Difference between revisions of "Lost Tribes: Workshop"
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Revision as of 11:45, 17 June 2010
This is the contents of the original Lost Tribes thread, organized chronological within topics. Many sections will turn into their own page, but this page is just for the original source material. Some specific flavor text skipped this page and went directly to the separate tribe pages.
Eh, to long for the wiki software or something. Splitting up into separate pages.
What we have here is a low end supers game, with a power level equal to a pulp superhero/ character. There are some quasi-mystical powers, but they are rare and under-reliable.
Some basics depending on the totem... Augmented Strength Augmented Constitution Augmented Dexterity Augmented Agility Super Balance Enhanced Running Enhanced Leaping Enhanced Perceptions Animal level perceptions Enhanced Luck Enhanced Charisma
Super skills, usually physical ones. Pulp abilities like hypnosis skill, contortion, etc.
Mask: This is a basic focus for all abilities. A requirementment to tap higher level abilities. This ability is for reducing energy costs, so many basics can be used for free. Several levels of mask ability (the first one is free for any Totem being that is aware of their nature), increase the efficiency. Higher level of masks require the more elaborate ritual masks.
Fur: Related to masks. This is a cat skill, but other totems use it. This is one of the reasons cat girls are so sexy and wear those smashing coats. When wearing a fur coat, or fur lined item (even if they are syth fur at a minus), the totem beast gets bonuses to using the totem abilities. At a level up, the cats have a mastery that let them wear normal clothing associated with the animal (i.e. a woman wearing a catsuit). The next level up allows "Furry effect". You can wear an animal costume and get some effect. Really this level is not worth the effect (cost to effecect). Reptile totems need skins. Other animals require such materials. Synthetics can be used, but you don't get the full bonuses.
Worn Tail, like Fur, just wearing a mock tail. Prereq is Fur.
Glide (You can't have wings and actually fly, but you can fall with with style and sometimes get some lift.. At advanced levels and with a shapeshifting prerequisite, you might get actual wings).
Tail. Tails don't actually do much. However they do give incredible bonuses to the totem abilities. Again, requires shapeshifting prerequsite.
Claw: The ability to make cutting strikes with just your have. Some of these are enhanced hand to hand strikes, but at higher levels there are actual cuts. (They also don't heal well). Bite is also an option.
The Sight: Ability to see the totem of a person. At the next level up, allows you to see spirits and such. Take a level up from there and you can communicate with them. A side step in this gift tree would be aura sight - the ability to read people.
Offuscate- None of the actual paranormal abilities in this game are full power. So this is not invisability. The most basic level is the one most common, the "someone elses problem", people's eyes just slide off the totem warrior. They see a guy in a suit, not a guy wearing a cat mask and carrying a gun. People just won't see what is out of the ordinary. At the next levels up this is either an enhancement to stealth, allowing for hiding in edges of things - not quite plain sight or deceptive bit. More levels, more cool effects. Restart (Nine Lives). You might die, but if you can avoid too much follow up damage, your system can restart. Cats are known for this ability and buy it a lot of times.
Pull (Infinite Pocket, Immortal's Sheath, et). The totem beast has has space in the astreal field that is there. (2nd level of sight will let you see the items, if you look.). Thus you can tuck things away (like your mask). Sure it takes energy to pull them, but it does allow you to pull that gun through airport security.
Slip- To slide into the spirit realm. This expensive power (or requires some serious prerequisites) allows you to move yourself into the astreal totem realm. This would allow you to move through the walls (or if you stand still, you can invisiably move out of phase). The more you take it, the longer you can go slip. At higher levels, you can move incredible distances at one. (Keep in mind that The Totem War in the US is very different. There the Coyotes are masters of this ability. Wolves, Bears, etc. There are very different fights for the rural and the urban nodes).
Shapeshift: An expensive power that allows you to transform into your totem. Expensive for smaller animals.. massively expensive for bigger animals (tigers). In short a power that only NPCS with their bonus points given by the GM for free can really afford it.
