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Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


Joe Slowboat posted:

Hey thread,
I was wondering if I could get a bit of help - I'm trying to hunt down all the F&F reviews of fantasy (or, I guess, SF) RPGs that were explicitly or guardedly Gnostic in concept.

Currently my list is Kult! (straightforward gnosticism), In Dark Alleys (even more doctrinaire Gnosticism, complete with Demiurge and Sophia), and Mage: The Awakening (a bit less orthodox). Mage: The Ascension is sorta Gnostic but I don't know if that's really a central theme. Are there any others I've missed? Especially the blatant ones, if you can think of any.

This is entirely out of curiosity, I'm interested in seeing how much Gnosticism shows up in RPGs after running into it in the above. Also, a homebrew setting I'm running ended up more Gnostic than I intended and I'm curious if it's just a sort of natural fit, as cosmologies go.

Thanks!


Doesn't Seventh Sea have some of that going on? I remember the ancient aliens and religion metaplot going in some really strange directions in the later book reviews.

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Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



7th Sea is more just weird.

Seconding nDemon, though, you are the rebel servants of the 'god' of the material world, seeking meaning in secrets and lies and the human spirit.

theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



Terrible Opinions posted:

Magic comes back into the world and as a result all British people become knights or pointed hat wizards. The American army immediately reforms into militias wielding flintlocks and wearing tri-corner hats.The French become anthropomorphic frogs.

1 in 5 rifts British people are Merlin. The number of Rs varies and often there is one or more Ys. The number would be higher but there's a lot of Arrrthrrrs as well.

Cease to Hope
Dec 12, 2011
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.



Kellsterik posted:

Doesn't Seventh Sea have some of that going on? I remember the ancient aliens and religion metaplot going in some really strange directions in the later book reviews.

Not really. It's aliens.

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

Joe Slowboat posted:

Hey thread,
I was wondering if I could get a bit of help - I'm trying to hunt down all the F&F reviews of fantasy (or, I guess, SF) RPGs that were explicitly or guardedly Gnostic in concept.

Aletheia is sort of that by way of X-Files and also a fuckton of :catdrugs:

Btw, I'm on page 393 in my backlog now, so to JackMann, Kurieg, Halloween Jack, PurpleXVI, Night10194, I Am Just a Box, and Midjack: aw, thanks!

inklesspen fucked around with this message at 01:31 on May 25, 2017

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





inklesspen posted:

Aletheia is sort of that by way of X-Files and also a fuckton of :catdrugs:

Oo, thanks, this is a great example. It's also extremely New Age, Human Potential Movement, and upbeat. I'm honestly surprised it doesn't have magic dolphins.

It's happy Gnosticism!

Cease to Hope
Dec 12, 2011
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.



inklesspen posted:

Aletheia is sort of that by way of X-Files and also a fuckton of :catdrugs:

Btw, I'm on page 393 in my backlog now, so to JackMann, Kurieg, Halloween Jack, PurpleXVI, Night10194, I Am Just a Box, and Midjack: aw, thanks!

oh god my stupid poo poo is immortalized

(thanks kindly inklesspen, for that and everything you do running the archive!)

Comrade Koba
Jul 2, 2007



Kurieg posted:

So what you're saying is that he wanted you to do the review in order to get press for his Kickstater and now that his Kickstarter is done he wants the review excised from the internet so the game maintains it's "exclusivity"?


He does realize that removing it from Inklesspen's website doesn't magically remove it from SA right?

If anyone's interested in reading about this hilarious shitshow of an RPG, the review starts at page 281 of this thread.

Cease to Hope
Dec 12, 2011
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.



Don't go upstairs! That noise has to be the...



:spooky::spooky: HORRIBLE ADVENTURES Part 7: James the Slash Enthusiast :spooky::spooky:

As we wrap up the archetypes, we finally get to the murderers. As the corruptions run into the problem that turning into monsters is a perfectly ordinary thing for a PC to do in D&D, these martial murderer archetypes run into the problem that stabbing people to death is a daily occurrence in most games.

And Business Is Good

The slayer is a ranger/rogue hybrid from Advanced Class Guide, and it very much resembles a player-friendly, full-BAB, 20-level adaptation of the original 3e assassin prestige class.

As a result, the Bloody Jake archetype doesn't have much to justify its "evil-only" restriction. Bloody Jakes are evil hillbillies who have a favored terrain and various special abilities to torment anyone who enters it and escape retaliation. Evil-only is a good note that this archetype makes a poor adventurer, since most of his abilities are focused on staying in a certain favored terrain and tormenting a single target outside of combat.


The face of horror.

However, they're even less physically threatening than a usual slayer, because they trade off their main damage ability and almost all of their slayer talents for abilities to escape combat. That makes them less scary and more just obnoxious. Why do we have all of these ticky-tacky PC-style tradeoffs for what is obviously intended to be an enemy-only archetype? Trading off combat utility to be able to show up for later sessions makes sense for PCs, who obviously want to live to fight another day, but makes no sense for an NPC opponent, who is still defeated if they get away.

