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

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
Strange Matter
Oct 5, 2009

Ask me about Genocide


I was interested in Better Angels but when I started reading over the Stats and conflict rules my eyes kind of glazed over, so I'm interested in seeing how someone who knows the system better explains it.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


The concept for Better Angels is gold -- I look forward to hearing more about the mechanics.

(Looks like we're on a superhero roll at the moment.)

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



Reviews of hero RPGs will never die.

So my question is, do the PCs in AMP lose their poo poo around the other PCs or are they immune due to Friendship? The whole thing is a neat idea on a plot or character level, but I would enjoy that more for a book or a movie than to actually play.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



To me it seems like a really poor implementation of an attempt to enforce the genre thing where heroes tend to get in brawls for no good reason during crossovers.

Like, really poor implementation.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Demon: The Descent

A lot of this is similar to what's in the God-Machine Chronicle material, but from a different perspective. Infrastructure is the organizational structure that serves as a foundation for the rest of the system. The God-Machine's Infrastructure serves a purpose, and each piece is a component of a larger, more complex piece of Infrastructure. There are five rough types of Infrastructure: Concealment, Defense, Logistical, Elimination and Command and Control. Concealment Infrastructure is the first line of defense against interference: don't get noticed. Some of it is mundane - a front location at the site, like a restaurant or shop. Other parts are supernatural, ensuring mortals do not notice the Machine's gears. This is not foolproof - some can see them anyway, often due to an encounter with the Machine. Angels often assist in Concealment Infrastructure - Guardians are often able to veil areas, while Psychopomps and Messengers are both great at laying false trails for investigators. Demons that once supported Concealment Infrastructure are often the best at creating and maintaining Covers.

Defense Infrastructure is for when concealment isn't enough. Someone starts poking around, and maybe they can disrupt or even actively counter the project. The God-Machine then employs more overt weapons - mortal cultists, spirits, monsters, angels...it has armies of agents to deal with investigators. It still attempts to do so subtly and quietly, but when a real threat to Infrastructure shows up, that tends to mean a monster hiding in your car. Many angels either personally protect projects or oversee Defense Infrastructure that protects projects. Most of these are Guardians, designed to keep outsiders out. Destroyers are sometimes used for defense, however, when the Machine anticipates major problems. Messengers sometimes organize and motivate cults that serve as Defense Infrastructure. Demons formerly involved in Defense Infrastructure tend to be very good fighters.

Logistical Infrastructure is vital to the Machine, because most projects fundamentally involve moving people and things into precise positions to create an occult matrix. Logistical Infrastructure ensures this happens, with the proper materials at the proper time. These projects collect raw materials, build hardware, construct other Infrastructure. Angels do a lot of the work ehre - Messengers carry orders to humans working on projects, and are often the best at repurposing mortal infrastructure into actual Infrastructure. Psychopomps, meanwhile, can mask the movement of material, while Guardians make sure it gets there safely. Demons that worked in Logistical Infrastructure often know quite a lot about the world and the people in it, and many retain their social contacts after the Fall.

Elimination Infrastructure is designed to get rid of Infrastructure that is no longer needed, whether because it was intended to be temporary or because someone hosed it all up and now it's useless. This removes all evidence the Infrastructure existed at all - useful, when you want to keep mortals from looking too closely. This can be crude arson or as subtle as manipulating a spirit into wiping all memories of an event. Elimination Infrastructure can be very large-scale - say, using a volcano to destroy a city - or highly targeted - say, killing someone who witnessed too much. Destroyers are great at removing both witnesses and evidence, and are often used to oversee Elimination Infrastructure. Psychopomps and Messengers get involved when subtler removal is required. Demons that worked in Elimination Infrastructure tend to be extremely efficient, often brutally so, at covering their tracks and finding the most effective way to remove evidence of their work.

Command and Control Infrastructure exists because the Machine is complex - and any complex machine needs parts that determine its overall strategy. Every new project needs information gathered, decisions made and instructions communicated. However, even demons know very little about how this is done. Messengers are used to communicate the Machine's will to its agents...but not always. Angels, of course, can hear the Machine's voice and relay information back to it at will. The Machine must be able to sense more than that, though. Its projects often rely on a precise understanding of what seems to be the location of literally everything. However, it clearly isn't omniscient or omnipotent, or demons couldn't exist. Some demons claim to have defended Command and Control Infrastructure, but the few times anyone's taken those structures done has never resulted in any noticeable loss of capability for the Machine. It seems unlikely that the Machine would be careless with this critical Infrastructure, and some is probably redundant, while others are protected by decoys when that is impossible.

Demons can always see the Infrastructure. They may not know what its purpose is or what it can do, but they know it's there. However, they are unable to create new Infrastructure - they never learned the underlying principles that the Machine uses to create that stuff. They know just enough to do what their job used to be. However, some do study known Infrastructure in the hopes of learning, one day, how to recreate it themselves. So far, all attempts to do so have either failed or been utterly annihilated by the Machine's agents. Despite this, demons do know that human scientific knowledge is woefully tiny compared to what's out there, and that many of the things even most other supernatural creatures believe impossible are doable, with the right occult matrix. God-Machine projects rarely produce anything that outright surprises a demon in terms of what they can do, even if they don't know how or why it was done.





Every piece of Infrastructure has a weak point - actually, that's true of lowercase-i infrastructure, too. For Infrastructure, this is the Linchpin: a piece that is necessary to the Infrastructure, but is also the weakest point in some manner. Maybe it's a spot where the gears are poorly guarded, a piece that is easily disrupted or something that needs constant maintenance. Take that out, and the Infrastructure will fail. However, the God-Machine believes heavily in contigencies. Take down one project, and it'll adapt. It will try again when it can - even if that's a thousand years from now. Angels, however, are rarely fully redundant. Most occult matrices involve summoning an angel, but these angels tend to be precreated, stored away in a facility somewhere. Creating entirely new angels takes a lot of resources, most of which are rare and hard to get, plus powerful cosmic events or convergences. These projects can take decades or centuries to enact, and the God-Machine really prefers not having to make new angels.

Once you know what to look for, Infrastructure is pretty easy to spot. Form follows function, and so no piece of Infrastructure really fits in. It always looks out of place, thanks to the particular occult needs of its construction. There's always something incredibly weird around, even if it's not immediately visible. The God-Machine works to distract people away from this, sure, but once you get past the distractions, Infrastructure tends to be obvious, even if the reason for the weirdness is (as it often is) entirely incomprehensible. Deception, of course, is part of the Machine's activities at all times. It routinely deceives the mortals that serve it, and rarely reveals more than a tiny fraction of its power ot anyone. The cults rarely have beliefs that seem even slightly related, and it never tells mortals anything that is not calculated to make them serve some goal. When its lies don't work, it will not hesitate to turn to threats, blackmail or even mind control. If this fails, well, pawns are always expendable and replacable. Supernatural beings are more difficult to work with, but their powers often make them overconfident and reckless in ways the Machine can exploit, and they often overestimate their knowledge of the world. The Machine trusts angels more than any other servant, and while it does not lie to them and will tell them about weaknesses in Infrastructure that they have to worry about enemies exploiting, it doesn't ever bother with telling them why something is being done. They don't need to know that.

Then we get a set of short stories about demons explaining what they used to do as angels. They're all really great and I suggest you buy the book so you can read 'em. It's stuff like 'there's an angel that guards a tiny, handmade model of the city it was in that updated itself to plan the future of the city, and went rogue when it was told it wasn't allowed to take care of the city it had grown attached to any more. It smashed hald of the model and is now terrified that the city was more than a plan - it may have actually been a reflection of the city and able to influence it, so it's working to prepare the city now for a potential incoming disaster.'