Echo: The ability to hear/sense when someone uses a paranormal totem ability. The range increases as more levels of this cheap power are purchased (hence the reason for stealthy people to avoid using last 10 powers). As the level goes up, you can stop and try to hear echos in the past. (Hmm, the cat died here and restarted. So we are looking for a fully healed cat). At really high levels (usually only available to Ravens and Crows), you can feel echos from the future.
Dogs would have a charisma bonus when dealing with humans. They can turn it on and get people to believe them.
Rats have skill bonsues for various skills. They can also contort their body in odd ways allowing them to get through various small areas.
So each totem will have one or two free abilities. Some abilities are cheaper for a given totem warrior group. The rest are purchasable.
So does this answer your question?
See, I don't see this as a 'superhero' (or even pulp hero) power level. The power of the ttoems has been severely stripped over the years (at least, after the purge of the Eagle Kings and the Dark Times); these are people with an edge, or maybe (maybe) low-level supernatural abilities, and all more symbolic than literal 'animal powers'. So a Dog doesn't have the ability to smell like a bloodhound, but they have an uneering talent to find people, even in the most crowded city. Pigs, as well, can get rid of bodies, and can be the biggest gluttons with little effects (so they can, for example, never overdose). Rats, Crows and Ravens have hoards, so there's a good chance they have just the right item at their house, but it might be a little dirty.
I also think there shouldn't be an ability to see someone's totem, unless they're wearing their Mask. That means that anyone could potentially be an enemy, but you don't recognize Lazy Sue the Cat because she isn't wearing her pearl-studded cat mask.
I also don't think there should be an ability to actually turn into your totem; that's blasphemy.
Subtly and the possiblity that everyone involved is in fact, a fucking lunatic who wears animal masks and beats the crap out of people wearing a differnt animal mask.
Ritual Magic is where the big effects come from, and no one knows quite how it actually works;
'So you need a circle-' 'Bollocks. First you get a live totem animal-' 'Nah, mate, you see, there's this plant, right-'
Swirling around everything is the fear that it's all a bunch of rubbish. Sure, you did manage to find Big Lemmy when you really needed to, but maybe it was just a coincidance? People who rubbish the Totems either get rubbed out or isolated quickly, no one wants doubt to spread.
Everyone has seen really weird things happen, but which can't be explained by going back to the Totems- a theif walks through a wall, laughing, a campsite in Wales is torn apart by invisible claws in the night- so people know that there is power out there, and the Totems don't just give you a boost- they protect you.
Just poking my head in for a sec here. I got to side with Moon[above] here so far as power level is concerned. I'm thinking street level pulp superhero is the sweet spot for a game like this. A perfect balance between the shamanistic magic feel of totemic masks and the reservoir dogs vibe from the actual commercial.
Now I do not think cats, rats and dogs are slinging spells at each other or anything but certain spritual personal enhancements are certainly not out of the question. I mean if I were playing a modern day Maori gangbanger shark totem on the streets of Auckland and you told me I couldn't breathe underwater I'd be pissed. Likewise if I'm a falcon totem and don't have access to a flight ability I'd call foul.
You need to think now just of a particular animals physical abilites IE: a cat's dexterity and stealth but also of it's mystical abilities as well. Cats are the consorts of witches, they are closer to the spirit world than most other tribes, they are blessed with a preternatural luck and nine lives etc etc. Ravens are esoteric lore masters with a gift for prophecy and divination. You get the idea.
Now certainly there are folks in game who are spell slingers: The Unicorn, the Dragon and the Royal Lion and possibly the supreme leaders of the various tribes, but that's a level of power the PCs don't have access to at least at the start.
Oh and shapeshift is a must IMO, I mean we ate talking about the people who gave rise to the legends of werewolves and selkies and swan maids after all.
See, I see the whole power thing more in a symbolic light; the shapeshifting, the flight, the aquitic powers were once held by the more powerful members of the Tribes, but these are lost now. However, if I may posit a compromise; the more impressive powers can be available, but only in places of power (which is, of course, where most of the 'action' is held), which is part of reason they're so hotly contested.
