1Falling Fire #7 Copyright 1990



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1Falling Fire #7

Copyright 1990

Stephen R. Marsh

1401 Holliday, Suite 316



Wichita Falls, Texas 76301
VARIENT SHADOWRUN RULES.
More on Physical Magic.
Magical Adepts are an interesting idea. They are characters who trade flexibility and certain upward paths for more immediate ability and power. Spell casting adepts should thus be able to cast more spells as starting characters than spell casting initiates (Tech 4 for adepts should include 125 points of spells and 400,000¥ -- following the progression). A tech 4 spell caster is probably a Texas A&M&M graduate or a corporate mainliner. Charge off some nuyen for clothes, the de rigor Eurocar Westwind, etc.
There are, of course, conjuring adepts, enchanting adepts, and such as defined in the rules. There ought to be some other types of adepts, and the following are some suggestions. Several of these might be useful as alternate initiate types as well.
Human Spirits: A human spirit is a human who possesses his or her own body. The character can no longer earn karma, but must obtain karma the same way a free spirit does. However, add the character's force (equal to the starting magic attribute) the same way as for any other spirit (e.g. an insect spirit).
Human spirits round out the magical ecology of the system and make for a Shadowrun form of lightwalkers. Korlinth, would, of course, modify their effective force by adding three and then subtracting body (so a body of six would reduce effective force by three; a body of one would increase effective force by two).
Fixed Magic Binders: An FMB has magic spells bound to him or her much like spell locks except these are permanent and regenerate if dispelled or dispersed. Take points of spells equal to the tech level and make them active. The force for resisting dispersal, target numbers and such is not the force of the spell but the of the spell plus the force (magic attribute) of the FMB. Generally, an FMB should have tech level zero or one and should be limited to one type of spell (illusion, detection, health). The spell points may not be increased through normal channels. The general principles of FMBs can be used to create all sorts of magically powered hermetic adepts.
True Magic Walkers: the shamanistic equivalent of an FMB. TMWs buy awakened powers. For each magic attribute point dedicated to purchasing a power, the character has one point of force in an awakened power. For example, a character with a magic attribute of six might have accident at force 3, confusion at force 2 and enhanced senses at force 1.
One might consider Elves to have enhanced senses and immunity to age. Human Spirits can be almost duplicated with enhance physical attribute taken for six points. That way they are able to earn karma, though the improvement depends on essence, not magic/force and is limited to just physical attributes.
The general principles of TMWs can be used to create all sorts of magically powered shamanistic adepts. Note how close some FMBs and TMWs may resemble physical adepts and initiates. The above is the same principle applied to magic rather than martial arts.
Ghost Dances and Other Surprises.
The Ghost Dance is a fairly easy thing to replicate, now that the third Shadowrun book is out. The Ghost Dance is ritual magic of a special sort. The members experience drain first, and then spells are cast. As the members dance, their endurance/mental drain feeds into the power of the dance. As condition monitors rise to D damage on the mental/endurance/ pain track, the individuals then give up their lives, fueling the dance with additional drain equal to the complete physical track -- and -- the dieing dancers toss all their karma into the dance for use in increased effects.
Magical results are imposed directly, without spell use. (E.g. rather than cast the spell "create whirlwind," a ghost dance would generate the appropriate drain's worth of codes and a whirlwind could be willed into existence). It is a very emotional/shamanistic system. A totem always intervenes to get the dance keyed (which means that the leader needs to be a shaman with a totem). All sacrifices must be willing. That is, to run a ghost dance, you need a number of people willing to sacrifice their lives for the greater good. Also, the totem will respond only to purity of purpose (as aligned to the totem strictures).
Compare this with Aztec ways, where the energy is generated by blood sacrifice. Aztlan stumbled on this method when it could not generate the purity of purpose (remember, you need a totem's help) necessary for the ghost dance. The Aztec gods provided a substitute. This ritual is similar to conjuring and the way it can be used to transfer karma. The Aztec ritual transfers drain to the god/spirit and the spirit leads the application rather than the shaman. The system is not as effective, but does not require any cooperation from the sacrifices.
In the simplest form, individuals are sacrificed. 25% of the applicable drains can be transfered in advance for spell casting. For example, a 6 D 2 spell is cast by a spirit that has 30 boxes worth of drain from sacrifices. Note that the accumulated drain resistance evaporates when the ritual ends.
At two boxes per check on the monitor, 10 boxes reduces D drain to S drain (there are five boxes from D to S, at a drain code of 2, that is two per box), another 6 from S to M (three more boxes at two each), four more to L (two at two each) and then two to no drain) (covering the last box). Treat the accumulated drain resistance as automatic successes in resisting drain.
Some pretty powerful spells can be cast that way by any team with access to the ritual and its parts. All it takes is someone tied into an Aztec spirit, easily as safe as becoming an insect shaman or a toxic shaman, in case you've wondered what stopped Aztlan last time. The shaman burned out. Aztechnology keeps looking for alternate ways to tap the old Aztec/Kiowa spirits without the "side-effects" that dealing with that class of spirits always seems to have. [in a progression you have spirits of the outer dark, the demons, the insect totems, the toxic totems, neutral spirits, "safe" totems. The Aztec/Kiowa spirits seem somewhere between the outer dark and demons.]
Finally, there is the real easy way to cause extreme death and destruction, at least at the beginning of any age. You follow Snake's pattern and wake up sleeping spirits. Waking the sleeping spirits of volcanoes, some geologic faults and other large structures will result in eruptions, earthquakes and other natural disasters as the confused spirit adjusts to waking. May or may not get the summoning shaman (a summoning is the easiest way to wake a spirit) squashed, depending on how fast they dance aside.
Totem Secrets
Each totem has its own secrets. Coyote can die over and over again. Snake never ages. Bear and Wolf can shapewalk. Shark can operate mindlessly. Initiate Shaman who successfully meet their totem (a rare event), can begin to walk their totem's path, gaining that totem's secret power. Some powers are more useful (to shadowrunners) than others, but then they cost more too.

