DragonRaid: Righteously Mingling With Evil, Part 1

To celebrate our new site, I decided to get back to writing some posts. At first I though about Middens review, which I’m still doing at some point, but eventually I settled on a longer project because you deserve it. You all deserve it.

So, what is DragonRaid? Well, those of you with any TRPG experience should know already that the prime purpose of role-playing is worshiping Satan. Not everyone got the memo, however, and so back in 80s a group of Christians decided to make their own TRPG promoting Christian values and intended for an adult to play with kids. Its most famous feature is that players are required to cite Bible verses in order to do magic.

We’re in for a ride.

OK, so, disclaimer: I’m generally suspicious of media being actively labeled as Christian because more often than not “being Christian” is the only substance it possesses, otherwise being a pale shadow of secular media. I’m also not a big fan of old-school systems. There is a reason why TRPGs changed over the years, and I do very much enjoy these changes. As such, this review is liable to be negative. However, I’ll try to approach the game with an open mind. Who knows? It might surprise me. I would assume that Christians who were into TRPGs in 80s are on the liberal side of the spectrum, so I shouldn’t have too many issues with them.

For this review I’m using a collection of free PDFs that can be found here. Apparently, they are a revised version of the first DragonRaid edition composed in 1998-9. The second edition seems to exist in a development Limbo with some proposed rules available on still functioning but very 90s sites, but I’m not going to look into it.

Today we’re looking at the first PDF, New Player Briefing. It’s a short pamphlet giving a brief history of the setting and describing in general details what DragonRaid is and how it’s played. Basically, it’s the stuff that usually goes into the first chapter of a TRPG and that I usually skip.

The file opens with… ah… a description of what a PDF is, how to navigate it and how internal and external links work. I’m serious.

The document is linked. This permits a click to take you to a page reference without having to go to the page manually. It also permits World Wide Web references to be clicked on | causing your web browser to go to the indicated site. It can also go to other documents in the same \relative” directory, these links are indicated with a green box.

Was it really necessary in 1999? I mean, OK, this game is aimed at a conservative crowd, some of which is removed from modern media, but, well, it’s a PDF. The very fact I’m reading it means I’ve managed to navigate the web, download and open it. I guess it’s possible that the intended reader relied on someone else to do it and now needs instructions on how to proceed?

Let’s… Let’s skip this section. It’s embarrassing me.

Next section is titled “The Great Rescue on EdenAgain“, and tells a brief story of the setting. The game takes place on a planet called EdenAgain revolving around…

Wait. Butcher, is that you? Is that what you were writing before DF? I mean, seriously, EdenAgain, no spaces? Whose bright idea was it? And it’s not an isolated incident, either. EdenAgain, OverLord, TwiceBorn, DragonSlave (which is sometimes spelled as dragon slave because fuck consistency), LightRaider… Good God, the only reason it’s not worth than Pokemon fanfiction is that the game is too obscure to influence that many people. Still, the books were given to actual kids by adults in a position of authority over them. No wonder nowdays we have ThreeEye and other such atrocities.

As such, in the future I’m going to spare you the pain and add spaces where they belong (aside from the title DragonRaid, which I’m willing to tolerate because it’s an actual trademark and because it was made in 80s. I would also write OverLord as Overlord). Just know that whenever there are two capitalized words written together, they’re most likely conjoined.

Anyway, back to the story. The game takes place on the planet called Eden Again revolving around a star Warfare (italics not mine) because symbolism, I guess. Everything was chill until the Great Red Dragon Abaddon (again, the capitalization and italics are not mine) came by carrying an egg of another dragon, from which nine more dragons hatched, infesting the land. At first they were friendly and told locals many things. It was, of course, a deception.

The reptiles talked of matters not yet known | secret things, which the once-contented humans began to desire. As soon as one of the humans yielded to taking from the dragons a gift not ooffered by the Eternal Spirit, they all began to crave similar treasure.
Thus lured into deception, the people found themselves separated from the Eternal Presence, and they discovered that their peacefulness had vanished. At the same time, the once-friendly dragons became vicious and subdued all of EdenAgain. The people became unwilling dragon slaves.

People fought against the tyranny with mixed success, but eventually the dragons pacified them with bread and circus, basically:

The Deceiver and his dragons quickly seduced the people with splendid material possessions and marvelous comforts; and so these dark dragons kept men’s mortal minds o the real treasures of life. Soon all the people found themselves with almost everything they could want, and they forgot that they were enslaved.

