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Best Inspirations for Nexus Crawlers

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  • #16
    I'm hard-pressed to think of anything in any fiction I've read or seen that would serve as inspiration for a Nexus Crawler, so the best I can do is provide the following information of what (I think) I know of them.

    Nexus crawlers are weird, to be sure. But my take on them is that, Black Fox's examples he gave in his original post notwithstanding, they're not really sentient "characters" as such. They strike me more as incomprehensible forces of "nature," but that's not to say that they're manifestations of the Wyld. (They're Wyrm creatures through and through, obviously.) More on this in a bit.

    I only recall ever seeing two examples of a Nexus Crawler depicted in White Wold/Onyx Path artwork: the first was the picture next to its entry waaaaay back in the 1st Edition corebook (a multi-legged, multi-limbed, slime-covered monstrosity that even manifested a four-faced head at the end of one tentacle) and in the front cover and rear cover comic of 2nd Edition (the one where Albrecht, Mari Cabrah and Evan-Heals-the-Past all become a pack) when a Nexus Crawler attacks a caern in the Amazon to get to Evan. The Nexus Crawler in the 2nd Ed comic didn't look nearly so impressive/alien as the one in 1st Ed; it basically looked like a badly drawn cross between a spider and a dragon.

    Needless to say, having only two canon images of a Nexus Crawler (that I know of, anyway) doesn't do much for inspiration when it comes to designing encounters with them.

    But of all Black Fox's examples in his original post are entities that approach a (semi-)human sentience in that they are able to communicate and/or interact with human characters...or so I'm admittedly assuming because I haven't seen/read the stories Black Fox mentioned and I'm only passingly familiar with Pennywise and (a 70s cartoon version of) Mxyzptlk. There's no question that Black Fox's examples are very alien when compared to humans, but (I'm assuming) they have aspects that can at least in part be understood by humans or are (somewhat) relatable to humanity. Basically, what I mean is that Black Fox's examples are characters/people with strange and even inscrutable powers, to be sure, but they're all characters/villains with motivations rather than impersonal forces without motives.

    But Nexus Crawlers are nothing that can be considered even remotely human or even natural. I called them "forces of 'nature'" earlier to emphasize how they're not sentient like a person and more akin to a thunderstorm or a tsunami, but that's more than a bit inaccurate because they're not from "our" natural world at all (obviously). I can't blame Black Fox for not quite grokking Nexus Crawlers, but then I have problems trying to understand them myself. The main thing to remember about Nexus Crawlers is that reality "flows like melted wax" in their presence. That goes beyond the chaos of the Wyld, which is why saying they're chaotic forces of nature is a misnomer. Nexus Crawlers are from a reality where the laws of nature and physics don't even come close to anything we humans would recognize, never mind comprehend. If the Wyld can be considered as a force of "randomness and unpredictability of nature," then the Wyrm is not a force that makes reality go random, it's a force that makes reality go wrong. And the Nexus Crawlers are the Wyrm's greatest manifestation (or perhaps the Wyrm's best codifier) of reality going wrong. It's easy to see the Lovecraftian parallels here.

    And that's why it's perfectly appropriate to use Lovecraft's metaphor of "eldritch abominations" where reality itself goes "wrong" in their very presence to describe Nexus Crawlers. What makes Nexus Crawlers so frightening is not that they're incredibly dangerous (although they certainly are), it's that they're utterly incomprehensible and inscrutable. Nexus Crawlers simply can't be understood by rational minds. They don't have motives that can be analyzed (assuming they have motives at all), their combat tactics don't make logical sense (while still being very dangerous), they have superpowers that make it seem as if they could do nearly anything (which makes sense because they're Reality Warpers, after all), and they have a tendency to appear at random, without warning, anywhere in the entire Tellurian. All that is terrifying, even to hardened warriors like the Garou. That (and more) is why the Garou consider Nexus Crawlers to be The Dreaded of all the Wyrm's minions.
    Last edited by Su-tehp; 01-11-2020, 03:57 AM.