RUNEQUEST NOTES (More on the White Moon)


Many prophecies promise peace when the White Moon rises. All of these seem to indicate that the Red Moon is tied to the White Moon, and active pressures are being brought to bear to bring about the White Moon. This essay discusses some of the possibilities.
First, the Red Moon triumphs over everyone and becomes White. This pattern brings peace because there is no longer any opposition to the Red Moon and she changes her robes from war to mastery.
Second, the Red Moon is destroyed and passes through death, becoming a powerless mirror to Yelm. This pattern brings peace because the Red Moon no longer has power to bring strife.
Third, the Red Moon is purified of chaos and joins Yelm's pantheon as a subservient god. This pattern brings peace as the Red Moon ceases to strive for dominance and yeilds to the proper order of the cosmos.
Fourth, the Red Moon enlightens all of Orlanth (Orlanth fought on both sides of the Gbaji conflict) and illumination triumphs over reality, causing all to see the Red Moon as White.
Fifth, the Blue Moon is raised into the heavens and the two moons are merged into one, bringing peace from the conflict created by the division of the moons.
Sixth, the Red Moon of war falls back to earth and a new White Moon of peace is raised in its place (powerless and symbolic).
Seventh, the next step in the integration of chaos into the world occurs (first was Ragnalar and the Devil. Next was Gbaji and the Dragon's Egg. Third was the Red Moon. The White Moon is the next step where chaos is integrated without an evil side), with the White Moon as its harbringer.
Eighth, the last step in removing chaos from the world is taken, with the White Moon s its harbringer (either a purified Red Moon or as a new anti-chaos force).
You can derive other White Moon paths. Should you be interested in walking one, I have the following advice.
First, study the relationship between the original queen of the gods and Arachne Solara. Second, study the progression and types of chaos and the methods by which Orlanth was able to avoid enlightenment (while being enlightened at the same time). Third, study the contrary dragon paths of power as they relate to chaos. Finally, consider transformation magics while studying (but not stealing from) Chalana Arroy and Uleria.
Remember, now that time has been created, all of the future of myth is inchoate in the dreams and hopes of men. Political change and direction, combined with attention to ecology, is the necessary foundation for any powerful transformation magic.

SHADOWRUN SETTING: Wichita Falls, Texas


Ok, you're giving me this stare as to how all that relates to that dust-up in Texas down around Wichita Falls. Wichita Falls, two hundred years ago, used to be Whisky Falls -- home to old fashioned shadowrunners -- used to call 'em gunslingers, and old fashioned tribals -- used to call 'em Indians (if you can believe it).

Well a Panzer needed some cover to watch over him from Medford to the Wichita Falls trading post/military depo/end-to-the-bad-lands. Especially for the bad lands part of the run. Texas runs to the west of Wichita Falls, but it seems that is only because the NAN didn't want the land enough to fight for more of it once Amarillo went up in that Tornado and blew away to Kansas.


