emerge from it. The Tagers and their war against the Crysalis Corporation can be used essentially unchanged.

Gameplay thus can take similar emphasis to Cthulhutech, but with a different focus. A military game takes place in the colonies or under the waves, an investigation game can occur in the arcologies or traveling between planets, and there's plenty of space for lots of different games.

Oh, and I'd probably run this with Shadowrun, since Framewerk is so awful. I mean, look at the probability distribution. Success is incredibly random and basically impossible to predict, which pretty much matches my experience when I ran it. I'm not even going to try to fix that. I can work on the fluff, but the crunch is getting trashed. Shadowrun has its own problems, but it allows magic and cybernetic and biotech modification out of the box, which I like.

There's probably more than could be done with this, but I figured I'd get that much out of my head first.
dorchadas: (Green Sky)
When I was a boy, every summer and sometimes during the winter, my family would pack up our things into our car and drive west to visit my grandparents in Oregon. One of the first things I would do every time we arrived was borrow my grandmother's library card and head down to the local public library and check out a double handful of books. That's where I read a ton of classic sci-fi and fantasy--the Foundation and Robot books, the Rama books, a bunch of Heinlein's stuff, the Chronicles of Amber, the Riftwar books, nearly all the Valdemar books, and, relevant to this post, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover books. She was personally a terrible human being, but I really took to the stories about politicking and personal relations in a feudal society with a psychic nobility. Maybe because the psychics were redheads.

Anyway, half a decade ago, I read Stephen King's The Mist and absolutely loved it. And based on the title of this post you can probably see where this is going. I had it that the Towers had figured out a way to extend the force fields they use to prevent experiments from blowing up to keeping the Mist out at long range, set the game during the Ages of Chaos so all kinds of crazy psychic insanity is on the table, and wrote the whole thing up in Unisystem.

I found it a few days ago and looked back on it, and there are some major flaws. For one, in a game that's supposed to have political intrigue and the players playing nobility who are members of the ruling families of various kingdoms, the utter lack of any real social systems beyond "roll some dice and make stuff us" is a major flaw. I also exhaustively detailed the way psychic powers work because I've always been one for systematizing my games, even though the way the powers work in the books is basically "i dunno lol" and constantly changes depending on the plot and when the book was written. It's ~50 pages long and I wouldn't run it at all nowadays.

I'm thinking of converting it over to post-GMC nWoD, though. A lot of work is already done, since GMC has a better social system and updated psychic powers in it that I can steal. I can finally adapt the Company rules from Reign to nWoD like I've been planning to do for months. I just need to add the Darkover-specific bits around the edges and convert the stats over.

I do like the idea of getting to use it. Darkover is a great setting to run an intrigue game in, with the competing demands of familial loyalty vs. personal ambition, the lure of the Towers as a source of power and a neutral ground to settle disputes, and the addition of the Mist adds a tragic aspect to the society where they might be able to solve the looming end of the world once and for all if they weren't too busy stabbing each other in the brain with mind-daggers all the time. Humanity in a nutshell.
dorchadas: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] marianlh's post about the cutest little rust monster reminded me of the webcomic Dark Places and how sad I was that by the time I had discovered it, it had stopped updating. Late in its run, though, there was an expository page that really caught my attention:

Dark Places background comic


That comic really got my imagination firing, combined with Exalted setting elements and some concepts from the Avernum series of games, and it mixed into (I like to think) a great campaign pitch.

So, take that comic as the backstory, but replace the dwarves with the Mountain Folk (with artisans removed). The Fair Folk are obviously the Fair Folk from Exalted, who swept in from Faerie, threw down the kingdoms of men, and reigned in madness from their thrones of bone and crystal and shadows until they were overthrown. Subsequently, humanity grew more and more xenophobic and paranoid, eventually developing into the Empire from Avernum. With the discovery of the great caves far below the surface of the world, below even the furthest reaches that the Mountain Folk dare to go, the Empire had a place to dump its malcontents, its Faerie cultists, its political dissidents, and anyone else that the Imperial power structure thought were a threat to the survival of humanity. Player characters being notorious malcontents and threats, the game would start with them being dumped through the portal into Avernum.

