Latest Material Index

Continue reading

Latest Material Index

Continue reading

Latest Material Index

. It’s once again time to get the latest material index updated and to transfer the material from the old one to the main index tabs at the top of the page. If you want the very latest material, it may be necessary to either scroll down or consult the “Recent Posts” listing-widget on the lower right. The previous Latest Materials Index can be found HERE and – for those who like to rummage at random – the full post-by-post index can be found occupying a great deal of space in the lower right column.

. Eclipse Classless d20 Character Construction Cribsheet / Sample Character ListCharacter Creation PrimerCompiled Martial Arts.

. Subindexes: RPG Design – Twilight Isles – BattletechChampionsd20Legend of the Five RingsShadowrunWhite WolfOther GamesBattling Business WorldStar Wars

. Cumulative General Index. Continue reading

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXCIII – Forging Chaos

Back in his workshop in Aden – another speciality factory-cathedral manse of course – Charles was considering. He WAS very good at artifacts, but for these he would need the assistance of a Raksha – and preferably one who’d originated out in chaos without his meddling rather than a Mardi Gras Raksha. A high power level would be best; proficiency in shaping went with that, although a reasonable level of sanity might or might not. It would be best if they actually were a reasonably skilled artificer, although knowing how to play the drums was obviously more important. Having some reasonably content (if heavily mutated) humans under their control would also be useful. It would help provide the link via a few prayers.

He asked Kierroth if he had any advice; it seemed like he’d be looking for an Entertainer / Worker noble, whether by notifying freeholds or by sending out a call – and it would be best to have something to offer the noble in return for such aid. He was sure that the price one of his peers would ask is going to be steep. Raksha don’t meddle with Primordials unless they’re certain they can get the better end of the deal. He had to admit that that was very likely with Charles though.

(Charles) “Well, I can make them some artifacts and things!”

That WAS his purview, and they did have benefits that fey treasures didn’t.

Still, he had books to read, geomantic artifacts to make (he still needed some of those for the Song of Creation)), manses to build (to expand Aden) – and, for that matter, various girls climbing into his bed.

Malinda kept saying that would lead to all kinds of complications, but nothing too odd had happened so far! Maybe she meant later?

It wasn’t long before the Balgrogs and Kickaha reported that he had some visitors aboard!

  • There was a mass of golden fire that had popped up in one of the concert halls and plucked the orchestra’s drums up into itself (It had a nice rhythm, though!.
  • A rather imposing looking avian lady had arrived at the Mardi Gras Manse.
  • And General Koiiyana (the rabbit-army guy whom Charles had met earlier) had responded to the message – although he hadn’t actually come aboard.

There might be more later; Charles hadn’t really explained much beyond the fact that he was making some high-end artifacts dealing with Wyld powers, and was willing to pay with more artifacts and/or immunity to calcification and the ability to respire in creation at a substantial rate, for a couple of day’s assistance (from individuals meeting thus-and-such requirements) in making them.

He went to see the golden fire with the drums first. Gothmug approved! The beat was not at all bad – although they had to be careful approaching that concert hall. The vibrations were making the ground rattle even outside, and golden light was spilling from the windows and doorways. It wasn’t much trouble for Charles and Gothmug – but it was quite a problem for nearby mortals and supernaturals without eye and ear protection.

And yes, that was an amorphous golden flame infused with rhythm and the beat, playing the entire drum section! That was some impressive drumming!

(Charles) “Hello there! That’s very good!”

He wasn’t sure about the humans – but the drums and power level seemed high enough, and he could always get the human input from someone else!)

(Drums, in Morse Code) “Are you the one who sent that message? You are very small and fleshy, but the drums are of fine enough quality.”

(Charles) “Yes I am! I’ll need about a day of your time to make things… What do you need in payment?”

(Drums, still in Morse) “I must spread the beat everywhere! Even into the things that cannot hear or feel!”

(Charles) “Hrm… EVERYWHERE is a bit large! To a really large audience then? If they remember it, they will produce secondary echoes for a very long time to come!”

It looked like… its definition of “audience” included the environment, too. Ideally, even the stones should dance!

(Charles) “How about a specialty manse for the performance? It can be an amplifier and have all kinds of music-related powers and share those with you everywhere!”

Drums found that awfully tempting – but held out long enough to get Charles to throw in some anti-silence measures (and the drums; they had a really good resonance and the sticks weren’t melting or shattering like a lot of them did). His flame-and-music assumption made silence effects quite awkward however interesting and fun it was!

Hm. Perhaps throw in “producing instruments” as a minor power?

Next up… it was General Koiiyana, the rabbit fellow! Charles had saved him a lot of trouble retrieving his brother’s birthday present – those rabbit-soldier poppets. He wasn’t in Kadia, but he had responded to Charles’s message. He wanted Charles to drop by and have a meeting!

Well, why not? It looked like… he was in the cabin of some craft, having his tea. He was very rabbity, as always. Charles brought along a selection of herbal teas with a randomizer so that which one would always be a surprise!

The craft… turned out to be a giant rabbit flying fortress, crewed by rabbit airmen and pilots a lot like the ones that Charles had returned to him!

(Koiiyana) “Ah, Aden! Thank you for replying… what a pleasant gift. I do like a good herbal tea.”

(Charles) “Ah good! And I like the flying fortress… Is it by any chance the Ether Bunny?”

(Koiiyana) “No no, the Moon Jumper. It’s my own design.” (Although he had an aide write that one down – and sank into thought)

(Charles) “Also good!”

(Koiiyana): “I was wanting to stretch myself a little. My Brother, President Noriishana, is back to being an Imperial Raksha thanks to you and is leaving me alone for the time being. Thus, no need to build vehicles to protect myself! Tell me a little more about this project of yours!”

(Charles) “Well… Fundamentally it’s a big repair project! But to make it work I need assistance from some very old powers indeed – so I want to make some artifacts to pay them for it!”

(Koiiyana) “Ah, maintenance! A chore to be sure, but not as much for one such as yourself. What are you repairing?”

Well it wasn’t much of a secret any more at this point!

(Charles) “Yu-Shan and some chunks of the universe!”

(Koiiyana) “The Celestial City… or the Celestial Plain? I’ve heard some bizarre things from the Unshaped, you know, and it’s a distinction.”

(Charles, happily) “Both!”

(Koiiyana) “Hmm…” (He leaned back in his seat) “You’re going to keep that Gallery of Captured Dreams in check, yes? One such as myself would no doubt get its attention. Its? She? He? I suppose it’s immaterial with devas.”

(Charles) “I think I might be able to get some of the people there free of it… And it kind of is!”

(Koiiyana) “Wouldn’t that be nice… hmm. I could loan you some of my troops and craft. The crew might not look it, but some of them were originally of human birth. You human born are so malleable without that divine power! And the craft… well, I’d need at least one to command from! I doubt your project will go unopposed, and the Plain is just like Creation for calcification!”

(Charles) “Well, that should work! And Immunity to Calcification and related menaces is part of the payment!”

(Koiiyana) “Hrm. You can do that… could you give it to Brother, too? If I had THAT, and he didn’t, it might cause another (cringing) incident.”

(Charles) “Certainly! But he’d either have to come to see me or wait until I dropped by to see him!”

(Koiiyana) “I suppose I could stall him. I warn you, though, he loves big tastes and big entrances, so be ready if you want him to visit!”

(Charles) “Thank you for the warning there!”

(Koiiyana) “And a nasty temper!”

(Charles) “Well… THAT can probably be managed if he wants something from me!”

(Koiiyana) “Yes… well, let me know when you need me and my men! And do get those Shapeless free!”

(Charles) “I shall see what I can do!”

And it was off to see the Avian figure! It was a rather stunning emu-like lady poking around in the Mardi Gras Manse, asking questions and examining the merchandise. She made Charles feel just a little funny again! Pesky Primordials, making the standards of beauty so universal! Still, for once having multiple aspects might prove a defense… If she got too distracting, he could always run on computer HERE for a bit and let some of the girls distract him from HER. Still, that wasn’t necessary at the moment…

(Charles, somewhat hesitantly) “Er… Hello?”

She looked up at him, and met his eyes – and the gaze was quite enthralling!

(Nimue, Radiance of the Heavens) “Hello. I am Nimue, Radiance of the Heavens… Are you the master of this place? You’re younger than I thought. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This place has a child’s imagination about it.”

(Charles) “Well yes! And I do like making things… Can I help you?”

(Nimue) “I had heard that you needed assistance with a project. You had some most fascinating requirements for it… what were you going to make?”

(Charles) “A few devices to tap some of the greater creative powers of the Wyld mostly – to empower solipsism and multipresence mostly!

(Nimue) “What a fascinating idea.” (Scooting in closer) “Surely you wouldn’t be using these on yourself? Especially the solipsism.”

Oh dear! She was being even more appealing now!

(Charles) “I might make a set for that too – but it’s somebody else that might need them!”

(Nimue) “Well, if you insist on making them… I can help you! I’m good at dealing with creative things.”

She casually adjusted a nearby musical note so that it played tones that you couldn’t normally hear in Creation.

(Nimue) “You don’t need to play the drums if you can do that.”

(Charles) “Well, the drums are more of a metaphysical requirement – but the creative abilities could really help! It should only take a day or two though. So… what were you looking for?”

(Nimue) “I would like some time with…” (She delicately touched his chest with a finger -and there was that funny feeling again) “you.”

