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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Is there a Mythic Feat that will let you slay a shitton of dudes with the jawbone of an rear end? If you can't make Samson in this system it has no reason to exist.

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ZeeToo
Feb 20, 2008

I'm a kitty!


Night10194 posted:

Is there a Mythic Feat that will let you slay a shitton of dudes with the jawbone of an rear end? If you can't make Samson in this system it has no reason to exist.

Samson is statted up! He's level 18. I'll hide any jawbone-having or not for the moment.

There's no mythic feat for pulling off mass slaughter with improvised weapons, though.

Tulpa
Aug 8, 2014


Saguaro PI posted:

the Proxy are cool, even if they have a couple of wonky elements.

the Proxy is terrible in play. Completely broken, worthless rehash of the Infernal with half as much thought put into it.

ZeeToo
Feb 20, 2008

I'm a kitty!



Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era, part 6

So: piety. Piety is a "recommended option" in Testament, basically serving as an integer showing how well you're adhering to your chosen god's strictures. Except it's not your god, it's your culture. And it basically makes everyone in the world who's not Genghis Hitler lawful good. It's also not entirely clear if it's meant to run alongside alignment or replace it.

Piety starts at 0 at birth/when you start as a PC. Your piety can run as high as Wis (not mod) + level, and as low as negative infinity, but you'll die from divine wrath long before that. Piety checks are just your normal d20 check, plus half your piety, which is your piety mod and (this being d20) this is what you use more often than not.

You can use Piety, once per session, to request extra temp HP, smite evil (like a paladin), improve saving throws, improve skill checks or get free divination spells. If you're a Levite Priest, of course, we recall that they can request druid/wizard/other arbitrary spells with a piety check of DC 20 + spell level. So once you fill up your piety... it should be pretty simple. Piety mod of at least 9 (17/18 Wis + 1 level divided by 2) to hit DC 21. 12 or better. The Pious feat lets you get 10 extra piety, so +5 to the mod means a 7 or better. As you get access to better spell levels, the DC goes up at the same rate as your piety, at worst. If you get any sort of wisdom increases, you're going to need lower and lower numbers until a Levite Priest can spontaneously cast absolutely any spell not forbidden to him by its type (evil, planar travel), making them truly absurd casters even by D&D 3.x standards. This is far and away the most useful thing to do with piety.

So, how do we gain or lose piety? Time, mainly. Based on how observant you are of your religion's strictures, you get piety at a rate between +1/month and +2/week. The game abstracts it as your Knowledge (religion) skill; if you're maxing it, you're at the highest level. You also get free piety for successful quests for the good of your nation and every time you level up. So... it should shoot up if you care about it unless the game has super-quick and non-noble adventuring.

There's also special rules for ways to decrease negative piety so it goes to 0, but... let's ignore the details. If your piety ever gets down to -10, you have to made a DC 10 piety check to avoid a divine curse. Now, uh, your piety check only relies on your piety, so that's flat "roll 15 or better on d20". You make the same check at every further multiple of ten, which means that you need at least a 20, 25, 30, etc on your d20 to avoid divine wrath. Not very well-considered.

Losing it is actually harder. There's a (officially non-comprehensive) list of sins for the four nations. Rape is -2 or -3, Murder is less of a sin for Egyptians than anyone else, stealing Babylonian irrigation equipment is an extra penalty on theft, and so on. The worst sins for anyone who isn't an Israelite is -10, so barring silly piety generation tricks, it takes over a month of proper rituals to get gods to forgive you for murdering the Pharaoh.

Israelite sins are a longer list, with more high numbers (-20 for murder of king, -15 for murder of priest...), and they have stricter rules for gaining piety for just observance. Basically... the Lord is not looking all that kind or generous here. Having a same-sex partner is only a -1 piety hit, though, so at max piety you guys are still doing okay as long as you're not otherwise a horrible villain and don't have sex more than twice a week. Still, six months of this relationship is exactly equivalent to kidnapping and sacrificing your own son, who is the king of Israel, on the altar of the Lord as an offering to Ba'al and kicking an orphan as you leave the Temple.

The only other ways to lose Piety are to let a tempter demon turn piety into a bonus to a roll, eyeball people until they're cursed for one day or (for Egyptians only) doing something like a voodoo doll to curse them more permanently.

Also, this chapter? No art.

Next time, though, we get into Testament's Mass Combat system. It's... kinda dense. I'll have to see how it comes out.

girl dick energy
Sep 30, 2009

You think you have the wherewithal to figure out my puzzle vagina?


ZeeToo posted:

Having a same-sex partner is only a -1 piety hit
Of all the stupid, half-baked ideas in this book, why is this the only one that makes me actually angry?

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

Poison Mushroom posted:

Of all the stupid, half-baked ideas in this book, why is this the only one that makes me actually angry?

Homosexuality wasn't that big of a sin in Judaism. Even if two men were caught in the act of having anal intercourse, they had to be seen in the act by two witnesses, given a warning to stop, and if they stopped they wouldn't be put to death. There are no recorded cases of the rule ever being enforced as well. There's also debate on why exactly it was given as a rule in Leviticus and if it factored into Sodom and Gomorrah. Homosexuality was also not mentioned in Deuteronomy and if it was as important as some people today claim, it would have been dealt with since it's something that's as old as the human race.

RocknRollaAyatollah fucked around with this message at 04:39 on Oct 28, 2014

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


There's actually a theory among biblical scholars, based on the fact that the ancient Israelites had no conception of homosexual orientation, that the prohibition against homosexuality is actually primarily a prohibition against homosexual rape, which was something that sometimes happened to prisoners of war as a means of humiliating them or showing dominance. Basically, without an actual idea of 'Some dudes like bonin' other dudes' (and none of the stuff on homosexuality addresses the idea of ladies bonin' ladies, they probably didn't even think that was a thing that was done considering how long it took people to realize there was even a female orgasm) the only real context the authors of Leviticus had would've been man on man rape, which they thought was not a-okay.

