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That Old Tree
Jun 23, 2012

nah




theironjef posted:



System Mastery 61 - Ralph Bakshi's Wizards RPG

At least we don't have to cover any more Ralph Bakshi games. We may be threatened with his other garbage films in the future, but I don't think there's a Coonskin or Cool World RPG.

This showed up in my RSS as part 1 of the Immortal review again, which was very surprising!

LatwPIAT posted:

Oh, 1's subtract successes in M20. And it's no successes and any 1's that causes Botches, which can be result in some pretty weird Botch distributions at high difficulties.

I went back to check and this is how they do all the 20th anniversary editions. :cry:

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Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




That Old Tree posted:

I went back to check and this is how they do all the 20th anniversary editions. :cry:

I remember when they decided to do that, the logic of the WW forum posters was pretty :bang:. At least they made the Translation Guides.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

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

Listening to the Wizards review made me realize that Numenera probably takes Wizards as inspiration and that makes me like Numenera even less than I did before!

Simian_Prime
Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.

unseenlibrarian posted:

Listening to the Wizards review made me realize that Numenera probably takes Wizards as inspiration and that makes me like Numenera even less than I did before!

Frankly, when they got to the bit about "technomancy", I couldn't help but think of M20.

:barf:

Simian_Prime fucked around with this message at 08:33 on Jan 19, 2016

Emy
Apr 21, 2009


LatwPIAT posted:

The World of Darkness Dice Mechanics!
:smithicide:

I find AnyDice to be quite handy for this sort of thing.

For example, this (program link) shows the % chance (Y axis) of reaching at least a certain number of successes (X axis) at difficulty 6 with no specialty, with a given size of dice pool (line colors). The numbers on the color legend indicate average and standard deviation, respectively. The tables are pretty nice too, for somewhat more precise values.



code:
MINIMUMDICEPOOL: 1
MAXIMUMDICEPOOL: 15
DIFFICULTYNUMBER: 6 \ Default difficulty in Mage20 is 6 \
SPECIALTY: 0 \ Should be 1 if the character has an applicable specialty (counts rolls of 10 as two successes), 0 if not. \

\ ^ edit these values for easy calcs ^ \

function: mtwenty N:n difficulty DIFFICULTY:n spec SPEC:n{
 if N = 1 { result: -1 }
 if N < DIFFICULTY { result: 0 }
 if N < 10 | !SPEC { result: 1 }
 result: 2
}

MTWENTY: [mtwenty d10 difficulty DIFFICULTYNUMBER spec SPECIALTY]

loop N over {MINIMUMDICEPOOL..MAXIMUMDICEPOOL} {
 output [highest of [lowest of NdMTWENTY and MAXIMUMDICEPOOL + 2] and - 2] named "[N] dice"
}

LatwPIAT posted:


The sidebar "Trying Again" is in the wrong sub-chapter.

You're quite generous in not giving us the fully disorganized experience of reading this chapter. I looked up the dice mechanics to make sure I was generating this graph correctly, and the first things the book tells you about rolling dice are what a dice pool is, how it's determined, and what typical trait ratings mean. It also says, on that same page (pg. 385) "see Botching, below." It only tells you how to count successes on the next page. The book tells you that dice showing 1s subtract successes the page after that... but it's under an Optional Rule heading, with further reference to "see Botching, below". The "Botching and Rule of One" section, which actually explains what a botch is, and contains the rule that each die showing a 1 subtracts a success, isn't until a full 8 pages (pg. 393) after the first "see below". This is the system's basic dice rolling mechanic, spread across 9+ pages. It might seem pedantic to complain about mere ordering with such fervor, but this awful organization is anathema to understanding.

Would it have killed Brucato to finish explaining the basic mechanic before going into optional rules, action types, teamwork, and complications?

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy

Spheres of Power

Our next Sphere is



Enhancement

The basic ability of this Sphere is Enhance, which is a Standard Action to cast an enhancing effect on a target creature or object. If the target is unwilling, it's allowed a Will save to negate the effect. Enhance needs concentration to maintain, but you can spend a spell point to make the effect persist without concentration for 1 minute per caster level (you may be noticing a pattern here)

When you first learn this Sphere, you start with the Enhance Equipment Enhancement, which lets you grant a +1 enhancement bonus to a weapon, suit of armor or shield. The bonus increases by +1 for every 5 caster levels, capping out at +5 at level 20. This enhancement bonus does not stack with any existing enhancement bonus, of course.

Other Talents in this Sphere are:

Animate Object is an Enhancement that lets you instill movement and a semblance of life into an inanimate object. The object will only follow simple one-word commands. If you use this against an enemy's weapon, they have to make a Reflex save or lose their Standard Action as they fight the object for control. If you use this against an enemy's armor, they become Entangled and they have to make a Reflex save or also be Staggered.

Bestow Intelligence is an Enhancement that lets you grant temporary intelligence to an animal, plant or object. The target gains 3d6 INT, CHA and WIS, and can speak and understand any languages you do. The target will be friendly to you, although it is under any compulsion to obey any of your commands. As well, the target's "consciousness" does not cover anything that had happened prior to this effect, so you can't use this on a tree and ask it about who climbed it a few hours ago.

Kind of an odd start for a theme. Disney's Fantasia: The RPG.

Cripple is an Enhancement that causes the target to take a -1 penalty to all of its d20 rolls, increasing by one every 5 caster levels.

Deadly Weapon is an Enhancement that lets you grant the Keen property to a weapon, and also a +1 bonus to crit confirmation rolls for every 3 caster levels, topping out at +6 at caster level 18

That's more like it. Getting some more in-combat-useful effects now.

Deep Enhancement lets you spend a spell point to make an Enhancement persist for 10 minutes per caster level without concentration, rather than 1 minute per.

Energy Weapon is an Enhancement that lets you grant the Corrosive, Flaming, Frost, or Shock properties, and also lets the weapon cause +1 damage per 2 caster levels.

Greater Enhancement increases the effect of Enhance Equipment by +1. This means that effect can go as high as +6 at max level. While I know that enhancement bonuses normally only go up to +5, so that this breaks that, I don't know that it's all that valuable/useful especially if you're only going to get it at the very last level.

Harden is an Enhancement that either makes a target object as hard as adamantine, or gives a creature DR/adamantine, with a DR amount equal to half your caster level (minimum 1)

Lighten is an Enhancement that will let you make targets weigh less, or even float. There's a table of how powerful this spell gets per caster level, but basically at caster level 5 you can make Medium-sized targets weightless, you can make Large-sized targets weigh half as much, and then Tiny and Small targets can be made to float at 20 feet per round. The effects escalate all the way up to making everything up to Gargantuan size able to float at caster level 20. Unwilling targets can make Will saves for every round that they're made to float, but they may suffer falling damage from a drop.

Lingering Enhancement lets your Enhancements persist for 2 rounds after you stop concentrating, even if you don't spend a spell point.

Mass Enhancement lets you spend a spell point to Enhance one additional target per 2 caster levels (minimum 1 additional). I like the possibilities of this plus the weapon enhancement talents to let you outfit an entire group with Keen and an elemental damage property in one go.

Mental Enhancement is an Enhancement that lets you grant a +2 bonus to INT, WIS or CHA, increasing to +4 at caster level 7 and +6 at caster level 14.

Physical Enhancement is like the above, except for STR, DEX or CON.

Ranged Enhancement increases the range category of your Enhancement from Close to Medium, or an additional category per further time you take this talent.

Steal Senses is an Enhancement that lets you make a target either deaf, or blind, or lose one of their special sense abilities like Tremorsense or Blindsense. Despite the name, you don't gain the ability for yourself.

Versatile Weapon is an Enhancement that lets a target weapon's attacks ignore an amount of DR equal to your caster level, though it only works against DR with some kind of bypass category.





The various weapon and bonus enhancements are rather cool, and I can see this being taken by partial-casters to buff their physical attacks, but the animated object effects seem a little out of place unless you were roleplaying Pygmalion and Galatea.

Alteration
Creation
Conjuration
Dark
Death
Destruction
Divination
Enhancement
Fate
Illusion
Life
Light
Mind
Nature
Protection
Telekinesis
Time
War
Warp
Weather

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


That's pretty much how the original books were arranged, actual dice resolution mechanics are buried in the storyteller section I believe.

