The livingroom of an abandoned house, which was demolished in 2013.
The two factors affecting the collapsed drywall ceiling were rain coming through the roof and second-story’s floor – and crackheads going after the copper wiring that had become exposed by the crumbling ceiling.
Death Guard vs Ultramarines makes perfect sense for the opening of 8th edition’s narrative I’ve realized, Guilliman is a beacon of hope and change in a stagnant empire, and with that, enter the literal agents of entropy and decay to oppose him.
Stiles is surprised at how easily he fits in
with Scott and Melissa. He doesn’t have that same feeling he did at the foster
homes they put him in. Like he had to ask to use the bathroom, and was afraid
to help himself to food out of the refrigerator, and he always felt like he was
a guest in someone else’s house, always careful of what he said and did, and itching
under his skin because he couldn’t just be him.
He doesn’t get any of that here. The McCalls’ house is comfortable. It feels
like it could be a home. He’s not treated like a guest here. He’s treated like
He misses his dad.
He misses the dog.
He cries himself to sleep more than once, but
it’s okay. It’s grief. It’s not helplessness. His tears are cathartic, not
He has a pile of clothes that Scott has given
him. It’s mostly stuff that Scott is growing out of. Stiles is skinny enough
thanks to living on the streets that he fits them. He’s a little taller than
Scott so the jeans aren’t quite the right length, but Stiles doesn’t care. Who’s
he got to impress anyway?
He does a few chores around the house while
Melissa is working and Scott is at school. He wonders how long it will be until
it feels like the walls are closing in on him. A while yet, probably. The house
is warm and safe. During the day he researches his dad’s case, and wonders if
it will raise any red flags anywhere if he tries to order a copy of the
transcripts online. Then he figures they’re not really what he needs anyway. He
needs the notes from the initial investigation, not the prosecutor’s polished
presentation. For that, he needs Rafa McCall. And for Rafa McCall to even think
of giving them to him, he needs evidence.
He takes one of Scott’s unused school notebooks
and makes a list of what he already knows. Which isn’t much apart from Kate
Argent’s name, her brother’s address, G. Argent’s address—are they even
related?—and how she shot his dog.
He thinks back to that, trying to divorce himself
from the impending panic.
“Hello again, Derek. You
don’t look so good.”
Except Stiles’s name isn’t Derek, and as far as
he remembers he’s never met Kate Argent before in his life.
The name snags in the threads of his memory like
a hook, but Stiles can’t quite tug the memory free. He pushes it aside for now.
Stiles makes himself a cup of coffee—the
caffeine helps settle the more annoying symptoms of his ADD—and takes it into
the living room. He sits down on the couch and reaches for his notebook.
Scott’s laptop is open. Stiles was searching the
Herald earlier. The elusive mountain
lion still hasn’t been caught.
Stiles taps his pen against his chin, and thinks
of Kate Argent again, and the exchange she had with Allison’s dad outside his
house a few nights ago.
“I told Dad I’d check and
see if you’d had any luck bringing down the alpha. Clearly you haven’t.”
Alpha. What is the alpha? First letter of the
Greek alphabet. Term co-opted by asshole meninist PUAs. An episode from season
six of The X-Files. And, in hunting
terms, the foremost animal in a pack, right? Except that mountain lions aren’t
pack animals. So what exactly is Chris Argent hunting?
Stiles sips his coffee.
What the hell is going on out there in the
Preserve? Chris Argent is hunting something, and Scott got bitten by something,
and all of it, every fucking thing, comes right back to those blackened ruins
in the clearing, doesn’t it? Everything comes back to the Hale fire.
Maybe Stiles has been coming at this the wrong
Maybe he doesn’t need to prove Kate Argent
framed his dad.
Maybe he needs to prove she had something to do
with the Hale fire.
The first step to understanding any part of your Role is understanding your Aspect. As I mentioned before, the Aspects are Sburb’s way of categorizing the most important forces and sections of the universe. Think of them as sort of like the elements of the universe, but instead of being physical forces outright, they represent ideas. Things like creation and destruction, choice and desire, or freedom and stability are all Aspects of the universe.
