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Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



LatwPIAT posted:

I saw some posts earlier in this thread talking about the horrors of Phoenix Command and Living Steel. Would there be interests in doing a commentary on Phoenix Command and its derivatives? I'm actually quite fond of the system in spite of its major flaws, so I would perhaps not mock it as relentlessly as other people might, but I imagine myself as having a fairly deep understanding of how it actually works and what absolutely hilarious interactions there are in the rules. I could write mockingly about that, at least.

Like how smarter people run faster, or how putting scopes on a rifle will make it more accurate when fired from the hip. Or just how incredibly poorly written some of the rules are.

Or more pointlessly detailed things like how the creators created an incredibly detailed system for modelling firearms ballistics, and then made up numbers because their favourite guns didn't feel right...

Would there be any interest?

Do this. I had never heard the stuff about making up the numbers before, so please enlighten me.

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Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

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


Clapping Larry

LatwPIAT posted:

I saw some posts earlier in this thread talking about the horrors of Phoenix Command and Living Steel. Would there be interests in doing a commentary on Phoenix Command and its derivatives? I'm actually quite fond of the system in spite of its major flaws, so I would perhaps not mock it as relentlessly as other people might, but I imagine myself as having a fairly deep understanding of how it actually works and what absolutely hilarious interactions there are in the rules. I could write mockingly about that, at least.

Like how smarter people run faster, or how putting scopes on a rifle will make it more accurate when fired from the hip. Or just how incredibly poorly written some of the rules are.

Or more pointlessly detailed things like how the creators created an incredibly detailed system for modelling firearms ballistics, and then made up numbers because their favourite guns didn't feel right...

Would there be any interest?

I have run all the LEG games (Phoenix Command, Living Steel, Aliens, and Army of Darkness) I love the games because they have some of the most batshit decisions and staggering amounts of math combined.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

LatwPIAT posted:

I saw some posts earlier in this thread talking about the horrors of Phoenix Command and Living Steel. Would there be interests in doing a commentary on Phoenix Command and its derivatives? I'm actually quite fond of the system in spite of its major flaws, so I would perhaps not mock it as relentlessly as other people might, but I imagine myself as having a fairly deep understanding of how it actually works and what absolutely hilarious interactions there are in the rules. I could write mockingly about that, at least.

Like how smarter people run faster, or how putting scopes on a rifle will make it more accurate when fired from the hip. Or just how incredibly poorly written some of the rules are.

Or more pointlessly detailed things like how the creators created an incredibly detailed system for modelling firearms ballistics, and then made up numbers because their favourite guns didn't feel right...

Would there be any interest?

Share some of the better margin quotes from Living Steel too, they were basically the only good part of the book.

InfiniteJesters
Jan 26, 2012


LatwPIAT posted:

I saw some posts earlier in this thread talking about the horrors of Phoenix Command and Living Steel. Would there be interests in doing a commentary on Phoenix Command and its derivatives? I'm actually quite fond of the system in spite of its major flaws, so I would perhaps not mock it as relentlessly as other people might, but I imagine myself as having a fairly deep understanding of how it actually works and what absolutely hilarious interactions there are in the rules. I could write mockingly about that, at least.

Like how smarter people run faster, or how putting scopes on a rifle will make it more accurate when fired from the hip. Or just how incredibly poorly written some of the rules are.

Or more pointlessly detailed things like how the creators created an incredibly detailed system for modelling firearms ballistics, and then made up numbers because their favourite guns didn't feel right...

Would there be any interest?

Totally interested in this just to see you dissect the Aliens RPG. :allears:

Covok
May 27, 2013

Yet where is that woman now? Tell me, in what heave does she reside? None of them. Because no God bothered to listen or care. If that is what you think it means to be a God, then you and all your teachings are welcome to do as that poor women did. And vanish from these realms forever.


InfiniteJesters posted:

Totally interested in this just to see you dissect the Aliens RPG. :allears:

As a humongous Aliens fanboy, I second this.

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


I'd also be interested.

Hulk Smash!
Jul 14, 2004



unseenlibrarian posted:

Share some of the better margin quotes from Living Steel too, they were basically the only good part of the book.

Yes, please! They range from the hilariously bad to the trying way too hard to be tough and gritty.

TombsGrave
Feb 15, 2008



I've always wanted to see somebody actually dig into Phoenix Command and its ilk. It was real infamous back on RPG.net but I'd only heard hear-say and rumor about what it was like.

Also, one of these days I should finally get back onto the Call of Cthulhu review train. Moving, getting a new job, and all sorts of real-life adventures and such got in the way. (Also a lengthy and highly successful Trail of Cthulhu game still in progress.)

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


TombsGrave posted:

I've always wanted to see somebody actually dig into Phoenix Command and its ilk.

The hit location rules are amazing. The spergthirst is unquenchable.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



I actually played in a "campaign" of the Aliens RPG.

It was about as bad as you'd expect.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

I presume you shot an alien, then you shot another alien, then an alien killed you? And there was a lot of looking up rules involved in this process?

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse: Part One: "We proudly present untraditional "Palladium" versions of mythological beings you only thought you knew about.”

Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse posted:

Warning!
Violence and the Supernatural

Huh? Yes please, I’ll have some. :haw:

Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse posted:

This book may be inappropriate for young readers.

Pantheons of the Megaverse is inspired by the mythological tales of ancient gods, terrible monsters, magic and heroes. None of the portrayal of these mythological character are historically accurate. These fictional characters are not meant to represent modern religions of beliefs.

This book is filled with fictional gods, demigods, heroes, supernatural monsters, magic, insanity, and violence. Other- dimensional beings, often referred to as "demons", torment, stalk, and prey on humans. Champions of Light battle the Forces of Darkness in the eternal battle of good verses evil.

Pantheons of the Megaverse is a work of fiction! The "demons," magic and monsters are not real. None of us at Palladium Books condone or encourage the occult, the practice of magic, the use of drugs, or violence.

Some parents may find find the violence and supernatural elements of the game inappropriate for young readers/players. We suggest parental discretion.

Typos are reproduced faithfully, as ever.

Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse posted:

Alex "Editing God" Marciniszyn

I think Alex's only talent as an editor is making sure "Marciniszyn" is spelled right. Also, being Siembieda's close friend and resident brown-noser. In any case, let's look at the cover.



Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse posted:

The cover painting is John Zelenik's vision of one possible Thor in the world of Rifts; complete with bionic augmentation and mystic hammer aglow with energy. Remember, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Translation from Siembiedaese: that rad Thor on in the cover? Not in the book. Why not? Undoubtedly some spergy Riftsian nonsense about gods not having cybernetic bits and bobs. However, we won't have an overdose of Siembieda in this particular tome, since this is the Palladium debut of...

Carlos J. Martijena-Carella

... better known as CJ Carella. Now, this isn't CJ's first RPG book; at the time this was published, he had done work for Steve Jackson Games' GURPS, namely GURPS Imperial Rome and GURPS Martial Arts. What's more, during the three years he works for Palladium, he will become their most prolific writer, writing or contributing to eleven books in three years for Palladium, nine of which would be for the Rifts line. During his employment with Palladium, CJ will be the biggest influence on the Rifts line until the release of his last Rifts book, World Book 10: Juicer Uprising. CJ Carella isn't the only newcomer; Vince Martin also makes his debut doing some of the Greek Gods. Otherwise, this book is a cross-section of Rifts artists at the time.

Some Words From the Author

In any case, CJ Carella points out that mythology is the basis for a lot of nerdy things - RPGs included - and so he sees a book like this as full circle. He also points out that it's intended to work with all Palladium games, not just Rifts... but all the setting assumptions are steeped in Rifts, so YMMV. The "twist" is that they're going to offer several different versions of some pantheons or gods, so players won't know if the gods they run into are good, bad, or fake. He also emphasizes that the gods are different takes than classical mythology, and that he's interpreted them as interacting with each other (crossover mythfic), and tried to make them fresh rather than worry about being too traditional.

This is troublingly reasonable. Where's the other shoe?

Comment from Siembieda

*clunk*

Oh, there it is.