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    • #17
      Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post
      I KNOW that I have seen (or read) SOMETHING in the past five years that actually fits this perfectly - encountering and conflicting with something that is altering reality as it happens - but for the life of me I can't remember what it was, and it is driving me crazy.
      Could it be the struggle against the Excrucians in the game Nobilis? I've not played or even read its rules, but what you've described here puts be in mind of secondhand accounts I've heard of that game.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Su-tehp View Post
        they're not really sentient "characters" as such. They strike me more as incomprehensible forces of "nature,"
        That's a perfectly fine description. But then, how does that help you run them in the game? What does it mean that they are a "force of nature"? An analogy would be to a natural disaster or terrible storm - earthquake, volcanic eruption, hurricane, tornado, etc. Except that instead of gale force winds, it's raining molten silver or everyone turning into foam rubber.

        But how does that help you run them in the game? Do we just create a series of random tables and roll against them to determine what a Nexus Crawler does with their Warp Reality ability?

        If we do, it may give the ST some direction, but do you really think that would be fun for you as the ST or the PCs? I think it would get old very quickly. It may make an interesting challenge for one time. But after that, the players would want something else. Of course, you could start using more and more random tables, and make certain tables themed. But that is just another way of of creating distinctive styles and personalities of each Nexus Crawler and gets you to my original post. And even forces of nature are distinct and different - experiencing a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, volcanic eruption, etc is very different..

        Now I don't think many PCs will fight lots of Nexus Crawlers over the course of a chronicle, so it may be moot. But a player can very well run or play in multiple chronicles, or an ST might very well to develop up a a particular Nexus Crawler in their setting to give it special flavor. But that's hard to do if it is simply an excuse to start rolling on random tables.

        In fact, I can't see PCs be excited to fight a fore that is just some random thing after another. But if they think they are fighting something like Pennywise or Bill Cipher, then the encounter becomes much interesting. The powers are exactly the same - warping reality, but having some kind of real intelligence behind it with the ST providing appropriate themes, then it leads to something much challenging and intriguing than saying it rains molten silver... again.

        Too often, I see people do the inverse of "show, don't tell" when it comes to nexus crawlers. It is much easier to say "it should be like a force of nature" than actually saying what it does per action in the game. Stop describing them (the tell), and start running them as an antagonist (the show). It's here where most people start scratching their heads, and we find out that for all their evocative descriptions of what a Nexus Crawler is, that none of it actually helps determine what a Nexus Crawler does.

        Only if you can take your evocative description and translate it to actual actions, does it help you.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Black Fox View Post

          That's a perfectly fine description. But then, how does that help you run them in the game? What does it mean that they are a "force of nature"? An analogy would be to a natural disaster or terrible storm - earthquake, volcanic eruption, hurricane, tornado, etc. Except that instead of gale force winds, it's raining molten silver or everyone turning into foam rubber.

          But how does that help you run them in the game? Do we just create a series of random tables and roll against them to determine what a Nexus Crawler does with their Warp Reality ability?
          Such forces of nature are phenomena that have a simple cause but complex interaction with the world around them. A breakout for a nexus crawler, hence, could be from a seemingly innocuous but definitely perceivable event, wreak havoc over a stretch of the physical and/or spiritual landscape, and then warp out, never to be seen again. The principle difference is that Garou can try to gut it along its path of destruction, and end its threat early. It might even result in fewer breakouts, but no one knows much about nexus crawler numbers, presumably, so that's rather high up in the air.

          So, if you copy general patterns of natural disasters but map them onto something weird, like kids hating their parents over petty slights or where light from a constellation falls in a certain manner, you're well on the way toward presenting them as a destructive phenomenon rather than an NPC that you typically interact with.

          If we do, it may give the ST some direction, but do you really think that would be fun for you as the ST or the PCs? I think it would get old very quickly. It may make an interesting challenge for one time. But after that, the players would want something else. Of course, you could start using more and more random tables, and make certain tables themed. But that is just another way of of creating distinctive styles and personalities of each Nexus Crawler and gets you to my original post. And even forces of nature are distinct and different - experiencing a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, volcanic eruption, etc is very different..

          Now I don't think many PCs will fight lots of Nexus Crawlers over the course of a chronicle, so it may be moot. But a player can very well run or play in multiple chronicles, or an ST might very well to develop up a a particular Nexus Crawler in their setting to give it special flavor. But that's hard to do if it is simply an excuse to start rolling on random tables.

