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  1. shaggydog

    Screencap from The Shaggy Dog (1959, dir. Charles Barton)

    So, Transmutations. The “kewl powerz” of the Promethean set. Let’s talk about them.

    In Promethean‘s first edition, Transmutations worked more or less like the powers in other White Wolf games; they had a linear progression (though you could buy them out of sequence for an additional experience cost), and they covered a lot of the bases: aura sight, some mild shapeshifting, combat power here, stealth power there. Most of the powers worked pretty well in-theme, with a few weird outliers, not that I’m ever going to complain about something weird in Promethean.

    For the second edition, though, we wanted to mix things up a bit. We wanted to earn the name “Transmutation.” As such, here are my notes from the outline:

    Principles of Transmutations

    • Transmutations are all about change. They change the Promethean’s mind, soul, body, Azoth, whatever or they change the world around her. If you’re changing a living thing, you’re pumping it full of Azoth. If that changes its body, it should run the risk of doing lethal damage if you get it wrong. If that changes its mind, it should run the risk of creating or worsening Disquiet, or causing a breaking point.
    • Prometheans don’t have much in the way of mental manipulation powers, and what they do have should center on Disquiet. A lot of the Mesmerism Transmutations can get rethought; I don’t want Prometheans to have mind control in any fine-control way. The best they can do is get someone to take brief, understandable and in-character action. Ignore you and leave you alone? Sure. Show a momentary act of kindness? Probably. Post-hypnotic suggestion? No.
    • Nothing that requires long, drawn out rolls or extended actions. For one thing, they eat words, but I also don’t think they’re in-theme.
    • Everything requires Pyros expenditure, and all Transmutations get more impressive as you pump more Pyros into them.

    So with all that in mind, my authors came up with a system for Transmutations that I think is pretty cool, but is pretty different from the way the powers in Chronicles of Darkness games generally work. Check it out.

    Every Refinement has two Transmutations. Each Transmutation is broken down into four Alembics. Each Alembic is broken down into four Distillations. With me so far?

    When you adopt a new Refinement, your Transmutations change. So lets say I’m on the Refinement of Gold (a good starting place); my Transmutations are Deception and Mesmerism. I choose one Alembic from each one. I can use any Distillation from those Alembics; Distillations aren’t learned, you just activate them by spending Pyros. Distillations are roughly broken down into a persistent effect (doesn’t require any Pyros expenditure, it’s just always on) and three abilities that cost 1, 2, or 3 Pyros to “charge” for the scene.

    When I change Refinements, let’s say to Stannum (I had a bad time on Aurum), my Refinements change from Deception and Mesmerism to Electrification and Disquietism. I pick new Alembics (one from each Transmutation), and on I go.

    Ah, you say, there must be more to it than that. Yes! If you master a Role, you add an Alembic from each Transmutation. Since each Transmutation only has four Alembics, once you’ve mastered three Roles, you have access to the entire Transmutation…while you’re in that Refinement.

    But suppose I’m playing my character (on Stannum, remember) and I decide that the Weaponize Alembic is just too useful to give up (I apparently had a really bad time on Aurum). I can expend Vitriol to calcify the Alembic, making it a permanent part of my alchemical makeup. Now, that Alembic doesn’t count toward my total; when I change Refinements again, I get to pick the appropriate number Alembics (one from each Transmutation plus one from each Transmutation per Role I’ve mastered), plus I keep Weaponize.

    I’m sure you’d love an example, so here’s the first Alembic of the Metamorphosis Transmutation:


    Prometheans who follow the Refinement of Cuprum believe that their bodies are not unlike clay, waiting to be shaped into something more useful. They learn the secrets of Metamorphosis in order to change their appearance or even bodily shape. Some make the attempt to shift in just the right manner to make the body fit what the world demands. Others simply relish the opportunity to learn tricks that make survival just that much easier.

    Charging a Metamorphosis Distillation without flaring disfigurements imposes the Atavistic Condition (p. XX).

    Metamorphosis is divided into four Alembics. Those Alembics are: Aptare (the ability to adapt to the environment), Bestiae Facies (changing into animal-like forms), Tegere (the ability to create armor due to shapeshifting), and Verto (the ability to change appearance).


    Pariahs often live in remote, inhospitable places. While the Promethean body can take far more punishment than a human, it is neither invulnerable nor immune to the need for basic necessities such as food and water. With some practice, the Pariah forces her body to adapt to go without or to function in ways it was never intended.

    Persistent: The Pariah ignores the effects of one Environmental Tilt per scene. She chooses which Tilt to ignore, her body adapting to the circumstances. She may only ignore Tilts that have environmental consequences — extremes of heat or cold, heavy rains, flooding, earthquakes, and so on. The Pariah cannot breathe water or survive in a vacuum without charging the Alembic, however.