That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




Night10194 posted:

they probably didn't even think that was a thing that was done considering how long it took people to realize there was even a female orgasm

That's probably about as historically myopic as thinking homosexuality worked pretty much the same in all cultures for all history.

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

Night10194 posted:

There's actually a theory among biblical scholars, based on the fact that the ancient Israelites had no conception of homosexual orientation, that the prohibition against homosexuality is actually primarily a prohibition against homosexual rape, which was something that sometimes happened to prisoners of war as a means of humiliating them or showing dominance. Basically, without an actual idea of 'Some dudes like bonin' other dudes' (and none of the stuff on homosexuality addresses the idea of ladies bonin' ladies, they probably didn't even think that was a thing that was done considering how long it took people to realize there was even a female orgasm) the only real context the authors of Leviticus had would've been man on man rape, which they thought was not a-okay.

Same sex attraction for both men and women was considered inherently sinful but it could be forgiven by repenting. They were well aware of homosexuality as a concept and they were familiar with it as it was in neighboring cultures. It's believed that the ban might have been in place as well because of the Egyptians and Canaanites allowing it and God's chosen are supposed to be better than those people.

Classical societies were well aware of the female orgasm. The ancient Greeks wrote about it and they were aware of the importance of the clitoris.

RocknRollaAyatollah fucked around with this message at 05:59 on Oct 28, 2014

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Plague of Hats posted:

That's probably about as historically myopic as thinking homosexuality worked pretty much the same in all cultures for all history.

I suppose so. Sorry, I'm more familiar with the biblical texts themselves than anything else. Basically, the Book of Job is my primary wheelhouse, but I cannot possibly see THAT coming up in the context of a half-baked RPG supplement for d20.

Actually, adding on, is there any mention of female homosexuality in Leviticus? I recall it only being male, but it's been awhile since I reread it. Leviticus and Deuteronomy aren't that easy to get through time and time again, despite their importance. Reading relatively dry law codes makes it easy to forget details. Looking through it again I'm only seeing a prohibition on male homosexuality in 20:13, and the only mention of women is in the various prohibitions against laying with one's relatives, the wives of uncles and brothers, and a prohibition against women committing bestiality in 20:15-16, specifically for men and women both.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 06:25 on Oct 28, 2014

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Night10194 posted:

I suppose so. Sorry, I'm more familiar with the biblical texts themselves than anything else. Basically, the Book of Job is my primary wheelhouse, but I cannot possibly see THAT coming up in the context of a half-baked RPG supplement for d20.

Job would be like a solo Tomb of Horrors for this game. :v:

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012




It's time to get back to Cerulean Seas rather than procrastinating about finishing that series and going off on other ones, and what better one to start discussing on Halloween than the sourcebook of the abyssal layer?


Chapter 1: Environmental Basics
Welcome to the world of the Underdarkdeep, the gloomy realm far beneath the shimmering upper waters of the Cerulean Seas. This is the place where bioluminescent lifeforms, scavengers, and thermal vent dwellers reign supreme. Flat expanses known as abyssal plains, deep sea trenches and mountains, thermal vents, and chemical-rich and salt-dense "underwater ponds" known as brine pools. With the exception of thermal vents, the uniting feature of all Underdeep environments is that they are cold and dark. Temperatures stay only slightly above freezing and creatures without darkvision or some manner of lighting aren't going to be getting anywhere fast in the oppressive gloom.

On top of the usual environmental overview paragraphs, there are also a few new toxic hazards to add to your game. Sheets of Charisma-damaging and fatigue-inducing slime known as crimson wart hide in otherwise innocent mats of edible ooze, while geological seeps can yield poisonous amounts of barium, brine, copper, mercury, and sulfur. There is also a toxin from a fictional blue metal known as azulbryn.



Chapter 2: Deep Sea Races

Pictured: abyssal variants of the Nommo, Seafolk, Piscean, Karkanak, and Nixie...oh, and an out of place Deep Drow between the Nommo and Seafolk

Aquatic Races Revisited
As with Indigo Ice, Azure Abyss's racial chapter starts with a look back at the core races from the Cerulean Seas Campaign Guide and how any of them fit in this alternate environment. The crab-like karkanaks have it best off in the Underdeep, having two different new subspecies. One, the abyssal karkanak, is themed after the real world crab creatively dubbed the deep sea red crab (Chaceon quinquedens). These karkanaks are differentiated by their bright red carapaces and lack of eyestalks, live in roving barbarian bands that pillage settlements on the abyssal plain, and the only difference between them and standard karkanaks stats-wise is that they have a depth tolerance of 20,000 feet and pressure sensitivity of 1,000 feet. Even stranger are the woolly karkanaks, based on the real world yeti crab (Kiwa hirsuta), which have deathly pale carapaces and fur-like filaments lining their limbs. Woolly karkanaks lose the Innate Craft racial ability in favor of a new racial ability known as Extremophile. This handy racial quality grants steam resistance 5, cold resistance 5, and an immunity to geological-based poisons and pressure damage.

The most extreme of the changes comes for the pisceans. Rather than the cod-like former slaves of the tropical coasts, the abyssal variant known as the ceratiodi are unsurprisingly based on the anglerfish. The hefty-bodied females gain a bioluminescent angler lure that sheds as much light as a torch, depth tolerance of 20,000 feet, and pressure sensitivity of 5,000. And the males? Well, they no longer use the piscean stats, instead using the stats of a size Tiny fish with the Trueform (Awakened) template because they are worthless little parasites/sperm banks just like real male anglerfish. It is also probably worthy of note that these are meant to be a player race alternative to the 4 HD Monstrous Humanoid of the same name from Paizo's Pathfinder Bestiary 3.