There are twelve Aspects, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. I know there’s a lot of talk about others, like Rime, Keys, Fate, Flame, etc. These are not real. The majority of these fabricated Aspects already fall under one of the existing twelve, and are either symbolically or directly associated with them. For example, both Flame and Fate are representative of parts of Doom. These twelve Aspects are split into pairs of opposites, which both oppose and complement each other, making a sort of Yin-Yang harmony between the two. In this next section, I’ll go over each pair, looking at both the pair as a whole and each aspect individually. Also, I’ll tell you about some of the powers associated with each one, which will be fun. Keep in mind that your powers are only a small fraction of your Heroic Role, so don’t just focus on the cool shiz. Also keep in mind that not all players of a certain Aspect will receive all/any of the powers I’ll be listing. Your Class and general Role in the plot will ultimately decide which abilities you will have access to. This is just a general list of the more common power groupings and trends among each aspect.
Here are the main pairs:
The Universe – Space/Time
The Self ——– Heart/Mind
Relevance —— Light/Void
Limitations —— Life/Doom
Direction ——– Breath/Blood
Perspective —- Hope/Rage
Space and Time are singlehandedly the most important Aspect pair in the game. That isn’t to say the other Aspects aren’t important or as powerful, but since Space and Time encompass all of the physical properties in a universe, they are essential to completing a session. Not just because of metaphysical reasons, but because the Space and Time players both are needed to perform extremely important duties; the Space player for breeding the Universe Frog and performing the Ultimate Alchemy, and the Time player to deal with doomed timelines and perform the Scratch if necessary. Thus, Sburb will ALWAYS assign both a Space and Time player to your session. If you don’t have one of these players in your session, you have a problem and you are pretty much doomed unless you can figure out a way to escape your Medium and navigate the Furthest Ring.
SPACE is the Aspect of creation; it represents everything that is, was, and will be. Space is all about shape, movement, size, and form. Space players tend to be creative and are often artistic in some form or another. Space is all about beginnings and matter. It is the most cosmic of all of the Aspects.
=> Gravity Control: A space player’s primary form of elemental combat. Gravity can be used in a huge variety of ways, from crushing enemies, to rooting them to the ground so you can crush them, to pulling enemies together into a massive ball and then crushing them. My session’s Page of Space would rip and levitate chunks of rock out of the ground and throw them around like an earthbender from Avatar. She’d even ride them places instead of flying half the time. It was pretty awesome to watch.
=> Portals: Any of you guys have that game Portal in your timeline? Imagine that kind of thing. Space players can create portal gates that look like Skaia’s spirograph gate things, and these can be used for SO. MUCH. SHIT. Redirecting attacks back onto underlings, quick travel, etc. Basically anything you can think about using a portal for, there’s going to be abilities for it.
=> Extreme Creativity: Space players are crazy good with anything visually artistic. These are people you want with you while you work towards your artifact quests and puzzles, or when alchemizing cool new shit. They can come up with some really awesome stuff.
=> Frog Affinity: This is actually a lot stronger than you’d think. Frogs are some of the most important mobs in Sburb, and the Space player needs at least a little of this to spearhead the team’s frog breeding project. Frog artifacts also make up some of the strongest weapons you can alchemize. I’ve even heard that some Space players can actually summon armies of frogs to fight for them. That sounds fucking terrifying.
TIME is the Aspect of destruction; it represents entropy, decay, and everything that is the opposite of Space. Where Space deals with three dimensions and physical properties, Time is progression and pace. Time players usually start off either way too chill or way too energetic, and have to be sped/slowed to the correct level of investment. Time is all about the inevitable end of everything.
=> Time Travel: Bit of a no-brainer here. This is the staple of the Time player, and must be constantly used to reign in the ever deadly doomed timelines. Something will go horribly wrong, everyone will die, and it is the responsibility of the Time player to go back and deal with the fuckup before their doomed self dies horribly. Lovely.
=> Super Reflexes: Ah yes. Time Dilation super-speed. This power works best over short distances, but can be used to travel distances very quickly. It is usually applied in combat allowing for lightning fast blitz attacks some people have taken to calling “Flashstep.”
