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Mark Blockhead
Nov 7, 2012


Young Freud posted:

I knew this sounded familiar. Jason Thompson did a one-page comic detailing a party's adventure through the Tomb of Horrors. I'll spoiler tag the image link, to not step on DAD's read-through.

http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/toon/TombHorrors

I like how despite summoning more than 300 npc allies the party is reduced to 2, one of whom is trapped forever and the other of whom is maimed and permanently cursed. Also the Tomb killed them so hard their entire kingdom got caught in the blast radius.

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Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



Semi-off topic, but just noticed that the artist did more maps.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



I remember how the "Age of Worms" adventure path in Dragon magazine ended with the PCs having ot kill a god, and one of the suggested ways to do this was to head to the Tomb of Horrors (which happened to be nearby) and grab the Sphere of Annihilation out of it. Because, you know, that's where I want to send my level 20 PC at the end of a long-rear end campaign.

Angrymog posted:

Semi-off topic, but just noticed that the artist did more maps.
Yeah, they were to celebrate the Dungeons of Dread release, which is a compilation of the entire S-series. ToH, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, White Plume Mountain, and Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. The book has the illustration books too, and WotC re-release the illustrations as PDFs.

There's a game store near where I work that has the original Tomb, Expedition, and White Plume modules. It's pretty tempting...

e: someone needs to review Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

A friend once offered me money for my (2nd edition, staple-bound) reprint of those modules, so that he could burn it. This was after a mutual friend ran us through it as his first foray into DMing.

And WTF, D&D? did a run-through of the Barrier Peaks that's probably as coherent as any real review could make it.

Zerilan
Jan 11, 2008

I have to believe I can do this.







How well would Tomb of Horrors port over to a non-D&D system like DW?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


ThisIsNoZaku posted:

Which of these games would people like to see:
Dresden Files RPG
Spycraft (So loving crunchy, like you won't believe)
A Song of Ice and Fire RPG
Iron Heroes (A "gritty" D&D variant from Mike Mearls back in the wild and wooly days of 2005)

Belatedly...

... it would depend if you mean Spycraft "1.0" or 2.0. If you mean 2.0, then you have brass balls and perhaps some other euphemism for supposed manliness and I double dog dare you to do it.

Otherwise I guess Iron Heroes has gained historical importance on account of Mearls and Next and deserves a good drubbing. It has some really interesting ideas for d20 but it also retains an equal number of d20 fallacies, including feat chains ten deep which is possibly a world record level of lovely feat implementation.

Lazer Vampire Jr.
Mar 31, 2005

Ask me about whatever fat loss diet is popular this month!

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Belatedly...

... it would depend if you mean Spycraft "1.0" or 2.0. If you mean 2.0, then you have brass balls and perhaps some other euphemism for supposed manliness and I double dog dare you to do it.

Otherwise I guess Iron Heroes has gained historical importance on account of Mearls and Next and deserves a good drubbing. It has some really interesting ideas for d20 but it also retains an equal number of d20 fallacies, including feat chains ten deep which is possibly a world record level of lovely feat implementation.

2.0 is great because they tried to do everything in one book and its massive size speaks for that. If you were pitting various d20 game derivatives of the time against each other using their rules density as a measure of fighting power, Spycraft 2.0 kills everyone else in the room and burns the house they were in down.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Zerilan posted:

How well would Tomb of Horrors port over to a non-D&D system like DW?

As DAD LOST MY IPOD noted, the Tomb of Horrors is basically an exercise in *not* using the D&D rules. It's definitely the old school D&D mentality where getting through safely is more about figuring out where to look, which buttons to push, how best to butter up the DM, etc. You can't just bull through by having the right spells, class abilities, or magic items. (At least, not until you get to the massive gently caress YOU at the end that's Acererak.) As such, it shouldn't be that hard to port to other systems.

Forums Terrorist
Dec 8, 2011



Excuse me, but it's spelled TOMB OF HORRORS.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


If I ran TOMB OF HORRORS™ as a Paranoia style game, I'd probably just use the Paranoia rules. And have every seventh resurrection change your body like the cloning does.

You've been chosen by the Great Lord Acererak to patrol the TOMB OF HORRORS for adventurers, monsters and unlicensed necromancers. Unfortunately for you, you are an adventurer, monster and unlicensed necromancer. Survive, sucker.

Galaga Galaxian
Apr 23, 2009

What a childish tactic!
Don't you think you should put more thought into your battleplan?!


Sector TMB of Horrors?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Spycraft 1.0 is probably the best 'modern' d20 game and is actually really fun, even if it retains some of the classic problems of d20, they're a lot less pronounced without wizards and clerics about.

Spycraft 2.0 ...Well, I guess they fixed the budget and gadget systems, but in return, decided to write an insanely crunchy 400+ page main book. Ugh, Spycraft 2.0. Why are you what you are.

Capntastic
Jan 13, 2005

A dog begins eating a dusty old coil of rope but there's a nail in it.



I have a friend who ran Sector of Horrors. I'll have to get him to give me the after action report.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

Young Freud posted:

I knew this sounded familiar. Jason Thompson did a one-page comic detailing a party's adventure through the Tomb of Horrors. I'll spoiler tag the image link, to not step on DAD's read-through.

http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/toon/TombHorrors

Those are the best walkthough maps.

ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


Now we start getting into the parts that directly impact play, talking about the customs and laws, technology and social organization in Westeros.

