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Notable Changes in Wraith 20th

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  • #31
    I skipped ahead to the Orpheus section, massive changes there. Most of the changes were exactly what I was expecting when I heard it was being modified to fit a pre-6GM underworld. A lot of what was distinctly Orpheus is gone, but that was pretty much inevitable. Orphan Grinders don't really make sense in Wraith, for instance, and the deeper themes of the two games were at odds. That said, a lot of work was put into making projector forays into the Dark Kingdom of Iron an interesting new journey. Two notable mentions, one bad one good:

    Grandmother lost a lot of what made her interesting. Well maybe not lost, it's just not mentioned. I suppose it is still possible she's a force of creation, transformation, and strange birth, it just doesn't come through in her sidebar and it doesn't really fit with Wraith.

    Hues, though. Wow. It took me a little while to figure out what the text was going for, but that's an inspired way of bringing them into Wraith. One of the worst things you can do as a Shadowguide turned into an actual in universe fate. And highlighting a future flood of them as a terrifying prospect for Stygia was a really good move.


    Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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    • #32
      Originally posted by Beckett View Post
      I am still reading through, but I could have sworn it mentioned the Underworld had constand, very dim light. Wraiths could see nearly perfectly, but others that managed to find their way would have difficulty.
      I remember a line reminding players that wraiths cannot see in the dark, but I'd be damned if I can find it...

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      • #33
        From what I recall, the Shroud didn't really fall until the 3GM. The Sundering was not the creation of the Shroud, it was the separation of life and death, but this separation was still crossable with a little effort (I believe it specifically lists the many legends of such things happening as proof). It's similar to in Werewolf with the separation of the Umbra: Once all was one, then it was sundered and they were separated (I always figured it worked as if most of the world were Glens (or in Mage Ravana's navel or whereever the hell the euthanatos chantry was), and finally that gossamer of separation calcified into the Gauntlet. It always seemed to me that Wraith's worked in the same manner (I mean, honestly, that's probably because, early on, they actually did mean to tie them to the same events).

        The changes to Stygian Steel caught me by surprise as well, I had to go back and make sure that it was created from souls initially. I think it's decent change, although I do question the odd choice of plasm from Tempest clouds. Just seems sort of random. Either way, I think it's fine. I always hated the concept of souls being used for all this. They always say that one soul makes one object, and then they have entire buildings and such made from them. There's just no way that there are that many souls. Jesus, even if you took every human alive and turned them into girders you're going to run through those resources pretty damn quickly. It just wasn't sustainable when I really thought about it. With Stygian Steel now coming from a different source, it's not nearly as limited. They say that only a small number of humanity becomes wraiths, yet they somehow have millions of oboli lying around, each which needs a soul to be forged. Not to mention how many girders are actually in buildings ( I mean it's great to say one soul make one girder, but then you're talking thousands of souls to make one building. And some of the buildings in Stygia are -miles- tall. Not to mention that literally almost everything is apparently made of souls. How is there anyone to populate cities at all.

        I probably would have reversed them in properties though. Souls, being a -very- limited resource, I would have thought would have made soulsteel stronger than the new stygian steel (which now essentially has nearly unlimited sources to "mine", assuming you can survive). "Ok, so now we have unlimited building materials with Stygian Steel, but the -really- good stuff still requires souls."

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        • #34
          Originally posted by tungee View Post
          The changes to Stygian Steel caught me by surprise as well, I had to go back and make sure that it was created from souls initially. I think it's decent change, although I do question the odd choice of plasm from Tempest clouds. Just seems sort of random. Either way, I think it's fine. I always hated the concept of souls being used for all this. They always say that one soul makes one object, and then they have entire buildings and such made from them. There's just no way that there are that many souls. Jesus, even if you took every human alive and turned them into girders you're going to run through those resources pretty damn quickly. It just wasn't sustainable when I really thought about it. With Stygian Steel now coming from a different source, it's not nearly as limited. They say that only a small number of humanity becomes wraiths, yet they somehow have millions of oboli lying around, each which needs a soul to be forged. Not to mention how many girders are actually in buildings ( I mean it's great to say one soul make one girder, but then you're talking thousands of souls to make one building. And some of the buildings in Stygia are -miles- tall. Not to mention that literally almost everything is apparently made of souls. How is there anyone to populate cities at all.
          That reminds me of two other things I've noticed so far. The first is that the section on Oboli makes them seem significantly rarer than I previously thought. They now seem like an extravagance, and only used for large transactions or power plays rather than a ubiquitous currency that everyone uses. Millions of Oboli might still exist given the millenia they've been in production, but most of them probably aren't in circulation.

          The second is that a lot of effort went into making the Underworld an emptier place and pushing wraiths away from Quick population centers. Necropoli seem smaller numbers-wise, and while there are still quotes about them looming over the skinlands cities, they also seem more... concentrated.

