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Everything posted by monarch71

  1. So, where do the possibilities in a shard come from? It makes sense that a shard's possibility energy tank naturally gets re-filled over time. I also allowed players to have their characters put possibilities into shards; they generally put back as much as they'd drawn out, when they could afford it. How about this: a shard could gain a possibility whenever a possibility-rated person carrying it acts in accordance with the shard's purpose, to a maximum of once per act. Each year that the shard spends in a pure zone of its own reality could also restore a possibility. Maybe I just missed the rules that already exist, I don't know.
  2. I don't feel that Nippon Tech requires much of a re-do. Perhaps an expansion of it. I know that any time an Asian organization comes into play, players assume it's controlled by Kanawa. In one permutation of the campaign world, I plopped the Nile Empire down in Los Angeles as one of it's invasion sites. The idea was turning Hollywood into a pulp-action zone out of the old 1930's movies. They got San Francisco, too, and I was planning a Nile realm in the South Pacific for a "Tales of the Golden Monkey" theme. I moved Tharkold to Detroit, and make the Living Land into more, smaller pockets. Orrorsh dropped a subtle, mixed-zone realm in Louisiana (makes New Orleans Mardi Gras really fun...). Oh, and Aysle opened up a maelstrom bridge in the Florida Keys, with a realm covering most of the Carribean. Pirates, Aaarrrr! Just comparing notes.
  3. Makes me glad I completed my collection when West End was clearing out their warehouse stock.
  4. You can also inject some confusing chaos into the mix in the form of arbitrary strangeness. The higher the Social axiom climbs, the better understood social phenomena are; the lower, the more random social dealings seem. This follows the same pattern as other axioms. So, in the example of a Core Earth character trying to form a guard schedule, the game master could say it just doesn't work (if it causes a disconnection, that is). Minutes no longer seem equal to each other. The sun comes up before timepieces count out an hour of night. Sundials cast shadows that stand at angles that just don't help.
  5. Sounds good to me. Especially when comparing it to real-world religions; while doctrine tries to pin down very hard "truths," faith seems to defy rational or straightforward definitions... much like quantum physics. Certainly the number of deities existing in a pantheon is flexible. In Christianity, by modern doctrine, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all considered to be part of a single godhead. A similar situation exists in (some interpretations of) Hinduism, where all deities are emanations of Brahma.
  6. I can't disagree with that. It's both realistic scientifically (there are no truly instantaneous processes in the known universe), and fits into dramatic tropes. On a slightly (but not wholy) different take on the question, refresh my memory: If a character disconnects due to using an contradictory social tool, how does he re-connect, without returning to his home cosm? He needs to use the same tool that disconnected him. Let's say he tried to set up a night watch rotation in the Living Land. Does he have to try to do that again, even though he can't? Off the top of my head, I can't recall.
  7. Given. Okay, I'll take it from a different angle. What "creates" a true religion, for reality purposes in Torg? By what virtue is a religion able to give its adherents access to miracles and invocations? Possibilities: 1. There is enough pooled faith, possibly not just in the one cosm but in the entire cosmverse as a whole, to exceed some "threshold" and make the religion true. This would factor in not only the number of believers, but the strength with which they believe (their adds in Faith). 2. There is a subdimension that contains literal versions of the entity or entities that provide the power of the religion. Faith allows individuals and communities to contact that subdimension and draw the power to them. Let's not worry about where the subdimensions come from or how people learn about the religion in the first place. 3. Religions which are true are those which resonate in some way with a real, unified force that is endemic to the Infiniverse itself. This is likely to be Eternity/Apeiros, although it could be the whole dualistic entity made up of of Eternity (Apeiros) and Entropy (the Nameless One). Whatever the one force, all true religions encompass some aspect of this single, central Truth, and that allows them to draw on the power of that Truth. This is an extension of the philosophical point that all religions are one religion, seen in different lights. Now that I think of it, I support the last option, mostly because it fits my own personal beliefs, but also because it would seem to allow rationales to allow for the different possibilities that you listed as needed for dramatic roles of the Spirit axiom.