    Blessing of Tethys

    The Promethean changes her physiology to breathe water instead of air. She suffers no outward signs of this alteration. Instead, the lining in her lungs changes to filter oxygen from water instead of air.

    Cost: 1 Pyros

    Dice Pool: None

    Action: Instant

    Once this power is activated, the character’s lungs change to breathe water. This effect persists until the Promethean spends 1 Pyros to reverse the effect. During this exchange, any residual air or water in the character’s lungs is instantly and effortlessly expelled, so the character is in no danger of drowning.

    Scuttling Spider

    Sometimes a Promethean needs to scale a cliff, tree, or other vertical surface. This could be to acquire food, to escape from enemies, predators, or natural disasters, or to find shelter. Her hands and feet grow tiny hooks, suckers, or similar miniature adhesive adaptations. Her bones become hollow, enabling her to climb vertical surfaces without tearing pieces of that surface off.

    Cost: 2 Pyros

    Action: Reflexive

    Dice Pool: None

    The Pariah adapts her body as described. For the remainder of the scene, she may scale vertical obstructions effortlessly, moving as her usual Speed. Particularly slick surfaces may require a Strength + Athletics roll to make headway (a Climbing Specialty certainly applies). Even slick surfaces are no barrier, as she may climb them as she would any other barrier. In addition, she may move upside-down across ceilings and similar surfaces with a successful Strength + Athletics roll.

    Procrustean Shape

    With full control over her own body, the Promethean can adapt to any number of situations. This power allows her to change her own proportions for a variety of effects.

    Cost: 3 Pyros

    Dice Pool: Resolve + Medicine + Azoth

    Action: Instant

    Roll Results

    Dramatic Failure: The Pariah attempts to alter some aspect of her body and fails utterly. She suffers from the Stunned Tilt, as the pain makes her temporarily unable to act.

    Failure: The Promethean fails to adapt her body.

    Success: The Pariah successfully alters her body, adopting one facet from the list below.

    Exceptional Success: The character may select two alterations from the list below.


    The following list is provided to act as examples of alterations possible with this Distillation. Similar abilities may be available at the Storyteller’s discretion.

    Long Arms: The Promethean’s arms extend, gaining a +1 to Defense while in close combat as his reach gives him an advantage. Alternatively, the character may extend only one arm up to two feet per success to reach something out of his reach, but suffers a –1 penalty to all actions while in combat.

    Long Legs: The character’s legs lengthen, lengthening her stride. She gains a +1 to Speed per success.

    Malleable Skeleton: The Pariah makes his bones like rubber, enabling him to twist and squeeze his body through any opening at least one foot in diameter. While moving through the opening, the character may move at half of her Speed, but loses Defense. If used in conjunction with Long Arms or Long Legs, the limbs are pliable, able to bend around corners and perform similar feats.

    Altered Body: The character’s body alters as desired. He can make his body rubbery and pliant, or harden it like rock. Regardless of the method, the character gains armor equal to the activation successes as his body simply absorbs or deflects impacts.

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  2. I aim to go to market with a board game idea based on a traditional quiz but with a twist. All of the plan is made, just need backing!

    Kickstarter - Tabletop Games
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    Project goal: £10,000

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  3. Spoiler city here folks, I'm going to brain dump my feelings on A Memory of Light so if you haven't read it walk away...


    Twenty some odd years ... to say that there was some anticipation, and even some dread, going into this book is a grand understatement. After twenty some years could a story that I've been reading since middle school end in a satisfying way? In the end the answer is largely yes. Was it perfect? No, but it was close enough that I can forgive the bits I felt were missing.

    Sanderson did the impossible, he managed to stick the landing on a series not of his own creation after the death of the original author. These last three books might be colored by his own writing style, his own wit, his own method of pacing, but for me they felt like a return to form for the series and A Memory of Light proves a powerful ending as much because of those things as despite it. Sanderson deftly weaves the dozens of characters Jordan left behind into the final threads of a tapestry of humankind's eternal struggle against the darkness.

    Every character of note gets a moment to shine, even if only just that moment. The book is thick with the major players though, with Perrin and Mat anchoring the first half and the second half respectively as Rand faces his destiny. For a book topping 900 pages it reads quickly, incredibly so, as a chapter that is nearly 200 pages long breezes by with shifting focal points and highs and lows that run the reader through and emotional wringer.

    What works? Basically everything, enough so that trying to pin down speaking topics is largely impossible, suffice to say that the major plot points get resolved, for good or ill. Particularly strong are the various fates of the Forsaken and the first and second tier heroes. Not everyone survives, on the side of the light, but even in death ... well, as Lan says, "Death is lighter than a feather."