          I probably would have reversed them in properties though. Souls, being a -very- limited resource, I would have thought would have made soulsteel stronger than the new stygian steel (which now essentially has nearly unlimited sources to "mine", assuming you can survive). "Ok, so now we have unlimited building materials with Stygian Steel, but the -really- good stuff still requires souls."
          I actually thought of it the other way. Now Stygian Steel requires two hard to harvest materials rather than one. If anything it is going to be harder to make than it was before.



          Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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          • #35
            Originally posted by tungee View Post
            From what I recall, the Shroud didn't really fall until the 3GM. The Sundering was not the creation of the Shroud, it was the separation of life and death, but this separation was still crossable with a little effort (I believe it specifically lists the many legends of such things happening as proof).
            Depends what you mean by "really". Wraith 2E said this:

            The Sundering
            Then it was that a great rift appeared in the world, and the realms of the living and the dead were forced apart in the period known as the Sundering. The gash between the worlds widened to an insurmountable degree, forcing a great Shroud to be drawn twixt the two realms. The realms split into that of the Quick, known thereafter as the Skinlands, and the Land of the Dead, known also as the Underworld
            Then, in Hierarchy, they said the Shroud came down in the 3GM. ::Shrug::

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            • #36
              While in some ways Stygian Steel may be more dangerous to create (due to extracting Tempest clouds), I'm not really convinced this would make it harder to create or more prevalent. One of the advantages of having a resource where you know it's location is a huge boost. When you're entire economy and all industry depends on people randomly finding wraiths (even in the books it doesn't make this sound like an easy process), you're just not going to get far. For instance, how many wraiths appear per year in the Philadelphia necropolis? At best it's tens of thousands (and I'm sure that's being hugely generous), I hope they aren't planning on building anything larger than a breadbox or a lot of those wraiths will be incorporated into the landscape.

              Another advantage to the clouds method is that you could easily set up an infrastructure to "mine". You'd send out sorties, and large groups of armed wraiths and thralls, to these locations to mine them with protection. Hell, there is absolutely no reason to believe that Stygia wouldn't be doing this. It's not like they care about the well-being of the wraiths under their care. They have hordes of thralls mining the Venous Stairs, and that place seems to costs lives almost daily with no cessation of activity, and only token guards. Not to mention throwing hordes of sentient beings into the forges makes it hard to argue that they wouldn't send those same Thralls into the Tempest to mine. A Thrall gets turned into soulsteel, he's no longer usable as labor. A Thrall goes to mine in the Tempest, he -may- die, but he also may return with lots of material, more than could be developed from a single soul. Presumably, by 2018, any wraith organizations carrying out this task would have perfected their techniques to gets as much as they can without losing their workforce. The Doomslayers march off into the Labyrinth on what is, by almost any definition, a Sysphean task with virtually no pay off if you actually survive, and isn't really likely to have any lasting effects on the greater Underworld anyway, and yet they truck out endlessly into those dark depths. Given that, I don't think it's too much to expect that the high-ups in Stygia don't give two shits about how many Thralls they lose mining the Tempest

              I'd still argue that soulsteel should be rarer and stronger than Stygian Steel. I mean, every soulsteel sword was a potential citizen, but Tempest clouds are a seemingly limitless and renewable resource. Regardless, the amount of things created in the Underworld screams out that it would require more than just souls, and if Stygian Steel is rarer than Soulsteel than I just don't know where all their building materials came from. Souls alone couldn't support it.

              As for Oboli, we don't know how many there are, but there is enough that it's in regular circulation and is the main form of currency for an entire civilization. In order to have a working economy based on oboli(souls) you would have to have a large amount in circulation. Even if much of it -wasn't- in circulation, there still has to be enough moving through the system to keep it going, and this would require mass amounts of oboli. With one soul per oboli, you really have to wonder if A.) One wraith really does equal only one Oboli, B.) Are wraiths as rare as is claimed? Maybe there are a lot more than reported, but the vast majority are turned into materials, and if none of them are true than you have to wonder where are all these souls coming from?

              It may have changed, but I don't recall soulsteel being able to be forged with plasmics in the OWoD, but I think I may have read something about that in w20. I couldn't find it though. If that is true, that would explain a lot of this. Most things would actually be made of plasmics and not wraith souls, thus accounting for the numbers discrepancy. But -if- it's true that plasmics can be used in the creation of soulsteel, then I'd have to wonder why they are using wraith souls at all, since plasmics aren't exactly scarce. Not counting punishment for crimes, political stratagem, or the removal of Drone, there wouldn't be a lot of motivation to ruin potential citizens.