Siembieda reminds us that these gods aren't "the same old rehash of dusty old gods", but advises us not just to limit ourselves to the gods in this book, but to read mythology and come up with our own. He goes on about how great it's gonna be in typical Siembieda-does-Stan-Lee fashion.

Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse posted:

I can also assure you that we have C.J. chained in a dimensional time hole working on a bunch of other books to be released this year (boy, is this guy creative!).

:ohdear:

Edit: Now that I’m done writing this thing, I’m just going to say up front, this may not be the worst Rifts book I’ve done so far (Rifts World Book Four: Africa is still stiff competition), but it definitively been the worst to write up, and taken occamsnailfile and I about four months to see from start to finish, because it was pure unrelenting misery to trudge through. Siembieda will not save this book. Carella will not save this book. In fact, it will not be saved.

Next: What does God need with a sourcebook?

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 17:23 on Mar 31, 2014

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Yes! Pantheons of the Megaverse is my favorite of the "what the poo poo" brand of Rifts books. Hundred-handed one giants aren't suitable for PC status because they roll 3D6X10,000 for their MDC calculation. Okay, that seems reasonable. "But they could be suitable, if they accidentally drank a magic potion that reduced that number by half!" Oh, thanks! Thanks for that. I can't wait for my Kittani Operator to hang around with a guy that has, on average, 55,000 MDC. Other than that insanity, I don't want to spoil a thing, so I'm gonna shut up before I start talking about how insane the priest class is.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


It's amazing that godlings get so much hate given some of the other classes in this book. Are godlings overpowered? Well, yeah. Are they the most overpowered class in this book?

The fact that I'm asking that question at all should be a clear hint as to what the answer might be.

Mutant Headcrab
May 14, 2007


Halloween Jack posted:

I presume you shot an alien, then you shot another alien, then an alien killed you? And there was a lot of looking up rules involved in this process?

From what I understand, the aliens take the back seat in that book. The primary antagonists it sets up for are other human forces. Space communists and what-not, I think.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Mutant Headcrab posted:

From what I understand, the aliens take the back seat in that book. The primary antagonists it sets up for are other human forces. Space communists and what-not, I think.

There's also other aliens other than the Giger Xenomorphs, since you can have a bughunting campaign without encountering the Xenos from the film series.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?



The Phoenix Command Small Arms Combat System, or "PCCS" for short, is... not actually a role-playing game. It's a tabletop miniatures wargame for modern squad-level firearms combat. However, it mentions that it could be used together with an RPG if you want Realism!, so I'll talk about it here anyway. Especially since RPG players tend to talk about it in hushed voices and parade it around as an example of realism gone too far.

When people talk about the horrors that are PCCS, then tend to talk about things like this:

(Image not by me)

Tables. Tables. Oh so many tables. (The tables are far from the worst part of the game.)

Chapter 1: The Character

Chapter 1.2 tells you that your character has five characteristics; Strength, Intelligence, Will, Health, and Agility. Chapter 1.3 tells you that your character has six characteristics; the five aforementioned and Gun Combat Skill Level (GCSL). Editing is not really one of PCCS' strong points.

So, what are our characteristics?

Strength (STR): Your physical strength. The game mentions that high strength makes you capable of lifting more. It fails to tell you that high strength makes you move faster.
Intelligence (INT): Your mental dexterity. The game mentions that Intelligence makes you better at combat by making you faster.
Will (WIL): Your resolve and willpower. The game mentions that Will makes you hurt less and be less scared when the bullets start flying.
Health (HLT): Your "physical health". The game mentions that it helps you recover from wounds. It doesn't actually have any other effects related to how healthy you are...
Agility (AGL): "Physical coordination and speed." While it's true that Agility makes you move faster, in the core PCCS, coordination doesn't really matter that much.
Gun Combat Skill Level (GCSL): Your "ability". What the game fails to mention is what GCSL actually does. Like, at all. I guess we can infer that it makes you shoot better, but GCSL isn't actually explained anywhere.

In short:
STR: Move faster and lift more
INT: Move faster (Usain Bolt: Supergenius!)
WIL: Get knocked unconscious less
HLT: Get knocked unconscious less and die slightly slower
AGL: Move faster
GCSL: Move faster, shoot better, and get knocked unconscious less

As you can see, there's a certain level of redundancy here. Which would perhaps be fine, were it not for the fact that some characteristics do the exact same thing, like INT and AGL. All characteristics are generated by rolling 3d6, except for GCSL, which is arbitrarily set by the GM. The game says that 10 in a characteristic is "average", which is somewhat amusing since the average of 3d6 is 10.5. It also helpfully tells us that 12 in a characteristic is "Above Average", as if that didn't actually follow from the definition of what an "average" is.

Then comes calculating all the derived characteristics! Oh boy! I hope you like multiplication. And looking up stuff in tables!

"How do you expect me to fight with this helmet on? And this ammo weighs a ton!" - Humbert NoDose

First we have to total up the weight of all the stuff our character is carrying, in pounds. This is a bit difficult since we haven't been told how gear works just yet. Then we have to cross-index our Encumbrance and our Strength on Table 1A (table-count: 1) to find our "Base Speed". The characteristic Base Speed is never used for anything in the actual game. For some reason, Table 1A has STR values from 1 to 21, despite a PCCS character being unable to have a STR lower than 3 or higher than 18. (It is useful if you're using PCCS with another system though.)

Then we cross-index our Base Speed and our Agility on Table 1B (table-count: 2) to find out "Maximum Speed". The characteristics Maximum Speed is also never used for anything in the actual game. In a different PCCS-based game there's a rule that says you can't move faster than your Maximum Speed per 2-second combat turn, but this is not actually a rule in PCCS, for some odd reason. The range of AGLs is 1 to 21, despite your character's AGL being the result of 3d6.

Then we look up our Gun Combat Skill Level in Table 1C (*ding!*) to find out Skill Accuracy Level (SAL). You can tell this is an 80's game by how everything is abbreviated. SAL is basically just GCSL+6, so one has to wonder a bit why PCCS bothers to have the two be separate in the first place.

"Blam. Blam. 'Stop.' Blam. 'Police.' Blam." - Officer Axly. (Axly will appear many times in the PCCS games, almost always as an example of what not to do.)

Then we have to figure out our Intelligence Skill Factor (ISF), which is GCSL+INT. We were thankfully saved having to use a table for this.

Then comes figuring out our actual number of combat actions. A cookie to everyone who figured out that this would require cross-referencing values in a table before I said so. You have to cross-reference you ISF and your Maximum Speed in Table 1D (*ding!*) to find your number of Combat Actions per combat turn. Table 1D doesn't have the complete range of Intelligence Skill Factors though, and doesn't say whether we should round up or down when indexing. Each combat turn (called a "phase") is two seconds long, and divided into four half-second turns called "impulses". To figure out how many combat turns we have per in each of the four impulses, we have to index our Combat Actions in Table 1E (*ding*) Table 1D maxes out at 24 Combat Actions, but Table 1E just goes to 21, so what happens when you have 22 Combat Actions is not explained.

The last step is figuring out our Knockout Value (KV), which is 0.5*GCSL*WIL. If our Gun Combat Skill Level is 0, our KV is also 0 and our character will have a 1% chance to not get knocked unconscious from papercuts. Guns are everything in the world of PCCS.

"A Bullet in the arm // Does very little harm. // A bullet in the head // Can make your very dead" - Fred the Singing Bandit (sic)

The rest of the chapter contains an explanation of all the stats of your gun, a list of weights for various items, armour values for various kinds of gear, and some pregen characters. Each gun has about 14 characteristics, which is to say, your gun has more than twice the number of characteristics your character has. There's no explanation of what what the different armour types listed actually are. Is "light flexible armour" a bulletproof vest? Broiled leather? A thick jacket? What's the difference between Rigid armour and Medium Rigid armour? Each piece of armour has an armour value listed for its visor, if it has one. For Light Rigid, Rigid and Medium Rigid, the value is 0.8. A footnote helpfully tells me that Light Rigid, Rigid and Medium Rigid armours visors have an armour value of 4.