Lastly, there are the three less abyssally-inclinded abyssal races. Abyssal seafolk look like paler versions of regular seafolk, have a depth tolerance of 15,000 feet and pressure sensitivity of 500 feet, and have a 20% chance of having their mer half be that of a fish that has bioluminescent spots that grant the same lighting as a torch. Similarly, the abyssal nommo have an angler lure on their chin that sheds as much light as a torch (again), a depth tolerance of 15,000 feet, and a pressure sensitivity of 1,200 feet. The least changed of all are the nixies. They don't even go fully into the abyss, staying further up near the twilight zone of the open ocean, and simply have their depth tolerance increased to 10,000 feet without even having to worry about any pressure sensitivity being added. There's also a mention of deep drow, but purely in the sense of "hey these were in the bestiary section of the core campaign guide, go look there if you want to recall what they're like".



Asterak
Okay, now it's time for the first of the completely new races, and we start off on a good foot. I really like the idea of the asterak: they're merfolk that are appropriately freaky for the abyss, with translucent skin and various bioluminescent appendages used to communicate with each other. Even their mating habits are unusual, with their crystalline eggs being "fertilized" through electrocution, which explains why they are one of the only merfolk that don't have crossbreeds. They usually keep to themselves and mostly focus on survival, living nomadic existences on the abyssal plain with no real end goal in mind. Asteraks see all lifeforms as equally basic animals and treat other sapient races as wild creatures to be respected but avoided, their opinion of verbal language is "use it if you have to or if it sounds musically interesting", and asteraks that go out of their way to become adventurers and associate with other races are seen as creepy perverts that are most likely mentally unsound. Of course, this is a species that is stated to regularly steal from or practice vivisection on wizards because they find arcane magic so interesting and useful to survival, so thinking adventurers are weird is the least of their societal quirks.

Asterak characters +2 Intelligence and Constitution but -2 Strength, darkvision at a rnage of 60 feet, electricity resistance 5, and the ability to cast shocking grasp once per day. They also have a special trait, Advanced Bioluminescence, that lets them change how much lighting they produce from no light at all up to the strength of a hooded lantern. Due to their acclimation to the depths, they suffer from a pressure sensitivity of 1,000 feet.



Austorian
These guys are the last of the dwarves, spared from the Great Flood by sheer coincidence. They were originally dwarves from the Austoria Mountains who mutated themselves with aboleth technology in order to mine azulbryn from a massive subterranean lake. By the time they had dug greedily and deep, they learned from the seagoing races that the Great Flood had happened and the other dwarves were gone. Culture and appearance wise, they are just your stereotypical fantasy dwarves with a smattering of ocean living added on. They have the same ability score modifiers, speed, and most general racial traits as regular dwarves as well. The only difference is that the lose the Stability and Hatred traits in favor of the Extremophile trait and the ability to breathe air and water equally.



Echinn
The echinns are the extremophile's extremophile. The abyssal voids they live in are referred to as "echinnlands" because no other sapient creature can survive there. It also happens that I like this race for the same reason that I like the asterak: they are truly strange to outsiders. Male and female echinns look the same, they cannibalize their dead out of respect and to not let things go to waste, and they communicate through touch. They are also mostly atheistic and materialistic due to difficulties in mental visualization, which often prevents them from understanding concepts such as deities and magic. One thing echinns are very good at visualizing, though, is vengeance. A tribe can hold centuries-long grudges against an entire race because a few members of that race enslaved them in the distant past.

Echinns are not as mechanically interesting as they are flavorful, however. +2 to Strength and Constitution but -2 to Intelligence and Wisdom, a +2 natural armor bonus to AC, a +4 bonus to saves against ingested poison, the Extremophile trait, and venomous spines that deal Dexterity damage all scream "tank". And look at that, their most common classes are Barbarian and Fighter! What a shocker.



Obitu
For lack of a better term, obitu are "reverse-undead". That is, they were once undead, but infected with a virus that made them alive again. This virus comes from a gigantic sapient psionic brain coral called the source-mind, and obitu treat source-minds as their mothers and monarchs. More obitu are made when they travel out, beat the poo poo out of the first undead they find, take it captive, and then force feed the undead creature to a source-mind. The entire reason they even become adventurers is so that they can make more obitu for the source-minds.

I think I am in love with these guys.

As if being the reverse-undead heralds of giant psychic coral weren't great enough, they also have a really eclectic racial setup. They focus on both defense and maneuverability, with +2 to Strength and Dexterity contrasted by a -2 to Charisma, +4 bonus to saving throws against disease and poison, +2 bonus to Acrobatics, Escape Artist, and Sleight of Hand checks, resistance to negative energy damage equal to half their class level plus 5, and an immunity to sleep effects because they are a literal embodiment of that whole "they do not sleep, they merely wait" catchphrase. The only sad thing is that they aren't of the Aberration type or something rather than Humanoid, because they're so drat freaky.



Viden Oculus
The oculi are creatures of the Aberration type that, surprise surprise, are mostly made up of one big eye. The viden is the first life stage of the oculus, and the only playable one. They are paranoid, power-hungry racists, which is actually a step up from the power-mad imperialists that the later life stages become. This also presents a bit of a contradiction in the text. While viden are stated to wish to accumulate power to advance to their next life stage, they are also given the caveat of being able to just stay in the viden stage forever so that the Game Master just doesn't yank away your viden character.

Being a size Small Aberration, they are both the only non-Humanoid and non-Medium size playable race in Azure Abyss. +2 Dexterity and Wisdom but -2 Strength is pretty much expected for a small swift enemy, and bioluimescence and pressure sensitivity of 1,000 feet aren't exactly unexpected either. What's definitely a bit unexpected, however, is the Acidic Tears quality. The viden oculus is capable of oozing acidic secretions, which only do a single point of acid damage but is still certainly unique.



