Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Locked thread
MJ12
Apr 8, 2009

AccidentalHipster posted:

Character creation is a bit of a mess as well since it not only resurrects rolling for attributes in order, but also has you roll for other things like starting skills and features. And it's licensed from a game that doesn't have a random element to character creation. :psyduck:

Wait wait what are you loving kidding me? Random rolls were an awful idea then, are an awful idea now, and have never been not awful.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?

MJ12 posted:

Wait wait what are you loving kidding me? Random rolls were an awful idea then, are an awful idea now, and have never been not awful.

Not kidding. The way character creation works, you can even end up with stupid poo poo like dwarvish warriors that are master hagglers and elvish shamans who can't speak elvish.

GimmickMan
Dec 27, 2011

DX has an interesting skill system and puts pretty well into words how it wants to be played, I might have to get it just to read it through. Even if I probably won't ever play it.

Zereth posted:

... poo poo. The "all powers are fueled by HP" thing just seems like a terrible idea, honestly. :ohdear:

That depends. If this is anything like 3.X where powers like Flight, Charm Person, or Scrying can solve challenges entirely on their own, then it is probably the only way to even pretend they're balanced.

If it is something like jumping really high or casting fireball then yeah it is kind of bad. Even then, I can agree with the general idea that if your powers are spammable with no consequences, then they suddenly define your character more than... Well, everything else. Why bother with Skills (on the mechanics side) or finding answers through roleplaying (on the fluff side) when you can push the Magic button and automatically fix things?

LornMarkus
Nov 8, 2011

AccidentalHipster posted:

Character creation is a bit of a mess as well since it not only resurrects rolling for attributes in order, but also has you roll for other things like starting skills and features. And it's licensed from a game that doesn't have a random element to character creation. :psyduck:

Yeah, I've never liked that. Even setting aside the issue of potentially massive imbalances in party competency, I'm just not a big fan of being told by remorseless dice what I can and can't play.

"What's that, you felt like rolling up a kick-rear end front line fighter? Not with that Con of 3 you won't, fucker!"

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009

TK-31 posted:

That depends. If this is anything like 3.X where powers like Flight, Charm Person, or Scrying can solve challenges entirely on their own, then it is probably the only way to even pretend they're balanced.

If it is something like jumping really high or casting fireball then yeah it is kind of bad. Even then, I can agree with the general idea that if your powers are spammable with no consequences, then they suddenly define your character more than... Well, everything else. Why bother with Skills (on the mechanics side) or finding answers through roleplaying (on the fluff side) when you can push the Magic button and automatically fix things?

To go into the system in more detail, the bread and butter powers are actually super-cheap. Casting fireball is like 1 point of your power/health pool-but the characters who cast fireball get a point of Edge in the stat that governs them, which means it costs 0 points for them. The really expensive stuff which will take a chunk out of your cost is stuff like "change the weather", "lift ten tons with your mind", "instantly kill an enemy", and other stuff like that. Basically, stuff that lets you bypass huge puzzles.

The main cost of using your powers is that you can't quite as easily boost them.

AccidentalHipster
Jul 5, 2013

Whadda ya MEAN ya never heard of Dan Brereton?

LornMarkus posted:

Yeah, I've never liked that. Even setting aside the issue of potentially massive imbalances in party competency, I'm just not a big fan of being told by remorseless dice what I can and can't play.

"What's that, you felt like rolling up a kick-rear end front line fighter? Not with that Con of 3 you won't, fucker!"

Thankfully, there are some nods to sanity with Dragon Age. Your attribute bonuses are the same as your attributes (the roll is just a chart check) and no modifier goes lower than -2, but the only control you have over how your stats turn out is an optional rule choose 2 of your 8 stats to swap with each other right after rolling and you get to pick a Background that gives you a few set bonuses and another (badly playtested) chart to roll on. So yeah, more sane than 1st Edition, but still nuttier than squirrel poo poo.

Transient People
Dec 22, 2011

"When a man thinketh on anything whatsoever, his next thought after is not altogether so casual as it seems to be. Not every thought to every thought succeeds indifferently."
- Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

MJ12 posted:

To go into the system in more detail, the bread and butter powers are actually super-cheap. Casting fireball is like 1 point of your power/health pool-but the characters who cast fireball get a point of Edge in the stat that governs them, which means it costs 0 points for them. The really expensive stuff which will take a chunk out of your cost is stuff like "change the weather", "lift ten tons with your mind", "instantly kill an enemy", and other stuff like that. Basically, stuff that lets you bypass huge puzzles.

The main cost of using your powers is that you can't quite as easily boost them.

Note, however, that you will naturally acquire the Edge needed to do such things as mind control people, teleport yourself across the world, infinitely heal, levitate (and with creativity, fly), summon an endless number of beefy fire elementals and perform infinite divinations. About the only thing you can't do reliably is using super telekinesis to shift around multiple tons and autowin fights by trapping enemies inside an inescapable structure.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!


Dragonlance Key of Destiny Adventure Path: Book One, Chapter 1, and Intermission



Naelathan takes the party to an artesian well and sketches a symbol in the dirt for the PCs to remember. Then he swishes it away and lowers them down into the sewers (PS1 on the map), for he must aid his friends stirring up trouble elsewhere in town. The symbol is an elven rune meaning "the path is clear," signifying the entrance to their hidden colony, and he tells them as such.