[…]

Although the people were often forced into unpleasant labor, the master dragons appeased them with regular leisure time of great excitement, designed to lead the dragon slaves into an isolating selfishness.

Well, it’s a more realistic depiction of failed rebellion than Hunger Games, I would give the game that.

It’s time to introduce the PC faction, and here we come to the first world-building problem related to Christianity:

Finally, at the time of His good pleasure, the Maker limited the control allowed to the Great Red Dragon by sending His own OverLord for a brief but decisive visit to the planet EdenAgain.

Note the wording: limited the control allowed. As usual, making the capital-G God an active player in your story brings up all kinds of awkward questions, first and foremost of which is the old problem of evil. Put simply, why is any control allowed to the dragon? People suffer under dragons’ reign, so why not liberate them all? In this case, it’s not even the issue of free will. People did fight against the dragons, they simply didn’t have the power to succeed.

As usual in these situations, everything works much better if the maker is denied the omnipotence. If we assume he did the best he could, everything falls into place, so I’m going to go with this interpretations.

Also, calling Jesus the Overlord was not the brightest idea. I guess back in 80s the word didn’t carry quite the same connotations, but now I’m picturing the Savior of mankind as this:

I… don’t think that was the devs’ intention.

Yet it is surprisingly appropriate. For, you see, Overlord fought with the dragons, liberating many people and leading them south. The dragons pursued them and Overlord sacrificed himself to give his people a chance to escape.

In a rapid flash of the brightest light, the OverLord of Many Names changed from human form into a great wall of living, turbulent water that engulfed the attacking dragons.
The serpents spent all their re in vaporizing the deluge. Barely avoiding a watery death, they were left weak and powerless. In anger they withdrew to recuperate, delaying pursuit without serious concern. With their enemy the OverLord destroyed, recapturing the deserters would be an easy task at a time of their own choosing. Meanwhile the terrified, leaderless escapees hid in narrow caves on the southern coast.

In other words, Jesus Christ is the Sea That Marched Against The Flame.

Anyway, quite obviously Overlord was only mostly dead because evil always finds a way, so he returns for the Act 3:

A few days later, just as the rested dragon legion was preparing to resume the chase, the continent erupted with a mighty roar into a mass of billowing, crumbling earth that rose higher and higher. Recognizing the triumphant presence of their eternal enemy, whom they had presumed destroyed, the startled dragons flew hard toward the continental eruption, determined to cross over to the other side and finish their pursuit of the deserting dragon slaves.
But as they soared ever higher to traverse the mountainous barrier springing up before them, the reptiles felt the life- and re-sustaining oxygen become thin and the temperature grow cold. Gasping for breath, their bodies stiffening in the frigid atmosphere, the legion of dragons retreated quickly while their cold-blooded reptilian bodies could still move. They barely averted having their re totally extinguished by insufficient oxygen and blizzarding snow.

I’m pretty sure Jesus Christ kicking ass and taking names is theologically iffy as hell, but, eh, it’s pretty cool. Overlord does work nicely as a grand sorcerer and the founder of the good nation.

Overlord successfully led his people to a new home known as the Liberated Land, which is separated from the rest of the continent both by the mountain range and the mist rising from the ocean, which I’m fairly sure means we’re in Ravenloft now.

The liberated people became known as Twice Born because just calling them born again would be uncool, I guess. Most of them live peacefully in the Liberated Land, safe from the dragon oppression (after all, between the mist and the mountains, one does not simply walk into the Liberated Land), but some venture into the Dragon Lands to foil their evil schemes, liberate the oppressed people or do other service in the name of Overlord. They are known as Light Raiders and are intended as the PC faction.

So, overall, it wasn’t too bad. The religious overtones are pretty obvious, but they’re not too intrusive. At its core the story is a pretty standard fantasy setup. You have the Good Kingdom and the Evil Empire, the Good Kingdom sends its agents on dangerous missions to help people and foil evil plans. Pretty basic, sure, but sometimes you just want to kill some evil necromancers, so I’m not complaining.

Let’s see how it goes.