Customs and Laws
  • All authority descends from the king, who rules by divine right.
  • Nobles have more rights than common folk, and higher ranking nobles have more than lower ranking ones.
  • Men have more rights than women, except in Dorne where age is more important. For inheritance, male children inherit, from eldest to youngest, and females only if there is no legitimate male heir.
  • Lords have a duty to administer and enforce the law in their lands. Common punishments are maiming, execution or loss of property and/or titles. Lords have the right of “pits and gallows,” allowing them to imprison or execute law breakers. Landed knights may also enforce laws, but cannot imprison or execute.
  • An alternate punishment is to be forced to “take the black” and join the Night's Watch. The crime is forgiven but you must completely abandon your old life to serve on the wall.
  • Execution is normally by beheading. In the tradition of the First Men, the individual who passes sentence must be the one who executes the convicted; this tradition holds mainly in the north, while southern nobles have executioners. A cruel alternative is to stick the condemned in an iron cage called the “crow cage” to die of exposure, named for the crows that gather to pick at the body.
  • Nobles accused of a crime may demands trial by combat or trial by lords, where a group of fellow nobles serve as judge and jury.
  • A common longstanding tradition is “guests rights,” where a host is obligated to feed guests and cannot cause any harm to anyone who eats at their table for the duration of their stay.
  • Children become adults at 16, and a girls first menstruation is an important milestone. Nobles often betroth children much younger than this for political reasons, but sleeping with a girl before her first “moonsblood” is seen as super gross everywhere.
  • Followers of the Seven are wed by Septons while followers of the old ways say their vows in front of a weirwood.
  • Family allegiances are built by fostering children from the age of 8 or so until their age of majority. Wards are work the same way, except the children are kept as hostages to ensure the good behavior of their family, instead of guests.
  • Bastard children are distrusted due to the circumstances of their conception. Every region has a surname given to the illegitimate children of nobles.
    Dorne: Sand
    The Iron Islands: Pyke
    King's Landing and Dragonstone: Waters
    The North: Snow
    The Reach: Flowers
    The Riverlands: Rivers
    The Vale of Arryn: Stone
    The Westerlands: Hill
    The Stormlands: Storm

Technology
The technology of Westeros is similar to that of 13th to 15th century Europe, without any gunpowder. The most interesting difference from the real world is that crows are used

Faith and Religion
There are two main faiths in Westeros, the Seven and the Old Gods.

The Seven is the faith of the Andals, called the "New Gods" despite existing in Westeros for 6,000 years. Technically, the Seven is monotheistic, worshiping seven aspects of a single creator god.

The Father is called on for wisdom in judgement and judging the dead. The Mother guards children, mothers and innocents, blesses pregnant women and unborn children. The Warrior is the patron of knights and soldiers. The Smith is the god of creation, healing and cripples. The Crone is the face of fate and wisdom, said to have let the first crows into the world when she looked behind death's door. The Maiden protects girls and young women and lovers. The Stranger collects the dead and takes them to the afterlife.

Followers of the Seven give up their family names to become septons or septas, for men and women, respectively. The Great Septon leads the religion from the Great Sept of Balor in King's Landing. Down one rung are the Most Devouted, fantasy!Cardinals to the Great Septon's fantasy!Pope. Godsworn are often learned and literate and teach the children of nobles. The faithful pray in Septs or Septries and the symbol of the faith is a seven-pointed star or seven-faced crystal.

The Faith used to be much more powerful before Aegon the Conqueror, when there were seven kings and one Great Septon. The Targaryens cut them down to size, but the faith still carries a lot of influence and moral authority.

The Old Gods were worshiped by the children of the forest and adopted by the First Men. They are gods of nature- rivers, trees, etc- and are represented by weirwoods, special trees with while bark and dark red leaves. The children of the forest carved faces into some of them and these special trees are called heart trees. Lots of weirwoods were destroyed, first by the First Men before their peace with the children of the forst and then by the Andals.

Now, worship of the Old Gods is limited primarily to the North and pockets where the First Men blood runs thick.

Other Religions
The ironborn worship the Drowned God, the god of the sea and raiders, along with the Storm God, ancient enemy of the Drowned God.

Sometimes found among the Dorne are those who still follow the ways of the Rhoynar from before they came to Dorne as the Orphans of the Greenblood.

A prominent faith in the east is R'hllor, the Lord of Light. He's a god of light and fire, invoked by his followers to protect against darkness and evil.

Knighthood
As a medieval fantasy setting, Westeros is filled with stories of shining knights and heroic deeds. Of course, reality does not always match the stories, sadly.

Young noble boys start on the road to knighthood at 8 or 9, serving as squires to full fledged knights. They can become knights of their own as early as 15, but old squires are not unknown. As warriors, knighthood must be earned; if you cannot fight, you cannot be knighted.

There is also a religious side to knighthood, closely tied to faith in the Seven. In the ceremony for knighthood, the aspirant keeps an overnight vigil and in the morning, walks barefoot in a simple shift to a septon and a knight. The septon anoints him with holy oils and the knight touches him on each shoulder with a sword. An abbreviated version can be performed by just a knight. The would-be knight is anointed by the established knight and swears his vows.

Knights are formally called Ser. Knights can have personal coats of arms, distinct from their family arms, but only legitimate heirs can inherit those of their father. Fake knights who were never knighted but claim to have been do exist.

Knights can become landed by being granted lands and keeps for service. Knights commonly swear themselves to the service of nobles and those without a liege are "hedge knights," often poor wanderers.

Maesters of the Citadel
An unusual social group existing a bit outside of the traditional feudal hierarchy. The Citadel is the center of learning in Westeros and the Maesters are a mashup of philosophers, scholars, scientists and ambassadors.

The Maesters accept anyone who comes to them to learn, regardless of status- though no girls allowed- even if they don't wish to become Maesters.

The Archmaesters rule the Citadel and are the closest thing to a ruling body the Maesters have. They make decisions about the administration of the Citadel, choose the Grand Maester who advises the king and announce the changing of the seasons.

Those training to be Maesters study a wide variety of topics: accounting, anatomy, architecture, astronomy, dragonlore, forensics, healing, herblore, "higher mysteries", history, mathematics, nagivation, raven lore and training, watercraft, yadda yadda. When a student thinks they've mastered a topic they can ask to be tested by that fields archmaester and if they pass, the student earns a chain link. Each different subject is represented by a different metal. Once a student earns enough links to create a chain they can wear around their neck, they swear their vows to become a full maester.