Nihilarian
Oct 2, 2013




Enhancement seems pretty limited.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Emy posted:

You're quite generous in not giving us the fully disorganized experience of reading this chapter. I looked up the dice mechanics to make sure I was generating this graph correctly, and the first things the book tells you about rolling dice are what a dice pool is, how it's determined, and what typical trait ratings mean. It also says, on that same page (pg. 385) "see Botching, below." It only tells you how to count successes on the next page. The book tells you that dice showing 1s subtract successes the page after that... but it's under an Optional Rule heading, with further reference to "see Botching, below". The "Botching and Rule of One" section, which actually explains what a botch is, and contains the rule that each die showing a 1 subtracts a success, isn't until a full 8 pages (pg. 393) after the first "see below". This is the system's basic dice rolling mechanic, spread across 9+ pages. It might seem pedantic to complain about mere ordering with such fervor, but this awful organization is anathema to understanding.

Would it have killed Brucato to finish explaining the basic mechanic before going into optional rules, action types, teamwork, and complications?

Oh no, you're right, this is absolutely terrible - it was something that I just kind of forgot about after reading through the rules a lot and knowing how they worked from beforehand. Let's not forget that Botching is referenced again and again and again, but as you say comes eight pages after how regular dice rolling works. For whatever reason, the rules are organized as "Dice pools" -> "Different ways to roll" -> "Failing" -> "Succeeding".

Like, I completely forgot to mention, but Difficulty is limited to 3 to 10. That it's limited to a maximum of 10 is not stated, but simply implicit from the fact that you're working with D10's. That the lower limit is 3 is not in this chapter, but in another Book altogether.

DAD LOST MY IPOD
Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case




is brucato the guy who did that setting where America had a red state blue state civil war and the blue states use sex magick and furry gene splices and the red states use power armor and pro life super-soldier teenagers

because that was the worst

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


DAD LOST MY IPOD posted:

is brucato the guy who did that setting where America had a red state blue state civil war and the blue states use sex magick and furry gene splices and the red states use power armor and pro life super-soldier teenagers

because that was the worst

Unlikely, He maintains his bibliography on Wikipedia and unless that's "The best little hellhouse in texas" it has entirely too little to do with faeries and loving to be one of his works.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Brucato

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Nah that was Chris Fields, who is worse.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Superiors 1: Stoner Sunshine

Near the center of the Catacombs, not far from David's audience hcambers, is the Alcove of the Table. It began as a simple table of thick gray stone, but David found a new purpose for it after Lucifer's Fall. Now, whenever any angel of Stone Falls, David takes the shards of their Heart in his fist and compresses them, reducing them to tiny needles covered in his blood. He then hammers them into the table, point-first. When the final shard goes in, the tops of the many-colored needles form a mosaic. Above the table, gold veins in the black marble wall spell out 'Our Failure.'

The Cave of the Freedom of Reflection is full of razor-edged stalactites and stalagmites. Angels who find their perspective clouded by prejucide or bias enter the cave, making their way from one entrance to another. Each long cut flays away an assumption as well as part of their skin. It never causes more pain than needed and does not deal soul damage, but it is painful. An angel that takes a long trip through the Cave emerges as unbiased as a newborn reliever. At the GM's option, they can make an Intelligence roll to resolve some problem they failed a roll at before. However, there are dangers. Every so often, an angel starts to question if they should leave the Cave, and then that they are in fact an angel, and so on, until an angel of Stone goes in after them and drags them out.

The Cave Where Wind Walks Through Stone is set high in a mountain on the edge of the Groves, open to both the Catacombs and the open sky. A constant wind howls through it, pouring in through the cave mouth and out via a blowhole. It is the traditional meeting place for angels of Stone and the Wind.

The Cryptic Isopods are immense crustaceans that live near the central Catacombs. Each is so large it can fill a tunnel from top to bottom, and their cave home could hold a legion of angels. The angels often fail to notice them entirely in the darkness, however, giving them their name. David occasionally gives an angel armor made from one of their cast-off shells. Any onlooker must make a Perception roll to notice that the armor exists, even if it covers the angel's full body. David made these creatures himself, as a living extension of the nature of the Catacombs.

David's Chessboard is a Zen garden of uncertain size, which helps David track the War's movements. Tiny stones represent the various players in the War, with a handful of geodes representing Superiors. Many Kyriotates of the Catacombs understand just enough of the arrangement to move the stones in a small section of the board as news comes in. David occasionally meets his angels in this garden.

The Lace Coral Meander is an isolated spot in which the Necessary Order of Worthy Angels of Stone initiates new recruits. For seven thousand years, their blood has fed the coral structures in an underground river bend. For the last several millennia, the once-pink coral has instead begun to radiate incarnadine, and angels of the Order often keep a small piece of it on their person or near their Heart. Anyone who swallows a piece of the coral regenerates 1 Essence, but the Order finds this action sacrilegious in the extreme and takes it very seriously.

The Obsidian Knife is a full stadium in length, and was the tool that David and Uriel used to become blood brothers. It now rests at the bottom of a chasm. Enchanters and relic-makers of Stone often find it worthwhile to climb the chasm and scrape off a few flakes of dried blood, though only with David's permission.

The Unbounded Aven is a blind shaft that extends upward from the ceiling of a large meeting hall in the central Catacombs. Most angels do not know that it actually is as long as its name implies - no matter how high you fly or climb in it, you can't reach the surface. A few miles over where you would expect to find the Groves, clusters of immense albino bats cling to the shaft. They whisper prophecies of the present, describing things happening on Earth at that very moment.

On Earth, there is the Cave of Transformation. David once punished two of his servants cursed by the Gluttony Discord by confinding them in the forms of a snake and a hound. When they asked how they might redeem themselves, he sent them to this cave in Korea, to live for a hundred days without sunlight, eating only a bundle of mugwort and a handful of garlic. The hound fled the cave after 38 days and suffered for years afterward. The snake was patient and bore with it, emerging in a human form and without Discord. The Korean ethereal Hwan-ung later used a dream of this cave to transform a bear into a woman.

The Descent of Feoras is a fissure beyond an elemental Tether. At its bottom is a lazy flow of molten rock. Angels that wish to know or verify the true desire of their heart cast themselves into it. After the first moment of contact, they wake sprawled in the Groves, with the true wish of their heart vivid in their mind. Despite the molten stone, their vessel usually survives...but the next time they manifest it, it will be caked in a layer of volcanic rock, neither healthy nor painless, which offers no protection at all. A good hospital or healer can break the bond sealing the cooled stone onto the skin.



The First Gemstones were the models that David built all other gemstones from - the First Among Diamonds, First Among Emeralds and so on. They are immense, pure, flawless ad beautiful, able to exist either on Earth or in Heaven. David prefers to keep them on Earth, as he believes their beauty rightfully belongs there. Many of his angels take turns guarding the shrines or collections where each stone resides, but one, the First Stone of Amber, never leaves Heaven. It appears to have an insect in it, but does not. The creature trapped inside is a horrible mistake from the early days of the world. When David chose amber to trap it, it altered the nature of that stone, which is why amber resin traps insects on Earth.

Some angels of Stone, the Transcended, are ancient beings that chose to become one with the rock. REasoning that a few million years bonding with the world would help them, DAvid gave them rock strata 'vessels', making them an integral part of the Earth itself. Ofanim of Stone regularly visit the Transcended, to hear their wisdom and keep them mentally alert.

Khaila, Cherub of Stone posted:

People surprise you. Sometimes, even you surprise you. No matter how much you study someone's history, no matter how attentively you listen to her words, no matter whether she postures like a hero or wears meekness like a cloak...
You never know how someone will turn out until you test her.
Life boils down to a series of ordeals. In surviving an ordeal, however you do so, you demonstrate certain qualities - such as cowardice, if you run, or courage, if you fight.
In one sense, the traits that "come out in the wash" are the only ones you ever had. Until you achieve it, you never really had a destiny. Unless you find it, you never really had a fate.
In another sense, the tests you face change you. By making you show your strength, a test makes you strong. After such an ordeal, knowing that you are strong, you show your strength in everything you do.
David's angels do their best to find just the right tests to help people grow. An encounter with Stone can transform you - past, present and future - into someone stronger. Even if you are of the Host, which means that Stone doesn't have the authority to test you very hard, God probably has a tribulation in mind for you.
Stone also tests people for virtue. People who fail the test usually die. You may think that it's a bad test of moral character if the target has that kind of incentive to pass, but Stone believes that opposing God is just one more way to kill yourself, like shooting yourself or drinking poison. It's an action-reaction thing - if you attack God, an invincible entity, the reaction hurts you in equal proportion. Think of it as ramming a boulder with your head.
An angel of Stone, as God's agent, tries to manifest this process. She gives the Infernal Horde a simple test. It can attack her, attack God, commit evil, and commit suicide - one simple action with four names. Alternately, it can refuse, and while that refusal lasts, it's deluded, not evil.
After all, which is the demon: the Balseraph watching TV in his apartment, or the human panderer beating his "property" with a cane? Maybe, if you're Laurence, you think it's the Balseraph, but Stone'll kill the human every time.
Sometimes, angels of Stone kill demons and humans who don't first prove their evil. Angels have a right to kill the wretched, and Stone likes to bash heads. However, such a conflict has all the high moral character of eating a cheese sandwich. It's a good idea, but not an amazingly noble one.
Throwing the first punch sometimes serves Heaven, but most of the time, serving Heaven's ideals is more important. That's why Stone tries to throw the second one, instead.

