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Sgirra
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Re: Mercy of the Icons part 2

Fri 30 Oct 2020, 09:32

Yeah, I really understand that general concept, no explanation needed. ;) In this particular case, it’s all about execution. And there it really helps to have read it.
 
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Chutnik
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Re: Mercy of the Icons part 2

Fri 30 Oct 2020, 12:50

I like to "kill my darlings" so to speak. So in a not too distant dnd game they got a gnome NPC to kind of act as owner/operator of an adventuring guild for them. He would take a cut of their spoils and then get them supplies, handle behind the scenes requests and tracking down of items and find them jobs so they could get to doing the busy work of adventuring. I made him super useful and the party really enjoyed him. And the very moment they enjoyed him was the moment I knew I was going to have him killed.

I find this example rather interesting, because almost the exact same thing happens in Act 2 of the Last Cyclade. Now I believe that many groups have different relationships to their Patrons, but I think most of them see them more or less like gnome NPC in your story, a useful and friendly actor that supplies contracts and assets. In Act 2 of the Last Cyclade, the PCs are approached by several powerful and shady characters that want to take over as their new Mecenat/Patron. If the PC wish to remain with their old Patron it is suggested that he/she should quickly be removed/killed off-screen in a very short paragraph. The PCs are then to happily accept one of these new patrons and go hunt down cultists for fun and profit.

I know that my players would be ready to derail the campaign, turn down all the new shady patrons and instead go hunt down the perpetrator who kidnapped/killed their old friend. Because, as you pointed out, there is emotional attachment. It’s going to take a fair bit of rewriting to make sure that their old patron disappears in a way that won’t make the players go look for him (or turning their revenge to a useful part of the plot).

Destroying Coriolis and several of the major factions is more like nuking a large part of the setting, especially for those of you that don’t have access to the swedish Atlas of the Third Horizon-sourcebook. It more or less turns The Third Horizon into a homebrew. Some GMs enjoy that, but it seems like an odd choice for a publisher who spent the last couple of years to build content for the setting. I mean, will the rpg even be called Coriolis afterwards?
 
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Sgirra
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Re: Mercy of the Icons part 2

Fri 30 Oct 2020, 14:01

The patron twist is another bad example of “the plot demands it”. :roll: If your player don't want to do this, force them. So bad!
I mean, will the rpg even be called Coriolis afterwards?
The Emptiness above a Broken Planet is too long, eh? ;)
 
Aeoris
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Re: Mercy of the Icons part 2

Sat 31 Oct 2020, 23:56

Like some of the posters above, i'm pretty dissatisfied with the ending of MOI-2. Everything leading up to it is great, and very useable, but the finale just doesn't stick the landing for me. Will definitely be going for a PDF purchase instead of buying MOI-3 in print and PDF.

Some problems:
a. It comes across as shock for shocks sake and is internally inconsistent with established cannon. Sure, every group can tweak things as they like, but that doesn't let you off the hook for failing to capture the tone and content of an established setting.
b. It eliminates player agency and railroads the group without providing any alternatives.
d. It claims that all factions have good and bad actors…then paints the Zenethians as evil with a very broad brush.
e. Invalidates a substantial part of the Coriolis main book, and drastically narrows the promise of the setting. We go from a complex, multilayered, Horizon with a diversity of factions rife for a wide range of play styles, to a much narrower world that denudes the setting of what differentiates it from completing products. If Coriolis were defined as a closed-ended game, that would be one thing, but it's not.

Critiques aside, I really like the majority of the material presented in MOI-1 and 2, and enjoy the game overall. My take is to approach the situation something like this.

1. Group discovers that Nazarrem's sacrifice is effectively taking over the Coriolis Council.
2. Through a series of events, the group forms an alliance with members of Ahlam's Temple (Black Lotuses), Draconites, and Order of the Pariah martyr warriors who either slip onto Coriolis, or are there during the takeover. Agents of the 2nd Horizon stir up the populace to keep the Coriolis Guard distracted while they assail the Council and defeat the agents of the 1st Horizon, freeing the original Council members (or at least defeating the corrupt ones). This will be an epic fight/confrontation and appear to be the final confrontation until the Hegemony intervenes.
3. Before the Council falls, an agent of the 1st Horizon signals the Monolith and the Captain triggers his contingency plan. He orders a full-scale assault on the station from without and triggers a sleeper agent in the Cellar who leads an uprising of Cellar denizens into the levels above. Space around the station burns with conflict and vicious corridor-to-corridor fighting his had all around. The stations defense grid can hold for a time, but the Legion fleet is slowly, but surely being pushed back.
4. The Emissaries intervene by triggering full scale rebellion/riots on Kua, tying up the forces of the Monolith, but Hegemony janissaries are inflicting dizzying casualties on them. The Emissaries tell the group that they must stop the Hegemony or the Monolith and the station will be destroyed for the greater good.
5. Using information acquired earlier in the adventure, the group enlists the aid of Hegemony members captive on the station to fly down to the Monolith (the Legion fleet is waved off and the Hegemony fleet won't kill fellow Hegemony members). This can also be a serious "leaf on the wind moment," allowing for some epic flying, desperate action, etc. Play it how you like.
6. The information acquired by the group is simple. The Captain of the Hegemony bent the knee to the 1st Horizon. This flies in the face of Hegemony belief in their individual supremacy and sense of manifest destiny. The group will have to persuade the Hegemony members they team up with along with the other houses in the Monolith that the captain is no longer fit for duty, causing the other houses to rebel against the captains house. The captain will be taken out by the group and their allies (this can be pure diplomacy, sneaking in to the captains private quarters, war in the hallways, take your pic to fit play style).
7. With the captain down, the chain of command is temporarily disrupted, causing the janissary lines to falter, opening a hole for the Emissaries mystics to strike. The group rapidly realizes they have been played and were aided by the Emissary for the sole purpose of getting the mystics into striking distance. My group picked up a Portal Builder mystic bomb along the way, but I leave it open to how the group wants to handle things (let the Monolith blow, stop the mystics, etc.).
8. In my game, the mystics get mind-bombed and the conflict in orbit grinds to a halt.
9. The result is similar to where we leave off in MOI-2. Zenethian and Legion fleets are decimated in the conflict, Coriolis is badly damaged, and the Council is shattered. It is widely revealed that the 1st Horizon is not only on the way, but is already here, seeding its agents throughout the Horizon. It is also revealed that the Emissaries are false representatives of the Icons, and that their agents are also present in the Horizon, manipulating the First Come just as readily as the 1st Horizon was manipulating the Zenethians.
- The Church of the Icons receives its flood of refugees and takes its place as stronger power as it comforts the populace in the face of the revelations above.
- The Hegemony survives, but is fighting a revolution on the surface of Kua in addition to massive intra-house intrigue as the houses jocky for the position of leadership.
- The Consortium agrees to the formation of a more equitably-balanced Council and transfers the Council seat as indicated in MOI-2. It is also locked in a shadow war between the Special Branch and Nazareem's Sacrifice as NS agents sabotage or take over Consortium facilities, further draining Consortium resources.
- Nomad fleets unite, with some taking over portal stations (but quickly find themselves in a Lawrence of Arabia situation where they lack the resources/technical acumen to hold and administer them properly. Diplomacy will return them to the Consortium, but the players may be part of this).
- Beyond that, things play out basically the same.

