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Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


Count Chocula posted:

Could you scan some of the best art? And quote that intro? Reminds me of Grant Morrison's various visions and theories about different universes that were revealed to him (he talks about it in Supergods).

I actually like the Metabarons' art over The Incal's. They're both great, but the Metabarons is done in gauche/watercolor and I think pencil. It's also not as stylized. I mean, c'mon...



Juan Gimenez is pretty rad in my book.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


RiotGearEpsilon posted:

I'm excited to see your Myriad Song review! (Also, you know that Sanguine just released another game, ya? Urban Jungle - sort of a Blacksad, Lackadaisy bit?)

Yep! I'ma pick that up sooner or later. It's like I said, they're a small company that found a niche audience that will happily buy enough books to keep them in business and I can't blame anyone in RPG publishing for catering to that, plus their games stand on their own merits well.

Also, reading the book, Myriad Song's setup is better than I thought and I'm not 100% on why those other reviewers didn't think you could get a campaign out of it. The setting isn't firm but the setup is actually really interesting, being a world where the mighty super aliens who ruled everything just walked away all of a sudden and now the terrified bureaucrats are running out of spare parts for their mobile oppression palaces, partly because they've already lost some worlds to rebellion or alternate factions. People are beginning to explore the governments, philosophies, sciences, and magics that they were never allowed to explore before, and everyone is a little scared the Syndics are going to come back. Sure, it isn't as detailed and 'firm' as Calabria, but I could definitely get a campaign out of that setup.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Kevin Siembieda posted:

I take no pleasure in writing this post, but I feel I must address the lies leveled against me. I suspect other Palladium detractors may have similar things to say elsewhere and I want to set the record straight.

This is a classic example of someone who has absolutely NO IDEA about what they are talking about stating assumptions and outright lies as if they were fact.


"Why aren't you going after him?! Look at that stupid goatee!"



Dead Reign Part 1: "I think of zombies as dinosaurs and us living and breathing humans as, well, human beings."

Because dinosaurs are dumb and cold-blooded, see? In any case, the differences from the original pitch come immediately.

The Wave

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcuhlrmdTl4

The apocalypse starts with The Wave - an illness that sweeps out from Hong Kong with flu-like syptoms that spreads everywhere in the world. There are several possible explanations offered:
  • Altucure and the Benford Group: Shortly before The Wave, the Benford Group developed a "vaccine that actually rewrites key sections of our own genetic code" to create immunity to many viral infections and cancer. Once again, that's not a vaccine, but the science isn't going to be sharp here. 47% of the world's population was inoculated at the time of the end, though of course the FDA was once again a bulwark against its usage in the US, and slowed its introduction. Once again, this is fairly ignorant of how the FDA actually operates compared to its peers. In any case, it remains a prime suspect.
  • Pandemic: The Wave may have been caused by something unknown that Altrucure didn't protect against.
  • Germ Warfare: Some germ warfare experiment by China, Korea, or Russia may have been used by some group or went out of control.
  • The Wrath of God: "We surfed the Web, created electronic icons of ourselves, clamored for Internet pornography, and sought out fame and celebrity while millions starved, suffered, and died around the world every day." Basically, God was a bitter old mass murderer.
  • Death Cults: A number of post-Wave cults claim credit (or credit their "dark master") for The Wave. It seems ridiculous, but, y'know. Zombies are too.
The exact cause will not be pinned down in this book, but it'll become clear that something supernatural is going on, at least.


"What is it, boy? Is it the Apocalypse?"

The Zombie Apocalypse

The Wave, it says here, killed millions within 48 hours, and then a few hours later, every dead body that is not exterminated becomes one of them, it gets up and kills, the people it kills get up and kill! Mind, a 48 hour worldwide infection seems like a bit much for a virus, so maybe it's Altucure, maybe not? I'm pretty sure the truth is never revealed here. Apparently, the zombies ignore the sick, going straight for the healthy, and naturally everything falls apart. There's a lot of :words: where Siembieda tries to present the "on the ground perspective" but all of you know the drill by now. The main unusual point is it gives a zombie's eye view at one point. They mainly see people as "light" or "life energy" they're driven to devour and kill for. The "light" doesn't just fuel one zombie, but actually refuels all the zombies in the vicinity when one dies.

This is looking like a magical explanation for zombies, but I'm reading this cold so I don't know. It's probably the "Potential Psychic Energy" as seen in other Palladium games, but we'll see.


"Not one of these mixed living / dead neighborhoods!"

Who I Am and Where We Are Today

It's revealed that the text so far was written by "Brad Ashley" who's apparently a member of "the Reapers", and this is an excerpt of the "Reaper's Survival Guide". The Reapers print out copies of this whenever they have enough electricity, paper, and a working printer. Brad's the voice for most of the book. It's been five months since the apocalypse, and the US government has predictably collapsed. People are broken up into small groups of survivors, with a few trying to communicate via radios. Any city or town is essentially dominated by the dead, with perhaps twenty to thirty percent of the world's population left, with about forty percent having been converted to zombies, most of them in population centers. There's a lot less zombies in the wild, and most zombies don't seem to travel out from the cities, instead going "dormant" until woken by prey. However, it seems that they're spreading out over time.

The Wave seems to be over. Brad notes that unlike in the movies, zombie bites don't turn you into their body - zombies have to "drain you of your life energy" to turn you into one of them. Nice science, Brad. Still, their bites can cause lethal infections. Death by other means doesn't make you into a zombie. Being "nearly" killed by a zombie can make you into a "half-living", who gains some of the aspects of being a zombie but remain sentience. However, half-living who die rise as zombies.

Also, there's "Zombie Death Cults" that claim to be responsible, and some of them seem to be able to command zombies. The Reapers kill members of cults that seem to be responsible for their actions, then destroy the bodies just in case. They sometimes bring in victims and seeming innocents from the cults in, but put them on a short leash and keep an eye on them, just in case.

We get a fiction chunk about a reporter living through the initial Wave taken from the original pitch, but we can skip that, as it provides no new information.


"Put that down! You don't know where it's been!"

The Dead Reign
More excerpts from the Reaper's Survival Guide


Brad points out that cities, though filled with resources and supplies, are death traps due do the number of zombies - and to be aware of that before you try to sneak in. We then get some basic zombie facts.
  • Zombies eat animals but animals can't become zombies. Generally, though, they prefer humans for whatever reason.
  • They don't have body heat, so they can seem like a corpse and don't show up on thermal sensors.
  • They "can see our life energy" "like an aura". At night apparently they can see this more clearly because sunlight... somehow... interferes with this? They can also sense it non-visually for about 15-20 feet, though it doesn't tell them where you care.
  • Zombies are strong, don't feel pain or particularly care about dismemberment, but will don't from a headshot.
  • They fear fire, but it isn't a vulnerability and get "braver" with numbers.
  • They can respond to sound and their moan acts as a call to others nearby.
  • They can go dormant and hibernate until they sense food again.
  • There are several types, slow zombies (Slouchers), fast zombies ("Fast Attack Zombies" - really? You couldn't come up with something more creative, Siembieda?), flesh-eating zombies (wait, don't they all?), pattern zombies that relive some pattern from their life, Thinkers that have heightened (but not human) intelligence, and mock zombies that have enough intelligence to act human until they attack.
  • Some don't look like corpses and a few retain a mostly human appearance.
We also get some other threats:
  • Dog Packs and Feral Wild Dogs: Whether or not they attack, they can bark and attract zombies, steal your food, or attack any animals you have with you. It also mentions other wild predators can be out in the loose and also might be rabid. There are also rabid people. "Both have to be put down."
  • People Predators and Retro-Savages and Bandits and Death Cults: I'm smashing some of these categories together because they're really part of the same notion. People can be bad! And some have given up modern technology, blaming it for The Wave, and attack people who use it or sacrifice them to zombies. And of course, there are bandits, raiders, and the aforementioned death cultists. Nobody's a cultist of gods or aliens or youtube personalities anymore, I guess. Just death cults.
  • Places: ... like cities or "vehicle graveyards" can harbor any of the above dangerous things. This is fairly redundant. They suggest light, maneuverable vehicles like bicycles and motorcycles to get around, as opposed to vehicles which have trouble getting around roads littered with dead vehicles. Also, places might be decrepit and have rotting wood (In five months? really? You know buildings aren't papier-mâché, right, Siembieda?) or other dangers.
Secrets of the Dead

More words by Brad Ashley, our zombie apocalypse Erin Tarn, spouting more redundant nonsense, but then we get numbers:
  • 74% Slouchers
  • 10% Crawlers
  • 5% Fast Attack Zombies
  • 5% Flesh Eating Zombies
  • 4% Thinker Zombies
  • 1% Pattern Zombies
  • 1% Mock Zombies
Most zombies turn green or ashen, and their flesh slowly decomposes. Sometimes their eyes glow! They don't need to breathe. Also, they always want to attack and eat you, but they survive off of-

Potential Psychic Energy, or P.P.E. Yeah, that tortured acronym is dragged up, like a metaphor for the undead. When somebody is killed by a zombie, their "P.P.E" (i.e. life force) is distributed to all zombies in a 300' radius, each according to his need but only if they work! Non-attacking or dormant zombies don't get the kill reward.

