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  1. The rulebook mentioned eight elements, not six or seven. Sun/Solar, Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Moon/Lunar, Black Moon/Lunar, and Black Sun/Saturnian/Orichalka. Alien Ka is such a fascinating concept given Nephilim’s cosmology. In the French, the “shen” (Chinese nephilim, called “xian-ren” on the English mailing list) purified their Air Ka and Lunar Ka to create Wood Ka and Metal Ka (or Qi). Nephilim’s pentacle is identical to the Wu Xing pentacle except for that rename (Air=Wood, Lunar=Metal). IIRC from the archives of the old 90s mailing list discussions, you guys were considering that non-Western nephilim would have different elements (the French version had vaguely similar ideas in its Exiles supplement, like the historical Ghost Dance disabling orichalka in North America). Nowadays, I personally find that unnecessary (and like a lot of 90s RPG material concerning foreign cultures, often extremely ignorant and unintentionally offensive) since Nephilim’s default cosmology already owes plenty to taoist alchemy and other non-Western occultism.
  2. Yep. Even today, what makes Nephilim stand out from World of Darkness is that the protagonists aren’t a*holes trying to conquer the world so they can enslave and/or eat humanity. The secret societies, the villains, are the ones trying to conquer the world and performing mass human sacrifice. That should be obvious from the fact that in the secret history of Nephilim the very mortal secret societies were responsible for the Holocaust. As for the second point, I think that making the game more accessible (e.g. starting as a normal person awakening to the occult underworld, recalling past lives during play, etc) would necessarily require changing the nephilim to awakened humans rather than elemental spirits stealing human bodies. The KaIm can still exist in the lore as the creators of humanity and ancestors of the nephilim, and it makes sense to me that their experiments yielded fruit in the form of humans awakening as nephilim. This would also fit into the multiple modern meanings of the Hebrew world nephilim. It means “fallen ones”, either from grace (fallen angels) or in battle (demigod heroes). The former would be KaIm, the later awakened elemental humans. At least that is what I think. I have been brainstorming a lot on trying to integrate nephilim, selenim, and ar-kaim (and various other weird options like the cruxim and the 666) into the setting as awakened humans, as well as various other cosmological concerns. The original French game was, like a lot of 90s games, really haphazard and messy in its rules and setting. The scanned translation of Selenim, for example, is full of rambling tangents and weird ideas unsupported by concrete rules. For example, one paragraph speculates that Saurians live on Saturn and sent the Orichalka meteor in vengeance for their dead kin. The English adaptation was so much cleaner and concise, even reviews by French gamers applaud it.
  3. Highlander seems to have been a major inspiration for a lot of the urban fantasy roleplaying games of the 1990s. A lot of them were dismissed as knock-offs of White Wolf, but that is unfair. Incoming rant! I for one dislike White Wolf's virtual monopoly on the urban fantasy roleplaying game market for the last thirty-odd years. Whenever people tell me to play a White Wolf game or make reference to their games as some kind of game industry standard (as if no other games exist and White Wolf doesn't liberally steal all their ideas from elsewhere), I get peeved. Most of the reason I am interested in Nephilim is because it isn't White Wolf: even thirty-odd years after its first publication, it's a breath of fresh air in the stagnant American market. Fair enough. As I said, the English fandom had the opposite problem. There seemed to be a general dislike of the nephilim for 1) being body-stealing parasites, and 2) overwhelming new players with massive backstory and complicated character creation.
  4. I’m surprised I only discovered it recently, but apparently the French third edition introduced the idea of “natural” nephilim who are essentially awakened humans. More specifically, the ar-kaïm and “natural” selenim. In prior editions it was mentioned that new nephilim could be born from Nexuses (carried over in English adaptation), but this was later retconned: all nephilim were former KaIm that were imprisoned in stases (in the French stasis was a prison made by secret societies, not nephilim) and incarnated in human bodies. The ar-kaïm were humans awakened with elemental powers but they lacked past lives; one supplement referred to them as “astrological nephilim” (as their character concept was based on zodiac signs). The selenim were mostly former nephilim, but some were spontaneously born from humans like ar-kaïm. They lacked past lives too. What I find odd is that this concept of awakened humans was never carried over to the nephilim proper. I wonder how these concepts could be worked into Ex Oculus. I asked the groups.io list about ExOc and am waiting on a response.
