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GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


Well, I've got the Tron: Legacy soundtrack queued up on Spotify, a plate of horrifyingly post-industrial processed cheese-like food substance, and a Canadian beer (the "Japanese corps rule the world" meme is so passe), so I guess it's time to talk about...



Playing it safe isn’t working anymore; you’re not going to get out of this clean. You have illicit tech and the talent to use it. Time to go shake the city and see what falls out. You’ll get hurt, sure, but what kind of pain will you deal out?

TechNoir is a high-tech, hard-boiled RPG designed and written by Jeremy Keller. The project was successfully Kickstarted in July 2011 with a respectable $24,255 pledged on an initial $2,500 goal. The extra money was supposed to unlock three stretch goals: MechNoir, adding rules for giant robots, HexNoir, adding rules for a Shadowrun-style "cyberpunk with magic" game, and MoreNoir, a toolkit guide to creating your own expansions in the vein of MechNoir and HexNoir. Unfortunately, while MechNoir was finally released in August 2012, HexNoir and MoreNoir never materialized, with the last update from the author back in June of last year, assuring us that work on HexNoir hadn't been abandoned, but :shrug:

However! We're not going to let that deter us from enjoying the hell out of a really very good game. We'll be covering the entire corebook, plus MechNoir and the bonus Transmissions (more on those later) released as part of the Kickstarter campaign.

The first thing I want to point out, before we start getting into any specifics, is that goddamn this book is gorgeous. Keller is a graphic artist and layout designer by trade--TradGames goons might know his layout work from Marvel Heroic Roleplaying--and it really shows in how cleanly the book is laid out. Every page is self-contained, all the rules interactions are well-diagrammed, and whenever it starts explaining game mechanics, each rule is presented on the left-hand page with examples of the rule in use on the facing page. This makes it really easy to quickly find any reference you might need during play, and unless you need reminding about, say, the entire action-resolution system, it means you won't have to flip for three or four pages to find the one relevant section under a sprawling subheader. It's just excellent visual design, and anybody thinking about publishing a game book would do well to check out TechNoir. (Spoiler alert: I'm going to gush similarly about layout when we get to Hollowpoint later on.)

The downside of this clean layout is that the book has very little art. Discounting diagrams of gameplay actions, the only art in TechNoir is the full-page chapter headers (which are very slick bits of urban photography processed and retouched to have a futuristic, augmented-reality look; I'll post a few of my favorites as we go), a couple of smaller cityscape images, and some simple orthographic line-art of various bits of equipment. Still, that's hardly a game-breaker, and in fact I'd say it makes a lot of sense given some of the game's design philosophies. So let's get started.

code:
[34.07.20.13.21.15.004] SPECS operating system v4.033.975 intiating.
[34.07.20.13.21.15.056] Visual recognizers on-line.
[34.07.20.13.21.15.132] Logging in to nearest link-point.
[34.07.20.13.21.15.412] Constructing identity avatar.
[34.07.20.13.21.15.689] Initiating overlay render.
[34.07.20.13.21.15.943] Logging in to your bankco account.
[34.07.20.13.21.15.968] Your account balance is 0.00325 Kreds.
[34.07.20.13.21.16.014] Negotiating derma-link protocols.
[34.07.20.13.21.16.245] Overlay render complete.
[34.07.20.13.21.16.482] Welcome to the Interface...
Chapter One is simply titled "Exposition." I'm just going to quote the whole thing, because it's three paragraphs long:

TechNoir posted:

TECHNOLOGY
The city streets buzz with illusory neon lines, animated, playing out just over the grimy surface. The Internet’s gotten too big for any screen, so they feed it right to your eyeballs. You see it everywhere. It spills out onto the streets. It guides self-driving cars through automated intersections. It’s the cartoon some kid wears to school. It’s your personal shopper. We wear the hardware that runs it: in the glasses that let you see it, the chip sewn into your jeans, the electronics of your prosthetic leg. They’re all linked together in a living, thrumming network that spans the world. They call it the Interface. We call it the Big Lie.

ENVIRONMENT
Under all those pretty graphics, the city is dirtier than ever. Soot floats in from the deregulated coal plant; it cakes over everything. The weather is less predictable than ever. Wind and rain, then a drought, then a blizzard, then a hurricane. Hell is swelling up around us and we don’t seem to care. We’ll burn those carbon fuels as long as the corporate-sponsored wars keep winning what’s left of them. We’ll do it until we choke on the smog.

SOCIETY
The rich are opulent. The poor are decrepit. There isn’t much left between. Record numbers of the city’s population are unemployed. When robotics do the blue-collar jobs and software handles the white-collar ones, what’s a flesh body to do? Join a corporate army and get shipped off overseas. Send the paycheck home so the family can buy useless, corporate crap or lose it to the rampant runs of criminals.

Criminals like you.

And that's the entirety of what we get as far as world-building or "setting info." The various Transmissions, which we'll talk about a little later on but are basically prepackaged settings and plot-development tools, put their own twists on these three core aspects of the setting, but other than that it's left entirely up to the table to define. Not only does this significantly reduce the required buy-in from everybody involved, it really lets you make a dystopian future that hits on all the things that make you uneasy. In the Acknowledgements at the end of the book, Keller talks about how his vision of the setting is "how horrible it could be if the political philosophies I disagree with strengthened their grip on society," which really is the hallmark of good, dystopian sci-fi. If your table is more freaked out by, say, the omnipresence of government surveillance than the global influence of megacorporations, you can play up that sense of paranoia and always being watched. If censorship and the suppression of journalism is your outrage, well, we have always been at war with EastAsia.

That's also why I'm not too bothered by the relative paucity of art in the book. Rather than forcing a "futuristic" aesthetic on us that will be dated as hell in a couple of years, TechNoir gives us some glimpses of the cities and the Interface, but leaves the day-to-day to our own aesthetics.


I love the idea that AR displays are so ubiquitous that even the crime scene tape is part of your Google Glass display.

So, to begin with, you'll need dice. Just regular six-sided dice, but you'll need them in three colors; about five per color per player should do. The book assumes you'll be using white, black, and red, and we'll stick with that convention for the writeup. Character sheets, Transmissions, and a Player's Guide that includes a summary of the player-centric rules, are obviously also helpful and can be found at TechNoirRPG.com. You'll also need a blank piece of paper for your plot map, which we'll be digging into later. I recommend either a tablet with some sort of flowchart-making app, or if you're rolling old-school at least a legal-size sheet of paper. Unless your handwriting is really tiny, that is.

The entire book is written as though the game is talking to the GM--when the book says "you do X" or "you choose Y," it's always referring to the GM. As GM, it's your job to portray a cruel, uncaring world of powerful criminal syndicates, greedy megacorporations, and hopelessly corrupt governments, but populate it with NPCs who care about something, who have their own agendas and agency. Your job is also to beat the ever-loving gently caress out of your players. In the grand tradition of hard-boiled fiction, the protagonists aren't going to solve their ex-partner's murder and expose Senator Benslimane's connection to the DRMDMA cartel without being dragged into a back room and worked over with a tire iron. PCs are built to take punishment, so don't be afraid to dish it out. You're not their enemy, but it is your job to challenge them. Put NPCs in opposition to their goals, throw obstacles in their path--but then sit back and enjoy seeing how they overcome those obstacles and see where the story goes from there.

Characters in TechNoir are defined by four different types of traits: Verbs are your basic skills, the way you interact with the world. Everybody has the same 9 verbs, and they're rated from 1 to 5. These are what you'll be rolling when you try to do stuff. The verbs are Coax, Detect, Fight, Hack, Move,
Operate, Prowl, Shoot
, and Treat

Adjectives describe the character and tell you how she's unique. Maybe she's fast or brawny or goddamn terrifying. Adjectives aren't rated like Verbs; you either have one or you don't. They can, however, be positive or negative, and have various degrees of permanency. If Verbs are the engine that drives gameplay, adjectives are the work that engine puts out. Creating, manipulating, and removing adjectives is the entirety of the game system--and yes, dead counts as an adjective.

Objects are a character's stuff. TechNoir doesn't care about inventory-related minutia, but come on, it's the future. Everybody likes at least a little bit of high-tech stuff. Objects have one or more tags, which are kind of like adjectives in that they describe what the object can do and help you out on actions.

Finally, Connections are the characters, both PC and NPC, that a protagonist knows and can lean on for information and favors. Only PCs have connections, and they can be a game-changer--but rely on a contact too much and you might find out he sold you up the river a long time ago.

Technically, PCs have a fifth type of stat, training programs, but they're really just an artifact of character creation and all they really do is help you determine the character's verbs and adjectives.


Three illegal parking citations in under an hour? This is a bad neighborhood!

Hey now, what's this? do we actually get an overview of the game rules before we're thrown headlong into character creation? We do! Like we already learned, TechNoir uses three colors of dice: white dice are action dice. They represent training and innate skill--when you try to do something, you'll roll a number of action dice equal to your rating in the relevant verb: Coax to fast-talk somebody, Hack to infiltrate their network, etc.

Black dice are push dice. They represent extra effort or a technological edge. You've only got a limited pool of these, but you can add one to your roll for every relevant adjective, object, or tag you've got. After the roll, you can spend them to make the action more effective. Much like Fate Points in Fate games, push dice are the main driver of the economy of TechNoir, and we'll cover what a great system this is in a later post.

Red dice are hurt dice. They represent injuries, inconveniences, and all the other little distractions that make you less effective. For every negative adjective that might hinder your action, you add a hurt die to your roll.

Once you've got all your dice assembled, you roll them. First things first, look at your hurt dice. If any of them are showing the same number as any of your action or push dice, those dice go away. Gather up all your hurt dice, plus any matching action or push dice, and put them aside. Now look at your highest-showing die remaining: that's your action's result. If you have more than one die tied for highest, add ".1" to your result. So, for example, a single 5 gives you a result of 5, three 6s gives you 6.1. If your result is higher than your target's rating in the relevant verb, congratulations! You can put a new adjective, either positive or negative, on the target. If you have any push dice, you can spend them now to make that adjective more severe and/or stick around longer.

Obviously that's a very bare overview of the rules, and we'll get into more detail later, but I really like this system. By setting the difficulty as one of the target's verbs, it really reinforces one of the game's core tenets: you're acting against people, not the world. You don't roll to hack the corrupt senator's office computer, you roll to put all his dirty laundry out there on the net and make him scandalized. You don't roll to spot the spent shell casing at the murder scene, you roll when you show it to the Senator's wife to make her implicated. Also, having the extra dice upgrade your result from X to X.1 is just a lovely little sci-fi touch. :3:

I've already talked a little bit about Transmissions, but the game gives them a little more detail here. A Transmission is basically a bite-size chunk of setting and potential plot, each centered on a particular city. A Transmission has 36 "plot nodes" that can be used to drive a story, divided up into six categories: connections (NPCs who are "plugged in" to what's going on, they'll be the PCs' primary avenues of investigation), events, factions, locations, objects, and threats. As GM, you'll use these nodes to build your plot map and figure out what the hell is actually going on. Transmissions are designed to give you about 2-3 sessions worth of story apiece, and you can chain them together if, say, you want the mystery of who tried to blow up the Kilimanjaro Beanstalk to stretch all the way to Minneapolis. TechNoir includes three Transmissions in the book: the Los Angeles Sprawl (pretty much your standard Blade Runner/Snowcrash cyberpunk archetype), Singapore Sling (Singapore has built a huge rail gun to launch cargo into orbit; crime and corruption abounds), and the Kilimanjaro Ring (a city built around the circumference of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the site of a much-delayed and overbudget space elevator construction project). Also released as part of the Kickstarter campaign were Hong Kong (now so polluted that most of the populace lives underground; only the very rich with very expensive cyberorgans can spend more than a few minutes outside without protection) and the Twin Cities Metroplex (bleeding-edge cybertech with a dash of Coen Brothers-esque Midwestern crime). They're all cool, though I kind of wish either Singapore Sling or the Kilimanjaro Ring had been replaced by something else in the core book, as they hit some pretty similar notes.

The phrase "high-tech, hard-boiled RPG" is TechNoir's tagline, so we naturally close out Chapter Two with some discussion of what that means. The protagonists of hard-boiled fiction are active investigators: they have a finely-honed network of stoolies, snitches, and rat-bastard motherfuckers. Lean on the right people and they'll tell you everything you need to know. When a hard-boiled protagonist finds a mysterious shell casing at a murder scene, he doesn't take it to the ballistics lab and try to find a match in the NCIC database, he dangles a scumbag out the window until the rat spills that Johnny the Shiv carries a gun in that caliber. Then he goes and kicks in Johnny the Shiv's front door, because intimidating people makes them nervous, and nervous people slip up. Invisible cat-burglars and hackers so good they're ghosts in the machine are not good protagonists in this game: if nobody knows you're snooping around, nobody knows to panic and send a couple of meatheaded palookas around to your coffin apartment and teach you the error of your ways. And if no meatheaded palookas drop by to rough you up, you're never gonna find the matchbook in the dumb one's pocket that ties the whole case together. You've got to think laterally--the kind of poo poo you're up against you don't have a hope of taking down in a straight-up fight. You've got to come at them sideways, go for the joints and the nerve clusters, fight dirty and outwit the bastards. And for God's sake, when you find yourself between a rock and a hard place, have the good sense to play them against each other.

Of course, all that owes a great deal of debt to the classics of hard-boiled fiction: Your Chandler and Hammett. Their detectives were proactive because they had to be--DNA testing wasn't a thing yet, ballistic fingerprinting, while possible, didn't have the benefit of national databases, stuff like that. TechNoir protagonists have a lot more tools at their disposal, but you've got to take care not to let the tools become the story. Sci-fi doodads let our protagonists ply the techniques of hard-boiled fiction faster and along new vectors, but they're still the same techniques. Maybe instead of dangling the rat out a window you call him up on the Interface and tell him you're one click away from forwarding those photos on to Boss Meoki--you know, those ones of him and the boss's husband? Either way, you're leaning on a stoolie to get the info you need.

Tech is also very open-ended; it's largely up to you to interpret and extrapolate what tags mean and what objects can do. Like, a lot of cars have spheels. What's that? All the book tells you is it means the car has spherical wheels. So does that mean cars can drive in any direction? Yeah, probably. How are the spheels attached to the car? Are they maybe held in place but allowed to rotate freely by an electromagnetic field? Sounds plausible. So I can hack the car's on-board computer and cut the power to the magnet, right? Sounds like a hell of a way to end a chase scene to me. Sci-fi tech is a storytelling tool, not a way to shortcut stories.

Okay, that's a hell of a lot of words about tone and feel and basic mechanics. Let's start putting this into action and make a few characters. After the long-as-gently caress six example characters from the Aletheia write-up, I'm going to follow TechNoir's lead and make three sample characters, chosen by simple expedient of how long it takes me to find a piece of character art in GIS:


Image credit: Puppeteer Lee

Lemon Curdistan posted:

Sophie is a bicycle courier who moonlights as a grifter in Hitown nightclubs. She's good at talking and running/cycling, but not at fighting - what she can't solve by fast-talking she "solves" by getting the hell out of dodge.