So we get into town and first thing I do is look for the falls. Turns out there aren't any. Course there isn't any smog either. What with wind, fusion power and that magic focus that drops everything on Seattle, the sky is clear and clean out here. The stars at night look like street lamps.
Wichita Falls:
250,000 sentients

20,000 elves

35,000 orks

4,000 trolls

750 dwarves (22,700 more in dwarvish enclave under the Wichita Mountains)

12,000 tribals

20,000 european nationals

2,000 others (shapeshifters, sasquatch, etc.)

3,000 magical adepts, physical initiates

250 initiate mages and shaman

300 attorneys (10% connected to fixers)

600 doctors (including MagiDoc pros)

5,000 reported felonies per year

5,000 active felons and gang members (300 "traditional" felons)

740 shadowrunners

350 unionpro riggers


Major rigging and outfitting center for Panzers and Hovercraft on the Northern and Western trails. Major aircraft training and fitting center (ever since Kansas went under, what was Shepard AFB has been a major civilian and military center). Large trading post and wild magic center. Fair amount of farming too, but mostly people in and out of the bad lands.
No Aztechnology center or corp reps (last consulate burned down on San Jacinto day), several European Corp offices (to go with their paramilitary training investments). It is a great setting for launching wilderness adventures from. It is also a wonderful place to center a panzer or rigger focused campaign.
Note that to the North is the Commanche Tribal center, to the North-East the Choctaw --Chickasaw Nation capitol. There is traditional bad blood between the Commanche and the Chickasa. The dwarven enclave was formed up after the Kiowa spirit Bloody Tongue woke the stone root snakes from their sleep beneath the Wichita "Mountains" and sent them out against the CAS forces at Fort Sill. Large, long, twisting tunnels were left behind and made an excellent refuge for persecuted Dwarves who joined up with the NAN at that point. The area is still a major NAN weapons manufacturing and repair site.
SHADOWRUN BACKGROUND SHEET: DESERET, the MorUte tribals (with thanks to Ken Pick).
INTRODUCTION
Deseret, the inside name for the MorUte pinkskin tribals, is commonly divided by outsiders into three groups. They are the "Iron Rodders," the "Liahonas," and the "Jacks." These names stem from the natural divisions most religious groups break into (cf Pharisees, Sadducees, and Zelotes).

Iron Rodders rely on rules to guide their lives. Doctrinally they break into two groups. These groups are as old as the primary religion. The first group is the "Feilding" group. Its doctrine can be found in the book Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie (an actual historical figure now obscured by time). The book appears to speak ex cathedra but is actually the personal opinion of its author at the time he wrote it (as was later shown by specific ex cathedra statements directly contraverting the book--by various church officials including the author).
The second group of Iron Rodders was institutionalized by the FARMS INSTITUTE which was established at BYU (Brigham Young University, a Church School similar in nature to a Mormon Notre dame) in the late 20th century. It stems from the B. H. Roberts/Hugh Nibley line of church scholarship and differs at many key points with the Feilding group (e.g. on evolution). FARMS is dominated by attorneys and scholastic iron rodders.
Liahonas rely on their own feelings of what is right over others' rules. In practice this is commonly seen as meaning not strictly observing the rules. Liahonas fall into two groups. They are the Sunstone and the Shamus groups. Sunstone is the name of the internal publication that first popularized the use of the Iron Rod/Liahona definition. It was adopted as a name by a liberal political party in the early twenty-first century. The Sunstone group is now seen as the main line Liahona group.
The Shamus group started in the late twentieth century. It involved members who were politically active in Latin America. At times the Shamus group has been accused of trying to merge Marxism with the church. The retention of several Marxist bishops in Latin American countries as well as the acceptance of Molly Shamus (a noted political organizer who was partially responsible for the overthrow of Samoza [a Latin American dictator]) as an active member led to the extablishment of a strong political force emphasizing equity over obedience. Very likely to employ Danites.
Jacks (for Jack Mormons) are also known as inactives. The name comes from an old Gentile term for nonmembers who were friendly to the Church and came to mean members who acted like nonmembers. Jacks are tightly tied into organized crime in Deseret.
There is also a fourth group called Ethesis. It represents the mystical trend in Mormonism (since Mormonism has its mystics like any other religion) and takes its name from a publication whose name is drawn from the word "ethics." Members place emphasis on personal experience over doctrines and on living an ethical life.
Within Ethesis is a large sub-group loosely "run" (i.e. they don't have meetings) like a secret society that uses and teaches spiritual principles. It also (more or less) enforces (by social pressure alone) a moral and ethical code. The group keeps a low profile and is arranged in loose cells without a known leader. It is apolitical in the extreme.
Many members of Ethesis are poets or writers. Many members of the secret society are envolved in martial, dance or other physical artsrts. Physical discipline is thought to help general personal discipline. Both groups involve some "gentiles" as they retain the early Mormon belief that "gentiles" can have genuine or valuable spiritual experiences and knowledge.
UNUSUAL OR DISTINCTIVE MATTERS
A. Mormons and Aliens
Mormons believe that everything that is alive (and some things that are not) has a soul. Joseph Smith (the founding prophet) made statements that clearly allow for redeemable aliens in the church's Doctrine & Covenants, 77th Section, verses 2 and 3. The church taught that there was life on other planets from its inception. Aliens and the Awakened are thus "legitimate" targets for missionary work.
B. Mormons and Family
Mormons have a strong emphasis on families, family histories (re: geneology--the Church's Geneology Library & Computer survived WWIII because the Church had placed them in the late 60s in a fusion weapon hardened site under a mountain), and family ties. Extended families often act as clans or septs.
C. Mormons and Other Tribals.