=> Entropy Magic: This is a more rare power, but it’s one of the deadliest in a Time arsenal. Entropy type powers make use of a corrupting energy that essentially ages things to death. Want to take down a siege engine about to stomp the shit out of a Consort village? Entropy magic. Need to get into a sealed Dersite vault? Entropy magic. Being attacked by big ass underling of a corrodible metal? RUST THAT FUCKER TO DEATH.
-Time Clones: This one comes with a biiiig caveat; if you bring too many doomed timeline clones into a certain area, the game is going to try and kill them all at the same time by bringing some really nasty baddie along to wipe them all out. That said, clone armies can be useful if you’re careful, and you don’t mind having hundreds of your own dead bodies laying around. Yeah, I know. This game is super dark, okay?
The other two cardinal Aspects, Heart and Mind represent the dichotomy of the players themselves. The difference between wanting something and choosing whether or not to do it. It represents the impact the player can have on the rest of the world. Heart and Mind do not fall under the traditional creation/destruction split, but lie directly between the two. Imagine a compass if you will. Space and Time lie at direct north and south, respectively. Heart and Mind would act as due east and west, trending towards neither Space nor Time, but instead acting as the method of producing either creation or destruction.
HEART is the Aspect of true self. It encompasses everything that has to do with who you are deep within. Heart players generally have some self-centered crisis. Either they have to deal with having too much self assurance or reliance, or else not nearly enough. In some cases, these things aren’t mutually exclusive. Heart relates to desire, and closely ties in with the soul.
=> Shapeshifting: Heart players exhibit an extraordinary mastery of the self, and as such, many times have shapeshifting powers. These abilities range from being able to appear as other players, become creatures, or change into a variety of characters or personas likened to the player themself.
=> Psychic Confidence: This might not always start out as a Heart player constant, but it almost always develops to some extent. Heart players are remarkably resistant to psychological attacks on their person. Basically, if an enemy tries targeting their self esteem, they have a massive mental defence surrounding that stat making the attack basically worthless.
=> The Shiny Thing: Okay, so this is a weird one. You know how Heart basically deals with the true nature of things? Well, that true nature doesn’t just apply to the players. Some Heroes of Heart are able to literally rip out the true nature of an object or item, which looks like this glowing pink shiny thing. This kind of thing allows them to do all sorts of weird shit, like boosting a weapon’s stats, screwing with NPCs, or straight up ripping out another player’s soul and giving them a brand new weapon made from their own essence. It’s bizarre as fuck to watch it happen.
=> Matchmaking: Before you ask, yes, it is a real power. Heart players tend to be very good at getting members of their party hooked up, which believe it or not actually provides bonuses in this game. It has something to do with embracing the weird fate-plot-roleplaying aspect of the game. I feel it’s important to point out that not all Heart players have this power, and unless you know for a fact you’re high enough level to get these abilities, it’s best to stay out of other player’s immediate love lives. Looking at you, debonairThespian. Worst. Wingman. Ever.
MIND is the Aspect of choice. Where Heart encourages you to follow your dreams, do what you feel, and all that Disney shit, Mind is more focused on what you should do. Mind looks at every possibility and decides the one that’s right for the situation. Mind is thought, judgement, strategy, and relates to the face you present to the world as opposed to your true feelings inside.
=> Strategy Extraordinaire: Mind players are literally the world’s best strategists, especially knowledge class Mind heroes. All Mind players can, to some extent, view paths of cause and effect. Our session’s Thief of Mind was an expert at milking her butterfly effect sense for all it was worth.
=> Psionic Fortitude: Mind heroes are super super strong when it comes to resisting psychic attacks of all kinds, but especially things like mind control, psionic daggers, and mental probes. Mind players will often spend hours in silence training their brains to resist telepathic attacks.
=> Synapse Lightning: One of Mind’s few elemental type combat powers. Some Mind players can harness electricity, the supposed reason being that synapses and the brain in general run off of electrical charges. The link is kind of weak, but I guess the game figured it wouldn’t be fair to give Mind only strategic powers.
=> Awakening: This one’s fun. Some high level Heroes of Mind are capable of granting a kind of sentience to items and weapons. This boosts their stats immensely, and can sometimes even allow them to operate completely on their own, with the added condition that sometimes the object’s owner will have to argue with it to get it to do it’s job. It’s rather humorous to watch someone get trash talked by a sword.
