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Main Gauche supplement for Zweihänder, a read-through 
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Post Main Gauche supplement for Zweihänder, a read-through

Hello, all. In a previous thread, I did a read-through of The Zweihander Grim & Perilous RPG Revised Core Rulebook. It was quite the undertaking. Clocking in at nearly 700 pages, that book had a Players' Guide, GM's Guide, and Bestiary all rolled into one comprehensive package. Seriously, you could game for ages with the material in that book alone.

But what if I told you that there was material that had been left out of the core rulebook? Well, there was. I have heard interviews with the game's author and lead designer, Daniel Fox, wherein he stated that he had to leave some material out, lest the book's weight (and its price) become unmanageable. Some of this material has been published as "Dark Astral", a sort of rough set of conversion notes for using Zweihander (which initially sprang from WFRP2e house rules) to play games set in a "Grimdark" future. But, as it turns out, there was more. Much more.

Which brings us to Main Gauche. Weighing in at just over half the page count of its predecessor, this new supplement is nevertheless a heavyweight in its own right. It's packed full of new professions and rules to enhance your Zweihander game. I have seen it described as a "Chaos Supplement". Intruiging! Let's take a look at it, shall we?


As with the Revised Core Rulebook, Main Gauche is a beautiful book. It has many of the same qualities that made Zweihander such an impressive physical product. The same matte finish, which gives it a somewhat "understated" look. Well, as much as that's possible, given the cover (more on that in a bit). Thick, glossy pages. Lay flat binding that allows Main Gauche to be used effortlessly in play. Excellent illustrations by Dejan Mandic throughout, including on the border of every page. As with the corebook, Main Gauche has a cohesive feel. The art is plentiful, very well done, and, unlike some other games, not in garish color. No, these are in a distinctive black and white, that has a very nostalgic feel for old farts like me. It has that "almost underground comix" vibe that I loved so much about early RPG art. It sets quite the mood.

And while I had described the cover of the core book as not being very dynamic, the cover of Main Gauche is Dynamic with a capital D. By Ken Duquet and Dejan Mandic, it is a harrowing scene of adventurers (cleverly depicted as Characters of Professions listed in this very book) engaged in battle with what appear to be the very forces of Chaos. There is blood. There is Fire. There are Demons.

The endsheets are a darkish grey, and there is a greyish brown ribbon sewn into the binding to use as a bookmark.

Another minor complaint I had about the core book was that the printing in some of the tables was a tad small to be read comfortably by me (though, again, I am old). That is the case here, as well. Again, this is only something that comes up in the various tables, and in the Table of Contents.

Overall, I cannot find fault with the physical presentation of this book. Now, let's crack it open!

After the Table of Contents, there is an introductory bit of fiction featuring ex-convict, soldier and survivor Danziger Eckhardt, who also introduced us to the core book. And as grim as that into was, this one is even bleaker. I won't spoil it, but I will say it doesn't make ol' Danziger a very sympathetic character. Brrr!

Next there is a note from the designer, which tells us a bit about what has happened since Zweihander's official release in 2017. He then goes on to explain that Main Gauche is a mix of new material, and stuff that was left out of Zweihander's core book. Fox explains that what is in this new book has been thoroughly tested, and crafted to adhere to Zweihander's "bounded accuracy" model of game design, as well as its aesthetics and "feel". One thing I like about Zweihander is that many of the optional rules can be bolted on or stripped away with ease and without disrupting the flow of the game, so I welcomed the news that any systems contained within these pages would have the same modularity.

Then, we get a breakdown of what we will find in Main Gauche, to wit:

-Liber Mortalum (Book of Mortals) new Professions, and lots of 'em.

-Liber Armorum (Book of Weapons) 65 new pieces of armor, armament and shields, plus new materials with which to craft them, And, more WAR MACHINES!

-Liber Vehiculorum (Book of Vehicles) expands upon existing vehicles, but also adds fantastic machines, powered by Wytchstone, that drive or fly. Also includes rules for vehicular combat.

-Liber Alchemiae (Book of Alchemy) how to make stuff into other, cooler stuff. New Diseases, Disorders and Treatments. Also, fun with Wytchstone ("Wytch-Science", a practice of the Skrzzak)!

-Liber Daemonum (Book of Demons) how to contact and control be killed by Demons.

-Liber Umbrarum (Book of Shadows) Covenant Magick, a new path for those wishing to get new and exciting spells from Demonic patrons. Just remember, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

-Liber Malus (Book of Evil) rules for creating your own creatures and NPCs.

-Liber Obscurus (Book of Mysteries) jinkies! Rules for running investigations and conspiracies.

-There's Something About Marie, a full-length adventure that can be used as a follow-up to "A Bitter Harvest", from the core book.

-Appendix expanded tables which fold new material into the material from the Main Rules.

That's what we're going to see in Main Gauche, and I will be going through it, Chapter by Chapter. I hope you'll stick around.

I have noticed a couple of minor typos in the first 15 or so pages. My only real complaint with the main book was the editing, and I really hope that's not a running theme with this one.

Overall, though, I'm pretty excited to check this out. But, I have yardwork to do tomorrow, so I gotta go for now. Watch this space, because next up is


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Sun Sep 29, 2019 5:14 pm
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Post Re: Main Gauche supplement for Zweihänder, a read-through

The Zweihander core book had nearly 120 Professions. In Zweihander, your Character will have a randomly rolled Archetype (a sort of broad class, e.g., Academic, Warrior, Socialite, etc.), and then, from within that Archetype, a Profession will also be randomly rolled. There are also Expert Professions, which are not randomly selected, but can be chosen provided the Character meets certain criteria (for a more detailed explanation of all of this, see my Zweihander read-through, linked in the OP).

The core book had 72 regular Professions, and 46 Expert Professions. Main Gauche has 18 new regular professions, and 50(!) new Expert Professions. The new regular Professions have been folded into expanded Archetype tables, making character creation flow seamlessly even when using material from this new supplement.

The new professions are presented in the same format as those from the core book (NAME, PROFESSIONAL TRAIT, SPECIAL TRAIT if applicable, DRAWBACK if applicable, ADVANCES needed to advance to the next Tier). Traits, for those who don't know or remember, are special abilities unique to certain Professions or Ancestries (again see previous read-through for more details).