Rusalka

So Kawaii posted:

Abyssal rusalki are Medium-sized, lithe, and pale female feykith. They have large orange eyes, translucent blue-white skin, and cat-like ears. Their hair is long, transparent, and nearly invisible when not lit by two luminescent antennae that flow from the top of the rusalka’s head and down either side of her body. A skirt of dozens of jellyfish-like tendrils sprout from a rusalka’s waist, each tipped in blue luminescence. A rusalka’s blood is likewise radiant, and her heart can be seen pulsing with red light in her chest. Despite their alien composition, most humanoids find the abyssal rusalka to be hauntingly attractive.
Looks can be deceiving, though, and the flowery physical description of the rusalka leads into a far more disturbing paragraph about their society. How are baby rusalki formed? Well, when a rusalka and a male of a shallow-water humanoid race love each other very much, the rusalka murders and consumes him, converting his life essence into a new rusalka infant. :stonk:

While most abyssal races know about this terrifying aspect of the rusalki's nature, they tend to be seen as being of little threat because they prey on shallow-water races and mostly prefer to fight other rusalka clans over any of their neighbors. Peaceful democracies of like-minded rusalki become bloodthirsty when they clash against clans of opposed alignments.

Rusalki characters get +2 to Dexterity and Charisma but -2 to Strength, as well as a +1 to saving throws for Enchantment spells. Their two most interesting abilities are Blazing Blood, which allows the rusalka to eject her luminescent blood in a 1- foot cloud that provides total concealment but is very blatantly glowing, and a variant of blood drain named Stinging Skirt due to the fact that the tentacle "skirt" of the rusalka is what does the HP drain.



Hybrids
Not many hybrids this time around. Just two, in fact. One is the kirah, a "deep drow abomination". These are the oceanic equivalents of driders, and in the case of the kirah they are a fusion of deep drow and a type of demon known as the minion of Saloth that we'll meet later on in this book. This boosts the deep drow's sie to Large and alters their ability scores with +2 Strength and Charisma but -2 WIsdom, as well as providing a +2 natural armor bonus to AC. Kirah are unsurprisingly usually demonic in nature.

The other new hybrid is the deodona, a hybrid of seafolk and echinn. These are effectively pufferfish merfolk: they have poisonous spines on their tails and backs and they can inflate to a rounded state that halves their movement speed but lets them attack and grapple as if they were size Large. How you get a pufferfish merfolk out of a regular merfolk and an anthropomorphic sea urchin is beyond me, but there it is.




Next Time: Yet another warrior base class that out-Fighters the Fighter, weird deep sea prestige classes, undersea loot, and deep magic.

Fossilized Rappy fucked around with this message at 23:20 on Nov 1, 2014

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Fossilized Rappy posted:

Next Time: Yet another warrior base class that out-Fighters the Fighter, weird deep sea prestige classes, undersea loot, and deep magic.

In fairness, the Fighter is terrible. Also, you got a dead image.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Mors Rattus posted:

In fairness, the Fighter is terrible. Also, you got a dead image.
I know, I just never like to miss an opportunity to kick the Fighter when it's down.

And thanks for the head's up, the image should be fixed now.

inklesspen
Oct 17, 2007

Here I am coming, with the good news of me, and you hate it. You can think only of the bell and how much I have it, and you are never the goose. I will run around with my bell as much as I want and you will make despair.

Buglord


The Obitu were also statted up for regular Pathfinder and for 4E. I bought the 4E version a while back. Instead of a virus-making psychic coral, they were made by a lich to be immune to turn undead; in order to do this, he had them powered by positive energy, and so they promptly destroyed him.

They're skeletons, but their bones are alive and can bleed. They have an extra magic item slot, inside their ribcage. (Technically any race can use these magic items, but most races die when you remove their hearts and put in magic stones instead.) Unfortunately their stat bonuses are to STR and DEX, which means they can be fighters, rangers, rogues, or monks. That's right; the not-undead race literally powered by radiant energy is at best a mediocre fit for any of the divine-powered classes; the best you can do is pick a class that works great with one of those stats and use the other bonus to shore up a dump stat.

Alluria Publishing posted:

In actuality, most of the biological functions of an obitu take place within its skull. A small, wormlike feeding tube extends into its mouth cavity when it eats. [...] Some obitu, if they are fortunate enough to find their mortal origins, will re-name themselves in honor of their bone donor, especially if their donor was noble and good.

ZeeToo
Feb 20, 2008

I'm a kitty!


Fossilized Rappy posted:

And thanks for the head's up, the image should be fixed now.

Doesn't look it to me. Right after Deep Sea Races, still missing.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.





Now I'm well aware that Synnibarr may be well trod ground, but we wanted to take a turn with it as well. This is literally just part one, the book's too dense for a single cast.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


inklesspen posted:

The Obitu were also statted up for regular Pathfinder and for 4E. I bought the 4E version a while back. Instead of a virus-making psychic coral, they were made by a lich to be immune to turn undead; in order to do this, he had them powered by positive energy, and so they promptly destroyed him.
I think psychic virus coral are cooler than liches, but that's definitely a more solid origin for a classic fantasy setting and a land-based obitu, so it makes sense that they did it.

ZeeToo posted:

Doesn't look it to me. Right after Deep Sea Races, still missing.
Another one was broken on my end, and I could see that one fine. I've reuploaded it to imgur to hopefully fix the problem.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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

I'm sorry folks, but as of right now my Path of War review is in hiatus.

Over the past several months I've been writing a lot. Between my work projects, preparing adventure material for my Sunday group, writing reviews, and maintaining a campaign journal for said Sunday group, I was doing too much stuff at once to the point that nothing productive was getting done. I had to prioritize, which is why I haven't updated Path of War in like forever.

I'm not swearing off reviews forever, but for the time being I want to focus on my work projects and adventures for my gaming group. The rest is pushed to development hell. I feel kind of bad about it, as I also abandoned Ptolus and the Key of Destiny, but at this point I just don't have the time anymore.

Others are more than welcome to follow in my footsteps, and continue the Path of War review.

ZeeToo
Feb 20, 2008

I'm a kitty!



Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Age, part 7

So last time we looked at how to be a good person, and it summed up that it's drat well easier if you're not an Israelite. Today, we learn how to smite the heathen armies. Yes, it's a mass combat system for 3.0 D&D. Spoilers: it's not very good. I'm not going to go through it line-by-line because... it's not very good and it's not presented very well. We're just skimming the highlights.

