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Cult of the Reptile God and long term Charm effect

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  • Cult of the Reptile God and long term Charm effect

    An old dungeons and dragons adventure describes the growth of a cult in a small village. Villagers are taken away and charmed by a Naga. I am converting the adventure over to Savage worlds because it is was a fun adventure to run in D&D and I think it will be fun in SW. We are using the Deluxe edition, with the Fantasy Companion added on for, well, the fantasy aspect of it. (Playing in Ehvenor of the Guardians of the Flame book series.)

    The monster in the adventure is a Naga, and in the old D&D it was using a charm person spell to enslave the villagers. Fantasy Companion Naga's are capable of using the Puppet Power. Now the Puppet power has a paragraph in the Fantasy book that says

    Villainous types may have other versions of
    puppet that allow them to control subjects for
    much longer periods of time — perhaps even
    permanently. Such versions usually require a
    personal belonging.

    The Deluxe description does not have this, but I like the longer term power description. Has anyone used a longer term Charm Effect? Is there another power somewhere that I could use to describe the mechanics of the Cult Expansion?
    And has anyone used Puppet in a long term manner? I am just looking for ideas to make the situation at least somewhat rules compliant. I'll ignore anything if it drives the story, but there will be questions from the casters in the group as they try and figure out why folks are acting as they are.


  • #2
    What is the requirement for a Power/mechanical description of what the naga does? The two most obvious are using it on a PC and dispelling it. Both cases are probably generally usable with the puppet mechanics, giving the naga a racial ability to use it as an innate ability rather than PP mechanics. However, I think mind wipe, using the edit modifier to alter the target's memories to see the naga as a friend and worthy of protection, is a better Power. The reason is that mind wipe is an instant while puppet is sustained; one random botch when trying to convert a captured PC and the whole thing crumbles.Also, being an instant, it doesn't require an unrealistic PP expenditure or special rules to eliminate the same.

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    • #3
      Ahh, Deluxe does not have the Mind Wipe power. 5.4 does.
      The requirement of the power (from the D&D perspective) is that the charmed people are now cultists under the control of the Naga and its minions. The cultists have been returned to the village as charmed persons and work to expand the Cult.

      The Puppet power could do the trick, given the last sentence in the description. I would have to have a room with a collection of personal items (vials of blood perhaps, that's personal, and creepy) that form the permanent link.
      Mind WIpe could edit in memories for an extra point. I could edit in a loyalty to the Cult. That is an option.

      I am just looking for ideas as to how to make a permanent charm effect compliant with SW rules, to convert over the plot point of the D&D module.

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      • #4
        The quick-and-dirty rule for Savage Worlds' monsters is: they have whatever abilities you give them.

        If the story calls for a naga with a Permanent duration on their puppet power, then that's what they have. The power still works the same, but its duration is longer. This is fully "rules compliant."

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        • #5
          What Deskepticon said. Do that.

          You could also add some kind of artifact to the Naga's lair that enhances/projects the mind control effect, so that destroying the artifact releases the puppet villagers?

          i'd love to hear how your game went, if you have time to write it up sometime? I seem to spend half my waking hours wondering how old D&D stuff could be converted to SW, lol.
          Last edited by mikeawmids; 11-10-2019, 10:05 AM.

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          • #6
            Well I am thinking of making it a Naga specific power. Add in the personal effects of vials of blood and you get some sort of Naga voodoo. Something the players cannot steal,find,liberate if and when they defeat the evil. I do not want the players to get the idea that creating a cult of personality is something they should do. Heck I don't even want a Charmed hireling acting as the designated trap finder.

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            • #7
              I am also adapting N1 for my player crew! They are all new gamers and have no idea what this adventure module is. It's already pretty interesting!

              I've adapted several other old adventure modules for various RPGs, and I have some general advice.

              My general guiding principle when converting material is Don't Convert -- Adapt.

              What this means is, don't concern yourself with making an effect or character doing the exact same thing in both games. Every game is different, and trying to make things exactly duplicate is chasing the wind, in my experience. Instead, think about what inspired you about the original material, and then decide what effects you want it to have in your game group. Then go over SWADE to see if there are any rules already in place that duplicate or come close to the EFFECT you want it to have. Make any adjustments you need to make it fit the way you want. Plug it in and go!

              Savage Worlds is FF&F. Don't make things too complicated or worry about things like math and game balance and so on. SW is so swingy that those things don't matter the way they do in other RPGs. get it close enough and run with it. let the players' cleverness, exploding dice and Bennies sort out the rest.

              A word on Trappings as a philosophy: Feel free to make the primary differentiator of a villain's abilities narrative in nature. Make sure whatever you make up makes some kind of sense, and then be consistent. If you are worried about going too far and making an OP villain, just make sure you drop some clues for the players so they have some idea what they're in for and they can prepare. Witnesses, dreams, visions, and examining the scene of villain activity all work great for clue dropping of this sort.

              SWADE shouldn't be hard work to adapt. That is one of its strongest qualities. Don't make it harder than it needs to be. SWADE can pick up the slack.