PCs would be god- and elemental-blooded (descended from various spirits), fae-blooded (descended from the Lords of Madness and their human slaves), ghost-blooded, demon-blooded, and Mountain Folk exiles, who are exactly the kind of people who wouldn't fit in on the topside unless they slot into some highly-specific roles in society that suitable PCs probably don't come from. Put them down in Avernum, which has the standard D&D-esque paradigm of a society on the edge, with civilization as precarious points of light in the midst of a vast, unexplored wilderness filled with dangerous monsters and mysterious terrain, and let the adventures roll in.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Know, O Prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Adventure Island and the gleaming cities, and the rise of the Sons of Liberty, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars -- Hyrule, with its pointy-eared women and towers of octorok-haunted mystery, Sosaria with its chivalry, Charlock that bordered the pastoral lands of Alefgard, Castlevania with its shadow-guarded tombs, Makaimura whose knights wore lance and armor and boxers. But the proudest kingdom of the world was the Mushroom Kingdom, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Mario the Plumber, black-haired, sullen-eyed, shell in hand, a coin-thief, a box-basher, a goomba-slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the game under his booted feet.
-From this thread on RPG.net

Ever since I read that thread years ago, I've thought this sounded like a great idea, but it's always been on the backburner. At least, until recently. And now I'm trying to figure out how I want to do it.

It's more about mood than system. I've found a netbook someone wrote up for Savage Worlds, and the original thread points out people who have used nWoD, D20, BRP, FATE, and probably some other stuff I'm forgetting. I'm probably going to use Novus because for me it's the new hotness, though I could be convinced by Savage Worlds since all that work is already done. Anyway, that's less important than tone, or, as I phrased it on Facebook, do I want sword and sorcery with Mario frosting, or Mario with sword and sorcery frosting?

I'm currently leaning towards the former. If you've read any of my blog entries over the last while, you know I'm a fan of gritty, low-magic fantasy RPGs, and I'd love to take that to the Mushroom Kingdom. Humans speaking to the spirits of the land and sky. The kingdom's nobility on the run, hiding from the forces of the Dragon Emperor and working their floral sorcery in secret. Ancient cults with the power to take on the aspects of their patron spirits. The Dragon Emperor's armies oppressing the commoners with a brutal hand. Fungal forests with "trees" hundreds of feet high. The ancient ruins of the Predecessors and the pipes that link them together. A mile-long bridge and the carnivorous flying fish that hunt the waters nearby. Terrible monsters, like brutal worms, carnivorous flora, hungry ghosts, and monsters from beneath the earth multiplying now that the Mushroom Kingdom's army isn't actively pushing them back.

I haven't done much work yet, but I've fleshed out the playable groups:

  • Humans: From Earth. I'm sure I don't need to describe these people. I did have the idea that being from Outside, humans can see the native spirits of the land, sea, and sky, based on how Mario always sees eyes on the hills and clouds.

  • Mandragora: The nobility of the Mushroom Kingdom, who look essentially humanlike. Their floral sorcery let them keep the kingdom safe for generations, but the united kappa tribes and their mycon allies finally overwhelmed them and cast them from power. Now, they're either quisling traitors or hunted refugees.

  • Amanita: The commoners, who are much shorter and much less humanlike than the Mandragora, the amanita have suffered terribly under the Dragon Emperor's rule. While they were typically simple farmers and crafters, amanita alchemy is famed throughout the known world, and their herbal prodigies and elixirs are still found in caches all over the Mushroom Kingdom.

  • Kappa: The footsoldiers of the Dragon Emperor, the kappa tribes of the badlands have fought each other and all others for time out of mind. Never more than a nuisance to the Mushroom Kingdom in the past, the warlord now known as the Dragon Emperor united the fractious tribes into a mighty horde and took the kingdom's defenders completely by surprise. Now the kappa rule and the amanita serve, though a few kappa believe the Dragon Emperor's changes to their traditional way of life are a betrayal of their ancestors and the ways taught by their shamans, and they work to undermine his dominion.

  • Mycon: Possibly related to the amanita, the mycon have been a thorn in the side of the Mushroom Kingdom for nearly as long as it has existed. Most of them lived as hunter-gatherers or bandits, raiding amanita settlements for food or worked goods, until the Dragon Emperor made them a simple offer--serve or die. Most of them agreed, but some value their freedom more than the thread of death, and some even fight for the Mandragora.

  • The Silent Ones: Mysterious travelers who are always robed and masked, the Silent Ones have stayed neutral in the war but are happy to tell their technology to both sides. Some of them also work as mercenaries. Rumors whisper that they're refugees from another world that suffered some mysterious catastrophe.

  • Raptok: Dinosaur-like inhabitants of the tropical islands south of the Mushroom Kingdom. They tend to live as hunter-gatherers, but occasionally they traveled to the kingdom and forged a partnership with a warrior, serving as a mount and battle companion. They are sensitive to magical energy, and through long research and experience, they have developed special diets that can grant them magical powers.

I was going to include ninji too, but I like them better as horror movie monsters from the depths of the earth.

Novus isn't a super popular ruleset, but I might post the fluff I come up with here if people are interested.

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