Light and Void are the Aspects embodying the dual concept of relevance. Relevance is how much effect one can have on the timeline, and being in the right place at the right time. This dichotomy represents half of the classical order/chaos dynamic, with Light as representative of the creative side of Order, and Void as the destructive side of Chaos.
LIGHT is the Aspect of relevance. Light represents information, knowledge, importance, and agency. Light players usually have a natural bent towards the accumulation of knowledge. Light is raw data, and the ability to use that raw data to influence the world. It also represents the concept of luck, as having good fortune means being in the right place at the right time allows one to influence outcomes. Light is embodied by Skaia and it’s prophecy clouds.
=> Innate Intelligence: Light players tend to be very smart. They differ from Mind in that their intelligence usually is more fact and information based rather than decision and consequence based. Light focuses a lot more on what you do know rather than what you do with it. Know oriented heroes of light like Mages and Seers are especially going to focus on this section of the aspect.
=> Light Energy: Let’s be honest here. What fun would Light be if there was no power that allowed you to go around zapping enemies with particle beams while yelling “IMA FIRIN MAH LAZER” at the top of your lungs? Fortunately, that’s exactly what this power type does. Our team’s Light player got so good with her lasers and enhanced vision (another common light power) that she could nuke meteors out of orbit before they got within range of the Skaian defense portals.
=> Luck Manipulation: This power is so ungodly broken I have no idea where to start. Since light deals with relevancy, and part of relevancy relates to fortune, some light players actually have the ability to manipulate probability in their favor. This is annoying when playing games of chance against them, but it’s even scarier to see utilized in combat. I once read a story somewhere about a Bard of Light that would kill his enemies by destroying their luck and having anvils and frozen meat fall from the sky onto them like some weird cartoon. It’s really scary.
=> Enhanced Speed: Time has the ability to do the speed thing too, but it’s more useful in combat than for travel. Light has the opposite. Many Light players gain the ability to fly at incredible speeds, and will zip around the Medium like a messenger god on a sugar high. Some Light players are even able to transform their bodies into light energy like a living laser.
VOID is the Aspect of obscurity. It represents submission, the inability to affect change, secrets, and a lack of information. Void might at first seem like an evil or undesirable Aspect, but many times there is a need to keep some things irrelevant or secret, especially when stealth and secrecy are needed. Void is embodied by everyone’s favorite tangle buddies, the Noble Circle of Horrorterrors. You know, the Japanese tentacle monster assholes that whisper to Derse dreamers? Yeah, those guys are the reason a lot of people think Void is an evil Aspect. It’s not.
=> Perception Majicks: Void players have access to a wide range of abilities that can be used to mess with people’s senses and the laws of physics. Their loadout includes things like phasing through solid objects, illusion casting, invisibility, and the ability to disperse their physical form into clouds of particles and float around. There are so many variations on this power it’s crazy.
=> Dampening Aura: Some heroes of Void have a natural aura about them that fucks with powers and electronic devices. Everything near the Hero of Void will be just a little less effective, which is one reason why Void players tend to be more of the loner type than any other player in the game. This ability is particularly useful when fighting enemies with magic or pacifying players who’ve gone off the deep end.
=> Night Energy: Another very diverse set of combat based powers, the Night Energy category involves blasting enemies with things like darkness, silence, fear, and pure chaos. How it’s physically possible to kill something with nothing is beyond my comprehension, but Sburb somehow makes it work, and let me tell you, it’s got some of the freakiest and most badass looking effects in the whole game. Void energy is that stuff you see coming off people when they go Grimdark. It’s intimidating to say the least.
=> Natural Stealth: A very common passive Void ability. This doesn’t mean that the player will automatically be some kind of ninja, (although there is still a possibility that will happen) but rather that Void players just seem to be… unimportant to many game constructs and even players. This at first can give the player some grief, as important NPCs might glitch out and forget the player talked to them, but this can be very useful when fleeing from Dersite agents or avoiding detection by higher level underlings.
(Continued in Part 2 because this whole thing is too goddamn long.)