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Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Which brings a RPG suffering from this into the same kind of territory as "that one acquaintance of yours who boasts about how he could single-handedly solve all our country's problems"

And hooray for more TORG :D !

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Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


Having an RPG with a central conceit that it expects you to accept as gospel isn't all that uncommon. It's just that in most cases that central conceit is "magic exists."

HSD has lego genetics. Completely logical perfect-actor supercorps. Fiat Currency that functions because of one weird trick a ferret on mars discovered (economists hate him). And a human race that seems completely uninterested in it's own survival, not to mention a successor race that doesn't mind while they all bugger off to get turned into Slendogeman.

And then they also just ignore this stuff whenever it's convenient. Genetics are super easy to gently caress around with right up until the plot requires psycho-owls and nonmorphic sentient dogmen. Then it's not. And the furries were created by humans as a servant race, that thought of them as masters/gods. That should carry with it some continued social and psychological baggage that the game seems to blithely ignore because it gets in the way of Randian foxes with 13 penises.

Bendigeidfran
Dec 17, 2013

Wait a minute...


:psyduck: posted:

The solution was a deceptively simple program developed by a 17 year old ferret on a bet, and subsequently cycled through the web until it appeared under the nose of MarsCo execs, who hailed it as the monetary equivalent to a miracle. It took the form of a stand-alone system of micro-investments that bought and sold in tiny amounts, constantly. A miniature stock broker that could plot long-term growth goals in a much smaller scale, making them profitable in the short term. By linking this system to the micro-transaction section of one’s bank account, it could offset the constant drain caused by everyday living. Issuing one of these programs to every Vector at birth ensured it had a lifetime to grow, making its comparatively small profit margin substantially larger, while at the same time fueling exchange. The constant and consistent exchange lent stability to the value of the Credit, which was in turn linked to the number of people using the system. In effect, the program turned the population of the Sol system into a physical base for the value of currency, one that would (barring an extinction event) continue to grow at a steady, predictable rate. The program was dubbed “the Ledger,” and became the closest post-humanity Sol had ever come to social security. Everyone got one, and it stayed and grew with them throughout their life.

A bit late, but let's break this down a little. So the basic idea is that they give everyone a tiny automated mutual fund, which sounds a lot like a welfare system/guaranteed income is the solution to MegaCorps loving everything up. I'm not sure the author is self-aware enough to realize this though.

quote:

A miniature stock broker that could plot long-term growth goals in a much smaller scale, making them profitable in the short term.
That's...not how anything works. First of all, the whole setup is a reference to the idea of the stock market as a perfect market, which has as many holes as swiss cheese on the wrong-side of an A-10 Warthog. But this is going past the idea that every investor is perfectly informed: this is loving up time itself. Long-term growth is a product of small negative/positive daily returns that eventually net a company more capital than it started with. You can't just predict that a company will have a 30% return in the next financial year and just magically interpolate constant positive returns from that. Especially when these markets are probably unstable as all hell: there's literally constant warfare and threat of extinction by Slendermen.

We're also assuming that this algorithm is perfect and can never be replaced by a faster one that gives even better financial returns. Since, you know, there's that non-existent government ensuring that everyone has the same copy and can't mess with anyone else's. MegaCorps won't create their own massive day-trader bots to get a competitive advantage because-

quote:

the micro-transaction section of one’s bank account
I'm guessing they mean the magic mutual fund-bot deposits into a bank account? There's not a dedicated section for that. Maybe it's something to do with BitCoiners and their hatred of tiny transaction costs? I dunno.

quote:

The constant and consistent exchange lent stability to the value of the Credit,
I highly doubt there's anything stable about exchanges on Mars. We're assuming that none of these corporations do poo poo like speculate on stocks or short-sell shares of companies that they'll just sabotage later. They behave perfectly ethically and would never try to attack other corporations financially. Never mind the mercenary wars and the fact that they're competing for total control of Martian territory, they're corporations so they love each other as much as they love us.

quote:

In effect, the program turned the population of the Sol system into a physical base for the value of currency, one that would (barring an extinction event) continue to grow at a steady, predictable rate.
lol guess what happens.

In the end, the idea that every citizen becomes a perfect investor and gets a stable income from the stock market is laughably naive. I'll admit it's less misanthropic than the "gently caress the poors, praise the Producers" poo poo that Objectivists come up with. But the fact is, the reason we don't suffer from financial crises every three years is due to government institutions like the FDIC, transparency requirements in stock exchanges, and the Federal Reserve. You can't replace all that poo poo with corporate goodwill unless every MegaCorp is somehow staffed by omniscient re-incarnations of Jesus.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Kurieg posted:

Having an RPG with a central conceit that it expects you to accept as gospel isn't all that uncommon. It's just that in most cases that central conceit is "magic exists."

The problem arises when you don't trust either your own premise, or your audience's suspension of disbelief, to support things on their own.

Torg and HSD both have this problem. If HSD just said "humans developed full genetic engineering, made animal hybrid races, humans all died off, now the genetically altered animals are trying to build their own society based off what was left behind", then you'd be good. But instead they have to overexplain everything and then you can start seeing all the holes in the premise.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I'd have more respect for that kind of thing if the authors just straight up said 'gently caress it, it works this way because I really want it to and I think it would make a cool story.'