"If you can't dazzle them with style, riddle them with bullets." - Corley Norris (the motto by which Phoenix Command is written)

Table Count: 5
80's Action Film Dialogue Count: 5
----

As someone who's actually quite fond of Phoenix Command's hyperdetailed firearms rules and hit-location tables, the system is incredibly poorly written. You have numerous characteristics that all factor into each other. Every time you throw a hand grenade, you have to go back to the character generation tables to see if lightening your load has changed your number of Combat Actions, a process that can require cross-indexing four different values in up to four different tables. The tables have huge, sprawling gaps in them with no indication whether to round up or down. At times, a table will simply cut off and offer no explanation what happens if your skill is above the norm. It's poorly written and poorly edited. If you want to use PCCS' for hyper-realistic firearms combat, stay far away from the character generation rules. Use everything else, but not the character generation rules.

LatwPIAT fucked around with this message at 18:18 on Mar 31, 2014

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


It seems a damned if you do-or-don't kind of scenario, because either you have the xenomorphs, and just replay some variation of Aliens. Alternately, you don't, and you end up with the Colonial Marines RPG, which I'm not sure that's something anybody wants? I don't know, maybe there are people that really just wanted to play their very own Wierzbowski.

Hulk Smash!
Jul 14, 2004



quote:

INT: Move faster (Usain Bolt: Supergenius!)
Move faster as in "go from point A to point B faster" or "think on your feet" i.g. Initiative rank? 1st one makes no sense but I could sort of see the 2nd.

My guess is that the book either uses the 1st thing or makes no mention of which one it means. :v:

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Halloween Jack posted:

I presume you shot an alien, then you shot another alien, then an alien killed you? And there was a lot of looking up rules involved in this process?
Not exactly. We also ran them over in the APC and dropped a tacvest stuffed with explosives into a xenomorph nest.

Just as an example of how badly broken the system is, an adult xenomorph jumped full-body onto my power armor, broke through the faceplate with the secondary mouth without slowing down, and hit me square in the face with said secondary mouth and yet did not do enough damage to kill my character.

Mutant Headcrab posted:

From what I understand, the aliens take the back seat in that book. The primary antagonists it sets up for are other human forces. Space communists and what-not, I think.

Young Freud posted:

There's also other aliens other than the Giger Xenomorphs, since you can have a bughunting campaign without encountering the Xenos from the film series.
That's honestly news to me, since all we did was hunt Xenos for four sessions.

Gerund
Sep 12, 2007

He push a man




So you can design a character that throws X grenades during the first round of combat, and then gets X+Y actions because they threw grenades and lightened their total weight?

God, it emulates original Team Fortress combat so well.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Hulk Smash! posted:

Move faster as in "go from point A to point B faster" or "think on your feet" i.g. Initiative rank? 1st one makes no sense but I could sort of see the 2nd.

My guess is that the book either uses the 1st thing or makes no mention of which one it means. :v:

Both. Moving faster also makes you shoot faster, think faster, and act earlier.

Gerund posted:

So you can design a character that throws X grenades during the first round of combat, and then gets X+Y actions because they threw grenades and lightened their total weight?

Throwing a grenade takes 2 CA, so no, you can't. You could make a character that has 17 CA per Phase on the first round of combat, spends 10 of them throwing 5 grenades, and gets a bonus action on his last Impulse, and has 20 CA per Phase afterwards.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I'm still bitter that the Valkyrie got saddled with an XP progression so absurd, I'm pretty sure it was slower than the Godling.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Hulk Smash! posted:

Move faster as in "go from point A to point B faster" or "think on your feet" i.g. Initiative rank? 1st one makes no sense but I could sort of see the 2nd.

My guess is that the book either uses the 1st thing or makes no mention of which one it means. :v:

He actually mentions why he brings up INT means "Move Faster". He means you get more actions. The tl;dr of it is that your STR vs. Encumbrance determines your Base Speed, then your Base Speed is cross-referenced AGI to determine your Max Speed, which when cross-referenced with the sum of your INT score and SAL/GSCL determines how many actions your character gets. Which, because the way actual movement works, more actions = faster speed since a 2-yard hex takes one Combat Action to move through.

Since you can have 8 CA in a half-second impulse, that means you can move 32m/s. Despite what it says about Max Speed, it really doesn't have an effect on anything, since none of the movement rules ever mention them.

Evil Mastermind posted:

That's honestly news to me, since all we did was hunt Xenos for four sessions.

Yeah, looking through the book now, there's at least two types of indigenous life forms the Colonial Marines or Mercenaries can run across other than Xenos: native Arcturians, who are platypus-insect-bat humanoids with a primitive culture, and Harvesters, which are titanic subterranean armadillos. Since both of them have hive hierarchies, with Queens and Drones and the like, they're pretty much wannabe Xenos.

If you treat the Colonial Marines Technical Manual as a sourcebook, then you have various colonial rebels and other Corporations that rival the USCM. Sorry, there's apparently no Neo-Soviet Cosmospetsnaz equivalent.

Young Freud fucked around with this message at 19:13 on Mar 31, 2014

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


Young Freud posted:

If you treat the Colonial Marines Technical Manual as a sourcebook, then you have various colonial rebels and other Corporations that rival the USCM. Sorry, there's apparently no Neo-Soviet Cosmospetsnaz equivalent.

If you tap Dark Horse, there are also Predators and human/alien hybrids. The USCMC tech manual may also contain references to the marines battling humanoid life forms, but they're kind of vague and may just be referring to colonists.

cis_eraser_420
Feb 28, 2013



Holy poo poo, Phoenix Command. :stare:

I like realism and all and I'm a giant gunsperg but that went past 'reasonably complicated' at light speed. Can't wait to see more of the table insanity.

Question - is there a system better than Cyberpunk 2020's Friday Night Firefight at emulating gun combat? I know Riddle Of Steel did that for melee, but I haven't seen anything better than FNFF for guns yet.

cis_eraser_420 fucked around with this message at 22:36 on Mar 31, 2014

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?




Rulebook 2: Basic Actions

So! Actually playing Tenra Bansho Zero.

Doing something in TBZ pretty much always means you roll a combination of a Skill and an Attribute. Most Skills have a default Attribute they use, but any Skill can be used with any Attribute depending on the circumstances. If you want to put an arrow through someone's skull, that's Marksman and Senses, but if you want to pull an arrow out of a corpse and try to identify where the arrow was made, that's Marksman and Knowledge.

TBZ is a dice pool system, but the interesting thing is that what constitutes a success on a die is variable. When rolling, your Attribute is the size of your dice pool, and your Skill is the target number to roll under. So, in the second above example, if you had a Knowledge of 7 and a Marksman of 4, then you'd roll 7 (six-sided) dice, and every result of 4 or lower would count as a success. The number of required successes to do something varies from 1 (easy) to 6 (almost impossible).

Here that explanation is as a one-page comic!



Opposed rolls are pretty simple - just both roll, and compare successes. In some circumstances (attack rolls), ties have special meanings, but normally you just keep rerolling until someone wins. Have another one-page comic!



Money & Stuff

TBZ doesn't track money. Explicit amounts of money are just window dressing for a scene or conversation. In practice, this works out to be something lke the wealth system from D20 Modern - your Station attribute becomes a representation of whether or not you can afford things.

Equipment can break, but there's no durability system. The only times when an item will break are if it's part of a planned plot thread, or if it's established by the GM in advance of a roll as a possible result of failure. If something breaks, it can't be used until you have a chance to sit down and get it repaired.

Sometimes you get special equipment during the course of a adventure, and using it doesn't cost you anything. However, if you want to keep it past the end of the current act, you'll need to spend Kiai (more on that later) the same as getting it during character creation.

Skills

Skills come in two categories: General and Specialist. If you try to roll a General Skill despite not having it on your character sheet, you roll it at skill rank 1. If you try to roll a Sepcialist skill but don't have it, you automatically fail. Skill ranks vary from 2 to 5, but rank 5 is only available with special scenario-related circumstances, and some skills may require a certain background (i.e. being a Noble).