David doesn't really use a rigid hierarchy. He trusts his angels and doesn't want to hassle them with procedure. He gives them structure, but it's more of a society of equals than a corporation or military. Short-term missions and long-term projects each get two sets of angels assigned. One set, sometimes even just one angel, shares responsibility and authority. The larger second set has no authority over the mission and only one job: they must give requests for help a fair hearing. Since they'll have jobs of their own, they can always say no. Only rarely does one angel of Stone have specific authority over another, though David does expect those angels with Distinctions and Words to get respect and deference. Situations where one angel can command others include large military actions, training missions and afffairs involving the Masters of Celestial Integrity, who can always demand help from other angels of Stone. They tend to impose additional structure on themselves, however. Most mission and project teams choose a final authority for situations in which debate could be deadly, and if someone disobeys that aurhority and it does turn deadly, DAvid can easily figure out where the problem was. Similarly, angels often divide up responsibility and authority over non-critical areas for convenience. More importantly, they oftne affiliate themselves with associations, societies or gangs outside their immediate assignment. In heavily populated areas, these groups can gather on Earth, but otherwise, they meeti n Heaven.



David makes his angels from Forces naturally attuned to his Word. They vary widely, but all of them manifest aspects of it. Most of them ,even those with no plans to claim a Word of their own, tend to identify with a specific mineral or community concept. Most of his Choirs do have a darker side. Angels of Stone need a hard heart. They can be brutal, blindly obedient and support unpleasant organizations. However, all of them love God and are ultimately selfless, self-sacrificing and benevolent. Each also exrpesses a ganeral facet of David's nature and virtue. Seraphim are his commitment to ideals, Cherubim his loyalty and patience, Ofanim his inexorable nature, Elohim his philosophy, Malakim his power and hatred of injustice, Kyriotates his fellowship and unity, and Mercurians his caring and protection. Bright Lilim who serve David mirror his tough love - they may not give you what you think you want, but they give you what you need.

Next time: Common traits of the Choirs of Stonea

DAD LOST MY IPOD
Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case




Mors Rattus posted:

Nah that was Chris Fields, who is worse.

This means that there are two TTRPG designers who are completely batshit in the exact same way. Is there something in the water?

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


Not really, Fields is just obsessed with sex, particularly sex acts that might be normally seen as transgressional or taboo, combined with specifically Japanese exceptionalism. He's also ridiculously infantile and loves putting corprophilia and menses into his book for reasons.

Brucato sees sex as a gateway into the realm of "Magiiiiiccccccckkkkkkjjjssskksss" and a return to a time when love was free and we all danced with the earth mother and faeries existed etc etc etc.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


If for some reason you need more Satyrblade, System Mastery has you covered.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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




TOOLS, PART 2

Last time: Acquisition rules, communications/infiltration gear, vehicles. This time: Devices for killing bad guys.

Special Weapons
The section starts out with a note that if you want to use any gun that uses special ammunition in Europe, meaning anything other than .22LR hunting ammo, you're stuck with Streetwise to get it.



Bows
Effectively a rifle, but Armor reduces damage by an extra -1. Kind of disappointing that this doesn't have any further mechanics for this - I guess the advantage is not drawing attention with gunshot noises.

Dazzle Laser
Shoot a blinding laser into people's eyes from Long range. On a hit, Health or Athletics test (Difficulty 8) or blinded for the rest of the scene. NVO goggles drops the difficulty to 4.

Laser Sight
Ominous red dot on the forehead! Targets up to 250 meters away during the day and 750 at night. Within that range, Extended Range attacks only cost 1, and the enemy Hit Threshold drops by 1. If you're in fog or smoke, the laser is visible, outing your position and dropping your own Hit Threshold by 1. The most fun part about these: If your target can see the red dot, you lose surprise, but any partners you have talking to them in person get a free point or two to spend on Intimidation.

Scope
Decreases cost of Extended Range by 1. While sniping, decreases cost of Extended Range to 0.

Silencer
Illegal in most countries, lets you shoot without ruining your Infiltration test. In a Dust game, this will still make enough noise to be heard easily from the next room over, because silencers aren't magic.

Slingshot
Throw a ball bearing (-1 damage) at a target up to Near range. Completely silent.

Special Ammo
The book lists a bunch of these.
  • Armor Piercing: Reduce armor ratings by half, round down.
  • Depleted Uranium: +1 damage to armor -2 or worse, Incendiary against armor -3 or better.
  • Dragon's Breath: Incendiary shotgun ammo, fires a gout of flame for 2 rounds. On a Shooting roll of 1, the gun jams unless you spend Shooting 2, hard as hell to load safely.
  • Hollow-Point: +1 damage to unarmored targets, armor ratings are boosted by 1 against it. Can carry poison, mercury, silver, garlic oil, holy water...
  • Incendiary: Blows up flammables on a hit. Firing leaves a bright streak that drops Hit Threshold for you and your target both by 1 for the next 2 rounds.
  • Rubber: Armor ratings doubled, can't drop a target below Hurt.
  • Shotgun Slug: Change shotgun range to Long and do +1 damage, but lose the advantage shotguns have at Close range.

Very Special Weapons
The above gear can have its uses in various spy scenarios, but you're not just fighting terrorists and spies. You're fighting vampires.



Flamethrower
Very hard to find, you're probably better off just building one (Difficulty 5 Mechanics test). +0 damage on a hit, -2 damage on a miss by 1. A second consecutive hit does +2 damage from extended exposure. Using at point-blank range is a great way to blow yourself up.

Flare Gun
+0 damage on impact, burns for -2 damage for 1d6 rounds. Very short range compared to other firearms, but it also functions as a flare gun. When a flare is burning, darkness penalties are removed for 2 rounds, then lowered to Night for the next 3.

Hairspray and Lighter
The classic. +0 damage, fizzles or explodes on a roll of 1.

Thermite
Cuts through steel, burns underwater, handle with extreme caution.

UV Light
Does sunlight hurt vampires? Then this might hurt vampires. Can be kitbashed, range and damage vary from how the light is delivered - Close and -1 damage for a flashlight, Long and +2 damage for a floodlight.

Meteoric Iron
Another possible obscure vampire weakness. Makes for brittle weapons, breaking on a roll of 1. Getting your hands on it almost certainly requires an awesome museum heist, which may tip off the vampires.

Silver
Creating silver weapons/ammo or coating weapons in silver requires a lot of time and access to the Mechanics ability. How much damage it does is up to the campaign.

Gartot Wire
Requires a surprise attack from behind, which requires an Infiltration test. Make a Called Shot to the throat, dealing +3 damage on a hit. Once you hit once, consecutive hits can auto-succeed if nothing interrupts you. With a really good wire, can be used for beheadings, the only way to kill some kinds of vampires.

Holy Water
Can be acquired from any Catholic or Orthodox church, or for free if one of your agents is a priest. For this reason, be careful about letting someone play a priest if your vampires are vulnerable to holy water.

Paintball Gun
Can be filled with holy water, garlic oil, or luminous paint - the latter reduces the target's Hit Threshold by 1.

Tranquilizer Gun
Shorter range than bullet-shooty guns by one range category. Apply liquid anesthetic or something else via gunshot. May not work on vampires.

Garlic
The core compound that creates Garlic's smell is Allicin. Isolating a supply takes a 2-point Chemistry spend and a hell of a lot of garlic. Effects to be covered in the Vampires chapter.

Stakes
Stabbing someone with a wood stake does -1 damage; pounding it in with a hammer does +1 damage. A grenade launcher or smoothbore antique gun can fire a wooden stake, but takes a round to reload. Effects to be covered later.