The family hunter chooses a particular family as a ranger-style favored enemy. It's unusual in that it's about as good as a regular slayer even when they aren't hunting their favored family target: for some reason, having a nemesis family lets them spread their Studied Target from bonus on an enemy to their summoned/created/charmed minions, and makes them immune to being flanked by someone designated as a Studied Target. It's a little bit of an ability salad, but I appreciate that the author understood that "I am a sworn enemy of the von Carsteins" is too situational to try to have offsetting costs to get +X against von Carsteins.

Witch killers hunt arcane spellcasters, can take anti-arcane-spellcaster barbarian rage powers as slayer talents, and get +X against spellcasters and -X against everyone else. At high levels, they can magically enrage people who've been targeted with an arcane spell, which is cheesy and clunky and isn't an ability you'd ever actually use because it's too situational and really dumb. Their sneak attacks cause concentration checks for spellcasters in an extremely awkward way I can't properly parse.

quote:

When he makes a sneak attack against an arcane spellcaster, up to 1 point of sneak attack damage per slayer level counts as ongoing damage for the purpose of forcing the spellcaster to attempt concentration checks

When does this end? How long does it last? What's causing it? Does it stack? No answers.

This is the first "martial character who hunts spellcasters" I've ever seen who has an interesting, useful ability to defeat invisibility. They can smell arcane magic, as per the scent ability, and instantly pinpoint anyone who casts an arcane spell near them. That's a great, memorable gimmick, and the only memorable quality of this otherwise generic mage-hunting mundane kit.

Ooooooooooooooooh My Loooooooooove

Spiritualists, from Occult Adventures, are a variation on the summoner. They're middling spellcasters with an hardcore ghost pet who can turn solid. Technically, they can also have their ghost live in their head and attack enemies in melee with the spiritualist with ghostly tendrils, but you don't want to do that because spiritualists aren't much for melee.


Nothing says horror like hulk hands.

Exciters try to make that a viable playstyle. They give up the ability to let their phantoms operate as a separate pet, and instead go into a magic rage. They can poach magical rage abilities from the bloodrager's list, and later share their rage with allies, like a skald. (The bloodrage and skald are barbarian hybrid classes from Advanced Class Guide.) The end result is a bloodrager with extra ghost attacks but worse bloodraging, which makes me wonder both why this isn't a bloodrager archetype and why you wouldn't just play a bloodrager.

Necrologists are spiritualists whose abilities are necromancy instead of psychic power, and their ghosts are undead instead of outsiders. It's a boring search-replace of terms and evil only.

Not Even The First Strangling-Based Class Archetype

Vigilantes are an extremely boring and bad class from Ultimate Intrigue. They're meant to be Zorro or Batman but mostly they're another fiddly and underpowered rogue variant.

Experimenters give up all of their other useful combat abilities for alchemist mutagens. Not only is this comically underpowered, but they also risk giving away their secret identity every time they're confused, dazed, frightened, panicked, or stunned.

Hangmen specialize in grappling, but aren't full BAB and don't get any abilities that actually make them better at grappling until 11th level, so mostly they aren't good at anything at all. At 5th level, they get the ability to tell when someone they are currently strangling tells a lie. For one, I think the author is vague on how a noose works. For another, a bonus to identifying lies only when you are currently strangling the speaker is the most Pathfinder thing. This is going to come up between zero and one times per campaign, even if you are playing Noose-Man, Scourge of the Necked. PC abilities need to be a little more generally applicable than this.

Serial killers murder people, and have to be evil. They get some scene-setting abilities for when someone sees someone they've killed, and a bunch of abilities poached from the slayer and assassin. Vigilantes are so chock full of fiddly social abilities you'd never use on an NPC, so I find myself wondering why this is an archetype and not advice on how to run a serial killer of any class in the GM section. They also don't have any particular special protection from divination, and all this faffing about disguises and misdirection seems silly when a perfect illusory disguise is a first-level spell.

Remember that "murders people in a particularly gruesome way" is evil-only for a vigilante, because it's going to come up again.

The Better To Eat You With

Witches are a variation on wizards from Advanced Players' Guide. They get various at-will hexes that usually only work a given person once per day, and keep their spells in a spellcat instead of a spellbook.

Witches have patrons, which add spells to their class list and spells known. They have a similar thematic role to cleric domains, if not as significant a mechanical one. Horror Adventures adds a half-dozen new patrons, which are supposedly "associated with the Elder Mythos" but mostly are an excuse to come up with some new patrons that use spells from non-core Pathfinder books. They're just "Adjective" followed by nine random spells.

The gingerbread witch is completely off the wall. She starts off with the child-scent hex (which was introduced in Ultimate Magic and does exactly what you'd expect) and making muffin-shaped potions. Later, she moves on to a bite attack with Swallow Whole, with a special note that she can eat people the same size as her. I get that Wicked has a large, lingering cultural impact, but the archetype that specializes in eating people, especially children is not evil-only. This would make a fine weird villain (although her Swallow Whole is suicide except against an already-helpless enemy), but a campaign with a gingerbread witch PC is going to degenerate into silliness in short order.

Tatterdemalions conjure ropes to entangle people and can collapse into a heap of rags to teleport and have prehensile clothes. I like the visual - and the illustration for this section was wasted on the gingerbread witch - but it's a bad fit for an archetype: all of these things would be perfectly appropriate spells and/or hexes.

I Did It

I hope I don't need to explain what wizards are.