Maesters are assigned to lords to advise them and since they have to give up their family names, titles and lands when they swear their vows, they are seen as a wise, neutral party.

There is some rivalry between the Maesters and religious faithfuls. The Maesters see themselves as men of reason and intellect, poo-pooing "superstition" like many elements of religion and mysticism.

ThisIsNoZaku fucked around with this message at 23:48 on Jul 11, 2013

ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


Chapter 2: Game Rules
Let's skip directly to the parts us :spergin: will care about.

ASOIF uses d6s in a roll-and-add dicepool system- Roll a number of dice and add them together to get a result.

There are four types of tests: Basic, Extended Basic, Competition and Conflict Tests.

In a Basic test, you roll and compare the result to the Difficulty. Extended Basic tests are used in situations where multiple tests are needed to succeed on something.

Competition tests are when multiple parties are trying to achieve the same goal, and the test is to determine who succeeds first or best.

Conflict tests happen when characters are acting directly against each other; essentially, whenever one character is “attacking” and the other is “defending.” The game then says that the “active” character in the conflict should do the rolling. The game gives the examples of a guard and an infiltrator. If the infiltrator is trying to sneak past the guard, he rolls. If the guard is actively looking for someone trying to hide, the guard rolls.

For conflicts, each character has a passive “Defense” rating that serves as the Difficulty for the rolls an acting character makes against them, equal to 4 x the Ability.

Modifying Tests
A Modifier is a flat amount added to a roll.

Assistance provided by an ally gives half their rating in whatever Ability is being used, rounded down but minimum 1, as a modifier to the test.

Taking More Time gives an extra die for the roll for each additional unit of time spent before making it, up to double your normal dice pool.

Specialties are narrow specializations that a character can have. Specialties have numeric ratings and whenever a Specialty applies, the character gains the rating in Bonus Dice. For each bonus die a character has, they roll an extra die and then subtract one die before calculating the roll result.

Penalty Dice remove dice from your roll like Bonus Dice, except that they don't give the extra die.

Rolls have degrees of success or failure, based on the result. Getting exactly the number needed gives one degree of success and you get one more for every 5 points you beat the Difficulty of the roll by.

The next section covers several character archetypes you can use:
Anointed Knight
Godsworn
Hedge Knight
Heir
Maester
Noble
Retainer
Scout
Squire

Each of these characters comes ready to use directly out of the book, with skills, traits and equipment.

The next chapter goes into the full character creation system.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


If you don't make at least one Northman, especially one bearing an axe and a grudge for Southern knights, you will upset my need for petty vengeance against characters from the book.

sexpig by night
Sep 8, 2011
Probation
Can't post for 29 hours!


My group actually really digs the GoT game. I mean it helps that we're huge dorks that view noble parlays and backstabbing as something fun to focus on. The game kinda breaks super hard if everyone wants to be sword dude, though, since it's just a race to see who can write the right talents down first.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




Bieeardo posted:

A friend once offered me money for my (2nd edition, staple-bound) reprint of those modules, so that he could burn it. This was after a mutual friend ran us through it as his first foray into DMing.

And WTF, D&D? did a run-through of the Barrier Peaks that's probably as coherent as any real review could make it.

There's a 2E reprint? That might explain some things - because I vaguely remember reading through the Tomb of Horrors that came with the RttToH box set and spotting some differences from the one here.

The big giveaway seems to be the sign in the Chamber of Hopelessness; if it refers to "open the south door" you're in the old edition, if it refers to "escape to certain death" you're in the new. The new is nicer in a few ways in that more things have saves and less rules are broken, but Acererak is a fightable monster (as opposed to a sort-of-puzzle in the old one) and the Arch of Reversal is more effective (the old version goes: change sex and alignment, restore alignment, restore sex - which means that the alignment change usually won't take as most players dive back through the arch after getting changed first time. The new version goes: change sex, change alignment, restore sex and alignment.)

Oddly in our first run of the Tomb we died because there were saves. Our PC Swanmay (head-desk) was wearing a Helm of Brilliance (double head-desk) which failed a save and blew up taking the party with it. If there'd been no saving throw, the PC would have died, but everyone else would have survived, because no save means no failed save.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Looking into it a bit further, the 'original' reprint was titled Realms of Horror. I think it was a straight reprint, but I'm not sure where my copy snuck off to. The Arch reversed sex and alignment the first time through (which probably made it one of the canonical 'gently caress the paladin' traps), reset alignment the second, and corrected the character's sex the third time with a side-order of teleportational shenanigans. Acererak was statted, but as a stock Monster Manual II demilich with their host of weird immunities and resistances that the average party would simply not be able to chew their way through before he ate all of their souls.

Bieeanshee fucked around with this message at 15:17 on Jul 12, 2013

Mark Blockhead
Nov 7, 2012


Bieeardo posted:

Looking into it a bit further, the 'original' reprint was titled Realms of Horror. I think it was a straight reprint, but I'm not sure where my copy snuck off to. The Arch reversed sex and alignment the first time through (which probably made it one of the canonical 'gently caress the paladin' traps), reset alignment the second, and corrected the character's sex the third time with a side-order of teleportational shenanigans. Acererak was statted, but as a stock Monster Manual II demilich with their host of weird immunities and resistances that the average party would simply not be able to chew their way through before he ate all of their souls.



I don't want to spoil stuff in advance of the end of the review, but any party that tangles directly with Acererak is likely to TPK regardless of which version you use.

King Doom
Dec 1, 2004
I am on the Internet.

I literally do not understand the point of the tomb of horrors. It honestly seems like it was designed from the ground up to be something where the only person involved having fun was the DM and only then if he was the worst grognard 'the players are my most bitter enemies' kind of person.