              Good luck!
              Enjoy drinks and dice at the Biting Bird Tavern, where we never split the party!

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              • #8
                The key to cool NPC powers is custom modifiers.

                The GM or author can make it so that certain modifiers are only accessible to certain types of character, to those who buy certain edges, etc. (For a great example of this, see the new Savage Rifts edition.) That gives you the freedom to adjust it as necessary. Come up with whatever set of rules makes sense, make that a modifier, and then add a prerequisite like, "Only usable by the Naga God's current high priest/priestess."

                That said, I agree that Mind Wipe + Edit is probably a better fit in this specific case.

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                • #9
                  Well looking over the Corrupt Naga from Fantasy Companion again (pg 138 if you want to read along) the Puppet power is an innate ability of Hypnotic Gaze that costs nothing and can be maintained indefinitely. It can only affect 1 person at a time.
                  So this power would make it easy to have the victim be passive for step 2 of the evil plan.

                  For step 2 we look at the Arcane Powers the Corrupt Naga has and edit them a little bit. Adding in Mindwipe from 5.4 SWADE would allow a more permanent control by editing in memories of loyalty and devotion to the cause/Naga. Each cult member would then be 'radicalized' in their life from then on. The 30 points a Naga has would allow several points to be spent per person. I don't care if it is 10 points a person to Wipe and edit several memories to instill a history of loyalty.

                  And yes, I know I could just say "The Naga has special powers and makes slaves of charmed victims." I just like to see if the mechanics of HOW such a charm effect could be done is possible in the rules. (I know I can just say, that's how the Naga works, I just like playing around within the rules.)

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                  • #10
                    My answer to these types of situations is Rituals. The Naga has Puppet and it works as normal in combat. But what is going on in N1 is they take people back to the Naga's lair and do a ritual that makes the effect permanent. It explains why people disappear for days at a time then suddenly reappear in the village.

                    Plus that gives something for the PCs to discover in the Naga's lair - the rogue (or Thief back in the day) catches the end of the ritual on the last batch of people that disappeared from the village.
                    Jeffrey...
                    Left is Death!

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                    • #11
                      If the effect is on a PC you could adapt the Harrowed mechanism from Deadlands

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                      • #12
                        I like the Ritual aspect amerigov, thanks. A ritual version of Mindwipe/edit, and even Puppet would cover off what I want to do. Thanks.

                        I am converting/modifying the Cult to have the local temple now becoming zealous and all encompassing in its activities. The town is being slowly converted to this fundamentalist worship of Merikka. Everything for the new converts now revolves around how to follow the principles of the church.

                        I'll have to have a couple of people knock on the characters door early one morning, maybe hand them a pamphlet.

                        And converting the Cult that way can spread anywhere. Anyone who has had the Ritual performed on them will become a willing proselytizer of the religion. A new temple could open up anywhere. This could change from a simple adventure into a chase across the country trying to track down the Ritualist who is modifying the minds of citizens

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                        • #13
                          I think the Rituals with the vials of blood is a good combo. The Naga might be able to give specific commands to the blood slaves. The party could free some by finding and smashing the blood vials but maybe the Naga has more hidden away so those thought to be freed can suddenly turn on the party.

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                          • #14
                            So just an update. Thanks to the good ideas here I've actually come up with an entire campaign arc based on this idea. The Cult of the Reptile God is getting an upgrade.

                            So thinking about the Naga and what it could do with Puppet and Mindwipe I realized that tweaking the Naga a little bit I could expand the religion way beyond the village of Orlane. This is just the first step. The Naga is thinking 'big picture'.

                            Thus the fundamentalist temple of Merikka has been born. Stealing liberally from early American History and modern radicalization I realized I can make a combination of fundamentalist sects of Christianity, Mormons, Pilgrims, Calvinism, Puritanism to trample through a couple of hundred years of history at a gallop. Heck I can grab from anywhere from Isis to Scientology and re-word things to give praise to Merrika.

                            I can use Mindwipe and Edit and the blood ritual to enhance things. (Such as the permanency of the Puppet power described in the book). this editing of memory will instill conviction to the word of Merikka. Editing in a powerful religious memory can create a loyal set of followers, not Charmed slaves. A loyal follower will give more.

                            And that's my tweak. From that the entire module is twisted a bit. You get all the cult members helping each other farm and prosper. The Temple is clean and tidy and profiting from all the loyal converts. The sermons are fundamentalist and heavy on the tithing. (Naga gets its cut of course.) Now the town is in the midst of a religious revival. Tensions are high, non-believers get shunned by believers. Whispers of heresy and wanting another priestess.

                            And this idea of magical conversion can be a hook to hang all sorts of mayhem on. What if the local Lord is 'converted'. They go off on a hunting trip and return preaching about the new Doctrine of Merrika. This stuff can spread across the country as fast as a person can be edited into usefulness.

                            So thanks for the ideas. My players are now in a much more dangerous place.

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