Image credit: Alleged Neuromancer concept art found at ComicBookMovie.com

Mr. Maltose posted:

Oh man, make a Peter Riviera. An artist with a bad habit of theft and a tendency to hurt more than necessary. For the art, you understand.


Image credit: Shutterstock.com


GimpInBlack posted:

An avenging street samurai wandering the Sprawl with his deadly Hanzo steel.

You're goddamn right.

So, character creation is pretty straightforward. To start with, you pick three training programs that represent what you know how to do. Maybe you learned it at a trade school, maybe you learned it on THE STREETS, or hell, maybe it's just an educational memeplex software download you plugged into your headjack because you thought it would be cool to know how to fly a helicopter. Anyways, each training program has three verbs and three adjectives associated with it. Each time you pick a training program, increase your rating in all three verbs by one and pick one of the associated adjectives (or pick from the giant list of general adjectives in a few pages, or, hell, just make up your own). You can choose the same program twice if you want, which suggests you're not only trained but you've been doing that job for years. Oh, and everybody starts with one point in all nine verbs for free.

The nine training programs are Bodyguard, Courier, Criminal, Doctor, Engineer, Escort, Investigator, Pilot, and Soldier.

Example Characters


Courier is an obvious choice for Sophie, giving her Fight, Move, and Prowl. She bumps each of those ratings up to 2 and settles on fast as her adjective. Lemon wants her to be good at the bike-riding, not so much the fighting, so for her second program she takes Pilot which gives her a point each of Detect, Operate, and Shoot. Operate, if you were wondering, covers driving/flying as well as piloting drones or using other kinds of remote equipment. Anyways, we want Sophie to be the classic "nobody can touch me behind the wheel" type, so ace seems like a good fit for her second adjective. Finally, looking at our options for a final program, we'll go with Doctor. Seems like crazy stunt-riding bike messengers would get bashed up a lot, so some first aid training makes sense. Doctor also gives her another point each of Detect and Operate in addition to Treat, bringing her rating in driving and noticing stuff up to a respectable 3 each. Diving through crosstown traffic all day means Sophie needs nerves of steel, and steady from the Doctor's suggested adjectives seems to fit.



Peter's definitely a career Criminal, so straight away we're going for that one twice. That gives him two points, for a total of 3, in Hack, Prowl, and Shoot. Criminal's suggested adjectives don't really fit, but artistic is on the big list of general adjectives later in the chapter, and we'll go homegrown with psychotic as our second choice. We want Peter to be something of a computer genius, so we'll go with Engineer for his final program, giving him Coax, Hack, and Operate. Obsessive seems like a good adjective.


Hattori (real name: Prescott J. Flannigan) grew up watching an Assamese dub of Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai and reading Atlanta Cutlery catalogues. His mighty Hanzo steel is ever in service to his daimyo. Despite the fact that he's an insufferable twit, he's quite good at his job, taking Bodyguard twice (for two points of Coax, Fight, and Treat, plus the adjectives alert and honorable as adjectives) and Soldier once for a point each of Fight, Move, and Shoot and the adjective geeky.


Now, while the players were doing all that, the GM should have been picking out a Transmission, because at this point it's time for each player to pick three connections from the Transmission. These will be the character's main sources of information once the game starts, and they can also provide various favors, like fencing stolen goods or selling you drugs. The available favors are:

  • Chop (buy or sell a vehicle at an 8 Kred discount, but it has the Stolen tag)
  • Date (Get you access to a function or event as long as you go with them)
  • Deal (sell you drugs that get you high and let you treat all your pain dice as action dice for one roll)
  • Fence (buy any kind of bulk stolen merchandise for 5 Kreds)
  • Fix (sell you up to three objects at a 2 Kred discount, but adds the stolen tag to all of them)
  • Ride (transport you and/or some friends and/or illicit goods anywhere within or just outside the city)
  • Shark (loan you 10 Kreds)
  • Splice (install one piece of cybergear at no charge).

Multiple characters can have the same connection, but each connection can only provide two favors total during character creation. Favors will come into play when we start gearing up our characters, notably chop, deal, fix, shark, and splice. For our example, we'll use the Twin Cities Metroplex Transmission, because why not?

Example Characters


Looking over the six available connections in the Metroplex, we decide that Sophie probably does some... less-than-legal jobs when the rent money's not quite there, so she picks Arma Winn, owner of a dodgy pawn shop in East St. Paul. Arma can provide the favors fence, ride, or shark. She also knows Kallico North, a local singer on the verge of a big break (date, ride), and since bike couriers get lovely health insurance she knows Dok Petrov, a cybersurgeon with a body shop in the Minneapolis Skyway (fix [cybernetics only], splice).



Peter is a bad, bad man. He's close buddies with Adrienne Chao, heiress of the Siamese Syndicate (date, shark), January Jade, a smuggler and gun runner in Lowertown St. Paul (deal, fix [armor, guns, and weapons only]), and Sophie's pawnshop buddy Arma Winn.



Hattori, naturally, must swear fealty to a daimyo, so he knows Adrienne Chao. He also knows Pen Re, a cyberengineer working on a top-secret project (date, splice) and as Adrienne's chief enforcer has had dealings with January Jade as well.


Once connections are established (you can write down other PCs' names too, if you want to say you know them), it's time to pick relationship adjectives. Relationship adjectives are a special case: if you're acting against the relationship, they count as negative (and thus contribute pain dice). If you're supporting or helping the relationship, they count as positive (and thus can contribute push dice). These you don't get to make up; you draw them from a list of nine defined adjectives. Also, once an adjective is chosen, mark it off--nobody else can take it. Yes, that means if you have more than 3 players some will end up without relationship adjectives, and if players write down other PCs they won't have an adjective for all their connections. That's fine, it just means the relationship is strictly professional. Relationship adjectives can be created or even replaced by events during play.

Example Characters


Sophie settles on dependent for her relationship with Arma Winn--we're almost certainly going to call on that shark favor in a few minutes. She's trusting toward Kallico North--they've been dating for a few months now. Finally, she's affectionate toward Dok Petrov--the surly old coot reminds her of her uncle.



Peter is lustful toward Adrienne Chao. Not in a creepy sexual way. In a creepy "I want to make your face into an artful collage" way. He's obsessive with January Jade, on account of he gets his fixes from her. Oddly, he's very protective toward Arma Winn. Nobody's quite sure why.



Hattori is, of course, loyal toward his daimyo Adrienne Chao. He's respectful toward Pen Re, the man who turned his body into a killing tool. He's sympathetic toward January Jade--their work puts them at loggerheads more often than not, but he understands how hard it is to be ronin in this world.


We're almost done! Last real step is to buy equipment. Everybody gets 10 Kreds to buy stuff. Since most equipment costs one Kred per tag and cybernetics cost an extra 5 Kreds to implant, 10 Kreds doesn't go super far. That's where those favors come in. Each contact can provide a maximum of two favors during this step--but doing so makes them more closely tied to the plot and thus more likely to double-cross you later. But we'll talk about that next update.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on equipment or tags--it's a pretty sparse list gear-wise and most tags are purely flavor. A couple of things worth noting, though: if you want to be able to access the Interface, you need bare minimum something with the linked (to connect to it), display (to see it), and gesture input (to control it) tags. Luckily, there's a doodad called SPECS that's basically Google Glass that covers all that.

Networked devices have one of three tags: linked (connected to the Interface), derma-linked (a personal network carried by skin conduction), and nerve-linked (pretty much cybernetics). For two devices to connect, they have to share a tag, and you can make "routers" by giving objects two different network tags.

Some tags trump other tags, meaning you can't use the trumped tag to defend against the trumping one. If you're still using gesture-input to connect to the Interface, you're just not fast enough to mount a defense against a dude who controls the Internet with his brain.

Example Characters


Bare minimum, Sophie needs a bike. A Switchblade is a fast little uni-spheeled motorbike, but it costs 14 Kreds. Sophie calls in her shark favor from Alma Winn, and after buying the bike she's got 6 Kreds left and a 10 Kred debt to a shady loan shark. A pair of SPECS costs her 4, leaving her just enough for an armored jumpsuit and a small Stinger pistol at 1 Kred each.



Peter is going to need a whole bunch of cybernetics. Bare minimum he needs a headjack--an in-brain computer that plugs his senses directly into the Interface. We also want his crazy illusionm-making cybernetics, which we have to invent ourselves. Figure it's got nerve-linked, gesture input, and we'll invent an illusions tag, for a total cost of 3. With the headjack he's up to 7, but cybernetics add an extra 5 Kreds for the surgery. Since he doesn't have any splice favors, he'll have to pony up. A shark favor from Adrienne Chao lets him cover the whopping 17 Kred cost of his implants. Rather than spend the last three Kreds himself, he pulls a fix favor from January Jade to get himself a knife, a Duster shotgun, and a Kevlar vest. With the 2 Kred discount, those are all free, but stolen. He pockets his remaining 3 Kreds.



Hattori also takes a shark from Adrienne Chao to give himself an operating budget. We want him to be cybered out the rear end, so we'll call in a fix from Pen Re and buy a matched pair of strong cyberarms (1 Kred and stolen with the discount), some reflex stimulators (1 Kred, stolen), and a linked, thermal-imaging cybereye (3 Kreds, stolen). Pen Re's second favor, a splice, takes care of the install cost of the arms, but all told he's spent 15 of his Kreds. His last five Kreds go, as they must, to his mighty Hanzo steel: a nerve-linked, gestural input, Hanzo steel katana. The nerve-linked and gestural input tags mean that he can surf the Interface by doing katas. He thinks that's awesome. He could, however, use some backup firepower, so he uses a fix favor from January Jade to get himself an all-weave armored trenchcoat that protects against bullets and blades alike, a nerve-linked Jaguar submachine gun, and a knife.


And that's it! The only thing left to do is give each player three push dice and then put all your remaining black dice aside--TechNoir has a closed economy, and barring new players joining your game these are the only push dice you'll be moving around.

...Goddamn that was a long post. Next time: Constructing plot maps and building sinister conspiracies from nothing.

GimpInBlack fucked around with this message at 18:09 on Feb 1, 2014

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AmiYumi
Oct 10, 2005

I FORGOT TO HAIL KING TORG


Wow, TechNoir actually looks really cool. And the rules seem simple enough to make it an easy sell. Shame the creator went MIA.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine


TechNoir is astounding if only for allowing you to create the UrGoon method of internet browsing.

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


GimpInBlack posted:

the Los Angeles Sprawl (pretty much your standard Blade Runner/Snowcrash cyberpunk archetype)

It's not, actually - it's the setting from Altered Carbon.

Which brings me to the very important thing to know about Technoir: this is not William Gibson's cyberpunk. If you're expecting a game that lets you put together a crew of miscreants and organise a run on a corporate arcology to steal an AI mainframe, that's not what Technoir is written to do.

What Technoir is written to do is hard-boiled fiction that happens to be in a cyberpunk setting - it's LA Confidential 20 minutes into the future, it's the Marîd Audran or Takeshi Kovacs novels. It's not about hacking corporate servers; it's about going out, asking questions, getting kidnapped, beaten up and nearly killed, and discovering that the serial killer who's been terrorising Lotown is actually a corporate hitman harvesting brains for a new AI project, on the orders of the man who owns half the city, and what are you going to do about it?

GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


Lemon Curdistan posted:

It's not, actually - it's the setting from Altered Carbon.

poo poo, you're right. Don't know how I missed that.

Lemon Curdistan posted:

Which brings me to the very important thing to know about Technoir: this is not William Gibson's cyberpunk. If you're expecting a game that lets you put together a crew of miscreants and organise a run on a corporate arcology to steal an AI mainframe, that's not what Technoir is written to do.

I'd argue that you absolutely can run that game with TechNoir, you just have to keep in mind the hard-boiled philosophy I talked about in the update, and thinking about the plot map a little bit differently. You're less Ocean's 11 and more the Overnight Bandits.

Lemon Curdistan posted:

What Technoir is written to do is hard-boiled fiction that happens to be in a cyberpunk setting - it's LA Confidential 20 minutes into the future, it's the Marîd Audran or Takeshi Kovacs novels. It's not about hacking corporate servers; it's about going out, asking questions, getting kidnapped, beaten up and nearly killed, and discovering that the serial killer who's been terrorising Lotown is actually a corporate hitman harvesting brains for a new AI project, on the orders of the man who owns half the city, and what are you going to do about it?

Yep. This exactly. We'll be seeing more of this in the next update when we start talking about the plot map.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


pkfan2004 posted:

NEXT TIME: EVERYONE'S FAVORITE, THE CHAPTER ABOUT SHOPPING AND 85% MINOR THINGS YOU WILL NEVER NEED
Oh hey, I know that feeling! What a coincidence that this just so happens to segue into the next part of my Cerulean Seas review.



Part 3: Shark Swords and Seaweed Spells


Equipment
Ah, equipment, that thing that characters tend to need but nobody really wants to discuss. I’m going to be brief with this due to the fact that equipment chapters are second only to minor adventures in the category of things that make my brain immediately shut down any attempts to formulate humor or witty commentary.


New Aquatic Materials: If you are in the underwater world of Cerulean Seas, you can make things out of coral! Or Pykrete! Or swamp trees! Since this is basically for material hardness and HP, I don’t really care! Moving on! Exclamations!


Weapons: The Cerulean Seas Campaign Guide provides seven new simple weapons, thirteen new martial weapons, and eleven new exotic weapons. Things like fishing spears, harpoons (which are exotic rather than martial weapons for some reason), greatspears, and fisherman’s gaffs are pretty self-explanatory, but some weapons get a bit weird. Take, for instance, the fact that there are actually three different weapons specifically made for awakened (“trueform”) sharks, dolphins, and similar creatures – a nose harness that replicates a narwhal’s tusk in metal, another that is the same but replicates a marlin’s stabbing sword, and blades that attach to the caudal and dorsal fins.


Armor: Three new forms of light armor, four forms of medium armor, four forms of heavy armor, and five types of shield. While a few are actually somewhat sensible things like shark hide or turtle carapaces, most are weird poo poo like never-melting ice armor, coral, and...well, this fascinating medium armor.

Cerulean Seas Campaign Guide posted:

Jellyfish armor is created from authentic jellyfish bodies through an alchemical process that hardens them into stiff but flexible translucent plates. The armor can be quite beautiful, reminiscent of metallic plate armor of the surface world, only translucent and often tinted in blue or green.


Ships: Ships in Cerulean Seas are more of a supplemental add-on than anything of importance, as most of the adventures are meant to take place beneath the waves. Most ships don't even have weaponry due to the fact that attacks will usually come from below in the form of either undersea pirates or something ramming the hull, and are pretty much only used for cargo and person transport, fishing, and whaling by the marginally terrestrial races like the sebek-ka and mogogol. Each ship has a stat block that notes its size, material it is mostly made of, how many crew members it needs, how much cargo space/passenger space it has, its total hit points, its hardness, what type of propulsion system makes the ship move, its total speed, how many squares it needs to move in order to turn at top speed, and the minimum water depth it needs to actually move.

