Friday, March 4, 2016

Saurian Heresies

You know how humans are about religious beliefs, where some of us seem think that believing in one holy book about being nice to people instead of another book about killing people is good thing to kill people over? Saurians are kind of like that, but for the most part they don’t worship any sort of deities. Instead, they subscribe to philosophies (more in the ancient sense than the modern one).

When their race started it’s eternal journey through the multiverse, they understood for a fact how reality worked and how to bend it to their own will (the wise men of some worlds claim that these were the originators of magic as we know it), but that knowledge was lost over the course of 65.5 million years. Whatever a modern saurian believes, you can bet it isn’t the whole truth, but quite a few of them are willing to kill for those beliefs.

All saurian philosophies also take into account the fact their home continent, Exodus, randomly shifts from one reality to another every 1d4+12 months, and almost all of them make some attempt to explain that fact based on their core beliefs. The phenomenon is generally referred to as the Great Paradox.

The Highland Emperor has a particular philosophy which is generally agreed with by his subjects, at least the ones who haven’t been executed for heresy. His rule has lasted 483 years so far, but his worldview has been the official position of the ruling emperor for at least the 300 emperors. This philosophy is built around a set of specific beliefs that act as pillars of faith:
  • The saurian race is superior in every conceivable way to all other forms of life.
  • There is only one universe, in which Exodus is stationary while everything else changes yearly. This makes Exodus the only stronghold of Law in an eternal sea of Chaos.
  • The memories of ephemerals (living things from outside Exodus) are false, forming at the same time their version of reality does.
  • The continued dominance of the saurian empire is the only thing that matters.
  • The magics and technologies of the ephemeral world are corrupt and untrustworthy.

These pillars of the emperor’s personal belief system have shaped the laws of the land, which has led to policies of exploitation of and unthinking callousness towards ephemerals.

Nearly every saurian settlement is clustered around the stronghold of some powerful rokai, who functions as a local lord. Most saurians take the philosophy of their local rokai as truth (whether or not they understand it), and most rokai take the philosophy of the emperor as fact. The only exceptions are those rokai who’ve discovered secrets that run counter to the emperor’s beliefs.

To achieve the wealth and reputation implied by this station, a rokai must have survived a long and successful adventuring career, during which they are bound to have learned some nuggets of unorthodox wisdom (some of which are untrue). These secrets, in the context of a general acceptance of the emperor’s beliefs, form each rokai’s individual philosophy. The resulting worldview is the main motivation behind most of the rokai’s actions.

Every time the players enter a saurian settlement under the protection of a rokai whose philosophy is unknown, roll 2d6 and some number of d20s. The 2d6 uses the reaction roll chart to determine how the rokai will treat anyone who vocally disagrees with their philosophy. Hostile or unfriendly means any infidels are executed (or banished if you want to be a wuss about it). “Friendly” (or indifferent) to them means what “evangelical” means to the rest of us— after all, they’re doing you a favor if they can convince you of the error of your ways.

Neutral means they really don’t give a shit what you think. They may be interested in discussing it, but won’t persecute you for what you believe as long as you don’t break their laws. The NPC chart from LotFP gives you a 44% chance of this result.

Each d20 determines one of the rokai’s core beliefs. If a belief comes up more than once, don’t roll it again, just think of that as a particularly strong belief that overrules the others when they come into conflict. Roll as many as you feel like; the more you roll, the more bizarre shit this particular rokai has been through, and the weirder the resulting belief system. It also becomes more likely that this rokai’s belief system will directly conflict with the emperor’s.

Two or more beliefs are likely to contradict each other, and that’s fine. That won’t stop the saurian from believing both things simultaneously. Some rokai simply refuse to acknowledge the contradiction, sometimes violently. Others go out of their way to imagine a scenario in which all their contradictory beliefs can coexist. A rare, reasonable few believe these contradictions to be proof that no one can ever know the whole truth for sure.

Beliefs that directly contradict those of the emperor are italicized.