None of the new regular Professions seem to have access to Magick, but some of the Expert Professions have limited acess to Magick, or the use of Magick-like Traits. In addition, 12 of these Expert Professions have access to Covenant Magick. Covenant Magick is a new tradition, and sort of a melding of Arcane and Divine Magick from the core book. It will also cost you your soul. More on that in Chapter 6.

These new Professions showcase a broad range of character types. Some of them have analogs to WFRP's Careers, and some are unique to Zweihander. Cleverly, some of them are multi-faceted. Like the "Blitzballer" (a nod to Warhammer Fantasy spinoff board game Blood Bowl). When you roll a Blitzballer, you choose one of six roles (blitzer, blocker, catcher, lineman, runner or thrower), each with a unique Trait. Similarly, the Expert Profession, Fanatic, requires the Player to select a "sect".

The overall selection of new Professions varies fromsome that might at first glance seem pedestrian, like, say, the Pamphleteer or the Quartermaster, to those that are instantly engaging, such as the Reaver or the Armiger (basically a walking tank). As I stated in the OP, each Profession adheres to Zweihander's "bounded accuracy" model.

Zweihander's trademark humor is on display, in such Expert Professions as the Grognard, or Traits such as Wyrd Science.

Each Profession gets its own illustration, and the characters here are diverse in race, gender and even body type, as in the core rulebook.

After describing each of the Professions in detail, Chapter 1 closes with four pages of tables, listing all of the Expert Professions from both the Zweihander corebook and Main Gauche. They are all listed alphabetically, with entries for Qualifying Tier (minimum Tier of advancement needed to choose that Expert Profession), Skill Requirements (Expert Professions have Skill prerequisites), and, where applicable, Other Requirements. As I stated before, regular Professions are not chosen randomly, so these aren't "tables" as such. What they are is a very handy, at-a-glance listing of all Expert Professions, that will save you and your players much page-flipping, and make comparing (and, by extension, choosing) these Professions much easier. It's a neat tool to have, and one that doesn't appear in the core rulebook. This is a great way to painlessly meld these new professions with the existing rules.

Chapter 1 is the longest Chapter in the book. Bursting with new options for Players, it adds a lot, without adding any appreciable weight, or game-breaking balance issues.

That's all for tonight, I'll be back soon with...


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Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:07 pm
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Post Re: Main Gauche supplement for Zweihänder, a read-through

Chapter 2 is an expansion on the ideas contained in the core book's 7th Chapter, "Trappings". It isn't very long, 18 pages actually. But, unsurprisingly, it's packed to the gills.

It begins with "Settlements & Availability", which describes the three basic types (and sizes) of settlements to be found in the game world. It also details the various economic and commercial nuances of each (in ascending order of size- Village, Town, City). The book goes into the inter-dependencies of each settlement type with the others, usual distances apart (given in days of foot travel), how their size and remoteness affects the availability and pricing of goods, which social classes are most prevalent, and how they are usually governed.

I like this section very much, for two reasons. One, it's very useful, and one can easily see its utility in play. I know Zweihander has "no established setting", but touches like this make it easier to function without one. At this point, all you need are a name and some NPCs. Maybe some details about what this village produces (Fish? Pumpkins?), or who the local Burgomaster is. Sure, you could come up with all of this on your own, but it's nice to have all of the heavy lifting done for you. Another tool in the kit.

The second thing I like about this section is that it's very straightforward. Linear, not too wordy, but still descriptive enough. Stuff like this represents a definite improvement over the sometimes jumbled and overwritten core book.

Next up, we have "New Materials In Craftsmanship", which lists eight materials from which armor and weapons can be crafted. This is a new concept. Most of these materials are considered non-traditional, so, "off the rack" weapons will not have these qualities or materials as a matter of course. The book tells us that the Standard Pricing in the core rules assumes construction of Iron. However, the new materials include, but are not limited to, Cold Iron (effective against certain Magickal creatures as if Anointed), Ironwood (an unnaturally strong wood that increases the range of arrows and such), Meteoric Iron (armor and weapons crafted from this are more effective), and Mithril (ancient Elven secret, fused to mail, making it light and strong). Some of these materials have drawbacks as well, either in terms of cost (as much as 9 times Standard Pricing in some cases) or fragility. So, unlike a lot of supplements, Main Gauche preserves balance and avoids power creep (looking at you, High Guard).

There is also a nifty formula for translating a Character's weight to Encumbrance points, just in case your Half-Ogre and Dwarf want to use the ol' "Fastball Special" on an opponent.

Next, we get "New Weapons" -bit of an understatement, this. 60 new weapons in all. That's more than in the core book! Did you enjoy the page in the AD&D Player's Handbook with the picture of all the weapons? Well, then, you're gonna be an orgasmic mess when you see this shit. Every weapon is illustrated. It looks like there are also a few old faves from the aforementioned Player's Handbook, and, if I'm not mistaken, Tunnels & Trolls as well (here's a little nostalgia for the old folks)

As in the core book, the weapons are grouped by type: Martial Melee, Simple Melee, Martial Ranged and Simple Ranged. Each is described according to the same format as the corebook (Name, Skill, Load, Handling, Distance, Qualities, Type, Alt. Damage, Encumbrance Value and Price). There are tables for each type of weapon. The "Alt. Damage" listing is a nice touch. You may remember that Basic Damage in Zweihander is 1 exploding d6 (referred to as the Fury Die) + Combat Bonus (or another Attribute Bonus, depending on Traits or Weapon Qualities), modified by Traits /Weapon Qualities, etc. Alternate Damage is similar, but instead of defaulting to Combat Bonus it references Combat Bonus, Agility Bonus, or Brawn Bonus depending on Weapon, then adds or subtracts a fixed amount. It's optional, but it can help to distinguish the weapons from each other a bit more. In the main book, the Alternative Damage was in a separate Chapter from the main weapon lists. Here, it's all together. I like that better. However, it would have been nice to have the weapons from the Zweihander core book rolled into these tables as well. I get that it would have made these big tables downright MASSIVE, but given the way the Professions from both books were melded in Main Gauche, and how cool that was, it seems to me to be a bit of a missed opportunity. To be totally fair, my group doesn't use Alternative Damage, but still.