:wtc:

Sure, okay. We get the P.P.E. values of people (adults get 1d4+1, kids get 4d6+12, etc). As such, they go after kids first. Killing people heals zombies, energizes them, or "reverses decomposition", but they can live "1d4 years" without being fed, or far more (26 times longer) if dormant. They can see life about 1,200 feet away or 9,000 feet in the dark- well, that's over a football field even in the day. Total concealment will block their sight. Zombies rise in 6-12 minutes after death (apparently, it's quicker now than it was at the time of The Wave).


"No, seriously, I got this."

I should note we're starting to get discussions of rolls and S.D.C. and hit points and d4s and none of that has been explained yet. We get a long-rear end reiteration that zombies go straight for you (save for Flesh-Eating, Thinker, and Mock Zombies), moan to attract others, which can lead to a big "Convergence" of zombies swarming at you.

Dead Reign posted:

Note: Double the number of zombies converging every two melee rounds/30 seconds!

What the gently caress is a melee round? I mean, I know, but then it says only a paragraph later-

Dead Reign posted:

Convergence Multiplier: Double the number of zombies every two melee rounds (30 seconds).

Dead Redundancy is more like it. I'm having to skip poo poo-tons of things being stated more than once and I'm only on page 27. Convergences only really split after about 15 minutes of a lack of prey or food. There's an example of an attack where-

Dead Reign posted:

The Fast Attack Zombies knock both of the teens to the ground. They don't move in for the kill, but make sure Emily and Robert are kept off their feet, off balance, and unable to run away until the rest of the living corpses close in for the kill.

Wait, what the hell? They're using tactics now? How? Why? Well, no consistency in convergences, I suppose. We get a lot bit on how dangerous dormant zombies are because they can hide anywhere and pop up and give you a good jump scare. They won't see you if dormant, but can sense you in that 15-20 feet psychic zombie life force sensing radius.


Welcome to Nick Bradshaw, my least favorite Palladium artist. I think he'll be your least favorite, too.

Several times it's gone on about having to kill zombies silently before they moan and attract others. This is pretty obvious at this point but I'm bringing it up because the book has emphasized it multiple times by now, but gently caress, zombies can sense you from a football field away and automatically sense you a room away, so good luck with that! We go over zombie bites again, with the main new nugget being that some people think a zombie's bite will turn you into one and kill people who get bit. We get detailed percentages on how often a wound gets infected (10% if treated right away, 80% if ignored). We then get infection rules before any of the basic rules have come up, because this is Siembieda and Palladium. This ranges from minor inconvenience to a weakened and dying limb to a "zombie rot" which causes a deep tissue infection, coma, and death. Lots of numbers here, but that's the gist. You can make a saving throw versus infection, which halves the usual period - does that mean the lethal ones kill you twice as fast then? Also if you get zombie rot and survive you have a 10% chance of becoming a "half-living"-

Dead Reign posted:

Provided the G.M. allows it. If not, re-roll.

Oh, gently caress off.

Next: Everything you needed to know about zombies, restated over and over.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 21:52 on Oct 27, 2016

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Alien Rope Burn posted:

More words by Brad Ashley, our zombie apocalypse Erin Tarn, spouting more redundant nonsense, but then we get numbers:
  • 74% Slouchers
  • 10% Crawelers
  • 5% Fast Attack Zombies
  • 4% Thinker Zombies
  • 1% Pattern Zombies
  • 1% Mock Zombies

That's only 95%.

Where are the other 5%?

What aren't you telling us, Brad?

Serf
May 5, 2011




Doresh posted:

Godbound

Your Godbound write-up has convinced me to buy the game. Really well-done stuff, keep it up!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Such a happy zombie.

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Serf posted:

Your Godbound write-up has convinced me to buy the game. Really well-done stuff, keep it up!

Me too. It's amazing and I love it and I have no idea when I'm ever going to get the time to run it.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Good to hear, everyone. I'll try to keep it up!

IShallRiseAgain posted:

Obviously, there needs to be some sort of T-Virus to reprogram the T-cells to work properly.

Don't you mean the M- or Mega-Virus? This is Palladium, after all.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy



Introduction

The Book of Experimental Might is a sourcebook for D&D 3.5 written by Monte Cook, released in Feb 2008. It's largely a collection of houserules, and while it does cover Classes, Skills, Feats, Playing the Game and Magic, it's not a complete rewrite/replacement of the core PHB like Arcana Unearthed/Evolved.

In the introduction, the main thing Cook is pitching with this book is refactoring the entire spell system into a level 1 to 20 scale, mostly to eliminate the confusion between player levels going up to 20 but spell levels only ranging from 1 to 9.

He also mentions that since this book is more about a collection of houserules than a full-fledged game, it's going to be far more annotated about his design intent and reasoning for changes compared to previous works where he simply presented the rules "as-is" and let the players figure it out for themselves (a practice I believe he himself referred to as 'Ivory Tower Design').

There's also a bit in here where he talks about how he doesn't really like offering his own commentary on rules because "these notes become a self-aggrandizing opportunity to bash existing rules, and nobody wants that." He goes on to say that "It is not an indictment of the existing rules at all. There is no presumption here that these changes are better than the Core Rules."

It's somewhat of an intriguing statement to be made in context because in February of 2008, the marketing for D&D 4th Edition was going full steam. The "Wizards Presents" preview books were released in late 2007, and 4th Edition's core would hit the market just six months after Experimental Might. Maybe I'm reading a bit too much into this, but Cook may have been playing a coy game here when he's intentionally shying away from disparaging 3rd Edition the way Wizards of the Coast did as part of the transition from 3rd to 4th.

Spellcasting

The big thing about Experimental Might is, as I had mentioned, having the spells redistributed over 20 levels. If you have a level 4 Druid, you can cast level 1, 2, 3, and 4 spells. When you level up to 5, you can cast level 5. Much more intuitive, right? And the book hits the ground running by immediately giving us a chart to replace the core Spells By Level chart:



That chart looks like a mess, but luckily Monte Cook helpfully explains in a sidebar that spell conversions were mostly done by assigning the spell level either to the character level where you could normally learn it in the core rules, or one level later. So that means what's really happening is:

Core spell level 1 = Experimental levels 1 and 2
Core spell level 2 = Experimental levels 3 and 4
Core spell level 3 = Experimental levels 5 and 6
Core spell level 4 = Experimental levels 7 and 8
Core spell level 5 = Experimental levels 9 and 10
Core spell level 6 = Experimental levels 11 and 12
Core spell level 7 = Experimental levels 13 and 14
Core spell level 8 = Experimental levels 15 and 16
Core spell level 9 = Experimental levels 17 and 18

And yes, that pattern peters out by character/spell level 18, but we'll get into that later. For now, we can use this as a basis for comparing how this actually plays out in practical terms.

This is what the spell progression of a Druid/Wizard looks like in the core rules:



And this is what the spell progression of a Druid/Wizard looks like in Experimental Power, after we "reverse" the spell redistribution back into a 9-level range:



And from there we can see where the Druid/Wizard gains or loses ground:



As you can see, the spell progression is exactly the same at the cutting edge, and then they're behind by maybe one spell slot at the duller edge.

But wait, there's another element to consider:

Monte Cook posted:

Clerics, druids, and wizards have a new spell level progression, based on the assumption that they can cast spells of level 1 to 20, rather than levels 1 to 9.