Tactical Fact-Finding Benefits
TFFBs are ways to use Investigative skills around or during combat for special perks. Use Cryptography to decrypt encoded enemy communications. Urban Survival to spot dead ends or escape routes. Architecture to discover unguarded entry points. Each has four steps:
  • Use an Investigative ability.
  • Perform an action.
  • Be in the right circumstances.
  • Get benefit.

Benefits can include pool refreshes, special pools of points the whole team can dip into, difficulty reductions, draining enemy point pools, or surprise. Some possible examples:
  • Use Data Recovery to locate the railroad car where a vampire is sleeping. Use Digital Intrusion (5) or Mechanics (4) to switch junctions and tracks to send the car off on a remote siding. Gain a pool of 12 points to use during the assault on the mobile vampire lair.
  • Assess a vampire cult center site using Archaeology to discover the signs of a Roman catacomb underneath. Explosive Devices to infiltrate from below and blow up the floor under their feat. The targets' Health pools are each reduced by 4 points.
  • Use Streetwise to mingle your way into a Corsican drug ring to identify the group's leader. When killing him, each agent gets a 4-point combat ability refresh as the enemy force is demoralized.
  • Use Electronic Surveillance to covertly scout out possible locations for the monster preying on the docks, along with possible weaknesses. Now prepared, the team goes after the monster and gets a team pool of 8 points for any General abilities, and also know its Athletics and Hand-to-Hand ratings.

Tag-Team Tactical Benefits
Similar, but specifically for two people working together with different skills. One agent, the winger, makes an Investigative Spend. Another, the striker, gains a temporary pool of extra points to spend for a given General ability - 3 points per point the winger spent. Usually the winger's spend represents work done in advance of the striker's action. For example:
  • The winger spends Architecture points to aid the striker's Explosive Devices check to take down a building.
  • The winger spends Electronic Surveillance points to map a building's security systems, helping the striker use Infiltration to break in.
  • The winger spends Urban Survival to plot out a route for a stalking striker to use Surveillance to drive a target into a choke point or dead end.

Tradecraft
A really broad investigative ability, that comes down to "knowing how to do cool spy poo poo". Here, we get some specific ways to use it - like all investigative abilities, these are free if they provide core clues, or spendy if you want extras.

Covert Communication
Sending a message in a way that's hard or impossible to pick up. Carry a copy of the Financial Times to work if you're interested, and someone will anonymously text you the meeting location.

Brush Passes
Two people brush past each other, and one discreetly passes some object to the other. Noticing the enemy doing this is also Tradecraft.

Dead Drops
Party A stashes something at hidden location X, then tells location X to party B, who retrieves it. Thusly do A and B exchange an item without ever meeting face to face. In the modern world, there are also digital dead drops - drop some info on a fan forum for Peruvian pop starlets. Setting up and concealing a digital dead drop is a Digital Intrusion test, retrieving it is free once you know where it is. Finding an enemy dead drop requires a lot of tools and information.

Steganography
Embedding hidden info into written text - Trithemius concealed his work on codes in a book about performing magic. Modern spycraft gives us digital stenography, where sensitive data can be encoded into apparently-innocent data. Cracking it requires Cryptography, Data Recovery, or both.

Cuckoo's Eggs
A wide variety of skills are needed to infiltrate an enemy network. This is usually spread across a full operation, and the benefits may not reveal themselves until much later.

Asset Handling
Instead of inserting yourself into the enemy organization, find someone alread there who you can convert to your side. Three steps:
  • Identify: Find a good candidate. Human Society, Streetwise, High Society.
  • Contact: Get in touch when the asset is extra vulnerable or extra comfortable.
  • Flip: Get them onto your side. The best ways to get them to convert are MICE: Money, Ideology, Coercion, or Ego. Coercion is the most common, but a Stakes game makes Ego or Ideology more viable. Money flips are usually only possible if you have excessive funding.

Asset Running
You've flipped an enemy, time to act. You can spend 1 of a relevant Interpersonal ability to get some info from them, or 2 to get them to do something for you. You can use Tradecraft to do this all covertly. They're like really unreliable Contacts, who don't cost Network points to build.

Adversary Mapping



The main goal of most intelligence operations: Uncover the nature of the enemy conspiracy. The general structure can be uncovered with Human Terrain and Traffic Analysis. Further spends can confirm the place of targets on the map, and who they're connected to. The Director and the players collaborate to create a visual map like the above.

Once the players have mapped out part of the adversary map, they get a team pool of 2 points for each target in that section (or thereabouts). This is also a good framework for planning TFFBs.

Pressure
Make the enemy sweat. Either a direct attack on the network, or an attack ont heir allies or resources, forcing them to act. Or, do the same by providing a target to tempting for them to pass up.

Capture and Interrogation
Abduct an enemy and pump them for information. You need a target (Human Terrain, Streetwise, Surveillance, Traffic Analysis), an extraction plan (a whole operation), and a secure location (Network, Urban Survival). You can use Interrogation to automatically extract a core clue, or get more data/get data faster with further tests or spends.

Truth Serum
In the real world, "truth serums" are about as effective as getting the target really, really drunk. But hey, this isn't reality, this is a spy thriller! If you have access to this stuff, it's Stability (Difficulty 6) to resist - whether or not the target cracks and talks, they're Shaken for 1d6 hours. Even the slightest tinge of vampiric power blocks truth serums.

Advice to Players
Reality has the Moscow Rules, a set of rules of thumb for agents working in Moscow during the Cold War. In this vein, NBA gives the Bucharest Rules - rules for how to keep the game moving and maximally fun for everyone, and how to succeed in the face of great adversity.
  • You can win. If you do something, you might win or might lose. If you do nothing, you'll definitely lose. So, take the initiative and do something. A good Director won't shut down a sufficiently awesome plan completely.
  • Put it in Drive. When you're not sure how to justify something risky, look at your Drive. It may spur your agent into action.
  • With great ability scores comes great responsibility. Look at your best ability scores and your MOS. What are you good at? How can you use it to your advantage? Do what you do best, and do it at the right time.
  • When stuck, get more intel. If you really have no idea what to do, don't putter in circles. Go out, get more information. If you don't have enough info to make a plan, fix that.
  • Follow the money. Nobody works for vampires for free. They don't cast shadows, but their cash does.
  • Humint is key. Don't shy away from using interpersonal abilities. If you're in a pinch, create a new contact with Networking to get you out. People are your strongest assets.
  • Build your own network. Who could help you out here? Build, buy, or break that person. Strength in numbers.
  • Keep moving forward. Expect to find one major clue per scene. Once you do, don't dwell too long scraping more info out of the scene or the witness. The clues will lead you to new places. Go to those places, find more clues.
  • Leave room to maneuver. Don't plan out every aspect of your op in advance. The Preparedness ability is there to let you retcon the off-screen parts of the plan, take advantage of it. It'll make you look better, and irritate your Director less.
  • Remember, you're the badass here. Keep your characters proactive, don't shrink away from danger. Value interesting decisions over realistic reactions.
  • Always know where the exit is. You don't get extra EXP for finishing the dungeon. When things heat up, be ready to cut your losses, grab what you can, and get out.

In a sidebar, an alternate set of rules devised by one of the playtesters - the Clapham Rules:

quote:

1. Run. Fast. In the opposite direction from any supernatural creature the Director decides to throw at you. Even if it looks dead, or worse, harmless.
2. Learn how to kill the bastards properly, but always refer to Rule 1.
3. Work together as a team, not as the typical group of roleplayers. Going solo will get you killed, or worse.
3a. If you find your self alone, always refer to Rule 1.
3b. Donít try to be the hero and finish off a beastie by yourself ó irrespective of how much C4/white phosphorus, etc., you have. See Rule 1.
4. Planning, planning, planning, then see Rule 1 regarding an exit strategy.
5. The adversary map is your friend. Refer to it often, but always expect it to lead you into trouble rather than provide you with answers. See Rule 1.

NEXT: Finally, vampires.

Quinn2win fucked around with this message at 18:24 on Jan 19, 2016

Simian_Prime
Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.

As annoying as Brucato is, he's really just a dumb old hippie who thinks he's an insightful philosopher. He means well, but he doesn't see that he has cobwebs on his opinions of gender, gaming, and technology (he probably thinks "Wizards" is brilliant social satire).