Statistics are given for a generic boat or raft at both ten and twenty feet of length, a buoy, an elven towboat (towed by sea creatures, because elves), genai wickership (basically a Chinese junk), kappa pontoon (more or less a literal ffloating fort), karkanak goliath (akin to a cross between a whaling ship and battleship), mogogol galleon (a galleon, surprisingly), naiad podcraft (a stupid "living ship" made out of lilypads), sebek-ka longship (longboats with Egyptian rather than Norse decorations), and selkie ice-runner (a big sailboat that tows ice to selie processing plants).


Aquatic Goods: Other than a few things like anchors and floats and, most of the new "general goods" listed are either new types of alchemical concoction or riding gear for sea creatures. Oil that makes you more hydrodynamic and ups your swim speed, weird entangling kelp, stuff like that.




Spells
Starting into chapter 6, our first introduction to magic in the Cerulean Seas setting is on how existing magic is changed. The big ones to know are that invisibility is reversed from normal Pathfinder (completely invisible underwater but appears as a water bubble above water, instead of vice versa), freedom of movement and incorporeal/ethereal effects void the effects of pressure, drag, and buoyancy, underwater fire damage is replaced by heat/steam damage which is basically the same but can't catch flammable things on fire, underwater electricity spells will always manifest as a sphere rather than a line or arc, spells that knock a foe prone instead make them disoriented, and levitation or flight spells cast underwater grant neutral buoyancy. Of course, given that almost all of the electricity and fire spells are replaced with new spells (amongst others), having this noted as a rule in the chapter seems almost pointless.


As for those new spells, there are a total of one hundred thirty-two spells. Most of them are alterations of existing spells, however, such as acid fog coming "acid murk" and fireball being changed to "mageboil". I'll at least note a few of interest in spite of this.
  • Disgorge School (Conjuration, Alchemist 2 or Witch 2): Congratulations, you have proven yourself the grossest spellcaster by vomiting up a whole wriggling mess of lampreys to attack your foes. If you're particularly strong, you can blow chunks of [/i]electric eels[/i] instead.
  • Jaws (Illusion, Witch 3): You create a shadowy size Huge shark that is basically real but can be dispelled. Rumor has it that if you cast it four times in a row, its stats will drastically diminish.
  • Mind Murk (Enchantment, Siren 5, Sorcerer/Wizard 5, or Witch 5): This violet-colored water induces a -10 penalty to Wisdom checks and will saves within the area of murk. As if spellcasters needed any more help on that front.
  • Necrotell (Necromancy, Sorcerer/Wizard 3 or Witch 3): You make a pool of stagnant water summon a human skeleton from the time before the Great Flood that has an Intelligence score of 12 and 5 free ranks of Knowledge (Ancient History) and Knowledge (Local History). It's got the Evil descriptor because apparently even calling forth ancient knowledge with necromancy counts as evil necromancy.
  • School of Scales (Transmutation, Kahuna 6 or Witch 6): You turn every part of yourself other than your skeleton into a school/swarm of lampreys, squid, crab, piranha, jellyfish, leeches, or electric eels. These critters act as part of your will and consciousness, letting you spy through their eyes.




Aquatic Magic Items
There are few enough new magical items to end off chapter 6 that I can note them all.
  • Crocodile Armor: This +2 scale armor also grants a +10 bonus to Acrobatics checks when underwater, hold your breath like a crocodile, and even turn into a crocodile five minutes per day.
  • Kraken Fork: A +1 treble fork that can transform into a subservient octopus or let you sprout two tentacles so that you can wield it while your hands are still free.
  • Spear of the Fluke: A pretty horrifying idea for a magic item, this is a +1 barbed shortspear that has a 50% chance of having one of its barbs break off, transmute into a parasitic flukeworm, and travel to the foe's heart in 1d4 rounds. Once there, it's dealing a point of damage every round until cure disease is cast. Just to make it even more pleasant, each fluke that breaks off deals damage as well, and there's no limit to how many barb-flukes can exist. The spear can also turn into a giant leech if terrifying barb-flukes weren't enough for you.
  • Water Blade: A blade hilt that turns into a keen dagger, keen rapier, or keen shortsword for up to a minute three times per day. Or, as I'd like to say, a far inferior version of just paying for an actual keen magic weapon.
  • Conch of Summoning: Once per week, these magic conch shells can summon sea life depending on how big the shell is: a Small one summons 1d6 squid, a Medium one brings up 2d4 orcas, and a lone sea serpent is called by a Large one.
  • Darkwater Pearls: Pulling one of the nine pearls from this magic item while underwater (doing it above water is a waste of a pearl) and dropping it to the seafloor will create an undead creature – a zombie orca from a white pearl, a wraith from a black pearl, or 2d4 lacedons from a gray pearl.
  • Figurine of Wondrous Power-Pearl Crab: You can turn this pearl into a weird size Large crab with human intelligence for up to eight hours twice per week.
  • Staff of the Depths: A watery magic staff that lets its wielder breathe underwater if they couldn't already and has charges to cast control water, resist energy, cone of ice, anti-life shell, or elemental body IV.
  • The Blue Vow: A shiny magic ring that counts as a ring of +5 protection, ring of regeneration, and ring of water walking at the same time, can cast summon sea monster IX once per day, and can cast dominate monster on all those that hear its special code word once per week. Sound pretty crazy? It is, but it's also a specific singular artifact that was made by a specific powerful wizard as an engagement ring.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Next time: the campaign setting and gamemastering chapters of the Cerulean Seas Campaign Guide. With location names like Nw Blackensville, Sunken Hope, and the Bleeding Marsh, I'm sure this will be a wonderful vacation.

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

Fossilized Rappy posted:

Awesome stuff...

Pykrete as a magical material? That is fantastic... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Habbakuk

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



What's the password for the magic ring? Is it "will you marry me"?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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






Chapter 11, Part 2: It’s a Magickal World, Lestat old buddy! Let’s go legendmaking!

Magick in the Everlasting is based on an airy-fairy, hippie-dippy, crystal-waving I-think-you-get-the-point view of the universe, which is explained to us in a rambling fashion without adding any new detail to the setting. When the raw quintessence of the universe cohered into matter and energy, the first magicians appeared. They were called Worldsingers, because they had the power to simply will things into creation. Supposedly, they persist as the sort of “Secret Chiefs” that people like Helena Blavatsky and Dion Fortune wrote about.

Magick requires suspending belief in mundane laws of science and causality in order to tap into occult “reservoirs” of energy associated with gods and other dimensions and stuff. Magick can’t be scientifically tested or measured because doing magick requires believing that it will work.


This guy doesn’t believe in the magick of zippers.

There is at least a full page on low magick vs. high magick, the “five powers of the magus” and other New Agey crap. None of it seems to matter in play, so I’m not detailing it. But here’s a clue that the author is a fruitbat:

quote:

A good way to explain magickal currents is to liken them to the poster for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Raw magickal energy is the white light passing into the prism. On the opposite side of the prism, the white light is split into many different colors; these colors represent the magickal currents.The prism represents the mechanism by which the world itself adapts magickal energy to a usable form. The Worldsingers were part of the pure white light entering the prism. All magicians since the Worldsingers’ departure have utilized the various individual currents – the colored bands of light passing out of the prism. Magicians attune themselves to the particular currents of magick that work for them.
It apparently did not occur to him that light passing through a prism doesn’t only happen on Pink Floyd album covers.

As an aside, an annoying thing about this chapter is the constant mention of Osirians. Osirians are the eldritch most attuned to magick, and when they cast magick it’s like they’re standing inside the Pink Floyd prism. Every single explanation of some aspect of the magick system has an aside mentioning that it’s easier for Osirians. I have nothing against Osirians; in fact, they sound like one of the most original and playable factions, but it’s yet another example of Brown’s tendency to lose focus on the book he’s actually writing and ramble on about PC classes covered in another book.


I would so much rather be playing these guys.

Most magickal effects can’t be plainly seen, even by eldritch. For example, even a spell that kills someone by summoning a spirit to tear out their soul will probably only be visible as a sudden heart attack. Instead, the main limits on magick are that it requires study, it’s draining, it leaves magickal traces, and it becomes much more difficult and draining if you need to pull a magickal effect out of your rear end right now.

Casting spells, or, How to Drain Your Dragon

A magick effect consists of intent, subject, spellcasting type, and magnitude. This determines the Difficulty to cast it, and how much animus it costs.

Magickal effects in this game aren’t categorized according to what they accomplish from a gameplay point of view. (For example, Shadowrun, which has Combat, Detection, and Healing categories.) Nor are they categorized according to some geeky pseudo-physics internal to the setting. (For example, D&D 3rd edition, where teleport and acid arrow are both conjuration spells because they make a thing be in a place it wasn’t before, and cause fear and raise dead are both necromantic spells because of some hokum about “negative energy.”)

Instead, magick is classified as one of the “four intents.” These are ill-defined but unfortunately important, because they determine the base Difficulty of your spells. Spiritual magick usually takes the form of rituals and religious rites; it covers communing with spirit realms, astral travel, and for some reason, enchantment. Focus magick involves a being’s relationship with magick itself and is usually used to increase magickal power, take up or change a magickal path, or change someone’s sensitivity to magick. Mental magick is much easier to grasp and includes all kinds of telepathy, divination, and clairvoyance. Physical magick includes anything and everything that physically alters something, from shapeshifting to conjuring to throwing fireballs at people.

Subject is much more clear, and it determines how much animus the magick is going to cost you. The four subjects are self, ally, neutral, and hostile. Self is yourself, ally is a willing subject, neutral is something nonliving (like a door, or an area, or the weather) and hostile is any unwilling subject. In an example effect, it’s hostile magick to subtly influence a crowd of people so you can pass through them with ease.

Spellcasting type depends on whether you’re creating a spontaneous magickal effect, casting a rote spell (which is easier), performing a lengthy ritual (easier still), or enchanting something with a persistent magickal effect, which is not detailed here and is covered in a sourcebook.


”Dweomer” sounds like something you call a wizard before shoving him in a locker.

Here, let the “Magick Matrix” help you figure out those Difficulty/cost modifiers in a flash!


Shine on, you crazy loving diamond.

Finally, Magnitude measures the complexity and blatancy of a magickal effect. Things that can be mistaken for “tricks” and sleight-of-hand are called cantrips, and are Magnitude 0, whereas any kind of blatant magic is at least Magnitude 1. The guidelines for magnitude are vague (of course), but Spells have a listed Magnitude, and there’s a helpful list of charts for broad categories of magick, from astral travel to teleportation, with examples of magnitude 1-5. For example, conjuring a napkin from your pocket is Magnitude 0, while conjuring a fully-functioning house is Magnitude 5. Especially powerful effects, like communing with a god, have a high complexity even if the effects aren’t obvious to mortals.

Now, how do you actually cast a spell? After those other four factors determine the Difficulty and the animus cost, the stats you use to roll/draw are Magickal Art and Magickal Lore. Each Magickal Path has an Art stat, representing raw power, and a Lore stat representing knowledge of the path. You have to buy these separately for every Path, so your magician can have Voodoo Art 3/Lore 4, and Shamanism Art 5/Lore 2.

You treat Art as your Aspect and Lore as your skill, and treat it like an ordinary skill check, drawing Aspect against Difficulty-Lore.

Odds and ends

Spell creation is actually pretty easy--to learn a given effect as a spell, you have to cast it spontaneously a few times, and pay its animus cost in XP. It’s up to the Guide to put restrictions on whether or not a magickal effect “belongs” to a given path. With XP and the Guide’s discretion, you can also convert spells from one Path to another.

Another peculiar rule is reservoirs. Basically, it’s possible to make an Art roll in order to draw animus from an occult reservoir of power. You can only access a given reservoir once per scene. The reservoirs any magician can use are ambience and “transitional energies.” Ambience is the inherent magickal power of, say, an ancient abandoned church or Stonehenge. Transitional energy is the free-floating raw magick available in certain astronomical events, like an equinox, solstice, or eclipse. Other reservoirs require magicians to swear oaths, undertake spiritual quests, etc. in order to be “attuned” to them; for example, you might be subject to a geas like Cú Chulainn in order to draw power from the faerie realm.

Magickal Paths

Hey, we finally get to look at various magickal paths, including the vampiric “blood magick” we’ve heard so much about. Each path gets a description along with what its practitioners call themselves, restrictions, bonuses and penalties to working different kinds of magick, and a long list of ritual methods and tools. The last is actually very useful for being evocative in a minimum of space, but since there are something like a few dozen implements listed for each path, it ends up being too vague, like the dozen “common” occupations listed for each vampire bloodline.

Bathoran Sanguimancy: Bathoran sanguimancers use their command over blood for divination, animating creatures from blood, and to heal or harm other creatures. They’re sworn to keep the Path within their bloodline, and being an initiated member involves quite a lot of murder and human sacrifice, to the point where they gain points in Cruelty as their Art advances. Their most interesting ritual methods include surgical tools, razor wire, and torture devices as well as “traditional” witchcraft tools like pentagrams, candles, and goblets of blood. These bitches are walking talking Rob Zombie movies.

Bruja Magick: The cihuatateo have been practicing magick stretching all the way back to the ancient Moche culture in honor of their bloodthirsty spider god. Their magick focuses on illusions, dreams, and power over animals. Like the Bathora, they keep the Path within their bloodline, and initiation requires an astral journey to visit the Decapitator himself to be found worthy...or not. Their ritual tools include masks, costumes, body paint, and all kinds of things you would associate with Native American mysticism, not to mention pyramids, idols, and sacred numerology and astrology.

Obayifo Necromancy: All the drat vampires! Obayifo have an ancient form of necromancy reminiscent of voodoo, but it’s much older than the religious syncretism that produced voodoo. It’s not quite as focused on zombies and spooky curses and such as you might expect; the focus is more on astral travel and control over spirits and ghosts. Obayifo methods include a lot of shocking, frenzied activities like ecstatic dancing, sleep deprivation and drug use, not to mention offerings ranging from prayer and food to human sacrifice. Bokors choose spirit patrons whom they must serve from time to time, and over time they acquire Persona traits making them more like their patrons.

Solomaris: This is a spooooky synthesis of alchemy, necromancy, Hermetic magick and mad science, supposedly invented by the first ghul, Azazel, and built upon by his “descendants.” It’s a very broad school of magick, but receives bonuses to working with potions, dead souls, and inanimate subjects, not to mention brewing Anecro and crafting Skinsuits. Students become “Solomars” by apprenticing under a master and undertaking a pilgrimage to the Underworld. It appears the author was a little hazy on what ghul magick involves, since their most notable ritual tools include such things as “dramatic rituals” and “arcane incantations in ancient gibberish” along with stuff like sacred geometry and building strange mad science devices involving chemicals and electricity. Ghul magick requires a lot of study; the primary effect it has on its practitioners is that over time they become more eccentric and secluded, even from other ghuls, and have to spend hours in study each week or take penalties on their magick rolls.