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


No, you understand.

ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


King Doom posted:

I literally do not understand the point of the tomb of horrors. It honestly seems like it was designed from the ground up to be something where the only person involved having fun was the DM and only then if he was the worst grognard 'the players are my most bitter enemies' kind of person.

It was a tournament module. You'd play through it at a convention, whichever party got the farthest was the winner.

Barudak
May 7, 2007



King Doom posted:

I literally do not understand the point of the tomb of horrors. It honestly seems like it was designed from the ground up to be something where the only person involved having fun was the DM and only then if he was the worst grognard 'the players are my most bitter enemies' kind of person.

Assuming you play a game where constant death isn't an impediment to progress (dark souls respawning, clone slugs, a train of hirelings, whatever) it can be relatively fun to play through in a sick and twisted way. If you're trying to stick to characters with like, stories and stuff its horrific and tedious.

PantsOptional
Dec 27, 2012

All I wanna do is make you bounce

Tomb was written for two reasons:

  1. A challenge to his players who considered themselves invincible, including his own son;
  2. So Gary could be "ready for those fans [players] who boasted of having mighty PCs able to best any challenge offered by the AD&D game."

So basically it boils down to "too easy, eh? I'll show them..."

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009



PantsOptional posted:

Tomb was written for two reasons:

  1. A challenge to his players who considered themselves invincible, including his own son;
  2. So Gary could be "ready for those fans [players] who boasted of having mighty PCs able to best any challenge offered by the AD&D game."

So basically it boils down to "too easy, eh? I'll show them..."

So basically D&D: Players Must Die mode? I guess if that's what your players find fun, nothing's wrong with that.

PantsOptional
Dec 27, 2012

All I wanna do is make you bounce

MJ12 posted:

So basically D&D: Players Must Die mode? I guess if that's what your players find fun, nothing's wrong with that.

I think, and mind you this is only my supposition here, that the intended goal was to illustrate that having a super-powerful character doesn't make you awesome. This would explain why half the threat in the dungeon comes down to either random chance or a test of the player rather than the character.

neonchameleon
Nov 14, 2012





King Doom posted:

I literally do not understand the point of the tomb of horrors. It honestly seems like it was designed from the ground up to be something where the only person involved having fun was the DM and only then if he was the worst grognard 'the players are my most bitter enemies' kind of person.

Old Geezer on RPG.net went into this a while back. Apparently Rob Kuntz and Ernie Gygax were complaining that everything in Greyhawk was too easy. So Gygax wrote Tomb of Horrors in response.

And the result of the first playthrough of Tomb of Horrors? Not one single PC death. And all treasure found.

Edit: Gygaxian D&D was all about testing the player and their skill with the resources provided by the character.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG


Part 8d: Nile magic agic agic agic.

The Nile Empire (and, to a lesser extent, Terra) is a world where both magic and technology more-or-less coexist. It's common knowledge in the Empire that priests and engineers can produce miraculous effects, but unfortunately this is TORG which means we have to have a ton of new rules to cover them, because back in the 90's you couldn't just have things just feel a certain way, you also had to model them mechanically.

As a result, the Nile Empire has two new types of magic: mathematics and engineering. Both of these types of magic also share a subsystem based on astrology, and all three of these new magic bits is a separate skill you'd need to take on top of the normal magic skills. On top of that, the Terra sourcebook has pulp sorcery, which works completely differently from normal Torg magic and Nile Empire magic.

I should also point out that the "normal" Torg magic system, which I talked about back here and here, does not apply to Nile characters. The basic system is the same, but you can't just "cast" spells and be done with it. If you want to be a Nile/Terran caster, you have to use these rules.

Let's start with astronomy.

quote:

Magic and miracles in Mobius' reality rely upon the positions of various heavenly bodies for spell casting. Accomplished astronomers, the ancient Egyptians of Terra were so proficient in the art of astronomy that they had mathematically proven the existence of all nine planets in the solar system thousands of years before many of the planets were officially "discovered." They also charted the profound influence the planets had on magic and miracles.
Astronomy, in this case, is pretty much all Egyptian-themed. Which makes sence for the Empire, since that's build around Mobius' beliefs and background, but it doesn't make as much sence for Terra because Mobius isn't calling the shots there.

Spells and miracles in the Empire have two astronomical parts. First, every spell has a minimal number of planets that have to be taken into account to cast the spell (which can be 0). And yes, this is a stat line for Nile spells. The second thing is which planets influence the spell, which is also a stat line.

The planets are named for the Egyptian gods, but in a startling coincidence the planets of Core Earth's solar system work just as well as the ones back in Terra.

quote:

Mercury = Ra (god of the sun)
Venus = Isis (patron of magic and children)
Earth = Osiris (god of earth)
Mars = Horus (god of life)
Jupiter = Nut (god of the sky)
Saturn = Nepthys (patron of women)
Uranus = Ptah (god of craftsmen)
Neptune = Anubis (god ofthe underworld)
Pluto = Set (god of evil)

When you cast something, you first have to figure out how many planets you want to configure into the spell from the list of planels that influence said spell. You can put in as many as you want, but you have to hit the minimum for the spell. Then you pick the highest difficulty for a planet you picked off this table:


That gives you the difficulty of the astrology roll needed to cast the spell. Then you roll using the One-On-Many chart (remember that?) against the number of planets you're bringing in. Then starting with the innermost (lowest difficulty) planet, and for each planet configured beyond the first, you add the value listed on the chart to the total of the roll.