Bonus spells from high ability scores remain unchanged. That means a wizard with Intelligence 17 gains bonus spells of levels 1, 2, and 3, even though those levels represent very different spells in this alternate system. (This fact decreases the emphasis of high ability scores in the game.)

See, I don't buy this: the Wizard is still going to want to have an Intelligence of 19 so that they can cast level 9 (or level 20, as the case may be) spells!

But okay, let's just run with this. Bonus spells from high ability scores will add one spell slot each to every spell level, up to 9, right? If we leave that "as-is", but then reconvert them back into the 1 to 9 level range, that means that the character is gaining two extra spell slots for Core levels 1 through 4 (equivalent to Experimental levels 1 through 8), and then one extra spell slot for Core level 5 (equivalent to Experimental level 9), and then nothing more after that.

Taking all that into account, the comparison chart between a Core Wizard and an Experimental Wizard is going to look something like this:



They'll have more spells outright for the first half of the game, and then will be one spell slot behind for the final half.

To round out the rest of the basic rules changes:

There are no level-0 spells
Spell learning requires an ability score of [10 + half spell level] so that you still only need 20 Intelligence to learn a max-level spell
Saving throw DCs are now [10 + spellcasting modifier + half spell level] or else your level "10" spells are going to have sky-high save DCs

Next: Class-specific changes

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.

Doresh posted:

Good to hear, everyone. I'll try to keep it up!


Don't you mean the M- or Mega-Virus? This is Palladium, after all.

Pretty sure he's making a Resident Evil joke.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Simian_Prime posted:

Pretty sure he's making a Resident Evil joke.

So do I.

Fossilized Rappy
Dec 26, 2012


Kurieg posted:

You know, this is very good and evocative writing, and describes what's happening very well visually. But the content is ludicrously hosed up. A woman murdered her mother for the fact that she called her out for what she was, a monster that replaced her daughter at a young age.
That would be really effective if I didn't know that the author probably means to have Clara be in the right.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

And apparently some refugees and soldiers went south and have met up with Mayan wizards because the Mayans never forgot about the old ways oh gently caress off-
[*]South America: Civilization fell apart, but apparently has devolved into tribes of scavengers and hunters, with some survivalists using the Amazon basin as a fluid defense against zombie attack.
[*]Europe: So people nearly got wiped out (it says "decimated" but not in the historical sense). But some survived in castles because it's cooler than surviving in anything else and Ireland managed to purge the zombies due to a relative lack of inoculations because... well, that's what it says in the script. Also some are on the Wireless Web and no doubt hacking the database.
[*]Africa: It's doing better than people expected because apparently the Sub-Saharan it has the highest concentration of guns... well, no. America does. It's always loving America for guns, guys. Anyways, they may be able to become a powerhouse because they haven't forgotten the old ways oh gently caress off-
[*]Asia: This is where Phat Greg is making his big assault, being based out of the fictional Aurora island in Indonesia, which is apparently where an ancient civilization locked away Brulyx. Meanwhile, a number of Indians traveled to Nepal where they're holding out in the Himalayas.
[*]Australia: Most have retreated to islands or inland. Some hear that Ayers Rock repels zombies!... but nobody returns from it. Hokay. I guess the old ways strike again.
It seems so easy to avoid the "Wise Magic Natives" thing by letting everyone have supernatural traditions. I mean, it's not like there is a dearth of European mysticism or anything, but instead it's always conveniently put in the laps of the Other. Why does it seem that none of the games like Palladium's ever think of that loophole?

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Dead Reign Part 1: "I think of zombies as dinosaurs and us living and breathing humans as, well, human beings."

Because dinosaurs are dumb and cold-blooded, see? In any case, the differences from the original pitch come immediately.
2008 was far past the date where dinosaurs being dynamic warm-blooded creatures that had a successful evolutionary reign long past that of humanity was a thing, and while it wasn't fully accepted yet (and still isn't if you count weird fringes) there were already inklings that birds are part of the Dinosauria rather than outside of it.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Fossilized Rappy posted:

It seems so easy to avoid the "Wise Magic Natives" thing by letting everyone have supernatural traditions. I mean, it's not like there is a dearth of European mysticism or anything, but instead it's always conveniently put in the laps of the Other. Why does it seem that none of the games like Palladium's ever think of that loophole?

Must be an obsession with "Noble Savages". For clearly our twisted modern culture brought forth the apocalypse, and it is therefore that we must suffer while everyone else gets cool powers.

(Though an European zombie outbreak that cause the plague doctor getup - both to prevent possible infection and keep looking as inhuman and therefore non-tasty as possible - to make a comeback would be rad.)

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Kevin Siembieda posted:

I don’t like to air business in public or say harsh things about people I like or who work for Palladium Books in any capacity. Josh Hilden falls into both of those categories. I like him immensely and I believe he is a diamond in the rough when it comes to writing, and I hope he keeps writing.

Despite what some people claim to be fact, I never want to have to rewrite or heavily rework a freelancer writer’s manuscript. I hate having to reject people’s work even more. I know how much work goes into writing and how much a chance to get published means to people. And I sure as heck do not need to see my name on more books.



Dead Reign Part 2: "Only Death Cult Priests and their human supporters, Thinker Zombies, Mock Zombies, and madmen would ever consider reattaching a severed head or limb to the zombie it belonged to."


"Oh, yeah! The eyes are last to rot! That's science!"

Zombie Attributes

Zombies are dumb but can still open doors, turn the lights off, climb a ladder, or open a window... otherwise they'll just attack any impediments for hours at a time (or days, the book can't make up its mind), maybe only about 20 minutes if they can't sense their food. They don't work as a group (except those Fast Attack Zombies earlier, I guess) unless under the influence of Mock Zombies, Thinker Zombies, or "Death Cult Priests". Even so, they're not sharp, but can be directed to capture people by priests. They may use clubs and the like but only out of instinct. We get rules for warding them off with fire, which has a "Horror Factor" of 16 to them (no, we don't know what "Horror Factor" is yet).


"Off of my lawn!"

They have doubled strength value, aren't bothered by heat or cold or breathing, and can't get sick or be poisoned. However, they can freeze up. They also get a "natural Armor Factor" of 14, i.e. you need a 15 or better on a d20 to hurt them, so you may as well always make Called Shots (14 or better). Not that we know what Armor Factor or what we roll to hit is yet, mind! We get a long list of how to damage the undead:
  • Fire takes minutes to kill them, so it's not ideal.
  • Punches and kicks only do 20% damage. What's 20% of 1d6? You better figure that out, because that's the rules here. :(
  • Stabbing weapons do half damage and have a 60% chance of getting stuck. Yup. I guess zombies are filled with blu-tak.
  • Chopping weapons and blunt weapons do full damage. Why does a baseball bat do around eight times the damage of a punch? I guess the lever effect is pretty strong.
  • .22 and .38 caliber guns do half damage, or 10% damage to the head or neck. Why? :iiam: Also, what's 10% of 2d6? Better figure it out, these are the legit rules.
  • Shotguns, hollow-points, "explosive bullets", and machine guns do full damage.
We're referred to read up on the rules for Armor Rating, S.D.C., and Hit Points without a page reference.

Also, zombies are ugly and have guts hanging out unless they've fed regularly, but even if they pass for mostly living they still have the zombie shuffle and zombie moan and all that. They also have sharp hearing and smell, if the fact that they have a world-hacking cheat wasn't enough.

We get details of how their armor rating of 14 works. It's not actual armor, but reflects the fact that a lot of attacks won't hurt zombies, though when their S.D.C. of their main body is zero, their armor rating goes down to 7 and all of their attack values (attack, bonuses, strength, speed) by half. However, even if a zombie is downed by regular attacks, they'll get up after an hour again, and you have to destroy their brains or remove their head or burn their bodies to keep them down. The game also at least acknowledges that you always want to make called shots against zombies, since there's no drawback to doing so under these rules. We get S.D.C. values for each part (about 33-48 for the torso, 8-18 for the leg, 11-16 for the neck, 16-26 for the head, etc.). However, attacking the head or neck ignores all bonuses to hit and only hits on a 17-20, so it doesn't matter if you're a child who just picked up their first gun or a trained military elite gently caress berets wolf squadron laser-sight bearing sniper, your both have the same accuracy! It also similarly doesn't matter if you're aiming or snap-firing, either. This is nonsensical bullshit, but let's go on. Removing arms reduces a zombie's number of attacks, legs reduces speed, but a helpful cultist or Thinker Zombie can help reattach a limb under certain circumstances. Or they can reattach the head and the zombie comes back after an hour. Zombies regenerate S.D.C. and hit points once an hour, but faster if they're feeding. The zombies' hit points are equal their Physical Endurance that, once again, we haven't had explained yet.