    What didn't work for me was the final actions and fate of Padan Fain/Mordeth. Considering the implied importance of the dual wounds in Rand's side, the way that Shadar Logoth aided in the cleansing of saidin, and the implied power that Mordeth was amassing, apparently beyond that of the Forsaken, it seems odd that Mordeth doesn't show until the last hundred pages and that he never even comes within spitting distance of Rand's battle with the Dark One. Either he was a red herring all along, or he could have been removed from consideration a few books ago.

    Still. One thing out of so many.

    After twenty years the Third Age is over and the next age has begun, by the time the Third age comes again it will have long faded from memory, and the events after Tarmon Gai'don will have come around again to be the distant past. There is no beginning or end to the Wheel of Time after all, but at long last we have come to an ending, and for me I think that for all its many ups and downs over the years I am satisfied with the ending of this tale, and the implications and glimpses at those tales yet to be told, and long since forgotten.

    Rest in peace Robert Jordan, Brian Sanderson did you proud, and this book can act as a fitting finale for your magnum opus.

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    So every year I go to Thanksgiving out in Wilkes County with my momma's side of the family in the past, me, Momma and my sister would all pile into Momma's Pontiac and drive over to her sister Adie's house in Washington, the county seat, but now that Lou has a family of their own, it was just me and Momma in the car. Adie’s house is just plain huge and very Southern, just a massive Victorian beast with a ceiling fan in every room; she did very well for herself, marrying Montgomery St. Clair, youngest son of a well-to-do Georgia family that owns a large dairy. Uncle Monty wanted to be an artist, but his parents pulled him out of art school and he ended up a vet, a large animal specialist to be exact, which got him in tight with the horsey set. Monty is a quiet little fellow, now retired and meek as a church-mouse, whereas Aunt Adie is a force of nature, let me tell you. Everything is a competition to Adie; who has the biggest house, who has the most grandkids, the whole nine yards. Well let me tell you, if life is a completion, then I suppose she's winning, because she's loaded, has five kids and twelve grandkids. You've won, Adie! So can you stop with all the photo albums already? Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, as Daddy used to say!

    Okay, where was I? Oh yes, Thanksgiving at Adie's this year. Of course Adie and Monty were there, it's there place, but also Aunt Ren and Uncle Frank. Now Frank has almost as much money as Monty, but as he will no doubt tell you if you give him a half a minute, he earned it all 'by the sweat of his brow'. Frank owns a chain of Ford dealerships throughout southeastern Georgia, though he has little to do with their day-to-day operations; mostly he just sits back and counts his money. Aunt Ren is as quiet as Aunt Adie is loud, but don't let her fool you; she's as sharp as a tack and had a fierce temper if you push her.

    And of course, all my cousins, nieces and nephews were there, so many that even that big old house was nearly fit to bust; kids running all over the place and underfoot, including my sister Lou's two kids, though mostly she just holds on to little Ricky for dear life. Big Rick was there, too, of course, all full of Hispanic charm and New York style; Lou really hit the jackpot when she snagged him, let me tell you. Little Tony seemed to be everywhere at once, chasing after the girls just like his no-good daddy who left Lou in the lurch; of course, Ray was a sumbitch while little 'Tone' is an angel, and yes I am horribly biased; why do you ask?

    So we've got this house just plain packed with folks, and here I come with my head all full of new and improved attachments, and it is like WHAM!, walking into a wall of noise; my eyes crossed and started to water the minute I stepped inside.

    "You got a headache, hon?" Momma had her hand on my arm.

    I waved her off and told her I was fine, but she knew I was lying; of everyone I've talked to since waking up, she's the only one who gets it, or at least comes close. She watches Medium, Ghost Whisperer, that one show on TLC with the lady with the big hair and ugly clothes, all of them. She might not know exactly how I feel all the time, but she can pretty much figure it out

    "How 'bout I get you drink; how's that sound?"

    It sounded pretty great, to be honest, so I let her wander off into the crowd while I leaned up against the wall and took a few deep breaths and just sort of pushed everybody's thoughts off into their own corners. The good news is that since I came back, I have a tendency to put people off, so no one really bothered me as I pulled off my leather jacket and closed my eyes; the bad news is...well, this is my own damn family, and I don't really like them being scared of me all the time! But you can't have one without the other, so I counted my blessings and did my best to become one with the wallpaper.

    I used to like these kinds of get-togethers, I thought to myself.

    "There's our little angel! How are you, Darla?"

    "Hey there, Uncle Frank! Happy Thanksgiving!" I gave him a big hug; at least someone in the family wasn't too spooked to be social.

