Pseudonym Writes

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Month: September, 2014

I give you … Jedi Knights, in the nWoD!

I’ve been sitting on this one for a couple of months now. It uses the Second Edition rules released with God-Machine Chronicle, available for free here.

Light Sabres (Style, • to •••••)

Not as clumsy or random as a blaster … an elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.

Prerequisites: Weaponry Specialty: (Force)

You’re trained in wielding coherent plasma weapons in hand-to-hand combat, exploiting their unique properties. Drawing on intuition and the Force, you can manoeuvre the superheated “blade” exactly where it needs to be – whether that’s between you and blaster fire, or buried in an opponent.

You cannot apply these lessons unless you actually have such a weapon available to hand.

Defensive Combat (): You are trained in avoiding damage. Use your Weaponry to calculate Defense rather than Athletics.

Precision Shot (••): With this level of training, your character knows how to effectively disable a victim instead of focusing on the kill. When attacking a specified target, you may reduce your weapon’s damage rating one-for-one to ignore penalties for shooting a specified target (see God-Machine Chronicle p. 203). For example, if you’re using a sniper rifle (4 damage weapon), and attacking an arm (–2 to hit), you could choose to use 3 damage reduce that to –1, or 2 damage to eliminate the penalty entirely.

Redirect (•••): When you’re being attacked by multiple opponents, you can direct their blows against one another. When you Dodge, if your Defense roll reduces an attack’s successes to 0, your attacker rolls the same attack against another attacker of your choice.

Drawback: You may only redirect one attack in a turn. You cannot redirect an attack against the same attacker.

Warding Stance (••••): Your character holds their weapon in such a way as to make attacks much harder. If your weapon is drawn, spend a point of Willpower reflexively to add the weapon’s damage rating as armor for the turn. This will not protect against area-of-effect attacks or autofire.

Rending (•••••): Your character’s cuts leave crippling, permanent wounds. By spending a Willpower point before making an attack roll, their successful attacks cause one point of aggravated damage in addition to the weapon’s damage rating. This Willpower point does not add to the attack roll.

Intuitive Defence (Style, • to •••••)

Try that again, Luke … this time, let go of your conscious self, and act on instinct.

Prerequisites: Wits •••, Empathy Specialty: (Force)

You are almost preternaturally good at sensing your opponent’s intentions in combat. Maybe you practice a martial art that focuses on intuition and body language, or else you’re just very good at not being where your opponent wants you to be.

Like a Book (•): You can read your opponents and know where they’re likely to strike. When facing an unarmed opponent and not Dodging, increase your Defence by half your Brawl (round down).

Studied Style (••): You focus on reading one opponent, avoiding his attacks, and frustrating him. Attacks from that opponent do not reduce your Defence. If your Defence reduces his attack pool to 0, his further attacks against you lose the 10-again quality.

Secondary Targets (•••): When engaged, your character is constantly aware of everyone in their vicinity; nothing close is safe. As long as your character has their Defence available to them and is not Dodging, any character coming into arm’s reach takes 1B damage. This damage continues once per turn as long as the enemy stays within range and occurs on the enemy’s turn. If you spend a point of Willpower, this damage becomes 2B until your next turn.

Counter-Strike (••••): You wait until the last possible second then lash out at your opponent’s elbow or wrist as they attack, hoping to cripple their limbs. When Dodging, roll an attack instead of your Defence. If you score more successes than your attacker, you deal one point of damage per extra success, and inflict either the Arm Wrack or Leg Wrack Tilt (your choice).

Drawback: Spend a point of Willpower to use this manoeuvre.

Like the Breeze (•••••): You step to one side as your opponent attacks and give them enough of a push to send them flying past you. When dodging, if your Defence roll reduces an opponent’s attack successes to 0, you can inflict the Knocked Down Tilt.

Drawback: You must declare that you’re using this manoeuvre at the start of the turn before taking any other attacks.

Mystery Cult: Jedi Order

My ally is the Force – and a powerful ally it is.

Jedi believe everyone is guided by the Force, an energy field that surrounds all living things. Suffering and fear disturb the Force, twisting it, and damaging the minds and bodies of mortals. By focusing on their connection with the Force, they can learn to channel its energies, to help them in their duty to maintain balance and order in the universe. The Order seeks out children with a connection to the Force – those with Supernatural Merits, templates and abilities – and teaches them to ignore their Virtues and Vices in favour of greater harmony, meditating on the Force to gain strength and insight.

In game terms, prospective initiates must have a Skill Specialty in the Force and at least some minor supernatural ability or talent.

Cultists: Dour knight, starry-eyed farmboy, librarian, impatient apprentice, hands-on general, cryptic old master

Initiation Benefits

All initiates must learn to feel the Force in all things, reaching out with their feelings, before they can advance. They may purchase Interdisciplinary Specialty: (Force) for free.