Uh, that’s all. For once, this book actually focused on the playable character types it contains, so we only get details on undead-specific magickal paths.

Types of Magick

Let it not be said that I’m an Internet bully. I have to give credit where credit is due, and I like the fact that Everlasting gives a list of broad categories of magick with Magnitude listings for each, like so:





Maybe it’s because I’m carefully reading this book as a 30-year-old whereas I was an impatient 13-year-old when I read Mage: the Ascension, but having a scale of Magnitude is easier for me to sort out than Mage’s iffy coincidental/vulgar dichotomy. The biggest problem with it is that it gives a lot of focus to astral travel, dream magick, and controlling spirits, which aren’t really detailed in this book. On the whole, I think it does a good job of squeezing a freeform magick system into limited pagecount...but the one the Osirians get is probably better.


Even Osirian magick can’t cure mage-pattern baldness.

Spiritual magick:

Astral: Ranges from simply navigating the Astra to traveling through time via the Astra.
Blessings and curses: Cantrips create minor instances of good or bad luck, greater affects influence Destiny and Backlash points, while Magnitude 5 effects are beyond the scope of such things and negotiated between the PC and the Guide.
Dream: Like the Astra, but for the Dreamworlds.
Spirit alteration: Allows you to heal and transform spirits, from minor cosmetic augmentations up to completing remaking their astral body.
Spirit control: The magnitude measures the experience level of the spirit you can command.
Spirit possession: This allows you to exorcise or channel spirits into yourself or others; greater magnitude allows you to control a more powerful spirit, or use the abilities of a spirit you’re channeling.
Spirit shield: Bonus cards/dice to resist any actions by spirits.


Finally, headphones that won’t muss your mohawk!

Focus magick:

Anti-Magick Shield: Does what it says. This is for use in combat, so you can’t walk around immune to magick at all times. All of the “shield” categories can only be cast once in a scene.
Communion with Higher Forces: Cantrips allow for mysterious hints and portents, whereas Magnitude 5 will net you a god to personally escort you on a vision quest.
Countermagick: This allows you to dispel an effect of the matching Magnitude. At a penalty, you can cause spells to fizzle as they’re being cast.
Magick Sensitivity: Allows you to sense magick and eldritch, and at higher levels, you can make the Reverie manifest itself in the real world.

Mental magick:

Cause Insanity: Creates temporary Dementia qualities with points based on the Magnitude and number of successes.
Clairvoyance: Ranges from remote viewing within the same room to spying on an acquaintance on another continent.
Divination: A cantrip will grant a flash of intuition, whereas a Magnitude 5 spell will give you an overview of the Web of Destiny itself.
Domination: Even a cantrip can give you bonuses to social rolls, but more powerful effects create full-on mind control and even enhancing people’s Aspects by granting them confidence.
Illusions: Cantrips can create a nonexistent odor or cause someone to see something out of the corner of their eye, whereas powerful effects can trap victims in an illusory world.
Mental attack: Ranges from causing mild irritation and distraction to agonizing pain or knocking someone out.
Telepathy: Sensing nearby minds, ranging up to transmitting an entire lifetime’s worth of memories in a few seconds.


Clearly in need of a dental wizard.

Physical magick:

Air, Earth, Electricity, Fire, Ice: Invoking the elements lets you control a 10 square foot area times Magnitude; when used in offensive spells, you do Magnitude damage per success.
Conjuration: Summons something from nothing. Cantrips let you summon an insignificant bauble, whereas greater Magnitude allows you to summon tools, weapons, even a house.
Healing: Magnitude determines how many Life Points you can heal per success; Magnitude 5 allows reviving the recently-dead.
Physical Boost: Boosts the Body Aspect; Magnitude determines points per success.
Telekinesis: Does what it says, including flight. Magnitude determines pounds per success or speed of flight.
Teleportation: Works on people and objects. Magnitude determines distance and the mass you can teleport.

Additional Guidelines, or how to be a schizophrenic junkie rapist at the mall food court

For some reason, there are more “advanced guidelines” squeezed in at the end of the chapter after the magick rules. First is addiction. Every time you use an addictive substance there’s a chance, based on the frequency of use and the strength of the substance, that you’ll become addicted. Strangely, we aren’t specifically instructed to add points to Persona traits.


Clive Barker’s The Scream

Aging is simple. For every five years after age 55, mortals draw (age/10) cards against Difficulty 9-11 (Guide’s choice). For each “success” they lose 1 Aspect point (Guide’s choice). The Guide is instructed to frequently remind eldritch characters that all the mortals they love are inevitably going to die. Who waaants to liiive foreveeer, yeah, we get it.

Awakening mortals to the supernatural is a hilarious process. To spontaneously awaken, a mortal must witness supernatural happenings and get a Disaster result on an Intellect+Rationalize roll. Then, they have to get 3 successes on an Inspiration check. So the kind of people who become “fantasts” are the same sort of people as the kind I can see actually playing this game: artsy but dumb as a bag of hair.

Strength and encumbrance takes the form of a chart listing maximum lifting weight (but not carrying weight), leaping height and distance, and throwing distance. An eldritch with Strength 13 can lift 5 tons.

There are rules for hunting mortals with a simple roll. You simply choose your method: stalker (mugging), monster (intimidation), romantic (date rapist), kidnapper (yep), or thief (cat burglar) and check the appropriate Aspect+Skill. More successes mean an easier hunt; Disaster means you got caught and ran into some kind of trouble.

Detecting magick is a Perception+Illumination check, with bonuses or penalties based on proximity and animus spent. Lots of successes allows you to trace the effect right to the source.

There’s a chart for “Resilience feats,” like forced marching, hard labor, holding your breath, etc. It is boring.


The House that Dripped Pretense

The next section is about perceiving the Reverie and it’s confusing as hell. Whenever you’re trying to perceive the Reverie or something supernatural happens around you, you make an Inspiration+Illumination roll, and more successes means you perceive the Reverie more fully, from noticing slight changes in lighting all the way up to physically vanishing into the Reverie. We’re told that “There are said to be at least 13 levels of the Reverie, but no eldritch has been able to verify this claim, so there may be even deeper levels,” as if that means anything. So, uh, what if I get enough successes to physically step into an alternate dimension, what if there’s not actually a portal to the otherlands here? Does that mean that the Reverie is everywhere, and if I do a really good job of noticing a spell I might vanish into Never Never Land?

Like everything else concerning the Reverie, this seems like a half-formed idea, a mental cloud of stuff Stephen Brown saw in movies. The problem is not that it’s unoriginal, though, it’s that he can’t define it concretely enough for it to be useful in gameplay or even convey it in sensible language. The quote at the beginning of this section is from Hellraiser’s Pinhead, and it seems like the idea he was going for was stories where characters can take a turn or go through a door and suddenly be in a different world without anything as obvious as a glowing magic portal, from The Secret Garden to Silent Hill. Again, it’s poorly conveyed, and it drones on and on about dimmed lighting, “changes in mood,” weird smells, ghostly figures, psychic vibrations, crystal blue persuasions, and did I mention lighting and mood? I think this book may be Stephen C. Brown’s way of asking me out to a candlelit dinner. Unfortunately, I am not impressed by his Bullshit Vampire Narnia and I wish he’d shut the gently caress up about the mystical power of his imagination. All this Reverie crap is like astronaut food; it may seem novel at first, but it’s insipid pabulum for space cadets.

Okay. Okay. Deep breaths. Uh, moving on...there are rules for running and swimming, gently caress that.

There are more rules for Torment and Degradation, but not really. There’s a totally pointless chart with Difficulties to resist Torment and descriptions ranging from “slight compulsion” to “super-intense urge to obey Torment.” Again, too vague and stupid to be worth putting numbers to it.

Freeformin’ now I’m freeformin’

The Everlasting discusses the different methods of task resolution (cards, dice, freeform) and seriously instructs you that your group should take a democratic vote on what kind of rules to use. (What? But the introduction chapter said that each participant gets to choose their own method!) You’re also meant to be going through a process of “rules creation” in which you decide which optional rules to include and not include in the first session of play. Ooh, a pretentious 90s narrative-obsessed campaign where we also spend the first few sessions arguing about how bullets should work against vampires? Sounds fun!

There is also the suggestion of totally freeforming it. The book spends 227 words explaining how to just make poo poo up.


Poor Ithaqua. Reduced to trolling for victims at field raves.

Finally there are a couple pages of rules for LARPing. Yes, rules, because live action is the only thing that has definite rules: no weapons, no physically dangerous activity, no unruly players allowed, no playing in places where you’ll scare passersby, and no touching. Unfortunately, we are told, LARPing “cannot capture the altered state of consciousness achieved through table-top legendmaking,” but it has the advantage of never being boring (ha!) and allowing you to pretend you can act.


The first rule of LARP club is don’t eat safety pins.

As somebody who LARPs very little, it seems like a common-sense set of guidelines for LARPing about staying in character and such. But notably, characters have the same stats, and there are no suggestions for simpler rules and easier resolution with rock-paper-scissors or whatever. I guess everyone has to carry around a deck of cards. The norms really will think you’re gothic magicians!

Next time, on The Everlasting: Storytelling. Not to be confused with legendmaking.

Halloween Jack fucked around with this message at 17:55 on Jan 28, 2014

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Humbug Scoolbus posted:

Pykrete as a magical material? That is fantastic... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Habbakuk
Yeah, Pykrete's a fun material.

pkfan2004 posted:

What's the password for the magic ring? Is it "will you marry me"?
It's "the blue vow is in arcane depths". Apparently the wizard was fond of very pretentious poetry. Well, that or his lover liked very pretentious poetry.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



I like all that weird "spooky" art in The Everlasting. It looks like stuff I'd see in an early 2000s spooky flash game like ExMortis or whatever.

While I'm here, have another type of vampire.

CHAPTER FIVE
The so-called "Anatomy of Horror" chapter has a LOOOOOOOT of fluff and in-character writings from the point of view of scientists doing presentation on half-lifers and the undead and for the sake of brevity I'm gonna just briefly address them. They're literally presentations or snippets from in-universe books and dissertations and as a result there's a lot of in-character stuff said that is immediately repeated. If you want to, I would try to share the actual write-ups with anyone, but I kinda doubt it. So let's get down to brass tacks.

ANIMATES

The fluff is about a professor showing his anatomy class an Animate kept by the college that used to be another professor. He bequeathed his body to the university so they could study the gradual decay of the undead in a safe, controlled environment. But let's talk about the meat of the matter. Animates have stronger bone structure to a certain degree and their repeated biting turns their entire jaws into ragged, toothless maws of sharp jawbone. Animates swarm people and bite them and it's generally the blood loss or trauma that kills the victims. But there's also the chance a bite will kill your rear end with an infection that's a combination of gangrene and influenza. There's no cure for a Plague bite; drugs, amputations and cauterizing does nothing. You can either try to ride it out and see if you live or die or just have someone shoot you in the brain. In play, a Serious Wound or higher inflicted by an Animate automatically passes on the Plague. You're good for a hour before your body starts panicking in response. But you can make a Vitality roll (at DR 20) at the initial bite) to just let the infection not take hold. If you fail well then buckle up buttercup. You're in for seven straight hours of fever, chills, vomiting, tenderness and pain radiating from the festering, infected bite. But during the seventh hour there's a sort of brief intermission from the pain and you can make another DR 20 Vitality roll. Failure means you will die and reanimate, success means the fever breaks for good and you just have an infection and wound to take care of before you can recover fully. And should you fail the second round, the Plague commands the future Animate to run for it to ensure that you can reanimate in peace. In a nutshell, you have two attempts to not die and if you fail the second it would be a mercy for the other PCs to kill you.

Also, Animates are fuckin' magical sons of bitches. See, Animates come in three forms: raveners, shamblers and husks. Raveners are recently turned Animates that run fast, grab everything in sight and do what they can to maul and eat. Animates actually have to eat too; though they can't digest it, they somehow are able to absorb the Vitality and meat of their victims to keep themselves going. So long as they're raveners they don't decay and they can keep running as fast as they want, putting no wear and tear on the body. Raveners that go a year without eating become shamblers and that's when things get gross. Shamblers putrify, shamblers rot, skin sloughs off in chunks and their intestines liquify and make gross messes everywhere. They swell up with corpse gas, hair and teeth fall out and the shambler is forced to shuffle instead of run. On top of that, their eyes rot out and their senses fail en masse, forcing them to rely on their inherent prey sense ability to hunt for food. From there, the husk stage takes years to achieve depending on the atmosphere. Insects avoid the hell out of Animates so it's really just the environment and bacteria going to town on the Animate until they become Husks. Husks are starving Animates who have lost a significant amount of their body weight through decay. Their bones are brittle and light, their tendons and skin become papery and thin, their senses will fail and they'll end up looking like dessicated mummies. They navigate very slowly using their prey sense and eventually they will be rendered immobile due to the structural collapse of their weakened limbs. A husk will finally sit there on the ground unmoving, occasionally using a burst of energy to try to bite any living beings that come close to them.

However, like I said they're magical. Kinda. The moment a shambler gets a mouthful of human flesh, their decay halts immediately and the Animate actually recovers damage sustained by decay, turning them right back into raveners. They cannot, however, recover any lost portions of their anatomy. Husks can eat their way back to shamblers but can never be raveners again.

From a mechanical sense, a lot of information is being repeated here. Animates can only be destroyed with sufficient cranial trauma or decapitation and depending on where you die you may or may not reanimate faster. Their presence also causes a Will roll against fear unless you're one of the classes that doesn't feel fear in the presence of Animates. On top of that, Zombie Lords are statted out. One in ten thousand animates are reborn as zombie lords and they have a 10% chance of their bite creating a new lord. On top of that, they're sapient and can control all Animates in a five mile radius with their mind. They tend to hide amongst their kin as they control them and need to keep feeding to resist decay like the rest and they focus on grappling and wrestling their prey into submission for feeding instead of mindless grabbing and biting.

Animates are, in short, plenty virulent, rather resistant to natural decay and most of the time they'll never have to worry about long-life rules because the game is set in London and Deathwatch is trigger happy.
VAMPIRES

Vampires are rear end in a top hat sadists. I'm not being colorful, assholery and sadism run high in vampires. The fluff is really just everything I'm gonna go over, so let's get into it. Vampirism can be spread either through putting vampire blood in another person or through drinking vampire blood. On top of that, vamprisim can be contracted as a STD if you're penetrated by a vampire or put your dick in one. Luckily, a still-living person with latent vampirism can't pass it on to someone uninfected (otherwise London would have collapsed years ago) and it takes multiple sexual encounters with a vampire to get infected. Most people who are fed on a vampire against their will won't ever catch vampirism, because the vampires tend to strangle or stab them to death when they've had their fill to cover their tracks and not arouse worry.