Your army, we are told, has three Sides, basically the center and the flanks. You can have a fourth Side in reserve. PCs and other important characters are called Captains and attached to a Side. Each Side and Captain gets an action each round.



Battlefield rounds have no set duration, but for spell duration purposes they are 20 minutes. So they're 20 minutes. :psyduck:

On the initiative count of the Side's commander, the Side acts. Wait, is that distinct from the Captain? Can Sides have more than one Captain? Later in the chapter it tells us that the answers are "no" and "yes": one Captain serves as the commander. But it doesn't tell us that when it's doing its first definitions.

Attacking is the same roll-vs-AC you know. A Side can sometimes have to make a morale check (wait, why the hell is this stuck in THIS paragraph?), against a DC of 13. Always 13, huh? Any spell, the loss of all Captains, and 50%/75% destroyed are the triggers. Fail roll, Side flies. If one army has only one Side remaining it loses.

Sides have a number of statistics, ranging from their Quality (whether they're 1st/2nd/5th/8th level warriors on average) and Hit Points. Hit points deserve special mention: 1 HP equals, depending on scale, 1/50/1,000 people... the last scale means that two people could, indeed, put ten thousand to flight as Deuteronomy 32:30 talks about if they're able to put out 50 points of damage. It takes fifty because you need to get them down to half health to make them run away, and damage is divided by ten here. So... we divided HP by ten, then divided damage by ten. Clever. :psyduck:

Of note is that it doesn't talk about how to actually derive numbers here. That's at the bottom of the next page after three-quarters of a page going onto what actions you can take.

Spells have rules on how they interact with Sides, but... rules as written, tend to just end conflicts.

ZeeToo's Example Battle posted:

Say the armies of Egypt, 1,000 men to a side in 50-scale HP, are marching on an enemy. These are all legendary warriors, almost demigods on the field of battle, who make even seasoned veterans quake in their boots. After everything is calculated, they have the following statistics:

  • Quality: Legendary
  • Hit Points: 160
  • Armor Class: 14 (probably; the game doesn't actually give a formula but I'm assuming they have hide armor, small shields, and the formula works the same)
  • Initiative Modifier: Equal to best captains' Cha mod
  • Base Attack Bonus: +8
  • Base Damage: Kopeshes for 1d6, 19-20/x2
  • Damage Multipler: x5 (side note that this is applied before you divide by 10 and round any fractions up. No, really, that's the system)
  • Base Morale: +6
  • Battlefield Feats: Six of them, but gently caress picking that

Anyway, the army's commander turns and addresses his troops: "Take heart, my friends! As we have trained for, the greatest Khery-Heb wizard in Egypt, right hand of the Pharoah, is with us today! By his magical might, we shall become as giants, and trample our foes underfoot!"

The Khery-Heb, a 20th level caster, waits for the cheering to die down, then casts Mass Enlarge Person on the ranks. All thousand warriors grow to be ten feet tall at the least, and immediately every single man in the army starts sobbing in fear and runs the gently caress away.

So what happened? Any spell effect makes the Side make a morale check or they just instantly flee. If you cross that out and make it only spells meant to harm them and not buffing spells, it doesn't improve much. Even an army claimed to be on par with the Persian Immortals will fail its roll against a village sorcerer using Burning Hands on a 6 or lower. :psyduck:



Oh, and if you were wondering if this could get clunkier, it can. One Captain can duel another, which takes place entirely within a single battlefield round. Everything else screeches to a halt until they get their normal-scale fight done.


Next up is four pages of feats for your Side to pick from. None of them salvage it. The only thing of note is that if you are willing to stack enough feats towards morale, your Legendary troops won't run at the first sign of a spell. Maybe even Veterans if you optimize for that alone. Of course, more powerful spells will still send them running; there's no possible army that's not very likely to certain to run at the first sign of Power Word Kill.

I'm not going to be entirely down on the game, though: the next part is listing feat selections for things like "Philistine Giant Footmen" or "Egyptian Charioteers", which are at least a very good thought. It's a quick and easy way to put a Side together and have it match the right flavor. Someone was genuinely trying to do a good job, and it really is mostly workable once you get past the "magic ruins d20" thing.

It even ends with an example combat, taking three rounds and five pages to handle. It's genuinely a pretty good example, written in as exciting of language as it can while still being precise, and endeavors to show off most of the variety of actions you'd take. My only complaint is that it has precisely one spell cast throughout the whole fight, a fireball, and the writer forgot to compel the morale check that was explicitly called for twice and has a table dedicated to it.

Next time... equipment. We'll probably go into spells, too.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


theironjef posted:

Now I'm well aware that Synnibarr may be well trod ground, but we wanted to take a turn with it as well. This is literally just part one, the book's too dense for a single cast.

Having the Synnibun reading done earlier got me to pull the book off my shelf again and flip through it again. It surprises me to recall how functional it is systematically... without being practical. Like Phoenix Command, it in theory works, but it's too slow and clunky to actually see use.

Also, I keep getting hung up on the first line of the description of the gnome class:

World of Synnibarr posted:

Gnomes are born wherever gnomes are born, usually during winter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzicaaqrQT0#t=32s

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Dang how did I miss that line, that's amazing. We were hung up on how the gnome looks like Lemmy and is firing a tree beam. Just another example of how this book was written without ever stopping, though. Like there was a brief, tiny hint of a pause as McCracken tried to figure out which continent gnomes are from. From the Forbidden Continent? Enchanted? Perhaps Antarctica? The center of Synnibarr? WHERE? And then an answer, provided by Aridius and inertia, comes to him, and he writes "wherever gnomes are born" and is right back on track.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


And why during winter? Do gnomes mainly gently caress in the spring? Do they have a mating season? What about their pregnancy length-

:psyduck:

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Alien Rope Burn posted:

And why during winter? Do gnomes mainly gently caress in the spring? Do they have a mating season? What about their pregnancy length-

:psyduck:

It is always winter wherever gnomes are from, but sometimes they are born somewhere else. There, I got that one. Team McCracken!