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              • #37
                Well, it's hard to define what I mean by "really" falling. The separation from the living and the dead did separate them, but it didn't block them off. I always pictured it as more of a thin curtain initially. But the 3GM turned that curtain into an Iron Wall. Once the Sundering happened, there was always a shroud, otherwise it wouldn't really be 'sundered', but that Shroud wasn't what it is today.

                I think the problem that we have is that they use the term "Shroud" to cover different, but related, phenomena. In Werewolf, they talk about a time before when you could cross into the Spirit Realms basically by desiring to, and then the gauntlet came down preventing that. But even before the Gauntlet rose there was still a separation between the two (and even that before time was split. There used to be no difference between the world and the Umbra, but then they had a thin separation which eventually calcified into the Gauntlet), and you could have called that separation the "Gauntlet", but they generally save that term for when it became unpassable to most beings. I would use that same sort of logic for the Shroud (and again, in early WoD, they probably were supposed to be linked events)

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                • #38
                  What, exactly, are the changes to Stygian Steel, and is soulsteel, and the associated themes (horrors of soulforging, horrors of its necessity, the permanence of souls in an afterlife where everything else is impermanent) still a key component?

                  Last edited by Herbert_West; 02-22-2018, 11:58 AM.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Herbert_West View Post
                    What, exactly, are the changes to Stygian Steel, and is soulsteel, and the associated themes (horrors of soulforging, horrors of its necessity, the permanence of souls in an afterlife where everything else is impermanent) still a key component?
                    You're right but perhaps someone thought it was a bit too 1990s/grimdark? I mean, it certainly is those things, and the numbers don't always add up. You'd need billions of soulforged wraiths to account for all the oboli, bricks and weapons of the Underworld. I think I realised a long time ago (reading Sea of Shadows) that you'd have to start using plasmics (which autocorrect wanted to change to plastics, ironically enough...) and other things to fill the numbers.

                    I like mining the Tempest though. It adds an element of risk, and creates a major industry for Stygian wraiths to get involved in (which means more stories).

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                    • #40
                      This is a game about the dead and their inability to move on. I want it to be dark
                      Though to each their own, naturally. But if Stygia isn't reliant of the tithe of souls, the whole system collapses in-universe, as there is no need for a feudal analogue, and the Rebels and Heretics lose their raison d'etre (since a large chunk of the opposing forces oppose not the order, but the abuse of souls).

                      It kinda breaks the setting, no? I might compromise that building material analogues get affected by Oblivion's decay, and have to be re-mined every once in a while (so pavement, houses, etc are Stygian Steel), but permanent objects (Oboli. luxury items, etc) have to be made of someone who was once alive.

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                      • #41
                        Have no fear. There is still plenty of soulforging still going on in Wr20. They just changed how Stygian Steel is made.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Herbert_West View Post
                          This is a game about the dead and their inability to move on. I want it to be dark
                          Though to each their own, naturally. But if Stygia isn't reliant of the tithe of souls, the whole system collapses in-universe, as there is no need for a feudal analogue, and the Rebels and Heretics lose their raison d'etre (since a large chunk of the opposing forces oppose not the order, but the abuse of souls).

                          It kinda breaks the setting, no? I might compromise that building material analogues get affected by Oblivion's decay, and have to be re-mined every once in a while (so pavement, houses, etc are Stygian Steel), but permanent objects (Oboli. luxury items, etc) have to be made of someone who was once alive.
                          It's more that there are other things in addition to soulforging, than that it's gone altogether. There's still plenty of soulforging going on!

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by tungee View Post
                            While in some ways Stygian Steel may be more dangerous to create (due to extracting Tempest clouds), I'm not really convinced this would make it harder to create or more prevalent. One of the advantages of having a resource where you know it's location is a huge boost. When you're entire economy and all industry depends on people randomly finding wraiths (even in the books it doesn't make this sound like an easy process), you're just not going to get far. For instance, how many wraiths appear per year in the Philadelphia necropolis? At best it's tens of thousands (and I'm sure that's being hugely generous), I hope they aren't planning on building anything larger than a breadbox or a lot of those wraiths will be incorporated into the landscape.
                            But do they know it's location? When I read that section, I didn't interpret it as any cloud in the tempest, I interpreted it as special dense clouds. Instead of something that can be harvested on an industrial scale, I see small teams of Wraiths taking ramshackle, Tempest-worthy ships out to search for small islands of the stuff, and dodging squalls of spectres and Tempest leviathans.


                            As for Oboli, the following line really struck me:

                            Originally posted by "Wr20 pg 45
                            With oboli, there is cash available to Stygian wraiths, but not much of it compared to how many wraiths there are
                            That's what I was referring to earlier when I said Wraith 20 seemed to make them considerably rarer. They seem more like easy ways of moving large amounts of value than coins that are used in everyday trading.