Vampires look pretty much human except for the a tightening of the skin that causes their bone structure to become more pronounced, giving them a predatory, angular appearance. Their bones become stronger and tougher and the jaw muscles get buff fast, giving them a high tensile bite to let them break the skin of victims. The skin cools to room temperature and the larynx and lungs still work to let the vampire talk, albeit in much more reserved tones. Vampires only need to drink blood to survive and it's absorbed directly into their skin. If they try to drink animal blood, they slowly gain dementia and crippling insanity until they can get some human blood. They need to drink once every three days to maintain this mostly human appearance. With a willing partner it can be a gentle bite or it can be done forcefully on other victims. Doing it by force kinda involves a lot of heavy biting and flesh-rending. They don't decay like Animates; they just become more and more grotesque looking, their skin and organs drying and shriveling. Eventually the vampire will become borderline comatose, curling up in a hiding place and waiting for anything living to come by to grab and drain. Consuming blood rejuvenates the vampire, helping them regenerate some damage (but not lost limbs) and regain vitality lost to hunger. When sufficiently deprived, a vampire will curl up, go dormant indefinitely and can only be roused by having blood poured into their mouths.
Oh and also vampires can't get people pregnant or get pregnant. I know, I know, you were so concerned, the question was burning in the back of your mind.

Vampires come in two flavors: feral and...not feral. Feral vampires are the most common, animalistic throat-biters who squat in abandoned buildings or the Underground. Feral vampires have some big defining characteristics. They get long, thick claws, tend to become filthy and wild-eyed and they eat chunks of human flesh. Because they can't actually digest things, they tend to smell terrible due to rotting flesh sitting in their full stomachs. They tend to be more openly sadistic as well, killing and drinking its fill from two victims a night before taking a third home to torture and nibble on. If a feral vampire creates a dhampir, it's because it got bored torturing some prey and let the victim escape. Feral vampires don't really live particularly long; they're sloppy, careless animals who bite off more than they can chew and easily attract the attention of heavily armed Undertakers or vigilante justice mobs.

Smart vampires are a different breed. See, all vampires are heavily territorial and they will gladly fight each other over turf disputes or if one becomes too powerful. Smart vampires will let you know that you are in their territory and therefor their property. They fall in love and tend to kill their lovers after falling into fits of melancholic violence, convinced their lovers want to leave them and kill them. They hang out with the rich and powerful and mark aristocratic families as "theirs". They're as social as they are vicious and because aristocrats love them it's not hard for them to find a steady source of blood and money to live comfortably. And all the while they hurt and torture people. They nurse blood from hookers and cut them with their claws and knives, using them as sex objects to mark and disfigure as they see fit. They become the center of attention at "Cirques du Sang" parties where aristocrats fawn over them, experience a gentle feeding from their party guest and watch the vampire hypnotize a cleaned-up abducted youth from the slums and feed from them violently and fatally. They even tend to get their pain and pleasure centers mixed up and delight in being tortured and hurting people around them.

In short, they're sadistic, undead rear end in a top hat rapists.

Mechanically, vampires get heightened senses and the ability to hypnotize victims, turning them into "brides" over time and psychic vassals that can be controlled by thought. Vampires are weak to sunlight but not killed by it. On rare days when the sun shines, vampires get a -5 to all rolls and act irrationally. A heavy caliber bullet to the head is enough to kill a vampire and it takes the destruction of the head or brain to kill them. Staking paralyzes them for as long as the stake is in the heart, cutting off all of their senses and making them immobile and easy to kill or take to the UOD for your bounty. And finally, there are rules for vampiric infection. If infected, a victim has a week to get a full transfusion of blood through their veins and they'll have no ill consequences. The GM isn't supposed to tell the victim this, though, and they have to figure it out for themselves. The first three days of infection are full of light aversion and interrupted sleeping patterns along with a reduction in Vitality and Coordination which is the sign you should have a doctor check you out. A successful check leads to treatment, a failure leads to continuing decline. After a week the victim loses weight and gains enhanced senses and it's too late to treat them. After two weeks the victim loses color in their skin, their eyes get shiny and bright, they lose more Vitality and Coordination and their surplus weight is gone. Every two days after the victim loses 1 point of Vitality and Coordination. When the victim reaches 1 Vitality they make a Vitality roll. Failure means the victim enters a coma and rises the next night as a vampire, success means the victim becomes a dhampir.

DHAMPIRI
The most common way someone becomes a dhampir is through the last minute success in fighting off a vampiric infection. The second most common way is for a woman in a late-term pregnancy to be turned. Pregnant vampires will, uh, eject the baby from their bodies and if the baby is saved from their early birth there's a high chance it'll grow up to be a dhampir. Born dhampirs progress like normal kids, albeit taller and thinner, until they turn 16 and hit Vampire Puberty. They basically become tall, slender and sexy with features like their vampire daddy and long teeth to boot. The infected-from-a-bite kind just become thinner, fitter and sexier.

Dhampiri are half-lifers which means they're not entirely human. They drink, eat, breathe and sleep but they don't need as much of all four and they're a slight step away from humankind. They can exist without ever drinking blood , but a smidge of blood lets them heal fast and gives a mojo boost to their abilities (and can do it gently or violently and need a LOT less blood). On top of that they age a lot slower than humans do and some don't age at all. They also have some drawbacks: light sensitivity, sterility, being slaves to heavy emotion and the knowledge that when they DO die they'll rise as full-blooded vampires.

Their other bonuses/hindrances are:
  • Alien Grace: +1 Intimidation/Seduction
  • Blood Drinker: lower the severity of a wound by one step depending on how many points of Vitality you take from drinking someone's blood and gain +1 Vitality and Coordination for a hour after feeding.
  • Half Lifer
  • Hatred of Vampires: Make will rolls to resist instantly charging into melee to kill a vampire when you see one. You get a berserker bonus but you also lose your drat sense for a second.
  • Heightened Vision
  • Immunity to Physical Corruption: If you had any, it disappears for good.
  • Immunity to Vampiric Mind Control
  • Sense Undead
  • Unnatural Passions: make will rolls to not be such a drat drama queen when the going gets tough.
  • Vampiric Transformation
So yeah, dhampirs. Pretty much what you expected. Know what you didn't expect? Motherfuckin' GHOULS!

GHOULS

Ghouls are probably descended from people who lived in the Wastelands who were formed by a combination of the Blight, eating mutant food and inbreeding. They speak their own weird bastardized version of English that nobody can decipher but are actually still pretty smart (most are as smart as normal people) and able to speak the Queen's English if taught. They're half-lifers too and carnivorous in nature, able to eat drat near any meat and survive in the fog and Wastelands. They also walk like gorillas, about five-feet tall, and they're sorta buff like chimps. They can rip, they can tear, they can leap and they can climb with ease. They're like monkeys wearing Victorian clothes.

They're also second class citizens and technically classified as pests so they have no rights under English law and are kinda stand-ins for weird "inhuman" immigrants if you think about it.

Ghouls also have some pretty major biological differences. For starters, they breed like rabbits and have two heat periods a year. Female ghouls can birth from two to ten children per cycle, though they let three survive on average and eat the rest for varying reasons. A ghoul is weaned at four months, grow to adult size in five years and can reproduce for the first time at age twelve. They have weak eyes but strong senses of smell and hearing, their eyesight slowly diminishing as their ability to smell the dead and spirits get strong enough to compensate. Ghouls have expandable stomachs so they can stuff themselves silly and let it slowly digest and as I previously mentioned they can eat ANY meat. They do generally prefer ghoul or human meat though, as eating Animates tend to have issues and it's very hard for a ghoul to eat vampire or Thrope. Ghouls slowly become more and more sluggish as they get older and they also get fatter; by the time a ghoul loses its eyesight it's gone from a light-sleeping nimble acrobat to a heavy-set, slow-moving adult. The longer a ghoul lives, the fatter and slower it gets until the point where they're immobile and need to be rolled around by younger ghouls. On top of that, their mental facilities start to decline, going from quick-witted and canny to obsessed with food and sleeping constantly and wanting more food and when did you last get me food FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD.

Ghoul society is tribal/clan in nature and ghouls mate for broods of children. They're not particularly monogamous and it doesn't matter who you're loving because inbreeding actually has no detriment at all for ghouls. Ghouls live with an eye-for-an-eye code, the matters judged and sentenced by the fat elders of a tribe who also pick out who carries out the sentencing. As a result, ghoul societies are very insular but they're also pretty stable. The elders who are too old to think straight or require too much food are generally a hundred, and when that hundredth year rolls around the young ritualistically devour the elder to gain their strength and wisdom. City ghouls tend to also work for coin to buy meat from underground markets because Neo-Victorian society looks down on them and blames them for a lot of social ills (like the kidnapping of children) so some either get honest work as a laborer or become criminals to pay for meat. Oh also some ghouls picked up Catholicism because they really liked the idea of transubstantiation.

In play, ghouls have some extra mechanics:
  • Aging: Ghouls are basically immortal unless killed violently or eaten. And most of the time they're killed violently or eaten.
  • Flesh Eater: eat any meat no matter how rotten it is.
  • Half-Lifer: immunity to prey sense and physical corruption.
  • Heightened Hearing and Smell
  • Pain Fit: Ghouls respond oddly to being hurt. If hurt bad enough, a ghoul must roll to resist going into a berserker frenzy, dedicated to destroying the source of their pain, laughing madly as they smash and claw and bite.
  • Smell Spirits: By Nirvana.
  • Twitch: there's a downside to eating Animates. Some ghouls basically end up getting kuru from it and are forced to make Vitality rolls when they do. A success means vomiting and expelling the meat, a failure means that the ghoul contracts Twitch. Starting with their sweat and breath smelling like decay and escalating to insanity and schizophrenia followed by coma and death, most ghouls with Twitch are killed by their tribe members or kicked out to fend for themselves. You can't eat someone with kuru, after all.
  • Weak Eyesight

And that's Chapter Five all wrapped up in one single post. You know what would be cool? Being able to play as a ghoul, being a plug-ugly little monkey man with a taste for meat and a loping gorilla gait and a shotgun. The game actually encourages that ghouls be treated as (dangerous, possibly lethal) comic relief characters involved in slapstick and general monkey business. Well as luck would have it, there are stats for all of the people in this chapter. If you really, really wanted to, you could use them as a general template for what kind of stats and treatment a ghoul character would get, although there is no official rule for playing as any of these besides Dhampiri. I'm just saying, though, that having a ghoul Criminal teammate would be a good source of tension-reliever. But that's just me, I'm biased towards the little guys.

NEXT TIME: CHAPTER SIX: MIRACLES OF SCIENCE or THE SMART, THE DEAD AND THE REALLY REALLY UGLY

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 08:48 on Jan 29, 2014

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!






Region L: Because Water Levels Are Always The Most Fun

If there are any groups that have explored the entire WLD I would say that Region L probably ranks as their second most hated Region (and that's only because Region F gave me a new appreciation for just how terrible dungeon design could be).

While Region K was basically a large beach with some bays and bogs, Region L is 80% deep, open water. Also, since the Pcs are trapped in a dungeon that means they have no access to boats or rafts. Flight is impractical (fly only lasting for minutes, and overland flight only targeting the caster) and water walking would make actual combat with aquatic enemies difficult.

That means swimming is more or less the only option. And let me remind you that swimming suuuuuucks. Fortunately by 12th level, most parties will have easy access to long-term water breathing (one casting by a 12th level cleric keeps a party of 4 sucking agua for 6 hours), but most PCs will not have positive swim scores, especially those that have been investing their skill points in a giant dungeon crawl. So lets review the basic swimming rules.

You've got to make a swim check to move, minimum DC 10. This is a 50% chance to not go anywhere at all for many PCs, and even on a success your movement is reduced to 25% (that's about 10 feet a round as a move action, 15 feet as a full move). And since most combat will take place with creatures below the surface you get a chance to experience the wonders of underwater combat:

1) pitch darkness, there's no light in this area at all to begin with, visibility is even lower underwater.
2) no effective ranged ability. throwing weapons don't work at all, bows and crossbows suffer a -2 per 5 feet of distance.
3) slashing and bludgeoning weapons inflict half damage.
4) almost everything you're facing will have a swim speed, meaning they will be blazing along compared to you.

And even better in many places the water is deep enough that pressure and cold become issues. spending more than half an hour at that depth is likely going to be lethal all by itself...and remember it takes you 6 seconds to move 15 feet assuming you succeed at your swim check.

The best you can say is none of this is directly the fault of the WLD designers. These are all standard rules and it sucks to hang out underwater in any version of D&D. But perhaps they should have considered this before making a Region that is 80% underwater.

They seem to be aware of this as they provide a list of different reasons for how the GM might convince and/or force the players to actually explore this region rather than just turning back. Ultimately though, I don't think anyone will be particularly enthusiastic about this place. PCs will hate it because they're basically crippled (and one dispel magic away from drowning), and DMs will hate it because tracking movement and encounters in 3 dimensions is a pain.

But of course, since it is the WLD, they had to come up with something to make everything worse. You see, the corrupted demon dirt is even worse in this region and it actively taints anyone in the area. Every 24 hours spent in the Region PCs must make an increasing Will Save (10 +1 per day), to avoid having their alignment shift one step towards evil. Once they become evil they begin carrying out random suggestions by the demonic taint, indulging in whatever monstrous act the GM decides. But that's, shockingly, not the bad part.

The bad part is the mutations. You see every time you fail a saving throw, you gain a random mutation and permanently lose 1d3, 1d4 or 1d6 points of charisma (irreversible short of a wish). If you just so happen to be a sorcerer or a bard, I hope you're ready to get poo poo on, because there goes your core stat. What's more, the mutations themselves range from pretty nice (+5 natural armor, +1d6 strength and con, spell resistance) to really, really lovely (you breath water but not air, 1d4 permanent negative levels, 5d20 damage).

You know, when you've got a structure like the WLD where everything is organized based on specific level ranges and characters are meant to be in it for the long haul, it would be a good idea not to wildly alter the party's power level completely at random. A fighter who gets lucky takes a hit to his charisma and might end up with +2d6 to strength and con after a couple of failed saves (of course he's evil now). A sorcerer who gets unlucky could lose access to their spells permanently. What is the character meant to do at that point? commit seppuku? there really isn't much alternative.

L1-L4

This is the lair of some sahaugin, who originally came here seeking a magical artifact called the watrazor, until they were beaten up by the bigger monsters in the region. now the remnants basically suck up to the kraken to avoid being killed. The sahaugin have been pretty much just sitting for 400 years, hoping to get ahold of the pieces of the watrazor. They've got one (a +2 spear) and know where one of the others is.

although it would be a pain to try and collect it, and it has a stupid name, the complete watrazor is a hell of a weapon. It's a 4-pointed trident (yes, I know) that is +5 aquaticbane (which would matter, except you need to have beaten pretty much every important aquatic opponent to get it) icy burst, wounding trident. It functions as a trident of fish command and 3 times per day you can cast control water, crushing hand and dismissal, once per week you can cast imprisonment if you're underwater. It also ignores any regeneration ability, always inflicting lethal damage.