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



Looking forward to more Synnib:argh:

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Green Intern posted:

Looking forward to more Synnib:argh:

We're gonna record the back half this weekend instead of next to get back on track after a travel-choked October.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


The rest of the Shadow Magic chapter is exceptionally boring, and I've been super busy lately. But I can't leave you guys hanging without the actual money shot that brought you all here. So without further delay let's discuss Truenaming.


Truenaming is using the language of the universe. When spoken properly these words have tangible power. However actually pronouncing them is difficult, people can devote their entire lives to figuring out just one person's personal truename. And if you really really want to, you can spend hours of in game time painstakingly researching the ability to simply be adequate as well.

Truenames are ridiculously complex, with different inflections and intonations all over the place. There are entire books devoted to just explaining how to properly pronounce one word. But it's not simply just a list of names. Yes there's a name for "orc" and "Door", but there's also a name for "the orc berserker that is charging towards me right now" and "ironbound locked wooden door with something on the other side". So think of the most ridiculously specific tonal language you can and crank it up to 11.

There's a few pages describing how to use truenames at the table (assuming that the answer isn't "don't"). First of all it suggests training yourself to basically spew gibberish on command to use these spells. since “I disrupt thee, khedalaévaurümihauî!” is apparently better than “I daze the orc with an utterance; it’s DC 18,” even if the second is more helpful to your DM. If you can't do this on the fly they suggest creating the trunaming equivalent of magnet poetry, writing down a bunch of random syllables on strips of cardboard and pulling out a handful every time you speak a name, which is neat but also a bit more work than a wizard needs.

It also suggests becoming a multilingual translator and spokesman for the group as well as getting a fondness for spoken language. And pepper your speech with words from more poetic languages like elvish and draconic. "Keep maximum ranks in speak language, bluff, diplomacy, and intimidate to represent your mastery of the spoken word". There's also a part at the end about "Know how object saving throws work" because they're kind of confusing even before you bring the wonkiness of truenaming into them.

Truenaming is an int based skill, that only truenamers and people with the Truename Training skill can even take points in. To speak a creature's truename aloud you need to make a Truespeak check with a DC equal to 15+(2 X the creature's challenge rating or HD if it's a PC) if you're speaking a creature's personal truename the DC increases by 2. To speak a magic object's truename aloud the DC is 15+(2x the caster level of the item), and nonmagical items are a flat DC25. Note that you can also make truespeech checks against areas and the ground... but they forgot to give DCs for that meaning that there's an entire clade of Spells that you cannot use without the errata.

Those of you with even a slight understanding of math probably noticed the problem here. in 3.5 Skills increase linearly with the occasional jumps here and there for increases in their base stat. While the DCs that you need to make for these checks on an equal level target increase at twice that rate.

This makes the following assumptions, you start with a 15 in intelligence, skill focus(Truespeech), put max ranks into Truespeech at every level, and get the highest level headband of intelligence that you can as soon as it becomes avaliable.

When you truespeak at level 1, assuming you aren’t in a position where you’ll provoke an AoO, you have a 65% chance of success. That will steadily descend until it would be literally impossible to succeed at level 20. There’s a magic item that gives you a bonus on truespeech checks, known as the Amulet of the Silver Tongue. If we include the assumption that you are buying one of those at it’s earliest availability, we get this.


Note that this is just the chance to even succeed on casting the thing in the first place. It’s not quite that simple. The Law of Resistance states that for every time you successfully speak an utterance the DC to speak it increases by 2. Meaning that, at maximum, you are going to get 5 uses out of an utterance, and after the 2nd time you’re probably better off not even trying. The Law of Sequence states that you cannot speak an utterance while it’s still in effect. If an utterance has a duration of 5 rounds, you can’t use it again until it’s done. If you want to utter defensively you can voluntarily take a -5 penalty on your truespeech check… for each opponent that threatens you. Utterances are also suceptable to spell resistance but you can bypass that if you increase the DC by 5. Note that these aren’t ‘after the fact’ things, you have to decide before you speak. If you’re trying to bypass SR while avoiding the dragon that’s trying to claw your face open you need to take an effective -10 penalty on the check.

Oh, and most offensive truenames allow a save, based off your charisma modifier. You know, the one that you can't increase at any point without increasing your spell failure chance, and the one that needs the currently occupied neck slot to buff.

You can make potions and spell trigger items based on utterances but I would suggest against it. Potions only work on level 1 or 2 utterances, and only if the truespeech check made at the time of creation exceeds that of casting the utterance on the drinker. And spell trigger items only work against one creature. Meaning you need to know their personal truename, and if they afterwards increase in CR beyond the check made at the time of creation your item is now completely worthless.

Now then you can research personal truenames of other creatures, but if they're below level 10 you take a rather substantial penalty on the check since reality doesn't think they're too important yet, and they have to have an intelligence score of 3 or greater. Also you need to amass a number of successes on the relevant knowledge skill equal to half their hit dice. Not CR, hit dice. And each check takes 1 week. You can get bonuses on this check for things like "have sole unfettered access to a wizarding college library" and "know who their great great grandparents are", and you get bonuses for commune, divination, and legend lore spells.. but not just outright finding it out. As a final gently caress you, each check takes 1000GP to even attempt.

So let's say that in addition to maxing out your truespeech skill you also max out every knowledge skill. And your level 20 Truenamer is preparing to fight his nemesis a CR 20 red dragon. Well.. to start you will only ever succeed if you hit a 20, because the only thing that was making truenaming itself work out was those amulets. But if you have a staff of research assistants, know who the dragons parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were, and cast commune, divination, contact other plane, and legend lore every single week while you are researching it, you will finally discover your nemesis' Truename after approximately 16-17 uninterrupted weeks of research, more if you're particularly unlucky.