    "Happy Thanksgiving, Dar! Where's your momma gone off to?"

    "Oh, she's off gettin' me a drink; what else is new, right?"

    Uncle Frank laughed, his face all red from his own little celebrations.

    <My God, look at that sweet little ass! I could take a bite right out of it!>

    For a second, it felt like the floor had dropped out from under me, like on one of those rides at Six Flags, and I shook my head; please tell me I did not hear what I just thought I heard! Well, not 'heard', but you know what I mean. But sadly, I was correct, as a new side of Uncle Frank was suddenly revealed to me; not only was he a letch, but a cheater and a pig pretty much all around. The images that spilled out of his head, all the women he’d been with, naked girls in every possible position, doing all kinds of things-

    "Will you excuse me for a sec? I just need to get a little air?" I gave him my friendliest smile.

    Frank looked slightly disappointed. "Oh, well sure, Dar, but you come right back, you hear? We're gonna be eatin' soon."

    Not if I throw up first, I thought. Momma found me a few minutes later, sitting out on the porch, and she handed me a whiskey on the rocks, which I nearly downed in one gulp.

    "You okay, Dar?" She gently rubbed my back between the shoulder blades.

    "Uncle Frank is a filthy pig, Momma! How did I never see that?"

    She laughed. "You just sussed that out now? Hell, I've known that for years, and I didn't need a bump on the head to figure it out." She jerked her head back towards the house. "That there is a nest of vipers, hon; not one of them is worth a dime." Momma shook her head and chuckled. "Well, except maybe Monty; he's a sweet old thing. And your cousin Danny is just the nicest young man."

    That reminded me of another set of thoughts that had pushed its way into my head a few weeks ago, when Danny and his girlfriend Pauline came to visit. I leaned over to whisper in Momma's ear. "Is Cousin he gay?"

    She shrugged and whispered back. "I don't know for sure, but I think he might be; can you imagine coming out to Uncle Frank?" She shuddered. "There may be a reason he moved to Atlanta."

    I took another sip of my whiskey and sighed. "Life sure is a lot more complicated than I ever knew."

    Momma smiled and rested a hand on my arm. "'Bout time you figured that out, I guess. You ready to go back inside? I promise to keep Frank at bay."

    I nodded and followed her back in; the rest of the evening proved to be just as interesting, although the whiskey helped a lot.

  4. Last week, we settled on some important points. I’ll keep an ongoing Q&A page about what we decide for reference in my blog. The link is here.

    This week, we should settle on how big the area we’re dealing with is going to be. There was a lot of discussion on it this week, and it will factor directly into travel time. So I’m going to combine the two here this week to work out what we want, and we can talk specifics, like engines and means of travel, but don’t have to.

    So the questions to focus us this week are:

    1. How much area do we want to cover? In terms of AU (Astronomical Units), what do we want our hard numbers to be?
    2. What is the maximum amount of time for our group to cross from the central world (seat of power) to the furthest rim? I think this might help us set our travel speeds so that we don’t get too fast or too slow – keeping us right where we want.
    3. We have established two types of travel, established travel and “off the path”. How prevalent do we want the easy travel? How often do people have to go off the path?
    4. Are the sizes of groups limited by space or by expansion? In other words, ICly do we cover a sector only because that’s the limit of exploration at this time, or is it because something is stopping further expansion?

    Feel free to talk about these below, as always. I’ll give some of my own answers to get things started.

    I’m not sure what hard numbers I want to see here, but I’d like to say that it doesn’t take more than six months to travel the “empire” or whatever the central group of beings (presumably human) are. I think that if you get much further out than 3 months from the central authority, the ability to hold planets to the governing body diminishes. And since we’re not all Star Trek and we don’t have (as yet, we might) a Federation in which people join for various reasons based not entirely on reality, we have some practical limits.

    I think I’d like around 25% of the planets to be reachable by the easy travel, with up to 75% being a month or less from one of the easy travel points. The remaining 25% are long stretches of hard travel – like going to the northern stretches of Alaska in the early 1900’s.

    I like the idea that there’s some kind of barrier or block to expansion in one direction or another. Star Trek never did anything with it, but the concept of Space Empires is an intriguing one to me. Even a cold war has its interest to me.

  5. We have modified the way that we handle user account registrations for new/alternate characters. Instead of using the standing sign up method, you will now need to use the "Register Alt Character" link in the extras menu. This simplifies the sign up process greatly. In fact, all you need to enter is a unique login and display name to get your new character created. There is no painful captcha to try to decipher and there is no email validation. It is just the 2 simple fields.

    To register a new character you will need to be using an account that has over 50 posts. The new account will use the same email address and password as the account that you are using to create it.

    Alternate logins are limited to 3 every 3 months.