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💀 Necro [WIR] Suppressed Transmissions

Cultist of Sooty

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But it would be terribly good fun if Alan Parsons had tried to build a nuclear bomb and summon the Whore of Babylon on the dark side of the moon.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
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8. Digging Up Weirdness

"I'm not even mentioning pure-dee crazy folk like Frederick Bligh Bond, who communicated with the dead while serving as architect-archaeologist at Arthurian Glastonbury in 1907, or the androgynous American transvestite Antonia Frederick Futterer who claimed to have found the Ark of the Covenant atop Mount Pisgah in the 1920s..."

This time, Kenneth Hite tells you what archaeologists can add to your game - not modern mundane, professional archaeologists, but the cinematic ones in the style of Indiana Jones and Allan Quartermain, or at least the excentric archaeologists of the days of yore (and that field got very excentric back in the days when enthusiasm was more important than professionalism). Special mentions go to a Babylonian king interested in Sumerian and Akkadian artifacts, and an Italian circus strongman-turned-archaeologist with a penchant for using explosives for excavating.

Then we get into campaign frameworks. My favorite are the entirely historical "Bone Wars" in the historical Old West where two scholars paid rival gangs of professional fossil hunters to dig up dinosaur bones - and sabotage the competition (have I mentioned before how much of an education reading these columns is? Where else can you learn so much about such a vast range of different topics?), but the "Archaeologists in Black" who need to "vanish" artifacts for the good of humanity are good as well.

Another great addition, and it would certainly inspire me to work more archeology into my games, except that I already have so many other ideas from all the other columns which I want to add first...
 

JasonK

Sweet Babboo
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Subscribed all to hell and back.

I picked up the two print collections a couple years back, after hearing ST referenced obscurely in a wide variety of sources. Honestly, the column was so whispered about it sounded almost like a conspiracy to be dug up itself! I had no idea the print runs didn't sell out; when I went and got my copies, I felt like I was tracking down something lost and precious, lucky that I didn't have to pay a mint for them on ebay.

I also had no idea that there were so damn many columns. 300? Christ! I'd love to see a third collection, and a fourth, and so on. If SJG ever releases those, they've got at least one copy sold.

- jasön
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
9. Two-World Minimum: Bisociation and the Art of High Weirdness

"Let me warn you at the outset: Grail research is not for the weak of heart, or for the short of shelf space..."

Upon reading the title of this transmission for the first time, most people (myself included) will ask themselves: "What the hell is 'bisociation'?" As Kenneth Hite explains, bisociation is when something - usually the MacGuffin of the campaign or adventure - can have two (or more!) meanings that are not only radically different from each other, but which may be both true in their frame of reference and yet be mutually incompatible.

Heady stuff, so it's good that the author provides us with some examples, such as the Vinland Map (proof of pre-Columbus exploration of North America, or cunning forgery?), the Holy Grail (is it a cup, a dish, a poetic symbol, or a bloodline?), and the Tarot (too many alternative interpretations to list here). And he points out that bisociating major elements of the campaign keeps the PCs (and players) guessing, and thus establishes a nice mood of paranoia and uncanniness.

This is one of the more abstract, "high concept" columns, but I found it no less useful for that. It helps to remember that in game worlds, much as in the real world, many things are a matter of perspective, and not just MacGuffins. Is a certain NPC a hero or a traitor? Is the government of a certain nation benevolent or oppressive? That entirely on whom you ask, and the opinions of NPCs will be colored by their own biases - as will be those of the PCs, depending on their own encounters with the entity in question, which will likely not have shown the whole thing. Bisociating everything keeps the PCs guessing, and forces them to reconsider their own stances.

And as a further note, while Kenneth Hite doesn't point it out in this column, for me one of the attractions of the Cthulhu Mythos is that it is extremely bisociative. Is Hastur a powerful alien entity or a cosmic force of entropy? Are the End Times a rapidly approaching sudden extinction event or will the decline of humanity be an ongoing process for millenia? Are Mythos "spells" some supernatural force, or alien science? Different authors have come up with their own interpretations over the decades which contradict each other yet are self-consistent in their own stories - in other words, they are highly bisociative, just like "real" mythologies and unlike a great many fictional cosmologies in gaming where there is an "ultimate truth" behind it all. And that makes them powerful, as no player will ever "truly" understand the Mythos.
 

Eric the .5b

It's all so esoteric
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And thus, this column quickly evolved into the main reason for subscribing to Pyramid by many, many gamers, as it had more gamable ideas per paragraph than almost any other texts out there.
At a certain point, I realized I was only still subscribing for STs and just couldn't justify the cost.