L5-L8

This area is full of demon-bones and lacedon, some with class levels. Much of it will be completely ignored as it occurs on the lakebed which is 400 feet below the surface, apparently the celestials put all of their basements right here, or for some reason decided not only to build their prison beneath a lake, but also directly above a giant empty cavern.

The random encounters in this area really do a good job of illustrating the half-assed nature of the dungeon. Here are some highlights.

*a pod of 3 fiendish orcas with a tentacle sticking from their backs. This gives them an extra attack a round (no information on the attack's damage).

*12 dire bats whose sonar is so powerful that each group of 3 bats produces a sonic attack equivalent to a soundburst each round. (no indication if this takes an action, what CL it is or what the save DC is)

*breaking a demon bone can also have similarly poorly written effects: a fireball spell which "targets everyone in the area" and an Earthquake spell "affecting water as if it was earth"...which after reading the earthquake spell I can see it somehow knocks people down in the water and opens fissures in the water that remain for 1 round then close, killing anyone still inside (how one would stay inside is unclear).

L9-L18

This area is the territory of the Kraken Mahg'Gog, who fills more or less the same role as Thorodin in K, serving as the "boss" encounter of the Region. Amusingly the Kraken was once a perfectly normal freshwater squid, trapped in the dungeon after the lake broke through. Apparently it decided to make a nest inside the skull of Krukak, the most powerful demon trapped in the Region. The squid became possessed and over the centuries has continued growing larger and larger, taking the final form as a half-fiend Kraken.

I've got to say, I actually really like that backstory. The only downside is there is no reasonable way for the PCs to find out about it and I feel like the writers missed a real opportunity to have an artifact or ritual capable of banishing the demonic spirit possessing the kraken, turning it back into a tiny squid.

Mah'gog will spend a lot of time trolling the PCs while they're in this section, using his ability to sense them at great distances and control weather to make things tough for them.

L9 is a set of protective wards that would need to be repaired in order to cleanse the region of the tainted sediment. There's not much actual motivation to do this however, since it doesn't remove any of the dangerous inhabitants of the Region and they're the real threat. The sediment is a long-term issue that frankly the celestials need to clean up. For some reason this encounter occurs 800 feet below the surface. Keep in mind that until now the dungeon has been more or less level. For some reason this area is massively further down, and since the wards are down there they would have had to have been placed there when the dungeon was created.

Actually getting down here and repairing the wards is practically impossible. at 800 feet down the pressures are intense and according to the rules at the start of the Region, characters take 1d6 damage per minute for every 100 feet down you are, plus 1d6 cold damage per minute from hypothermia. Assuming the PCs can take 10 on swim checks (and assuming taking 10 would be a success, which is far from guaranteed for some) that's 150 feet moved per minute. going from the surface you hit 150 feet, take 2d6 damage (2d6 +1d6 cold), then next minute you take 4d6 (3d6 +1d6 cold), then 5d6 at 450 feet down, then 7d6 at 600 feet down, and 8d6 at 750, finally topping off at 9d6 when you hit the bottom. So just getting down to the bottom is a total of 35d6 damage (or an average of 123). Now, a healer obviously has time to patch people up in between rolls but that eats up time, which just means more damage (a 14th level cleric's Cure Critical wounds spell can just manage to wipe out 1 minute's worth of damage at 800 feet). The best bet would be to make it all the way to the bottom, then hit everyone with a heal spell (goodby all your 6th level spell slots) but good luck on having anyone without at least a d8 HD and a good Con score survive the trip to the bottom. Don't expect the party wizard to make it past 600 feet without a healing spell every minute. And of course if you happen to be in a party with a dwarf, halfling or gnome then the slower swim speed is going to make things even worse (that's 100 feet/minute, or a total of 44d6 damage by the time you reach the bottom).

Now that you're down there actually repairing the wards requires a ritual cleansing (which is completely undetailed) and the spells consecrate, dispel evil, glyph of warding and imprisonment. So you had better have reformed the watrazor, the only source of the Imprisonment spell at this level.

Oh, and you may have noticed that the 3rd spell on that list is glyph of warding, a cleric only spell with a casting time of 10 minutes. 10 minutes at 800 feet deep. that's 90d6 damage (not to mention 10 Concentration checks with a DC of 10+damage suffered, so an average of DC 41), while the party's healer is occupied. And to be clear, it's not a matter of just having the spell, the ritual demands that it be cast.

I don't want to say that it's literally impossible for a 14th or so level group to actually repair these wards, but if there's a way I can't think of it. Damage reducing spells like Stoneskin just don't get rid of enough damage, the nature of the dungeon prevents etherealness or similar effects and spells that would shield you from the pressure (like forcecage or resilient sphere) would also prevent the casting of the spell you need.

So, I'm comfortable saying that no average party is going to be able to get down there, repair the wards and live at least not without the DM coming up with some special spell or plot device to make it happen. Hmm..one exception, a cleric with Still and Silent spell polymorphed into a giant squid (polymorph does not specifically adapt you to the environment of the shape, but given it grants subtypes like Fire and Aquatic, a fair GM would probably allow it) could potentially make it to the bottom, cast a Stilled and Silent version of each spell and use the watrazor for imprisonment. They would probably just manage to make it near the surface before Polymorph's duration expires. so, I guess not technically impossible...just massively improbable.


Of course, there doesn't seem to be any way that the PCs would be aware of the ward's existence or the requirements to repair them in the first place, so a bit of a moot point.

Other than that there's a fight between a giant squid and a dire shark, a pod of evil porpoises led by an insane aquatic elf, and some scrag. There's a set of magic armor and a spear designed to function underwater (+2 hide armor with no penalty to Swim, a +1 buckler that gives +4 to swim skill, and a +3 spear that suffers no penalties underwater. however, these are all found around 800 feet below the surface, so anyone that far down clearly has no difficulty with swimming.

Then we've got Mah'gog. Mah'gog is fairly tough, he's a 2nd level Fighter, half-fiendish kraken. Just like Thorodin he's harder than his CR would normally indicate due to the environment. His reach with his tentacles is 30 feet (or 60 with his longest arms). Although he's pretty slow (swim of 20), he's still at least twice as fast as anyone but a monk or a character with freedom of movement. His Combat Reflexes, high attack bonus, long reach and relative swiftness means he can simply keep drifting away and hit people with his long tentacles, smack them around with attacks opportunity and never let them get a melee attack in. Ranged attacks are almost impossible for anyone outside of his reach (at 65 feet the penalty for ranged attacks is -26) and spells are going to have a tough time getting through his SR 32 (taking an 18 or higher on the spell penetration roll for characters of 14th level), not to mention his spell like abilities. If this was a landbound fight, or one from shore to sea, it wouldn't be crazy hard but Mah'gog has the luxury of lurking below and making anyone who wants to fight him come to him (and he has plenty of ways to make life painful on the surface if he feels like it).

Of course, the right party could be a game changer. freedom of movement is probably the best option, drastically upping both speed and damage potential. Mah'gog's AC is fairly low and with preparation this fight drops to just "challenging". I'm not going to say it's as bad as Thorodin or Longtail, at least the PCs are likely to have the resources they need to make this combat happen, even if they need to be pretty drat canny to put the pieces together.

And of course, although he has a vast supply of gems and gold, Mah'gog's treasure is pretty bare on useful magic items: a 1st level potion (enlarge), a lens of divination (there is no such item, but presumably they meant a lens of detection...a very minor magic item), a +2 chainmail sized only for a halfling (because so many halflings wear medium armor), a -2 cursed longsword, a divine scroll containing mostly the spells needed to restore those wards mentioned above, a wand of invisibility with 8 charges, a strongbox filled with gold and silver coins (not magical, I only mention this because the writers never actually say how many coins are in the drat box), one of the pieces of the watrazor, a hiltless blade that can cast dismissal once per day. And a cursed ring of clumsiness.

So that's one minor potion, a suit of armor no one can likely use, a barely charged minor wand, and a minor wonderous item. And two cursed items. Also, it takes 30 minutes per item and a search check to possibly find these (everyone rolls on a d20 table). The depth of mah'gog's lair is never established (which should be pretty loving important), but if it is even 100 feet below the surface the damage from the pressure will kill you before you can locate even a single piece of treasure. (30d6 pressure + 30d6 cold).

gently caress you WLD. gently caress you.

Oh, and in addition to Mah'gog's lair we get a sidebar here about the kraken's plans to take over Region K (something that would have been good to know back when you were actually still in K). Here is the timeline, counted since the PCs entered Region K:

3 days later: Mah'gog uses control water (he doesn't have that ability actually) to force a bunch of spherical traps (basically magical naval mines) into the merrow's coral dam

4 days: The sahaugin send scouts into the coral dam

5 days: the sahaugin plant acid bombs in the dam's foundation, opening gap. (it's unclear why this is done over the course of 3 days, you'd think it would be easy enough to do all of this on the same day, and far better).

6 days: the sahaugin plant more bombs, but the merrow catch them this time. The dam is destroyed but the sahaugin leader is killed. Simultaneously the kraken uses control water (which again, he does not have) to raise the water level in the northern swamps of Region K and the water elemental in his service will pull the muck and soil into the deep water, forming a channel to the northern tidal pools. Well, first and foremost given the fact that Mah'gog's darkvision only extends 60 feet, the kraken would have to actually be in Region K to do this, and there is no section of Region K referred to as the "northern tidal pools" or indeed as "tidal pools". Presumably this means that they intend to widen the channel that bridges the two main bodies of water in K. How this is meant to happen without interference from the hags or Thorodin is unclear.

7 days: Mah'gog attacks the dam, along with his locath and a dragon turtle (who is in a different part of Region L). Together they wreck the dam and the merrow surrender, agreeing to serve Mah'gog.

8 days: Mah'gog, lacedons, scrags, merrow and an aboleth and a dragon turtle all rush through the channel and attack the merfolk and tritons. The aboleth dies in the fighting, the merrow, tritons, merfolk and locath are decimated. The lillend and water naga are also killed.

No mention is made at all of Thorodin or the hags and keep in mind that the merfolk and tritons consist of about 14 individuals altogether, making this entire plan overkill. I've also been searching and there is no mention in Region L of merrow or any sort of "coral dam". The only merrow are found in Region L, in the service of the hags. They do not have a coral dam, and there are only a small handful of them as well.

Looking this over it's clear that this entire "invasion plan" was written for a completely different version of Region K. One with a lot more tritons, merfolk and merrow and one without the three hag sisters or the two dragons. What makes this worse is that this plan is threaded all throughout Region L. The place is full of aqautic warriors preparing tools and weapons for the invasion of Region K...and it doesn't work at all because K is now completely different. And let me be clear, these two regions are so closely linked that they might as well be one double-sized Region, they are that closely tied together and the editors still failed to realize that the two don't link up properly at all anymore.

Wow, this is probably the worst editing mistake so far. An entire plot for two regions is invalidated because the left hand wasn't listening to the right.

oriongates fucked around with this message at 07:18 on Jan 30, 2014

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



pkfan2004 posted:


Smart vampires are a different breed. See, all vampires are heavily territorial and they will gladly fight each other over turf disputes or if one becomes too powerful. Smart vampires will let you know that you are in their territory and therefor their property. They fall in love and tend to kill their lovers after falling into fits of melancholic violence, convinced their lovers want to leave them and kill them. They hang out with the rich and powerful and mark aristocratic families as "theirs". They're as social as they are vicious and because aristocrats love them it's not hard for them to find a steady source of blood and money to live comfortably. And all the while they hurt and torture people. They nurse blood from hookers and cut them with their claws and knives, using them as sex objects to mark and disfigure as they see fit. They become the center of attention at "Cirques du Sang" parties where aristocrats fawn over them, experience a gentle feeding from their party guest and watch the vampire hypnotize a cleaned-up abducted youth from the slums and feed from them violently and fatally. They even tend to get their pain and pleasure centers mixed up and delight in being tortured and hurting people around them.

In short, they're sadistic, undead rear end in a top hat rapists.

Okay, this might sound like a broken record at this point, but why aren't these smart vampires pulling something out of Blade and running the whole show from the shadows? Unless all this talk about France is actually a nation the vampires took over.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




pkfan2004 posted:

I like all that weird "spooky" art in The Everlasting. It looks like stuff I'd see in an early 2000s spooky flash game like ExMortis or whatever.
Anything that's good is from the PDF re-release; the original has scant, mostly bad stuff.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




oriongates posted:

Wow, this is probably the worst editing mistake so far. An entire plot for two regions is invalidated because the left hand wasn't listening to the right.
That's loving impressive.

On top of that, is there like... a reason for the PCs to give a flying gently caress about this? The demon squid using abilities he doesn't have, that wouldn't work that way anyway, even if what he wanted to use them on existed, to take over more of a pond in a dungeon that by this point I'd just want to get the gently caress out of?

Piell
Sep 3, 2006

Grey Worm's Ken doll-like groin throbbed with the anticipatory pleasure that only a slightly warm and moist piece of lemoncake could offer



Young Orc

Zereth posted:

That's loving impressive.

On top of that, is there like... a reason for the PCs to give a flying gently caress about this? The demon squid using abilities he doesn't have, that wouldn't work that way anyway, even if what he wanted to use them on existed, to take over more of a pond in a dungeon that by this point I'd just want to get the gently caress out of?

Nope. It's one of the biggest problems of the WLD - there's all these "plots" going on, but there's literally no way for the PCs to discover about 95% of them, and even if they did they almost certainly wouldn't care. The PCs have probably ruined the plan already just by traveling through the dungeon on their murder spree, so who cares who was trying to rule the area?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




pkfan2004 posted:


Smart vampires are a different breed. See, all vampires are heavily territorial and they will gladly fight each other over turf disputes or if one becomes too powerful. Smart vampires will let you know that you are in their territory and therefor their property. They fall in love and tend to kill their lovers after falling into fits of melancholic violence, convinced their lovers want to leave them and kill them. They hang out with the rich and powerful and mark aristocratic families as "theirs". They're as social as they are vicious and because aristocrats love them it's not hard for them to find a steady source of blood and money to live comfortably. And all the while they hurt and torture people. They nurse blood from hookers and cut them with their claws and knives, using them as sex objects to mark and disfigure as they see fit. They become the center of attention at "Cirques du Sang" parties where aristocrats fawn over them, experience a gentle feeding from their party guest and watch the vampire hypnotize a cleaned-up abducted youth from the slums and feed from them violently and fatally. They even tend to get their pain and pleasure centers mixed up and delight in being tortured and hurting people around them.
I did not expect a direct lift from Interview with the Vampire.

quote:

So yeah, dhampirs. Pretty much what you expected.
I expected white Blade, and I got it.

quote:

GHOULS

Huh. Much like Everlasting, it's the less prominent stuff that's more interesting and original.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


oriongates posted:



Region L: Because Water Levels Are Always The Most Fun

So again, a dungeon area that would be a minor annoyance with proper planning and access to resources, made drat near impossible by the fact that it's in a magic dungeon with no escape.