Speaking of weird transhumanist furry stuff, I think it's finally time I begin my review of Albedo: Platinum Catalyst by Sanguine. Sanguine is an odd duck of a company. They make furry RPGs, but the furry RPGs they make are mechanically interesting (if complicated) and somehow less furry than something like HVD, if that makes sense, in that they don't really read like someone wrote them with one hand. The focus is much more on the classical sense of using anthropomorphic animals as shorthand for people groups than fetish work. Their debut game, Ironclaw, will always hold a place in my heart for being Redwall+Game of Thrones+The Renaissance with combat mechanics that were actually fun to play and a setting that got across the grit of a world changing over to a new era without being overly grimdark or making the PCs ineffectual shitfarmers, so when a friend said they'd made a sci-fi game as well, we picked up the rules for fun. I should also preface that I have never run a long campaign in this system, though I have played a few adventures and run a couple missions, myself.

Albedo: Platinum Catalyst is based on a comic called Erma Felna: EDF, written by a former Air Force technical illustrator named Steve Gallaci. Wikipedia tells me it was a foundational comic in the nascent furry fandom, which does not sound promising. Honestly, most of the stuff I've read about the comic in looking for background on the game doesn't sound especially interesting, but the basic setting is thus: One day a century or two before present, the random anthropomorphic animals of the setting achieved sentience. They simply awoke to already find they had histories, backgrounds, families, loved ones, jobs, all of it, but none of them could remember much beyond these pre-programmed backstories. They also discovered they had the Net, an omnipresent surveillance system that acts as both the internet and a general monitoring AI that will assist with inquiries and monitor the economy. Now, to their credit, they find the whole setup pretty fishy and pretty quickly come to the conclusion that they are an engineered people, and figuring out exactly who created them and why they were created, with theories ranging from the obvious (massive experiment in the development of cultures) to the insane (RABBITS UBER ALLES BITCHES!), and the Net quietly sabotaging any definitive attempts to discover why they exist. They're initially created with a cosmopolitan, atheistic, socialistic system of government, with a number assigned to a person called their Sociopolitical Intelligence (SPI) via automated personality testing, government performance evaluation and Net monitoring, and this number is used as someone's primary qualification in life. It values conformity and cosmopolitanism, preferring people who make no trouble and avoid questioning the general system, and the inputs from government performance assessment tend to ensure that this 'rational and objective' means of measuring someone's abilities promotes well-connected and relatively unimaginative people.

Then they have their waves of colonization, once they discover FTL. This is where poo poo starts to go wrong, because there's no Faster Than Light Communication, and so small FTL transmitters are used to beam Net data around the colonies, but otherwise it's easy to lose track of people. People who are dissatisfied with the gentle and vaguely sinister form of Net-enhanced surveillance-socialism strike out for the colonies, forming different sorts of government and independent planetary colonies. One such set of colonies is populated primarily by bunnies, and if you've read Watership Down, you know poo poo is about to go wrong, big-time. The Interstellar Lapine Republic starts out as crazy hypercapitalists, but the oligarchs quickly find their legitimacy is based solely on their ability to provide exorbitant amounts of goods and services to their people. They need something else to keep people happy and keep them from questioning the rule of their wealthy plutocratic masters. They discover that something when they start writing tracts about how incredibly awesome bunnies are and it gets people all jazzed up about the superiority of the rabbit race. Yes, the bunnies invent fascism from first principles and proceed to go on a tear of invasions, causing a massive war that forces independent colonies to band together with the inner worlds to form the Extraplanetary Defense Force, the EDF, which is essentially Furry Space NATO. The EDF fights the ILR back to its colonies, but the war is absolutely devastating to occupied colonies and comes down to the deployment of WMDs from orbit, with the EDF forced to choose between accepting an ILR surrender that leaves them in power in their core worlds, or risking causing billions of deaths to affect regime change. They decide to go with the former, and the war ends, about 40 years before the game starts.

Forty years of this has not gone well. The EDF's emergency powers never really went away, and the ILR hasn't really given up, either. They now resort to terror tactics and political warfare, trying to force brutal, limited EDF responses in minor proxy wars to gain the loyalty of 'Ethnic Lapine' populations, while corruption eats away at the EDF from within. Some of the EDF's highest commanders have figured out how to gently caress with the Net, which allows them to alter the SPI system, the economic monitors, and alter historical records (society is mostly paperless with the huge ubiquity of handheld devices and tablets, which considering this was written before the 21st century is pretty prescient) to suit their own agendas. Now, the problem with an AI monitored system of hypersocialism is that it sort of relies on the AI having accurate data, so all of this tinkering and upheaval is risking making their semi-benevolent but mildly sinister AI god have a meltdown and wreck the entire inner system economy. Meanwhile, the EDF's corruption means it bullies outer planets, which is doing the ILR's work for them. Into all this, your PCs are meant to be newly minted squad leaders, assigned to various peacekeeping and counter-terror operations to try to fight these fires, and maybe discover the heavy dystopian elements of the setting for themselves and try to help correct them as best they can. Worlds are leaving the EDF for totally legitimate reasons, but the ILR are psychopaths who you absolutely must stop if you can. Innocent lives and the lives of your troops are in danger constantly, proxy and brushfire conflicts are all over the place, and in the middle of all of it, a created people are still wondering why they were created and what exists in the universe to give a drat about beyond their own existence.

It's honestly not that bad a setup for a semi-hard sci-fi dystopia/mil-sci-fi game. Its justification for the furries makes a hell of a lot more sense than HVD, and why they were created and by whom is left ambiguous (which is much better, considering answering that question is a potential major campaign hook) in the core book, though the one solitary expansion book spells it out (If you guessed they were created by humans to study cultural development in the case of a historical vacuum, you get a prize). Next we'll get into the mechanics of the game, like the insanely complicated character creation, but also the very interesting squad and combat mechanics.