I just popped for both PDFs, though. $8 apiece is a great price.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
10. The Slightly Alternate History Campaign

"...if the players find out that their PCs' world seems exactly like ours except that John F. Kennedy was shot in Houston on November 24, 1963, by a lone gunman named Carl Edward Schermer, this sends a strong message that There Are Conspiracies At Work Here..."

Indead of making Alternate History truly divergent and different from ours, Kenneth Hite suggests making the differences small and sublte for a change. This has several advantages: The GM doesn't have to worry if he gets the occasional historical facts wrong, the players know that their characters can change the course of history (because history went off the rails already), and even divergences, if chosen right, will get the players into the appropriate paranoid mood without bringing out the weirdness from the start.

This is certainly useful advice for those who frequently run Alternate History campaigns. So far I haven't, so this transmission is less useful for me, but who knows what I will run one day?
 
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Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
11. Chess

"As late as 1860 chess historian Duncan Forbes announced, based on no discernible evidence whatsoever, that chess was 5,000 years old and derived from ancient Sanskrit wisdom. That's the kind of thinking we need more of in our roleplaying gameif you ask me..."

This time, we delve into the past and symbology of chess, one of the world's oldest and most popular games. Along the way, we learn of variants like "Living Chess" where the pieces are played by humans (bloody gladiatorial battles when one piece takes another are optional) and "Enochian Chess", which was invented by the founders of the Golden Dawn. Also discussed are chess as metaphor and ciphers for secret conspirational struggles, and as magically potent symbls which can shape ley lines and mana flows.

This transmission is certainly fairly specialized and won't be of use for everyone, but if you are prone to using lots of symbols in your campaign you should be able to make use of it.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
12. Le Comte de Saint-Germain

"You need an artist, a spy, a magus, a linguist, an immortal, an industrial chemist, a con man, an alchemist, a peace activist, a vampire, a raconteur, a conspirator, a lover, a violinist, a mystic, an admiral, a lost heir, a forger, a pathological liar, a general, and a poet. [...] You need the Count de Saint-Germain."

This is the first autobiography in the series, and appropriately it is dedicated to history's most notorious alleged immortal: The Count de Saint-Germain (who, I am pleased to report, already has a fairly decent Arcana Wiki entry). Given how often he has been mentioned in RPGs (starting with Unknown Armies and going around the block), it is only just that Kenneth Hite gives us the straight dope on him here - starting with the usual "boring old historical fact", and then progressing to the rumors, half-truths, myths, and outright lies that other people have come up with over the following centuries. Finally, the Count is bisociated a couple of times (based on the secret societies of the old Illuminati: New World Order card game by Steve Jackson Games) so that we can use him as a Secret Master in our campaigns without putting any further effort into it.

This is very useful for any "occult conspiracy" games set on Earth - after all, the Count is sure to be involved with the major occult groups in your campaign. Or at least, that's what he would tell you, and he should know...
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
13. In Honor of Technomancer:: Five More Magical Revolutions

"Fortunately, John Dee has a plan to save England; if a galleon could reach the moon, it could mine lunar matter directly and break the Spanish-Venetian monopoly on flying ships. All he needs are a few brave men to steal a Spanish flying galleon - perhaps an accomplished swordsman or two, a clever thief, and a student of magic..."

Another first: This is the first transmission that splits into a number of subsections, each of which details a different Alternate History scenario centered around a common theme. This one was inspired by the (then) newly released GURPS Technomancer which introduced magic to the world when the first nuclear bomb exploded at Trinity in 1945. The scenarios described here involve Alexander the Great uncovering the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistos in 331 B.C., Roger Bacon discovering the science of magic in 1268, the unlocking of Azoth (the "universal solvent") in 1488 by Bernard of Treves, the summoning of the ghost of Apollonius of Tyana by Eliphas Levi in 1854, and the opening of the Tomb of Tutankhamen by Howard Carter in 1922. In each, Kenneth Hite gives an overview of the large-scale political ramifications, the possible magics, and why this setting is a good place for adventures.

And it works. While none of them are very detailed, all of them sound like tons of fun, and something I could see myself playing in. This sets the tome for the future Alternate History columns, most of which are equally fun to read...
 

Center-of-All

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OK, between AQ and Jurgen, I'm convinced that this is the greatest thing in the history of things. I must find this stuff now!












Annnnd done. I love noble knight.
 
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