If you finally deplete their body or head S.D.C., congrats, you can attack their hit points, but only by attacking the same area. If you do triple the head's damage in a single shot, it's instantly dead, but given you need to do 48-78 damage in a single attack, that's not going to happen often enough for most folks to care.

Zombie Descriptions

We get the percentage numbers for zombies again, then actual stats.


"Everybody say 'brains'!"

Slouchers

Your usual slow-moving swarm zombie. It says 74% of people who died in The Wave became these, forgetting that they said only half rose as zombies at all. Ooops. Most of their traits have already been described, but they get a Horror Factor of 13 here. Their life energy sense is written as 50 feet instead of 20 feet like in an earlier section, and even though it earlier said they can't track people by scent, we get an 18% or higher chance for them to track humans by scent (and given there are hundreds, some are going to make even an 18% chance). They don't need eyes to see, so don't try and Stooge them. As with most Palladium monsters, their stats are randomized and you're expected to roll each and every zombie up, I suppose. :v: They can swing their arms for around 1d6+10 damage or bite for 2d6+10 (on average). They have a penalty to initiative, a big penalty on Perception rolls (despite the fact they can auto-sense humans, I dunno), and a small bonus to hit. They also get combat bonuses and an extra attack if you fail their Horror Factor because they "smell fear".


"Well, I still have my shades."

Crawlers

... are slouchers minus legs, but can walk on their hands or drag themselves around, and hide in small places or crawl through places other zombies can't fit. Their stats are pretty much like Slouchers except they're slower but climb and sneak better. It notes they can't do jump kicks. In case you were wondering if a legless zombie could. They can't.


In 3D.

Fast Attack Zombies

Your modern running Dawn of the Dead remake rage virus zombie. There's no way of telling them from slouchers until they run, though. It notes that they often work to corral other humans into the slouchers, velociraptor-style, even though we've been told they aren't smart over and over again. Stats are like slouchers (despite getting full statblocks, once again) except they're twice as fast as the average human or as fast as the average trained runner (around 15 MPH). Their big difference is that they get a special pounce attack that has a 50% chance of knocking you over or a 40% chance of pinning you no matter what your Physical Endurance or Physical Strength is, because gently caress PCs. You can try and get free by sacrificing two attacks for a 15% chance of doing so (once again, irregardless of the human's Strength, Prowess, or Endurance). They can also just knock you over at 70% chance that once again ignores any strengths a human might have. They can also do flying kicks, if the GM wants kung-fu zombies.


-foot +arm

Flesh-Eating Zombies

... are supposed to be slightly smart and cunning, and can plan ambushes and things like that, but usually work alone or in packs with other flesh-eaters because most other zombies aren't tactically minded. They can also retreat if they're overwhelmed, and prefer not being outnumbered. Often they'll tear off a limb to eat and run away, presuming their prey will die anyway at that point. They're faster than slouchers but not as fast as fast attack zombies (I hate typing that name, but there you have it) but have a slightly lower Armor Rating (12). But since you're probably trying to do called shots anyway...


"How'd I die? Well, I was caught with my pants down."

Thinkers

Listed as a "Racial Character Class" even though it says they're "Not available nor appropriate as a Player Character." I guess that's so they can level up. They're smart enough to notice things like signs of human passage and other evidence, as well as recognize patterns, remember things, make plans, retreat, etc. They can also direct other zombies to the limit of their intelligence, and are often used as would-be officers by Death Cult Priests. They can also use guns and other simple machines at a penalty, but can't reload or refuel them and might keep firing away when they're out of ammo a few times before realizing there's nothing going on.


"When you're a zombie they let you do it. You can do anything."

Mock Zombies

These are zombies that retain their human memories and refuse to believe that they're zombies. They'll even help humans on account of this, and often wear regular clothing or whatever. However, eventually they succumb to their hunger, particularly if alone with somebody. It's supposed to be a serial killer zombie analogue, and might use makeup or masks to hide their appearance. However, they're driven to feed more often to maintain a human-ish appearance. They don't work with other zombies or Death Cult Priests, and might even attack then to maintain their cover.


"Please don't bother trying to find her | She's not therrre"

Pattern Zombies

These are the Romero sort that are aping whatever job or activity they did in life. If left alone, they probably won't attack, but they'll join in moan-driven calls to action all the same. Their stats are the same as a sloucher, but they get a full page writeup anyway, because this is Palladium.


Commercial Game Art.

Using these Zombies in Other Game Settings

Because why assume this is your first Palladium game? Before we even have rules, it's noted you can use them in most-games as-is and gives some setting suggestions, but nothing too surprising, since most Palladium settings can accommodate the undead. Rifts gets detailed rules where they're amped up ridiculously. They don't have much M.D.C., but they do get some, and:
  • Energy weapons do nothing to zombies. Apparently they're laserproof... yes, fire will hurt them, lasers will not.
  • Rail guns do no damage unless they target the head or neck. :wtf:
  • Vibro-blades do one-third damage... wait, I thought chopping weapons did normal damage? Well, not in this case.
  • Magic weapons do full damage.
  • Fire does mega-damage to them, and plasma and magic fire do double damage.
Yeah, these rules don't make any sense, but even the normal rules don't make much sense! It notes the demons and deevils of the Minion War (Rifts metaplot nonsense) might unleash zombies, or there might be a zombie plague in Rifts Chaos Earth like he originally planned and didn't have time for but you can use these rules until he does that story (he has not done that story as of this writing, so don't get your hopes up... or down).

Next: Time to reap.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


potatocubed posted:

That's only 95%.

Where are the other 5%?

What aren't you telling us, Brad?

I forgot the 5% that's Flesh Eating Zombies and fixed it. That's actually my goof, the trouble with Palladium is that it's hard to notice that kind of thing sometimes...

Fossilized Rappy posted:

It seems so easy to avoid the "Wise Magic Natives" thing by letting everyone have supernatural traditions. I mean, it's not like there is a dearth of European mysticism or anything, but instead it's always conveniently put in the laps of the Other. Why does it seem that none of the games like Palladium's ever think of that loophole?

"Wait, you mean Scientology was right? Well, poo poo!"

It's the typical prejudice where it's easier to buy something being mystical the less familiar we are with it... but hey, at least it's not Siembieda this time? :v:

Fossilized Rappy posted:

2008 was far past the date where dinosaurs being dynamic warm-blooded creatures that had a successful evolutionary reign long past that of humanity was a thing, and while it wasn't fully accepted yet (and still isn't if you count weird fringes) there were already inklings that birds are part of the Dinosauria rather than outside of it.

It was pretty well accepted by the '90s, much less when this was written. I mean, Jurassic Park (the movie) had been out for 14-15 years at the time of this writing!

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 22:02 on Oct 27, 2016

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!


Fossilized Rappy posted:

It seems so easy to avoid the "Wise Magic Natives" thing by letting everyone have supernatural traditions. I mean, it's not like there is a dearth of European mysticism or anything, but instead it's always conveniently put in the laps of the Other. Why does it seem that none of the games like Palladium's ever think of that loophole?

Funny thing is, I could imagine modern Europeans or Americans being much faster to believe in magical/religious solutions/options than, say, the modern Chinese or Japanese, or Russians, or most Africans.

Turns out New Age Crystal Energy and Pyramid Power really DO repel zombies! That hippie lady's stew/potion made out of highway weeds actually DOES cute zombie bite infections!

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


Tasoth posted:

I actually like the Metabarons' art over The Incal's. They're both great, but the Metabarons is done in gauche/watercolor and I think pencil. It's also not as stylized. I mean, c'mon...



Juan Gimenez is pretty rad in my book.

Wait, they made a Moebius RPG and didn't get his art? Taste is subjective and all but that looks more like typical violent 90s comics than the beautiful, sprawlingly psychadelic art I love from the Incal.