The Deleter
May 22, 2010





:colbert:

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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



I'm sorry, I can't review The Last Stand as I've never played it. But yes, when I was briefly running Albedo my players liked to break into EDF! EDF! EDF! sometimes.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




So if I understand Albedo right, it's a pretty serious, somewhat-hard military-sci-fi series, which is critically acclaimed and deals with adult relationships. That the characters are anthropomorphic animals is more or less a stylistic choice. Is that right?

Also, wasn't Albedo a property that had some Phoenix Command stuff done for it?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Halloween Jack posted:

So if I understand Albedo right, it's a pretty serious, somewhat-hard military-sci-fi series, which is critically acclaimed and deals with adult relationships. That the characters are anthropomorphic animals is more or less a stylistic choice. Is that right?

Also, wasn't Albedo a property that had some Phoenix Command stuff done for it?

Yes, this is basically it, from what I understand. The RPG is similar. I have not played or seen the earlier editions of the RPG, only the Sanguine one, but I wouldn't call it Phoenix Command-ish. The RPG is very much about a mixture of small unit tactics, politics, and the fact that being in a war is insanely psychologically taxing.

Lightning Lord
Feb 21, 2013

$200 a day, plus expenses



Halloween Jack posted:

So if I understand Albedo right, it's a pretty serious, somewhat-hard military-sci-fi series, which is critically acclaimed and deals with adult relationships. That the characters are anthropomorphic animals is more or less a stylistic choice. Is that right?

It's also notable for being the comic that Usagi Yojimbo debuted in, when it was an anthology. I once got banned from a comics forum for saying I liked Usagi Yojimbo during that period ten years ago when the entire internet was witch hunting for "secret furries".

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Catching up on pages and pages of F&F, so:

theironjef posted:

Good that'll get us out of covering FATAL for a while. This book made me so mad. The slap dash nature of it, the ludicrous cheesecake, the "realism." What's with these industry guys that pick one thing they saw in a documentary about medieval life and run it into the ground as if that's a setting?

You don't need to cover FATAL, thankfully, I think it's been beaten into the earth well enough. It doesn't need any more attention. But yeah, I don't get what's up with heartbreakers like that, do they really think people want to play turnip farmers or a cooper or a candlemaker? There's just no design focus or real thought about what the game was going to be actually about, other than some vague handwaving in D&D's direction.

Kai Tave posted:

Everything about TORG sounds like a giant trap to be honest. Skimming over these writeups it falls into the same category as Rifts, namely dramatically overcomplicating and over-crufting what should be a very simple process of "take a dozen nerdy things from your video collection and/or toybox, stick in a blender, done."

Honestly, when I was young I liked Rifts, but I never liked TORG that much, and now I'm understanding why. Rifts is what happens when you develop your game too little, and TORG is what happens when you develop your game too much. People assume TORG is better written because it has more :words:, and that's true to a certain extent, but drat, here's some words I didn't think I would type: Rifts is actually more playable. Despite having dozens of settings and different dimensional effects, if you play a Glitter Boy, you don't have to think as to whether your boom gun works or not, just whether or not you have ammo for it and how badly it's been damaged. If you play a wizard and hop settings, you might do more or less damage or recharge your mana faster or slower, but otherwise your stats remain entirely unchanged.

TORG overthinks about every aspect of the game to the point it outsmarts itself and becomes just as dumb.

Doresh posted:

Not really sure either why some writers seem to fill their RPGs with insane ideological garbage. Guess they really want to stand out.

It's really not all that unique, just less subtle. Steve Jackson Games has always had a libertarian slant, for example, but it usually doesn't outright poison the work. Games like Eclipse Phase and Freemarket are similarly so, but once again, it doesn't poison the work. It's honestly okay to be ideological to an extent as long as you're not just writing ridiculous "my opinion wins because no reasons" nonsense.

Kellsterik posted:

Thinking of Wild Talents, would there be any interest in a writeup of Progenitor? It's an extremely well-written superhero setting book by Greg Stolze in the form of an alternate history from 1968-1999, emphasizing how superpowers drastically change the world and the idea of creating your own worst enemy.

I've been reading it and :justpost:

Lightning Lord
Feb 21, 2013

$200 a day, plus expenses



Alien Rope Burn posted:

You don't need to cover FATAL, thankfully, I think it's been beaten into the earth well enough. It doesn't need any more attention. But yeah, I don't get what's up with heartbreakers like that, do they really think people want to play turnip farmers or a cooper or a candlemaker? There's just no design focus or real thought about what the game was going to be actually about, other than some vague handwaving in D&D's direction.

If the cult popularity of Harn shows us anything it's that there's a small audience of people who really do want to play smiths and bakers in their fantasy RPGs. I'm not sure about the game itself in terms of rules, but Harn is a pretty cool setting and there are interesting scenarios like 100 Bushels of Rye. But FATAL isn't the game to do this with, or anything.

The Deleter
May 22, 2010


Night10194 posted:

I'm sorry, I can't review The Last Stand as I've never played it. But yes, when I was briefly running Albedo my players liked to break into EDF! EDF! EDF! sometimes.

Realtalk I'd play an EDF rpg with some mild crunch and rules for determining just how much collateral damage that giant robot just did.