(Charles, becoming more than a bit flustered) “Uhrrm… doing what?”

(Nimue, looking mildly disappointed for a moment) “Oh, all manner of things. In bed, even”

(Charles) “Er… blank checks are a little… worrying! Tell you what… if you’ll talk to Malinda about what you have in mind, I’m quite willing to accept her judgment on the matter.”

Malinda… was a little concerned about this one; whatever Nimue’s narrative was, she’d very much like a romantic involvement with Charles! She’d like a token of his affection, and sympathetic links weren’t good things to give out to fey! That was just WEIRD! Even if Nimue knew for sure what Charles was that would be worrisome – and if she was that willing to gamble on a mystery things might get very odd indeed! Still, there was no point in evading her; any stone or flower from Aden was as much a part of Charles as any link he could create (or you could just get some human to pray) – and she apparently wasn’t intending to use any horribly addictive charms or anything.

Secondarily… she wanted Charles to make her an artifact – although she didn’t much care what! It just had to be an artifact, made specifically for her. Charles would doubtless give her some extra defenses of course, but that was just Charles being Charles – and he made personalized artifacts for anyone who asked for them anyway.

Malinda approved, if rather reluctantly – and Nimue gave Charles a deep kiss. That left him pretty fuzzled! The girls who’d moved in on him weren’t so… weaponized!

The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CXCII – Hassles with the Hannya

Back on Earth, Gri Fel and Terapishim had examined the maps of the upcoming “gates” – and the set of new, underground (and totally environmentally friendly) support-and-transport manses that had been installed in the hills around Arcosanti and linked to the city – and the concealed security-manses that would mark the earth terminus’s of the gates.

Arcosanti – or at least the massive-capacity transport and storage ring now placed about the city – was about to become the central nexus point for the trade and communications of twelve extrasolar planets. Had… had Charles KNOWN this? Was THAT why he’d wanted two fairly major gods for this position – including the old god of the biggest and most magical city in creation – and had provided a legion of material gods to help out?

Had he ARRANGED this? It was hard for them (and for not a few others…) to believe that Charles hadn’t had motives beyond charity for this!

To be fair, Charles probably wouldn’t have picked Arcosanti as a major nexus if Gri Fel and Terapishm hadn’t been there… Those positions had mostly gone to larger cities with existing transportation networks! But Gri Fel would like a major city and Terapishim would like more importance… and so they’ were getting what they wanted!

In an otherwise-unimportant school in Middle America, Dubai was finding out that his middle-eastern concubines – and two of his high school girls – were pregnant.

In the Middle East… Leon was finding that there were more fanatics needing to be turned into things than was at ALL reasonable!

Out beyond the borders of shaped existence, on the edge of the Deep Wyld (it hadn’t been much of a trip compared to making it to the Empirical Galaxy in the first place)… Charles was looking for Hannya. Perhaps foolishly, he had very little fear of the Unshaped. Of course, with protection from shaping, multiple aspects, unbreakable sanity due to his privacy manses, and multi-tracking, he really could handle most things.

Even if they “caught him” it would simply stall that aspect – and there were plenty of unclaimed waypoints to pass through. Or would that be missing the point?

The Tsunami spread through the Wyld, touching, evaluating, and discarding a hurricane wind of seething narrative fragments, it’s own form of Wyld-Seeking sifting shimmering fruits of exotic materials, essence-constructs, strange realities, and curious artifacts to ornament it’s fractal branches.

For Mothra Leo the sparkling essence of chaos curled away from his wings in a contrail of brief, twinkling, realities where his immutability momentarily gave stability to the wonders cast up (and normally dissipated again in instants) by the energies of the Wyld. Trailing a cascade of change and wonder He flitted through the narrative waypoints of the Deep Wyld at what would have been great speed in Creation,, represented in the Deep Wyld by the rapid fluctuation of existence around him. He was bound to run across some unshaped at some point!

And Charles… was considering!

Ooh! New colors! Wait… my brains only wired for a limited set; how can I perceive new colors if the automatic reshaping doesn’t affect me? Ah! It’s produced by a mental impression – a memory of incomprehensibility that cannot be described! Rather neat! It goes well with the new tastes, new smells, and new textures not of the existence he was born in. There were even spaces of sensory deprivation that worked much the same way, interwoven with great coils of ever-shifting elemental, Celestial, Exotic, and Primordial Essence – or at least with reasonable simulations thereof anyway.

Wait! Was that twelve impossible things? That meant that it was time for PANCAKES! With peanut butter and jelly rolled up in them!

Er… Where had THAT come from? Oh! The Wyld couldn’t alter him DIRECTLY – but it was feeding him sensory inputs and experiences that didn’t fit into any pattern at all. Of COURSE his brain was throwing up random thoughts and finding short-term apparent patterns that fell apart as soon as they formed! It was being subjected to a random stimulus! It was probably a bit like being drunk or drugged!

Booze for Primordials? Was Creation an… addiction treatment center? A cosmic drunk tank? Or just a drug-free zone?

GAH. BAD BRAIN! BAD! STOP THAT! He needed to keep his mind on what he was doing! You cold lose yourself FOREVER out here!… Was that why the Primordials original quest was so indefinite?


Wait, could he see new colors if the necessary interpretive neural network was set up on the adenic-manse network that was integrated into his mind?


It got somewhat better with a little more practice. No WONDER people ran into Hannya! They had SOME sort of structure to immerse yourself in and that was what you’d be desperate for… unconscious Wyld-Questing in search of… random encounters.

Oh, that was just WRONG.

Did Hannya actually EXIST as something separate from the Unshaped Raksha, or was it just that Creation’s Raksha had gotten so used to elements of the world being stable that they were subject to wyld intoxication like a creature of creation was?

And then, after all THAT, there was something comparatively mundane. There was nothingness, then a shimmering in the waypoint of faux-Martian Essence, then, of all things, a heavy wooden locked and barred door, reinforced with metal. There was a face on the door, made of a black metal, that leered at him – but no apparent operating mechanism.

(Charles) “Allo! Since you’re not a featureless portal, that means that you can be opened! That’s good!”

(Face) “Allo! Are you another adventurer, come to brave the Donjon of Ineffable Menace? Hello, tree-adventurer!”

(Charles) “I think I’m more of a contractor, come to install some conveniences and new functions!”

(Face) “Whaa… you do not want to brave the dungeon, the horrible traps, and the adventurers inside for the treasure room?”

And he was being scanned! Rather extensively – and it was sizing up both HIM and everything inside of him… Well of COURSE an unshaped would be capable of that! It was like recognizing faces for a human…

(Charles) “I’ve got lots of room and treasures Mr Dread Portal! But I wanted to offer the Hannya some presents!”

(Face) “Ah, you wish to offer tribute! But I warn you, Mr. Rival Dungeon, the monsters, traps, and adventurers beyond will want to test your mettle! They are discerning of quality, you see!” (Leering more) “And you are full of tasty baubles indeed!”

(Charles) “Well, OK! I have lots of metals! Copper is really useful for mortals, and alloyed Illusium makes good stuff for shaped Raksha, and there’s always osmium, which makes great pens, and…” (he went on for some time. After all… indefinitely large quantities of metal were available).

The face licked it’s lips as it listened to that description! Charles was really making this easy by listing everything like that…

There was a familiar sensation of multiple sets of eyes (or the Hannya equivalent) on him – so he waved cheerily! After all… he had some artifacts to offer!

(Face) “Delicious. Why don’t you hook yourself up.”

If Charles had been more socially aware, he might have realized that the tone wasn’t exactly trustworthy! Still… he really wouldn’t have cared much.

(Charles) “Well, here’s an artifact for you! It will let you not be here to get past if adventurers are too powerful! It does only work as long as you stay reasonably friendly with Creation and I though!”?

(Face) “What, you mean shaped reality? That really hurts! And then there’s that ring around it that grows all these defenses…”

(Charles) “Well, you don’t need to go there – and with this you won’t have to be available when anything bothersome comes out of it!

Hmm… there was someone in Aden, skulking around near some of the mines… That really was to be expected! He provided a coupon book! After all, the mines were more theoretical than anything else…

The humanoid figure in dark leather armor (carrying a big bag and ludicrously stylized daggers) was quite surprised. The Donjon of Ineffable Menace was surprised too – mostly because Charles had neither begun smiting, Wyld-questing, or running. That was the usual reaction to hannya! Not… providing intruding emanations nice luncheons (with peanut butter cups for dessert) from hobbit inns.

The Emanation wandered off towards the inn, snagging trees, rocks, grass, and other stuff and sticking it into his bag along the way – pretty much all of which promptly restored itself in one way or another, which was apparently very frustrating for him! He seemed to be quite the kleptomaniac… As he reached one of the hobbit villages he started extending his efforts to roads, fences, idyllic hobbit-holes, and hobbit children – although Charles quietly took away all the non-plant living things that he tried to stick in the bag.

(Emanation, puzzedly) “Peanut butter?…”

(Face, meanwhile) “You smell kind of like that ring, you know!”

(Charles) “Well, there is some resemblance!”

(Face) “Not enough to hurt, somehow. Must be all that Wyld Essence in you… why don’t you come in”

(Charles, wandering on in) “OK!”

The door opened up into a red-hot corridor just wide enough for a single human-sized creature.