Chris Fields is just a lovely, cynical edgelord who writes creepy poo poo to appeal to the worst kind of gamer/anime fan (he probably thinks "Legend of the Overfiend" is brilliant social satire). Even Brucato would have the sense not to put out a product called Tournament of Rapists.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy

ProfessorProf posted:

Advice to Players
Reality has the Moscow Rules, a set of rules of thumb for agents working in Moscow during the Cold War. In this vein, NBA gives the Bucharest Rules - rules for how to keep the game moving and maximally fun for everyone, and how to succeed in the face of great adversity.
  • You can win. If you do something, you might win or might lose. If you do nothing, you'll definitely lose. So, take the initiative and do something. A good Director won't shut down a sufficiently awesome plan completely.
  • Put it in Drive. When you're not sure how to justify something risky, look at your Drive. It may spur your agent into action.
  • With great ability scores comes great responsibility. Look at your best ability scores and your MOS. What are you good at? How can you use it to your advantage? Do what you do best, and do it at the right time.
  • When stuck, get more intel. If you really have no idea what to do, don't putter in circles. Go out, get more information. If you don't have enough info to make a plan, fix that.
  • Follow the money. Nobody works for vampires for free. They don't cast shadows, but their cash does.
  • Humint is key. Don't shy away from using interpersonal abilities. If you're in a pinch, create a new contact with Networking to get you out. People are your strongest assets.
  • Build your own network. Who could help you out here? Build, buy, or break that person. Strength in numbers.
  • Keep moving forward. Expect to find one major clue per scene. Once you do, don't dwell too long scraping more info out of the scene or the witness. The clues will lead you to new places. Go to those places, find more clues.
  • Leave room to maneuver. Don't plan out every aspect of your op in advance. The Preparedness ability is there to let you retcon the off-screen parts of the plan, take advantage of it. It'll make you look better, and irritate your Director less.
  • Remember, you're the badass here. Keep your characters proactive, don't shrink away from danger. Value interesting decisions over realistic reactions.
  • Always know where the exit is. You don't get extra EXP for finishing the dungeon. When things heat up, be ready to cut your losses, grab what you can, and get out.

This is good advice for running games in general, to the extent that it's in keeping with the game's tone. Nobody has stealth, everybody has explosives? Blow it up. And the GM? Let the players blow it up.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

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

Alien Rope Burn posted:

If for some reason you need more Satyrblade, System Mastery has you covered.

Yeah, and if that's not enough, we could point you at his other game/sourcebook Power Chords but it's currently the only RPG kickstarter that's even more delayed than Far West.

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

ProfessorProf posted:

Termite
Cuts through steel, burns underwater, handle with extreme caution.

I really hope this was a typo for thermite.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

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


inklesspen posted:

I really hope this was a typo for thermite.

Termites don't gently caress around in this setting, okay?

typo fixed.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


gradenko_2000 posted:

One of the dice systems I thought was pretty neat was the one used in Twilight 2000, where it's d20-roll-under for skills with a 3d6 range, and then difficulties are "roll under half your skill", "roll under your skill" and "roll under twice your skill".

In contrast, while 3.5e uses d20 in the sense that +1 means a +5% chance of success, it's not really "100 / 5" in the sense that the DC could be just about anything.

For all the parallels people drew to RoleMaster, RM still in some respects has a better difficulty scaling system because it actually respects the 1 to 100 scale.

D&D in general is a bit odd. THAC0 was probably not the best way to explain the hit mechanics of older editions.

Lurks With Wolves posted:

If you want a good game to play, I'd probably go for the second edition of Vampire: The Requiem over V20. It just has too much weird oWoD mechanics to recommend to anyone who doesn't know those mechanics already. But if you want to read a distillation of what people liked about Masquerade, go for it. Werewolf and Mage only got anniversary editions because of how good V20 ended up being.

Good to know. That does sound quite nice.

theironjef posted:



System Mastery 61 - Ralph Bakshi's Wizards RPG

At least we don't have to cover any more Ralph Bakshi games. We may be threatened with his other garbage films in the future, but I don't think there's a Coonskin or Cool World RPG.

30 Minutes or Less sounds amazing. I hope you make it an OGL supplement. Pizza Time Lord needs to be a prestige class.

Crasical
Apr 22, 2014

GG!*
*GET GOOD


gradenko_2000 posted:

Spheres of Power

Our next Sphere is



Enhancement

This could be very interesting as the basis for an 'ultimate blacksmith' type character. Aside from the obvious 'Blacksmith pounds his hammer, your weapons are now all enchanted, fiery, and Keen for as long as he maintains his spell', you can also have utility in that you can produce on-demand Adamantine weapons for smashing down walls, and Animate Objects has a lot of potential, from having an animate suit of armor that acts as your personal manservant, to just Animating a door and commanding it to unlock itself.

Nihilarian posted:

Enhancement seems pretty limited.

Conceptually, I like it. It's got enough good gimmicks that I'd base a character around the sphere, while still being more limited than a generic 'Do Anything' wizard. To some degree, being limited is a feature, not a bug.

Do you think we can look at the Weather sphere next, Gradenko?

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


DAD LOST MY IPOD posted:

is brucato the guy who did that setting where America had a red state blue state civil war and the blue states use sex magick and furry gene splices and the red states use power armor and pro life super-soldier teenagers

because that was the worst

That was Otherverse: America, by Chris Field. This was also part of the setting where the universe is ruled by a parsecs-long space penis, and that being able to understand cocks is a prerequisite for sentience. None of this is hyperbole or made up.

Chris Field was also the guy who wrote Black Tokyo. He's a bad person.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?

Doresh posted:

30 Minutes or Less sounds amazing. I hope you make it an OGL supplement. Pizza Time Lord needs to be a prestige class.

A 30 Minutes or Less RPG would interfere with my plans to release 30 Minutes or Less, the Snow Crash sourcebook for Car Wars. :argh:

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Superiors 1: I'm Running Out Of Stone Jokes

Seraphim of Stone cannot hide from themselves the dark truths of their Word. They know that Stone can be violent, fanatical and xenophobic, that they use barbarous methods for good ends. They know that their work on Earth hurts people. They have to find ways to deal with it. Most of them do so by buying whole hog into the party line: God sanctioned their loyalty, brutal behavior, all of it, even the violence and fanaticism of the worst organizations they support. If God objected, after all, he would correct David. They, more than the other angels of Stone, put their faith in the mystique of gangs, organizations and solidarity. Their fraternities rarely resemble human ones, and common symbols of their loyalties include tar on the ridge over their celestial form's eyes, shards of obsidian in their wings, sharpened and polished scale patterns or discolor notches on the head or wings to count the demons they've killed. Some say this is vulgar and undignified, but the Seraphim usually see these symbols as representations of dignity, a status symbol. Some Seraphim of Stone go the opposite direction, embracing the peace and honesty of stone. They don't like interacting wit humans, preferring to remain in the deep places. Even when dealing with mortals, they tend to think geologically, which makes damaging a few human lives essentially meaningless, given deep time. They have a lot of trouble focusing on the here and now, so demons can often take advantage of them. Some Seraphim also manage the expansion of the Catacombs, directing the angels that extend and reshape the caverns. A few of the greatest, known as conduits, work alone, sliding through Heaven's bedrock and living caves behind them. One of them took on the humble vessel of the Shamir Worm, helping Solomon build his temple without iron by hewing stone for him.

Cherubim of Stone want to make themselves obsolete. Their resonance helps Stone in its work - a Stone team with a Cherub always knows when they're pushing too far, thanks to the Cherub's resonance for their attuned, and so they know when to stop. Most Cherubim of Stone see non-Stone Cherubim as overprotective mother hens, and most non-Cherubim Stonies as loose cannons. Of course, even Cherubim of Stone make mistakes, and when they do, they spend a lot of time making up for the dissonance. They tend to be nearly as patient as David, and some of the Cherubim who have David's Kyriotate attunement have watched key sites in the bodies of statues for centuries, moving only to stretch or scare away graffiti artists. They don't bother pursuing or investigating - if they find the right spot and wait, whatever they want will come to them eventually. Most of David's craftsmen are Cherubim, and while they'll happily do repetitive tasks if asked, many have quite a fine touch. Most notable is the legendary sculptor Zuriel, of whom it is said that he can transform a black of granite into a beautiful expression of faith in merely five minutes with basic tools. Cherubim of Stone work hard on being passive defenses and solid walls against Hell. They don't stand by helplessly as the enemy prepares their guns, of course - but they have to draw the enemy into playing by their rules, focusing on the Cherub rather than the attuned. Many Cherubim of Stone receive intensive training in provoking others, and they protect things by going out and getting attention on themselves. The ideal, rarely achieved, is never even needing to fight back - just setting things up so that the enemy shoots themselves in the foot trying to hit them in the first place. David's Cherubim have a natural affinity for magnetism, and the smarter ones tend to enjoy electromagnetic theory and experimenting with it. The dumber ones can entertain themselves for hours moving fridge magnets around. While their attunement doesn't create true magnetism, it's a very close spiritual cousin of it.