Next section is a glossary, which feels kinda brief, probably because it only covers in-universe stuff and doesn’t give definitions for game mechanic terms. Nothing much to comment about here. The planet is called Eden Again, the continent is Talania, the Liberated Land is on the very south of it, the Dragon Lands are everything else, no mention of other continents. The citizens of the Liberated Land are called Twice Borns, the citizens of the Dragon Lands are dragon slaves.

The only confusing part is this:

Eternal Spirit: Unseen Counsel – Holy Spirit.
Everlasting Spirit: The Triune God Almighty.
High One: The Creator of the Universe; God the Maker.

So… they’re all the same guy, right? But Overlord is Jesus here, does that mean DragonRaid universe has Holy Quartet instead of Holy Trinity? Or did Overlord become one of the three listed after his death? Maybe these are just different names for the same entity and don’t have any theological meaning.

Hell if I know, let’s move on.

Next section is titled “What Is DragonRaid?” It’s your standard explanation about the nature of TRPGs. Seems to contain more water than FATE and some other systems I’ve read but, eh, I’ve started with a homebrew of one of my friends, so I never really was in a position to need an explanation like this. As such, I’m not the best person to judge whether or not it does the job right.

Of note here is the claim that the game “promotes Christian grows” by presenting the players with allegorical situations that are supposed to teach them lessons applicable in real life. We’ll see how well the game does it, but so far it mostly feels like standard fantasy with Christianity tacked on, so I’m not very optimistic.

Then there is this:

DragonRaid teaches through adventure simulation, a more structured form of role playing. But it is the polar opposite to conventional fantasy role-playing games.

Ah, where would we be without indie developers taking potshots at more popular games and explaining how their creation is so much better? In a better place, I’d wager.

So, then, let’s see why DragonRaid of dubious grammar is better than D&D and the like.

Other role-playing games create situations which tend to reinforce worldly values and philosophies, and many of them generate unrighteous interest in the occult.

…Yeah. Do I need to explain what’s wrong with this? I hope not.

Suffice it to say, I don’t have an interest in occult. I can stop any time I want, and I’ll curse anyone who says otherwise.

I was going to do a nice little rant here about these supposedly progressive people apparently still buying into the dumb D&D scare, but right afterwards there is a more serious matter to comment on. Repetition.

DragonRaid teaches through adventure simulation, a more structured form of role playing. But it is the polar opposite to conventional fantasy role-playing games. Other role-playing games create situations which tend to reinforce worldly values and philosophies, and many of them generate unrighteous interest in the occult.

[…]

DragonRaid is a whole system for many adventures. An extensive imaginary world is used to provide allegorical parallels to real life. Other fantasy role-playing games create open-ended situations that have the tendency to reinforce worldly values and philosophies. Many of them even generate unrighteous interest in the occult.

There is more. Four paragraphs (separated by a short bullet lists of stuff you’re going to do in the game) are repeated in reverse order with slightly different wording.

Who the fuck edited this thing? How did they not notice this atrocity? And how did someone manage to write it in the first place? Did they ran out of things to say but decided that the section is too small or something? God, it’s like a middle schooler writing an essay and just repeating a few points that sounds good because they don’t actually have anything to say about the subject matter.

Ugh. I wanted it to be a light read with some Satan-worshiping jokes, but between this shit and the capitalization I’m sorely tempted to go into the full mockery mode. I guess the game has succeeded in presenting me with a powerful temptation, yet it gave me no reason to resist it.

As such, I’m going to provide a quote from the game We Know the Devil (which I mostly liked, though I have a few issues with stylistic choices and soundtrack): God sounds like every boy you are afraid of talking at once.

It doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but I’m in a blasphemous mood right now. Let’s see if I will progress to church-burning over the course of these reviews.

The next three sections describe the roles of players, GM (or Adventure Master because every game must invent a new title for the GM. Even GM was once DM). They seem fine enough if a bit brief. The role-playing section could use an example of a game in progress. As it is, it feels a bit disjoined: you have to mentally match AM’s (heh, nice acronym) responses to players’ questions from a few paragraphs back.

The only really questionable passage is this:

The game of DragonRaid uses role playing to help you feel like you are on a real adventure. Role playing may sound a little uncomfortable, but in DragonRaid it need not be so. You and the other players will act as a team, rather than competing against each other.

Yeah, that’s how most TRPGs work. I guess you can say that the GM is competing against the players by creating challenges for them, but even that is not quite correct as the job of the GM involves creating fair challenges that players would be capable of overcoming. And in any case AM does it too.