In addition to new Weapons, there are new Weapon Qualities. Remember, Qualities are properties that change how a Weapon operates, deals Damage, etc. Some Qualities bestow a benefit, and some are a drawback, and since a Weapon can have more than one Quality, the combinations make each weapon distinct. There are 9 new Qualities here, and they nicely expand the options and effects available in Combat.

Like Weapons, Armor and Shields have Qualities. In fact, there are new Types and Qualities for both. There are optional rules in Zweihander for Piecemeal Armor, and, as with Weapons, those have been folded into the new item tables rather than kept separate.

War Machines, which include large field Weapons such as Cannons and Bolt Throwers, are greatly expanded upon here, with 6 new Types and 6 new Qualities.

Overall, Chapter 2 is a roaring success. It's a concise, yet comprehensive set of tools that can be used to add variety and distinction to the Weapons in your Zweihander game. Two thumbs way up for this Chapter!

That's it for now, be seeing you.

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Wed Oct 02, 2019 3:43 am
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Post Re: Main Gauche supplement for Zweihänder, a read-through
One thing I think I should have mentioned in my last post... one of the new Weapom Qualities in "Wytchfire". Wytchfire can be made from Wytchstone essence. And while this was touched on in the main rulebook, including the possibility of using it for weapoms, the idea is explored in much greater detail here, as Main Gauche has a much greater focus on and explanation of Wytch-Science. In the core rules, it states that Wytchfire can be used to make "Pyreshot", which basically adds the "Immolate" Quality to any Weapon with The Gunpowder Quality that it is fired out of. This was one of several uses for Wytchstone in Zweihander's tenth Chapter. In Main Gauche, however, "Wytchfire" is a Weapon Quality. It is still similar in effect to Immolate, except now, it inflicts 3 Corruption on any unlucky victim who falls prey to its fiery onslaught. Though it isn't mentioned in Main Gauche, I would retroactively apply this Quality to Pyreshot. But, that's just me. It may not matter, though. You see, you cannot buy Wytchfire Weapons. You must buy then, craft them, or pry them from your enemies' cold, dead hands.

I also want to state again my enthusiasm for the expanded Weapon, Armor and Shield lists. If you were missing ring mail, scale mail, or lantern shields, you will find them all here.

But, mainly, I wanted to make sure to highlight the expanded selection of Wytchfire Weapons.

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Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:34 pm
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Post Re: Main Gauche supplement for Zweihänder, a read-through

The third chapter of Main Gauche is all about Vehicles, both mechanical and animal. Now, both of these things were touched upon very briefly in the main book. But only in Price Lists and in the Chase Rules. And, while both of these are useful pieces of information to have, they definitely didn't paint a complete picture of what these various forms of conveyance really mean in the game. Well, that's been rectified here. As with the previous chapter, this one is short (22 pages), but seemingly bigger on the inside.

Chapter 3 begins with "Fantastic Machines", which explains that, as with weapons, strange and dangerous Wytchstone concoctions can be used to create amazing and even fearsome methods of travel, and/or mayhem. Each Fantastic Machine is powered by an "Arkwright Cauldron", or engine, which is in turn powered by "Bottled Lightning". Again, the awesome power of this potent fuel is kept manageable by its high cost and difficult fabrication. But rules are given for doing just that, for those brave or insane enough to play about with Wytchstone.

There is a sidebar on Crafting Fantastic Machines, which refers the reader to the Crafting rules in Chapter 7 of the core book. There are, however, several listed (and statted), for instant in-game use, should your GM allow it. Some of these machines have mighty abilities, and some might push your game into an almost Steampunk (Wytchpunk?) territory. At first, some of these seem almost at odds with the grim n' gritty, humanocentric default of the game. That's not to say they aren't cool, because they are. But I can't see them fitting every campaign. But, like so many things in Zweihander, they are an option you may use to enhance your game or not, depending on your taste.

The actual Fantastic Machines themselves are quite diverse, ranging from the Difference Engine (large, primitive computer), to the Haldavinson (think monstrous American motorcycle), to the Kugelpanzer (nightmarish monowheel of death). Other uses include Torchlamps (a sort of gaslight), and Zeppelins. As might be expected, some of these machines may be quite dangerous to operate. Not only due to the volatile Wytchstone-derived Bottled Lightning, but due to the uncertain results of a mechanical science in its very infancy. Your Character may achieve glory, be immolated, even suffer permanent and grotesque effects due to exposure to Wytchstone's inherent corrupting influence. But it isn't all corrupting influence and unstable rolling deathtraps. No, Main Gauche also has greatly expanded rules for Steeds and more conventional vehicles, such as chariots, carriages and coaches. There are 6 Vehicles and 8 types of mount (War Elephants and Donkeys are included next to several varieties of horse). As with Fantastic Machines, Vehicles are illustrated and described.

As with Weapons, Fantastic Machines and Vehicles have Qualities. These Qualities come into play during Vehicle Combat. As with Weapons, vehicles will have combinations of Qualities that give each a unique character. Some Qualities confer a benefit, and others a limitation or drawback.

Vehicles and Fantastic Machines are then presented on a table, according to the following format:


Drivers the number of persons required to operate said Vehicle

Passengers how many it can carry apart from its crew

Operate Check which Skill is referenced when trying to operate it


Movement this is the Vehicle's base Movement , which will be modified by operator Skill

Size Modifier this stat serves two purposes: calculating the Vehicle Threshold (like a Character's Damage Track, but for Vehicles), and determining how much Damage the Vehicle inflicts when it hits/runs over something (or someone)

Horsepower the number of Horses needed to pull a non-Arkwright Cauldron-powered Vehicle


Then, each of the 6 horse-drawn Vehicles are described (with an illustration), as the Fantastic Machines were previously. Aside from one Fantastic Machine, The Juggernaut Frigate, no watercraft are detailed, and it is stated that rules for such will be appearing in a later book.