  5. The English adaptation was not a faithful translation. It made a bunch of changes to the lore and replaced core mechanics in supplements. About a decade ago some of the freelancers and other Nephilim fans from the mailing list drafted plans for a new edition tentatively named Ex Oculus. In this setting, the nephilim were changed to reincarnating human souls with elemental powers. It paid lip-service to the prior edition by claiming there was evidence to the contrary without ever showing any and letting PCs choose their own POV. The English adaptation’s awakened human concept appears loosely in the French third edition as the character type Ar-Kaïm. They are awakened humans with elemental powers, but no past lives or ancient identity. They deal primarily with mundane concerns over occult. I would really like to see the English adaptation get a chance to explore its nascent ideas. Concepts like selenim, xian-ren, shamanism, revised summoning, and so forth never got explored in the new lore and rules context. I have no idea how ar-kaïm would be handled therein. With the yahoo group shuttering, the English mailing list archives are being deleted forever and the few people who posted recently have moved to a new list on groups.io opened by Shannon Patrick. Sadly the cost to easy import the yahoo archives is too high ($200 last I checked) so it never sent out a message to the whole member list. Until December this is your last chance to archive anything.
  6. I agree that a BRP Rules Companion would be useful. Things like potency vs severity for diseases/poisons, percentile characteristics, and other innovations from BRP products released since 4th edition. Not only that, but I would love it if forgotten rules from old supplements could be referenced and revised as well, like Nephilim's potency mechanics (expanded from disease/poison to apply libraries and other things) and changing Appearance to Charisma, or RuneQuest's various spirits that could do things like storing power points, healing, causing madness or disease, etc. At least if equivalents don't already exist, do they? The BRP catalogue is extensive and difficult for me to parse.
  7. So the summoning system never received a revision like the sorcery and alchemy systems did. Sorcery was revised in the Liber Ka sourcebook. Alchemy was revised in the unpublished Slaying the Dragon sourcebook. Both systems were revised and reprinted in Enlightened Magic for BRP. The closest we have to a revision of summoning is the third circle spell "Summoning" on page 54 of Enlightened Magic. Could that be expanded into a whole enlightened summoning skill with three circles? Here are a couple extracts from the old mailing list: While I think some suggestions may be needlessly complex, the overall idea is that summoning invocations would be performed as rituals to call and bind an entity into service, or compel an entity that already exists in proximity (e.g. exorcising demons, calming an elemental creature, binding a nephilim/homunculus into oaths of servitude). In general summoning would be more powerful than sorcery, although the risks would likewise be higher. What do you think?
  8. Version 1.0.0

    4 downloads

    Original description: "Here are the Alchemy formulas from the rulebook, revised for the system presented in Slaying the Dragon. I'm attaching them to this email as a word document. If anyone has criticisms, feel free to reply." Originally uploaded as attachment to yahoo group 30 Nov, 2011
  9. Yes, Shannon Patrick from the nephilim mailing list. I have been thinking about possible alternatives. Removing the ka roll, and by extension the sacrifice mechanic, has a ripple effect on how casting works because mortal sorcerers rely on the sacrifice mechanic to cast spells. That may not be a bad thing, since the ka roll/sacrifice felt like a needless tax and the elixir holding multiple magic point pools was completely different from nephilim casting anyway. In the Ex Oculus rules, at least the 2010 draft I have, somebody apparently noticed this disparity since in those rules the nephilim track their five ka separately rather than deriving them with math from dominant ka. Since we are talking about selenim too: they spend ka from their ka pool (distinct from their ka core) by default without a sacrifice ritual in a manner similar to the spending of ch'awe. Incidentally, ch'awe was only added in the English adaptation. The saturnian spells in Secret Societies are perhaps the most complex: they require spending ch'awe, a skill roll, a ka roll, a sacrifice of elixir, and a sacrifice of awakened orichalka. The awakened orichalka is sacrificed by spilling the elixir's blood on the metal lump. Both the French and English versions were more complicated than they needed to be and seemed to enjoy inventing new subsystems in every book. I would prefer a universal guideline over these. I think a simpler universal system would be if, I don't know, characters had a magic point pool for each type of ka they had and spent points from that to cast spells instead of ch'awe. If they didn't have the relevant point pool, then they couldn't cast the spell unless they drew it from someone or something else like a sacrificial victim, an elixir, or lump of awakened orichalka. The sacrifice ritual would cost more but provide additional benefit, similar to