The main difference is that the players have much more agency and work with many more of the factions. They get to unite with Draconites, Ahlam's Temple, and Zalosian agents on Coriolis, giving those factions air time, employ the Hegemony's delectable treachery to defeat the Captain, and can work with the Consortium/First Come to help prepare the Horizon on the back end. Things get dark, potentially very dark, in certain corners of the Horizon as 1st and 2nd Horizon agents work to undermine the 3rd Horizon in it's bid to remain free of their games.

The above are just some hardpoints, but I think an approach similar to this can help preserve what makes the game unique, without sacrificing the greater arc of MOI-1 and 2.

Just my two cents. Love the game overall and look forward to playing more of it in the future. As mentioned above, I love the majority of the MOI-1 and 2 material, just think the final beat needs a little tweaking.
 
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Sgirra
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Re: Mercy of the Icons part 2

Sun 01 Nov 2020, 14:42

Very nice ideas, Aeorus, thank you for sharing! I’m pretty sure I will borrow some of them down the road if we don't decide to skip the campaign.
 
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jerichojeudy
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Re: Mercy of the Icons part 2

Wed 04 Nov 2020, 17:21

I agree that the ending is very audacious and controversial.
I would have preferred more player agency until the end, and some input as to how things might develop otherwise.

This said, the destruction happens at the very end of the book, which isn't the middle of the campaign. It's the second major plot twist that leads into the climax.
Also, no faction is destroyed completely. The Consortium has bases all over, and the Hegemony, while the worst for wear, probably has major figures that escaped the destruction, as well as bases around the horizon. The Zenithians aren't done for, they are crippled and diminished and traumatized but still able to plot and scheme a comeback of sorts. (Especially with the FH helping...)
Also, remember that the only bad guys here are the leaders and schemers, not the general populace!


At my table, I have a group that is heavily into exploring the Predecessor ruins and understanding the mysteries of the Horizon. The fact that the Monoliths are Darkness destroyers (like electric grounds of sorts) will come as a major reveal for my players. And I will definitely plant clues as to what the monoliths do long before this part of the campaign. They are presently in Dabaran and will probably find ruins in the Wound that reveal that there was a monolith here too, but that it crumbled a long time ago in a catastrophic event of energy.

So when the Children of the song start mysteriously gathering, they might know where this is going... They will get to try to stop the worst from happening, they will get to warn people and tell them to flee, but if they do succeed at saving Coriolis, it will be at the cost of at least one of their lives. They will need to be in the Monolith to stop the ritual halfway... And the energy there will kill them.
Techies could also try to move Coriolis out of the trajectory of the Monolith... We'll see what happens!

And when we get there, I'll totally tell my players, metagame style, that this adventure is built for ANY outcome, even the most catastrophic. There is no plot armour, only your wits, your bravery, and the fate of the 3rd Horizon you know at stake.
 
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Chutnik
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Re: Mercy of the Icons part 2

Fri 06 Nov 2020, 13:46

I agree that the ending is very audacious and controversial.
I would have preferred more player agency until the end, and some input as to how things might develop otherwise.

This said, the destruction happens at the very end of the book, which isn't the middle of the campaign. It's the second major plot twist that leads into the climax.

This might be the language barrier, but isnt the Campaign-arc the whole of Mercy of the Icons? Making The last Cyclade the middle part?

Otherwise I share your sentiment. My current gameplan is to allow the players to be able to save the station. If they succeed, the blast of the Monolith will heavily damage Coriolis, primarly the spire, as it is closest to the Monolith. What is left will become a refugeestation for all the people fleeing from Kua. Might even move the Coriolisstation away to a orbit around Surha as people fear a new blast. It will lose much of the fancy upper levels and many of its upper class citizens will have died, but the station in general survives. It will be crowded, poorer, colder, and worse for wear, as rebuilding slowly starts. The political scale is shifted and the council can still flee to Djachorum.

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