The Truenamer
I name you thelehb’maürechthalahh, tyrant. I rend asunder your petty spells with bhauo-yualé-mannarae. And I bring you to your knees with gorvoâtyrmu-lílautha. With only three words, I have you at my mercy.”

I just can't take those nonsense truewords seriously.

Anyways, d6 hit die, 3/4ths BAB, Good Will save, and 4+int modifier skills. Which means you will probably max out all of your skills eventually since you only have 5 non-knowledge skills, and one of those is craft, another is Perform(oratory).

Truenames are the only real feature they get. Though they do get some other things to make up for not being a wizard. It gets easier for them to research truenames, as they get a bunch of bonus feats related to knowledge skills. They get 2 recitation feats for free(I'll go over them later), they can scry for one round a day by speaking someone's personal truename. They can cast sending 3 times a day if you know someone's personal truename. And they can cast Truenames in an AOE, but of course there's a giant pile of rules. They have to be of the same type(Humanoid, dragon, giant) and the DC is the DC for the highest leveled creature in the group, +2 for each member beyond the first. Making it kind of prohibitive especially towards the end of the day. Probably the only really neat thing they get is at level 20, when they can come up with a true-nickname for themselves that they can teach to others. And if they utter the word(which doesn't need a truespeech check) you can choose to be instantly teleported to their side ala word of recall.

Recitation feats are feats that require a full round action and you speaking your own personal truename. Only two of them are really worthwhile. One that cures you of poison and one that cures you of disease. Another dispels any emotion effects on you but you can't do it if you're frightened or panicked. Another gives you a bonus on your next skill check involving manipulating something with your hands by 1/3rd of your caster level, and another gives you a natural armor bonus equal to 1/3rd your truenamer level for 1 minute as long as the only action you take is a total defense action.

There are also Empower, quicken, extend, and enlarge utterance feats but they increase the DC of the check, by a lot. Empower is +10, Quiken is +20. Extend and Enlarge are only +5, but the only way you're succeeding on a check at DC +20 is if you're targeting something 5-8 levels below you.

The prestige classes are... pretty bad, the only ones that are passable are the ones that are based on arcane/divine casting, and they still require you to max out your truenaming skill at every level to have a chance of success at anything.

I can go over the various utterances if people want but it's just... it's very weird. Probably the only neat thing about the utterances is that you can speak most of them backwards to get an opposite effect. The spell that heals your allies can be spoken in reverse to hurt your enemies. The spell that buffs your allies AC can be used to impose a penalty on your foes.

And you'd think that having a healing spell on the equivilent of an arcane caster would be pretty good, but you have to remember that it's not guarenteed to go off, and all the healing spells are only fast healing, over a duration of 5 rounds. They're healing 50 damage 4 levels after druids are casting Heal.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I was seduced by Truenaming fitting my character concept once and played a Truenamer/Paladin. Every Truenamer level was a complete waste. Which is a shame because he was such fun to play.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





There is technically a way to make truenamer work. It requires use of item familiar, a feat that is otherwise so broken as to receive a blanket ban at all decent tables, and it comes from Unearthed Arcana a book of completely optional rules that are assumed to not be allowed for us unless specified by the DM. Item familiar does a lot of things but the part important to truenamers is that is lets them essentially double their truenaming ranks, but these bonus ranks come at a 3 to 1 price exchange with real skill points so truenamers have to spend 4 skill ranks per level on their class skill to function with while using one of the most overpowered feats in the game. Even this doesn't really make them good, just passable and able to hit an enemy more than once with a given utterance.

NGDBSS
Dec 30, 2009








You also forgot to mention the fact that truenamers vault from "passable if you're busting your balls on Truespeak" to trivially overpowered at level 20, because at that point they can pick up the utterance to use Gate. And it's a place-based utterance (by the errata, those have fixed DCs rather than scaling ones) so you're going to be able to keep using it at least, what, eight times per day or something equally silly.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


PresidentBeard posted:

There is technically a way to make truenamer work. It requires use of item familiar, a feat that is otherwise so broken as to receive a blanket ban at all decent tables, and it comes from Unearthed Arcana a book of completely optional rules that are assumed to not be allowed for us unless specified by the DM. Item familiar does a lot of things but the part important to truenamers is that is lets them essentially double their truenaming ranks, but these bonus ranks come at a 3 to 1 price exchange with real skill points so truenamers have to spend 4 skill ranks per level on their class skill to function with while using one of the most overpowered feats in the game. Even this doesn't really make them good, just passable and able to hit an enemy more than once with a given utterance.

It's also possible to exploit the epic magic item creation rules to make a ring that gives say, +50 on truespeech checks, but is dirt cheap because it can only be used by Chaotic Good Human Female Truenamers named Sue. Which is fortunate, because that just so happens to be my human female chaotic good truenamer's name.

But that still means that you have the rule of sequence to deal with, and the fact that probably your best utterances to use before 20 are debufing the target's AC so the fighter can hit them easier, and dealing 10d6 damage by concentrating for 2 rounds.

NGDBSS posted:

You also forgot to mention the fact that truenamers vault from "passable if you're busting your balls on Truespeak" to trivially overpowered at level 20, because at that point they can pick up the utterance to use Gate. And it's a place-based utterance (by the errata, those have fixed DCs rather than scaling ones) so you're going to be able to keep using it at least, what, eight times per day or something equally silly.

Yeah, the way that the place based utterances are worded, the DCs by level are 30, 35, 40, and 45. Which is still 10 points lower than a CR 20 creature.

I think one of the developers said that they devoted the majority of their playtesting time to the binder since that seemed like the class that would be the hardest to understand by players.

Whoops.

Kurieg fucked around with this message at 05:27 on Nov 6, 2014

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


PresidentBeard posted:

There is technically a way to make truenamer work.

There's a much easier way to make Truenamer work: fix the loving maths on the Truenaming check.

Get rid of the Truenaming skill, get rid of everything that boosts it, make it a simple d20+level check, and make the DC 10+HD instead of 15+2xHD. Suddenly, the maths no longer falls apart and the class actually works.