But, on the other hand, can we not have a spirit world? Spirits should be egnimatic and, above all, almost impossible to talk to (even your totem spirit is hardly talkative, most of the time). I find spirit worlds a little cliche, to be honest
Crunchwise, I'm cool with "low level supers", but shapeshifting goes to far, at least routine shapeshifting. It turns "Totem Warriors" into "Weres", and makes the masks seem weak. Physical shape shifting might be possible after a lengthy ritual at just the right place and just the right time, but not as a common thing. Instead, maybe use the idea of a "Fetch": when a mask-wearer sleeps, their spirit can leave their body and take the form of their totem.
I reckon there should only be two 'stats' in a pure Lost Tribes game
Face: This is what you use for mundane tasks Mask: This is what you use when you're 'in the game'
You can't use Face (or the skills you have under it) when In the Game, and you can't use Mask when you're not wearing it.
Okay, so a design consideration for everything is... Power/ Magic has a price. Your totem flaw is the price for any of the more notable abilities. (There is also a list of recomended flaws (and gifts) for each totem tribe.
Your spell has a price.. and the price might change from casting to casting depending on the phase of the moon, the position of planets, the target of the spell, and the winking of the god of magic. To cover your bases, you are going to have all the "expected costs" ready to go (candles, sacrifices, burnt scents, personal power invested in runes, and so on. It is when some other cost is requred that your life ges screwy. So magic can be really bad and screw you over too, but it will allow you to do things you otherwise could not.
Bigger Powers (like real shapeshifts, rather than the half step access gift, will take a huge proportion of your personal power (i.e. the points you are built on). If you take such a gift, you sacrifice other things (like the points to learn how to drive a car, the points to have good social skills, the points to have a good dexterity "I would of been quick as the wind in human form, except I had to sacrifice that so I could become a hawk."). This will lead to a mini flaw that will be called "a regret".
Let us go through some basis before we discuss. Traditionally nodes occur where two or more ley lines intersect. A ley line is a "river" or "flow" of "energy" that passes through the world. Energy moves from the physical to the astreal - so a strong green source or a strong air flow or even a championship Soccer Pitch, will be a "higher energy zone". This energy, call it chi, dragon blood, magic, or what ever, comes in a few flavors. These flavors, are not concrete differences, as you can map elemental ley lines, or geomantic ones, or simply taoist forces, or even the five elements. They are a perception of the energies of the universe that have a partial association to the geographic. Where several ley lines intersect, energy pools. (If several elemental lines of the same type interset, it is a strong pool of that type). If a ley line is no longer strong, it will stop at a node.
In older cities, the streets run along ley lines. The nodes are intersections. Also keep in mind it is "the old roads" that fell along those flows... so now that Bethr street has been broken up by the tubestation and into two other streets... you get the tube station (often generating its own ley flow or drawing power with it) as a node.
For simplicity- ley lines should just be one flavor - power- , with perhaps one tappable trait associated with it. Any node will have tappable traits for any of its lines.
So why is this important? Nodes are places of magical power points that can be tapped for your magical purposes. Being attunded to a node, allows you to "draw from it" power points you might need for your purposes.
So why are The Totems fighting it out for these things?
The obvious one is power. They want power to be in charge. Why do they want to be in charge? What does this "game" of battle have as a prize?
Reality. Those who control the nodes or the right combination of nodes can influence the course of destiny. That is right. They who control the nodes control the way events/ history will go.
The reason why history seems to lurch and go in odd directions is that nobody seems to be able to hold on to enough of them long enough to impliment a "grand age". They can however, influence elections, fated luck, and the course of things, in the short term.
Also if you want, you can carve a node out of the system and use it to control the destiny of a regio (an area bounded by ley lines). So you might not be able to make a grand age, but you can make sure that your neighborhood or section of the city goes your way.
Thus the street level conflict for the various nodes in the city, especially an old magical city like London (and Paris - and new magical ones like New York, San Francisco, Toronto.)
Tides of Power Related to the discussion of nodes, ley lines, and so on....