The art for that zombie game is awesome though. Reminds me a bit of the late Steve Dillion. Nice Zombies ref in the review too.

Count Chocula fucked around with this message at 22:44 on Oct 27, 2016

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I saw the bit about zombies being immune to lasers coming a mile away. It's hard to scare your players with ammo scarcity tropes when their go-to guns can be wired straight into their armour.

What the Hell is it with Siembieda and death cults? I swear that they pop up in RIFTS books at random, always with some vague implication that they're connected somehow and the authorial assumption that they're remotely interesting.

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


Count Chocula posted:

Wait, they made a Moebius RPG and didn't get his art? Taste is subjective and all but that looks more like typical violent 90s comics than the beautiful, sprawlingly psychadelic art I love from the Incal.

Outside of The Incal, Moebius isn't involved with the Metabarons. The Metabarons are the remnants of Jodorowsky's Dune done as a comic.

Speaking of art, does Bradshaw intentionally skew the proportions on all his drawings? There looks like Nobilis latest edition egregious body errors in some of that art. Which is cool if it's intentionally done.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





Bieeardo posted:

I saw the bit about zombies being immune to lasers coming a mile away. It's hard to scare your players with ammo scarcity tropes when their go-to guns can be wired straight into their armour.

What the Hell is it with Siembieda and death cults? I swear that they pop up in RIFTS books at random, always with some vague implication that they're connected somehow and the authorial assumption that they're remotely interesting.
I always thought Cormac McCarthy dealt with this efficiently. There were apocalypse and doomsday cults, of course, but a few years on, they burned themselves out.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Nessus posted:

I always thought Cormac McCarthy dealt with this efficiently. There were apocalypse and doomsday cults, of course, but a few years on, they burned themselves out.

If you're talking about The Road, didn't everything burn itself out in that book?

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy



Disciplines

This is the big change to classes in Experimental Might. They're iconic spells and class abilities that were instead transplanted into a list of class abilities so that instead of all Druids gaining Animal Companion or all Clerics gaining Turn Undead, you have to specifically select that Discipline that gives it to you.

And since this is a Monte Cook work, it's important to mention as early as now that this is a spellcaster feature. Clerics, Druids, Wizards, Bards, Paladins and Rangers get "Disciplines", but nobody else (of the core classes do).

Anyway, each of these classes starts with one Discipline. On every even-numbered level, you have the option of taking a feat, or taking a new Discipline, or enhancing an existing Discipline.

The Disciplines themselves basically are "at-will powers", or "stances" as far as passive effects that need to be activated.

quote:

Important Sidebar:

Another rule change of Experimental Might is that all characters get one feat every level. This is why I'm saying classes can take feats or disciplines at even-numbered levels.

We're going to be doing a number of these asides and sidebars and jumps throughout the book, because many of these systems are interlocking. If it gets confusing, let me know and I'll try my best to clear it up as far as I understand it

Cleric Disciplines

Divine Inspiration lets you add a +1 bonus to either:
Attack and damage rolls
OR Saving throws, ability checks, and skill checks
OR AC

It takes a Standard Action to activate, and then lasts 1 round per level, which strikes me as annoying book-keeping when they could have just made it into a more passive effect. The bonus goes up by 1 every five levels, and then you can enhance it in the following ways:

Grant only half the bonus, but make it a free action to activate
Have the bonus apply to two of the three categories at the same time
Have the bonus apply to all three categories at the same time

quote:

The enhancements are gated by level, such as the free action enhancement can only be taken at level 4, and the all three categories enhancement can only be taken at level 14. I'm not going to go as deep into the details to mention all of the minimum level requirements, but I am writing them down in order.

The phraseology Cook uses here is "a free action that can be performed once each round", which strikes me as odd because Swift Actions were already invented by then. Is this a copyright/OGL/SRD issue?

Divine Senses is basically the Detect Magic spell turned into an at-will Discipline, provided you give up the feat for it. Enhancements include:
Letting your detection pierce through materials like stone, metal, dirt, etc.
The ability to read all magical writing
The ability to detect faint auras
The ability to detect enchantment auras
The ability to detect illusion auras

And then there's a bunch of rules about what constitutes a "faint" or a "strong" aura and how long a magical trace is left before becoming undetectable.

Godhammer grant you a +1 damage bonus to the first attack you make with your melee weapon, increasing by an additional +1 every three levels. You can enhance it to make it work with ranged weapons, and to make it work with all of your attacks within a round.

Turn Undead is Cook's rewrite of TU to make it more of a standardized ability. The undead target makes a Will save with DC [10 + half Cleric level + Charisma modifier], and on a failure becomes frightened so many rounds. You can enhance it by:

Making it deal damage
Increasing the range to Long
Making the effect immobilize the target rather than making it run away
Making it no longer provoke AOOs (seriously? a feat for that?)
+2 on the Will save DC
Remove the limitation on "cannot target an undead with more than 2 Hit Dice than you"
Can target Evil Outsiders on top of Undead
Can target Evil Divine Spellcasters on top of Undead

In the liner notes, Cook says that he had to make it only target one creature at a time because this new TU has "unlimited uses"

Debilitating Touch is an at-will touch attack that deals 1d6 negative energy damage + another 1d6 per three caster levels. There's also a Fort save or become Fatigued. You can enhance it by:
Making the effect Exhaustion rather than Fatigue
+3 on the Fort save DC
Add an additional 1d6 damage (but capped at no more than 1d6 per two caster levels)
Make it stun for one round on a failed Fort save, on top of everything else

Divine Presence

This is the big one, and I'll cap off this section with just this last Discipline and its implications for the rest of the system.

When the Cleric has this Discipline, the Cleric's allies can spend a Standard Action to touch them or any part of their clothing in order to receive healing equal to [1d6 + (1 per level)].

There is no limit to the amount of times this Discipline can be activated, but there is a limit of [1 + level + Charisma modifier] on the number of unique individuals that tap the Cleric for their healing. Cook explains that this is to prevent the potential Murphy of a single Cleric serving as a healing fount for an entire army. The idea is that if the Cleric has at least 12 CHA, then at level 1 they can heal up to three different people, which would be the three other people in the adventuring party.

Elsewhere in the book, it will be explained that there are no more "Cure X Wounds" spells. This is it.

You can take Enhancements to increase the healing amount by an extra d6, and it would appear that that's how you're supposed to keep up with the scaling: Cure Serious Wounds or whatever would mean taking the More Healing enhancement multiple times.

Cook then says that redesigning healing in this fashion causes two things to happen:
1. The Cleric no longer has to spend spell slots on healing spells
2. The Cleric no longer has to spend actions to heal their comrades

Remember what I said about this book coming out on the tail-end of 3rd Edition's lifecycle and during the run-up to 4th? Now, I don't know how much of the gaming world knew of 4th Edition's design by then, but this strikes me as Cook's own take on the "Healing spells are Minor Actions" design of 4e's leaders. Cook even says:

quote:

The cleric can cast whatever spells he wishes or bash people with his mace all day long and not even pay attention as his friends use his presence to heal themselves.

Except that's still not great, because now you're shifting the burden to the other people to spend their actions to heal themselves, since it's a Standard Action to activate, and you need to be within melee range of the Cleric. Maybe that last part is an interesting tactical consideration, but eh.

There is one last Discipline, called Healing Touch, which is the Cleric-proactive version. The Cleric touches someone at the cost of a Standard Action to themselves, and then the target gets healed for [1d8 + (1 per level)]. Like Divine Presence, you can take Enhancements to add extra d8s to the healing, an enhancement to make it not provoke AOOs (again? seriously?), and then an enhancement (at level 8!) to make into a close-range spell rather than a melee touch.

For this one, you are giving up your Standard Action to heal people, but at least it doesn't cost you spell slots.

Now, any astute player of 3e is going to spot the huge loophole in these abilities from a mile away: you finish an encounter, you touch the Cleric a bunch of times, you heal to full, you keep going. Free infinite healing, right?

So lets zoom forward to the Playing the Game chapter, with the other interlocking rules change brought by Experimental Might.

quote:

Magical Healing

Characters can only receive magical healing a number of times in a given day equal to their level + their Constitution modifier, with a minimum of 2. The term “magical healing” means any application of curative magic, from a potion, to a special ability, to the disciplines described in Chapter One: Classes.