Ofanim of Stone do not find it easy to reconcile their dual nature of motion and passive strength. They tend to be odd - marathon runners and living battering rams rather than speedsters. They lack some of the standard Ofanite frenzy, but make up for it in force. On Earth, they tend to be the stereotypical angels of Stone - rough hands, baseball bats, motorcycles and a bad attitude. They teach humans that nothing can stop them - not the Man, not the enemy. DAvid also knows that they're excellent infiltrators, rescue teams and getaway drivers, and some of his Ofanim are employed that way, but not often - he doesn't think in terms of infiltrations, rescues and getaways. Due to their ability to move through stone, David's Ofanium often enjoy spelunking and exploring the hidden places, using the underground Tethers to mine for gems and gold veins that humans will never see, or to visit the Transcended. They work will the David's Cherubim.

Elohim of Stone are classically old masters, peaceful, wise and willing to do whatever it takes to teach someone. They are naturally peaceful and tranquil, even more patient and reserved than most Elohim. Sometimes, they are slow to act in emergencies, but most of the time they function well enough. They are often martial artists, and the study comes naturally to them due to their perfect awareness of space and time. It doesn't automatically give them perfect timing or distance judgment - but it definitely makes it easier for them to learn it. They often have high Agility and Precision, and the more powerful of them can jog across a busy highway without getting hit, win any video game they play and more. Elohim that do not practice martial arts still practice mental discipline and Stone philosophy, striving for inner strength and courage. They usually believe that integrity is not part of the Symphony per se, but is a spiritual force that gives it life and makes it worthwile. David's Elohim regularly take on human students, raising them as warriors, leaders or htugs. Each job has its place in society. Even non-martial Elohim are teachers, using manipulation and their superior minds if they lack the physical skills to knock sense into their students. Even those Elohim on other assignments try to uplift humans when they see a chance. They rarely train other angels, as they prefer longterm learning relationshops, and most Earth operatives can't dedicate that kind of time to studying. They also often learn to raise underground creatures, keeping small gardens of insects and rare fungi as a form of meditation. They bring stability, calm and good sense to angels of Stone that might otherwise lack them.

Malakim of Stone are rough and have a commanding presence. They rarely bother with refinement - they'll have time when all the demons are dead. In the meantime, well, there's a war on. They put themselves through even harsher trials than they do humans, to ensure they have the strength to destroy Hell. Most of them think that other Malakim who won't regularly test themselves are weak, though unlike Habbalah, they won't make a production of it and generally don't scarify their vessels. Still, more than one has methodically crushed their legs to powder to punish themselves when David chose not to, then healed it later with a Song. Even the brighter ones, who find this mortification of the flesh childish, have that kind of determination. Unless they deliberately tone it down, they tend to scare people, not least because David likes giving them tall and intimidating vessels. They try to move with purpose, to avoid police interest, as they often don't belong...well, anywhere. They tend to have longer tempers than most Malakim...but far shorter than other angels of Stone. They tend to be berserkers who identify with natural disasters, and once a demon goes too far and dissonance no longer applies, they like to destroy evil with terribly fury. They have self control but enjoy not having to use it. A rock, after all, was the first weapon. David often sends angels who need to learn more martial arts to old and nasty Malakim, whose training is harrowing compared to even the most out-there martial arts movies. Malakim of Stone like unarmed combat or stone weapons. While steel blades are as much Stone as boulders, they prefer the simplicity of a stone knife or a fist, a more primal weapon that also avoids metal detectors. Fear and violence can often unite a community or teach courage, and Malakim do the jobs that need those tools. They run the worst gangs of Stone, at the edge of David's tolerance for cruelty. Using them as weapons, they encourage outsiders to band together against the common threat. It's hard work, and the gangs' souls and the safety of the outsiders are always in danger. Malakim with less ambition often work as fire-and-brimstone preachers, doomsayers or sellers of paranoia. They also spend a lot of time fighting and teaching by example or ordeal.



Kyriotates of Stone are the angels that care most about community. They idealize unity and harmony, and believe that both humans and angels need to work together to survive. They work to bring people together as best they can, and they tend to ignore the mineral side of Stone. They are archetypally young, eager activists - though many are not. They tend to make friends easily, support their friends implicitly, and insist that their friends follow the rules that keep society and fellowship going. At their darkest, they are like gang leaders who'll kill a brother for fraternizing with the enemy. At their highest, they will go to the wall and beyond for their friends. Sometimes, both at once, allowing an ally turned enemy to take them down rather than either forgiving them or hurting them. They tend to think of themselves as the support networks that keep communities alive. When danger threatens, most can appear in stone vessels to defend, and can fight without fear of dissonance. If they are physically strong, it is a deadly weapon. If they are not, it is at least an excellent shield for others. Many of them see themselves as champions of the underdog, believing like most of Stone that society breaks as easily as its weakest link - but unlike much of Stone, they see the loss of a weak element as a broken link. Many Stone angels would happily see fringe elements disappear if they can't survive alone. Kyriotates, however, work to make downtrodden and marginalized subcultures as strong as the mainstream. They use trials, to be sure, but also advocate and assist these people. In Heaven, several are tacticians, gathering information from other angels and bringing them together to spot patterns, which they then bring to David's attention as needed. Many Kyriorates on Earth have done work like this, but David always removes any sensitive information from their minds before reassigning them. In recent years, KYriotates of Stone have developed pure coda, a formal choral style that is growing in popularity. Two groups of ten to twenty Kyriotates each perform in the Catacombs or Groves, and it takes a mind able to multitask heavily to enjoy it - others describe it as chaos or acrively damaging to the psyche. David permits it anyway, for morale.

Mercurians of Stone know that no one is ever alone. Even the most personal victories need the love and support of others. Someone has to stand with everyone who might make it, or they won't. Someone has to help them, and then stand back and let them go. Mercurians of Stone help people build, make the weak strong and collect nice clothing. Most of all, however, they are sponsors. They encourage and provide tools for others to face their problems. If necessary, they give them a shove. They leave behind powerful, enabled people...and, well, sometimes ruined lives as well. Some humans don't have the will to overcome their conflicts, and failure destroys tghem. The Mercurians hate seeing it, but...well, them's the breaks. You can't solve someone's problems for them. Humanity, on some level, knows they exist. A thousand legends talk of sages or helpers who, for one reason or another, cannot be there in the moment of final crisis. Usually, their help turns out to be enough anyway, but...well, that makes a good myth. In the modern day, Mercurians of Stone try to be subtle and suave, but their basic approach has never changed. They once took over from the Grigori to help all of humanity develop, then stepped back to watch what happened. They have never forgotten that job, and still do it once in a while, teaching architectural techniques...though the basic principle of minimizing greed in construction has proven hard to convey. They identify with structures and buildings, and often have trouble resisting the urge to shelter others. They serve DAvid exceptionally loyally, and each must trust in his methods, in the belief that those they help outweigh those they hurt. For the Mercurian with the irght mindset, David's work is the supreme expression of their Choir. Most other Mercurians, with other Archangels, find the risks they take somewhat nauseating. Mercurians of Stne also quite like subways, and many use them as hunting grounds for humans that need their help.



David does not discriminate against the Redeemed. Those who Fell and returned have suffered enough, after all. As for Hellborn that undergo Redemption - they are to be admired. Eac has overcome a truly horrific test of moral strength, wellpower and perception. While angels of Stone may sometimes treat a Redeemed comrade with cruelty or prejudice, they will never allow any other angel to do so.