Also my AW playbook party has been on hold over the holidays but I'll resume it soon, this next one's a doozy.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Lightning Lord posted:

If the cult popularity of Harn shows us anything it's that there's a small audience of people who really do want to play smiths and bakers in their fantasy RPGs. I'm not sure about the game itself in terms of rules, but Harn is a pretty cool setting and there are interesting scenarios like 100 Bushels of Rye. But FATAL isn't the game to do this with, or anything.

I was talking about Fantasy Imperium, but Harn actually thinks somewhat about it being a fantasy world simulator, even if its age means it doesn't as deeply self-examine itself very much. But it was always intended as a fantasy sandbox and at least has some level of design intention in that.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Lightning Lord posted:

If the cult popularity of Harn shows us anything it's that there's a small audience of people who really do want to play smiths and bakers in their fantasy RPGs. I'm not sure about the game itself in terms of rules, but Harn is a pretty cool setting and there are interesting scenarios like 100 Bushels of Rye. But FATAL isn't the game to do this with, or anything.

A missed connection there, he was talking about our podcast review of Fantasy Imperium. Which is definitely one of those "roll to see if you make candles or professionally collect urine" types of games.

Lightning Lord
Feb 21, 2013

$200 a day, plus expenses



theironjef posted:

A missed connection there, he was talking about our podcast review of Fantasy Imperium. Which is definitely one of those "roll to see if you make candles or professionally collect urine" types of games.

My bad but it seems like if you replace "FATAL" with "Fantasy Imperium" in my post, it will say the same thing. Seems like a crap game too.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Halloween Jack posted:

So if I understand Albedo right, it's a pretty serious, somewhat-hard military-sci-fi series, which is critically acclaimed and deals with adult relationships. That the characters are anthropomorphic animals is more or less a stylistic choice. Is that right?

That's right. I've somehow ended up with two copies of the first volume, and I found it quite readable despite not really being into military SF.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Alien Rope Burn posted:

It's really not all that unique, just less subtle. Steve Jackson Games has always had a libertarian slant, for example, but it usually doesn't outright poison the work. Games like Eclipse Phase and Freemarket are similarly so, but once again, it doesn't poison the work. It's honestly okay to be ideological to an extent as long as you're not just writing ridiculous "my opinion wins because no reasons" nonsense.

Eh he he he he he... Autonomist Alliance and anarchism.

Halloween Jack posted:

Also, wasn't Albedo a property that had some Phoenix Command stuff done for it?

Leading Edge Games mostly made games based on movie titles, in addition to their in-house games like Phoenix Command and Living Steel. To my knowledge, they made two games for Aliens (a boardgame with an expansion, and an RPG), board game tie-ins for Terminator 2 and Army of Darkness, and RPGs for Bram Stoker's Dracula and The Lawnmower Man. Their own intellectual properties were Rhand, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thing I know very little about, and Living Steel, another post-apocalyptic sci-fi setting that ran on the same system as Phoenix Command. (The Aliens RPG ran on an even simpler system, and I've been told Bram Stoker's Dracula was even simpler than that again.)

Phoenix Command, Small Arms: Spectrum, and Sword's Path: Glory were really just systems of rules with no setting attached. PCCS and SAS were made for miniature wargaming, or for use as modular additions to other roleplaying games; run Call of Cthulhu with Phoenix Command's combat, for example. SPG was pretty much only for use with other RPG systems, in case you're the kind of person who really enjoys your character dying from a brain aneurysm two days after being hit on the head with a club in a combat you won. Leading Edge Games had promised a setting-book for SPG, but when SPG flopped it failed to materialize (just as the Middle East scenario supplement for PCCS, the Air-to-Ground supplement for PCCS, the Archery supplement for SPG, the Magic supplement for SPG, the Economics supplement for SPG...)

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


You also have to realize Albedo pre-dates the actual furry subculture, so it was entirely divorced from many things we think of as "furry". Mind, even the furry comics that were sexual, like Fritz the Cat or Omaha the Cat Dancer were vastly more thoughtful than a lot of modern furry material. People can and have done interesting, serious things with anthropomorphics historically.

Of course, there will always be counterpoints like Hc Svnt Dracones. One of the things that strikes me about the backstory is that without being the king of wishful thinking, it's all unrelenting, unremitting horror, from the extinction of the human race to the self-modified furries that keep producing murderous horrors every time they pop open a test tube. You could replace the cyborg animal folk with brain-stealing shrimp from Pluto and all that'd do is make the cosmic horror explicit rather than implicit.

LatwPIAT posted:

Eh he he he he he... Autonomist Alliance and anarchism.

A fair point.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


Alien Rope Burn posted:

You also have to realize Albedo pre-dates the actual furry subculture, so it was entirely divorced from many things we think of as "furry". Mind, even the furry comics that were sexual, like Fritz the Cat or Omaha the Cat Dancer were vastly more thoughtful than a lot of modern furry material. People can and have done interesting, serious things with anthropomorphics historically.

It happens more recently than that, Blacksad comes to mind as using fur-color as a stand-in for racism. Does a good job of pointing out the absurdity of it all when a polar bear and an arctic fox are screaming at a cat for having black fur but a white nose.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


All this talk of RIFTS, TORG, and evil bunnies is giving me Sluggy Freelance flashbacks.

Fallout was originally a GURPS license, so Exodus is a D20 hack of a modified GURPS?

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

The Deleter posted:

Realtalk I'd play an EDF rpg with some mild crunch and rules for determining just how much collateral damage that giant robot just did.