So let's say I want to cast wing of the hawk (which lets me fly). It needs at least 1 planet, and the influential planets are Ra, Osiris, Nut, and Nepthys. I'll pick 3 planets: Ra, Nut, and Nepthys. Nepthys has the highest difficulty at 13, so that is the base difficulty of the spell. On the One-On-Many table, the difficulty to hit all three "targets" is 18. I roll against my astronomy skill and get a 19. That beats the base difficulty and hits all three targets. I only get the bonuses for the planets I "hit" beyond the first one, so I don't get the bonus for Ra. The bonuses of Nut and Nepthys add up to +10, which I add to the overall spellcasting total.

I should point out now that the above example isn't the actual act of casting the spell. It's done before the spell is cast to determine the bonus of the actual spellcasting roll, and is a separate action. This means that casting a Nile spell takes at least two rounds.

If you want to overcomplicate things, you can use the optional Planetary Cycles rules. Basically, any planet can automatically succeed at boosting a spell if it's in the correct celestial position with no roll required on the part of the caster.

How do we figure out if a planet is configured?

quote:

As gamemaster, you have to keep a record of the days which have passed in your campaign in order to use the cycles. Each time Mobius invades a cosm, the calendar starts again with Day One. The events written about in this sourcebook go up to Day 65 of the Pharaoh's invasion. Begin your campaign calendar with Day 65, and mark off one day for each day of game time which you and your players spend in the game world.

Divide the campaign day by the cycle of a planet; the remainder is called the position of the planet. If the position of a planet is zero, the planet naturally configures on this day.

We recommend you calculate the zero positions of planets out of game time, and for a substantial period of time (say, one year). Writing it down in calendar form and check off the campaign days as you run through them. That way, you will know what planets are influencing spells for the current day of play.
Yeeeeah I'm not doing that. Sorry. There's detail, there's ridiculous detail, and there there's whatever the hell that is.

Let's just avoid eye contact with the solid page of stuff about planetary alignments and move onto mathematics.

Mathematics is a skill you need to learn on top of the normal magic skills, and you learn it by going to one of the many Colleges of Mathematicians found throughout the Empire. Of course, these colleges are run by the government and answer directly to Rama-Tet, the Royal Vizier to Mobius himself. The Colleges are considered an official arm of the government, which means that faculty and students alike can find themselves "volunteered" into government service. In fact, it's illegal to know magic-level math if you're not a student or staff.

To add to the fun of Empire college life, the faculty works on a strict tier system where there are only so many people allowed at each rank of the staff's structure. Below Rama-Tut are 10 Grand Deans, and under each of them are three Lesser Deans, and so on. This means that if you want to advance in the academic world, you pretty much have to "make an opening", if you catch my drift.

But anyway. On to casting spells.

quote:

When a mathematician casts a spell, he uses intricate astronomical charts and measurements to generate numerous calculations and geometric designs which are derived from the planetary positions. By scribbling these calculations on papyrus and then making a series of mystical incantations, the mathematician summons forth the magical energies necessary to power the spell.
Uh huh.

To cast a mathematical spell (which is indeed a separate "type" of spell), you go through the astrological foofrah listed above. That's one action. Then you make a mathematics roll; if the roll succeeds, then you actually get to roll your magic skill to see if you managed to cast the drat spell (adding the astrology bonus to this roll's total). If you fail the mathematics roll, though, you suffer backfire.

Backfire is handled by the GM rolling a d20 and generating a flat total. Then you look up the result on the Mathematics Backfire Chart to see what happens. Results range from losing a Possibility to being struck blind for three days to the backfire result being used as an attack against the caster.

And I'm sorry, but the whole math-casting thing is ridiculous. It doesn't add anything to the whole spellcasting thing except more die rolls. Why not just make the backfire part of the normal spellcasting roll? Hell, why's it there in the first place? It doesn't fit thematically, and no in-game rationale is provided for this. It's just another roll for the sake of adding another roll.

And it's not like the mathematic spells are more powerful than normal magic spells. Some of them are pretty useful, like Contemplation, which lets you draw four cards, add them to your hand, and keep the four you want, or Death Shout which is a decent attack spell (spell total + 5 damage). But then you've got Calculate Weakness, which gives one person a +3 to one attempt at one action, or gemwork which just doubles the value of a single gem.

The book also doesn't mention how long it takes to write up the scroll full of formuals and geomety; is that just fluff of the mathematics roll, or do I have to spend game time doing that? Can I prep these scrolls in advance? :iiam:

After mathematics comes engineering. Like mathematics, magic-based engineering in the Empire is tought in government-run schools with the same sort of structure and fun internal politicing.

Casting engineering-based spells is interesting, partially because they don't suffer backfire, partially because they break the "a target can't be affected by more than one ongoing spell at a time" rule, and partially because they don't really explain how engineering-casting works.

Not that it matters that much, since there are only five engineering spells: Detect Traps, Find a Path, Lift (create a magic block-and-tackle), Imbude With Mystic Energy (gives buildings a Possibility pool), and Neutralize Trap.

An engineer's main power is to build mystical structures. They can create structures with built-in gizmos, spells, miracles, powers, or skills.

You do this, you first need to create a maat matrix, which takes a week, costs $400, and requires a difficult 19 engineering roll. Then you place the matrix in the structure and have someone cast the spell or attach the gizmo or whatever, and cast a binding spell. Only two skills (find and stealth) and one power (fear) can be built into a building, but pretty much any gizmo, spell, or miracle is fair game. You can build a pressure plate/machine gun combo, or a room that animates a mummy when someone enters.

Once installed, the building gets to "use" the power/skill/gizmo/spell, powered by the Possibility pool generated by the Imbude With Mystic Energy spell. Using anything installed in a maat matrix requires the spending of a Possibility point on top of any other cost. If a skill roll is required, the effective skill is the skill level used when the spell/miracle/whatever is cast.

It should be pointed out as well that if you build all this into a pyramid, you use the astrology planetary alignment stuff to generate bonuses for free. Why the PCs would be building a pyramid is beyond me, but there you go.