So, IDK what they were going about here. I suspect a misunderstanding of some kind or an excuse of the “no, no, this role-playing is not like the other role-playing, it’s righteous.”

Anyway, it’s a minor point and there isn’t any of that goddamn repetition, so let’s move on.

Next section describes “DragonRaid tools,” which basically means a quick preview of the next book, Light Raider Handbook (I’m sorry, HandBook) and Star Lot, the prime dice used by the system. It’s d10, but it’s not just any sort. It’s fucking magic.

At the time of the Great Rescue, when the OverLord of Many Names returned from destruction to raise the protective Peaks of the New Beginning, vicious dragons of the Legion attempted to fly over the erupting, upheaving mountains. Raging re came from their terrible mouths. But as they flew higher and the air grew colder, freezing the dragons’ breath mid-air, a remarkable thing happened. The flames crystallized and plummeted to the bottom of the steep gorges. Soon after the Great Rescue, the OverLord began to send His people, the TwiceBorn, into the Dragon Lands. On the northern side of the Peaks of the New Beginning, LightRaiders found the wonderful crystals of many colors. Each gem had ten sides, with a star encased in the center (recognized to be the OverLord’s own birthmark).6 Naming them StarLots, they collected them for the use of the TiwceBorn.

I actually like it. It’s a nice immersive detail, and it’s always a plus when the game makes you feel like you hold Unlimited Cosmic Power in your hands.

AM, by contrast, uses d8 for enemy rolls. D8 is, likewise, special. It’s called Shadow Stone (with a space, clearly identifying it as evil), and supposedly Shadow Stones were once Star Lots but fell into dragons’ hands and became corrupted. I assume it’s a subtle nod towards the idea that Good is inherently more powerful than Evil, even when it seems otherwise.

Fun fact: out of the standard dice set (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20), only d10 is not a Platonic solid. To put it simply, five of its edges are lesser in length than the other ten, while all edges of all the other dice are equal. That does wonders for its balance, as you may imagine, though it’s not really a big deal in a game. Still, d10 really is a better candidate for corrupted perfection.

Though, of course, we all know that the true evil lies within d4.

Anyway, the Light Raider Handbook is also presented as an in-universe artifact. As you may recall from my DF RPG reviews, that decision might turn out pretty good or really bad. We’ll see.

The last section of note (the very last is just some Internet resources for the game, surprisingly still working) is a player briefing for the introductory adventure The Light Raider Test.

The adventure starts with the PCs being on vacation on some beach after just graduating the Light Raider Academy, which I guess is a thing (now I’m picturing one of those obligatory anime beach episodes. Crosses everywhere would actually fit well with some of them). They anticipate their future adventures, but for now everything’s calm and they can relax. Soon they notice some object drifting ashore. It’s a bottle with a message inside:

“I have found you all trustworthy and true. Through Me you have been made worthy of being TwiceBorn. You are now prepared for adventure.
“But rst I must make certain that you are worthy of the name LightRaider. You are invited to The LightRaider Test. Do you want to go?”

An obvious trap is obvious. Why would Overlord contact them with a note? They are from some kind of academy, which implies structure and established channels of communication. They’re at war with the dragons, after all, so coordinating their missions is essential.

Quite obviously, whoever wrote this note is an agent of evil seeking to subvert inexperienced Light raider to the dragon cause.

Alas, the adventure doesn’t give the players time for even this elementary reasoning and moves on, stating “As you readily agree amongst yourselves to go on The LightRaider Test […]”

It’s generally a shitty practice to tell players how their characters are supposed to feel unless it’s some kind of mind control (and even then more subtle methods are often preferable). You can’t scare someone by saying “the monster is scary,” you can’t awe someone by claiming the view is majestic. Attempting to do so just pulls players out of the game and irritates them.

So now I’m going to assume there is some kind of compulsion on the note as well. It’s even plausible from what we see next: once the PCs agree to the test, the note changes, clearly indicating some magic at work.

“You are all my workmanship. Each of you has been recreated in the power of the OverLord and through His Great Rescue. You have been recreated in Me to do good works, and I planned long ago for you to do them.”

Yeah, I’m not a big fan of the “I have a plan for you” thing in Christianity. I’ve heard some people find comfort in it, in the idea that their life is a part of something much bigger and glorious than themselves. I just think it’s creepy and something a villain would say.