Swap out robots with giant bugs and you have, with astonishing accuracy, described Last Stand, down to managing how much collateral throwing that car at that guy just did.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Count Chocula posted:

All this talk of RIFTS, TORG, and evil bunnies is giving me Sluggy Freelance flashbacks.

Fallout was originally a GURPS license, so Exodus is a D20 hack of a modified GURPS?

Didn't Interplay completely drop GURPS and did their own thing fairly early in development?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Midjack posted:

Didn't Interplay completely drop GURPS and did their own thing fairly early in development?

Yeah. Apparently Steve Jackson Games didn't like the level of violence (the execution scene in the opening cinematic, for one), and the cartoony Vault Boy images. So the developers dropped the license rather than capitulate. Which is strange for us who remember Car Wars and Uncle Al, but hindsight and all that. The SPECIAL system was definitely a child of GURPS but is remarkably different enough that it's hard to notice any relation between the two at all.

Carados
Jan 27, 2009

We're a couple, when our bodies double.


Count Chocula posted:

Fallout was originally a GURPS license, so Exodus is a D20 hack of a modified GURPS?

Everything is a hack of GURPS. This thread is just world generation for GURPS: Online Adventures.

Mr.Misfit
Jan 10, 2013

The time for
SkellyBones
has come!


Carados posted:

Everything is a hack of GURPS. This thread is just world generation for GURPS: Online Adventures.

You do realize that you just made FATAL a GURPS world spinoff with that sentence?

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Night10194 posted:

Albedo: Platinum Catalyst

I never really thought Albedo was engineered critters, but I thought it was like Catshit One/Apocalypse Meow in which the author/artist thought it was cooler to draw a semi-realistic sci-fi war story with anthropomorphic animals instead of humans because human characters in real situations made audiences' eyes glazed over.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Libertad! posted:

You're gonna have to be more specific than that. There's a lot of those folks out there.

I don't remember his name, he had a big thread that was titled something like "Marble production is a function of marble absorption".

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

LatwPIAT posted:

Eh he he he he he... Autonomist Alliance and anarchism.


Leading Edge Games mostly made games based on movie titles, in addition to their in-house games like Phoenix Command and Living Steel. To my knowledge, they made two games for Aliens (a boardgame with an expansion, and an RPG), board game tie-ins for Terminator 2 and Army of Darkness, and RPGs for Bram Stoker's Dracula and The Lawnmower Man. Their own intellectual properties were Rhand, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thing I know very little about, and Living Steel, another post-apocalyptic sci-fi setting that ran on the same system as Phoenix Command. (The Aliens RPG ran on an even simpler system, and I've been told Bram Stoker's Dracula was even simpler than that again.)

Phoenix Command, Small Arms: Spectrum, and Sword's Path: Glory were really just systems of rules with no setting attached. PCCS and SAS were made for miniature wargaming, or for use as modular additions to other roleplaying games; run Call of Cthulhu with Phoenix Command's combat, for example. SPG was pretty much only for use with other RPG systems, in case you're the kind of person who really enjoys your character dying from a brain aneurysm two days after being hit on the head with a club in a combat you won. Leading Edge Games had promised a setting-book for SPG, but when SPG flopped it failed to materialize (just as the Middle East scenario supplement for PCCS, the Air-to-Ground supplement for PCCS, the Archery supplement for SPG, the Magic supplement for SPG, the Economics supplement for SPG...)

Rhand was the planet sourcebook for Living Steel.

Big Hubris
Mar 8, 2011




LatwPIAT posted:

Eh he he he he he... Autonomist Alliance and anarchism.

Gerlach's hosed either way when Venus makes its decision.

Extropia is a glorified tax haven heavily implied to be kept together by the unborn consciousness of its stock exchange pulling a Blue Ant Trilogy that it may be born.

Locus is the one victory anarchists have, and even that can be attributed to brinkers and criminals defending their livelihoods while Titan fought the Jovian fleet to an agreeable ceasefire and oh hey the anarchists helped!

Big Hubris fucked around with this message at 05:35 on Jan 12, 2015

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Night10194 posted:

I'd have more respect for that kind of thing if the authors just straight up said 'gently caress it, it works this way because I really want it to and I think it would make a cool story.'

Speaking of weird transhumanist furry stuff, I think it's finally time I begin my review of Albedo: Platinum Catalyst by Sanguine. Sanguine is an odd duck of a company. They make furry RPGs, but the furry RPGs they make are mechanically interesting (if complicated) and somehow less furry than something like HVD, if that makes sense, in that they don't really read like someone wrote them with one hand. The focus is much more on the classical sense of using anthropomorphic animals as shorthand for people groups than fetish work. Their debut game, Ironclaw, will always hold a place in my heart for being Redwall+Game of Thrones+The Renaissance with combat mechanics that were actually fun to play and a setting that got across the grit of a world changing over to a new era without being overly grimdark or making the PCs ineffectual shitfarmers, so when a friend said they'd made a sci-fi game as well, we picked up the rules for fun. I should also preface that I have never run a long campaign in this system, though I have played a few adventures and run a couple missions, myself.

I'll be interested in seeing this. I actually have the original '80s Albedo RPG, which was written by Paul Kidd.

ZeeToo
Feb 20, 2008

I'm a kitty!


Kavak posted:

I don't remember his name, he had a big thread that was titled something like "Marble production is a function of marble absorption".

Eripsa/Reality Apologist? Most recently spat up Strangecoin and a proposed Bitcoin hack that never materialized?