From magic we move on to miracles. Amazingly, there's no real new mechanics in this chapter. Miracles still use the astrology mechanics, so you need to pick planets and make the astrology roll, but every Nile miracle requires an actual ritual to be performed. None of the Nile miracles can be cast "on the fly", even the combat miracles require a few rounds to cast.

There are a good number of miracles available, ranging from the expected thematic types (Mummify, Plague, Bless Pyramid) to the more ritualistic and situational. "Invest Pharoh", for example, requires a full 100-person feast and can make the target of the spell recognized throughout the land as the Pharoh. If there's already a Pharoh in place, though, you have to beat the spellcasting total generated when that guy was made Pharoh.

And yes, Mobius had this cast on himself, and the final faith total was 74. The fact that this spell exists and is fully stated, though, means that it's possible to just knock Mobius out of his position of Pharoh by making a single skill roll.

There's also the Great Curse miracle, which is pretty nasty.

quote:

It curses its victim with a -1 bonus modifier, plus the victim treats all stymied results on his line of the combat card drawn at the beginning of each combat round as a setback instead, andall opponents gain a +1 bonus modifier when acting against the victim.

On the plus side, there is a "turn your staff into a snake" miracle.

Last, but not least, the Terra sourcebook introduces Terran magic and Pulp Sorcery.

quote:

Hundreds of years ago Terra fully supported "normal" magic.The tales of lost Atlantean sorcerers and medieval mages were based in fact. Merlins and LeFays were regularly winning the wars for their kings hundreds of years ago. But as the world aged, their magic became lost in the hustle and bustle of modern society. People became more concerned with that which they could prove. The age of Industrialization and Science was disastrous to the age of magic. No longer did families fear the night. It was brightly lit by gaslights and the demons of yesteryear were cast into the shadows. Long sweatshop hours simply didn't allow people to have the time to fear the unknown. The struggle for normal life was hard enough. Therefore, Terrans lost their ability to use and recognize magic. Their world still allowed it, but their own abilities were extinguished as they sold out to science.

In game terms, this means there are very few believers in magic in Terra. Those that do exist are people whose obsession or natural abilities have led them to seek out knowledge at great cost. Most of the magicians of Terra belong to secret societies, cults, or other organizations and seek to mask their abilities. This is wise - magicians would be treated in much the same way as pulp characters are by the governments, and they are not usually as capable of defending themselves - especially when their powers first manifest.
I love the implication that you can be fearless in regards to the supernatural just because you're too busy with work.

Anyway, "normal" Torg magic exists on Terra. The main difference is that spell creation is a little off on Terra due to the low magic axiom of 11. You can still cast any established spell, or make your own, but it'll have some side effects.

Any time a Terran casts a spell (or anyone casts a spell created on Terra), the player flips the top card of the action deck. You check the Hero entry for the type of scene, and if there's an effect there (flurry, fatigued, stymied, whatever), then the spell has a side effect, which may be good or bad. If you get inspiration, then you don't suffer any backlash from the spell at all. But if you drew stymied then the spell's effectiveness is halved.

Then there's pulp sorcery. Pulp sorcery isn't technically magic; it's actually a pulp power that lets you mimic the effects of all the other pulp powers in the game by turning them into rituals.

Buying pulp sorcery only costs 1 Possibility at character creation, but it has a base adventure cost (remember that?) of 6. You also have to pay for all the powers you duplicated as rituals, and each of those increases the adventure cost by the duped power's adventure cost - 2.

This means that you can technically use any pulp power you want if you're a sorcerer, as long as you can pay out at the end of the adventure. So if I was playing a pulp sorcerer who used mind reading, fire blast, and telekinesis during an adventure, when I was done I'd have to pay 6 Possibilities for sorcery, 5-2 for mind reading, 5-2 for fire blast, and 4-2 for telekinesis, for a grand total of 14 Possibilites at the end of the adventure. If I only used the fire blast in the next adventure, the total cost would be 9.

Just for the record: if I was a normal mage casting the equivalent spells, I wouldn't have to pay a loving thing at the end of the adventure. Yeah, I wouldn't be able to pick which spells I know on the fly, but still that's not anywhere near the same mechanical cost as sorcery.

Anyway, you can't just duplicate any power you want. Instead, you buy the rituals of the powers you want to be able to copy. You start with three (each of which, again, cost one Possibility each), and can learn more later by finding a mystic teacher (like an ancient tome or a demon) and paying out the adventure cost of the new power - 2. You then gain access to the new power next adventure, or you can just pay the full cost to get access to it right away.

So that's how you actually get your "spells". Using them is a different story.

quote:

In order to mimic the kind of on-the-fly casting of the 1930's novels, a sorcerer develops a free-form casting ritual.
First off, every power has a ritual difficulty value. This value can be reduced by the "ritual", which can have up to four components: pysical gestures, material components, verbal components, and sacrificial components. A physical gesture can be as simple as a finger-wiggle, as dramatic as a full-on Dr. Orpheous pose, or so complex you need at least a 12 Dexterity to pull it off. A verbal component can be a simple phrase, a rhyme, or a long incantation that requires a difficulty 12 Mind roll to remember. Sacrifices can range from small animals to a "virginal person". A material component can be as common as a few twigs or a few drops of blood, or something drat near impossible to find.

The more components you bring in, and the rarer/more complex they are, the lower the difficulty of the ritual. Note that you have to define the ritual when you buy it; if you say it takes a full arm-flail and a short latin phrase to cast flight, that's what it takes every time. Once you get your final difficulty, you roll your sorcery against it to see if you can cast the spell.

Interestingly, there's nothing in the Terra book about miracles. Terra's spiritual axiom is 9, which is barely above Core Earth's, yet it seems that people being able to cast miracles is pretty much unheard of on Terra.