Next time: Playing a demon

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

potatocubed posted:

But AMP is not a good game. :(

In terms of game design it's straight out of the 90s with all the flaws and wobbles that entails, most notably the metaplot and the eminently abusable merits and flaws system. It's also got the D&D problem that you can break the game over your knee without even trying just by accidentally picking one of the powers that lets you do so. The system itself is an unholy fusion of d20 and Storyteller, and has carried over some of the worst bits of each -- a swingy d20 roll, needing to invest in two skills to be good at one thing, a focus on narrative without any mechanics to support narrative... it's a hot mess.

And that's kind of the thing, I think. AMPYO's major flaws are glaring but fixable, and they're pretty much all mechanical, but there's a major disconnect between the game's stated themes (conspiracies, shades of grey, superheroes taking their place on the world stage, the price of power) and what the mechanics support (fights, losing control).

I started writing up this game because I thought a close read might show me what it was that other people love so much about it, and now I'm done I still have no idea. I get that with a skilled GM and a load of handwaving (and no-one setting out to break the game, or picking the wrong power and doing it by accident) you could have a good time playing it -- if I had the opportunity I wouldn't turn down a game of AMP, which means it still comes in ahead of Champions -- and that maybe the d20-based mechanics might make it an easier sell to the D&D crowd, but overall... it's just not very good.
I didn't follow the Kickstarter for this game, so I'm at a loss. Except to say that for people who like that kind of thing, that's the kind of thing they like.

Meaning, there are a lot of people in the hobby who don't demand or even want new things and tighter design, so I suppose there's a market for familiar mediocrity. D20ish mechanics, thoroughly 90s design in every other sense, and nostalgia for conspiracy-ridden 90s metaplot with the PCs as "dark" superheroes. Hell, half the 90s games were really about grimdark superheroes anyway.

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Hostile V posted:

So my question is, do the PCs in AMP lose their poo poo around the other PCs or are they immune due to Friendship? The whole thing is a neat idea on a plot or character level, but I would enjoy that more for a book or a movie than to actually play.

In the Law of Attraction section:

quote:

Over time, this effect dwindles. AMPs who have been friends for some time may get the tingle of conflict, but they aren’t forced to act upon their cravings. They receive a +5 bonus to resist the Attraction for each time they encounter a particular AMP. For friends and other players’ characters, GMs may wave this check entirely. It can also be waved if the current situation overwhelms the urge. So, rushing into a burning building to save an innocent and meeting another AMP doing the same thing, their safety and that of the innocent is enough to ignore the Attraction for the Scene.

So the GM can "wave" these rules for friends and other player characters. Also I suppose once you've met another AMP four times you're probably good to not assault them on sight -- but if you meet their friends, you're going to break out in lasers again.

Mors Rattus posted:

To me it seems like a really poor implementation of an attempt to enforce the genre thing where heroes tend to get in brawls for no good reason during crossovers.

This is the impression I get, yes.

I mean, it does also serve a purpose in that it makes "stay at home and live a quiet life" an impossible proposition, since you might bump into another AMP at the petrol station and before you know it DEATHMATCH. This works as an IC setting conceit -- supers are here and you can't keep that quiet -- and as an OOC way to force the PCs to engage with the plot, so that's fine.

I just think that with a bit of finesse you could achieve something similar without taking away a player's agency. I mean, look at Apocalypse World: that's a masterclass of setting up a situation where every character has to go seeking something, and the game snowballs from there, but it never forces you to get up in someone's face -- you have to make that decision yourself.

Halloween Jack posted:

I didn't follow the Kickstarter for this game, so I'm at a loss. Except to say that for people who like that kind of thing, that's the kind of thing they like.

It's true.

I have a powerful streak of 'this could be better' running through me though, and games like this -- and in fact Mystic Empyrean, my last F&F -- grab that strand and pull hard. In the case of ME, it was careless implementation around a core of really neat and innovative ideas. In AMP, it's just... you could do the same thing so much better with a bit of care and attention and game design.

It just bugs me. :colbert:

Mr E
Sep 18, 2007


I'm wanting to start putting together a campaign for once my Strahd campaign ends fairly soonish. Our group currently is playing Strahd (D&D 5e) and a Star Wars RPG campaign. I'm wanting to do a semi-post apocalyptic campaign which includes firearms to a point, but also still has melee and magic based systems (essentially a gun-light Fallout with magic). I'm wondering what my best option(s) are for being able to create this kind of system, and am really trying to get away from D&D. I'm up for any ruleset,, and I was currently looking at 13th age and Dungeon World, though I don't know either system yet.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



potatocubed posted:

In the Law of Attraction section:


So the GM can "wave" these rules for friends and other player characters. Also I suppose once you've met another AMP four times you're probably good to not assault them on sight -- but if you meet their friends, you're going to break out in lasers again.


This is the impression I get, yes.

I mean, it does also serve a purpose in that it makes "stay at home and live a quiet life" an impossible proposition, since you might bump into another AMP at the petrol station and before you know it DEATHMATCH. This works as an IC setting conceit -- supers are here and you can't keep that quiet -- and as an OOC way to force the PCs to engage with the plot, so that's fine.

I just think that with a bit of finesse you could achieve something similar without taking away a player's agency. I mean, look at Apocalypse World: that's a masterclass of setting up a situation where every character has to go seeking something, and the game snowballs from there, but it never forces you to get up in someone's face -- you have to make that decision yourself.

Seriously surprised there's no government initiative to take a bunch of AMPs and cram them into the same place for a week, airdropping pizzas in so they won't starve to force them to get used to the existence of other AMPs. Call it AMP CAMP.

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 didn't follow the Kickstarter for this game, so I'm at a loss. Except to say that for people who like that kind of thing, that's the kind of thing they like.

This applies to most games actually (as well as to most things to be fair). I love d20 even though I know intellectually it's a lousy system. I know its quirks and weak points and yet I still have fun and not in a Stockholm Syndrome type way. I love complex rulesets from the early 80s (pretty much the entire production of FGU to be honest) and the joy of house rules and table interpretation. 'Argument Phase' was something I enjoyed as we all tried to fathom something particularly byzantine. I have played FATE, Fiasco, *World and the like; and I don't enjoy them nearly as much. That'sw hy I get so annoyed by the people in this thread who call 'The One True Way'.

Beast is an awful awful game for its themes and setting, not primarily its mechanics. If you glued a different set of rules to it and kept the setting the same it would still be a crime against humanity. Pathfinder's setting is generic inoffensive fantasy with a set of rules that in the abstract are not better or no worse than WoD's (in my opinion). For that fact alone Pathfinder is the superior game.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Mors Rattus posted:

To me it seems like a really poor implementation of an attempt to enforce the genre thing where heroes tend to get in brawls for no good reason during crossovers.

Like, really poor implementation.

Are there also rules about young heroes seemingly aging faster than the adults? Or a sliding timeline? People that never stay dead for long?

Mr E posted:

I'm wanting to start putting together a campaign for once my Strahd campaign ends fairly soonish. Our group currently is playing Strahd (D&D 5e) and a Star Wars RPG campaign. I'm wanting to do a semi-post apocalyptic campaign which includes firearms to a point, but also still has melee and magic based systems (essentially a gun-light Fallout with magic). I'm wondering what my best option(s) are for being able to create this kind of system, and am really trying to get away from D&D. I'm up for any ruleset,, and I was currently looking at 13th age and Dungeon World, though I don't know either system yet.

If you want to go oldschool-ish, I'd say Other Dust with either the Psychic from Stars Without Number reskinned as a mage, or just have him gain and use spells like a spellcaster from your OSR game of choice.

Other Dust also has a bunch of random tables that might be useful in other post-apocalyptic games.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


Mr E posted:

I'm wanting to start putting together a campaign for once my Strahd campaign ends fairly soonish. Our group currently is playing Strahd (D&D 5e) and a Star Wars RPG campaign. I'm wanting to do a semi-post apocalyptic campaign which includes firearms to a point, but also still has melee and magic based systems (essentially a gun-light Fallout with magic). I'm wondering what my best option(s) are for being able to create this kind of system, and am really trying to get away from D&D. I'm up for any ruleset,, and I was currently looking at 13th age and Dungeon World, though I don't know either system yet.