The Iron Rose
May 12, 2012

:minnie: Cat Army :minnie:


Night10194 posted:

I'd have more respect for that kind of thing if the authors just straight up said 'gently caress it, it works this way because I really want it to and I think it would make a cool story.'

Speaking of weird transhumanist furry stuff, I think it's finally time I begin my review of Albedo: Platinum Catalyst by Sanguine. Sanguine is an odd duck of a company. They make furry RPGs, but the furry RPGs they make are mechanically interesting (if complicated) and somehow less furry than something like HVD, if that makes sense, in that they don't really read like someone wrote them with one hand. The focus is much more on the classical sense of using anthropomorphic animals as shorthand for people groups than fetish work. Their debut game, Ironclaw, will always hold a place in my heart for being Redwall+Game of Thrones+The Renaissance with combat mechanics that were actually fun to play and a setting that got across the grit of a world changing over to a new era without being overly grimdark or making the PCs ineffectual shitfarmers, so when a friend said they'd made a sci-fi game as well, we picked up the rules for fun. I should also preface that I have never run a long campaign in this system, though I have played a few adventures and run a couple missions, myself.

Albedo: Platinum Catalyst is based on a comic called Erma Felna: EDF, written by a former Air Force technical illustrator named Steve Gallaci. Wikipedia tells me it was a foundational comic in the nascent furry fandom, which does not sound promising. Honestly, most of the stuff I've read about the comic in looking for background on the game doesn't sound especially interesting, but the basic setting is thus: One day a century or two before present, the random anthropomorphic animals of the setting achieved sentience. They simply awoke to already find they had histories, backgrounds, families, loved ones, jobs, all of it, but none of them could remember much beyond these pre-programmed backstories. They also discovered they had the Net, an omnipresent surveillance system that acts as both the internet and a general monitoring AI that will assist with inquiries and monitor the economy. Now, to their credit, they find the whole setup pretty fishy and pretty quickly come to the conclusion that they are an engineered people, and figuring out exactly who created them and why they were created, with theories ranging from the obvious (massive experiment in the development of cultures) to the insane (RABBITS UBER ALLES BITCHES!), and the Net quietly sabotaging any definitive attempts to discover why they exist. They're initially created with a cosmopolitan, atheistic, socialistic system of government, with a number assigned to a person called their Sociopolitical Intelligence (SPI) via automated personality testing, government performance evaluation and Net monitoring, and this number is used as someone's primary qualification in life. It values conformity and cosmopolitanism, preferring people who make no trouble and avoid questioning the general system, and the inputs from government performance assessment tend to ensure that this 'rational and objective' means of measuring someone's abilities promotes well-connected and relatively unimaginative people.

Then they have their waves of colonization, once they discover FTL. This is where poo poo starts to go wrong, because there's no Faster Than Light Communication, and so small FTL transmitters are used to beam Net data around the colonies, but otherwise it's easy to lose track of people. People who are dissatisfied with the gentle and vaguely sinister form of Net-enhanced surveillance-socialism strike out for the colonies, forming different sorts of government and independent planetary colonies. One such set of colonies is populated primarily by bunnies, and if you've read Watership Down, you know poo poo is about to go wrong, big-time. The Interstellar Lapine Republic starts out as crazy hypercapitalists, but the oligarchs quickly find their legitimacy is based solely on their ability to provide exorbitant amounts of goods and services to their people. They need something else to keep people happy and keep them from questioning the rule of their wealthy plutocratic masters. They discover that something when they start writing tracts about how incredibly awesome bunnies are and it gets people all jazzed up about the superiority of the rabbit race. Yes, the bunnies invent fascism from first principles and proceed to go on a tear of invasions, causing a massive war that forces independent colonies to band together with the inner worlds to form the Extraplanetary Defense Force, the EDF, which is essentially Furry Space NATO. The EDF fights the ILR back to its colonies, but the war is absolutely devastating to occupied colonies and comes down to the deployment of WMDs from orbit, with the EDF forced to choose between accepting an ILR surrender that leaves them in power in their core worlds, or risking causing billions of deaths to affect regime change. They decide to go with the former, and the war ends, about 40 years before the game starts.

Forty years of this has not gone well. The EDF's emergency powers never really went away, and the ILR hasn't really given up, either. They now resort to terror tactics and political warfare, trying to force brutal, limited EDF responses in minor proxy wars to gain the loyalty of 'Ethnic Lapine' populations, while corruption eats away at the EDF from within. Some of the EDF's highest commanders have figured out how to gently caress with the Net, which allows them to alter the SPI system, the economic monitors, and alter historical records (society is mostly paperless with the huge ubiquity of handheld devices and tablets, which considering this was written before the 21st century is pretty prescient) to suit their own agendas. Now, the problem with an AI monitored system of hypersocialism is that it sort of relies on the AI having accurate data, so all of this tinkering and upheaval is risking making their semi-benevolent but mildly sinister AI god have a meltdown and wreck the entire inner system economy. Meanwhile, the EDF's corruption means it bullies outer planets, which is doing the ILR's work for them. Into all this, your PCs are meant to be newly minted squad leaders, assigned to various peacekeeping and counter-terror operations to try to fight these fires, and maybe discover the heavy dystopian elements of the setting for themselves and try to help correct them as best they can. Worlds are leaving the EDF for totally legitimate reasons, but the ILR are psychopaths who you absolutely must stop if you can. Innocent lives and the lives of your troops are in danger constantly, proxy and brushfire conflicts are all over the place, and in the middle of all of it, a created people are still wondering why they were created and what exists in the universe to give a drat about beyond their own existence.