Charles pretty much ignored the heat. He was pretty well protected! It was sad Tsunami had to go back inside though. Fortunately, Mothra Leo could just shrink down and ride on his shoulder.

The corridor was full of twisty little turns, all alike!

Charles simply strolled along cheerily, with harmonica – until, as he rounded a corner, something clicked behind him. A rolling sound started following him, rapidly increasing in pace, even as the heat grew – and he continued blithely onwards.

Eventually he did look back.

(Charles) “Ooh! A giant rolling ball! I always wanted one of those!”

Unfortunately it turned out to be impossible to simply take that one to put in a temple somewhere, and install an upgraded one, with homing system and accelerator! (which, would, of course, have gone around him somehow). This giant red hot rolling ball had a great big glowering face on it! It was pulsing with the energies of a shaping attack intended to snatch one of HIS waypoints!

Pie time!

(Charles) “Would you like something? I’m not sure I have anything ready for giant rolling balls; could you give me a clue here”?

The ball opened it’s mouth most menacingly – so Charles gave it delicious pie! If it didn’t give up… he could launch a staff-shaping attack to make it enjoy pie!

He did indeed have to resort to staff-shaping attacks, and it had a prefect defense – but Charles was a great deal more mote-efficient, and had a lot more motes anyway. He could just spam it until is succumbed since it WAS insisting.

Meanwhile, Mr. Big Bag / Larry Craft, Dungeon Raider – seemed to be scouting out Aden and grabbing stuff. He’d figured out that living things were a no-go though. He couldn’t find much of anything in the way of traps either, unless it was eating too much and getting fat…

Back in the Dungeon, the chase through super-heated tunnels, attacks by hordes of fiery goblins, and tripping of all manner of traps, ended with the ball enjoying a tasty pie.

(Charles) “Do you need anything?

(Ball) “I can pop out spikes if I want to, and go all superhot, and… okay, I can’t make pie.”

(Charles) “Would you like to be able to make pie?”

(Ball) “Pie is yummy now! But I’m supposed to snatch away some of your waypoints and make the dungeon bigger!”

(Charles) “Would you like some extra waypoints? They can come in convenient chancel form!”

(Ball) “Ooh! You’re just going to give me waypoints? But it’s no fun if you just give the dungeon waypoints! You can’t savor them that way!”

(Charles) “Oh… Well… maybe if they’re already dungeon-flavored”?

(Face) “Can they fight back”

(Charles) “Why not?”

The ball got a highly combative chancel, full of monsters and a boss! Distracting it enough for Charles to make his dramatic escape!

Or at least to wander off. He did feel a tingle; the dungeon, as focused through Mr. Larry Craft, was trying to analyze his interior fully! Charles wished it good luck with that! The Sidereals hadn’t been able to (much to their geomancers frustration), and they had made a pretty big effort! Still, a hannya had more familiarity with multi-bodied beings structure, and – as the effect was dancing along Aden’s dragon lines – it tickled with greed!

Charles offered the analytic spells some nifty artifacts – with the usual contingent effects! After all, if it just wanted to use them without side effects… all it had to do was wander away from Creation and not go out of it’s way to direct hostile creatures of the Wyld back to it. And if it wanted to stick around and protect Creation the benefits were even better! Besides… he didn’t mind being scanned a bit. All the really private areas were behind perfect privacy defenses anyway – although those were noted!

(Charles) “Could I just talk to everybody? I’m not really wyld-questing against you…”

Suddenly the ball got an odd expression on its face.

(Ball) “Um . . . they’re not available right now!”

It… seemed mildly concerned, actually!

(Charles) “Huh… is somebody following me and wyld-questing against you”

(Ball) “Err . . . everything is fine!”

(Charles) “You’re sure? I could make you a tailored artifact to help out!”

(Ball) “I can point you in their direction! They’re really busy though!”

(Charles) “That should work!”

The dungeon shifted with a loud rumbling, as the corridors straightened out. Way off on the other end he heard… gunfire and explosions.

Charles headed that way fairly quickly. Was another unshaped raiding this one?

At the end of the corridor the explosions and gunfire became louder, and he could hear loud shouting. There was light here, too., and beyond it… an open field. There was a small river flowing up ahead, and a bridge. On HIS side of the bridge, there was a fiery fortress with ominous faces lining the walls. They were much like the one on the initial door. There was also a small medieval style farmstead. On the other side, there was another fortress, although it was much more modern in construction, with turrets and spotlights – although it also had a farmstead, albeit a far more modern one. The essence felt different over that way.

(Charles) “Allo!”

Currently… there was a fight going on the bridge. A humanoid figure in black iron armor with fire bursting from it was engaging a soldier in modern body armor, wielding a machine gun! They both had military forces engaging each other too. It looked like… more soldiers on the modern side, and goblins for the knight. Bullets and ballista bolts alike were flying!

(Charles) “Erm… Am I interrupting something?” (Extra Loudly) I have tea and biscuits! Intermission!”

Unfortunately, the Black Knight and the Soldier were too busy fighting each other to listen to him. The Sword was strong with those two! The armies, however, were much lesser raksha tied to the emanations – and were more than willing to take a break. It looked like the Dungeon was having a territorial war with anither Hannya.

Charles sighed – and put a barrier between them for a moment anyway.

(Charles) “Excuse me! It’s break time!”

The two combatants found the barrier very annoying, as bullets and greatswords alike deflected off of it!

(Soldier) “Do you Primordials have to meddle in EVERYTHING?!”

(Charles) “Uhm… it’s only for a little bit, and since I found the way in first, it IS sort of my turn!”

(Knight) “Ooh, he has big innards…”

(Soldier) “And a tasty narrative of generosity.”

(Knight) “A little unsatisfying over the long term, but not bad for a snack.”

(Charles) “Well, I need a couple of favors – nothing major, or even specified, since all they have to be is solidified favors – and I can trade artifacts and waypoints and things! And that will give you extra prizes to fight over!”

(Soldier) “He DOES have big innards! Rip and tear!”

(Charles, after a moments consideration) “You do realize that that won’t work? Comeon! You’re a soldier! Strategy, Tactics! (He started rummaging in his pack) “I have some here somewhere…”

(Soldier, sighing) “I was joking… you’ve got protection against that. I’d have to send in the engineers. And even then… they’d have to be subtle about it and you’ve got anti-shaping up the keister. Sort of like those things the dead place keeps popping out sometimes.”

(Knight) “Ugh, I hate those. Not even good eating.”

(Charles) “Well, there is a relationship really, but I do get along with Chaos a lot better!”

(Soldier) “And they always have lots of demons, too.”

(Soldier) “Hey, can you do something about those? You seem to be related. Can’t you talk them into NOT eating everything”

Hm… The yozi’s?

(Knight) “Or lobotomizing us and using us as pack dogs.”

(Charles) “That’s not at all nice! I’ll make some artifacts to keep that from happening…”

(Soldier) “No, no! This roving book eater I assimilated had stories about the creators of the dead place getting maimed. You’re… like them, but not. THESE things are also that way, but . . . trust me, they’re not like you either.”

(Charles) “Hm… I bet they keep the same set of forms all the time… what do they look like? It could be Deathlords, lost neverborn souls, or a lot of things!”

(Knight, pulling a tankard of ale out of nowhere) “Same form as you, but USUALLY older. Some of them have mutations like the Shaped of old. Oi, Piercer, you fox, what did that one doing the eating look like”

(Soldier) “That depended . . . either an older humanoid woman or a collection of spheres. It was hell getting into her world-body! And that place was a jungle of poisons that ate everything. General sent in Skimmer and the cavalry and she didn’t come out, despite the flamethrower and the grenades.”

(Knight) “I wondered why she wasn’t on the assault.”

(Charles, once again clearing several conclusions and likely going entirely wrong with a single mighty jump) “Hm… Could be Deathlords! They don’t have direct internal access to chaos, and so – to build a tomb-body… they’d have to come out here and swipe waypoints to incorporate! They may not be able to truly create either, which could limit their shaping so that they’d need some preset themes. Were they picky about what waypoints they took?

(Soldier) “Pretty picky – seemed to be going for ones without any construction on them. General complained about it.”

(Charles) “Were they styled? You know… haunted forest, plains and mountains, or whatever?”

(Soldier) “The engineers were making them plains. Don’t know about haunted-that’s usually not good for digestion.”

(Charles) “Well, it would just be styling… Still, I guess that wouldn’t be required!”

(Soldier) “Took the engineers too… they walked off in this labyrinth pattern.”

(Charles) “Ah! That would handle it… just control THEM to give it structure… it wouldn’t be quite the old labyrinth – the power levels would be lower, even if it incorporated a demesne – but you could make it RESEMBLE the old labyrinth to any degree desired, and it would be effective as long as you were inside…”

(Knight) “What IS he talking about”

(Soldier) “The creators who weren’t maimed died.”

(Knight) “Oh. Well, not going to cry for them.”

(Soldier) “They want to eat us.”

(Knight) “OH.”

(Charles) “Well, not exactly! The main part of the dead creators mostly went off to remake themselves and do something else! The Deathlords are sort of their creations after death. They were originally a way to try to get revenge on EVERYBODY, but the ones who currently possess that power have much more varied objectives… they’re still stuck being more or less dead though!”

(Soldier) “Dead, and not good eating!”

(Charles) “And probably well protected from it anyway!”

(Soldier) “Found that one out the hard way.”