And there we are. Admittedly, Nile/Terra magic isn't as bad or as complex as gadget creation was, but it still has its share of mechanical bullshit and "what's the point of this"-isms. When you get right down to it, the new magic sub-systems don't really add anything that couldn't be covered by a little fluff instead of adding more rolls on top of the standard rolls. The backfire/side effect rules feel tacked-on, because nobody else's magic has those kinds of drawbacks. Engineering magic seems more like an NPC thing than anything else, and if that's the case then why bother stating it out like that at all? Did they expect the GM to make all these magic rolls for NPCs?

And don't even get me started on pulp sorcery. I'm pretty sure that a pulp sorcerer could find themselves in an effective XP hole if they're not careful.


At least the next section is simple.

NEXT TIME: Things to beat up and shoot, and things to beat them up and shoot them with!

Drakyn
Dec 26, 2012



neonchameleon posted:

Old Geezer on RPG.net went into this a while back. Apparently Rob Kuntz and Ernie Gygax were complaining that everything in Greyhawk was too easy. So Gygax wrote Tomb of Horrors in response.

And the result of the first playthrough of Tomb of Horrors? Not one single PC death. And all treasure found.

Edit: Gygaxian D&D was all about testing the player and their skill with the resources provided by the character.
Holy hell. I vaguely knew of the Tomb's conception, but please tell me Old Geezer filled in the story of that outcome. Nobody died? Like, even a little?

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


quote:

Mercury = Ra (god of the sun)

Really? Ra isn't just...the sun?

neonchameleon
Nov 14, 2012





Drakyn posted:

Holy hell. I vaguely knew of the Tomb's conception, but please tell me Old Geezer filled in the story of that outcome. Nobody died? Like, even a little?

Nobody died - and he did fill it in. There's a secret to doing Tomb of Horrors safely and they just knew Gygax too well.

Whenever you come to a junction or crossroads take the secret door. If you can't find it, it might just be at the bottom of a pit trap.

Payndz
Sep 22, 2006

I'm Peter Graves, and I was wondering if you could direct me to the natatorium, as I'm attending a Scuderia Ferrari team-building exercise. Thank you. I'm Peter Graves.


The best ToH story was when someone came up with a way to instakill Acerak using his own magic items, and the DM couldn't believe it could be that easy. Gygax happened to be at the tournament, so the DM asked him if was a legit kill; his response was pretty much "Yup, I didn't think of that, so it's cool."

General Ironicus
Aug 21, 2008

Something about this feels kinda hinky




ASHEN STARS
Website
pdf on DriveThru RPG

Part 15: Bug Hunting

Every RPG book needs a bestiary, even the ones more about mystery than fighting. Every space opera needs action scenes, and those scenes need things for our grizzled heroes to punch and shoot. I really love the creatures presented in this chapter, even though the best ones don't really match up with the game's focus, tone, or themes as I see them. Game over man:

Chapter 11: The Bad, the Worse, and the Alien

Before we get to the good stuff, there are even more legal classifications for your Lasers to know. It's almost like being a real cop, except that when news gets out that you screwed up it actually impacts you. Sentients are intelligent beings capable of overcoming their biological imperatives, like you, me, the Tavak over there, and most all the aliens you'll meet. They have full rights and are subject to the justice system. "Lifeforms" refers to any organism incapable of higher cognitive function. They and their habitats are protected by environmental law, and hunting survives only under controlled ritual circumstances among the Tavak and Durugh.

Most of what we'll be covering today are Quasi-sentients: intelligent creatures that are still ruled by biological impulses. Since this is a chapter about monsters, the specific impulses are predatory and not very friendly. There are also benign quasis, but hey, monster chapter. Since rehabilitation is impossible, they are not subject to standard criminal justice but instead quarantined where they cannot reach sentient victims. These are not nice places and sure would be a hell of a place to crash land, I hope that doesn't happen to your crew! (please make that happen to your crew)

Some species get the additional designation "Class-K". These are species that are so dangerous that any representative of Combine law is required to engage and destroy them wherever possible. This means Lasers. They are considered closer to a plague or a natural disaster than a species. Proper procedure is to confirm the sighting then determine your ability to do your duty. "As Lasers, you are expected to err on the side of sacrificing your own lives to stop them". Class-K species are meant to be kept back as a major enemy for season finale-type major events, but there are so many described that are all so cool I'd be tempted to use them all the time. It reminds me of the old D&D manuals that had pages and pages of magic items that you weren't supposed to hand out.


All the following are Class-K Quasi-Sentients unless noted otherwise:

Dermoids are a parasitic race of skin lesions that basically work like body snatchers. After the Dermoid covers a certain amount of a host's skin it develops a spike that plunges through the brain, gaining full motor control and access to the host's memories. Once a Dermoid colony gains enough control of a community they always try to exterminate Kch-Thk because their exoskeletons make them immune to infection, and those immune tend to figure out what's up and call the authorities. Several of the peoples made contact with Dermoids and survived before they discovered FTL technology, but at least 18 civilizations were completely destroyed by them.



Note the spelling. Jagger actually looks worse than these guys this far in the future.

The Jaggar are a genetically designed species with a wide variety of body types. They live off stressed and terrified brainwaves, and set up elaborate torture dungeons to extract them from their victims. Jaggar queens are known to pride themselves on having the best and most stylish torture dungeons, and brag to one another about them. Just imagine being a fly on the wall in a Jaggar coffee shop. If you like shiny black leather and metal spikes and freaky torture these are the aliens for you, but I'm not sure this is the game for you.

The Klorn are a species of horrible murderbeats from the Tavak home planet. They have many stages of life, each one more capable of killing an entire crew than the last. Klorn are entirely without reason or thought and are classified as Lifeforms. The inspiration from the Alien films is obvious, but I like having the option to do that story in my game. One of their unique aspects is that in their juvenile stage a Klorn can set a DNA lock on someone and track them across the galaxy, and they generally use that to get revenge on whoever kills them in that stage. Of course, killing a Klorn only triggers its metamorphosis into a bigger, deadlier version. The End-klorn has a health pool of 52, and each successful hit in a scuffling test deals 12 extra damage. Please do not get in punching range of an End-klorn.