  1. It’s foolish to keep rejecting foreign secrets of technology and magic, rather than turning them to the saurian race’s benefit. 
  2. The saurian race is the creation of ancient alien geneticists.
  3. Saurians are the destined people, who will one day ascend to a higher state of being.
  4. All life-forms are pawns in an elaborate simulation being played out on some higher plane.
  5. One may achieve enlightenment through a regimen of mental and physical conditioning.
  6. One may achieve enlightenment through a regimen of drug use and depravity.
  7. Dinosaurs are actually the reincarnated ancestors of saurians.
  8. Ephemerals who die on Exodus with enough good karma built up are reincarnated as saurians, the only race capable of achieving enlightenment. Those who die elsewhere are simply wiped from existence.
  9. The changing stars could be read by ancient astrologers to discover much about the occasionally-shifting outside world, but their skills are long forgotten.
  10. Exodus is moving and has a final destination, a place of endless madness and torment.
  11. The entire universe rotates around Exodus physically. The stars are holes in the dark hemisphere that surrounds a disc-shaped planet.
  12. Saurians have existed for longer than the universe, without their physical form changing significantly.
  13. Saurians are the atavistic (and therefore inferior) descendants of a more advanced avian race.
  14. Any territory colonized by saurians continues to exist along with Exodus the next time the continent shifts, and this has already happened several times.
  15. The sun is actually a vast intelligence made up of all saurians that achieve enlightenment, and directs the yearly shifts in reality.
  16. The consciousness of most three dimensional beings moves through time in a straight line, while the saurians travel a corkscrew path through time. This essentially means that the outside worlds exist independently of Exodus, which travels between them.
  17. The path to enlightenment is the prolonged experience of pain beyond measure.
  18. Dreams are memories from the future, or sometimes from past lives.
  19. The infinitely shifting realities around the saurians and the ephemerals  are all the creations of their ancient ancestors. The continent is essentially moving forward through a creator god’s equivalent of a mixtape.
  20. Ephemerals are equally capable of achieving enlightenment, and respectful cooperation is preferable to exploitation.

When a rokai’s fundamental beliefs run contrary to those of the emperor, it means one of three things, depending on their attitudes towards those who disagree with them. Hostile means they’re at war with the empire, and evangelical means they’re secretly trying to set up a coup, possibly in a conspiracy with other like-minded rokai. Neutral means they don’t mind pretending they’re like him to his face, while doing their own thing and governing their own towns their own way.

So if you give every philosophy like ten d20 rolls, almost all of the rokai end up opposed to the emperor’s beliefs. Assume only 44% of those rokai are going to stay basically loyal (again, the chance of a neutral reaction roll), and you get a big messy war with multiple sides that’s probably been going on for a long fucking time, where even those supposedly loyal to the emperor can’t really be trusted. If you only roll a couple d20s for each settlement, you get a more stable and unified culture with a relatively small number of potentially dangerous radical outliers.

If you want the empire to be truly crumbling with only a few loyal vassals left, you also need to nudge the attitude ranges around on the reaction table. Say that for these purposes only a result of 7 is neutral, and you’re pretty much good to go. That gives the rokai who disagree with the emperor (most of them if you roll up five core beliefs for each) a one in six chance of being loyal anyway. The others are evenly split between those openly at war with the emperor and those who are pretending to serve him while conspiring to replace him.

I’ve made a new toy and now I wanna play with it so here’s some examples.


Rokai #1 (2d6:7, 3 d20s:18 16 1) Isami Takeda
attitude toward disbelievers: neutral
  • Dreams are memories from the future, or sometimes from past lives.
  • The consciousness of most three dimensional beings moves through time in a straight line, while the saurians travel a corkscrew path through time. This essentially means that the outside worlds exist independently of Exodus, which travels between them.
  • Exodus is the only foothold of law in an eternal sea of chaos.

So right off the bat we’ve got someone who’s lost faith in one of the core tenets of the imperial worldview, but prefers to hide his beliefs. He rejects the single universe theory and understands that outsiders are not ephemeral, but still feels that they’re disgusting creatures of chaos, so they’re still morally inferior beings that don’t deserve rights. His faith in the significance of dreams could serve as reasonable motivation for any weird behavior you feel like.



Rokai #2 (2d6:6, 3 d20s:8 4 4) Sumi Naboharu
attitude toward disbelievers: neutral
  • Ephemerals who die on Exodus with enough good karma built up are reincarnated as saurians, the only race capable of achieving enlightenment. Those who die elsewhere are simply wiped from existence.
  • All life-forms are pawns in an elaborate simulation being played out on some higher plane.

This rokai is 100% sure that she’s in a game, and probably has seen some glimpses of sweaty over-caffeinated mammals playing with miniature dinosaur figures and dice. Since the world is a game, she doesn’t really care what happens in it beyond keeping her own people safe.

Akizuki Kondo


Rokai #3 (2d6:5, 3 d20s:20 5 14) Akizuki Kondo
attitude toward disbelievers: evangelical
  • Ephemerals are equally capable of achieving enlightenment, and respectful cooperation is preferable to exploitation.
  • Enlightenment may achieve enlightenment through a regimen of mental and physical conditioning.
  • Any territory colonized by saurians continues to exist along with Exodus the next time the continent shifts, and this has already happened several times.


Okay, this is interesting. This rokai wants to live in peace with the ephemerals and help them achieve enlightenment. He still believes that they only exist while Exodus is in the same world they are (a bit like a child playing peekaboo really), and wants to bring more ephemerals into the  true land through the establishment of missionary colonies. He believes the missions he’s already set up in previous worlds to still exist despite his explorers’ inability to find them, and has concluded that they must have drifted from their original geographical locations every time the universe shifted.

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