(Charles) “Well, I could make something that lets you automatically slide a few hundred waypoints away whenever one of them comes close. At least that way they won’t be bothering YOU. There will always be other people for them to bother no matter what I do though.”

(Knight) “Do we really care as long as it’s not us”

(Soldier) “Huh. We actually agree on something!”

(Charles) “Would that be worth a favor?”

(Knight) “Depends on the favor! What were you wanting? Your own army? A big castle with walls that can’t be eaten”

(Charles) “Oh, it would be a charm activation of an unspecified but possible charm that you might in theory know! But it doesn’t need to actually be defined as anything in particular, so that can just be manifested with a few motes. That shouldn’t really cost you anything as far as I know. I just need a few to make more artifacts!”

(Knight) “Hah! As long as it’s nothing too complex, sure!”

(Charles) “It doesn’t have to be anything in particular really!”

Charles cheerily traded various artifacts for a selection of… hm. Raksha promissory notes? Materialized reputation points? Odd sparkling crystals of no apparent function?

Ah! Materialized achievement points from the soldier, and sparkling crystals from the knight that he referred to as “XP.” That worked!

HE provided various various artifacts that would (1) be protective, and (2) probably make them the terrors of the Hanya world! (But so be it! Random terrors of the Wyld… wouldn’t really change anything. Really, “look, in the infinite random chaos you found something marginally more dangerous than the average of complete randomness! How shocking!” It might be a problem later – but almost ANYTHING might be a problem later!

The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CXCI – Alchemical Kaiju

Aikiko… had quietly slipped away from the Deathknight after she’d started to explain the details of super-accurate clocks. Maybe it WASN’T an intentional attempt to bore her to death, but it was still pretty unbearable – and she wasn’t looking for Deathknights anyway.

Most of the list from the tabloids was still looking good though… that HAD to involve Sidereal meddling SOMEWHERE. How else would normal human being find out so MUCH?

Wait… Had someone just put an astrological inclination towards “publishing accurate reports on magical occurrences” on them and made it broad enough to cover every step of reporting, writing, and editing? If you ran the writers random fantasies through enough stages with that effect going – like the way that the tabloids picked up and “improved” each others stories – you’d eventually start… pulling meaningful information out of random noise. Even better, while you’d probably only get partial and confused clues with any reasonable number of cycles… there was almost no way to block THAT. They weren’t even divining at anyone in particular!

And across the universe, mortals who studied thermodynamics, physics, encryption, and information theory found themselves abruptly troubled.

Hm… that bit about the Antarctic seemed the most meaningful at the moment!

Satellite Surveillance had revealed a massive structure in the antarctic after a massive iceberg – some 115 miles long and 16 miles wide at it’s widest point- had cracked off of an ice shelf. It had apparently been buried under the ice for millennia, and appeared to be made of crystal. Current speculation was that the pictures have been doctored to add a “Fortress of Solitude” for publicity for the new Superman movie; it would be twenty-seven (nineteen now) days before the satellite was back in position for more decent shots.

And… there wasn’t usually a lot of activity in the Antarctic. Sure, that would probably keep – but there had to be a dozen human expeditions getting ready to head that way, along with a terrestrial concealment effort – and not even the gods would know what the Raksha might be getting up to; hadn’t there been some of them living down there?

She’d need a ship though. Of course, that was easy… although she had to turn down Doc Smith’s offer of an Invisible Atomic Zeppelin with Electro-Rays. As amusing as that sounded… he had to admit that it wasn’t nearly as fast as a regular shuttle.

She took one of those, albeit one with a cloaking field installed. If there was something that required an electro-ray around, Skoll could provide!

Heh… no doubt the mad-scientist Deva would GLADLY have provided her with a whole pile of mad-scientist devices – which would no doubt malfunction and have all sorts of crazy side effects. Ah well! Maybe next time if he was extra put out – or when she investigated Scotland or the Beavers!

The Doc wasn’t especially put out; he was well aware that not EVERYONE liked mad science – which put him well ahead of 95% of his field.

Aikiko got to the Antarctic in short order – and Skoll handled the environmental problems quite readily. It was nice carting around what was essentially a miniature vehicle; it was SO handy for exploring Neverborn remnants!

And – not entirely unexpectedly – somebody was already there. It looked like another expedition rather than some antediluvian survivor of an elder world though. That was something… It could even be some normal scientists! After all, the region had a LOT of international research stations.

Nah. That “geodesic dome” was showing an essence-aura of considerable potency – and at least one human-looking individual was currently examining the top of the structure ih his or her shirtsleeves – at -40 and windchill of -80. That was kind of impressive really! Some kind of thaumaturgic warding, Air Aspect Survival, some other Exalted Survival capability, or not at all human – and the aura from the dome was… very similar to the one from the guy who was poking about, carrying weird overtones of lightning and iron. DEFINITELY not a familiar aspect!

Possibly Autochthonian or Alchemical? She didn’t know that much about them… Charles had a few visiting though; he’d probably share if she asked.

That at least identified the auras as Alchemical – albeit with a serious hint of something nasty about them!

(Aikiko) “Charles, didn’t you have to talk down some of them?”

(Charles) “Well, yeah! They had something called “Gremlin Syndrome” – a corrupting insanity! Rather dangerous really; it infects the physical side of exalted artifact bodies, and machine spirits, and so on…”

(Aikiko) “Ew! Could I get a detailed comparison of the essence signatures?”

(Charles) “And then they lose all empathy, and get REALLY arrogant – at the toxic level really – and they tend to go berserk whenever anything confuses, upsets, or annoys them… And sure!”

(Aikiko) “That’s horrible! That sounds like pretty much the opposite of what Autochthon would want.”

(Charles) “I kind of think so! Hm… Judging by what Yu-Shan said, I think it’s an expression of his neverborn aspect starting to creep into things now that he’s so sick… I’ve got to work on him after Yu-Shan!”

There was an awful lot of white and blue – and occasional small avalanches along the face of the ice cliff where the ice-shelf shift had left things unstable – but no apparent signs of environmental trouble from “Gremlin Syndrome” (if it even did things like that outside of Autochthon). The structure itself appeared to be made of pure crystal, symmetrical and beautiful, an iridescent white, with a trace of an inner glow. There was, however, no obvious entrance. Assuming that it was some sort of geomantic construct, it probably opened only for attuned individuals, or at an attuned individual’s command.

The guy up on top seemed to be searching, and occasionally using some sort of probe. So they might not be connected… well, it had worked with the Abyssal! She walked right up to the top of the dome.

(Aikiko) “What’s up?”

When the structure had been exposed it had radiated a VERY powerful signal for those attuned to machine-magic – and there were a few alchemicals around who were desperate for anything which might help them recoup their recent setbacks. Harmonious Smith Of Accords was busy deploying his system probes to tap into the apparent artificial intelligence of the manse. While this newcomer was obviously some sort of Exalt (and did bear some resemblance to an Orichalcum Caste Alchemical!), she would be dealt with if necessary! Already the primitive defenses of the AI controlling this structure were failing before his system probes, and it’s resources – including a small swarm of rather high-end combat/engineering constructs – would soon be theirs. It would not make up for their vanished companions, but it might well help to recover them!

And if this intruder got in the way of that… well, Celerous Dart Of The Heavens had the firepower to help out with any such difficulty! It would be best to determine what it was she wanted as quickly as possible!

He employed The Demanding Multitude (a computerized charm that flurried a social attack in combat time and made four rational-sounding, urgent, persuasive, demands at once!

(Harmonious Smith) “Identify Yourself, State Your Purpose, Reveal Your Nature, and Stand Down!”

Aaargh! Skoll was no use at all against THIS! The man wasn’t USING any UMI to block! He was just… persuasive and somehow speaking in many voices at the same time!

Aikiko… found herself answering the first three questions before she really even thought about it!

The fourth demand “missed” – but the player, as a non-social character, elected to save her will on the others. It wasn’t critical, so why not capitulate?

(Aikiko) My name’s Aikiko Tanaka! I’m here investigating some disturbances I heard about. And yeah, you’ve got me. I’m Exalted.”

(Harmonious Smith) “What sort of Exalt? I think that there is little here for anyone save one of us!”

(Skoll, privately) “Warning! Entropic cascade! Possible compromise of systems with continued exposure!”

(Aikiko, privately) “Oh oh… how long do you have? Give me an estimate.”

(Skoll, privately) “At current rate of progression… 2.78 minutes. Increase in exposure may accelerate this progression. Direct contact not advised. From earlier conversation, possibly “Gremlin Syndrome”.”

(Aikiko) “I’m not sure it means anything, but… Solar.”

She prepared for an emergency, as-fast-as-possible exit! She couldn’t risk Skoll getting infected by THIS!

(Harmonious Smith) “Solar? Have you come to take control of this planet? We could combine our efforts, and at last bring efficiency and proper order to this world!”

(Aikiko) “Oh, for the Primordials’ sake, if you say you’re my father…”

Aikiko engaged the thrusters!

(Harmonious Smith, with some astonishment) “What a peculiar person!”

He wasn’t well versed in earths popular culture. Why bother? It was all silly non-Autochthonian media valuing individual heroism over the collective…

Skoll flashed into the air, leaving behind the corrupting mist of void energies which had been sinking into his systems.

Harmonious Smith lacked flight capabilities – but it was a tossup! Ask Celerous Dart of the Heavens to pursue or continue attempting to gain control of this powerful resource? A tough choice!