  8. I think we may have reached the point where we have to agree to disagree. Game rules are a form of reality mimesis, a simulation of real-world phenomena. No mimesis (simulation) can exactly model a real phenomenon without actually being that phenomenon. And we have reached the point at which the influence of an axiom (a rule to support a fictional trope) can simulate reality. But, to continue drubbing on the deceased equine (hopefully the horse is dead; otherwise it's suffering mightily)... Are atoms the tools of the technological axiom? That is where the physical properties that are utilized by technology originate, or, in the case of physics, are most essentially manifested. But, the way I view it, atoms aren't tools. They are the fabric of the world. Tools include the lever, the wheel, the circuit, the laser, and so on. These are concepts, Socratic ideals that can be understood by living minds and fashioned of the fabric of the universe so as to take advantage of the rules of science (or, in the Nile Empire, SCIENCE!!!). I extend this to the Social axiom. Neurons, neurotransmitters, pathways, and so on are part of the fabric of the world. Specifically, the part that is capable of being the living element of the Everlaws. The tools are, again, Socratic ideals: empathy, politics, leadership, and so on. These are used in specific instances to take advantage of the rules of social science. As usual, we're arguing about pretty small points, considering we seem to agree on all the more important points.
  9. Torg-wise, it kind of already is a type of psychic gestalt. Reality is shaped by consensus; the conceptions of the intelligent inhabitants of a cosm determine the progress of the axioms. The axioms, meanwhile, act as a force of inertia, keeping reality consistent throughout the cosm while slowing the advancement of progress (or devolution). The Spirit axiom is a sticky point, in that religion can be touchy. If the power of religion comes from the faithful, then that offends the sensibilities of those who think that their religion is true simply by merit of being true. But, in each cosm, different "truths" exist. Does each cosm have a pre-determined "one-true faith," a religion that will become dominant as the Spirit axiom rises no matter how many people believe in it, or don't? Of course, the rising dominance of that religion would cause more people to believe in it. But it's a chicken-and-egg argument. Can there be a religion followed by only one person? In our world, yes, there can be. But it's tough to separate out such religions from heresies and psychoses. Could such a belief system be supported in Torg? By the rules, kind of. There's no limit on what you can put in the parenthesis after your Faith skill. But, each cosm has a catalog of supported miracles, and you don't invent custom miracles the way you create magical spells. These points can come up easily in play. Religions are infectious memes (if you don't know the term, look it up; it's a neat concept). Once cosms come into contact with each other, religions will spread between cosms. But will the faiths?
  10. Disco. Shudder. Thanks for the compliments. I've studied the topic of social psychology recently; I just finished a graduate psychology program. So, this topic is a lot of fun for me. But, I would say that social tools couldn't actually be internal to a character. Internal aspects of a character are represented by skills and attributes in the game. These are not changed by any of the axioms, and generally don't change even if a character transforms. Okay, that's an open topic; it's really completely up to the game master. But, a character's intelligence (that is, Mind, Perception and Charisma) are internal. Social tools are something that are used to take advantage of social phenomena. This would be communication. I'll go back to basic communication training from my military days. There are three components to communication: the sender, the receiver, and the message. This is true whether you are talking about a conversation in person, a written correnspondence, a radio broadcast, or a series of smoke signals. Clearly, some of that is only possible at certain levels of technological progress (Tech axiom), but the axioms are, in fact interdependent and interconnected to some degree. Without technology, the list could also include magical sendings, psychic telepathy, or simply body language. My point was just that the Social axiom effectively acts as a limit to the effectiveness by which each of these tools can function. A low Social axiom essentially creates interference to the channels of communication. How does this manifest? In a very, very subtle manner, like an invisible barrier between sensation and perception. The distinction is that the effect is external, extending into the person only as far as perception, not personality. Intelligence is not limited by the Social axiom. Since intelligence, as it is understood in our age, boils down largely to the ability to communicate (that is, understand and manipulate symbols), this makes the whole issue very muddy, I'll grant...
  11. Hmmmm.... Well, this doesn't actually answer the question, but let me throw a couple of thoughts out. 1. Does the power of faith come from the deity/pantheon? It seems, rules-wise and, in a way, theme-wise, that the power comes from the faithful. Each person who believes in a faith, by virtue of having the Faith (whatever) skill, contributes to the pool of power into which characters of that faith who use the Focus skill tap. This comes into play in the game when a character with Focus gains more power by having a congregation of characters with Faith supporting him. Likewise, presumably, this same power is focused naturally by the specific doctrines, beliefs and expectations of the faithful to render the "truths" of the religion literally true. Specifically, the Spirit axiom molds reality to increasingly resemble the "truths" of the faith. The higher the Spirit axiom, the more reality is altered, in addition to miracles becoming more common and powerful. 2. Here's another thought that could be important: does the power of a faith reach between cosms? Is there a limit to how well it can do so? Presumably, when a cleric invokes a miracle, either on his own or with a small local congregation, he forms a connection to the pool of power that is created by the faithful of that faith. If he is in another cosm, where that faith is not significantly represented, is it more difficult to reach across the barrier between cosms to form that connection? Does a high local Spirit axiom make that connection easier or more difficult? Does the formation of a reality bubble make the connection as easy as it would be in the cleric's home cosm? I'm not really asking how things work in the current rules, but how they SHOULD work, based on dramatic need. There may not be a lot of difference between the two; all in all, I absolutely love the Torg rules. But no system is perfect.