So, here's a list of every skill and how to use it with most Attributes.

Unarmed Combat: Punching guys in the brain. Default Body.
Body: Attacking and Defending.
Senses: Sizing up an enemy to figure out how badass they are.
Knowledge: Recognizing a combat school in action.
Spirit: Detecting killing intent.
Station: "Demonstrate your martial ability through words or actions," whatever that means.

Wormcharm: Manipulating magical worms (Annelids) implanted in your body. Specialist, default Body.
Body: Melee attacks with annelids.
Agility: Catching wild annelids.
Senses: Finding annelids, annelid ranged attacks (shooting bees at people).
Knowledge: Knowing poo poo about annelids.
Empathy: Caring for annelids.
Station: Knowledge about mushi-tsukai, nests and rank in annelid-user society.

Movement: Moving your body. Default Agility.
Body: Hard endurance run, lifting heavy things.
Agility: Sprinting, falling gracefully.
Station: Riding a horse.

Melee Weapons: Fighting people with swords, spears, axes, whatever's handy. Default Agility.
Agility: Attack and defense with weapons.
Senses: Determining the relative power or skill of a foe.
Knowledge: Weapon esoterica.
Spirit: Detecting killing intent.
Station: Intimidation.

Evasion: Getting out of the way of attacks. Can be used against any kind of attack, but counterattack is not possible. Default Agility.
Agility: Dodging an attack.
Spirit: Detecting the hidden presence of others.
Station: "Demonstrating your power," sometimes the Station uses are super vague.

Stealth: How not to be seen. Default Agility.
Agility: Move silently.
Senses: Detect an ambush.
Spirit: Mask your presence.

Ninjutsu: Ninja magic. Specialist, default Agility. More on that in a future chapter.

Criminal Arts: Picking pockets, picking locks, traps, poisons. Being good at crimes. Specialist, default Agility.
Agility: Pickpocketing, sleight of hand, disabling traps or locks.
Senses: Spotting traps, detecting poisons.
Knowledge: Criminal knowledge, poison lore.
Spirit: Intimidation.
Empathy: Underworld connections.
Station: Social status-based intimidation.

First Aid: Helping people not die. Default Senses.
Senses: Performing first aid, finding medicnal plants.
Knowledge: Herbal lore, doctoral knowledge.

Notice: Spot things. Default Senses.
Senses: The obvious use.
Spirit: Detecting hidden presence.

Marksman: Shoot things and/or people. Default Senses.
Senses: Shooting or throwing something at someone.
Knowledge: Ranged weaponry lore.
Spirit: Detecting an impending ambush.
Station: Intimidation.

Pursuit: Hunting people for fun and/or profit. Default Senses.
Senses: Spotting clues, tracking down prey.
Knowledge: Knowing common runaway/refugee hideouts.
Spirit: Covering your tracks, blending into a crowd. The Assassin's Creed thing.

Forgery: Make convincing fake documents. Specialist, default senses.
Agility: Creating a forgery by hand.
Senses: Engineering and setting traps (For some reason), spotting forgeries.
Knowledge: Forgery lore.
Empathy: Connections in forging circles.
Station: Connections with fences and people who move stolen or forged goods.

Informaton: Knowing a lot of stuff. Default Knowledge.
Knowledge: Knowing things due to personal research.
Station: Knowing things through court connections.

Onmyoujutsu: Taoist summoning magic. Specialist, default Knowledge, more on that later.

Art of War: Knowledge in one of several unique and powerful martial arts. Specialist, default Knowledge, more on that later.

Willpower: Mental and spiritual fortitude. Default Spirit.
Body: Resist torture, endure physical stress.
Senses: Size up a person.
Knowledge: Avoid a con.
Spirit: Resist intimidation or temptation.
Empathy: Resist temptation.
Station: Resist intimidation or temptation by virtue of your status (???).

Resonance: Call upon the power inherent in the earth to perform magical feats. Specialist, default Spirit, oni only.
BODY: Use Dii. More on that later.
Spirit: Use or resist Resonance.
Empathy: Use Alu. More on that later.
Station: Standing in oni shaman circles.

Interface: Use of a Meikyo mirror. Specialist, default Spirit, Priesthood only, more on that later.

Buddhist Magic: Exactly what it says. Specialist, default Spirit, more on that later.

Persuasion: Use dialogue to get what you want. Default Empathy.
Body: Physical blustering.
Agility: Fast-talk, quickly explaining something away.
Senses: Starting rumors.
Knowledge: Discourse, theorizing.
Spirit: Stopping someone in their tracks with a powerful command.
Empathy: Flattery.
Station: Starting or using court rumors.

Pillow Arts: I guess it's not a full RPG book without a seduction skill. Default Empathy.
Senses: Spotting when someone is interested in you.
Knowledge: Knowing who is seeing who.
Spirit: Resisting seduction.
Empathy: Seduction.
Station: Using your political status as weight to seduce someone.

Perform: Music, dance, theater. Specialist, default Empathy.
Body: Dance, taiko drumming.
Agility: Tradtiional dances, biwa, shamisen.
Senses: Acting.
Knowledge: Artistic lore.
Empathy: Singing.
Station: Influence in performance circles.

Etiquette: Knowing how to handle yourself in a high-status situation. Specialist, default Station.
Agility: Ceremonial dance.
Senses: Polite entertainment, caligraphy.
Knowledge: Poetry, tea, tea ceremony.
Empathy: Conversing with nobility, social maneuvering.
Station: Saying and doing the right things.

Shinto: Special skill representing standing within the Priesthood. Specialist, Priesthood only, more on this later.

Art of Rule: Training in how to out-maneuver people in politics and war. Specialist, default Station.
Knowledge: Negotiation, political history.
Empathy: Charisma and leadership.
Station: Court politics, diplomacy.

Strategy: Anticipating and overturning enemy schemes, be it in war or politics. Specialist, default Station.
Knowledge: Knowing the size of an enemy army, military history.
Empathy: Anticipating an enemy's next step.
Station: Crafting strategies, war council machinations.

NEXT: Domains and Regents.

InfiniteJesters
Jan 26, 2012


My version didn't come with those chibi comics. :psyduck:

Was that a higher-tier Kickstarter bonus or something? I backed for $20.

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

There's at least one rules-related comic in each chapter between Basic Rules and Scenario Creation.

1) Make sure you're looking at the rulebook and not the worldbook, and
2) Make sure you're looking at the full rulebook and not the plaintext one. The full one's identical to the print version, has all kinds of cruft and silly header typefaces and so on.

E: to make this post more generally useful.

The guy who did the TBZ rules comics (and a couple of the NPC portraits) calls himself Hayame Rasenjin. He does a lot of illustration for Japanese tabletop games, and is clearly a giant nerd.

This is relevant, because if you played Planescape, you might remember this DiTerlizzi illustration:



Way back in the primitive days of the internet, Tony D held a contest to draw that character. I think the winners got a signed sketchbook or something. Anyway, one of the entries was this:



Which was pretty weird and wild, considering this was when things like Saturday Anime on Sci-fi were novel. Years, years later, I find out it's the same guy who did the illos for TBZ and a few other JTRPGs.

Anime, anime never changes.

grassy gnoll fucked around with this message at 01:13 on Apr 1, 2014

InfiniteJesters
Jan 26, 2012


grassy gnoll posted:

There's at least one rules-related comic in each chapter between Basic Rules and Scenario Creation.

1) Make sure you're looking at the rulebook and not the worldbook, and
2) Make sure you're looking at the full rulebook and not the plaintext one. The full one's identical to the print version, has all kinds of cruft and silly header typefaces and so on.


Oh, NOW I see them. Completely skipped over that section in the full rulebook because the plaintext one had the functional bookmark/contents sidebar. :v:

Siivola
Dec 23, 2012



It's Hayami Rasenjin. In addition to illustrations, the guy also does manga. I've read two series of his: One about military logistics and another about a Russian witch who gets drafted into WWII. The latter is a thinly-veiled excuse to :spergin: over Russian folklore and Soviet technology.