Next, there is a very helpful, but oddly placed pair of charts which gives the amount of weight that can be lifted overhead by a Character, depending on their Brawn Boonus and Ancestry. This weight is given in both pounds and Encumbrance points, which is very cool. I mean, it's gonna come up at some point. Accompanying these charts is a sidebar explaining how to use these numbers to also calculate your Character's maximum push/pull weight. Like I said, this is very cool, but why not put it next to the "how much does my character weigh" sidebar, in Trappings? It's not a really big deal, at all, and so far Main Gauche doesn't seem to suffer from nearly as many editing problems as the corebook. A minor point of contention, at best.

Descriptions of the various Steeds and their Encumbrance limits are next, followed by a chart in which each mount is listed (from the fast, sturdy Destrier, to the slower but serviceable Rouncey Horse), along with their Movement, Size Modifier, Encumbrance Limit, and Price. These animals, it should be noted, do not have Qualities.

Now, it's on to Vehicle Combat!

Firstly, we're told that Vehicle Combat is intended to be utilized during encounters that use Structured Time, e.g., Combat. An "Operate Check", used when driving/piloting a Vehicle, is used during times of stress, following the same rules as most other Skill Checks. Opposed Tests may also be used, when there may be some type of competing action.

Passengers in or on Vehicles usually have their full amount of Action Points during Combat. Most Vehicles in Main Gauche do not require considerations of Movement around the Vehicle, though there may be exceptions to this, at the GM's discretion.

Those crewing a Vehicle will usually not be able to use normal Combat Actions while doing so, unless the GM allows it.They cann, however, take advantage of a whole host of Vehicle Combat Actions.

Vehicle Combat follows much the same formula as regular Combat, and Actions are divided into Movement Actions, Attack Actions, Perilous Stunts, Special Actions and Reactions. As with regular Combat, both Attack Actions and Perilous Stunts may each only be performed by a character once per turn. In addition, Vehicle Combat uses the same Initiative Ladder as man-to-man combat.

Vehicle Combat uses the following procedure:

Step 1: Positioning - Determine whether the Vehicles are Engaged (Zweihander's term for face-to-face, or close enough to count). Furthermore, you must determine whether each Vehicle is Behind, Beside or In Front Of the other. These determinations are important, as they will decide whether attacks or certain maneuvers can be used or performed.

Step 2: Make the Attack. Collide is the only real Attack Action that a Vehicle can Perform, though there are Perilous Stunts that can be used. Cpmbat in Zweihander gives each Character 3 Action Points, and any that remain unused at the start of your next turn are lost. I like "Action Pool" combat mechanics such as this one, as they tend to do two things: act as a sort of "equalizer", in which everyone basically has the same resources (though there are exceptions, natch): and cause players to think somewhat strategically with regard to the management of that resource. Looking at Vehicle Combat, it seems that a large part of it is using the various actions to best position yourself to attack. It's not too different at all from regular Zweihander Combat, but it has a neat internal logic when it comes to vehicles.

...I had hoped to finish this Chapter tonight, but it's just not in the cards.


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Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:54 am
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Post Re: Main Gauche supplement for Zweihänder, a read-through

Okay, so, looking up, we see that I was partway through explaining the procedure for Vehicle Combat. I was in the midst of discussing Step 2: Make The Attack. I just explained the rules for one kind of Attack, a Vehicle-To-Vehicle Strike. That is, an Attack on one Vehicle, using the Attacker's Vehicle as the Weapon. There is really only one Attack Action, Collide, which is performed by making and Operate Check. The GM will determine the Difficulty Rating, as usual.

In addition, passengers may Attack using Ranged or Melee Weapons. There are some restrictions, of course. The Attacker, if not using a Ranged Weapon, will need a Weapon with the Reach Quality. And if the horse (a Dray Horse is needed to do this) pulling a conveyance starts to Bleed or is Injured, the Vehicle may suffer a Crash. Horses bleed just like Characters, that is to say, to death if not treated. And let's just say that one dead horse on your team can make for a really bad day, especially during a Chase or Vehicle Combat.

Ranged Weapons can be used, provided the Attacker can see outside the Vehicle.

Step 3: Other Vehicle Evades - is Successful, e.g., not Ecaded, it's time to roll Damage. Drivers/Pilots can "Jink", a maneuver designed to evade damage, equivalent to a "Dodge" in personal Combat. A Vehicle's Size, along with other factors, will be used to determine the Difficulty Level of such an Action.

One neat detail: Passengers who successfully deal a Melee blow will inflict additional Damage relative to the speed of the Vehicle in which they are riding. This has a cool internal logic, and isn't complex (extra Fury Die).

Step 4: Roll Damage - If the Attack is successful, it's time to figure out how much Damage the other Vehicle takes. Vehicles that Collide with other VEhicles inflict Damage according to the following formula: Vehicle Size Modifier+1d10 Momentum Die. The number generated is compared to the other Vehicle's Vehicle Threshold. This is like Damage Threshold, in that it is a track. Its value is determined by adding to the Vehicle Size Modifier an amount determined by the Driver/Pilot's Perception Bonus. [PB] 1 to 6 adds 1, [PB] 7 to 12 adds 2, and [PB] 13 or greater adds 3.

Sep 5: Determine Vehicle Condition - As with the Character Damage Threshold, the Vehicle Threshold is extrapolated to +6/+12/+18, to form a 6-step track, just like the Peril and Damage Condition Tracks used elsewhere. And, as with Damage, when Vehicles reach the Moderately Smashed step, they can begin to suffer Mishaps, the likelihood and number of which can increase as the Vehicle takes more Damage and moves further down the Track. Mishaps are like injuries for Vehicles, and are determined in the same way, by rolling Chaos Dice. On a face 6, a Vehicle that has suffered a Mishap will roll on the appropriate table (Moderate, Serious, Grievous), to determine what unfortunate thing has befallen it. Each table has 12 Mishaps, ranging from near-harmless, to worrisome, to downright crippling or even fatal. As with Injuries suffered by Characters, a Fate Point can be expended to ignore a single Mishap.,

(QUICK SIDEBAR: i failed to note earlier, when discussing Vehicle Position and its importance to Vehicle Combat, that Position can be changed by means of a successful Operate Check)

Next, there is an explanation of how to Repair Vehicles, the skills, time and material involved, as well as Difficulty Levels based on Vehicle Condition.

There is a paragraph on the Healing of Injured Dray Horses. I hope you have plenty of bandages!

Chapter 3 closes with some quick rules for using Steeds in place of Vehicles, and how it is different.