The sewers are quite the interesting dungeon. Solid ground consists of 5 foot wide walkways flanking opposite sides of the tunnels, with fifteen feet of sewer water between. The exceptions are the Ghast Lair and Leper Colony on the map, which have more room than the others. Random encounters consist of typical dungeon faire: Monstrous rats and spiders, ghouls, and the like, and all of them but the rats are monsters from the dungeon itself, usually searching the sewers for good. I like this idea, as it really adds a sense of "lived in" to the sewers instead of having it be awash with randomly spawning monsters (as for the rats, it's plausible that the place is crawling with them). There's good loot to be found amid the rooms and their monsters, the remains of previous adventurers or purloined goods in the case of goblin thieves. That is, if the PCs care to venture about the sewers.

The areas marked "secret" have the symbols on the wall, but they won't be spotted unless the party succeeds on a very high Search or Spot check (DC 20 or 24), and to open it they must trace the symbol with their finger and say "the path is clear" in Elven.

This is incredibly unnecessary; first the PCs must succeed on a high die roll to even notice the symbol, it requires information they do not possess unless they encounter elven scouts as a random encounter and earn their trust. Otherwise they won't get into the colony and the plot cannot continue forward. This was another element I altered in my sessions.

quote:

With a silent whisper, a portion of the stone wall swings in, revealing a long and narrow passageway that leads to a set of stairs. The stairs open out into an enormous room carved out of the earth, possibly hundreds of years ago. The soft radiance of dancing lights overheard create the illusion that the ceiling is a starlit sky.

Instantly the people taking up residence amid the tents and lean-tos of the chamber notice your presence. Weapons glint in the soft light like fireflies in the dark.

A tall slender figure emerges from the crowd seemingly without effort. Shrouded in white gossamer robes, her silver-white hair a nimbus that tumbles down her bared ivory shoulders, this woman seems a spirit more than a creature of flesh and blood.

"Greetings," she murmers softly, her voice barely more than a whisper. "I am the Lady Shaylin Moonborn of House Mystic. It was I who called you." A small, bitter smile briefly crosses her face, her hand rising to indicate the rest of the chamber. "Welcome to our humble home. Please, you must be tired. Follow me, I will show you somewhere you can rest and I will answer your questions."

This chamber is an ancient temple to Morgion, an evil deity of decay and disease. Its dwarven worshipers were driven out by Khur nomads long ago, remaining empty for years. Now the Silvanesti occupy it thanks to Naelathan's discovery of the place. Conditions are bad, but persecution by the Dark Knights would be worse, and many of them hope that they can reclaim their homeland soon, so they remain for the time being.

Unbeknownst to the elves, Morgion was not pleased with their occupation of his temple and struck them with a rotting plague not unlike leprosy. It is curable only via magic (and even then it's remarkably resistant). The PCs can discover this through more than a casual look upon the elven community. Even Shaylin, if asked, does not know the source. Sanitation is terrible and supplies are few, so disease is to be expected, but its magical resistance is unheard of.

Shaylin reveals her true reason for summoning the PCs, that she's been afflicted with disturbing dreams which somehow involve them. Their miraculous possession of a treasured elven artifact she doesn't think is a coincidence, either. Suddenly she falls into a trance:

quote:

"There is a pattern you cannot see. Instead you must set your spirit free. Take the key to the shattered ruins, through the sands and over the dunes. Seek the answers in the sands of time, search your souls and find the sign."

:tali:Vague Prophecy Count: 4. Honestly this one remains vague for a short time, as Shaylin is knowledgeable about what the vision means. The dunes reference the lands to the north of Pashin, the shattered ruins are Hurim, once an ancient temple to Paladine and the Gods of Light. In times past one of the priests betrayed the rest to a ruthless ogre horde, and since then the place is avoided by the Khurish people, but she knows little more than that. As for the Key of Quinari, she doesn't know much, either, than that it's an artifact from the Age of Dreams and meant to unlock something great. After she answers any questions the PCs have, the party has the opportunity to rest and buy supplies from the elves and treat their wounds (although they don't have much).

If they need to leave, Naelathan will escort them out of town via a secret passageway into the badlands of Khur. As wanted men and women in Pashin and their only leads the ruins of Hurim, our heroes' journey as to the Key's mystery truly begins.

Personal Notes: The diease afflicting the elves is named Sunblight, and it has stats. It infects an elven or half-elven victim with leprosy and bestows penalties in sunlight and permanent 1d3 Constitution drain every 3d4 weeks. A very slow death, indeed. What's worst about it is that it's airborne and does not manifest immediately, and it cannot be magically cured by a spellcaster of less than 18th level. This disease plays a larger role later on in the Path, as the Tears of Mishakal are a twin set of magic items and one of the few things on Krynn capable of wiping out the disease.

Personally I would not inflict it on the PCs if an elf numbers among the party, as it can be very debilitating over the course of the campaign. I could see a DM using it as a "race against time," but it could really gimp a PC's survivability long-term.

Thoughts so far: Chapter One is hit-or-miss in places, but its strong points are good enough to forge a good game out of with some work. It's heavy on urban socialization and exploration interspersed with some dungeon-crawling at the end, and the encounters, while potentially deadly for 1st-level PCs, are overall not enough to cause a TPK unless the PCs really gently caress up. And in-game rewards via experience for heroic actions are a nice touch for getting the players to act altruistically; this might sound restrictive, but it folds in well with the kind of campaign meant to be played.

Next time, Chapter 2: The Mystery Unfolds!


Intermission: The Villains of the Adventure Path

I mentioned him earlier, but I'll do an expanded write-up on the major villains of this Adventure Path. I feel that telling a lot of their stuff up-front will leave people less confused about things.

The Knights of Neraka


Also known as the Dark Knights, their order was formed by Ariakan, son of the Dragon Emperor Ariakas. While imprisoned by the Knights of Solamnia, he learned of their ways and how the Dragonarmies turned upon themselves at the end of the War of the Lance. Seeking to turn the tactics of his enemies against them, he told of his plan to form a new knighthood to Takhisis once free, and she agreed. And thus the Knights of Takhisis were born.