The comics are actually pretty good, and Rasenjin's gotten a lot better at drawing since doing the TBZ comics. If you're into milsperg, be sure to check them out.

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

Halloween Jack posted:

I presume you shot an alien, then you shot another alien, then an alien killed you? And there was a lot of looking up rules involved in this process?

I was in one which was more USCM doing things like hostage rescue on Mars. It was pretty fun. The Aliens RPG system is a much simpler version of the Phoenox Command base rules.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Young Freud posted:

He actually mentions why he brings up INT means "Move Faster". He means you get more actions. The tl;dr of it is that your STR vs. Encumbrance determines your Base Speed, then your Base Speed is cross-referenced AGI to determine your Max Speed, which when cross-referenced with the sum of your INT score and SAL/GSCL determines how many actions your character gets. Which, because the way actual movement works, more actions = faster speed since a 2-yard hex takes one Combat Action to move through.

Since you can have 8 CA in a half-second impulse, that means you can move 32m/s. Despite what it says about Max Speed, it really doesn't have an effect on anything, since none of the movement rules ever mention them.

"she", actually. Also, in basic PCCS you can't get more than 6 actions per impulse, for a running speed of "only" 22 meters per second. That is to say, 80 kmh. Running. At these speeds you can expect to run across a lake and not sink from the sheer force of your feet pushing up from the water. A rather peculiar feature for a game that claims to model extreme realism...



Chapter 2: Basic Game: Movement and Combat

PCCS is played with "Phases" of two seconds each, divided into four half-second "Impulses". The game is played on a hexagonal map where each hex measures two yards across. PCCS uses US Customary Units, despite being written by a NASA engineer who really should know better. I guess he knew how to target his audience of hardcore American gun aficionados who were also into squad-level tabletop wargaming depicting the post-WWII period.

You have a bunch of Combat Actions (CA) and these are used to do stuff. Most things the game is interested in modelling, like shooting guns and moving, have CA values listed. If no value is listed, you multiply the number of seconds it would take the average person by 2. Since people skilled in Gun Combat are faster than the average non-combatant, this means that soldiers read the newspaper and cook gourmet meals faster on average. Nations with conscription, consequently, have much more efficient workers in their industries, which is why the Soviet Union outproduced the US during the Cold War.

Sometimes you can do two things at once, like run and aim at the same time. If you chose to do two things at once, you can double-spend your CA on both actions. Fair enough, but the game should perhaps give some actual guidelines for which actions can be done simultaneously and which can't. The only example given is that you can't aim at two different targets at once, but it'd have been nice to know whether I can throw a grenade at a target while also aiming at it, and if I can triple-spend my CA to also move while doing this.

PCCS uses a system of declare-simultaneously-resolve-afterwards, which is a) realistic, and b) a bookkeeping hassle. It does help here that most characters only have one or two actions per Impulse, so there's little to keep track of, at least. Then, just to make things difficult, players are allowed to change their minds about what actions they took in response to what other people do. The examples given are quite reasonable: "I choose to Aim but my opponent decided to Walk behind a wall, so I change my Aim action to a Fire action to shoot him before he disappears behind the wall" and "I'm being shot at so I decided to go Prone", but there are no limitations on what you can change your mind about, and no rules for handling what happens when people keep changing their minds.

PCCS keeps track of your character's field-of-view. There are no rules that prevent metagaming around this in the wargame, but if you were using this for an RPG, it does provide an opportunity for proper fog-of-war. One pretty cool thing PCCS does is to incorporate tunnel-vision; if you're aiming down the sights of your gun, your field-of-view is halved, so walking around with your gun raised to your eyes like a true SpecOps SWAT Badass Operator lowers your tactical awareness. You can also spend CA to turn your head to look around you in a 360-degree field-of-view to spot enemies.

Rather annoyingly, the rules are unclear on whether looking around ruins your aim bonus or just freezes it.

Shooting stuff: the reason we're all here:

"There is no such thing as excessive violence." - Gill the Treacherous

To shoot something, you have to aim at it. To aim at something, you can either spend 2 CA to raise your gun and look through the sights, or just fire from the hip. Each and every single gun has its own small table (*ding!* x a whole lot) of Aim Time Modifiers; the more CA you spend on aiming, the more accurate your shots will be. Mechanically it means there's a fine granularity between quick-and-inaccurate fire and slow-and-accurate fire, and that different guns give you different capabilities. Heavier guns have higher initial penalties, but aim faster. The longer the distance between the front and rear sights, the longer time you can spend aiming to rack up higher Aim Time Modifiers. (I actually reverse-engineered the relationship between a gun's weight and its Aim Time Modifiers. Without going into a lot of detail, the aim time modifier a at a number of CA of aim t is given by a = x*log(t)+y, where x=b*log(w)+m and y=c*log(w)+p, for the gun's weight w and some constants b, c, m and p.)

Then when you've aimed you add the Aim Time Modifier to your SAL, and cross-index your ATM+SAL and the range to the target in the Odds of Hitting Table (*ding!*) to get a target number between 0 and 99. Then you roll 1d100-1 and try to roll less than or equal to the target number.

This part of the game is actually quite clever. When you fire a gun in real life and in PCCS, your shots will follow a Guassian distribution. It's most likely that your bullets will go straight forward, but it's also fairly likely they'll deviate a little to the either side of "straight forward", and slightly less likely that they'll deviate even more to either side, etc. The probability of hitting your target is the probability that you shot will fall within some distance from of the centre of your aim. The Odds of Hitting Table is basically this Guassian probability distribution made into a table. It actually conforms quite nicely to the probability distribution for hitting of US Army soldiers. Which I know because there are tables of to-hit probabilities at different ranges and skills for US Army soldiers in the US Army Rifle Marksmanship field manual. Which I have studied extensively and compared to PCCS values...

...I really like gun prawn, OK?

Oh, yeah, 1d100-1. PCCS uses the d% convension where double zeros on the dice are read as, simply, "0" rather than "100", giving the dice a range of 0-99. What the game constantly forgets is that this means that, for a target number of X, you have a X+1% chance of succeeding; the game will gleefully tell you that "your target number is 86, so you have an 86% chance to succeed". It's rather amusing how the game employs advanced statistical models in painstaking detail, and then manages to screw up how their own dice system works.

There are also a bunch of other things that can modify how accurate your shots are. There are three different Stances you can be in; Standing, Kneeling and Prone, which give different bonuses to shooting. To find these bonuses, you have to refer to a table (*ding!) that strangely enough contains four different Stances. The difference between firing from the hip and firing with your gun raised are described as two additional Stances, which is pretty drat confusing since your firing Stance can be combined with any of the other Stances; Prone Hip Fire is a thing, as is Kneeling Aimed Fire. As you can see, clear communication was not one of PCCS' strong points. This probably did not help its reputation as incomprehensibly complex.

The last set of modifiers used in the basic game is the size of the target you're shooting at, which depends on its Stance and whether its exposed or just peeking around cover.

And then comes fully automatic fire. Fully automatic fire is awesome. First, you get +1 to hit. Then you shoot normally. Then, based on how far away your target is, you can hit it with several bullets. Which is to say that automatic fire is both more accurate and more deadly than normal fire. Is there ever a reason to not use automatic fire? Not really. You run out of bullets faster, but in the meantime you're a lean, mean, killing machine. Fully Automatic Fire in the PCCS basic game basically works like the US Army thought it would during the Vietnam War, so you're encouraged to get an autofire-capable M16 and lay down a hail of deadly bullets in the general direction of everyone who looks at you wrong.

At short ranges, you can even hit multiple people at once with a single burst. If they're clustered tight enough together, it's possible to hit more people than you fired bullets. Don't ask me how that works.