Chapter 3 is really nice. It's beautifully illustrated, has a lot of useful info, and introduces some neat subsystems that run off of the same basic framework, rather than being fiddly mini-games. It's concise and well-written. Overall, I'd say my only compaints would be 1 or 2 very minor typos, and the introduction of new terms such as Momentum Dice and Vehicle Threshold, when Fury Dice and Damage Threshold already have an established meaning for pretty much the same thing. I get that it adds a bit of flavor and distinction, but I question whether it was necessary. I can see many just using the already established terms, as my group probably would. But, really, I must admit, that's nit-picking. It's a great chapter of new options that are easily bolted to your existing game. Well done.

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Sun Oct 06, 2019 3:29 am
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Post Re: Main Gauche supplement for Zweihänder, a read-through

At long last, I have made time to write up Main Gauche's fourth Chapter. This one is all about how you can achieve corruption, disfigurement and death better living through chemistry! Or Wytch-science, take your pick.

This chapter expands upon ideas from the Zweihander core book, namely Materia Medica from Chapter 9, Hazards & Healing, and Wytchstone in Chapter 10, The Grimoire.

Firstly, there is a brief passage that details how one goes about making Aetheric Fluid. This is used to animate and heal Golems. Further details on the creation of Golems will be given later in the book, we are told. As with the core book's 9th Chapter, there are instructions for what materials, amount of time, and Skill Test are required to create the Aetheric Fluid. Also listed are the results of success and failure when it is attempted.

Next up, we have a section called "DECOCTIONS & PRIMA MATERIA". This part explains that the five "classical elements" are for plebs, and that those of keener intelligence see in all things (animal, mineral, vegetable, or worse) materials which contain potent and valuable ingredients. In the right hands, these ingredients can be used to brew "Decoctions", powerful potions that will temporarily boost one of a Character's Attributes by 9%.

In order to begin, the Character must hunt, harvest or buy (this latter option being prohibitively expensive in most cases) the Prima Materia. There is a chart that lists the various Decoctions (one for each Attribute, remember), the Prima Materia required (Plant, Mineral or Creature - each decoction will require one or more of each. Furthermore, Prima Materia can have different degrees of rarity, kind of like Magic cards. Harvesting (or hunting) these ingredients will require a Survival Test...

-Abundant: (Challenging -10% Survival Test)

-Uncommon: (Hard -20% Survival Test)

-Exotic: (Arduous -30% Survival Test)

...and, as with other endeavours, each degree of rarity will require a longer amount of time to find (measured in hours). There are also benefits for success (Critical Success reduces time needed to find) and penalties for failure (no Prima Materia, and Critical causes Peril).

Then, the Alchemist can brew the Decoction. Again, materials, time and a Successful Test are all needed. The stronger the Decoction (and stronger... lasts longer), the higher the Difficulty Rating.

Assuming that all has gone well up to this point, the brew is ready for "Quaffing". In addition to having one's Attribute temporarily increased, he player doing the Quaffing must make a Successful Toughness Test, or suffer Peril. The stronger the Decoction, the more Peril you will face.

After this, there is a full-page sidebar about how to play Dice Poker. Now, this seems at first like another oddly placed sidebar. But, I'm starting to think this is intentional, rather than haphazard. And, because of this, I'm starting to like it quite a bit. I know that Main Gauche is largely made up of bits that were excised from the core rulebook for reasons of liability (y'know, due to people dropping 12.5-poun books on their toe), er, space I mean. So, it makes sense that some of this stuff wouldn't need its own chapter, but is still worthy of inclusion. I can get behind that, and it's actually a neat way to include them. So, I'm gonna walk back my comments about previous sidebars here.

As for the actual Dice Poker rules themselves, the book says that it's from The Witcher 2 video game. Each character playing will need 5d6. There are 9 "hands", listed from best to worst. A "play area" is selected, representing a table(a piece of paper or lid to a box, etc.) and any dice that land or fall out of this area after being rolled are not counted. This can be countered, that is to say, such "fallen" dice can be recovered by means of a successful Gamble Test. Characters first bid(and/or raise), then roll. They look at their hands, raise stakes if desired, and then may each re-roll from one to four dice. After the re-rolls, if any, highest hand wins. That's the gist, anyway. At first blush, this system is... OK. I can definitely see it being a nice change of pace. But one thing I don't like about it is that it doesn't really seem to take the Characters' Skill into account. You can use Skullduggery or Gambling, but only to "cheat" in various ways (failure brings n Peril and the potential of being found out). So, outside of using a Gamble test (and all repeated Tests made while playing get progressively harder) to recover a die that has landed outside of the play area, it seems that a Character who doesn't cheat is at a distinct disadvantage, and two characters who don't cheat are evenly matched, even if one has two Skill Ranks in Gamble, and the other has none, plus a low Attribute score to boot!

So, I'm of two minds about the section on Dice Poker. Obviously, some thought went into it, which is cool. And it is a functional game that helps to take in-game Gambling from the purely abstract and into the practical. But I'm not a fan of its total randomness, when Gamble is a Skill in the game. I'll still try it, because if my players end up getting a kick out of it, that'd be great. But I'd love to see Skill play a bigger part outside of cheating.

Well, I'm sorry I made y'all wait so long, and I'm even sorrier that I'm not gonna get to far tonight. There's a fair bit more of Chapter 4 to go (most of it, really), and in true Zweihander style, it's jam-packed. I'll keep plugging away at it, and hopefully with fewer(and shorter) gaps between posts.


It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes.

Wed Oct 16, 2019 3:51 am
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Post Re: Main Gauche supplement for Zweihänder, a read-through
Having slept on this, I feel I also need to walk back my somewhat minor issues with the Dice Poker mechanic (I sure am getting my exercise walking stuff back).

I have a player who is very literal. He sometimes has difficulties with abstraction in RPG rules. I think I'm doing the opposite here. I'm looking at Dice Poker as if it's meant to be kind of a general purpose gambling mechanic, when really, it's meant to be a certain, specific and fairly random game. So, the idea that Skills only really come into play when cheating makes absolute sense.

In short, on reflection, I feel that I misunderstood the intent of Dice Poker, and, having given it further consideration, I must say I rather like it.