Dungeon World and Apocalypse World are both fairly rules light. DW is a streamlined D&Desque game and AW deals with the apocalypse. Most of either game is driven by the players and resolves quickly. That being said, if you used either, you'd have to refluff some of either to fit the game (such as The Hocus actually using magic mind whammies or Rangers in DW shooting guns instead of bows). Pretty much any of my current suggestions is probably going to be a system agnostic, rules lite game as I'm not sure I own enough Magic and Apocalypse games to name specific examples.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Demon: The Descent

Making a demon starts off fairly similar to a human in CofD, as always, until you get to the Demon template. Demons get an extra, fourth Skill Specialty, but it must be something that could risk compromising their Cover if they use it - something incongruous, like a vegan with a Butchery specialty or a little old lady with a Demlitions specialty. You then select your Incarnation - Destroyer, Guardian, Messenger or Psychopomp. This determines what Embed type you favor. Then you pick which Agenda you belong to - Inquisitor, Integrator, Saboteur, Tempter or None. This determines what Persistent Condition you get. The four Agendas each give you something useful, while no Agenda gives you Uncalled - you get Beats when you get into trouble that being in an Agenda would have helped with, until you join an Agenda. You can be part of two Agendas if you take an appropriate merit, as a note.

Once you've done all this, it's time to take your powers. You get to select a total of four Embeds and/or Exploits. One must be an Embed from your Incarnation's favored category; otherwise, you're free to do what you like, as long as the ST approves of your picks. (Exploits, see, have prerequisite Embeds...but the prerequisite is always 'anything the GM feels would be able to be twisted to have some relation to the Exploit.' So if you want one Embed and three Exploits, that's fine if the GM okays your picks.) You pick one of your Embeds to be the first Key in your Cipher; more on the Cipher later. Then you design your demonic form - at character creation, it has three Modifications, two Technologies, one Propulsion and one Process. More on what the hell that means later.

Demons do not have Integrity - or any morality stat, in fact. They have Cover, instead. You can have multiple Cover ratings, but never more than your Primum, which is your power stat. You start with one Cover at 7 for free, and can buy another for one merit dot if you begin play over Primum 1. Your Covers, as a note, can have your social merits attached ot them, making them usable only in that Cover. This is annoying, but means fewer people know your true identity. If you ever lose that Cover, you get the merit dots back as XP, free. Demons also have a Virtue and a Vice, like a mortal. The primary difference is that demons tend to have weirder Virtues and Vices, reflecting their more inhuman outlook on life.



So, let's talk about the Agendas. First up: Inquisitors. Inquisitors are also known as the Watchers or the Paranoids, because they are obsessed with discovering information about the Machine in order to protect themselves from it. They are the undisputed demonic masters of intelligence gathering, though they have a tendency to conspiracy theory. Of course, they're not generally wrong that often. Often, they come to the Agenda out of an affinity for knowledge. They believe firmly that knowledge is power, and that by gathering knowledge while denying it to their enemies, they can make themselves too powerful to be taken out. They are not especially good at uncertainty, most of the time. They treat the world as a giant intelligence agency. Everything is either a risk or an advantage - usually both at once. They focus on rare information, working to ensure they - and only they - know it. They do not trust others easily, even other Inquisitors, and tend to be suspicious of everyone they meet. They sell scraps of information to get other information, always trying to get as much as they can for as little as they can.



Inquisitors believe in a personal Hell. Hell is not a place, not a world. It's a state of mind, an enlightenment achieved by wisdom and secret lore. The most important rule, to them, is to always be on guard. Anything could be a trap. Never work alone, because being alone is being dead. Get reliable allies, and use them well. Often, they prefer to work with demons that are not Inquisitors, to avoid rivalry in gaining information. They focus on gathering information - which is more than being a shutin with a computer. They tend to have a network of contacts and allies, built by friendship, favor trading and blackmail. Many work to ensure they are valuable to those around them, often working undercover to follow up leads. Some even pretend to be other kinds of supernatural being. They tend to be pessimists, knowing that victory against the Machine is not a given, that stalling for time and advantage is often all you can do. They are always vigilant, never relaxed, and some buckle under the constant strain. That's the price you pay.

Inquisitors have no general organization. Each is an intelligence agency unto themselves, negotiating with the rest, allied to a few. They communicate by dead drop, code and graffiti, and even those that are strong allies keep secrets from each other. They often use internet message boards and listservs, hidden behind Tor and proxies, talking in code. The boards tend to be small, obscure and well-hidden, often disguised as conspiracy theorist hangouts or fringe religious movements. They always assume someone might be watching, and so they prefer secretive meetups in deserted areas, always using obscure languages and always watching the shadows. They never go anywhere without knowing exactly where the exits are. Most Inquisitors never formally join anything - they just become part of the Inquisitor community without really meaning to, until one day they realize they're Inquisitors.

The Inquisitor Condition is Prepared for Anything. It generates Beats when you ask a question to your ring that leads them to change or reconsider their plans. Once per session, they can resolve it to perform an intuitive leap of logic, reaching a revelatory truth. The ST gives them a useful piece of information that helps resolve the current situation or, if there is no obvious way to do so, they get +3 to a Mental skill roll, which can be used for an Embed or Exploit.

Stereotypes posted:

Integrators: Nothing I've seen even hints the God-Machine is redeemable. It's trying to set you up.
Saboteurs: In a shallow pool, the bottom's always visible. That's how you know you can trust them. A little.
Tempters: Wheels within wheels. Webs across webs. It's not so different from what we do, only with...people.
Vampires: I can't tell you how many times I've followed up a lead only to find one of these. Did the God-Machine create them as its decoys?
Werewolves: They seem pretty easy to understand at first blush. Don't be fooled. They have their own language.
Mages: Undisputed masters of hoarding knowledge. Luckily, they're so busy hiding it from each other that I can sometimes slip through.
Hunters: So outnumbered. So outgunned. And yet, they seem to thrive. If you can strike a deal with them, do so, but never let them see your back.
Humans: So many places to hide - for us and our enemies.



Next time: Integrators and Saboteurs

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

potatocubed posted:

I have a powerful streak of 'this could be better' running through me though, and games like this -- and in fact Mystic Empyrean, my last F&F -- grab that strand and pull hard. In the case of ME, it was careless implementation around a core of really neat and innovative ideas. In AMP, it's just... you could do the same thing so much better with a bit of care and attention and game design.
The thing for me is, unless you're really glossing over a lot of intricately detailed setting in your review, I don't see a lot to salvage. It's pretty basic, and not even the first "All superheroes come from government super-science" I've seen. The idea of superheroes "breeding true" is an interesting one, but not one that they seem to develop much. I feel like I could not only run this premise in a better system, but make up a better alternate history without much effort.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


BattleTech - A Time of War


Character Creation Part 2 - MechWarrior High

So far, Shunsui Hikari has your standard Draconis Combine traits: He knows his way around Combine society, knows how to kick people and hit them with a melee weapon, and he is a bit on the poor side. He is also paranoid of his government (probably because his d-bag of a father is working for a shady government project), and he had the chance to pick between points in Combat Sense or Pain Resistance (because Space Japan). I went with the former, since it makes more sense for a young 'Mech pilot.

He also has to pay 850 XP for some baseline abilities: A bit of Perception, skills in one of his Affiliation's languages (I picked Japanese) and English, as well as a 1 in every Attribute.
I'm not exactly sure what's up with these Attribute XP. You get a couple here and there every other Module or so, but you'll easily spend 50% - 75% of your Attribute XP at the end. Oh well, moving on.