Elder Mythos Scholars are Doctor Strange. They protect reality from stuff HP Lovecraft made up. They resist mental attacks and have a talisman of revealing that can detect:

quote:

creatures associated with the Elder Mythos, such as the following (or similar creatures, at the GM’s discretion): bhole, colour out of space, deep one, deep one elder, denizen of Leng, elder thing, flying polyp, gug, hound of Tindalos, Leng ghoul, Leng spider, mi-go, nightgaunt, ratling, shantak, shoggoth, spawn of Yog-Sothoth, star-spawn of Cthulhu, voonith, wendigo, and yithian

Why is it only Lovecraft monsters? What do all of these disparate creatures have in common? What makes a deep one different from a sahuagin? What makes a nightgaunt different from a demon? :shrug: They can also get high on a hallucinogen for a large INT bonus, but their spells will fail 20% of the time unless they only target a monster HP Lovecraft or his successors made up. Note that list specifically does not include Great Old Ones, so they're as screwed as everyone else if big C himself shows up.

Hallowed necromancers use necromancy to destroy undead and get a bunch of random useless crap abilities that are worse than just casting spells on undead. They can reroll death saves at 15th level, which is kind of cool.

Undead masters are evil only and get the cleric's ability to control undead to fix the fact that core clerics are better than core wizards at being necromancers. They're really, really good at creating and controlling undead, but who cares? If this is an NPC-only archetype, you can just give them whatever minions you want. They don't need an ability for that. One thing makes it worth the three quarters of a page: the capstone ability is named Lich-Loved, after the infamous necrophilia feat from 3e's Book of Vile Darkness.

Next time on HORRIBLE ADVENTURES: Feats. Pray for me.

Cease to Hope fucked around with this message at 08:43 on May 25, 2017

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

THEE Ukraine

Lipstick Apathy

Cease to Hope posted:

who cares? If this is an NPC-only archetype, you can just give them whatever minions you want. They don't need an ability for that.
This reminds me of the Dungeon Lord prestige class from 3e's Dungeonscape. There prerequisites clearly make it intended to be a bad-guy-NPC-only class, since you need to be an aberration, monstrous humanoid, goblinoid, etc., but then the abilities they gain include things like:

* knowing the exact layout of the dungeon
* can move full speed through the dungeon even across difficult terrain and even in complete darkness
* can notice if things in the dungeon have been disturbed
* grant a bonus to attack and damage rolls to your dungeon minions when in their presence
* can cast Dimension Door to any point inside the dungeon
* has a permanent Alarm spell for whenever someone steps foot inside the dungeon
* can open doors and secret passageways in your dungeon effortlessly, and re-lock after you pass through it, even without any normally necessary skills or abilities

Now, these are all "normal" things to expect a "Dungeon Lord" to be able to do, but if you follow the logic, NPC's who don't have classes in this PrC can't naturally do that.

And further, since the PrC requires 10+ Intelligence and spellcasting as a prerequisite, then you still can't have "every" kind of Dungeon Lord be eligible for this class, which means Urgorsh Kangathraxx, the broadsword-wielding Warlord of Blood, cannot be a "Dungeon Lord"!

Cease to Hope posted:

Next time on HORRIBLE ADVENTURES: Feats. Pray for me.
Way too many d20 F&F's have been eaten by the feats section.

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


Yeah, if the feats are dull, don't stress writing them up. Show me the absurd things.

Cease to Hope
Dec 12, 2011
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.



Cassa posted:

Yeah, if the feats are dull, don't stress writing them up. Show me the absurd things.

i still had to read all of them so you don't have to

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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






Godlike, Appendix D: More Optional Rules

I hate for my Godlike review to end with a whimper and not a bullet to Hitler’s face, but the only thing left to take care of are some more rules options. I thought about just skipping this entirely, but the final appendix addresses some complaints I had about the game--namely, that there aren’t even scant rules to guide the GM with regard to how often PCs encounter threats beyond skirmish combat, like artillery fire.

Squad Combat: These are rules for “mass combat” at the squad level, assigning each squad a die pool. It’s simple: Each member of a squad adds a die, and elite soldiers (with a Stat+Skill of 6d or more) add an extra die. Unlike individual pools, squad die pools can go up to 15d. Squad pools can also be helped or hindered if the combatants have Slow or Spray weapons, so submachine and machine guns make a big difference. Sets rolled by the squad are applied as attacks against the opposing squad, with a significant attack either taking out soldiers or breaking their morale.

There are details that you can use to complicate this to the point that there’s hardly any use in squad combat--forcing morale rolls, treating snipers as separate characters outside the squad, etc., but it basically works. But it’s not recommended for Talent combat.

Bombardment: Being under artillery fire is just about the worst, short of stepping on a landmine or having the GM sicc a tank on you. Bombardment attacks everyone with a die pool representing “Intensity.” Intensity is based on the weapons attacking you and the duration of the bombardment. A few mortar attacks every hour is 2d, while an entire artillery division launching an hours-long attack is 10d.

Victims of bombardment defend with Coordination+Dodge, or are defended by the strength of their cover. Every victim gets hit by every set, taking Width in Killing+Shock. Even characters under cover get hit for Shock damage to the head, and even people protected by a bomb shelter take 1 Shock to the head! It’s almost as if armies use artillery when they want to indiscriminately huge numbers of people who can’t even fight back.