          In fact, I can't see PCs be excited to fight a fore that is just some random thing after another. But if they think they are fighting something like Pennywise or Bill Cipher, then the encounter becomes much interesting. The powers are exactly the same - warping reality, but having some kind of real intelligence behind it with the ST providing appropriate themes, then it leads to something much challenging and intriguing than saying it rains molten silver... again.
          If you want something that makes quips and has plans, use a Dream Maker instead. They're like the djinn from Wishmaster, they'll chew the scenery up and down. Nexus crawlers aren't really talkers.

          Too often, I see people do the inverse of "show, don't tell" when it comes to nexus crawlers. It is much easier to say "it should be like a force of nature" than actually saying what it does per action in the game. Stop describing them (the tell), and start running them as an antagonist (the show). It's here where most people start scratching their heads, and we find out that for all their evocative descriptions of what a Nexus Crawler is, that none of it actually helps determine what a Nexus Crawler does.

          Only if you can take your evocative description and translate it to actual actions, does it help you.
          Set the steering pressure zones, let the storm loose, and see if the PCs can intuit where it's going. Make sure to have it planned out ahead in order to make it seem like it has just enough predictability to make the steering pattern visible, but never so much that it feels entirely sure.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Saur Ops Specialist View Post
            Such forces of nature are phenomena that have a simple cause but complex interaction with the world around them. A breakout for a nexus crawler, hence, could be from a seemingly innocuous but definitely perceivable event, wreak havoc over a stretch of the physical and/or spiritual landscape, and then warp out, never to be seen again...

            Set the steering pressure zones, let the storm loose...
            This is exactly the kind of post I am talking about. Some evocative description and metaphor - but that is all. I find it completely useless in terms of telling me how to run a Nexus Crawler. What does any of this actually mean in terms of running the game?

            "Set the steering pressure zones"?

            Really?

            That is just nonsense. It doesn't provide any guidance at all.

            This is like a business consultant shouting out SYNERGY, CORE COMPETENCY, EMPOWER, as opposed to actually giving real advice that helps their customers achieve their goals. It is just slogans and buzzwords without context and therefore meaningless.

            It's obvious that you simply don't agree with the purpose of the thread. That's fine. The thread simply isn't for you.

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            • #21
              Would something like the creature that ate and became Dr. Pretorius in From Beyond be a workable depiction of a Nexus Crawler? Otherdimensional and only sometimes occupying the same frame of reference as the main characters, occasionally able to influence events and objects from the other side even when not tangibly present, adopts a somewhat comprehensible appearance and personality to interact when first materialized but is revealed to be something far more alien underneath, clearly takes a toll on the sanity of onlookers and inspires out-of-character behavior and physical mutations, is revealed to break the rules of normal reality even so far as "dead is dead" goes.

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              • #22
                How about the mind flayer from season 2 of stranger things (I think it gets a bit too much personality by season three to fit the bill)?
                Plants in the area start to rot, narrow tunnels start spreading out just below the surface where a person can accidentally fall through into the umbra and there are a swarm of smaller beasties that are either under the Nexus crawlers control, or just acting like parasites off it.

                To run an encounter, avoid random tables. You want the players to feel like it could do anything, but at the same time have some consistency to make an interesting challenge.
                For example:
                Round one, a swarm of mini beasts attack, a storm of ash whoops up preventing any ranged attacks or communication past ten feet.
                Round two everything goes perfectly calm and beautiful like a slo-mo scene from the dress movie. Other than looking great PC's can act normally.
                Round three gravity inverts and all PC's move forty get straight up unless they do something about it.
                Round four, gravity returns but every pc is now a random distance from everything else.
                Round five the Nexus crawler disappears somewhere back into the deep umbra, normality is restored except every child within five miles has a sudden desire to watch ET.

                The crawler itself can be fought as normal assuming PC's can get to it, and is immune to any of the events it creates.

                That would be my first thought on how to run something like this.
                Last edited by Brickman; 01-14-2020, 06:09 AM.

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                • #23
                  I haven't watched Season 2 of Stranger Things, but I'll have to check it out. Certainly there were lots of things in Season 1 I thought could apply to a Garou game.

                  I haven't seen From Beyond either, but I have seen trailers and reviews of it, and read the original Lovecraft story. If I ever manage to view a copy, I'll let you know.

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