•• With training, Jedi can manipulate crude matter – given concentration and focus. They gain the Telekinesis Merit at one dot. Those Jedi that already possess some measure of ability increase it by one dot instead.

••• Knights of the Order are taught to focus their minds on a single task, blocking out distractions to focus on the force. They gain a variant of the Biokenesis Merit (at two dots) that affects Finesse Attributes.

•••• Master Jedi begin to sense faint echoes of the future and of distant events. They gain a variant of the Omen Sensitivity Merit, which focuses on their emotions instead of meaningful coincidences.

••••• The greatest Jedi possess deep wisdom and understanding. By drawing on their experience, they can mimic the Common Sense merit.

Temperate (••• or •••••)

Great warrior, hmph? Wars do not make one great.

Effect: Your character was raised around the Jedi, and you grew up viewing Jedi Knights as the ideal to aspire to. Whenever you forgoe an advantage or undergo a risk to follow the Order’s philosophy of pacifism, humility and obedience, you refresh your Willpower as if you had fulfilled a Virtue. The limitations of how many times you may refresh Willpower using a Virtue remain the same (twice per Chapter,) but it’s up to you which Virtue is used each time.

At five dots, they may treat it as a second Vice as well, regaining a point of Willpower whenever they solve problems with diplomacy and the minimum of flair. They may still only regain one Willpower per scene in which they indulge themselves.

Available only at character creation.

Dark Side (•• or •••)

Is the Dark Side stronger?”

“No! No. Easier …”

Prerequisite: Occult Specialty: (Force)

Effect: Jedi techniques, like most Supernatural Merits, are fuelled by Willpower; and Willpower is renewed by indulging one’s Virtue and Vice. The Jedi Order frowns upon such unrestrained emotion, claiming it disturbs the Force and corrupts both mind and body. But some Force-users choose to draw on their deepest desires, to give them strength and courage when they need it most. With this Merit, your character may indulge their Virtue as if it were a Vice, giving them that little boost when they need it – although they may still only regain one Willpower per scene in which they indulge theself.

At three dots, they have justified their actions in a more rigorous manner; creating a philosophy in which emotional needs should be accepted as not only a part of you but a moral good – allowing hem to use their powers more often and focus harder on what they want, living their life to the full. In game terms, they treat their Vice as a second Virtue, regaining all spent Willpower whenever they risk themelf or throw away an opportunity in order to pursue their Vice. The limitations of how many times you may refresh Willpower using a Virtue remain the same (twice per chapter,) but it’s up to you which Virtue is used each time.

Creating Jedi Characters:

Jedi often learn other, less standardized techniques than the above Merits.

The most common are represented by the merits Fast Talk, Quick Draw, Danger Sense, Fighting Finesse, Choke Hold, Iron Will, Indomitable, Fast Reflexes, Meditative Mind, Demolisher, Iron Stamina, Direction Sense, Professional Training, Area Of Expertise (Force), Ambidextrous, Fleet Of Foot, Allies, Mentor, Retainer, Small Unit Tactics, Aura Reading, Claivoyance, Mind Of A Madman, Psychometry, Biokenesis, Telekenesis (which stacks with the second dot of Mystery Initiation: Jedi), Telepathy, and Unseen Sense. However, none of these are standard Jedi training, even among specialized sects.

Some Jedi possess a template that grants them other abilities; these Jedi often view their powers as an extension of the Force, and many learn “upgrades” of other Jedi techniques that leverage their unusual abilities.

In addition to the powers they gain from the Force, most Jedi carry a “lightsaber”, a sort of overclocked cutting torch. Although it wouldn’t usually make for a very effective weapon, it has one unique advantage: the “blade” is completely weightless, being a jet of superheated plasma projected from the handle.

This makes it relatively easy to conceal when deactivated; but more importantly, it can be moved with incredible rapidity during combat, allowing those with some sort of precognitive ability to react inhumanly fast to incoming attacks. In game terms, a “standard” lightsaber is a mêlée weapon with the following game traits:

Damage 3

Initiative 2

Strength 1

Size 1

Availability •••

Special: takes a -3 untrained penalty to use without Weaponry Specialty: (Force) due to specialized function.

However, lightsabers are usually handmade by the wielder, or a close friend or family member; and they are often heavily customised. While most lighsabers resemble swords (hence the name), some are more like daggers, whips, or even quarterstaves made of coherent plasma. If such a custom weapon is required, adapt a normal mêlée weapon by increasing the Damage rating by two or adding 9-again, lowering the Size to that of the weapon’s handle, and increasing the Availability by two to represent the item’s specialized nature.

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Con Artists Are Basically Rapists: An Analogy.