The Knights are guided by 3 principles: the Vision, their ultimate goal of continental domination of Ansalon; the Blood Oath, the swearing of one's submission and life to the Knighthood (and formerly Takhisis when she lived); and the Code, a complex set of laws and rules for how the Knights should conduct themselves in relation to others. They are split into 3 major orders: the Knights of the Lily, the main military arm and backbone of the Knighthood. The Knights of the Skull, divine spellcasters in charge of intelligence and security purposes. And the Knights of the Thorn, arcane spellcasters who draw power from all three moons of magic and considered renegades by the Towers of High Sorcery (the major magical power on Ansalon). The Skull lost a considerable amount of power with the brief disappearance of the gods, but they regained it shortly after the discovery of mysticism (divine spellcasting without a deity).

The Dark Knights are a regular enemy throughout much of Book One and in the early parts of Book Two, but for the most part they are unaware of the Key of Quinari's power.

Lothian, Prophecy Puppetmaster


Lothian was an elven soldier entrusted with healing the blighted land of Silvanesti in the aftermath of the War of the Lance. He fell in love with Kayleigh, a fellow soldier. She did not return his affections, and he grew bitter; “she’s fallen for another!” he thought. “Why else would she not desire me?!” He placed blame on the other male soldiers, but kept his anger hidden from the others.

A death knight came upon Lothian’s patrol, and felled everyone but him. Lothian tried with all his might to heal Kayleigh, but his goddess would not help him. The death knight offered to spare his life and that of Kayleigh’s, but only if Lothian swore allegiance to Chemosh, God of Death. He accepted.

Kayleigh’s spirit would be bound to Lothian, but both their souls belonged to Chemosh upon his death. Lothian made a bad deal in the heat of the moment, and he grew to resent Chemosh’s hold on them. He researched ways of getting around this agreement, and learned of the Shroud of Soul’s Calling. This artifact is said to be located in Quinari’s Tomb, capable of bringing a spirit back from the afterlife and out of the clutches of a God. Lothian also learned that the Tomb was located in the Dragon’s Graveyard, and he searched in vain for the Key of Quinari. It was only until the music box was brought out of the protective ward of Silvanesti that Lothian’s plans were set into action. He ordered Kayleigh to manipulate the Key’s holders on a set path to bring them to the Dragon’s Graveyard, contacting seers and using visions of a ghostly maiden in distress to direct the PCs to desired points. All of those holy artifacts gained across the adventure path? Simple, Lothian’s leading them along like puppet strings so that they’re well-equipped in the inevitable fight against Chemosh’s forces.

Before you start feeling sorry for Lothian, keep in mind that he still wants Kayleigh for himself and can't accept the fact that she resents him for all that he's put her through. Even then, I consider him less of a bad guy than Caeldor or Gellidus given that his end goal will result in breaking the hold Chemosh has over hims and Kayleigh. To him, it's survival; Caeldor and Gellidus are all about power and conquest.

Caeldor the Traitor


Caeldor's the rear end in a top hat responsible for the massacre at Hurim, and Chemosh's high priest in the mortal plane. As a powerful lich, he desires the Key of Quinari as part of his plans to raise and undead army and take over Ansalon in the process. Supplemented by the bodies and souls of undead dragons, there would be no force on Krynn powerful enough to stop him.

Gellidus, White Dragon Overlord


When Takhisis stole the world during the 5th Age and the War of Souls, the Material Plane became close to a world of titanic dragons, and Gellidus was one of the five who made his way over. They set about conquering much of Ansalon, committing genocide against much of dragonkind in the process and stealing their power via grisly magical pillars of bones known as Skull Totems. Despite being fellow chromatics, they had no intention of sharing power with each other, or Takhisis, and only two of them survive at war's end. Gellidus the White, and Onysablet the Black. With the bones of the Dragon's Graveyard, he stands a chance at becoming the most powerful person in all of Krynn, possibly to rival the Gods themselves!


Quite an assortment of fiends, don't you think? I really like the idea of multiple villainous factions warring over a legendary power source, and having one of them an established power player and Big Name NPC gives a very high sense of conflict in the campaign, that what the players are doing matters on an international scale.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 04:17 on Nov 12, 2013

Zweihander01
May 4, 2009

Cyphoderus posted:



DOUBLE CROSS

Something that I haven't noticed anyone mention is that you can probably very easily adjust the tone of your game of DX by adjusting Encroachment Rate gain. Want a more epic, high-flying, shonen-esque game? Reduce ER gain from powers and enjoy launching fiery lightning bolts at people. Want more gritty conspiracy action? Go ahead and increase the ER gain from powers, so that the players have to use their powers sparingly.

ThisIsNoZaku
Apr 22, 2013

Pew Pew Pew!

Clanpot Shake posted:

I checked on the wiki but didn't see a write-up for the Dragon Age RPG. Is it any good? Worth looking at?

I played in a three-session game of it. I found it boring. It's frankly just a D&D variant in most ways from what I saw.

Edit: I don't know why I decided to quote that post.

ThisIsNoZaku fucked around with this message at 07:49 on Nov 12, 2013

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003



Cardiovorax posted:

I was not talking about the rules.
Fair enough then.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
Hey, I'm considering several things for my next F&F. I'll do whatever most people want to see. (I'm not planning to do the rest of the books in the Everlasting line; the crazy poo poo that makes the line unique is largely repeated from book to book.)

A-State is an indie RPG with the tagline "You will never forget the City, but the City will forget you." Described by some as "Dickensian cyberpunk," it's set in a baroque, nearly endless city where the rich live in arcologies while the masses fish bottom-feeders from canals. All that shiny CP2020 crap exists in the setting, but your character's most valuable possession is probably a decent knife.

Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium was developed by Last Unicorn Games (creators of the Dune CCG, Aria, and a Star Trek line) and published by WotC, who then killed off the line instead of doing anything with it. Hey, it's the only official Dune RPG.

I never finished my review of Eldritch Skies due to lack of apparent interest. (Frankly, I think it was too well-thought-out to be interesting when flanked by reviews of Carcosa and Cthulhutech, and I didn't to the interesting setting stuff later in the book.)

Immortal: Millennium was the long-unawaited second edition of Immortal: the Invisible War. It reads like the author was properly medicated, or had it explained to him that his game needed to be understood by people who hadn't already been playing in his home campaign for 10 years. If you really wanted to understand Immortal the first time around and I couldn't make it coherent for you, this edition comes with free pictures of Claudia Christian (remember her?) surrounded by more terrible Photoshop (remember that?).

Insylum is a short Lovecraftian game about amnesiac inmates of an insane asylum, trying to recover their identities before they fall into the clutches of the King in Yellow.

Nephilim is a game about spiritual beings endlessly reincarnating in the search for mystical enlightenment. It's French, it was translated by Chaosium, and I have it on good authority that it's 90s as gently caress.

Nightlife is a 1990 "splatterpunk" game that is 80s as gently caress. It has a lot of WoD-before-there-was-WoD stuff like multiple supernatural races and humanity mechanics, but this is unapologetically a game about drinking blood and breaking hearts and riding motorcycles and wailing on guitars.

Unknown Armies is by John Tynes and Greg Stolze. That is all.

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.
I'd like to see an Unknown Armies review that's more about the fluff than the rules. The rules are functional enough and all, but it's really the setting that makes it so amazing.

Evrart Claire
Jan 11, 2008
I vote for UA.

Spincut
Jan 14, 2008

Oh! OSHA gonna make you serve time!
'Cause you an occupational hazard tonight.
Yeah, I'm down for UA too.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Halloween Jack posted:

Hey, I'm considering several things for my next F&F. I'll do whatever most people want to see.

Immortal: Millennium was the long-unawaited second edition of Immortal: the Invisible War. It reads like the author was properly medicated, or had it explained to him that his game needed to be understood by people who hadn't already been playing in his home campaign for 10 years. If you really wanted to understand Immortal the first time around and I couldn't make it coherent for you, this edition comes with free pictures of Claudia Christian (remember her?) surrounded by more terrible Photoshop (remember that?).

Hmmm.

:frogon:

ThisIsNoZaku posted:

I played in a three-session game of it. I found it boring. It's frankly just a D&D variant in most ways from what I saw.

Essentially this. It basically can't decide if it's just going to be D&D or not and just comes off as kind of heartbreakery.

Granted, it's hard to beat the original game, where fighters end up being suboptimal if they decide to use their special skills.

goatface
Dec 5, 2007

I had a video of that when I was about 6.

I remember it being shit.


Grimey Drawer
I want to see the Dune RPG, because I'm really not sure how they're going to make it work.

Mutant Headcrab
May 14, 2007
I gotta say, I'm a huge fan of Dune. I'd love to see how they made a Dune RPG work. At least, how they tried to.

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!

I'd like to see A-state. I remember seeing ads for that and development logs without ever really getting a good idea of what was going on with it, and Dickensian cyberpunk sounds actually kinda cool (if depressing.)

GorfZaplen
Jan 20, 2012

I want to see Nightlife. :allears:

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

goatface posted:

I want to see the Dune RPG, because I'm really not sure how they're going to make it work.
Spoiler alert: they don't

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.


Grimey Drawer
Nephilim is... pretty nineties, yeah. It's kind of like Changeling, less the reams of White Wolfish wank, built on a modified BRP. I got the feeling that some things were missing when I tried to do chargen way back when, but looking back they were probably just tweaking specific NPCs in a way that the regular rules didn't accommodate.

Davin Valkri
Apr 8, 2011

Maybe you're weighing the moral pros and cons but let me assure you that OH MY GOD
SHOOT ME IN THE GODDAMNED FACE
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!
Just to make it clear for those of us who got into RPGs in the 2000s (like me), what is meant when an RPG is described as "very 80s" or "pretty 90s"? Is it just a theme of general whiny angst, or something else?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018

Bieeardo posted:

Nephilim is... pretty nineties, yeah. It's kind of like Changeling, less the reams of White Wolfish wank, built on a modified BRP. I got the feeling that some things were missing when I tried to do chargen way back when, but looking back they were probably just tweaking specific NPCs in a way that the regular rules didn't accommodate.

Which Changeling? Because that is either a huge compliment or a massive insult.

E: 90s RPGs, to me, are all kind of gonzo. Feng Shui, oWoD and its imitators, etc. It's insane, for better or for worse.

(Also, usually some rather questionable ideas regarding dice mechanics and probability.)

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!

Davin Valkri posted:

Just to make it clear for those of us who got into RPGs in the 2000s (like me), what is meant when an RPG is described as "very 80s" or "pretty 90s"? Is it just a theme of general whiny angst, or something else?

Very 80's: Graph paper. D100 random tables. Typesetting is done by physically cutting and pasting bits of type and art onto the page. The game is probably a box-set, and may well include a bunch of dice in the box that you need to draw the pips on yourself. Random chargen is big, much like hair.