the various overexertion or action point rules in many RPGs. But that's just one idea. EDIT: Perhaps the sacrifice ritual allows a nephilim to draw from the ka of another nephilim? For example, elemental affinity of a spell relies on who provides the ka; two nephilim could synergise their abilities by having one provide the occult training and another provide the elemental affinity. The secret societies perverted this into a form of involuntary human sacrifice. Definitely. I saw plenty of useful ideas in Ex Oculus (e.g. concealing the backstory about saurians, kaim, atlantis, lilith, etc rather than overwhelming players with it at the start) and various homebrew (e.g. distinguish ka types by evolving/elemental/residual). At the same time, I would prefer to avoid turning it into a clone of Mage: The Awakening or something. With the revisions to alchemy and sorcery from Liber Ka and unpublished Slaying the Dragon (ultimately revised and reprinted in Enlightened Magic), I thought that necromancy and so forth could be represented as black moon spells under those occult skills in the same way as saturnian spells. Since only selenim have black moon, only they could use these spells (but conversely they couldn't use other elements). They didn't necessarily need an entirely new set of skills that essentially do the same thing as the nephilim skills except only for black moon spells. For example, The King in Yellow makes sense as an enchanted work of Black Moon White Stone Alchemy. I didn't mean it in the sense of them casting other elemental magic, just consolidating the eight elements into a unified system. Elixirs are horrifying because their creation generally involves mass murder, and it doesn't make sense that the selenim would gleefully slaughter nephilim to create them. Indeed? What direction would that be? What I personally liked about the selenim lore was its heavy inspiration from Necroscope. The selenim were uniquely able to speak with the dead and build a rapport with them, largely distinct from their history with the nephilim and secret societies. The "ghouls" are essentially just a retread of Dracula's depiction of Renfield as Dracula's servant and vampirism as a gradual infection. GURPS Blood Types has an entry on half-vampires that encompasses several beings in folklore and fiction. What little I could piece together of the selenim from the English books and mailing list archives was definitely uninformed. They were mentioned as inventing sarcophagi as a precursor to stasis object (in the French this never happened, stasis was invented by the secret societies to imprison nephilim), spending periods of time in hibernation (in the French, this wasn't feasible due to entropy; they weren't VtM vampires), and at least their cultists in the Cultes des Goules believed they need human sacrifices and practiced cannibalism (in the French, they were emotional vampires). And the 2nd and 3rd editions introduced a variety of new things like nephilim/selenim hybrids, new selenim being spontaneously born from the spirits of dreamers, and the arkaim who had black moon-ka but didn't suffer from entropy.
  10. Sorry I haven't responded, I've been busy lately. Yes, Enlightened Magic is the latest version of the sorcery and alchemy mechanics. It does have key divergences from Nephilim though, like characters not tracking multiple POW characteristics and not rolling twice to cast spells. There's no skills for summoning, either, since that never received a revision. (The most summoning got was additional spells for manipulating elemental creatures that spontaneously arose from plexus and nexus; ironically, this is very similar in concept to the selenim's conjuration skill from the French third edition.) The "ex oculus" drafts I got from Shannon almost a decade ago still tracks multiple KA characteristics and requires rolling twice to cast spells (which also determine the mechanics for elixirs). The EM rules do make me wonder whether Nephilim could stand to be simplified. Are there simpler ways to represent the same thing? We also need to take into account the mechanics from other supplements, like the saturnian spells and solar-ka techniques in Secret Societies, the planned Selenim rules, and the Ar-KaIm from the French third edition. Based on Ian's old preview notes from his long dead prodigy pages site (which I helpfully archived), the tenebrae, necromancy, and black summoning would be introduced as their own skills. However, this is incongruous with the saturnian spells in Secret Societies using the standard nephilim occult techniques of sorcery, summoning, and alchemy. Why can't the black moon spells rely on the nephilim's occult techniques as saturnian spells do? How would these skills manifest differently for the selenim? The French Selenim and Black Book rules also included mechanics for things like orichalcum addiction and nephilim or muggles being "infected" with black moon-ka, which are very loosely similar in concept to the cultivation of saturnian-ka in Secret Societies. Does black moon infection allow one to cast black moon spells without being selenim? Could selenim or the undead (living or dead humans infected with black moon-ka) cultivate saturnian-ka within themselves? What exactly is the difference between the selenim and the undead? So many questions that have never been answered.