Stage 1: Early Childhood

This covers Shunsui's upbringing up to age 10. Aside from normal stuff like Blue Collar, White Collar and Farm, you might also be a Born Mercenary Brat, or you have the hard choice between Fugitive or War Orphan. The Inner Sphere - a happy place to be.

Since Shunsui's father is a mad scientist of sorts, I'll pick White Collar for 170 XP. He trades some physical Attributes for more points in mental ones, has more cash to play around with, and he gets Glass Jaws. Because he's such a wimp. He also made an Enemy, because he's very punchable I assume.

stage 2: Late Childhood

This periods marks the his teenage years, ending with him being 16. It has a few more advanced forms of a couple of the latter Modules, and it features a few important education choices in the form of the High School and the Military School. I go with the latter because Shunsui's father probably put im in a boot camp / military boarding school the first chance he got, in hopes of him becoming less of a wimp.

This of course gives him several Traits and skills revolving around strategy, combat and fitness. He also needs to have a WIL of at least 3 by the end of character creation. He also gains his first military ranks. And all this for 500 XP.

Stage 3: Higher Education

The first optional stage of character creation, and one that can be taken multiple times. It offers a choice of various kinds of colleges and academies to gain proficiency in certain jobs, like technician or policeman. Several of these choices come in basic and advanced form, and other choices build upon them. An example for this is Officer Training, which offers nifiter military ranks.

The most important thing about Higher Education is that the skill packages offered here come with a 20%ish rebate, so we'll definitely hang out for basic, advanced and officer training.

Since Shunsui's supposed to pilot a big stompy 'Mech, he gotta go to Military School. Since MechWarrior training is an advanced training be default, we don't have choice here and stick around for 2 years total.
For a total of 1,130, he becomes a full member of the military and finally learns how to pilot a 'Mech, and XP pouring into his Martial Arts and Small Arms skills are starting to add up quite nicely.

Now for another year and 700 XP, Shunsui goes to Officer Candidate School for more sweet skills, and access to officer ranks which will eventually allow him to order other dudes around.

He has also gained 350 Flexible XP from that little military trip. Flexible XP are just part of a Module that haven't been assigned to anything specific. They sometimes come with restrictions as to how many you can spend on what, but these right here can be put on anything. Not entirely sure why they couldn't just reduce the Module cost, but whatevs.

These points will go into getting rid of Glass Jaws. As much as it might fit his wimpy nature, suffering +50% damage from everything (even +100% if its nonlethal) doesn't sound like a very good idea. We don't want him to break open his skull like an egg the first time his 'Mech falls down.

The remaining flexible XP go into getting our first points in the Vehicle Trait, which is a pretty fun one. The higher its level, bigger the 'Mech, tank or other vehicle you want to start out with. A minimum of level 2 (200 XP) is required to start with a Light 'Mech (20-35 tons), and a level of 8 (800 XP) gets you access to an Assault 'Mech (80-100 tons).
It should be noted that you're blowing all these XP on your starting 'Mech. If it gets blown up, you have to either buy a new one (good luck with that considering their price range), or ask your higher-ups (aka the GM) to assign you a new one.
But that's not all! You can even throw more XP at your 'Mech to give some positive Quirks (like say less heat generation on a laser weapon), or being able to actually pick the 'Mech you want instead of rolling randomly on a table. And if you want to have your character pilot a 'Mech you've designed yourself, that'll cost you another bunch of XP.

Stage 4: Real Life

These Modules reflect your adult life experience after your formal education. Did you have a civilian job? Did you serve in the military for a few years? Or were you just aimless? These Modules got you covered.

As for Shunsui... nope. As already way too old at 19. Better get him to the front lines ASAP.

Sample Characters

Now since this was a bit short, enjoy the best of the sample characters:

MechWarrior


The thing about BattleTech is that it actually cares about heat generation - at least if your vehicle is important enough. 'Mechs and AeroSpace Fighters do for example, but lowly tanks and other boring stuff just has to be built so that it always cancels out any heat it might generate.

With that in mind, it makes sense for a 'Mech's cockpit to be located in the frail but small head of the 'Mech, as putting it right next to the fusion reactor in the torso might not be a good idea. As the cockpit still heats up a lot (BattleTech fiction loves describing this), the standard MechWarrior "uniform" is basically underwear with heat-insulated boots. Oh, and a cooling vest, but that's on the picture for obvious reasons.

AeroSpace Pilot


Meanwhile, AeroSpace pilots wear standard Animu mecha pilot getup so they don't die instantly if they ever end up in the cold vacuum of space.

Elemental


As it turns out, Elemental Clan Warriors have been genetically optimized to make the perfect rape face.

Scout & Renegade Warrior


Just putting these two together because this might be the first game with two Not-Riddicks.

Your BattleTech Infodump of the Day: Spaaace!

BattleTech's FTL drive of choice is called the KF Drive, aka the Kearny-Fuchida Drive, named after the two scientist who came up with the original theory in... wow, two years from now. Laughed at by their colleagues, it would take almost a century before the theory turned out to not be crazy talk.

The KF Drive works by taking a shortcut through a higher dimension, similar to how one would take a shortcut by jumping over a wall. To an outside observer, these JumpShips appear to perform a near instant teleport.

Jumping comes with its fair share of limitations: You can't jump farther than 30 light years at a time, and your ship can deviate up to several thousand miles (if not more) from its intended destination. And unless your ship comes with a big battery for another jump, you have to unfold a massive solar sail and wait for a few days to recharge. If you're lucky, the system is important enough for nearby trade that there's a recharge station nearby.

Since KF Drives don't really work under gravity influences (or at least you really, really don't want to risk a jump under these conditions), the classic "jump points" for a JumpShip are the far north and south poles of a system.
There are also Lagrange Points, aka regions inside the solar system were the gravitional forces of nearby planets cancel each other outs. Considering their small size, the fact that they move around and might even disappear for a while, and the large margin of error when jumping means these are only really used by criminal elements, earning them the name "pirate points".

In the early days of FTL travel, JumpShips were these big, hulking behemoths. Then ship designers reduced them to their main drive, crew quarters and docking ports for the DropShips that would then carry the actual cargo.

DropShips are your main big ship for in-system business. They transport cargo, troops or just lots and lots of weapon systems. The classic DropShip is spherical in shape (aka mighty space eggs), but there are also Aerodyne DropShips who look a bit like oversized space shuttles. They have naturally a better maneuverability in atmosphere, but they can't into VTOL unless you want to risk some serious damage. Despite this, they actually do have a belly-mounted engine for space travel, so the interior doesn't have to be designed with gravity coming from two possible directions.

Below the DropShips are the Small Craft. They come in the same shapes and aren't terribly important, only really serving as shuttles and escape pods.

AeroSpace Fighters are called that way because they are all built for atmospheric operations. They aren't quite as maneuverable or fuel-efficient as conventional fighters, but they can just leave the planet if things get too hot for them. They also weight around twice as much as a conventional Fighter on any weight class, giving them a lot more guns to play around with.
As they can also get up to 100 tons, they are essentially flying 'Mechs.

There are also satellites and space stations, with the latter being extremely rare after everyone in the Inner Sphere bombed each other out of the Golden Age.

Next Time: Traits - it's Merits and Flaws time. Also time to roll up the starting 'Mech, or should I build one?

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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



Chapter 8: A Shortening of the Way

Fancy title aside, this chapter deals with advancement. There are several types of advancement in this game--experience points to increase your character’s stats, Renown to increase their standing, and Asset points to advance your House. Then there’s the matter of House Ventures, representing critical junctures or long-term projects to further your House’s goals.


:smuggo:

Experience

Experience points are meant to be handed out after each “chapter” of the story, which I kinda-assume corresponds to one or two game sessions. They’re awarded based on accomplishing the party’s goals, doing so spectacularly, performing great deeds along the way, and good roleplaying. You can also reduce their awards for bad roleplaying or accomplishing the party’s goals only with major setbacks or by creating other problems. (I’m not a big fan of singling out players for good or bad roleplaying, and other rewards and penalties strike me as dependent on the railroady adventure design the authors sometimes encourage.)