Hm… not so tough after all! The visitors thrust-systems were powerful, and additional, potent, acceleration magics were being deployed. Celerous Dart… probably would not be able to catch her while remaining in the atmosphere – and sending her up would blow their cover for sure unless she used a remote – and that was too limited to have much chance of success. The odds… favored gaining control of THIS resource as quickly as possible, before effective interference could be deployed!

Harmonious Smith redoubled his efforts – and the AI’s barriers crumbled before him.

And Aikiko… was worrying! No one-manse computer intelligence was really likely to stand up to a pair of Alchemicals – and from what she’d been able to get on it… that place was likely to give them quite a power boost! It had a guardian force of first age automatons, massive computing power (at least compared to current earthly systems), and plenty of reserves of machine-magic… NOT a good thing!

Maybe somebody else would show up before they got it sorted out?

Yeah. Alchemicals dealing with a machine-magic manse. SURE someone would make it before they could take control… She called Charles since he was looking for them anyway!

(Charles) “Oh boy! And with access to a Yu-Shan gate too… Drat it!”

(Aikiko) “Yeah… now they’re after me instead of you, but if they realize what you are…”

(Charles) “Urm… Maybe I can get the Celestial Lions to help out? This IS sort of their thing…”

(Aikiko) “Wait, the place is a Yu-Shan gate too? Oh yeah… this WOULD be a hole in Heaven’s security.”

(Charles) “I’d say so… Botheration! I did NOT need any more complications at the moment! It’s almost time and I still have manses to build and artifacts to make!”

Charles called the Celestial Lions – and found that they were QUITE unhappy about having a set of high-end Alchemical Exalt Sidereal Hunters seizing control of one of Yu-Shan’s gates and a set of guardian constructs to go with it.

They were definitely interested in coordination. Shining Barrator and the other senior lions did NOT need known Sidereal hunters coming up to Heaven and wrecking stuff while a major geomantic operation was going on!

They deployed assorted forces, let Gothmug put up his impenetrable barriers to keep Celerous Dart Of The Heavens more or less grounded, had Aikiko return to wade through the automatons (since she could easily handle a LOT of them that way and she’d always been more overtly combative anyway) – and coordinated with the Celestial Lions pouring through the Gate.

It was loud, and messy, and brought down a lot more ice – likely a good thing; burying the place again once they let the wards down would probably be a good idea – but two Alchemicals and a Manse were no match for the Celestial Lions, Aikiko and Skoll, two of Charles’s Devas (Gothmug and Seiden, Master of Energetics), and Charles’s supporting staff and troops. They were simply far too outnumbered by creatures of similar power.

It was still more of a hassle than was needed at the moment – but getting the last couple of the “Starbreaker Sponsors” in for treatment was something Charles had been working on for a good long time now! Aikiko had done him a great favor!

Aikiko, however, had messages waiting afterwards…. Toho Studios was calling in it’s various actors! It seemed to be their version of “Circle the Wagons!”.

Well, she DID have a contract! Best answer the call!

The Japanese Government was wanting some explanations… that thing flying towards Tokyo had been identified via several different systems – photo enhancement, satellite imaging, radar, and more – and it had been bloody MOTHRA. Just like in the movies. Ergo, Toho presumably knew something. Toho – which didn’t really know anything – was calling in its actors, consultants, and staff for briefings, pooling of information, and setting up a movie which would explain why they were NOT to blame.

And then there’d been reports of King Ghidorah being spotted. And even before that… there had been reports of Mechagodzilla. There were even rumors that the governments of the world were sitting on Godzilla sightings!

Whaaa… stupid Cauldron-Born! Even CHARLES was more discreet than THIS!

And checking with Mechagodzilla… HE’D been out and about in Oregon stopping a variety of local disasters.

Quite a LOT of people were getting nervous; if Toho monster movies were prophetic instead of entertaining… things could be getting VERY weird! And very dangerous too!

And Aikiko… was left wondering whether she should admit that she knew something. It seemed pretty unfair to stick Toho with this mess without doing what she could to help them. It would be hard to convey it without seeming crazy or blowing her cover though.

Oh well! She’d blow her cover if she had to.

(Aikiko): “Yeah… there’s some truth to that report. Blame the Americans! (Thinking) “I think. I know there are some Americans involved.”

(Yuichi Ueno): “I’m fairly sure that those scriptwriters were NOT prophets! Much less all the costume makers and such… So… stuff that people IMAGINE is coming to life? (Muttering) A bad day to be named “Sarah Conner”…”

(Aikiko) “Not so much coming to life. More like you’ve got really powerful beings using it as inspiration. I know that anime does things with the Fair Folk sometimes. It’s like that, except they’re not QUITE as amoral and alien.”

(Yuichi Ueno) “A two-hundred foot high monster is a bit more than INSPIRATION!”

(Aikiko) “This is going to sound crazy… but I can get you in touch with one of these things! He can even get here without the government noticing.”

(Yuichi Ueno) “Hrm… well, that makes at least as much sense as the rest of this! Who is he?”

(Aikiko) “Mechagodzilla! I met him in Oregon… it’s a long story.”

She sighed and revealed Skoll to add some credibility.

And there was silence! Evidently she’d learned the Sidereal art of Assorted Endings, and had reached “Slay Conversation”” (A perfect defense against social skills). To be fair, that really wasn’t unexpected (and that WAS the sort of thing she’d expect a Sidereal to come up with).

She sent Mechagodzilla a prayer… was he free for an interview?

He could stop by in a few days – if they didn’t report her to the mental health authorities first.

Mechagodzilla arrived at Toho Studios, “accidentally” putting a hole in an (unimportant) wall because it had a Godzilla poster on it…

(Aikiko) “Hey, that’s no way to treat your temple! Um… I guess you would consider this a temple.”

(Mechagodzilla) “Of course!”

And MechaGodzilla removed the silly hat and put on six feet of height to help him glare at the security guards – who were pretty startled by the sudden growth, and fell back in confusion (not to mention more than a bit of panic; they weren’t equipped to handle Mechagodzilla!

(Aikiko) “Don’t worry, he’s quite friendly if you don’t attack him.”

Mechagodzilla cheerfully explained (with Aikiko interpreting where necessary) that the world was changing, and the direction of that change… would be decided in a battle between many of the mighty! Amongst those… the great dreams of men would stand as champions of humanity. He suggested sending at least six film crews to get the raw footage – and a dozen would be better!

(Aikiko) “Though considering where you’re likely to go… film permits might be a problem. I bet the God of Blockbusters would be all over this, though!”

Fortunately, anyone who might be checking permits would be well-distracted!

She offered to get them access. The filming would be dangerous, but some of the scenery, before and after the battles, would be to die for!

Toho… was more than a bit intimidated and confused – but if this was a battle to determine the fate of mankind and the Earth… they wanted it. Sure, that might be all that they could contribute – and documentaries were not really their speciality – but they wouldnt miss it for ANYTHING.

Besides, if it went badly… presumably they were all doomed anyway! But… shouldn’t they warn the military and such? Or perhaps the priests? Or the new-age mystics? Or SOMEBODY? After all… they had an interest in the survival of the Earth too!

(Aikiko) “Hrm… I have an associate who’s probably put out the word in the occult community. But yeah, we should let the military know. I expect a lot of this to take place elsewhere, but it’ll probably spill over to Earth.”

(Director) “Oh that’s just WONDERFUL… Oh dear; is this going to be like “Final Wars”?”

(Aikiko) “Ergh… it wouldn’t surprise me.”

(Yuichi Ueno) “Oh boy. Well… at least half the governments are already presuming that we have some special source of information, so they should be willing to give us a hearing at least.”

(Aikiko) “I’ll see what I can do off planet. If it makes you feel better . . . It probably won’t leave the solar system!”

Sadly, MechaGodzilla was no prophet, and his details were sketchy; still… he knew some things, and the bit about dark powers rising from the underworld was ominous anyway – whether it was Deathlords or Neverborn Kaiju or both.

The Director was considering Skoll…

(Director, sighing) “I take it that YOU will be participating in this great battle directly then?”

(Aikiko) “I don’t have much of a choice! The universe getting destroyed goes against this guy’s (patting the breastplate) interests too.”

(Yuichi Ueno) “Not just armor then… (Looks at Mecha-G)… will you be growing into a giant robot to battle Kaiju too?”

(Aikiko) “Hey… Mechagodzilla, can you really do that? Skoll and I might need it!”

(MechaGodzilla) “That power is available through prayers to me!”

(Aikiko) “Yeah, I think so!”

(Director) “Huh… can that suit of yours record?”

(Aikiko) “Ohhh… I see what you’re getting at there. Yes, he can.”

(Director) “Well, that should be pretty interesting if we all live!”

(Aikiko) “I hope so!”

Law and Ponies

OK… I’m not quite sure why this came up other than the previous question on the biology of ponies, but the question was about Equestria’s Legal System.

Oh yeah. Player characters in a civilized area. Legal problems are pretty much inevitable.

Well, It’s not like I’m a leading expert on My Little Pony, but I am an incurable answerer of questions and I possess the power of Google, so why not? Lets see what we’ve got to work with here…

We’re officers of the Royal Guard. We take our orders from royalty. With Princess Luna and Princess Celestia gone, and Princess Cadance overseeing the Crystal Empire now, that means we take our orders from you.