Mines: I believe I’ve stated emphatically that you are totally hosed if you step on a mine. The British invented tanks with “mine flails” that deliberately set off mines in front of the tank. The Soviets cleared mines by forming penal legions and goaded the poor bastards right over them.

Like artillery guns, there are already rules for individual mines, but here are rules for when PCs cross minefields. Minefields have Area and Penetration ratings like individual mines, and a die pool based on Density: 2d for a few crude booby-traps, 6d for a heavily mined area. If PCs aren’t totally oblivious to the fact that they’re crossing a minefield, they can gobble dice from mine attacks with Sense+Explosives.

One Roll Patrols: These rules use a pool of 11 dice to generate patrols of all kinds, from simple recon patrols to combat patrols meant to deliberately engage the enemy. One die is the terrain die, which generates a location based on what kind of terrain you’re in. (There are tables of 10 results for each type of terrain: farmland, city, mountain, desert, jungle, and so on.) Whatever sets come up can represent different groups or missions. The leftover dice create results on a Complication table.

For example, I roll my terrain die and get a 5. On the Bocage (yes, that’s a terrain type) table, that’s a farmhouse/barn. I roll 10 dice getting 3x1, 2x5, 2x6, 3, 7, 10. That’s “set up an outpost in exposed terrain,” “contact friendly unit,” and “capture prisoners from any enemy unit encountered.” The complications are a change in the weather, reinforcements, and the ominous and wide-open “reversal of fortune.”

As GM, I decide this means that a “lost” patrol has made contact to say that they took shelter on a more-or-less friendly farm, which is on flat pastureland far from any natural fortifications. The PCs will be sent to link up with that squad and establish a small listening post. They should expect trouble from German patrols previously spotted, which is good--we desperately prisoners to give us intelligence on what’s waiting for us in the surrounding ridges and patches of forest where the tanks can’t easily go. The PCs are going to get caught in an unexpected downpour, but if they navigate it successfully, they’ll find themselves on higher ground looking down on a large but totally disorganized and oblivious German squad.

FUBAR: I’m giving these short shrift because I don’t like them. Fun as the name is, they’re basically botch rules to represent how hosed up poo poo just happens sometimes--like friendly fire or grenades that explode as soon as you pull the pin. As if Godlike wasn’t deadly enough.

If you fail and all your dice come up 5 or less, you roll on the FUBAR table. This is similar to the One Roll Patrols rules, but the tables you’re rolling on range from innocuous distractions to hazards like weapon malfunctions, bad weather, enemy reinforcements, friendly fire, or being traumatized by witnessing a particularly gruesome death.

One thing I do kinda like is the FUBAR Token. If a PC gets hit with FUBAR, the players get a token they can exchange to turn any wound into a near miss, or apply the next FUBAR result to an enemy.

New Skills: A bunch of new skills, mostly Brains-based, and brief rules on using them. Explosives, First Aid, Forward Observer, Intimidation, Mortar, Parachute, Radio Ops, Running, Skiing, Swimming, Tactics, and Telephony. This is the only game I’ve seen besides Maniac Mansion where the ability to use and repair a telephone is actually important.

Custom Templates: Like the TOGS Commando School template from earlier in the book, these templates give you 1 point in a group of skills based on what branch trained you for commando warfare.

New Talents: Several peculiar new Talents. I won’t cover them in the same depth as I normally would, but they’re interesting.

Plasticine Touch (5/10/20): You can alter the hardness of objects (or people) by touching them. You can make wood as hard as steel, or melt metal without actually heating it. Using this power on a person doesn’t instantly kill them (and requires a multiple action like all touch based powers), but causes 1 Shock to the torso and head per round until you end the effect. This represents things like not being able to breathe because your body has become soft as rubber or hard as metal.

Size Shift (5/10/20): You can grow or shrink targets. Enlarged people gain Body and wound boxes, but lose Coordination. Shrunken targets lose points from Body, Coordination, and all skills as well as wound boxes. This power is very expensive--it costs will to use, and without an Extra, it doesn’t affect people’s clothes and equipment.

Unconventional Move (5/10/20): You can move in some specific and unusual way, like burrowing, swinging on webs, or speeding along on an ice slide. This power is so expensive because it assumes that you can use your power to dodge attacks, and potentially use it in offensive ways like setting traps. (You can carry a single passenger, which can be used on unwilling targets.)


Next time on Godlike: It’s over!


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

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



Halloween Jack posted:




Mines: I believe I’ve stated emphatically that you are totally hosed if you step on a mine. The British invented tanks with “mine flails” that deliberately set off mines in front of the tank. The Soviets cleared mines by forming penal legions and goaded the poor bastards right over them.


The whole Soviet's sending penal legions into mine fields is almost certainly a myth. It's possible, accounts differ, that this tactic, or what observers *believed* was a deliberate tactic may have occured once or twice, but in no way was it a standard practise.

Moral considerations aside, it's just not an effective tactic. It does nothing to clear the way for heavier vehicles, anti-tank mines won't be triggered by a persons weight, and you can't guarantee to get every mine, so it's too risky for follow-up units you do care about. You need to clear the field or find(if there is one, it depends) / clear a safe path through it.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Halloween Jack posted:

On the Bocage (yes, that’s a terrain type)

For good reason. The bocage in northern France was very dense and very extensive, and seriously complicated the Allied breakout from the Normandy beachheads. Bocage was such a problem that the Americans and British developed specialized attachment kits for their tanks to cut through the hedgerows.