It's honestly not that bad a setup for a semi-hard sci-fi dystopia/mil-sci-fi game. Its justification for the furries makes a hell of a lot more sense than HVD, and why they were created and by whom is left ambiguous (which is much better, considering answering that question is a potential major campaign hook) in the core book, though the one solitary expansion book spells it out (If you guessed they were created by humans to study cultural development in the case of a historical vacuum, you get a prize). Next we'll get into the mechanics of the game, like the insanely complicated character creation, but also the very interesting squad and combat mechanics.

Huh. So this actually sounds super interesting, animals aside and I'd be interested to hear more.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Alright, I've got some time, so it's time for more Albedo Platinum Catalyst

Now, the first thing the book gets out of the way is explaining the dice mechanics, which I appreciate. These are where the mechanics start to get interesting. You get 3 stat pools: Body, Drive, and Clout (Physical, mental, and social) which are each associated with a bunch of skills: Stuff that requires focus like shooting a gun is Drive, stuff that's all about physical strength like close combat or hefting a comrade and dragging them to safety takes Body, stuff that takes reputation and charisma like calming down a bunch of angry protestors before they start throwing rocks takes Clout. These stats, though, have no direct effect on your rolls; they instead form a pool of points you can spend to interact with some of the rolling options, as well as a pool of HP for those three aspects of your PC.

What happens is, you roll based on your Skill, which is measured from 1-8. If you have a 1, you can roll a d4, a 2, a d6, etc. You roll against a task's difficulty, which will be a die itself, and if you get a 1 you Botch. Now, this makes it sound like you're going to botch all the time, and you will, if you do the standard rolling. Also, dice stop at size d12, so what are higher skills for? In come the other rolling options. The default option for a task, as the book makes clear, is Going Rote. When you go Rote, your character is resorting entirely to their training, and you get an automatic result of Skill+1 vs. Difficulty. You can't Botch when you're going Rote and it costs you no resources, so this is the normal way you'll make attacks, try to fix poo poo, etc when you don't have a pressing need to do better. You can also Risk, where you roll one die higher than you normally could, at the cost of 1 point from the associated stat pool. This is a dangerous option you should only pull if you have a 4 or less in a skill and really, really need to have a chance of hitting a high number. Risking represents pushing the limits to try to go above what your limited training could normally accomplish. You can Breeze, where you halve your skill, rounding down, and roll two dice of the appropriate size; Breezing represents an overqualified character trying to complete a task quickly and well, and if both dice succeed you get an Overwhelming Success, where you'll do more damage in combat or take much less time or otherwise get a much better result. Finally, you can Push, where you spend 1 point of the associated stat pool and roll 2 dice of the appropriate size without halving it; this can only go up to 2d12, but considering 'heroic' difficulties or poo poo like making a blind rifle shot at 100m on a target in cover have difficulties like 2d12 or 3d12+d8, that still gives you pretty solid odds. Pushing represents a skilled character giving it their all and taking a chance to make a heroic success. These options, along with transparent difficulty numbers (you should always know the difficulty dice before choosing your rolling method) give a fair number of options in the base dice mechanics. Also note, if you're rolling 2 dice from Breezing or Pushing, you only Botch if you roll 2 1st, which greatly lowers the risk.

Now, your starting stats are determined by your Species and a simple personality test for your PC. Species gives you a couple skills that your race is good at, and a baseline of Body, Clout, and Drive. You also get to pick a Gift from your species table: Gifts are stuff like Healthy, or Cool Under Fire, unique talents that let you do cool poo poo like avoid psych damage or increase your stats, or that give you new ways to spend points from your stat pools for new abilities. For instance, a character with Semiauto Expert can spend extra ammunition to fire a three-round burst that lets them convert a Tie on an attack into a Hit, or a character with Sniper Expert can spend Drive to do extra damage with single shots, or a character with Counselor can help allies recover from psychological fatigue. Noticeable is there's no Flaws to match Gifts; what there is, instead, is Dubious Gifts. Dubious Gifts represent stuff that either isn't considered socially acceptable (A fair number lower your SPI, which lowers your starting rank, which lowers your ability to draw good assignments and work the system and hinders your career as an EDF officer) or that have some drawback in return for a powerful benefit. For instance, if you're a Young officer, fresh out of training, you get +1 to Body and Drive because you're full of energy, but -1 to Clout because you haven't had a career yet, lose some SPI for being a rookie, but also gain the ability to socialize with other younger characters and fresh recruits a bit better. A Cold Hearted character can take the rigors of combat better, being better able to resist mental damage (And when we get to combat, holy poo poo is mental damage a prevalent and terrible threat to your PC and your squad) but loses some Clout and SPI because someone who exhibits relatively little compunction against violence is considered majorly psychologically unhealthy. The Psych Test consists of some simple questions to see your PC's base Meyers Briggs personality type, which will give you +4 to a mixture of Clout and Drive (+4/+0, +3/+1, +2/+2, etc) based on your mix. Next, you add Clout and Drive total together, add or subtract SPI from Gifts, and calculate your base SPI and Rank. Most PCs will start off as junior Lts, sergeants or other similar squad-level officers.