So, totally appropriate for my pet theory for this adventure.

“My assignments often come as walks of faith. I purposefully leave details out, to exercise your trust in Me, to delight in seeing that you love Me above all else, and to see that you will follow My wishes whether or not you can see the end of things.”

An obvious trap is even more obvious. Whoever wrote this clearly attempts to prevent the PCs from questioning their actions, no matter how dubious they may be.

The rest of the note provides instructions of how to get to the Dragon Lands because that’s not suspicious at all. It involves traveling to Jesus’ mountain range (called Peaks of the New Beginning) and going into a lake.

you will find a lake called Mt.Challenge

OK, did English fail me, or does “Mt.” generally stand for “mountain”? Because why would you call a lake a mountain?

Well, it’s fantasy, so I guess it’s possible that the lake is frozen in a shape of a mountain or something.

Once again, the adventure takes control away from the players and tells them about their (brief and uneventful) journey to the lake. There is a man waiting for them.

A man is there ahead of you to collect your horses; he also has packs and supplies for you. “They’re all full and ready to go,” he says, \except that we’re completely out of rope just now. Trust the OverLord, through; He’ll take care of that if need be.”

They’re so, so fucked.

On that cheerful note, the briefing ends. The adventure continues in the AM manual, I think, so we’ll have to wait until then to find out how the lack of rope doomed the party.

That’s it for now. Tune in next time for the Light Raider Handbook. With it, you too can learn how to righteously mingle with evil.

Hail Satan!

42 Comments

  1. Socordya says:

    I’m pretty sure Jesus Christ kicking ass and taking names is theologically iffy as hell.

    Only if you read the unfun version of the bible

    the citizens of the Dragon Lands are dragon slaves.

    Do they also call themselves that?

    The only confusing part is this:

    Eternal Spirit: Unseen Counsel – Holy Spirit.
    Everlasting Spirit: The Triune God Almighty.
    High One: The Creator of the Universe; God the Maker.

    So… they’re all the same guy, right? But Overlord is Jesus here, does that mean DragonRaid universe has Holy Quartet instead of Holy Trinity? Or did Overlord become one of the three listed after his death? Maybe these are just different names for the same entity and don’t have any theological meaning.

    I read it as Overlord=Jesus/God the Son, High One=God the Father, Eternal Spirit=Holy Ghost, and together they make up the Everlasting Spirit=God itself/the Trinity.

    1. illhousen says:

      “Do they also call themselves that?”

      I’m not entirely sure, actually. The whole thing is written from Overlord’s subjects’ perspective, so they’re called dragon slaves pretty consistently throughout the text, but we don’t have many lines from them.

      It’s mentioned that they “forgot the slavery” due to the dragons’ bread and circus policy, and I think there is a quote from a dark creature calling them citizens? That’s about it.

      “I read it as Overlord=Jesus/God the Son, High One=God the Father,
      Eternal Spirit=Holy Ghost, and together they make up the Everlasting
      Spirit=God itself/the Trinity.”

      Yeah, that’s probably correct. Always tricky to figure out Primordial’s soul configuration.

  2. SpoonyViking says:

    I’m kind of disappointed the game doesn’t use 1d6 rolled three times for villains and 1d6+1 rolled three times for the PCs.

    People did fight against the dragons, they simply didn’t have the power to succeed.

    To be fair, it seems less like an issue of power and more an issue of “maybe they would have won, but they abandoned the fight for shinies”.

    I’m pretty sure Jesus Christ kicking ass and taking names is theologically iffy as hell, but, eh, it’s pretty cool.

    He does just that in the Book of Revelations, and it’s canon. I think the Harrowing of Hell is also accepted as canon, but I’m not sure.

    1. illhousen says:

      “To be fair, it seems less like an issue of power and more an issue of
      “maybe they would have won, but they abandoned the fight for shinies”.”

      That was most likely the intention, it’s just weird to me to see demons being allowed to do whatever openly rather than relying on mortal servants willingly giving them control.

      “He does just that in the Book of Revelations, and it’s canon. I think the Harrowing of Hell is also accepted as canon, but I’m not sure.”

      Yeah, but it’s his sacrifice scene here. I’m not really objecting, though, it’s a cool image.

      1. SpoonyViking says:

        Hm, good point. “He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword”, and all that. I guess the Lamb (as opposed to the Lion) wasn’t considered cool enough to inspire a fantasy counterpart?