More coming soon!

It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes.

Wed Oct 16, 2019 5:44 pm
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Post Re: Main Gauche supplement for Zweihänder, a read-through

So, where was I? Oh, yeah, I was getting into the different ways in which Characters can make stuff into other, cooler, yet possibly probably more dangerous stuff. We have only touched on a couple so far, Aetheric Fluid and Decoctions. But there's more, so much more...

For example, Mutagenic Potions (maybe it's just me, but a lot of what's available for ingestion in Zweihander just doesn't sound like something I would put in my mouth...). This Potion must be Quaffed by any who aspire to be "Hexers" (one of the new Expert Professions in Main Gauche). This particular potion is quite difficult to prepare, and it's ingestion will lead to the character becoming a Hexer, going insane, or even being Slain! This last part is somewhat unclear, however. Even though death as a possible outcome is mentioned in both the description of the Hexer Profession, and this section, it doesn't really say how it is determined whether the imbibing character dies. Perhaps it will be detailed later in the book. [UPDATE: ACCORDING TO THE FINE FOLKS ON THE GRIM & PERILOUS STUDIOS DISCORD, CRITICAL FAILURE OF YOUR POST-QUAFF RESOLVE TEST MEANS YOU ARE DEAD]

Next we get the rules for making Void Salts, an alchemical compound you are definitely going to need for making many of the concoctions contained in this book. These are made using Royal Water and Wytchstone Essence (detailed in this book and the core book, respectively), and follow the same formula as the other alchemical pursuits in the game.

The next section of Chapter 4 delves deeply into the practice of Wytch-science. This part is kind of a two-fer, as we get a whole host of potent, deadly and corrupting weapons and tools, while at the same time getting a bit more detail on the Srzzak, Zweihänder's analog to WFRP's iconic Skaven.

As a sidebar of my own, I wanted to say that I think the "lack of implied setting" has the benefit of allowing players like me, who have little direct experience with WFRP, to enjoy a Grim & Perilous game without having to absorb a ton of lore, or feel alienated by those who already have done so. And, as I have begun to do a bit of research into Zweihänder's progenitor, it feels familiar and welcoming, rather than being a large and imposing body of established work.

But, enough of my musings. Let's talk about ratfolk! The Skrzzak are an ever-present threat, living beneath all human populations of any real significance. They are an advanced and varied if evil and disgusting race. And, while the Zweihänder core rulebook gave us a lot of background on these creatures, there is more here with which to flesh out their tactics and practices, making it easy to use them as a definitive villain in your own campaigns, if you wish.

Wytch-science: a mixture of mad alchemy, drug use and Daemonic influence (kind of like my 80s high school days- ask your dad). It is largely powered by Wytchstone Essence, a powerful substance that can be smoked, snorted or injected to achieve monstrous, euphoric effects, and can also be used to make insidious and deadly weaponry. However it's used, know that it will bring corruption, madness or death.

But, before that fun can begin, Wytchstone Essence must be distilled, from shards of actual Wytchstone. Neither cheap nor easy to come by, your players are far more likely to experience the business end of it, than they are to wield it. Cold, dead, hands, remember? Of course, this process requires an Alchemy Test, Wytchstone and Time (my favorite Skaven and WAAARfunkle tune, BTW), with the results of failure being incendiarily unpleasant. Good luck!

But, once - or if - the Wytchstone Essence is successfully distilled, what then? Well, then it may be used (presumably by Skrzzak) in the following ways:

-Chitterchant Brew: used by Skrzzak to control and direct the lesser vermin, e.g., ordinary rats and more mundane, sewer-dwelling creatures. Unlike many other mixtures in this Chapter, it is prepared by the keg!

-Glass Grenade: a throwable bottle or vial, filled with Wytchstone Essence, that releases a foul mist, containing either Poison or Disease, upon impact.

-Wytchblight: This one is a doozy. It's made with Wytchstone Essence and the bile-infused lactations of a Skrzzak Broodmother, who herself exixts in a perpetual Wytchstone-fueled fever dream. I perhaps did not spend enough time explaining the Skrzzak in my read-through of the core book. There are several types of these ratpeople, and each can pose a unique type of danger. There is a type of Wytchblight that is connected to each horrible type of Skrzzak, but each is immediately corrupting, and dangerous. Not to the Skrzzak, perhaps, but certainly to any of the Player Ancestries.

Skrzzak are birthed by bloated, cunning Broodmothers. These Broodmothers ingest Wutchstone Essence, and use its effects to impart their young with strengths and abilities unnatural for even such Chaos-bound creatures as Skrzzak.

Again, there are four types of Wytchblight, each used to create a different type of Skrzzak. They are:

Bilious Wytchblight - The Bane of foolish intruders below ground, Bilious Skrzzak are the fanatical shock troops of the sewers. Single-minded, vicious and outfitted with all manner of Wytchfire-powered weapons, and outfitted with gas masks, like the singer of Voivod (again, ask your dad). These Skrzzak are created when blind ratpups are injected with the Broodmother's black bile. Any non-skrzzak foolish enough to partake of this substance will temporarily become fiercer, tougher, and more capable in Combat. They will also gain Corruption. Mo' Wytchblight (you can take multiple doses), mo' betta. Also, mo' Corruption, and mental/physical weakness. Not in the form of Peril, interestingly, but failed Willpower and/or Brawn tests can and will become Critical Failures fi you have taken more Wytchblight than you should (read: any).

Choleric Wytchblight - Choleric Skrzzak are the sickly-looking, diseased Kabal Priests who bring to the ratpeoples' communities "religion", at least insofar as they can comprehend such a thing. Like the Skrzzak themseves, their religion is twisted and evil. Injecting this wicked substance will, depending on how much is taken, impart a greater Base Chance to Guile, Charm, or Leadership tests. As with all Wytchblight, overindulgence is... not recommended.

Phlematic Wytchblight - Phlematic Skrzzak are the quietest, calmest and perhaps most dangerous of all Skrzzak. Posessed of incessant curiosity and keen intellect, these creatures are masters of genetic manipulation, molding flesh and bone into new and dangerous beings as if fashioning a vase out of clay. These Skrzzak will be the doctors, historians, scholars and mad scientists of the sewer-kingdom. Spawned by the Broodmother's Corrupt phlegm, which can open the neural pathways, bringing great clarity and efficiency of thought. For a time... and a price.