The LDS Church has had a strong relationship to several Indian Groups. This was reflected in indian child placement programs (temporary placement for educational purposes of indian children), college assistance programs (resulting in a graduation rate 500-600% of the normal graduation rate) and the subsidized education of Indian lawyers and managers. In addition, Mormon lawyers obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for the Ute Indian tribe during the 1960s and 1970s and made later substantial opposition to relocation centers.


D. Other General Notes
The classic mormon does not drink alcohol, coffee or tea, does not use recreational drugs or tobacco, does not engage in casual sex or extramarital sex. The church opposes abortion (but does not classify it as murder), teaches that it is more important to educate women than men (a doctrine that started early and was strongly emphasized by Brigham Young who founded BYU), and is generally seen as conservative. Prior to the collapse of communism it had strong missionary presences in all Eastern European countries (including Bulgaria), a temple and several chapels in East Germany, and a strong commitment to education and professional degree seeking by its members.
A "typical" mormon male takes two years (19 to 21 years of age) for volunteer missionary service at his own expense and then serves in the lay clergy of the church. Both men and women serve in a number of church positions. There are no local paid clergy (including the LDS equivalents of Archbishops). Unusual traits include a general trend to treat sexual offenses by male members as much more serious than those by female members, a married (and lay) clergy, and "extra" scriptures.
E. Misc. Mormon sub-groups
Aside from the major groups, there are some "fun" sub-groups that can add humor or embarrassment for LDS characters.
Children of Ephriam. This is a sub-group, centered in North Provo, that is similar to the Aryan Nation, only more social and too wimpy to be involved in any violence. They believe that there is a special sub-group that God loves more than the rest and that they are it. The characteristics of this sub-group, the so-called "true blood or children of Ephriam" include blond hair, good looks, intelligence, large feet and large noses.
They have made several attempts to gain official church sanction for separate congregations, sunday school classes and church acknowledgment. They solicit members from attractive blonds (of both sexes) and by pamphleting cars at basketball and football games at BYU. Church officials consider them senseless fruitcakes and currently laugh too hard at them to take them seriously. They have several hundred members and tend to be neither as smart or as good looking as they think they are (though some do have spectacularly large noses).
Polygamists. These groups all claim the powers of levitation, healing and cursing (killing your enemies at a distance). They tend to be known for health problems (bad sanitation following relocations to Mexico) and the use of firearms to kill opposing polygamists (their curses are rather ineffective). There is a sub-group where many women share the same husband but none of them live with the husband (a name only affair) and a polyandrous sub-group (many husbands, one wife). The church was actively hostile to polygamists.
Adam-god theorists. An early LDS theologian speculated that Adam may have been a celestial being (similar to angels, resurrected humans, etc.). A distinct sub-group concluded that this meant that Adam was the celestial being. Often polygamists, these theorists are the one distinctive group of heretics the church has managed to produce (vs the groups who left and went their own ways). Active espousal of this theory was both grounds for disfellowship within the church and claimed by church enemies as the true doctrine of the church. Nothing like being persecuted for a belief to sour your day when you throw people out of your group who have it.
Friendlies or Pacers. This group, similar to "Jesus Freaks" believes that a personal relationship with deity has a variety of bizarre twists. The leader of the group, George Pace, abandoned them -- which did not slow them down as the pattern of belief and expectation that marks this group is independent of any doctrine or source.
Stoners. LDS theology specifies that when God created man in His own image, male and female created He them, that the implication is a Mother as well as a Father in Heaven. Stoners spend a great deal of time rhapsodizing and theorizing about the nature and personality of a Heavenly Mother (sometimes plural) God. Their position is supported by early LDS theologians and the hymn "Oh My Father" which dedicates a verse to the Mother and thereafter addresses God as Father & Mother together.
SIDE NOTE: LIBERTARIAN MARXISM
In a perfect world there is no need for the government to allocate production -- the market place can be counted on to provide that function. Each individual is capable of deciding what goods and services he or she wants to purchase, how much he or she desires to work, and who he or she desires to associate with and in what manner.
According to Libertarian Marxism, the perfect world has been denied to us by scheming financiers and bankers. If the government will just take over control of the banks, enforce fair laws, and provide for roads and other services (including social welfare), no other governmental services would be necessary and there would be peace and prosperity for all.
This marxist dream of the workers' triumph is, of course, to be fulfilled in the marketplace. Once technology has reached its limits, then venture capitalists will no longer be necessary. Firms, financed by the (state controlled) banks and manned by workers will naturally out-compete capitalist owned firms in a free market place by means of more effective use and utilization of labor. By the way, one can see this at work in static technology segments of the economy. Worker managed railroads run at a profit where traditional railroads go bankrupt. Worker managed steel mills replace traditional ones as the traditional ones go bankrupt.
This trend is especially true where there is true freedom in the marketplace. Every profession is dominated by worker managed firms. Law, medicine and accounting are all good examples. Lawyers in partnerships routinely outwork and outperform those in "businesses" to the extent that alternatives to worker management are exceedingly rare. Doctors who are employees are outnumbered 4-to-1 by those who are grouped in worker managed clinics or associations.
For true equality and freedom, the policlup teaches all that is necessary is fairness ( . . . and static technology and equal access to training or education . . .). By definition, part of fairness is a buffering from chance and externalities that is currently found in welfare services. (e.g. as marxists they hold on to the necessity of welfare).