        1. illhousen says:

          Hm, yes, but then we’re back to Jesus not kicking enough demon ass. I don’t know, maybe he gathered everyone who was willing to go, so everyone else accepted dragons’ rule out of their free will?

          1. SpoonyViking says:

            And then we would fall into real-life theological and philosophical arguments about why God lets evil exist. :-) That said, I like your idea that fantasy!Jesus only saved those who followed (although that makes him a lot less Jesus and more Moses), but if the Once Born willingly accept the rule of the dragons, the Light Raiders aren’t liberators so much as simply an enemy nation. Maybe something changed between then and now? Or maybe the Light Raiders only liberate those who are willing to go with them?

            1. illhousen says:

              It is actually mentioned that Light Raiders are often sent to liberate specific targets, though they’re also supposed to do general missionary work. They don’t kidnap people, at least, just try to persuade them to accept their faith.

              The dark creatures also appeared after the liberation, as far as I can tell, so that could be the change.

              Reply
              1. SpoonyViking says:

                Hm, I think that works, then. Would have been nice for the book to adopt and official stance, though. I guess they didn’t want to get too deep into theological discussions and implications in a role-playing game?

    2. Socordya says:

      To be fair, it seems less like an issue of power and more an issue of “maybe they would have won, but they abandoned the fight for shinies”.

      From another POV, since they get splendid material possessions and marvelous comforts, almost everything they could want and regular leisure time of great excitement in exchange of labor, you could say the dragons have become pretty decent rulers/employers. Why then, should they revolt? The people seems prosperous.
      Because God says so, I guess, but that’s not a sound basis for government.
      Because freedom, maybe, but we don’t really know what kind of governement they had before, was it democratic?

      1. SpoonyViking says:

        Again, to be fair, the text does say “[a]lthough the people were often forced into unpleasant labor[…]” (emphases mine). (Although “unpleasant” does cover a whole lot of services which aren’t necessarily dangerous and are actually necessary for the community. I know I would have to be forced, even if only by circumstances, to raise chickens, for instance.)

        But you’re right, armed revolt against what might be interpreted as just an excessive focus on materialism and consumerism wouldn’t shed a positive light on the Light Raiders.

        1. Socordya says:

          “Unpleasant”, yes but it also sounds really high reward. As for “forced”, it all depend on what exactly it’s contrasted with. If the game follows standard fantasy conventions it’s going to put monarchies everywhere anyway, so why should I care? If it’s contrasted with a free society, then okay.

          1. SpoonyViking says:

            Even within monarchies there are degrees of freedom, though. I mean, you might not have elected your ruler, but that didn’t necessarily mean you were forced to perform services for them.

        2. Farla says:

          I know I would have to be forced, even if only by circumstances, to raise chickens, for instance.

          Chickens are adorable you monster.

          1. Roarke says:

            And they mostly just take care of themselves???? My aunt used to keep chickens and it’s like, just let them out of the coop for a bit each day. Watch for cats (my aunt’s cats stalked the chickens and it was hilarious).

            1. Farla says:

              Yeah. Traditionally people didn’t even bother feeding them. The main issues with chicken keeping are just securing them from predators at night, and you could probably get away with not even doing that if you had some of the tougher breeds – they actually do pretty okay if they have room to flee. Plus they usually alert you when something’s wrong, so you don’t need to check in much.

              My chickens also attack cats.

              Reply
          2. SpoonyViking says:

            In my defense, they’re abominable undead monsters that can run around even with their freaking heads cut off! That scared the hell out of me as a child, let me tell you. :-P

            1. Farla says:

              Oh, you shouldn’t be freaked out by that! They can’t really run around with their heads cut off.

              What’s actually going on is that their brainstem is actually larger and lower down than people expect. So don’t think of it as running around with their heads cut off! Think of it as running around with the upper half of their head cut off. :)

              Reply
              1. SpoonyViking says:

                Well, I know that now! Or rather, I knew that later. It’s still creepy as hell to watch a headless chicken running around.
                I still eat them, of course. Everyone knows zombies can be destroyed with acid. :-P

      2. illhousen says:

        “Because freedom, maybe, but we don’t really know what kind of governement they had before, was it democratic?”