The theoretical maximum is 10 points, and assuming the Narrator isn’t stingy, PCs can easily be collecting 4-5 points per session. As you can see from the experience costs listed below, they’ll be increasing their stats quickly.







Like pretty much any game from this era, a few things jump out at me, indicating that a savvy player can easily game the experience system. First, new skills are expensive. I’ve come down hard on this game for a character creation system that tends to give you 1-2 points in a bunch of skills, from a skill list that’s way too long, in a game that demands specialization in order to succeed at challenging tests. The advancement rules give you some incentive to have a broad, thin spread of skills to start, for better or for worse.

Second, Attributes don’t cost much more than skills. Remember that in this system, you roll your Attribute as a die pool, taking the highest die, while skill points add directly to your total. In the rules chapter review, I discussed how increasing your Attributes doesn’t increase your average roll as much as you’d think--but as there are only four Attributes, you still have the incentive to buy them up, at these prices. Skill specializations don’t seem worth it unless you can use it all the time. Advantages are expensive. Third, Karama is expensive, but worth it--Karama is a pool you can spend to directly increase your skill rolls. The book notes that characters with a high Karama pool can succeed whenever they really need to. I’m not scared of that, since the basic difficulty mechanics of this game are punishing, but I’m not interested in making Karama spending a major factor in gameplay, either.

Spending experience is subject to the Narrator’s veto if it doesn’t make sense, particularly when it comes to things like buying Advantages or eliminating Disadvantages. The game also suggests you can give out “limited” experience points that can only be used toward specific Advantages or Disadvantages. For example, if you work with a Bene Gesserit NPC on an adventure, you could get limited XP toward making her an Ally. This makes sense on a superficial level but I really, really don’t like it. It’s an invitation for the Narrator to decide how you should develop your PC for you, and effectively punish you if you want to go another way.


”So without the Butlerian Jihad, we wouldn’t have these great Mao jackets or overhead projectors.”


Renown

Renown is a measure of fame, reputation, and rank. As with experience points, there’s a list of recommended rewards, and Renown points are divided into 4 categories (Valor, Learning, Justice, and Prayer) based on what the Narrator feels appropriate. As with experience points, if the PCs are doing what PCs in roleplaying games do, they’re going to rake in Renown unless the Narrator is being stingy.

PCs gain Rank in their Profession as they increase their Renown and their Profession’s key skills. Thought Rank doesn’t have direct mechanical benefits, it’s not meant to be some abstract, D&D-esque title for your class and level, but to have meaning in the story--it’s presumed that a Noble who advances to Rank 5 will indeed be the Heir Designate of his House. The requirements to gain rank aren’t high, either, and I can easily see the PCs advancing to high rank after a few adventures. Nothing wrong with that.






The game cautions you not to make Rank simply a matter of gaining Renown and spending experience points on skills, and suggests Renown tests or even interviews to discuss the PC’s history and ambitions. You could adjust a Profession’s key skills based on the nature of the House, and there are rules for “departmental transfers” in which you drop a rank. But really, why gently caress about?


“Kirk!”
“Picard!”
“Kirk!”
“Picard!”
“He’s right over there, y’know.”



House Advancement and Ventures

After each adventure, the Narrator is supposed to conduct a “Narrative Debriefing” with the players to discuss how their actions furthered their House’s goals. The sticking point of the debriefing is whether or not the PCs accomplished any Narrative Ventures. These are critical points during gameplay where the Narrator decides that a single Test, win or lose, constitutes a far-reaching political move. Of course, “stabbing the Emperor to death” would be a huge political move, but it’s meant for things like a speech at a Sysselraad conference, a negotiation with a CHOAM delegate, a tactical decision during a major battle, and other decisions where the outcome isn’t immediate.

Players can’t just decide to initiate these--the Narrator is supposed to design the adventure with such opportunities in mind, and determine when one arises. They can be any kind of Test--the only difference is that you use an appropriate House Attribute instead of the PC’s own. Later, during the debriefing, the Narrator awards Asset points for successful Ventures, which can be spent to improve House Attributes.



Dune has rules for using Assets to buy things for your house besides basic stat increases, but the cost and the benefit is totally up to the Narrator--I can’t help but compare it to the Company rules from Reign, which are more fully developed.


”This is the weirdest catalogue shoot I’ve ever been on.”
“What is a ‘tech vest’ anyway?”


PCs can also spend Asset points (1-3, Narrator’s discretion again!) to launch an Interlude Venture. These are big, long-term projects to improve your House’s standing as a nation-state, where events happen “off-screen.” Launching an invasion, starting a business venture, initiating a War of Assassins, persecuting dissidents, etc. For example, when Thufir Hawat conducts a security sweep in response to the attempt on Paul’s life, that’s a Narrative Venture. When we learn that Duke Leto has been sending his best fighters to make friends with the Fremen tribes, that’s an Interlude Venture.

As with Narrative Ventures, the Narrator determines the relevant skill and type of Test (these are often extended Tests). And if the PCs triumph? Uh, they succeed at their objective. No strictly mechanical impact, no return on their Asset investment. Granted, this could be huge, like assassinating an enemy or eliminating a problem so that it doesn’t come up again. Dune isn’t, and doesn’t need to be, the kind of game where literally everything that happens in the story can be quantified in the rules. But it really doesn’t sit well with me that there isn’t a defined way to use the House rules to pass from House Minor to Great House status.

It also appears to me that the problems with Dune’s lengthy skill list are likely to rear their ugly head again when the players want to do Interlude Ventures. This game is good about consolidating its skill list when it comes to combat, but it has way too many professional and social skills. In deciding what skill is most appropriate for a Venture, the Narrator is caught between letting the PCs use a handful of their best skills for everything, or screwing them over by insisting they use Economics instead of Mercantilism.



The Dark Side hasn’t been kind to Billy Idol.


Next time, on Dune: A sample homeworld. Chusuk, Planet of Music!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Doresh posted:

As the cockpit still heats up a lot (BattleTech fiction loves describing this), the standard MechWarrior "uniform" is basically underwear with heat-insulated boots.
So Battletech must have a bunch of art of buff, sexy dudes dressed as pro wrestlers, right? It's not just an excuse to draw women in rubber underwear, right?

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Halloween Jack posted:

The thing for me is, unless you're really glossing over a lot of intricately detailed setting in your review, I don't see a lot to salvage. It's pretty basic, and not even the first "All superheroes come from government super-science" I've seen. The idea of superheroes "breeding true" is an interesting one, but not one that they seem to develop much. I feel like I could not only run this premise in a better system, but make up a better alternate history without much effort.

What I see is that someone set out to make this game, and that's what I'd be trying to salvage. It's my inner editor: see what the author was trying to say and help them say that, but better.

Digging around in AMP, the main theme I think they were going for was a game about the first superheroes and the world coming to terms with that -- a theme which is completely unsupported by the game as it stands -- and if I was going to write my own 'rise of the heroes' game I'd build it around the reactions of people (groups, like the police or the public in general, and individuals, like 'your mother') to what you do. (God knows, comics has a rich vein of this just ready for mining.) Grab the mechanics from, say, Chronicles of Darkness, for that familiar base; slap on a superhero power hack and some new conditions to reflect the specific problems that assail people trying to find a balance between their normal lives and being able to fart earthquakes; and you're halfway to something workable already.

Serf
May 5, 2011




Top Guns, James Bonds, and Sherlocks

So it’s been a while! Nevertheless I am back and still slowly chugging along with more information on a low-key favorite of mine: Adventure!

If you want to catch up, Inklesspen has archived my last 3 posts about the game here Adventure!