Very 90's: The game is a Storytelling Adventure of Magickal Mystery that will change your life. Equipment table has separate entries for 'katana' and 'sword', and rules that encourage owning and wearing a black trench-coat, a pair of katanas and a pair of chrome-plated Desert Eagles all at once. You drive everywhere on your sweet-rear end motorcycle. There's usually some sort of secret supernatural conspiracy. The idea of mechanical rigor in rules-sets has not yet been invented.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Davin Valkri posted:

Just to make it clear for those of us who got into RPGs in the 2000s (like me), what is meant when an RPG is described as "very 80s" or "pretty 90s"? Is it just a theme of general whiny angst, or something else?
I actually brought this up in my Immortal review in the last thread.

quote:

In order for any of the above paragraph to make much sense, it’s necessary to answer a question which has been asked in this thread but never conclusively discussed: What is “90s game design?” I’ve thought about it a bit, and come up with the following:

”Simulationist” system: There are certainly some exceptions, but as Ron Edwards would later point out, most of these games’ rules were more-or-less based on trying to simulate the game world in terms of things like Strength attributes and handgun damage, rather than fully embracing “story game” rules.
Pretension: Attempts to insist that this is not just a game, no seriously, guys. Trying to elevate the medium with the insistence that roleplaying (at least the way this game does it) is legitimately theatre or a tool for personal spiritual development.
Narrative Worldbuilding: These games were all about developing their setting, often with very long descriptions of historical epochs, settings, and major NPCs--often at the expense of remembering to build in handholds for PCs to latch onto.
Metaplot: Plenty of these games had a setting which continued to develop (or at least to have its secrets revealed) along with the supplements. Again, whether or not the changes were relevant to the PCs, or the PCs could actually influence them instead of getting a telegram that a major NPC had done it, was a secondary concern.

When I say that Nightlife is totally 80s, I just meant in terms of the aesthetic. It identifies itself a splatterpunk game, the tone is more like Fright Night and Lost Boys than Interview with the Vampire, and these are the covers:




Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Davin Valkri posted:

Just to make it clear for those of us who got into RPGs in the 2000s (like me), what is meant when an RPG is described as "very 80s" or "pretty 90s"? Is it just a theme of general whiny angst, or something else?

80s aren't that unified other than just being kind of the clunky dawn of RPG design (and generally not very self-aware), so you see a lot of untested mechanics and general vague mechanics (like lacking a skill system, falling damage, or other conventions taken for granted now).

90s RPGs, though, I think you see a lot of:
  • "Secret world" themes where regardless of the setting, most people are ignorant of its nature.
  • Predefined niches for characters, often themed around trendy concepts.
  • A variety of factions whose differences drive most of the setting conflicts.
  • Setting-specific lingo, often using mangled understandings of English or other languages.
  • Introductory fiction, either at the start of the game or for each chapter.
  • Setting exposition presented in an in-character voice.
  • Secret setting elements that are reserved for later supplements, if at all.
  • "Hallway monitor" NPCs that are designed to keep players in line with immense resources or power.
  • A rejection of "gaming" elements (maps, minis, even dice) and an emphasis on storybuilding.
  • An emphasis on innovative mechanics with little regard for math, practicality, or utility.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.


Grimey Drawer

Mors Rattus posted:

Which Changeling? Because that is either a huge compliment or a massive insult.

E: 90s RPGs, to me, are all kind of gonzo. Feng Shui, oWoD and its imitators, etc. It's insane, for better or for worse.

(Also, usually some rather questionable ideas regarding dice mechanics and probability.)

Bit of both Changelings, I think. Broad strokes, it's similar to oChangeling: the PCs are ancient souls hitching rides in human bodies, trying to arrange passage Beyond. They're also traditional mythical creatures of one sort or another, so you've got O's set templates for not-elves, satyr, etc. there, and an implication that vampires and such exist, and that they're a kind of hosed up arm of the family tree.

NChangeling-wise, you've got small, often mobile groups rather than ridiculous shadow-kingdoms laid over North America, and there's a constant threat of their activities being noticed by shadowy forces that would love to capture them for a variety of nefarious purposes.

It's New-Age weird, closer to either Changeling in eye-rolling and coherence, than it is to something like Immortal.

FourmyleCircus
Sep 15, 2013

Davin Valkri posted:

Just to make it clear for those of us who got into RPGs in the 2000s (like me), what is meant when an RPG is described as "very 80s" or "pretty 90s"? Is it just a theme of general whiny angst, or something else?

At least when I say something is very 90's, it has more to do with the mechanics. The 90's was plagued by mechanics that didn't support what they were trying to do at all(See Vampire's many combat Murphey's Rules), immense equipment lists for the sake of having equipment, PCs have little impact on the setting(Either due to reams and reams of metaplot and bad adventure design or, like Shatterzone and Masterbook, insane target numbers on things making things a bit wiffy), characters having multiple actions a round and other such foibles. Having Grim Dark Serious settings makes it especially 90's, though.

Don't get me wrong. I like SLA Industries. But it's about as 90's as you can get. Big Metaplot? Secrets the GM isn't even allowed to know? Serious business Dark Setting? Reams and Reams of Fluff that your characters would have no way of knowing? It hits all this and more. It's Glasgow Shadowrun, and it's not going to let you forget it. From the drug addicted Soccer Hooligans as a playable race to Undead Heroin Addict Psychics, the setting reflects the troubles of the time, and really makes you want to say "Take a prosac or something".

As much as I tease Shatterzone, it's kinda middle of the road for an early 90's RPG. At least, the core books are. Haven't actually bought any of the many setting books or novels. Might, now that I'm sitting down to see what's what with it.

ETA: Oh yeah, how could I forget all the "We don't want to get sued by Wizards, let's call everything something weird. You're not the Game master, your the Gomi-No-Sensei." stuff. Keeps tripping me up with Shatterzone too. Everytime I see Difficulty Number, my fingers want to type Difficulty Check instead.