"Don't thing of it as being outnumbered, thing of it as having a very wide shot selection." - Generalissimo Puerco, President for Life

Getting shot: the reason we're not here:
PCCS Basic Game uses 23 hit locations, ranging from the general "hand" to the more specific "Upper Arm - Bone". When you get shot you roll 1d100-1 to determine when, and then start looking stuff up in tables. First you have to compare the gun's PENetration with the Protection Factor (PF) of your armour in Table 3B (*ding!*). If the PEN of the gun is higher than your PF, the bullet actually penetrates. If the PEN is much higher than the PF, you might actually hit well enough to do some damage. Penetration is divided into four categories. Simply penetrating has a 10% chance of doing Low Velocity Damage, and a 90% chance of glancing off the armour. The second category of penetration has a 40% chance of doing Low Velocity Damage, and a 60% chance of glancing off the armour. With the fourth category, we have an actual 70% chance of dealing Over Penetration Damage, and a 30% chance of dealing Low Velocity Damage.

Table 3B doesn't say what happens if you have less than 2 PF as your armour. This would have been useful to know, since pistols have 2 PF and hence can't penetrate anything actually on the table. The rules also fail to mention whether to round up or down. Given that the backbone of the US Army, the M16, does not have PEN actually on the table, this can get rather awkward rather quick.

If we get hit with Low Velocity Damage, we're pretty lucky. Hits to the Forehead, Eye - Nose region and Heart will kill us very dead in less than three minutes. Hits everywhere else will take at least four hours to kill us, which means we'll probably have time to get to a hospital (which reduces our chances of dying drastically). If we get hit with Over Penetrating Damage, we have to cross-index (*ding!*) the weapon's Damage Class (DC) and the hit location to determine how much damage we take. The tables for Low Velocity Damage and DC 2 or less are identical and also right next to each other. A bit superfluous, that...

The actual amount of damage we take from being shot is modified by our HLT. The Physical Damage (PD) of a wound is PD = 10/HLT*damage. I like to imagine that everyone has HLT 13, so you have to divide by a prime number every time you someone gets shot. Quick, what's 210 divided by 13?

When we've determined the amount of damage we actually take, we can roll to see if we get knocked unconscious. We compare the sum of all damage we've taken so far with our Knockout Value. If our damage total is over 10% of our KV, we might get knocked unconscious. If our damage total is several times higher than our KV, it's very likely that we'll get knocked unconscious. The average soldier has a KV of about 20. The maximum possible KV is 180. Rather simply, the average soldier has a 11% chance of being knocked unconscious by anything that isn't a low-velocity glance. The most badass soldier we can imagine will have a 10% chance of getting knocked unconscious by everything that isn't a low-velocity arm or leg hit. Over Penetrating Damage is even worse; the average soldier has a 99% chance of being knocked unconscious by the average pistol round unless it glances or hits an arm.



"Who says Russian roulette isn't an acceptable way to rally a broken man?" - Lieutenant Axly

Death!
The more damage we've taken, the faster we die and the longer we take to heal. Table 8A (*ding!*) helpfully tells us how small our chances of survival are. We look up the amount of damage we've taken, and that tells us a) how long until we have to roll to see if we survive, and b) what we have to roll under. This ranges from 79 hours with a 95% chance of survival (5 damage), to 11 hours with a 13% chance of survival (200 damage), to 5 minutes and a 1% chance of survival (800 damage), to 4 minutes and a 0% chance of survival (900 damage). The low probabilities are a bit hard to roll under (especially the 0% chances), so if we can get someone to apply first aid to our dying character, the time interval and survival chance will go up. Going to an Aid Station will further increase our chances, as will going to a Field Hospital or the Trauma Centre of a modern hospital. When your time is up, you roll the dice. If you fail, you die. If you succeed, you survive.

This means that when your five minutes of furious bleeding are up, you have a 1% chance of never being able to die from that wound. Presumably the bleeding just stops or something.

Table 8A goes all the way to 100,000 damage, though one might wonder why. At 100k damage, you have a 0% chance of survival after 2 seconds. First Aid can extend this to a whole twelve seconds. How your fellow soldiers are supposed to drag you to an Aid Station in less than 12 seconds is simply not explained, not is it explained how you're supposed to get from an Aid Station to a Field Hospital in less than two minutes, or what kind of helicopter service can get you from a Field Hospital to a Trauma Centre in less than ten minutes. At less than 20k damage, you could reason that a SWAT team making an insertion would have an Aid Station ready at their van, and an ambulance ready to bring wounded to the nearest Trauma Centre at the ready, but anything greater than 20k damage really falls in the category of "certain death".

Overall, I actually quite like the design idea behind this part of the system. Instead of hit points, you have a survival chance and bleed-out-time based on how badly damaged you are, and healing/survival comes down to administering first aid and rushing you to a hospital before you die from your wounds. It's a great idea, but is somewhat marred by a) coming packed in a parcel with all the other sub-par parts of PCCS, and b) just how mercilessly deadly PCCS is. Having someone get shot in the leg and having to desperately rush them to a hospital in the back of a beat-up sedan while a guy who failed medical school tries to administer first aid is great drama. Having someone bleed out and die from a chest wound before you've even got the bandage out of your pocket perhaps less so.

Table Count: 13 (+8)
80's Action Film Dialogue Count: 10 (+5)

----

The firearms handling and wound handling are the two things I really like about PCCS; at their core, they're both decent and highly realistic systems for dealing with in-fight and terminal ballistics. The problem is that PCCS consistently chooses the worst possible way to represent damage. Damage really should be measured on a log scale rather than a linear scale, since that would get rid of all the multiplication. The to-hit chances for firearms are realistic and really just require one master table and a few tables of modifiers (not exactly unusual in RPGs), but are marred by the fact they're stapled to the Stygian weirdness that is PCCS character generation. One of my homebrew projects at the time is actually a system that uses the ballistics-systems from PCCS, cleans them up, and attaches them to what will hopefully be a slightly more sensible chargen system.

...I've also written a PCCS retroclone that converts damage to a log-scale and explains the rules a little better. Because I love gun prawn. >_>

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!






VOX part 2: Hearing Voices

So far, we haven't actually gotten much info on Voices. To some degree, this will continue but here's the actual relevant chapter.

Voices

The first thing we're told is that a Voice, despite the name, is not limited to audible words. A Voice might have no language and just communicate via growls, beeps, morse code, etc. Alternatively it could involve visions, images or text, or even just a feeling or urge.

Voice Qualities

As mentioned in character creation, Voices have their own Qualities. They cannot have purely physical Qualities (like Strong or Handsome), and while they might have knowledge of physical skills (Gymnastics, Swordfighting, etc) they cannot use these Qualities unless they're in control of your Persona.

No matter what, a Voice can only act in the physical world through the medium of the Persona's body. They can control some things that are normally instinctual or unconscious (glandular function, heartbeat, etc), but not beyond the level of something like hypnosis or biofeedback.

If the Persona and Voice are cooperating, it is possible to add your Qualities to those of your Voice for a roll total. Working together with your Voice makes you much stronger.

Voice Types

Next we have a list of various Voice Types. Despite the amount of space devoted to this section, these Types have no mechanical effect, they're simply a list of possible ways your character might interpret their Voices. Keep in mind that all of these are your character's interpretation of the Voices, there is no implication that any of them are remotely factual.

Each type comes with a few suggested Qualities for your Persona related to your Voice. These aren't "special" or unique qualities, just thematic suggestions. However, most are irritatingly vague and since your Voice cannot grant any specific or explicit supernatural or unnatural abilities they're usually more or less just different forms of GM fiat as to when they will or won't work.

For example, one of the example Qualities for Vox Equus is "The Man With the Hex" which states:

quote:

Maybe it's real magic, maybe it's the power of suggestion, or maybe it's just paranoia and superstition, but if your target is aware of you and your intent then you can put a hex on him that will cause him nothing but misfortune in the future.

Vox Alius Your voice is an alien being, some kind of signal, telepathy, or transmission from space.

Vox Angelus The voice of angels or heavenly beings. Guardian angels specifically, but really any kind of heavenly messenger.

Vox Animus Messages from your spirit animal.

Vox Apparatus Communications from electronics, usually TV or computers.

Vox Bestia Talking animals, different from Animus in that it's communication from actual, physical animals.

Vox Custos Basically this is you tapping into "big brother", listening in on the secrets and transmissions from the people controlling the world.

Vox Dei The voice of god(s). Wannabe prophets.