Cythereal fucked around with this message at 16:31 on May 25, 2017

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



Cythereal posted:

There's also at least one case where the Germans claimed the Soviets were sending penal legions to clear minefields when the truth was it was just a penal legion advancing into a minefield it didn't know was there - and when the penal legion realized they had walked into a minefield, they promptly withdrew and the Soviets brought up proper mine-clearing equipment.


Deptfordx posted:

or what observers *believed* was a deliberate tactic may have occured once or twice

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009




Sorry, didn't register that's what you were trying to say.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




The vast majority of bizarre Soviet military myths come from the Germans being poor losers.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Cythereal posted:

For good reason. The bocage in northern France was very dense and very extensive, and seriously complicated the Allied breakout from the Normandy beachheads. Bocage was such a problem that the Americans and British developed specialized attachment kits for their tanks to cut through the hedgerows.
It's just interesting because it's the only terrain type that's region-specific. And I like to say the word "bocage."

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



Cythereal posted:

Sorry, didn't register that's what you were trying to say.

It's fine, I could have been clearer.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


wiegieman posted:

The vast majority of bizarre Soviet military myths come from the Germans being poor losers.

And from the Americans really, really needing sources of 'Also the Soviets are subhuman monsters that we're at war-ish with now' right after the war.

Don't get me wrong, the Red Army was brutal as hell, the Eastern Front was as close to hell on earth as has ever existed, but a lot of the 'incompetent brutes climbing over mountains of their own bodies' stuff is a mixture of Germans trying to come off better after losing and the US needing to gin up the propaganda mill against its new enemy anyway.

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



It's not just anti-Russian stuff, the post war German Generals were equally keen on saying nice things about the allies.

Take (the safely dead in 1945) Patton. There's a lot of stuff said about how much they respected him as a General, his being put in charge of fake army before Normandy convinced them it was real etc, etc. The whole "considered him their most dangerous adversary in the field'' thing.

Historical reality. Not so much. The Germans, as usual kept records meticuously, and the records, reports, and mention in intelligence made at the time are clear. Just another Allied General, no more notable than any other, certainly not seen as a Superman. They didn't even notice Patton was in charge of the fictional 1st Army Group until all the double agents in the UK had persuaded them the Calais Landings were real.

Deptfordx fucked around with this message at 17:59 on May 25, 2017

Strange Matter
Oct 5, 2009

Ask me about Genocide


Just wanted to say I've really enjoyed this review. I've been playing Wild Talents for years but never touched Godlike, and this hasn't given me a lot of insight as to where the system originated from.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats




Scarlet Heroes

Published by Sine Nomine Publishing, Scarlet Heroes is an OSR game intend for lone player characters rather than the usual party. Whilst the standard assumption is for the usual GM and Player setup, the book also contains oracles and systems for three types of solo adventure – the Dungeon Crawl, an Urban Investigation and finally a Wilderness Trek.

The setting of Scarlet Heroes is Asian-themed post-apocalyptic fantasy. Most of the world has been consumed by something called the Red Tide, an alien horror that takes the form of a crimson mist, able to corrupt and consume both physically and through dreams.

The remaining population of the world fled to the Sunset Isles, where, after driving the native Shou (who replace Orcs, Goblins, Bugbears and Hobgoblins) into the wilderness they settled and formed new kingdoms.
Kingdoms of the Sunset Isles

There are four majour kingdoms in the setting – the failing Mandarinate of Xian, once the ruler of the entire island, the Hellsworn Shogunate of the North, the decadent Magocracy of Tien Lung, and finally the hard-working and faithful monotheistic Hohnberg Pact, the lone European-flavoured country in the setting.

People of the Sunset isles

Humans come in six ethnicities and generalised cultures which are found across the nations, though some are more homogenous than others – e.g. the majority of the citizens of the Hohnberg pact are Eirengarders, whilst the Kueh make up the main population of the Shogunate. Mechanically all humans are the same, getting two free trait points to spend during character creation.

The non-humans have a couple of twists from their standard D&D cousins – Dwarves collect gold as an act of piety so that they can take its spirit into the afterlife; elves are literally immortal as a result of a botched immortality ritual – when one dies, they reincarnate into an elven infant. Halflings are the usual peaceful, quiet, homebodies. They’re also utterly fearless – not stupidly – they’re capable of recognising risks and danger, they’re just not afraid, nor can they be intimidated or panicked. Their other notable feature is that they have a ‘strange solidity about them’ – they’re capable of wielding large weapons – e.g. 2 handed swords, with no issues at all.

The last race are the Shou and the Shou-blooded, which fill the role of the humanoid monsters in the setting, though unlike their traditional variations, many Shou could pass for humans if they wanted to and didn’t go whole hog with tribal scarification and tattoos. The main feature of the Shou is that they’re naturally resistant to the corruption of the Red Tide.

Character creation

The beats of character creation should be familiar to anyone who’s played a D&D based game. Roll you attributes, pick your race, class, buy stuff, pick spells and play.