  11. I remember now. A long time ago Shannon sent me a copy of a planned Nephilim revision dated 2010. It explains concepts like fugue, parasite and so forth. Compared to the standard Nephilim lore, it is much more mysterious and unexplained. The backstory prior to the development of human civilization (e.g. saurians, kaim, atlantis) are not given, so PCs do not know where nephilim come from and generally behave as awakened reincarnating human beings. It has a number of innovations, such as scoring past lives by how well they are remembered and allowing nephilim to remember additional past lives by spending experience points. The sanity system is expanded, with each ka-element linked to particular stresses. I don't have permission to share it since it was put together by the freelancers IIRC, so you may need to ask Shannon about whether it can be shared.
  12. I don't mean that it becomes a happy circumstance; it should definitely be a heavy burden and it shouldn't be some kind of conscious relationship between the simulacrum and elemental. What I mean is that critics call the nephilim body-stealing parasites, a la the horror trope. This was a popular topic of discussion on the mailing list back in the day. The way I heard it explained, the difference is that vampires generally don't pretend they aren't monsters. The nephilim are depicted as an unjustly persecuted minority by comparison, even though they steal the bodies of unsuspecting innocent people and wreck their lives. Hence the suggestion that this be rewritten to be less of a conventional possession and more of a sympathy between the simulacrum and nephilim. Okay. That does not fit with the nephilim cosmology as presented. I am generally opposed to completely rewriting the setting, and the English adaptation has already taken major liberties from the original French. Michael Bishop wrote a simple house rule to store 50% of your occult points for spending during play, but it wasn't as extreme as recalling whole past lives during play. Speaking of character creation, I archived house rules involving advanced past lives and easy character creation. That reminds me. I talked with Shannon a few years ago about custom rules she thought of, which included the additional insanity state "Fugue"/"Sekhat" in which the nephilim was overwhelmed by the personality of a past life and forgot their other memories. I can't remember the details beyond that.
  13. One idea I had for making Nephilim easier to grok would be to allow characters to recall past lives during play rather than starting with convoluted character creation, although this may not be feasible under the BRP rules. Aside from being newbie unfriendly, another possible problem with the game's premise is that Nephilim are presented as parasites possessing human bodies. While sufficient for antagonists in a horror or conspiracy game, it isn't really appropriate for protagonists. One way I think that this could be addressed, in tandem with recalling past lives during play, is that the relationship between the human and nephilim personalities be rewritten to make them less seemingly villainous. Rather than parasites, it might be better to characterize them as symbiotic. To some degree this concept of merger between elemental and simulacrum is already present in the standard rules, since nephilim rely on their simulacrum's characteristics plus the bonus from their ka's meta-characteristics. I would prefer not to characterize them as awakened humans because that's already what every other modern magic game does, because that doesn't fit with the rest of the cosmology and magic system, and because that makes certain character types like selenim and ar-kaim untenable. For example, perhaps the shouit mechanic could be rewritten. Instead of the nephilim suffering sudden amnesia after a critical on a skill roll, they accrue shouit points for failing to maintain their muggle relationships to represent the muggle side's emotional turmoil. When shouit does take over, the muggle personality doesn't forget everything but merely doesn't remember the occult life and their psyche devises explanations to explain it away; although specifics may vary by character. Conversely, the khaiba mechanic could be rewritten in a similar fashion. Rather than simply accruing with critical rolls until it maxes and forces a state of khaiba, points could accumulate on a meter in opposition to shouit points. Khaiba represents the base nature of the nephilim without the human side to anchor them, so nephilim are truly gestalt beings rather than elemental spirits possessing human bodies. So what effect does this have on the culture of the nephilim? It means that they would prefer simulacra who are sympathetic to them, because otherwise the fusion simply would not work well if at all. You could go so far as to say that nephilim simply cannot merge with a simulacrum that doesn't meet a minimal threshold of psychological compatibility, or that if they do it causes extreme personality changes in the nephilim. This would be very difficult to roleplay, so switching simulacra shouldn't be a frequent thing. (E.g. look at Dax from Star Trek for an example.) Most of the Major Arcana work fine with