The next few pages deal with the other major players in the world of Adventure!, though not nation-states, these organizations are either subservient to states or exist apart from them. We'll cover the nations of the world and the state of the various geographical regions in a later post. These organizations are comparable to the Aeon Society, and run the gamut of foes, friends and rivals. We’re back to Whitley Styles running the writing show, so strap in for more of his, uh, interesting perspectives.


Remember this part, where Styles says that all the information herein is available to the public because of the Aeon Society’s commitment to FREEDOM and IDEALS

The Air Circus
First up is the organization that Danger Ace is associated with. The Air Circus was formed by Ace after World War 1, when he became an aerial entertainer. He had an entourage who followed him around, but he started to notice that he just couldn’t stop running into all sorts of weird trouble out there in the skies, so he started hitting up his high-flying colleagues to ask if they were seeing a lot of weirdness too. “Surprisingly” as the book puts it, they were! So they agreed to meet in Kansas City to talk about how they could protect the fans at their shows and work together to combat the… well the book doesn’t really say what sort of trouble Ace and the others were seeing before, but I’m gonna guess air pirates or something?

The Kansas City meeting goes sideways when Doctor Zorbo reveals his Death Balloons, which menace the city from above with… again, it’s not really mentioned. I’d say it was bombs, but that doesn’t really make sense given our next image.


This seems kinda like a cop-out here. What were the balloons carrying that could hurt people if not bombs? Although I like the detail about the pilots using pistols, because in real life that’s pretty much how early aerial combat went. Pilots started off throwing bricks and grenades at each other, the graduated to pistols before they figured out how to mount machine guns on planes. Of course that was back in at least 1914, but civilian planes like the ones the Air Circus would be flying wouldn’t have guns, so it makes sense that they’d go back to the basics.

Zorbo is sorta a joke villain, always coming up with grand schemes to extort money or steal things from the skies… but always using lighter-than-air craft to do so. I think Zorbo would make for an excellent Better Angels character.

So the Air Circus kinda becomes a thing after Kansas City, traveling in troupes, bringing along entourages and getting into trouble across the globe. The United States isn’t a fan of them, since at this point they are trying to get their own Air Corps off the ground, and don’t like a buncha weirdo civvies saving the day for them. Other countries are cool with it, most ominously Germany, since the Treaty of Versailles limited their air force and people like Zorbo are always trying to start poo poo with them. The Circus is also on good terms with the International Detective Agency and the Ponatowski Foundation (fictional organizations we’ll get to soon), as they can deliver people and packages faster than anyone else in the world.

I dunno if you could run a whole game based around the Air Circus, but there is something to it. Either you’re all playing various flavors of pilot or you’re mixed between pilots and ground personnel/hangers-on. And I think that when the flying action starts the latter players would be left twiddling their thumbs, or doing some kinda grunt work while the real action is happening elsewhere.

Branch 9


So like in the VERY NEXT entry Whitley is saying "remember how we don't keep secrets and we're making all of our files public and information wants to be free"? Well gently caress that noise apparently. The files are still open, you can still come read them, just don't tell anybody, okay? I mean we don't want to compromise top-level state secrets even though our stated goal is to not have secrets. If they really wanted it to make sense, they could just save the "pretty please" stuff and have this come from the redacted section or something, I dunno. This is a dumb section.

Branch 9 are the elite secret agents who report only to the President. Formed by Teddy Roosevelt to combat international and interstate crime, Branch 9 consists of Operators, who are sent out on solo missions to handle crimes that the rest of the world isn't ready to deal with. Shades of X-Files here for sure, and it makes them natural allies and competitors for the Aeon Society. The number of Operators is small, they work alone, and can pretty much do whatever they need to do to get the job done. Operators have designations, not names, and the one Annabelle met was named B1. The book states that there was an Operator en route to Kansas City to stop Zorbo's attack before the Air Circus beat them to the punch. Operators often have war backgrounds, but some are civilians, and they are trained in "Asian fighting styles" plus a smattering of other spy skills like guns, science and languages. They also have a "license to kill" juuuuust in case you didn't think these guys were the American version of James Bond.

Standard gear consists of a bulletproof blue suit, belt radio, and omni-lockpick, plus other gizmos and gadgets as needed.

Also it turns out Teddy didn't seem this idea to himself! He spread it to other friends of the US, including Mexico, Britain, China, France and others. So you have the possibility of running across Branch 9 Operators from other countries. This is plainly a catch-all for superspies and such, but I'm okay with it. It does give us this gem:


Gimme a break Shitley

If you were to ignore the loner style of operations, you could probably easily run a Branch 9 game. An international game with Operators from various countries working together could be cool. But Operators also work well as allies, or maybe even friendly rivals? They are described as competent and capable in many fields, so if you needed an NPC to be one step ahead of the players, Branch 9 can give you that.

The International Detective Agency

Started as an alternative to the Pinkertons, the IDA is run out of London by the mysterious Old Man. But he is not the only Old Man, as each IDA branch office is run by an Old Man, who always comes from a police or detective background. The Old Man in each office oversees a staff of Irregulars, who are detectives for hire. Picked for their skills at investigation as much as for their moral compass, the Irregulars are incorruptible. They consist of both men and women, and they work for the IDA's standard rate. Anyone who can afford them can hire them, but only if the Old Man approves. The IDA are intended to be good guys who work for good people.

Potential Irregulars are sought out by existing members, who find them through the police or private detective work, surveil them and present a dossier to the Old Man, who will approach them if he likes the cut of their jib. They then get trained in special investigation tactics, how to do things the IDA's way, and how and when to ask for help and work with other Irregulars without stepping on toes. Irregulars work as bodyguards, private investigators, and as insurance fraud adjustors. They also do divorce work, missing persons cases and track down kidnapping victims. Basically if there's been a crime and you can afford the standard rate of $5 a day plus expenses, the IDA will work for you.

IDA Irregulars work solo, or in teams of up to three, as assigned by the Old Man depending on what the case needs. They tend to dress in clean suits, though there is no formal dress code. Since they are not beholden to a nation, they are free to pursue international crime in a way that most countries can't yet, and their multicultural make-up gives them access to perspectives and techniques that wouldn't be found in just one nation. They've also pioneered forensic investigation, using stuff like fingerprinting, ballistics, and stranger things like telluric tech.


You didn't think Whitley would let us get away without saying something else that would disappoint Max, right?

I think you could easily run an IDA game if you, again, fudged the numbers on the amount of Irregulars. They mention having offices in Paris, Istanbul, Macao, New Delhi, Rio de Janeiro and others, so you could set a game just about anywhere and have Irregulars from all over the world. I think there's enough variety of detective archetypes out there that each member could be doing their own thing without too much crossover in terms of skills and areas of interest. You could just as easily do this with the Aeon Society, but if you want to focus on pulp crime out of dime novels, I think the IDA could offer a lot of fun.


I kinda like this as an adventure hook. King of the World is a really cool name, and you could have a lot of fun tracking down a super-criminal who steals diamonds and offs detectives.

Next time: Nerds, Criminals, and Nerd Criminals

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Demon: The Descent

Integrators are demons that regret the Fall, who wish to return to the God-Machine...in theory. In practice, the ones that want to go back and be angels and don't care about what happens to them? They go back fast, they get reformatted, that's done. Integrators are the ones who remain loyal to their master, but wish to remain themselves. Many hope to redeem themselves and even redeem the God-Machine before they return. Even they are hunted by angels and must hide, however, before they can go home. They are also known as the Idealists or the Turncoats, and many other demons fear them as zealots that would destroy themselves to serve a monstrous god. Others see them as misguided, but still allies in the trenches. Integrators often see themselves as the only sane demons, who realize that Hell is not something to go looking for. Most of them are motivated by a mix of loyalty, guilt, idealism and nostalgia. They miss the constant guidance of their angelic state, and many are drawn to human religions in an attempt to reclaim some shred of the divine that way. Others develop their own unique philosophies.