  12. I don't know... the physical brain is only the origin of social phenomena in the same way that it is the origin of technological, magical and spiritual phenomena. In all of these cases, existing mental schema must change to encompass any advances or changes in the perceived environment. Social phenomena are not more purely mental than spiritual or magical phenomena. The term "social" refers to interactions between individuals, so as to form a system of individuals. It is based on avenues of communication. Humans are very, very good at communication, and so we are very social. I'd say that the "tool" of social interaction is the means of communication. There isn't a physical manifestation exclusive to it, any more than there needs to be for phenomena related to other axioms. What happens when a social tool breaks down? Communication fails. Empathy becomes limited; language diverges; the lack of common ground causes people to perceive other groups (and finally, everyone else) as foreign and alien. In the end, removed from all social ability, there is only the self. That self can be complex, intelligent, and capable of manipulating the physical, spiritual and occult environment, but does so as an individual. It becomes an collection of sociopaths; each person stalks through a world inhabited by things that look like him but are not people, just objects to be manipulated.
  13. Yeah, I had thought of that (the way that miracles of faiths other than the dominant faith become contradictory at high Spirit axiom levels), but I kind of skipped over it. That rule has always seemed a bit dodgy. After all, not all faiths are exclusivist. Many embrace the validity of other faiths; so, if the dominant faith of a cosm is non-exclusivist, how does this rule apply? Plus, on a dramatic note, it would mean that spiritual conflict (particularly conflict between faiths, or even interaction between faiths) would become rarer and rarer, and finally impossible, as the Spirit axiom rises. How is this similar to other axioms? You don't see one branch of science or one arcane knowledge becoming dominant in high Tech or Magic axiom levels.
  14. Of course, from the viewpoint of visitors to the realm, it really is likely to suck. Characters without adds in faith and focus skills can't get any advantage out of the higher Spiritual axiom, and they're not likely to buy any or to convert to the local religion. Here's a thought. It seems to have been assumed that communities that are transformed to Living Land reality take on the religion of Lanala. Certainly, they will be aware of the literal, pervasive and immanent presence of Lanala. However, what about groups, and even just individuals, who are highly devoted to their own religion (let's say, Christianity, as an example). For a devout individual, a person's faith is very central to his person; a conversion to a new religion shouldn't be something that can happen without a choice being made. What about a Catholic priest who transforms to Living Land reality, but remains a Christian? He can benefit from the higher Spirit axiom, but are there any other rules considerations? Certainly, he will approach his faith in a different manner than before.
  15. No, disconnection serves a distinct game purpose. I don't know, perhaps there could be better ways of managing it, but it's not entirely broken. My point is that, while taking away a character's tools (high-tech weapons, spells, etc.) is par for the course in the game, the demands of the Social axiom dig deeply into a character's behavior and thought. It's realistic within the scope of the game to have the character be unable to think in more advanced ways, but it can be very un-fun. If you pick up a gun and pull the trigger, and it does nothing, you have a dramatic situation. If you try to organize a night watch rotation and the GM tells you that you can't do that because you couldn't think of that, it's not so dramatic as it is authoritarian. If the player doesn't want to play Chaka from Land of the Lost, he shouldn't have to. Now, in cases where everyone is up for falling into primitive modes of thought, that can be very fun. My groups have always been more likely to go that route. But a world law that grants bonuses for doing so would influence the players more effectively than just a rule saying that they can't do otherwise.
  16. I suppose that the real question is, what does the social axiom add to the game that couldn't be better provided through a combination of setting details (description of the dominant social trends) and application of World Laws such as the Law of Savagery? In terms of game rules, the carrot is always better than the stick. If you provide a benefit for role-playing in a specific manner, you'll get better results (and less bickering and rules-lawyering, and players willing to learn and bring up the applicable rules for you) than if you just tell them that they are unable to do something. Consider a group of Storm Knights in the Living Land. One of them, a combat-engineer from Core Earth, suggests taking a vote to decide what plan of action to take, and the game-master rules that he has to roll for disconnection. He rolls a 1, and disconnects. Now, he has no ability to create any type of contradiction. He can't use any of his equipment, he can't understand it, and can't think in terms of a higher social structure. The player is now very upset, as his character is now forced to be a completely different character than he created, at least temporarily. From his point of view, he may as well hand over his character to the GM and go watch a movie in the next room until his character can re-connect. If he's in a Pure Zone, he never even got the roll; he automatically gets all of these limitations for any 15-minute period that he doesn't spend a Possibility. Now, consider using something along the lines of the Law of Savagery, instead. That character has no difficulty in getting his group to take a vote, but the GM is encouraged to have the environment take it's toll on his equipment. He is forced to use improvised, hand-made equipment. Now, instead of explosives, he makes pitfalls, snares and Ewok-esque traps out of trees and vines. In Perhaps, adding a bit to the World Law, he could be granted a possibility, or just an Up condition or some other minor game benefit, by dealing with his group like the alpha of a wolf pack, demanding they follow his suggestion or challenge him physically or through intimidation. This is more similar to Tharkold's Law of Domination (or whatever it's called; I'm too lazy to reach over and pull the book out right now), but would fit into the theme well. Which option is more fun?