FourmyleCircus fucked around with this message at 20:07 on Nov 12, 2013

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

80s aren't that unified other than just being kind of the clunky dawn of RPG design (and generally not very self-aware), so you see a lot of untested mechanics and general vague mechanics (like lacking a skill system, falling damage, or other conventions taken for granted now).

90s RPGs, though, I think you see a lot of:
  • "Secret world" themes where regardless of the setting, most people are ignorant of its nature.
  • Predefined niches for characters, often themed around trendy concepts.
  • A variety of factions whose differences drive most of the setting conflicts.
  • Setting-specific lingo, often using mangled understandings of English or other languages.
  • Introductory fiction, either at the start of the game or for each chapter.
  • Setting exposition presented in an in-character voice.
  • Secret setting elements that are reserved for later supplements, if at all.
  • "Hallway monitor" NPCs that are designed to keep players in line with immense resources or power.
  • A rejection of "gaming" elements (maps, minis, even dice) and an emphasis on storybuilding.
  • An emphasis on innovative mechanics with little regard for math, practicality, or utility.
For all the talk of roleplaying not roll-playing, a lot of these 90s games were meticulous when it came to realistic rules, especially combat rules. I have a feeling it was a reaction to the fact that 1989-1994 saw the release of four different versions of Dungeons & Dragons.


Edit: And if you want a taste of some lovely 90s, rules, just wait a few hours!

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 19:13 on Nov 12, 2013

Davin Valkri
Apr 8, 2011

Maybe you're weighing the moral pros and cons but let me assure you that OH MY GOD
SHOOT ME IN THE GODDAMNED FACE
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!
Boy, am I glad I play in the age of FATE, *World, and storygaming swine. Even if they all hit the second-to-last one on Alien Rope Burn's list, and some check off a few others (like *World's playbook system). Hooray for metaplots being replaced by anime plots! :v:

Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012
I'm sure there are now clear themes to determine what is 00's design. I'm not sure what they are though

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten

Xelkelvos posted:

I'm sure there are now clear themes to determine what is 00's design. I'm not sure what they are though

"It's d20 system for no good reason?" That's probably more early-00s though.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually
To me, 1990s RPGs are defined by a bunch of interlinked traits: splatbooks, metaplot, and the supplement treadmill. The basic business problem with RPGs is that it's really hard to turn an RPG into an ongoing revenue stream because in theory, once you get the core book(s) and a set of dice, you can create your own adventures forever at zero cost (even worse, you only need one set of books for the whole group - everyone else just borrows the GM's copy). So the solution was to break the world into lots and lots of PC factions and NPC factions and nations and (each of which get their own supplement) and thread all the supplements together with a metaplot (so you had to buy pretty much everything that came out in order to keep up with the changing setting, or learn exactly what's really going on in the game that you're supposedly running). Eventually, core books for games were just bare skeletons that were only miminally playable without shelling out a stack of supplement books.

I made a crack a few posts up about the Dune RPG being a failure, and this is why. The core book barely gives you enough rules and information to create a minor house and populate it with PCs (the game's conceit is that all PC groups are the top advisors to a minor house, playing the equivalents of Gurney and Thufir and Duncan). The rules and background for Bene Gesserit take up a page, and basically amount to two skills (special physical training and The Voice). Same thing with Mentats (they get two special skills). Nothing on the Spacer's Guild. A bare description of a couple of houses. Two pages of equipment charts. Nothing about CHOAM. And - the kicker - nothing about Arrakis. That's right - no Fremen, no sandworms, no stillsuits, no crysknifes, nothing.

And the reason is because it was all meant to covered in supplements. The core book was a wireframe meant to have Bene Gesserit book and a Mentat book and a Smuggler's book and a Great Houses Of The Imperium book and an Arrakis boxed set hung from it. But the gameline was cancelled before any of that could be released, and so the game is hopeless, undernourished, nearly-useless thing. I was lucky enough to buy a copy off of the WotC website during the two hours it was available, and I sold it off on eBay (for a considerable premium) less than a year later, because it was so useless.

Like I said: 1990s RPG design.

There's much to dislike about 3E and D20 and the explosion of OGL shitware that they brought about, but getting games away from the metaplotted factionalized splatbook publishing model and towards a more toolboxy, here's a bunch of cool things (monsters, NPCs, spells, magic items, prestige classes, etc.) for you to use approach always struck me as a necessary correction.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Halloween Jack posted:

For all the talk of roleplaying not roll-playing, a lot of these 90s games were meticulous when it came to realistic rules, especially combat rules. I have a feeling it was a reaction to the fact that 1989-1994 saw the release of four different versions of Dungeons & Dragons.

Yeah, I didn't really intend to say otherwise. I think part of what you saw in the 90s was a reaction to hit points and va where nerds said (through gritted teeth) that if you get hurt you die, which was probably exemplified by two games in my mind: Legend of the Five Rings (where John Wick's original intention was you get stabbed you die, no wound rules, though people pulled him back from that ledge), or Over the Edge, which deliberately works to keep guns only in the hands of its (hall monitor) authorities because if you get shot you die.

Which helps explain why most vampires are such loving pushovers in Vampire: the Masquerade.

FMguru posted:

There's much to dislike about 3E and D20 and the explosion of OGL shitware that they brought about, but getting games away from the metaplotted factionalized splatbook publishing model and towards a more toolboxy, here's a bunch of cool things (monsters, NPCs, spells, magic items, prestige classes, etc.) for you to use approach always struck me as a necessary correction.