Vox Equus This one's pretty specific and seems to be referencing Vodoun beliefs as far as I can tell. it's one of the more confusing Types.

Vox Fata Basically getting visions or glimpses of the future or sending the flow of fate.

Vox Imago Speaking with your own reflection.

Vox Madidus Another very specific voice. This is the imaginary friend who only shows up when you're drunk, or more generally I suppose any kind of Voice related to drinking.

Vox Musum A muse or voice of inspiration.

Vox Natura This is communication through natural forces such as sunlight, wind or rain.

Vox Pecunia Money talking to you.

Vox Phasma These are ghosts talking to you.

Vox Susurrus whispers, basically noises in quiet places or in the murmur of a crowd.

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

Voice Mechanics

Here we get some info on how your Voice actually interacts with you. It's made clear that the Voice is not a constant presence and will only speak up on its own at times of importance.

Most of the time the Persona is in control of themselves and the Voice rides shotgun, occasionally piping up to offer some kind of advice or commentary.

So long as you've got the time to "chat" with your Voice you and the Voice can cooperate and pool your Qualities. But this is just the same as receiving advice from someone in the room, it's probably not going to be fast enough for split second reactions. A voice with the Good [+2] Marksman skill might be able to help you line up a shot and correct for errors if you're firing a gun from a rooftop at night, but he can't really help in a firefight.

Essentially using a Voice's Qualities takes at least one round in a Conflict spent only conversing with the Voice. The exception is if you're combining your Defining Quality with one of your Voice's and you spend a Karma Die. So someone with the Defining Quality Good [+2] Violent and a Voice with the Quality Good [+2] Boxing, could (by spending a Karma Die) immediately make use of that quality in a fight to hit someone by channeling the Voice.

The Voice can attempt to take over the Persona via Metanoia checks, this can happen when the Persona is forced to Zero Out a Quality or is rendered Mostly Dead.

The player may decide to initiate a Metanoia challenge, hoping to lose, to "channel" his Voice in order to let them take over and use their Qualities.

When a Voice is controlling the Persona, all of the Persona's Qualities are inaccessible except for their Defining Quality (although they can still absorb damage). However, as the Persona is now a Voice they can use their Qualities to assist in the same way that a Voice would.

transitioning is always traumatic and obvious, unless the player spends a Spirit die.

Normally only one Metanoia Challenge can happen in a Scene, to initiate a new Challenge after the first costs a Karma Die. At the end of the Scene control returns to the Persona.

Controlling Voices

The player should not control his Persona's Voice, instead it is controlled by the GM or other players. Everyone may just have the person to their left control their Voice, it could be random, or it could be controlled entirely by the GM.

Multiple Voices

Everyone starts with a single Voice, but apparently most Persona will eventually develop additional Voices. However, searching through both sections I cannot for the life of me find any rules covering how one gets additional Voices or why. This section presents two options that seem to be related to multiple voices but actually don't really have anything to do with them:

Fugue This is where a Voice takes over the body permanently. Basically when a Metanioa event is failed and the situation is so traumatic that the Persona cannot regain control (this usually happens after the Persona is reduced to Mostly Dead). In this case the Voice effectively becomes the Persona under control of the player and the Persona becomes a Voice under the control of the GM and other players. It's not made clear what happens to the Persona's Qualities, especially Qualities that might represent relationships, appearance, physical traits and so on. The text states that in order for a Fugue to occur, the Persona must have multiple Voices but it's not really clear why this is since only one Voice is actually involved.

Harmony This is where two Personae both hear the same Voice, so kind of the reverse of multiple Voices. It also doesn't address the fact that this moves the game from "reality vs insanity" to a straight up, blatantly supernatural game although it does mention that this is only available at the GM's discretion.

Making the Voices Stop

There are two ways to get rid of a Voice, should you want to.

Purge this is basically an exorcism. First the Voice must be in control of the body, meaning a Metanioa check will likely be forced until the Persona fails and the Voice takes control. Then the Voice must be engaged in a Conflict to inflict Failure Ranks. This could be psychological counseling or just straight up torture. Once the Voice is Zeroed Out it can be Coup de Graced just like a Zeroed Out person, effectively "killing" the Voice. If the Persona wishes they can use their Qualities to aid either the exorcism or the Voice in the Conflict.

Merge rather than erasing a Voice this is basically integrating a Voice with the Personae. There are no real rules for this and it's basically up to the GM when the Personae has fully realized what the Voice represents and its nature. The Persona immediately gains a new Quality at Average [0] based on the Voices highest Quality.

Surge this is only loosely defined but apparently an extremely important Purge or Merge of a voice can lead to a "breakthrough", giving the PC new Qualities. This will apparently be addressed more significantly in the Nox chapter.

Role-playing Voices

This is just some notes regarding how Players should roleplay the Voices of other Persona. It mostly amounts to a fair amount of gabbing over how Vox doesn't restrict you when you want to do things that are "out of character" or addressing other common "table problems" (such as absent or idle players, etc).

Damned Lies

Here the author waxes philosophical on Jungian philosophy and the nature of truth. I've got to say, it's not a bad game but drat can the constant digressions on the nature of truth, reality and the self become kind of mind-numbing.

Basically this section works on the assumption that when you roleplay a Voice you'll often by lying or telling contradictory truths. Of course, it's kind of a hard thing to wrap your head around. After all, while the DM may or may not provide truth or lies when roleplaying a Voice, your fellow players don't know anything more than you do...so why ask them (via your Voice) for advice, beyond that provided through Qualities? It just seems to be an odd assumption that the Voice will be telling lies, and that you the player might be in a situation where you'd believe them. Of course, over all the relationship between Persona, Voice and player is still a little vague as we have no real setting yet to provide them context or understand what your goals are and what Voices are (the Voice Types provided in the previous sections are often contradicted by the nature of the Voice rules, meaning they're clearly not "real").

It does state flat-out that a Voice will never attempt to force the Persona to suicidal actions. They're dependent on the Persona and destroying them will also destroy themselves (another bit of evidence showing that most of the Voice Types aren't "true").

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

Personality

This chapter is basically a short essay on the Myers-Briggs personality types. The game apparently includes its own terms for each of the dichotomies, for instance a Thinker is an eMpath, a Feeler is a sYmpath (and yes, the capitalization is from the book), an extrovert is a Cenobite and an introvert is an eRemite. When you need to include random capitalization in order to avoid repeating letters in your acronym and you're already replacing existing terms you might want to just step away from the thesaurus.

We're then given archetypes for certain personality combos. For instance "Doer Kritarchs" (ie, people who are both Sensing and Judging) are referred to as Wardens, with four subtypes based on the other two personality components: Watchmen (DYKC or ESFJ), Commissioner (DMKC or ESTJ), Bodyguard (DYKR or ISFJ) and Gumshoe (DMKR or ISTJ).

I suppose I could see these as being useful "shortcuts" for Voices, since each voice will be swapped from player to player...but considering this is a game for experienced gamers, I'd bet most of the time it would be easier to simply list a few personality descriptors rather than forcing everyone to figure out what you mean when you say your voice is a Gumshoe personality type.


That's it for the Lux section, and we're officially out of the player portion of the book.

Next we flip the book over and go to the Nox section, maybe we'll get some idea of what's going on (hint, we won't).

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse: Part Two: "... the beautiful may be evil incarnate and the monstrous may possess the soul of an angel."

Defining Gods

What Are Deities?

There are vagaries here, but not much actual definition. Humanity once tried to explain mysteries by saying a god did them! But what if they were superhuman aliens from other dimensions?! What then, Einstein?! What then, Brainiac?!


This Thor and the Thor on the cover look nothing like the Thor shown later. Too many Thors!