The final goal of the Integrators is where arguments start. While all want to return to the Machine, they split into three broad factions on how. The first group believes that Integrators never actually Fell and are, in fact, undercover exiles with a specific job, which they must discover and fulfill to be recalled home. The second (and largest) group believes that they can humanize the Machine, altering its behaviors and algorithms. By reprogramming the Machine, or at least by returning home with their humanity intact. they can adapt its behavior to be more in line with positive things for humanity. The third group longs for their old angelic existence and seek to return to it, but with their individuality intact, and on their own terms. Autonomy may be terrifying, but angelic nature is too constricting. They want something in between.



Generally speaking, other Agendas treat Hell as a utopian state of freedom from the Machine. The Integrators argue that Hell must be suffering. The absence of the Machine is the source of a demon's pain. Angels, after all, do not feel this ache. How terrible, then, would a complete absence of the Machine be? Their goal is generally to find some ritual or method to return to the Machine in their chosen way. Whatever form it takes, this act would be something obscure and secret, hidden somewhere the Machine has not noticed. The Integrators must always be careful. There's no real pathway to success that anyone knows of, and while most would give up anything to achieve their goal, they are also often afraid to sacrifice too much in case they accidentally give up something they need. They must survive to be redeemed, and often the Integrators work with other Agendas for mutual protection. They are always under suspicion, but the end goal of redeeming the Machine tends to be acceptable to other demons, and that faction's pretty big. Many Integrators also perform personal acts of penance in their daily lives, sometimes to the point of scourging themselves or preaching to other demons.

Integrators often form small groups that share views. These cells work together, but are also encouraged to socialize with other demons in the hopes of learning useful things. Integrators tend to stay in touch in general, and often enjoy each other's company, though rivalry isn't rare, either. Protocol is determined by each group individually. Their recruitment is often haphazard, with some proselytizing and others preferring to accept only those with dedication. The active recruiters are louder and more visible, so the Agenda has something of a reputation for being annoying preachers.



The Integrator condition is Angel Empathy. It generates Beats when you put your ring at risk or make them vocally or actively suspicious of your motives. You can resolve it once per session to understand an angel's mindset and actions, getting +3 to any roll to evade, persuade, outwit, learn the weaknesses of or oppose an angel in any way except direct combat rolls.

Stereotypes posted:

Inquisitors: What good is knowledge if you ignore the truth?
Saboteurs: They talk about killing God so flippantly. It's just insensitive.
Tempters: You want me to do what? With that thing? No.
Vampires: They have nothing to offer us.
Werewolves: They know their place. Just like us.
Mages: I still think she could have helped me. It's not like you couldn't have killed her after she did.
Prometheans: I studied under one for almost two weeks before I killed it. I still don't know why. I learned many useful things, though.
Humans: They're in their rightful place. I'd envy that, except...well, look at them.

Saboteurs are soldiers in a war against God. Most of them know loss and have lost precious friends, but they never stop. They are known also as the Thugs or the Soldiers, and many consider them mindless killers and terrorists who inevitably draw too much attention to those around them. They may be reckless, but they are determined and brave. They see themselves as the only true soldiers among demons, fighting a thankless war to protect everyone else from the monster that made them. They generally took the Fall very personally, believing the Machine betrayed them for no reason. They want to hurt it in revenge, breaking it and all of its servants. While they can have other motivations, their primary cause is hatred. They are largely split over how to wage their war, on a spectrum between two extremes. One extreme takes the war literally, believing in brutal and quick destruction of Machine assets. The other extreme is more subtle, using infiltration and politics plus occasional highly targeted terrorism. Neither group is generally very peaceful, and even the subtle types prefer to inspire insurrection and hatred among humans, poisoning the well so that Machine assets can't operate or be easily replaced.



Saboteurs have a simple view of Hell: it's what you get when the Machine is dead. First step, take out all the Infrastructure and all of its servants. They focus on two things. First, be hard to kill. Second, destroy God's works wherever you find them. They recognize the skill of other Agendas in these goals, and varied allies help them to achieve both. Ultimately, they tend to envision some glorious final storming of Heaven's gates, taking the fight to the Machine itself and killing it. To do this, they will give up anything. Nothing is worth keeping if you can get an advantage - even your friends are expendable, if there's benefit.



Despite their militance, the Saboteurs are rather disorganized. They have few formal leaders, and the only measure of power in their ranks is respect. They don't operate in set teams, but instead form alliances as needed. They often prefer to work with other Agendas over fellow Saboteurs, treating them as support staff or cannon fodder...though most are too smart to say so openly. Most of their communications are done in person, and in normal language. Attempts to develop Saboteur codes have always failed, since no one can ever convince every Saboteur to learn and use the codes. They don't hold formal meetings, but instead hang around certain events - usually concerts or parties - where other Saboteurs might show up, though some prefer extremist political events instead. Their recruitment is generally on the individual level, inviting others to their parties or rallies to meet friends and, if they ask to come again, they're a Saboteur.

The Saboteur Condition is An Eye for Disorder. It generates Beats when you draw attention to yourself by breaking, disturbing or destabilizing a system, even if that attention is not from the Machine or doesn't cause immediate danger, as long as it's inconvenient or causes conflict. Once per session, you can resolve this to intuit what the best way to cause chaos would be - how to start a fight, where to throw a monkey wrench, whatever. You also get +3 to any relevant roll.

Stereotypes posted:

Inquisitors: Make sure you know one. Just one.
Integrators: Refer to yourself as "the prodigal son" one more time and I will kick your goddamn teeth in.
Tempters: A little too concerned with planning the afterparty before the main event's over, but hey, they always bring beer.
Vampires: They remind me a bit too much of the God-Machine. Not any individual, but as a whole.
Werewolves: I bet I could take one, but there's never just one.
Mages: Like Fort Knox: heavily defended, suicide to attack, and if you get in, I bet you'll find the gold was sold off years ago.
Changelings: If you meet one who's warm to the touch and smells like a summer bonfire, make friends. He's got something he wants to kill too.
Humans: Recruit the ones you want, kill the ones the enemy wants, and party with the ones left over.

Next time: Tempters, but it'll be a while because I'm going to Origins

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

Demons own, down with the God-Machine, all loving turncoats must loving hang.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


quote:

But the whole group would have to be on board with that and this is a loving gritty superhero game. Horrible sacrifice to demonic entities just doesn’t fit.

I agree in general, but I also wish I could find an old essay about why John Constantine should be on the JLA. Bargainers really only exist to play him.

Daeren
Aug 17, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED


Halloween Jack posted:

Demons own, down with the God-Machine, all loving turncoats must loving hang.

Integrators are in this wonderful spot where you can completely understand why they're Integrators, sympathize with their plight, realize they often have perfectly good reasons to think what they do, and still think that the vast majority of them are a pack of idiots, traitors-in-waiting, and/or cowards.

There's a lot of real good pathos you can get out of all the angles you can run an Integrator through.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


Halloween Jack posted:

Demons own, down with the God-Machine, all loving turncoats must loving hang.

gently caress off, the God Machine seems like the least evil faction in the WoD. I can't say why, I guess my teenage transhumanism and love of shouting the Futurist Manifesto make me easy prey for a machine-God. Why do I hate the Technocracy then? Because it is made up of humans, and isn't a pure immortal machine.

Demons are losers who willingly choose decaying flesh and tired Judeo-Christian imagery over the perfection of the Machine.

Plus giving Demons their own game makes the God-Machine less cool and mysterious. And what's its central metaphor? Tearing yourself away from a corporation or capitalism?

Can you use Demon to play Videodrome? Can you be agents of the God Machine?

Daeren
Aug 17, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED


Count Chocula posted:

gently caress off, the God Machine seems like the least evil faction in the WoD.