One of the things I liked about Rokugan and Swashbuckling Adventures, for all the ire they earned, is that they forced Alderac to explain its respective settings in a straightforward and comprehensive fashion instead of kicking it down the line in typical 90s fashion.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine

Xelkelvos posted:

I'm sure there are now clear themes to determine what is 00's design. I'm not sure what they are though

d20 and the Forge, probably. That and the Internet Age changing things.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Alien Rope Burn posted:

90s RPGs, though, I think you see a lot of:
  • "Secret world" themes where regardless of the setting, most people are ignorant of its nature.
  • Predefined niches for characters, often themed around trendy concepts.
  • A variety of factions whose differences drive most of the setting conflicts.
  • Setting-specific lingo, often using mangled understandings of English or other languages.
  • Introductory fiction, either at the start of the game or for each chapter.
  • Setting exposition presented in an in-character voice.
  • Secret setting elements that are reserved for later supplements, if at all.
  • "Hallway monitor" NPCs that are designed to keep players in line with immense resources or power.
  • A rejection of "gaming" elements (maps, minis, even dice) and an emphasis on storybuilding.
  • An emphasis on innovative mechanics with little regard for math, practicality, or utility.

Don't forget the heavy dose of metaplot. If you look at the large game lines of the era (oWoD, Deadlands, Torg, Shadowrun, even Paranoia), there was always some sort of big story going on despite the actions of the PCs.

The idea was to give the world a sense of existing outside the characters and their actions. Which is fine. But it became a problem when the metaplot became more important than the players. What usually ended up happening was there'd be some huge event that the PCs would get to watch but not participate in because they might gently caress up the carefully-laid-out script the designers had in mind. Instead you'd get pages of boxed text about major setting NPCs fighting while you got to hold off a few handfuls of minions.

Sometimes it was handled well (Shadowrun's presedential election), often it wasn't (Deadland's game line transitions, the later books in Torg). Either way it soured a lot of people on the whole "story gaming" concept since it started to mean "you have to sit through the designer's self-fanfic".

(And yes, I know I'm way behind on Torg)

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
Metaplot was also especially terrible when it came in the form of "The entire Platypus Clan died in the Eggstorm, if you're a Platypus you're either dead or alone with a bullseye on your head."

Tulul
Oct 23, 2013

Cardiovorax posted:

I am suddenly a lot less optimistic about that new Torment game.

If the mechanics are poo poo, then they're just being faithful to the spirit of the first game!

goatface posted:

What? Even if it was a 0-19 die that still wouldn't work.



Your guess is as good as mine.

suffix posted:

I thought jocks got abilities that negated the armor penalties?

I was kvetching about the armor thing because it's unnecessary in general and adds book-keeping. It doesn't cripple anyone, it's just dumb.



Chapter 4: Character Types

Classes.



See?

The Glaive

The murder in murderhobo. They use "weapons and armor to fight their enemies", which is one of the more unhelpful sentences I've seen lately. They can be soldiers, scouts, warlords, bandits, or even some athletes. Glaive is in-universe slang for pretty much any warrior-type "but in truth, it applies only to the best of the best", and there's another sentence that doesn't mean a whole lot. Glaives can be tough, focusing on Might, or agile, focusing on Speed. Or they can just split the difference and be both! Exciting stuff. Glaives also use ranged weapons and they can eschew weapons if they want.

Glaives are well-respected, because being nice to the guy who slays cyberdragons is a good survival move. Glaives get along with other fighting men and they don't usually mix with wizards, bookworms, and fat people. I'm only paraphrasing slightly. It also says that they don't have to follow the stereotype of dumb muscle, but that's a filthy lie.

In the group of PCs, Glaives usually take the lead, in the "first to step on any traps" sense. When it comes to numenera, they like weapons, armor, and healing/buffs. Also, slang! A cypher that enhances your abilities is called a "boost", while one that fixes you up is a "treat", which is certainly something.



Next we get to the part that's actually somewhat interesting, the backgrounds! They describe how you got to be good at pushing people's faces in and there are three of them, with no mechanical effects attached. It doesn't say you can create your own for some reason, but that's not hard to ignore. They also have advancement sections, which have a lot of "musts" telling you what you need to do to level up, but as far as I can tell these are never referenced again after this chapter, so oh well.

The first is Intensive Training, which means you waxed on and off a million times. Mystical kung-fu masters will still exist a billion years in the future, apparently. Advancing means you learn new techniques from your martial arts.

Next is Inborn Traits, which is less "good reflexes" and more "your dad was Spider-Man". You've had some training, but the extra edge you get is from your natural abilities. You might be a giant mountain of muscles or even psychic, using telekinetic abilities to enhance your attacks. You could even be a Randian ubermensch, "a human so perfect that you're beyond human". To advance, you need to train your natural abilities and figure out how they work.

Finally is Biomechanical Modification, which lets you trade your class up to street samurai. Beyond the obvious cybernetic stuff, your genetic code might have been overwritten by modified viruses, or you might just have shitloads of nanotech jammed into your body. You can also be a Silver Age comics character, having been exposed to radiation or chemicals of some sort. To advance, you need to find new poo poo to jam into your body. You might also need to find someone to put it there.

There's also a big ol' table of Connections, which are things like "You were the bouncer in a local bar for a while, and the patrons there remember you." You can roll a d20, choose, or create your own.



The Mechanics

First tier Glaives automatically get the following for stats: Might Pool 11, Speed Pool 10, Intellect Pool 7, Effort 1, Might Edge 1, Speed Edge 1, and Intellect Edge 0. You get six points to dump into your Pools, however you want. So, yeah, your Glaive is probably going to be a meathead.

They also start with all of the following abilities:

Cypher Use: You can carry two cyphers at once.
Practiced In Armor: You can wear any kind of armor and reduce the penalties by 2.
Practiced With All Weapons: You can pick up a pair of nunchuks and not hit yourself in the face with them.
Physical Skills: You get training in one of balancing, climbing, jumping, or swimming.