Note that it’s incumbent upon healed characters to keep track of how many applications of magical healing they receive each day; this bookkeeping is not the healer’s responsibility.

And this is per application, mind you, so it actually behooves you to hit yourself with the strongest healing possible instead of just a Cure Light Wounds, because a single cast of CLW eats at your healing limit just as much as a Heal spell does (spoiler alert: the Heal spell has been removed from this game)

Remember what I said about this book coming out on the tail-end of 3rd Edition's lifecycle and during the run-up to 4th? Yeah.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Bieeardo posted:

What the Hell is it with Siembieda and death cults? I swear that they pop up in RIFTS books at random, always with some vague implication that they're connected somehow and the authorial assumption that they're remotely interesting.

The death cults in Rifts that I can recall are those relating to the literal horseman of Death... but yeah, they're never particularly interesting. The best that they have is a vaguely useful M.O. like the Grim Reapers (no relation to the reapers in this review) but they don't have an ethos beyond "sell soul for power through hilariously questionable means".

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


gradenko_2000 posted:

The phraseology Cook uses here is "a free action that can be performed once each round", which strikes me as odd because Swift Actions were already invented by then. Is this a copyright/OGL/SRD issue?

Well, this doesn't use your swift action in case you have something else to apply it to, I suppose. You only get one swift action per round, but you could do any number of free actions that can be performed once each round as long as they're all different.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Alien Rope Burn posted:


"How'd I die? Well, I was caught with my pants down."

Thinkers

Listed as a "Racial Character Class" even though it says they're "Not available nor appropriate as a Player Character." I guess that's so they can level up. They're smart enough to notice things like signs of human passage and other evidence, as well as recognize patterns, remember things, make plans, retreat, etc. They can also direct other zombies to the limit of their intelligence, and are often used as would-be officers by Death Cult Priests. They can also use guns and other simple machines at a penalty, but can't reload or refuel them and might keep firing away when they're out of ammo a few times before realizing there's nothing going on.

But if they were military trained to begin with, reloading, unjamming, and even maintenance of firearms would be almost muscle memory that as long as you can give them ammo, they could fire, empty out their gun, and reload. People forget that the whole reason they drill you like that in the military is so when you do break mentally, you're still capable of doing simple rote tasks like ducking for cover when hearing incoming or using your weapon. I mean, if Pattern Zombies can rebuild a memory from a lifetime of repetitive tasks, militarized Thinkers would be able to string enough of those "remember your training" moments to be effective.

Alien Rope Burn posted:


"When you're a zombie they let you do it. You can do anything."

Mock Zombies

These are zombies that retain their human memories and refuse to believe that they're zombies. They'll even help humans on account of this, and often wear regular clothing or whatever. However, eventually they succumb to their hunger, particularly if alone with somebody. It's supposed to be a serial killer zombie analogue, and might use makeup or masks to hide their appearance. However, they're driven to feed more often to maintain a human-ish appearance. They don't work with other zombies or Death Cult Priests, and might even attack then to maintain their cover.

Like kernels out of poo poo, the Mock Zombie is actually a great idea and far more a threat than the traditional zombies. I'd like to use them in an unconventional apocalypse, where they're propping up civilization because it makes feeding easier. Like their numbers aren't that big, they're in hiding or look human after a feeding and they instinctively know not to attack other zombies, but if a group of them get a human alone in an alley, public restroom, or an elevator, they lose control, almost completely devour them and leave the scene cleaning up after themselves.

I like some of the fluff text where they pass off their decomposition or disfigurement as "being sick", like they don't really know they're dead, they think they're just ill. There's just something frightening about that. Also, it connects well with the "half-living" later on in the book, undead player characters

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Using these Zombies in Other Game Settings

Because why assume this is your first Palladium game? Before we even have rules, it's noted you can use them in most-games as-is and gives some setting suggestions, but nothing too surprising, since most Palladium settings can accommodate the undead. Rifts gets detailed rules where they're amped up ridiculously. They don't have much M.D.C., but they do get some, and:
  • Energy weapons do nothing to zombies. Apparently they're laserproof... yes, fire will hurt them, lasers will not.
  • Rail guns do no damage unless they target the head or neck. :wtf:
  • Vibro-blades do one-third damage... wait, I thought chopping weapons did normal damage? Well, not in this case.
  • Magic weapons do full damage.
  • Fire does mega-damage to them, and plasma and magic fire do double damage.
Yeah, these rules don't make any sense, but even the normal rules don't make much sense! It notes the demons and deevils of the Minion War (Rifts metaplot nonsense) might unleash zombies, or there might be a zombie plague in Rifts Chaos Earth like he originally planned and didn't have time for but you can use these rules until he does that story (he has not done that story as of this writing, so don't get your hopes up... or down).

Next: Time to reap.

Yeah, this was what I was talking about. I don't mind them have limited MDC that much, but carrying over the special restrictions and making new ones. I mean it minimizes the joy of what Homer Simpson called the feeling "like a cluster bomb wiping out a graveyard full of zombies", just facing the horde and wiping them out. They should have just left it "at you can one-shot zombies with a head hit with from a laser, but why bother, use plasma or explosives, or railgun/automatic cannons and mulch the fuckers.". RIFTS has enough hordes like the Xiticix and the vampires that I'd like at least one that PCs can face down and not be overwhelmed by them. It's Siembedia misunderstanding the whole point, yet again.

Crasical
Apr 22, 2014

GG!*
*GET GOOD


The writing in the Beast fiction anthology is actually pretty good so far. The Firebird story has been my favorite of those covered already.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Young Freud posted:

But if they were military trained to begin with, reloading, unjamming, and even maintenance of firearms would be almost muscle memory that as long as you can give them ammo, they could fire, empty out their gun, and reload. People forget that the whole reason they drill you like that in the military is so when you do break mentally, you're still capable of doing simple rote tasks like ducking for cover when hearing incoming or using your weapon. I mean, if Pattern Zombies can rebuild a memory from a lifetime of repetitive tasks, militarized Thinkers would be able to string enough of those "remember your training" moments to be effective.

Well, to be fair, they don't have the memories, just a level of higher but sub-human intelligence. It's supposed to be Bub from Day of the Dead, mostly. (Why some retain memories and some are smarter is not explained this time around, mind.)

Young Freud posted:

Like kernels out of poo poo, the Mock Zombie is actually a great idea and far more a threat than the traditional zombies. I'd like to use them in an unconventional apocalypse, where they're propping up civilization because it makes feeding easier. Like their numbers aren't that big, they're in hiding or look human after a feeding and they instinctively know not to attack other zombies, but if a group of them get a human alone in an alley, public restroom, or an elevator, they lose control, almost completely devour them and leave the scene cleaning up after themselves.

Mock zombies are a clever idea- but they're part of Siembieda's creative tic of often going around with a bait-and-switch. You'll often see villains who seem publicly respectable and upstanding, and heroes who are hated and despised, and all with a fingerwag to not judge people based on appearances. And though that's common enough in fiction, a read-through of books like Villains Unlimited practically buries you in this kind of concept. So it's hard for me to not just see this as that kind of bait and switch concept once again, which we'll also see with one of the cults once we get to them.

It gets weirder later on when there's a mock zombie that's literally just the same concept presented above where the PCs are expected to work with it because... well, you'll see.

Young Freud posted:

Yeah, this was what I was talking about. I don't mind them have limited MDC that much, but carrying over the special restrictions and making new ones. I mean it minimizes the joy of what Homer Simpson called the feeling "like a cluster bomb wiping out a graveyard full of zombies", just facing the horde and wiping them out. They should have just left it "at you can one-shot zombies with a head hit with from a laser, but why bother, use plasma or explosives, or railgun/automatic cannons and mulch the fuckers.". RIFTS has enough hordes like the Xiticix and the vampires that I'd like at least one that PCs can face down and not be overwhelmed by them. It's Siembedia misunderstanding the whole point, yet again.

Right, you can't run Rifts as zombie survival horror- it functionally doesn't work unless you were to specifically set up the campaign for it, and even trying to force it like this would just have the PCs stock up on flamethrowers to match all the squirt guns they already use against vampires.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010




Lipstick Apathy



Druid Disciplines

First off, Druids have access to the Healing Touch discipline, but not the Divine Presence discipline, so they're not as good at healing as Clerics. Insert WoW joke here.