-Unicorn guard in Princess Twilight Sparkle Part 1.

Oh yes. That’s why not. The Royal Guard seems to be all that Equestria has in the way of an army, police force, national guard, or secret service – and they’re basically only seen in Canterlot, the Crystal Empire, and accompanying the Princesses or running their errands. There may be some local militias, but there’s no real evidence of that – and even if they exist, they seem unlikely to be more than a bunch of farmers and other local Earth Ponies who poke pointy sticks at monsters to give the Unicorns or Pegasi time to hit them with magic, lightning, tornadoes, or whatever.

In fact, going by the show… there really isn’t much of any evidence that Equestria actually has a criminal legal system other than being judged by the princesses (and usually being let off with a scolding. Princess Celestia really does seem to think of “My Little Ponies” as a bunch of kids in her care).

So there’s no real evidence for much of anything in the way of a criminal justice system. How about social services and contract law? That’s another big chunk of most legal systems.

As far as Social Services go… ponies don’t seem to need clothing even in winter (Winter Wrap-Up) and, while they may prefer fruits, vegetables, and baked goods, there’s apparently nothing to stop them from eating grass and leaves. There’s no shortage of water and they don’t actually seem to need very much in the way of shelter. It looks like Equestria doesn’t need much in the way of a social safety net. With Love and Harmony as principles of nature family law doesn’t seem too important either. Fire department? When any passing Pegasus Pony can shove a wisp of cloud into place and stomp out more water than anything but a water main could deliver otherwise? When unicorns can levitate down trapped people and most buildings are small anyway? Orphans? It’s an affluent (after all, a small town of creatures who do not normally wear clothes is supporting a boutique) female-heavy, society that’s quite indulgent of children, values extended families (Apple Family Reunion) and is based on love, friendship, and harmony. No… it sounds more like Orphans would have a hard time avoiding getting taken in.

Dressed? Uh, beg pardon Rarity, but, uh… we don’t normally wear clothes.

-Applejack, The Best Night Ever.

If Equestria doesn’t need social services, how about contract law? Well, The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 shows us that major business deals are conducted via verbal contracts and that ponies adhere to the spirit of the agreement, rather than to it’s exact wording.

That pretty much kills contract law. Ponies evidently run their society on the honor system.

That doesn’t leave a lot.

Evidently a land of full of peaceful, noncombative, highly cooperative, herd creatures with few serious physical needs and a tendency to share things freely, set in a universe where friendship, love, and harmony are actual forces of nature, has very little call for a legal system. Even when they’re dealing with nomadic buffalo, simple verbal agreements meet their needs.

What’s turned up on the show? Maybe there’s something we can find there in the way of law enforcement besides the (rather useless) royal guard and Alicorn decrees.

  • The hospital has a “security guard” – but that guards primary job seems to be chasing runaway mental patients.
  • Appleloosa has a Sheriff, who is apparently armed with pies and being disapproving. If there’s actually any serious crime out there I don’t think that pies and disapproval is going to stop it.
  • Police ponies appear in Pinkie Pride, in the police lineup of Cheese Sandwich semi-clones shot and next to Pinkie when she’s watching the show on a television – but that song-sequence also involves Cheese Sandwich jumping into paintings and disassembling his own body, backup groups and spotlights from nowhere, ponies wandering around on a giant pizza, the world turning upside down, giant party bombs, a lake of punch, many sudden shifts of setting, and Cheese Sandwich making a rainbow with his accordion – among many other bits never seen before or since. I think that the entire sequence – like much of the rest of that episode – can be safely chalked up to Pinkie and Cheese being Pinkie and Cheese and “party magic” (which looks to be about equal to Discords, but only works for moments).

Now on the “Law Enforcement? What Law Enforcement” side… Where were the hypothetical police when Trixie was banishing Twilight from Ponyville? Why did Twilight forgiving Trixie let her off the hook for imprisoning all of Ponyville as her personal kingdom? Did Twilight get arrested or sued for mass mind control and causing a massive riot by enchanting her doll? Did Twilight have to turn over her spending money for the next century to pay for destroying the town by fiddling with the parasprites? How much property damage have the Cutie Mark Crusaders done with no repercussions? Did the Diamond Dogs face kidnapping charges or – if they’re an independent nation – some sort of reprisals? Did Spike get persecuted for stealing that green dragons treasure? Did Zecora sue over not being served? Why are the Cutie Mark Crusaders and Spike still in the custody of ponies who let small children do absurdly reckless things? Why didn’t the buffalo go to court over people stealing their land? Why wasn’t Sugar Cube Corner sued out of existence over the “Baked Bads”? For that matter… the various animals are shown to have significant intelligences in many episodes; how do the chickens feel about ponies using their unborn offspring as baking ingredients?

The penalty for attempting to destroy the world seems to be one or another variant on being locked up until you escape and/or can be reformed. The penalty for almost ANY other offense seems to be a scolding and feeling guilty – so why are Fluttershy and Twilight so upset at the notion that she might have offended Celestia by trying to help her apparently-sick bird? Wouldn’t the courts and her civil rights protect her from any excessive retribution? Sure, neither Fluttershy nor Twilight are especially sensible in such matters – but it’s almost like they think that Celestia can just do whatever she wants to do when someone offends her.

When you have a nigh-immortal ruler who can literally destroy the world at will, who has vast magical powers (at least compared to almost everyone else), who is often considered a goddess, and who has many centuries of experience… is it really at all likely that the government is anything but an absolute monarchy? It may be a very benign one (Friendship, Love, and Harmony again), but is there any evidence that Princess Celestia is not being utterly literal when she says “My Little Ponies” and lets them “bow” to her?

At the proverbial bottom line… this is a setting where the inhabitants, and even the animals, are so harmonious, cooperative, and naturally coordinated that they spontaneously break out into song-and-dance performances, sometimes involving dozens of ponies and even more animals. They don’t have to practice, they don’t need a director, choreographer, or songwriter, and their environment supplies background music. If Equestria has any criminals at all they’re probably somewhat less threatening then The Pirates of Penzance.

Equestria doesn’t NEED a legal system. If the player characters get out of line you’ll just have to tell them that one princess or another has scolded them and that they’re going to suffer great big penalties for their low morale until they start behaving themselves again and make amends.

Champions – Antione Delmac, Occult Harvester

The Twilight War wasn’t nearly as large a problem in Canada as it was to the south or in Europe, but quite a few people – and a depressing number of children – wound up on the streets along the way.

Antione was one of them – although he doesn’t like to talk about any details.

Looking to survive on the streets, Antione fell in the Seelie Fey, and wound up bonded to a Ghillie Dhu – a faerie nature-guardian spirit. As a talented boy with a reasonable knack for magic, he rapidly mastered the nature, illusion, and sentinel (much less tricky than shapeshifting) magic that came with the bond and got back out on the streets.

It was no longer hard to get along. Admittedly, it often involved some ethically questionable stunts – but selling illusory experiences usually paid well enough, and when it didn’t an occasional bit of petty theft wasn’t that big a deal.

Eventually, however, Antione ran afoul of an unethical mage of considerable power, who caught him, built on the sensory aspects of his sentinel magic, and turned him into an (unpaid) hunter of occult resources.

Antione rapidly found a way to make that pay – there were a lot of OTHER mages who wanted components and ingredients out there, most of their requests didn’t clash with his masters, and there was no compulsion to fill their requests for free. It wasn’t long before he had acquired a tidy little fortune – and was reasonably familiar to most of the lesser occultists in Montreal and it’s immediate environs.

Aurora Ward – already in pursuit of his “master” – caught him, released the binding spells on him, and used him to deliver a trackable package to his contacts, so as to follow it back to his master.