For equipment, you start with a set of clothes, two weapons (you can swap one for a shield), light or medium armor, an explorer's pack (general adventurer stuff), and 5 shins (the coinage). You get 12 arrows or similar if you choose a weapon that needs ammunition. You get two cyphers and one oddity, the GM picks all three.

You also start with two Fighting Moves! These are your special abilities. Past first tier, you only get one per tier, you can always take a Fighting Move from a lower tier if you want, and you can also swap out a lower tier Move for a different one. They are (costs in parentheses):

Bash (1 Might): Does -1 damage, but dazes your target for a round, modifying the step of every action it makes by one to it's disadvantage. Doesn't have the action tag for some reason, but it should.
No Need For Weapons: Your unarmed attacks count as Medium weapons, not Light. +2 damage, if you don't remember.
Pierce (1 Speed): A ranged attack that does +1 damage. Only works if your weapon has a point, so sling users are poo poo out of luck.
Thrust (1 Might): A melee attack that does +1 damage. Only works if your weapon has an edge or point, so club users are poo poo out of luck.
Trained Without Armor: You get training in Speed defense actions when not wearing Armor.

That's it!

Second tier Glaives get Skill with Attacks for free, which gives them training in bashing, bladed, or ranged weapons, further subdivided into light, medium, or heavy. Do you know where it doesn't mention or explain weapons being divided into categories like this? The weapons section!

Anyway, Glaives get one of the following Fighting Moves for free:

Chop (2 Might): A powerful slice with a blade. You need two hands to do it, you take a -1 penalty to your attack roll, and you get +3 damage. Also: the first time in the book that static penalties to dice have ever been mentioned.
Crush (2 Might): Chop, but with a blunt weapon or unarmed. That's it.
Reload (1 Speed): You can reload a weapon and fire in the same action.
Skill with Defense: You become trained in Might, Speed, or Intellect defense tasks. Can be taken three times, once for each stat.
Successive Attack (2 Speed): Cleave. If you take down an enemy, you can make another attack against a different enemy as part of the same action. Also works with ranged weapons.

That's it!



Third tier Glaives get the following for free:

Expert Cypher Use: You can carry three cyphers.
Skill with Attacks: Second verse, same as the first.

These are their Fighting Moves:

Experienced with Armor: Reduces the armor penalties by a further 1 point, for a total of 3.
Lunge (2 Might): Increases the difficulty of the attack by one, +4 damage.
Slice (2 Speed): Decreases the difficulty of an attack by one, -1 damage. Only works with bladed or pointed weapons.
Spray (2 Speed): Same thing as Slice, but ranged. You need a rapid-fire weapon and you use up 1d6+1 ammo, or all of it if you have less.
Trick Shot (2 Speed): You can attack two targets at once with a ranged weapon. The difficulty of both attacks is increased by one.

That's it!

Fourth tier Glaives get Skill with Attacks for free again.

Their Fighting Moves are:

Capable Warrior: +1 damage, always.
Experienced Defender: +1 Armor when you have armor on.
Feint (2 Speed): You can spend an action doing nothing against one foe. Next round, if you make an attack, the difficulty is decreased by one and you get +4 damage.
Minor to Major: You treat rolls of 19 as a natural 20 for Might or Speed attacks (pick one). You get all of the usual benefits.
Snipe (2 Speed): Same thing as Feint, but with a bow.

That's it!

Fifth tier Glaives get the following for free:

Adept Cypher Use: You can now carry four cyphers at once.
Skill with Attacks: Same thing, but you can choose a type you're already trained in and bump it up to specialized.

Fighting Moves!

Arc Spray (3 Speed): You can make up to three attacks against targets who are next to each other ("next to each other" is not a game term of any sort). The difficulty of the attack rolls is increased by one. A rapid-fire weapon is required.
Jump Attack (5 Might): You make a difficulty 4 Might check as part of your attack. If you succeed, you get +3 damage and knock the enemy down. If you fail, you can make the attack as normal, but nothing else happens.
Mastery with Armor: The penalties for wearing armor are both reduced to zero.
Mastery with Defense: You become specialized in a type of defense task you're already trained in. You can pick this up to three times.
Parry (10 Speed): You reduce the difficulty of Speed defense tasks by one for 10 rounds.

That's it!

Sixth tier Glaives get Skill with Attacks for free, same as the Fifth tier.

Finishing Blow (5 Might): If your enemy is prone, stunned, or incapacitated, you get +6 damage.
Slayer (3 Might): When you hit an NPC or creature of level 5 or lower, you can make a second attack roll. If you succeed, you kill it. If you use it against another PC, it moves them one step down the damage track (which hasn't been explained yet).
Spin Attack (5 Speed): You make five attacks against different foes you can reach while standing still. Anything that modifies your attack or damage applies to all of the attacks.
Weapon and Body (5 Speed): You can make an unarmed attack after making a melee or ranged attack in the same round. Make a separate attack roll for each attack.

That's it! For real, this time.

So, if you've actually read through all of that, I hope you can begin to see what my primary complaint with the FighterFighter is.

It's that they are boring. They are so loving boring. They are an endless litany of boring attacks and small modifiers to numbers and there is nary a single goddamn interesting thing to be found. If you thought full attacking was the height of ecstasy in D&D, then you will love the Glaive.

Next time: nethack -D -u wizard

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008

Halloween Jack posted:

Metaplot was also especially terrible when it came in the form of "The entire Platypus Clan died in the Eggstorm, if you're a Platypus you're either dead or alone with a bullseye on your head."

Oh man, I completely forgot how White Wolf did that with both oVampire and oWerewolf.

  • Locked thread