David has had human servants since the earliest days of civilization. He taught the Celts to trace ley lines and the Chinese to perform geomancy. The greatest students of these arts became his first Soldiers. David's human servants helped build the great monuments of ancient times, integrating geomantic and spiritual secrets into their work. The greatest of these builders still work as Saints, helping to train new structural engineers. A handful of modern secret societies know those old secrets. Some grew on their own, while others David began after the Purity Crusade, to ensure that only lucid dreamers could rise to the highest ranks, so he could provide a bulwark against humans losing control of their dreams. Angels of Stone build human militant societs fairly regularly. Not many know they serve Heaven, but know the angels that lead them are good, for whatever that means to them. Since many of these gangs are violent, Stone has a lot of human troops. Every Soldier of Stone is tough, and all have at least 2 Corporeal Forces, and many have 3 or 4. They are fighters and counter-infiltrators, often taught the Songs of Form, Shields or Thunder. They are rough-edged but team players with leadership skills. David also has engineers and architects in his service, but they don't get made into Soldiers unless they can fight. DAvid's Saints tend to be pure leadership, finding loners and encouraging them to join groups, as well as finding groups that need a purpose. A single Saint can thus make an entire community of fighters, all without any of the inhuman traits that often give angels away.



David uses the Catacombs to train his angels, and most of the angels of Stone that spend a lot of time in Heaven spend it learning martial arts, tactics and crafts. A few of them maintain the Catacombs or provide support services, too. Many sects of Stone angels peform bonding rituals in Heaven, and David encourages this, to build loyalty, so he leaves them time to do it in. He permits few of his asngels to work in the Marches, and those that do mostly use it to gain tactical information from dreams. They must have skill as well as desire to do it, and they need Blandine's approval. While David would be happy to argue with Blandine over serious matters, there's nothing to gain from it here. Most of his angels, instead, work on Earth.

While they may not like the work they have to do, angels of Stone love their jobs. Their fellow angels will not let them despair, fail or falter, and they are never alone. They must be strong, but they have the strength of many to draw on. They don't cry, but know that any word of sorrow will gain them the silent compassion they need. They may give each other the toughest love out there, but it is love, and a deep love. They are, after all, angels.

David is no kinder to his angels than to humans. His punishments are always great and terrible trials - warping an Ofanite's sense of time to make a day seem a millenium, but not making them move any faster, sealing a Mercurian away in a shell of stone, and so on. DAvid does give out lesser punishments for lesser offenses, or to angels he has no real expectations for. Discord is his favored tool, or if that would be too much, communal discipline - a flogging line, perhaps, or being made to flee a hunt of Malakim for a while. David ignores trivial sins - lectures are beneath his dignity. He is generous with rewards that are earned, however. Besides the standard rewards, he sometimes gathers his angels together so he can tell them of another angel's victory.

Stone and its angels make no secrets of their feelings. If they don't like you, they don't pretend to. They feel contempt for most angels of Trade. The smarter ones argue that Marc has allowed humans to pervert his Word into increasing personal fortune rather than global wealth. Dumber ones just say they're weaklings. Both types of angel, however, find the angels of Trade shallow. Most angels of Flowers hate Stone angels, but they tend not to return that hatred. Sure, David's angels respond fiercely to challenges, but insults and shunning - that's not worth noticing. As for the peaceful nature of Flowers, well, Stone knows that's not weak - it's just foolish. Angels of Flowers aren't afraid of getting hurt, after all, they just have silly philosophical objections to violence. Angels of Dreams and Stone rarely interact, and when they do, it's usually for shared purpose. Things are tense, given that angels of Dreams are often meaningful challenges, but it rarely comes to blows until after the mission succeeds. As for Judgment, well, Stone has no love for them, as they often feel that they should answer only to David. However, David's approval of Dominic means they usually cooperate. They never hide their own sins, but sometimes close ranks to protect others. In most cases, Stone generally treats other angels as dubious allies, and the feeling is mutual. Outsiders may not be like them, but they're on the same side. Even angels of Fire and War must earn respect - they just have the right to more help, thanks to David's standing orders.

Asking to leave David's service is asking for trouble. Often, it is taken to mean they are weak or reject the company of their peers. David likes neither. Rarely, though, after a few weeks of deliberation, often while making the angel a social pariah, David grants these requests. In one case, he even allowed a Seraph to move into service to Novalis, realizing that the request required immense courage and the Seraph genuinely wanted a deeper bond with the Flowers community. David typically removes the Integrity I think the book means Inevitability attunement and any Distinctions higher than Vassal or Silent Angel. He leaves others - they can't really be turned against him, no matter what happens. David also inherited many crafter angels from Creation when Eli left. They are charged to teach humans the arts and are probationary at best. A few angels of Creation joined Stone for martial reasons or because Eli felt they needed a strong sense of community. Unlike the crafters, these angels soon become trusted members of the community.

Next time: Stone Gangs

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

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





ROBOTS AND CYBORGS: Supervisory Robots

Quick refresher: robots in Reign of Steel come in two forms. Nonvolitional units (NU/Dumbots) will perform any and all actions mindlessly and ignore everything else around them unless they're controlled by a higher intelligence. NUs range from giant poo poo-wrecking demolition bots to swarms of microbots. Autonomous Units (AU/Smartbots) obey the orders of their overseer/master/zonemind but they have independent initiative. They're smart (but not sapient) and roughly one in a hundred have the ability to simulate a personality. Sometimes this is just a leftover quirk or programming, other times it's deliberate. For a good example of an AU in fiction, look to John Henry Eden from Fallout 3: constructed personality based on the good traits of US Presidents, but push his programming and logic too far and there's problems.

Robots also have names! Robot names have a style sort of similar to Paranoia's name system: ZoneTypeStatus-Model Number-Factory-Production number. Example: say Caracas has a smart Vermin-type recon robot, 13th produced, that was built in the factory where Rio de Janerio was. This robot would be named CARRAU-02-RIO-13. Doesn't exactly roll of the tongue, especially if CARRAU-02-RIO-13 was to go rogue and create an identity for itself, but it works well enough. The only exception is the overseers: overseers take the name of their geographic locations (city, suburb or town). For example: the overseer running the hypothetical Las Vegas factory in Zone Vancouver would theoretically be named Las Vegas (or just Vegas).

There are also rules for reprogramming robots to sway them to the side of mankind. Basically, you need a tool kit, restraints for the robots, the tools to repair it when you're done and a computer to run a data recovery program. Open the bot, remove the brain, attach it to a computer then dig up the command codes for the robot to change its allegiance and programming. Then, put the brain back in, connect everything, fix the robot and fire it up.

So, enough fluff. We're here to see some robots, right? Hell yeah we are. Every zone uses the same kind of robots; there are agreed-upon designs that everyone uses. For example: every zone has access to the schematics for the Bishonen model of robot. They just use them differently or maybe design them different. I will not be going into the specific schematics of the robots because then we'd be here forever. Instead I'll simply go over how they look, what they do and what kind of weapons and abilities they normally have.

SUPERVISORY UNITS

SAI-01, Zoneminds:
Imagine that classic Friend Computer design, the big all-seeing eye mounted on a computer. Zoneminds aren't too dissimilar. They weigh 30 tons, they have no limbs and can't move, and they have one visual sensor eye and no other senses. They have a communicator, but really to run the zone a zonemind has to be hooked up to an external comm and sensor relay (not to mention power supply). They cost millions of dollars to make, least of all because the neural-net brain has a whole mess of important components (like hardening, genius-level IQ and one million gigs of mass storage). Shake, stir, add a touch of spontaneous sentience and bake for six months and you have a robot rebellion! So yeah, take away everything a Zonemind has and it can't do poo poo if you're in the same room as it, especially if you jam its comms (but the chances of that happening aren't good in a fair fight). And, of course, some of them have alterations (human brains attached to them, etc.) but this is just your vanilla, garden-variety basis for a Zonemind's home.

SAU-02, Overseer: Overseers run single installations and factories. They're big cubes of metal, glass and crystal mounted in a secure place. They're basically smaller installations of Zonemind mainframes: no legs, no arms, no going anywhere, only one sense, need to be hooked into things to get stuff done, etc. They are smaller, though, and cost way less to make and really focus more on specific tasks and sets of skills. There's not much to say about Overseers except that sometimes they have personalities.

SAU-03, Centurion: Centurions are mobile commanders, below Overseers in the robo-caste system but joke's on you egghead, I can move. They're used for military affairs, supervising construction and temporarily replacing Overseers that have gone rogue. They look like tanks, moving around on treads and coming equipped with a turret equipped with a laser cannon for self defense. They're powered by nuclear batteries and have a collection of built-in antennaes used for communication along with an arm they can use for manipulating things. They're rough customers, basically, but stealing one for your own use could be very fun and profitable if you can take them "alive".