        I actually have no idea. I’m not even sure what form of government the Liberated Land has. Overlord seems to still be mostly dead, so he doesn’t interfere in day-to-day proceedings, but beyond that, no clue.

        What we do know about the people from before the dragons (let’s call them Neverborns since they come before Once Borns and Twice Borns) is that they “desired only things the Maker made them to desire” before the dragons came. So I think it was a sort of theocratic anarchy? Nobody was really in charge, everyone was doing God’s will on their own?

        Now, we do know that dragons did turn tyrannical the moment the world fell, it wasn’t just “God said so” that caused the first rebellion. It’s possible to interpret them giving people material goods as a genuine compromise rather than treachery, but then they also flooded the land with dark creature that spread mindfuck plague, so I don’t think you can really headcanon it into dragons being decent rulers. At best it’s a case of both sides being bad.

        1. Socordya says:

           they “desired only things the Maker made them to desire” 

          That makes it sound like he was straight up mind-controling them, but I guess that’s impossible, if only because you can’t really tempt into sin someone who’s being mind-controled.

          but then they also flooded the land with dark creature that spread mindfuck plague, so I don’t think you can really headcanon it into dragons being decent rulers. 

          awwww: (

        2. SpoonyViking says:

          But do those dark creatures and this mindfuck plague also affect the dragons’ servitors? If not, you could see it as a sovereign nation defending itself from another.

          1. illhousen says:

            The next post talks about dark creatures in detail, so the discussion should probably be saved until then. Suffice it to say, the game notes that the plagues are supposed to make dragon slaves more easy to control, and they do affect ordinary people living in the Dragon Lands.

            1. Farla says:

              Hm… But the mindfuck plagues are primarily intended to make you not listen to Malfeas Jesus, right? So are we sure they’re not anti-mindfuck plagues?

              Reply
              1. illhousen says:

                Well, most of them are genuinely bad: sadism, greed, power hunger, despair.

                Many start out OK-ish, but, left untreated, grow out of proportion. For example, orks infect you with revenge syndrome. It starts out well enough, with you simply wanting justice for wrongs done to you, but as time passes you start wanting revenge against any perceived slight, no matter how minor.

                (On the other hand, Overlord demand killing orks at sight despite fighting them being what sets the plague off, so I’m pretty sure he’s infected.)

                You can probably dial down the plagues way back and dial up Overlord’s “teachings'” effect on characters to get an approximation of what you’re talking about, but it does require some effort.

                It’s easier to go with the idea that both Overlord and the dragons are bad, just represent different extremes, and the true salvation lies in the neutral route.

              2. Farla says:

                Ah, but do we have proof the plagues really intensify? Because this is actually exactly what they claim in real life to explain how stuff that doesn’t seem bad really is bad. If we know the real life branch of Christianity just assumes that there’s a slippery slope effect going on, maybe their fictional counterparts just think that’s how it works too!

              3. illhousen says:

                It’s in the rules, so yeah, in this world the plague does progress down the slippery slope.

                The rules are pretty lax, however, and basically just require you to role-play it, so this aspect is easy to change.

                And, of course, it may be a backlash against suddenly snapped brainwashing releasing all of the bottled emotions at once.

              4. Farla says:

                Could the rules be in-universe? If we think of this as being like the Dresden Files one, where it’s an attempt to make an accurate simulation of reality (made meta by the fact that in turn is an attempt to make an allegorical simulation of reality) then the rules as laid out may have errors in them.

                I really loved the Jags Wonderland idea of laying out the rules for how to handle the magic effect correctly and having half of it wrong.

              5. illhousen says:

                Hm, well, I’ll be discussing the rules once we get there in detail, but this part is actually the most divorced of any mechanic out of them.

                Basically, getting enchanted just means you start wanting stuff in accordance with the nature of the enchantment. Getting mindfucked by a dragon means you start believing a specific thought. (Your LOVE or some other trait also goes down, which results in so much math. So much. I’m so going to rant about it for two posts straight.)

                The effects can be blocked cold by the Armor of God (some parts of it, don’t remember which) with sufficient rating for enchantments and by Buble verses for dragon’s speech.

                If the first line of defense failed, however, rescue rules apply. They, too, are very loose and basically amount to “other characters give counsel, preferably based on Bible but not necessary, AM decides whether it’s enough to break the effect.”