Next you take a Homeworld, giving you some more skills and a gift associated with your Homeworld. After this, you take your Service Branch, which will determine what kind of Squad you lead as well as give you a much greater array of basic skills necessary to do your job and a couple gifts assigned by your military specialty. PCs can be from Admin, being quartermasters, internal affairs, press liaisons, and political officers, Aerospace, being pilots and paratroopers (though without real rules for air combat, playing a pilot seems a bit daft), Navy crew, Surface Ops, playing as infantrymen, medics, engineers, and drivers, or they can play as 'specialists'; Spies and Explorers. Most parties will probably mostly form an infantry platoon, with one PC leading a medic team, one a unit of infantry, etc. After this, you take 10 free skillpoints, with up to 3 going into any one skill, pick a Gift of your choice, and you're done with your PC.

After your PC is done, you build your Squad. Squaddies are much simpler than full PCs, being a team of NPCs who you control in combat, and who are significantly easier to kill, panic, and knock out of fights but who can definitely still contribute. Squaddies only get the stats for their Species and Service Branch, and all but 1 of a PC's 4 Supporting Characters have to be from the same Branch as you. So, for instance, if you're running a Light Infantry squad, you could have 3 Light Infantry and then a Heavy Infantry who carries the squad's LMG or rocket launcher, or 2 Light Infantry, a Medic, and an Engineer to provide support, or 3 Light Infantry and then an Aerospace pilot to act as your shuttle crewman for a rapid response unit. These NPCs are fully under your control in combat, since you play as the squad rather than a single character when you're in battle. Supporting Characters only have a Body stat, since Body determines how hard it is to hurt you, and can't spend Body to Push or Risk skills. They also lack Clout and Drive, instead replacing them with a single point of Morale. Morale can be used to absorb mental damage or to Push or Risk, and a PC can restore or grant Morale by using the Lead skill and spending points of Clout. The game makes it very clear a skilled Leader PC with average personal combat skills and a squad of light infantry is probably going to do better in combat than a lone wolf badass hero; his subordinates will resist panic and they can use his leadership to use the full range of dice abilities.

One definite problem with PC creation, as I learned with my would-be-social-climber Tank Driver in the first game I played, is that the baseline for 'good' is quite high. You want a 3 or 4 in a skill to have it be something your character can 'rely' on and it's very hard to grow into new skills later; standard infantry mooks are generally Longarm 4-5 and are actually pretty drat skilled shots, for instance. Some of the services spread skills around a lot, especially ones like Mechanized, and if you start with, say, only a 2 in Sidearms you're going to be pretty useless in combat if it comes up. They don't really make it clear from the start that, say, a character with a 1 in a skill basically has enough familiarity not to be a risk to themselves and others with that skill, but shouldn't expect to accomplish much with it. If you build for it, it's also very easy to build a very skilled character from the very start in certain areas. A commando could very well begin with an 8 Longarm skill and be one of the best Riflemen in the entire EDF from the getgo, but stuff like Leadership is harder to get very high from the very start. Similarly, some of the Services do not work well when mixed in with others. If you build a scientist with a team of researchers and the rest of the party builds heavy infantry squads and grunts, then one of you is going to be a bit bored some of the time and it gets harder to give everyone screentime. The Squad system exists for a very good reason that we'll get to when we get to combat, but it also makes large play groups difficult to use. Running combats with 25 PC controlled playing pieces for a 5 player group is very difficult. The game does do very well as a single-player RPG because of the squad system, though; a player can build their own little party of dudes and run them through their adventures together, controlling the whole team in combat. Finally, until the expansion book came out, there were no real vehicle rules, which really, really hurts mechanized infantry, pilots, etc. Still, overall, the options in creation give you a fair bit of room to add some interesting quirks to your officer, build a little squad of guys with their own hooks and foibles, and customize your PC.

Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012


Night10194 posted:

Alright, I've got some time, so it's time for more Albedo Platinum Catalyst

All of this relatively elaborate squad detail makes it seem really clear that the writer had at least some military background or did their due diligence in researching the military command structure.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Xelkelvos posted:

All of this relatively elaborate squad detail makes it seem really clear that the writer had at least some military background or did their due diligence in researching the military command structure.

That's also the rationale behind Rote being the default; the idea is that you're well trained soldiers who have a sort of reasonable baseline of ability and that if someone is dumb enough to stand out in the open at close range, you're probably not going to miss. They also explain, of course, that with 5 characters per character the faster you can cycle actions in combat the better, so just being able to say 'gently caress it, I take a 5, roll the difficulty dice' speeds things considerably.

The Deleter
May 22, 2010


I've always been a bit leery of "stat pools as hp" since I got burned on Numenera. I presume that since there's no single stat used as hp that it works out better? In Numenera the physical stuff stat was also HP, which meant warrior-types got screwed over pretty hard if they wanted to exert themselves.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




ZeeToo posted:

Eripsa/Reality Apologist? Most recently spat up Strangecoin and a proposed Bitcoin hack that never materialized?

That's him. I want him to write an RPG now.

midnightclimax
Dec 3, 2011

by XyloJW


Kavak posted:

That's him. I want him to write an RPG now.

Honestly fiction would probably the better route for him, instead of his frankfurt school of aspergers theorizing.

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LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Humbug Scoolbus posted:

Rhand was the planet sourcebook for Living Steel.

Rhand: Morningstar Missions was published in 1985 and was a post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure game set on the world of Rhand, with a focus on melee combat. Living Steel was published in 1987, and is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure game set on the planet Rhand with a focus on gun combat, power armour, and trying to rebuild civilization. A sourcebook was later released for Living Steel named Rhand: 2349, which as you say details the planet Rhand. I guess it's less "two distinct IPs" and more like Shadowrun and Earthdawn being supposedly the same setting.

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