If I were actually dumb enough to run this I would have the party run across a box of zora's Tunics and earrings or something right past the front door.

Though that wouldn't protect them from the tainted sand of "gently caress You Sorcerers, Bards, Paladins, and Clerics".

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Lemon Curdistan posted:

Which brings me to the very important thing to know about Technoir: this is not William Gibson's cyberpunk. If you're expecting a game that lets you put together a crew of miscreants and organise a run on a corporate arcology to steal an AI mainframe, that's not what Technoir is written to do.
To be fair to William Gibson, I don't think that's William Gibson's cyberpunk either. I'm not a scholar of the genre, but I believe most of the fault for people associating cyberpunk with heist plots and superpowered cyborgs falls squarely on Cyberpunk 2020, Shadowrun, and a handful of animes.

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008

You can't see me at all...



Halloween Jack posted:

To be fair to William Gibson, I don't think that's William Gibson's cyberpunk either. I'm not a scholar of the genre, but I believe most of the fault for people associating cyberpunk with heist plots and superpowered cyborgs falls squarely on Cyberpunk 2020, Shadowrun, and a handful of animes.

Neuromancer is basically a complicated heist novel about a computer hacker and a cyborg samurai stealing secrets from a megacorporation. It's not what the book is "about," but it's certainly the plot of the book.

It's completely Gibson's fault that everyone is imitating what he wrote.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Ah, yes, Neuromancer. The only novel William Gibson ever wrote.

Toph Bei Fong
Feb 29, 2008

You can't see me at all...



Halloween Jack posted:

Ah, yes, Neuromancer. The only novel William Gibson ever wrote.

It's the only one that the author of most cyberpunk fiction seem to have read :v: Not that the other Sprawl stories and novels don't have similar plots...

Or are we going to get really silly and claim that most of his books aren't about corporate espionage of one sort or another?

edit: to put it another way, it's Gibson's fault that cyberpunk is mostly cyborg-computer hacker heists with splashes of epistemology in the same way that it's Tolkien's fault that most fantasy novels involve Long Journeys to defeat Dark Lords and/or dispose of Powerful Magic Objects.

Toph Bei Fong fucked around with this message at 15:53 on Jan 29, 2014

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


It's the highly-visible daddy of the genre (even if it isn't the actual daddy of the genre), which CP2020 and others aped when they established their RPG genre conventions.

Also, in both the Sprawl and Bridge trilogies, getting hurt is something the protagonists actively try to avoid, and which is almost always bad for them. That's the polar opposite to the Kovacs or Audran novels which, in the hardboiled tradition, have their protagonists go out and poke their nose in stuff, then get hurt and gain valuable information in the process.

Lemon-Lime fucked around with this message at 16:10 on Jan 29, 2014

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Spoilers Below posted:

Or are we going to get really silly and claim that most of his books aren't about corporate espionage of one sort or another?
Reread LC's original post. I'm saying that this:

Lemon Curdistan posted:

What Technoir is written to do is hard-boiled fiction that happens to be in a cyberpunk setting - it's LA Confidential 20 minutes into the future, it's the Marîd Audran or Takeshi Kovacs novels. It's not about hacking corporate servers; it's about going out, asking questions, getting kidnapped, beaten up and nearly killed, and discovering that the serial killer who's been terrorising Lotown is actually a corporate hitman harvesting brains for a new AI project, on the orders of the man who owns half the city, and what are you going to do about it?
is the kind of thing Gibson would write. Most of his books have multiple intertwining plot threads about noir protagonists who are just trying to make a living but get in over their heads, rather than heist plots featuring hackers and cyber-samurai. CP2020, Ghost in the Shell, and all the other stuff based on reading Neuromancer and only Neuromancer (okay, maybe "Burning Chrome" too) have muddied the water so bad that people have gotten the idea that When Gravity Fails and Snow Crash are somehow radically different from "Gibsonian cyberpunk."

quote:

edit: to put it another way, it's Gibson's fault that cyberpunk is mostly cyborg-computer hacker heists with splashes of epistemology in the same way that it's Tolkien's fault that most fantasy novels involve Long Journeys to defeat Dark Lords and/or dispose of Powerful Magic Objects.
That's not a fair comparison because IIRC, almost all of Tolkien's fantasy output is about Middle-Earth, whereas most of Gibson's output is very different from Neuromancer.

See, this whole thing for me is like if he'd said "These aren't your standard Vancian wizards, they're indolent aristocrats who summon genies to do magic for them," when that's exactly how the wizards in the later Dying Earth books work.

citybeatnik
Mar 1, 2013

You Are All
WEIRDOS





pkfan2004 posted:

And that's Chapter Five all wrapped up in one single post. You know what would be cool? Being able to play as a ghoul, being a plug-ugly little monkey man with a taste for meat and a loping gorilla gait and a shotgun. The game actually encourages that ghouls be treated as (dangerous, possibly lethal) comic relief characters involved in slapstick and general monkey business. Well as luck would have it, there are stats for all of the people in this chapter. If you really, really wanted to, you could use them as a general template for what kind of stats and treatment a ghoul character would get, although there is no official rule for playing as any of these besides Dhampiri. I'm just saying, though, that having a ghoul Criminal teammate would be a good source of tension-reliever. But that's just me, I'm biased towards the little guys.
That seems to be a recurring theme with this setting - it WANTS you to play the miserable people sitting in the middle of Neo-London, but all the awesome, fun-sounding stuff involves things barely touched upon or just mentioned in passing.

I'm now picturing a Ghoul Detective solving mysteries in a little deerstalker while riding on the shoulders of a Thrope Doctor what just returned from the front lines. It is a good mental image.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




UH is one of those settings that seems like it wants to be taken seriously but it's just begging to be played fast and loose. The ideal party would be a badass Undertaker, a Mourner, a Dhampir vampire hunter, the aristocrat bankrolling it all, and everyone is secretly loving. Okay, maybe I play too much Apocalypse World.

wdarkk
Oct 26, 2007

Friends: Protected
World: Saved
Crablettes: Eaten


Halloween Jack posted:

UH is one of those settings that seems like it wants to be taken seriously but it's just begging to be played fast and loose. The ideal party would be a badass Undertaker, a Mourner, a Dhampir vampire hunter, the aristocrat bankrolling it all, and everyone is secretly loving. Okay, maybe I play too much Apocalypse World.

It sounds like you should just play apocalypse world set in some sort of semi-rebuilt London.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



citybeatnik posted:

I'm now picturing a Ghoul Detective solving mysteries in a little deerstalker while riding on the shoulders of a Thrope Doctor what just returned from the front lines. It is a good mental image.

Now you've got me thinking about a ghoul as Igor in Young Frankenstein.

(Frankenstein's fiancee would be a Mourner because ha ha Victorian Madonna/Whore complex)

Benagain
Oct 10, 2007

I WILL DERAIL ANY THREAD TO DEFEND PEOPLE WHO CHEAT ON THEIR SPOUSES BECAUSE I THINK THEY CAN DO NO WRONG. DO NOT LISTEN TO ME. I AM FUCKING STUPID.


Fun Shoe

Viktor Frankenstein should win prizes for being the Dumbest Protagonist Ever.

Monster: "I WILL BE WITH YOU ON YOUR WEDDING NIGHT!"

Frankenstein: "WHAT COULD HE POSSIBLY MEAN?" *proceeds with wedding plans*

Edit: poo poo, what was that Ghost Train hack of AW? That'd be a great place to jump off/steal ideas from for an Apocalypse London.

Flavivirus
Dec 13, 2011

The next stage of evolution.

Benagain posted:

Viktor Frankenstein should win prizes for being the Dumbest Protagonist Ever.

Monster: "I WILL BE WITH YOU ON YOUR WEDDING NIGHT!"

Frankenstein: "WHAT COULD HE POSSIBLY MEAN?" *proceeds with wedding plans*

Edit: poo poo, what was that Ghost Train hack of AW? That'd be a great place to jump off/steal ideas from for an Apocalypse London.

Ghost Lines, you can find it here: http://www.onesevendesign.com/ghostlines/

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Benagain posted:

Viktor Frankenstein should win prizes for being the Dumbest Protagonist Ever.

Monster: "I WILL BE WITH YOU ON YOUR WEDDING NIGHT!"

Frankenstein: "WHAT COULD HE POSSIBLY MEAN?" *proceeds with wedding plans*
Why, it means his grandson Frederick got an enormous schwanzstücker.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


Just picturing an Undertaker with a gang of ghouls that help him by being his eyes and ears while he is out. They're like morlocks without being uncommunicative.

'For a shilling, you get a name. A pound, we give you the address. We take you there for half a big. For the whole cow? We'll bust the place up and send 'em running.'

Rockopolis
Dec 21, 2012

I MAKE FUN OF QUEER STORYGAMES BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO WITH MY LIFE THAN MAKE OTHER PEOPLE CRY

I can't understand these kinds of games, and not getting it bugs me almost as much as me being weird


Man, it's neat posting these, I hear cool stuff about the game that you wouldn't have known about otherwise. Thanks!

I remember hearing something about part of version 1's backstory being kind of ehh, that must have been it.
At least it's not Twilight 2013's France going out of their way nuke-happy for...reasons? Wasn't that the plot to a John Ringo book?

I liked Blue Planet, so it'll be good to see someone else F&F it. I'm not sure I could find anyone to play it, and despite the fact that I'm terrified of water, I think it's a cool setting.
To avoid spoilers, I will lock my jaw on my favorite unit/faction in the game.
Do you know if they still donate proceeds from the game to the Cousteau Foundation?

...and, you know, I shouldn't plot out the next F&F before I finish the current one. That would just be dumb.



The pair of quotes requested before

I Miss TV posted:

One day Griffith looked over at me and said, "Monk, you know the worst thing about all this? No more television."
I just looked at him for a second.
"You miss Green Acres, do you?" I asked sarcastically.
"Hey, I'm not kidding. You know about Hitler and Mussolini and all those guys, right? Well, we never had anybody like that once we had television. And you know why? 'Cause all those guys look like clowns on TV. I mean, you're sittin' in your living room in front of the tube, watching some little guy scream and rant and foam at the mouth. Then they interrupt him for a commercial for a blender that makes salads or some drat thing, and then some cereal that's gonna make you regular, I mean who can take him seriously? What planet is that guy from? You wanna laugh, not get in line behind him.
"So now we've been - what? - three years without TV? And those people out there just keep getting loonier and loonier. I tell you, unless someone gets a network up and running pretty soon, we're gonna be in a world of hurt."
"Griffith," I said, "I think that we are already in a world of hurt."

"HQ posted:

There really weren't many of us left after Kalisz. I remember that Carson, the major's driver, found some paint and stenciled a sign he stuck in the ground next to where we had the Hum-Vee parked.

Headquarters
3rd Battalion, 143rd Infantry
2nd Brigade
5th Infantry Division (Mechanized)
United States Army

When Gordon saw it, she borrowed the paint and stencils and painted the same thing on a sign we put next to our other vehicle, the old LAV-25, except instead of headquarters she painted "Main Body". The major laughed when he saw it, but made us get rid of both of them. Security.
There was a time when none of us laughed much at all, but now we laugh again. What the hell. We're still alive.

As requested.
Man, what a pain to type all that out, I had to break out my keyboard and hook it up to my phone. No OCR on the PDFs; I'm pretty sure DriveThru just scanned it straight from the book. No advanced PDF things, like a linked table of contents or bookmarks, either. The Tekumel PDF I have is similar.

I think the second one makes for a pretty decent anecdote to describe the mood and setting of the game.
The first one...it's interesting to see what someone wrote twenty years ago, but, well, we've got that and things seem to be getting worse :smith:

Anyway

Twilight 2000 v2.2
Frank Chadwick, Game Designers Workshop


Part 2: How We Get Into This Mess
Character Creation


So, Twilight 2000 character creation starts with choosing your background; your gender and home country. The default is the United States, with modifiers later in the chapter for pretty much anywhere in North America or Europe.
And then your attributes, the relatively straightforward
Strength
Agility
Constitution
Intelligence
Education
Charisma
which are on a 1-12 scale (though you can only generate up to a ten).
Attributes are generated by point buy, die roll (with rerolls for zero stats, and an optional rule for adding points if your total is less than 30)
Then, you get your native language(s) and four free low-level background skills; stuff like swimming or computer or farming.

From there, you go to the a lifepath character generation system. Starting as a 17 year old high school graduate, you pick 4 year terms of schooling or careers or the military and advance in four year terms, adding skills and other perks based on careers, plus skills from
A lot of terms have prerequisites; gotta have high Intelligence and Education to pick higher education, or in good shape to join the Marines. Military careers are special, giving you a set of basic training skills in addition to your first career path.
The focus of this game being what it is, there's a page of education terms three pages of civillian careers, and seven pages of military terms, plus 3 pages of modifications for the militaries of different countries. The military options are much more detailed, with four branches of service, each with their own specialty terms for officers and enlisted in stuff like artillery, support, armor, mech infantry, mountain infantry, pilots, special forces, SEALS, technical...
There's a couple quirky option that go between the military and civilian terms, like ROTC or joining the reserves, or doctors getting a commission on joining.

At the end of each term, you roll a d10 for war; World War III war breaks out if you roll less than or equal to the total number of terms you've served. If war breaks out, stop character generation and serve a term in the military. American civilians get drafted and shipped overseas, which means basic training, while European characters get drafted into the militia, which means they get...nothing. Suck it, Eurotards! :fsmug:
Yes, this means that your character's number of terms, their age, is up to chance. It's possible, though not very likely, to start the game in your fifties. Your attributes will have decayed, but on the plus side you'll have a ton of skills, probably be a Colonel, and have enough resource points to start with a tank.

After character creation, roll for starting Rads. Rads are bad; they represent your cumulative exposure to radiation. They don't go away, when you max it out you drop dead, and the higher it is, the worse the symptoms of further radiation exposure are for you.
Civilians roll a pair of dice, soldiers roll a number of dice based on their initiative score; the more badass you are, the more likely you've been through some irradiated area.

Next, starting gear.
You get different starting gear, like flak jacket, helmet, survival gear, plus weaponry based on your home country, such as an M16 for an American or an AK 74 for a Soviet. Americans get a free upgrade to the superior kevlar armor. :911:
Then, the party gets a d6 for every 3 players in the party. You roll them against the vehicle table, singly or in groups of up to three; the vehicle table runs from a 3/4 ton truck for a 1, to a M1A2 Abrams tank if you roll an 18. Or you could trade your vehicle dice for animal dice, and roll for the number of appropriate animals.
And finally, you for every term you spent in the military, you get $5000 ($10000 for officers) worth of equipment that you managed to steal prior to the start of the game, assuming it fits on your vehicle, because you start the game on the road, with whatever you can carry.
Oh yes, best perk ever; Army Special Forces start the game with a green beret in their inventory.

