Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The State of the Patreon: March 2018

I find myself in a weird week, in that it's neither really February nor really March, so I think I'm going to just slink through it in confusion.  I'm also prepping to transition from one job to another, and this new job is quite demanding, so I'll have a little less time than before (I know, I already don't have much time, but we'll make this work!)

In any case, let's talk how the month went, and how I see the next month playing out.

February Retrospective

This month was all about True Communion, and it did very well.  I was on track for the best month in a long time, though readership dropped off quite a bit last week (Patreon week usually has less viewers, because a lot of readers aren't patrons and because quite a few patrons don't bother to hit this site first to log a view, because why would they?).  Still, viewer-wise, it was a very good month.  True Communion itself has been very popular; I doubt it's a surprise to learn it looks to be the most popular philosophy, but it's a not-Jedi philosophy that circles around Communion, which is a very popular concept for Psi-Wars.

The most popular posts (after the Psi-Wars primer, which always wins) were:
  1. The Beliefs of True Communion
  2. The Symbolism of True Communion
  3. True Communion: an Introduction
  4. True Communion as Esoteric Skill
  5. The Cultural Context of True Communion
I find the views very interesting, as the introduction usually tops out the views and the After Action Reports tend to be popular, but people mostly looked at the Beliefs.  What does that say? Are people into the philosophy of True Communion? Are they using it in their games?  Are there Space Templars running around that I don't know about? Interesting to speculate.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Patreon Post: More Transcendent Principles

At the culmination of the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant, I released three "transcendent principles," visions that followers of the path of the Mystical Tyrant could attempt to enforce upon the world to grant themselves unique powers.  Since then, I've had discussions with Patrons and fans alike about additional possible Transcendent Principles, and I wanted to share a preview of two more: Acausality (which allows the manipulation of time) and Inhumanity (which allows the manipulation of the mystic himself).

This post is available to all $3+ patrons. If you're a patron, check it out!  If not, as always, I'd love to have you!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Patreon Post: the Cult of the Emperor

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant has existed for millennia, though its form has changed over time from an imperial cult of a sacred king to a nihilistic philosophy to a deeply personal morality.  With the rise of the Valorian Emperor, the Cult has changed again into a movement of imposed rationality, vision and progress.  As the Valorian Emperor's fist has closed around the Galaxy, so too has he come to dominate the remnants of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, with only a few splinter sects still in defiance of his ideology.

Last month, my Patrons voted on the fourth Schism of the Mystical Tyrant: the Cult of the Emperor; yesterday, I gave you the results.  Today, I give you the actual cult, including how to handle it as a lens on the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant esoteric skill, what oaths it demands, what its symbolism is, and its "mask" conspiracies within the Empire.

This post is available to all Fellow Travelers ($3+, as a preview).  If you're a patron, check it out.  If not, I'd love to have you!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Patreon Post: The Cult of the Emperor - Poll Results

Last month, I had a poll of the last schism of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant: The Cult of the Emperor.  Herein, you guys voted not just on what the substance of the Cult was, but who the Emperor is, who the War Hero was, and who the Emperor's Hand is.

Today, those results are revealed!  Behold the Emperor unveiled.  This Patreon Post is available to all Fellow Travellers ($3+ patrons); If you're a patron, check it out; if not, as always, I'd love to have you!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Patreon Post - the Five Elders of the Shaolin

I base my psi-wars material on numerous sources, from history to real-world philosophies and religions to legends to other sci-fi or fantasy works.  And for me, the stories of the Jedi reminded me strongly of the story of the Shaolin monastery, and this connection only strengthened the more I read up on the Shaolin monastary's history and the legends that surround it.

For psi-wars, I've borrowed numerous elements, but in particular the five shaolin elders.  I thought you, dear patron, might be interested in what I found. While it's no more than what anyone could do with a basic internet search, I find this sort of compilation provides a great deal of context to the uninitiated (like myself).  And if you share anything of my love of kung fu films, I think you'll enjoy this.  But to up the ante a little, I've explicitly discussed the psi-wars connection, and thus this document contains a little more detail on the elders of the Knights of Communion; I've also "broken up" the Shaolin Martial Art from GURPS Martial Arts into (only a few) subsidiary styles to give them greater clarity, and I've discussed how the five elders connect to other styles found in GURPS Martial Arts. Finally, I've included a new martial art, White Eyebrow Boxing.