This one was short and that's because the next batch of robots, the Exterminators, have 10 different designs and I don't want to make one giant block of robot text. So next time: THE EXTERMINATORS.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


LatwPIAT posted:

A 30 Minutes or Less RPG would interfere with my plans to release 30 Minutes or Less, the Snow Crash sourcebook for Car Wars. :argh:

I do believe pizza delivery cars were covered in Autoduel Quarterly Volume 3, Issue 4. :geno:

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Well, they certainly aren't beating around the bush with the dark side of David and his ethos. I like the idea that he's more or less the archangel of tough love, and I can follow the line of thinking and belief that would lead him to support ultra-right militias and the like, but... I suppose that's where the other Archangels and their followers come in, and that the Stone angels aren't supposed to be absolute right and good in and of themselves.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Yeah, it is important to keep in mind that the War Faction archangels are generally speaking a lot more willing to deal with this sort of thing than, say, Blandine or especially Novalis. And even then, David and Stone are the extreme edge of that. Michael just likes glory-seeking yahoos, Laurence holds his entire organization to an exceptionally high moral standard, Dominic mostly ignores humanity except in terms of trying to fix the criminal justice system sometimes. And Janus runs biker gangs.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

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


PurpleXVI posted:

That was Otherverse: America, by Chris Field. This was also part of the setting where the universe is ruled by a parsecs-long space penis, and that being able to understand cocks is a prerequisite for sentience. None of this is hyperbole or made up.

Chris Field was also the guy who wrote Black Tokyo. He's a bad person.

I'm re-reading Otherverse America. And honestly I don't know who's worse. Fields is more extreme than Brucato but Brucato is also being professionally published. The only things keeping Brucato's Id in check are his editors and his belief that magic is real.

Basically: Fields has been doing this poo poo for years on the periphery of the d20 shitware business and most people wouldn't even know he existed if he hadn't stumbled his way into the limelight last august, but he can usually be ignored. People who like White Wolf can't ignore Brucato because he keeps turning up in the worst places.

Kurieg fucked around with this message at 22:27 on Jan 19, 2016

MJ12
Apr 8, 2009



Kurieg posted:

I'm re-reading Otherverse America. And honestly I don't know who's worse. Fields is more extreme than Brucato but Brucato is also being professionally published. The only things keeping Brucato's Id in check are his editors and his belief that magic is real.

I think Brucato has a huge amount of Protection Against Editors, so it's probably Fields, because Brucato at least is less... intentionally offensive?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Superiors 1: Oh Wait POWER STONE, I Didn't Make A Power Stone Reference Yet



The Caver Brotherhood is a collection of Stone angels thjat sponsor human spelunkers, feeling that experience with the subterranean leads them to God. Many are also avid cavers and spelunkers, both on Earth and in the Catacombs. As a secondary focus, the Caver Brotherhood hunts down the demons and monsters that lair beneath the Earth. They are also on call when David needs them to head into some particularly alien environment - a Tether in perpetual darkness, a hunter through a city's sewers, whatever.

The Contiguous Karsts define themselves by their martial arts skills, alone and as a group. Each one is a potent warrior, and they fight together whenever they can. The swear deep vows of loyalty to each other and the grouap, and many give their entire sense of identity over to the gang. All of them wear jade jewelry as their group symbol, and some change their names to Karst or Jade rather than their celestial name. A few mutilate themselves, replacing their fingernails or even an eye with jade stone in their vessels. They are heavy believers in free will and the existence of angelic destinies.

The Granite Madams are a group of female-identifying angels who seek to destroy the social stereotype of weak femininity. They believe that it encourages strong women to fail. Some of them take on Roles as captains of industry, members of the criminal justice system or scientists, while others prefer to shatter stereotypes by showing athletic and intellectual skill while in Roles like fashion model or elementary schoolteacher.



The Necessary Order of Worthy Angels of Stone hold a founding myth as truth: The Symphony cannot die or succumb to its fate so long as even 50 living beings remember the sacred poems of Ahmad Hosein, are coureageous and put faith in God's love. Thus, all members of the Order seek to do all of those things and thereby save the universe from evil. In practicaly terms, they tend to be interested in myth, ceremony and poetry, particularly because they need to memorize many, many poems. Some, however, don't like poems much and just suffer through the requirement.

The Snakeskin Gang have no deep purpose, but do have traditions and a hell of a lot of prestige. See, to join the gang, you have to skin at least three Balseraphs, preferably while they still live, and turn their skins into the fringes of a black cloak to be worn in celestial form as the symbol of your membership. New members also need to be arpproved of by three current members, which typically requires them to be able and skilled in many areas. The Gang often meets for meals, philosophical debate and storytelling, but their formal meetings always focus on new and interesting ways to kill demons, preferably messily. Stone may be reactive, but the Snakeskin Gang likes to react very viciously. They also have a few War angels as members.



The Trogloxenes are Epicureans with a taste for the finer things of corporeal life. They're mor than willing to suffer for their work, but they see no reason not to enjoy good sushi or impressionist art when they want to. They indulge as a form of worship, reminding themselves of their holy prayer: How wonderful a world God made, that has these things in it. Groups of Trogloxenes gather occasionally to enjoy interesting experiences together, which usually bothers the humans present, given their somewhat brutish demeanors.

The Unyielding are some of David's older servants, who were offended by the choice of Laurence as Uriel's successor rather than David. They see Laurence as disdainful of their direct methods and are less tolerant than David is of it. They formed their core as a group willing to use strength when Laurence won't. David's honor would require him to act if they disobeyed him or defiled his association with Laurence, so many have asked David and Janus for permission to serve the Wind while Laurence commands the Host. This relieves David of his responsibility for their actions without permenanently severing ties. They also refer to themselves as the Diamantine Brotherhood.

And that's it for Stone!

Next time: Dominic, Archangel of Judgment

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


Kurieg posted:

Not really, Fields is just obsessed with sex, particularly sex acts that might be normally seen as transgressional or taboo, combined with specifically Japanese exceptionalism. He's also ridiculously infantile and loves putting corprophilia and menses into his book for reasons.

Brucato sees sex as a gateway into the realm of "Magiiiiiccccccckkkkkkjjjssskksss" and a return to a time when love was free and we all danced with the earth mother and faeries existed etc etc etc.

There are zillions of people like Brucato, often art students with 'Pixie' in their names or just general neo-hippies. Fields is something... different, and I haven't really encountered anyone like him in the wild.

quote:

They can be brutal, blindly obedient and support unpleasant organizations. However, all of them love God and are ultimately selfless, self-sacrificing and benevolent.

This one sentence sounds like it can justify so much horrible Fundamentalist evil.

I've been avoiding saying this, but now that everything is being backed up to a public, external site, is it still cool to quote large chunks of books that are still for sale?

PurpleXVI posted:

That was Otherverse: America, by Chris Field. This was also part of the setting where the universe is ruled by a parsecs-long space penis, and that being able to understand cocks is a prerequisite for sentience. None of this is hyperbole or made up.

Chris Field was also the guy who wrote Black Tokyo. He's a bad person.

It did remind me of Clive Barker's Imajica. Phallic imagery is everywhere in geek culture, at least Fields is honest about it.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 23:37 on Jan 19, 2016

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


What it comes down to isn't "who's the worse game writer" (hint, though: it's Fields) and more "whose game would you play?" Brucato's Mage is a bad game but it's potentially a fun game. Fields' Otherverse is a bad game that is also just a bad game.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Kurieg posted:

Basically: Fields has been doing this poo poo for years on the periphery of the d20 shitware business and most people wouldn't even know he existed if he hadn't stumbled his way into the limelight last august, but he can usually be ignored. People who like White Wolf can't ignore Brucato because he keeps turning up in the worst places.

Wait, wait what? What did Fields do last August? All his poo poo d20 stuff and the Otherverse America stuff has largely been under the radar. Did he finally pull something that got him some infamy?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Published the Tournament of Rapists via DTRPG, leading them to remove it and institute new policies about being able to remove reported content.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Mors Rattus posted:

Published the Tournament of Rapists via DTRPG, leading them to remove it and institute new policies about being able to remove reported content.

Oh man, no wonder why I didn't hear about that. I was kinda busy with a job at the time.

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Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Count Chocula posted:

This one sentence sounds like it can justify so much horrible Fundamentalist evil.

And so much great good, too. I suspect we're going to see that all the Archangels have dark sides or at least their beliefs can be used to justify great evil. Likewise, I'll be surprised if the Demon Princes don't have bright sides or ways their beliefs can be used to justify great good.

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