They also have access to the Magic Senses discipline, which is the same as Divine Senses, just renamed. They also have access to the Debilitating Touch discipline, which is the same as the Cleric version.

They start the game with the Animal Companion discipline for free, and then they gain the Nature's Affinity discipline for free at level 2.

Animal Companion is the same as in the core rules, except you need to spend Enhancements to buy the Ability Score Boost (which can be taken multiple times for +2 to Strength, Constitution and Dexterity per shot) and the Evasion ability.

You can also buy DR 5/silver and Spell Resistance [11 + Druid level], and the ability to have a second and a third companion.

For that last one, was that possible in the core rules? Because good lord that sounds impressively broken.

The Nature's Affinity discipline gives the Druid:
+2 to Knowledge (Nature) and Survival checks
+4 save bonus against fey abilities
the ability to use "Diplomacy" checks against animals using [d20 + Druid level + Charisma modifier]

The Woodland Stride ability needs to be bought as an Enhancement. Other enhancements include:
+2 to the Diplomacy checks against animals (seriously? a feat for this?)
the ability to use the Mending spell against organic materials
the ability to speak with animals
the ability to speak with plants
immunity to poison
Resistance 10 to cold, electricity, and fire

That just leaves one more Discipline: Wild Shape. The version here in Experimental Might is a lot more powerful than in the core rules since there's no limit to how many times a Druid can shift into and out of their shape - the only limit is that after they choose an animal form and shift into it, that's the only form they can assume for the rest of the day. There's also no limit on the duration of the shapeshift.

Enhancements for Wild Shape include:
the ability to speak, cast spells, and use disciplines normally while shapeshifted (at level 4!)
the ability to take on a second different animal form in the same day
the ability to shapeshift into Large and Tiny creatures
the ability to shapeshift into plant creatures
the ability to use the Alter Self spell at-will
the ability to shapeshift into Elementals
the ability to shapeshift into Huge creatures

I think you're getting the gist of this whole Discipline thing: it removes some of the class features that spellcaster classes have, and then you have to "buy them back" with feat slots, which you're going to have a lot of since you now gain a feat every level. Even if you were using all your even-level feats to buy Disciplines and Enhancements, and only the odd-level feats for actual feats, it wouldn't take long for you to still have more feats than you'd otherwise have in a normal game.

With regards to the Druid, it's a lot more powerful to be sure, but at the same time I can't help but feel like the Wild Shape discipline is pretty much bang-on in terms of availability and usability. Yes, it's still a hassle to draw upon the Monster Manual for your stats and abilities, but at least you can just turn into a tiger or something and just stay there forever. I played a Druid a lot in WoW and it always threw me off how gated and limited and circumstantial the D&D Wild Shape ability was.

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


Dead Reign has some cool zombie ideas, mock zombies for one, but the overall toughness seems bizarre. I understand the appeal of making your zzombies unique, fast attack zombie is the dumbest God drat thing though, but why so super tough and with magical sensing abilities?

Siivola
Dec 23, 2012



gradenko_2000 posted:

Enhancements for Wild Shape include:
the ability to speak, cast spells, and use disciplines normally while shapeshifted (at level 4!)
Natural Spell did the same thing and you could take it the moment you got access to Wild Shape (that is, level 5). Unsurprisingly, it was a must-have in basically every druid build back in the day.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Mock Zombies remind me of iZombie, where the zombies can retain their looks and intellect as long as they make sure to get some brain fairly regularly and can explain why they are suddenly pale and moody. Plus, super strength and absorbing memories from the people they eat, but, y'know, that's iZombie.

Serf
May 5, 2011




Mors Rattus posted:

Mock Zombies remind me of iZombie, where the zombies can retain their looks and intellect as long as they make sure to get some brain fairly regularly and can explain why they are suddenly pale and moody. Plus, super strength and absorbing memories from the people they eat, but, y'know, that's iZombie.

I was just thinking this too.

All we need now are zombie zombies: zombies who eat the flesh of other zombies.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



I admit I like the idea of "zombies eat people because it makes all the zombies stronger"; it's an interesting take, so I'm assuming that's something that Kevin didn't come up with during the rewrite.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Alien Rope Burn posted:

Right, you can't run Rifts as zombie survival horror- it functionally doesn't work unless you were to specifically set up the campaign for it, and even trying to force it like this would just have the PCs stock up on flamethrowers to match all the squirt guns they already use against vampires.

Actually, the best way would be something like Tsutomu Nihei's Biomega, where the N5S zombies are no real match for Kanoe and Mizunoe, they merely just get in their way of their objectives, so they've got to ride the awesome combat bikes and cut their way through hordes with axes. And there's threats that are maneuvering the zombies that are more than a match for the heroes.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015



That's about the only one I can imagine as a panel in a horror comic/manga. The other zombies just look weird, especially the ones after this one.

Alien Rope Burn posted:


Using these Zombies in Other Game Settings

Because why assume this is your first Palladium game? Before we even have rules, it's noted you can use them in most-games as-is and gives some setting suggestions, but nothing too surprising, since most Palladium settings can accommodate the undead. Rifts gets detailed rules where they're amped up ridiculously. They don't have much M.D.C., but they do get some, and:
  • Energy weapons do nothing to zombies. Apparently they're laserproof... yes, fire will hurt them, lasers will not.
  • Rail guns do no damage unless they target the head or neck. :wtf:
  • Vibro-blades do one-third damage... wait, I thought chopping weapons did normal damage? Well, not in this case.
  • Magic weapons do full damage.
  • Fire does mega-damage to them, and plasma and magic fire do double damage.
Yeah, these rules don't make any sense, but even the normal rules don't make much sense! It notes the demons and deevils of the Minion War (Rifts metaplot nonsense) might unleash zombies, or there might be a zombie plague in Rifts Chaos Earth like he originally planned and didn't have time for but you can use these rules until he does that story (he has not done that story as of this writing, so don't get your hopes up... or down).

Next: Time to reap.

That rail guns part is just bullshit. Rifts rail guns fire projectiles just as slow as normal bullets, therefore they should affect zombies the same. The energy immunity makes sense, though. Everyone knows that lasers are powered by negative energy.

(On a more serious note, having them try to force the zombie apocalypse into the Palladium rules corset hurts to look at.)

Cassa posted:

Dead Reign has some cool zombie ideas, mock zombies for one, but the overall toughness seems bizarre. I understand the appeal of making your zzombies unique, fast attack zombie is the dumbest God drat thing though, but why so super tough and with magical sensing abilities?

Making them that tough is really weird. If you're gonna do zombies in a high-powered game system, you're probably better off abstracting them into a giant blob/swarm/horde. That seems to be how most zombie movies operate outside of scenes with no more than a handful of zombies.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 15:39 on Oct 28, 2016

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Alien Rope Burn posted:

The death cults in Rifts that I can recall are those relating to the literal horseman of Death... but yeah, they're never particularly interesting. The best that they have is a vaguely useful M.O. like the Grim Reapers (no relation to the reapers in this review) but they don't have an ethos beyond "sell soul for power through hilariously questionable means".

It vaguely occurred to me that they could be related to the Horsemen, but it felt tenuous even for Siembieda, given how early the Africa book came out. Still, they've brought us such ridiculous invitations to throw things at GMs, like the Murder-Wraith(probably TM), and a bit of page padding here and there.

Unrelated, this 'zombies sense PPE' thing, while it does fit into the whole ISP/PPE/ley lines/mass hysteria background that most of the Palladium lines seem to share, really reminds me of the Monster (foo) novels that were published a few years prior. Interesting bit of parallel development.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Kevin Siembieda posted:

The situation behind Dead Reign was a disappointment for everyone. Despite Josh and Joshua's extensive knowledge and fondness for the zombie genre, when I reviewed the manuscript in September, I was deeply disappointed with it.

It was my decision as Publisher and Game Designer to rewrite this book substantially (80-90%) - something General_Sarkoff [an rpg.net poster - ARB] and others like him making snide and outrageous accusations could NOT possibly know.