If you're a patron, check it out! It's available to all $1+ patrons. If you're not a patron, as always, I'd be delighted to have you.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Annara or Traditional Keleni Communion

Keleni traditionalists call Annara the pure form of Communion, the one that Keleni practiced in the past and still practice today. This may or may not be true; evidence suggests that the ancestral form of Communion gave rise to both Annara and True Communion, and that each has a piece of the original.

Annara, the Kelen word for “Communion,” (or more accurately, total unity of all things, or a sense of transcendence gained from feeling connected to all things), focuses more strictly on the natural telepathy of the Keleni people. It cultivates unity through telepathy and connection with one’s ancestors, and trains the Keleni in empathy for all beings, Alien or Keleni, sapient or animal. It also cultivates the ancient tradition of prophecy that traces its lineage back to the dawn of the Keleni faith-philosophy.

Unlike True Communion, Annara retains traditional Communion trappings, such as “folk healer” exorcisms and esoteric medicine. They also often learn Religious Rituals to better serve their community. Dogmatic traditionalists may teach their followers to fight with the resonance staff, and ancient Keleni weapon, but many also teach the force sword.

The intent focus on Keleni matters means that followers often learn a great deal about the language, history and culture of the Keleni. It also means that the religion attracts religious fanatics and xenophobic traditionalists. Many practitioners of True Communion hold Annara in awe, seeing it as the “lost half” of Communion secrets, but non-Keleni often find it difficult to win the trust of a Keleni master well enough to learn the style.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

True Communion as Esoteric Skill

A True Communion disciple first learns to meditate. True Communion teaches that, through introspection, self-knowledge and self-discipline, one can begin to understand the world around him. They learn to listen to their own inner voice, then to their instincts, then to Communion itself. Through obedience to Communion, they can learn who they truly are, how they connect to the world, and what their true purpose is. Once one has mastered this art, the next step is to teach others. Teaching methods vary, but True Communion strongly favors teaching through example, riddles and challenges. It seeks to get the student to discover a principle for himself, rather than to simply be told something that they will soon forget, or learn only superficially. By teaching others, the student masters Communion more deeply and, more importantly, learns to connect with his own students and thus finds himself in an unbroken chain of masters and pupils extending back to the birth of True Communion.

True masters of Communion have deeply powerful meditative techniques that allow them to reach a trance-like, to empower their connection with Communion, and to even regain their psychic energy more quickly. They learn to discard their own selfish needs and, as they become more attuned to Communion, to become more attuned to their community around them and to being to understand the deepest secrets of spirituality. Those who masters the art of teaching, according to legend, have the ability to unlock the psionic potential of anyone, and can even teach those forever locked away from Communion to overcome their limitations and join the greater galactic gestalt.

The galaxy will forever associate True Communion with the Templars, and so many monasteries and temples also teach the force sword as part of True Communion. Most also teach the history of the faith, or give insight into the holy places and relics of the faith. Communion often holds that inner knowledge can come from dreams, and those who believe this teach their students to interpret their dreams.

This form of Communion is the Communion of the Templars and the one most commonly practiced across the galaxy. It is assumed to be the “default” form of True Communion.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Tinker Titan Rebel Spy: After Action Report for Session 3

Another month means another session of Tinker Titan Rebel Spy!  What happened last session?  The players finally found made planet-fall, interacted with a new faction, began to unleash the first salvo in their machinations, finally met Director Thorn and then faced the occult might of the Ash Walkers under the baleful, all-seeing gaze of the Prophet of Grist: Cog Thonis, fighting him in the shadow of the Black Pyramid.

If you want additional details, my players have written detailed summaries.  As usual, I'll be talking about the session from behind the GM's chair and as the designer of Psi-Wars itself.  I also have some advice for people who want to play Action in general.

The detailed summaries are:

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Symbols and Rituals of True Communion


True Communion believes that depictions of the supernatural, be they idols or symbols, tend to unduly distract one from his inner journey in understanding the world. One can hold onto an idol, put his faith in that idol, and forget that the physical thing he holds is an illusion, nothing worth having faith in. Moreover, once the divine is given a face, people begin to forget its cosmic qualities and begin to overly humanize it. Thus, True Communion often, though not universally, chooses to eschew any symbolism at all.

True Communion symbolism tends to focus on things that naturally guide on to right and proper conclusions. They tend to be known by their tools and their words, rather than their great idols or symbols. Thus, the temples of True Communion tend to be remarkable bare of baroque imagery, favoring instead creating a place of profound peace and introspection, a natural place where one can lose himself in his own introspection.