Power comes and goes over time. There are times the ley lines surge with power and times the power leaves off. These will co-incide to periods of magical activity and inactivity. After all, in times of lower power, there will be less energy available for spiritual connections and special abilities. After all, without those, this just seems like a silly game. In fact, may lower level tribals will think just that... it was a silly game they got swept up in. Only those with a deep connection or who can still tap the power of a node will know different.... Thus there will be seasons of activity (years of heightened activity) and quiet times.
An old dog talking to a new pup....
Seems there are only so many tribal types at one time. You check the records and it seems that we mostly just "fade away" every now and again.. slipping to low level activity... only to surge forth a decade or two later. It could be that the tribals of a given generation ... they come on the stage, they make some noise, and they either die off, give it up, or fade into the shadows playing those dark magic games.
You really need to stop looking like I bowled you in the nards. It is like Innings for the Totem's game. We bat and bowl for a time. There are a number of outs. The teams stop for tea or water. Some players hit the showers never to return. Others stand about waiting to be called. Fresh players come to the pitch. Some old players stand to the side, giving them advice or skills. Either way, they field the 11 for a new go around and a new inning begins. Sure some "players" never come in off the pitch, but really it takes a new generation to really get the game going. The totems themselves, they are like the club manager, determining who is on the field, what order they bowl or bat, and where they stand. If there are some stakes to be played for, they awaken some cubs, kits, or pups, and send them on out. We old players pick um up and give'm what we can, but really it is a new pup's game.
The game only intensifies when there be something for the tribes to squabble over. Some imbalance in the flows, a new node, some change in society that will make things possible, that one totem seems to have an edge now.. then everyone rises up to squash them. These are the things that seem to bring the game into play. This makes sense.
What scares me now boyo. It seems like a new inning is starting. All you new pups are comming out of the wood works. Yet, there doesn't seem to be a prize. No goal. No threat. That worries me. It has to be something, but we don't know what. Or it is something really big and there are going to be a lot more of you called to the tribe before the wicket take a hit.
Wise Old Wankers Big Owl- A source of all knowledge, or the biggest con artist since that bloke that sold Tower Bridge to some Yank. Still, he knows his stuff, and he'll hand out free info to people out of pique.
'Rodger the Raven'- A psuedonym. We don't know who he really is, but most people think he's one of the Inner Circle of the Murder, possibly a spymaster or something. Anyway, he'll trade information, but only when it suits him, and if you can find him.
Black 'Arry- A Dog, big old Mastiff from the East End. Been around for Donkey's years. Knows everyone of import, and will tell the young 'uns for a pint a few stories. For a cask, he'll tell you true stories. For a couple of Pipes of the good stuff, he'll put you onto the Real Deal.
Bagpuss- No, it's not a psuedonym this time. He's an old, lazy, and fat cat, but he knows people. Watch out for Emily, his Keeper. A very scary girl.
Not just scary for herself like, it's what's always around her (and sometimes behind you). There aren't even words to desrcribe it, so we just call it the...thing
Psycho Killers Roland the Rat- head Cheese of the South London Rat Brotherhood. Rumour has it that he is, in fact, the basis for the children's TV character. Saying this is a good way to go home with your ears in your hat.
Charley- A big old ginger Tom. Speaks funny, but will cut you up for laughing. Or looking at him funny. Or being annoying. Or just being. Nice to kids though, watches out for them.
Her Maj- The Boss of the Kingdom. A scary lady, who isn't afraid to get blood on the (red) carpet.
Freaks Mister Fox- one of the most renowned of the Foxes, he is a thieft and a liar extraordinare. He is supposedly involved in the Ritual Magic of the Foxes, and some say he is the reincarnation of their King. Can walk through walls.
Barry Pig- A loner, as pigs go. He runs a financial analyst corporation, which he uses to manipulate the global markets. For a fee, he'll help you out. Never takes payment in money. Also functions as an Oracle, gazeing into the depths of the stock-price index to see what is going to happen. One of the most boring people in the world. Originally from Birmingham.
Jones the Dragon- possibly entirely fictional, he doesn't even go by this name, but no one can pronounce his welsh name, so everyone calls him Jones. The creature has ripped up mountains, torn down the best and strongest, and sits upon the true treasures of Britain. If he exists, that is. Reply With Quote