Finally, contacts are one of the perks you get at the end of certain terms, and I find it to be a really nifty resource. Contacts have in a couple categories; foreign or not, type (academic, military, law enforcement, criminal, etc), and importantly, generic or solid. A generic contact is an unspecified contact held in reserve, while a solid contact is one that has been statted out, met, and permanently added to the game.
The example used is that of that of the party running into a Soviet patrol, and Master Sergeant Anderson decides (with GM approval and roll) the patrol is led by Femerov, his drinking buddy from when they were both stationed in Iceland, turning one of his foreign military generic contacts into a solid contact.



And, that was character creation.
Compared to Traveller, your character can't get killed in character generation, and you have a freer choice of terms, but you can't choose when to stop, either.
One of the things I really liked about Traveller was that your character sheet fit onto an actual, physical index card (along with every other kind of data sheet). Twilight 2000 is more verbose, but I think it could fit, if you had good handwriting.

Next time, I will make a sample character or two; the obligatory special forces soldier Blast Hardcheese, and then I've want to try making a European character, maybe engineer or doctor, who's a reservist of some kind (so they don't get totally screwed on combat skills).

From you, I will take suggestions suggestions and make the ones I like.



Next
Part 2.5:Who Are You? (sample characters)
And
Part 3:What Is This Crap? (equipment list)

Rockopolis fucked around with this message at 02:16 on Jan 30, 2014

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Halloween Jack posted:

Why, it means his grandson Frederick got an enormous schwanzstücker.

Well... I mean, that goes without saying.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Rockopolis posted:

The pair of quotes requested before
Twilight:2000 is the only RPG I ever encountered where the in-character fiction was good and added to the product. It was short - usually a paragraph or two - and made its point (usually sharp and funny and laconic and ironic and blackly humorous) and got out. They perfectly set the mood of the game and didn't come across like the combination homework/chore and bad fanfiction that most RPG rulebook fiction does. I wish RPGs had followed T2Ks model and not, say, White Wolf's.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Zereth posted:

That's loving impressive.

On top of that, is there like... a reason for the PCs to give a flying gently caress about this? The demon squid using abilities he doesn't have, that wouldn't work that way anyway, even if what he wanted to use them on existed, to take over more of a pond in a dungeon that by this point I'd just want to get the gently caress out of?

Theoretically you'd be saving the good aligned merfolk and tritons who inhabit region K, but frankly short of practically sterilizing the Region they're just so overmatched by the evil and/or hungry aquatic monsters that they're basically doomed anyway. And it's not like the PCs have any way of learning Mah'gog's plans anyway other than sticking around long enough to see it in action (highly unlikely, there just isn't enough to do in either Region for the PCs to spend over a week hanging out here).

For the most part the main problem with the whole "faction rivalry" the WLD tends to set up (goblins vs bugbears, orcs vs kobolds, drow vs drider, minotaur vs minotaur) is that both sides are unabashedly evil. Sure, the goblin rebels in region B are fighting against an oppressive false theocracy that overthrew their king and displaced their traditional religion...but that traditional religion they're fighting for is just as foul and cannibalistic as any other goblin tradition.

The one exceptions are usually the Celestial regions, but in those cases its glaringly obvious that the celestials are only having trouble because they allow it to happen. They're far to powerful to be "rescued" so really it just comes across as the PCs taking care of their job for them at best.

Kemper Boyd
Aug 6, 2007

no kings, no gods, no masters but a comfy chair and no socks


FMguru posted:

Twilight:2000 is the only RPG I ever encountered where the in-character fiction was good and added to the product. It was short - usually a paragraph or two - and made its point (usually sharp and funny and laconic and ironic and blackly humorous) and got out. They perfectly set the mood of the game and didn't come across like the combination homework/chore and bad fanfiction that most RPG rulebook fiction does. I wish RPGs had followed T2Ks model and not, say, White Wolf's.

Reign also does this. Most of the fiction is short, illustrates points about the game setting and sometimes it's even funny.

One of the better things is how a wizard brags how he's much better than the siege engines of the army and the siege engineer thinks how his engines never have a hangover, never betray their client over gold or love and all that.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!






Region L Continued: The Big Wet Nothing

So, with the realization that the entire invasion plot-line is more or less invalidated by changes made to Region K, what is left in L?


L19-L27
This section is the lair of some Locathath, who are apparently actually Sahaughin who mutated into Locathath from the lake's taint. Because apparently it would be unbelievable for Locathath to have just stumbled their way into this underground lake like the sahaughin, tritons, merfolk, merrow, hags, aquatic elves, and scrag all seem to. 8 underwater races migrating to a single nearly inaccessible underground lake would simply be laughable!

Apparently these Locathath are actually led by an insane aquatic elven cleric who recently showed up and defeated their leader in single combat, taking over the tribe. Other than the elf, all the locathath are just 2nd level barbarians, making them practically a non-existent challenge. There's also a trapped pair of statues that come with some rather bizarre giberrish. I'll post it in the writer's own words because for the life of me I cannot figure out what deep message they're trying to send.



There is also at least one room where the writers seem to have forgotten that they were underwater, describing things like a foul stench filling the air at multiple points.

They also can't seem to decide on the alignment for the Locathath. The first few dozen Locathath are all listed as NE (although as barbarians they should be chaotic). However, the personal bodyguard of the elven cleric are all listed as true neutral (the standard alignment for Locathah, although again, they should be Chaotic). Their leader, the former chieftain beaten by the elf, is described as "Sha'ag...a strong warrior with a compassionate heart...", despite an earlier description mentioning that the locathah have no concept of personal names or property.

The elven cleric has been preparing naval mines for the assault on Region K, made of shark hide stretched over bamboo (where the hell are these people getting bamboo?). The mines are enchanted with spells that go off when touched. Since they're extremely obvious (10 feet in diameter), covered in magical symbols, and do not move or trigger without being touched its not really clear what these are meant to do...if there were boats involved, or even giant monsters like whales then these spheres might serve as a decent barrier...but the inhabitants of Region K are all human sized swimmers who can move freely underwater and the only giant monsters are on the kraken's side (himself for instance). In fact, its not even clear how these spheres are meant to be moved into Region L since they basically explode on contact and no one on the kraken's side has any equivalent of telekinesis. Perhaps some kind of bellows to squirt jets of water at them? Squeezing squids?

L28-L35

This is the area the PCs are most likely to enter the Region from, it's kind of the miscellaneous zone. You've got a big whirlpool in the center, some giant squids, a mass of wooden planks floating on the surface along with some seacats, some dire sharks, etc.

It turns out the whirlpool is actually a greater water elemental who is just sitting in one place constantly transforming into it's vortex form for 10 rounds, waiting 10 minutes to recharge and doing it again. I'd say that's the most boring existence I'd ever heard of, but I have no idea what water elementals would actually do for fun. The description of the encounter states that the whirlpool will draw people down to the bottom here (about 500 feet), ignoring the fact that a greater water elemental's vortex is 60 feet tall at best. It's not actually clear at what depth the elemental is floating, which is pretty important since it'll attack if PCs approach within 60 feet.

A lot of these encounters seem to assume the PCs will be swimming along the surface of the water, which is actually fairly odd. If the PCs are going to brave this place they'll almost certainly have water breathing enchantments and swimming under the surface is much better at that point.

There's also apparently a stand of bamboo near an outcropping of dry land. There's no indication how it grows underground. I guess its cave bamboo?

L36-44

Somehow a chunk of the dungeon sank intact here and the enchantments keep the water from flooding in forming a series of air-filled rooms. This room contains something called "amberspore fumes" which inflict little damage but can cause your voice to go higher for 2 hours, giving you a spell failure chance.

The next room is covered in engraved scorpions, and apparently stepping on a scorpion's eyes will trigger what is effectively a poisoned caltrop trap. I've mentioned this before, but sometimes it bears repeating. What exactly is the purpose of this room? The damage is so minor that anything with DR can ignore it (meaning any of the demons, devils or undead the dungeon was meant to contain) and the poison delivered by the caltrops would also not affect a single entity imprisoned here. There's also a random key to some watchtowers in Region H. Since the key carries no identifying marks, there's no sign of who left it here and this area has no direct connection to Region H (let alone the watchtowers) this is basically just a tease.

There is a prison that held a demon with a vulnerability to jade, who was apparently crushed to death during the collapse (ie a far more effective solution than eternal imprisonment).

The next room contains tiny little carved eyeballs over each surface. There's 4 daggers stuck in the chest of a lizardman skeleton, victim of a trap that never reset. But the eyes target anyone entering with beams of fire, dispel magic and eyebite spells. Another room contains some spiked chains which once held a demon, now dead, which animate and attempt to imprison anyone who touches them. Another room is trapped with a Maze spell, which basically just means the PCs have to wait 10 or so minutes before they're popped back out.

There's also a celestial guard room with a rather bizarre trap (because all the other ones have been so normal, did the celestials outsource this section to slaad?): a table sits on the ground with chairs around it. One leg of the table is bolted to the floor and it is blocking the door of a cupboard. Now, the cupboard has an "obvious" fireball trap that triggers whenever someone touches the door. It's not made clear how this is "obvious" (the search DC is still 20), which also has an "obvious" method of disabling (a button under the table). However, pushing the button triggers a sunburst and causes the table to swing around, slamming the pusher into the wall. According to the description, the safest way to open the cupboard is to simply allow the fireball trap to trigger.

So apparently the celestials made a storage cupboard which can only be opened by allowing it to explode in their faces. I know most celestials are going to have no trouble surviving a fireball, but it still seems to be one of the worst forms of security ever, especially since anything that can survive a fireball could easily survive the sunburst and table smack and the door isn't actually locked in any way.

The cupboard contains a portion of the watrazor which functions as a +2 spear that ignores regeneration, which actually makes it almost as valuable as the completed artifact to most groups.

There's also a vault door that used to imprison some kind of demon prince, but now actually keeps the water from flooding in, so any attempts to open it cause the air-filled caverns to flood. Despite the fact that the door supposedly held a super-demon, the DC for its locks is only 20.

L45-L59
This area apparently held some kind of massive, hundred foot long demon, but like most of the other demons this one died under tons of rock, the rubble forms an island in the center of the lake. Apparently several hundred years ago elves from Region H invaded and attempted to wipe out the sahaugin, failing miserably. Apparently though they discovered a sacred sapling from their holy tree on the island and left a small detachment here to protect it. Since the place is so awful and dangerous they now use "sapling duty" as a punishment for outcasts and criminals. Most do not make it to the island, dying on the boatride over from attacks by the monsters here. It's not clear why Mah'gog tolerates their presence on the island, the place is utterly tiny, about 200 feet wide, and it would be utter simplicity to kill everyone here.

The taint in the area has been mutating the elves and its become even worse since they unearthed a huge, evil black diamond. The elves have become evil, insane and mutated so the whole place is basically full of elven Splicers. Most of the encounters are with random nutty elves. There's also a mine (because setting up a mine when you're on a tiny island in the middle of a lake is a great idea). The elves will basically creep the PCs out briefly before being messily slain, since they only have a handful of class levels each (the most powerful are one 5th level sorcerer and one 5th level fighter). The only real encounter of significance is the Aboleth who lives in the lake, lairing in a cave below the water, who has some sorcerer levels in addition to its normal powers.

There is one small group of relatively sane elves led by a 7th level elven sorceress who basically just wants to leave, but thinks everywhere else is too dangerous (too be fair, she's not too wrong).

The sapling itself is actually the remnants of a demon prison in the form of a tree (for some reason) that managed to sprout up from the rubble. Apparently the elven sages and clerics are too stupid to tell and just assumed that it came from the sacred tree because it glows.

I'm moderately impressed that the writers managed to link up Region H with Region L this well, or I would be if it weren't for one important fact. You see, there is no barrier between H and L, the southern shore of the lake is just a part of H. And H is one of the ways out of the dungeon, because there is a massive hole in the ceiling, allowing in sunlight in and nurturing the "nature" theme H has going. Now, the furthest edge of Region L is no more than 1800 feet or so from the hole in the ceiling, so when the sun is up there should be more than enough light to at least dimly light the entire region and the light should even be visible from Region K. Apparently the writers forgot about that (or maybe there wasn't a hole when they were writing L) and so the moment PCs cross the southern border of the Region they shift from pitch darkness to daylight.

L60-L70

This is the southern part of the Region are home to anything that didn't really fit into the rest of the place. You've got an elf with an insanely long name (Manipanilua Catchichotum). There's the final piece of the watrazor, buried under thousands of pounds of rock. Basically this would require help from some sort of massive creature or similar excavation ability. The author suggests move earth, because they don't know the rules and don't seem to be aware move earth only affects soil and clay, not rock. Transmute Rock to Mud would be effective though.

The writers in general seem to have only a shaky grasp of the rules. There's another encounter here with a Kyton hanging from the ceiling who plans to leap on any swimmers or flyers, grapple them and then sink to the bottom of the lake with them. The text indicates that the writers think that the devil doesn't need to breath and so plans on suffocating his victim. However, outsiders do still need to breath...meaning the kyton will likely drown as the chains drag him to the bottom. Another encounter features an evil shrine created by the kyton at the bottom fo the lake, which of course he never would have been able to do.

There is also what appears to be a waterfall, but is actually a zone of reverse gravity causing water to fall upwards, hit the ceiling and splash back down. Also some magical underwater lilypads with bubbles of air around them.

And a dragon turtle. He's not doing much, just mostly hanging out. Being a big turtle. It apparently really wants a black pearl (as far as I can tell, no such thing exists in the region). The dragon turtle also has a piece of the watrazor...wait a minute...

One with the sahaugin, one in the sunken air filled rooms, one in the hands of Mah'gog, one buried beneath the rocks and one with the dragon turtle. The watrazor was supposed to be in 4 pieces: a spear and 3 extra blades. They can't even keep track of the number of pieces of their own drat artifact. They've got two spear pieces. The sahaughin chief has a spear, and the air-filled chambers also has a spear, both with different functions and stats. This book is such a piece of poo poo.

Well, that is it for Region K and L. After this I'll go back to following level guidelines which conveniently will be Region H, immediately south of L.

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Rockopolis
Dec 21, 2012

I MAKE FUN OF QUEER STORYGAMES BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO WITH MY LIFE THAN MAKE OTHER PEOPLE CRY

I can't understand these kinds of games, and not getting it bugs me almost as much as me being weird


The thing about the demon/devil prison; don't they just respawn on their home plane when killed? If that's the case, a well-designed prison would more effective than simply killing them, because it removes them from the war more permanently than killing them would.
As for it being so poorly designed and understaffed, the celestials can't spare their best and brightest from the front lines? Low-bid contractor? It is a Guantanamo Bay reference?

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