  17. ORRORSH ENVOY: "This is madness!" JEZRAEL: "THIS IS.... THARKOLD!!!!" [kicks startled vampire diplomat into bottomless pit] Huh... I think, perhaps, the setting of the movie/graphic novel 300 would have World Laws of Pain and Ferocity as well...
  18. Is it a forgone conclusion that a Social axiom is necessary? One could make a strong case that the social development of a culture is a part of that culture's technological development. Social science is, after all, a science, and advances through the same means as other sciences: study, observation, experiment and an educational system. A more advanced system of education (such as including a university system, a system of libraries, etc.) shepherds the development of social sciences. Let's take the example of the field of psychology. Basic psychology is an expression of the Social axiom. But true understanding of the mind requires knowledge of neuroanatomy and neurochemistry, and advanced mathematics, all of which are linked solidly to the Tech axiom (this is an opinion, but it's an opinion from someone with a graduate degree in Psychology, so maybe that helps my case).
  19. Well, the action and extraordinary axioms were really just part of thought-experiment; I don't actually advocate throwing in that degree of increased complexity. Although, I would say that the extraordinary axiom might have a little merit. It would be demonstrated in martial arts movies, Sherlock Holmes, Doc Savage, and so on. It would be low in settings such as your average cyerpunk setting (not Shadowrun, though) and film noir, where basic human potential is straightforward and predictable. But again, it's just a thought-experiment. It does make me think that a new approach to martial arts may be called for. You might open up Martial Arts (the skill) for any axiom levels, but have the individual special moves have axiom requirements. This could allow for Aysle berserker style, and higher Magic axiom maneuvers that allow you to throw fire from your hands like you were in Street Fighter.
  20. Well, like I said, while I'm unconvinced of the need for a psi axiom, I'm not at all opposed to it. I could definitely go that direction. The philosophy that would support it would be to create an axiom for any very basic avenue toward power that can be found in fiction. You might even add more axioms, and make a semi-symmetrical system out of it. Technology: describes the ability of sentient beings to manipulate the forces and substances of the observable universe; physics, chemistry, biology, etc., to create external effects. Social: describes the ability of sentient beings to manipulate interpersonal relationships in both the small scale and the large scale. Spiritual: describes the ability of sentient beings to perceive and contact essential, sentient unseen forces, whether those entities are individual spirits or a conglomerate "higher power." Magic: describes the ability of sentient beings to manipulate unseen and non-sentient unseen external forces. Psychic: describes the ability of sentient beings to manipulate unseen but internal forces inherent to sentient life. Action: describes the ability of sentient beings to perform remarkable actions through force of will when the need is great (consider the laws of action and drama, and also the relative lack of this ability in Orrorsh). Extraordinary: describes the ability of sentient beings to use training, exercise and study to push the limits of the mind and body to extremes (consider martial arts, Orrorsh research skill, and the high physical stat maxima in Aysle). It's all relative. The Action axiom, above, may be unnecessary simply because the basic rules of the game support it in every cosm; it's boosted in the Nile Empire and the Land Below, and suppressed in Orrorsh, and that may be enough. I think you could make a case for the extraordinary axiom in the same way as for the psi axiom; martial arts is not really governed directly by an axiom, much like psychic abilities.
  21. If you think about it, axioms are just a generalized version of world laws. Orrorsh has a middling magic axiom, except for the Occult, and the Nile Empire has a mediocre tech axiom, except for Weird Science. You could re-write the game to not need axioms, if you wanted, but you couldn't do away with the world laws.