Some General Types of Gods

It turns out there's more than one kind of god! As in gods! Plural!
  • Supreme Beings: These are your unstoppable, immutable, statless kind of gods. They aren't detailed in the book, and it recommends you use them very, very sparingly if at all. Not sure why this is brought up, because Rifts doesn’t seem to have anything like these.
  • Gods: These are the thousands of M.D.C. sort of supernatural forces we saw back in World Book One: Vampire Kingdoms, World Book Three: England, and World Book Four: Africa. They can be beat by exceptional mortals, it says (this is not really true), but for the most part it takes a god to face up against a god. It also notes that slain gods may only be dispelled, but leaves that up to the GM. In addition, most gods need a certain # of worshippers to manifest on a given world, or to manifest at full strength.
  • Godlings: These are the subgods, the barely-theres and minion deities. They're still mighty, but generally don't have an area of dominion like proper gods, and are the sort of gods that might actually be a PC if the GM allows.
  • Demigods: Some gods have sex with mortals and have kids wait stop Siembieda sperg break-

    Rifts Conversion Book 2: Pantheons of the Megaverse posted:

    Note that in the Palladium Megaverse, most supernatural entities CANNOT breed with humans or members of any different species. Gods can do it by temporarily assuming a mortal (through super-powerful) form which should be considered one of the gods' special supernatural powers.

    :jerkbag:

    This “power” is never seen or referred to again, it’s just Siembieda being all spergy. Anyway, demigods get to have special powers like superheroes. Also deities are always trying to gently caress with them. This isn't to be confused with mortal creatures that build cults, who are just posers.
Minions of the Gods

Gods have minions. They can be way powerful or completely unpowerful. They can be evil or good. They can be pretty or ugly. Nothing meaningful is said here.

The Pantheons of Light & Darkness

One is good! One is bad! I'll let you work out which is which. Apparently nearly every pantheon breaks down into goodies and baddies, though there are still some grey areas like honorable evil warriors and apathetic nice folk. Someday there will be a huge apocalypse though and everybody will have to choose a side, just like with abortion.

Alien Intelligences

These are malevolent, inhuman bad things filled with tentacles and eyes. We've already seen a number of them in Rifts, like the vampire intelligences from Rifts World Book One: Vampire Kingdoms, or the spluggies from Rifts World Book Two: Atlantis. Which always throws me for a loop, because the splugorth always seem to have pretty down-to-Earth (for tremendous tentacle monsters) and understandable motivations, so they aren't quite Lovecraftian. In any case, sometimes they get mistaken for gods, or fake their way into the god biz.

Others

There have been a lot of godly fakers, of which dragons are the most notable, but some are big deals and some are big bluffs. In any case, there are a number of imitation pantheons, and we'll get to see some of them later.

Gods in Your Campaign

It notes gods are big deals, and shouldn't be used lightly! We get some ideas on how to use gods!
  • They could be patrons or archenemies of a party or PC, maybe acting through minions or a cult.
  • You could run into some gods, probably in disguise, perhaps to drop a clue, test the party’s ethics, or just gently caress with the party.
  • Maybe they send a vision or an omen. "For instance, the party is about to enter a cavern. As they approach they see the dead body of a raven. Maybe it means nothing." Look, I'm pro at this omen business. It means ravens beware. It means ravens are in danger. Nothin' to it, see? Ravens watch the gently caress out.
  • Maybe some gods are getting down and dirty and having a fight, or getting involved in a war, or maybe trying to stop a war, whatever.
  • "Supernatural intervention can be a means to curb hack-and-slashers." So yeah, you want to punish a player, apparently you have the next person they pick on turn out to be a god and give them a supernatural wedgie. That's certainly one way to show a player!... in a manipulative, passive-aggressive way. It mentions you shouldn’t do it too much, but- look we get a half page of this nonsense. It says punishments should be played for humor but I that's a nice way of saying "make it humiliating”. Oh, and if the player doesn't play along and take their medicine, it suggests the possibility of having the god kill them. :stonk:

Battles Between Gods

Gods usually don't rumble with each other, because it's too risky and leaves them too weak. It also makes a lot of enemies who seek revenge. "G.M. Note: Revenge can be a great springboard for adventures and villains. Use it." Because we wouldn’t want to have the PCs get away with the temerity of defeating villains, amirite? Also when gods fight it weakens reality, and we get some percentage chances of rifts busting open when deities duel.

Choosing Pantheons

This notes that some of the gods have several different writeups, so GMs can:
  • Just select one pantheon to be the only one.
  • Say different pantheons are prominent on different worlds.
  • Or have different versions coexisting or competing on the same world.
Plots and Conspiracies

It notes that many gods have plot hooks, but only to focus on a few that fit your campaign, or that can be used as subplots or the like.

Some Other Observations About Gods & Role-Playing

Quite the section header, that.

Quickie Mega-Damage Conversions to S.D.C.

It notes that if you decide to use these in other Palladium games other than Rifts, then you might need to just convert the M.D.C. of gods to S.D.C. on a one for one basis, or if you're playing Palladium Fantasy, discard S.D.C. and just use their hit points. It's a simplified version of the conversion from the original Rifts Conversion Book, save for the fact that Conversion Book would actually reduce it by around 50%. Consistency is for other games, perfectionists!

Notes on Gods & Magic

It notes that gods can break the rules and have multiple styles of magic, or bigger bonuses than their skills and level would provide. It doesn’t mention that gods also often have classes that don’t exist in the game or at levels that aren’t detailed in the game. They can also regulate their magic to have weaker effects than their level would indicate, in case they don't want to just toast mortals entirely.

Magic Items & Treasure

It notes that gods may have way bigger stashes than their equipment indicates, depending on their personality. Some may bestow items on mortals, but generally in return for service and favors. Or maybe they'll grant it after a quest. Or they might send mortals to get items for them. And if you bug a god for too much, maybe they're just kill you, since apparently they give no fucks. It reiterates that if you bug gods, they may choose to make your entrails into a jump rope. Fiiine we get the point. Show us on the miniature where the players harassed you, Siembieda. :(

Using Pantheons in Other Palladium Games

Like:
  • Heroes Unlimited: Of course, Thor from this game would pretty much quash all the villains forever. But it notes that superheroes could fight alien intelligences or gods, or you could have godlings or the like as PCs.
  • Beyond the Supernatural: It notes you can use the scarier gods as they form cults or bust loose of their ancient god San Quentin or have covert shadow wars, etc.
  • Robotech and Macross II: Seriously? Okay, maybe Athena goes and punches a Zentraedi or the Robotech Masters team up with Space Lilith, etc.
  • The Mechanoids: The Mechanoids want to kill the gods (two legs bad, remember?) so maybe the gods go to war with them. Not sure how the PCs could affect a conflict like that?
  • The Palladium RPG: Maybe new gods from the book show up and cause a ruckus, or evil gods try and awaken the Old Ones, because that's a super-good idea, open the ark, stare directly into the light. Best plan ever.
It also notes out of nowhere that the GM can say no to godling or demigod characters (not detailed yet) because they can ruin a campaign. If that's so, why are they available as PCs? This whole push-pull attitude bugs the poo poo out of me. The whole “you can deign to let players have this stuff” is a weasel way to get around having to balance character classes or design poo poo well.

Next: Play a pawn of the gods or a god of pawns! It's a Megaverse of choice!

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 15:28 on Apr 1, 2014

Lichtenstein
May 31, 2012

It'll make sense, eventually.


This Phoenix Command stuff is sort of impressive in its own crazy way.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



Would it be spoilery of me to point out that Leading Edge Games also put out an RPG based on the "Lawnmower Man" movie, and said game was "fully compatable" with Aliens and Living Steel?

hectorgrey
Oct 14, 2011


I get the feeling that that bit of Phoenix Command would make for an awesome Jagged Alliance type of computer game.

Davin Valkri
Apr 8, 2011

Maybe you're weighing the moral pros and cons but let me assure you that OH MY GOD
SHOOT ME IN THE GODDAMNED FACE
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!


hectorgrey posted:

I get the feeling that that bit of Phoenix Command would make for an awesome Jagged Alliance type of computer game.

With emphasis on the computer game, yeah, it seems like an interesting base system for a Jagged Alliance/7.62mm alike. I just can't imagine doing it with dice in a tabletop setting, and I'm pretty alright with gun prawn too.

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unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

Every time I see the words gun prawn I mentally picture a pistol shrimp.

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