Esser-Z
Jun 3, 2012



I forget exactly how it works, but I remember there being a way for a level 20 Truenamer to reliably cast Gate at will, so at least they get that!

EDIT: Oops, I see somebody mentioned that!

It'd make sense if most of the dev time went to the Binder, since it's actually one of the best-made 3.5 classes.

Esser-Z fucked around with this message at 14:14 on Nov 6, 2014

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



I heard Truenamer was a worthless class, but I didn't expect it to be almost completely unplayable RAW.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


I played a spellcaster who ended up getting a feat to use Truename-based spells at Epic levels. I only ended up making it work through an Epic feat to boost Truenaming and some spell to boost skill checks in general to make it viable. Even so, my GM did a lot of handwaving to let me obtain some Truenames that I just couldn't RAW, even with a +thirtysomething or +fortysomething Truenaming check.

In general having to take a skill tax just to use your core class ability is hella dumb to begin with.

NGDBSS
Dec 30, 2009








Lemon Curdistan posted:

There's a much easier way to make Truenamer work: fix the loving maths on the Truenaming check.

Get rid of the Truenaming skill, get rid of everything that boosts it, make it a simple d20+level check, and make the DC 10+HD instead of 15+2xHD. Suddenly, the maths no longer falls apart and the class actually works.
It also helps to make more of the abilities actually worth using, instead of the milquetoast garbage that many of the utterances fall into. It's as if WotC learned the exact opposite lesson from the Warlock than what they should have, that at-will abilities are a huge minefield (of course not with spells around) and should be tightly regulated (second verse, same as the first).

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Yeah, the Warlock is really good in a world where wizards and sorcerers don't exist. In a world where they do they only really catch up in usefulness on the 5th or 6th fight of the day, but at that point the sorcerer still has scorching ray even after it's blown out all his meteor swarms and DBFireballs.

ZeeToo
Feb 20, 2008

I'm a kitty!



Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era, part 8

Equipment is... not particularly interesting, so I'll skim it. The weapons are 3.0 D&D vs 3.5, which is more of a hassle to explain than it sounds like. The only interesting one is the inscribed sling stones, which give +morale to the side using it... and -morale to the side they're used on, if the latter noticed. Which is a spot check. So I hope your spot is low. Actually, no, "a spot modifier" is not something a Side has in this system. Who thought this was presentable?

Iron weapons are better than bronze in this game, which corresponds to improving crits/reducing crits based on which of armor vs weapon is which. Chariots are actually pretty cool, allowing 2-3 people to control a rampaging war machine that grants them all cover and seems... at least mildly useful. Nothing stands out as "what the hell", at least. There's also tables of mundane equipment, of course, with enough detail for us to known that the wise man who brought Jesus frankincense was cheaping out: it's only 10 gp/lb. Same table gives us costs for a pyramid (100xheight in feet squared).

Community options... Testament is really hoping your PCs will engage with the locals instead of doing the murderhobo thing. You know, because I'm sure you cracked open d20 for a farming simulation and enjoy tracking just how many of your young women die in childbirth when they fail saving throws, and how they can end up barren instead, or because of that.

Spells! There's a few that are interesting, and I'm skipping the rest. This chapter actually has art, though, and... yeah, take a look at the art.



Angel in Harm's Way (level 9) lets your Israelite priest vanish and get replaced by a CR 13 angel. That's... not very impressive. I'll point out the angel when we see it the bestiary.

Bestow Curse gets more spells in its line (this, Greater, Mass and one between normal and greater) and all have massively increased lists for what they can do, from lameness to early aging. Cursing is kind of important here. There's also Contingent Curse lets you punish the target for its next sin. Curse Unto Generations is a very hard to dispel effect that causes all same-sex family for four generations to suffer pretty nastily. Paladins have a Dying Curse which seems like a poor use of resources as opposed to not dying instead.



Coming of Age (level 3) is a qedeshim/qedeshot spell where the sex priest turns the target from virgin to not-a-virgin, giving them a +1 to ability scores for XP (they pay, not the caster). Casting time: one action ten minutes. Honestly not too embarassing, given that whole focus on community integration and being a priest(ess) of Ishtar. Although it does have a duration of "permanent" instead of "instant", which means that the bonus could be dispelled if dispel magic or anti-magic field come into play. You don't get the XP back and you can't get the effect reapplied because you're not a virgin. Lovely.

Create Bricks (level 1). Creates bricks. Clearly we needed a wizard to do that. The book tells us it would take 228 castings to get enough for one house.

Globe Against the Arcane (level 9) is an antimagic field for clerics that doesn't affect divine spells. Remember, also, that Levite Priests can spontaneously cast all wizard spells. Those count as divine for this!

Lightning Contingency (level 6) is protection from elements (electricity), plus setting off a level 1/2/3 spell when you're struck by lightning. Not electrical attacks, lightning. This is a daily occurrence, after all.

Soul Vulture (level 6) conjures an insubstantial vulture that ignores armor and pecks a named target for wisdom damage until it falls into a coma, then goes back to the caster and horks up the drained wisdom as a worm. If the caster eats it, the victim recovers but is dominated. I don't think I can add anything to that.

Wall of Song generates a wall of force that's destroyed by silence and allows passage if someone sings in harmony (a Perform check) as they try.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I'm really not as annoyed by Testament as I expected to be, more just kinda baffled. D20 is very much not the right system for community, mass combat, and the epic tales of peoples, but the basic idea honestly isn't that bad? Like, with a system tuned to actually handle that kind of stuff playing as an Israelite Judge or Egyptian Priest or whatever in an RPG would actually be pretty cool.

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girl dick energy
Sep 30, 2009

You think you have the wherewithal to figure out my puzzle vagina?


I think the big issue is that the creators have no idea why d20 isn't a good system for this, so there's no real understanding of the rules, or any decent attempts to overcome the inherent flaws. It's yet another case of an RPG that could have been interesting with the proper care put into it, but as is, just reeks of :effort:.

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