Attributes are rolled on 4d6, drop the lowest, arrange to suit, and if you haven’t rolled at least one 16 or greater, set an attribute to 16 – every hero is good at something.

The classes are Clerics, Fighters, Magic Users and Thieves. Your class informs your hitpoints (a set amount per level rather than rolled), attack bonus, fray die (automatic damage you do each turn to enemies of equal or lesser strength), what armour you can use, what the maximum damage you can do with a weapon is – clerics 1d6, fighters unlimited, magic users 1d4, and thieves 1d8. Finally Magic users, clerics and thieves all have special abilities above and beyond straight numbers.

Clerics can cast spells and turn undead.

Magic users can cast spells, additionally their fray die is capable of affecting all enemies, not just those weaker than themselves.

Thieves can backstab, and gain a free 3-point trait in their Archetype – i.e. what sort of thief they are, which increases by one every time they level – the normal maximum for a trait is 3.

Classes are race limited – only Humans and Shou blooded can be Clerics, and Dwarves and Halflings can’t be Magic Users either.

Finally you pick some traits for your character – Mostly a combination of Background and Skill system, Traits are also where you’ll find most racial special abilities.

Equipment and spells

There aren’t really any surprises here, though the spells have flowery names rather than the standard utilitarian D&D ones. Weapons are divided by a generalised type - two-handed weapons, one-handed weapons, light weapons, etc. with all weapons in a class using the same damage dice and Attribute modifier for attacks - rather than there being a long and detailed list of almost identical weapons.

System
There are 5 core mechanics to Scarlet Heroes, of which two are specifically designed to allow a lone hero to face a party’s worth of adventure.

Checks
When a character is trying some task of personal prowess or skill that might reasonably tax a hero, roll a check. The difficulty ranges from 9 to 17, and is rolled on 2d8 adding the relevant attribute modifier and their highest relevant trait.

Saving throws
Rolled to avoid traps, magical attacks and other attempts to harm the character, saves have a difficulty of 9 + the HD or Threat of the attacker, and are rolled exactly as Checks are, but adding the character’s level to the result too, meaning you roll 2d8 + level + attribute + highest relevant trait.

Attack rolls
A rolled on 1d20 plus the character’s attack bonus, relevant attribute and the enemy’s armour class. A result of 20 or greater is a hit.

Damage rolls
This is the core of what makes Scarlet Heroes work for a single player whilst otherwise leaving the maths and numbers of enemies unchanged.
Instead of reading damage dice straight, damage is read as follows.

code:
1: 0
2-5: 1
6-9: 2
10+: 4
Each die is read individually, and damage modifiers apply to a single die. Damage is done to enemy Hit Dice but to player Hit Points. For example, a Skeleton, having 1 HD would go down in one solid hit, and would do between 0-2 points of damage with each successful attack on a PC.

With the exception of a Thief’s ambush damage, overflow damage is applied to the next enemy; a character fighting a group of skeletons rolls 4 damage – four of the skeletons go down.

The Fray die that heroes get is read just like a standard damage dice, and can be applied to any qualifying enemy that the character could reach. The fray die is rolled even if the character isn’t declaring an attack that round.

The end result of all this is to allow a single character to face down threats that would normally require a full party, and to enable the use of pre-written modules without having to re-jig all the encounters.

Defying Death
If a hero is about to die or encounters an obstacle they just can’t get around, they may attempt to defy death. This is done by rolling 1d4 for each of their levels and applying the result as damage. If they’re still standing they survive the threat or get around the obstacle. If they drop to zero, they’re reduced to 1hp and have failed.

Each time the character tries to defy death during an adventure the dice step up by one size, to a maximum size of d12.

Bestiary
The bestiary has a combination of old favourites – Bears, Giant Spiders, Skeletons, and new and exotic horrors such as Centipede Women, Horse-headed demons, Leaping Vampires, and Ash Basilisks.

Angrymog fucked around with this message at 14:58 on May 27, 2017

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Night10194 posted:

And from the Americans really, really needing sources of 'Also the Soviets are subhuman monsters that we're at war-ish with now' right after the war.

Don't get me wrong, the Red Army was brutal as hell, the Eastern Front was as close to hell on earth as has ever existed, but a lot of the 'incompetent brutes climbing over mountains of their own bodies' stuff is a mixture of Germans trying to come off better after losing and the US needing to gin up the propaganda mill against its new enemy anyway.
Yeah, this was the one big flaw in Godlike and it's borderline severe enough that I don't feel like I could buy it unless they call it out somewhere.

marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

I've been sitting here for 5 mins trying to think of a joke to make but I just realised the animators of Mass Effect already did it for me



How immediate is that "reincarnate as an infant" thing? Because i love the idea of the family getting ready for granddad's passing by stocking on diapers and baby formula. "I know you're not a young man anymore, so here, I got you a new jumper and booties."

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



marshmallow creep posted:

How immediate is that "reincarnate as an infant" thing? Because i love the idea of the family getting ready for granddad's passing by stocking on diapers and baby formula. "I know you're not a young man anymore, so here, I got you a new jumper and booties."
Talking about the Elves? It's all a bit woolly, I don't think it's something they have any control over - i.e. the chances of reincarnating back into your own family are pretty slim. They do retain vague memories of previous incarnations, so elven kids are considered pretty drat weird by other people.