They look pretty good, considering their diet that is.

Lipovores are basically fat vampires. They aren't fat themselves, they just suck fat out of people until they die. Like vampires, they claim to be centuries or even millennia old and no amount of research has disproved it, and they also have a supreme disinterest in anything but feeding on people's fat cells until they die. Unlike vampires they don't really care about clan politics, theatrics, or the finer things in life. Lipovores will do whatever they can to escape captivity but have no stomach for fighting. They refuse to refer to any individual or group of sentient beings by any word but "food".



It's like someone saw The Unicorn and the Wasp and wanted to take revenge on Gareth Roberts via improvement.

Mynatids are a spacefaring race of two-meter long wasps, which should be all you really need to know. They predated on the Kch-Thk homeland since their prehistory. The Kch-Thk devil figure is a giant wasp, and anthropologists believe the consciousness migration ability started as a reaction to constant Mynatid attacks. Their swarms can blot out the sun and destroy all life on a planet in a matter of days. On seeing a Mynatid Kch-Thk supporting characters immediately freeze or flee. PCs must make a 4-point athletics spend to avoid the same.

Nanogons are a swarm of nanobots, sort of like microscopic Borg or a grey goo incident with creepy spider legs. They invade technological devices and rebuild them to their own specifications from the inside out. They become hypercharged engines of destruction bent on breeding as quickly as possible and exterminating biological life. They see their genocidal impulse as an act of self-defense, nanogon programming believes technology and organic life are incompatible and there ain't enough room in this galaxy for the both of us. The philosophical problem presented by Cybes drives them to extreme and sometimes self-defeating violence. Killing any cybe they find is the simplest way to overcome the computational dissonance that bio-organic integration inspires. Some evidence suggests Nanogons originated in the future, so there's a time loop plot waiting to happen.

The Phyllax are the closest the book gets to a traditional zombie plague, except they're plants. Phyllax root themselves in any animal, but bipedal humaniods are their favorite for being so versatile. The vines communicate via subtle bioelectric impulses that are efficient enough to appear to be a hivemind. They are capable of making intelligent, coordinated plans to reach their goals and take into account a wide variety of stimuli to do so. They are even able to study technology and reverse-engineer the effects using their biomass. Phyllax seedships sail the lonely space between worlds looking for opportune moments to propagate their kind.



Pointy=Scary ???

The Sh'ard are big ugly monsters and my least favorite Class-K species, even the name is dumb. I guess every setting needs one though. A rogue Vas Kra named D'Jellar had a rivalry with Combine captain Duto Swain and one of their encounters opened a logic rift now known as the D'Jellar Anomaly. Sh'ard are created whenever the anomaly intersects with a volcanic planet. The Vas Kra used to keep that from happening, but they aren't around anymore. Now, every once in a while, 4 ton spiky metal men pop up out of the ground to stab people just because they like to. They are all identical crystalline beings whose only identifying features are damage taken after formation.



80% Cyber, 40% punk, -20% hair

That's a whole lot of words, art, and effort for things you generally aren't supposed to have in your game. The rest of the chapter covers the antagonists you'll run into much more often. Wild animals take up almost a page, and there are five pages for any sort of neer-do-well, thug, and extremist the Bleed can offer up. It's all good stuff, but the entries are made with an eye toward reshaping and personalization so there isn't much depth there, no matter how useful the entries are. I won't be covering the index either for the same reason. The standard enemies also include at least one for each of the peoples with a fitting reason for why they're making trouble and getting in fights, like this Vas Mal who went nuts from having a brain that's too small:




Next time: Game Runner

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.




PantsOptional posted:

Tomb was written for two reasons:

  1. A challenge to his players who considered themselves invincible, including his own son;
  2. So Gary could be "ready for those fans [players] who boasted of having mighty PCs able to best any challenge offered by the AD&D game."

So basically it boils down to "too easy, eh? I'll show them..."

At the same time, none of it as actually a "challenge" as the only way to get through it without prior knowledge is be a goddamn telepath constant scanning your dm's mind. Bullshit isn't a challenge, it's boring DM Fiat.

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008

You can't see me at all...



Hipster Occultist posted:

At the same time, none of it as actually a "challenge" as the only way to get through it without prior knowledge is be a goddamn telepath constant scanning your dm's mind. Bullshit isn't a challenge, it's boring DM Fiat.

Well, considering the target audience was the DM's son and the best D&D player ever (the guy literally responsible for Fighters not receiving any special powers or abilities, because Robilar didn't need them), I wouldn't rule out their ability to predict exactly the kind of thing Gygax was going to pull at every twist and turn.

Hipster Occultist
Aug 16, 2008

He's an ancient, obscure god. You probably haven't heard of him.




Spoilers Below posted:

Well, considering the target audience was the DM's son and the best D&D player ever (the guy literally responsible for Fighters not receiving any special powers or abilities, because Robilar didn't need them), I wouldn't rule out their ability to predict exactly the kind of thing Gygax was going to pull at every twist and turn.

I could get behind that, but then Gary and hundreds of others started running it against people who didn't have such luxuries. :v:

edit: Lets also not forget that Robliar's player Rob Kuntz played nearly every day in one-on-one sessions and was dripping in powerful magic items, experience, and influence.

Hipster Occultist fucked around with this message at 08:19 on Jul 13, 2013

ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!


Tasoth posted:

If you don't make at least one Northman, especially one bearing an axe and a grudge for Southern knights, you will upset my need for petty vengeance against characters from the book.

Anyone else have some example characters they'd like to see done?

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dereku
Oct 23, 2010

Open up your senses


If you're taking ideas how about a mischievous/manipulative noble

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