                            Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post

                              But do they know it's location? When I read that section, I didn't interpret it as any cloud in the tempest, I interpreted it as special dense clouds. Instead of something that can be harvested on an industrial scale, I see small teams of Wraiths taking ramshackle, Tempest-worthy ships out to search for small islands of the stuff, and dodging squalls of spectres and Tempest leviathans.
                              And this is really cool. It allows for surreal swashbuckling, and gives a real reason for wraiths to engage with the Tempest rather than just trying to get through it safely.

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                              • #45
                                A couple things:

                                1.) I've never said that soulforging was gone or reduced in the setting, just that the changes they made to soulforging and stygian steel seem like backwards. There's just nothing that leads me to believe there is more soulsteel than stygian steel, and thus most things should be made of stygian steel (this also completely solves the problem that there simply aren't enough souls to make everything they seem to have made. At -least- since the discovery of Stygian steel anyway (since we don't know when that was exactly).

                                2.) Whether they know where the clouds are specifically in the isn't really the point. Real world mining would be a good example of how such a process would go. No one just "knows" where a gold deposit is. Eventually someone finds one and holds it long enough to establish a claim and business. Then the mining begins. They don't just sit on their asses at that point and mine that first deposit, they send out scouts, survey teams, question any local inhabitants they can find, experiment with other new techniques, etc in their constant drive to find a new source when the current one dries up, which they inevitably do. Considering nearly everything the Restless do is based on mostly modified mortal ideas, I would posit that Stygian Steel miners would work along similar principles. the point is that they'd develop a systematic way of finding new loads. Obviously it's WAY more risky and dangerous, no one is saying otherwise, but we already know for fact that's not actually stopping anyone (after all, its one of the main sources of materials). It's still probably considerably less dangerous then Diving the Labyrinth for a living, and it has an actual solid payoff.
                                They -MUST- have some technique by now. It wouldn't be a major commodity if sources only willy-nilly showed up. If Stygian steel is literally only found by some bumbling idiot getting lucky, you wouldn't be able to build anything on that. Who knows when the next source could come up? Might as well flip a coin to decide to check every Tempest cloud bank or not. Sure, there are single, individual miners who might find small sources of the Steel, but there are also real life people who pick up scrap and resell it but we're not basing our industry on them. NOR is that scrap actually serving an additional purpose by saving lives (presumably every girder build from Stygian Steel is one girder that didn't need a soul. I'm sure the Hierarchy would just decide it needs more buildings though.)
                                Imagine in the real world if houses were made from people. Then one day, someone finds out that there is some crap in the ocean that serves the same purpose, but without killing anyone. You don't think there would be a flood of opportunists, governments, businesses, scientists, and everyone else trying to capitalize on it? Oh, so occasionally rampaging monsters come, try to kill you, rape your mind, steal your goods, and leave? You think that would actually stop people? Welcome to being a farmer in the 1950s Soviet Union, or any number of periods of China, Rome, Africa, North America, Australia... you get the idea, when some groups of assholes comes around calling themselves your government and does exactly those things to you. Oh, the source isn't permanent, dries up, and is hard to find. Sounds a lot like oil to me (which incidentally -is- made from once living creatures, fossil fuels baby) There's other, economic, reasons as well. Each soul saved is a new potential customer for Stygian Steel products ("Remember folks, Stygian Steel is the only all 100% Underworld-eco friendly material that -definitely- was never smarter than you!") The fact that it doesn't moan, bleed, or have creepy faces in the final product is also kind of nice.

                                3.) There are many forms of currency in the Underworld. The Usurers are a big part of it, or their Arcanos anyway. It might even pre-date soulforging. It's not really clear. Soulforging can be traced back to a specific point, Nudhri's release from the Labyrinth, but the other Arcanos aren't so well defined (but we do know at least some of them pre-date soulforging). Considering its very intimate connection to the Passions of the Restless, I would guess Usury is one of the earliest Arcanos (it's possible this is said somewhere). Unlike many Arcanos all you really need for usury is yourself.
                                If oboli are actually pretty rare, and not every Wraith has access to them, then other problems arise. For one, aside from that one little sentence, I've never been given the impression that oboli are particularly rare. Yeah, no one is walking around with millions of oboli, but I've never had a character that didn't have a small handful of them. That just seems like something they threw in so they could legitimately claim, "No, see this sentence says they're semi-rare" and then proceed to write the book as if oboli are used in most transactions. If they truly were rare then all the god damn prices wouldn't be in oboli, they'd be in the most commonly used currency. If they are rare then they'd be more like works of art, commodities that have value, but currencies aren't based on the value of paintings. It's the other way around, and the "rare oboli" theory should work like that (1 oboli = 10 Pathos, in this case Pathos is the most commonly used currency due to Usury)

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