In the full setting book, Red Tide (written for Labyrinth Lord) there's a class called the Scion, which is what happens when an Elven soul ends up in a human body - they get strange reality warping powers as a result of the conflicting energies.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats




Character creation

I’m going to be following the quick character creation rules, which start by rolling for your Race and Class (1d20, 1d8).
code:
1d20: 11, a human
1d8: 2, a Cleric
Next three rolls on the Trait tables – one Background, one Inate quality, and one relationship. (1d100 x3)
code:
95: A warrior Monk
3: Bursts of Strength
46: Helped a Skilled Lawyer
The most likely home for our character is the Mandarinate of Xian, though the Shogunate is also a possibility, and leads to potentially interesting questions like “What if their lawyer friend is someone who tries to prevent people being unjustly executed in the Shogunate?”
Our character will be a Kueh woman. Consulting the random name tables I get Kasumi Tanaka.

Next attributes are rolled - 4d6, drop the lowest, assign as you see fit.
code:
6 ; 8 ; 15 ; 14 ; 7 ; 11
Not great, but saved by not having gotten a 16. So I’m going to be a bit meta-gamey and assign the 6 to Wisdom, then make that our 16.
code:
Str: 7	-1
Dex: 14	+1
Con: 15	+1
Int: 11
Wis: 16	+2
Cha: 8	-1
I’ve put a low score in Strength because I feel that the Bursts of Strength trait would best represent someone who isn’t naturally strong, but who can, when the situation calls for it, really put their back into it.

Clerics get 6 hit points, modified to 7 by our Con, start with an Attack Bonus of +1, and can cast one Level 1 spell a day.

We get a total of 5 trait points – 3 as standard and another two for being Human – I’m putting 2 into Warrior Monk, 1 into Helped a Skilled Lawyer and 2 into Bursts of Strength.

Shopping is the usual 3d6 x 10 gold to spend, and we end up with 70 gold and an equipment list as follows.

Short spear (Light weapon - +1/1d6+1), Leather Armour (AC 7), Shield (+1 AC bonus), Sling (+1/1d4+1), Backpack, Camping Gear, Healer’s Bag, Scribe’s tools, Local Map, 2 sets of common clothes
With all that done, we’re ready to start adventuring

Completed character
Kasumi Tanaka
1st level Cleric
code:
Str: 	7	-1
Dex: 	14	+1
Con: 	15	+1
Int: 	11
Wis: 	16	+2
Cha: 	8	-1
Attack bonus: +1
HP: 7
AC: 6 (5 with shield)
Fray die: 1d6

Traits
Warrior Monk: 2
Bursts of Strength: 2
Helped a Skilled Lawyer: 1

Spells
Hand of Merciful Succour (heal 2 + 2d6 damage)

Weapons
Short spear (+2/1d6+1), Sling (+2/1d4+1)

Armour
Leather (AC7)

Other equipment
Backpack, Camping Gear, Healer’s Bag, Scribe’s tools, Local Map, 2 sets of common clothes

Money
5 gold

Character creation is quick - the most time consuming part would probably be coming up with your traits, but fortunately there's a handy table to provide inspiration if you're stuck.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




Nessus posted:

Yeah, this was the one big flaw in Godlike and it's borderline severe enough that I don't feel like I could buy it unless they call it out somewhere.
Godlike gets a few things flat-out wrong, but having read it in detail, I don't find it chauvinistic towards Russians. If anything it takes pains to point out how many people they lost and how brutal the war was for them. The nations that really get ignored, as far as I can tell, are those involved in the land war in Asia. Like I'm glad that they get into Burma, which most people watching WWII movies will never think about, but barely mention China and Korea.

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


Halloween Jack posted:

Godlike gets a few things flat-out wrong, but having read it in detail, I don't find it chauvinistic towards Russians. If anything it takes pains to point out how many people they lost and how brutal the war was for them. The nations that really get ignored, as far as I can tell, are those involved in the land war in Asia. Like I'm glad that they get into Burma, which most people watching WWII movies will never think about, but barely mention China and Korea.

Actually, given The Bridge on the River Kwai, Burma is likely the only part of the land war in Asia that movie watchers WILL think of.

OvermanXAN fucked around with this message at 16:52 on May 28, 2017

marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

I've been sitting here for 5 mins trying to think of a joke to make but I just realised the animators of Mass Effect already did it for me



Angrymog posted:

Talking about the Elves? It's all a bit woolly, I don't think it's something they have any control over - i.e. the chances of reincarnating back into your own family are pretty slim. They do retain vague memories of previous incarnations, so elven kids are considered pretty drat weird by other people.

In the full setting book, Red Tide (written for Labyrinth Lord) there's a class called the Scion, which is what happens when an Elven soul ends up in a human body - they get strange reality warping powers as a result of the conflicting energies.

I misunderstood and thought the reincarnation was more like Phoenix or Galifreyan regeneration. Like you have a heartattack and your body regresses into infancy.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


It's been a week without updates on the land of Mists, and I'm (finally!) starting my internship tomorrow, so here's a big dump for the road.



Islands of Terror a single Domains, all alone in the Mists, with no clear borders. They are lonely and frightening places, with limited contact with the outside world.