In usual policy making, Libertarian Marxism calls for a single uniform tax (preferably an income tax or a sales tax) and a single welfare system (preferably negative income tax) with other welfare services (such as social security/retirement and medicare/ mandatory insurance) indexed to these programs. As a gimmick, it endorses zero-sum financing where every bill that spends money also details where the money comes from (e.g. this highway project will be paid for by selling the congressional staff office building).


The math models for the economic theory are very clean. The social models are fairly good. The tax system is the cheapest and clearest method of raising money. Everyone knows exactly how much tax they are paying.
The welfare system allows individuals to decide how to invest their money and is extremely cheap to administer (current social welfare outlays in the United States would be halved as more than half of the outlays are in avoidable administrative costs).
Test runs (in Massachusetts and other representative states) have shown that the welfare system does not significantly change the behavior of those receiving welfare benefits. The banking system models are very close to the proposed restrictive S&L regulations or the FDIC regulations. Zero-sum financing is very effective in creating political blood-shed and even some responsibility.
The system is rather tight once you overcome its inherent flaws of assuming that technological change (and thus unique intellectual property) is insignificant and that a government will allow responsibility to be shifted to the government. Anyone who plays a commercial role-playing game knows that unique intellectual property is important. Both of the above flaws (assuming static technologies and the possibility of accountable government) are significant and show why cold facts murder so many warm theories. The theory does not deal well with unequal access to training, employment or education. However, as pipe political/social dreams go, it is a fun one.
Heck, if FASA is going to press neo-Anarachy, with a display of the correct math and theory, none-the-less, I thought I'd toss in libertarian marxism.

COMMENTS ON A&E


All: There are two reasons my "Eshteel" differ so much from TSR's AD&D creature. First, the Dragon Magazine "Ecology of" article was 100% on the money for the way I visualized the D&D creature (down to having the correct "in group" pronunciation). That mandated substantial changes. Second, I wanted to use the idea in a world view that includes "nazi elves." Mutant, vampric, nazi-aztec sea elves seemed to fit the bill perfectly for Shadowrun.
In designing "monsters" for Shadowrun, my initial thesis is as follows: all species touched by magic will have the following possible mutations:
(a) a pretty, sexually competitive, high charisma/low intelligence form (elves);

(b) a tougher form (dwarves);



(c) a greater or giant form (trolls, dragons, behemoths,








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