...

...did you miss the part where there was a hook about it wanting to have a dictatorship kill every single gay person in its borders? Because I'm pretty sure you missed the part where there was a hook about it wanting to have a dictatorship kill every single gay person in its borders.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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



I don't wanna throw shade on the reading habits of people in 1999/2000/2001 but I definitely don't think Bargainers existed to let people play as Constantine. They really only exist as part of the metaplot and scope creep, it's like a backdoor kit that automatically installs certain poo poo on a computer when it's turned on to lead to more product placement.

Rubix Squid
Apr 17, 2014


Let's not forgot the plot hook in GMC where humanity had mined sufficient uranium to serve its purposes so it was time to wipe the slate clean.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


Daeren posted:

...

...did you miss the part where there was a hook about it wanting to have a dictatorship kill every single gay person in its borders? Because I'm pretty sure you missed the part where there was a hook about it wanting to have a dictatorship kill every single gay person in its borders.

Yeah, sorry, I skimmed past this whole page, I was planning on reading it later. I didn't mean to endorse homophobia and bigotry (or fascism - I just like how the Futurist Manifesto sounds).

But you could remove that and still have a God Machine that might do incomprehensible or 'evil' things while making it at least as sympathetic as walking rape/disease metaphors, territorial gangs, and people who won't shut up about how they're from Atlantis.

bewilderment
Nov 22, 2007
man what





The God-Machine's most obvious purpose, if it has any discernible purpose at all, is to continue existing and reinforcing itself. Sometimes this means that it redirects an asteroid that would cause planetary extinction. Sometimes that means killing a bunch of people who were close to finding it out - and if the easiest way to do that is a genocide of their entire demographic, so be it.

In theory, I think that there does exist a 'perfect ending' where not only is the God-Machine exposed to humanity at large, but becomes allied with it and forms a mutually beneficial relationship.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


bewilderment posted:

The God-Machine's most obvious purpose, if it has any discernible purpose at all, is to continue existing and reinforcing itself. Sometimes this means that it redirects an asteroid that would cause planetary extinction. Sometimes that means killing a bunch of people who were close to finding it out - and if the easiest way to do that is a genocide of their entire demographic, so be it.

In theory, I think that there does exist a 'perfect ending' where not only is the God-Machine exposed to humanity at large, but becomes allied with it and forms a mutually beneficial relationship.

Humanity's purpose should be continuing to exist. Is there an ending where Humanity (possibly lead by Mages) merges with the God Machine, gaining it's immortality and purpose but tempering it with compassion?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



That'd be the one where Integrators literally reprogram God. Until then, it will never consider humans to be more than stupid and expendable pawns. Basically: flat no, the Machine is not benevolent, at best it is not actively malevolent all the time.

Daeren
Aug 17, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED


Count Chocula posted:

Yeah, sorry, I skimmed past this whole page, I was planning on reading it later. I didn't mean to endorse homophobia and bigotry (or fascism - I just like how the Futurist Manifesto sounds).

But you could remove that and still have a God Machine that might do incomprehensible or 'evil' things while making it at least as sympathetic as walking rape/disease metaphors, territorial gangs, and people who won't shut up about how they're from Atlantis.

Out of curiosity, you said you were aligned with the God-Machine largely as a matter of aesthetic and transhumanism. Would anything change if you just mentally did a find-replace of gears with muscle, or bone, and turned it into a pulsating, shivering Body of the Many sort of Cronenberg parasite that's fused its mass with the planet and lurks invisibly at the edge of perception, vomiting out shambling husks to do its bidding on temporary missions, some of which occasionally achieve self awareness and understandably get the gently caress out of dodge?

Because that's still the exact same thing, only now it's made of meat instead of metal.

bewilderment
Nov 22, 2007
man what





Count Chocula posted:

Humanity's purpose should be continuing to exist. Is there an ending where Humanity (possibly lead by Mages) merges with the God Machine, gaining it's immortality and purpose but tempering it with compassion?

If Mages are capable of perceiving the God-Machine (and they both exist in whatever campaign is being run), they likely see it as a tool of the Exarchs, since it shares some general goals (reinforcing the status quo, keeping humans as pawns).

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.



Mors Rattus posted:

That'd be the one where Integrators literally reprogram God. Until then, it will never consider humans to be more than stupid and expendable pawns. Basically: flat no, the Machine is not benevolent, at best it is not actively malevolent all the time.
And angels only have it marginally "better" in the sense that they're considered perfectly obedient and expendable pawns. And the second that obedience wavers, congrats on your fall. The God Machine as written for DtD isn't even a case of "when I say jump, you ask 'how high'," because well, that would be asking too many questions.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


Daeren posted:

Out of curiosity, you said you were aligned with the God-Machine largely as a matter of aesthetic and transhumanism. Would anything change if you just mentally did a find-replace of gears with muscle, or bone, and turned it into a pulsating, shivering Body of the Many sort of Cronenberg parasite that's fused its mass with the planet and lurks invisibly at the edge of perception, vomiting out shambling husks to do its bidding on temporary missions, some of which occasionally achieve self awareness and understandably get the gently caress out of dodge?

Because that's still the exact same thing, only now it's made of meat instead of metal.

Yeah, I wouldn't be able to read about it without vomiting. Aesthetics matter in fiction. Flesh = life = decay = death. Silicon/metal = immortality.

Aren't Angels already Cronenbergian/Tetsuo The Iron Man biomechanical monsters?

But it's more that it has a plan, and compared to the shambling corpse-gangsters, the nativist territorial assholes, the Beasts, and the Hermetics that plan is (probably?) (maybe?) better in the long run.

Or it ends in an I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream situation. Either way it's more interesting than another riff on the Angel/Demon concept, and 'interesting' is my main criteria for art.

I guess in the wrong hands they turn into Cybermen.

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


bewilderment posted:

If Mages are capable of perceiving the God-Machine (and they both exist in whatever campaign is being run), they likely see it as a tool of the Exarchs, since it shares some general goals (reinforcing the status quo, keeping humans as pawns).

I'd rather be a pawn than food or prey or a lesson to teach, especially if I'm being controlled by the one winning the game.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Or there is no plan. Nothing written would be contradicted if the plan was just an endless, meaningless loop of occult outputs. The end goal is unknown, unknowable and possibly nonexistent. Also, in many cases, the gears are literally fed by human flesh and blood.

Or, occasionally, eggs and bacon. But usually not.

Chernobyl Peace Prize
May 7, 2007

Or later, later's fine.
But now would be good.



Count Chocula posted:

I'd rather be a pawn than food or prey or a lesson to teach, especially if I'm being controlled by the one winning the game.
Are you SURE you aren't a Fascist

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

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


Mors Rattus posted:

Or there is no plan. Nothing written would be contradicted if the plan was just an endless, meaningless loop of occult outputs. The end goal is unknown, unknowable and possibly nonexistent. Also, in many cases, the gears are literally fed by human flesh and blood.

Or, occasionally, eggs and bacon. But usually not.

It's better than the vamps plan to turn us into bloodbags or werewolves plan to use us as The Most Dangerous Game. Normally I'd go with 'mass Ascension' as the best endgame but I'm not sure that's in Mage anymore, or if it does I don't remember if it emphasizes the 'everyone gets their own reality' flavor. I mean people will die anyway.

Look, I'm gonna dispense with the philosophy and politics (tho I can imagine Demons calling anyone who sides with the God Machine as 'Statists'). The God Machine is the coolest thing in the nWoD by a wide margin, and gamers have always sided with that, even if it's Rifts Coalition Nazis or the Drow.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 03:56 on Jun 15, 2016

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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

bewilderment posted:

In theory, I think that there does exist a 'perfect ending' where not only is the God-Machine exposed to humanity at large, but becomes allied with it and forms a mutually beneficial relationship.
See? This is how you get capitalism.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5