                So, yeah, it’s very much an attempt to produce a simplified but supposedly correct version of reality, and the errors in the model are most likely tied to either devs’ beliefs or their attempts to make the game more interesting.

              6. Mini-Farla says:

                Buble verses

              7. illhousen says:

                Yes, the apocryphal Gospel of Bubble detailing that one time Jesus went to faraway land to punch some dragons with mountains.

                (Leaving it as is.)

              8. SpoonyViking says:

                Dragons? Bubbles?
                Bubble Bobble! :-D

              9. actonthat says:

                I am 100% in favor of a game where you have to shout Buble lyrics to win.

    3. Farla says:

      He does just that in the Book of Revelations, and it’s canon.

      Eh, exactly who’s doing what in Revelations is unclear. An awful lot of it is probably not Jesus but just apocalypse shit, and some versions of Christianity that aren’t into Murder-Jesus go with the idea that God just wins and the idea of a drawn-out struggle is heretical.

      1. SpoonyViking says:

        Ah, my mistake, then, I thought it was theological consensus that it was Jesus who came down from Heaven with the seven stars, the sword coming out from the mouth, and so on and so forth.

        1. Farla says:

          Meh, it’s theological consensus that the snake was Satan and not a talking snake. Sword-tongue Jesus seems to be commonly explained as the opposite of the Left Behind idea, where the idea isn’t that his words are flaying weapons but that his weapon is his words, which are actual words that he uses for communicative purposes and not swording people to death.

          Also, the writer was of the Jewish branch of Christianity, the one that got wiped out while the gentile mutation flourished, multiplied, and generally converted the fuck out of everything it touched. So his Jesus wasn’t our Jesus.

          1. SpoonyViking says:

            Hm, it does seem to fit the whole “I’m here to save people, not rule them” imagery a lot better. To be fair, though, flaming sword-wielding Jesus fighting a six-headed dragon is very metal. :-P

            1. Farla says:

              Well, personally, and with the caveat that this was written by some guy two millennium ago who was trying to write in clever enough code only people in his own group could even understand it, I think Sword-tongue might just be straight up God, since there’s much more emphasis that Jesus goes to sit at the hand of God too than there is that Jesus gets between God and the angels such that now they’re at his right hand instead. The figure also has a name no one but he knows, which was a big Judaic thing about God himself – at the very least, the writer is imposing a lot of things about the traditional Judaic god onto this figure, who then goes on to do your typical Old-Testament murder and subjugation on everybody.

              Jesus only gets mentioned for the fact that his testimony should be believed, but who knows what the author thinks that was. So the figure is:

              Jesus, as interpreted by a dead sect that was wiped out.
              The messiah, of whom Jesus was but a prophet/sin offering for.
              Just straight up Yahweh come down to kill everyone.

              Reply
              1. SpoonyViking says:

                It’s also entirely possible the whole text was a metaphor for things that were already happening back then. Isn’t the Beast of the Apocalypse basically an allegory for Roman emperor Nero?

                I’m curious now about the Catholic Church’s official stance on the Book of Revelation. I’ll try and do some research on it.

  3. Farla says:

    It’s generally a shitty practice to tell players how their characters are supposed to feel unless it’s some kind of mind control (and even then more subtle methods are often preferable). You can’t scare someone by saying “the monster is scary,”

    You can if you do it right!

    “Your characters all nod to each other, saying they’ll do as the note says.”

    “What? No, I don’t, I say that this is obviously a trap.”

    “And yet the words that come out are, ‘Let’s set off immediately.’ Your hands are carefully folding up the note and stowing it away.”

    Only once the players get beyond the range of the demon mindfuck Jesus do they have any control over themselves, and taking any obvious action against the will of the Overlord still triggers the puppetry. They’ll have to navigate far deeper into enemy territory before they have any chance of shaking off their yoke and joining with the dragons, but if they run into too many “sins” without doing anything about them, they’re liable to alert the Overlord to what they’re doing and get puppeted back home. Hope you’re good at seeing no evil, everyone!

    1. illhousen says:

      Sure, but that’s what I meant by that being OK when mind control is involved.

      And yeah, an obviously brainwashed party seeking freedom with people they’re bound to kill is an interesting idea.

  4. hahaha says:

    Well, f this game was meant to get me away from “Satanic TTRPGs” it failed miserably. I first played it when I was 12 and it got me started on a lifetime of TTRPGs including D&D.

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