Bluetspur
This is a land of rocks and dirt with nothing in it. There are no plants or animals, no wind, no weather. The sky is dark and starless, while a red glow near the horizon is the only indication of night and day as it fades and then returns in 12-hour cycles. At night, red lightning can be seen in the distance. A strange hum can be heard coming from deep underground. No travelers come willingly to Bluetspur, and those who do run away as soon as they can.




G'Henna
This Domain is a bleak wasteland where hunger is omnipresent. It is a theocracy led by the brutal cult of Zhakata the Destroyer. The high-priest, Yago Petrovna, is a zealot who often drives himself into religious fervor as he speak to the people. The Church controls everything, and the secret Inquisition help Petrovna keep control of the population. Every day, all the food produced is given to Zhakata, and whatever is left at the end of the day is what the people will have to subsist on. The only opposition the Church has is a group of fiercely atheistic bandits that lead a guerilla campaign, led by a mysterious man known only as the Jackal.


Odiare
There isn't a map for Odiare, as it is a small village of only about a 100 inhabitants. This is the "evil pinocchio" Domain someone mentioned earlier. All the adults were killed 20 years ago by Maligno, a terrifying wooden puppet, and his army of toys. The current villagers are approaching thirty and some even have children of their own, but they remain terrified of Maligno and are afraid he would hurt anyone he sees as a threat towards the children. Giuseppe, Maligno's creator, was spared and remains in his workshop working on who knows what.




Rokushima Taiyoo
Supposedly this means the Six Islands of the Sun, but I feel it's not quite an appropriate japanese sentence, although it's still better than most Legend of the Five Rings names. Now there are only four islands, but supposedly there were two more before: the islands sank when their lords, the shujin, died. The four remaining shujin keep warring with each other dreaming of supremacy, while ignoring this particularly ominous omen. Ninja clans are mentioned as being involved on various sides of this conflict. The Domain was isolated for the longest time, surrounded as it is by a poison sea, but recently Dementlieuse and Mordentish ships have appeared. While the people don't care about these strangers, the lords are alreayd thinking of how they can use these newcomers and their weapons to their benefits.




Souragne
A large swampy bayou called "Maison d'Sablet" dominates most of the Domain. The rest is plantations of sugar and cotton, overseen by a brutal aristocracy. The proprietors are the nobles, and everyone else the commoners, who are often treated quite horribly by the landlords. Worked to death, beaten, etc. The Souragniens believe in the Loa, the most feared being the Lord of the Dead, who can animate the dead as zombies. In deference to him, all corpse are left for four days before being interred, so that he may claim those he wants. All arcane magic save Necromancy is banned. The aristocrats encourage trade with other realms, dreaming of their port becoming a rich trade hub, but despite the sugar canes and cotton few outsider merchants like travelling to this strange and cruel land.

And that's it for all the Domains. In summary, Ravenloft is a land of contrasts.

Next: Back to D20 rules. Joy.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




I seem to recall some pocket realms as well, I remember a theatre which moves between the bigger realms and abducts unfortunate art patrons.Evil Shakespeare will turn you into a character in his plays

Green Intern
Dec 29, 2008

Loon, Crazy and Laughable



I never knew Ravenloft had a not-Japan. I thought it was all European horror pastiche.

MonsieurChoc
Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.


Green Intern posted:

I never knew Ravenloft had a not-Japan. I thought it was all European horror pastiche.

It's basically Ran except the lord is a ghost who can't stop his sons from destroying his kingdom. IIRC, it was added to Ravenloft after the original AD&D Oriental Adventures.

Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

I seem to recall some pocket realms as well, I remember a theatre which moves between the bigger realms and abducts unfortunate art patrons.Evil Shakespeare will turn you into a character in his plays

Lots of Domains disappeared after 2E (like the Dark Sun one, or the one where Vecna was the Darklord), but I think the one in your spoiler quotes was just omitted from the corebook and is mentioned in some of the later books.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




Sounds right, I just had a period where I eclectically bought books on sale without regard to what campaign books I had.
I gave all of them away years ago so I can't remember where what was.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

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




I think the thing I dislike about the idea of a Ravenloft gazetteer, and thus maybe Ravenloft in general, is that I have no desire for a campaign setting with a gothic horror theme to have a Gothic Horror Japan, Gothic Horror India, etc. crammed into it. Let Ravenloft be set up like Castlevania where the realms are themed video game levels and anything that doesn't suit is just hidden beyond endless mists.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




If it's going to Gothic Horror everything, it should go whole hog. Gothic Horror Italy, Gothic Horror Denmark, Gothic Horror Minnesota.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Halloween Jack posted:

I think the thing I dislike about the idea of a Ravenloft gazetteer, and thus maybe Ravenloft in general, is that I have no desire for a campaign setting with a gothic horror theme to have a Gothic Horror Japan, Gothic Horror India, etc. crammed into it. Let Ravenloft be set up like Castlevania where the realms are themed video game levels and anything that doesn't suit is just hidden beyond endless mists.
Yeah, but that only gives you one setting book to sell. TSR was about giant, sprawling, all-encompassing product lines, each with two or more books shipping every month, indefinitely. Something has to serve as feed stock for an endless stream of Ravenloft tie-in novels and video games.

In other, totally unrelated news, TSR eventually drove itself out of business because it published too many low-quality, unwanted products.

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Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Did anyone actually use Chronomancer?

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