[Content note: this post is about rape. What might not be clear from the title is that it also uses offensive language.]

So I’ve been reading. (What did you *think* I do instead of updating my blog?)

And recently, I read a comment on a blog that was the most perfect example of an argument I see a lot. Unfortunately, I’m having trouble finding it, but whatever.

So there’s an extremely involved and heated debate over wearing “slutty” clothing increases your risk of getting raped. I have no idea which side of this discussion is right, and – thank God – I have yet to need that sort of information.

But interestingly, both sides of this argument seem to believe that the other side is deliberately twisting the *focus* of the discussion, above and beyond any disagreement on facts.

Folk-psychological discussions of rape run roughly as follows:

I *would* be inserting my perfect archetypal quote that sparked this post here 😦

>Rape “survivor”, eh? Was she by any chance a drunken slut, out cruising by a dicking, and now she’s complaining that someone gave her one?

Now, assuming more than three people read this, responses to above pseudo-quote run roughly as follows:

50% “Wow, these people are terrible to say such an awful thing.”
25% “Objection, sir! That is a strawman!”
25% “Just goes to show how messed-up society is that this is even controversial.”

And they’re right.

Firstly, this is a somewhat *blunt* expression of this position. Many people are more politic in their phrasing. But, at the risk of biasing you against it, I do think this is the clearest expression of this – which is, I wish to emphasize, is merely the *reaction*, and a populist one at that.

Now, the strong version of this position is as follows:

>Assuming that signalling promiscuity or sexual availability is, in fact, a significant risk factor for rape; then ridiculing the common reaction is not only misleading, but actively dangerous. We *should* emphasize this risk, in roughly this fashion – and attempting to deny women a degree of responsibility for their actions will inevitably lead to irresponsible actions and thus *more rape*.

I don’t know if sluttiness – I won’t come up with a definition for “sluttiness”, incidentally, because it’s an inherently slangy concept – is actually a risk factor, let alone to what degree. But this argument has always seemed reasonable to me.

The primary counterargument/response to it is as follows:

>Why the [swearword] are you trying to blame the rape victim, here? They are well within their rights to dress however they like; and they are not the one who decided to rape someone! We should be focusing on stopping rapists, not blaming women for being attacked!

And this response has always seemed a touch problematic to me.

Of course, there are various issues inherent in this whole conversation, framed as it is withing the folk concept of rape (which I do know is inaccurate in other ways, regardless, that we needn’t go into here.) But still.

So, the other day, something occurred to me.

Con artists.

I’ve always been interested in con artists. Now, for those who don’t know, it is indisputably true that con artists target criminals – or rather, those willing to engage in obviously unethical and/or illegal activity. Everyone who knows about con artists acknowledges this.

(Put simply, it is rather hard to report someone who scams you, when they had done so by tricking you into believing you could (say) rig a horse race together and they only needed a little seed money. There is a certain tendency to want to keep the event quiet.)

So, by the logic above, you would think experts would speak of a con artists’ victim much the way many speak of a rape victim:

>Got “scammed”, eh? Were they by any chance a greedy bastard looking to rip someone off, and now they’re complaining that someone got them instead?

But, you know, they don’t. The very idea seems ridiculous. How do they react?

Well, everyone knows that you should avoid being unethical. It’s essentially part of the definition. “Unethical” things refer to those things which one should not do. Telling someone “don’t be unethical” is nothing new, wont change their behavior, and won’t prevent them being scammed.

So instead, they tell you that you should be especially careful when you are offered something that seems … underhanded. Then they provide you with various warning signs and strategies, that you can apply regardless, because not all cons use that strategy. (And, of course, just because you aren’t a paragon of money-related ethics doesn’t mean you “should” be robbed.)

And, you know, I think they’re right.

This analogy has changed my opinion of this whole discussion.

I still don’t know which side is right about the facts – I don’t have the background in statistics to wade through the politically-motivated nonsense even if I wanted to – but I now agree that one side is, in some sense, trying to shift blame from the perpetrator to the victim.

And that’s bad.

I mentioned earlier that I was deliberately using the term “slutty”, as in “she was probably dressed sluttily”, rather than more abstract terms. I don’t usually do this, but I felt it captures the point better in this case.

Here’s the thing – “slutty” is not a synonym for “promiscuous” or “sexually available”. Not an exact one, anyway.

Slutty refers to being too promiscuous, too sexually available. It is, by definition, something you should not be. Not everyone draws the line in the same place; but, barring attempts at “reclaiming” it, everyone knows that on the far side of their personal line is “sluttiness”.

It is not useful advice to tell someone to do something they, by definition, already know not to do. What we need to do is give them advice for what to anyway.

Whether someone foolishly acts too sexually available, or not – if they get raped, then that, I think, is what they need help with.