Sanguine Wytchblight - created by the tainted blood of the Broodmother, Sangione Skrzzak are silent but sure death made flesh. Aloof, deadly and coolly efficient, any Character who takes this formative ichor into their body will have greater cunning and stealth, and may gain an additional Action Point (see Chapter 8: Combat in my previous read-through of the corebook).

There follows the process, in game terms, for making Wytchblight. Interstingly, the rules for this, which follow the same format as all of the crafring rules in this chapter (Skill Test, Difficulty Rating, Time and Material) do not mention needing the bile/phlegm/blood, only the Wytchstone Essence and Void Salts. I don't know whether this was an oversight, or something that was done in the name of balance. But, since it was mentioned at the beginning of this section, it's a bit of a head scratcher.

We're not done with Wytch-science, not by a long shot. Heh-heh, I said shot, get it? No? Oh, well this next bit is about Wytch-science weaponry. In an earlier post I mentioned the new Weapon Quality, "Wytchfire". Weapons with this quality deal Damage from fire, and also inflict Corruption. Nasty stuff. This section will tell you what your players need to make Pyreshot, or Wytchfire rounds for their firearms.

The Skrzzak, it seems are never taken alive, or dead for that matter. No, thanks to a substance called Wytchslime, they make sure that their bodies dissolve into a hideous stanky goo upon death. And so can your players, if they're too greedy to leave their belongings to their still-living companions, because Wytchslime will dissolve you, your boots, everything, as soon as you've expired. Effects last for 24 hours. may cause nausea, flatulence, or Corruption. Please Quaff responsibly.

Wytchstone Incense can also be fashioned, to restore Peril Condition Tracks to Unharmed and (temporarily) ignore Chaos Manifestations. But, you will suffer 9 corruption for indulging in its forbidden fumes.

Wytchstone "Tokens" may also be fashioned, a kind of Corruption lozenge if you will, that allows you to ignore a face "6" on a Chaos Die for Chaos Manifestations in the 24 hours after you consume it. What's a little more Corruption, anyway? Eet's only waffer-theen!

But, never you fear, there are still plenty of miserable afflictions that don't involve Corruption, and Main Gauche wants you to catch them all! Three new and quite unpleasant diseases and two new disorders are detailed here, including "Treeman Syndrome" (ripped from today's headlines) and Wytchstone Addiction. There is also a new type of Poison: Inebriants. Like several of the Wytchstone Cconcoctions detailed above, and like the Deliriants from the core book, you may only take 1-3 doses of most Inebriants. And, like these other substances, you will suffer some corruption to go along with whatever enjoyable or beneficial effects these various drugs offer. Inebriants have no antidote, and their overuse can be fatal. They are mostly analogs for real-world party favors such as "wacky tabacky", as well as the not-so-wacky-but-really-great-after sex-or-a-meal kind of tabacky. Absinthe, Coffee, and a shot of good ol' red-eye are also given the Zweihander treatment here, with such in-game names as Devil's Weed, Tobacco, Green Fairy, Kaffe, and Madame Geneva. Effects vary, as do risks. Just say no, Kids.

Buuuut, if you're going to say yes, Main Gauche has all the rules you'll need to prepare your own Inebriants.

Closing out Chapter 4 are two new Treatments. Leeching, which can help an afflicted Character resist Poison or Disease, and Hypnosis, which can temporarily remove the effects of one Disorder. Leeching becomes more difficult the more Imperiled the afflicted Character is. And Hypnosis is made more difficult the more of Chaos Ranks a Character has. There is a neat sidebar explaining how to use Hypnosis on NPCs, even though they don't rally have Chaos Ranks.

In summation, Chapter 4 is another great "toolkit" chapter. There is a lot here, and personally, I'd be inclined to throw it at my players sparingly, lest they all get strung out on Wytchstone. Really, though, I think a lot of this stuff could really be used to make the Skrzzak into the iconic, alien and utterly terrifying villains of a lengthy campaign, if handled properly.

I know that I have used the phrase "follows the same formula" a lot here, and I just want to define that. Zweihander is an exclusion- based system. It has a solid mathematical framework, and uses various different combinations of Attributes, Skills, Materials, etc. to achieve different in-game effects. So, while many of the methods of doing this thing or that may be, at their core, the same, it is the specific ingredients that make each one different in a way that is meaningful in play. In this way, the various alchemical processes outlined in Chapter 4 are a pretty good analogy for Zweihander as a whole. Its balance is just below the surface, never quite hidden from view. I really appreciate this approach.

I hope I did Chapter 4 justice, and again, sorry for the wait. I've just been busy with real life shit. I'll keep plugging away at it.

The next Chapter is all about Daemons. Should be a hoot, I'll see you there.

It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes.

Thu Oct 17, 2019 4:10 am
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Post Re: Main Gauche supplement for Zweihänder, a read-through

This Chapter is like one of those "friends" who tells you what a bad idea something is, then proceeds to show you how to do that very thing. It's about Daemons. But, more specifically, it's about how your Character can gain Daemonic Patronage, and with it, gifts of forbidden power and knowledge.

A section called, "On The Nature OF Daemons" tells us a bit about these forbidden (I mean it- their worship is effectively banned everywhere that decent people - and even most awful people - live) deities. How people turn to them because of greed, anger or fear. And how Daemons will take advantage of that every time to twist their thralls into something so perverse as to be barely recognizable as human.

Occultists, as the followers of Daemons are called, are not concerned with the hereafter, but rather with the here and now. Earthly influence, fulfillment of carnal desires, the spreading of Chaos, and, of course, the recruitment of new followers to their Daemonic masters. But these Daemon-bound workers of dark Magick are not plainly evident, even in polite society. No, part of the danger of the Occultist is that they can be anyone... and often are who you'd least expect.

Certain Expert Professions from Main Gauche are able to make pacts with Daemons (this is the Covenant Magick" I mentioned in my post on Chapter 1). They will gain access to new and powerful Magicks, but they will give up their soul, and likely suffer the effects of Corruption as well.