Antione Delmac


Value Characteristic Points
5 STR -5
14/17 DEX 12
8 CON -4
6 BODY -8
8 INT -2
6 EGO -8
5 PRE -5
12 COM 1
3 PD 2
3 ED 1
3/4 SPD 3
3 REC 0
16 END 0
10 STUN -3
Total -16
Points Powers END
10 Component Search; Side Effects (Feels compelled to go after and retrieve items that are on order if and when they appear. Becomes extremely single-minded when he detects such items. ): 60/All, -1; No Conscious Control: -2; Generic Limitation (Side effects cannot be avoided. ): -½
(2) Detect: Unclaimed Occult Resources (+0 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5;
(2) 360-Degree Sensing (Unusual Senses)
(1) Discriminatory Sense (Detect)
(3) Telescopic Sense (Unusual Senses, +10 to PER)
(2) Enhanced Perception: Component Search (Detect, +5 to PER)
6 2d6 Aid (Ritual Magic) (Fade/turn, Max. 90); Range: 0; Trigger: Changeable, +½; Points fade instantly after power used: -½; Fragile Focus: -¼; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼; Incantation: Instant Power, -¼; Increased END: ×10, -4; Costs END: -½; Side Effects: 60/All, -1; Visible (Easily detected by other mystics at fairly long ranges): -¼; Requires exotic locations or components at the option of the game master: Half, -1; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Charges: 1, -1¼; Recoverable Charges: -2 lev; Extra Time: 5 min., -2; Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1; Maximum of three rituals per day and seven prepared effects.: -1; Requires Skill Roll (using a relevant magical knowledge once per ritual): -½; Ritual Magic requires a bag full of odd components (starting off with candles, chalk, parchment, incense, a brazier and charcoal, pens and ink, odd bits of jewelry, a wand, a knife, a mirror, holy water, oil, and a bell, even before getting into the odder stuff required for particular rituals), an hour of chanting, gesturing, and fooling about with the materials, and a skill check with a relevant knowledge skill. If you succeed, you’ve built up the power to be used – which can either be unleashed immedietly, or be saved to be unleashed with a short invocation later. If you fail, the magic goes wild, with unpredictable (but generally bad) effects.
Ritual effects can have active point totals of up to 40 points if prepared anywhere, 60 if prepared at a minor nexus, 80 if prepared at a major nexus, and 90 if you have an appropriate extradimensional source of power to draw on.
6 2d6 60-Point Available Equipment Allowance Aid (Fade/week, Max. 60); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Extra Time: 1 hour, -2½; Only activates in armories, labs, or between outings: -1½; Personal Only: -1; Difficult to Dispel: ×2, +¼; Increased END: ×10, -4; Only to GM-specified items: -2; Actual point total of equipment available limited by GM decision.: -2; Must actually locate gear, availability is not automatic.: -2; This allows a character to haul along 60 CP worth of customized gear. 30
50 Feytouched Package
36 Variable Power Pool (30-pt Pool); Control Cost: 15; Generic Limitation (Only powers related to the specific fey the user is linked to. This normally includes Illusion, Shapechanging, and one other field.): -1; Generic Limitation (Easily identified as fey magic by experienced mages.): -¼; Generic Limitation (12- activation check against targets bearing cold iron or protected by relevant folklore charms.): -¼
(1) Immune to Aging; Generic Limitation (The feytouched gain an extended lifespan, but are not ageless.): -1
(1) Life Support: Intense Heat/Cold; Generic Limitation (Immune to natural weather extremes only. ): -1
(2) Elemental Control: Fey Powers (5-pt reserve)
a-2 Armor (2 PD/5 ED); Generic Limitation (Not versus Cold Iron): -½
b-2 MageSight (+0 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5; Always On: -½
c-2 Power Defense (10 pts); Automatically protects against any attempt to remove package disadvantages or abilities: -½
d-2 +1 SPD
e-2 +3 DEX
100 Feytouched Disadvantages
(15) Accidental Change: Various obscure rituals or exposure to large amounts of magic will reveal their fey nature, regardless of their illusions of normality, (14-)
(10) Distinctive Features: Feytouched – pointed ears, aqualine features, slit pupils, etc.; Concealability: Concealable, 10; Reaction: Noticed and Recognizable, +0
(15) Phys. Lim; Cannot directly lie. (Frequently, Greatly)
(20) Phys. Lim. Cannot intentionally break promises. (All the Time, Greatly)
(10) Prankster (Common, Moderate)
(10) Tends to respect and obey the great lords of the fey. (Common, Moderate)
(10) Reputation: The Feytouched are fairly well understood. (11-)
(10) Vulnerability: Cold Iron (1½× STUN and BODY); Attack: Uncommon, +5
The Feytouched (or blooded) are mystically bound to their trainer/owner until they master their powers (develop a decent control skill of their own, without needing their master to roll for them). Since they grow out of this, it’s a physical disadvantage in cases where it still applies.
22 Total Powers  
Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
2 City Knowledge/Montreal 11-
0 Stealth 8-
2 Knowledge/Occult Lore 11-
3 Combat Scooter Operation 12-
3 Streetwise 10-
9 Variable Power Modify 14-
5 Money (Well Off)
5 Luck (1d6)
29 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  
Cost Equipment
16 Magical Scooter Multipower (40-pt reserve); Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1; Focus Type: Vehicular, -½; Focus Applicability: Universal
u-2 12″ Flight (NC: 24″) 0; Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 36; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1; Focus Type: Vehicular, -½; Focus Applicability: Universal
u-2 Running (+7″, 13″, NC: 52″) 0; Non-Combat Multiplier: ×4, +5; Non-Combat (MPH): 42; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1; Focus Type: Vehicular, -½; Focus Applicability: Universal
u-2 Desolidification 0; Charges: +8, +0; Continuing Charges: 1 Turn, -2 lev; Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1; Focus Type: Vehicular, -½; Focus Applicability: Universal
u-1 Swimming (+13″, 15″, NC: 30″) 0; Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 39; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1; Focus Type: Vehicular, -½; Focus Applicability: Universal
4 Armor: Warding Talisman (4 PD/2 ED)
; Charms are normally Fragile Inobvious Accessible Foci (-.75) and are powered by Personal Magic (-.25). They cannot normally exceed 10 active points. either singly or in combination.
5 Demon Ward: Change Environment/Holy (2″ rad.) 1; Effect: Fixed, +0
; Charms are normally Fragile Inobvious Accessible Foci (-.75) and are powered by Personal Magic (-.25). They cannot normally exceed 10 active points. either singly or in combination.
4 Concealed Kevlar Bodysuit: Armor (4 PD/2 ED) ; IIF: -¼; Conventional Technology: -1
2 Smartphone with GPS (0kg)
3 Oxygen Mask (Life Support) ; Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1; Extra Time: 1 turn, -1; Fragile Focus: -¼; Generic Limitation (Only usable for about two hours without resupplying with oxygen): -½; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½
8 Smoke Grenades: Darkness (Normal Sight, 1″ radius) 0; Range: 125; Area Effect (Radius): 4″ radius, +1; Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1; Focus Expendability: Hard to Acquire, -¼; Increased Area: ×4, +½; Charges: 3, -¾; Continuing Charges: 1 Turn, -2 lev
3 Infrared Vision Glasses ; IAF (Glasses): -½
52 Total Equipment
25+ Disadvantages
20 Normal Characteristic Maxima
5 Watched: Various Occultists (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: None, +0; Geographical Area: Limited, -5; Only Watching: ×½; Punishment: Harsh, 0
15 Underage (Frequently, Greatly)
10 Hunted: Police and Social Workers (8-); Capabilities: As Powerful, 10; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Limited, -5; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0
10 Cannot perform rituals past the 30-point level without additional training. (Infrequently, Greatly)
60 Total Disadvantages
COSTS: Char. Powers Total Total Disadv. Base
-16 + 51 = 35 85 = 60 + 25
OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
6 6 2 0 13/10 12/9 3, 6, 9, 12

Height: 147cm (4’10”), Weight: 33kg (73 lbs), Sex: Male, Age: 14, Race: Fey-Touched Human

Appearance: Antione looks to be about ten; he’s actually closer to fourteen – but bonding with a fey has reduced his aging considerably. Unless he’s covering up with a touch of illusion (he usually is) he will show various fey signs – slightly pointed ears, emerald-green eyes, and red-blonde autumn-colored hair.

Joining The Stampede – Ponies, Bio-Arcana, and Eclipse

For today it’s a rather odd question; “Alzrius has written up several ponies recently. How do you think that their species, society, and Alicorn Ascension, works?”

Indeed he has: here we have Lashtada, Hearts and Hooves, the Sirens, Lex Legis, and his Origin, Celestia, Rarity, the Pony Races, and the Elements of Harmony.

Well why not? I know enough about the program and setting to speculate, and a few Google searches can help fill in the details as needed.

So lets see… It’s pretty obvious that the creatures of Equestria pretty much ALL use a lot of magic. While timberwolves and dragons are perhaps the most blatant about it, even the birds and normal-looking small animals are near-sapient and do some really odd things. Ponies are no exception. They pick up things with hooves, they heal with astounding speed, their genetics are more than a bit odd, and they’re incredibly resistant to injury. Having anvils and pianos falling on their heads from considerable heights is shaken off in short order, they crash into trees and through masses of rock without injury, and they are only briefly stunned by bolts of lightning. They still seem to be vulnerable to beestings, being smacked by other ponies and creatures, and similar menaces though, which is kind of odd. Perhaps the inherent magic of an attacking creature can partially overcome their defenses – which may explain their reliance on melee weapons.

So… pony biological systems all involve magic. Ergo, pony gestation involves magic – some sort of life-supporting effect to keep the infants magical systems working and (since any pony can have any kind of offspring) the ability to support and nurture all three basic types of pony magic – earth, pegasus, and unicorn.

As a pony develops greater reserves of magical power, all of it’s magical abilities can be expected to increase in power – if not all necessarily to the same extent.

Ergo, at some point, a female pony with enough power can be expected to start sustaining it’s own life with magic, becoming very difficult to harm or poison and resistant or immune to aging. As a female ponies ability to nurture all three types of magic within itself grows, eventually it will develop all three types of magic within itself – regardless of it’s original type.

Thus a female pony who develops sufficient magical power can be expected to hit a critical point and “ascend” to become an alicorn. Even if they do not do so, greater magical power can be expected to extend their lives. Male ponies probably lack that nurturing function – and so, while they may become powerful and long-lived, cannot ascend.

Even before that point, female ponies can be expected to survive prenatal issues, childhood accidents, and various illnesses more often than males, and to live longer lives – leading to some degree of sexual imbalance in favor of females.

It is possible that males – who seem to possess greater physical aptitudes than the females – also possess greater aptitudes for the more combative forms of magic than the females. This would be a rough parallel (which seems normal enough) with the behavior of earthly equines and would neatly explain the predominance of males in troop-level military roles in an otherwise female-dominated culture.