this adjustment, save for those like Devil, Hanged Man, Death, and Moon, plus the ar-kaim. Those require a bit more thought. Devil believe enlightenment is found through khaiba and reject the muggle world entirely. Naturally, they might form genuine satanic cults in order to find simulacra with compatible personality types who won't accrue too much shouit points. In any case, Devil are probably not appropriate as PCs given their obviously antisocial culture. That they are an arcanum at all is interesting by itself. Hanged Man aren't as extreme under the symbiotic POV. They are probably the most similar to the awakened human mages in other RPGs, since they lack the ready access to past life memories and ancient perspective of other nephilim. However, this in itself gives them a unique POV since they think of themselves first as their current muggle lives and not as reincarnating wizards with ancient grudges. Moon encompasses nephilim with animal rather than human simulacra. If they are merges of elemental and simulacrum, then this raises the question of where their intelligence comes from. Since nephilim rely on the characteristics of their simulacrum plus the bonus from meta-characteristics, this means that the Moon Arcanum is at an intellectual disadvantage because their simulacra are animals. On the other hand, it does give them more reason to interact with muggles rather than living in total isolation like the Hermit Arcanum. After all, who do you think inspired the myths of the witch's familiar? Death is synonymous with selenim. In the French version, later editions apparently added that selenim could be born of the black moon field or "the spirits of dreamers" without having once been nephilim. I couldn't find a detailed source to confirm the nature of this, but I suppose it would be fine to run with the idea since the plans for the Chaosium adaptation involved major changes to the selenim lore like adding sarcophagi as a stasis precursor/equivalent. Black moon magic allows the selenim to manipulate solar-ka in ways unknown to the nephilim, such that they no longer have to worry about shouit and may switch simulacrum at will; I don't know how we would want to adapt any of this. Ar-kaim were never adapted into English. They were basically modern day superheroes with "talents" that worked like superpowers rather than the occult sciences. Ar-kaim are created when a muggle finds themselves at the right astrological conjunction and gets empowered with a "heart" of elemental ka. The heart may contain all eight of the ka elements, including black moon-ka and orichalcum/saturnian-ka. They haven't been around long enough to accumulate past lives, but the third edition included very brief rules for reincarnation. Not sure how they would be represented in BRP. Ideally our rules should account for selenim and ar-kaim rather than starting with nephilim and adding them later. For example, saturnian spells from Secret Societies use the existing occult sciences rather than inventing new ones; black moon spells could work the same. Not sure how to account for ar-kaim superpowers other than the "elemental effects" optional rule from Liber Ka p. 88; their shtick is that their innate abilities work like superpowers rather than spell-casting, which might not work well with the modern occult theme unless we draw inspiration from psychic phenomena.
  14. Yahoo Groups is shutting down in December, with uploads being disabled next week. I'm glad I saved all the important files. Sadly I didn't think to save the photos and desktops, and the yahoo server is now having outages that prevent a last minute backup. There's so much else I wanted to save that I may not get a chance to, but I've resigned myself to the loss of years of history. If anybody wants to help pay for the transfer to groups.io, then ask Shannon for details. On a more positive note, here are two links to Nephilim-related websites: https://nephilim.obsidianportal.com/ This is somebody's campaign site, but it does include some neat ideas on cosmology like "evolving ka" and "residual ka" that I find quite useful for explanation. (Their info on Selenim is pure homebrew with no relation to the French original.) http://bmo.altervista.org/Nephilim/index.htm This is where I archived a bunch of old nephilim websites for posterity. There are a bunch of interesting ideas for mechanics hidden there.
  15. I had plenty of ideas for revising the selenim rules, beyond what was originally planned for the English adaptation (according to the notes, selenim were going to have invented the precursor of stasis objects, meaning they would have their own equivalent that was absent in the French original). Among other things, it might make more sense to introduce the black moon spells for the existing occult sciences rather than introduce new black moon skills. The sorcery and alchemy rules were revised extensively in Enlightened Magic (unfortunately summoning never got a similar treatment) and Saturnian magic was introduced in the Secret Societies book, so it makes sense from that perspective. Unless we intend to overhaul the magic system again to take into account all eight elements.
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