  22. Well, I'll agree with all the basic principles of the argument. I found the Living Land largely uninteresting. And I loved the Land Below, and got a lot of use out of it, although I never incorporate the Land Above in my campaigns. Still, the cosm has enough going for it to try to save it. To tick off a few examples: 1. The cosm's axioms and world laws make it very frustrating to Core Earth military forces, and the sudden transformation of a familiar major city into utter savagery is terrifying. 2. The cosm has a lot of unfamiliar elements in it, making for a certain learning curve for player characters. And discovery is fun. 3. Some of the unusual intelligent races of the Living Land are really, really interesting (such as stalengers). Weird, but interesting. 4. Giant dinosaurs are awesome. You know, you don't really have to keep the homogeneous geography of the Living Land to retain its feel. Why couldn't the cosm have deserts, tundra, grasslands, oceans, swamps, mountains, islands, river valleys and more types of environments? On Earth, life is found absolutely everywhere; the power of Lanala could pervade any type of environment. What if the realms of the Living Land naturally resemble the environment found in the area where the realm now is, at a particular era of Earth's ancient history? A realm opened up in California could resemble the Pleistocene, with giant ground sloths and saber-toothed cats living in an ice age. A realm in Michigan might instead resemble something from many millions of years ago, turning the entire area into plesiosaur-infested oceans. What if the Living Land established a huge realm in Antarctica, and, instead of being a waste due to the seeming lack of intelligent life, instead resurrected or revived an ancient reptilian race native to the Earth and long lost beneath the ice, now a warm tropical jungle covering the inland of the continent? The south pole would make a nice place to put a huge portal into the Hollow Earth (a portion of the Land Below).
  23. You know, this begs another little mathematical issue in my mind, in relation to the axioms. The scale is arbitrary, without a given universal reference for a benchmark. Or, at least it appears to be. Consider this. Each axiom scale begins at 0 (virtual non-existence, although theoretically, using Torg's semi-logarithmic scale, it could go into the negative numbers), and proceeds to 33 (the powers granted by forces within the purview of that axiom are effectively nearly omnipotent). However, in order to establish a mathematical scale, some point of reference must be used. If a group of reality scientists within the setting were to create a scale, it would probably adopt the axioms of the scientists' cosm as that reference. Let's say the scientists were from Core Earth. That would mean that they would set Core Earth's axioms each at a central value. For a straight logarithmic scale (or semi-logarithmic, as Torg's value chart), the logical center would be zero, which might make Core Earth's axioms look like this: Magic 0, Social 0, Spirit 0, Tech 0. Other cosms' realities would run into both the positives and the negatives. Or, using a quotient system, they might set the central value at 100 (as with IQ), with other cosms' axioms below or above that value. In a more game-system-friendly take on it, perhaps the central value could be 10, or maybe 15. The actual value, scientifically, is unimportant, as it sets the scale for all other measurements. Just musing. The concept might be useful in describing in-game scientific research of reality.
  24. I remain unconvinced with respect to a psychic axiom (although not opposed to it). The difference between magic, spiritual and psychic powers in fiction amounts to largely window dressing, or even just different perspectives. Each is an expression of the manifestation of supernatural forces in the world, and the ability of sentient beings to exert some influence over those forces. The means for doing so may be arcane incantations, heartfelt prayers, or meditative altered states of consciousness, but the effects overlap a lot. Within the Torg setting, if you lift a rock via psychic telekinesis in front of an Ayslish warrior, he'll wonder what kind of magic it is. And a nearby Edeinos will be curious whether the act is in harmony or opposition to the power of Lanala. Your neighborhood Victorian preacher may consider it both magic and worship of evil forces. Would this indicate that Torg doesn't really need separate magic and spirit axioms? Could the same axiom apply to both, and its manifestations be colored by the culture of the cosm and its world laws? Perhaps that's going too far. I've got no problem with a psychic axiom, but I don't think that it really fills a void in mimesis; that is, does it help portray fictional settings and genres? How many fictional settings are there that have very distinct magic, spirit and psychic phenomena, and aren't themselves cross-genre or multi-genre inventions? And don't say D&D...
  25. Another thought (not entirely a new one, but interesting): His Holiness Jean Malraux has the power to consign the souls of sinners (meaning anyone he doesn't like) to Hell. At least, his version of Hell in the GodNet (there may be a more "real" and objective Hell somewhere in the GodNet, but I don't think they're one and the same). That Hell would be very similar to the Medieval version of Hell. Dante's version can stand in for this, being so iconic. However, it would be, essentially, a super-max prison, largely for political and ideological dissidents. Many of the inhabitants' bodies would be dead in the physical world, relegating them to the status of cyber-souls. The point is that a clandestine trip to Hell to free a captured comrade or other enemy of Malraux would be a fantastic adventure. There could be a time-line to find him or her before the prisoner's body expired, or could include an attempt to find a soul-vacant body in which to drop the prisoner. Has that one been used before? GT
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