Dead Reign Part 3: "Captive women may be forced to have sex with him, impregnated, and their babies taken and fed to zombies or offered up in a weird sacrifice to an imaginary Death God or Lord of Chaos, or eaten by the mad cult leader himself."

We've got a ways to go before we get to the recreational eating of your own child, so let's get through it.


"You've impaled me with a... log? Can the artist explain my situation?"

Fighting Zombies

We're back to Brad Ashley and some quick tips a mother came up with that zombies hate. Actually, I've skipped a lot of Brad's jibber-jabber because it goes on and on, and gently caress, we're not even a third of the way through the book! He goes on about a lot of nonsense like trusting your gut and "think fast" and "react even faster". Practical advice! He says to let people die if it's too much of a risk to save them, shoot zombies in the head, run away if you're facing a bunch, stay alive, keep on the move, shoot in the legs if you have to run, find ways to block their path or entrances, lay traps, pin zombies down, remove their arms if they grab a person, set fires to keep them away, etc. We get some rules tucked in the middle of an IC talk (like that it takes 50% more strength than a gripping zombie to pull somebody loose, so usually 2-4 people), using a shotgun to blow a zombie loose from its target, pinning zombies with crossbow bolts, trying to run through crowds, etc. Hope you're not skipping the fluff for the random rules tidbits shoved into it!

With that out of the way, we can move on to the other threats in this book. (Yes, we're still discussing all the bad guys before we've even seen a PC class.)


"Our God forbids a decent haircut!"

Retro-Savages

These are presented as Christian extremists who think that the zombies are God's curse for technology and cities, and have reverted to a 19th Century agarian lifestyle. They're akin to the Amish, only they're averse to technology to the point where they'll feed you to zombies since that's what God put them there for, to murder people with digital watches. In fact, they prefer to capture survivors, tie them down, then sing psalms to attract zombies. Seems like a flawed plan, but they're flawed in general. At best, they'll drive off outsiders at gunpoint or gunshot. It's a bit odd to have this - whackjob baddies - being one of the few acknowledgements of Christianity in a Palladium game. And they're everywhere, somehow. I mean, what are they gonna do, spread the word by radio?

We get stats for them and a lot of handwaving as to what skills they get. Because this is a Palladium game, you're expected to build each one individually as a character, in a system that's really, really bad for that.


"Don't look trustworthy? Why would you say that?"

Death Cults

First, we have "terror cults", which are usually organized around a central leader who uses a combination of fear and monopoly on some resource to gather a following. They're generically "half-crazy" and might think they're gods (because just about every other villain Siembieda writes is a megalomaniac) or worship some generic evil god from the evil god bin. Also, half of them are cannibals that eat outsiders.

We get a percentile chart, where they can be:
  • Military or paramilitary guys that use their combat skills and weapons to intimidate and run a community.
  • "Evil half-living" who has found out how to get zombies to follow them and uses that to protect a group of people she or he exploits.
  • A mock zombie teamed up with some thinkers that use that to keep a group of people safe and have them lure or capture people for food.
  • A "lord of chaos" (loving seriously?) who is unspecifically mad and obsessed with death or immortality, which no leads to literal blood baths, cannibalism, torture, the aforementioned rape and baby-munching. Horror movie shock material in NPC form.
  • A self-appointed messiah that runs things through charisma and fear of the outside world.


"Let your unbathed stench empower Brulyx!"

Next, we get the "Zombie Death Cult of Brulyx", which is familiar to those who read Part 0 here. They claim to be a 12 millennia old secret cult (not so secret anymore, I guess) that worship Brulyx, Lord of the Dance Dead. They claim to have been hanging around since Atlantis waiting for the day "death would reign". And there's the fact that their priests can boss zombies around, so there's that, which is making them a growing influence on... wherever your PCs are, I suppose. They don't seem so bad at first glance, given that they don't expect members to do more than work for their meals and supplicate themselves before Brulyx.

The key is that Brulyx services are designed to drain the P.P.E. of their followers and feed all the local zombies, which is what gives them power over them, since the zombies (somehow) recognize them as feeders. They have to be careful, though, since they can only control so many zombies and if too many congregate, they might turn into a hungry swarm instead. Most Death Priests manage to avoid this because... they're professionals or something... I guess? Also they're all over even though it's only five months after the apocalypse because

:iiam:

However, the Brulyx cult has a secret plan once they get enough OT levels, which is:
  • Maintain the zombie population through their rituals or even by piecing them back together.
  • Convert a bunch of followers to help feed their rituals with P.P.E.
  • Take over urban centers where other survivors can't approach them. (That seems to make it hard for them to recruit, but they presumably have an outreach.)
  • Finally, pen in humans like cattle to feed to zombies! They haven't started this yet.
Ultimately, they want to use zombies as a tool to rule the world, and grow huge mustaches to twirl while they're at it. Doesn't seem necessary, honestly, they have a pretty sweet deal going, and it if wasn't for the final part of their plan, there wouldn't be any reason to really consider them evil at all (aside from just being beneficially manipulative). They're also a bit odd in that they seem to have the only form of magic acknowledged in the game.

We get a Death Priest O.C.C., and it reminds us again they may seem nice now, but in a few years they'll be putting people in the munching line for zombies. As such, they're plotting to remove "reapers" (i.e. militant survivors that hunt zombies) and organized communities so the dead can rule the earth. They can command zombies or protect a small group from undead aggression. Also they can have "1d4 pencils or a mechanical pencil". Choose wisely, death priest! You can't have both!

Next: Classes! Character creation? No, that comes later.

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Retro-Savages

These are presented as Christian extremists who think that the zombies are God's curse for technology and cities, and have reverted to a 19th Century agarian lifestyle. They're akin to the Amish, only they're averse to technology to the point where they'll feed you to zombies since that's what God put them there for, to murder people with digital watches. In fact, they prefer to capture survivors, tie them down, then sing psalms to attract zombies. Seems like a flawed plan, but they're flawed in general. At best, they'll drive off outsiders at gunpoint or gunshot. It's a bit odd to have this - whackjob baddies - being one of the few acknowledgements of Christianity in a Palladium game. And they're everywhere, somehow. I mean, what are they gonna do, spread the word by radio?

So the tech level allowed by God himself includes the time period when firearms became pretty handy and reliable? How convenient.

And I guess they've raided museums to communicate with each other via morse codes. Again, how convenient that their God would allow such witchcraft.

(Might just be because Amish are an American thing and I'm not from there, but it's pretty stupid to go all "Zombies are here because of technology!!" while still using technology like guns, and whatever else they need to not die immediately. Just give them funky shaman powers or something.)

Doresh fucked around with this message at 21:41 on Oct 28, 2016

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



The Amish aren't actually anti-technology. They're anti-convenience in their personal lives. They don't like things that get in the way of a proper and moral life by their standards, including most technology in the home which they view as distracting. Amish shops use a full range of technology that helps improve their labor, and most Amish homes have a telephone...on a pole out in a field, so that it is inconvenient to reach and annoying to use. Deliberately.

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darthbob88
Oct 13, 2011

YOSPOS


Mors Rattus posted:

The Amish aren't actually anti-technology. They're anti-convenience in their personal lives. They don't like things that get in the way of a proper and moral life by their standards, including most technology in the home which they view as distracting. Amish shops use a full range of technology that helps improve their labor, and most Amish homes have a telephone...on a pole out in a field, so that it is inconvenient to reach and annoying to use. Deliberately.

https://thefrailestthing.com/2012/08/04/the-tech-savvy-amish/

quote:

Even the Amish, often and mistakenly taken to be Luddites par excellence, are not exempt from this state of perpetual negotiation [between technology and living morally]. In fact, the Amish are paradigmatically modern in that they have made the need to think about technology a defining feature of their culture. That they do so with extreme deliberateness and with so strong a preference for the conservation of their way of life only superficially distinguishes them from the rest of American society. In their consciousness of technology and its consequences, the Amish have more in common with the rest of us than any of us do with members of pre-modern society.

[...]

The Amish live in the same world that we do and are as aware of new technologies as the rest of us. But while technological momentum has taken root within most of American culture rendering the notion of technological determinism plausible, the Amish have succeeded in creating philosophical momentum. That is, they have institutionalized technological criticism which has substituted for the absence of change as a stabilizing factor. And it seems to me that this makes the Amish just about the most tech-savvy group of people around.

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