There is an interesting system to make the worship of Daemons something with an actual sense of danger. It's tied to Zweihander's Alignment system, which is largely a roleplaying tool, but has lasting effects on your Character, for ill or for good, depending on their behavior. In Main Gauche, the Alignment system becomes a bit stricter where Occultists are concerned. Remember in Chapter 1, where it was stated that 12 of the new Expert Professions could use the new Covenant Magick? Well, each of these is beholden to one of 12 Daemons presented in this Chapter. Upon entering one of these Expert Professions, your Character will permanently lose their Order Alignment, and must select one of their Daemonic Patron's "Aspects". Each Daemon has three of these Aspects, which are kind of like that Daemon's "turn-ons". When you have achieved 10 Ranks in your patron Daemon's Aspect, you may either take a Fate Point, as with Order Ranks, or randomly roll a Daemonic Gift. Each Daemon has their own table. Like the Daemons themselves, these gifts are powerful, yet mercurial. Some are more beneficial than others. But all convey some benefit. Most also have negative consequences of some sort. Some are quite powerful, though, and it is easy to see the appeal of the left hand path.

However, in addition to the potential negative effects of any Daemonic Gifts, there is also the likelihood of gaining Corruption. For those not Daemonbound, Corruption is gained by doing bad things, even if they must be done for the greater good. That's where your Chaos Alignment comes into play. Your Character will now no longer gain Corruption from evil acts, provided those acts further said Daemon Lord's interest. However, wickedness that doesn't benefit or please the Daemon you represent will still gain you Corruption. Furthermore, anytime you fail to act in furtherance of your unholy master's desire, you are stricken with Corruption. And don't go thinking that you can just sit out conflicts that may pose uncomfortable dilemmas. Like a wise Canadian once said, "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." No, you have to be actively evil here. It's not enough to sit back and hope others join you in your pursuit of evil. You gotta get out there and knock on doors, ya gotta sell it. Think of it as a blasphemous Amway. It'll have the same effect on your social life, anyway.

What I'm getting at here is this: if you want to be evil in Zweihander, there's a price to be paid (Corruption). IF you want to be really evil, you're going to have to work for it. There's no such thing as a free lunch. I can think of many games I've played where one or more players were "evil" in name only, or when it suited them. But, according to these rules, there are no "part-timers". You're either in, or you're out. And if you're in, you will eventually succumb to the evil you seek to serve. And you will also be forced to act in a manner that is sure to bring you trouble. Trouble from the law, and from any not so wicked as you.

Like the Alignment rules in general, these new rules going to require a GM who is dedicated to ensuring that they work as intended. I can't really see too many of these types of Characters lasting long in any gaming group not made up of like-minded Characters (although the idea of one or more Characters being "undercover" Occultists in a party sounds fun).

Next, we get introduced to the Daemons themselves. There are eleven of them here, though we are told that this is but a small portion of them. As stated previously, each Daemon has three Aspects. They are the almost human-like desires and emotions of that Daemon.

Of the 11 Daemons listed, some appear in the Zweihander Core Rules (albeit in a much more vague and non-mechanical manner), and some do not. In addition, two of the Daemons from the Core Book (The Ancient Ones and The Gilded Pharoah) are not detailed here. Somewhat confusingly, one of the Daemons that appears in both books - The Tusked One - is actually three of the Daemons detailed here, as that hideous being has three different Daemonic forms (The Endless Gullet, The Hellfurnace, and The Slavering Maw), which are, confusingly, also called aspects. So, The Tusked One has three aspects, each of which has three Aspects. I find the idea of such a multifaceted Daemon to be cool as a concept, but the double meaning of the word "aspect" here seems needlessly confusing to me. Wouldn't it have been just as easy to call The Tusked One's aspects "forms", or "avatars", or something?

Then, it's on to the description of each Daemon. They follow this format:

Name: The name the Daemon is known by. Not to be confused with a "True Name". Also, a description of that Daemon's form, if applicable, and a brief description of how it came to be.

Forbidden Lore: That Daemon's drives and desires, the things it seeks to advance through its Aspects.

Aspects: A description of each Daemon's three Aspects, and what the Daemon's adherents will need to do in order to fulfill them.

Each is illustrated, as is usual for Zweihander. This section should get any Character who enters the service of a Daemon up and running, whatever your particular stripe of evil. For example, there is The Black Lodge, both an entity and a place suspended between the very fibers of reality. This Daemon draws power from suffering. Its Aspects are: Depraved, Vexing, Xenophobic. It is worshiped by Dirgesingers (one of the new Expert Professions).

For those wondering how an Aspect might be used in play, let's break down the Black Lodge's Aspects.

Depraved: this Aspect can be fulfilled by indulging one's most primal instincts -food, mating and survival. But, this must be done in a manner at odds with established social mores and common decency.

Vexing: only by bewildering, scaring and aggravating those around you can you benefit from this Aspect.

Xenophobic: cold aloofness and a detatchment from others are the keys to benefiting from this Aspect.

Each Daemon is detailed in this manner.

The Chapter closes with a 11 tables of Daemonic Gifts, one for each of the Abyssal lords. Upon achieving 10 Ranks in your Daemon's chosen Aspect, your Character may either add a Fate point, or roll randomly for a Dameonic Gift (and take a permenent Chaos Rank). Each Daemon can bestow 11 different Gifts. These are all different, except for the rarest two, which are common to every Daemon.

-True Name, where your Character is given a True Name by their Daemon. This is a concept from the Core Rules. Each Daemon has a True Name, with which it can be summoned and possibly controlled (good luck with that!). In recieving one, the player becomes immune to Magick unless the caster knows their True Name. However, if their True Name should be discovered (and it has to be inscribed on something and secreted), they could be summoned, bound and controlled.

-Mark of the [INSERT DAEMON NAME HERE], the symbol of your Daemon on your forehead, visible only to those in league with you, or using Magick. Enables you to Channel Power to cast Spells, and apply that power to two spells instead of one.

Aside from these Gifts, there is a whole new tradition of Magick. Covenant Magick is granted by Daemons, and as such is sort of a mix of Divine and Arcane Magick. It'll be the focus of Chapter 6.

Thanks for reading. Stick around, there's more to come. We're about halfway through this book.

It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes.

Thu Oct 24, 2019 4:01 am
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