Of course, with magic, the development of skill and experience over time seems to outweigh most of the physical limitations of age. Thus, while young adulthood is generally the peak of physical prowess, magical prowess may continue to develop until senility sets in. Ergo, barring amazing natural talent, older females are likely to dominate the magical arts – likely including combat magic.

That’s a reasonably plausible theory. What kind of results will it lead to?

  • We can expect non-magical projectile weapons to be fairly useless – and therefore virtually unheard of.
  • We can expect the “military” to be fairly light-duty; it’s only real roles are 1) to keep things from surprising the powerful magic-users, and 2) to hold back monsters long enough for the powerful magic users to turn up and make them go away. For that… medieval-style armor and pointed sticks will do very nicely indeed.
    • That nicely explains why we see trains, engines, electrical devices – and weapons that are medieval at best.
  • We can expect most ponies to show one basic response to anything even remotely unexpected or frightening – to run to get behind the guards with the pointed sticks while they wait for the powerful magic users to take care of whatever-it-is.
  • Despite that tendency to flee, we can expect a willingness to live and wander about in unreasonably dangerous areas as long as the group is confident in their protectors.
    • So… we have creatures who are willing to live on the borders of the Everfree Forest, yet who will run in panic from a “stampede” of rabbits.
  • We can expect a primarily matriarchial society, organized around the most powerful magic users who are willing to defend the rest of the herd – and to see that even a bad leader, such as Sombra, can rule since even a noxious defender is better than none.
    What male leaders there are will be more tenatively in charge; since they cannot become Alicorns, they have no obvious sign of authority – and they will be subject to aging.

    • Thus Shining Armor – while capable of generating extremely powerful shields and barriers – is somewhat tenatively a “prince”, possibly merely by virtue of marriage. Prince Blueblood may hold an honorary title – but it’s interesting to speculate that his magical talent (perhaps an ability to confuse or manipulate directions?) is powerful enough to make it worth putting up with his deficient social skills. After all… if he was really THAT useless, Celestia has had a thousand years practice in manipulating people, rules the country, and is considered a goddess. She really ought to be able to get him placed somewhere where he wouldn’t be so annoying.

The mechanisms that allow ponies to have three seperate forms, and to have members of any one group born to parents of any other group are… odd. Virtually any genetic explanation will have trouble explaining why, for example, Sweetie Belle resembles her sister Rarity so much, yet Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake are entirely different types in a family of earth ponies. To make it even worse, we have ponies being transformed by environmental factors – such various characters becoming Crystal Ponies for a time.

About the only way to sort that out is more magic. It’s hard to say what governs it though; there really isn’t enough data to even speculate.

That does make another problem though. The three major pony types are so heavily interdependent that it’s hard to see how they could get along separately – or how their interbreeding would work if they were actually genetically separate. Yet the Hearths Warming Eve play suggests that they were separate tribes.

Of course, the Hearths Warming Eve play may not be any more historically accurate than the Morte de Arthur – especially since it’s describing a piece of history that predates Discord’s reign. Given that… I don’t think that much of an explanation is required.

Overall, the theory fits the evidence about as well as can be expected for a cartoon. I can’t guarantee that I’ve taken all the details into account since I don’t know them – but that gives us a reasonable basis for pony society and a number of it’s oddities as well a theory to extrapolate from.

Predation Beneath The Eclipse

The original question here was about Kevin and Kell or 21’st Century Fox or The Suburban Jungle, and how to make a setting like theirs for a RPG.

That’s really kind of awkward.

Kevin and Kell is probably the most prominent and oldest strip of this kind, and sets the pattern for most of the rest – but it’s a cartoon, and doesn’t need to make any sense. Thus:

  • The major characters all have plot immunity, and pretty much always win. Thus Wendell (a rabbit-child) readily defeats attacks on him by nameless predators – but a full-grown tiger who’s after her mother is readily devoured by Coney (a rabbit-wolf hybrid girl) while she’s still an infant.
  • Most of the sapient animals who die are simply from “the wilds” – which apparently is basically a near-limitless source of prey who usually only appear to be eaten or to point it up when the major characters are too distracted to eat them. They get no chance of winning.
  • Little kids don’t die (that isn’t funny) instead of doing it all the time.
  • The economy and society operates normally enough to be a recognizable backdrop despite the enormous casualty rate – which would rationally make it near-impossible to train people, make even basic schools an enormous expense, pretty much eliminate making loans, and otherwise make it awkward to keep things functioning.
  • Despite the fact that the young, sick, and injured are all natural prey and can be expected to be quickly eaten, there’s a human-style medical infrastructure in place to take care of major characters – instead of a series of butcher shops.
  • Major character parents value their children a great deal, despite the ongoing mass slaughter of background characters and their children. “The young and stupid are MUCH easier prey”.
  • People get devoured neatly and usually don’t make a fuss about it (often being swallowed alive and whole despite how vulnerable the throat, neck, and abdomen are to even a single frantic claw-slash from the inside), since blood and stinking guts, pleading, struggling, screaming, and grieving relatives are off-putting to the readers and reduce sympathy for the major characters.
  • Things like Predator-to-Prey ratio – and what so many of the species having human-like sizes, breeding, and aging patterns would do to it – are NEVER discussed.

So lets take a quick peek at reality (such as it is).

A mammalian predator in the human size range (wolf, big cat, etc) needs to catch roughly it’s own weight in prey every week. Thus a ten-year-old predator kid needs to have caught, defeated (without getting killed or seriously enough injured to let something eat him), and eaten some five hundred other kids. Yes, there’s parental care – but that just shifts the burden to killing more a bit later in life, it doesn’t really change the basic calculation.

Every additional decade he or she lives, our predator will need to do the same thing again.

So lets say that (on the average) he or she lives to be twenty-five – long enough to get through school, make some kind of contribution to society, and raise a kid or two (presuming that they start breeding as teenagers) to the point where they might be able to survive without you.

So our average predator… will be eating at least 1250 other people. And there will have to be enough breeding pairs of prey species to keep that at a reasonably steady state and to cover for accidents and diseases and such. A ratio of about 1600 to 1 is close enough to work with given these rather crude calculations.

If a given prey kid has a one-in-fifty chance of winning or inflicting sufficient injuries (clawing the inside of the throat perhaps for the popular “swallowed whole and kicking idea?) when jumped (not nearly enough to be fun in a game), then our predator kids chance of making it to adulthood at eighteen will be .99 to the 900’th power – 1 in 8500. Of course if the prey kids start helping each other intelligently, or carrying poison pills, or some such… all the predators are going to die. That’s why humans have no major predators.

For predators to function… their chance of winning a fight with a prey animal has to be closer to 99.99% (giving one a 91% chance of surviving to adulthood). Their prey must either breed extremely quickly or outnumber them enormously or some of both – and their prey must NOT act much more intelligently than they do.

Of course, basic prey-species defensive tactics include cooperation – herds, gangs, flocks, and all the other variants. If a prey species is even moderately dangerous to the predator species, and is intelligent enough to organize and plan ahead a bit… they have the numbers to massacre their predators. That’s a major reason why elephants have no real natural enemies other than humans.

If a predator is going to focus on a slow-breeding, slow-to-mature population of prey, it will be massively outnumbered or it will soon starve. If the target population is even modestly intelligent and dangerous to the predator… it will have to pick off outliers in secret or it’s going to get massacred. You can make social excuses (although excuses for “not protecting your kids” are a stretch) – but societies of prey species that don’t use such excuses will expand at the expense of the ones that don’t. In the long run, social excuses are not enough.

You can, of course, run a game in such a setting – but you’re just going to have to ignore or gloss over a LOT of the background details. You want prey-species player characters and some pretext of “balance” with predator-species player characters? The prey-species characters are going to be VASTLY more powerful than the background prey-species NPC’s. You want predators to make up 5% of the population? You’re just going to have to quietly ignore the fact that they’d pretty much wipe out the prey species (and then starve, since there’s only enough food for them for nineteen weeks) well within a year even if they turn on each other quite a bit. You want combat to be exciting enough to be interesting and to have serious consequences? Then PC’s are going to die a great deal more often than in the source material. You want your group of four predator characters to skip over three weeks? You’ll need to skip past the twelve people they killed in that time. You don’t want frantic screaming, begging, last-minute attempts at dirty tricks, weeping children, and grieving parents? Then no one is going to be taking death too seriously (there may even be volunteers, no matter how quickly any such tendency would normally be bred out). You want a supporting cast? Then you ignore the likelihood of random casualties among them.

And that’s the basic trick; once you’ve realized that you’re running a game set in a cartoon universe, then the system you’re using matters a lot less. In practical terms, however, you’re probably best off with a point-buy system to allow people to build characters of a wide variety of species and with off-the-wall abilities. Given that the opposing combative NPC’s are likely to be pretty transient (since the characters casually kill swarms of people just to live you can’t expect them to hold back against actual opponents), you won’t need too much detail there.

Personally… I like to be able to build nuanced characters, so I’d prefer a reasonably detailed system. Eclipse will (of course) do – and there are handy racial templates for human-scaled anthropomorphic animals and plenty of other creatures – but you could also use the Hero System or GURPS (although GURPS is probably too realistic for the setting). Other systems, like Ironclaw and Fuzzy Pirates, are designed for anthropomorphic role-playing – but they tend to have a lot of world-assumptions built into the rules (massive predation is NOT normally amongst them), so they can be considerably harder to work with than the more generic systems.


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