This is not a strict taboo, however. The Keleni traditionalists are more likely to eschew imagery than human/alien traditions, as Traditionalists believe that True Communion and Keleni culture go hand in hand. Alien traditions, especially human traditions, feel the need to differentiate themselves from others and humans especially, caught up in their empires and factions, feel the need to have some symbol of their faith that they can point to. Even more extreme versions, such as the cults inspired by True Communion found within the Divine Masks tradition, absolutely have idols, but arguably have fallen far from what True Communion stands for.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Beliefs of True Communion

  1. Everyone matters, no matter how lowborn
  2. We are defined by our connections with others.
  3. True knowledge can be found within, by listening to one’s intuition and accepting the morality one already knows in their heart.
  4. The “real” world is an illusion; only the “inner world” of thought, dream, perception and connection is “real.”
  5. All people are but facets of an infinite cosmic divinity; through introspection, we can understand the infinite cosmic and understand how it connects all people together.
  6. Virtue is found through aligning one’s self with the will of Communion, and in accepting one’s true purpose in life, one’s destiny.
  7. Time is as much an illusion as the world: there is only the Eternal Now.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Patreon Preview: the Keleni

What the Ranathim were to the Divine Masks and the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant, the Keleni are to True Communion.  This naturally telepathic and compassionate species first discovered their inherent interconnection with one another, but rejected their inherent interconnection with all other species, for the other races of the Galaxy treated them poorly.  Their heretics brought their faith and power to the other races, but the Keleni continue, scattered across the galaxy, struggling to maintain their identity and yearning for a chance to return to their temple worlds.

Today, I have a Patreon Preview of the Keleni race, for all $3+ patrons. It includes their racial template, a few power-ups, a discussion of their culture, language and a few pieces of concept art.  If you're a patron, thank you for your support, and feel free to check it out.  If you're not, I'd love to have you!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Cultural Context of Communion

The Origin of Communion

A race native to the same region of the Galaxy as the Ranathim, the Keleni, first discovered the phenomenon of Communion and, around it, created the philosophy of True Communion. Naturally telepathic, this race has an innate connection to one another and to their own ancestors. The origins of the idea of communion came from studying ways to deepen this connection, allowing communication across vast distances of space and time. Eventually, the Keleni discovered that they could interact with this inherent connection itself, that they could do more than just commune with one another, but that they could commune with the state of communion itself, this great unconscious gestalt that surrounded them and bound them to one another.

The Keleni had a rough history with other races. First, the great and terrifying Monolith Empire conquered them and shattered their temples and scattered them in an attempt to “cleanse” their temple-worlds. The rise of the Ranathim Empire broke the Monolith Empire, and the Ranathim allowed the Keleni to return to their worlds and rebuild their temples, but they introduced their own strange religions that they demanded the Keleni acknowledge, and they demanded slaves of the beautiful and graceful race. Whenever an Empire has arisen, the Keleni have found themselves under the boot of oppression. They became an oddity in the galaxy, an insular race often found in enclaves on alien worlds where they practiced their unique meditations and ceremonies regardless of what the prevailing ideology. Oppression only made martyrs of the Keleni faithful, or drove their faith underground, but it remained, made resilient through adversity and empowered by the legitimate enlightenment that True Communion gave them.

During their diaspora and while interacting with these great empires, the Keleni discovered that most other races lacked their innate psionic abilities and those who had innate psionic abilities, such as the Monolith or the Ranathim, were bound to entirely different, alien and dangerous forms of Communion (Broken Communion and Dark Communion respectively), leading the Keleni to conclude that their access to Communion was unique to them. Even so, other races, especially the dispossessed among the galaxy, watched the miracles worked by the Keleni with awe and wonder. Many began to treat them as sages, begging at their temples for a miracle cure, or to learn at their feet.

The debate over what to do with aliens who petitioned to join the ranks of True Communion sowed the seeds for the first true schism in True Communion. Traditionalists claimed that because only the Keleni could naturally access Communion, only the Keleni should practice it. They argued that despite the tenets of tolerance native to their faith, that all “people” should be brought into “Communion,” only fellow Keleni counted as “people.” They pointed angrily to their mistreatment at the hands of other races, to the unique Keleni bond, and to the need to protect their culture and way of life. On the other side of the debate, Keleni argued that true tolerance required patiently forgiving the sins of others. Some among them had managed to teach other aliens, such as the Ranathim, the means of Communion. They advocated strenuously that if the Keleni were a special and chosen people, then their destiny was to bring Communion to the entire Galaxy.

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